Meet Matilda

The last time I was packing up to leave this hospital and introduce a new baby to this world, the Supreme Court had just ruled in favor of marriage equality. It was so uplifting to see all of the celebrations, to know that so many people I love had won a right they had fought so hard for, and to know that I was bringing my kid into a better world than expected.

Obviously, it feels like a different world today.

But you know what? I love that in this world, our heroes are scientists, journalists, and civil rights lawyers. I love that, more than ever, people are standing up for others and refusing to accept bigotry and hate. I love that we’re having tough conversations, confronting lies, and fighting for the truth.

I want everything in the world for my daughter, but most of all I want her to be good. She is, after all, here because of me. I want her to understand that most of the advantages she’s been given so far are pure luck, and they don’t make her better than anyone else. I want her to use what she has to fight for the people who don’t have the same. I want her to care. And I want her to be kind.

So you know what? I’m glad that Matilda is coming into an uncomfortable world. I’m glad she gets to see both the best and worst showing their truest colors right now. I hope it will help me teach her to be compassionate, empathetic and generous. I hope it will help her look below the surface, appreciate differences, and surround herself with good people. And, I’d like to think it will make her a little smarter, cooler, and funnier, too.

So buckle up, world. Matilda Tolliver is on the loose today. And she’s here to make this place better than she found it.

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I’m With Us

The thing about women is: we are resilient. We know what it’s like to be the most qualified person in the room, and still have to prove that we are as good as the worst. We know what it’s like to bite our tongue and choose our battles. We know how to duck into a stall, have a good cry, process that pain, and move the hell on with our day. And while some peg us as weak because of our emotions, we know how to hold it together to care for the vulnerable ones around us, to summon strength we didn’t know we had so that others can pull from it.

After all, we are built to have another life depend on ours. Some of us have literally been cut open and ripped apart for someone we love. Some of us have hearts deep and open enough to accept another without question, immediately taking that cub as their own. And the rest of us somehow care for others automatically, even on our worst day, as a reflex. Motherhood is not what makes you a woman; we’re women because we have the strength that makes the impossible possible, including motherhood. We all have that same power, and we are all selfless in how we wield that sword.

Like it or not, this is the same country that we have always lived in. Women, especially women of color and LGBT women, know this better than the rest. Even if she had won, if we had won, those threats are still real. Those ceilings and hurdles are still there. We’re still going to have to work twice, or three times, or four times as hard.

But you know what? Nasty women still vote. Bitches still get stuff done. We can lift a car with one hand when the ones we love are in danger. We can certainly lift a country if we all work together.

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Five Things – 1.9.16

  1. I guess I should introduce you to my son. The idea of writing a post like I used to, summing up everything I’ve been through and everything I feel now, is impossible. I could write forever about him. I probably will write forever about him. But for now, I’ll just tell you his name: Murray. Every day he does something brand new, something hilarious, something frustrating, and something so beautiful that it makes every day perfect, no matter how bad that day was. I’ve never been more tired and dumb and bored and lonely and exhausted and ugly, but I’ve also never felt happier.
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  2. There isn’t a lot I can say about my job without getting fired, but I’ll just say that this morning I bought $30 in lottery tickets.
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  3. My New Year’s Resolutions were going okay, but then the unmentionable work problems got in the way and I had to eat, like, Cheez-Its for lunch and skip my workouts to put out fires. I’m not having a week like that again. From now on, my health is a priority.
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  4. Sometimes you read something that completely stops your heart, then kicks open a floodgate of realizations and emotions that you weren’t prepared for at all.
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  5. I’m aware that I’m a terrible writer right now. That’s what this is for!

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Monster Nursery

Well, I’m almost there.

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I’ve been astonishingly lucky with this pregnancy so far… no morning sickness, no heartburn, no gestational diabetes, no complications, no acne, a normal weight gain, etc. But now comes all the stuff I can’t avoid: bending over. Sitting down. Standing up. Getting out of bed. Putting on pants. Tying shoes. Moving. Breathing. Living. 8 weeks to go and I finally feel pregnant.

I haven’t written much because (a) you probably follow me somewhere else and (b) I think we all had those friends in our early twenties who documented every damn day of their pregnancy online. It was all the same and all insufferable. I don’t want to do that! So unless it’s hilarious or terrifying or hilariously terrifying, I don’t think you’ll care. Food Pregnancy and more food work stuff are the only things on my mind these days, so this blog would get rill old rill quick. Also (c) as we’ve established, no one blogs anymore. BUT I wanted to show you our monster nursery! I’m so proud of it!

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Everything is from Target, IKEA or The Land of Nod. We’re sensible about most of our purchases but we always splurge on the perfect rugs; this Jellybean Rug was no exception. They really do tie a room together! Chauncey has been making out with it nonstop:

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We’ve had those polka dot IKEA pillows on our couch forever; I brought one into the room on a whim and gasped. Then I hunted down a few more on a site that sells discontinued patterns. My friend Kim made me that baby blanket for Christmas and I love it! And of course, UglyDolls:

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When we first started dating, Justin would give me an UglyDoll every time I watched Chauncey while he was out of town. I love bringing in something from our early relationship. And I love how the UglyBuddies are holding baby monsters, too.

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It should surprise no one that Justin built another insane IKEA wall. My dream has come true; I finally married Dean from Overboard.

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Also, there’s 2 more rows of cabinets up there. 11-foot walls full of storage space? Come to momma.

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The window seat is the best part; if you take away the pad and the bins, it can be a tiny desk! Also, Justin told me he’s going to build a gate in front of the window when the baby’s old enough to climb up and open it, which was pretty hot. Safety precautions are like foreplay to an expectant mother. The mobile was our other splurge; it’s by Felt N Joy on Etsy. She’s incredible! It’s everyone’s favorite part.

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And finally, we found the perfect art during our second trip to Snoqualmie/Twin Peaks/Seattle—adorable monsters by Seattle artist Justin Hillgrove. Another nod to our early relationship and super cute!

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A special shout out to my favorite person Jen, who discovered her inner Pinterest mom and threw me the most perfect shower, complete with tons of paper monsters.

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Now we just need one more little monster, and it’ll be done!

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Five Things – 1/30/15

1. This is my first Five Things! A few writers that I admire have done this for a while, and it seemed like a great way to keep up with my blog without, you know, actively blogging. I finally worked up the courage to ask if it was something I could do, too, and they were really encouraging! (People—friends!—used to yoink ideas from my blog all the time and, even though it shouldn’t, it really bothered me. I just wanted to be respectful, I think. Or realize my own dumb unwritten PMS rules apply to me, too.) I don’t know how often I will do this, but it’s a nice format for whenever the mood strikes.
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2. Justin and I threw our third Grilled Cheese Party for my birthday. This was the biggest party yet—about 35 people. People get so excited about these parties and look forward to them all year, so I try to go all out. Most people might think it’s weird to drop an insane amount of money for my own birthday party, but the best gift is making people I love happy—and the bonus is seeing them all in the same room. Justin set up his GoPro in the middle of the spread, so we wound up with this:
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3. Yesterday was my birthday. Is it weird that I enjoy getting older? When I was younger, I had so many questions and worries; I was so unsure about how life worked. The older I get, the more I know and the more I relax. So fuck my twenties! I am balls-deep into my thirties and loving it.
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4. I usually go to my shrink, Dave, whenever things are stressful or insane—mainly once or twice a year. But recently I’ve started going just to be proactive—I tell him about things I want to work on (confidence, motivation, etc.)—and he gives me techniques and ways to cope. I’ve always believed that cognitive behavioral therapy can help you conquer anything. Now I’m just putting it to practice.

5. I’m 16 weeks pregnant. According to all these dumb apps, my kid is the size of an avocado. I don’t feel pregnant at all – no nausea, no fatigue, no weight gain (though, I am eating like an absolute monster). If it wasn’t for the sonogram, I wouldn’t believe it. I actually bought a fetal Doppler and use it at least once a week, like, “Are you there? Are you sure?”

Growing up in a disabled family and watching so many people I love go through so many horrible things placed me in a different mindset for good news, or even general good health. The more wonderful life is, the more anxious I get and the more I brace myself, preparing for the worst. I grew up accepting and expecting that I couldn’t have the same things that other people would have, that things would naturally be harder and sadder for me. So honestly, the hardest thing about this pregnancy is accepting that I might actually have a normal, healthy baby—and shaking the fear that the second I drop my guard, something will go wrong.

That being said, despite my best efforts I am pretty fucking excited about this.

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Five by Five

Ten years! Oh my god, you guys.

Honestly, the 5-year mark felt much bigger. That was probably when this thing peaked. (It’s also back when people were still blogging.) 5 years ago, I really lived in this thing because I didn’t have much else.

I mean, I had—and have— amazing friends, but they were all in relationships, planning weddings, going on double dates, etc. The more I surrounded myself with them, the more I felt alone. I was always dating someone, or at least flirting, but they always let me down in the end.

I had a job, but aside from friendships, it was the worst and I hated it. The management was pretty abusive and it drove me to therapy, repeatedly. One by one, all of my friends quit, so I was miserable and lonely there. (My old job is where I ended up doing the most of my blogging, just to give me one part of the day I could look forward to.)

I didn’t sleep. At all. And I didn’t know why. I took drugs that were not meant for me (at a dosage that the FDA has finally realized was too much) for a very long time and they made me depressed and insane.

 

Just after the 5-year mark, I was so incredibly lonely and miserable that I made a vow to go out and meet new people. And almost immediately, though we unknowingly circled each other for 10 years, I met Justin. I knew my love of TV would get me somewhere.

I finally decided to take a stand and find a job that made me happy and fulfilled (or at least didn’t make me cry on a daily basis). And I didn’t just find a new job—I found my dream job. I’m still a little in shock.

Someone finally figured out what was wrong with me, and now I can sleep! There are still restless nights every now and then, but for the most part I get the sleep I need. Sleeping on Justin’s shoulder helps immensely. And I haven’t taken Ambien in 4 years!

I got a niece, who made my heart grow in a way I didn’t know it could. By Halloween, I’ll have 4 nieces and nephews total. And in 5 years, maybe I’ll have a kid of my own, and my heart can grow in an even weirder, more wonderful way.

All of those friends I made, plus the old ones that I love more than anything? They all came together to help me through the scariest, most painful time of my life. That concert was one of the few bright spots that year for my entire family, and we’ll be forever grateful to all of you.

I moved four times in the last 5 years! But nothing was harder than packing up the house where I grew up, where my dad died, on Father’s Day. I drove by there the other day, just to see what it looks like, and it still hurts. Even though taking care of my dad was so hard and heartbreaking, I’m forever thankful that I got to move back home and see him every day, and to appreciate my childhood home with adult eyes.

I lost some things, too … my dad most of all. And my very best friend, my Grandma. I think about them every single day and I don’t think that will ever change. But I think it’s just one of those pains you get used to, like a bad back or a sore knee. It’s just a part of getting older.

But again, the biggest thing I’ve gained in the last 5 years—what made these years so different, and so much better, than the last 5—is Justin. From all of our weird adventures and roadtrips to our wedding to Iceland and beyond, I can’t imagine my life without him and I’m so lucky that I get to wake up next to him every day.

I came across this post on Humans of New York the other day and immediately fell in love:

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This, I think, is the biggest difference between the way I am now and the way I was when I started this blog. Back then, I wanted to be noticed. I wanted to get writing gigs. I wanted the cool people on the internet as friends. I wanted my ex to want me back. I wanted to be special. I wanted to be extraordinary. And you know what? In the first 5 years, back when this was called Shortcake, all of that happened!

But these days, that isn’t important to me. In fact, these days the internet is such a nightmare that the last thing in the world that I want is tons of attention online. More importantly, I don’t want to hang out there. I just want to hang out with my friends in person, travel places, do things, make things, write things that matter.

I mean, I get to go to my dream job every day, come home to my dream loft and spend time with my dream man, or some of the coolest friends (with the biggest hearts) in the world. Once again, I’ve hit my goal. And for now, it’s perfect. I don’t need to be extraordinary to other people. I’m content. I’m amazed by my life every single day. And that’s enough for me.

Thanks for being a part of it.

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Catching Up With My Frans

We’re getting veeeeerrry close to the 10 year anniversary of this blog, and I’ve been veeeeerrry bad about writing in here, so before I do some big-ass retrospective (or realistically, a lazy “woooo!”) I should tell you what I’ve been up to for the last few months.

Traveling

First up, Seattle, which was amazing! I definitely want to go back. The best part was hanging out with Erin and seeing old friends like Courtney, Graham, Mike, Dan, Carrie and CHARLIE!

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We also spent a weekend in Snoqualmie, aka Twin Peaks. Highly recommended! We took a self-guided tour with maps that we found online. A lot of the back roads were closed due to flooding, so we had to follow a moving GPS dot through the woods and hope for the best. This was the most fun we’ve had in a while.

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Also: we stayed at The Great Northern! Hi!

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Seattle is a sister city to Reykjavik (where we spent our honeymoon) and Twin Peaks is how we met, so it felt like an early anniversary trip.

I also went to Milwaukee and Minneapolis for work. Both were a great time, with cool projects. Downtown Minneapolis is almost identical to St. Louis, and Milwaukee = cheese.

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Finally, a long weekend in Hamilton, Indiana. Doesn’t sound glamorous, I know, but Justin’s mom, grandma and aunts all live lakeside.

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Speaking of glamor, Justin’s aunt Penny told us that since we’re the only people who appreciate her painting, we’re inheriting this someday.

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Up next? We’re going to Washington, D.C.! My brother got promoted and they’re having a big ceremony at his work (a little place called The Pentagon). I’m really excited, especially because I get to meet my nephew!

What’s That? A Nephew?

That’s right! It’s okay to be confused. Technically he is still 2 months away from his due date. But he’s already here.  He’s been here for a while.

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Meet my nephew Will, born over 3 months early at 24 weeks. 22 weeks is the youngest you can be born and live. He had a 50% chance of survival, and a 50% chance of everything, but so far he is kicking serious ass. He is such a strong boy, and he will need that tenacity to deal with his tough-as-nails, adrenaline-junkie sister.

Losing Weight

I’ve lost about 10 pounds so far–not enough to notice, but enough to motivate me to keep going. This is mostly from running on a big incline, crazy interval training, not eating crap, and …

Wheat-Free

It’s getting hotter again, which means I need to avoid wheat again. I’m trying to say “wheat” instead of “gluten” because of that study that said gluten-intolerant people may actually be affected by a different protein–giving half my Facebook feed the freedom to call people like me “retarded” because they can’t read one article past the headline.

I read the book Wheat Belly and it was pretty life-changing. I don’t like that it’s so focused on weight, but I have the feeling that’s what sells. Anyway, it’s been about 2 weeks and I feel awesome. I don’t miss any of the food at all. Honestly, the biggest challenges are feeling like a bad guest when people cook me things, and people talking to me like a fucking idiot.

Writing

I wrote Act 1 of my movie for my screenwriting class and … I got an A! It was so addicting. I definitely want to keep it up, and then workshop a full script once I have something I love.

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Honestly, the best part of the class was walking down the hall and visiting Justin at his job. We both went to that college but didn’t meet until 10 years later. Walking down the halls together, kissing in the parking lot, and cramming for finals felt so right … like we were making up for lost time or just erasing 10 years that we wasted looking for each other.

Married Life

Speaking of us, we celebrated our anniversary! I surprised him with an Icelandic continental breakfast and he designed some cool art for me. We ate the top tier of our wedding cake and watched Eurovision (a honeymoon highlight).

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We’ve also been trying to do more stuff together despite our schedules. The cheesier, the better!

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And finally …

Renovating

Not exactly by choice, but the building I live in recently gave us all new cabinets, counters, appliances, bathroom vanities, a new rooftop patio, etc. We had workmen wandering in and out of our place for months, which led to some very awkward moments. However, the place looks great!

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In addition to building renovations, Justin rebuilt our giant bookshelf and built a crazy IKEA workstation with a floating ceiling. (His computer is in the ceiling, so he can plug in a monitor and work on the island without worrying about cords.) Add in the views of North City, the City Museum, Windows on Washington and holy shit.

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After we finished, a friend asked if I ever stand in my apartment, look around, and marvel that I live there. I said, “Every day. Every single day.” And it’s true.

 

 

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