Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Pregnancy is gritty and dirty - it's okay to talk about it.

I feel like no one talks openly about how unbelievably hard  it can be to be pregnant. About how physically and emotionally uncomfortable it can be. 

Conversations and postings on social media are left to dance around the majesticness of growing a human being. The first bump sightings. The funny cravings. The flutters of feet and sounds of a strong heartbeat. The other conversations, the ones that don’t fit into this socially constructed box of what’s normal and what’s not, are left for private text messages, worried phone calls, and fleeting moments between friends. Not having these conversations in a public space is exhausting. It constantly leaves me, feeling like I’m the odd-woman out. Like what I’m feeling - or rather, not feeling - is wrong. Like I’m screwing this up somehow or that something is wrong with me.  

So today, I stand in solidarity with, what I guess are many, other women who can’t always talk about how amazing and magical it is to be pregnant. Who need to talk openly about shitty hormones and anxiety and crying over seemingly inconsequential things. Who need to talk candidly about the changes their bodies are going through and how all their underwear is too tight and their boobs are too big to buy from a regular maternity store. Who need to find solace in a simple conversation with a stranger that everything is going to be okay and that what they’re feeling is not wrong or abnormal. 

I’m almost 26 weeks pregnant with my first child, a boy, and absolutely have not loved being pregnant. My worries, fears, hang ups, aches, and anecdotes are, more often than not, met with blank stares and comments pushing me to power through and forget about right now, that it will all be worth it in the end. While that sentiment initially brought waves of comfort that all of these feelings, changes, and experiences were temporary - it can get old after awhile. Sometimes you just want the opportunity be pissed off, vent, cry it out, and start over. 

I’ve had the immense privilege to be friends with a few select, incredibly strong women who have lived this experience of motherhood and take all of my baggage and concerns in stride when talking me off the ledge. I am forever grateful for their stories and insight. (When I get the ability back to bake without forgetting to add in key ingredients, I’ll be sure to thank them in calories and love. ) But even these conversations are cowered in the corner of text messages and car rides. The comfort level to talk about the dirt and grit of pregnancy publicly is almost non-existent. I find myself afraid to admit out loud to the things that I’m experiencing, the things that cross my mind while pregnant for fear that I am not “normal.” So, I avoid it altogether and instead wait until it’s too heavy to carry, and call or text a friend out of complete desperation and urgency. 

In an effort to self-disclose and move toward a pregnancy culture where we can share our shit and bare our souls beyond the excitement of impending motherhood, I give you my current, unedited, unfiltered, list of pregnancy truths:

I feel like my body is betraying me. I’m constantly losing track of time, misplacing things, forgetting to do things, crying at miniscule things, and just overall not being able to KEEP. IT. TOGETHER. This is a major shift for me. I’m used to being the one that has it under control, the one that other people come to when they need help or someone to talk to. I’m nowhere near being that person right now. And that’s a lot to accept and deal with. 

I sweat all the time. The armpits of my shirts are ruined. I’m self-conscious that I smell, constantly.

My vagina physically aches - like I’ve been punched continually in the ladybits or that I’ve had really aggressive sex for days on end. 

My breasts are already quite large, so getting pregnant has only made them worse. I caved and finally had to buy a new bra because my previous one had caused bruising under my breasts and along my ribcage from rapid growth. 

Having had a hiatal hernia for a number of years, acid reflux has always been an issue. Pregnant acid reflux feels like the devil is trying to crawl out of my chest daily. I wake up throwing up stomach acid - which feels like fire, then because I’m trying to breathe normally and am coughing at the same time, I breathe said stomach acid into my lungs where it feels like my lungs are being torn apart every time I take a breath. I then feel like I have pneumonia for several days afterward. 

All of the “what ifs” and panicked thoughts into the future will consume you if you let them. I have wasted so much energy in the past few weeks worried about money, whether I can be a good mother or not, what happens if I don’t love the baby when he arrives, what if I’m one of those mothers that drives their child into a lake, what if my partner leaves, what if my partner dies, what if I have to do this alone, what if I will never have an identity again, what if this is all I am? What if, what if, what if. 

Maybe this is just for me, but maybe it is for other pregnant women who need to hear it too, but either way it needs to be said. Pregnancy is not all ice cream and pickles and gender reveal parties and nursery themes. It’s hard, grueling, physically and emotionally exhausting work, and the conversations surrounding those areas of discomfort need to leave the shadows.  Let’s normalize these feelings and experiences, and start breaking down the stigma around having anything but a pleasant pregnancy. A simple, “I’m here. I’m listening. I understand. You’re not alone.” can make all the difference. Let’s have the hard conversations out loud and in public.We owe it to each other. 

Thursday, May 16, 2013

The Diary of a Twenty Something Job Seeker: Networking

I know many people who drop names to get where/what they want like it's their damn job.
I never once had the desire to be that person. I wanted to get where/what I wanted on my own terms and by my own hard work.

But now, as I'm desperately trying to find a meaningful career, I'm discovering it really is about who you know and not what you know. This, let me tell you, is incredibly difficult when you’re looking to break in to a new city or job market.

I've wanted to leave Missouri since I was 13 or 14 when my aunt moved to New York. She was the first person I knew to leave our fine state to live somewhere else, long term. The idea that I could live somewhere else when I grew up wasn't something that had ever crossed my mind. Yet, suddenly the possibilities were endless. I was overtaken by the idea of living elsewhere. It was all consuming. As soon as I hit 18 I wanted to be gone. I loved the adventure of it all.

I even tried to attend an out of state school for college, but that was a bust (long, long story for another day). But the issue here is that I got the taste for living in another state. I got the taste of freedom to live my own life, independent of pre-existing relationships. I've been itching to get out of here ever since. Then I met an awesome guy, we got married and now he's got the bug too.

It's just a matter of time before get the opportunity to go on our own adventure, but one of us has to get a job in a new city first. And here lies the problem: we know one person in one of the five or so areas we want to move. And that's it.

In the days of social networking, if you don't already know someone in the company you want to work for or don't have a local address, your application isn't really considered. As unfair as it sounds, it's alarmingly accurate.

Breaking into a new job market is where you'll find nepotism at its best. It feels as if hard work, a great resume, and determination do not get you anywhere when you're paired up against someone who knows an employee at your company of choice. I'd rather get hired on merit, than name dropping, honestly.

Despite my strong desire to avoid the whole ordeal of networking to get a job, I found a position that I really liked and had a roundabout connection to. I asked my close friend, a former employee of my desired company, if she still had any contacts within the company. Through a number of emails, I was put in contact with an executive at the company. I sent him/her my resume and cover letter nestled cozily in a very professional, yet approachable email and hoped for the best. The response I got? Something to the effect of: I don’t have any questions for you, as long as HR has your resume, they'll contact you accordingly.

Stepping outside of my comfort zone and into the land of networking didn't prove to be successful in any way - or at least not that I can see at this time. I hate name dropping and working the inside angle. It makes me feel less valued and like I would get a job because someone put in a good word for, not because my resume is fucking fabulous.

Then comes the issue of location. You pretty much have to live where you want to work, even if you're planning on moving. Employers apparently see Missouri on application/resume for a job in Chicago or Portland and toss me to the side.

Even my HR professional friends have told me to change my address on my resume/application in order to get a closer look from potential employers. This blows my mind. I'm being told to lie on my resume/application in order to be truly considered for a position that I am definitely qualified for. Why is this okay? I understand that many employers are worried about having to foot the bill to relocate a new employee, but if I'm telling them upfront that I want to move and that relocation expenses are not required, what more could they be worried about? If I am listing in my career objectives that I want to relocate for better career opportunities in said city, shouldn't that be clear enough?

When you couple the location factor with the notion of having to have an inside contact at a job in a brand new city, it's easy to see how quickly the discouragement mounts. I'm beginning to think there is only so much I can do to make myself stand out, short of flying into my desired locale and refusing to leave HR until someone speaks to me. That's all I want: someone to talk to me, someone to give me a chance. I promise that I'm worth it.

The Diary of a Twenty Something Job Seeker: The Application Process

Independent, educated, passionate female skilled in communications/public relations/writing/editing/event planning seeks meaningful career in Chicago, Seattle, Portland, or California (yes, the entire state of).

Said female seeks an employer that is willing to take a leap of faith and interview someone who doesn't have a "connection" to the business.

I started looking for career opportunities almost three months ago, thinking that I would absolutely have my dream job, or at least one step closer to one, by now. Alas, I have not.

Instead, I've applied to 120 jobs in something like five different states.

I've got it down to a science at this point. I spend 60-90 minutes per day, at a minimum, scouring the job boards and social networking sites for potentially meaningful careers. I then jump through all of the hoops necessary to apply for said jobs.

Register with a unique user name and complex password? Check.
Enter in all contact information? Check.
Enter in job history, complete with names, addresses, phone numbers, duties, exact dates of employment, and accomplishments, for the past 10 years? Check.
Enter in educational history? Check.
Upload carefully tailored resume? Check.
Upload job specific cover letter with details referring back to the original job description and how you'd be so awesome at their company? Check.
Five page job specific questionnaire? Check.
Save and submit? Donezo.

I've gone through this entire process nearly 120 jobs, start to finish, only to receive a canned email from the company's HR department saying the same thing EVERY TIME:

Thank you for your interest in our company and for taking the time to apply for the following position __________________.

Our company receives many applications for each vacancy. It is a very competitive process. Only the most qualified candidates will advance in the selection process. Should you skills, qualification, and previous relevant work experience best meet our staffing needs, a representative from our Human Resources department will contact you.

Due to the large volume of applications, we cannot respond to all applicants.

We look forward to reviewing your resume.

Sincerely, Company XYZ

P.S. This message is automatically generated from an unmanned mailbox. Please do not respond. P.P.S No phone calls, please.

Then we wait.

Some businesses have a dynamic application site that allows you to check the status of your application, though most do not. Sometimes you'll get an email saying that they're looking at other candidates, but never tell you why you weren't right for the job. Sometimes you're stuck in limbo and hear nothing at all. Ever.

Out of the 120 jobs I've applied for, I've heard from 18 of them. 5 of them were jobs that I was invited to interview for, but upon contact, I realized that I shouldn't have applied for them to begin with. They either A) were jobs in the financial industry and I've been trying desperately to get out of that industry for a few years now. OR B) were jobs that would pay me less than I'm making now in my current job. The other 13 jobs send emails explaining that they appreciated my interest but would be pursuing other candidates for the position.

It's incredibly frustrating to apply for so many jobs only to never hear why you weren't the right candidate for the job. It would be incredibly helpful to know if you're applying for things out of your league or if your resume looks sketchy so that you could take the appropriate steps toward correcting the issues at hand.

But instead, you're left to keep on fishing.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012


After a morning spent ogling the TIME Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People in the World list, I am thoroughly inspired. The 2012 list is full of entrepreneurs, inventors, political figures, actors, and activist. Though the list is long, I do have my favorites, all women actually. Don’t get me wrong, there are definitely men on the list that hold a special place in my heart, but I just couldn’t ignore the uprising of important and influential women that made the cut.

If I had an office like Amy Poehler (who should definitely be on this list, especially since Chelsea Handler ended up on it….) on Parks and Rec, I would have the wall behind my desk filled with photos of the following wonderful women – because a powerful woman is hard to ignore.

Christine Lagarde – Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), a pioneer for women in positions of power overseas: 1st woman to head up the IMF, 1st woman to become minister of Economic Affairs in a G8 economy, and the 1st woman to have a legitimate chance to be elected President of France in the coming years. I remember when she was named Managing Director of the IMF, I immediately started looking for job openings under her. I still hate finances, but the opportunity to be a part of history was just so enticing.

Cecile Richards – President of Planned Parenthood and an outspoken activist for women’s health care and reproductive rights. Cecile has to be my number one female icon. In the face of extreme adversity within the current political climate, she has exhibited nothing but pure fortitude. My dream is to work with her one day. I want to learn how to be honest in my beliefs and passions, no matter the political outcome.

Portia Simpson Miller – 1st woman prime minister of Jamaica and is actively working toward full civil rights for homosexuals in a country known for a “violent history of homophobia”. Gotta love another woman who is a first. It’s so exciting to see how much has changed in terms of women in political positions – and even more exciting when you see those women making bold statements about their desires to change tradition.

Hillary Clinton – Down to earth diplomat who is constantly strengthening relationships with other countries while encouraging others to join in the fight for “global order.” Hillary is kind of a big deal. Even when good ole Bill was President, we all knew that Hillary was in the background guiding and influencing his presidency. Behind every successful man is a powerful woman – that adage has never rang more true. Also, did you see the “Texts from Hillary” internet meme? How could you not love her?

I am so ready to get my life started, and thanks to many of the women on the list who have inspired me to reach for greater things. I truly enjoy my current job as a Public Relations Coordinator for a financial institution, but after every work day ends, I can’t help but feel unfulfilled. My passion is for women’s rights, whether they be reproductive rights, employment rights, or general healthcare rights. I dream of working for an organization that does genuine good for the world that surrounds it while making a difference in the communal landscape.

I want to do something big. I want to make a difference. I want to find an organization to harness my passion and put it to good use. I want to do something that means something.

I just someone to help me find a pathway.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Maple Stirrup

I was given my first pair of roller skates when I was 4 or 5. They were white faux leather with pink straps, pink wheels, and a small photo of Barbie on the side. My parents bought them for me for my birthday, I believe - I adored them.

I remember wearing them around the house, scuffing up the linoleum in the kitchen as my unsure feet found their way into a gliding rhythm. When I could finally stand on my own in my skates, my Nana took me to the skating rink each Saturday morning. Before we left in the mornings, she would make me creamed egg sandwiches with extra pepper, stating that eggs would make me strong. We would listen to Neil Diamond on our way to the rink.

Sweet caroling, bah bah bahhhh.
Good times never seemed so good, so good so good so good.

The rink was always cold and Nana always brought us sweatshirts - Kansas City Chiefs for Nana, Kansas City Chiefs for me. She would sit cross legged on the floor and gently put my small feet into my Barbie skates and then lace up her skates, pulling her pants over the tops of the boots. Skating on the carpet was always easier than skating in the rink so she always held my hand for the first few laps around the rink, letting me decide when to let go.

We skated from 9-11am, forever in a child's eyes. We skated because Nana loved to skate. I skated because I wanted to be with my Nana.

I don't remember when we stopped going skating together exactly. I'm sure it was a result of a multitude of factors: my parents got divorced, Nana lost her leg above the knee, I started growing up. I just remember one day realizing that skating wasn't a part of my life anymore and being sad.

By the time I had this realization I was 11 and no one really roller skated anymore - it was all about in-line skating, roller blading, and I had moved to a city where skate night happened on Friday nights. Friday nights full of teenagers and testosterone. I hated renting skates just to hang out with my friends and begged for a pair of roller blades. I never got pink Barbie roller blades. Instead, my mom bought me a pair of black and blue blades that I would take to Great Skate every Friday night to line my wrists with glow bracelets and hope for a shot at couple skating with the cutest boy there. I skated because everyone else was. I skated to be closer to cute boys, and when I turned 12 I had a skating birthday party. But fate had the greatest irony planned for my 12th birthday: I dislocated my knee playing volleyball in P.E. just two days before my already booked party. I would have to sit out on the bleachers as I watched everyone at my birthday party skate around the rink. I watched as my best friend at the time, got to couple skate with the boy of my young dreams.

I stopped skating after that.

Up until two weeks ago, it had been nearly 12 years since the last time I skated. I hadn't even stepped foot into a rink. Not because it brought back bad memories, but it was more like I didn't care, didn't have a passion or a reason to do it again. I had graduated college, gotten married, and worked full time, but didn't have a hobby of any kind. After a few friendly conversations with a co-worker and a good friend from high school, I decided I would try skating again. I gathered up a friend to skate with me and brought along my husband and a few other friends to act as a support system, and I skated for the first time in 12 years - at a local all women's roller derby rookie practice.

I sweat for what seemed like hours as we did endurance laps around the rink, practiced safe falling and stopping, but no matter how many times I hit my knees or banged my elbow, I kept going back for more. The adrenaline high after practice was unlike anything I had ever felt. I couldn't sleep though it was midnight, all I could think about was skating. I had my first taste of roller derby and I had an insatiable appetite for more. I went to open skate. I met more people. I studied tutorials of juking and blocking and bouts of competitor teams. I learned about outdoor skates and rules and regulations. I couldn't get enough.

My family and close friends say I'm too frail for roller derby - Bird Bones as Joseph calls me. I say they're wrong. For the first time in my life, I want to skate for me. I am skating to remind me of my Nana, to remind me of my youth, but most of all I'm skating to discover who I am. I don't want to get all philosophical or cliche about it, but I feel more comfortable in a derby skin than I have anywhere else in a long time. I feel like I fit in and that I can be good at something other than academics. I get to be a banker by day and a fierce derby girl by night.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

For being a writer, I'm pretty terrible about keeping up a blog. I scribble notes into the margins of my planner and onto receipts found in the depths of my purse – but cannot seem to translate these spur of the moment thoughts, feelings, hopes, desires, etc into blogging. I swear, I do write – quite a bit actually, but most of the time no one gets to read it. I keep my little notes of frivolous diction tucked away, usually throwing them away, haphazardly, with old grocery lists and gum wrappers. A bit of a waste I suppose.


Cliffnoted version of my life for the past two months:



After 5 years and $60,000 + in student loan debt, I finally graduated from a major university. I entered into the ranks of those who hold a college degree but are employed in a field totally different than their specialty area. I opted to switch into a full-time position at the bank I work at as a consumer banking representative – a.k.a.: totally not using my English and publishing degree in the manner in which I obtained it. I guess the first strike against my future was choosing such an ambiguous degree area like English. "What are you going to do with that? Be a teacher?" – I've been asked many times. I always respond with "No." with a tinge of uncertainty in my voice.  I mean, I love teachers, I really do. Half of my in-laws (teaser for the next section!!) are teachers and they're fabulous at what they do, but I don't think that I could have that kind of job every day.


So, no, I will not be employed as a teacher in my immediate future. I will remain employed at the bank which has paid my bills and provided so many friendships for the past three years, until something fabulous and life-changing opens up for me. My options are open and my passion is bountiful.



Remember that time Joseph and I got married in June 2011? I do – it was awesome. We were married on a hot Sunday, Father's Day actually (it was much cheaper that way). I wore a pretty dress and hot pink shoes and carried a bouquet that my mother made, wrapped in lace with trinkets from my grandmother and great grandmother adorning the lace covered stems. I had the most important people in my life all under one roof, celebrating with us. My best friend stood right behind me, holding my bouquet and straightening my train. Later, she sang along to the tinkering guitar melodies of a wonderful musician and even better friend, as we served communion to our friends and family. The most wonderful fuzzy man I have ever met stood in front of me, reading me his vows from a post-it note – quoting "Star Wars" of all things.


We drank PBR and cheap wine, ate homemade pulled pork and baked beans, sang along to indie renditions of Miley Cyrus' "See You Again" and Neil Diamond's "Sweet Caroline". Our entire wedding party and friends intermingled in a dramatic fashion while singing along to Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsody." Joseph danced with his mother – her Bugger Bear had grown up. I danced with my father – it was better than any 'Daddy Daughter Dance Night" that we could've gone to in elementary school. We remembered those we had lost and celebrated with those we still had. We left as husband and wife.

People ask me what married life is like and I don't quite know how to answer that. It's as if nothing has changed but at the same time, everything has changed. Joseph and I found out two years ago what it was like to live with the person you love, so the post-wedding cohabiting wasn't a fear for us.  My initials didn't even change, ANW to ANW. I did, however, lose 5 letters from the entirety of my name – less work for me!  But even with all these simple non-changes, everything felt differently. Suddenly, if we fought, it felt like there was more to fight for, more to save. The stakes were higher. We were legally and spiritually bound to one another. It was such a big moment when I realized that I was no longer a single lady in the eyes of the law. I had a husband now.


What does a feminist do when she gets married?

If she's anything like me she would cook whatever she wanted, try new hair colors and styles, work 40 hours a week, try new beers and wines, love her herself regardless of any honeymoon weight gained, love her husband something fierce, and – join the local roller derby team.


More on that later.





Saturday, January 22, 2011

Saturday Mornings

It its impossible for me to sleep in, and I hate it. Today is one of the first Saturday's that I have had off in a while where I haven't had ANYTHING to do with it. So my initial plan was to:

1) Enjoy some beer on a Friday night, knowing that I didn't have to wake up early on Saturday.

2) Watch movies with my manfriend and stay up SUPER late.

3) Wear awesome PJs and break out my down comforter, nuzzle into our bed and be happy.

4) Sleep until like noon.

5) Have a can of soda with my toast for breakfast.

6) Go on about my day.

But no. That just can't happen for me. It was snowing so much last night that I remained at home, beerless, and drank juice with some homemade chili-cheese fries. So at least the fries portion was relatively okay. As for movies with Joseph, I snuggled up on the couch in my awesome PJs as we started our traditional one episode of British TVs "Top Gear" and ogled over the fast and overpriced cars - I fell asleep. It was 10:30pm, mind you. I am such a grown up that I can't make it past 10:30pm anymore.

Once I woke up enough to make it up the stairs to bed, I forgot to liberate my down comforter from the confines of my closet, and just got into bed and fell back asleep. But here's the kicker: I woke up at a ridiculous 7:30am. It's like I'm trained to wake up then so I can be at the bank by 8:25am. So I laid there, looking through pictures in my phone, catching up with some much needed personal reading, until 8:45am when Joseph woke up.

I mean, I guess I didn't kill everything on my list, I can still enjoy a can of diet cream soda while I eat my toast with sunflower butter and jelly, and go about my day. I even tried to watch Saturday morning cartoons since I was up so early. But it all seems kind of pointless now.

Oh the joys of growing old!