Thursday, December 20, 2012

How to Dress for the Last Night on Earth

(...and look like Michelle while doing it!)

Start with:
1. Your favorite dress (I'm currently rocking my large cat print shirt dress)
2. Cable knit sweater tights
3. Tacky costume jewelry
4. Bright lipstick
5. Good shoes

1. All other makeup
2. Brushing your hair
3. Shapewear of any kind

Wednesday, December 12, 2012


The following is something I wrote and read at my Grandpa's memorial service earlier today.

     As an adult, and even as a teenager, I loved and appreciated my Grandpa’s dry sense of humor. As a child, however, it was just over my head and so my first impression of him was that he was kind of intimidating. He was taller than anyone else I knew, he didn’t smile very much, and told jokes I didn’t understand. As I grew older, I began to see that he was hardly ever serious and that deep down, he was a softie.

     I remembered this first impression, however, when he was scheduled to talk to my sister and my’s high school history class. I warned all my friends ahead of time that my Grandpa was coming to talk to the class, and they would probably think he was scary, but he’s not. Well, not too scary.

     Elizabeth accidently gave him the wrong time to show up and he ended up needing to come to the school twice, so there was a lot of anticipation by the time the big day came around. He came to talk about his father’s experience in World War 1, and brought some photo albums and even a gas mask. All my friends were impressed and appreciated his visit, that wasn’t surprising. What was shocking was everyone telling me how cute and adorable my Grandpa was! “Cute” and “Adorable” were not necessarily the first words I was expecting to hear. At first I just thought they were trying to be nice, until one friend told me afterwards, “I just want to give him a hug!” “Really?” I responded. “Are we even talking about the same person?!”. Obviously we were, and it was just that all of them were able to see immediately what took me a little bit longer. Despite the fact that I can hardly remember anything he actually talked about in that class (aside from showing the gas mask) this is one of my favorite memories of my Grandpa.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Blog Series Part 2: I'm an Adult

I realized while grouping my next items on my “30 things I’ve already done, accomplished, or otherwised experienced” list that I could probably group the remaining items by different themes.  For those of you just joining me (or have forgotten) this list is a reminder of things I’ve already accomplished that I am proud to have done.  This is a list I can revisit when I have the blahs, or am feeling unaccomplished, or prone to comparing myself with others accomplishments. The first 5 items on my list are here.  If I had to retroactively assign a theme to the first 5 items, I suppose it would Experiential Learning.

I'm such an adult, that when David and I stayed at a B&B for our anniversary, the first thing I wanted him to do was take photos of me sitting on all the couches. Like a Boss.

6. Learned to schedule “me” time.
This started when I was first dating David. I was working full time, going to school part-time, co-leading a student ministry, and also working as a research assistant for a professor which meant very, very little time off. Add in a new relationship, with someone who lived a half hour (or more, yay Boston area traffic!) away, and I could have easily gone into full on breakdown mode weekly. However, given my work schedule (4 days/week) I began to schedule myself “Michelle Days”. These would be on my first day off and would last until around 5pm. I would often take myself out for lunch and eat some fancy grilled cheese sandwich at the coffee shop around the corner and read trashy magazines. I wouldn’t answer my phone, I wouldn’t do homework or housework (hahaha like I did housework anyways? No), and I would love it. One day, just for me, where I didn’t have to think or fulfill obligations. Once evening time came around I’d often head into the city to hang out with David, or do laundry, or study. But setting aside a big chunk of time for that year I lived alone really taught me the value of me-time. I don’t set aside a full day anymore, but I still make a point to schedule that time in, whether it’s in the form of going to a yoga class on the weekends or having 20 mintues to myself after work. Scheduling it into my days as an actual commitment made it so much easier to say “no” to things that would pop up in that time. Saying “yes” to those things, even things I wanted to do, meant saying “no” to myself and to the time I knew I needed to decompress from my week.

Saturday, September 15, 2012


It's been 55 hours since my wisdom teeth were yanked from their sockets, I have to say...I am recovering wonderfully. So wonderfully, I feel a little silly having put this off for as long as I have! Nearly the entire process has been easier than anticipated.

Nearly. There was a slight hiccup in the beginning. 

Wednesday, September 12, 2012


In less than 12 hours I will have undergone my first sedation and, should all go well, be recovering from a quadruple wisdom tooth extraction.  I've been a fairly healthy person, so I've never had surgery or needed to take pain medication stronger than prescription strength ibuprofen. I'm a little worried. But, we have stocked up on ice cream, soup, and popsicles; setup a tv in the bedroom; and washed all of my pajamas and comfy clothes.  My oral surgeon helpfully pointed out that since I'm "not 16 anymore" my body will take longer to recover, but here's hoping all goes well!

In closing, here is a picture of the newest addition to our family, Mona the Mini-Pug!

Monday, August 27, 2012

Blog Series: 30 Things I've Already Done, Experienced, or Otherwise Accomplished

A mistake I made while composing my 30 before 30 list was looking at other randomly selected 30 Before 30 lists I found on the internet.  I was going through a bit of block halfway, and thought that reviewing the lists others have created would give me "inspiration". Instead, I managed to come away feeling unmotivated, unaccomplished, and old.

Some people's lists were clearly written in their early 20s, giving them nearly a decade to complete a highly ambitious list, such as managing to travel to every continent while earning advanced degrees and becoming successful in their field.  I glanced at my list (and the past few years of my life) and could feel self-doubt and disappointment creeping up.

I had already been feeling like I wasn't yet a "real adult".  I still ate dinner on the couch more often than at the table, because the table was too full of other stuff. My mattress had springs poking out and was currently residing on the bedroom floor, not a bedframe in sight. Real adults organized their mail, had regularly scheduled housecleanings and wouldn't be embarrassed if someone stopped over unexpectedly; real adults didn't have their mattresses on the floor.

The remedy, I decided, was to make a list of 30 things I've already done, experienced, or otherwise accomplished. 30 things I'm proud of, even if I accomplish nothing on the list I was working on. 30 things I can say I achieved before 28 1/2 (totally a real goalpost, you guys. Trust me).

So, here they are. Well, some of them. I'm going to be adding them slowly, discussing why each and every one of these items are things I'm proud to have accomplished. The order isn't leading up to the most important or anything, I just kind of organized it in a way that made sense to me.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Redefining Goals

The end date for my 101 list has passed, and I didn't end up reaching 50 completed like I previously posted about.  Regardless, I am still proud of myself for making the list; if nothing else it serves as a snapshot of what my goals were nearly 3 years ago. I've come a long way since then, even if it's not in all of the same directions I predicted.

Because I love making lists (and, let's be honest, expecting a lot of myself) I have made a new list of goals: the traditional 30 Before 30 List! Last week on Facebook I asked friends what they thought I should put on my list, and the results were entertaining. Below (and in the sidebar) is my finalized list. Some of the items are things that I've already done (museums) but that I want to do again before turning 30. I have 601 days (1 year, 7 months, and 21 days) to complete this list!

1. Maintain (or improve!) current GPA (3.7)
2. Start working in a library
3. Travel to the Pacific Northwest
4. See the Grand Canyon
5. Have trip to Czech Republic planned & budgeted
6. Go to a Natural History Museum
7. Go to an Art Museum
8. Take a train ride
9. Run a 5k
10. Have a more consistent yoga practice: 2x/wk for 6 months
11. Increase yoga skills (graduate from intro class)
12. Do 100 push-ups (even if they are lady push-ups)
13. Complete a 3 day cleanse (no processed food or animal products)
14. Either get a new tattoo, or have birds touched up
15. Continue to refine budgeting system
16. Take a photo in a photo booth
17. Watch 10 Hitchcock movies I haven't seen
18. Knit a garment
19. Begin regular housecleaning schedule: establish routine for everyday stuff and set a schedule for weekly/monthly
20. Buy a reusable mentrual product
21. Make bread from scratch
22. Take a gun safety class
23. Stop biting my nails
24. Buy a piece of art
25. Try freezer cooking
26. Go through all clothing 2x/year, donate clothes I don't wear to Goodwill
27. Create a better system for routinely going through non-clothing items, de-clutter and donate household items on a regular schedule
28. Eat at the dinner table (instead of the couch) more often
29. Buy a new mattress and bed frame
30. Volunteer

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Connecticut in Pictures

I've been here for a few weeks now, and things have settled in. Routine has been established. Wake up, do meds. Go to radiation, or chemo, or to see one of her two oncologists, or the nutritionist. More meds. Make dinner. See the sister. And so on. 

I could write more about the details of my days, but instead, I thought I would just upload some pretty photos. 

These are just a few selections from what I've taken in the past 3 weeks. Things not represented include hair dying with Liz, lots of time spent with Guinevere, and countless hours in front of the tv.

Mom, coloring at chemo and David, prior to leaving for Tucson.  (additional photos after the cut)

Saturday, June 16, 2012


It's almost 9 pm (Eastern time) and I've now been in Connecticut for a few hours. David is upstairs, passed out in bed, and Mom went up even before David to lie down. Dad and I are currently watching Ancient Aliens (which he's never seen before) and I busted out the laptop.

I'm happy to be here, but I don't think it's fully hit me, the reality of the situation, the fact I will be here for six weeks and side effects and treatment and everything else.

Liz (my sister), Paul-John (her husband), and Guinevere (best niece in the world) were here when we arrived and we enjoyed dinner together, although Mom wasn't able to eat much. We did, however, have the opportunity to mock her "nausea decision making tree" because literally every option points to "call your doctor" and at least two tell you to look for the suggestions on another pamphlet, which seems to defeat the purpose.

Christopher arrived later on in the evening and we were able to chat for a bit. It's a good thing I bought new shoes prior to arriving because I found out he can't give me his discount at the shoe store where he is an assistant manager.

I woke up at 4 am (Mountain time) and I'm trying to stay up until 9 or 10 so that I already begin adjusting to the new time zone. Mom's treatment is before 9am every day, so I want to be as awake as possible which is never easy for me in the mornings. Dad is now watching the Red Sox and I'm wondering how much longer I can stay awake before joining David. I'm oddly alert at the moment but know that the minute I get into bed I am going to be out like a light. (Apparently being at my parents I just want to use old people phrases like no other, I have already edited out like three other ones).

Tomorrow we are taking my Grandfather to dinner for his 75th birthday/Father's Day, and then Monday it is radiation and chemo all in one day. Whether I'm ready for it or not, it's here.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

101 Things

After discussing the possible upcoming changes to my blog in my last post (the largest one being ACTUALLY POSTING), I realized it had been awhile since I had checked in on my 101 list.  I found where I had posted my end date....and it's in less than two months! July 15, to be exact.  My next move was to go and count all the ones I had accomplished. After updating my list, it came to a total of....36. Hmmmm. Not sure I like that, it's just barely over a third completed! I reviewed the rest of my list, and mentally eliminated any that would be unattainable, time-wise (write in a sleep journal every month for a year? oops!).  Of the 65 I had left, that eliminated a nice round 15, leaving me with 50 left. That's right, as of tomorrow (since today is nearly done), I have 45 days left and 50 possible tasks.

I don't plan on trying to do all 50 in that amount of time, despite my penchant for aking on too much stuff at one time. However....if I could possible bump up my 36 to 50? That would be pretty cool.  That only leaves me with 14 more to complete.  Quit smoking 6 months? 5 months in, so I should be able to cross that off my list pretty soon.  Make copies of important records? Watch the sun rise and set in the same day? Definitely do-able. Watch all Hitchcock movies I haven't seen? Maybe not.

Regardless of the number I have done, it's been an interesting challenge and one I'm thankful I tried. Certainly, some were much more difficult than others, though that doesn't seem to help in terms of which ones have been finished. Applying and getting into grad school, for example, would probably be the most challenging item on there and yet it is one I've been able to cross off.  If anything, this at least helped me narrow down goals from ones I was really invested in versus ones that sounded fun. I do enjoy the idea of keeping a list, so perhaps once July 15 rolls around I'll figure out a new, shorter list.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Coping Skills

Originally I wasn't sure that I would write this. I wasn't sure I'd be able to, first of all, and I wasn't sure if it was my story to tell.  But, it's been floating around my head and I talked to the person whose story it is, so now I'm getting it all down on virtual paper.

In mid-April, my mom was diagnosed with Adenoid Cystic Carcinoma in her salivary gland larynx. Earlier, she had been having some symptoms and her voice had changed, and her Ear, Nose, and Throat doctor told her that one of her vocal chords wasn't moving.  After further testing, she was diagnosed with ACC.  And then....nothing. Or, so it seemed from 2,500 miles away.  In reality, she was scheduling appointments, meeting with an oncologist, a radiologist, being tested on her ability to swallow, and so on. However, it took almost exactly a month before she and her doctors decided on treatment.

If there is any type of "theme" to my year so far, I would have to say "coping skills" pretty much sums it up. The beginning of the year when I was stressed out about grad school? I was so overwhelmed then, but it seems so small in comparison to that month waiting for answers.  Zero concentration, crying at the drop of a hat, blurting it out inappropriately via Facebook messenger to several friends ("Hey, what's new?" "Oh, not much, my mom has cancer" "Oh...." AWKWARD).  I may have even suggested to the hubby that we start trying to have a baby (even though we've talked extensively about not doing this, at least, not now, and not biologically if we ever do have kids - adoption all the way!) because clearly the answer to being stressed out is ADD CHILDREN.

Next week, she begins radiation. 5x/wk, for 7 weeks.  June 16th, David and I are flying to CT. David is staying for one week, and I am staying for about six (or so).  And, like the librarian student that I am, I have prepared....

There's one more book that I want to reserve (The "I-Can't-Chew Cookbook", basically the best name ever), but even before we knew Mom would definitely be having radiation, I threw myself into researching food. I knew if I was going back to help out, I would be in charge of food, and it was something practical, hell it was something, tangible, I could do from across the country.

I also ordered a ridiculous number of used books from Amazon to keep myself occupied. Check it: 
(Morning Michelle with books!)
(Extra parenthetical remarks! Someone looks pretty good for this being written pre-coffee)

So, the past few months have been rough, and I know the next few months will likely be even rougher. It's been a decade since I've lived with my parents. (This excludes the month my Dad stayed with us in Tucson; that however was our place and he was our guest. This time I'm the guest).  But, I'm hanging in there. I have a wonderfully supportive partner (seriously, he's the best). I have wonderfully supportive friends. (I've realized that I know more people who have had a parent with cancer or other serious medical condition than not.) I was able to complete my first semester of graduate school - and did pretty fucking well if I do say so myself. I haven't started smoking again (this might be my most proudest accomplishment because ohhhh have I really wanted to). 

I'm thinking with the extra free time I'll be having not working full time or taking classes this summer, I'll be able to blog more regularly. So, this might become a cancer-cookbook blog, or a Michelle-continues-to-be-constantly-stressed blog, or something else. 

This weekend we are celebrating a friend's wedding.  My goal for the next few days is simply to do just that. Not to split my attention between here and Connecticut, but to really appreciate things going on here until I fly home.

Monday, March 12, 2012


While it's been less than two full weeks into March, I feel confident in saying that I've started out pretty successful at fulfilling my proclamation last entry of going to the gym 3x/wk for the whole month. I spent the first week after writing that deciding on a gym (I figured it wasn't yet March so I didn't go at all that whole week after writing that, irony of ironies). I quizzed my friends on where they go to work out, compared prices, and then impulsively joined one without actually going to visit any of the recommended gyms.

Despite that, I've managed to go 4 times, 3 of which were before work. Meaning I'm waking up around 6:25 which let me tell you is ASTOUNDING. Seriously, I think that is one of my biggest challenges, since I had difficulty waking up by 7:10 to get ready for work. I'm still kind of running late by the time I'm done, so I am going to try getting up around 6:15 (::shudder::) as well as try to make it out of the house quicker. I move in such slow motion the early that even when I'm out of bed without hitting snooze, it takes me 20 minutes to get out the door.

So far I'm just doing to elliptical machines because it's easy and mindless and I don't have to think about it at all, which is exactly the kind of outlet I need right now. I think once the routine is down I will start doing the treadmill and paying attention to stuff and possibly do the Couch to 5k plan. We'll see.

I can already feel the benefits, which I'm really taking in to keep me motivated. I like actually being awake at work in the mornings, and feeling awake before drinking coffee is pretty impressive. Overall I can tell my mood is better and I'm less roller-coastery, although I had a mild to moderate freak out before my party on Saturday, but that was extenuating circumstances.

I have been really excited about the party. And thinking through all the minor details. Planning themed food and drinks (Speakeasy spinach dip! Sidecars!) and even drawing up a menu to post to the event invitation.  Considering everything else I was doing I ran out of time, and forgot some things, and wasn't completely finished when people started arriving. Then, I was taking 30 hand breaded chicken tenders out of the oven for my modified version of Chicken a la Rose, and they were sticking to the foil, and I realized I forgot to make Waldorf Salad, that I lost it. I had to step outside for a few minutes and David finished putting the food together. (Chicken Tenders a la Rose were a huge success). But, after that, I managed to pull myself together and had a great evening. The game was fun, although a little hard to figure out, but everyone enjoyed themselves.

(I'm just thinking if I hadn't been working out all week I may not have been able to pull myself together so easily).

Anyways, here's an adorable picture of me and the hubby for you to enjoy! I don't know when the Jim Henson comp will be available but when it is, I will be sure to post.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Record a Duet with David: The Grouch Anthem (Alternate Title: How I Became an Emotional Wreck)

Story Number 1: I decided to record the Grouch Anthem with David to submit to a Jim Henson Cover Project found on Facebook. (It's not a traditional duet, but we're both singing, so I'm counting it as a list item). (Ain't No Road Too Long, also from Follow that Bird, would have been a better a duet but it has to be submitted by March 1st, so time constraints meant Grouch Anthem won out). We started recording last night, and don't worry, I will definitely post the finished results, but we're not quite there yet.

Story Number 2: Friday night I was getting food with some friends before going to see Everything is Terrible at the Loft, and I had been talking about how my classes were going, and recently quitting smoking, and one of my friends remarks that I am having "an awesome year".

...and it's true, I am pretty much having an awesome year. I quit smoking, I started grad school which I've been talking about FOREVER, I have a job I like and that I do well, I have some awesome friends and even more-awesome husband; by all accounts, things are pretty much great.

At this point you may be wondering if I am just writing this blog just to brag. Don't worry, that's not the case. My point, and the reason I started with Story Number 1, is that I have been turning into an emotional roller coaster. At home, it's the grouch anthem, all the time. All of the aforementioned positive changes are in fact positive, but it doesn't mean they're not changes. And apparently I no longer adapt to change as well as I have previously.

At home we're working on de-cluttering and organizing. We're brainstorming different ideas for storage, etc. and I burst into tears. "Why do you disagree with everything I suggest?!?" I say through tears.

I go to the two costume shops in town to look for a 1920's dress for a themed murder mystery party I'm throwing myself for my birthday. I don't find the exact type of dress (a non fringe evening type dress) and they don't really have anything in my size. More tears.  "I just want a pretty dress!" (I found one at Ross. Also: found my 80's prom dress. Total cost? $50! Score!)

I could go on, but I've basically been ridiculous. Not just with the tears either. I've gotten snappy, my irritability threshold is way way down, and I've just been generally out of sorts. And when friends ask me how I've been, I haven't been admitting any of this. I focus on the positive, that the grades I'm getting have been good (even though I'm 3 chapters behind in reading), that I've made it to my yoga class 5 out of the past 6 weeks (even though the other 6 days of the week I'm not active at all), and so on.

Anyhow, the point of this ramble blog post is to admit that I've been a total grouch, and remind myself it's ok to tell people instead of pretending I've got it all together, that working full time AND being in my first semester of grad school IS tough (even with "only" 4 credits).  

Lastly, I am going to commit to being more physically active. Not because I'm trying to be super woman and pile more things on my plate to feel bad about not completing (photo a day challenge? hahaha). But because I know that I feel better when I'm active. I feel awesome on Saturdays after my yoga class is completed, by once a week is not enough. I need some other sort of regular outlet. I keep saying I'm going to do this at home, to wake up early and exercise before going to work, and I just sleep in later and later and feel groggy all day. I think I need to have an actual place for working out, not just my living room, and so today I'm looking around and asking friends and figuring it out. For the month of March my goal is to go to the gym 3x/wk (in addition to yoga saturdays). Even if nobody reads this, I think simply posting this will help keep me accountable. Let's do this!

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Photo-a-day, 2-7

Day 2: Breakfast

Day 3: Something You Adore


Day 5: Something You Wore

Day 6: Makes You Smile

Day 7: Favorite

Sunday, January 1, 2012


Today has been one of the best New Years Day that I can remember. I've been fighting some sort of cold/upper respiratory thing since Tuesday and today was the first time since then that I've woken up and felt....good. This is likely in large part due to the fact the hubby and I stayed in last night, hung out on the couch, and went to bed before midnight.

I felt so good when I woke up that I started my day with about 30 minutes of yoga and a healthy breakfast (eggs and greek yogurt) just to maximize all that feeling-goodness (It totally worked; I finished feeling refreshed and energized. I love yoga). With the rest of the day I've worked on some knitting, did laundry, and began organizing all of my things to be packed. In a few minutes I'll be heading over to the in-laws for dinner. It's been a day I've managed to make both productive and relaxing, which can be difficult to balance. I hoping that having such a balanced day will bode well for the new year, in terms of having a year that is both productive (helloooo grad school) and relaxing (helloooo hopes of keeping a social life!).

Lastly, I've decided to do a photo-a-day challenge for January, because apparently I don't already have enough on my plate? I'm thinking I'll update the blog weekly with my photos, b/c updating daily is a little more challenge than I'm up for. Today's photo, though, is a photo of yours truly, so here's to Day 1!

(Yes, it's awkward. I've decided I'm okay with that)