3.25.2015

They Hate Us

Is it still a thing to be annoyed by couples that sit on the same side of the booth?  I stumbled across this on some person's random Facebook page.


Dear weird couple that sits on the same side of the booth.  Do you not realize that it's not a bar it's a table and thus there are two sides of the table to sit on?  Are you that joined at the hip and co dependent that you cannot bear to sit a few feet apart for an entire meal?  Do you realize how annoying it is?  When you sit across from each other you can talk and look each other in the eye.  You can actually see your partner and that is much more romantic then craning your neck to talk to each other side by side.  This same sider seating is very annoying and creepy.  Just the sight of it drives people insane.  It's as if you are desperate to proclaim to the world that you are that in love that you must sit next to each other. 
-Source, unknown/anonymous. 

Sitting on the same side since 2008
"They hate us you know,"  I said to MJ one time when we were sitting next to each other at a restaurant.  He had no idea it was even a thing to be hated for until I told him that a lot of people seem to have a problem with couples who choose to sit next to each other instead of across from each other.

We are that weird couple who sits on the same side of the booth.  I am the instigator and he allows it.  He slides into one side and I side into the same side right beside him.  There is no insidious purpose behind it.  We are not desperate to proclaim that we are so in love.  It's just a preference and one of many choices that one might encounter when dining out.  Table or booth?  Bar or Dining room?  Straw or no straw? Dessert or no Dessert?  You get the idea.  You go in you sit, someone takes your order and you eat.  It all plays out the same regardless of where anybody sits.

We are not sucking face.  We are not feeling each other up.  There might be some hand holding while we wait for our food and a few cheek kisses here and there but it's not excessive in any way so I don't really see how that is anyone's business but ours anyways.

When the food comes I have easy access for snagging a bite off of his plate and I enjoy the intimacy of having our own little private dinner.  Yes, in a public restaurant.  And I do not find it at all difficult to hold a conversation when we are next to each other.  I glance over to my left or my right and bam, there he is.  No neck craning involved.  We talk and laugh just as well as we would across from one another. 

Call me weird, but I just like being next to him.   Even at home I want to be right next to him if we are watching TV or when we go to bed.  Lest you think I am totally smothering him; I do give him his space.  We are not co dependent.  My husband travels for work every year and I do not fall apart without him.  We do our own thing.  I go out with my friends.  He participates in extra curricular activities and hangs out with his friends.  At home we are free to retreat to two separate living spaces and do our own thing.  We are not joined at the hip. I just like sitting next to him.

It's not my problem if this bothers people.  The only time I can recall being annoyed by this behavior is when I was in a miserable relationship or when I was single and sad about it.  My negative reaction to same siders had less to do with the couple and more to do with my own personal issues.  It just doesn't really seem like a big deal to me.  Certainly not something to be that annoyed by and I didn't even know "same sider" was a thing until I read that post.

How do you feel about same siders?  Do it, hate it or don't care?

3.16.2015

That Daily Grind

About four weeks ago things at work started to get really, really busy as they do every year at this time.  I know it's coming but when it hits it REALLY hits hard and I end up stressed out and wiped out every time.  I work frantically and furiously from the moment my butt hits my ergonomic chair at 8am to the minute I leave at 5pm. I barely have time to get up to go to the bathroom.  I sit there waiting for that elusive stopping point even though I know it's really bad for me because there is so much work to do.  There is no way I can do it all at once but I heap a ton of pressure on myself to get it done fast and not make any mistakes.  By the end of the day my brain is fried and I'm so annoyed by all the crap I've had to muck through.  On the drive home I am just outdone.  I don't even want to listen to the radio.  My neck and back are tight.  I have been sucked dry and now that I'm free I have nothing left to give what's left of my day.  By the time I get home I am emotionally drained and physically exhausted.  When my tired head hits the pillow at night I am so tired and so ready to go to sleep and then the nagging thoughts about what I didn't finish and what I need to remember to do the next day start creeping in creating a ball of anxiety in the pit of my stomach because I am so overwhelmed.  When I get to work in the morning it feels like I never left and the days start blending into each other.  Am I really here again doing the same thing?  Get up, work, eat, sleep, repeat and live for the weekends to  break the never ending cycle of that daily grind.

This time of year always makes me reflect on my days as a claims adjuster.  Worst job ever.  I seriously don't know how I survived for so long doing a job that made me so miserable.  Two weeks later, things have started to slow down a bit at work.  Still crazy busy but not enough that I have work dreams anymore. Two weeks of that kind of stress is doable.  Especially considering a lot of it is self induced stress that I put on myself but as a claims adjuster I felt that pressure and that stress every single day and it was more than self induced.  There were people on my ass every day on the phones pressuring me to do the impossible yesterday and it never ended.  I dreaded work so much that it wasn't uncommon for me to cry on the drive there or cry on the way home.  It went on for years and years like that until I finally couldn't take it anymore and quit.  I didn't even have a job lined up.  I just knew that I could not go on like that and I didn't care what the consequences were.  I couldn't do it anymore.

I remember when I first started working where I do now I was so afraid of finding myself in the same position.  Every time things got busy I had flash backs to the horror of being a claims adjuster and how it felt to have a ridiculous amount of time sensitive work,  deal with angry people all day long and feel like the world was crashing down on my chest every day.  I was so afraid that this job would turn out to be like that job and I freaked out a little bit but every time I felt overwhelmed.  I'd start to panic but it always blew over.  It always became manageable.  Now I can tell myself to calm down, it will pass and that I won't wake up tomorrow living the nightmare of hating my job.  It took me a few years to get over the post traumatic stress or whatever you want to call it of being trapped and miserable at work for so many years.  Yes, my job seriously stresses me out for about a month every year and a handful of times in between but I am so grateful that it's only temporary and not the day to day norm.  Most of the time I go to work, put in my time and leave it there.  It doesn't keep me up at night and it doesn't make me feel like I want to end it all.  Nobody should ever feel like that about their job.  Life is just too short to be that unhappy at a place that you depend on for your livelihood where you have to spend a huge chunk of your life.  I really feel for people who hate their jobs.  Having lived it for longer than I should have, I know how debilitating that can be.  You can almost feel the years being taken off your life.  Not good.

As a claims adjuster my best day was five time worse then even my worst day now.  That's pretty bad.  I'm so glad I don't have to deal with that anymore so even though I still haven't figured out how to quit my job and spend my days sitting coffee shop, traveling the world, and staging Instagram pics I'll take it and consider myself lucky.
 photo SignaturececePink.png

3.02.2015

What's in a Blog Name?

Yes, you are in the right place, it's just that I have changed my blog name for the fourth time. That's four times in going on six years of this blog's history. Five if you count the blog I originally started on Word Press.  Is that a lot? I think it is.


When I changed it to Pink Sunshine it felt right and I was certain that I would never feel the need to change it again but towards the end of last year a new name infiltrated my thoughts.  I couldn't get it out of my head and Pink Sunshine didn't feel like me anymore.  I would have felt weird having my blog name be my parent's address while they were living there so it never occurred to me that Mahogany Drive was the perfect forever blog name until after they moved to Vegas last year.  The move drummed up all the feelings of nostalgia I ever had about my childhood home.  I moved in when I was in 1st grade and didn't move out until the year I graduated from college.  Mahogany Drive is the last place that we all lived together as a family.  It's where I grew up.  There are so many memories and an entire era of my life tied up in that house.  To this day, the land line to Mahogany Drive is the only phone number I can recite without a hitch.  I've since forced myself to remember MJ's cell phone number but it still takes me a minute to string the numbers together from memory and sometimes I still forget.   I don't remember phone numbers like I used to, but I think the land line to Mahogany Drive will be etched in my memory forever.  It made us all a little sad to know that number was no longer 'ours' even though we had stopped using it after my parents got cell phones.

I pulled out an old flash drive in hopes of finding a picture of our old house on Mahogany.  I didn't find any.  I'll have to search the real photo albums.  You know, those books that people used to put pictures in?  I didn't find what I was looking for but I enjoyed the trip down memory lane that took me back to 2006.  That flash drive is a treasure trove of pictures and videos that I don't even remember saving.  I lost a lot of pictures when my Mac crashed last year but the ones I was most worried about are on that flash drive.  Our first date.  Our first overnight trip, the floor plan for our first home together that I saved off the website.  And the more recent lost photos (including our honeymoon) are carefully archived in photo albums on Facebook from back in the days when I consistently put everything there.  As I dug through the photos that MJ did recover from my Mac I was overwhelmed by the sheer volume of pictures that were there, especially because I can still remember the days before digital cameras.  I take pictures of anything and everything because it's easy, because I can, and my camera/phone is by my side 24/7.  Pictures are a dime a dozen.  It's nothing to take five shots just to get the perfect one so I have almost identical pictures of a lot of the same things.  I should delete the duplicates but I don't.  Just in case.  I have pictures of beef stew, pictures of my yoga mat, random pictures of the sky.  They flood my phone, consume all the memory and I become annoyed over having to decide which to keep and which to delete.  Which ones were real moments and which ones were just in case I wanted to Instagram it or blog about it later?

I took a Polaroid camera to 5th grade camp and in in high school I was always the one with the camera at every event.  I sent my rolls of film out for developing by mail because it was cheaper and patiently awaited my return packet so anxious to see how they turned out.  I have always had a love for picture taking because I want those memories but the over abundance of images has made me slightly indifferent to how valuable and precious these pictures really are.  Looking through that old flash drive made me realize how detached I had become.  Each photo back then seemed to count so much more than they do now.   Photo taking was reserved for special times and special things.  You had to make a point to bring your camera with you and if you forgot it all was lost.  You didn't take ten pictures of the same pose or five pictures of your wine glass because there were only so many shots. You wouldn't waste a frame on something so trivial and there was time, effort and money involved in seeing the finished product.  Even after digital taking pictures of chicken or a margarita still wasn't a thing.  Without social media nobody thought so hard about documenting the mundane because it was about the moment and the people you were with not when and how you were going to share it later.  I remember lovingly selecting each photo to place in my photo album.  Now they just sit around in a hard drive somewhere taking up space and if I did decide to put them in an album more than half of them wouldn't make the cut.

Blogging is not a passing fancy or a trend for me.  I plan to blog for years to come and once I got the new name in my head the old name started to feel like one I had already grown out of.   I'm not posting as often as I used to but I'm okay with that because it's reminiscent of the old days when it was less forced and more organic.  Less about numbers and more about writing.  Looking at those photos from before blogging made me remember how excited I was just to have a place on the internet that was all my own and a time when that was the only reason anybody did it.  It reminded me of just how precious each and every photo really is and why I started blogging in the first place.  Memories are precious and writing is what I love to do.  I want to get back to that. 

Can I just say how excited I was to claim the name for all of my social media accounts without having to add any funky underscores or additional numbers? This name was just sitting there waiting for me to take it.  The only thing I have not switched over is my feed burner feed name.  I actually have twenty-one precious subscribers that I will probably lose forever if I make them update it so I'll sit on that for a minute before I make a decision.  If I know me, I'll probably end up changing it because it's going to bug the heck out of me that it doesn't match everything else.

So what's in a blog name?  Everything.  Once upon a time Mahogany Drive housed my family and everything I loved and owned.  It's also who I am.  I can't think of a better name for a blog that will continue to house my pictures, memories and thoughts for years to come.  I'm never changing my blog name again.  That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

2.17.2015

Fun While it Lasted

Picnic at Balboa Park
You will never guess what he was actually doing

This odd looking maneuver is the end of MJ's cartwheel!  He claimed he could do one, but I kept forgetting to make him show me.  I can't believe that it has taken me (a former gymnast) seven years to get around to seeing this man's cartwheel.  I have no idea how he ended up in that position at the end of a cartwheel but technically, he can do it.  He needs to work on his form but I promised to help.

 

After my parents moved to Vegas I was happy to find out that they had decided to come back every four months for my Dad's Doctor's appointments at UCSD Medical Center.  My dad can see a doctor there who knows about kidney's but not one who does kidney transplants and is used to seeing patients that have had one, so they decided it was worth it for that reason alone to make the drive three times a year.  Plus, they get to see me.  The timing for this appointment couldn't have been better since I had Friday and Monday off for President's Day.  The weather couldn't have been any better either so we decided to take advantage of it and do a Picnic at Balboa Park.  Valentine's Day was a footnote.  We went to dinner that night just to go, but we are not big Valentine's Day people so despite the parade of Red and Pink on social media and the random gift shops that popped up in gas station parking lots selling tacky stuffed animals and garish balloons it was just another date night for us.  I didn't even get a picture and MJ forgot his wallet!
A photo posted by Cece (@pinksunshine94) on

My mom and I spent an entire day running errands and we were in Kohl's so long that by the time we came out we were shocked to see that the sun had gone down but we knew exactly what happened.  We are REALLY slow shoppers! By the time we finished we were starving.  I made a Chipotle run while my mom ran into the Grocery store to get Ice cream sandwiches for my dad.  I was sitting in my car waiting for her.  She sent me a text message asking me what kind of Girl Scout cookies I wanted.  I knew I wanted the Peanut Butter Patties not to be confused with Peanut Butter Sandwich but I couldn't remember the exact name so I checked.  A Girl Scout asked me if I would like some cookies and I said, "My mom is coming to buy them, I just wasn't sure what kind."  Tagalongs, I texted her back.  When she got into the car with the cookies she told me as soon she said she wanted Tagalongs one of the girl scouts said, "Oh, your daughter was here, asking about these."  We laughed when I told her I felt about 12 years old saying that my mom is buying them no matter how old I get have to admit that sometimes I like that.  When you are an adult ensconced in bill paying, laundry, doing and fitting it all in when you are not at work it's nice to feel like a kid again sometimes.  Up to and including your dad driving you nuts because that is what he does, but loving him anyway. 

We shopped.  We went to the movies.  We cooked spaghetti and meatballs for dinner.  And then sooner then you can believe it the weekend is over and you are back at work, but it was so much fun while it lasted.

2.03.2015

I'm Reading Again!


For someone who loves reading so much I can't believe this is the first book review to ever grace my blog but I shouldn't be.  I'm sadly aware that I haven't done a whole lot of reading over the last five years.  Yes, FIVE.  I'm blaming MJ because the reading stopped the year we got married.  I was so distracted by my him and everything else that I didn't make time for it.  Then I was so occupied with blogging and trying to write my own book that I forgot how much I enjoy it.  I didn't make New Year's resolutions, but if I did read more would be at the top of the list and I'm trying to make that happen.  I checked out five books from the library over Christmas Break and finished four in January.  After one renewal I knew I was going to run out of time and that one would be going back to unread.  That last pick turned out to be my favorite one of the bunch.  When I returned them I limited myself to two because realistically, with work and everything else I figured that's all I'd have time for.  I already finished one!  Instead of choosing from just the 'free' or 'cheap' books off of Amazon I went to the library and found books I was really interested in reading so when I have spare time I reaching for a book instead of the remote.  And they are still free!  Project read more in 2015 is going good so far.

Without further ado, in the order in which they were read....

Best Friends Forever, Jennifer Weiner 
Addie Downs and Valerie Adler were eight when they first met and decided to be best friends forever. But, in the wake of tragedy and betrayal during their teenage years, everything changed. Val went on to fame and fortune. Addie stayed behind in their small Midwestern town. Destiny, however, had more in store for these two. And when, twenty-five years later, Val shows up at Addie’s front door with blood on her coat and terror on her face, it is the beginning of a wild adventure for two women joined by love and history who find strength together that they could not find alone. -Via Amazon

My thoughts:
I really liked it!  I was interested right from the start and that remained throughout.  Addie's friend Val was a super annoying character, but she was so annoying because that was her character and the author did a really good job of conveying that.  There was a really cute love story worked in there as well.

Nineteen Minutes, Jodi Picoult
Sterling is an ordinary New Hampshire town where nothing ever happens--until the day its complacency is shattered by an act of violence. Josie Cormier, the daughter of the judge sitting on the case, should be the state's best witness, but she can't remember what happened before her very own eyes--or can she? As the trial progresses, fault lines between the high school and the adult community begin to show--destroying the closest of friendships and families. -Via Amazon

My thoughts:
I've never read a Jodi Picoult book I didn't like.  She had me at My Sister's Keeper and at some point I want to read everything she has written.  There are quite a few at my public library, with multiple copies even, so I should be able to get my hands on quite a few from there.  She is an amazing storyteller and my only critique about it is that sometimes she's such a good storyteller that the storytelling words go on longer than I wish they would.  Sometimes I just want her to get to the point and found myself skipping over a sentence or two to get there.  It does not prevent me from wanting to read more from her though.  There was also a lot of going back and forth between the past and the present which was confusing at first but I got used to it. The story line was really interesting.   We see the shooter as a monster and based on their actions they are, but there are two sides to every story and this book does a wonderful job of telling both.  We get some insight into what can turn a person into a monster and it is heartrendingly sad.  She makes the reader love him a little bit which is really hard to do because he has ruined so many lives and in the end I felt totally conflicted.  

Ladies' Night, Mary Kay Andrews 
Grace Stanton’s life as a rising media star and beloved lifestyle blogger takes a surprising turn when she catches her husband cheating and torpedoes his pricey sports car straight into the family swimming pool.  Grace suddenly finds herself locked out of her palatial home, checking account, and even the blog she has worked so hard to develop in her signature style.  Moving in with her widowed mother, who owns and lives above a rundown beach bar called The Sandbox, is less than ideal.  So is attending court-mandated weekly "divorce recovery" therapy sessions with three other women and one man for whom betrayal seems to be the only commonality.  When their “divorce coach” starts to act suspiciously, they decide to start having their own Wednesday "Ladies' Night" sessions at The Sandbox, and the unanticipated bonds that develop lead the members of the group to try and find closure in ways they never imagined.  Can Grace figure out a new way home and discover how strong she needs to be to get there? -Via Amazon

My thoughts:
It took me a while to warm up to this book and even half way through I still wasn't sure if I wanted to keep on reading.  I soldiered on because it's really hard for me not to once I start reading or watching anything.  The writing was a little bit repetitive in some places but overall it was a good story.  I was glad I stuck it out to the end, although I'm not sure I would recommend it just because it was so slow and hard to get into.

Girl in Translation, Jean Kwok 
When Kimberly Chang and her mother emigrate from Hong Kong to Brooklyn squalor, she quickly begins a secret double life: exceptional schoolgirl during the day, Chinatown sweatshop worker in the evenings. Disguising the more difficult truths of her life like the staggering degree of her poverty, the weight of her family’s future resting on her shoulders, or her secret love for a factory boy who shares none of her talent or ambition. Kimberly learns to constantly translate not just her language but herself back and forth between the worlds she straddles. -Via Amazon

My thoughts:
Out of all the books I read in that bunch this one was my favorite!  I read it in all in one day on one chilly glorious Sunday where I spent most of the day in my granny robe cozied up with this book.  The author is an amazing storyteller and captures Kimberly's experience so well.  I really enjoyed this character.  I was rooting for her so hard to make it and overcome the life circumstances that had been thrust upon her.  It's definitely a must read.


1.27.2015

Body Talk

I don't floss but I don't get cavities.  I've never had anything like bronchitis or strep throat.  I don't get the flu shot and I don't get the flu.  I have vague memories of shivering and sweating in bed as a teenager so I may have had it before but it's been so long that I can't remember.  I have a stomach of iron and I don't know what heart burn or indigestion feels like because I've never had either.  Exactly one year ago I had surgery and was back at work in three weeks.  Like a perfect all knowing machine my body knew exactly what it needed to do to heal and get me back to living the life I love.   I can barely see my hand right in front of my face but it's correctable with contacts.  I have loud creaky knees and a sometimes bad back but I still climbed a really big mountain a few weeks ago.  It aggravated my old lady knees and I could barely walk for days days, but I was able to do it because my body allowed me to. 

It dawned on me around November of last year when people were being struck down left and right with illness that I hadn't been sick for a single solitary day in the calendar year 2014.  Not once.  I actually had to check my blog to find out that the last time I got sick enough with a cold to miss a day of work was January 2013 and it had been a year prior since I was sick before that.  Last month there was one occasion where I had a weird cough and another that I felt a little stuffy at night for a few days but nothing that materialized into anything requiring a day off work, medication or even tissues.  So what's my secret?  The truth is, I don't have one.  I am absolutely not perfect in my diet and exercise and I've only recently gotten more regular with vitamins.  When I'm not eating hamburgers the size of my head I have a solid awareness of what a healthy diet is and that's what I eat.  I exercise regularly except when I'd rather watch reality TV or snuggle in bed with a good book than work out.  There isn't always an explanation for good health just as there isn't always one when it's bad.

My first thought when I realized I haven't been sick in so long was Holy immune system you are really good!!  I'll probably get the plague, the measles or at least a really rotten cold for publicly acknowledging that I haven't been sick in two years; but it's the truth and it's pretty awesome. My second thought.  You are mighty ungrateful for someone who has been graced with such good health.


I know I'm lucky and I don't take my good health for granted.  I never did, although my actions told a slightly different story.  An unhealthy aversion to fat and calories dominated my life for a really long time but in my mind it wasn't a problem.  I wouldn't listen to anyone who said you have to put gas in your car in order to fuel it because I was getting away with it.  There was hardly any gas and yet there I was chugging along.  My trusty body stood up to the abuse like a champ and thrived in spite of my poor nutrition.  Things are different now.  Over the last year I had to accept this whole eat to live concept, but the voice in my head that drove my actions all those years remains.   I should be grateful for my good health.  I am grateful, but sometimes I have to ask myself; how truly grateful I can be when I don't love my body?

I love my body for what it has done but not at all for what it is and sadly, I have never loved any version of my body no matter the size.  I can pick up any journal I've ever written since I was ten years old and find something negative about my shape or weight.  My physical form is a vehicle for life but also a source of conflict.  It's like being trapped in an unwanted shell that you cannot escape.

One day I was in the bathroom using a hand mirror to stare at my butt when my husband walked in.  Let's be real.  I can't be the only woman who has ever done this.  Normally, I hide my hate sessions and would have quickly put the mirror down but I didn't bother.  He's heard me give every excuse in the book to avoid dinner and held me while I cried about my thighs.  There are really no secrets left when it comes to this and as much as he loves my body the way it is he already knows I don't.  He gave me a funny look.

"What? Haven't you ever used a hand mirror like this to look at your butt?"  I asked sarcastically because I already knew the answer.  Of course not.

It struck me as some otherworldly state of being not to have ever done such a thing because I really don't know what it's like to not hate my body.  I can't imagine an existence where I don't use a hand mirror so that I can hate-see my butt.  Where I don't avoid the mirror because I dread what I will see or am compelled to look so that I can shake my head in disgust.  I've pinched, criticized and compared for so many years that I don't even know what I look like anymore.  Objectively, I know that I am not this hideous creature I see in my head and that my harsh opinion is terribly skewed and therefore lacks merit.  I know this, and yet those negative thoughts still speak the loudest.  I've starved.  I've overexercised.  I've called myself fat.  The physical war is over, but the mental war inside my head won't quit and I haven't figured out how to shut off the voice telling me my body is not good enough. There is no reason that any woman at any size should look in the mirror and be so blinded that they can only see what needs fixing. Who's to blame?  How does this happen?  I can't very well blame the Victoria's Secret Fashion Show because this all started before I even knew what Victoria's Secret was.  I can't say that I'm not affected by those images, because I most definitely am, but it's so much more complex than that.  

I've loathed it to the moon and back but all it has ever shown me in return is love.  My body has never let me down.  It does everything it's supposed to do and I should love it wholeheartedly because that's what it deserves. My body deserves better.  I deserve better.  There are people with chronic and/or life threatening illnesses and people get sick every time the wind blows so it does feel kind of ridiculous to be so hung up on something like this.  I'm not one to cuss much, but really; I'm too old for this shit.  Life is too short to spend it hating the very thing that allows you to live.  I'm working on it.  That's really all I can say and hopefully one day I'll learn to appreciate my body for the amazing things it does and for what it looks like.