September 26, 2016

Breaking the Silence


I had no idea how to start my first post in over four months, so instead of staring at that blinking cursor any longer, I thought I might as well break the ice.

So gloobendingledash to you and all your friends.

And now that the ice is officially (and awkwardly) broken: How are you? How've you been? Is anyone actually reading?

(When I told Derrick I was thinking about breaking my personal blog hiatus, he told me not to get my hopes up and "expect too much traffic right away." Bless that man's heart for using the word "traffic." I think he's finally, officially become a "blog husband.")

Which I guess is a nice segue for why I wanted to break the silence (right after having a reason to dramatically tell someone I'm "breaking the silence")—I got married!

I guess this probably isn't too shocking since getting married is normally what one does after one gets engaged. But truthfully, I am still sort of surprised it happened and it's over. For so long, our wedding seemed like something that was happening in the Far and Distant Future, so imagine my surprise when the Far and Distant Future was suddenly right now.

We also did a not-so-shocking thing after we got married and went on a honeymoon. And let me tell you, as perfect as the wedding was, Barcelona didn't do too bad itself.

But I'll get to that.

For now, all I wanted to say is that I'm breaking the silence, to get you all primed for what's to come. And what's to come is recap on recap on recap with many, many pictures to document what was, by far, the most glorious and most expensive two weeks of my life.

I owe it to the blogger in me, after all.

If long, detailed wedding and honeymoon recaps aren't your cup of tea, well, you might want to skip reading my blog for a while. And if you're no one because no one is actually reading my blog at all right now, then that's OK. As my ~*hUsBaNd*~ advised, I have no hopes, up or otherwise.

But if you do want to read all of the minutiae of the beginning of our marriage, September - October of 2016 will be your lucky months.

And with that, I'll leave you with this:

Have a great Monday, all!

May 16, 2016

I've Been Keeping a Secret

I'm sure many of you think I have disappeared from the internet. Maybe even from the world in general.

And I wouldn't blame you for thinking that, because I've been pretty quiet. But like they say in spy school, you can never trust the quiet ones.*

Because, you see, I've been keeping a secret. A big ol' blogging secret, actually. And now it's time for the secret to come out:

There's a new blog in town, and it's called Audaciously So.

The idea behind the new blog is essentially the same as a series I created on this blog called the Great Unprofessional Career Fair. It's an idea I've been playing with for a while, ever since that series ended. You see, the Career Fair posts were some of my favorite; I really enjoyed connecting with other women online, and loved learning about careers I knew nothing about. Plus, all that knowledge made me feel smart and informed, you know?

Basically, this blog is that, taken to the next level. My goal is to create a whole catalog of career profiles featuring real women, a catalog people can look at when they are thinking, "What in the world am I doing with my life?" Instead of aimlessly wondering, these people can read about women who once thought similar thoughts, and now have an answer.

I'd love for you guys to head over there and check it out. What I'd love even more is if any of you have a career you'd like to share (or know someone who does), to please let me know! I don't mean to brag, but Just the Elevator Pitch readers are know around town as being the cream of the crop when it comes to internet go-ers. So I'd love to feature you!

Of course, the new blog will have my own blog posts sprinkled in. I plan on mostly writing career-related posts, but I'm also not ruling out the rogue hedgehog post. Because, well I mean c'mon:

It should also be noted that I'm not above using my hedgehog as blog bribery. Hey, I'm not entering any Mom of the Year contests.

Anyway, I hope you all are having a lovely Monday, and are at least slightly relieved that I still exist. And maybe (hopefully) I'll see a few of you over at my new joint!

*I have never been in spy school, but this is what I imagine they would teach.

January 11, 2016

The Dark Side of the Night:
Sleep Restriction Therapy

If the past month has taught me anything, it's that the problems in your head can be the hardest ones to solve. Indeed, to quote the wise Albus Dumbledore, "Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?"

Now, I've always been an anxious person. And, if you've ever dealt with any sort of anxiety, you know that sometimes, the only thing you want to do is just get out of your head.

As has been the case with me for about a month now.

It started a few weeks ago, the night before I had a 6 AM flight to Georgia for a wedding. I had to get up at 4, so I decided I'd move my normal 11 PM bedtime up to 9 PM so I could get my precious 7 hours of sleep. Because, as we internet-readers know, if you don't get enough sleep, your butt gets bigger, you face gets older, and the rate at which you turn into your mother increases by ten.

Unfortunately, I wasn't tired at 9 PM. But for the sake of my butt, I willed myself to go to sleep anyway. I spent hours lying there in bed, telling myself that if I fell asleep right now, I'd still get 6 hours of sleep. Then 5. Then 4.

By the time 1 AM rolled around, I was mildly panicked and exhausted, but still not asleep.

I did end up getting a couple hours of sleep that night before I made it to Georgia, where I danced, drank, and ate some late night pizza before getting into our hotel bed. I fell asleep pretty quickly (because... well... wine), but I woke up a few hours later.

And I thought, "Shit. I'm awake. I need to be asleep."

And then it started. From that weekend on, sleep became more and more elusive. Every night I'd get into bed and think, "I really, really need to sleep right now." But like hot men and good jobs, the more you want it, the harder it is to get.

For two weeks, I spent less and less time actually asleep, some nights only sleeping for an hour total in ten minute increments. It wasn't that I wasn't tired; I was. It's just really hard to fall asleep when you're thinking about falling asleep.

But the worst part wasn't even the exhaustion. No, the worst part of sleeplessness is the middle of the night, at 3 AM, when you're wide awake while the rest of the world is asleep. Three o'clock is a lonely, lonely place, and when you're an anxious person, wondering what the hell is wrong with you... lonely can become terrifying.

And I was terrified. It got to the point where one night, I started crying at our favorite taco restaurant; I was tired, confused, and dreading the fact that in a few short hours, I'd be lying awake again, exhausted and alone.

Tacos, for Pete's sake. It got to the point where I shed tears on a taco.

Anyway, that's when I knew I needed help. And not Zzzquil, melatonin, or warm milk help -- I needed the big guns. So I made an appointment with a sleep doctor last week, where I told her all about my unsuccessful struggle to get out of my own brain.

The funny thing is, the doctor seemed to think that this was all very common. (But then again, maybe doctors tell all crazy people that.) She said that this sort of insomnia is related to anxiety, and is also very treatable.

The treatment? Well, besides a temporary sleeping pill, she told me that I was going to do something called "Sleep Restriction." Which is exactly what it sounds like: I am going to sleep deprive myself to the point where I'm physically too tired to lie in bed and panic. Basically, I'm going to make myself so exhausted that I'm too tired to think.

So that's how things are going for me right now: I'm under strict orders from the doctor to go to bed at midnight and get up at 6:30. No exceptions, no mercy, so frosted coating. It's the most fun I think I've had since I got my wisdom teeth pulled.

But on the bright side, Derrick got me a hedgehog for Christmas. And hedgehogs, it turns out, are nocturnal... so we're getting along just fine.

December 07, 2015

Hand Saws and Other Christmas Cheer

I don't know if things in the world were always this shitty, but it seems like the news is getting shittier and shittier by the day.

So this post isn't about that. This post is a completely non-controversial, non-shitty post about Christmas trees.

You see, my parents get a live Christmas tree every year. And when we were younger, we were very Clark Griswold about it: my parents would throw their (often reluctant) children in the back of our red Ford Astrostar so we could drive to the local "Christmas Tree Farm." (I.e., the really big hill in the middle of nowhere covered in Fraser furs.)

We took the whole thing quite seriously: we were equipped with astronaut-level cold weather gear (thanks Mom) and were often met with dangerous wildlife. (And by that I mean squirrels.) It was all very dramatic.

Once we got there, my dad would grab one of the free hand saws near the bottom of the hill, and then he'd release his elves. Upon our release, my brother and sister (Nathan and Samantha) and I would sprint through the trees until one of us found "the one."

The kid who found "the one" would celebrate triumphantly and the other kids would mope, and then my mom would make us take a picture in front of the tree, and we'd all mope. My dad would then lie on the ground and start sawing away at the stump, hoping to God that my mom wouldn't let the tree fall on him.

We'd all dance around my dad (who was carrying the tree) until we reached the bottom of the hill, where my parents would wait in line to get the tree tied up, and Nathan, Sam, and I would get free coloring books and hot chocolate from the ladies at the cash register.

Now, that sort of stopped around the time Nathan started getting taller than the tree. It's not that we don't appreciate coloring books anymore; it's just that the family is now rarely together before Christmas and don't have time for such spectacles. 

This year though, my family was all together the day after Thanksgiving. So for the first time in about ten years, all of the Clarke children (and Derrick) were able to storm a Christmas tree lot in search of "the one."

Only this time, Nathan was 6'7" and I was the one forcing family pictures on us. But it was just as not-shitty as when I was seven.

And best of all, it reminded me that there's still a lot of good out there in the world, despite what Facebook tells ya.

November 23, 2015

Six Things I Learned From a Six Year Relationship

I'm extremely superstitious. As in, I consider spilling salt a near death experience, and there are certain shirts I just can't wear when the Ravens play because I don't want to be responsible for their loss.

My point is that I'm not one to make a hobby out of walking under ladders, or one who is interested in tails-up pennies. But one thing that I do like are Friday the 13ths.

Because Friday, November 13, 2009, is the day that 19-year-old Nicole and 19-year-old Derrick had "the exclusive talk." It was scary and awkward and wonderful, and was the first day of a relationship that will last the rest of my life. And what's a blogger to do in times of monumental milestones other than list all of the things we've learned from our experience?

Nothing. There's nothing else I can do. That being said, here are six things that I've learned from being in a six-year-long relationship.

1. You're not always right, even when you are actually right.
It was a hard day when I learned that I am actually not always right. But that was nothing compared to what I learned from a relationship: sometimes, even when you are right, it's better not to draw attention to that fact. Like when you told him that olive oil shouldn't be heated that hot; the subsequent fire alarm through the smoke-filled kitchen says that you were right, but pointing that out won't do you any favors.

2. Don't always keep score... out loud.
They always say that you shouldn't "keep score" in a relationship... But that doesn't mean that you don't anyway. For example, two weeks ago, I asked Derrick if we could watch a movie instead of the FSU game. At first, Derrick said no... but then he quickly and adamantly changed his mind, and demanded that we watch a movie. When I asked him why the sudden change, he said that he needed to "save his football game card" for a later date. God knows what other cards he's saved over the years.

3. Bacon is so worth it.
Before I started dating Derrick, I avoided bacon and all its butt-increasing glory. But it's only so long that someone can resist the smell of Sunday morning bacon, and I am only mortal. My butt is a little bigger but you know what? Life is so much better when you can just eat the bacon.

4. It's easier to just say it already.
When we first started dating, I'll admit that I pulled the "I'm fine" schtick all the time. But eventually, I got tired of Derrick's pretty unimpressive mind reading abilities, and learned that when he asks me if something's wrong, it's so much easier to just say yes.

5. You don't have to love what he loves... but you'll learn about it anyway.
The depth of my love for Derrick knows no limit... but NASCAR doesn't fall under that love umbrella, no matter how many Dale Jr. t-shirts Derrick buys. But just because I don't care who's still in the Chase, doesn't mean that I don't know who Kevin Harvick is. Because even though I don't care who wins, I care that Derrick cares... so when he talks about it, I still listen.

6. Sometimes, you need to let go of what you thought you knew.
Maybe you thought for sure you'd end up marrying an English doctor, or knew for a fact you'd live in Alaska. You don't need to compromise what's important to you... but sometimes, you find someone worth compromising for. Because even though you thought Friday the 13ths weren't worth getting up for, they could turn out to be one of the best days of your life.

(That still doesn't mean I'm playing around with overturned salt shakers though.)