Stop Threatening Me With Infertility, Facebook

photoI don’t know when it happened. Maybe it was when I downloaded the Facebook App to my smart phone. Maybe it was the desk job that I had outgrown and held for far too long. Maybe it was my accidental apathy that happened when I found myself inundated with the heaviness of global current events. But somewhere in between me joining Facebook in 2008, getting a smart phone in late 2011, and being tied to a computer screen for 8 hours a day for several years, Facebook somehow became my morning paper

I’d get to work, get a cup of coffee, glance at the front page of the New York Times and sometimes take a copy to my desk where it would sit with a promise that I would definitely read it if not that morning then during my lunch hour, or if not then, then definitely on the subway ride home. Four thirty would come, my computer would shut down, and I would leave my work for the day…along with that paper. Without fail, every time, I never once read it on the ride home. Part of the reason was that at the end of the day I was more concerned with getting to my next job, or reading a book I was doing freelance coverage on, or because frankly, after 8 hours online, everything was already old news. I’d already seen the horrors of the moment in some truncated blurb running through my newsfeed in Facebook. 

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Me at Marikopa Beach in New Zealand

Then I went traveling and Facebook became a way to stay in touch with friends we met on the road, friends and family back home, as well as read other shared news stories from global travelers. When I came home I didn’t have that desk job, but my ritual of checking Facebook for my news stayed intact. And then came the Infertility ads. While I know in my head that Facebook cannot read my mind, I was not aware just how accurately their marketing team could read my very obvious public profile. 

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Mike & Me on the Ganges River for Diwali Festival 2013

A couple weeks ago, Morgan and I were driving over Coldwater Canyon on our way back from the Climb Out of Darkness hike at Runyon Canyon and naturally we were talking about motherhood. As someone who is not yet a mother, spending a morning hiking with a group of strong women who have overcome such extreme hurdles as mothers was very inspiring…and also very triggering. It was on this ride that I confided in Morgan that I was ready to punch my Facebook feed right in its computer face because every single fucking time I scrolled down, there was some advertisement or “news article” about infertility or the risks of having children once you hit 35, a number that is inching ever closer and looms like a uterine guillotine, to which she responded, “Of course you’re getting all that shit! Facebook reads ‘Woman. Married. Over 30. No kids‘ and BOOM, you’re being stalked by your worst fears.

I think it was this same week that it came out about Facebook experimenting with people’s feeds to see the psychological impact on users. Now, Facebook is a free service that has proved very valuable to me. I don’t think I can complain too much about their ethics. But, I would be remiss to say that it didn’t scare the shit out of me. I would be lying if I said all those articles and advertisements coming my way didn’t make me think, “Must have unprotected sex now!” There was a palpable shift in my psyche over the whole baby debate happening in my head every single day for the past couple years now. Getting pregnant has always been my greatest fear in life. Beyond what it represented to me, which in many ways seemed this huge sacrifice, I also am just terrified of the whole damn process. But I have always wanted kids. I have always wanted to be a mother…just not until I’m done doing the things in life I really want to do, childless. Now that our world travel extravaganza is over, the pressure is on and Facebook, you really are the worst. 

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Me at the Taj Mahal on my first wedding anniversary

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Me and my awesome tandem paragliding instructor before jumping off a mountain in Nepal

I have been with my husband seven years, married for almost two. I’m 32 years old, approaching 33. And yes, my mother-in-law finally cracked this week when my husband told her we were getting a dog and she assertively expressed that she wanted a grandchild instead. Since December of this past winter I have been very okay with the phrase, “We’re not NOT trying, ” and then in May, we moved into the spare bedroom of my Dad’s condo, and Voila! What do you know? The most natural birth control ever. (Take that, Facebook!) 

One day my husband and I will get back on our feet and we will move out of my Dad’s condo, and the baby question will no longer be a question, but something we are consciously trying to create. As for me and my relationship with Facebook, I am happy to report I have joined the revolution (which so far includes my husband and Morgan) and have taken the app off my phone. I still worry that I’ll have waited too long to have kids, I just don’t have to read about the liklihood in between wishing someone a happy birthday and reading about the best tacos in Los Angeles. Sometimes, it’s all about the little victories. 

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Me & Mike in Turkey, childless

Wondering What Kind of Swimsuits Four Year Olds Dig? Ask A Four Year Old!

SelfieDee[someone has recently discovered the art of the selfie]

It’s summer, friends, which for many parents really only means one thing – all kids all the time. For our lucky lady, it means camp and awesome pool parties with her Memas and also occasional days stuck home with me while I’m working. This has prompted an on going discussion about “work time” vs. “play time” (I went from saying I’d never pay for something like ABCMouse.com to signing up for a four month deal within three days of summer break) wherein Dee tries to convince me to never work again and I try to convince her that she will really miss Ring Pops when we’re living on the streets in a cardboard box. But, sometimes on very special days, the work and play discussion plays out in the best possible way. Like when she tells me she wants to “make a post”. So, without further adieu,  I give you Fashion by Dee, her favorite Etsy bathing suits for the season with commentary. 

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1. Pink Petti Lace Romper Swimsuit from Adalyns Boutique 

“Because of the pink ruffles.” Duh, Mommy.

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2. Pink Vintage Style Girl Swimsuit by LizzieLooos

I mean, what’s not to like? But Dee said she liked the pink ruffles on this one and the buttons. My little lady is all about the details.

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3. Chevron Bathing Suit from Bebe Bloom Boutique

Dee liked the “stripey thingys and the yellow ruffle.” Also, this was a different cut which I like to think appealed to her because of its asymmetry. 

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4. Santa Monica Sweetheart Tankini from Peekaboo Pattern Shop

Dee liked this one because it was rainbow and it came with a matching hat. You gotta have a matching hat. Obviously. 

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5. Leopard Swimsuit with purple Bows (Pattern) by  Peekaboo Pattern Shop

Dee had her eye on several leopard prints, but this one she liked the best because of the bow on the back. Again, details, guys.

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6. Tie-Dye Swimsuit by Psychedelictara

Along with the several leopard prints, she also spotted several tie-dye bathing suits but this one she liked the most because of the “pretty colors.”

So what did I learn? In Dee’s eyes, unless it’s leopard, a bathing suit without a splash of pink is no bathing suit at all. Nature not nurture, dudes. You couldn’t pay me to wear pink.

The Art of Preservation with Heirloom Lab

I have a secret. A dirty, awful, shameful secret that makes me cringe whenever I remember that super adult thing that after seven years I still have not taken the time to do. This coming September will mark Scott’s and my seventh wedding anniversary. It will also be the 2,556th anniversary of how many days it has been (and counting) since I have NOT printed my wedding pictures. Nope. There is actually no good reason I have not printed them. I guess it just feels like I have them. And I mean, I do. (You’ve seen them, right? Here, here and here.)  I have all of them…on a hard drive. But that counts, right? Except it doesn’t. It only feels like it counts, until that computer crashes or that milk gets spilled on that external drive, or an earthquake hits and my electric grid is fried and melts my motherboard.  In theory I have my wedding pictures, but in tangibility I have only an image on a computer screen dangerously vulnerable all the time. 

In an age when everything we do is cultured, crafted and then documented in the deceptively fleeting platforms of social media, an age where the “selfie” has taken the place of the self-portrait, somewhere in between the Instagram filters and the continuous streaming of digital archives never printed only ever “shared” or “liked,” the art of historical preservation has been lost and we didn’t even notice it go missing. This is not entirely our fault, because let’s be honest, how do you know what to highlight when we highlight everything. Facebook holds wedding pictures and birth announcements on the same page as what we ate last Tuesday night and that time we did drunk karaoke happy hour with co-workers. Our oblivion is not entirely our fault because our need for self-expression and connection is rooted in a type of self-preservation. There is a kind of primal survival of the fittest need for relevancy and to continue to foster that individuality we so defiantly created as kids. And yet, while we give importance to everything, we actually save and make sacred very little. We are all about “Look At Me” when we should be thinking “Remember Me.” 

That is what I love about my friend, Matt’s, new creative endeavor, Heirloom Lab. Matt and his partner, Spencer, have taken this whole obsession with capturing the moment and created an opportunity for us to actually save the moment and in a way that only a third party can really capture. Their Heritage films craft a nuanced documentary that finally records the stories we always share, but never write down, the stories that get lost in translation when people pass on. And they do it beautifully.

Visit HeirloomLab.com for more about their awesome films.

No Baby, YOU’RE a Firework.

image-24Last year, my sister-in-law moved to a small resort town in the mountains outside of Los Angeles. There’s a lake and all the goodness that comes with it.

image-26For our second Independence Day in a row, we’ve made the trek to the San Bernadino Mountains — just like I used to to with my parents as a kid — and strolled together from Maegan’s house to watch the fireworks lakeside.

image-28It’s the moments when you realize you’re making memories that are kind of the best.

image-21{Dee and Aunt Maegan dip their toes}

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image-1I think Scott would stay there forever. I think I could stay there for a very long time.

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image-13 image-15 image-19 image-23Our two self-employed selves rarely get away together for more than a day, so spending a weekend in the mountains swimming and paddle boarding felt like an awesome kind of eternity.

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Dee2 Dock

Boat Lake!{Our generous hosts! Thanks Maeg and Pep!}

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DoginaLifevestDOG IN A LIFE VEST! (Not ours)

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BeBopDeeIt’s been a fast week, as it always is after a holiday, and I can’t quite seem to catch up on life. This weekend, we head back inland to Anaheim where I’ll be keynoting on the Power of Visuals online alongside the amazing Jessica Shyba of Mommas Gone City  (who doesn’t love #theoandbeau?) at the Type A Parent Bootcamp at Disneyland. That means we get to spend the weekend at Disneyland, you guys. Sometimes, my job is super cool.

10 Ways to Live Through Your Remodel (hopefully with a grain of sanity)

photoAnd when I say live through the remodel, I mean that literally. We added a master bedroom and bath and figured if we shifted ourselves around a bit, we could just stay home while adding on and save the added expense of renting a part-time shelter. How sweet and naïve. Too many mornings to count I’d barely be taking my first sip of coffee when our construction guys started filling the backyard. Men who at first were strangers and then friends, tromped through every room of my house and backyard for five months.

IMG_0442The experience became way more intimate than I ever could have imagined. All the guys who labored here saw me in my pajamas regularly (sorry Mom), overheard arguments, took out my trash, helped me bring in groceries, definitely heard me pee, and shared a beer. And in the middle of the crazy, they built us a chicken coop and taught us how to care for them. I screamed, cried, laughed, and generally walked through my days dazed and traumatized from the stress and debris that filled every crevice of our lives. And the nights the four of us crammed into one room to sleep with two dogs and the contents of three closets filling every empty space around us? Let’s just say, we had more tears than dreams. We still aren’t finished and won’t be for some time, but we are one final inspection away from having our house back to ourselves.

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So, back to my list. I’m not sure I have 10 ways exactly to help keep you sane during a remodel. I don’t know why I even titled this post that. What I do know exactly is that living at a construction site sucks. No way around it. All four of us endured months of sometimes treacherous, discomfort and sleepless nights. A multitude of well meaning people tried to soothe my remodel melancholy with platitudes like, “it’s just like childbirth. Really painful then, Poof! You forget it hurt and are ready to do it again.” Maybe that’s true but A – I never went through “childbirth” having had two cesareans and B – No. I would never do it again. Ever.

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So, if you’re going to live through your remodel regardless of how shitty intellectually you know it will be but for whatever your reasons, you’re going to do it any way (like we did) here is a break down of the “Must – Knows” …

  • Whatever you think it will cost you – even at the very limit of that very last penny you think you’ll spend – double that. 
  • However long you think it’ll take? Don’t think about it. It’ll take however long it takes and no contractor or psychic can predict it. 
  • Choose a room that remains untouched, save for everyday, regular, clutter. You’ll need at least one space that you can take a breath in, run in circles and scream in, and sit down and take a minute. 
  • DO not pay your people until all the work is done. And I mean DONE as in that last nail is put away and that blotch of errant paint on the floor is cleaned up. Getting them to come back for the little stuff is HARD.
  • Get involved. Make sure they ask you too many questions – where should the outlets go, what kind of molding do you want, how do you want the tile to look – let every detail be your victory or mistake. It’s more expensive and harder to change once it’s been done. But, that said – if you do decide to move things around – do it. Anything installed can be uninstalled and moved. 
  • Get organized from the get-go. Know where you’ll move your things and then organize accordingly. It’s a lot harder to find those jeans you want when they got shoved in a bag and you don’t know which bag they’re in or in which room they are hiding. 

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  • Be adaptable. Make sure you know where your team plans to land every day so you can get situated accordingly and then prepare for that to change. I asked the day before and the day of where – in or out – of the house our guys would be so I knew where I napped my daughter or if I had to drop the dogs at my mom’s for the day. Don’t assume they’ll tell you.
  • Keep every receipt. EVERY receipt. Things won’t fit, you’ll change your mind, that bookshelf you loved online didn’t work the way you envisioned, you’ll need more, you’ll need less, keep every receipt.
  • Work hard to not fight with your love. Remember, everyone will be out of sorts and it will cost more than you thought and take longer than you hoped and the stress of these things will cause tension. You are all on the same team, working for the common goal of making your home more comfortable or beautiful or livable or whatever your reasons were before this nightmare started. You’re all in that shit storm together and you’ll weather the experience if you give each other a few extra hugs and kisses and take a breath. 
  • Remember that it’s all worth it.

 HouseBrookeI’m a little broken after this remodel and no drywall or nail can fix me. When I think of the last five months I get a twitch in my eye and neck that I assume will eventually fade. But, on the record – it was totally worth it.

BrookesRoom(photos by Brooke, design by North Design LA)