neighbors without borders

When this happens in your backyard you might consider a few things. Like, how good is my homeowners insurance? Or, how did I not hear this thing fall? Or, how lucky am I that gravity had the tree fall away from the house and not onto it?



We had a macroburst two weekends ago that involved 100 mile-per-hour winds and torrential rain. The neighborhood looks like a hurricane passed through–I’ve never experienced anything like it.

This is an inconvenience largely because we have dogs and our neighbors have dogs, and because it’s a giant mess. (And it’s a million degrees out, and I’m super pregnant, those conditions heighten any disturbance). But this is a joke compared to problems that exist in other parts of the world–or hell–in other parts of Phoenix. But while incredibly annoying, knocking down walls makes for a great social experiment.

It dawned on me today how different life would be without so many walls. What would it be like if we didn’t live in such modular, segmented ways that separate us–literally and figuratively–from those around us? How exactly did we become so reliant on the idea of privacy?

Chances are it would be weird if things were different. I mean, I’d definitely have to dress more appropriately when I let the dogs out in the morning, and there’s always the off chance your neighbors are creepers, or have ugly yards you don’t want to stare at, or run a frat house. But it also might be kind of cool to have a more open sense of community. Lots of cultures live more communally than Americans, and I think that’s neat. Although in these cases it’s often families that live interchangeably, not strangers who happened to prefer the same zip code as you.

At any rate, in the week since our wall was demolished, we’ve gotten to know more neighbors than we did over the past year, and it feels nice to get better acquainted with the people that reside 15 feet from you.

All day at work I sit in an enclosed office. My house is (well, was) surrounded by a six-foot wall. I’m an introvert, so this doesn’t displease me, but I also thrive in social settings and often wish I sat in an open bullpen with coworkers instead of in my own stall. And that I had neighbors dropping by to say hello rather than just waving from behind closed car windows.

The wall should be resurrected by the end of the week, but it’s temporary hiatus has had unexpected perks.

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Ok, ok, a pregnancy update.

I’m not that into pregnancy blogging, or photos, or obsessing. Lots of friends have been all stars about documenting their experiences, and while I’ve journaled a bit, I’ve preferred processing and learning in my own, more personal ways. It’s funny to see all the ways different people mark the journey though – so now that the clock is ticking I figure I can temporarily jump on the bandwagon with a template I’ve seen online.

How far along: 36 weeks, 1 day

Total weight gain: 22 lbs

Maternity clothes: Yeah, these have been necessary for a while. Although a fair amount of strategically stretchy normal clothes still fit (workout clothes, maxi skirts, dresses).

Sleep: I’ve never been a great sleeper so not much has changed. really hoping the baby inherits Jim’s ability to sleep any time, any place. I’d say I’m averaging about 7.5 hours per night and rarely feel well-rested.

Best moment of this week: Getting a great report after an ultrasound at the doctor’s office, and being told to eat more.

Miss anything: Besides balanced hormones? Being able to decompress through exercise and go for more than three minutes without sweating.

Movement: Mine’s becoming limited, but the baby is an acrobat.

Food cravings: Fruit, baked goods (pie, pastries), cereal.

Anything making you queasy or sick: The thought of having to deliver the baby.

Have you started to show yet: Yes, it looks like I swallowed a watermelon.

Gender: It’s a girl. I have disproven every old wives tale based on symptoms and lack of symptoms.

Labor signs: Mild cramps/contractions.

Belly button in or out: Out. Thank you for asking. All things considered, how would a belly button stay in at this point?

Wedding rings on or off: On. Still look like an honest woman.

Happy or moody most of the time: I don’t know that either seems fully accurate, I think I’m somewhere in the middle. However, moodiness is more likely linked to it being 114 degrees than any part of pregnancy.

Looking forward to: Meeting this baby.

Words of wisdom: I’ve gotten a lot of advice over the past few months, and have grown to appreciate the overflowing and wonderful network of moms in my life. There are, of course, people who overshare, incite panic and retell your their own birth stories 40 times over, BUT — the majority are caring, thoughtful and totally honest when you need it. Some of my favorite advice came when I asked a few friends for advice on packing a hospital bag. I loved the answers I got and learned a lot.

Other news: I’m on a social media cleanse. One week sans Facebook or Instagram. It was needed.

Here are grainy photos (with Bruno photobombs) from 35 and 36 weeks:



on forgiveness

Hate her or love her, support her or berate her, this is a powerful message:

“Forgiveness is a choice. And I fully respect those who don’t make that choice, for whatever reason, in their personal or their professional lives but for me it was absolutely the right choice,” Clinton responded. “For me, it is something that is incredibly difficult but I am grateful everyday that that’s the choice that I made and I’ve counseled others to see if in their own hearts they can also do that.”

“But it’s not by accident the great religions, the great writers talk about how the person who forgives is liberated, maybe even more than the person who is forgiven,” she continued.

Taken from:

things that make me happy

1. Nesting. Jim put the entire nursery together as a surprise. And by that I mean he stayed up til 5 a.m. one night painting, hanging art and curtains and assembling furniture. I had everything ready but didn’t know what I wanted to do with it, and love that his input and thinking created the layout.

2. Endorphins. The guy who scans me in at the gym and always says encouraging things about working out while pregnant. And working out while pregnant makes me feel less round.

3. Cleanliness. Just got our carpets cleaned. It’s the next best thing to new floors and it feels like the whole house had a spa day.

4. Poop. When I called a friend in a crabby mood this week she told me a story about poop to completely distract and entertain me.

5. Thinking in new ways. This article was captivating and made me reevaluate some of the ways I think.

6. Smartphones. For all the bad things we attribute to an addiction to technology, I love how it allows me to stay connected with so many people that are important to me.

7. Take out. Tonight it’s Oregano’s. All the joy of eating out and I can wear pajamas.

8. Anniversaries. Jim proposed four years ago today.

9. Decluttering. I’ve sold a ton of stuff through craigslist and Swip Swap lately and have had surprisingly pleasant experiences. I’m always fascinated by the people who want my stuff and the process feels like community recycling.

10. Drunk History. Watch it. Trust me.

Life Lessons from Snoop and Papi

Last week we somehow found ourselves watching an interview-style documentary with Snoop Dogg** that highlighted different stages of his life and career. As we watched the colorful depiction of Snoop’s life and success, I couldn’t help but think, “Man this guy is never stressed out.” I mean if you were Snoop, what on earth would be stressful for you? The guy’s a millionaire with an entertaining career and I’m pretty sure he’s been high for the past three decades. Even though his life is far from what I’d ever desire for myself, I still found myself with a nonsensical pinch of envy.

It went something like this: Snoop never has to worry about anything. I want to never have to worry. Snoop has millions of dollars and an entourage. I want millions of dollars and an entourage. This whole thing is embarrassing and ridiculous, especially because as I recant the moment in my head, my own voice sounds like Veruca Salt’s British whine. The point is, I was having a bit of a blah day and fell into the vulnerable place of comparison.

A few minutes later, the musical score became darker as the topic changed to Snoop’s convictions of felony drug possession and subsequent murder charges in the 90s. And just like that I no longer wanted to be like Snoop.


The point here? There are a few. Comparison is a dangerous and pointless game. The grass that appears greener is often astro turf, and no one has a life without challenges. The highlight-reel glimpses we get into each other’s lives tend to convince us there are no bloopers or outtakes, but there are. There ALWAYS are. And personally I really like bloopers.

**Saw him in concert in Tucson in 2001. He showed up four hours late to HIS OWN SHOW.

Moving right along, I figure if you can extract life lessons from rappers, why not also find a few from pro athletes.

I’ve watched hundreds of baseball games in my life; seen some incredible plays and disastrous gaffes. The Red Sox hold a special place in my heart, and with that love comes an engrained affinity for tenured stars like David Ortiz, Big Papi.

During yesterday’s game, Papi struck out in the seventh inning with two runners on base, losing an opportunity to take the lead in a series the team was trailing. While unfortunate, there was nothing that significant about the moment; all batters strike out, it’s part of the game. Still, I was hit with a realization that this is one of baseball’s greatest, most-esteemed hitters, and when he struck out, everyone just moved on. It didn’t tarnish his history of success and no one held it against him.

I was suddenly astonished with the fact that someone who’s defied incredible odds to rise to the elite ranks of professional baseball, someone who earns gazillions of dollars and is a national icon, can still strike out/screw up/have an off day. And it’s just a blip on the radar…no one dies, life goes on.


Later in the game Ortiz hit a homer, driving in three runs to win the game. He effortlessly did precisely what he failed to achieve just minutes earlier, and all was well in Red Sox Nation once again. You can watch below, it’s a thing of beauty:

Here’s what I walked away with though–people who are the best in the world at what they do still mess up sometimes. And they get through their flubs not by obsessing or over analyzing, but by staying confident and refocusing on the next opportunity.

There are days and weeks when I know I’m not on my game and I tend to get down on myself about it, but the best way through the downturns is staying forward focused. Yesterday’s game was a reminder than everyone hits bumps in the road and it’s no reason to chastise yourself. People remember your golden moments, and a strong reputation won’t be tarnished by a single strike out.

birthday thoughts

This was the first year there was nothing I wanted. No gifts, no trinkets, no party. I just wanted to relax and spend the day with Jim. We ran errands and ate well and saw a movie and it was perfect. It’s an affirmation that you’re married to the right person when spending the morning of your birthday at tile and granite stores is still entertaining.

Our kitchen remodel is underway. Our cabinets are installed and look great, and counter tops and a new sink and lighting are next. We haven’t had a functional place to eat or prepare food for a week, and likely won’t for another few. We have a fridge and a stove but that’s it for now–indoor camping at its best. But the other night I really wanted to eat pasta. So I boiled water, made pasta and then had to wash my dishes in the front yard with a hose. We’re those neighbors I guess–the quasi-Amish trashy ones.

Preparing to have a baby means learning about all kinds of new things…breast pumps and diaper rash and daycare and more. But also things like life insurance, educational trusts and wills. It isn’t fun to think about and spend money on this type of grown-up preparation, but I’m thankful to have people helping me learn and guiding me through the process at the right time. And fortunately, once it’s done, it can be mostly out of mind for the foreseeable future.

There are these birds that have decided to make their home in the trees in front of our house and they are the LOUDEST species on the planet. These are some kind of crazy tropical squawker birds that could wake the dead. I can’t blame them for settling here, it’s a lovely neighborhood, but they are prohibiting sleep. Every morning it sounds like The Jungle Book meets the Hunger Games outside our windows.

Summer in Arizona is winter to most of the country. The weather is crippling and oppressive. It’s unpleasant to be outdoors and all activity shifts to places where there are pools or air conditioning. I always tend to think I’d rather deal with our summers than Chicago winters, but right now I’m teetering somewhere in the middle, while melting.

I am feeling very happy and fortunate to celebrate another birthday. Life is good, aging is a privilege and today was a poignant reminder of how much the small things are the really important ones.






High school makes me laugh and shudder.

Lately I’ve become convinced that one’s life can be separated into wholly distinct segments, much like a DVD is divided into chapters. There are tons of vivid, action-packed sections of life, each a pivotal part of your plot line until preempted by the next big event.

I feel this way when I drive past my college campus every so often. I’m aware that I spent a solid four years there, full of chaos, learning and relationships, but I can’t actually place myself there among the classrooms and dorms. Instead I feel like I’m passing through a movie set of memories where things simultaneously seem eerily familiar and slightly artificial. It’s the same feeling I get looking at pictures of myself as an infant; I don’t remember the clothes I’m wearing or whatever I’m doing in the photos, but I know these things happened.

Tonight my best friend and I spent the better part of two hours reading aloud notes we’d written each other spanning from middle school through college. I found a 15-page document she gave me after an apparent heartbreak, full of advice, song lyrics and inspiring quotes, but I can’t for the life of me remember who caused me such grief. I was in a place so emotional that it warranted a 15-page typed correspondence from my best friend, yet I can’t remember why. It’s maddeningly hysterical. She read emails (AOL, of course) from boys we haven’t heard from in 15 years. Things that once really mattered are nothing but confusing memories.

Lately we’ve been sorting through notes chronicling some serious stuff we experienced during high school for a project she’s working on, only to realize things about ourselves and these events that never dawned on us before.

“Yeah, he really was a huge asshole.”

“I idolized her. I had no idea she was jealous of me.”

There’s also the great aspect of high school notes and year book descriptions of the honorary-yet-emotionally-fueled commitments. What if we were to redeem these offers in present-day, knocking on the doors of former classmates, demanding the offer was still valid?

“Hey, it’s Jess. Yeah, I know it’s been more than a decade since we spoke, but see–right here in this note from 1999–you said you’d always be there for me, and right now I could really use you.”

I shudder. I mean, I enjoy the option of occasionally sorting back through past chapters, reminiscing about what the most important things were at different stages, but it’s also a relief to be able to return to the present. It’s refreshing to know that no matter how intense these epochs appear to have been, we got through them. We persevered. And we made more good decisions than we thought.

No one should have to relive high school, but a periodic visit is a trip.