Thursday, December 29, 2011

A Chocolatey Christmas Eve

Hot chocolate, brother, husband, and storybook lamp lighting. Happy Christmas break from our flannel-clad home to yours.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Things I'm Thinking About While At Home

Ohio is super, super dreary. Low gray clouds and exhaust-y cars and puddles in the road where it needs repaired. These are the things that I couldn't stand when I lived here but that have become so enchanting now that I don't. There are, like, houses, just in fields. Not exclusively in neat little straight neighborhoods everywhere. Also, the houses have siding. Siding isn't a thing, in Phoenix. Phoenicians love stucco.

I brought my red flannel pajamas and you can't convince me out of them. If you don't have red flannel pajamas at Christmas time, you really aren't being the best you can be, and I'm kind of judging you. It's not too late to ask Santa. Here. Just, you know, button your shirt please. And don't...don't sit like that. You know what, just don't click on that link actually.

My parents... really you won't find any like them anywhere else. They'll tell you you did a good job with equal enthusiasm whether you run a marathon or, you know, finish your big helping of mashed potatoes before eating dessert. They have so much love in them that it comes out of their pores and gets all over everything. Tonight we ate out at the Hartville Kitchen (our Amish food tradition for Dad's birthday) and they were really making a spectacle. Hugging everyone and talking about how wonderful we are and being smiley. It takes a lot of nerve to be that wonderful and not live in my basement.

Why don't things change when I leave? There I am in Phoenix being married and working full-time and paying my own car bills and making my own breakfast every day and Summit Mall has the nerve to be in the same place when I get back to Akron. Doesn't that feel weird? Doesn't Akron know that my life feels big and years away from here? Why is there still a gravel lot next to the Sunoco on Highway 18? I am so glad there is. I guess when I left, the world didn't swallow itself. Disappointing, but really lessens the pressure.

Tomorrow I get to see my very best friend that has ever lived, and meet her fiance. MEET her fiance. I CAN'T WAIT AND I MAY NOT SLEEP TONIGHT.

Then we're going to go to Christmas Eve mass with my new dress, and then we'll read from Luke, and then we'll play Rummy in Joey's room (if Aaron wins again he has to sleep in the basement this year) and then we'll get up and have Cinnamon rolls and presents and see the whole family...and it will be cloudy and hopefully snowy and we still have to make one last trip to Barnes and Noble. Do you know what it feels like to have all those sentences be true?!

It feels like the way it would feel if you lived in a world where all you could do was wait, and hope, that someone would save you from how awful you were, and then a little baby was born and you realized he was The Guy, and your waiting was over, and now you could live in expectation and joy and embarrassed gratitude for what a big thing He was doing. (Can you imagine having to wait for that?) We are lucky we don't, and that we just get to celebrate it. With hot chocolate and family and low-hanging Ohio clouds, like full bellies.

Merry Christmas, everyone. Be merry!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

New Digs

Here's a little old preview. Sorry it's dark. It's winter and besides that, my calendar's full enough to get the old ulcer party started all over again, so play nice.

There's a huge giant Tim Burton cactus just out of frame to the left, and I plan to chain unruly guests to it when I don't want them inside.

Here's the kitchen and the french doors out to our backyard. I can't wait to get my beanie baby collection up in that cupboard. And yes, the landlord even threw in that cute guy. A nice paint job and he'll be good as new.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Closing Up Shop

When I was a kid, we lived in a cute little neighborhood in Jackson, Ohio. Our house was on a cul-de-sac and had a huge, huge tree in the backyard. When it was dark I was afraid the tree would fall on the house but during the daytime I loved it. We also had an apple tree, and our front yard was perfect for wiffle ball games.

But when I turned 8, my family moved to Louisville, Ohio. It was the cruelest most meanest thing anyone could ever have done to me. I remember sitting in my room at our new, big house - my very own room - and vowing that I wouldn't talk to Mom or Dad for at least 2 weeks. Then, later, I grew up in that house.

When I went away to Ohio U in the fall of 2005, Mom and Dad decided to move again, this time to Akron. They were building their own house this time. I refused to see it. Literally- we were in the Akron area once before the house was ready and they drove us all by the plot, and I ducked behind the front seat and wouldn't look. Because I do what I want, that's why. Then, at Christmas, when Dad brought me home for break I didn't even know which house was ours. But when I walked in I said... we're this kind of people? The house has a huge loft that overlooks a huge, beautiful living room. It is lovely. But, you know. I still drove down to Louisville one time, broke into our old house before it was sold and sat on the kitchen counter for a while. If you think I'm kidding, I'd like to thank you for still hesitating to accept that I'm a crazy as you suspect.

Now, Aar and I are moving. We've lived in this little apartment since the day we stepped off the plane from our honeymoon, smack into a new state and a marriage and adult life where we make our own peanut butter sandwiches to pack for lunch. In some ways I hate this place. There are too many windows and they face west. That's a death wish in Scottsdale. Also, sometimes a girl just wants to read the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants in peace. But when that Xbox gets rolling, ain't no room in this tiny box where you can't hear it. (You can feel bad for me if you want, and also you should tell me about it and give me things.)

However, the instant we found this adorable new little stucco house with a gorgeous, fenced-in backyard heaven for little doggie Jethro and french doors opening to our patio from the master bedroom, my world caved in a little bit. WE'RE MOVING. Suddenly I want to take pictures of everything here. Our stupid tiny closet where my shoes don't fit. The gym at our apartment complex's office where I've spent an obscene amount of time in the last two years. The kitchen were Aaron looked at me over the sink one time and said "If you want to do something new in your life, you can do it, you know."

Moving is weird, but I think it could be fun. Though I still may not talk to our realtor for two weeks.

The worst is that I know that there will be a night after we move in January where I'll wake up and not know where I am for a second. Can I call you when that happens?

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

My Windshield Wipers Thank You

This. All week. It's so magical. After I bought my lottery tickets (is that joke getting old?) I was on my way to a meeting downtown when I remembered that Arizonans don't know how to drive in the rain. They don't drive poorly necessarily, just like terrified slowpokes. So... something happened. I was going to be late due to "rain traffic" on the I-10 and I... I used the HOV lane. During the restricted hours. I didn't even have a manikin to prop up in the passenger seat. I have always known that the only way the HOV remains useful is when we all pay it the respect it deserves. But now I have become her. The Woman Who Will Render It Useless. It's the beginning of the end. And the worst part is... I was cackling. Cackling like Mother Earth when she opens the floodgates of heaven on a desert that doesn't drain well.

In unrelated news, I wasn't late.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Birthday Post

Tomorrow, I'm turning 25. Weirdly (or, expectedly) the only thing I can think of is how when you fill out surveys or sweepstakes online, the age groups are always 18-24 and then 25-39, and this is the year I make that hop. This thought alone almost inspired a night-long downward spiral to the bottom of one of those plastic tubs of Betty Crocker icing, but luckily I rose above that. Kind of. I basically just put the icing on a cake for Aaron instead, and then ate it.

Also you should really know about me that I enter every single sweepstakes I ever find. You might think that this makes me ambitious, or hopeful, or optimistic or cutely pitiful, but really it's just a symptom of my general, daily state of soul-crushing guilt. Let me explain - my Dad always told me when I failed at something (which was like of course almost never I mean come on seriously) that as long as I had at least tried, he would never be disappointed. So if I see a sweepstakes and I don't enter... omg Dad would never recover from finding out I didn't even take the TIME to enter my NAME to win that emergency flat tire repair kit for 4 wheelers.

Anyway, beyond the monumental difference this 25th birthday is going to make in my world of sweepstakes-entering, and the fact that I can legitimately now call my neuroses a "quarter-life crisis," it's gotten me thinking about all the weird stuff that's happened this year and some other stuff I learned from it.

1. First, older people don't like it when you act like the two of you deserve an equal amount of respect. (I don't mean elderly, I mean older people who are still working. Late 40's to 50's.) This is disappointing and not really that logical, but I learned that it's not only true, but that recognizing it and moving on from it is really your only helpful reaction.

2. Secondly, it's worth it to take time to consider how people will respond to you. Some people will respond in weird or illogical ways to completely appropriate behavior. But that doesn't mean you can't take a moment to try to avoid that if possible. That's part of being kind. People are weird and you are too. Get on board.

3. Thirdly, don't put all the food in the blender at once. Put the almond milk in and some of the frozen fruit and liquify that first, and then add the banana and the spinach. You may be thinking this is a great metaphor for something that means a lot to you. So yes, it is.

4. You can't get in God's way. So don't try to, and don't get sad when you think you have.

5. If you leave the pantry door open, your dog WILL get into the trash. Yep, metaphor. So deep, right? I better see this on postsecret tomorrow. (Is post secret still a thing?)

6. Post Secret may not still be a thing.

7. I don't think I could run a marathon. The sad thing is, I am writing this to try to challenge 25-year-old me to do it. But I don't think I should. I have way too addictive a personality. If I trained for a marathon, after it was over I'd have to run at least 26.2 miles every day because I then knew I could. It is such work being me. You don't even know.

8. Being 24 was weird, and things changed a lot more than I wished that they would. 25 might be similar so I should probably put on my big girl shoes and get ok with it. I think I am.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Oh, hi.

I'm back to blogging. No, I don't want to talk about it, but I do want to talk about absolutely everything else, ever.

We're moving into a house. Aaron's birthday is tomorrow. I've discovered almond milk. That's pretty much everything that's happened since I up and hiatus-ed on ya'll.

Just kidding - I also highlighted my roots.

Go ahead and scroll down and peep some of the posts I wrote while I was "offline" too, if you'd like. I'm really quite insufferable.

In all seriousness, I'm looking forward to getting back into one of my exceptionally favorite outlets for my inescapable (yet charming) psychosis. I've been doing a lot of blog-reading and have gotten lots of new ideas and inspirations. So let's do this. Tomorrow.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Bullet Points Episode 2

1. Yesterday I totally could've stolen a piece of candy from the 300 lbs of Halloween leftovers that were donated to Packages From Home from this one church, but I didn't. And today I totally could've stolen these socks from Payless because it took me 10 minutes to find a sales associate to cash me out, but I didn't. I just want you to know how much of a thief I'm NOT , and also how much I suffer for it.

2. This one fashion blog I follow is totally hilarious, though it offers no fashion advice to me personally that is in any way translatable to real life, being That which is lived Not on a Patio of a Tribeca Loft in perpetual summertime. Anywhoo today she was wearing a half-shirt (really just sleeves and a collar) that was of the pineapple patterned variety, and I was just like, girl, when does it stop being about your sartorial conquests and more about what's going on upstairs? I bet if she read that I wrote that, she's reply with "YEAH that means I succeeded!" but she'd know that no one knew what she meant, not even her, and then she's eat some girl scout cookies to be ironic or something. I'd still have a major crush on her.

3. I think that what people really really want most in life is for something terrible to happen to someone else that they can blame on other people. I really mean that. Watch any political conversation, MTV-based reality show or Clorox commercial and you'll know what I'm talking about. We're a sick bunch, human race.

4. Do you ever haunt yourself with unfortunate images? Sometimes I am so bombarded by these things I saw that I wish I didn't; always at an almost humorously inopportune time, like when I'm eating mashed potatoes or something. Images include - that one lady who got her face ripped off by a monkey and than sewed back on by someone I can only assume had a blood relation to Dr. Frakenstein (HE was the doctor! High School English Success!), also the time I found puke on the pavement outside St. Mary's when I was 8 and thought it was chicken and dumplings, and then, you know, Nancy Pelosi. Why does my mind do this to me?

This has totally been like that episode of Magic School Bus where they go inside that one kids' body, except you were inside the brain of a conservatively manic blonde.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011


There's this dude who is always pacing outside of our office. Have I mentioned how much I love that I sit in front of a big glass door and windows? ANYWAY.

I love sitting in front of windows, but then, there's the Pacing Dude. He is strange looking, always has a Mr. Grumpy look on his face and one time he was backing out of a parking space and didn't see me coming in my car, so I had to wait for a million hours and that's when he lost any opportunity to be a cool person in my life.

So yesterday I was walking out to my car for a lunch break and he was, you know, pacing outside. This was the first time I'd ever actually run into him, and he looked up and said "HI!" and gave this huge smile. And I'm not kidding, upon seeing the smile, I thought he was a different dude. It changed his whole face.

After recovering from my shock, I thought - aww, Maria, what a great metaphor for life. Everything is so different when we smile, we look different, we see life differently, birds fly higher and the sun shines brighter. But then I immediately thought ew, that is disgusting, how could I even entertain the thought of writing that?

Friday, September 30, 2011

Dear Fashion

The thing is, tea length skirts make me go from a mammoth 5'2" to like, 3'. I just can't; I'm sorry.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Weekly Don't Do It

Don't tell someone that you run into on a hiking trail that they are "wearing the wrong shoes for this kind of trail." Unless you have $90 that you'd like to give her for the high tech, over-hyped hiking boots you would find appropriate for "this kind of trail." Or unless you DO feel like getting popped in the nose with a very strong, albeit slippery, sole of a tennis shoe.

Filter it, dude. You'll get there.

Weekly Don't Do It

Don't park your car in the sun in Arizona while you go into the coffee shop for your lunch break, and then when you get back into the car, and the scorching heat of your driver's seat sears into your lovely behind parts, don't yell, "HOT BUTT!"

Because you left your window down, and that guy who sits at that one table outside every day just heard you. And now he probably thinks you're friends or something.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Weekly Don't Do It

Self-portrait of you looking in a mirror. It makes us all very sad.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Tuesday, May 17, 2011


In a rare moment of calm, as I sit enjoying a hunka chips and salsa in my pajamas, it has come to my memory that the following excerpts of e-mails have been sent to Aaron, by me, within the last two weeks:

"Oh my gosh bud, I just bought this dress online for $51.99. I was waiting for it to get back in stock and then it did and I don't know what I was thinking I just bought it! Is that ok? Don't worry. They have a good return policy."

"Babe, help me! I really want to go to Zumba tonight but I promised Vanessa I'd chat with her on the phone after work and I want to have enough time to talk to her but I don't want to go to Zumba late but I want to work out today because I feel lazy. Serioulsy, what am I going to do?"

"OMG bud I just wrote on (someone's) facebook wall and I just know (they) are going to get mad about it. Why did I do that?! Are you mad at me?"

And this one's just glorious:


that is my whiney voice. Please take five moments of silence and hear it in your head. Here it is again:

(that was the entirety of that one.)

And here's the thing, people. With all that blathering, borderline-frightening crazy up there, I get responses like this:

"Babe, I'm so glad you got that dress! I can't wait to see it on you!"

"Hi love! Why don't you just talk to Vanessa in the car on the way to Zumba. The worst case scenario is that you miss the very beginning of class, and that won't be so bad."

"I'm not angry at all, little girl! Don't you worry about it! What you wrote was great."

And, well, to that last piece of literary perfection, he replied:

They can't all be winners.

But he certainly is. Give him a medal. And for me...maybe some ritalin?

Monday, May 9, 2011

Identity Crisis

Last night I stopped into Chipotle after church. As church ended (we go to an evening service here) I looked at Aar and said ..."Chinese food?" And he gave me this goofy look like...who are you kidding? We had missed our weekly Chipotle Night on Thursday because my throat was wanting soup that night. So I went to pick up our signature three-soft-tacos for Aar and burrito-bowl for me.

When I got up to the lovely lady that was going to make our yummy pseudo-Mexican feast, the first thing she said to me was, "are you a Mom?" I was nervously puzzled for a split second before I remembered that it was Mother's Day. Once I stopped double-checking that my single chin hadn't turned into a double chin, and once I stopped judging her for her over-enthusiasm, I said "nope, not yet." She was sweet though, and asked if I had a puppy. I said yes, and she wished me a Happy Mother's Day.

I could've told her that we have a strict no-referring-to-our-dog-as-our-son rule at the Baer house, but I'm trying to work know, my general sourness, so I left it alone.

But I threw a little fit in my head while I watched this bouncy woman put pico de gallo on my mountain of barbacoa. (Now I'm hungry.) No, I'm not a Mom. No, I don't eat only organic. No, I don't paint or sketch or, I don't know, do pencil drawings. I don't do graphic design, I don't have my own super hipster photography business with my own totally original website. I generally don't do Yoga on mountaintops on Saturday mornings and I don't create my own jewelry. I'm not visiting 11 countries in 12 months and I'm not in Africa holding orphan babies. I'm not in Nashville giving myself a go at being a starving musician or clothing designer or poetry writer or coffee barista with my lip pierced. I'm not thinking of starting my own church or painting a mural downtown. No, I'm not a Mom.

But that's ok, right? Don't I still have something worth saying?

You know, after the Last Supper, when Jesus was trying to be plain as day to his buds about all the crap that was about to rain down, they started this ridiculous argument about which of them was the greatest. (I feel embarrassed for them even typing it.) It's bewildering, though, ridiculous as that sentiment was, how forceful it can be.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Tulips; Yellow and Purple

Yesterday I bought some purple and yellow tulips. I had just taken a shower so my hair was half wet and half frizzy, and I was wearing my token OU Football T shirt (went to one game in 4 years, ladies and gentlemen, but darn it all if I don't love that shirt) and my gray gym shorts with the paint stain on them from the Great Funeral Home Paint of 2007. (Aaron and I took all odd jobs that summer, together. We painted, we camp counseled. We watched movies in my basement. It was glorious.)

Anyway, my point is that when I bought the flowers I didn't look like a person who would be buying flowers at a grocery store. At Lowe's, maybe. Because you could've assumed that I was doing housework in my grub clothes and the flowers fit into that. But I wasn't at Lowe's, I was at Basha's, where the flowers are way overpriced and where the home-owners certainly do not go on home improvement shopping sprees.

And the flowers were most definitely overpriced. I paid like, $7.99 for each color. One bushel of purple, one of yellow. That's like, almost $15, man. (Full disclosure: there was a giant pause in my typing before I got that number out. I haven't taken a math class since 2005, so it's ok.)

I hadn't planned to buy them. They weren't on my neat, yellow, college-ruled list. The other thing about the flowers was that I didn't really have a purpose for them in mind, other than putting them in my little purple vase and in the center of my clutter-filled kitchen table. Also regarding live flowers: they don't live forever. You have to have these things in mind when you are shelling out $15 on something. Especially when $15 could also go toward dog food, or laundry detergent, or Chipotle.

The best part about all of this is, though, that I bought the flowers. I had one millisecond of "oh, I shouldn't" but I took that thought captive, ya'll. And Aaron didn't even blink a beautiful eye of his. He looked at them and said "Oh Ria, how beautiful!" and when I said "they're kind of expensive" he looked at me like I was speaking a different language, and we just paid for them at the register.

This Easter morning when I got up, the tulip blooms had started to open up, and the swirl of purple and yellow that I saw out of my still-sleeping eyes was just so sweet and sugary. I went out on my porch with my mug of orange juice. (Orange juice is my coffee, but I still pretend it's real coffee.) And I sat and stared at this gorgeous sunrise, and I read the resurrection story in Luke and John, and I thought about my Aunt Cris, and I realized that buying flowers is a little thing, but if in doing so you can stomp on a little tiny fraction of the larger-than-life swarm of useless anxiety that we allow to surround ourselves every single minute, well, then that is really something. It is like a little bit of Good Friday, Holy Saturday and Easter that's all your own. And that was only made possible by the real Easter.

My weird, anti-intellectual, but ever-present anxiety died in a moment, and then a sweet, flower-smelled peace resurrected that couldn't have otherwise. And the victory is delicious.

Happy Easter!

Friday, April 15, 2011


So yo escribo completemente en espanol, lo leias? Espero que si.

Pero probablemente no.

Si mi hermano aprendo el lenguaje como El dijo, El podria leer este. Pero, no. Cobarde!

La otra cosa es, yo necesito mas puntuacion, pero yo no se como en Blogger. No te importa, yo se.

El problema es yo tengo miedo porque no estoy hablando espanol a mi trabajo nuevo. Y yo se el frase - si no lo usas, lo pierdas. Entonces yo estoy escribiendo eso. Tambien, compre un libro en espanol por Pablo Neruda. Me olvido el titulo en este momento. Pero estudie Sr. Nerudo en el colegio - es un Chileno con mucho talento. Voy a leer el libro despues de lo que estoy leyendo ahora, "Water for Elephants."

Ok, ok. Lo siento, mis amigos del ingles.

Por favor si lo entiendes ese post, digame! Podemos ser amigas de espanol.

Que tenga.... sabes el resto.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Second Visits

Last week Mom and Papa Fisher came to sunny Scottsdale for a visit. Actually, what's funny is, it wasn't so sunny. Mom didn't find that funny. (These rhymes are unintentional.) I felt terrible, because obviously, one comes to Arizona expecting rays and heat and palm trees. And that is our norm 364 days a year. Mom and Dad just happened to be here on the annual week of clouds and gloom and rain.

The horrible part: I loved it.

It made me want to curl up and read and snooze and watch movies. And actually, for a lot of their visit, that's what we did! That's what's great about Second Visits. You don't have to have the traditional "let's go see the sites" kind of time together. You can have REAL time together. As if they lived down the street, and we happened to take a Saturday to shop at Tempe Marketplace.

That's my backwards way of saying I'm trying to bamboozle them into moving down the street.

(Although I don't think that would be too hard, honestly. The excessiveness of Dad's "oohs" and "ahhs" at the scenery and his endless references to foreclosed homes was telling. AHEM.)

On an honest and more somber note, I can't describe the yuckiness of the ends of Mom-and-Dad visits. I've blogged before about how I'm not cut out to live this far from them. When they leave, all I can think about are these pretty childhood memories that I wish I could grab back.

But homesickness ain't nothing a little bitta Aaron Michael and Biggest Loser can't fix, right? At least temporarily.

So this week got off to a tear-filled start when Mom and Dad caught their return flight on Monday morning, but it's looking up now. After all, it IS the 99th anniversary of the Titanic's voyage. Coolest week of the year. What have you been up to?

Monday, April 4, 2011

Monday Nonsense

Ok, friends. Here's the dealio, as Michael Scott would say. Due to the 'political' nature of my new job, my boss is a bit wary of me having a public blog. (They were burned in the not-too-distant past by an employee with a weak social network filter. Ahem.) However, upon hearing that, after I got over the initial devastation (not really) I researched and found a way to have an invite-only blog. So for now, you all and I share a secret. :)

That being said, I didn't start this post with a lot to say. Just wanted to be in the blog world again.

So, my sweet Mom and Dad are coming out to ol' Scottsdale tomorrow for their yearly April visit, and it feels like Christmas Eve. Aaron and I just completed the Baer Apartment Deep Clean of 2011, and that feels lovely. We blasted Mute Math, John Mayer, and Eisley. Also the vacuum joined in on the noise factor.

While I was cleaning the shower and Aaron Michael was sweeping the furniture, I had one of those existential moments where I realized I was actually having fun, and that Aaron is just the stinkin' bee's knees. Sometimes I think people imagine the 'domestic' parts of marriage to be anti-climactic. I certainly used to, before we got married. But I would trade the awkward tension of dating for the happy hum-drum of cleaning together almost any day.

We were born in different states. We literally never knew of each other for the first 18 years of our lives. Now we are inseparable and we clean our apartment together in music-filled silence. Who could've known?

That reminds me of a line in "Memoirs of a Geisha," which I just finished and have been mulling over all day. But I can't quite recall the line right now. It is about the rhythm of life and how our destiny is like a stone falling toward the earth... it's the most beautiful line and I'm butchering it. But this is where I tell you that if you really want to hear it, you'll have to go read the book. Then, of course, call me so we can chat about it!

Alright, time for my nightly glass of cranberry juice (girlfriends: jump on this train. If you'd like to know why, Google it or e-mail me.) and then a little bit of reading. Tonight I'm starting "Water for Elephants."

I have to say a thank you before I go, though. I was nervous putting myself out there to have an e-mail only blog, because I wasn't sure if I'd have any takers. But ya'll made me feel very loved and I'm so glad we can share this together. And hey - if you have a blog too, would you mind leaving it in the comments? I really really want to follow you.

Goodnight, friends.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Bullet Points

I haven't blogged in a while. Since before a bunch of stizz-uff went down. And not blogging was a conscious choice, because I didn't know what to say. You know, during a lot of the stizz-nuff. I've had a really interesting month and the dust is settling a bit, so I want to start up on sharing again, blog-style.

This blog calls for bullet points because of how much I want to say. You're welcome.

1. Quitting
This is why I haven't been writing. I quit my job at The Phoenician and my mind has been a storm of thoughts and doubts and smiles and frowns since then. It happened in February. All during the time from then until today, I've been wondering how I would write about it in here. And today I decided that I'm not going to tell you all about my boss. Because that's not the kind of person I want to be. Lately I keep finding myself making all these decisions about "the kind of person I want to be." I think every decision we make is that kind of decision, but lately I have been acknowledging that, and it's a lot of pressure sometimes. Like now. I'd love to vent and scream and bring you all into the ring with me on this one, but I don't want to be a person who vents on blogs about other people. Especially when other people tend to be sad and hurting so much of the time. So I won't.

I'll just say this: The Phoenician was an unhealthy place for me. I was treated with a strange, confusing, ferocious dislike, and eventually felt very threatened. I hadn't found a new job by the time I quit, but I had sat crying in the bathroom with the Lord enough times to know when my time was up. It's a shame, because I liked what I did there and I liked The Phoenician family. And I think I did a good job.

My letter of resignation was short. Because I had spent enough of me in that office. And I sacrificed my health, and I sacrificed the respect with which I know I should be treated, bottom-of-the-totem-pole though I might have been. But now I am not there anymore. And our God ushered me out with his sweet breeze of a whisper, and I haven't looked back since.

2. Since then
Since that day in February, things have been even more of a whirlwind. Literally the day before I quit, I got connected with a sweet friend of Aaron's who started her own PR Consulting firm a year or so ago. It turned out they needed some part-time work for a few weeks, organizing their 'books.' I started there the Monday after I left The Phoenician, positively wide-eyed that God provided for us like that. I had a paycheck in my wallet that Friday, like always. We never even missed a Chipotle night, friends.

I was with Serendipit for about 3 weeks, I believe. As that was a temporary gig, I spent a lot of my free time then furiously applying for jobs.

[Regarding job searching: my friend Caitlin, kind of an 'expert' in the
biz, says as long as you're serious about it, you'll find something. That's
why I love Caitlin. And that's also why I love Jesus. Also, the free market.]

Then, I found another job.

I was hired as an HR rep for an awesome little company called Dependable Health Services, Inc. They have a giant staff of nurses who provide in-home care for patients across the valley. The first day I started there, we had a 'team meeting.' One of my coworkers shared a problem they had been having with one of our clients. Problems with clients are not good. I couldn't believe how unlucky I was to have my first day be on a day where the boss was going to have to hear terrible news that there was a client problem, and then, obviously, get angry at whoever caused the problem. But do you know what happened?

He listened as my coworker described the problem, and then he said: "Listen up everybody. If [the client] ever talks to any one of you like that ever again, you just give the phone to me. You all do an incredible job, every single day, and I am so proud of you. Don't let anyone tell you different."

And you know what happened? I cried. And I couldn't believe my poor little heart had been bracing for an angry tirade. Isn't it sad that I was conditioned for that? Not anymore.

Also at Dependable, there I have found such a sweet friend. We went out to a movie after my first week. Do you know how that feels? I feel so stinkin' grateful I could do jumping jacks. She is just awesome. Although, not too great at Words with Friends. (See that? That's trash talk.)


I got a call a week and a half ago from U.S. Congressman David Schweikert's office. They had gotten my contact info from Aaron's boss (we now owe her both our incomes. Do you think a bouquet of flowers ought to do it?) and wanted to interview me. So they did. And then they offered me a job as a staff assistant. Then I told them I wanted more money than they offered me. Then they said "ok." Then I said "ok."

And now here I am, working out my last week at Dependable, ready to start my new gig in politics on Monday.

Would you like a little peek into my brain? Here we are.

I'm sad to leave. I'm excited to go. I'm so bummed to leave my friend. I
feel guilty for leaving a company that put so much work into training me. But
everyone has been so nice about it. This is the right opportunity for me. I
can't believe this is happening. I can't wait to work in politics. I don't want
to leave. But the offices are right down the street from each other. I can still
visit for lunch. Mmm, lunch. I want a ham sandwich.

3. Here I Raise My Ebenezer
When I was at the Focus Institute in 07, I went on this beautiful women's retreat in the late fall, deep in the mountains behind Pike's Peak. "Deep" as in, in a town with little stores that had animal-skin rugs and cowboy jackets with leather fringes. My sweet friend Lindy gave a talk at the retreat, and she spoke so much truth to me that it hit me like a semi and I buried it deep, deep in my heart. And I kept it for times like now.

Do you know the song "Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing"? Well, in it, you find one of my favorite lyrics of all time:

"Here I raise my Ebenezer: 'Hither by Thy Help I've Come.'"

Lindy taught us what this lyrics meant. Nestled way back in the old testament is a warrior of a chapter called Joshua 4. The Israelites are passing over the Jordan River, carrying the Ark of the Covenant. And when they make it safely, Joshua tells each tribe to plant a stone at their resting place for the night. Then he said:

"In the future, when your children ask you, 'what do these stones mean?'
tell them that the flow of the Jordan was cut off before the ark of the covenant
of the Lord. When it crossed the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan were cut off.
These stones are to be a memorial to the people of Israel forever." -Joshua

This was their "Ebenezer." Joshua knew how precious it was to taste, to see, and to remember how the Lord has provided for you. Let's face it: the future did not hold peace and harmony for the Israelites. But if ever a doubt was to trickle into their meek hearts, they could look back on their stones and remember the God that dried a river for them.

I'll say it again - how precious it is to remember! So here is my Ebenezer: A month ago, I was completely torn up. I felt guilty, hurt, anxious, and angry. I came home from work with tears and stomach pain. I exhausted all the resources I had and tried to take the straightest path. But that only made it clearer that I had to quit my job. I didn't know if/when I'd find a new one, and what my husband and I were going to do for money until then. The next day, I had a temporary job. Then, I got a full-time job. Then, I got another full-time job that included an incredible raise.

Hither by thy help I've come.

4. New beginnings!
This bullet point is intentionally left blank. (nerd grin.)

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

She Bugs the Right People

I think one of the hardest parts about life is getting used to the fact that some people just aren't going to like you. Everyone knows that someone doesn't like them. Maybe even someONES don't like you. You might know why or you might not. But some people just don't like you, friend.

You know how psychologists say there are 5 stages of grief? I think there are 5 stages of realizing-you-annoy-the-crap-out-of-someone. And I just finished going through them. Here they are.

1. Confusion.
Negative comments at weird intervals, offering up unsolicited criticism, going bonkers over your actions whilst ignoring others' actions... these can be quite bewildering coming from a fellow human being when you've know, punched them in the face or told them they have a gigantic nose or something before. This confusion can last a long, long time. Especially if you consider yourself to be quite delightful. (I am delightful, for instance.)

2. Rationalizing
When confusion spurs you to action, you may start to try to figure out exactly what you did to make this person so enraged at the sight of your delightful face. Did you talk about how totally rad the Backstreet Boys are when she camped out for two nights for 'N Sync tickets? Did you mention your loathing of of comically large hoop earrings the day before she was going to wear her gold ones? Did you step on her toe? If there's a reason, you'll find it. Or you'll invent one. ("I must remind her of a kid in grade school that gave her a gigantic wedgie," for instance. "And it appears she still has not dislodged the wedgie.")

3. The Conversation
If you're really brave, or you're really neurotic and you just can't take the tension anymore, (either one will work) you might make it to step 3. I would warn you against it, but you're going to do it anyway so I won't waste my breath. Step 3 is asking her for coffee, or stepping into her office and asking if you can close the door. (Closing the door means business.) Then you pour your heart out. "Did I step on your toe? Because I SO did not mean to!" The good part about this step is that if you really did offend her in some way, maybe she'll bring it to light and you all can put it behind you and go purse shopping. But if she is someone who dislikes you because of YOU, then this step will be frustratingly futile. She'll pour out her innocent heart and tell you how much she loves and appreciates and respects you and she just has no idea where you got the crazy notion that you make her want to punch the elderly. And you'll have gotten nowhere.

4. Anger
If step 3 doesn't go too well, you're on a very dark road, my friend. Now you're going to realize that you just can't figure this out. And it's going to make you angry. What the heck did you do to deserve such scorn? Why won't she admit that she can't stand you? And worst of all - if it's not for a rational reason, how on earth can you solve this issue between you? Step 4 is the worst. You could spend your whole life here, and I think some people do. But moving into step 5 is when you know you're growing up.

5. Acceptance
I know this is the same as step 5 for mourners, but it's not plagiarism. Because I thought of it, and THEN I realized it was the same step for mourners. (That's how you know). Anyway, step 5 is very, very important. Step 5 is when you have exhausted your investigative skills and you've strained your memory for any possible offense and you truly can't find any. You've even gone a little deeper, wondering if you have a problem with her and it's somehow coming out in your actions, unbeknownst to you. (As we say in HR - "everything communicates.") But in the end you realize something very important. She just doesn't like you. She just. doesn't. like. you. Something about the essence of you has her angry, jealous, annoyed, whatever.

This thought should be freeing to you. Because you're off the hook. But as it's freeing, it can be overwhelming as well. Why doesn't she like you? Aren't you so likeable? Didn't Mom tell you that you're the sun to her shine? You think you're pretty swell. Are you wrong? Does everyone hate you but you, and you're compounding your dumbness by missing that?

Get over that hump. Because you won't find a reason, and just like in step 2, you might invent some and start to believe them. And that's just not productive. For anyone.

Have a sigh, friends. Some people just aren't going to like you. Be OK with it. If you've searched your heart and you're living like you should be, take it as a compliment. Maybe something pure in your spirit is stirring something dark in hers, and it's uncomfortable. Maybe it's just old school jealousy. Maybe she's just old school COO-COO. (I may have some personal experience with this one. Right now.)

The other thing to appreciate when someone doesn't like you is the searching it made you do. Maybe God wanted you to take that opportunity to get to know yourself. When you take that hard proverbial look in the mirror and ask questions like "am I a snot? Am I disrespectful? Do I think I'm better than everyone else?" the answers can only help you become better. That kind of searching is a gift.

Here's the thing. Someone in my world doesn't like me. I annoy her. I make her angry. She doesn't like my clothes or my eating habits or the way I talk, or my confidence. And for a good long while I have dissected myself bit by bit, looking for anything and everything that might be driving her crazy. And I can't find a single thing (that I haven't changed by now) that warrants her specialized dislike. So now I think I'm ok with it. And I figure, anyone who would be as mean and direspectful to me as she is, is not someone I really care about liking me. (Please picture a confident storm-off here.)

And I'm reminded of a quote from the fabulously handsome Dennis Miller, when asked about Sarah Palin. (She's not one of my favorites...but it's for rational reasons. :) Anyway, here's Miller re Palin: "I like her. She bugs the right people."

Maybe I do too.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Here's What's Up.

I haven't written in a while. Part of that has been that we have been insanely busy (in a good way! December is always that way, it seems.) But another part is that I feel like every time I am inspired to write, it's because I'm feeling particularly bummed or melancholy, and I don't like that. It makes it seem like my whole life is melancholy. And it so is not! Maybe those kinds of days are just the ones where I feel more poetic.

Either way, I want to write tonight. I don't have a main point in mind. Just want to write. About what's going on lately in Baer world.

1. New Years and such
This year, my resolution is not to lose weight. We can talk about the magnitude of that one day, maybe. But probably not.

Anyway, I have two goals this year. The first is to find a play to be in. Over Christmas break, Mom and Dad took us to see "Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat" in Lakewood (Cleveland) and it was faaaabulous. ("Could you use a slave, you hairy bunch of Ishmaelites?") It made me want to hop on stage and make everyone look at me while I do funny things. That's generally what wish every day was like, but community theater is man's way of making that socially acceptable. So I plan to partake this year.

My (our) second goal this year is to research and hopefully find a long-term trip to start planning for. One of Aaron and I's goals for our life is to spend an extended amount of time in another country, helping out. What that looks like, we have no idea. And I do hesitate to make grand plans like that too far in advance, because that's just the sort of thing God likes to mess up to teach you a lesson. (Don't take that literally, but I kind of mean it.) Anyway, we are hoping after this year to at least have a goal in mind and a savings plan for it. Then, the idea is, after another 2 or 3 years in Phoenix, we will pack up, go on an adventure for a while, then come back to the states and 'settle down' a bit closer to my parents. :) I've started researching some orphanages in Uganda for the past three weeks, because we sponsor a sweet little dude in Kampala and would love to get to meet him, too. We'll see. I'll keep you all updated on our progress.

2. Books
Now I want to talk about "Atonement" and whatnot. One of the things I love the most about Christmas and the respite it promises every year is the stories I always finally have the time to delve into. One year I got the Bourne movies as presents and spent the entire break watching the Bourne Supremacy every night. (I used to be a big movie re-watcher. I'm sure there's some clever psychoanalysis you could get from that, but let's pocket that one for now.) Another year I was given Gladiator and the Gladiator soundtrack, and when I wasn't watching Russell Crowe nobly behead armies of stunt men, I was laying on my floor listening to sad flute songs, humming along.

This year, I finally finished the Hunger Games series. It shook me through and through, and you really should expect nothing less from a book. It was happy and sad and complicated and frightening and such a striking commentary on why humans only screw things up on their own - even when they think they're doing the opposite. READ it.

I also read "Atonement" by Ian McEwan and I had to sit with it for a week or so before I finally formed my opinion. And my opinion is a bit complicated. First, parts of it were dreadfully boring. Dreadfully. But I found myself completely unable to put it down, because his way of writing through a child's stream-of-consciousness is one of the most fun things I've ever read. It almost made me mad how much he knew me. But I was Briony. I really can't describe to you how much I was her. One afternoon in my childhood, and all it sounded and felt and looked like to me, WAS worth 150 pages. Just like Briony's. Even if it bores you.

We rented the movie at Blockbuster last night and I might start it tonight. I'm not quite sure, after reading it, how they plan to make a movie out of it, so it should be interesting. I convinced Aaron to watch it by showing him that Kiera Knightly was on the cover. Thanks, Kiera.

3. Old Journals
Aaron bought us new bookshelves this weekend, as he's been inspired lately to beef up our humble apartment. (He painted our living room too - it's a fabulous orange. So southwesterny. I adore it.) As I was shifting old books, bibles, journalism textbooks and planners that I just can't make myself through away from our old shelves to our new, I came across one of my favorite journals. It's the one I had my sophomore year in college. My roommates would recognize it in a heartbeat, I guarantee. It's a big spiral hardbound thing, with a french lady on the front in a fabulous hat. It says "Chic" right next to her. I got it because I was obsessing over the Cardigans that year (and always) and I thought Nina, the lead singer, was so "chic." So that was my word of the year.

Anyway, that journal truly includes the very beginning of Aaron and I. And it was so much fun reading about some of the sweet, confusing things I had forgotten about. How he showed up to one of my shows at a coffee house in a "stupid backwards hat" and offered to buy me a coffee when I had told him to stay away from me until he decided what he wanted to do with his girlfriend back home who he was on a 'break' with. How he seemed so strangely infatuated with me and I almost counted that against him - I was such a nerd; how could I like someone who would have liked me? But what a guy he was, and is. He totally swept me away. I'm so glad I have that journal.

It was weird, reading that, then looking over and seeing this gorgeous guy put the finishing orange touches on our walls. Could he be the same guy? He's not as confusing, or mysterious to me anymore. But strangely, I don't miss that. Now he looks like home. And that's even better.

4. Limbo
Now, this is where I'm going to get melancholy, I guess. Oh well. Take it with a grain of salt.

If you don't read Kate Andre's blog, you simply must. She is so lovely. I've been reading it for a long time now. She's an Ohio kindred spirit, if she doesn't mind me calling her that. Today I read her sweet new entry and found out that she and her new husband are expecting. I'm so happy for her!

And here's where you all are going to laugh at me. Seeing that news made me feel weird. All of my friends, including Aaron, will not hesitate to describe to you how inexplicably terrified of having children I am. I can't even think about it. Now I think that one day, maybe in 10 years or so, Aaron and I will want to grow our family a bit. But right now? HECK no. Don't get me wrong - if God gives us children, we will love them and trust Him. We knew we'd have to be ok with that when we got married. But we are most definitely not trying for that just yet.

BUT. Kate's news made me sigh. And I can't figure out what that means. I almost felt a little...jealous. What a thing she's doing, being a mother. What am I doing? It made me feel like I'm in limbo a bit. Is it wrong to not have kids yet; or to not be trying to have them? Is that what you're supposed to do when you get married? Are we accomplishing anything, or are we being selfish?

Some of those questions I already know the answer to; it's just that that's what went through my mind upon hearing Kate's news. Other friends of mine have had children very recently as well - some of our best friends Kristina and Anthony had little Sophia a few months ago, a friend from home, Becca, had her sweet little Selah in December. And what am I doing? Am I doing nothing?

I said before that you'd laugh at me, and I imagine you are. Here I am, perhaps the person most terrified of children on the planet, stomping her feet because she feels left out. I don't know what that means.

Briony would.

Oh well. Just wanted to get all of that off my chest. I certainly hope God doesn't think this would be a funny time to send us a child. That joke wouldn't land, Big Guy. Come on now.

Ok, now I'm sitting her in the quiet, on our comfy couch bundled in my new pajamas, with a hot chocolate surrounded by orangey, sunsetty walls. Even with limbo and travel plans and baby fear running through my heart, I can't help but be joyful.

Here's to a good week!