27 Things I Learned While 27

(Pictured: Making Tiramisu, one of my birthday traditions.)

This weekend I’m leveling up in life. All the experience I’ve gathered by wading towards the future over the past year, one second at a time, has entitled me to cast away my age of 27 and emerge victorious at 28. Although I’m not yet certain what 28 will unlock versus 27, I’m sure there will be some epic new gear to equip as well as some new attacks.

So much happened while I was 27! So much expected. So much unexpected. My brother got married. I got married (again). We acquired chickens (technically I was 26, but shh). I queried, finished a rewrite, and finished a draft zero. I made cakes and I avoided making cakes. I (finally!) saw the Grand Canyon. I cried. I laughed. I lived.

And I learned a lot. Which should be expected. If there is ever a year that I look back and don’t think “wow, I sure learned,” then I need to start school all over again. Stat.

This is what I learned:

1) Coffee, contradictorily, makes me more tired. Maybe not right away, but I always get an afternoon slump when I’ve started my day with coffee versus tea.

2) The Grand Canyon needs to be experienced in person to fully appreciate just how freaking grand it is.

3) Hiking across the relatively flat land of England is not equivalent to hiking straight down, then straight back up and out of the Grand Canyon. One is noticeably more difficult than the other.

4) Left to my own devices, I will not run regularly on my own.

5) But! I will actually stick to a weightlifting regime on my own.

6) I can trust myself. If everybody and everything says one thing, but I know in my heart that the opposite is true, I can trust myself to be right. This, of course, only applies to my body and personal life and not, say, science.

7) Dr. Google is an ignorant asshole.

8) There is nothing a long hike cannot solve.

9) If I really, really want something, I have to make the time and effort to achieve it.

10) That said, the required time and effort will, more often than not, be four times as much as I originally planned for. But that doesn’t mean I’m not making progress.

11) Best friends are for high school. Real friends, life friends, will fit into my life in their own ways, and I mustn’t force one friend to fit like another.

12) Getting pregnant is hard. TTC is emotionally draining. Finding a group of people in the same/similar circumstances is necessary to maintain perspective and levity.

13) Diet can only do so much, but what it can do is extraordinary. Also puzzling. Looking at you, chocolate.

14) In that vein, I am sensitive to nightshades, chicken eggs, and chocolate. WTF. No, seriously, wtf?

15) My brother and I will likely never be “friends.” We simply look at the world in completely different, irreconcilable ways. And that’s okay! We can still work together if we need to. And I can try to forge a friendship with his wife instead.

16) Biking to work is very, very satisfying and way less stressful than driving.

17) I’m a summer child at heart. As much as I want to love winter and snow and crisp, biting winds, I’m most at ease baking under an oppressive sun. I love the early sunrises and the late sunsets, I love the pillowy clouds and the vibrant, violent storms, I love the buzz of cicadas and the croak of frogs, I love to splash in puddles and smell the approaching rain on the wind, I love the absence of jackets and the warm, comforting air, I love the clear night sky and the peppering of stars, I love the iced drinks and the flavorful berries. Autumn might make my heart sing, but summer is where I live.

18) Chickens do not go “cluck.” Chickens go “errrr er er er.”

19) Don’t believe those pretty photos of ladies in long skirts cycling majestically through the city! Skirts are actually very difficult to bike in, although this may have something to do with the high bar on my bike.

20) My life doesn’t look like my coworkers’, my friends’, my acquaintances, or even my family’s, but that doesn’t make it any less valid. Everybody is in a different place in their journey and the outer shell of their life does not accurately reflect how far they’ve come or how far they have to go. Stop comparing.

21) It is okay to want a child. It is okay to want stability. It is okay to want a fixed home and community. It is okay to want all these “adult” things you shunned only a few years ago. I grew up. I am still growing. I am a different person now, and that person wants different things.

22) Don’t go back and rewatch my favorite television shows and movies of my childhood. They have not withstood the test of time.

23) Except for Sailor Moon. If anything, that show is more nuanced and amazing than I remembered.

24) The things I like might be problematic in some way – sexist, homophobic, racist, or just downright ignorant – but that doesn’t mean they can’t still have some value.

25) My parents have likely lived through a similar rough patch. Share what I’m going through with them. Talk to them. Be open.

26) Always seize the opportunity to go to a concert / attend a live show of a group I love/enjoy. Even if it means staying up well past my bedtime.

27) I still have a lot left to learn.

<3!

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Happy Chickenversary!

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Look at those faces! And those scraggly, sad tails. The chickens were much more dinosaur-like when we first acquired them as pullets just over a year ago – actually, a year ago last Sunday. They took to their new home just like fearless dinosaurs after we lifted them bodily out of their boxes.

Man, all that confused clucking. So much confused clucking.

Now, of course, they look a lot more like chickens.

 

 

I was a little hesitant about getting so many chickens way back when, but was mostly up for it. I mean, I ate three + eggs a day, right? We could keep up with it.

Then I learned I was sensitive to chicken eggs…

Still, we manage. We have friends who buy extra eggs and we pay egg-rent to the chicken’s landlord. We bring in extra eggs to work to sell and sometimes make a lot of eggy baked goods. All in all, we’ve kept on top of our eggs and go through them almost as soon as we get them. If we did it again, I might vie for a handful less chickens, but having more than we need is actually really nice. I enjoy spreading backyard chicken goodness to our friends and forcing them on coworkers as needed. We started on this venture to avoid CAFO chickens, after all, and do what we could to support better chicken practices, so sharing those eggs with as many people as possible means that many fewer CAFO eggs are bought.

I was a vegetarian once, in ye olde days, and when I switched back to om(nomnom)nivorism, I did so with the caveat that I continue to care about animal welfare. So we get our beef from a local CSA and try to source the best chicken we can and now we raise our own eggs. Spreading those eggs around only furthers my (nefarious) goals.

I am glad we got chickens. I am glad we built the coop ourselves and know every inch of it and know every one of our ladies, if not by name. I have learned way more than I ever knew was possible about chickens and I know there’s more to learn. They’re relatively simple creatures.

I wish we didn’t have to go to another property to take care of them. I wish we could have chickens right on our porch. I also wish we could know what killed the one. But those are small things and given the opportunity, I would do it all again. Just, maybe with eight or ten chickens instead of a round dozen.

 

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How Much I Hate Losing Weight: Let Me Count the Weighs

I made the mistake of weighing myself last week. I’d been so good about the scale ever since January, even going so far as to put it away in the closet. Then it slipped back out again due to my curiosity (and subsequent consternation) sometime in May and now it’s back in the bathroom, waiting for our morning feet.

I kind of knew what to expect because my skirts have been sitting higher and my stomach has been looking a wee bit too paunchy. But seeing the number kind of hit me right where it hurts. 170. Ouch. I haven’t been that heavy since… actually I can’t even remember. I’ve hovered between 150-165 all of my adult life (let’s just not talk about middle school, okay?) and it was when I hit 165 right out of college that I knew I needed to do something about it.

(For context, I’m 5’9″)

The weird thing is that I don’t feel that heavy. When I was 165 back in the day, I actually felt chubby. I had a big ol’ paunch and flabby arms and hated everything about my body. Now I’m mostly cool with it. Granted, I’ve spent a lot of the intervening time just learning to love my body as it is, but also some of that time was focused on weightlifting, which has definitely left it’s mark.

That said, as much as I want to attribute the weight gain to pure muscular gain  (yeah!!) – because the scale can and does lie – the skirts do not lie. When your skirts start feeling too tight – especially a-line’s – then it’s probably time to take a sober look at your lifestyle and reevaluate. And, alas, I know exactly where this has all come from. I was very hesitant to restrict calories while we were TTC, so I might have gone off the other end. Add to that depression and slowly, but thoroughly, ditching cardio in favor of short lifting sessions… well.

All that needs to change. My wife has also gained a wee bit of weight and got a firm kick in the ass at her last physical. So at least I won’t be alone in this endeavor. I floated the possibility of a return to Crossfit to get our asses back in gear, since that worked very well in keeping us fit and at a reasonable weight for two years. It’s actually been a full year since we stopped going, and I still miss the sweat and pain. God, crossfit sucks is wonderful.

But I digress.

The mere threat of returning to Crossfit seems to have been enough for her to start changing things up. So I set a date: we both need to lose 5 pounds by October, or else we will have to go back. While I actually like Crossfit, I am reticent to drop the big wads of cash we don’t have to go back. So I would actually prefer not to return. But to do that, I need to get my ass in shape.

Thankfully, I know of several tried & true ways to lose a few pounds and start feeling better. Unfortunately, that doesn’t mean they’re easy. Number one, of course, is diet. I need to shore up my diet. It’s already about 90%, but I need to get that extra 10% to lose fat. Right now I’m cleaning up the edges, taking less snacks to work, keeping carbs low, and keeping dinner light. After my birthday I’m going to cut out alcohol. All that might be enough. If it’s not, I will turn to the Wahl’s Protocol Plus, a ketogenic fasting diet, because a) I’ve been curious about that diet for a while now and b) fasting diets have performed very well at just ditching fat in clinical trials.

Number two: exercise. While I thought I had been doing enough with weight lifting, biking to work, and long walks, a closer look simply proves that it wasn’t enough. All of those things are all well and good for health and maintenance, but what I was lacking – and what Crossfit had in abundance – was anything high intensity. I wasn’t getting sweaty or out of breath or making my heart pound. I was going to the gym 2-3 times a week, lifting heavy, and then leaving. Again, perfect for strength. But not enough.

To fix that, I’m biting the bullet and adding in Crossfit-style workouts after I lift. Three times a week I will work really really hard for 10min. I will not be afraid to sweat (and subsequently stink a bit at work). I will not be afraid to push myself and breathe hard.

I’ve done two already this week and damn am I out of practice. I can already tell that I desperately needed this. And without TTC for a few months, I don’t have to worry about pushing myself too hard.

(What do these workouts look like? Well, whatever I can manage to adapt to the big-box gym. Tuesday was 5 rounds of 10 x squats, push-press, & bent row. Today was 15-12-9-6-3 of deadlift, hanging leg raises, and push-ups. I don’t know what the third one will be yet, but I’m leaning towards including double unders.)

We each took measurements earlier this week so we would have a better guide than just the scale (scales lie!). Waist, hips, and thighs. Ideally, waist will go down the most, hips a little, and thighs probably won’t budge. All I want is for my skirts to fit properly again, so I’ll be looking out for that, too.

 Also: I know we’re both healthy. I know that weight and fat and all that doesn’t actually mean anything if you’re active and eat right. My wife’s actual numbers (cholesterol, triglycerides, etc) were fucking phenomenal. Our society and culture has a terrible fixation with being abnormally thin. I don’t want to be thin. I want to be strong and muscular. But I also don’t want to buy new clothes. So this is purely a monetary endeavor.

The TL;DR version? I need to lose 5 pounds in the next month or else. Cheer me on!

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Filed under crossfit, diet, fitness, goals, weight loss

WIP Update

I’m calling it.

(That sounds familiar.)

But this time on another endeavor. I have 83k words on draft zero of my new WIP and it’s time to stop, regroup, and begin the rewrite. I didn’t finish the story – unless you count “rocks fall, everybody dies” – but so much needs to be changed – has changed – since I started it that the ending I’m currently trying to write won’t even survive to the next version. So instead of struggling through for the sake of hitting my word count goal, I’m cutting loose now and giving myself a little time off.

Oddly, I’m still feeling fairly confident about this story. Usually by now, especially after almost two straight months of writing, I’m bored and/or convinced of its crappiness. But with this one I feel like I’ve only just gotten started and there’s still so much to discover and flesh out. Perhaps because the story is still fresh? I don’t know, but I’ll go with it.

Which means I’m going to alter my original plans a wee bit. I was going to drop this story like a hot potato for a few months while working on shoring up and submitting the one I sent out to betas in early summer. But now I think I’m going to take a week (or two – but no more than that) off to think and percolate and do as much research as I can on the setting and cultures. Lady let me into the university library this weekend and they just have everything. Well, almost everything – the English translation of one particularly interesting book is, alas, in the British library and apparently interlibrary loan doesn’t extend that far. I’m tempted to get the original French version instead and see what I can make of it. But that brings up an important point:

How much research is too much research?

I can easily see myself studying my eyeballs out in lieu of actually writing, hence the one (or two) week cut-off. A month would be awesome, but I fear that if I go that long without actually writing, I’ll soon lose my groove again. I wish I had enough time to do both, but, well, if wishes were horses, we’d be up to our ears in horse shit.

I’ll figure out a middle path, I’m sure.

In the meantime, draft zero is done! It’s absolute shit and will never see the light of day, but I now have a serviceable plot, a cast of interesting characters, and a setting that I just want to go play in for days and days and days. Now comes the (much) hard(er) part of actually turning it into a story, a first draft.

But first: research. And second: maybe I should actually look at what my betas said about the last book. If they think it’s close enough to being done, I might just fix it now and go ahead and begin submitting while I start reworking this other one. Yes. That sounds like the best course of action.

 

Cross-posted to KA Doore.

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Outdoor Climbing = Holy Shit

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My friend took a few us out onto the mountain to try real outside climbing this weekend. We were supposed to climb on the beginner wall, but – alas – that had been swarmed by paratroopers who were learning how to rappel. We ended up hiking a bit to another wall instead, which turned out to be, well, a wee bit more difficult.

We stayed on the mountain most of the day and even though not much climbing happened, it was still glorious. I watched another friend learn how to rappel, having decided I was too chicken to even try. Of course now I feel like I missed an opportunity. I didn’t think I’d regret not trying it, and I’m usually pretty good at figuring out what I will and won’t regret, so that’s a surprise.

Mostly we just sat and chatted while one or the other person learned how to rappel or watched while our climbing friends did a 10 (!!).

This was our view:

 

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The breeze was cool and the shade (mostly) abundant. We watched clouds skitter across the hills and valleys and mountains. Breathed deep. Released tension.

We stayed much longer on the mountain than I had expected, but I needed that forced relaxation and calm. We planned exciting things for the fall and talked smack and laughed and let so much go. I tasted autumn on the wind and dreamed of pumpkins and crisp mornings.

I can see the future again, and – even though I didn’t get exactly what I want – it’s full of wonderful things.

 

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As for outdoor climbing? Well, maybe an easier wall next time. Also I’m really more of a weightlifter than a climber. ;)

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Paleo Autoimmune Protocol Reintroduction | Duck Eggs

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After the sadness that was confirming my sensitivity to regular ol’ chicken eggs, I remembered some snippets of info I had run across during my extensive reading on the AIP that some people, while intolerant of chicken eggs, can, in fact, tolerate the eggs of other fowl beasts. Chicken eggs, for some odd reason, have allergens that are specific to only them, whereas the rest of the feathery kingdom are fine & dandy. Water fowl, specifically, are thought to be the least problematic.

I actually tried out guinea hen eggs about a month ago with no ill effect, but the guy who sold them to us has since disappeared entirely from the farmer’s market. That’s all right, ’cause they are kinda small and expensive, to be honest. Then one fine Sunday we were picking up our meat share when I spotted a “duck eggs $5/doz” sign. Considering in the past I’d only ever seen duck eggs going for $5 a half dozen, this was a steal. So we grabbed them. And I tried them.

I had the first egg two weeks ago now and, as far as I can tell, I haven’t developed any new rashes. I didn’t do as careful an inventory beforehand as I should have, so I’m not 100% sure, but there have been no big, glaring, obvious changes like there were with chicken eggs. I’ve only been having one or two, three times a week (vs the 3/day I’d been doing with chicken eggs), and I’m going to keep it at that rate for another week or two and keep checking for rashes.

My preliminary conclusion, though, is that they’re okay. They bake well and make a delicious breakfast, so double plus. Considering my history of reintroductions, though, I’m going to remain cautious with this. The inexplicable skin rash is so, so sensitive, so if it doesn’t continue on its healing path as it has been doing these past few months, I’ll stop eating duck eggs.

But! I definitely think once the rash is completely gone, duck eggs will be on the menu. Maybe not quite a staple like eggs became, but an occasional breakfast treat.

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Break Time

 

I’m calling it.

My wife and I had a much needed chat on our long walk this morning. We discussed timing and plans and the future while watching the sun rise over the Catalinas. I finally said that it was really okay if we stayed in the desert another four to six months after she graduated so she could finish up her projects. I realized I had only been resisting because of potential baby, but since that is now out of the equation, I’m perfectly fine with it. I’ll have to work a few months longer at this job, but it will mean that much more in our savings account.

So I have five OPK sticks left but I’m putting them away until January. That gives us more than four months off, to relax, chill, hike, eat poorly, diet, etc etc etc. Actually, I have a lot of plans for those four months, plus this makes other things possible. In the end, there are probably more good things that will come from not being pregnant right now and in the immediate future than bad.

It really helps that this depression funk has finally lifted. I can see everything so much clearly without that fog. I have an inkling of what caused the depression and will be using these months off to tinker and test. Basically, I think it’s the chocolate. I didn’t think I’d been having that much this past month, but when I subjectively looked back and counted, it was more than I’d realized. A cookie here, chocolate ice cream there, a chocolate-glazed cake here, and spoonful of hot cocoa mix there and there and there.

I cut out the chocolate on Thursday and by Saturday was starting to feel better. By Sunday the lump in my chest was almost gone. By Monday I was functioning again. This, after four weeks of depression straight. And yet, I am still not wholly convinced. I don’t want to believe it was chocolate because, seriously, what the fuck?

So during our break, I’m going to test my theory very very thoroughly. After my birthday, I’ll begin noting my mood and irritability level three times a day for a week. The following week, I’ll have a certain, measured amount of chocolate and continue taking notes. I’ll take a week to renormalize, then introduce a different amount of chocolate. This way I will have proof – one way or the other – of chocolate’s effect on me.

Other things I plan to do while not TTC: lose some weight. I’ve gained ten pounds since January and that’s not cool. I also would like to try out the Wahl’s Protocol Plus, which is an intense ketogenic diet that I’ve been watching a fellow blogger have massive success with, while cutting down her grocery bills. I wanted to try it back in May, but didn’t want to risk the hormonal upset that comes from a big dietary change. But now I can!

And best of fucking all: this means I can go to Switzerland in June!! I won’t have just popped out a baby and I also won’t be more than six months preggers, which were both the primary reasons why we weren’t certain yet. I am super excite. I can’t even. I love Europe so much and I know I am so, so lucky and privileged to have visited as many times as I have and oh god, Switzerland and the cheese and the mountains and the food, can we just spend three days discussing the food?

So don’t be sad for me because nothing worked for us this cycle (of cycles); be happy because FUCKING SWITZERLAND!!

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Filed under ardent wishes, depression, gaybies, goals, n steps, progress, TTC, weight gain