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December 2010

November 2010

A REALLY LONG POST WHERE I FINALLY EXPLAIN WHY I’VE BEEN SO DAMN MOODY & DEPRESSED LATELY

I have teased a few times that there have been some weird things going on in my world, things that have made me anxious, depressed, and a general mess for most of the fall.

The reason I couldn’t get into detail about why I've been so anxiety ridden lately is all Dooce's fault.

Actually, maybe I should thank her for being the first one to talk about work on her personal blog and get fired for it. Thereby becoming the example of how NOT to conduct oneself on the internet in relation to employment.

Paving the way and all that jazz.

Bloggers know that something you just don't do on a blog is talk about work.

So if it takes you a MONTH to finalize a new job (YEAH!), a job that you are so excited about (YIPPEE!), the catch is that you can't spend that month before you officially get the job that is riddled with "will I get it?" anxiety talking to your internet friends about how stressed you are. You can't tell them how much you want it, what a great step this would be, you can't open your heart and let them know that you've seen what direction you want to work towards again, or that you're terrified something will happen to make it slip away a second time.

Also, if your boyfriend is applying for a promotion, a promotion that could cause you to completely uproot your life and move to another city, and you maybe have known about this relocation possibility for months and months and months, the Dooce rule means that you also can't talk about your worries, fears, joy, terror, excitement in detail on your blog.

Instead?

Silence.

Thumb twiddling.

Pictures of my dog on the blog week, after week, after week.

When what I've actually wanted to come on this space and talk about EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. was how up in the air our lives were.

Crazy, hanging upside down by our ankles, flailing around all psychotic like, a mess of drama at the Ashley and Adam house.

For someone like Adam, this situation stresses him out for sure. But he deals with his stress in a stoic manner, and his FAVORITE line over the last couple months has been, "We will deal with it when it happens."

I on the other hand dealt with all this stress and "what ifs" by FREAKING THE FUCK OUT.

Daily.

Fun huh?

 

 


The facts as of today are that I have a new job and start December 6th. It is a job I love. A job with the same company that had to let me go two years ago when the economy turned business upside down. Even weirder? I will be starting my new and improved position with this company exactly two years and ONE DAY from the day when I was laid off.

Strange huh?

But I’m excited. I’ll be working from home 4 days a week (SO THRILLED!) and commuting to Seattle one day a week (I CAN FINALLY SEE SOME OF MY FRIENDS MORE THAN ONCE EVERY TWO MONTHS!). See how wonderful this is?

Gee Ashley, why didn’t you tell us all the good news sooner?

Because of anxiety of course.

 

 

Let me give you a little back story into all the crazy.

Adam has a fantastic job at a very large company with offices all over the US. This company works in such a way that when you want to move up in the company (about every two to three years) you apply for jobs at another office, thereby becoming this nearly-nomadic-military-like-but-with-a-whole-lot-less-war-and-calisthenics, individual. 


Being with Adam I resigned myself a long time ago to knowing that in these beginning stages of his career he’s going to move. Often. Soon he’ll find himself high enough in the company to manage regions instead of one location, and then all we need to do is live in the region, thereby stopping all this damn moving.


So this fall when people started talking about relocation options there were two very different locations that were brought to the table. I wont even mention what cities they were in because it no longer matters, he didn’t get the job.


Which is FINE. This happens. You apply for something, and even if people chatter for two months about how it’s a guarantee you’ll get it, that doesn’t make it so. Things happen, plans change, office politics come into play and it doesn’t end up being in the cards.


But the point is, my anxiety has crippled me for the last 2? 3? 4? months over the possibilities of MAYBE. Maybe it would be one city I was happy with, the easy option, or maybe it would be a city that might be a serious adjustment. Maybe my new job would be a simple process to keep if we moved to city A, or maybe it wouldn’t work in city B and I would have to move on to something else. Maybe, maybe, maybe.


It doesn’t matter which was easier though, because neither was set in stone. Neither options were a tangible reality, and yet my mind was already a mess. I had moments where I was an inconsolable blob of sobs just thinking about the POSSIBILITY of job hunting in one of these two cities. I had moments of complete and utter panic thinking that if we moved to option B I would have to give up my job. Even though he had yet to get a job in that city, I had yet to start my new job, and I had yet to have a conversation with my new job about if living in this fictional city would be an issue. These were all just options, nothing more, OPTIONS and not yet reality and I was already playing it all out as if I needed to move today. 


I envisioned certain options which would force me to leave behind my new job. I envisioned options where we became landlords and got shitty tenants that destroyed our house and we couldn’t afford to fix it. I stressed about a hypothetical period of unemployment surrounding one relocation. I was frantic about finding a rental house in another fictional universe, and terrified that we might not find something in the neighborhood we wanted to live in for another string of maybes. The possibilities weighed on me daily, hourly even and sometimes it was hard to see anything other than doom everywhere I looked.


All before he had the job.

 

 

 

It has been a roller coaster of stress, tears, depression, anxiety, and more late night conversations surrounding ‘what if’ than I want to admit.


But in the end I continued to work through the anxiety, work on my skills, I got help in the form of medication, and I tried so hard to work on handling the anxiety better each time it took me to the WE’RE ALL GOING TO DIE place it loves to go to.


Could I have handled this whole thing better?


YOU BETCHA.


But I did improve as the months went on.

 

If nothing else, I am happy it worked out the way it did. By Adam not getting the job our lives are staying exactly the same. In a way I think it is better to have nothing change, to have not even gotten my first choice city because I can stand here now, my life the same as it was a week ago, a month ago, same as last summer even and see that the anxiety over this process truly wasn’t needed. I can look back and see that all that anxiety forced me to feel as if I was living my life on borrowed time instead of enjoying myself as I should have. Hopefully the next time I find myself drowning in 'what if' I can remember this very realization and tell anxiety to take a chill pill.


There will be a move in our future. I can promise you this. Olympia will not be our forever home. It could be in two months, six months, or a year, but it will happen.


And the kicker is I can’t predict for the life of me where it will be.


Anxieties worst nightmare.


All I can do now is hope I can really remember these last few months and the realizations I’ve had surrounding what a waste all that worrying provided, and instead plan to tackle the next round of maybes in our future with a better outlook.


And stock up on wine.


LOTS and LOTS of wine.


WRESTLE MANIA

Do you remember many months ago when Adam's folks came to visit and brought this dog?

6a01156f9ad9e3970b0134849cf08e970c-800wi

This Thanksgiving she returned and what was once two puppies wrestling around our living room in an oh-so-adorable manner is now a full on wrestling match. 

All weekend.

In the living room.

In the tv room.

In the bedroom.

Under your feet.

On your lap.

Under the table.

On the stairs.


Can't see the video? Click here

 

 

How was your Thanksgiving? Did you have to empty your vacuum canister four times from attempting to vacuum up a mountain of tan fur?

No? 

Lucky.


THANKS & GIVING, TAKE II

Last year I had Adam’s parents and my little sister at my house for Thanksgiving. I had to work the Friday after Thanksgiving (GRUMBLE GRUMBLE GRU), so there was no way we could spend time with family without having them all over at our house.

 

I thought I’d be fine.

 

It’s just a few people over at the house.

 

Family I know and love.

 

My sister’s first time meeting Adam’s parents, a melding of our two worlds.

 

But my anxiety was so high I managed to get the flu.

 

Violent, unable to move off the couch, I think I’m going to die, someone hold me sort of flu.

 

I didn’t shop for the Thanksgiving meal, I didn’t cook the Thanksgiving meal, and I sure didn’t taste the Thanksgiving meal.

 

I spent the weekend trying to be thankful, trying to enjoy myself, but I was an exposed fuse.

 

Raw.

 

Noticeably buzzing with anxiety and stress.

 

At one point I was actually following around the dogs in the kitchen with a towel, wiping off their faces after they’d took a drink of water, following them through the kitchen, wiping off the floors over and over when they’d leave a trail of water/drool. God forbid they leave drops of water on my floor!

 

I snapped at my sister.

 

DON’T DO THAT! DON’T SAY THAT! DON’T LAUGH LIKE THAT! DEAR GOD DON’T LOOK AT ANYONE LIKE THAT!

 

Because it needed to be perfect.

 

The bringing together of two families.

 

Hosting my first holiday.

 

Look at Ashley! Being the perfect grownup in her suburban wonderland!

 

When my sister left on Saturday I sobbed.

 

I was so exposed and fragile I thought I was going to break in half.

 

 

 

 

 

It’s been a year. A year of growth, therapy, work, practice, and even a few shocking realizations.

 

I’m not the same fragile girl I was then.

 

Some feelings of stress and expectations still linger, and you better believe if I had my way I’d be relaxing and spending the holiday at someone else’s house, but I have a feeling that this year I wont end my weekend in my room sobbing uncontrollably.

 

And that?

 

That is what I like to call mother fucking progress.

 

Happy T-Day you crazy kids.


HERE'S TO HOPING YOU MISSED THAT BLUNDER

The guaranteed way to turn a sweet post into something absolutely ridiculous is to spell 'sleigh bells' wrong, and not catch the mistake for an HOUR.

Here's to hoping your Google Readers grabbed the edited version of yesterdays post, the version where I also caught a few other missteps (cough cough misspelling 'immensely'), and that if you're friends of this page on Facebook you completely missed when I posted the link.

sigh

Yes, I fully owe my English degree to the invention of spell check.

Or maybe I actually I should be cursing the day spell check was invented because its invention was timed perfectly to me entering elementary school and needing to learn how to spell. Smart little Ashley learned really quick that there was no need to actually learn to spell because this handy machine would do it for me!

TA-DA!

Ugg, well enough about one of my BIGGEST INSECURITIES, let's look at a video of my dog catching snowballs. Shall we?


Can't see the video? It can also be found here.


SNOW DAY


It started snowing yesterday, small little flakes that for hours instantly melted upon contact.

By mid afternoon I spotted little clumps of snow sticking, on a rooftop, on a branch, on Oly's sad toy in the middle of the yard.

This morning Olympia is covered in a blanket of snow, and big fat flakes are continuing to float to the ground recovering the tracks made as we all tromped into work this morning.



When it snows I find myself thinking back to all my fondest memories involving snow.

The family vacation when I must have been 10, 11, 12? We stopped in the parking lot near the ski resort and my father and my best friend's father built the worlds most insane sled ramp. We'd huff our way to the top, clutch our tiny saucers, and scream our heads off as we catapulted down the shoot. Hitting the ramp and flying into the snowbank and erupting in laughter. Our fathers immensely proud their daughters were such dare devils.

 

Thanksgiving in Big Bear. A tiny cabin and the four of us watching Shania Twain's Christmas special on the little tv next to the wood fire. The next day spending all afternoon with friends and family on the longest snow hill I'd ever seen. Crashing in giggling piles at the bottom. After dinner a wild game of cards with the whole troop, snuggled on pillows, chair arms, laps, and on the floor. Laughing and whooping it up while snow fell outside. So thankful to be together.



Christmas Eve in Santa Fe. Walking down the art gallery alley on Christmas Eve night. Luminarias everywhere you looked. Christmas lights strung from every eve, tree, and building. Holding my mother's hand as we strolled in the chilly air. Stopping to gather with strangers to warm our hands next to fires formed in the middle of the street on stacks of bricks. A stranger handing me hot cocoa with a "Merry Christmas," my father bursting into spontaneous song on the walk between galleries, strangers around us suddenly joining in, "Sleigh bells ring, are you listening? In the lane, snow is glistening, a beautiful sight, we're happy tonight, walking in a winter wonderland."



Freshman year in college, the first day back from Christmas Break. Waking to see Seattle covered in snow. Walking to class and smiling from ear to ear as I marvel at how quiet and peaceful our bustling campus became with a few inches of powder on the ground. Being late to class because I can't stop snapping pictures. With classes canceled running back to the dorms to make snow angels in the field and using cafeteria trays to sled down the dorm parking lot hill. Thinking to myself, "I made the right choice in coming here."



Snowboarding trip to Whistler. Too many bodies crammed in the car, squealing when someone farted. Our first real adult vacation, being blown away by Whistler Village and our oh-so-adult condo. Proving our adult like status by mooning the people across the way. Waking up bright and early and hitting the mountain before the village had even begun to stir. Winding down a random ski path and suddenly smelling waffles. Turning the corner and spotting a tiny cabin who's only two items on the menu are gourmet waffles loaded with everything your heart desires, and hot cocoa. Eating ourselves silly while looking down on the entire Whistler Village. Bliss.

 

December 2008, Seattle snow storm. Work closed, schools closed, roads closed. With no place to be and unable to use our cars, bundling up and heading to the streets. Walking through our little neighborhood in Madison Park and seeing neighbors helping other neighbors dig out cars, build snowmen, all marveling at the transformed neighborhood. Adam and I stopping every 5 minutes to throw a snowball or snap a photo. Standing outside his house and helping to physically push cars back around down the hill to safety instead of upwards to their slippery doom. Meeting friends in 'downtown Madison' for drinks and all tromping together in the snow since our cars hadn't moved from their parking spots in days. Never wanting to live anywhere else but here, surrounded by all the people I love in our perfect little community, hidden from the rest of Seattle.



2009 Crater Lake blizzard snowshoe trip. Senior year snowboarding trip where we stopped on the way home at a Christmas Tree farm to see a baby zebra. The one and only time it ever snowed in the Santa Ynez Valley, getting out of school not because roads were unmanageable, but because it was so rare to have snow in southern California period. June Lake, our tiny A frame cabin, so close to the mountain we could ski to the back door. Grandpa's cabin, Presidents Weekend after Presidents Weekend learning to ski and snowboard at tiny Bear Valley. Spring Break at Mount Bachelor. That big house filled with friends, laughter, aching bones and war stories of jumps gone terribly wrong. Sitting in my living room watching snow fall out my window, snuggled up with my puppy with nowhere to go.

 



I could go on and on.

This southern Californian loves snow.

Loves loves loves.

So happy snow day to you my friends. 

And if it isn't snowing where you are, grab a snow cone and hold it really close to your face.

Oly'sFirstSnow

That will have to do for now.


THANKS

Forgive me, this is going to be all mushy and crap.

So if that bothers you, come back tomorrow.

*****

 

 

I love you guys.

Each and every one of you that takes time out of your day to read what I have to say.

That goes one step further and leaves a comment.

Who is willing to write me an email telling me that I'm not alone. That you've been there too. Tell me that this is a step in the right direction.

I fucking love you guys.

This space was started as a way to give me something to do when I was unemployed, living in a new city, on the verge of a mental breakdown.

Somehow it turned into a little community of people that I care very deeply about.

A place for me to be open and honest about things that are bothering me. A sounding board for some of my struggles.

At times a form of group therapy if you will.

And yes, a lot of the times it's just a bunch of nonsense and drivel.

But when it isn't, I have the knowledge that my words will be met with support.

And that gives me the courage to keep posting, keep sharing, keep being honest, week after week.

 

 

 

Thank you.

Who knew so many amazing people were in the computer this whole time?

112010, Sunset
 

Bla bla bla sunsets, magic, mushy love and unicorns.





STARTING SOMETHING NEW

I started something new Tuesday night.

Antidepressants.

I made my appointment. Talked to my doctor, and walked home with a month worth of samples.

To see if this is right for me.

A fit for my brain chemistry.

Over the last year in therapy, antidepressants have been suggested quite a few times.

Recommended as a way to 'notch down' the anxiety to a more manageable level when it spirals into the danger zone. Once they're on a more leveled playing field, continue the work of therapy.

Makes sense right?

If the only thing you're capable of doing in a therapy session is sobbing and eating your own hair week after week, working on 'coping' techniques like breathing is sorta tough.

Something has to help bring you back from the meltdown zone.

In all reality, plenty of people I love and respect are on them.

And yet, I didn't want to.

I kept saying I was going to try it on my own first.

A year of talk therapy later I am in a better place and I'm happy I tried without for a while. 

I have new coping skills I didn't have before therapy.

I am trying to move away from thinking of my anxiety as the sole term that defines me as a person.

Working on the realization and acceptance that anxiety is simply a piece of me.

Something I'm learning to settle, soothe, and put in its place when it rears up and wants to take over the show.

Yet even with the hard work, there comes a point where the stress in your life takes manageable anxiety and instantly turns it into WE'RE ALL GOING TO DIE THE WORLD IS OVER EVERYONE HATES ME NOTHING IS WORTH IT WHY IS LIFE SO HARD?

Which welcomes anxieties pal depression to come on over and have a seat.

They are best friends you see.

Anxiety and depression.

But now, now I have bigger guns. Better tools.

Meds and therapy.

Together I'm hoping we can tell señor depression he's no longer welcome, and give o'l anxiety a much needed time out.

They've had their fun, and I'm not embarrassed anymore.

At this point I'm determined to keep trying till something works.

Life is too short.

And all that jazz.


I TRY NOT TO SPOIL HER

OlyLounging


I honestly do.

But when your dog is as quirky as Oly is, how can I help but spoil the crap out of her?

 

 

There are exciting, scary, thrilling, whatever you can think of to describe change from the mouth of an anxious person, things happening in my world right now. I want to tell you, and I will eventually, just be patient with me.

Hopefully soon I'll even explain why I went from being Miss Sunshine and Sprinkles this summer to OMG THE WORLD IS ENDING this fall.

Here's a hint.

Anxious people DO NOT LIKE CHANGE.

 

 

OH, and stop it.

I'm not pregnant.

Please, don't even send pregnant thoughts my way.

That's the last thing this little lady needs right now.

 

 

Good chat guys.


HELP ME. I'M AN ETSY IDIOT.

If you happen to live in a cave you are probably unaware that Christmas is fast approaching.

For the rest of us non cave dwellers, our local stores have been informing us that Christmas is fast approaching, since October first.

 

 

Every year I make a list of the select few folks that I would like to give a gift to.

I hem and haw, scratch my head and wonder what in the world I am going to give them this year.

Gift giving for me is hard.

I always think of really expensive things I know people in my life want, that I could never in a million years get them.

Eventually I select something in my budget last minute, but it always makes me feel cheap and pathetic.

And I'm not crafty, so I can't exactly wow them with my homemade fantasticness.

So this year I thought Etsy would be the place to find people beautiful, one of a kind items they might never discover themselves; while still staying in my budget of cheap.

The catch?

Five minutes on the Etsy website and I'm confused.

How in the world do you people find all these fantastic artists?

I did a search for Christmas ornaments and found clothespin  reindeer and cotton ball Santa ornaments.

Where are the delicate hand sewn Christmas pillows?

Beautiful prints?

Quirky, yet to die for jewelry that wont break my bank?

Etsy FAIL.

 

 

So I need your help.

Send me your links.

Your Etsy loves.

What Etsy pages/artists are you obsessed with?

Do you have a store?

I know about my friend Cecily's beautiful store, but that's about where my inside knowledge stops.

Or maybe better yet, how in the world do you stumble on people that are utterly magical in every sense of the word?

Help me.

Because if you can't help me soon, my parents are getting that Etsy clothespin reindeer and my sister will be the proud owner of a cotton ball Santa.

You don't want to ruin my families Christmas do you?

I didn't think so.


LIFE LIST: ATTEND A UW FOOTBALL GAME AS AN ALUMNI *UPDATED*

When I was a wee little undergrad at the University of Washington I made friends with a gaggle of rowdy young men who enjoyed, no, LOVED college football. They gladly took me with them to games, taught me a thing or two, and I instantly fell in love.

The only minor issue with my new found love of University of Washington football is that from the time I started college in 2003, right up to present day, our team has SUCKED.

Minor detail.

Anyone who loves college football though will tell you that because that's your school out on that field you feel a kindred spirit with those boys. That team of over muscled freaks represent everything you love about your university, has all your pride wrapped up in their success, and you'll gladly cheer them on because at the end of the day they embody everything that is wonderful about your alma mater. So no matter how bad they make you look year after year, you put on your school colors in the fall, cross your fingers REALLY HARD, and hope they can pull off a miracle.

And if you're a Husky fan, lately you leave the game with your head down.

 

 

Even with the crap tastic rankings, threat of rain, and the promise of a loss, I wanted to gather my friends up as an alumni and head back to the school we called home for four or so years to scream and yell, shake our fists and bleed purple once again. 

So we did.

And it was everything I remembered it to be.

Maybe even a little more.

LP&AK

GroupShotFinns
UWfountain

FountainShot
Poncho

CheckingScores

Checking the scores of the Utah game under his poncho WHILE at the UW game. That's how bad we were getting beat. Sad Face.


HuskyStadium

The Huskies may always suck. But I'll always be right there, cheering them on, wearing my purple and gold, wondering if this will be the year that we turn it around and return to the sort of team that comes home with a Rose Bowl win.

 

 

You never know.

Anything can happen in college football.

That's what keeps us coming back year after year.

Well, that and the tailgating.

OK, maybe for the Huskies it has lately been a lot more about the joy of tailgating, and a little less about the joy of the game. 

I can't speak for all fans.

Let's just say I have my suspicions.


 

*UPDATED* Guys, Robin from Thoughts Derailed informed me that I was RIGHT! Turns out CNN ranks the University of Washington as the #4 absolute BEST place to tailgate in the country. See. How could you guys ever doubt me? I know things.