It's cold here in Philadelphia.  Like, really cold.  It was 18 degrees this morning on my walk to the train, a walk that was a bit touch-and-go thanks to fresh pockets of ice and snow.  Imagine me: cautiously rushing (ha!) over uneven, ice-covered sidewalks (in inappropriate footwear) to make my train.  Thanks to my layers and my oversized puffer coat, I was a hot, bulky mess, ambling down the hill trying not to slip on the ice or trip on the tree roots that have busted through the concrete sidewalks.

I had three minutes to descend Mt. Nippon (or as others call it, Nippon Street), cross the street, walk around the High Point Cafe and cross the bridge over the train tracks.  Of course my nose was running, but I wasn't about to waste precious seconds de-gloving, so I just let it run.


And of course, my hat was flopping about, first in my eyes, then nearly popping off my head.  I needed my arms to help keep balance, as if I were walking a balance beam to the train, so I quickly mashed it down and returned my arms to their fully extended position.  Then the wind blew a few strands of hair into my freshly glossed lips, where they remained and intermingled with the snot that was taking up residence on my upper lip.


And then, to top off the cute-express, my eyes watered, causing my mascara to smudge and blend into the glossy, snotty palate.  I'm telling you, I put the (c)ute in commute.  I was feeling pretty alone in my fugliness until I finally reached the train platform.  But then I looked around and realized that deep winter is just the season of universal ugliness.  Who are we kidding?  When it's 18 degrees, we're all just trying to survive and get from point A to point B in one piece, let alone look good while doing it.

So, my fellow freezing friends, I will look the other way when you have a frozen snot/lip gloss/mascara blend on your face if you will extend the same courtesy to me.  Spring will be here soon and we'll all be cute again, but until then, just go with it.  After all, winter is beautiful in its own special way.  And so are we who endure her.



After dealing with the emotional and physical blow of a miscarriage in mid-December, Jay and I were finally coming to a place of acceptance and peace.  No longer fresh, our wound was developing a nice scab.  But then...

But then, I got sick and went to the doctor.  She recommended, while I was there, to have one last blood draw to ensure that my pregnancy hormone level was back to zero.  It can take a few weeks for it to leave your body, and the last time I tested it was at 9.  I reluctantly agreed to have one more needle penetrate my arm only to confirm that my womb was indeed empty.  Talk about double pain.

The next morning, I received an email from my doctor that said, "Hi Jennifer, your hormone level is 119 so it looks like you are pregnant again.  Congratulations!"  My face fell into my hands in disbelief, and also in relief.  I was totally terrified, shocked, and cautiously optimistic.  I was kind of in a trance the rest of the day, not quite sure whether to panic or allow feelings of joy to surface, or even to believe this crazy news.  How could it be, I wondered, that we could be pregnant less than a month after our miscarriage?  But then I did the math and consulted the google, and let myself believe that we were pregnant again.  

It was real.  

Jay came home that night and I shared the news, and we had the kind of emotional freak-out where we were kind of laughing but kind of crying and totally shocked and felt like someone was punking us.  Our hearts were still so vulnerable from our loss that we were walking on eggshells around feeling the joy.  But eggshells be damned, we were pregnant again and that alone made us feel like whole people again.  And being whole again felt joyous.  But then...

But then, after going in for a follow up blood draw 48 hours later, I received an email from my doctor that essentially said, "Sike."  Apparently, someone in the chain of incompetent medical "professionals" (can you tell I'm bitter?) mixed up my results and it turns out I was not pregnant.  I was not whole.  The minute those words entered my consciousness, our nicely healing scab was violently ripped off, exposing our wound again, bloody and raw, like it had just happened.  Turns out we were indeed being punked.  

Even though this wasn't a real pregnancy, it offered us the much needed hope of a real pregnancy; it was a beacon of light in this otherwise dark time.  Learning that we were not pregnant after believing we were for 48 hours has set us back a few weeks in our healing.  It feels so cruel, like we've been intentionally stabbed in the gut by a benevolent and loving God.  I know that the whole story has yet to be written, and I have deep and abiding faith that our story will eventually include children when the time is right, but man does this hurt.  

So in the wake of this healing setback, all I want to do is escape; I want to escape my skin, my house, my job, my city, my state, and every boundary I know.  Not to escape or deny the pain, but to wander and wonder at things/places/people that are outside of my norm.  I just want to go someplace where I can be anonymous and find solace in the simple things again.  So that's what I'm gonna do.  By the grace of this benevolent and loving God, I had a sudden opportunity to go to Seattle for a few days to kick around, get lost in the misty beauty of the Pacific Northwest, and hopefully... heal.  But then...

But then, it fell through.  

SIKE!  I leave on February 18th.  Stay tuned for stories and pictures.  

Sunday Swell


It's Sunday night and I've got a case of the "I'm-so-content-I could-want-for-nothing"s.  Some Sunday nights are filled with sadness about the end of the weekend and the accompanying dread about Monday being right around the bend.  But tonight, I'm feeling so grateful for one of those perfect, well-rounded weekends.  

By the time I walked in the door on Friday night, I was moving like molasses.  I was surrender tired, you know?  I couldn't speak without yawning, and every effort felt like I was climbing Everest.  I think all of those extra miles I had snuck into my daily routine had caught up with me.  So I spent the night cozied up in the reading nook in our bedroom, totally engrossed in my current book, Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail, by Cheryl Strayed.  There was nowhere else I would've rather been.  Friday = Ahhhday.   

On Saturday, we finally met our new nephew, Christian.  Nothing heals a broken heart (via miscarriage) like holding, smelling, and loving on a newborn baby.  In time, of course.  We gave ourselves a three week baby-free buffer after our loss and his birth (he was born less than 24 hours after our miscarriage began), as we just couldn't go there with our wounds so fresh and deep.  But Saturday, we went there it proved to be just what our hearts needed.  Babies, man.  Those tiny fingers, that soft delicious skin, all those sugar-coated coos; it's all just so perfect and so soothing.  

After a gratifying dose of baby, we took advantage of the fact that we're currently baby-less and turned our attention to booze.  We headed over to our friends' house for their annual cake and champagne party, where we reconnected with great friends and, well, drank a lot of champagne.  Bubbly and good people for the WIN!  Like any good party, there were some memorable stories told, including a tale of becoming a celebrity on New Years Eve under the Eiffel Tower, and the time our friend made front page news by crashing her car into a Dominos Pizza in small-town Missouri.  We came home to the best post-party/pre-crash food ever: leftover chinese food.  Chowed hard, then crashed hard.  

Sunday, or sleep-in-Sunday, as I like to call it, began blissfully and leisurely at 10:00am.  With coffee!  I no longer drink coffee on a regular basis, so when I do have coffee, it's like a special treat.  Even though I had a lot to do today, the slow start set the tone for a chill yet productive day, just how I like it.  I set out around 1:30pm, and returned hours later with a new pair of slippers (my winter life can begin now), two books, and 10 bags of groceries.  If that weren't good enough, I came home to find that my man had 1) done my laundry(!), 2) cleaned the house, and 3) removed all traces of Christmas from our home.  Seriously.  He's that good.  

So here I sit, writing in my new slippers, dinner on the stove, new books on the shelf, new week on the horizon.  My heart is swelled with gratitude for a healing, restful, and joyful weekend.  It's a classic Sunday swell, and I'm gonna ride it straight into Monday and beyond.  

Fake It 'Til You Make it... To Work.


Today was like opposite day, or maybe just "radically different" day.  I woke up early instead of my usual "sleep in till the last minute and rush like mad" bit, I walked to the train instead of drove (yes, I live 5 blocks from the train but always drove because of my chronic lateness/lameness), I took the train that runs along the east side of the neighborhood rather than my usual west-line train, and I got off at 30th Street Station rather than my usual Suburban Station!  How zany am I?!

You see, this is my New Years workout fake-out resolution, where I trick myself into getting more exercise in very sneaky and almost unnoticeable ways.  Here's the thing: I hate to "work out".  I've done the gym thing more times than I'd like to admit.  By "the gym thing", I mean I've joined a gym, been a hardcore gym fanatic for 3 weeks (everyone should join a gym, this is amazing!), and then I just stop going, as if going to the gym stopped being an option.  Which makes sense because going to the gym is just not an option, for me.

I've also done my fair share of group classes and at-home videos, but it just always feels like something else on my to-do list rather than something I enjoy.  I mean, I love and really enjoy a good corpse pose, but unfortunately there are no classes or DVDs devoted solely to this one ancient "exercise".

So without forcing myself to do something I dread, while also recognizing that I need to move my body more, I decided to pad my commute with a few more steps.  I figured that commuting to and from work is something I'm used to doing and involves a bit of walking, so why not walk a bit further while I'm at it?  This way it's not the dreaded E word, it's just commuting.  See?  Sneaky.

I used to walk .8 mile per day during my commute, but by changing up my train and station, I now walk 3.5 miles each day.  Suck it, gym!  And... to up the sneak factor and to keep the commute vibe alive, I use that time to listen to educational podcasts and TED talks.  No one will ever be the wiser, well, except me.  It's like I'm gaining more brain while... just commuting.  Ahem.  The best part is that my new exercise regime commute only adds 30 minutes to my day, 15 minutes each way, so it really is kinda unnoticeable in the grand scheme of things.

So that's how my new year is beginning: Finding a new path to health by traversing a new path to work.  Sometimes you just have to fake it until you forget the point in the first place.  Sometimes end goals take away from the joy of the journey.  So for now, I'm just gonna walk to work and forget about the rest.  See?  Sneaky!