Six Years of Marriage

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It’s been another year.

365 days have passed since the last time we were here, saying Happy Anniversary.

525600 minutes since the last time we celebrated this day.

This day that marks the day we said “I do.”

This day since we said our vows and promised forever.

One whole year.

Marriage

Engagement

If you’ve read my past posts, you’ll come across one that I wrote detailing how my husband and I met. In short, it was at a grocery store and a conversation about Mass Effect ensued.

We’ve been married now for six years. That’s what happens when time passes and you’re living your life day-to-day.

It is crazy to me that it has been six years, that this year is 2018, and that I am now 26 years old.

Where the hell did all that time go?

It rushes past us without us barely even noticing.

Pictures allow us to travel back in time and relive moments. Pictures and memories are all that we have to cling to our past and the time that has passed.

But the day-to-day is just as important as those pictures and major memories that we hold on to.

On a typical day, we wake up at six in the morning, we shower, we get ready for work, we feed and take out the pets, and we leave for work. Once our shifts are over, we come home, make dinner, play video games or read, and go to sleep.

Rinse and repeat.

We do not go on exciting adventures. We do not have children. We do not live lives of luxury.

We simply are.

Yet, so many don’t make it this far.

Marriages crumble before they ever mold together.

That is why we receive this question so frequently:

What do you guys do to make it work?

People seem to think that I’ve cast some sort of magical enchantment to get my husband to help me around the house or laugh at my stupid jokes. They would rather believe in hocus pocus than the power of marrying your best friend.

What DO we do?

Date Night

I am the youngest of six children. I have grown up in a broken home and did not have a solid couple as role models for what marriage should look like.

Yet, I knew what kind of husband I wanted: I wanted him to be my best friend.

So when I met my husband and we got to know one another over a couple of months, I thought I was really close.

After a few months of dating, I realized that I had met my best friend.

In that moment, I knew what I had. I had found the one whom I wanted to keep by my side for the rest of my life.

Gross, right?

Not at all. When it comes to building a relationship, it is important to think about what is going to keep that relationship going.

Obviously love can fade. Children can cause marital problems. Shit happens.

So what keeps a marriage together?

Friendship.

Being with someone that you can laugh with, share everything with, and have a connection to regardless of what happens in your day-to-day lives.

Simply being there for the other person through every step, every stone, every boulder that life throws at you.

Supporting them, caring for them, empowering them, and being there for them.

Being selfless when it comes to the well being of the person you share your life with.

Why doesn’t that work all the time?

Pictures

Because our innate nature is to be selfish. To care more for us, our well being, our self worth, our little minds – so much that we can’t look to caring for anyone besides our own self.

That, my friends, is true love.

To give of yourself for someone else without expecting anything in return.

Selfless.

That’s how we do it.

And that’s how we will do it for the rest of our lives.

Anniversary

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So Happy Anniversary, my love.

Here’s to six more years and six more years after that and after that and after that…

May my enchantment be one that holds your forever.

The Fourth Trimester

You know the one where you’ve had the baby and everyone just seems to forget that you just had a fucking baby?

That one.

Your body is a wreck. You’re bleeding. You’re exhausted. Your tits and nipples hurt like you wouldn’t believe. You’re surprisingly hungry all the damn time. Your house is a mess because you just-pushed-a-baby-out-of-something-that-can-only-expand-to-ten-centimetres OR you just had a major surgery. After all that, you then have to deal with people trying to come see you, people you may not even be that close to. Bringing you foods you probably don’t like and, once again, ignoring you because all they really wanna do is take pictures of the baby to say they saw the baby. 

So, yeah, welcome.

I’ve been in the fourth, and now fifth, trimester recently. I’ve done an extensive amount of Googling during this time. Why isn’t he eating, why is he eating too much, why isn’t he sleeping, is he sleeping too much, etc. But the one thing I have spent too little time Googling was information for myself.

The Fourth Trimester

(The Fourth Trimester is after baby but pre-going back to work).

One minute you have a baby all nice and snug in your belly, you can feel the little boy or girl kicking you sweetly every once in a while, you’re bloated like a whale and waddling like a penguin. You pee every time you sneeze (even if you just went) and you’re too uncomfortable at night to sleep.

Then, some wise guy hands you a screaming slimy baby like you know what you’re supposed to do next. When the doc handed my little boy to me, I remember saying hi (and crying) and then like are you taking him cuz he’s nasty.

But really, you’re given no instruction, no how-to book, yet here’s a little human that you’re to care and take care of for the next 18 years (but really it’s the rest of your life). Good luck?

You might take a couple of classes before the baby arrives but that’s more prepare you for having the baby, not for what comes after. I took a birthing class, which turned out to be pointless because we had to have a csection, a CPR class, and a breastfeeding class (this helped a little in the beginning).

Not a single one told me what to do when I got home from the hospital and every time I peed it felt like someone was burning the inside and outside of all of my bits. That you can barely wash your feet because the muscles in your abdomen have been fucked to all hell (csection, remember?). That it would take me almost 2 weeks to be able to walk upright without looking like the Hunchback from Notre Dame.

I’m not talking about taking care of the baby here, that was a walk in the park. Baby cries or fusses you do one of three things: feed, nap, diaper. When they get a little older you play with them more and incorporate teething toys. Done. Easy.

Babies get to take naps whenever and wherever they like. Nursing = nap. Pooping = nap. Nap = nap. Easy.

Oh, but Jennifer, just sleep when the baby sleeps. Fuck. You.

My child didn’t take long naps in the beginning (or ever), he’s always been a 30 minute to an hour type of guy with several hours of awake time in between. Yeah, I know, newborns sleep a lot. Well, mine didn’t. This was fine for the first 3 months of his life because I could take at least one nap when he napped and didn’t have to worry about working. Now? Not so much.

The Fifth Trimester

(The Fifth Trimester is considered to start when mom leaves baby to go back to work. It brings it’s own new trials for mom and baby to adapt to. It’s not easy to leave the little person you spent nine months growing, then birthing, and then carrying for in the most intimate ways. Lauren Smith Brody wrote a book called The Fifth Trimester: The Working Mom’s Guide to Style, Sanity, and Success After Baby – I would recommend this book to new moms).

This is when things cranked up to ten for me. I spent four days back at the office before we were sent to work from home (Google: “2020 Coronavirus”). If the virus hadn’t come to pay us a visit and we weren’t working from home, I think I would’ve gone crazy. Literally.

A few weeks after going back to work, my son began to sleep regress (normally last 2 to 6 weeks, my ass). Up until that time he had been doing a great job of sleeping in his crib. No more. The only way I was able to get sleep (maybe 4 or 5 hours a night) was to kick my husband to the spare bedroom and sleep with the baby in my bed.

That lasted a week until my husband came back to the bedroom so he could help out at night, which meant the bed was that much more cramped (we got a King sized bed a month later).

Still, we had to continue co-sleeping or else we’d have to listen to a crying baby and not get sleep. Co-sleep vs some sleep? We took the former (doctors and scientists say that’s bad, I say sleep deprivation is worse).

Why am I telling you about this? Because the loss of sleep over time, after working and not being able to take a nap or have an easy day began to take a toll on me.

Doctors mention Postpartum Depression offhandedly. You take a little survey after having the baby at a checkup about 3-4 weeks after baby is born and then, just like that, no one ever mentions it again.

I haven’t had a doctor visit or even a call from the hospital since 4 weeks postpartum. No one has reached out to see how I am mentally. Once the baby isn’t in your belly, everyone stops to care about you. You become invisible.

My PPD (Postpartum Depression) kicked in one week when the baby would sleep for a couple of hours and then wake up and then would sleep for a couple of hours and then wake up. I had the darkest thoughts I’ve ever had by the time a week had gone by. Once I finally confessed to my husband, he told me to sleep in the spare bedroom for a night to recover. It helped, tremendously.

I’ve only been slightly worse than normal once since and that was when I was trying to get him back in his crib. He’s still not comfortable sleeping alone. I think he’s comforted knowing I’m close (he’s also going through the only mom) and he gets colder when he sleeps in his crib. So, we put him back in bed with us. He’s happy, he sleeps, I sleep, and I’m happy.

There’s been one person who has been concerned about my mental state and it’s only because I told her how terrible I’d been sleeping. Like I said, once the baby is out, you become invisible.

No one talks about the dark parts of postpartum. All we see are the cute pictures of the tiny toes, and noses, and feet. Their first smiles, eating food for the first time, the first bath. All of the good things that come from having a newborn. We don’t talk about how often we wake up in the middle of the night to soothe or feed a baby, we don’t talk about the stretch marks (they’re there, trust me). Or the postpartum pooch, or diastasis recti, or constipation, or getting mastitis, or leaky boobs, or sex after baby, or any of the nitty gritty shit that happens post-baby.

And that’s really frustrating.

Why?

Because there’s so much pressure to being a great mom, the “perfect” mom (eye roll). With the likes of Kate Middleton exiting the hospital each time glowing, not hunched over, beautiful, poignant… Perfect. That doesn’t bode very well for every real mother out there. I mean, what’d she do? Push for 0.2 seconds with 5 contractions, wipe away the thin line of sweat and then put heels on? Come on. Her experience is 100% not relatable, yet women look at that as the expectation. Man, fuck the people who make us feel like that’s the expectation.

Some women are in labor for an absurd amount of hours before they meet their little one and some even labor and THEN have to have an emergency C-section. That sucks so hard. But we don’t talk about that.

When you’re pregnant, all of your media sites pick that up because we’re being watched constantly and robots are taking over the world. But seriously. So your Pinterest is showing you all of these tips to follow with a newborn and all of the cutesy clothes you know you won’t fit into and the matching robes for mom and baby. All of the baby ads that show wide awake moms with perfect hair, perfect house, and the happy baby in their arms. Not real.

And here’s why we see fake propaganda: no one wants to bear the thought that being a mother is damn hard and has some gross stuff to it. We want to turn a blind eye and focus on the wee cute baby. We don’t want to think about labor or breastfeeding or bleeding or constipation. It’s just too gross. And we’ve allowed our society to be totally okay with it!

The only way to get people used to pregnancy and postpartum experiences that women go through is by talking about it. We need to stop shielding the world away from real life and what we go through just to have one baby. 

Conclusion

We aren’t animals that birth in a barn, lick the baby up and go on our way. We are humans giving birth to little humans and we need to be treated with respect and have our experiences acknowledged. 

Our bodies are a war zone after baby, our hormones are a wreck, and yet everyone seems to think that we can handle a new little person no problem. It’s a lot of work, it’s a lot of patching ourselves up and figuring out how to be okay with the new Mom Bod we’re sporting. 

It’s not so easy to go, “baby’s here and all is peachy!” when your internal world is falling apart because of the ongoing fire inside of your brain. 

We need help. We need to express our emotions. We need to share our experiences because each one is valid and needs to be told. 

And, when people shy away from the topic, we need to push them to have those awkward conversations until they’re not taboo anymore. 

So here’s to all you mommas, you’re kicking ass. 

 

How The Gaming Industry Has Changed Over The Years

I’ve been gaming since I was little and I hadn’t realized how “easy” I had it with gaming and being a nerd, compared to earlier years, until recently.

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Peace Hacks Discusses The Legitimacy Of The Bible

It’s a crazy book to be sure, and crazy people love to beat non-religious people over the head with it, despite the fact that Jesus (in the Bible) told His followers not to do that. It’s an ancient book too. Our modern Bibles are copies of copies of copies – spanning thousands of years. The…

via What We’ve Gotten Wrong about the Bible, and Why We Need to Reconsider — Peace Hacks

Dealing With Customer Service

I think it’s fair to say that I have a great deal of experience in customer service. I’ve worked for Walgreens, where I did everything from receiving truck shipments, to running the photo lab, and I even did a stint in cosmetics (yes, cosmetics… I was actually pretty good considering I’m a guy). I’ve worked for GameStop, where I advanced from a Game Advisor to Store Manager over the course of three years. I worked for a department store called Stage, as both a cashier and a supervisor. I also spent a couple months working in a water park, which was probably one of the worst jobs I’ve ever had.

Now? Now I work for Chick-Fil-A, which despite my initial apprehensions concerning getting into fast food, is actually one of the most rewarding jobs I’ve had. Granted, I still want to do something more applicable to my Bachelor’s degree in Computer Science, but my supervisors have found ways to put my knowledge base to use at the very least.

It’s safe to say that I’ve had a ton of exposure to both the best and worst parts of customer service. The worst parts have become stories akin to the type you’d tell your coworkers or your significant other, where you could compare notes and rant a little about how little appreciation is afforded to you as an employee interfacing with the public.

That isn’t why I’m writing this however. I want to talk about what it’s like on the other end, when you’re the one with the problem and you’re trying to get it solved.

Cable Internet

I’m a gamer, through and through. I make full use of my internet connection, and I knew that one of the things I would enjoy about living in a bigger city would be a faster connection, and I was right. Being able to download a full game in less than a day is awesome, and the ability to upload things at speeds faster than 500 kb/s is even better. The downside is that cable companies have some of the worst track records concerning customer service.

Last year, when Jennifer and I moved into our apartment here in Oklahoma City, I signed us up for Cox Cable’s internet service, but the speeds I was promised weren’t quite what I was paying for. So I called up tech support, where they ran the usual gamut of tests and suggestions, offering to reset my modem remotely and whatnot, in addition to asking me to unplug my setup for 30 seconds… I never told them I already tried that; I humored them. It was still no good.

So they sent a third-party technician out to check things out, and he told me the problem was my brand-new modem. I thought “Whatever, it was a cheap-ish modem. It might be defective” and I bought another, nicer one. The new modem arrives and I set it up… Same problem.

I called Cox again, only to be told that they’d have to send another technician out, and while I was glad to have the problem looked at again, I still couldn’t help but feel annoyed. A Cox technician arrived later that week and examined the problem, only to discover that the problem was never on my end; it was an issue further upstream with their equipment. “Cool” I thought. At least it’ll get taken care of now! They fixed the problem later that week and I haven’t had much of an issue since.

Bills

That is, until I got my bill in the mail and noticed my charges have increased. After poring over the bill, I discovered that they had added a Cox Protection Plan to my bill to the tune of an additional $6.99 a month. I remembered the tech support automated hold messages mentioning that they’d charge me a fee of $75.00 if the problem turned out to be my own equipment, but it never was, so I was a little confused.

I called the billing department, only to be told that the technician added the protection plan to ensure that I wouldn’t be charged the $75.00, but I thought that was odd since my hardware wasn’t the issue in the first place. So I told the representative that I wanted the charge removed, and while she initially asserted that I should keep the plan just in case, I reaffirmed that I never asked to have the charge added and requested they remove it and give me my money back. She informed me that there’s a penalty for canceling the plan early, so she credited my account for the three months required to bypass the penalty, after which the plan could be removed without issue.

Sweet, problem solved… Right?

Well, not exactly. After the credit had been applied to my account and the three months passed, the plan still hadn’t been removed. They had continued charging me $6.99 a month for a service I never asked for, and would never need. I’m a tech guy. I know when my stuff isn’t working right, and I know how to check to see if the problem is on my end or not. I don’t need insurance against a $75.00 stupidity tax.

I called the billing department again today, rather pissed off, to have the charge removed once and for all. I would’ve loved to have the satisfaction of laying into the representative until I got what I wanted, but a calmer, more sane voice in my head prevailed.

Sonder

Sonder Definition.PNG

There’s a “made up” word (all words are made up anyway), originating from the Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows which I came across when going on a Vsauce binge one day. In the Vsauce video, “The Science of Awkwardness”, Michael talks about The Fundamental Attribution Error, which refers to human-kind’s natural tendency to view our own lives as complex, while others are one-dimensional.

I’m just as guilty of this as anyone else, especially when driving. There’s an intersection near our apartment complex where I turn right onto our street when coming home from work. There’s one left-turn lane and three lanes going straight, but no dedicated right turn lane. That means that any time I pull up to the light and it’s red, I often am forced to wait instead of being able to just turn when it’s clear. I can’t describe how unreasonably (as Jennifer might say) irritated it makes me to be forced to sit there, only about a hundred yards from my home, because someone heading straight is blocking my path.

It’s in those moments that I forget that the person in front of me is just as complex of a human as I am. I’m sitting there stewing, cursing at the driver in front of me. That jackass should’ve just stayed in one of the other lanes so I could turn right. They exist in this world solely for the purpose of blocking people from turning right. Instead, I’m forced to wait until the light turns green and they wake up from the coma they’re in.

But that person is another person. I know that’s a weird thing to say. You’re another person, with thoughts and dreams just as meaningful as my own. I’m not just the words on this webpage, but an actual person too. I’m sitting here writing this post in between my shifts at work, with my dog sitting quietly on the couch next to me. She’s trying to pretend that she’s asleep, but I know the truth… She’s waiting until I look over to her as if it’s an invitation to lay across the keyboard of my laptop or on top of my mouse.

It’s in remembering the unofficial word “sonder” that I find myself calming down when dealing with others, especially when talking with customer service. Often times, whatever issue I’m having isn’t the fault of the person on the other end of the phone, or behind the counter. It’s just a confluence of events that led to whatever circumstance I’m experiencing. That extra charge being added to my bill wasn’t the billing department employee’s fault, which is why I treated both of them with respect despite being extremely irritated. My order being wrong at a restaurant is (hopefully) not the result of a vindictive employee; it very well could’ve just been an honest mistake. The police officer at the window isn’t there because he felt like being a jerk, but because I was speeding (don’t worry Jennifer, my last ticket was from before we got married).

As someone who has had years of experience behind the counter and on the other end of the phone, I only have one thing to ask of you. Try to remember that even when you’re forced to talk to someone about fixing a problem you’re having, that the person you’re talking to is just as important as you. You never know what sort of day they’re having. Sure, they might be having a relatively good day, with your outburst being a minor blip, but it’s also possible that they’re having a day as rough as yours, if not worse. I’m not saying that you should let them walk all over you, but at least give others the benefit of the doubt. It’s entirely likely that you’ll get what you want even if you’re courteous and kind. Hell, being assertive yet nice likely will ensure you’re going to get your way. Of course, you might still get your way by being an ass, but that won’t do anything for you besides making you into the antagonist in a story told by the person you’re targeting.

Don’t be that person. That just makes you the laughing stock, the horror story, that customer, the person met with groans as you enter.

The Dangers of Social Media Part 2

Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary defines Social Media as: “Forms of electronic communication (such as websites for social networking and microblogging) through which users create online communities to share information, ideas, personal messages, and other content (such as videos).”

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