Not in Hawaii Anymore. Also Not In Kansas. Other than that? Unsure.

Happy Valentine’s day everyone!  Last night I woke up a tad scared and confused that someone else was in the bed.  Then I figured MC just got lost on the way to her bedroom.

Then I realized it was my husband.

Then I got lost on the way to my bathroom.

It’s been a whirlwind of stress, manual labor, and taxes since I got home.  We are in a T-minus some-number-under-30 countdown until we leave for the Big Hike.  Everything’s…OK?  Maybe?  I don’t know anymore.

I write more but we’re waiting for the last interviewee to cat-sit/rent while we hike.  This is the most free time I’ve had in almost a week.  Please feel honored.

And make me a map of how to get to the bathroom to slip under my pillow.

A Mother Of A Drinking Game

Take a sip (yes, sip. Anymore and you’ll be under the table before noon) when any of the following happens with my mother:

1). She uses the word idiosyncratic.
2). You try to navigate the living room only to step into an intricately organized pile of paperwork that’s been filed on the floor.
3). She tells you something can go to Goodwill. Two sips if she tells you something can go to Goodwill then puts it back where it was instead of in the Goodwill box.
4). You find expired food in the fridge.  Two sips if the expire date was in 2009.
5). She uses the word shit. (We grew up in a non-potty-mouth house. I’ve heard her say shit more times in the past three days than the rest of my life.)
6). She asks for your help navigating. Two sips if it is navigating back from a destination she got to on her own.
7). She tells you about this amazing feature on her car that has been standard in autos for a bazillion years.
8). She plays tour guide as if your last trip north of the Mason/Dixon line was 1993. (Seriously. She showed me the town where she gets gas. I have been through that town at least once a year since 2000 and bought gas at that station no less than five times.)

And in case you were wondering, this post is Mother-approved. She’ll even provide the beverage.  Thank goodness hooch has a long shelf life.

Same Small Community Feel, Kind Of

Tom and I both bank at credit unions.  We like the no-to-low fees.  They often offer higher interest rates on savings accounts.  And there is that feeling that you are part of a small community.  Tellers learn your name, know in what denominations you want your withdrawal, and know to not push every loan/credit offer down your throat.

There was also some convenience to our credit unions.  His he choose in Lakeland, near where he originally worked when he moved to Florida.  Mine had a military connection and had its own small branch inside the building where I was a defense contractor.

That convenience is no longer there for either of us.  But we I sucked up the commute for all the other reasons listed.  (Did I ever tell you Tom’s expense checks come in real check form?  He traveled 100% for two years.  I was at the bank at least twice a month or I couldn’t pay the bills.)

Now that we are planning to move out of Florida entirely, we decided it was time to bite the bullet and choose a national bank.  One that I worked with on my Gma’s estate stood out to us as having some good benefits and easy online access.  And the offer an app where you can take a picture of a check for deposit, something we’ve longed for these many random treks down Ulmerton.

I do like that the branch closest to us is rather small.  It kind of gives you that small community feel of a credit union.  And it’s evident that they want to impress upon that message as well.  Maybe a bit too much.

We went in today and had to wait a minute to see someone.  The branch manager came over to say hi, make sure we knew they’d get to us soon.  She took my name and entered it in a computer.  A few minutes later she came back and said she’d help us herself.

On the walk to her office she turned to me all chummy and said, “So you were able to bring your husband, W, today?”

“Uhh…no.  That’s my old husband.  This one is Tom.”

The lesson?  Don’t believe everything you read on the Internet.

What Going Too Far Looks Like

When you start your morning with the genius idea to put your empty coffee cup in the cat litter pan so you can carry them both down the stairs at once, how could you not be tempting fate?

I had the day all neatly arranged in efficient multitasking packages of chores as the bread of a lunch date sandwich.  The lunch date was even in a part of town I rarely get to anymore so being social actually widened my chore opportunities.

My first ultimate combo is an oldie but goodie for me – take out the trash, mail something, drop the recycling off on the way to big Mega store (they had cat litter and toilet paper this time!), and hit the other smaller, discount grocery stores to repair the empty fridge.

The “Service Engine Soon” came on before I even hit the neighborhood traffic light.

ARRGH.

I still did a few of the errands, hoping maybe turning on and off the car would solve the problem.  Maybe they forgot to reset something?  The car had driven almost 100 miles in all sorts of traffic patterns nice we handed over our savings in exchange for a new manifold.

But no.  So I added grapes to my Mega Store purchases, used their restroom, and drove 50 miles to be told that the second of three sensors seems to have been fried because of the previous damage.

Second of three, people.  I’m planning a drive to Gainesville on Thursday.  Anyone wanna place bets?

An Open Letter to Anyone Who’s Seen Me Naked

Most of my current writing is pitiful and inappropriate.  Gma is OK.  I am OK.  I wrote this February 13th, after my longest run to date (6.5 miles).  It seems even more true today, after almost 250 miles on the trail.

Thank you.

Maybe you saw me naked when I was skinny.  Maybe when I was fat.  A few of you have even stuck around long enough to see both.

Whatever hang-ups I have about my body, I did not get them from you.  You never laughed.  You never grimaced.  You never suggested I ease up on the desserts.

Not even afterwards, when my clothes were back on and I was being a pain in the ass about my body.  Maybe I was skinny and hating it and judging every little bite I took.  Maybe I was fat and loving it and you had to look away when I huffed and puffed into pants way too small for my stomach.  Maybe I was skinny and loving it and a tad too smug and helpful with your own diet.

How many guys have I dated who were on Atkins and just wanted me to shut up and leave them alone with their butter?  More than one.

This letter is not just for the guys.  I have been blessed with girlfriends who helped me primp for fundraising events with a careful eye to concealing my (lack of) waist.  Women who didn’t make a face at my jelly rolls while we changed from work to play together.  And not one of them ever mentioned I was the chubbiest in a girl’s night out snapshot.

(To those who have seen me naked because you rounded a corner in a parking lot or opened a door to a public building and found me stripped down because I was too hot/too dirty/too wet/in a hurry: Thank you and I’m sorry.  For someone with body issues, I have a gross lack of modesty.)

I am still not sure what my healthy body looks like.  I don’t know the magic number on the scale.  The only thing I know for certain about my clothing tags is they do not read, “Dry Clean Only”.

But I am learning what my healthy body feels like.  What it can do. Thank you for loving and believing in my body enough for me to believe in it as well.

He HAD to know I’d blog this

For the 34,591 time people: stay friends with your exes.

Unless the relationship was too brief to really know each other, or ended in infidelity/abuse/death*, an ex is the perfect friend in times of crisis.  Someone whose already seen you most vulnerable (“What do you mean you don’t love me?  You know that blanket over your head doesn’t make you invisible, right?”), but doesn’t have his shit all wrapped up in your shit like your current significant other.

So when I saw TG online, I had to reach out for a little support.

Me: Home now.  Gma in hospital.  Broke her hip.  Going to Gainesville tomorrow.  Tell me a dirty joke, quick.  Need a laugh.

TG:  I have no dirty jokes. You’ve seen me naked. Isn’t that funny enough, frankly?

Me:  YOU ARE AWESOME.

TG:  Well. Yes.

* (Although come to think of it, one of my relationships DID end in infidelity and while it took longer to get over, we’re still very good friends.)

I’m Pregnant

Made you look!

In the same air of seriousness I have always had writing here, April 1st seems the perfect day to out myself publicly to friends and family.

I want to blog my month-long hike on the Appalachian Trail and share with everyone.  After much hemming and hawing, I decided I did not want to write anywhere but here.   So here we are.  Two weeks from my start date.  And my blog has been shouted from the rooftops for all to know and read as they wish.

To friends and family:

Welcome!  I started blogging in November of 2003, when my ex-husband (known here as W) and I started divorce proceedings.  I made (very, very, very, very) small waves in the blogging community as a romance/dating blogger.  Now that Tom and I have been together for almost 5 years, I have a much smaller readership and don’t have a particular voice or genre.  It makes for dull writing, and therefore dull reading, at times.  Hopefully the focus of the hike won’t be dull.  Although not too exciting either.  Just one bear mauling a day should do it.

To read what I’ve written so far about hiking, check out the “Take a Hike” category.

I have left up most of my earlier writing.  You are welcome to peruse or ignore as you wish.  Significant others (including W) mentioned at length know what is written.  Hell, Tennessee Guy bought me my first year of this domain.

I use pseudonyms or initials for almost everyone except Tom.  I may have gotten lazy and assigned multiple people the same initials.  My bad.  The point was to tell a story.  If you find something written about yourself that you don’t like, tell me.  It can go away.  Stories aren’t as important as you.

That said, please also don’t take anything written here that seriously.  I take liberties to tell a (sometimes, hopefully) good story.  Just call me Hyperbole in Progress.  I think you will find the person who comes off worst in my writing is me.

Lastly, one housekeeping detail…you are welcome and encouraged to comment on any post you wish.  But I suck at replying to comments.  And because of spamming, the first time you comment I must manually approve you as a commenter.  Annoying yes, but less annoying than 4,289 lexapro ads.  Since my access will be limited while hiking, if you’d like to encourage/heckle me along the way you should comment now so I can approve you before I leave.

To long term readers:

You might notice that along with some of the more critical/personal posts of exes I also removed some of the boring ones.  Artistic license!  Fingers crossed I become wittier now that I know my in-laws are reading.

To my In-Laws (all 37,456 of you):

I’m sorry.  Truly, deeply, sorry you got stuck with a damn Yankee like me who spews her thoughts on the internet for all to see, often at the expense of her husband.  But I love ya’ll dearly and it warms my heart the way you have accepted me so maybe I can make up for it.

And no.  I am not pregnant.  (Yeah, I guess I’m not making up for it anytime soon.)

Porcupine Mountains My Ass

When something is NAMED for another thing, isn’t it a requirement that the other thing be somehow related to the first thing?  Like if you name some mountains after porcupines, there is a legal obligation that porcupines reside on said mountains?

I cannot believe I have seen a bear in the wild and not yet a porcupine.

ANYWAY.

When we were not busy burying my father or drinking beer, we took three days to hike/camp in the porcupine mountains.  It’s right on Lake Superior in the UP of MI, about 2 hours from the WI cabin.  WTF?

Sorry, got carried away with the initializing.

First, I am going to own up in a very vague way because it turns out there are even topics I believe are too personal/gross/boring to blog about.

Womens, in case you didn’t know, have a very special time of the month.  And that time, while special, is also difficult.  It can be difficult to not feel like a hero for making it to the couch before laying down.  Especially difficult to not shove chocolate or potato chips or chocolate covered potato chips in their mouths non stop.

Jessica In Progress, dispensing with stereotypes since 2011.

My special time coincided nicely with the hike.  The hike where we were without privies or running water or chocolate covered potato chips.

In our planning for hiking the AT I did some research on how I wished to handle this special time and I have been actively preparing for this.

However.

Let’s just say it’s a wee bit different actually out on a 3-day hike with your period than sitting at home thinking about a 3-day hike on your period.  And there were some TECHNICAL DIFFICULTIES.  Perhaps some pants needed some washing.  And I can’t believe I am thirty fucking six and admitting that I had this type of issue but I am and I did so there we all are.

ANYWAY.

The TECHNICAL DIFFICULTIES took place our first day.  And besides slight embarrassment and huge paranoia throughout the rest of the trip, it really wasn’t that bad.  For me, I mean.  Tom had to listen to my paranoia for the next 48 hours which was probably excruciating.  But on the other hand he wasn’t continuously bleeding so maybe we were about even in the end.

I did take away some VERY valuable lessons learned from the experience and that’s the point of these small hikes.

Other Lessons Learned:

1) Couscous is the most amazing hiking dinner ever.  Easy to cook and so tasty and filling!  I try pretty hard to not get ideas for food that wouldn’t be easy to find in a regular supermarket/convenience store.  No point in dehydrating gourmet organic meals for us if we can’t have them on the thru-hike.  But couscous is mainstream now, right?  Right??  Otherwise, we are going to need to line up some couscous suppliers.

2) I have finally, finally, finally figured out how/where to carry everything in/on/strapped to my pack.  It sounds like a no-brainer.  But I specifically picked a pack that is on the smaller side so I didn’t over pack.  That’s meant I have very little wiggle room, literally.

The biggest concession I made was in the beginning I was adamant I did not want to strap large items to the outside of my pack.  But when I chose my sleeping pad, I did not realize how difficult it was to compress it to store in a stuff sac.  After 3 trips of cursing and glaring at Tom because he had the audacity to breath in my general direction while trying to stuff my pad first thing in the morning, I decided to try just rolling it tight and strapping it to the side of my pack.  It was awesome.

3)  Tom.  Is.  Slow.  Fingers crossed it was just because we hadn’t been hiking lately and he’s not conditioned to the trail.  Otherwise we are going to need way more than 6 months to thru-hike.

4) Letting Tom set the pace so much made me realize how much I probably push him.  And I’d much rather hold myself back and still have energy to do the camp chores.

5)  I am even more convinced that I do not want to live in FL for much longer.  I appreciate the hiking opportunities we’ve had, but I’m sick of sand and scrub.  Trees!  Glorious Trees!

6) Stick close to privies during my special time.  Or suffer TECHNICAL DIFFICULTIES.