Friday, February 14, 2014

I Heart You! The Best of Etsy's Anatomical Hearts

Happy Valentine's Day! This year, I want to give some blog love to the prettiest and most unique heart art on Etsy... and to all the cardiologists and electrophysiologists who have treated me over the years. When I was in college, I had a heart procedure to correct a cardiac arrythmia. Last week I had my last post-procedure follow-up and received a clean bill of electrocardiac health. Ha, that makes me sound like a robot. Anyway, I'm very grateful to the doctors who helped me get to this place.

Here's a shout-out to Dr. Anna Milstein, who diagnosed me...
and to KatelynPatton on etsy, who created this gorgeous patchwork design on a pretty blue knitted tank.
I'd like to give a big hug to Dr. James Ong, who performed my heart procedure...
and to PlaidyPuss on Etsy, who created this incredible needle felted keepsake box. Yes, it opens!
This pretty Valentine is for Dr. Alan Naftilan at Vanderbilt, who oversaw my initial follow-up care...
and you can buy it from FawnPaperCo on Etsy.
My final thanks go out to Dr. Sharon Shen at Vanderbilt, who completed my follow-up care...
and to TheLuckyFox on Etsy, who embellished this beautiful vintage plate to make it really special.
My doctors listened carefully, asked the right questions, performed incredibly delicate work, and changed my life for better. On a day that's all about mushiness and hearts, it only feels right to give them some love. They deserve it! Okay, and also this stuff is just really, really cool. *grin*

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Meanness and Anger are Contagious.

Last week I walked into the post office with passport application paperwork in my hand, a spring in my step, and visions of visiting my sister in my head. But the woman behind the counter (let's call her Gladys) gave me a flat, hard stare and said, "Passport service is only done by appointment." Oh. An awkwardly long silence stretched between us before I asked the obvious question: "Can I make an appointment?" Gladys pressed her lips into a thin line, gave me a glare, picked up the huge appointment binder, and slammed it hard onto the counter. An appointment was made, and no further instructions were given.

I walked into the post office on the appointed day, on time, and hesitated when I saw a line stretching almost to the door. I sighed, joined the queue, and watched a long line form behind me. I waited almost fifteen minutes before I stepped up to the counter--and Gladys. When I told her what I needed, her face went dark. 

"We only do that by appointment." 

"I made an appointment last Friday. With you." I gave her my name.

"Oh, really." She hefted the appointment book onto the counter, consulted it, and frowned. "You're late."

I gestured behind me. "I've been waiting in line for 15 minutes."

Her eyes narrowed. "Why didn't you jump the line?"

I attempted a feeble joke: "When I made my appointment, I wasn't instructed to jump lines. And I left my crystal ball at home."

The joke fell flat, and Gladys just glared harder. "Gimme your papers."

It got worse and worse. Gladys huffed at me for bringing the entire application, because she didn't need every single page. She mocked me for waiting to sign with her witnessing because apparently that's only necessary with one's first passport. She criticized me for not having a pen in my purse. Everything she said was accompanied by a sarcastic roll of the eyes, and said in a tone that questioned  my intelligence. I was completely unprepared for such withering unkindness, and my tear ducts took the brunt of the verbal assault: My new passport photo is a hilarious trying-not-to-cry grimace.

I was so upset that I left the post office shaking. I like to think of myself as a person who doesn't get upset over petty slights. I like to think that I control my emotions well. But, um, that's obviously not the case. As I drove home, my indignance was replaced with blind rage, and I imagined all the things I should've said in response to Gladys' sarcasm.

I was so distracted by my thoughts, I just followed the car in front of me like a dumb sheep. I almost didn't notice the furious man standing on the sidewalk and shaking his fist at me. His face was practically puce with rage. Why was he angry? OH. Because he wanted to enter the crosswalk, and we weren't obeying the sign commanding us to yield to pedestrians.

I felt like a huge ass. Heck, in that moment I was a huge ass.

Gladys treated me rudely and made me angry. My anger caused me to be rude to someone else and make him angry. I hated to think what might happen next. Was that man going to go into work and take his anger out on his coworker? Was she going to go home from work and pass the negativity on her children? That's not an implausible scenario. In that moment, I was explicitly aware of how my actions affect others, even people I might not see face to face. I resolved to be more careful about the type of energy and attitudes I put out into the world.

Talking about it sounds trite, and sort of like something from Chicken Soup for Captain Obvious' Soul, but it's a true thing that happened. And now that I've had time to ponder it, I'm grateful for the lesson.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Nashville Antiques & Garden Show

Who wants to admire beautiful and strange old things? Keith was out of town last weekend, so I spent Friday and Saturday at the Nashville Antiques & Garden show. I wanted to buy everything, but it was all crazy expensive, so I only brought inspiration and photos home with me. Here's a shocker: I was drawn to neutral colors on dark backgrounds, tributes to English royalty, and items that would be at home in a cabinet of curiosities.  Yeah, I'm predictable. *grin*

What did surprise me was that I was so deeply drawn to items from old French Catholic churches. I suppose my Catholic upbringing is catching up with me? Some old Catholic things, like the Infant of Prague, are a bit creepy... but I think that makes it look right at home with the taxidermy and dark colors!

Sacred Heart Antiques, based in Tupelo, MS, had my favorite booth at the show.

A chair? No! That's an antique prayer kneeler. Seen at the Sacred Heart Antiques booth.
More French Catholic antiquities at the Sacred Heart Antiques booth.

Here's the crazy part: When Keith returned home on Monday night, he brought me a vintage chalkware statue of the Virgin Mary that had belonged to his grandmother. Does he know me, or what?! She was made by Columbia Statuary, and she looks a lot like this lovely lady here, but she's four inches shorter and chipped all over. I'm considering painting her white to hide the chips and make her look nicer with our stuff, because that bright blue doesn't match anything we own. But I'm wondering if the vintage Gods would find that sacrilegious. Ha. What do you think?

Mary Statue offered for sale by HerminasCottage on Etsy.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

I'm going to be featured in Cosmopolitan magazine. WHAT?!

I never imagined that I’d be featured in a sexy, glossy magazine. I’ve never starred in a movie, dated a celebrity, or changed the world by founding an exciting nonprofit. I used to be a librarian, and now I’m a too-busy-to-be-bored housewife. What’s so exciting about that?

Plenty, apparently. Because Cosmo wants to run an article about it.

Obsessed with Waterloge, that is.
A few days after I told  my friends I was no longer at the library, a friend sent me this message: "Hey, Jen. My friend Rachel Bertsche is writing a piece, and she wants to talk to a woman with no kids who chooses not to work outside the home. Since I know you just made this choice, I'm wondering if you'd mind if I put the two of you in touch. She's a legit journalist. Any chance I could connect the two of you?" I'd just spent weeks carefully weighing the options and articulating the reasons why staying at home makes sense for me right now, so I felt uniquely prepared to be a part of Rachel's article. I said yes.

Rachel was preparing to submit an article proposal to her editor. The article was meant to profile a number of women, all of whom had made different career choices. We did a 10 minute phone interview, and Rachel told me she would be in touch if her editor wanted to move forward on the article.

A few weeks later, Rachel called me with good news and bad news. The bad news was that the editor said no to the article that had originally been proposed. The good news? She wanted Rachel to write a personal profile article about me. OMG WHAT?! The editor said I was, "Very likable and matter of fact, and they loved that." Was I willing to be featured in the May 2014 issue of Cosmo?
 I cycled through different emotions: Disbelief, pride, nervousness, and jubilant excitement. And then I said yes. 

The article will be written in first person, but Rachel is writing it. Soon after, Rachel and I did a longer interview. I don't want to tell you everything we talked about, because I want you to read the actual article. But I will tell you that I'm very excited to be featured. I hope the article will help reframe this choice as less of a passé 1950s thing and more of a valid option. I'm pretty sure I'm not the only person who is less interested in having it all, and more interested in having a simpler, less stressful life.

But I'm also nervous. Choosing not to work outside the home is a contentious topic. It carries a lot of baggage associated with things with which I do NOT identify: Conservative religions, anti-feminism, and the scary displays of drama and collagen injections you see on "Real Housewives" shows. And a lot of couples can't afford for one person to stay at home full time. I don't want to give off the out-of-touch impression that I believe everyone has this option. I'm lucky, and I don't take my fortunate situation for granted. 

Ultimately, I hope Rachel's article sparks some lively conversations about the myth of having it all, what constitutes work, the ways we feel entitled to judge other women, and the uncomfortable fact that some couples might save more money by having one hardworking but low-earning person stay home. 

Look for it on newsstands in mid-April!