Archives For On a Personal Note…

After making a solo trip to Atlanta weekend before last, I felt so refreshed that I didn’t even mind packing back up to head out again this past weekend. This time Nick and I went together and it was fabulous. We spent Friday night at my parents’ house in Slidell and then Saturday morning left Jack and Juliet behind to get spoiled by their grandparents. We drove east through Mississippi, then headed south and took a ferry from Dauphin Island across the mouth of Mobile Bay. It’s a route that I’d never taken before, and both Nick and I enjoyed the ferry. We were having so much fun that Nick took my picture. Don’t I look relaxed and happy?

1610785_10103669000286045_5242611280880661694_n (426x570)

A few moments later, another passenger started feeding the seagulls cheese puffs. I thought it mildly inconsiderate, but Nick was much more concerned. “Let’s go get in the car,” he said. “These birds are about to start crapping everywhere.” I told him to stop worrying so much and just enjoy the rest of the ride. And literally, right that second, I looked up and saw bird poop flying at me in slow motion. Fortunately(?), it landed on my face and sunglasses, rather than in my hair or on my clothes, and I was able to clean it up pretty easily with some baby wipes I had in my purse. At least I was able to laugh about it!

The ferry deposited us in Fort Morgan, a rural stretch of coastline about 15 miles west of Gulf Shores. It was, in a word, amazing. There were no high rise condos, no traffic jams, no crowds. I’m not sure I even saw a streetlight. There were two restaurants and a whole lot of adorable beach houses.

10559769_10103669909823325_8409918180685332483_n

We were there to meet up with some of Nick’s friends from college who were staying there for the week. They’ve been doing fantasy football together for years and now that they all live in different states they meet in a central location for their annual draft. It’s not exactly a kid-friendly event, hence the decision to leave Jack behind. We only stayed for one night and I’m not sure we could have handled anything more. Those folks know how to party!

As much fun as I had visiting with old friends and pretending like I was 21 again, my absolute favorite part was the few hours in the afternoon during which everyone was drafting their teams. I’m not in the league and have no interest in it whatsoever, so I took the opportunity to hang out on the beach by myself. Considering that the last time I was at the beach I had my two year old in tow this was pretty great. When I started to get burned, I moved to the shaded deck where I sat and read. I really enjoy spending time alone and I don’t get much of it these days so I savored every moment.

That night we stayed up entirely too late doing things we’re entirely too old to do, then the next morning Nick and I slept in til the leisurely hour of 8am, bid farewell to various people sleeping on various surfaces, and stopped at the local restaurant for a quick breakfast before hopping back on the ferry and beginning the slow transition back into reality. I never would have thought it’d be worth it to drive all the way to Alabama just for one night on the beach, but it so was!

Jack has been sick all this week, maybe the sickest I’ve ever seen him. He’s got strep throat but is also really congested in his chest. Every time he coughs he turns to look at me for reassurance.

10632826_10103659928121735_2645449093627076265_n

We’ve been spending almost all of our time snuggled on the sofa watching Sesame Street. I am loving all the cuddles but ready for my sweet boy to start feeling better! The good news is that after a rather restless night spent in our bed last night he does seem to be getting back to his old self. The cough is lingering, but he’s not nearly so pitiful.

It’s hard for me to spend three full days sitting still–if I have to watch one more episode of Sesame Street I may die of boredom. I’ve got a whole list of projects to tackle and errands to run. Fingers crossed that we can get back to normal today!

This past weekend I took a much-needed solo trip to Atlanta to visit my longtime BFF, Lauren. I haven’t been feeling quite myself lately, but there’s something about spending time with someone who has been a friend for more than half of my life to help me remember who I am. It was the first time I’d ever spent more than a day away from Jack and I reveled in the luxury of not being responsible for anybody but myself for nearly 72 hours. We did all kinds of wonderful things I wouldn’t normally do–sat around and read during the day, drank as much wine as we wanted at night, got pedicures, and stayed up late talking about the past. It was, in a word, indulgent. There were even cupcakes.

pedicure (570x570)

I usually don’t enjoy driving long distances, but I was able to load a couple of audiobooks from the library onto my phone and play them through the car’s Bluetooth. Yay technology! It was my first audiobook experience and I am definitely a fan. The miles flew by as I immersed myself in lowbrow literature. And I laughed when one of the characters, a psychologist, said to her longtime best friend as they were discussing past relationships, “I didn’t spend six years at Vanderbilt to have some punk I’ve known since before we got our periods tell me I don’t know what I’m talking about.” Lauren and I have, in fact, known each other since before we got our periods (too much information?), but neither of us would dare tell the other she doesn’t know what she’s talking about. And although Lauren is a successful businesswoman and I have a master’s in social work I look to her for emotional guidance as much as she does me.

casa de naka (505x570)

I really, really needed that short vacation. It was so refreshing. As for Nick and Jack, they survived, but yesterday morning Jack felt hot and a trip to the doctor confirmed that he has strep throat. I’m glad I’m back home to be with him. I missed his little face!

The bad news: I started smoking again. The good news: I quit again already. Smoking is one of those things that nothing good can come of, and yet I really do love it. If it weren’t so disgusting and dangerous I’d never quit. I gave up smoking in 2010 and to this day I count quitting among my greatest accomplishments. Once or twice a year since I’ve shared a cigarette with a friend, but it was overpowering and made me wonder why I’d ever loved it.

Then a few people in my life started using electronic cigarettes and I thought they were the best thing ever! They were less powerful than tobacco cigarettes, but almost as fun. I picked up a disposable e-cigarette (equivalent to a pack or two) once every couple weeks when I was feeling feisty or planning to spend my evening at home with a glass of wine. Then we went on vacation and I wanted an e-cig but couldn’t find an inexpensive disposable at the beachside gas station. So I bought a pack of Camels, figuring it was okay to cut loose a little on vacay. Over the next few weeks I started craving cigarettes more and more and before I knew it I was up to half a pack a day.

Smoking is frowned upon no matter what, but I felt especially ashamed to be smoking now that I was a mother. I knew I had to quit. I waited until a week when I was scheduled to work every day, since I’ve never smoked at this job before. Being in a different environment really helped, but I couldn’t have done it without nicotine gum. I used the gum to quit back in 2010 and it was a lifesaver. Because while smoking is a habit, it’s also a chemical addiction. You know how sometimes when you’re thirsty, it’s not necessarily because your throat is dry or any other specifically identifiable issue, but you just want something to drink? Your brain is just telling you, hey, give me some water. That’s what craving a cigarette feels like. I want one like a thirsty person wants water, even if I don’t want the stink, chest congestion, and carcinogens that come with it. A piece of nicotine gum can help me satisfy that craving and then it’s easy for me to slowly back off the gum. I haven’t smoked in a week but just writing about it is triggering a craving–good thing I’ve got a few pieces of gum left!

So why did I start smoking again? The nicotine got me hooked, of course, but why did I start in the first place? I’m not sure. I smoked through most of college and grad school and a lot of people I loved smoked when I was growing up. Despite knowing all the risks I have a lot of positive memories associated with smoking. Maybe at 29, with my career well established and an ever-more-independent toddler at home, I’m a little restless. I’m craving some adventure. This weekend I’m heading to Atlanta to visit my best friend from high school. It’ll be the first time I’ve traveled on my own since Jack was born and I think it’ll be good for me. I need some quality time to myself and despite my distaste for driving long distances I think all those hours alone on the open road will give me plenty of time to think.

Even though Nick is a very involved father this will be the first time he’s had Jack all to himself for this long. He keeps calling it “Guys’ Weekend” and talking about all the fun they’re going to have. Hopefully I won’t miss them too much! Fingers crossed that I come back feeling more relaxed.

If you stumble, make it part of the dance

Have a great weekend, y’all.