Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Crossing Things Off

There's a list of 101 things to do with your significant other that takes up space on my fridge, a constant reminder to enjoy each other's company, to be irreverant and spontaneous and childlike when the mood strikes. We've crossed out a couple lines, things like... 
 -Perfect your guacamole making skills
 -Teach her how to build a fire (or him as the case may be)
 -Build a fort
 -Get lost on purpose
 -Have a spa day at home 
We've added some notes, crossed out others (get tattoos of each other's names?! go sky-diving?!) and I love to really look at it every few months to see how our relationship has changed.

I realized that we're tackling another line, number 25...."Go on a health kick together" 
This has been on my radar for a while and I've implemented it in smaller ways- reducing the amount of bread we buy, adding veggies to most of our meals, reducing the Nestle drumsticks...but we've rarely had the motivation to try anything drastic. Like...working out, for instance.

Well, Dan dug deep and found his motivation and now there's a goal in mind- a 2 minute physical assesment and 6 months of physical training in the Orange County Police Academy! And if there's anything more motivating to work out than the fact that your husband is trying to become a police officer, I'd like to know. Because I could use it.

So now we're really focused on what we're eating, and how often we're walking. Hiking three times a week. Walking at least 2 miles if we're not hiking. He's running on his own and the pull up bar is seeing a lot of use.

My job is sort of inherently mobile and I had the bright idea that I could use some of the 20-30lb boxes as weights if I was getting really desperate. So while everyone was on break and grabbed a box and lifted it over my head, only to hit my forehead as it came tumbling out of my hands. Unevenly distributed weight can do that when lifted abruptly.

I am not a smart woman. Though maybe I'll be a little more toned....

Monday, January 19, 2015

Protein Packed

There was already a line three people deep at the deli counter. And these people meant business- hickory smoked, cajun-style, all-American business. Mr. E, ever the carnivore, was unfazed and stood in line.

This week we're shopping at a new-for-us grocery and we found ourselves...with a lighter bill. And healthier eating habits. Eating better starts with buying better and all the tips and tricks to buying the right foods at Ralphs just didn't stick. I tried to keep to the outside aisles (meat, dairy, produce...and wine) because you get less processed foods there, right? But I was still straying into enemy territory to grab pasta sauce or toilet paper and finding myself face-to-face with cheesy crackers and boxed dinners. I throw them in because ease-over-nutrients, amirite?

Well if Mr. E was intent on eating cleaner in preparation for some upcoming physical changes, then just call me Support System. So we ditched bright lights and brightly colored packaging for the bulk bins and abbreviated aisles. Sprouts is like Trader Joes save the tiny parking lot and inflated egos. Well, maybe some of the egos are least one third of the store is wine.

I was perusing their bread selection- rosemary sourdough, anyone?- when Mr. E dumped his packages unceremoniously into the cart.

"Do you want to know how much deli meat I got?"

"Is that a trick question?"

"I didn't know how much to order. So I ordered the same weight as the guy in front of me..." He trails off as the recent thump-sound finally clicks in my brain. I peer into our cart.

There, nestled amidst the tiny bags of veggie chips, squeezing the life out of our poor clementines, is an almost three pound weight of sliced turkey.

I look back at my husband, who shrugs.

"I've never ordered from a deli counter before."

We've eaten sandwiches at least once a day for the last week and a half.

Monday, January 12, 2015


How are your neighbors?

Do you know?

Are you friends? Landlord-hating-buddies? Passive-aggressive door-slamming competitors?

Do you...accidentally listen to their middle of the night fights while giggling in the bathroom because their window is open?

During a lull in History Channel's Vikings, (pleasegowatchthis) we heard it....

A theme song we know by heart.
how i met your mother
This show was an integral part of our dating years. It was something we could always come back to- laughing at Barney's attempts to pick up chicks, laughing at Ted's inability to understand anything about anybody, laughing at how close Lily and Marshall's relationship was to our own...

But we have so moved past this show.

Only to have it repeated four to five times a night. Every night. On the other side of our couch wall.

Every so often Mr. E will come in as I'm getting ready for bed and shrilly whisper, "They're watching ANOTHER one."

We smile and laugh and wonder how long it will take them to please finish.

We've moved from Vikings to Planet Earth to Friends. And then late one night, we heard it....

No one told you life was gonna be this waaaaaaaaayyyy....

Dan ran into the bedroom with some serious eyebrow game: "They're watching Friends! Those BITERS."

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Year's End

We have a cherished New Years Eve tradition of forgetting to count down the last ten seconds of the year. This year we didn't disappoint.
There's something about ringing in the New Year completely by accident- being so caught up in our conversation and our friends and our card game and our drinks that I can't possibly keep an eye on the clock. When I do check the time- usually the microwave or the oven because analog clocks are terrible timekeepers- I'm either ten minutes too early or 30 minutes too late.
So we're sitting at a dining table, sliding playing cards across the holiday tablecloth and trying to remember the rules to a game only one of us has played before. We're two or three drinks in, we've just finished home-cooking one of the best meals we've ever made (carne asada, homemade Ceasar salad, roasted rosemary and thyme potatoes and carrots in case you were wondering) and the heater has made us completely forget that it is currently 26 degrees outside and snow is on the ground. The dogs are blessedly quiet (though that's not an anomaly for Ripley) and the jazz station we've turned on is cranking out the perfect soundtrack for lulling us to sleep through the year change.

One of us chances to look up and all of a sudden we're screaming. It's 11:59 and we are going to miss it. All the carefully prepared champagne (because if not now, when?) and grapes to symbolize our good months and toasting is going to be late and at least two of the four of us are really only awake for this singular reason.

So Mr. E goes to pop the champagne and Oliver is bringing out yet another flight of glassware and I'm hiding under the counter with my back turned because I have a fear of loud noises (or fear of the anticipation of loud noises, whichever sounds cooler) and in the bustle we missed it.

But it doesn't matter.

Because this year is full of anticipation.

Because this year we have goals.

Because this year is the year we enjoy.

And we're off to a pretty good start- snow on the ground, greasy pizza in town, pre-released movies for Oscar-judging and endless card games in a year-end vacation in the mountains of Idyllwild.

My word for this year is enjoy. What's yours?

Wednesday, November 26, 2014


He tiptoed in to our bedroom, and leaned in close.

"Are you happy? I want you to be happy."

My initial reaction, the knee-jerk, from-the-bottom-of-the-gut reaction was "Yes."

And then I thought about all the ways I had shown him I was happy.

Asking to do more dishes.

Endless errand runs on the weekends instead of one-on-one time.

Worrying over handmade Christmas gifts and self-imposed deadlines.

Job training and budgeting.

If this is the season to be thankful, how are we showing others how we feel? How are we communicating gratefulness?

I'm thankful for food- scrumptious, delicious food.

I'm thankful for husbands and mothers and fathers and sisters and brothers and in-laws and friends that feel like family, new friendships and old friendships and only-friends-at-work-friendships. I need these people. Everyday.

I'm thankful for dogs who love unconditionally and nephews who love only on the condition that they can play with big Captain America toys at your house.

I'm thankful for health and hearth, a place to rest my steel-toed feeties and the energy to fully enjoy it.

I'm thankful for books. For movies. For Facebook, without which I wouldn't have very interesting conversations.

I'm thankful for job security and the breather of fresh air this gives us.

I pray many times a day, a silent thankyouthankyouthankyou out to the universe for this life and all the wonderful things in it. Personal thankfulness is one thing, but how does my husband know what's in my heart?
These thoughts ran through my head in the split second it took me to snuggle in closer.

"Yes. I'm the happiest."

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Brie's Personal Book of Job

It's official- Baxter made me an offer I couldn't refuse. I'm getting hired permanently at Baxter in Los Angeles. This means benefits, paid vacations, but more importantly: no more job searching. I mean, after my three month probation period.
godfather animated GIF
The plant here in Los Angeles works with human plasma to create hemophilic treatments and immuno-therapies, although Baxter focuses on a number of treatments in plants all over the world. So there's a lot of opportunity to further my career and get trained in multiple areas. For the time being I'm working in the Quality Department- making sure everyone else is doing their job correctly.

The one thing I never thought I'd feel about a new job? Judged.

I've worked at quite a few different contract (read: temporary) positions since I graduated from UCSD three years ago. I didn't mind because Mr. E and I didn't know where we were going to end up, so putting down roots into a job didn't seem like the best idea until we moved to where he would need to work. The first job I found out of LA seemed great- good commute, interesting company products, I liked the people... But the work itself was repetitive, slow and the training vague. I didn't feel like I was getting anywhere in that position, in the department or in the company. So when Baxter called I jumped at the chance.

Here was a homogenous mixture (read: equal) of temps and permanent workers. Kids right out of school and employees who had been with the company for 35 years. We rubbed elbows. We relied on each other. There's a lot of communication and teamwork between all three shifts for our 24-hour facility.

And yet, when I was offered my position (yes, Yes, YES!) I was asked repeatedly by the younger crowd, "Are you going to take it?" As if I had something better in mind. As if I was better than this job. As if a decent-paying position with upward mobility, international locations and paid holidays was something I wasn't interested in.

Let's be clear: I'm not going to school anymore. I have no dreams to be a doctor or an anything-ologist. I don't want a Masters or a PhD. The most I was contemplating was phlebotomy but that's more of a certification anyways, to be honest. So why the well-meaning condescension?

Here's another reminder that I'm not in the same place as my peers. There's a generalization that if you majored in science you're going to continue in science education- because a well-paying job means years of study.

There's a generalization that if you married young you're going to have kids ASAP and focus on family first because marriage and families go hand in hand. Or at least that's what the internet tells me in yet another list.

I tread that line between them- where all I want to do is work. And earn money so my husband can make movies (read: finance his short films until someone else can). We'll add kids in there when we're not eating peanut butter for the month to keep our budget down because that's our choice to prioritize our life that way.

So why the judgement? Next time someone tells you they got offered a job, and their voice has suspiciously climbed six octaves, muster up a little excitement for them. There's no need to squash the sprouting dreams of a new hire. There's plenty of time for corporate politics to do just that.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Book Fair

I already had my outfit picked out in my head- black on white stripes, jeans (per usual) and Toms (also per usual) with my book-shaped locket necklace. My hair up and out of my face- perfect for windy outdoor days AND for picture taking. I didn't know who I was going to meet, or what we were going to get into, but if it's LA and it's a fair, they mean business and I would too.
We trekked through the city to USC- Mr. E's almost alma mater. It's a beautiful campus, smack-dab in the middle of one of the worst areas of Los Angeles. But that's the way the city is. You need to brave the crazy and the potentially dangerous to find the gems scattered beneath the grime. Gourmet grilled cheese? A corner of Silverlake. Biggest book fair on the West Coast? USC. And the one thing you must know for all excursions? Even if it says it's free...parking will be astronomical and mandatory. Who wants to brave the side streets and the possibility of getting your car stolen, broken into or lost to avoid paying $15?
It didn't occur to me that a book fair would be geared towards kids. I guess I'm such a kid at heart that I assumed there would be fountains of books - and there were. But we hit the kids section first. Parents and teachers, working together, pouring over slightly used copies of the kindergarten classics. Makeshift shelves with glossy brightly colored covers and pop-up books free from rips and tears. My brief disappointment (this is it?) turned to wonder as I looked up and recognized tents as far as the eye could see- around peeking around building corners and rows upon rows down paved sidewalks.
There were authors.

There were publishers.

There were bookstores and libraries and newspaper peddlers.

But most of all there were readers.

Enthusiasts of the written word. Connoisseurs of phrasing and grammar and prose. There were T-shirts and book-bags and first editions and sales of all kinds.
This was a fair I could get behind. Keep your booz-y summer fairs and your military aircraft shows. Give me a three-for-one deal from Penguin publishers and a tote to boot.

Of course, some circus animal cookies doesn't hurt either...