Friday, October 28, 2011

A whole latte love...

I gave up smoking 2 days ago.  So far, I have not French kissed any smokers that I’ve passed on the street, even though it’s been a bit of a temptation for whatever little bit of smoke might still be in their lungs.

I feel slightly crazy.  Very on-edge.  Mostly encouraged.  And I feel like I smell better than average.  So, that’s good.

I have taken up lattes instead.

I bought myself the set-up to make them at home (a very small investment, it turned out, as I realized I could make the espresso shots in my Tassimo machine that I already had, and only needed the milk steamer/frother, which I bought with my Bed, Bath and Beyond 20% off coupon for $60).  I have gone through about a gallon of milk in two days.  This is quite impressive.  The problem is, I have to remember to eat.  I have to make rules for myself like a little kid:  “No, Noey, you can’t have any more lattes until you eat something real for dinner.”  But, this is also helpful in my plan for not gaining 20 lbs, like I did the last time I tried to quit smoking.

So far, so good.  I’ll keep you posted.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

The First Snow

So, I don’t know if many of you know this, but for me, the PTSD that I have shows up most prominently in my driving.  I’m not sure why.  I don’t know what driving has to do with any of the stuff that happened on August 24, 2009.  But for me, that’s where I have the most anxiety.  It’s hard for me to drive on a good day.  I avoid the highway like it’s my job.  I know all of the fastest routes that involve surface streets.  It requires much bravery for me to get from my house to, well, anywhere.

Driving on snow increases the anxiety about ten-fold.

Today was the first snow.

I watched the forecast last night with fear and trepidation.  I had appointments today that I did not want to cancel.  I felt the fear rising in my chest.  I got sweaty palms.  I got short of breath.  I forced myself to worry about it later, to just go ahead and go to sleep, to remember that sometimes it's not as bad as they say it’s going to be.   I’ll just get up early enough to give myself plenty of time to get there and be fine.

When I woke up this morning I looked out the window and it was definitely snowy.  Aw, shucks.  But, I had a little chat with myself.  I reminded myself that I learned to drive on snow pack.  I took my first driving test on snow pack (I didn’t pass, but that’s beside the point).  I grew up in Montana, for the love, I can do this.

I was bummed that there was no snow to shovel on my front walk.  This being the first snow, I was looking forward to shoveling my sidewalks for the first time.  I love shoveling snow.

I went out and scraped off my car, reminding myself fondly of the mornings that Sawan would get up and start my car and scrape it off for me.  He could be so sweet on the occasional day that he would get up early with me.

Then, I got in the car and made those snowy roads my bitch.  It was a better drive then it would have been on a regular day.  It may be that the roads just weren’t that bad.  It may be that I had great music.  It may be that the snow was just so beautiful that I couldn’t help but enjoy myself.  It may be that my skinny jeans fit me for the first time in a long time and I felt fabulous.  It may be that I’m just in a better place then I’ve been in a long time and I’m honestly getting better.  Whatever it was, I’ll take it.  Bring it on.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Ahh, Fall

I’m loving fall.

I don’t remember being such a fall girl before.  But this year, I just love it.  I think I’ve always hated fall because it means that winter is coming.  And I hate winter.

This year, though, I’m just totally enjoying it.  I’m loving the crispness in the air.  I guess my palette has changed, as well, because where I used to not really like the spices that one associates with fall, these days I just can’t get enough. 

The colors are particularly beautiful, this year, too.  And who can resist the crunch of the leaves under their feet?  I’m enjoying the chilliness of the evenings.  I enjoy being just a little cold when I go to bed, so that I need an extra blanket and Arthur to snuggle up nice and close.  And, once it gets cold enough, he’ll actually do it, too, so I love that!

I love jackets.  I love Ugg boots.  Both have come out in the last couple of weeks (Including my favorite leather bomber jacket that I was too fluffy to wear last year but this year is a perfect fit again.  The no sugar diet is doing the trick!).  It’s delightful.

Had to post a photo of the leather jacket...
Welcome, fall.  Stay as long as you can.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Another Milestone

I was married for 2 years, 7 weeks and 5 days.  Having always been someone ruled by the calendar, I knew that the date was approaching, sometime in October, when I would be a widow longer than I was married.  I had forced myself not to count. 

I thought that it would feel devastating to me.  That I would feel so sad, that it would feel somehow similar to the first New Year’s Eve that I spent without him, where I felt this panic, knowing that this was the end of the year that he was still alive in. 

For some reason, on Wednesday, I couldn’t resist.  I was looking at a calendar for another reason, and I just counted it out.  I had passed it already.  Phew. 

I felt so free.

For some reason, I feel like “Ok, enough, Noel.  Stop looking back.  Look forward.  Turn your head.”

I miss him every day.  I love him still, and I think I always will.  This is not the life I would choose.  But, this is the life I got, and I have to live it, and learn to love life, and I think I’m starting to again. 

Friday, October 14, 2011


I remember having a conversation, a long, long time ago when I was a kid, with my Granny about smoking.  She had quit in the 80s, I think, when the doctor had made my Grandpa quit for health reasons.  But we were talking about why she would have even started in the first place, and she said, “You know, it was the best friend I ever had.”  I remember being so confused by that statement.

And now I smoke.  I totally get it.

I have “quit” twice.  Once, when my mom was diagnosed with cancer.  I thought, “Enough.”  So Sawan and I quit together.  Then, he and I broke up (for about a month one summer, but that’s a story for another post).  The idea of being without him was just too much for me.  So I started smoking again.

We quit again in March before he died.  I wanted to have a baby.  I didn’t want to be smoking for any part of my pregnancy.  I didn’t want to wait until I found out that I was pregnant to stop smoking, and put my baby at risk for even a few days.  I wanted to be getting my body in the healthiest shape I could pre-pregnancy, so I quit even though I hadn’t talked Sawan into actually getting pregnant yet.  He quit a week later.

When Sawan died, I hung on for about a month or so.  Then, it just got to be too much.  My reason for quitting (getting pregnant) was no longer an option for me.  Every time I found out that someone I was friends with was pregnant I had a cigarette, and I enjoyed it.  I thought, well, if I can’t do that, at least I can do this!  I enjoy smoking.  I know it’s supposed to be this shameful, horrible thing, but I’ve always liked smoking.  I wish that it was good for me.  I’ve loved it since the first time someone gave one to me.  It’s true, what Granny said.  It’s my BFF.

I’ve made all of the jokes.  “I’ve thought about not smoking anymore, but I’ve just decided, I’m not a quitter!”

But, I’m making choices these days.  I’ve decided to choose life, and cigarettes have always been this rebellious, non-life-choosing thing for me.  So I need to give up my best friend again.

Honestly, I’m a little bummed. 

But, I’m doing a pre-emptive strike.  I’ve started a major health kick with the way that I’m eating, so that I don’t substitute one addiction with another (namely, sugar), and by the time I quit I’ll (hopefully) be used to making good, healthy food choices.  I’ve started working out, so that 1) I can tell a difference in the way it feels in my lungs when I stop smoking and 2) I can substitute an adrenaline addiction for nicotine.  Worth a shot, right?  I plan to quit on the 26th (when I have an appointment to try hypnotherapy for quitting).

But, I’m scared.  I’ve never quit without Sawan before.  So, I feel nervous about that. 

Plus, I like smoking.  There are situations socially when I feel like I can’t handle it, so I just escape by going outside to smoke.  There are times with PTSD/anxiety where I feel like I can’t breathe, and with a cigarette it makes me take concentrated breaths and I feel like I can breathe again.  Giving this up also makes me nervous.

But, I’m tired of the way I smell.  I’m tired of feeling apologetic about it.  I’m tired of spending money on something that’s so bad for me.  I’m tired of the constant state of guilt that I feel when I see commercials on TV about COPD.  And, my Papa, who died the same day as Sawan, died of lung cancer.  I can hear his voice in my head, every time he would leave a voice mail for me, he’d tell me to put down that cigarette.

So I’m choosing.  I’m choosing to be brave.  I’m choosing life.  Here goes nothin’.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

I cooked! (VERY easy recipe included)

I cooked dinner.
This is a big fat deal.

I didn’t have a gun to my head.  I wasn’t having people over that I was trying to impress, or at least give the impression that I eat like a normal person.

I just was craving the chicken tacos that I used to make, and, this is almost as remarkable as the fact that I cooked: as I was thinking about how good they sounded I realized that, without going to the store, I had all of the stuff at home to make them. I had grocery shopped a few weeks ago, and had had the foresight to think that this day was possibly coming, so I had planned for it.

Let me tell you why this is such a big deal.

Remember the spatula war?  Part of that was my being mad that all my stuff had disappeared and that his stuff had replaced it in my kitchen.  Part of the solution was for me to get my butt out of his kitchen.  I rarely cooked while we were married, and when I did, I felt like either the sous chef, or like I was using his stuff.  Other than the usual things married people fight about (finances and children), the kitchen was one of our main sources of conflict.  I got in trouble when I scratched one of his pots on the BOTTOM.  I got in trouble when one of the lids of the pots ended up with a dent in it.  I had seen it when I unloaded the dishwasher and knew he was going to be pissed, but had no idea how the dent had ended up there (and hadn’t been the one to load the dishwasher in the first place).  When he asked me about it later, I said, “I knew you were going to be mad at me about that!  I didn’t do anything to your stupid pot!”  But really, how can I complain about someone who took such good care of me that I never had to cook, or even do meal planning or go to the grocery store?  I had amazing gourmet food regularly. 

Then, he died, and now the only kitchen stuff I have is his.  Even though I’ve moved it twice, and everything is exactly where I put it the last time, I still feel like I’m not really welcome there.  Like they’re still his things.  He didn’t really like to share his good stuff. 

So, since I’ve been widowed, I’ve cooked about 4 times.  One of the times that I’m counting is a frozen pizza.  I’m not kidding.  I eat lots of Lean Cuisine.  I eat lots of Chipotle.  It’s just easier.  It’s easier than the pain of dealing with being in the kitchen.

But not today.   Today Rotel Chicken Tacos were worth more than the pain of using his stuff.   What’s weird is that this was my recipe, and something that I would make for the two of us often (We would laugh because he was not allowed to cook us Mexican food.  With parents from New Mexico my tastes are more toward the green chili, spicy side, his  were a little more gringo), and it’s so, so easy.  The hardest part is chopping tomatoes and whatever else is going to go on top.  But they were his knives I was using to chop.  It was his cutting board.  I was stirring with his spoon.  He had tried to teach me a trick once for cutting cherry tomatoes and I hadn’t listened.  I hadn’t paid attention because I thought he would always be there to cut them for me.  So now, it takes me forever to cut tomatoes.  At the end, I was exhausted (I think more emotionally, then anything else).  It took everything out of me.

But, they were delicious, and I was glad I did it.  A little at a time, I’m getting there.

Rotel Chicken Tacos
In a small crock-pot, place two chicken breasts and one can of Rotel Tomatoes and Green Chili.  Let cook all day on low, then shred the chicken.  Yep, that’s it.  They’re that easy.  (Best served as soft tacos, with pico de gallo, cheese and guacamole and whatever other taco toppings your little heart desires!)  Now place the back of your hand to your forehead and say dramatically, like Scarlet O'Hara,  “I slaved all day.”

Friday, October 7, 2011


When my sister, Cori, was pregnant with Bridger, my oldest nephew, she had a dream.  She dreamed that I was pregnant, too.  She told me all about it.  It was a great dream, she said.  So fun.  At the time, my thought was, eww.  I was in that phase of life where I was enjoying having no strings attached.  I wasn’t married, wasn’t settled into anything, was dreaming of a life in LA being a hairstylist to the stars.

But things change.  I stayed in Denver.  I made a life here.  I got married, and started dreaming of a family of my own.  I often thought back to that conversation, and knew that dream of hers would probably never be a reality as her boys got older and older.

Just as Sawan and I were finally deciding that we wanted our own little ones, Cori and Scott decided that they wanted to have one more kiddo.  She called to let me know that they were going to try.  Then, she called me to tell me that she was pregnant.  I couldn’t tell anyone yet.  But, hope filled me.  The dream from so many years ago was possibly going to come true.  What had been her dream had now become mine.  Even though she was now in England, the idea of being pregnant at the same time, of having a cousin so close to the same age for my own little one was so exciting.  I loved this little dream.

The email letting everyone know that we all knew now, that the announcement had been made to everyone was sent the day before Sawan died. 

Asher was born in April of 2010.  He is now 17 months old.  He is such a fun, sweet, agreeable little guy. 

I love him.  I love him so much.

But he stirs things up inside me.  He brings up pain.  He is a visual reminder of the dream that didn’t come true.  Most of the time these days, I look at him and I just enjoy him.  I enjoy the personality that is forming.  I enjoy the sweetness of him.  But sometimes, I look at him and I think, my own baby would probably have been three months younger, if everything had gone as planned.  And I cry.  And then I say sorry to him.  “I’m sorry that I cry so much around you, Buddy.  It’s just that I wanted one of you so bad.”

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

The Merry Widows

It’s rare to meet a widow as young as I am.  I know two.  Randomly, they both live in Bozeman, Montana.

I have talked to both on the phone lots over the last year and a half or so, but had never actually met one of them, and the other one I had met once in 1998, long before either of us had even met our husbands, much less become widows.

I got to meet both of them last weekend.

I hitched a ride with my cousin to Bozeman and we planned a girl’s night.  I kept calling it my Wild Widow Weekend.

To get to meet them in real life, to get to hug them, to get to just sit and visit, to laugh (a lot) to get to cry together, was so amazing, there are no words.  We sat and talked and talked and talked.  They totally get it.  There is nothing off limits.  It was such a treat.  Such a blessing.  An unbelievable gift.  I am so thankful for these amazing women.

We are calling ourselves the Merry Widows.  You’re not jealous, because the cost of admission to our club is too high.  But, if you had seen how much fun we had on Saturday night, you might have been a little jealous.