Sierra's online journal

Thank You August 31, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — sierrak83 @ 5:21 pm
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It’s been what I’d call a rough week. Chris and I have been at the center of some lively debate and it’s been mentally and emotionally exhausting. I won’t go into detail but I will tell you that it all began with a comment about how “marriage is like a jail sentence” and the fact that the person who made the comment “doesn’t want to be handcuffed to someone for life.” I’ll also tell you that it’s weeks like this that make me appreciate (more than usual) the man I married.

We will celebrate our 4th wedding anniversary this November. But we’ve been together—for the most part—for just under 13 years. I say “for the most part” because our relationship began when we were 16 and we’ve had our share of little teenage spats. Two of which (once during high school and once more during freshman year of college) resulted in us “taking a break.” You know how it goes. You have a fight so major that there’s just no getting past it. So you break up. And three weeks later you realize that you’ve done nothing but miss them, wonder what they’re up to, and ask yourself, “What was that fight about again?” Been there, done that. And yet here we are. Almost thirteen years later. More mature. More understanding of each others’ quirks and needs. And more in love than ever.

But how? We live in culture that is quick to give up on marriage, with 40+% of all marriages in the country ending in divorce. Then there’s domestic violence and infidelity and all those other couples who just seem to coexist without actually being happy to be together. What makes our relationship different than those? How have we gotten to where we are today? Sure, all the usual stuff….all the stuff psychologists and marriage experts will tell you are vital to building a strong marriage. We communicate—well and frequently. We show each other respect. We have similar ideals with respect to the “big deal” topics like finances and family. We share responsibilities. We have the perfect balance between “us” time and alone time—so neither of us are defined 100% by our relationship. We know how to fight fairly. But probably most importantly, we never miss an opportunity to make each other feel special.

Every day before he leaves for work, he finds me—usually I’m still in bed, so it’s not hard—and kisses my forehead. Some days he sends me a mid-day text message that just says, “Hi, beautiful.” Once in a while, it’s him giving me a foot massage while we curl up to watch a movie on the couch. (And, yes, I’ll admit it. He’s a better movie picker than I am. Just don’t tell him I said that.) He has a way of making me get that “melty” feeling inside. Even after almost thirteen years.

So today, just for fun, I stopped by the commuter lot where he parks his car to catch the bus into Hartford for work. I found his car, jotted a note on the first piece of paper I found in my car (a bank envelope), and  left it on his dashboard. It just took a few minutes, but I knew he’d smile when he got off the bus and found it waiting for him. And he did.

Yeah, I call my husband “Buddy.” Don’t judge me!

Now, I realize that marriage isn’t for everyone—and you’re certainly in that group if you view it as a jail sentence! And I also realize that you don’t have to be married to be happy in a relationship—my parents were together for over 30 years before they got married. But I can say with certainty that marrying Chris was the best decision I’ve ever made because he’s my best friend and I wouldn’t want to experience this crazy thing we call life without him. So thank you, Chris, for being my “cell mate for life.”


On “Fifty Shades” and Nerdgasms August 27, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — sierrak83 @ 10:34 pm
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It’s 2012. So I think it’s a safe assumption that if you’re reading this, you have probably—at one point or another—ordered something from Amazon. And if you’re anything like me, you order from them frequently. No, I’m not a shopping junkie. Despite what my husband may try to get you to believe. But I’ve been the proud owner (and, you’d assume, unofficial spokesperson base on how often I talk to friends about it) of a Kindle since about 2009. I’d estimate that fully 95% of my online purchases are Kindle books.

I have to digress for a moment here. If you are a Kindle owner and have not heard of http://www.pixelofink.com/ then please, do me a favor. Crawl out from the dark crevice beneath the rock under which you live and check it out. Their entire site (which you can also get updates from by “liking” them on Facebook) is dedicated to directing readers to free, bargain, or sale-priced Kindle content. A friend recommended it to me about six months ago and the fine folks at Pixel of Ink have saved me a boatload of cash already.

Okay, let’s see if we can’t get back on track now, eh?

When I finish reading a book—whether I loved it, hated it, or thought it was “just okay”—I write an Amazon review for it. When I’m shopping, I often read what other customers thought of the book before making a decision to click the “buy now” button. So, in turn, I think it’s important to help my fellow readers as they have helped me. My reviews are always honest and based strictly on the book’s content. And I never write a review for any book that I didn’t bother to finish reading. (People whose simply gripe about the price of the e-book and/or admit that they didn’t actually read the whole book irk me to no end!)

About twice per year—and only when I’m bored—I log into my Amazon account to browse through my old reviews and read any new comments or replies that have been posted on my reviews since my last visit. Which is exactly what I found myself doing today. As I read through newly posted comments, I realized that the reviews that repeatedly get responses from other Amazon users are the critical ones. And the replies are usually angry to the point that I’m pretty sure they all have to be from the authors’ mothers or great aunts or favorite English teacher from high school. (I mean, really….I’m not obligated to like a book just because it won some silly award that I’ve never heard of three years ago. Who ARE you and why are you so upset?) And then I got to my review of the “Fifty Shades of Grey” trilogy.

Somehow, since I posted the review at the end of May, I had managed to miss 30+ replies to it. Making this, officially, my first positive review to generate such a response from other Amazon users. And not only that, but it’s ranked among the “most helpful” reviews for the product which means it’s the first customer review shoppers see. I’m totally psyched. (Yes, I get excited about odd things. And by “odd” I mean “nerdy.” But I’m okay with that.)

So there you have it. Yes, I’ve read it. Yes, I liked it. And if you haven’t read it—my review, that is—maybe you should.

<insert shameless plug here>


Fifty Shades of Grey

Fifty Shades of Grey (Photo credit: ellebnere)


Weekly Writing Challenge: Listen to the Voices in Your Head August 22, 2012

Filed under: Weekly Writing Challenge — sierrak83 @ 10:36 pm

The Daily Post’s weekly writing challenge this week was “Listen to the Voices in Your Head.” It was an exercise in passive vs active voices. If you’d like to read more about the challenge check out their blog post:



Two Years in the Making

The pool was taken down our second springtime in the house. How two years managed to slip past us with that eyesore—empty but for pieces of old, cracked liner and whatever weeds had managed to sprout up through the sand—taunting us from the back yard, I’ll never know.

The lifespan of our pool was recounted for us once by our neighbor Hank during one of our first encounters with him. He had gotten home from work one day several years back, he’d said, to find that the homeowner at the time had installed it while he was away. It was positioned obscenely close to the property line but Hank had turned a blind eye. Memories of sleepless summer nights were undoubtedly called to his mind as he eyed the pool, roughly six feet from his bedroom window, and took a moment to reminisce about the rowdy kids who used to live next door.

Do you see Hank’s bedroom window in the upper left corner?

“So it didn’t always look like this?” I motioned toward the skeleton that remained.

“Nope,” Hank replied. “When the old owners moved out and left the bank with the house, nobody took care of the pool. Sure, the bank would drive by once in a while and toss a chlorine tab in but that didn’t keep the water clean or the mosquitoes away. So I duct taped a razor blade to a yardstick and sliced up the bottom of the liner best I could. And that ended that problem,” he proclaimed proudly. (Ah, so it was Hank we have to thank for that eyesore…)

Much like how it went up, the pool came down the same way—all in one day, while I was at work. My brother-in-law was just hauling away the final pieces as my car pulled into the driveway. The yard seemed so much larger with that blemish gone and I felt like Chris and I had taken a big step towards reclaiming our yard.

That excitement was short-lived, though. Soon, a stark realization slapped me across the face. Removing the pool left a new blight: the sand pit that had once cradled it. Garbage bags were filled with debris. And for the first year, the yard waste barrel gobbled up a steady diet of weeds, plucked from our former pool every few weeks. Something would be done someday….

Repurposing the rocks from around the pool felt great!

A little over a year later, we’d had enough. The wheelbarrow was pulled from the shed and in the heat of the July sun the rocks that encircled where the pool used to be were not-so-lovingly shoveled out and moved to a newly created rock bed by the back door. Bushes that used to flank the pool were removed. And in our excitement over seeing those changes, we pat ourselves on the back and let the remaining mess slide. Again.

This spring marked the second anniversary of our poolectomy—if it’s not a word, it should be! It was in June that Chris came to me and said, “You know what I want for my birthday?” (True, his birthday wasn’t until late-July but if you knew my husband you’d know that his birthday isn’t a day…it’s a month-long extravaganza.) My blank expression clearly gave away that I had no guesses as to what he was thinking. “Dirt,” he replied.

The dump truck backed into the yard that mid-July morning through the gap left after Chris had removed two fence panels and the post where they met. And 20 yards of fresh topsoil was dumped onto what would be our lawn. “You’re gonna want to seed right away,” the delivery driver warned, “or else you’ll be over-run with weeds.” Slowly (and thankfully with lots of help from our family), the mound of dirt was spread out across the sandy crater and prepared for the seed and fertilizer the local Agway salesman helped me heft into the trunk of my Elantra.

The seeds and fertilizer were spread. The plot was raked for what felt like the hundredth time that day. And as we covered the newly seeded dirt patch with fresh straw, our other neighbor Dan popped his head over the fence to chat. We confessed that now that it was done, we weren’t sure why we had waited so long to finish this job. Dan shrugged and said, “I remember my first house. I was young and didn’t know anything about owning a house. But what I learned was that it’s a process. You can do things little by little because you’ve got years to make it yours.” His words meant more to me than he probably knew.

As the sun was nearly finished setting that night, Chris and I sank into the swing in the back yard to unwind. The only sounds we heard were the crickets beginning their song and the soft din of the sprinkler as it oscillated over our hard work. It was a perfect ending to a beautiful and productive day. I rested my head on Chris’ shoulder and breathed, “This is one of those moments that I want to remember forever.”

We anxiously checked on our would-be lawn frequently. And after only about a week, our first sprouts of grass—tiny, tenuous little strands of green—began pushing their way out of our earth. “We have grass!” we told our friends, like proud parents announcing the birth of their first born. A couple of weeks later, the straw was raked up. And on our dirt’s one month birthday Chris celebrated by mowing the lawn. The whole lawn.

Our kids approve of the new lawn, too.


Day 1 of Blogging August 18, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — sierrak83 @ 8:21 pm

I’ve thought about this day for a couple of weeks now: Day 1 of Blogging.

After letting the idea kick around in my head for a few days, I sat down to consider what it was I wanted to blog about. Unfortunately (more so for you, not me) I couldn’t decide on one clear theme. Instead, I envisioned it to be more like a diary. Where I write about whatever is on my mind at the time. And you read it. Or don’t. I mean, I hope someone gets some enjoyment out of this blog but honestly, it’s not about that. It’s about me writing again.

There have been so many times in the past several years that I said to myself, “This is it. I’m going to start journaling again.” And I would go out and buy a brand new notebook and in my very best handwriting, I would begin. Beginning was never a problem. But two or three entries later, that notebook invariably got buried under a pile of puzzle books and old Readers Digest issues (because clearly I’m an 80-year-old woman on the inside) in my nightstand cabinet. Forgotten. Abandoned.

This time is going to be different. Because it’s online. Available to readers. Which is something I never thought I’d do, by the way. When I first heard about the concept of blogging, I thought it was crazy. “Why would I want anyone to read what I’m thinking about,” I undoubtedly gasped to my teen-aged self. But I’m not that angsty I’d-just-DIE-if-anyone-knew-what-I-thought-about-[fill in the blank] girl anymore. I’m older. And I’d like to think wiser. But older, for sure. I’m more comfortable in my own skin. And, I’ll admit it, I need someone (you!) told hold me accountable to keep journaling.

After deciding about my blog’s format (non-existent), I needed to decide on a name. It was a no-brainer for me. Whatevs. It’s one of my go-to words that I typically only allow myself to utter (with a shrug, of course) when in the presence of my husband. It’s been my way of changing the topic of a conversation. And I figured it was a fitting blog title for a blog about whatevs.

I was on a roll. “Now,” I thought to myself, “all I need to do is wait until the right time comes.” It needed to be important. Because years from now when I look back at my first post, I would see it as my defining moment. When it all began. And I didn’t want to be embarrassed by a corny title or a rambling post. It needed to be about something timeless. Refined. Something I could be proud of. And then I realized that I had let my mind create an illustrious blogging career that could never come to be if I didn’t just suck it up and start it already! (I have a tendency to over-think and over-plan. To a fault. Can you tell?)

So there you have it. My first post. Maybe not anything to be proud about years from now, but hopefully not anything to hang my head about, either. And now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go get ready. Because despite my claim to be an 80-year-old on the inside, the hubby and I are meeting people for drinks tonight.