Pistachioland in New Mexico

One of the quirkiest things I found while doing research for our New Mexico trip was the discovery of Pistachioland, which is located in Alamogordo, New Mexico. I wasn’t sure this would be en route to any place we’d be going to, but we happened upon it while on a highway yesterday, and I knew we had to stop in for at least 20 minutes. Pistachioland is known for having the world’s largest pistachio statue; this may not be a particularly difficult feat, as I’m not sure anyone else in the world attempted to outdo this… It also is a piece of land that grows tons and tons of pistachios and sells pistachios in every possible flavor you can imagine, along with other pistachio products.

While there, we not only took our customary pistachio statue photos, but we also did some taste tests of the pistachios on offer. Of course, Chris chose the red chili pistachios to purchase. We were actually shocked that tastings were even possible since we’re technically still living in a pandemic. The shop was being pretty liberal, though, and they had signs saying that if we were fully vaccinated, we didn’t even need to wear our masks. In fact, a lot of shops around New Mexico had signs like this. We also got a Pistachioland magnet to add to our travel magnet board and tried out their pistachio almond ice cream. Unfortunately, it was how I imagined it: artificially colored bright green with very little actual pistachio flavor. Americans really do not show enough love for pistachios the way South Asia, the Middle East, and Italy do.

Pistachios are my favorite nut, so it was exciting to be able to say I’ve been here, though I wouldn’t go out of my way to visit.

Being conditioned to say “no”

“Why do you always say ‘no’ when someone asks you if you want something?” Ed used to ask me, always exasperated and annoyed. “They’ve brainwashed you into never wanting anything. But that’s not normal; everyone wants something from time to time, and it’s okay to want things!”

Occasionally, Ed and I would go shopping together. He very generously took me shopping to purchase my very first prom dress for my junior prom in high school. Ed was always very generous, especially in the years when he was working, and so he’d always offer to buy me things just for the sake of it. There didn’t need to be a birthday or Christmas coming up; he just thought it was good to indulge every now and then. “I don’t pay rent, so might as well use the money to buy you something,” he’d say.

It pains me to remember these moments. All Ed really wanted was love, attention, and our time. Unfortunately, he never got any of the above from our father. Our mother gave him the wrong kind of attention (critical, scrutinizing, eager to compare to “the kids upstairs” aka our cousins).

For whatever reason, I remembered these moments when Chris and I were strolling through the Santa Fe Farmers Market yesterday morning. The farmers market here is famous for being very strict about how all its products are sourced: all of the items or foods either need to be grown and/or made right here in New Mexico. In addition, if it’s a food product, it needs to be certified organic. I stopped by a lavender vendor and perused her lavender based soaps and skin products. Did I really need to buy more soap or lip balm? Not really. But in the moment, I thought, well, I haven’t traveled for so long, and we can always use more soap and lip balm, so why not? Plus, I like supporting small, local businesses. So I purchased a couple items from this vendor and went on my way.

Ed used to hound me all the time for being cheap for myself. And well, it’s not too far from the truth; if I purchase something that isn’t food-related for myself, even to this day, I obsess over whether I really actually need it, even if it’s just a $20 shirt. I will spend at least 4-5 days wondering if I will really wear it enough, get value out of it, etc. I’m just not comfortable splurging on things for myself and I never have been. He’s right, though; it’s likely because our parents 90 percent of the time always said “no” to everything when we were growing up. I even started saying “no” to events with friends before even asking for her permission because I’d be so sure that she’d say no.

The two times I knew she’d never approve of that Ed knew about, which he got really mad at me for: the first time was in middle school, and a good friend of mine was going to get tickets to a concert in San Jose that my all-time favorite singer Mariah Carey was going to be doing. The tickets were around $100, and she asked if I wanted to go; her dad would be taking her. When I heard how expensive the tickets were, I knew my mom would never agree to pay it, so I told her that my mom said no. Ed overheard this phone conversation and lashed out at me after.

“You didn’t even ask!” Ed said, raising his voice. “Who cares if it’s a hundred dollars? She (Mariah Carey) never comes to the Bay Area! You should just go!”

I just shrugged. I told him that there was no way our mom would agree to let me go. In fact, she and our dad would likely get angry and accuse me of being spoiled just for THINKING that they’d even consider letting me to go to an event that cost that much, an event they’d likely deem as “unnecessary.” Everything to them was seemingly unnecessary.

The second time was during my senior year of high school. I had already accepted college admission at Wellesley, and I really had nothing to do the summer after. Two of my friends were planning a Hong Kong and Japan trip that their parents were gifting them as a graduation present that one of my friend’s moms would be going along on, and they asked me if I wanted to go. I knew my mom would say no, so I told them I couldn’t go with them.

I later told Ed this, and he had a similar reaction. “You always do this to yourself!” he said, shaking his head. “You prevent yourself from having fun and enjoying yourself. Just because they don’t want to enjoy life doesn’t mean you can’t.”

I already felt guilt for how much my college education was going to cost; going to Wellesley was going to cost my parents over double what going to UC Berkeley would have cost. My parents never gave me a high school graduation gift; to them, my college tuition was gift enough. My mom was already laying the guilt on heavily on me for deciding to attend a private college on the East Coast, three thousand miles away. My parents were not shy or quiet in the slightest about reminding me every step of they way how much my education was costing them, from the moment they wrote the first check for the deposit to hold my spot there. During one of our many arguments, my mom shrieked at the top of her lungs, “WE HAVE TO EAT LEFTOVERS EVERY NIGHT BECAUSE OF YOU!”

That’s very likely an exaggeration, as my parents were hardly scraping by to send me to college, but it did not feel good to have her say crap like that all the time to me; that was not an isolated incident. I don’t even want to know what my life would have been like every day if our parents decided to send both of us to K-12 private school. I’d likely never hear the end of it.

So I guess every time I buy something that may be perceived as “unnecessary” now, I feel like it’s a small form of rebellion against my parents. They perceive most of my life choices since college as “unnecessary”: all the trips to Australia to see Chris’s family (she actually did say it was unnecessary, if you can believe that), all the travel we’ve done outside of work and San Francisco (going to SF to see them, however, is always necessary), both domestically and internationally; all the apartment living in Manhattan, even my hair highlights.

Small acts of rebellion. I hardly appear like the rebellious type, but it’s easy to “rebel” against rules when the rules are so stupid and insipid.

Constant triggers of a negative past

We left Albuquerque yesterday to drive up to Santa Fe, where we’ll be staying until Sunday and traveling in the surrounds. When we checked into our hotel, which is basically like a lot of little apartments surrounding a pool and common seating area, I thought about all the hotels and motels I’ve stayed at over the course of my life, and how in the last 10 years, I’ve been really lucky to stay at some very beautiful, well-appointed hotel rooms and suites. Somehow, this triggered the thought of all the crappy motels I stayed at during short travels around California with my parents. For my parents, they didn’t understand why anyone would want to pay more than $30-50/night for a hotel room; “it’s just there for you to sleep,” my mom would insist. So each stay, they’d search for the cheapest possible motel, most with peeling plaster or paint, stains on the carpet and walls, and one even had a massive hole in the wall (that hotel was $30/night; my mom apparently drew the line there, and after seeing this, she demanded a refund and we left). Ed refused to go on “family trips” once he was a teenager; for him, being away from our parents was vacation enough. The first trip I vividly remember taking when he refused to go, I was 8 years old, which meant he was about 15, and early that morning when we were packing up the car to leave, Ed started crying, insisting he didn’t want to go. I was too young and unaware to understand his strong feelings of hate and rejection. My grandma sided with him, telling my parents that they shouldn’t force him. So we let him stay behind.

This evening, when I was showering, I also washed my hair, and well, when you wash your hair, you shed hair that needs to get cleaned up. So after my shower, I cleaned up all the hair from the drain and disposed of it in the trash. And yet again, this was yet another triggering moment, making me remember the time when I was in college back home at some point, and I accidentally left hair in the bathtub drain. I had always been pretty thorough with cleaning; I was basically trained to be that way because anything less than perfect (splashed water on the kitchen counter, stains on the stove, dust on the shelves, sponges left unsqueezed of excess water) would be constantly nitpicked by our mother.

I was always good about cleaning my hair out of the drain, except for this one, single time. And I distinctly remember my dad getting so angry and worked up about it (because all the little things are made into big deals in that house). He barged into my bedroom by violently opening up the door (you’d know a violent door opening when you heard it), and yelled, “You know, you need to remember to clean the drain when you wash your hair! You don’t need to be told! USE YOUR BRAIN!” And then without wanting or expecting a response, he left and slammed the door.

Leaving hair in the drain once is really not a big deal, but as he and my mom always did, he made it into one. Everything was explosive and angry in that house, and unnecessarily so. His reaction was such an over-reaction, but sadly, it was not unexpected from them. A reasonable father or human being would have just walked over to me and said, “Hey, can you remember to clean the drain after washing your hair next time?” and maybe even acknowledged that I NORMALLY ALWAYS DID THAT ANYWAY, AND THIS ONE TIME THAT I FORGOT WAS NOT A FUCKING BIG DEAL AND WAS AN ANOMALY.

And if you thought that was it, well, that unfortunately was not the end. Later that day, I may have accidentally slammed a kitchen cabinet. And my mom came out of nowhere and said angrily with her face all scrunched up, “I know why you’re making all this noise. You don’t like it when your father disciplines you. Well, all children need to be disciplined and told when they are wrong. Kids need to listen to their parents, and those who go against their parents will be punished BY GOD!” With each word, her volume rose. And with each word, I counted down the days until I could be free of their financial support, graduated from college, and far away from their constant unfair treatment and tyranny of me.

According to the Bible, children must honor their parents. But what the Bible (and I’m sure every other religious text out there) never outlines is that parents are NOT always right, and when they choose to be physically, verbally, or psychologically abusive towards their children, that is not okay with whatever higher power you believe in. Parents are not gods, whether they want to believe that or not. I frequently have yelled back at my mom and told her that she believes she is God, but not because she thinks she is always right. Her response is the usual, “God hears everything you say, and you will be punished for being disobedient.” Rather, I say that to her because she literally criticizes and judges every single person as though she has zero flaws herself. She most recently criticized someone who is supposed to be her “best friend” because her daughter is recently going through a divorce (my mom thinks divorce is unacceptable) and her son just had a baby out of wedlock. I wanted to remind her that maybe, just maybe she shouldn’t criticize her friend, because at least both of her friend’s children she gave birth to… ARE STILL ALIVE. Some of her criticisms or judgments are based on “facts” that she has actually made up, which only makes her seem even more delusional and mentally demented.

This past week, for whatever reason, has been extremely triggering for me. Everything seems to remind me of something stupid my parents have done. Oh, and I just looked in the mirror and realized that what I thought was just a “bloated” look is actually my stomach starting to “show.” I hope all these triggers can go away so I can just move forward and stop remembering the stupidity of my family’s past.

American portion sizes – when your breakfast burrito is 2.5x the size you anticipated

Our first stop in Albuquerque after landing and dropping off our bags at our hotel was to Sadie’s, a well known New Mexican restaurant that is a bit of an institution. They are known for having classic New Mexican fare, delicious margaritas and other mixed cocktails, as well as massive portion sizes. Chris ordered a beef and queso quesadilla like dish, and I ordered a breakfast burrito since all I could think about food-wise when thinking of New Mexico was breakfast burritos; we also got a side order of the famous green chile stew. It’s debated that either the city of Santa Fe or Albuquerque first invented the concept of a breakfast burrito. Regardless of which city can claim it first, I love breakfast burritos, tacos, and anything resembling them. How could you possibly reject eggs, fried potatoes, salsa, avocado, your choice of bacon, sausage, or Mexican-style meat, all wrapped up neatly in a flour tortilla?

While I knew to anticipate larger portions here, it didn’t really hit me until our server brought our plates over, which came complete with huge side portions of beans and vegetables. My breakfast burrito was likely 2.5 to 3 times the size I had envisioned in my head; there was absolutely NO WAY I was going to finish this all on my own. I made it through half of it while also eating some of Chris’s dish, and we ended up wrapping up a decent portion of food to go. Good thing our hotel room had a refrigerator and microwave for us to store food and eat it later. This would all make a very tasty breakfast the next day.

American portion sizes are always huge when you compare them to food portion sizes across the world, but when you’re in the South or Southwest part of the U.S., they always take portion sizes to the next level!

On a plane again since February 2020

This morning, we woke up bright and early to catch a 6am flight to Albuquerque, New Mexico, via Chicago. I was curious how the experience would be both at the airport and while on the plane, and for the most part, it actually seemed pretty good. There were signs requiring mask-wearing throughout the airport, along with huge vats of hand sanitizer. Upon boarding the plane, we were handed packets of hand sanitizer wipes. And anytime someone was not eating or drinking and had their mask down, a flight attendant was quick to remind the passenger that it was a federal aviation requirement that they needed to have their mask covering both their nostrils and mouth at all times when not eating or drinking. I’d say overall, it was well done.

While the in-flight experience was good, I would say that the pandemic period created a bit of memory loss when it comes to quality customer service for the gate agents. I was on the upgrade list to get to ABQ, and when I walked up to the desk, I asked about the wait list for the first-class upgrades. The agent was really curt and rude, saying that first had already checked in full. I told her I was on the upgrade list, and she said I wasn’t on the list. WHAT!!! She didn’t even know my identity before claiming that I wasn’t on the list! Eventually, I did get upgraded, and I did not thank her when she handed me my new boarding pass. Her crappy service did not deserve thanks.

I felt like I was having a futile and insipid argument with a United flight attendant, except this time, I was having a difficult time with an American Airlines gate agent who failed to recognize my Executive Platinum status and likely drew quick judgments about me merely because of what I looked like. I find it very unlikely that she would have treated me that way if I were a middle-aged or white-haired White man.

Motherhood anxiety

Today marks 11 weeks of pregnancy. I honestly cannot believe I’ve made it this far; I feel like I’ve been saying that with each passing day and week. It’s been an emotional, bumpy, and anxiety-filled road to get here, but somehow, I made it. I can only hope and pray that things will continue to progress.

It’s been known that as gestational age increases (so as your pregnancy progresses), the chances of miscarriage slowly but surely decrease to minuscule numbers. While that is comforting to know, the frustrating thing is that the worry of miscarriage is just replaced by worries of other matters: what kind of mom am I going to be? How can I be supportive without being stifling? How do I create a safe space for my child to share with me? How am I going to juggle work and parenthood? How are my partner and I going to be as parents and partners together, as we’re inevitably going to have different perspectives and opinions on how to approach situations that arise? Am I going to repeat all the same stupid things that I hated that my own parents did with me?

I was talking with my therapist about this during our session this morning, how I feared being exactly what I hated about my parents, and specifically my mother. I think it’s pretty impossible for me to be like my father; he’s emotionally removed, childish, and never really took an active parenting role with my brother and me other than to yell at and criticize us; there’s really no way I could be that way because I’m inherently not built that way. My default is to be loving and affectionate, so my deeper fear is that I’m going to suffocate and stifle the growth and independence of my child the way my mother tried to…. likely without even being aware of it. I’m an adult now and thus have had a lot of time to contemplate my parents’ style of parenting, and while I’m very aware that they probably did the best they knew how and certainly gave my brother and me more than they ever dreamed of having…. it just was not enough.

“Do you feel like you grew up in a safe, supportive environment?” my therapist asked me today.

“That depends on how you define a ‘safe, supportive environment,'” I responded slowly, looking back hard at her.

“Well, that’s an interesting response and says a lot; tell me how you define that,” she suggested.

From the outside, I’m sure it looks like my brother and I had enough. We never worried about having a roof over our heads; we always lived in the same house growing up, in a house our family owned. We always had enough food to eat and beds to sleep in. Our parents always bought us clothes and school supplies when we needed them. Both our parents were married to each other and were there every night; we never worried if our parents were going to come home or not. But that’s really it: we had, what I consider to be, basic necessities of being children growing up in a developed world. If we had to grade that, I’d give that a C: passing. That’s just the basics that are expected for decent parenting. And unfortunately, many parents are not able to provide the basics outlined above to their kids, which puts their kids in danger of many things as they grow up in this cruel, unfair world. So.. a C grade is really where it begins.

But we grew up being brainwashed into thinking we were poor; my parents always said “no” to pretty much everything; we never had any piano or dance lessons, no sports activities, not even Chinese classes. The response was always “we can’t afford that.” Ed never got to go to a single birthday party growing up; we certainly never got real birthday parties where we could invite friends. Ed, as a result, never really made friends throughout school and was extremely lonely. I was never allowed to go to anyone’s home or sleep over anywhere; if I went out with a friend, my mom had to have a 1:1 conversation with the parent to suss out whether they were “good people” that wouldn’t rape and kill their daughter. In other words, our parents tried to instill a deep distrust of the outside world to us and make us feel like we had to be grateful to even have the most basic necessities. “Even dogs know to show appreciation and gratitude,” my mom used to retort to Ed and me when she felt we were acting “spoiled,” which according to my dad, was really often.

When we did things that didn’t please our mother, she would often sit us down for long, useless talks about how we have to be grateful to have what we have and have parents who work as hard as they do because her mother didn’t do “a damn thing for me.” “You should be grateful I am sitting down to have this talk with you; my mother never would sit down to talk to me about anything,” she’d say, bitterly. She was supposed to be the disciplinarian while all my dad did was provide financial support and constant criticism in the background.

Ed’s relationship with our dad was pretty terrible; there’s no sugar coating that. From a young age, Ed felt rejected by our dad. He would always want and seek his attention to constantly be rejected by my dad, too eager to spend time doing repairs at the apartments or talking to himself senselessly as though he had some mental issue. During fights, my mom used to accuse my dad of wanting to spend time at the rental properties more than with his own family; that was likely very true. Occasionally, he’d even shoo us away and say, “can’t you see I’m talking to myself?” We had no idea what was going on. Ed eventually gave up trying to get our father’s attention and started outright ignoring him at a pretty young age; I think he was only 13 or 14. A supportive dad would have recognized his son was retreating and addressed it, but my dad was too immature and instead responded by doing the exact same thing and ignoring HIS SON, not even referring to him by name and instead pointing at him or saying “that guy.” He never acknowledged his birthday from that point onward until after Ed died. When he did interact with Ed, it was to criticize him or yell at him about something.

In addition, home was never a safe space for sharing pretty much anything. In fact, it felt like a constant surveillance zone where any of my belongings could be searched without warning; I literally had no personal space at home, and neither did Ed. Even my computer files were searched! No matter what, Ed and I were always wrong, and they were always right. When Ed was getting hit by his elementary school teacher (clearly a violation…), he didn’t feel safe enough to tell my parents because my mom would yell at him and say “Teacher is always right! you listen to your teacher!” After Ed died, my mom found an essay my brother wrote during college detailing this. “If I knew this had happened, I never would have let him stay in that class,” my mom mumbled. Well, maybe if she had actually created a an emotionally safe space for him to share, maybe, just maybe her son would have told her this.

My dad, who never did well in school at all, used to criticize anything that wasn’t an A, and would be especially harsh about standardized tests, which I always did just-okay at. In elementary school, I was particularly terrible at them; I still remember in fifth grade, I scored in the 59th percentile for math (I was slow; what can I say? It wasn’t that I didn’t know how to do it; I didn’t do well with limited time, which is clearly a learned skill). When my dad saw the test results, he called me an idiot and asked how I could I be so stupid. I got so upset that I actually cried; remember: I was TEN YEARS OLD when he said this. That wasn’t even the first time he had insulted or name-called me; my first memories of my dad name calling me were as early as 5 years old. Usually, my mom didn’t care if my dad criticized us, but this time, she actually pulled him aside to tell him he screwed up. I was actually shocked. He never quite apologized, but he did say to me later, “I didn’t mean to call you stupid.” And then to make it worse, he suggested I not be so sensitive. Sure, you didn’t mean it. Who sounds like the idiot now?

My mom, instead of talking with me about how classes were going, would not talk to me about school at all. Instead, she would go through my binder, which included homework and test results, and then yell at me whenever she saw anything that was less than an A or a B (B- is basically a C, according to my dad). She also used to go through letters and notes friends would send and give me and question every little thing that people wrote me, exploding if there was ever a mention of her or my dad in there. Once, she even had me call a friend to grill her to ask what she meant by something my friend made a broad-stroked comment on my parents about. I used to tell her that those were private and weren’t meant for her to see; she’d yell and say that she raised me and supports me, and therefore she has a right to do whatever she wants as long as I was under her roof.

When I did have hobbies, like middle and high school journalism or choir, my parents took no interest. My mom would always say she’d be too tired from work to come to the choir concerts. My dad went to one choir concert and fell asleep. When my aunt took an interest in my writing for the newspapers, she followed up with me after the first publication and read my work. She raved to my parents about how gifted I was. This was when I was 13 and in eighth grade. That resulted in an all-out screaming session: my mom was so insulted and said she had “no face” that I didn’t tell her and my dad but told my aunt. I insisted I did tell them both, but they didn’t listen and never asked to read my work. She yelled back and said they were “very busy” and “didn’t have time” to ask me; it was MY responsibility to share the newspapers with them, and by not sharing it when them but sharing with my aunt, I was being a bad daughter and making THEM look like bad parents. She demanded I write an apology letter to the two of them; I refused and never did it. I was young then, but I knew I was absolutely in the right no matter how demented their thinking was. It’s a parent’s job to show interest in their child; it’s not my job as a child to constantly remind my parents to take an interest in ME and MY interests. I was relatively young when I started realizing how wrong my parents were, but this is one of those moments that always sticks out to me.

Given the above, if Ed and I had ever been involved in sports or any regular activity, we all know our parents would have not only NOT supported it, but they would have made zero effort to ever come to games/shows/etc. If it wasn’t directly school related, they wouldn’t support it. They didn’t understand that getting into Stanford wasn’t just about good grades and test scores… but then again, how could they since neither of them had ever really had the opportunity for school (mom), or cared about school (dad)? Whenever I had friends’ events, I always had to ask to catch a ride from another parent because “Your dad works so hard. He works harder than every other father (!!!). How can you expect him to drive you here and there for all these unnecessary things?” Everything, pretty much, was deemed “unnecessary.”

So, it should come as no surprise that I looked forward to getting the hell out of that house as quickly as I could, and not only that, once I left, I had zero intention of ever moving back. It wasn’t that I had no intention of ever coming back to San Francisco; I had zero desire to ever move back into that house, which my subconscious perceived as a mortuary or cemetery (my dreams reflected this): nothing thrives or grows there. The garden my grandma once nurtured that once upon a time, was actually something you’d call a “garden,” sadly evolved into a sea of weeds. The kitchen is peeling with fixtures that are still there from when my grandpa was still around in the 70s. The floors are creaky and there’s a mysterious draft that flows through the second floor of the building. It’s just bad vibes and negative energy all around.

Things only got worse as I got older and started having boyfriends.. and exercising my freedom. The more I showed that I could do what I wanted and she had no control over any of it, the more my mother acted out and screamed, futilely attempting to exert her nonexistent control over me. I repeatedly got told I was a prostitute, a slut, had “no face,” that no one in the family respected me for having a boyfriend. I was repeatedly screamed at in public because of my supposedly promiscuous ways. In retrospect, my parents really had no fucking clue how good they had it with Ed and me; we barely did anything was really “bad” from a teen perspective. My mom also loved to repeatedly make up stories about all my boyfriends and their families… because apparently she knew more about them all than I ever did. She still makes up stories about Chris and his family to this day, likely out of jealousy and just pure hatred for anyone else that’s not “in our immediate family.”

I thought about all this as I watched parts of our wedding video over again last night. Not only does it amaze me that Chris just smiles and nods in my parents’ presence to this day, but it also amazes me that I said such nice, loving things about both my parents at our welcome dinner and our wedding reception. I apparently wanted, very much, to paint a picture of love and mutual respect between my parents and me that didn’t really exist. While I did mean that my life’s privileges are very much due to my parents giving me a better life than they had, I turned into the person I am today very much in spite of them and their constant hate-filled, baseless criticisms and threats.

As a hopeful mom, I hope to never recreate these senseless, stupid moments with my child. I want to create a safe, supportive, emotionally open space with my child. But I also don’t want to let my child run around rule-less. For whatever reason, all these memories have been flooding back into my mind over the last week, and they’ve been pretty anger inducing.

“Just the fact that you are thinking about this and are conscious of it means that you won’t do the same things,” my therapist said to me. “Awareness is key here.”

I hope so.

Georgia O’Keefe Museum is a no go

Other than breakfast burritos, enchiladas, green chilies, Los Alamos/the Manhattan Project, and Pueblo art and culture, the first thing I think about when I think about New Mexico is the Georgia O’Keefe Museum in Santa Fe. I studied 1.5 years of art history, and Georgia O’Keefe is one of the very few modern American artists that I actually liked. She was most famous for her New Mexican landscape and macro flower paintings. She is also, very likely, one of the most respected (and well paid) female artists of all time. And her macro flower paintings… well, they were very very zoomed in, as in, they actually look like vaginas. I love flowers. I also love and appreciate the natural beauty of vaginas. So, it was no surprise that I would like Georgia O’Keefe’s work.

Well, unfortunately because of the COVID-19 pandemic, all museum tickets must be purchased in advance, and when I checked two weeks ago for tickets, they were all sold out until the middle of June. So much for trying to support one of the most famous female artists of all time.

I can’t believe I’m going to New Mexico without seeing the Georgia O’Keefe Museum….

Getting on a plane after 15 months

For the last four or five years, I was on planes at least every other month, if not every month. It was rare to go a quarter of the year without getting on a plane at all. Plane travel was just normal, whether it was for work, pleasure, or a combination of both. And I always looked forward to flying and the experience of being in an airport. Most people dread plane travel and airport time; but I always loved it. Flying always felt like it was giving me purpose. I’m GOING somewhere, I thought.

Well, the pandemic obliterated all my travel plans last year. My last time on a plane was in February 2020 for my then company’s annual kickoff in San Francisco, plus extra time with family and friends. The kickoff was fine; the friend time was enjoyable; the family time was pretty horrendous and frustrating all around. That’s how I remember my last trip I took that required plane travel.

So now, 15 months later, we’re booked to take a five-day weekend to New Mexico, beginning this Thursday, and I cannot believe I’m actually getting on a plane again! It will be interesting (or frustrating) to see how airports and plane staff are handling the pandemic precautions and cleaning, and a very new feeling to even be traveling for any reason to another state. New Mexico will be my 45th state; Chris has already been, but we’ll be seeing other parts he didn’t have a chance to his first time. I’m looking forward to the warm weather, the arts and culture, the outdoors, and the breakfast burritos and green chilies. Bart will also be excited that he can travel again, too; he’s been pretty bored collecting the occasional bits of dust on my dresser in the last 15 months.

When you’re cutting your nails every week

There are a lot of “body maintenance” or “grooming” activities I absolutely hate doing: I dislike shaving. I hate the act of washing my hair. I really, really hate flossing (though I do it every single night because I know I have bad genes when it comes to dental health). Clipping nails is also extremely tedious; I’m especially terrible at filing my nails. Even after I think I’ve filed them very carefully, I always manage to get a nail snagged on some towel or piece of clothing within an hour or so after.

So when I started realizing that my nails were growing at a much faster rate in the last few weeks, I felt a bit torn. On the one hand, I recognize this is a really common (and for most women, pleasant) pregnancy side effect: the increase in hormones in your body results in faster hair and nail growth, and these are all positive signs for pregnancy. However, on the other hand, I felt annoyed: this means I will have to cut my nails more often, which I hate doing! The last time I cut my nails was literally a week and a half ago, and this past weekend, they were so long and annoying, especially while cooking. I got all kinds of gross food bits stuck under my nails, which looks really unattractive and dirty. Immediately, I knew I needed to cut them yet again. I usually never have to cut them this often, so I knew for a fact that the quick growth was due to pregnancy.

Vivid dreams during early pregnancy

Surges in progesterone and estrogen, as well as the obvious HCG/pregnancy hormone, are to blame for pretty much every pregnancy symptom that exists, from moodiness, sore breasts, nausea, fatigue, dizziness, food aversions, etc. But what I wasn’t quite expecting while reading about pregnancy symptoms is that women also tend to experience more vivid dreams and nightmares as a result of being pregnant, particularly in the first and third trimesters. And this, in somehow and some way, can also be attributed to the surges in progesterone due to pregnancy.

Many women who had never really remembered their dreams prior to becoming pregnant report greater dream recall during pregnancy. They also say that there is an increase in nightmares that feel very, very real. Granted, I’ve always been a vivid dreamer who thinks her dreams are real as she’s experiencing them, but in the last few months, my dream recall has been relatively poor.

The dream I had last night was very much out of the normal range for me. I had a dream I was at the border of two countries… who the heck knows what countries. And we had an endless number of huge crates filled with tropical citrus. I was charged with illegally getting these citrus from one country to the next by smuggling them in and hiding them underneath some other legally recognized cargo. I was working with two other people, and we were mapping out the route we were going to take on the road, the excuses we’d make at the border check-point, what we’d show the border patrol agents, and approximately how much time this would take. It felt like a very high stress, high stakes endeavor, and the pressure was on.

Maybe in some ways, this does make sense for me to dream about from a pregnancy perspective because I have been experiencing cravings for grapefruit that I’ve never really gotten before. While I’ve always enjoyed grapefruit, it’s tasted even more delicious to me in the last couple weeks than ever before. I wonder what I will dream up next.