Status

No longer wearing my wedding rings…

rings

… for now.

Precious Readers, for the first time in almost a decade, I’m wandering the streets with no wedding ring anymore. Here’s why:

For those who haven’t met me in person, I’m a large, fat gal. Not being self-deprecating. It’s the truth. This topic has come up a few times over the last few weeks with my hyper-health-conscious co-workers. I figure, since I already share so much of my life with you already, that I should also address this issue:

Since childhood, I’ve struggled with having a healthy weight. Yes, another American cliché of being obsessed with my size, while also not taking care of myself and being clinically diagnosed as obese.

Now, before I get started, I’d like to disclaimer this post that sharing my childhood with you is not making excuses as to why I was unhealthy. It is merely stating what has already happened in the past and possible issues that may have influenced my life choices about my health.

As I’ve shared in the past, both of my parents grew up incredibly poor in Oregon on farms. This often led to limited budget and food sources. My parents, having grown up with this experience did not want their children to ever be without anything. They also were slightly above average age at the time of my adoption. My Mom was 38 and my Dad was 39. They also both worked full-time, I was put in daycare if I wasn’t in school, and they would come home exhausted after working a full day to take care of the normal household needs. My mom making dinner, my dad taking care of the lawn, etc. Without siblings, and with severe upper respiratory allergies, I was either playing gentle games in the car port or reading. I wasn’t as active a child as most of my time was spent trying not to sneeze, cough, get sinus and/or ear infections during the year while trying to get the right allergy prescription that helped my body allow me to, you know, be an actual normal kid. This meant that while fitness wasn’t ignored, it wasn’t a high priority in our home. They were mostly focused on keeping me breathing normally and from getting constantly sick.

As much as I loved my grandmother, she often focused on the weight of me and my cousins. She would pinch our wrists and our sides. Now, keep in mind, a full-grown woman who weighs 115 lbs will still have skin gather if it is pinched. My grandmother would do this to my cousins and me and skin would gather, and she would say we were getting fat. The earliest I remember her doing this to us, I was 5 years old.

You heard me. 5 years old.

For the rest of our lives, my cousin Car Guy*, Star*, and I would battle a lifelong issue of individually varying levels of body dysmorphia. Car Guy and Star participated in sports, but Star would fluctuate in weight (while still always thin) and it took all of us many years to move past it and just live our lives. I look back on childhood pictures, and while I had a rounder face than my family, I was definitely not a fat kid. Neither were they.

But, we thought we were, and that’s what we were told, every time we visited her.

In third grade, there was a classmate, I don’t remember his name, but would greet me every day as I entered the classroom with, “Get out of here, you fat cow. Everyone hates you, you stupid, fat cow.” Standing there, in the doorway as I’ve entered the classroom. My coat and backpack still on. Every single school day of my entire third grade year. This didn’t help my self-image at all. I was also being bullied emotionally and physically by several other students, so needless to say, elementary school sucked. It was literally a couple of decades later, and after being married to a special education teacher named Pilot-hindsight is 20/20 after all-that I remembered all of the work the teacher was forced to do with that student, how much he hurt others’ feelings. He had behavioral issues and only lasted 1 year at that school. Again, it took a couple of decades to realize it wasn’t me or my body he had an issue with, he was constantly calling everyone in the classroom something horrible. However, when you’re 7 years old, you don’t always understand these things happening around you. The horrible thing he happened to tie with my identity just happened to be weight-related. He didn’t realize how much more those comments affected me over something else he could’ve said.

As a teenager, I did gain weight, and my mom was so obsessed with clothes shopping–again, never wanting me to “be without” and it was out of love–that as I got bigger, it wasn’t a big deal. I’d just get the next size up and have more clothes. I never participated in school athletics, though I wanted to do volleyball and track. My parents were concerned that my grades would slip, so when I asked, I was told “no”. While I wasn’t a poor student, but I wasn’t great. I am a strictly B-average gal. I managed to score straight-A’s my last semester of high school and the first quarter of college, but those were the only times in my life that occurred. I was that stereotypical quiet, reading, anti-social, book nerd, but I wasn’t as smart as my friends. To be fair, I went to highly strict, private, high academic performance-based, college-bound schools, so my idea of “not as smart as my friends” might still be relatively skewed compared to an average Washington State school.

I digress.

As you can see, a compounded lifestyle pattern emerges. I’m already thinking I’m fat (even though in childhood, I wasn’t), thinking my body type will never change, my life had no physical activity, and athletics was not prioritized in my home. It was normal that I was “the fat kid” and I had accepted that I always would be. That was my role. I hated it, but I had accepted it.

Breakfast was never important to me. By high school, I drank coffee in the morning, no food until lunch. I got used to not eating in the mornings. Personally, I only started eating breakfast routinely in the morning about 1 year ago, and I’m now in my mid-30’s. My point was, I had already gotten into the habit of skipping meals.

When I got to college, as I’ve mentioned before, there was someone I loved and cared deeply about. We had been (what I thought of as) best friends since middle school, through high school, and both got into Central Washington University together and lived in the same freshman dorm. His mom had gotten sick during our junior/senior years of high school and went through a horrible ordeal. When we got to freshman year of college, he was away from home for the first time and was also grieving and processing everything that had happened to his mom and his family the last two years. He went from being the person I’d known and loved into a hard-partying guy. He quickly stopped talking to me and cut me out of his life, and I was completely heartbroken, confused, hurt, and depressed. When he tried to talk to me later, it was too much and I cut him out of my own life. It was too painful to relive all of those memories.

Now, by the time I reached my first year of college, I was obese. Weighing in around 178 lbs (yes, a real adult woman has shared her actual weight with you), I was unhealthy, large, and still not active. Navigating being away from home for the first time myself, not having developed great social skills, and now in a deep depression, I eventually stopped sleeping.

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I also stopped eating… almost completely.

My days’ worth of food consumed ended up going from 2 meals a day reduced to ultimately: 1 water bottle and 2 soda crackers a day. That’s it. Well, for those who purposely starve themselves, you already know that you drop water weight, and your body starts pulling from the fat as energy. Because you’re literally starving yourself.

I dropped 30 lbs in 3 months.

I went from a size Extra Large down to a tight-fitting Medium. I hadn’t been Medium-sized since I was 11 years old. To be fair, now being at college, I was walking/bicycling everywhere instead of driving. (Ellensburg is a small town.) But, I was still not eating anything.

Now, here’s the kicker: With everyone who knew me growing up and in college, the response I got was incredibly positive. When I visited home, I was constantly greeted by my friends and family with:

“Oh my gosh! You look amazing! Whatever you’re doing, keep it up!”

“You’ve lost so much weight, you’re looking great!

My friend, Glamazon* greeted me with, “Holy cow! You shrank!”

Always followed up with the next question:

“How did you do it?”

I answered as any young woman who is being told that her body looks “the best it’s ever been” while dealing with severe depression and an eating disorder would.

I lied.

I told everyone it was because I was “eating better” and exercising. The truth was, I wasn’t consuming any food, barely staying hydrated, sleeping less than 3 hours per night, and in a clinically depressed state. I forced myself into focusing on my academics and no socializing (hence the straight-A’s my first quarter, but I wasn’t living a good life).

How did I stop? While I would love to credit my darling husband, Pilot, as while I was mourning an officially non-romantic, long-term relationship, I was getting to know Pilot who also lived in the same dorm. He, and the help with the few new friends I had made, helped me remember that I was still a human being trying to be a good and nice person every day. That my self-worth wasn’t tied to my body and appearance, but my personality. Some people have body dysmorphia to the point where they need additional help, and that’s good.

A separate note: Do whatever you need to do to remind yourself that you are valued, you are loved, and the only person whose opinion matters about your health is your own. Screw everyone else. Mental illness should not be stigmatized, it is always good and important to ask for help if you need it. You are not alone.

After being rejected by someone I had loved for several years, I was reminded that I was still a funny, smart, generous, and movie-loving person. After a couple more months, I started eating again. I ended up hurting myself because I took advantage of that knowledge. By now, I was in a steady relationship with Pilot, had made peace with my life without the boy/man from my past, and was focusing on graduating from Central’s Communications program.

I took that knowledge for what it was, that it didn’t matter what size I was, because Pilot will always love me for me. And he will, and he does. That didn’t change the fact that I was ignoring a responsibility to myself to be healthy. I would never encourage someone to stop eating as a method to lose weight, in 100% transparency, I went back to old eating habits. While I often cooked my own food for dinner, and tried to eat healthy for lunch, I was still not exercising, and eating portions far larger than necessary for any human being. My sophomore and junior year of college, I gained all of the weight back… and more. I skyrocketed to 193 lbs.

Pilot was always an active kid. His brother and sister participated in sports. While Pilot never did sports, he was in marching band every single year, playing the drums. Miles of walking while also getting an arm exercise in, and he was active at home. When I realized my weight was out of control again, we started working out together.

I worked out 2 hours per day, every day, and never saw a single pound melt off. I couldn’t figure it out. After 2 years of working out consistently, nothing happened. I didn’t gain weight, but I wasn’t losing it either. When I graduated, I gave up on working out. Continued eating majorly over-portioned food 2 meals a day. After several years of me being large and Pilot and I still being in love with each other, even long distance, I realized he truly loved me as a person. Not as a “trophy wife” not as “a good looking woman” who happened to like him, though he finds me gorgeous and I do too, but loved me for who I was. Scars, bad temper, and all.

Ladies, I will always be the first person to tell you that your value is not in your appearance.

Again, Ladies: your value is not in your appearance.

As much as society would like to convince you otherwise, it is not. If you like to wear makeup, do your hair, dress stylishly every day — as long as you’re doing it for yourself and no one else — DO IT. Don’t let society, men, other women, or anyone else dictate to how you wish to be appearance-wise.

That being said, there needs to be a balance between being healthy and having confidence in one’s self versus your body image being what defines you as a human being. Health is 100% important. Without it, your shorten and/or ruin the quality of your own life. I have a massive stubborn streak. I got so caught up in the newfound confidence, I once again ignored my own health. I ate whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted, and stopped exercising.

I ballooned.

A few blog posts ago, I talked about the death of my Dad, my Mom’s severe orthopaedic injury, and the next bout of severe depression I suffered. While I deal with my depression and anxiety every day, this was an especially difficult time in my life. I was also working at desk jobs with a staff that didn’t care about me. At my heaviest, I unashamed, but badly peaked at 285 lbs, and hit my limit when I was encroaching a size 20 in women’s clothing. This was about 4.5-5 years ago.

Our parents are aging. As of this year, every single parent on both Pilot and my side of the family, extended elder relatives, etc. will all be 70 years old or older. Many of them are not in great physical shape and weren’t for most of their adult lives. Pilot and I don’t want fat and inactivity to be a factor of poor health for the majority of our adult lives. We want to know we’ve done everything we can to keep ourselves healthy and in decent physical shape so we have as many years together as possible for ourselves and each other.

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I convinced myself that this time… THIS TIME, I’d do it right. I didn’t join a “diet,” I didn’t do a “miracle pill,” I didn’t agree to this new thing called “red light therapy.” (What the hell is that? I’m sorry, it sounds like a massive scam.) Starting 4.5-5 years ago, I started to exercise again, but didn’t kick myself if I neglected to do it every day. Guilt is a horrible spiral that backfires in your fight to be healthy. I don’t go more than 2 days without some form of major physical activity. I eat the best natural/nutritious food that I can afford or prepare for every meal, even if it’s store bought microwave meals, but I’m not “dieting.” If I eat badly, I don’t eat badly for more than 2 days in a row, and then balance it out with the remainder of the week with healthy-portioned healthy food, sometimes only veggie-based foods. (I’m still an omnivore.)

I don’t like the term “diet.” Diet implies “temporary.” A temporary solution for a life-long result. Does that make sense to you? Not to me. I was looking for lifetime change. A lifestyle change.

It started out with small changes like parking further away from entrances and walking across the parking lot more. I got dogs, which require me to walk them 3-4 times a day for at least 10-15 minutes each time. I drank waaay more water, stopped purchasing soda except for social occasions, limited alcohol intake to social occasions and 1 glass of wine twice a month maximum. Pilot is a candy FIEND. If there’s candy, sugar, or ice cream in the house, he will eat ALL OF IT. We stopped buying ice cream for the most part, or buy non-favorite flavors so it’s less tempting to eat it after dinner. If he gets candy, it’s in the mini-size so he can better track how much of it he’s eating. We eat breakfast so we don’t splurge at lunch and are less hungry for dinner. We eat 4 smaller meals per day. If we have a snack, it’s pre-portioned so we don’t mindless-eat snack or we can physically track how many small portions we’ve eaten. Since we both get up incredibly early for work, it’s hard to only eat 3 meals a day. I try to make sure a vegetable or fruit is a part of every dinner and/or lunch. I cut out caffeine. I’m sleeping more — averaging about 5 hours per night. I think I’m just one of those people who doesn’t need a lot of sleep in general.

In the short-term, I trained for my first 5K two years ago and finished it in under 1 hour. That was a major accomplishment for me, as I had never run on purpose before that training. (Sorry former PE teachers. I still hate running.) I do run/walk with Pilot in the evenings, but there is nothing you can say or do to convince me running is fun. I do it because it’s good for me, but I am hating my life every second I’m doing it.

In more of the long-term changes, Pilot and I agreed to start taking evening walks together while the weather was good to do so. We got up to 2-mile walk/jogs by the end of this summer.  While people think of my nerdiness as tenfold when I tell people I still actively play PokemonGo**, I am proud of it because it keeps me walking. Pushing that walk a little bit further to hit that Pokestop or catch an elusive Pokemon. I got Pilot to start playing it with me and we incorporated the game into our daily lives, separate from our evening walks. (Go Team Valor!) On bad weather days, or to catch up with my friends, we typically meet up at the mall. Not to shop (at least for me), but to walk the premises out of the rain. (Washington State malls are huge.) It’s a great aerobic and cardio workout, and has a food court if we need water.

I still enjoy the occasional sweet, I enjoy big meals, but it’s not every day, often not several times per week. Those are made special occasions such as my weekly dinner with my mom, a visit with Pilot’s parents a couple of times per month, or a special night out with Pilot. We eat a real, regular meal before going to the movie theater so we don’t eat at the theater itself. We go to the movie theater far less frequently. (That’s been good to our wallets too). We shop at Grocery Outlet** and have a more routine set of recipes that we eat. While I haven’t gotten out of my habit of cooking for an army, the recipes are healthier and we eat them several days in a row and make them last. Pilot and I are realistic about our lifestyle. We’re super-busy people working full-time jobs and each have our own businesses to run. We keep breakfast (if we eat it) and lunch simple, while dinner is more involved nutritionally. We hold each other accountable, not afraid to bust each other’s chops about additional snacking or sweets. (While we never hurt each other emotionally, nor sling mud at each other, neither of us is afraid of a little “good old fashioned ribbing.” We have weird senses of humor.)

The weight loss has been slow. Painstakingly slow. Snail’s pace slow.

The difference?

swirly shrink

I’m losing the weight in a healthy way, and KEEPING IT OFF.

No yo-yo-ing, self-inflicted starvation, no losing weight only to gain it back and double it. I’ve found when you lose a lot of weight quickly, it’s super hard to keep it off. Again, strict dieting and exercise works, but unless you’ve changed your life to make it a daily automatic part of how you live, it’s a temporary solution for a lifetime result.

In 4.5-5 years, I’ve lost on an average of 62 lbs of fat. I’ll let that sink in a moment.

SIXTY-TWO POUNDS OF FAT.

Back to why I’m not wearing my wedding rings: I lost enough fat that my rings were falling off of my fingers. I was literally typing yesterday at work, and heard this “clacking” noise. I looked down and realized my wedding band and engagement ring (not fused together) were loose enough to hit each other while I typed, and the rings were slipping off of my fingers. I don’t want to lose my rings or get new ones. (By the way, the rings depicted are not our actual rings. Sorry for the misleading headline, but this is where it all ties together. See?)

I had to take my rings in to Shane Company** last night to have them resized smaller. My ring size went down to a 9. I haven’t been a standard ring size… ever. (I don’t wear much jewelry, so I don’t know at what point in my life I stopped being a standard ring size for women.) I realized I could go to any apparel/accessory store and pick a size 9 ring off of the rack and wear it. I’ve never been able to do that before. I’m so proud of this, and it’s an accomplishment to me.

I still have a long way to go, but I’m ready for the challenge because I’m finally approaching it the right way. The safe way. The right way. Eating right, exercising every day (if I can) in different ways, eating less fat/sugar/salt, and burning more calories than I eat. Life isn’t a sprint, it’s a marathon (even though I still hate running). I don’t go by WEIGHT. I go with how my body feels and how my clothes fit. I have upper body strength where there was none for most of my life, and I’ve gained and toned a LOT of muscle, all from weight lifting and training. Weight lifting will not move the needle on the scale much. However, my pants have been falling off of my ass, my shirts are sagging on me, and my underwear didn’t fit anymore. I’ve had to buy clothes a smaller size each year around August/September. I’m not winded going up staircases anymore. I don’t have to wonder if I’ll fit in certain chairs, or trying to get past someone taking up space in a hallway. I don’t have to worry if a plastic chair will creak and groan with strain under me. I don’t have to worry about as much space I will take up in the movie theater or in the car.

I RUN.
NEVER did THAT before until 2 years ago. EVER.
(I still hate running.)

THAT IS SUCCESS FOR ME.  Weight fluctuates, sometimes hit plateaus. I still get strange looks from people when I talk about healthy eating and exercising methods because they only see me for my size right now, and see an elephant. They don’t see the lifelong journey I’ve been on and how much fat I’ve already lost. But I’ve gone from a size 20 down to, as of 2 weeks ago when I needed to buy new pants, a tight-fitting size 14. At losing 62 lbs of fat, you would think I’d be far smaller. I’m not. But, I’ve gained a lot of muscle and I haven’t been a size 14 since I was a teenager. I am now in my mid-30’s. Think about that. I weigh less from fat loss, but clothing-wise I haven’t gone down much on the clothing scale.  Again, it’s not about size ladies, it’s about how tall you are, your ethnicity, if you’re prone to certain conditions or diseases, it’s about your fitness and health. Not the size of the fit.

I am not skinny. There is a huge misconception that all Asian women are stick figured, waif-ish, short women. I am definitely a thick-thighed, big calved, curvy gal, and even if I was at a healthy weight, I will never be stick-figured boy-shaped. Many women of Korean descent still living in South Korea often get plastic surgery. It’s true. It’s not even called plastic surgery, they’re called beauty treatments. This includes calf muscle reduction (didn’t I mention I have huge calves? They’re super toned and big-muscled, not fat. Just huge) and eyelid shaping turning a monolid to a creased one like women of European descent. Many women of Asian descent are “skinny” or in healthy weight categories, but suffer from diabetes types I and II. It’s a DNA thing. Here’s a few articles to help with understanding:

Side Note: You need to eat nutritionally healthy and exercise the right way for your body. Everyone’s body is different and requires different nutrition either due to ethnicity, disease, health conditions, outdoor environment, etc. Do what’s right for your body. For example: I am lactose sensitive and other health conditions.

Someone once said to me, or maybe I read it in an article — I’m sorry, I don’t remember, I think it was Nerd Fitness**? — but they said “Health is 100% nutrition. Fitness is 100% exercise.” They’re not the same thing. You can have someone who only eats organic, plant-based, vegan lifestyles, but if they’re not exercising, they’re body isn’t physically fit and can still have health problems because you’re not taking care of your body.

The nutrition and health is there with how Pilot and I are now choosing to eat, but the fitness part is still in development. The plus side (no pun intended) is we’re already doing more fitness-wise than we were years ago, and continue to build upon what we’ve already established as a daily part of our lives. I am not skinny, I’m not sure if I ever will be “skinny.”

As the great Queen Latifah once said, “What size am I? I’m a size healthier.” That’s good enough for me.

Am I healthy? I’m far healthier than I’ve ever been. I can do push ups, I can run, I can run up stairs, I can walk/run farther in one go than I ever could, my food is more nutritious, I make better choices eating when I’m dining out, My husband and I are partners in this long-term health journey, I’m still flexible, I challenge myself. I may not be 100% healthy and physically fit–yet–but I’m much, much happier. I’m much, much healthier. I’m much more fit than I’ve ever been. Hell, I might even be able to do a pull up for the first time in my life soon, but I need to keep weight training my arms.

While looking at me now, no one would think I was “healthy” because of my size, believe me, but, this is healthier than I was yesterday. This is healthier than I was a week ago. This is healthier than I’ve been in years, perhaps my whole life. I’m doing my best, I’m doing it safe, and I’m doing it right. That’s good enough for me.

I’d love to hear from you. Share your journey or fitness goals!
What has worked for you?
Have you lost a lot of weight recently?

 

*Not this person’s real name. It has been changed to protect their privacy.

**Not a sponsor. I have not been compensated in any way to promote this brand.

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NaNoWriMo 2018: It’s the most type-able time of the year

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Mark your calendars and get ready to don your favorite Viking helmet, Precious Readers! NaNoWriMo is on its way!

What is NaNoWriMo? It’s short for “National Novel Writing Month“! That’s right, you write an entire novel in 30 days!

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What does this mean? I’m going to participate! Well folks, this summer was lacking in motivation to write. I’m determined to make up for it by working on my next book. That’s right. Even after August 2018’s post mentioning that I wasn’t sure what my next book was going to be, inspiration–that fickle mistress muse that it is–struck my brain. I’ve been diligently working on an outline for 2+ books on a new series.

You’re not writing Roxy Summers #4? When will we see it? I’m taking a break from writing Roxy Summers. My latest book, Missing You, a Roxy Summers Mystery #3, wraps up major plot points in the series, though it’s been left open-ended for more to be written at a later time. I haven’t abandoned my beloved Roxy, more books will be written, but my brain is telling me to branch into a new genre. I can’t help when inspiration strikes, and I’m being pulled into a different direction for the time being. I have a paranormal that my fingers have been itchy to type, and I’ve already written several pages of notes of how I would want this series to go. These new-ish characters are screaming at me and are not leaving me alone. Look on the brighter side: it means new characters for you to meet and love, new adventures to sink your teeth into, and plot lines punched up with classic KB snarky humor coming at you!

Hold the phone, you’re going to be writing an entire novel in one month? Short answer: Yup, that’s right! Long answer: This will be a not-ready-to-publish first draft. Imagine the roughest and most typo-filled manuscript you will ever (not) see in your life. It won’t be perfect, it won’t be pretty, and it definitely will not be reader-worthy by the time November 30th rolls around. However, the basic outline and major details will be worked out. My goal is to complete my outline of the character’s story arcs for (however many) books it takes to complete their story by October 31, and then have 50,000 words written by November 30 for the first book.

Isn’t that a bit ambitious? Yes, yes it is. I am the kind of person where if I don’t have any kind of structure about a task or work, I will not do it. I’m self-disciplined enough where if I have a schedule I’ll stick to it, but if there is no plan in place, I get lazy. NaNoWriMo each November helps keep me motivated. Plus, there are some wicked fun chat rooms where you can connect with other writers in your local area who are going through this event with you. It’s a lot of fun, a lot of support, and helpful to keep me motivated on my next project(s).

What is the new book series? I’m working on Top Secret-Super-Secret-Squirrel-Hush-Hush project to bring a paranormal series to you. I hope it’s something you’ll be interested in. (Before you roll your eyes, although I love me some vamps, this is not a vampire novel.) Growing up, my top favorite type of book to read was science fiction. Although this will be a paranormal, the idea of abnormal characters and situations (sometimes otherworldly) make my little book-loving heart go pitter patter. Although I’m not ready to share details yet, I hope it will be a magical experience for you. (For longtime blog followers, you might already have an idea of what I’m working on.) I actually created these characters years and years ago, but decided to push Roxy Summers as my first book towards publication. My gut instinct won out, and now I have three books published. I’m hoping that you, as a blog and book reader, will continue along this publication journey with me and stick around while I venture into a quasi-new territory of genre writing.

Do you participate? If you are a NaNoWriMo participant, LOOK ME UP! I’m serious! If you’re participating, don’t be afraid to connect with me on their website! I’ll be wearing my virtual NaNoWriMo viking helmet proudly!

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Hope you have an awesome week, and remember, you can always keep more up-to-date with me by following me on social media!

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Wishing you a happy fall filled with warm beverages, snuggly blankets, and your favorite authors!

-KB

#NaNoWriMo #AmWriting #Paranormal #RoxySummers #RoxySummersMystery #Fall #November #30Days


Haven’t read the Roxy Summers Mystery SeriesStart with Capture Me and meet Roxy in a case of cat-and-mouse for a grand Seattle adventure! Then, travel with Roxy to sunny Los Angeles for a food competition to die for in her sequel novel, Crush On You! Roxy’s third book, Missing You has Roxy and friends searching of her ex-boyfriend, lost in a blizzard-riddled Alaska, hoping to find him before time runs out.

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A Change of Pace/Next Book

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This blog post is in memory of my Dad.
I miss you every day.

Hello Precious Readers!

Long time, no write, I know. In fact, that statement is far more loaded than it appears.

I released my third book, Missing You (a Roxy Summers Mystery) last month. (Have you read it? I happen to know that it’s fantastic. You should check it out, and leave a review!) I am already receiving questions: When is the next book coming out?

As I’ve learned from other author friends and mentors, this is a common question asked, typically the same day as a book releases. Similar to people asking newlyweds, or sometimes immediately following a wedding ceremony, when the lovely couple is having children. These questions are often asked in moments of excitement from the requestor, not necessarily meant as a slight upon the subject being asked. However, writing is time taking out of my day to literally sit and stare at a computer monitor while typing for hours, every day. It’s time not spent with my husband, my dogs, my friends, my family. It’s time separate from my full-time and part-time jobs. It’s time spent not sleeping, doing chores around the home, and overall taking away from the sliver of time trying to have a life outside of work.

This summer was a particularly awkward and painful one for me, and admittedly and unabashedly, I confess I did absolutely zero writing. None. Zip. Nada. Nothing. Other than social media, my computer was only used for paying bills and looking at funny YouTube videos.

Why? Why after working so hard to be published for the first time, and successfully launching a 3-book series, would I spend 2.5 months writing absolutely nothing at all? As we all know, life throws curve balls, and sometimes their emotional impact lasts longer than expected.

After nearly 11 years since my Dad’s passing, and 11 years spent on our family’s attempted healing, it was decided that this was the year my Dad’s ashes were to be interned into the Tahoma National Cemetery. For those who don’t know, Tahoma National Cemetery is specifically for those who have served in the U.S. military and their spouses. I won’t go into detail, but it was a small ceremony with traditions held by the U.S. Navy. My Dad served for the Navy during the Vietnam war, living on the U.S.S. Enterprise. (No, not a Star Trek reference… this time.) He was on the aircraft carrier during its initial combat deployment. He worked the night shift, complete with a schedule starting at 2:00 am, and a bedtime of 7:00 pm. He never changed this schedule for the rest of his life, save for family vacations. That discipline stayed with him from when he was 17 years old until he was 60 years old. That is, (let me get my calculator here), 43 years of tradition.

My Dad passed in a sudden, painful way, while at home, the day after Thanksgiving. It was supposed to be a year of celebration. My parents had celebrated their 40th wedding anniversary that year. I had just come home from CWU and was starting my first job post-graduation. My parents were approaching discussions of retirement and considering moving to Nevada where it was warmer. They had even flown down twice that year to scope out property. I was planning on looking for an apartment.

It had been a normal evening. We were all home from work, had eaten dinner together. My Dad was on his way to bed. My mom and I were up watching some lighthearted show on TV. My mom and I were with him. We didn’t get a chance to say goodbye, we didn’t know it was coming, and before we knew it, he was gone. My mother and I were immediately thrust into deciding how to live the rest of our lives without him. Our last moments together as a family were spent in terror, pain, confusion, trauma, and anger. While I would never, under any circumstances wish anyone ill or a long and a painful death, I envy families who had times to not only internally say goodbye to their loved ones, but know when the end was coming. They were able to make a plan, and a semblance of peace regarding the one they lost or are losing.

The end is not always a Lifetime movie drama with everyone around a gurney in a hospital, or someone lying on their death-bed. Sometimes the end is something that takes moments away from you. We never got to say, “I love you”, or try to keep him comfortable in death.

We never got to say goodbye. His life ended in pain, fear, and confusion. Surrounded by EMTs instead of his loved ones.

He had not wanted a funeral service, as stated in his will. He wasn’t a man for pomp and circumstance. His co-workers threw a memorial at the University of Washington, where he had just accomplished his 10th year working there. My mom retired three years after his death, after working for the UW for over 28 years. For the rest of us, we moved on, but others needed an official ceremony so we had somewhere for his remains to reside. So, we held one.

I don’t believe in the word “closure” as it’s used today. I don’t believe that the loss of a loved one is something you “close a chapter on” and then live as if their memory has no effect on you every day after they’re gone. The memory is an ever evolving blob. Sometimes it shrinks, sometimes it takes over, sometimes it’s a microscopic dot on your radar. While the ceremony provided much-needed release for my Mom and some of our family, it did the opposite for me.

After eleven years, I’d gotten to the place where my dad’s memory wasn’t gone, but it had morphed into just the good memories. The ones I enjoyed. The memories didn’t stand out from any particular event or milestone in my life. It was the little things, like seeing him smoking outside, leaning on the garbage can in his sweatpants. The way he always folded his hands on his stomach while reclined in his Dad Chair watching an old western. Hearing him whistle while he was working or tinkering at his workshop surface. The clink of ice while he was drinking his Pepsi, the constant, friendly battle between him and my Mom, my Mom being a die-hard Coca Cola fan. His hugs. The horrible, evil glint in his eye while I was sitting in my parent’s new car that had programmable seats (a new thing for any driver at the time). He had pressed the button causing the seat to start moving. I freaked out, wondering if I had broken the car and the robot apocalypse was trapping me inside the vehicle for all of eternity. The never ending trips to Costco as a family outing. Those were all thrown away for the last two months, temporarily vandalized by the gut-wrenching memory of the last hour of his life.

This had a severe impact on my mental status this summer. I’ve talked about depression and anxiety before, but I will continue writing about it until the stigma is gone. That people understand that it doesn’t “go away”, you “can’t snap out of it”, it’s not a “mood”. There are good days, there are bad days. There are long stretches of good days/weeks/months, swiftly hitting you up with time where you never leave bed, the lights are off, and you just lie there for hours. Doing nothing. No TV, no phone, no radio, no talking, etc. You feel weak, tired, achy, listless. The nightmares come back. Whatever quiet I was attempting to obtain was blighted by restless sleep filled with made up scenarios my backstabbing brain came up with to terrorize me in my dreaming subconscious. The dreams mean nothing, but their lingering effects on how they made me feel stick with me for days afterward.

You just… try to exist and hope it’s enough.

You try to remember that you exist.

All of these memories came up and made it difficult to find the mental and physical capacity to write. Writers are always saying, “Write every day. Even when you don’t want to you. Find time to write every day.” They never tell you how much. For me, it was sticking with social media, updating my Facebook Fan Group on its usual schedule, keeping a presence on Twitter. That was all I could do.

That was enough for me.

By the way, the U.S. military is dismantling the U.S.S. Enterprise this year. Did you know that?

Back to the Big Question: When is the next book coming out?

Now that I’ve talked with my publisher at Trifecta Publishing House, here is my answer: After two and a half years of solid writing Roxy, frankly, I need a break. While I have a general idea of how I want the her next story to go, and ideas for several more books, I’m not in the creative head space to continue her story at this time. There are some other ideas I’ve been mulling for years that I’d like to move forward with and get out of Roxy’s world for a little while, and I need to write something else. There is an idea for a fourth Roxy Summers book. The idea is with Trifecta. It is not under contract at the moment. It will be written.

I don’t know when, but in the near future.

Never have I been looking forward to going back to work in my life. As same for the students who attend, I like the structure. The reliability that the building will most likely outlive me. The steadiness of the schedule. Routine. It helps me stay on task. I actually write better when my schedule is full. I think it’s the discipline and the mental reminder that my writing time is limited, that if I don’t complete it now, I’ll have to catch up the next day.

The work is there, I just need to type it. Enough time has passed that I’m ready to metaphorically pick up the pen and put it to paper. (I do better typing than handwriting out my thoughts. I’m far faster, and a more accurate, typist.)

Wishing you a fantastic fall, filled with easily cleaned falling leaves, lots of vibrant tree color, and pumpkin spice only if you want it.

Love and hugs,
KB

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Roxy Reminder: Missing You releases August 13th!

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Hello Precious Readers!

I have a more definitive date of Missing You‘s release for everyone: August 13th! Gahhh! It’s less than one month away! Squee!!!

It’s been a bit busy on this side of the computer prepping for the big day. If you follow me on Facebook, you already know the FINAL DRAFT was sent in to publishers. You’ve already seen the GORGEOUS cover, and I’m so excited to bring Roxy’s next adventure to you. During my future release party I’m going to have some deliciously, lovely gift baskets up for grabs, so be on the lookout (or BOLO, if you watch crime shows, like I do) for the Release Party announcement soon to come!

Pre-order links will be up soon. Once their up, make sure you pre-purchase your copy as soon as possible, as there maaaaay be a hint about a fourth Roxy Summers adventure in the back. (Hint, hint.)

Roxy’s adventure in Missing You takes place in Alaska. Definitely not feeling winter blues. It’s been in the 90-degree Fahrenheit weather in Washington. For us PNW folks, air conditioning is not a standard feature to have in homes, so we’re melllllllting! Fans have been on nonstop, pups are sitting in front of the fan, and ice cubes are aplenty in their water bowls. We have some breaks from the heat by taking drives in the car, which has air conditioning. The Bacher Fort, alas, does not.

I want to start hearing from you, so I’m going to start asking one question per post to you. I’d love to see comments, or email me at katherinebacher@gmail.com with your responses. I love hearing from you! I really, really do!

So, this post’s question is: What is your favorite summer treat to cool off? We love frozen grapes, fruit salad, and ice pops.

Thank you for being such loyal blog readers, hello to any newbies! More Roxy news coming at you soon!

– KB

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Life threw a curveball, so here’s the catch – Missing You releases August 2018 and LIVE EVENT announcement!

Well, Precious Readers,

If you don’t follow me on social media, I have an announcement:

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Due to stuff and things, the release date for my book, Missing You (a Roxy Summers Mystery #3) was pushed to AUGUST 2018. I know, I know, I’ve been dangling the next book release like a literary carrot for months, but… reasons. Sometimes life happens, and in this case, it was a timing issue. If it helps, Missing You is with my loyal Beta Readers, and I’ve already begun to receive helpful feedback.

In other news…

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Guess what? I’m all signed up to attend the 2019 Left Coast Crime convention Whale of a Crime! This is both an author AND reader event where hundreds of people from the west coast will congregate over their love of mysteries! All sub genres fall under this umbrella: Cozy, Thriller, Romantic, Humorous, Suspense, etc. Each year, the conference is in a new city. For LCC 2019: Whale of a Crime, it will be hosted in the gorgeous Pacific Northwest of Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada! My sort-of backyard! The conference is from March 28-31, 2019. If you want to join in, you do have to register, so I recommend registering early. This is the biggest convention for mystery lovers on the whole west coast.

At LCC 2019: Whale of a Crime, I’ll be attending the various panels during the event. I will not be hosting any panels, but look forward to bumping elbows with my fellow lovers of all things mystery, whether tame or intense. If you happen to be there, look me up, and I’d love to have a photo taken with you. I look forward talking with you about anything lighthearted and humorously sleuthy!

It may be a bit of sad news, but I hope I also brought tidings of ultra-cool, great news!


Haven’t read the Roxy Summers Mystery SeriesYou have time to catch up!
Start with Capture Me and meet Roxy in a case of cat-and-mouse for a grand Seattle adventure! Then, travel with Roxy to sunny Los Angeles for a food competition to die for in her sequel novel, Crush On You! Roxy’s third book, Missing You releases in June 2018. Keep an eye out on my bookshelf page for pre-order links closer to the release date!

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Get your copies today!
Katherine Bacher on Amazon
Katherine Bacher on Barnes and Noble


Are we connected? Well let’s do that!

Find Katherine Bacher on Twitter
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Find Katherine Bacher on Facebook
(…and join her FB Group: Katherine Bacher’s Happy Hour!)
Find Katherine Bacher on Trifecta Publishing House

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Is your furniture plotting against you?

Disclaimer: Everything stated below is in relation to *most* jobs. Of course, if you’re in any industry focused on beauty or fashion, this will not apply to you.

 

Hello, Precious Readers!

 

Thank you to everyone who participated or visited the Night Owl Reviews Spring Fling Scavenger Hunt this year. It was a joy to be a part of it, and I’ve already been notified of the winners. I hope you were one of them!

 

Yesterday, I came across an article suggesting that modern-day office design is subtly sexist. I won’t go into details, you can read the article for yourselves. If you’re a longtime blog follower, you know that I used to be a massive workaholic. The stereotypical office drone commuting for long hours, sitting at a desk, and staring at a computer. As a writer, I still do this, but it’s a desk space of my choosing (my home), and I’m surrounded by things and style that bring me peace of mind, not what an architect and interior designer decided that I needed in my life.

 

Also, I’m old enough to remember the days when cubicles were first popularized and ceiling-to-floor length walls separated each individual by those fuzzy, gray, sound softening panels. After a few decades of this style, scientists decided that the top-to-bottom walls were unhealthy for humans by causing isolation, depression, and other physical and mental illnesses. Thus, a new era was born: the day the walls came down.

 

Those in the current workforce or just entering are probably more familiar with employees working in spaces where cubicle walls barely reach the average-height-adult’s sitting position shoulder height, if there are walls at all. Desks are also “open concept” providing a reduction in “visual noise,” often with table legs instead of solid panels covering the person from the waist down. There are no longer walls or dividers, but open glass to provide as much natural light as possible and a transparent view to encourage accountability and teamwork.

office

 

While I don’t fully agree with the article regarding women feeling the need to make additional effort beyond their normal routine, I will point out that open concept does not necessarily keep women’s needs in mind.

 

The article made me think back on how I would dress myself. I dressed according to the general office policies, but didn’t make any additional effort with hair and makeup unless I felt like it. I spent most of my life as a tomboy, so if someone didn’t think it was “feminine” enough for me to not style my hair or wear makeup, tough cookies for them. If someone judged me on it — that’s creating a hostile environment. If someone is judging me on my looks to meet the judging person’s idea of “attractiveness” — that’s sexual harassment. I have confidence enough in myself to know that my looks are no one else’s concern except mine. If someone is using my looks against me and stifling my career because I’m not “feminine” or “pretty enough” — that’s sexism.

 

For anyone judged based on someone else’s opinion about your looks and/or are being rated by someone else’s idea of an idiotic scale of “attractiveness,” I’m so sorry. You shouldn’t have to put up with that. AT ALL.

 

Having said that, I’ve worked several different styles of jobs, which came with several different styles of environments. This includes the “open concept” desk space. As a woman, society is *crawling* into the 21st Century where our needs are actually thought of in a respected and conscientious manner as human beings, but we have a looong way to go. Once in a while I like to wear skirts, whether long or short. However, whenever I leave my home and I’m wearing a shorter skirt, I have to think if my legs will be covered by the furniture or not. I am not a thin person. It is highly uncomfortable to cross my legs. Doctors have proven that crossing your legs is bad for your posture, your hip and knee alignment, and can cause long-term back problems. I tend to cross my ankles, but doing that for long periods of time (say ~6.5 hours of actual desk time excluding lunches and times to get up and go to other areas and walking) is also highly uncomfortable. This also doesn’t negate the fact that if a skirt’s hem is anywhere close to your knee-length, or shorter, if there isn’t enough fabric to politely tuck between our knees, we run the risk of accidentally flashing our underthings to people. Does this make sense to you? For women to be considered “feminine” we should wear dresses or skirts, but skirts don’t always function to allow women to sit comfortably? This has never made sense to me. Probably why I mostly stick to pants.

 

I have a secret for anyone who has never worn a dress or skirt before: women like to sit without having to cross our legs! There’s also the issue of “manspreading” on seats, but that’s a different discussion: In short, please don’t “manspread” on public transportation or spaces. It’s rude, disgusting, and completely encroaching on personal bubbles. If it’s a public space, that means it’s PUBLIC and the space DOES NOT BELONG TO YOU. Women’s personal space is a HUMAN RIGHT, not a privilege for someone else to take away. It is not for anyone else to decide where that boundary line is except for that individual woman.

 

A simple “love shout out” to any restaurant or office space that actually covers a person from the waist down either by long-length tablecloths or desk design, respectfully. I love you. Thank you.

 

Long before reading the article, I binge-watched seasons of Cupcake Wars* on Hulu* and remember thinking how badly I felt for the female judges for the show. Being on TV, the host and judges must look flawless (and do! You’re fabulous!), but that often includes being up-to-date on fashion. Add in the judges table does not have a front panel, and I sadly empathized episode after episode, season after season, with the female judges. Realizing for a majority of the show, the women are dressed in dresses and skirts at, or slightly above, the knee. While the men sit comfortably with their feet at hip-width, their shoes resting on the floor or bar stool shoe ledge (not quite sure what that’s called, but I hope you understand what I’m talking about), the ladies either sit with their legs crossed the entire time or perch on the edge of their seat at an angle to keep their waist from the camera’s (and America’s) view.

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The show is only 22 minutes long of air time, but if you think about the actual amount of time spent on that set for each episode: filming time, the prep for each round, the length of each actual round (some are 2 hours), cleanup after each round, the judges deliberation time, etc. That’s a FULL DAY. I imagine easily OVER 12 HOURS OF SITTING ON THAT CHAIR. With your legs crossed. Hoping you don’t have a “paparazzi” moment on (inter)national television.

 

Does that sound comfortable to you? Not to me. My back, hips, and knees ache at the thought of it.

 

I wear pants and shorts so I can be comfortable. Not to please anyone else. I wear skirts and dresses to please myself if I feel like wearing one. Not to please anyone else. However, watching these women try to emulate being comfortable while constantly wondering if their underwear is flashed on camera, all I could think of were times I dressed and fretted over what I was wearing — if my destination would be skirt/dress friendly… if I should even bother wearing a skirt or dress so I didn’t have to deal with that headache.

 

One part of the article that I found rang true was the idea of privacy. In an open office plan, if you need to make a private phone call, there is no reprieve. You often have to leave the building. My last corporate job, they had the right idea, and I’m grateful for it. While they believed in an open floor plan, they had created one-person, door-closing, private “pods.” These were workspaces if an employee needed to conference call or do virtual training with clients. Although it was created with the intention of eliminating background noise during training, it also allowed a temporary private space to talk without the background sounds of, “Whoo! Did you catch the Seahawks last night!” or “Did you hear about X lately?” or “Who took my lunch from the refrigerator? It had my name on it!” It had a second benefit of, if an employee was caring for dependents and received an unexpected call from their dependent, they could take the call quickly without divulging their personal and private information to the whole office.

 

 

Overall, I want you to know that I like open-concept offices. I think they inspire creativity, collaboration, teamwork, and provides a bright work environment. However, if you plan to have this design, it is critical to have a few “office pods” available for people. Make the desks have a front panel for privacy and comfort for your employees (if they want it). Also, in an ideal world, people wouldn’t be judged on their looks for their careers. Don’t get me wrong: I do believe in a required level of personal hygiene and gender neutral dress codes that apply to everyone.

 

*Not a sponsor.

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Do I have something on my face? Oh wait, it’s just me.

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It’s Friday, Precious Readers!

I can’t begin to tell you how happy I am about that. For those who follow me on Facebook and are a part of my Facebook Group: Katherine Bacher’s Happy Hour (hint hint), you may already know that this has been a week from the seventh circle of hell.

After weeks of (not) adjusting to our new neighbors’ schedule, we are pretty much sure our new neighbors are drug dealers and/or gang members. For longtime followers of this blog, you will know that often, the life of an author is not glamorous or even lucrative. We write because we love to do it. It’s not for the money or the fame. I write because it’s what I was born to do. I would write even if I was never published. (I’ve written this blog for over 5 years, so what does that tell you?) However, due to not having achieved 100% world domination, I still live in an apartment in a ghetto area of Washington State. This includes dealing with people who choose to make less lawful-based career decisions. Due to my neighbors’ nocturnal and nefarious activities, my husband Pilot and I have not had a good night’s sleep in several weeks.

To help report this activity to local police and to our landlord, my husband setup a camera to take photographs every 5 seconds. The video footage was quite astounding, showing over 10 cars coming by and being met by our neighbors (after 11:50 pm, mind you) within the first few minutes of footage (first full 10 minutes of recording.) This continued on from 11:50 pm well into the wee hours of Monday morning at 5:30 am. I wish I was kidding, but my lack of Z’s is proof otherwise. An unexpected result of recording through the night added to our stress: my car was broken into on Monday morning around 3:30 am. On the plus side, the perpetrator got The Cranberry’s door unlocked and partway open instead of busting the window open. Which happened last year. And, several other times to both Pilot and I before. Between both Pilot’s and my vehicle combined, this will be the 6th time our cars has been broken into while living in this apartment complex.

To add insult to injury, that same Monday, Pilot’s car battery died in the middle of the day. He managed to get it charged, but it died again around 5:30pm Monday, requiring meeting him at his stranded location, dealing with tow trucks, and dropping the hunk of metal with a mechanic. It is still currently at the mechanic’s, who informed us his vehicle, War Machine, needs a new alternator and an entire new electrical system. So there’s that.

This can take a toll on a person’s sanity. Operating on 1 vehicle is difficult for two workaholics like Pilot and myself, but the morning commute has been filled with quiet laughter together while both of us trying not to take our frustration with life out on each other.

One thing that has gone by the wayside is my personal self-care. While I still have several things to follow-up with (the mechanic, the local police, our landlord, and now attempting to find a new place to live as we consider vacating the apartment we’ve called “home” for the last 8 years and our entire marriage), I plan to make time for some rest and rejuvenation this weekend.

Speaking of rejuvenation, I take the time to fill out surveys, in Hopes of products suited to me will fill the shelves. Plus, it’s a great time passer.

I was asked to take a survey today about facial skin care. The survey did not provide a progress bar (which annoys the heck out of me), and ended up being more in-depth and scientific about the product itself rather than just “do you like label A or B?” The experience ended up making me face a mental mirror about a deeply rooted insecurity and fear that I was unaware of floating around in my psyche.

While filling out this survey, a sense of dread bloomed into a dark, gray cloud that hovered over my head for a good half hour after completing it.

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Those nearest and dearest to me know that I have an above-average concern regarding sun exposure. Living in the Pacific Northwest means that sun exposure is limited compared to other parts of the country, but it can actually be more dangerous for PNW dwellers than your average Californian. So many of our days are gray and overcast that many in the PNW do not wear sunblock leading to spots, advanced skin aging, and the looming skin cancer. I don’t know if it’s in my Asian DNA or mental paranoia, but I fight the sun like a mother f-ing heavyweight champion. (Insert favorite fat joke here, says fat blogger.) Although I don’t wear sunblock everyday (longtime readers know I am not a morning person), I do my best to wear it when I know I will be outside for extended periods of time. I’m better at keeping my arms covered, I wear my Bubble Run hat or travel (crush-able) visor, and weirdo that I am, I wear driving gloves to keep my hands sort-of youthful looking (thanks to a lovely requested Christmas gift from my Mom. Thanks Mom!). I tend to splurge on facial products and nail products. This includes night creams and daily moisturizer with SPF. I have a gentle scrub face wash, toner, moisturizer, and a night cream.

This concern did not appear once I hit adulthood. In fact, when I was in elementary school, I was often getting in trouble with the summer day camp teachers for taking too long putting on sunblock before going outside to play. I would use the mirror in the playhouse area to make sure I covered my ears, got the back of my neck and shoulders, etc. Yes, even as young as eight years old, I was concerned about sun exposure and skin care. This is not due to me burning. In my youth, I tanned mostly, probably due to the huge amounts of sunblock I was using. I didn’t get my first sunburn until I was about 19 years old during an unfortunate misunderstanding of how long we would be on Boeing Field for an airshow during the first year of Pilot and I dating.

However, that’s not what I wanted to talk about with you. While answering questions such as Do you look for anti-aging features? or the ever popular women’s questions about concerns over eye sagging and wrinkling, I was confronted with what was my actual fear? Yes, of course, no one wants skin cancer, but this was more than that. I asked myself why I was so concerned about aging beyond my irrational thanatophobia.

Here was my revelation:

I have no idea what I will look like as I age.

I can hear you thinking right now: What the heck is she talking about? None of us know what we’re going to look like as we get older.

Here’s my rebuttal: Actually, yes, most of you do.

(Most of) You have family members you can reference where you got your looks from. Perhaps you’re a “Mini Me” of your parents. Maybe your family’s DNA caused looks to skip a generation and you look like your great grandparents. It could be a situation where you look more like your extended family. My husband is the youngest of three children in his family. My husband looks the most like his father in height, stretched build, and facial features, except he has his mother’s eyes and hair color. His sister has their dad’s height, but looks the most like their mother. Pilot’s brother doesn’t look like either of his siblings, is the shortest of the three (while still tall), has a slightly stockier build that comes from their mother’s side of the family, darker hair, and in looks he is almost a twin of one of their first cousins.

Maybe you have your uncle’s nose and your grandparent’s build. Maybe you have your mother’s eyes and your father’s ears.

For me, this is what I know about myself:
I’m Korean.

That’s ALL I know, and whether that’s 100% Korean is yet to be determined.

I don’t know if I look like my biological father. I don’t know if I look like my biological mother. I don’t know if looks skipped a generation and I look like one or a combination of my grandparents. The unknown is scary. There’s probably some additional tie ins with my Type-A personality about “control issues” due to so much uncertainty in my infantile year(s) and lack of control over the future of my body, but I don’t feel like opening that Pandora’s box anytime soon.

This is going to sound weird, but sometimes I forget that I am Asian. The world sees me as such, but to me, I grew up as a suburban, “white” American, of German descent. Sometimes I’m actually still surprised when I look in the mirror and I see a change in my face. This was exceptionally confusing when I was just hitting puberty as a teen, watching my small, cherubic face lengthen, my height extend, etc. I had nothing to reference from. Every change was a surprise and I had no frame of reference while experiencing it.

About a year ago, I noticed a brown speck near the base of my palm, smaller than the head of a pin. I thought it was a piece of dirt and proceeded to flick it off.

It didn’t.

I realized it was a brown spot that had appeared on my skin and IT WAS PERMANENT.

While this wasn’t earth-shattering news, or a symbol of something more unhealthy going on, it was a realization that I am well into my 30’s and not getting any younger, and that if I wanted my face to be even close to resembling what I know it to be in this moment in time, I needed to up my game from daily SPF moisturizer and face washing. (Hence the night cream(s).)

All I know about Asian aging is that we age slower than some other ethnicities, but we also have delicate skin. I have the hooded (flat) eyelid, so my eyelids may be prone to drooping as time goes on. I may develop jowls and end up looking like a Korean Winston Churchill. Maybe I’ll develop osteoporosis, which is more prevalent in aging Asians than other races, or shrink down an entire foot as I age. I’ve already lost some hair on the top of my head near my forehead. To be fair, I think that was resulting of a medical condition that is now more under control… but it hasn’t grown back.

Most people who are 60+ years in age say that they sometimes don’t recognize the person in the mirror facing back at them. I can genuinely say that the person I meet in 30 years will most likely be a complete stranger to me unless I do my best preventive and maintenance methods, that I can afford to do, right now.

It was one of those psychological jabs poking insecurity into my brain, causing a moment of that loneliness that reveals itself to me from time-to-time, making me feel different than my family, different from my friends, different from my own celebrated German-American heritage. I experience the following jabs:

  • I’m a phony
  • I don’t belong with my family
  • I’m not a “real” Asian
  • I’m not a “real” American
  • I’m not a “real” anything
  • I don’t deserve to celebrate my American and German roots

Another thing that pops into my brain, as a woman, I have no idea what my children would look like. If I had married an Asian man, I would be able to say my children will look Asian and most won’t question that they’re my or my husband’s kids.

Even though it’s 2018, there are still many who frown upon interracial marriage. White supremacy gangs are the leading type of gang activity in Washington State, and despite living on the coastal side of it, there are still areas where Pilot and I will encounter hate and/or racism merely for looking the way that I do. It’s rare, and the situations are few and far between, but they do happen.

I have, what I feel is, a legitimate fear that if Pilot and I were to have children, chances are they’re going to look mostly Asian instead of Caucasian. Based on other Asian/Caucasian couples that I know and have met who have children, their kids tend to take on more Asian features than their Caucasian parent counterparts. (The Asian genes are incredibly strong.) I fear that if Pilot and I were to have children, and he’s watching them by himself, that someone will call CPS on them fearing he’s kidnapping them. Or that a stranger will make a comment that may hurt my husband and/or those children because of ignorance, hate, or a misunderstanding. I don’t look forward to those questions, potential tears, and conversations of having to explain human stupidity to a child in a way that they understand and doesn’t hurt them further.

My parents had to give me a lot of educational and grown up discussions about adoption, racism, what it means to be a family, parenting, the parent-child dynamic, etc., probably far more discussions than the average family about us: What could/could not be said at home versus in public, how to act when meeting people for the first time as a family, how to make sure that I am always making that extra effort to make sure that I keep the offender comfortable after they’ve insulted me, my intelligence, my race, my assumed heritage, my actual heritage, and whatnot. I never remember them offhand, but something will trigger one — a comment someone said, witnessing institutional racism, seeing a parent of interracial children get questioned, etc. and I remember a certain “family meeting” I had shared with my parents for whatever ridiculous screwed up thing had happened that day in my childhood. I do have hope that maybe the world will change into a less racially charged place where it’s not assumed that children of a different appear race to the adult means that the kids were “rescued” or “kidnapped,” depending on how the offender is feeling that day.

I had no idea that a survey about face cream would stir up all several emotions that I haven’t felt in… well, frankly, in almost twenty years. I suppose I could look at it from a different perspective: I get to meet someone new in the mirror about every 10 years who likes and hates all of the same stuff that I do. If Pilot and I were to have kids, maybe they’ll take on features of both him and I so I won’t have to try to guess who they look like.

Probably a bit heavier for a Friday post, but why not throw out an existential question for the weekend? While War Machine is in the shop and Pilot uses my car, The Cranberry to meet with clients for work, maybe I’ll spend a nice quiet Saturday using one of those home facial masks.

TGIF everyone!
– KB