Fall TV

The fall TV season is in full swing and I've actually had downtime lately to catch up
on some new shows. Here's what I've been watching:

Law & Order True Crime: The Menendez Brothers
Edie Falco is amazing, but I'm halfway through the limited series and am not quite loving it. The facts of the story should be compelling enough, but I find myself drifting off while watching it. It feels too drawn out or something. I plan to watch the rest of it, so here's hoping it gets better. 

The Good Doctor
I love Freddie Highmore and was curious about this premise. He kind of reminds me of my kid! Nolan's not a savant and doesn't have autism, but he does have ADHD and SPD, so he's a little awkward with a photographic memory. I like the show just fine, but it hasn't blown me away. I'll keep going a few more episodes.

I read a few articles that declared this the best new show. I wasn't planning on watching because I can't stand Lea Michele. I'm glad I tried it though. It's light and heartwarming and Lea doesn't bother me as much as I expected her to. I love the rest of the cast and even though it might end up being too cheesy and predictable, after just two episodes, I'm hopeful.

American Horror Story: Cult
I haven't watched a full season of AHS since the first one. I give each season a try and end up not caring after three episodes. I've watched five episodes of Cult, so I guess I'm invested. It's not really scary, but I like it's cultural relevance. The cast is super annoying and over the top though. Billy on the Street can't stop yelling when he speaks and it's driving me crazy. I do love seeing Leslie Grossman back on TV. (She was AMAZING in Murphy's first show, Popular.)

I'm also watching all these old shows. 

What are you watching this fall?


Hello, Anxiety

The first time I had a panic attack was in 2006, before I got married. I was a walking ball of anxiety for a couple of months leading up to the ceremony. I hated wedding planning and I wasn't even sure that I wanted to get married anymore. Call it cold feet or a quarter life crisis, but I had a handful of breakdowns and almost called the whole thing off a few times.

My next panic attack was eight years later on a flight to Boston. Jacob and I had been on childless vacations before (we vowed to do at least one a year since the day Nolan was born), but for some reason I was extra overwhelmed preparing for the trip. To top it off, Nolan woke up that morning with a red rash all over his face and his doctor confirmed it was fifths disease. It's just a virus and we were leaving the kids with my mom who is more than qualified to take care of him, but on the flight, I started freaking out. Jacob slept through the whole thing. I told my doctor about it when I got home and she prescribed me Xanax for "separation anxiety". I never needed to take it, even when traveling without kids the next time. I just thought it was a weird one off thing.

Cut to two weeks ago. I'd been feeling down for about a week. I have scar tissue in my trachea and need surgery a few times a year to get it pushed out of the way so I can breathe again. On a good day, after surgery, my trachea is only open 50%, so I struggle with breathing every day of my life, but when it's really restricted, I feel like I'm dying just walking up a flight of stairs. I'm beyond ready for my next procedure (like, three months overdue) because I had to deal with a change in surgeons and referrals and a bunch of other crap. I also got a respiratory infection, so my doctor prescribed me 20mg of prednisone (corticosteroid) to treat my inflammation. I'm supposed to take it until my procedure. 

Prednisone is a bitch! I get incredibly irritable and anxious. I'm angry one minute and sad the next. I'm hot and uncomfortable 24 hours a day and sweat at night, even with the windows open. I can't focus on anything and sometimes feel dizzy. I get restless leg syndrome and can't sleep. I'm also STARVING all the time. I usually only take a ten day cycle, but I'll be on it for about five weeks and it's really messing with me.

I was at the movies and couldn't help but notice how loud I was breathing. I breathe loudly, cough, wheeze, clear my throat, and lose my voice all the time. It's gross and embarrassing. I tried to stifle it, which made it harder to breathe. Then my heart started pounding, as though I was watching an intense thriller (I wasn't; it was Battle of the Sexes) and I got sweaty and shaky and there was tightness under my lungs. I couldn't focus on the movie because I was so preoccupied with my breathing. It passed after about fifteen minutes and I went home to tell Jacob about it.

After only three hours of sleep, I woke up super grumpy the next day and stayed that way, even though I had a pretty chill day. I ran some errands, got a pedicure, and cleaned the house. When Jacob got home from work, I unloaded as if I just had the worst day ever. I couldn't stop crying, I had tightness in my chest, I couldn't breathe, I was shaking, etc. I remembered I had that (now expired) Xanax and took one. I even joked on twitter about having a mental breakdown. Jacob and I got into bed at 9:00, watched Big Mouth, and I drifted off to sleep.

He had to work the next morning, so I woke up after my first good night sleep in weeks, made a huge breakfast for me and the kids, and started getting ready for Milo's soccer game. My mom called and I broke down, totally bawling and complaining about my breathing, frustration with medical insurance, lack of sleep, weight gain (damn steroids!), social anxiety, and this pit I had in my stomach for the last three days. What a mess!

I got lorazepam to treat my panic attacks and help me sleep. I slept another solid eight hours that night. I took it again the following morning and Jacob convinced me to celebrate our 11th wedding anniversary. We had a great day in Seattle, eating good food, shopping for a new purse, and tasting hard cider. I slept hard again that night and haven't needed to take anymore medication since then. It probably helps that I cancelled all my plans social plans that weekend and following week, got a ton of good sleep, finally scheduled surgery (it's on Halloween. Boo!), and cut my dose of prednisone to just 10mg.

There are a lot of mental health issues in my family. My mom had anxiety, but has this incredible attitude about just letting everything go and hasn't needed medication for a long time, even while grieving her sister's death last year. My sister and two of my cousins have bad anxiety. Two aunts and a few cousins have depression. I also have cousins with more severe issues like bipolar disorder and schizophrenia. Mental health has always been something I had knowledge of, advocated for, and wanted to raise awareness about, but I honestly never felt like it really affected me. Touché, anxiety, Touché.


Birth Control

I'm so fired up this week about guns, tax reform, and now, birth control. 

I was two weeks shy of seventeen when I started having sex with my high school sweetheart. My mom found out about a month later. (How?! I didn't keep a diary. I didn't keep condoms in my room or in my purse. I didn't tell my sister, who would have immediately told on me. Moms are magic.) I admitted to it and she made me an appointment the following day at the county health clinic. Why the county clinic and not her gyno? Because it was expensive! Even with my parents' insurance policies! She said if I was old enough to have sex, I was old enough to be responsible for myself. Fair enough.

I had a full exam and was counseled on safe sex, pregnancy, and disease, and walked out with a six month supply of birth control pills and like, fifty condoms. Whoa. I also had another appointment scheduled five months out so that I could get a refill. I kept that appointment and every appointment thereafter. My boyfriend drove me to most of them because my sexual and reproductive health was just as important to him as it was to me. I used their services for free health care until I got my first big girl job at 23 years old and my insurance covered 100% of the cost. Free birth control, for my entire life, gave me the freedom to make my own family planning decisions. I cannot imagine how hard it would be for some not as lucky as I was. And let's not forget that many women take birth control pills for a host of health concerns, not just as contraception.

When Jacob and I got married and had extra income, I started donating to the same county health center that served me through high school and college. After last year's election, I set up reoccurring donations to Planned Parenthood and have been a volunteer at my local PP for almost a year. I don't take birth control pills anymore because Jacob had a (fully-funded by insurance) vasectomy, but women's reproductive rights and access to FREE birth control and family planning resources is extremely important to me. And now, Trump, just as we anticipated, is fucking it all up.

He announced an ACA rollback this morning. The new rule allows any employer the ability to deny birth control coverage on religious or moral grounds, effective immediately. THIS. IS. NOT. OK. I could go on and on about how this will impact families, our communities, our already limited resources, but I'm mainly pissed at the blatant attack on women. Birth control is basic and important preventative health care. Why are we going backwards?! It cannot come down to my God-fearin' employer telling me what I can and can't do with my own body. I say this every single week, but it bears repeating: Fuck Trump. 


I've Been...

I've been listening to these albums:

Fergie's Double Dutchess was loooong overdue, but unfortunately, it's not that great. Favorite tracks (and frankly, the only ones I like): Hungry, A Little Work, Enchanté (Carine), Tension. Wonderful Wonderful by The Killers is also a long time coming and it's different, and I like it just fine, but it's not something I instantly loved. Favorite tracks: Run For Cover, Tyson vs. Douglas, Out of My Mind. There's no doubt that Demi can sing and she stretches her pipes on Tell Me You Love Me, but sometimes it just feels like she's screaming at me. My favorite songs are her slow jams: Daddy Issues, Ruin the Friendship, Concentrate. Miley's back with Younger Now and has totally reinvented herself, again. I've always loved her voice and like that it's showcased on this album, but I could've done without so much twang. Favorite tracks: Malibu, I Would Die For You, Thinkin'.

I've been watching these music videos:

I am OBSESSED with Aly & AJ's Take Me video! The song has been on repeat for months around here and the video is such a cool and fun throwback. I can't wait to see what else they come out with. Lorde's Perfect Places is in such a magical setting! I want to go to there. It took me a minute to love Niall Horan's new tune, Too Much To Ask, but it's definitely grown on me. The video is pretty depressing, but he's so cute, even when he's sad. Find You by Nick Jonas is my jam right now. It's very chill, but so catchy and love that the video matches it's vibe. 

I've been reading these books:

Stay with Me is heartbreak after heartbreak, but it's so engaging and beautifully written. I loved the alternating POV, well-developed characters, and time period. I can't believe it's a debut novel! Are You Sleeping had an interesting plot (especially with the popularity of true crime podcasts) and it was a quick read, but not totally amazing. I've been on a TJR kick lately, and One True Loves was just what I expected from her. I thought the dialogue was really cheesy, but the message about loving and letting go and how your first (or second or third) love shapes you is spot on. What can I say about Thank You for Your Service? How many books/articles/documentaries/movies/news segments do we need before something helps our vets?! They give up their lives (whether they die or not) to protect our freedom. It's completely unacceptable. I've read a lot on this topic and this is another great book. One particular small story completely broke my heart. The Good Daughter is long, but I never wanted to put it down, so it's worth it. It captures you right from the beginning. It's definitely dark, and disturbing at times, but I loved the story and characters and drama. Great crime fiction! Spoiler Alert: The Hero Dies is heartbreaking, but honest and raw, which is sometimes messy and embarrassing. It's snarky and funny, too, just like Ausiello! It's a fast read that really gets you in the end, even though you know it's coming. I ugly cried. 

I've been watching these new tv shows:

I'm all about the guilty pleasure shows lately. The Murder of Laci Peterson was really well done. I was just out of college when she disappeared (like, I graduated ten days before) and didn't pay much attention to the case, so this was fun to revisit. I can't say that Scott didn't murder his wife, but I don't think there was enough evidence to convict him. The media circus and nutzo jurors were also interesting to learn about. The Vanderpump Rules spinoff, Jax and Brittany Take Kentucky, was pretty stupid, but I can't get enough of that dumb cast, so I watched every week. She puts up with way too much. American Vandal sounds so silly, but is such a perfectly executed parody! If you're into shows like Making a Murderer and podcasts like Serial, Accused, or Up and Vanished, you'll love this. I was curious enough to start it, interested after episode two, and totally invested by episode four. It says so much about teen culture, social media, documentary manipulation, etc. I loved it! Big Mouth is also really great! I wasn't sure what to expect from a cartoon about kids going through puberty, but it's funny and relatable with a few WTF moments, but also charming and clever. The characters/voices are perfection! I recommend it if you need a laugh!

I've been seeing these movies:

I liked the cast of It so much and thought it was a very well done film, but was bummed that it wasn't very scary. I don't have a fear of clowns, so I'm sure that isn't how people with coulrophobia felt, but the scary parts felt a little cartoonish to me. I wasn't sure what to expect from Wind River, but it was a great thriller! I loved the cast (Elizabeth Olsen is one of my favorites) and thought about it for days after I saw it. I understand why mother! is getting so much hate. I honestly thought I was going into a horror movie, but that wasn't the case at all. I was completely entertained, from start to finish, and it had me on edge and totally disturbed, so I didn't hate it. And I'm not sure what that says about me...? I didn't know any of the history surrounding the Battle of the Sexes, but really enjoyed the movie and was surprised by how relevant it still is. I audibly scoffed at some of the lines. Emma and Steve were amazing, as usual. American Made wasn't anything special, but it was a fun way to spend an afternoon at the movies! I like watching Tom Cruise play this kind of character. 

I've been streaming these ones:

Rough Night was rough. I did laugh out loud a few times, but it could have been so much better, especially with that talented cast. I don't hate Gaga, but I haven't really loved her since Born This Way and don't think her documentary Gaga: Five Foot Two helped. I feel as bad for her as I do any celebrity dealing with pressure and privacy, and of course because she has fibromyalgia (my mom has it), but she just felt very "on" throughout the movie and kind of annoyed me.

I've been listening to these podcasts:

Both of my new podcasts are about movies. I just started from episode one of 3 Day Rental, which has been going strong for a year and a half now. It's a recap of teen movies from the years 1995-2005. We all know was the golden age of this particular genre! I'm also listening to Karen's podcast, Citizen Dame. Four critics talk all about movies, TV, and Hollywood in general. I LOVE that it's a panel of women talking about what films mean to women.

What have you been up to?
I'm linking up with Gretch and Kristen!

What's New With You


Tuesday Topics: Eight Books On My To Be Read List

I'm linking up with Jenn, sharing eight books on my TBR list. I currently have 281 of them in a Goodreads shelf and know I should be getting around to some classics, but for now, I'm just going to talk about upcoming releases that I can't wait to dive into this fall. Here they are in no particular order.

We Were Eight Years in Power: An American Tragedy by Ta-Nehisi Coates Some essays in this book have already been published, but there are eight new ones that revisit each year of the Obama administration. He also tackles the election. This is my most anticipated fall read.

Artemis by Andy Weir Artemis is a tourist city on the moon, populated by a handful of working­-class and ultrarich residents, and a criminal named Jazz Bashara, who gets embroiled in a high-stakes heist. It doesn't sound like something I'd read, but I loved The Martian, so I'll give it a shot.

Turtles All The Way Down by John Green Turtles tells the story of two teenage girls who decide to investigate the mystery of a fugitive billionaire and how their amateur sleuthing tests the limits of their friendship. I mean, it's new John Green. Finally!

Unqualified by Anna Faris Following the success of her podcast, Anna Faris Is Unqualified, the actress puts some of her best lessons learned down on paper. I love her and am eager to read this comedic memoir. I hope I can get the audiobook!

Vacationland: True Stories from Painful Beaches by John Hodgman Comedian John Hodgman is an older white male monster with bad facial hair, wandering like a privileged Sasquatch through three wildernesses: the hills of Western Massachusetts; the painful beaches of Maine; and the metaphoric haunted forest of middle age that connects them. I've never read one of his books, but I think he's hilarious, so I'll start with this one.

Heather, the Totality by Matthew Weiner The creator of Mad Men offers up a brief but chilling debut novel about a privileged family who arrange themselves around their beautiful, compassionate, entrancing daughter, who happens to attract a young man who poses a threat to their urban bliss. Sign me up!

Uncommon Type by Tom Hanks Yes, that Tom Hanks. I'm so curious about this collection of short stories!

You Can't Spell America Without Me: The Really Tremendous Inside Story of My Fantastic First Year as President Donald J. Trump by Alec Baldwin Baldwin's Trump impression was a bright spot of the election and I can't wait to read this parody.

I'm also looking forward to these...

What are you excited to read this fall?
Link up right here!