Homesick Adult

Mom answers the FaceTime call with a smile and a smirk as if she knew I’d be calling her for help. She’s holding her phone too low, all I can see is her chin and up her nose, and yet I feel cozy as a newborn being swaddled. She’s making dinner at her house, so we have to be quick. My husband runs over and grabs my phone so he can show my mom what I’m doing. I follow her instructions as she yells them out:  Throw everything into the pan. Get a beer. Get the white wine. Poor them in, more. More. In all of the corners. Grab the salt, pepper, seasoned salt, garlic, and dried parsley. Add them in. More Vanessa, IT’S NOT GOING TO TASTE LIKE ANYTHING IF YOU DON’T ADD ENOUGH SPICES. No, that’s not enough, keep going. Okay. Wash your hands and mix it all together. You missed a corner. Okay now try it. The JUICE that you created with the wine and beer, Vanessa. I think it needs more salt, I know I can’t taste it but I can tell. Okay. You’re good. Now get it in the oven.

I’m wearing an apron from my first part-time job. It is faded black and reaches just above my knees. Across the chest is the familiar threaded white block letters that read CARUSO with a red and white line underneath.

I have a sink full of potatoes and defrosted sausage. The mushrooms, yellow, red, and orange peppers are already chopped and sitting hazardous close to the edge of my tiny kitchen counter. Every light in our condo is on and every blind is open as if the brightness will shed some light on what I should be doing with the ingredients in front of me. I know that they can be turned into something delicious. I know that with the addition of a few spices, our 600 square foot condo can smell exactly like my parent’s house. I just don’t know how.

This is the second meal I am making in our condo and if the first one is any indication, this too will be a tasteless nightmare. I’m not sure what happened with meal one. I did everything exactly how my mother would do it. I marinated the chicken early on in the day so the juices would make the big white breasts moist and succulent. I cut and boiled the broccoli for the same amount of time as my mother would AND I even bought the same microwave-minute rice that she does. But, when we sat down to eat the meal that took me all day to create it did not taste like anything. I’ve actually belched things with more flavour.

Over the 29 years I lived with my parents, I watched my mom cook meal number 2 numerous times. I should know how to throw sausages, potatoes, peppers and mushrooms into a pan and make it taste good. But the horror from the previous night was too much to bare so, of course, I had no choice but to call my mom. Apart from taking over an hour to cook in our condo-sized-easy-bake-oven, the meal was perfect. All plates were empty, all stomachs full.

It wasn’t until a few days later that I realized making a delicious meal was more about creating the same environment that my mom did at home than impressing my husband or my friends. Every meal made in our condo will be more about being homesick than about adding fuel to my body.

My husband and I got married two years ago and since we had to wait for our condo to be built, we lived with my parents. There were many a thing that got on my nerves: it seemed like there was always someone around, the basement was too cold and dark to read or feel creative enough to write (honestly, where does my brain come up with this stuff?), the family dog barking all of the time, and limited privacy. By year two of living as a married woman in my parents’ basement, I was itching to get out. I counted down the days, hours, and minutes until move-in day. I was depressed when it had gotten delayed by a few months, and I found any reason I could to get out of the house.

We got very close to my parents during those two years. We had dinner with them every night and spent weekends lounging around the house with them because we had to save money. My husband would always join my parents for a nightcap and would stay up into the wee hours of the morning talking about Donald Trump, stocks, life, and whatever else came to mind. The moment we got our official move-in date, my husband and I started to feel sad. Yes, we were excited to get our own place but something just didn’t sit right. My mom helped me pack, move, and painted out entire condo over three days to ensure we would settle in quickly. She went shopping with me and spent two weeks forgetting whatever she had to do in her home to make my transition easier.

Our first weekend in the condo was easy because my husband and I were both at home. The second week, not so much. I would jolt awake every morning at 5:00 AM after my husband said goodbye and left for the day. The quiet of the condo invaded my ears; realizing that my dog wasn’t going to come to wake me up, or my mom wouldn’t be sitting in the backyard having her cigarette not only made me feel lonely but spun me into a panic.

Every. Single. Morning.

We went to my parents’ house for dinner the other night. I felt more at home there than in our condo. I felt safe. The house was filled with people and the scent of pasta sauce cooked lovingly for eight hours wafted through the house. We were only there for a few hours and we didn’t want to leave. When we got in the car and drove away we both sighed and looked at each other. I was already crying and my husband’s eyes were a little wet as well. We immediately began listing the things we missed about living with my parents:

  1. Someone was always there to talk to

  2. Family dinners (both delicious and fun)

  3. The cool dark basement that was ours

  4. Waffles – the family dog who is as cute as he is annoying

  5. My nieces – who always seem to be at my parents’ house

  6. Hanging out with my parents – learning from them, laughing with them

I, honestly, didn’t want to go home (to the condo) and the homesickness ate away at us the entire drive home. I know that there is a point where you have to be independent and grow the fuck up and I want to. I do. I just never thought I would feel this homesick. Some people, including my parents, would say that they babied us too much (my sister, brother, and husband included). Some people would say that we’re spoiled and need to cut the cord. I would agree if I didn’t feel homesick as fuck. My parents created a home that was free of judgement, full of safety, and EVEN when we were all annoyed by each other, overflowing with love. They created a home that their kids don’t want to leave and I am so thankful for that.

Apparently feeling homesick is natural, especially for those who’ve never been away from home. It just means that you miss the place you felt safe and secure. I am a basketcase full of insecurities so it only makes sense that I miss home. I cringe with slight embarrassment when I think about the cry-fest I had during that drive home. My mom keeps telling me that I’ll adjust and get used to not living with them and even though that might be true, I’ll always think of their house as my home.

xo, Vanessa

Out of Focus

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The snow is falling without fear, without apprehension. My morning commute is becoming an hour longer than it has to be. My hands grip the wheel as my shoulders hunch up toward my ears. My mind is racing a mile a minute in spite of my car’s snail pace. The flashing break lights in front of me are no longer in focus – I force myself to blink.

If you’re like me, doing one thing at a time isn’t enough. I like to feel busy, to use my time wisely. I like to have a lot different projects on the go. Recently I have been writing for my Writing Group, trying to revamp my blog and pump out a few posts, spending loads of time on social media, looking into the job market to see what else is out there, reading whatever book I can get my hands on, and trying to purchase the necessities for our condo.

The problem is that nothing is getting finished. Everything is started and each time I go back to a new task I’m left frustrated, confused, and cannot seem to focus. I come home from work a stressed out, tired mess and spend my evenings and weekends watching Netflix or making excuses to spend time with my family just to avoid my long-winded to-do list.

Simply put, I cannot do it all. Not all at once.  As much as I’d like to re-brand and revamp my blog, I know that I won’t be able to dedicate myself to the blogging world like I did when I was in my early twenties. So, I’ve chosen to focus on writing for my Writing Group (which I hope leads to the writing of a novel) and reading. I can buy things for the condo closer to our move-in date, I will spend less time on social media, and I’ve signed up for Indeed’s emails to keep me in the loop when it comes to jobs.

It’s time to switch focus and get rid of the blur.

xo, Vanessa 

*photo is a stock photo from WordPress*

You Don’t Blog Anymore (what was all of it for?)

I didn’t consciously decide to take a break from writing blog posts, it just happened. I’ve been writing a lot (well some days) thanks to my editing/writing meetings with Amanda (from Be the Next Her) but that’s for a different project. It’s not that I’ve been too busy to blog, I just haven’t felt like it. My mind is focused on other things and my time is being dispersed in very calculated ways.

And now, after an insanely eye-opening conversation with a few of my high-school besties, my time is going to be spent in even more calculated ways. As my friend so eloquently put it:

When struggling with a decision you have to ask yourself:  Is this going to help get me to where I want to be in my life? Is this going to affect my friendship/relationship positively or negatively? Is this adding value to my life?

Based on your answer to these fundamental questions, making decisions will be a helluva lot easier. The only thing left to do is figure out what I want for my life. I know that I want to work in Toronto (with a career rooted in writing and social media), I want to have honest and nurturing friendships, and I want to have a love-filled marriage based on communication and trust. Now that I’ve narrowed down what I want out of life, making decisions might be a little easier.

xo, Vanessa

Adventure is calling – his name is Alex

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 My husband and I often take separate cars when we make plans during the week since we meet up right after work. On our way home from whenever we are, Alex calls me as soon as we get in the car. We talk as I follow him home or he follows me. With our work schedules being rather different, it seems that these conversations (brought to you in part by Bluetooth), are the longest and most intense ones that we have. The only thing better would be being in the car with him.

On our way home from date-night last week the traffic was haunting; try turning onto highway 50 during rush hour and you’ll know what I’m talking about. I noticed a few cars turning down a street that I’d never traveled down before. I assumed that they were trying to avoid the traffic so I asked Alex if we should follow them. To that he said “Up to you babe.”

“Fuck it. Let’s try.” I said with a confidence that rarely makes an appearance, especially when it is really needed. On we drove. Paved roads turned into dirt ones, assumed roads lead to un-assumed ones. We came across buildings we didn’t know existed, new suburbs and abandoned farms, and a  deranged patch of land with sheds (or miniature homes) littered about. The entire way I kept asking Alex if we should keep going and to that he said “Fuck it babe, you only live once!”

After a series of steep hills and roads that wound so tightly I could barely stay on them, we ended up at a dead-end, nowhere near our home. I stopped the car and looked over at Alex sitting in his. The smile on his face was from ear to ear as he began to laugh. I immediately began to giggle.

Maybe it was the DELICIOUS white-wine sangria I had with dinner or the excitement in finding secret hidden places among the trees, but I felt sheer and utter joy. Nothing clouded my mind, I felt in control and calm and lost and safe. Life should be filled with these little adventures, where you enter into the unknown and find little pieces of yourself that you may have lost along the way.

You only live once.

xo, Vanessa

Anxiety Update – Back with a Vengeance

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I don’t want to write about this but I should because sometimes a step back means taking a leap forward. I hoped that my previous post about anxiety would be my last. I truly believed that I had gained control over it, that I would never have to deal with the severe heart palpitations, nausea, aches and pains, headaches, and panic attacks again. I didn’t have the slightest inkling that it would come back, that I would need to take my medication again. I believed with every ounce of my being that I wouldn’t sit at my desk and have to feel like I was drowning, gasping for air.

Oh, how wrong I was.

A few weeks ago my mom noticed a change in my attitude and I noticed the small signs of my anxiety coming back. It happened slowly, a few sleepless night, the dread of looming Mondays, and a shorter temper. Then suddenly I was over the edge. I became filled with fear and worries. My anxiety wrapping its arms around me like an old friend. I tried my breathing exercises, repeating my mantras, and working out more but to no avail. After yet another panic attack and a conversation with my husband and mom, I decided it would be best if I went back on my anxiety medication.

What I am now trying to figure out is what my trigger is. Why did it come back?  How come I could keep it at bay for months and then it returns with a vengeance?

xo, Vanessa

Tell your ‘Boring’ Stories

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In spite of writer’s block and simply not making time to write as often as I should, I still call myself a writer. I believe in stories; that a life is made up of so many chapters, narratives, and essays that it’s difficult to keep track of which part of the book you’re living in.

Last week while speaking with Amanda DiPasquale and Sociphoria we discussed the real truth (not alternative fact) that blogs are dying. When it comes to social media, blogs are secondary to Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat (Facebook is dead to me).  No one wants to read thousand word essays or posts. People want photos, videos, and 200 words or less. I know it’s true but I wish it wasn’t so for  few reasons.

  1. People don’t seek out what I write about
  2. People don’t write what I like to read

Maybe I write too personally. Maybe more things should kept private. Even my fiction is utterly revealing. I understand the desire for privacy. There is so much pressure to share everything that there comes a point where you don’t even feel like you own your life. There also comes a point where you realize that no one cares.

Well, I care.

I care about your stories as much as your outfit; okay I care way more about your stories than what you’re wearing. I care about whatever you have to say in a thousand words or less because while I’m reading them I feel less alone. For those 10 or 15 minutes I have someone to relate to. I am understood. I feel connected to the universe even though I’m staring at a screen. Stories connect us, that’s why I care.

I care because we’re all just stories; good, bad, and boring.

xo, Vanessa

Anxiety Update

What most people don’t tell you about anxiety is that even when you’re on medication it never fully disappears. It still lives within you, taking up space in your heart and your mind. It moves in and hibernates until something doesn’t go as planned, work is busy, or you get into a fight with your significant other. The medication tames it, it helps you sleep, it keeps your bowels regular (okay that’s just a weird side-effect that I didn’t mind), it calms you. It helped me get through a really draining year, it saved me.

As medication affects everyone differently, I must admit that there were a few things I did not like about it. The constant fatigue was one, the other was the numbing of my emotions.  I would feel happy but not quite so, I’d feel sad but the tears wouldn’t flow, I’d feel anxious but it didn’t overwhelm me, and a very large piece of me missed my overly emotional emotions. Words became stuck somewhere between my head and my heart and I had difficult time both writing and speaking my mind. If I couldn’t write (or write well) than was I really me?

There came a point just after our wedding when I misplaced my medication. Although I found it a few days later I decided not to take it anymore. I took the alarm off my phone and placed the pills in my cupboard. I decided that since I no longer had wedding planning harboring over me and I was finally (FINALLY) getting good at my day job, I would try to continue my life medication-free.

I’m not sure how long this will last but I am taking every moment and every stress-filled week one step at a time. I am taking all of the tools my friends, cousins, colleagues, and parents taught me and putting them to use.

It’s not so much about numbing my feelings, it’s about controlling my anxiety.

“Worrying is carrying tomorrow’s load with today’s strength- carrying two days at once. It is moving into tomorrow ahead of time. Worrying doesn’t empty tomorrow of its sorrow, it empties today of its strength.” ― Corrie ten Boom 

xo, Vanessa

The Bride’s Diary – WE DID IT

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We did it! We travelled a 1.5 year-long road jumping over arguments, dodging (and even embracing) tears, and pausing at crossroads until we reached destination “I DO”.

November 11, 2016 was exactly how I hoped it would be; calm, relaxing, and fun. Since we had the ceremony and reception in the same location (The Hazleton Manor) the day was super easy. Hair at 9 AM (many thanks to Chroma Hair Design), make up at 11 AM, a few mimosa to calm the nerves, and it was time for the ceremony.

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Photo by: Victoria Stacey // Flowers and Decor: Paradise Floral Studio

The rest of the day was like a dream. I immediately began to tear up as I walked down the aisle with my parents to the music stylings of Out of the Blue. Seeing the smile on Alex’s face and watching his legs shake nervously filled me with excitement and joy. The ceremony itself was quick, fun, and completely US – it did help that we got to choose all of the readings and write out own vows. The hall was decorated to perfection (thanks to my mom and mostly Paradise Floral Studio), the music was on point, the food was utterly delicious, and the drinks overflowing.  Everyone embraced us with a warm hug and a smile. The entire hall was filled with love, hope, and happiness – I could feel it oozing from our guests.

Yes, there were things that didn’t go exactly as planned; I was grooving on the dance floor when the back of my dress popped open. It may have fit like I glove in the morning but after dancing, sweating, and eating, I could barely breathe!!!! All in all, the wedding was everything I hoped it would be and so much more. Thanks to our family and close friends, we made memories that will last a lifetime.

Thank you to everyone who attended the wedding and everyone on social media who wished us well.

xo, Vanessa

The Bride’s Diary – ONE WEEK TO GO

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It’s safe to say that I’ve been rather distracted lately. Apart from all of the last-minute wedding details (which my mom has graciously taken charge of) there’s also this heavy cloud of confusion weighing on my heart.

Let me explain…

The confusion has nothing to do with the wedding. That is the only thing that I am certain of at the moment. What I’m unsure of is where I’m headed. I’ve had several conversations with people in the last few weeks about my writing, life, and my future. I scroll through LinkedIn and Indeed like my life literally depends on it. I click-through vacation packages on Expedia like I can actually afford to go on every trip I have in mind. I frantically search for apartments for rent in Toronto since the condo Alex and I purchased won’t be ready until 2018. The truth is that I’m feeling rather lost, UNaccomplished, and as if I haven’t taken enough risks. No amount of coffee or wedding plans have been able to distract me from this feeling.

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My current boss said something that I just can’t shake – she said that she hopes that I’m living- really living. That I take chances and have no regrets. She wants me to keep writing and following my dreams. My old boss used to say that to me all the time and I can’t help but wonder why people keep telling me this. Can they tell that I’ve been distracted? That I’ve thrown my passion project to the side without any regard for my dreams? Maybe.

Good news is that the entire universe seems to be pushing me toward my dreams. I received an email from a literary agency in Toronto asking if I had anything I want to share with them. Thankfully, I do and I am going to use every waking hour I have (after the wedding) to put together the book I’ve been writing on and off for what seems like years. Perhaps the more I work on it the less I’ll feel like I’m failing…

So with one week to go until the wedding, THIS is what I’m preoccupied with!  OY VEY!

xo, Vanessa

The Bride’s Diary – 28 Days to Go!

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As I sat down at La Bamboche with my fluffy cappuccino I realized that I was about an hour early for my final wedding dress fitting.

MY FINAL WEDDING DRESS FITTING.

Which meant that I would get to take my dress home because it’s so close to the wedding that there’s no point in keeping at the store. Because I’m getting married in less than a month. In less than a month I get to marry my best friend, but not only that, I get to see what all this planning actually accomplished.

It feels completely surreal. Where did this year go?! Didn’t we just get engaged? Every time I try to picture what the day will look like I either get a bout of anxiety or I cry with happiness. I’m nervous about the big day and hope everything goes as planned but I’m also excited. Excited to finally say the vows I’ve written a million times, excited to walk down the aisle with my mom and dad, excited to watch my friends perform a song or two, excited to dance the night away with my family and closest friends. I’m also excited for the relief I’ll feel once the day is over. I’m looking forward to not worry about seating charts or floral arrangements or offending anyone. I’m excited for what happens after I DO.

Wait, what happens after I DO?! I guess we’ll find out ❤️.

xo, Vanessa

**A special thank you to all of the wonderful women at Ritché Bridal for your patience, support, and magical alterations. I felt like an old friend every time I went for a fitting and I am sad for all of the future brides out there that won’t get to have the Ritché Bridal experience. Congratulations on your retirement and thank you for the dress of my dreams.**