How Not To "Cope"

I’m overwhelmed. Slowly sinking. And over the past 32 years have developed frighteningly inadequate coping skills. Who knew trying to buy a foreclosed house in Tennessee owned by a bank in Texas which hasn’t been occupied for two years while trying to secure financing through a non-profit advocacy organization would end up being a process that closely resembles a full time job?!

Never mind that I already HAVE a full time job. A job that requires my nearly undivided attention at least 8 hours every day. And while some may be operating under the misconception that architects just sit at drafting tables drawing pretty pictures all day, my job is actually fairly demanding, and often stressful enough to warrant alcohol... or tears... or oreos.

In addition to my full time job for which I am paid, AND my new full time job dealing with bankers, realtors, contractors, inspectors, and NACA every goddamn hour of every goddamn day of the week, I am also trying to help a friend rent her house out here in Nashville. Under normal circumstances, this would not be a big deal. However, responding to emails and phone calls and requests from interested parties and then trying to schedule a time for those parties to view the house while I’m simultaneously responding to phone calls and generating emails and creating project scopes and trying to schedule times to meet with contractors and inspectors, and wading through the murky swamps of not only NACA red tape, but foreclosure red tape, trying desperately to meet our inspection deadline and our closing deadline, while trying to competently coordinate with structural engineers and fire safety code professionals and making sure proximity cabinets are shown on the plan the way the hospital wants them, and taking conference calls with elevator construction vendors and preconstruction managers and hospital equipment vendors while trying to help design a building that functions safely and efficiently and looks halfway fucking decent…

and that’s when the drowning sensation swirls around me and I panic and start gasping for air.

Believe it or not, in person, I’m not much of a complainer. I’ve always been of the opinion that my stress, my problems, my busy-ness is no worse than anyone else’s. Right? I mean, we all have shit to deal with and my shit isn’t any more important or special than anyone else’s shit. Which is why I don’t complain. Which is why I complain here instead. If I didn’t do it here, the consequences of keeping this stuff to myself could be catastrophic.

I’ll keep treading because I have no other choice and because I’m just being a big whiny baby, and what the hell would I do if I REALLY had stress? You know, the serious kind of stress that people everywhere have to deal with everyday. Like losing my job or losing a loved one or not having clean water or enough food or a safe place to sleep.

You would think that putting my piddly problems into perspective like that would snap me out of my navel-gazing stress, but oddly it doesn’t. Instead, it makes me feel like a horrible person. Like, how dare I complain about the stress in my life when, compared to A LOT of people, I have it really good. So then, in addition to the stress that has not dissipated, I berate myself for being so ungrateful, so self-important, so grossly self-absorbed. Yeah, it’s vicious. And totally unhealthy and unproductive. And the kicker is that I realize how stupid I’m being, so then on top of the stress and self battery, I further chastise myself for being so self indulgent as to even waste the time and energy berating myself about something so completely inconsequential. And then I feel insignificant and inadequate and want to crawl under the covers of my bed and devour 3 pints of ice cream.

Coping skills? What coping skills?


A Marriage Manifesto

Or something like that.

Women. Thirty-something women. Single, thirty-something women. Intelligent, single, thirty-something, women.

We hang out.

And when we hang out (to watch LOST...or whatever), at some point, we almost always end up having the marriage conversation. Seems like the older we get, the more preoccupied we become with the subject of marriage. We discuss the pros and cons, the potential pitfalls, the sacrifices, the right and wrong ways of going about this thing called marriage. Obviously we have opinions on the subject and often we are inordinately skeptical and highly cynical of the whole marriage thing. After all, we haven’t chosen to stay single for no good reason. We have our reasons. Oh yes we do. And they are varied.

But, no matter what our individual reasons are for remaining unmarried, the marriage conversation usually boils down to some universal agreements amongst Intelligent, Single, Thirty-Something women.

Obviously, finding another human being you actually envision spending the REST OF YOUR LIFE with is a challenge. Yeah, that’s a biggie. Some may say we’re too “picky”, or too independent. But look, we see friends, co-workers, acquaintances, celebrities…people who have “settled”. People who have said, “Yep, this is the one. This is the one person I want to be with forever and ever.” And then regret it, 6 months… 6 years… 16 years, later. It’s not that we don’t trust our own judgment. But, when we’ve witnessed fellow Intelligent Single women dive into marriages that don’t work, it makes us think twice, by golly. Holy hell! If it can happen to her, it can happen to me!

It’s a matter of witnessing too many divorces, surrounded by a multitude of unhappy, dysfunctional marriages. You may think we’re anti-marriage. You would be wrong. We’re realistic. We understand that things like marriage are difficult. Marriage doesn’t “fix” any thing that’s wrong in your life. Marriage isn’t a way to become someone or something you’re not. Marriage isn’t an escape and it certainly isn’t something to be entered into lightly. We take it very seriously.

We don’t want marriage for the sake of marriage. That’s a biggie too.

Sheep we are not. We understand that marriage is not a social club. It’s not something you do because all your friends are doing it. You don’t marry someone because it’s expected. You don’t marry someone in the hopes that you’ll be more accepted by society. You don’t marry a person because you are in love with the idealized daydream of being married.

Also, we’re patient. I know that’s quite laughable coming from the most impatient person on the planet! But, it’s true. We don’t want a marriage that isn’t quite right. And we’re willing to wait for one that IS quite right – not perfect (we’re not delusional after all) – but definitely quite right. We’re willing to invest the crucial time and effort it takes to really get to know a person before we make any major, life-altering decisions. Maybe we’re overly cautious. Neurotic, even. Commitment phobic. Selfish. Negative. Cowardly. We’ve been called all of these things and worse.

We also understand that marriage isn’t a Disney fairytale. Marriage isn’t a rosy whirlwind courtship followed by a romantic proposal and a big white wedding. It’s a decision based in love, respect and trust that two adults come to together. We don't feel that is something that can (or should) happen overnight.

Marriage isn’t something you commit to because you're keen on the idea of playing the wife role in your very own mini-series. We believe marriage is committing to that person who you know ALWAYS has your back. We feel that two people in a marriage should always have each other’s best interest at heart. Marriage is not for the selfish. Not for the faint of heart. Not for the fair-weather friend.

We understand that marriage is being with someone you can depend upon - no matter what. We will not settle for anything less. If that means we will never settle, that’s something we’re okay with. Again, if it's not quite right, we don't want it. Marriage is not some kind of badge of honor we’re hoping to collect so that we “fit in”. It's a decision that requires more than blind faith.

And so that is why, (as many of you already know) Daniel and I have decided to get married. Didn't see that coming, didja?!


Sometimes it feels as though all I do is complain. It's always something, isn't it? The weather sucks. My job is stressful. The house-buying process is making me want to drive a railroad spike through my face. Etc. Etc.

So, at least for this post, I’m not going to complain. Not at all. Not one bit. Even though my co-workers are making me crazy. Not gonna complain. Even though I want to scream really loud and stuff Q-tips up their noses. Not gonna complain.

And just because purchasing a foreclosed home owned by an evil bank is the most ridiculously onerous process known to contemporary man, I’m not gonna complain about it.

I’m going to focus on the good. Positive frame of mind. Polly-fucking-anna!

Let us bask in the goodness...

1. I have a job. Woo-hoo! Many in my industry do not, suddenly, have jobs.

2. And not only do I have a job, but I even got a raise at my annual review last week. Life is good.

3. And I’m buying a house, and even though it’s (see above), it’s a really cool house, with a lot of potential.

4. And I’m enjoying drawing up construction plans for the rehab/renovation which will take place (cuz that’s what we architects like to do).

5. And now is a great time to buy a first home because our government is handing out cash-money.

Ummmm…what else?

6. Oh yeah. And LOST is freaking insane this season. Gawd I love that show!

7. And today is my sister’s birthday and she’s awesome.

8. And Daniel is starting to feel better after three days of being seriously sick.

9. And I got a really cute pair of shoes this weekend – on sale!

10. And I had an ice cream sandwich last night after dinner.

11. And I’m having a good hair day today.

12. And it’s Friday.


Viva La Revolucion

Last night, Daniel and I went to my favorite movie theater to see the film Che.

I loved it.

It's one of those epic (and by epic I'm not only referring to the 5 hour running time) stories that really gets under your skin and worms its way into your brain. Sounds lovely, eh?

Ernesto Che Guevara - a familiar sounding name, yes? Perhaps a somewhat foggy, nefarious figure in the Cuban Revolution. Hell, maybe even the details of the Cuban Revolution are pretty foggy. Maybe like me, you didn't take many (any) history classes in college except for art and architecture histories. And maybe in high school, if the history lesson didn't revolve around the US (or portray us in a positive light), then maybe it simply wasn't taught. So, unless you were a total geek and a member of the Model UN team for four years, maybe your views of world affairs grew up askew with large gaping gaps of missing information. Maybe.

Or maybe you know that Ernesto Che Guevara was an Argentine physician, who after seeing first hand the extreme poverty and oppression of Latin American peasants, became a revolutionary hero and a legend. Or maybe you know Che Guevara was a brutal and merciless communist who helped Fidel Castro overthrow the Cuban government. But what do we really know? It's all a matter of perspective.

What we do know is how Hollywood often distorts and maligns history, and perhaps that is the case with Che. But it was a story well told, beautifully filmed, with a brilliant performance by Benicio del Toro. Whether you view Che Guevara as a hero or a traitor, here was a man, an educated man, who gave up what could have been a very comfortable life, to become a champion of the people. And not even his own people! He was fanatically passionate about social justice, probably a little crazy as well, but he was also an educated and intelligent man. A reasonable man. An uncompromising man. A man to be respected, if not admired. The kind of character that really makes you think.

So, if you have 5 hours to spare, go see Che, you won't be sorry.