Oh dear Tumblr, I am sorry to have neglected thy poor pages for so many a month. My apology may fall on deaf ears (or blind eyes, perhaps), but… alas! weddings! They take up a surprising amount of time.
However, now that the wedding nonsense has been put behind us, we can continue our long-standing relationship in the best possible terms. Yes, dear blog, I am back, and hopefully here to stay.
So what has happened since January?
Wedding showers, bachelorette parties, a wedding, a honeymoon, life-threatening encounters with wild Elk cows, 24 hour road-trips to other people’s weddings, and school besides.
Oh! And of course, May 31st marked the one year mark since Andrew (and I, kind of) adopted the infamous Kiya (also known as “Kiya-Dog,” “KD,” “the GSD,” “Kiya-berry,” and occasionally “dumb dog”).
Obviously her 1st Gotcha Day was the most important event of the past five months.
I think I can safely say that anyone who has adopted a dog can attest to how much its personality can change over the course of the first few months. Even Becker, the laziest little greyhound I have ever had the pleasure of knowing, took a couple months to fully settle into my daily routine and let his laid-back personality shine. Poor Kiya probably took six months to crawl out of her shell.
Her story begins with the German Shepherd Rescue of Central Texas. (Many thanks to Bev Gainer for her wonderful work in rescuing GSDs from shelters around the area.) Apparently, Kiya was found under an abandoned house with one surviving puppy. She was an extremely nervous creature; animal control had to use live traps to catch her. They estimated her age to be somewhere between 1 and 2 years old when she was taken in by the rescue, and was diagnosed with having heart worms.
For those not familiar with heart worms, the resulting treatment restricts the dog to laying in bed for more than a month. Any exertion past going outside to relieve themselves is strictly banned. This means that when we took Kiya in, she had to live in little bubble… She couldn’t escape.
Even after she was no longer confined to a 4x4 area, the little dog showed very few German Shepherd qualities (namely, bravery and self-assuredness). Her ears were almost always pinned to her head in a submissive state, and her willingness to play was non-existent. On one particular occasion, Andrew tried to gently toss Kiya a duck toy that she liked to carry around the apartment. Instead of catching it, Kiya cowered from the falling object, then proceeded to run upstairs and hide for the next several hours. We didn’t try to play toss with her for a long time after that.
Kiya also suffered from separation anxiety. On more than one occasion, Andrew found the dog pen toppled over, blinds destroyed, leashes chewed, and yoga mats partially eaten. Her list of stress-induced casualties could easily fill a blog in and of itself, but I’ll stop in an effort to save what little dignity Kiya has left. Andrew would leave his computer on to record her shenanigans when he wasn’t home, and was not surprised to find a pacing, stressed out dog. Her panting was punctuated only by occasional howls of distress. In addition to being constantly terrified, Kiya was also attempting to starve herself to death. She would maybe (MAYBE) eat a cup of dog food every other day— and sometimes she would accept juicy treats we would leave in her bowl.
She would also find the weirdest things to be frightening. She would not walk over grates. Squeaky toys would surprise her. Kittens were mildly scary (although granted, the kittens I fostered were ferocious). She would flop over the moment a hand started to reach for her head for pets. She had no idea how to play with other dogs. One time, early in the Kiya-and-Becker relationship, Beck-man tried to start a play session with the GSD. He eagerly nipped at the back of her neck, and Kiya, white-eyed and scared out of her wits, immediately fell over and submissively pleaded with Andrew to save her.
But thankfully, Kiya has come out of her shell.
Andrew started to leave Kiya at my apartment during the day while he went to class/work so that she had the company of both me and Becker. The greyhound’s calm demeanor worked wonders with Kiya; she wouldn’t destroy a non-toy object while she was with the Beck-man. She started to catch toys out of the air when we tossed them. She wouldn’t cower behind me at the dog park anymore. And she made friends with the kittens.
Becker wasn’t the only being in the household to contribute to her newfound confidence. Andrew and I worked tirelessly to teach her how to walk on a leash— and let me tell you, that was no easy job. Andrew would thrust her leash at me in frustration when she wasn’t being cooperative; we would trade so that he could walk with the easy Becker for a bit, while I struggled with correcting the GSD. We started clicker training with Kiya (her current repertoire stops at sit, down, speak, and shake). To curb her separation anxiety, we would take steps to make sure we would not greet her immediately after returning home. Kiya has always been a sweet little thing, but the road to her becoming a confident dog has been marked with many trials and errors.
She still has her quirks, to be sure. She cannot handle excitement without pacing with a toy in her mouth. Andrew and I are used to being greeted by a tail-wagging, toy-carrying, happy german shepherd (and greyhound, but this post isn’t about him) when we get back to the apartment. She has an unlimited (read: INEXHAUSTIBLE) amount of energy. She no longer allows herself to be walked all over by Becker, and will readily play tug with dogs who try to take her toy-of-the-moment. Sometimes she forgets that she knows how to properly walk on a leash when another dog passes by. She has the most expressive ears and eyebrows I’ve ever seen in a dog. She has become adorably protective of our home, and often alerts us to the mail man and other guests with a low woof.
Andrew and I aren’t really sure how much of a “real guard dog” Kiya would be. It’s a common topic of discussion between us. On one hand, we’ve seen the terribly anxious, submissive dog that we know Kiya can be. On the other, to what lengths would she protect her new pack? Last week, Kiya and Becker stayed with my parents while we traveled to West Virginia for a wedding. When we returned (at 3 in the morning), we were greeted with a woof, a long growl, and an impressive display of barking prowess from Kiya, but would she have attacked if we were actual intruders? She shut up the moment I scolded her (though whether it’s because she recognized me or because she’s still a shy dog, I may never know). Either way, I think anyone would be terrified of the sound she was able to produce.
She’s become an assertive, sweet, playful dog. If you had told me a year ago that she would have been anything but painfully shy and submissive, I would have laughed in your face. But then again, if you told me I would be married by this time this year, I would have laughed in your face and peed in my pants. If you had told me that I would be married AND Kiya would be the ring-bearer, I would have made sure you were put into an insane asylum.
Anyway, perhaps I’m not the best person to capture her hilarious existence in so few words. Her humor is subtle… And I also suppose my sense of humor is easily tickled.
Anyway, I’m so blessed to have this dog in my life. Happy 1st Gotcha Day, Kiya. Love you bunches.
I will end this with a video of Kiya derping in dirt, and Becker eating grass. It never fails to make me laugh.
Friends, Romans, countrymen—lend me your ears. I have a confession to make to the interwebs. I am sure you have heard of my upcoming nuptials, and with the recent release of the wedding date (March 2nd!) many a rumor have passed through gossiping lips. Half-hearted congratulations have been delivered to my step. And my belly has become the (uncomfortable) object of furtive, stolen glances. So let me put to rest any unsettling thoughts before this whole fiasco gets out of hand:
I am not pregnant.
In fact, I am so not pregnant that I’ve lost a lot of weight… My muscle has been slowly deteriorating with the lack of exercise (see: my shoulder/back injury). But other than that, I am still flying solo—no babies on deck— and I am as healthy as a pickle.
We are having a short engagement because we want a short engagement.
The truth of the matter is that Andrew and I have discussed our potential marriage since late last July (yes, for those of you counting, we were at the 9 month mark). Obviously when the initial conversations began, we didn’t want to rush into anything. New-ish/all relationships are tricky to navigate. We had toyed with the idea of getting married once I graduated— even if we put off the official engagement. We knew that we wanted to keep it short because A) why would we want to wait to get married if we knew it was already going to happen, B) why would we need the average ~14 months to plan a party, and C) The idea of sitting around a table and laboring over color schemes and party favors and hors d’oeuvres just wasn’t our style. We wanted to keep everything as simple and as authentic to us as possible. Our timeframe has shifted a little bit due to some recent (non-pregnancy related) developments, but otherwise, we have stayed mostly true to our original plan. 9 weeks to throw together a wedding wasn’t exactly what either of us had in mind, but it’s working out just fine. I feel like the authenticity is still present, and that our wedding will be quite indicative of our relationship with each other, and with God. We are spending this limbo-period trying to really focus on the upcoming marriage, and not the wedding.
And that’s pretty cool. It’s very “us.”
While I have your attention, I would like to get all wedding-related topics out of the way. I just need to go into a side note about the “proposal.” I don’t really know how to respond to people when they ask for the “deets” or the “full story,” because there really wasn’t one. Andrew and I were sitting at his parent’s kitchen table, discussing how it seemed like the appropriate time to really get down to wedding planning and… voila. It was “official.” There was no flash mob, no engagement ring, no sparklers and confetti and cupcakes. It was simply us, the soft murmur of the TV playing in the next room, the cooling tea in our hands, and our two dogs at our feet. And I was overwhelmed with joy anyway.
I’d be lying if I said I didn’t enjoy a good, romantic “guy-meets-girl, guy-surprises-girl, guy-drops-down-on-one-knee, everyone lives happily ever after” tale, but when it comes down to the nitty-gritty, it’s just not me. The feminist, hyper-pragmatic side of me gags at the thought of having five seconds to decide about with whom I want to spend the rest of my life. How does it even make sense that the guy gets months to contemplate this life-altering decision, and the girl just kind of goes along for the ride? I would die if the issue hadn’t been discussed in an in-depth, serious manner beforehand. How could we (as a couple) enter that kind of commitment without copious amounts of prayer and contemplation from the start? How in the world would a simple inkling that he was going to propose be enough for me? Hint: it would never have been. No thanks.
The presentation of the ring (two weeks late) didn’t have much fanfare either. We had just finished meeting with our marriage mentors over lunch, and he slipped the ring onto his pinky while I was trying to unlock my bike. I caught a glimpse of it sparkling in the corner of my eye, and basically demanded that he hand it over before I left to go take care of some Longhorn Open business. I was running somewhat late, and I knew that the ring was coming that day in the mail anyway so… I was happy, but a little less than surprised.
And while I’m on a roll, disappointing my wonderful readers, and crushing all the hopes of those wishing to live vicariously through me, I am going to go ahead and announce that my ring isn’t a diamond either—my stone is actually moissanite.
Now before all the ladies raise their pitchforks about how Andrew is a cheapskate (lol), I have to clarify some things:
A) Love (noun) is not measured in dollar bills, and I take issue with the idea that the size/type of the rock has anything to do with the love (verb) that will be exchanged between us. And B) I spent about a month deciding if I even wanted a ring. First off, did I want thousands of dollars condensed into a hunk of metal and a rock? What would this say about me? This was especially troubling, given that my idea of jewelry is a couple of hair bands, a simple necklace that I never take off, and a dilapidated sport watch that I’m refusing to throw away. Secondly, did I really want to play into the whole notion that “diamonds are rare and fabulous?” And if I did, how did I feel about the ethics that came into play with the blood diamond trade? How sure would I be sure that the diamond was mined where the certificate said it was mined? And thirdly, did I want a symbol of patriarchy wrapped around my finger? Did you know that the original ‘betrothal ring’ was more of a promise to the father? It signified that, “oh hey, I’ve spent so much money on this ring on your daughter’s finger that I’ve got to come back and claim this investment!” And—holy snickerdoodles— why in the world is the girl the only one that has to display her marital status on her finger during this limbo time?
If you really wanted to get into this discussion with me, send me a message and I’ll get back to you. I could talk your ear off about this stuff.
Anyway, the side of me that likes to play into societal norms decided that I did want some symbol of our engagement. I mean, I do like sparkly things once in a while. So off I went on a hunt for the perfect ring. And, uh, Andrew helped.
And I love it. It’s simple and clean and understated. It’s a pretty, classic setting with a modern twist. Its low profile means I can’t get it caught on anything (which was a must, considering how hard I am on my hands). It’s not gold, and it’s not a diamond, but the stone is just as hard (and sparkly and fiery and awesome) and the metal is much more durable (palladium, for anyone interested). Our engagement is short enough that being the only person in this pair with the relationship status on her finger doesn’t matter too much. We didn’t spend thousands of dollars on the ring. And, for goodness sake, I didn’t get the ring until weeks after the start date of our engagement. But it—like the rest of this whole charade—has been authentic. Every part of the planning process—from the engagement, to the announcement, to the ring—has been as thought out as we could possibly make it. It’s been very me, and it’s been very Andrew. It’s very us. Just the way I like it.
(Just for the record, I am not judging anyone for having diamonds, or gold, or having the biggest rock on the block. I would be lying if I said I didn’t drool once in a while over a nice halo diamond ring, complete with all the filagree, tracery, and micropave bands. This post is about authenticity, and having that kind of ring on my finger would make me feel like I was playing dress up. I’m a t-shirt and shorts kinda gal, you know? Also, if you got/want all the bells and whistles at your proposal, more power to you. Again, I just hope that it was/is something true to you. I’m just tired of the pitying glances and the half-hearted congratulations. If you’re happy, then I’m happy. If I’m happy, I hope you’re happy too! If all else fails, I hope my ramblings have created a spark of interest in examining yourself, and what authenticity means to you. Be true to your heart.)
My TEDxWomen talk is online and sharable! I spoke about sexist online harassment and internet cyber mobs in Washington DC on December 1st.
Note: The TEDx YouTube channel does not moderated comments so do yourself a favor and skip them.
I am SO EXCITED that Anita did a Ted Talk about what happened earlier this year. I hung out with her a few months ago seeking some guidance. She is super fierce, intelligent, brave, and incredibly sweet. Check out the vid (and her YouTube show, Fem Frequency). Great stuff.
" I believe in the power of text. I believe stories make us feel less lonely, and that stories can make us find more empathy towards other people and identify with their lives. I find, and I’m pretty sure it’s the same with most human beings, that it’s very hard to truly, deeply identify with other people’s lives that are completely different from me and my life. When I read literature, I manage to grasp that my world is not the only world, and that my life is not the only life that exists. "
Hello. My name is Nicole, and I am 22 years old today. I have (technically) been running this blog since I graduated high school, documenting the bits of my life I feel are important or noteworthy. That is three-and-a-half-ish years worth of life condensed into one tiny corner of the internet. And you would think that the space between a 19-year-old college freshman and a 22-year-old senior would bring forth a new adult (along with a new perspective on life and wisdom)… But really, I just feel old. And not wise at all.
Which, on one hand, is cool—because I get to use this super fun, relevant gif from the movie An Education. And on the other hand, it’s disappointing. I feel like my collective wisdom is disproportionate to the weight of the age dripping from my body. The past few weeks I have been ticking the days off, waiting for the impending arrival of my birthday that signals the survival of yet another year of life. It used to be exciting, you know. I’d stay awake till midnight, watching as the clock flipped to the magic number that meant I was officially ___ years old. I would will myself to sleep despite my nervous fit of excitement, only to wake up and inspect my body more thoroughly under the light of day. What changed? Did I feel different? Wasn’t I supposed to feel different at 10? I had hit the double digits after all. Or maybe 13? I was a teenager! 18! Was I not an adult?
And throughout that time, I would be looking ahead with wonder. At 10 years old, I’d be gushing, “Oh my gosh, they’re 16?! I bet they can drive. High school must be so cool.” At 18, I’d repeat, “My cousin is 27 now. So old! He must have it all figured out.” And I think I was perceiving people as so old because their lives were—are—so foreign to me. The role models I would admire represented a life of things that I didn’t, or couldn’t have— or even imagine having. From drivers licenses to bills and jobs, I never believed I would ever hit the milestones that signaled the dawn of a new era in my life. And for whatever reason, I believed these points in life— these little rites of passage—would suddenly make me feel wiser and more mature.
People become so fixated on age because popular culture pressures us to feel a certain way at 14, at 22, at 27. So we make up these invisible deadlines for our accomplishments, careers, and love lives. I need to have my first kiss by 16 (I failed that one horribly). I’m going to learn to stop procrastinating when I make it to college (HA!). I’ve got to be a doctor, published author, and world-renowned chef at 26 (on track to lose this race too). And we guilt ourselves when we don’t reach these goals, when we make mistakes, or when we do not act the age we have assigned ourselves. Let’s be honest, thanks to Facebook, Youtube, my inability to say no, and my procrastinating soul, I calculate that I’m at least seven years off schedule from feeling 22. And I panic every time I realize how far behind I feel like I am. Am I not too old for all this?
It is only when I look at those younger than me that I feel like there has been any growth at all. I can look at my little brother and dismiss something as “so-very-19-year-old-of-him.” I can laugh at my little cousin on twitter because she can be so… young. And for whatever reason, I’d like to believe I wasn’t quite as immature as her at that age. But then I realize that—holy smackerolls—I was 14 once. I was 14, and as much as I’d like to deny it, I didn’t feel anything like I do now.
Yes, we grow. And it happens so subtly that we don’t even notice. People change constantly, minute to minute, day to day. The differences are so minuscule and so imperceptible that we fail to see that we are growing. We live our lives without tracking exact changes. We don’t sit down every night, peeling back every layer of the day that has made us different from who we were that morning. There is no one “ta-da” moment, as disappointing as that is, where we suddenly “feel” the age we have built up in our heads.
And if we focus too much on trying to feel a certain age, we lose precious time that we could use growing. Growth and change are necessary parts of life. And my lack of perceived wisdom is what pushes me to keep going, to seek new challenges, and to learn new things that would never occur to me if I was arrogant enough to believe I was wise enough for my age.
And as far as feeling old… Well.
Old is not a number. Old is when you give up. Old is when you refuse to change. Old is believing the world is stagnant. Old is when you forget that the world is beautiful and full of inspiration.
So I guess I recant my original statement.
I choose not to feel old. And I’m fine with not being wise.
Happy birthday to me (and my twin, Abe!). May this coming year prove to be the best yet.
I’ve managed to make it quite a long time without pouring cheese all over you nachos, but I can’t help myself today. Why, you ask? Because today marks my one year anniversary with this handsome fellow!
Yes! You heard that right. One whole year! And what a lucky girl I am.
I’m currently writing this post a couple weeks before schedule because at the time this is published, I will be away from my computer (!!) camping (!!!) out in the wilderness (!!!!) and doing other date-y type things with the aforementioned young man. Andrew probably won’t read this until we’ve gone our separate ways— but I know he will, because even though he hates to admit that he stalks me on the regular, I TOTALLY KNOW HE DOES*. So all non-Andrew Harbert readers, please excuse me for a couple seconds, okay?
Hey ANDREW, I love ya, kid. I know that I can be a little too hyperactive, super mean, a tad bit crazy, and only sometimes nice ;) but I hope you know that every moment I’m with you, I’m always super thankful that God has put you in my life. I don’t think you realize what kind of inspiration you provide for the people around you— me included. And if I had any less self control, all of my blog posts would probably be [mostly good things] about you.
Happy one year. And here’s to many more!
*I’m totally joking, Andrew Harbert does not stalk me. But he does keep up really well with my social media outlets.
Under normal circumstances, I hate asking for gifts/specifying what I have on my mental “I-want-that!” list. But inevitably, every year, a few people ask what I’d like for my birthday.
This year, I ask that you take that money and donate it to this chip-in fundraiser. The German Shepherd Rescue of Central Texas needs to raise money for one of their rescued pups.
For those of you who are not up-to-date on my life, the boyfriend just adopted a sweet little girl from the GSDRCTX this past May.
She was found under an abandoned house with a tiny little puppy, and had to be live-trapped to be treated. She went into the rescue in a very submissive state, and would almost never keep her ears up.
Nevertheless, they took care of her. They found out she had heartworms, and paid for her expensive treatment. They did their best to socialize her in the short time they had. And lastly,
they went through a rather rigorous adoption process to make sure that she went home with the right family. Obviously Andrew (and I) couldn’t be any happier with how sweet she has turned out, even when she’s being a little turd.
Anyway, I just want to give back to the rescue that has enriched our lives so much. They do wonderful work for these beautiful animals, and it breaks my heart to hear that one of their newest dogs needs a (very) expensive surgery. Even with the doctor’s discount, there isn’t quite enough money to cover the treatment.
For the month of October, I’ll be leaving the chip-in widget in my sidebar in the hopes that you reconsider whatever frivolous (but well meaning) gift you were planning to get. Even $1 is a huge gift in my eyes.
So here’s the link one more time. They have a description of the surgery that is needed, plus more adorable pictures of Nadine, the pup who needs the treatment.
And if you weren’t going to get me a gift, I hope you enjoyed the pictures of Kiya. Ain’t she soooooooooooooo cute?!