Just like the publishing industry, I combined months to give one update!


Visitors & Travel

27. Go to Europe with Josh, go to Europe with Josh, GO TO EUROPE WITH JOSH

In process:

Be a Grown-up

16. Work, at work, and not use it as a headquarters for my volunteering activities
17. Start implementing a career plan

A major goal for this year was to stop participating in the activities I no longer liked. This was covered in the recap to #29 on the Thirty Before Thirty list. For the first time in years, I am not busy. I am not planning a wedding or Oktoberfest or volunteering 4 out of 5 weeknights. Sure, there is still a ton of laundry piled up at our house so I can’t really put my finger on where all my new “free time” has gone, but I just have less to-dos on my personal calendar.

I didn’t think that eliminating “volunteer” stress would automatically create a new channel in my life that I could fill with idle pursuits such as grocery shopping weekly like a normal adult or wearing clean bras all the time. I know myself too well. At the core, I am one lazy, lazy individual. But I thought it would kick up the level of interest I have for my 9-5pm 10-6:30pm gig, where I previously did a lot of the coordination for that volunteer work. And for a while there, I thought I was doing better!

Until last Monday when I was pulled aside and told I wasn’t billing enough hours.

Now, it was not nearly as bad as the time Rachel had to be retrained on being a waitress at the coffeeshop on Friends. I did not automatically send out a thousand resumes to work somewhere else. I like my job 90% of the time. Strangely, that little chat has not set fire in my belly to actually bill more time (case in point, I’m typing this at work). Now, I’m a good employee: I arrive everyday, I don’t steal, and I get my work done. The chat about billable hours was probably more an economic thing plus a little confusion about how I fill the hours I’m at work. (It’s sometimes a lot of unbillable work, blogposts aside.) I like coming to my job and having no one bother me about my “work”. Just let me be and things will get accomplished.

A funny thing happened while Josh was working at the Supreme Court: I stopped telling him “work stories”. I just stopped. Sometimes I would start one and get overwhelmed by the minutia of all the details he couldn’t possibly keep up with because of his work schedule. I would just stop talking: Nevermind! It isn’t important! You know what? I actually don’t want to talk about this. The overall healthiness of this approach has yet to be determined, but it did kick me of a habit that I’ve had since childhood: telling stories about people and things that those listening do not know and therefore can not care. One of my oldest childhood memories is Mum telling me that repeating a story from that day’s episode of Live with Regis and Kathie Lee was not entertaining to my father over dinner.

Sidenote: my therapist thinks that I am re-traumatizing myself by talking about traumatic things for me outside of a therapeutic setting. I agreed with her, but didn’t realize how careful I had to be until a few weeks ago. I was retelling a kinda traumatic story from my childhood to some friends, which I thought would be funny. But as I said it outloud, it just made me realize that maybe I wasn’t over that experience? And if I am not over it, how could I help I child live through something similar? #nobabies

BACK TO THE JOB (at hand): Obviously, my husband wants to hear my work stories and be involved in my life. The point is, if I didn’t think my job was worth discussing during the precious moments when I got to see my husband awake last year, then it really just isn’t that important to me.

I am in such a good position right now: I have a job, but also a husband who is about to have an awesome (for us financially) job. He’s ready for me to quit and go to art school (srsly). I’m ready to keep working and sock my salary away for a rainy day. The thought of putting each of my paychecks into ING Direct Capital One 360 automatically just might be the motivation I need to try just a little bit harder to bill a few more hours.

In the meantime, I’ve created a support group at work. I’m the oldest (chronological age) of the paralegals. I formed a club with some of the younger women to help them find their next jobs/future careers. Hopefully we will have some mentoring going on soon. Because really, I just can’t stop volunteering my time to make other people’s lives better.

In process

Wait, Why Did This Get All Serious?

28. Find a life coach/therapist that doesn’t start a session with “I want to talk about how something you said last session upset me personally” and talk about all my feelings at least four times

I found a therapist via PsychologyToday.com. Actually, I sent inquiries to two people, and one responded within minutes. I looked for a female therapist that specialized in weight management and couples therapy. At the time of my online search, Team McJohnson was in the throes of deciding where Josh would work post-clerkship. The process was slightly more stressful than I anticipated for a variety of reasons. In the end, Josh had two choices and chose the job where a tattoo was unnecessary. But I wanted to leave the door open for therapy as a unit if need be. So far, we have not used that resource. The law firm decision is made, and as always with life, more pressing concerns have already taken hold. For the time being, my “therapy” for our current familial problems is sending the same text message over and over to my mother: I would trade any of the problems* you had with Dad’s family for the ones** we face with Josh’s.

That only costs me my cellphone data charge.

My therapist has an office in Dupont Circle, which should be noted because it is not the closest therapist to my office. That is how I chose my LAST therapist: proximity to work. It worked out worse than you could imagine when using such high level vetting. This therapist is pretty great because she uses techniques in her therapy. For a while now, I had been thinking that one of the best ways to deal with some of my emotional issues was to become like one of those kids that has to be brushed to calm down his sensors. Emotional Freedom Technique may seem a little wacky (wish I could see McKatie and Mum’s faces when they read this). I am ready for a challenge beyond talky therapy.

I’ve had three appointments, with a fourth on the books for this Thursday. She suggested coming weekly, not every other week like our original schedule “to see faster results”. After the initial intake appointment, where I spent a lot of time saying “I had a therapist tell me this and that and another one said this.”, I realized I might be overwhelming for this therapist. She’s been licensed for a few years now, but seems just a tad bit green. But! Lucky for her, I’ve always been a very introspective patient and can easily move the conversation where it needs to be. I could seriously spend every weeknight seeing a therapist to work out all my issues: discussing my childhood, my anger, my self-esteem. But, I’ve chosen to use my $130 (srsly, mental health care has GOT to start getting full coverage in America (as I type this on the day of another shooting rampage)) and discuss why I am so fat right now.

Of course, you are not suppose to say fat. Overweight, which is actually what it says on my medical chart because that is what I technically am. This is a lot for me to handle. Actually, that phrase doesn’t give this situation the correct weight (pun intended). I’m someone who will easily admit that doing laundry is a lot for me to handle, so managing my weight is actually A LOT FOR ME TO HANDLE. I’m about 13 pounds overweight, more like 20 if we want to be honest, and if we want to be REALLY honest, I’ve gained 30 pounds since I’ve moved to Washington, DC in 2008 at age 24. A little over 5 pounds each year. If I keep up that rate, I’ll be in Homer Simpson/Henry VIII mumu territory before Hillary wins her second term in office. (Yes, I went there.)

King Size Homer typing
Me, typing on my blog in the year 2020

Have I lost any weight? No. Have I gained weight? Always. I’m working on it. For the first time in my 10 years of on-off therapy, I’m actually addressing an issue that has to do with me. Not others’ perception of me, not my perception of them. Not the unknown future or stagnant past.

We’ll see how this goes.

Editor’s Notes:

* problems = personality clashes
** The way to best describe it is that line from Juno where she says: Oh, just out dealing with things way beyond my maturity level.


I Am Not A Robot

9. Go in for a regular physical not an OB/GYN appointment and make sure my shots are up to date

I went, but this of course merits a longer post. For those keeping score at home, I have 3 Thirty Before Thirty longreads to write:

1. House hunting
2. Concert going
3. Doctor visiting

In process:

Gettin’ Physical, Physical

4. Finish C25K

Josh is doing this with me, and we are about to start week 3. There is a print-out of each workout on the fridge, and Josh writes in the dates we complete each workout. Without this, I would still be running the first week’s cycle over and over. Something about running messes with my memory.

Disposed Income

18. Buy underwear that fits and toss the old that was purchased on sale at Victoria’s Secret during college

Josh and I took a mini-weekend trip to Palm Beach for a golf adventure post-clerkship this past month. I realized two days before we were leaving that maybe I could be an adult woman and buy some underthings that 1. fit and 2. looked cute. So I spent over an hour shopping by myself in Victoria’s Secret after work one night. I gave myself no budget for this shopping spree, which is a feat for my penny pinching self.

I love shopping for undergarments, underwears, pajamas. I have drawers full of items at the apartment and in Flower Mound still. But I noticed that my shopping priorities have shifted in the last few years. Probably for a variety of reasons: weight gain, no one new to impress in the bedroom, money. So as I strolled Vicky’s (without a free panty coupon!), I kept telling myself “You enjoy this, relax.” This is actually something I learned from Maggie Mason. Sometimes you just have to tell yourself to chill out.

This goal is marked as “In Process” because I really need to clean out my entire underwear drawer. Then it’s back to shopping for more drawers to FILL those drawers!


Wait, Why Did This Get All Serious?

29. Stop doing things I no longer want to be doing and have no desire to be doing just because I have some sort of death-wish or guilt complex that I can’t even identify the source of

Youth, My Youth

30. Go to one concert and enjoy myself like it’s 2003

I have photos for the concert(s) I attended, so that will be a later post. For now, a few more words on number 29.

I received a text from a friend who works at the Cathedral. It read: Got the official notice that you are stepping down. How does it feel?

It feels like nothing, which is perhaps the greatest feeling of all.

This all started in the fall of 2010, when I realized that I needed to get more involved at the Cathedral if I wanted our wedding to be personal and to have my voice heard while wedding planning (bridezilla, much?). That part worked out perfectly! I did a few tiny volunteer things in the months leading up to our wedding. In the two years since our nuptials, the ministry and planning needs intensified. I ended up leading the organization (along with the support of a few others). It took time away from work, my time with Josh and honestly, it never really aligned with my interests. I was an almost thirty-year-old married person planning events for mainly singles closer to college age.

Whenever things got stressful (Remember that time I had a kidney stone shortly after Easter? That was not entirely coincidental.), I kept asking for permission to stop doing this. There were more than a handful of times when I felt like doing this.

Here is where I should say that I regret my behavior, my inability to cultivate leadership among the other participants in the group earlier, and my inability to really ever enjoy any of the activities (save the yearly Nats game). But I think that’s the wonderful gift of being almost thirty: you just stop caring about things that are of no interest to you. Specifically for me, that is leading a group of 20 somethings all connected via their religion.

My impending birthday into a new decade was a great excuse to push the group into new leadership or to “quit” as others are perceiving the transition. Not a single table was flipped during the process. The group is in great hands now, and I am leaving this project without any regrets. I still love planning events and meeting people. I am looking forward to taking some time to discover new volunteer opportunities that resonate more with my current interests where I can use my skills.

But I can’t lie, I’m also looking forward to being more open about my liberal leaning tendencies in public forums like Facebook. The best was when a woman who works at the Archdiocese of Washington said she spotted me at the Prop 8 and DOMA opinion readings at the Supreme Court and said “Wasn’t that just an awful decision?” I flubbed my response at first, but quickly recovered to say “Actually, at my house, we are fortunately for gay marriage.” That felt awesome to say, and she respected my opinion.

Again, no tables were flipped.


Gettin’ Physical, Physical

2. Go soda free for three months

I usually only buy 100 calorie cans of regular strength Coca-Cola, and I don’t drink a Coke everyday. But, one of my favorite pleasures is a bubbly fountain Coke. Recently, those all-in-one soda machines started to descend on my favorite fast food joints. Nothing tastes correct coming out of one of those. A may have ordered and paid for food at a restaurant only to turn around and be confronted with one of these machines. I left. Without my food.

I started this challenge on Ash Wednesday to coincide with Lent. Previously, I gave up soda for Lent in 2010 and 2011. This time, the entire 90 days was challenging. Within the first week, I wanted to break down and have a Coke. I rationalized that I could just start the clock over again! I have plenty of time to find 90 days before November 18! About two weeks into the challenge, I downloaded a countdown app for my iPhone and this helped tremendously. Everyday, I could see the number of days left in bright red on the front of my phone. It was encouraging. I wanted to cheat, but quickly snapped out of it because I had no desire to start the clock over again. All those previous days would be a wash!

To deal with the cravings, I started subbing 100 calorie slim cans of Perrier Pink Grapefruit. They were light, refreshing and contained the all important bubbly carbonation for my taste buds. But again, I wasn’t drinking one of these a day.

I broke the fast with a Coke out of a can at lunch during work. Very anti-climatic. I should have waited until I could enjoy a delicious fountain Coke, but those are becoming harder to find. After completing this challenge, I realized I never wanted to develop an addiction. The pangs during the 90 days were present, and I was by no means hooked to Coca-cola. I could only imagine the withdrawal actual addicts go through.


Be a Grown-up
12. Go to an open house in DC with Josh to look at local real estate

Disposed Income
19. Get a blowout at Drybar

Visitors & Travel
26. Get Dad (and Mum, but mostly Dad) to come to a Supreme Court oral argument

All of the above deserve their own post, and will hopefully get one by the end of May.

Working towards Number 29:

Last Simple Lenten Meal served: Friday, March 8, 2013

First, in a series, of final Taste of the Nation volunteer e-mails sent: Monday, March 11, 2013


Be a Grown-up
13. Pay off at 1/4 of my student loan with money that is solely mine and not combination Mc/Johnson

My holiday bonus plus my Bonus Jonas (a referral bonus for submitting a resume and that person being hired) from work all went to paying off my smallest loan, which also had the lowest interest rate. I was avalanching, not snowballing. I am now viewing this as monumentally stupid. Team McJohnson is just a little “cash poor” these days. We have a few large expenses on the horizon in addition to visitors every other week for the next two months. It would have been better to keep that cash free to spend willingly this Spring.

In process:

Gettin’ Physical, Physical
2. Go soda free for three months

Started on Ash Wednesday. I downloaded a countdown app for my iPhone that let’s me know how many days are left. Currently there are 73 days left.

Visitors & Travel
26. Get Dad (and Mum, but mostly Dad) to come to a Supreme Court oral argument

They are down in the book for Monday, April 22. They just need to buy their plane tickets and reserve a hotel.


Be a Grown-up
14. Combine all McJohnson financial accounts, including investments, in Mint.com

I combined all of our investments, including our health savings accounts (which I am going to categorize as investments) into our joint Mint.com account.

Sidenote: Mint.com needs to create a way to combine two existing .com accounts into one once people get married. I had to create a new McJohnson account to get everything in one place. You could just add one spouse’s information to another, but then you have more history for the original owner of the account. That isn’t fair.

I also took the time to create a proper budget using the Mint tools. Josh took a stab at creating a budget before he went to the Court in July, but it was way too general. It didn’t include some of our now standard expenses like Sprint for our cellphone plan and the monthly housekeepers who scrub our toilet and baseboards. January was our first month living by this new budget, and we spent $329 less than what was budgeted. This includes saving money for two savings goals that are also plugged into Mint.

The goal with this budget and seeing all of our finances in one place is to make the few months when Josh leaves the Court and interviews for a new job/we go on an adventure/he starts a new job as comfortable financially as possible. So if that means one less $9.99 sale shirt from the GAP, then that is what it means.

Disposed Income
20. Redesign this blog

This was the most stupid thing I have ever done. I found every step of this process aggravating. I think I should have abandoned the long-form blog post style for tumblr, oh sometime in 2008.

But now everything looks different! It was (maybe) worth it.

Youth, My Youth
30. Go to one concert and enjoy myself like it’s 2003.

At the end of December, I saw Ian MacKaye perform as the Evens with Amy Farina. I think this checks something off the DC Bucket List as well: See Ian MacKaye perform.

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