Tag Archives: life

I had a temper tantrum. More to come, I’m sure.

My poor husband. Truly. Sometimes I do not know how he even deals, but he always does and thank goodness for that.

This Sunday, like many other Sundays in the past (but not every Sunday, because I like to keep things spontaneous), I had a little “episode.” I can’t really put my finger on what it was that triggered it or why I got all ridiculous, but I did. I was basically, in a word, disgruntled. And I’m no fun to be around when I’m like that.

Even though most of our lives are spent doing the ordinary, the mundane, things that aren’t fun, exactly, but necessary to get to the fun bits, even though all of that is true, every once in a while, I freak out about all of that.

I throw a little temper tantrum.

I get mad about something completely stupid.

Yesterday, it was because I always having to choose what to make for dinner and then grocery shop for the ingredients and then make the dinner and then clean up from the dinner. (In reality, I do like to cook. Just not that I always have to cook.) And also laundry. And sweeping and mopping and vacuuming. And every other mundane thing I do on the regular makes it’s way onto the list and I get all snappy, “I’m fine. It’s fine. Whatever. [Silence]”

It’s so stupid really. And it’s cyclical, yet unpredictable. I do it all the time, freak out about the mundane. Get super grumpy about the must-dos and have-tos. I take it out on Seth (pretty much always because, where else, I guess? seriously love that man) and then I get over it and (thankfully, oh so very thankfully, so does he… I think) and we move on to another day.

This Sunday, as I said, was one of those days. Maybe it was just because it was Palm Sunday and the passion is so… dang… long… Who knows though. It happened, regardless of the cause. I was a brat. Seth was patient. Thank goodness for all of that.

By Sunday afternoon, I had planned out some meals for the week (really outdoing myself in the fruit-flavored water department for Seth’s sake– a meager apology, I admit) and by dinner time, I had white chicken chili simmering on the stove, bread baking in the bread machine, and a walnut pie (gluten free!) toasting up to perfection in the oven. My house smelled gooooood and I was basically over it. (Basically.)

So what did Joan have for me to reflect on on Monday?

“When the mundane things that occupy our time threaten to dull our view of the universe, it is time to slow down.” –Madeline McClenney-Sadler

Oh, for pete’s sake.

“The ‘mundane’ is certainly dull, I agree, and may even limit us — not only our perceptions but even the breadth of our questions. At the same time, there is something very freeing, very humanizing about the mundane. Doing dishes and buying vegetables get us back in touch with ourselves, give us time to smell the earth of our lives, give us time just to be. We will go on long after the big ideas fade and the profession ends. The question is, Will there be anything in me then? Will there be a me in me? It all depends on how I deal with the mundane.” –Joan Chittister

It’s true. By Sunday night, when I walked back in the house from taking my Curly girl outside for a stroll around the yard (potty break) and smelled the good smells and then ate the good food and finished chopping the veggies for what would become good food the rest of the week (and the fruit for what would become Seth’s fancy water) I did feel freed up, humanized. I don’t have to deal with any of those things the rest of the week, we’re crock pot or microwave ready. We’re eating healthfully and deliciously and as mundane as it is, that is so super worth it. Right?


Except maybe the problem is that lately, all of it, so much of every… single… day… is part of the mundane. And the mundane isn’t part of the life I imagined. So the banality of the day after day… what is there to revel in? Turns out, Joan had something to say about that too. Because I didn’t quite get this out on Monday and now it’s become a twosie.

“God makes me to lie down in green pastures and leads me beside still waters.” –Psalm 23:2

My green pastures, still waters? A family… it all sounds great, doesn’t it? The kind of stillness, a sense of the mundane, that one could really be satisfied with.

“I have to believe this scripture fiercely right now because life does not feel like ‘green pastures’ or ‘still water.’ It feels like a living death. Everyone around me is still producing, still building, still going on. But I am cut off at the root with nothing to show for it. I am empty, useless, doing nothing, going nowhere. The speeches and the books flash and fade and I am embarrassed by my existence. So where is God in all of this? What is life without life? I feel like I am on the other side of a window pane looking in and no one sees me. No one is unkind; they are simply uncaring. It is ‘make your own way time’… and I don’t know how.” –Joan Chittister

And wow. While I sincerely doubt that my current struggle is of the same nature as Joan’s, I am seriously impressed with her ability to describe what it feels like.

Exactly what it feels like.

To live in the age of Facebook and Twitter and the blog-o-sphere and the decade of my 30s in general without the stupid pink or blue lines, the sonogram photos of little chicken embryos, the kiddie quotes and rosy cheeked pictures? It’s tough. Really tough. And after nearly four years of trying, trying, trying and tests and pills and sticks to pee on and hormones to inject, still nothing but negative, negative, negative month after month. It’s exhausting. How do you embrace this level of mundane? Where’s the green pasture and the still water in relation to me?

This sense has been particularly poignant of late as we embark on IVF. Testing, testing, testing. Counseling and drugs and prescriptions and $$$$$. The very real chance that it still won’t result in what we want. Very real chance. That even with all of the hormones and the money and the trying and the prayers it still won’t work. What if it still doesn’t work? Then what? Then how will I deal with my mundane? How will I embrace what life is to be?

Simultaneously bored of what’s current and terrified of what’s next. Or rather, what might not be next, maybe.

Oh, Joan! How do you know?!

I suppose if nothing else, the constant intake of random hormones over the next few months is bound to make life feel anything but mundane, at least for a while, eh?

Oh guys. Buckle up. I can only imagine that I’m due for temper tantrum city coming up. And without Joan to keep me company, who knows how I’ll deal. Better find something else just as constantly-insightful-and-relevant-to-my-own-life-every-single-day. Right!

2014: The Ox-Bow Incident (sans rustlers)

Have you ever run a road race? Now that I have fully embraced the notion that somebody has to be last and it’s not the end of the world if it’s me, I really really enjoy them. The best part is seeing the finish line up ahead. Except seeing it doesn’t always mean that’s the end.

One summer when my Uncle Paul and cousin Kirsten were in town and I was home from school, we decided, as a family, to go out and run the Dexter-Ann Arbor 5K. It was a blast. Ab and I putzed along somewhere near the back, but my Uncle Paul is a pretty devoted runner and he was lined up near the front of the pack. My brother Tom lined up with him, but was pretty disgusted when they got going and Paul seemed to him to just be putzing along at a pace hardly better than the one Ab and I had set. Tom could do better, go faster. And he did. As he came around the bend toward the finish line he was thrilled and started sprinting– piece of cake! Except that what he was completing was only the first, and smaller, of two loops. And he was TOAST. Paul passed him up shortly after that and poor Tom had to drag himself another two miles only to cross that same finish line again.

Thank goodness for rachelv.blogspot.com ... the place I kept all my pictures before Facebook was a big deal.
Thank goodness for rachelv.blogspot.com … the place I kept all my pictures before I used Facebook… and Instagram… and Under the Tapestry.

That was a fun day. I couldn’t stop laughing. I laughed so hard my cheeks and my abs hurt.

Oh how I love that story!

Fast forward a few years to a St. Patrick’s day while living in the metro DC area and I decided to run a little St. Patrick’s Day 8K through downtown. A super fun run, as any downtown DC run tends to be (for a nerd like me), that ended right at Freedom Plaza on Pennsylvania Ave. I was rocking it that day. And as I came down the final straightaway, I could hear music and see the balloons arched over the finish line and I was keeping up with a big pack and feeling great and… turning left? away from the finish line? what the?!

Just like Tom, except not quite so bad. There was just a little out and back down a side street to account for the distance we hadn’t quite made. I was fine, I still finished, and still in good time (for me… good time is relative in running, remember), but not quite when I expected or how I expected.


Twenty Fourteen

Did you ever have to read The Ox-Bow Incident in school? I did. I only remember it very vaguely. Pretty sure there was a lynching and it was awful, but what really stuck with me was what an oxbow actually was. In the context of a meandering river, anyway. And maybe that’s what 2014 was. An oxbow. A bend in the path. An extra two mile loop or out and back down a side-street that I didn’t see coming.

I expected a positive pregnancy test in 2014. I expected to be a mother. I could see the balloons over the finish line and hear the music. But there was a bend in the road and here I am on December 31st, out of sight of that finish line once again.


Twenty Fifteen

I don’t know what the finish line is going to look like when I do get there. I don’t know if the balloons will still be inflated or the music will still be playing. I don’t know how long it’s going to take or how difficult the journey is going to be to get there. Maybe it’ll be a quick out-and-back… maybe it’ll be a two mile slog on tired legs… maybe something else entirely. Maybe the oxbow will cut itself off and form a free-standing lake. It’s impossible to tell at this point.

What I do know, though, is that the course I’m on is not as limiting as I’ve made it out to be. My single minded focus on “I want to have a baby” has really limited the life I’ve allowed myself to live for far too long (flare for the melodramatic, once again). I’ve made small steps outside the lines in the last few months, but I could, and should, go further.

For example, my therapist recently asked me what I hoped to have accomplished one year from now, assuming I still wasn’t pregnant. I had no response, but immediately burst into tears. That was pretty telling. (He keeps kleenexes in his office for moments like those. It’s all good.)

So in 2015, we’re taking a bit of a break. I’m going to give my body and my mind a rest. I’m doing other things… I’m running, meditating, and reading. I just got a new full color, hardcover book full of photographs and amazing text about women healers of the world– so excited. So much learning! And being. And learning to just be.


When I announced my non-pregnancy the other day (oh snap, it would have been darkly hilarious to do a photo shoot with the negative test… I can see that now. maybe next time), my Aunt Susan said to me, “I can tell you for sure: life is an interesting line, but rarely a straight one.”

And in that comment, she summed up my 2014 perfectly.


Incidentally, I’ve always had something of an affinity for straight lines. Maybe that’s why this whole meandering business is so difficult for me. Once upon a time, I even got intervented on for it. (Intervented is not a word, but I don’t think to say “intervened” really sums up what it’s like to have an intervention in your honor.) My friends Danielle and Stephine teamed up with my mom to ban me from purchasing any more horizontally striped shirts. (In all the colors. From Old Navy.) In retrospect, it was a good call. Still a good call. It was kind of all I wore for most of high school. I had to switch to solid colored polos after that. (Confession: I’m wearing horizontal stripes right now. Not kidding. Relapse.)


Man, I’m cool.


Anyway… here’s to accepting 2015,  however it may come! Happy New Year!!


Unrelated, but awesome, picture of super Curls!
Unrelated, but awesome, picture of super Curls!

And, finally, Z is for Zoolander.

In the year 2001, the great and handsome prophet Derek Zoolander asked a profound question… one with the power to affect us all:

“Did you ever think that maybe there’s more to life than being really, really… really ridiculously good looking?!”

And many hearts were glad.

Especially the heart of this girl:

Baby R 0.1

And this girl:

Baby R 0.2

And especially this girl:

Baby R 0.3

Because it was quite clear that she was not destined for a life of being even really (just one really) ridiculously good looking.


Thanks be to Derek Zoolander, this girl finally heard it:

Baby R 0.4

Well, not that girl exactly… but that girl a few months later (the photo above was taken in the fall of 2000)… and many years more for internalization.

(Side note: yes, I do have an entire file folder dedicated to ugly pictures of myself. Is that weird?)

Zoolander, like Drop Dead Gorgeous (1999), Love Actually (2003), and Amelie (2001), came out at a very impressionable time in my life. And no matter how funny/unrealistic/weird those movies were/are– they made a big impact on me. BIG. Zoolander is no exception.

I guess I have a lot to ponder. (Zoolander quote.)

In addition to the quotable quotes and the most important lesson of all (more to life than being really, really good looking) there are a bunch of actual for realsies lessons to be learned, if you’ve watched the movie enough times…

1. Assuming that everyone is just waiting to tell you what a bad eu-google-izer you are is no way to live.

People aren’t always out to hurt you! I swear it! Some, yeah, but that’s their problem (or their editor’s), not yours. So give a person the benefit of the doubt. It could work out in your favor. Zoolander and Matilda were totally MFEO (made for each other– Sleepless in Seattle, another favorite) and it was a good thing he gave her a chance even after she hurt his feelings!

2. Have a go to for happy– like an orange mocha frappaccino!!

Derek is so super down after not winning male model of the year for the fourth year in a row, but his roomies know just the thing to cheer him up! (Maybe they could have done without the gas fight.) And in my life, I’ve had lots of roomies like that– Abby (my Fisky Sister) who told me stories from the top bunk to help me fall asleep; Erin, Adriane, and Aimee who put on a little bit of Abba Dancing Queen or Outkast Hey Ya for an impromptu dance party; Stephanie who popped Zoolander or Napoleon Dynamite into our $5 Korean Bazaar VCR; Seth who makes a great Harry Potter reference. (No joke, he told me last Friday that his patronus was me… cooking. Naturally, I swooned.)


3. Own what you are, even it’s a merman. MERMAN.

There’s not shame in being who you are! So own it! … see the photo gallery above. That was me, y’all. No point in pretending anything different. Might as well laugh about it together. After all, plenty of those images are in people’s brains, and there’s not a darn thing I can do about that.


4. Technology changes fast. REAL fast.

So… a huge punch line in the 2001 movie Zoolander is Derek’s itty bitty, teeny tiny phone. Do you remember that? When itty bitty phones were the shiz? And now we’ve got the the iPhone 6 and 6+… insanity. It wasn’t that long ago, really. Was it?

5. It’s good to know, and respect, what makes you farty and bloated.

For Jacobim Mugato, anything foamy will do it. For me? Anything with even a bit of lactose! Maybe I wouldn’t scald someone’s face if they tried to serve it to me. But I will take pains to avoid it so as to avoid the pains later. Just not worth the deliciousness.


6. If someone has to miraculously pull their underwear out of their butt to beat you– you’re kind of awesome.

For most of us, there’s always going to be someone better. Someone out there is faster, funnier, prettier, gentler, kinder, better at cooking, got a cleaner house, etc… but that doesn’t mean you’re not any of those things. Quit comparing and you’ll be happier. Guaranteed. You’ll at least have far fewer wedgies. (Side note: one time in middle school when I wore what I thought was the cutest outfit ever to school– train engineer overalls with a pretty white shirt with lace trimmed sleeves underneath– I got wedgied in the hallway. It was the wooooorst. No one likes a wedgie. And an elephant never forgets.)

7. Remember that most people are not professional film and television actors.

Except if Mindy Kaling actually became my friend, in which case, I would have a professional television actor for a friend. But alas, that day has not yet come. In the meantime, we don’t get to script the reactions of others. And even if we try, people are generally very prone to improv. Jerk people…

8. Age before beauty, goat cheese!

Honestly, I will happily take the wisdom of age over the beauty of youth. Granted, for me, youth wasn’t particularly beautiful (again, I reference you to the photos above)… so… maybe this one is more specific for me. But some of you can dig it, yes?

9. Talk it out! It’s usually pretty simple.

Derek and Hansel had quite the beef going on. Things were tense and everything kind of came to a head during the walk-off. (The walk-off judged by the David Bowie. So awesome.) Afterward, though, it only took one simple phrase and a brief discussion before things were all sorted out– “why you been acting so messed up toward me?” Both Derek and Hansel apologize for being whack. And that’s that. Just talk it out, yo. So simple. I even tried it once. (It’s so scary though!)

10. You can’t help who you love.

At the end of the movie, Maury says of Zoolander, “I love that kid. Dumb as a stump, but I love him.” And it’s true. When you love someone, you just do. There’s not always rhyme or reason to it. Dumb as a box of rocks, a la Derek Zoolander, or too intelligent for their own good, a la Sheldon Cooper and Amy Farrah Fowler. Love just happens anyway.

And finally, bonus #11. There’s always room for a David Duchovny cameo.

Why don’t you love me?!?!?!?!


In conclusion, Hi. I’m former graduate super student Rachel Stankowski and it’s my pleasure to welcome you to the Rachel Stankowski Center for Physicians Who Can’t Write Well… and Want to Learn to Do Other Stuff Well Too.

That’s what I’m talking about!!!!



And that, ladies and gentlemen, concludes our A to Z (plus an interlude for an XX) blog tour. Things were super tough when I started. Things are still kind of rough, but it always (always!) feels good to write… and all this letter by letter mumbo jumbo has allowed me to fill up my little notebook of thoughts. Get ready, cuz here I co-ome!

(I just heard that song on my Pandora, we played it in pep band in high school… recipe for being completely stuck in my head.)


PS: I totally watched Zoolander again, just one more time, to make sure I really got everything I could out of it. When I went to play it from Amazon Prime (I’m obsessed!) my options were to “resume” or “play from the beginning” because I watch it a lot… I am not ashamed!!!!

A Life Unexpected

When I was in high school, I went to Washington, DC.  Twice.  It was amazing.  I was absolutely in love with it and decided that, for certain, I would live in a big city someday.  I would wear fancy suits and tall shoes and I would carry a powerful, yet trendy, briefcase and wear pearls and be rich and powerful and important and it was all going to be awesome.

So, here’s a picture of me this Spring, on a typical Saturday morning:

Tractor and Cat

Right.  About all those plans.

Sometimes life does not turn out the way you plan it.  And that’s actually finally ok with me.  For a long time I felt like I was somehow a failure if I didn’t meet the adolescent picture of success that I had dreamed up.  But my love for politics and all things fashionable and metropolitan has slowly morphed into an incredible love for rural-living, hard work in the dirt, and domestic (or should I say homely) things that I never, in a million years, would have anticipated.  But we’ve discussed that already.

I even, as you can see, spent some serious time driving a tractor while wrangling a stray cat.*  My life is so unexpected, so completely contrary to what I might have imagined, and yet, I love it.  Truly love it.

It was really easy for me to pack up and move to DC for grad school.  It was really hard for me to admit that I didn’t love it, that it didn’t live up to my sky-high expectations, and that I wanted to move back to the midwest.  (Midwest coast is the best coast!  To me, anyway!  Love me some great lakes!  Even Lake Erie and it’s three-eyed, two-tongued fish monsters.)

Granted, living in DC was an excellent experience.  I saw that the grass was not, in fact, greener on the other side and I made amazing friends and had wonderful experiences that I am incredibly grateful for.  I would have always wondered if I hadn’t tried it.  But I was happy to leave and I am quite happy to be settled where I am now: smack dab in the middle of nowhere, Wisconsin.  Surrounded by beautiful farmland and gentle hills, the smell of manure and fields of sunflowers.  A place where the sound of horse hooves and a buggy rolling down the street isn’t terribly uncommon and where parking lots are equipped with both cart corrals and hitching posts.

(Something you should perhaps know I about me.  I get really into things.  Things like dinosaurs, rocks, the Manson family, HAES, Lean In, etc, etc etc…  Recently, I got really into learning about the Amish and Mennonite cultures.  I read some non-fiction, learned lots of fascinating things about the Anabaptist communities throughout the US and Canada and then I borrowed some fiction books set in plain communities from my friend Michele– they were AWESOME.  How I can like both Fifty Shades and Amish Country Crossroads is beyond me… but I do.)


I truly love it here.  I love my life here.  It’s a far cry from marble buildings and people in suits, but it is a perfect place for me.

(Fade out to song lyrics:  Home, let me go ho-o-o-me, home is wherever I’m with you……)

*For those of you wondering (Steph-a-nie…), the cat is doing great!  (And number 5 is alive!)  We were out picking rock in the field (cue joke: we really should stop planting those rocks every year!  But seriously, glaciers, it’s a thing) and my husband’s uncle heard meowing over the sound of the tractor and found a kitten in the ditch.  He was HUNGRY and therefore MAD.  So, since I was sitting atop the tractor, I was tasked with wrangling him until we were done picking rock and we could get him back to the barn for milk.  (Seeeriously?!  Do you see what my life is like– how could I have possibly anticipated all of this?!  Let alone anticipated liking it so much!)  Because we were out picking rock, I named him Rocky.  (Also because in the movie Rocky Balboa (aka Rocky 6) Rocky says that Adrian died of “lady cancer,” and I love that that’s what he calls it, even though it’s sad.  But I didn’t tell anyone on the farm that part.)  So anyway, even though Rocky tried to claw his way up my neck, we got him back to the barn, got him some delicious fresh milk (straight from the cow– again, my life, what?!), and he’s doing quite well there.  A lot of people drop cats, dogs, kittens, and puppies off at farms… it’s pretty common.  My husband’s uncles always take them in and let them live in the barn, coming and going as they please– it’s a good life for those lucky animals!  And as a bonus: they have very little trouble with mice.  I can see how that would be a good thing 😉


…Oh geez.  It seems as though I can’t stop coming up with things I want to say.  An additional note about the photo.  A large part of me is hesitant to share this picture with you on account of the way I look.  (My hair!  My clothes!  My face!  My weight!)  But how am I ever going to convince you that I drove a tractor… while wrangling a stray kitten… without photo evidence?  There’s just no other way.  BUT… But another part of me is actually totally cool with sharing this picture because it’s not about my hair, my clothes, my face, my weight.  It’s about me driving a tractor while wrangling a stray kitten.  AND you reading this blog is about us sharing some stories, some insights, some thoughts– it’s not a beauty contest.  (But if it were a beauty contest, my little sister would win– trust me on this one.  Too cute for words, she is!  (where is this yoda-speak coming from???)  Seriously, she’s gorgeous, inside and out!)  So there you have it, insecurity out in the open– enjoy the tractor!  (Now I’m really done.)