Tag Archives: MFEO

Reset Button

In early November, Seth and I were in Annapolis for a beautiful wedding with lots of old friends.

I have so many friends! The thing I said about Annapolis is true!!

While there, Seth got a text in two parts. The first part was something along the lines of:

Please don’t say no right away, take some time and think about it…

Time to think about what? The second part was the invitation:

Want to come with us on a 12 days cruise to Australia, Fiji, the Maldives???

We balked, of course. Hence the first part — our friends know us too well. Twelve days off work PLUS the travel time to get to Australia? How could we possibly?

But they’d asked us to think. So we thought. Could we? Should we?


We returned to Wisconsin a couple days later and first thing Monday morning was my final pregnancy test — a negative, of course. We promised ourselves no more. We laid down our arms, walked away from the infertility battle, and thought a little more about that trip.

We’d spent the last 5+ years carefully saving vacation time for trips to and from the fertility clinic in Madison, hoping that our stockpiled days wouldn’t be used for more trips, but for the birth of our baby.

The fact of the matter is, there isn’t going to be a baby for us. So… Australia… Fiji… with our best friends… a once in a lifetime opportunity… why not?

We said yes. We booked flights — CWA > DTW > LAX > SYD. We’re really going!

A short while later, all of the sudden, the new job I’d been working on building/acquiring came to fruition. I start on Monday.

And just like that, we’re hitting the RESET button in a very big way.



I look back on my life five years ago, newly married, fresh out of grad school, really digging my life as a scientific writer, and excited about the family we were going to start and it’s easy to see just how big of a reset this is. I expected us to be full on nuclear, in the family sense — focused on having and rearing a couple of toe-headed braniacs with stubborn dispositions (that’s anice way of saying jerks… but they would have been my little jerks). But that’s not reality, and a reset is necessary to bring me back to earth.

I’ve always enjoyed the end of one year and the beginning of another. I love that the advent season, with its time for reflection and focus on the coming light, blends seamlessly with the new calendar year and two weeks later with a new year for me personally when my birthday hits. This year is extra special, a bonafide reset, for three reasons.

First, early on the morning of November 7th, before our last negative pregnancy test, my sleepy Seth rolled over in bed to tell me that no matter the results, he loves me and I am enough. My heart… it somehow simultaneously broke and swelled. He thinks that I, just me, no baby, am enough. I can’t tell you how much that settled me into this new reality. Seth, Curls, and me — a happy little family.

Second, on Monday, I start my new job — my dream job, really. The dream I didn’t know I had until two years ago when I started working more and more with community facing programs and the amazing woman who will be my boss. I’m incredibly proud of the work I’ve done so far and I’m so excited to dedicate myself full time to a position I feel so passionate about. I was feeling a bit insecure on Friday — what if they find out they hate me? But I start during Christmas celebration week and I’m the Leslie Knope of gift giving AND cooking baking… there’s no way they won’t be impressed. Bring on Sneaky Santa!


Finally, on January 28th, we’ll be getting out of dodge, crossing the equator for the first time, and heading to the other side of the world for nearly three weeks. I never thought a trip like this could possibly be a reality, but we’re doing it together, with our friends, and it’s going to be incredible. I know it in my bones.

omg. omg. omg. @rachelstanksi is ME!


Meanwhile, a reset is really only a reset if the reset-y things actually change you for the permanent. And in this case, I very much suspect they will.

For the time in maybe ever, I actually believe that I am enough for Seth. Worthy. I know that makes me sound like I’m in some sort of terrible, abusive relationship, and maybe I am… but Seth’s not the perpetrator. My traitorous psyche, the “second track” I’ve often referenced, is. But what further proof could I possibly need than everything we’ve been through for the sake of having a baby, and to have Seth still, faithfully, happily by my side? He thinks I’m enough (block head, frizzy hair and all), and I think he might be right — we’re M-F-E-O*, baby or not.

Second, I’ve found true meaning in my work. I am so excited to dedicate my time and talents to the amazing things being done in the Marshfield Clinic Center for Community Outreach. I see such incredible work going on, such incredible dedication to community health from a variety of perspectives (e.g., high risk youth, alcohol and other drugs of abuse, social determinants of health), and I want to tell the story, give it a voice, make people aware, continue to build programs and make them replicable in other communities.

Finally, I’m going to live my life now — starting by spending the time to go on an amazing vacation. No more saving and banking for something that may or may not happen. And I need to translate that into using “yes” and “no” appropriately at other times as well. Yes to community engagement and social events, but no when it becomes to much and I need to recharge the introvert batteries. Yes to the things that are truly good for me, and no when things hurt. I’m practicing already — we’re going to a dinner party with friends tonight! Yes, yes, yes!


Anyway, given my recent track record, I suspect I won’t write again before the new year — so I hope you enjoy the holidays, wherever you are, whoever you’re with, and I’ll look forward to sharing a new adventure in 2017!!


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!!!!