the time we “won” a carpet cleaning

last weekend I left Ben alone for a morning while I ran errands. somewhere between Hy-Vee and Target, a woman knocked on our front door at home and told Ben they were running a contest for a free room of carpet cleaning.

here’s where (in case you don’t already know) I tell you that Ben is too good to be with me. he sees the good in every person, finds the silver lining in every situation, and is a genuinely good person. so when he excitedly told me he signed us up in a contest to win a free carpet cleaning, he was surprised I was annoyed and exasperated at the idea. I explained it was going to be a sales pitch and I didn’t want to waste anyone’s time. he didn’t believe me.

now the story gets really good. last night Ben gets a call and I hear him say, “oh wow, that’s great! sure, tomorrow night works well! we’ll both be home around 6:30.” after he hangs up the phone he says “wow, we won!” everyone wins good-hearted, Ben. every. one.

tonight a mother and son duo showed up at our front door. twenty minutes early. forty minutes before the new Dirty Dancing aired. they unloaded a Kirby box and I knew we were in trouble.

you guys, this is nothing against Kirby. I know this woman is running a business. she’s paying her bills. I get it.

they did a wonderful job of showing us how terrible our Eureka vacuum works and how much gross is in our carpets, on our bed, and in our sheets. but the exchanges we had with this woman are pure comedic gold.

to start with the woman and her son smoked a cigarette before they came into our house. it followed them through the house all while they wore their shoes. then she asked me to turn on our current vacuum. me, I presume, because I am the wife. I stared at her and then looked at Ben and said, “you’re the one that vacuums.” she thought it was a joke. after an hour of demonstrating, she wants to sit down with us and talk numbers.

here’s the gist of that:

Kirby woman: okay, here’s the deal, I’m three sales away from a trip to Vegas with my husband. I do this to pay bills, but also because I want to improve your lives. you are living in dust, dirt, and grime. it’s terrible for your allergies.

me in my head: okay, I think my grandma got sucked into a Kirby years ago because the guy told her he was so close to a trip to Hawaii and she felt guilty. also, back off lady, I dust every so often. I’m more allergic to your cigarette smoke.

me out loud: okay, so what are we talking, $1,000?

Kirby woman: please, Kirby systems were $1,000 30 years ago

Ben’s face: blank stare

me: oh wow, for a vacuum?

Kirby woman (super offended I said “for a vacuum”): we showed you how it’s so much more than a vacuum. okay, here’s what I can do, but this doesn’t leave the house: I can give you $250 for your current vacuum…and let’s see, do you have anything you can “trade in,” like furniture, paintings, old dishes…

me in my head: is this real life?

me out loud: uh???

Ben: well, we just moved, we’re trying to live a more minimalistic lifestyle…I don’t know

Kirby woman: okay, here’s what I’ll do, I’ll say you traded in a box of stuff and if you can put a box of stuff together in the next two weeks I’ll give you another $175 off.

me in my head: seriously, is this real life?

Ben: blank stare

Kirby woman: it will be $57 a month, it pays for itself a thousand times over.

me: you know, it’s just not a good time. we have to buy a car soon, we’re renovating parts of our home…

Kirby woman (looks to Ben): here’s the bottom line – I can give it to you for half off. that’s $37 a month.

me out loud: okay, well that’s great, but he doesn’t do our finances so I’m telling you I’m not comfortable with it.

Kirby woman: I’m going to give you guys a chance to talk about it.

Kirby woman and son go outside to smoke a cigarette.

Ben: I’m so sorry, I thought this was just a carpet cleaning and I was doing a good thing for us.

(you can’t even be angry about that!!!)

so now is where Ben and I both get awkward because we have to say no to this woman, who only needs three more sales, and who never works nights.

she comes back in and her and her son start gathering up their things and I finally say we can’t do it.

Kirby woman: for $37 a month? that’s like not ordering Dominos once a week.

me in my head: okay, not the response I was expecting

me out loud: we like ordering pizza, and we have a budget that works for us.

Kirby woman scoffs.

me out loud: honestly, if I had been home when you came to the door, we wouldn’t be doing this right now.

Kirby woman: oh I’m not upset, this is my job. I sell 8 out of 10 vacuums I present to people.

me out loud: well, I’m sorry, the timing is just off.

Kirby woman: if you don’t buy the vacuum for this price, you’ll never buy it

Ben: we are really just trying to eliminate more debt, not accrue it.

Kirby woman: you’re going to end up with more debt because your carpet and hardwoods will be trashed not cleaning them properly.

it’s at this point I leave the room because she’s getting too sassy and she still smells like cigarette smoke.

after what felt like an eternity, they have almost everything packed up and I decide to say something like “oh wow, you really get everything back in the box nicely.”

big mistake. huge.

Kirby woman: yeah, well we usually never have to pack them back up because the idea is to sell the vacuum

me in my head: oh really? because it looks like he’s pretty damn good at packing it back up.

instead of reacting I chose to maturely go to the bathroom to text my mom about the situation and left Ben to deal with the contest he had entered in.

so, that’s the story about the time we “won” a free carpet cleaning.

as Ben so calmly put it, “well, that was uncomfortable, but did you SEE how clean our carpet is???”

domestic bliss.

 

p.s. Ben has learned his lesson and admits that sometimes (just sometimes) things are too good to be true.

p.p.s. I watched five minutes of the new Dirty Dancing and I’m honestly way cool with the fact that two hours of my night were spent feeling like shit about my lack of cleaning while being bullied about Kirby. Team Swayze or no way!

 

 

 

 

happy half a dozen

on Friday we will have officially made it to the sixth month mark in our marriage. and this is what has changed: nothing.

well nothing except for the fact I’ve quit my job so I can be a stay at home dog mom, keep the house clean, and have a warm meal on the table every night when Ben walks in the door from a busy day at work!

jay to the k. although now that I think of it, I actually do all of those things (but still have my job) and regularly complain about the fast cars driving down our street revving their engines…shouldn’t they slow down because there are children in our neighborhood?! so maybe I’m more like a 1950s housewife than I thought.

now if I could just catch on to the 1950s level of cleaning…

above when I said nothing has changed, it’s more that nothing obvious has changed in the first six months of marriage. but everything has changed, continues to change, and will forever change.

sometimes I get caught up in how easy it was to be in a relationship while in school. when there were more hours to spend time together, just the two of us, without worrying about bills or lifeguards not showing up for shifts right when we’ve sat down for dinner. how on mornings without classes we could lay in bed and laugh about all the stupid things we witnessed the night before, instead of getting up to unload the dishwasher and sweep the floor.

I find it incredibly entertaining that I used to talk about how close we were and how well we knew each other, because now it’s funny to think about how much more discovering we have ahead of us. this isn’t to say that we don’t know each other well, sometimes I am convinced Ben knows me better than I know myself. but I don’t think I ever understood the magnitude of what it meant to grow older together.

we have grown up in such beautiful ways during our time together. I don’t pick fights anymore when I’m annoyed, because now Ben just straight up asks why I’m sassy. I don’t nag about every half-filled cold cup of coffee or watered down brandy I find, because it takes me 30 seconds to walk them to the kitchen and dump them out.

so, if Ben ever decides to read my blog, here’s what I would say: thank you for being my family, day in and day out. thank you for laughing with me, for forgiving me when I am wrong and annoying and neurotic, because I know this happens way more than I care to admit. thank you for always being someone I can depend on and trust. and most of all, I love how with every month that passes, our friendship reaches unparalleled levels of comforting.

anyone that knows Ben knows he hardly ever complains that his life is essentially one long string of one tiring work shit after another. sorry I’m not sorry to admit his wife complains approximately a billion times a day about EVERYTHING. but after my relentless unnecessary complaining, there’s always one thing that comforts me endlessly in my relationship with Ben: and it’s that he is always the first to say that it is never too late to start over. it’s never too late to try doing something differently, to come at something from a different angle, to say sorry and go back and learn something new. life gives you a lot of re-dos, it’s up to us to make the change.

there is not a better feeling than baring your soul, uncovering insecurities you didn’t even know existed,  and having someone else’s hand reach back out and say, “I get it, and I’m here for you.”

at the end of the day, I’m left with two things: I picked a good man, and if I don’t like what’s happening…I’ve got a re-do.

Ed Sheeran could not have released a new album at a more perfect time: “…I’ll be taking my time, spending my life, falling deeper in love with you.”

keep your rosaries off my ovaries

a political post has never made its way on to my blog before, but this afternoon the Iowa Senate voted to defund Planned Parenthood and I may or may not have engaged in a heated conversation on a local news station’s Facebook page. spoiler: I did engage, and I’m about to tell you why.

 

a brave soul posted this under the news link: “You have got to be kidding me. This is not in Iowa’s best interest. Planned Parenthood is vital for woman’s health. This puts so many women at risk.”

 

and immediately after someone commented with: “And yet, there’s plenty of other clinics that offer the same services.”

 

usually that’s not enough to engage me in a Facebook conversation, but I couldn’t help but notice this was a middle-aged white male referencing these “other” clinics. so, I shot back with a quick “…says the privileged white male.” there was some back and forth trying to explain privilege and even though that conversation was exhausting, I need to tell you now why PP is important.

 

when I was in high school I went with a friend after school because her boyfriend’s condom had broken the night before, she was behind on her birth control pill, and she didn’t want to take a chance. instead of criticizing her for missing the pill a couple of days in a row (which has legitimately happened to me in an OB-GYN office), the wonderful staff at Planned Parenthood responded not with judgment or disapproval, instead patiently listing options for protection and informing her of some of the risks and side effects of different types of birth control.

 

while I was there with my friend, other people from our high school came in. all people we didn’t know very well, all people we didn’t regularly talk to, but we all knew it was a safe space, free of judgement. it was in that first trip I took to PP that made me realize my reproductive health was going to be a lifetime commitment, and that I was solely responsible for maintaining it. before then, although I had little experience to speak of, my sexuality had not seemed to entirely belong to me. it was a matter of public opinion, debated by high school friends, the Catholic church, politicians, and older smooth-talking boys.

 

the lack of agency only seemed to encourage poor decisions, under the justification that they were hardly MY decisions to make. one of my best friend’s in high school got pregnant at the age of sixteen because her parents prayed that she would not engage in sex before marriage. they prayed about it instead of being supportive about birth control options. it was first in my small hometown in South Dakota, sitting in that doctor’s office, that I got my first taste of adulthood, and I felt a small thrill in the realization that I could own my sexuality, no one else was allowed to make those decisions for me.

 

that same Planned Parenthood office, albeit with different facades, receptionists, and doctors would be available to me in Nebraska, Minnesota, and Iowa. I can’t even begin to tell you how comforting that was for me, AND I HAD OTHER OPTIONS. I could have utilized my parents’ insurance, gone to the doctor I had seen since I was a baby. some people, a lot of people, don’t have those same options.

 

 

there is some statistic about how one in five women in America have utilized PP services. I am one of those women. not only did they provide me with contraception at no cost, but they validated that I am capable of making responsible decisions regarding my sexual health. I support, and stand with, Planned Parenthood because they have always stood beside me.

 

when Ben and I moved to Iowa, we knew no one. I didn’t know which doctor to see, where to go, how my insurance was going to work since I had gone remote. instead of stressing out about it, I looked up Dubuque’s PP office. I walked in, had my annual exam, connected with the doctor, and walked out to protesters holding up signs, screaming that if you had an abortion you would go to hell. it was really easy for me to ignore them, because I wasn’t in a situation that warranted discussion of an abortion, but for the others walking in and out of that clinic? who knows—but here’s what I do know: MYOB. in case anyone missed that day in third grade the teacher introduced that acronym, it means mind your own business. I guarantee there are more worthy causes that deserve your attention rather than a young woman walking into PP for an exam or birth control or something else totally unrelated to abortion.

 

how about we talk about accessible clean water? or making sure that children already born get every meal they deserve when they are at home? or how the other night I was so nauseous over the state of our country that I had to google if Ben would be deployed in the event there was a mandatory draft?

 

that’s it. I’m exhausted and I know there are still four more years of hard conversations and work ahead of us.

the time we accidentally bought a house

post-wedding I started a running list of “things to do” once life slows down. but then Ben gently reminds that I’ve been waiting for this “slow time” for a while now and perhaps it’s never coming. turns out this is life and I should probably learn how to balance things sooner or later, because it’s only going to get busier.

before Ben and I ever talked about marriage, we talked about houses. probably because we watched a lot of HGTV. we talked about paint swatches, renovation ideas, old houses with character, yards for puppies to play, and dishwashers. having a dishwasher is the key to obtain ultimate happiness in a relationship—after living without one for a year +, I’m even more convinced.

owning a home has been on our to-do list forever, but it always floated around the bottom, somewhere between make an eye appointment and vacuum out the cars.

a couple weeks after the wedding, we decided to start going to open houses just for fun. I love driving by houses at night when the blinds or curtains are open and peeking inside, so actually walking through homes without feeling creepy was so exciting!

so on a warm day in October, after attending open houses for a month, we walked through the house. the house that checked all our must-haves for our first home. the house that I immediately started decorating after walking through it once. the house that consumed every conversation Ben and I had for weeks: what color would you paint this room? what would you use this space for? what would you do with the jungle in the front yard? how many puppies can fit in this backyard?

anyway, if we are being honest, we loved the house, but it wasn’t a good time to buy—middle of swim season, middle of our lease, middle of cold weather…yada yada yada. the cons of moving almost outweighed the pros. ALMOST. because after we walked through the house the second time with our realtor, we put in an offer. less than 48 hours later, after negotiating and making multiple trips to the pool over my lunch break to tell Ben what was going on, they accepted our offer. I really think all the hours I spend watching HGTV proved fruitful during this process, especially because Ben now wants to buy a zillion other houses and flip them with me. cart before the horse? always. first we have to attempt to take down wallpaper from the 1900s and decide how to disguise the naked baby cherubs on all our light fixtures before I want to work on houses for other people.

the home buying process is still intriguing to me—even more so after having gone through the process. but I’m happy to say we made it through signing our name 100 times with minimal blunders. I wasn’t sure it was a great omen when I messed up on the first document that was slid across the table to me, but all is well.

I hope in ten years we can look back at this time in our life, this moment in which we’ve become so accustomed to cramped spaces, sharing one bathroom, having TWO cabinets for all our kitchen items, falling asleep every night to our upstairs neighbors deciding to build furniture at 11 pm, and laugh about all the times I almost ended up on an episode of Dateline for Dextering someone.

all jokes and bad apartments aside, in just a few short days we’ll turn in the keys to our apartment and 422 Burch St will be in our past, a part of the good old days.

I’m more than looking forward to entering  the new year with a new last name and a new address.

it’s gonna be a champagne year!

the best day ever

whenever I think about our wedding day, which let’s be real is 24/7, it still seems so unreal. during the planning process I kept telling people that if everything somehow came together on September 10, I was going to be super impressed. you guys…I’m more than impressed. the weather gods cooperated, everyone had such fantastic ideas for decor and setup, all of the “extras” that so many generous people provided their time and talent for…the arbor, the signs, the music, the flowers, and the beautiful hair and makeup. it was perfect. it was better than anything I could have dreamt up on Pinterest.

that isn’t to say the day went entirely smoothly… it would not have been my wedding if my dress hadn’t caused some sort of chaos. so in the movies when the bride puts on her dress and the beautiful group of spectators gasp and cry? yeah, didn’t happen. it was more like me trying not to have a complete meltdown or cry about everything that had bothered me for the last week. in case you’re new to this blog, or to my life, I’m a really sensitive person and it was a long, emotional week. that being said, when I get upset, I usually just want Ben. since it was moments before the first look, I knew I had to pull it together and just get through it so that I could see him and know it was going to be okay.

when it was FINALLYYY time to walk down the dock, I experienced such a visceral feeling. I was nervous crying which was weird because I kept telling myself, “it’s just Ben, pull your shit together and don’t get blown into the lake.” the feelings I experienced walking down the dock are some of the craziest I’ve ever experienced—in the best way possible. I get butterflies just thinking about it.

there are a few moments from the wedding that I know I will never forget because even thinking about them now moves me to happy tears:

walking down the dock and seeing Ben standing there, facing the water with his back to me, was so emotionally overwhelming and it all just came out. I couldn’t make a joke, or lighten the moment in any stupid way like I usually try to do. I just walked up to him as quickly as I could without stumbling into the water and cried and mumbled things I don’t remember. things that probably could have been sweeter, like when he turned around and said “wow, you’re beautiful” maybe my first response could have been “you look so handsome” instead of “my (sob) dress (sob).”

when we were taking photos with our wedding party and everyone was standing in the driveway with tall trees as the backdrop filtering the sunlight through branches and leaves—in that moment my heart was the stillest it was all day. it was breathtakingly beautiful. I remember looking at Ben when the wedding party was taking photos without us and saying, “these are our people.” no one missed a beat at inserting witty remarks or making a joke about something. it was so calm and my heart was so happy.

the final moment that I will replay in my mind forever is our first dance. I remember thinking I could have swayed with Ben forever. the first thing Ben did when we got on the dance floor was say, “we did it.” and the four minutes of “Crush” went by so quickly because I kept telling myself to soak up the minutes. to remember what it felt like to dance in front of everyone we love. to remember how it felt to just enjoy each other’s presence in the midst of everything else going on. to remember that it always feels so much better when we’re together.

I know that all good things must come to an end, and after all of the planning, after making too many decisions (some that we didn’t want to make), after trying to align every star…everything that led to the best day ever—all of the good things on our wedding day ended so beautifully and I get to call my best friend my husband.

#GoneGill

on actually going “Gill”

when Ben and I first became engaged I immediately assumed I would take his last name…#GoingGill was not just a wedding hashtag to me. it was actually going to happen! Ben, on the other hand, made it a discussion, and instead of simply assuming I would do it, he asked if I wanted to take his last name. isn’t he the best?

the discussion was short and sweet.
Ben: do you want to change your last name?
me: yeah! *millions of dancing girl emjos floating through my brain*
Ben: okay, I just wasn’t sure if it was something you’d want to do, and I’m fine either way
me: nope, pretty sure I want to change it
end of discussion.

 
the feminist objection doesn’t resonate with me.

 
my thought is this: I should never be made to feel “un-feminist” about changing my name. but instead knowing that the power of it being MY choice and no one else’s, makes it a feminist choice for me. transcending the traditional thoughts on what is considered “feminist” or “un-feminist” is exactly where I want to be. what’s good for me might not be what’s good for someone else, and that’s okay. let’s build each other up and celebrate our choices instead being critical about what someone chooses to do. it also doesn’t hurt that I love a good alliteration and #GoingGill has been stuck in my head for 11ish months now.

 
for me, sharing the same last name as Ben and knowing our children will also share the same last name adds another level of connection for our family. I’ve read many articles about changing last names after marriage and I see both sides. I know that for some people they have a strong identity tied to their last name, but that has never been the case for me. it also is not important for me to professionally keep my current last name, in fact it might be a relief that some of the textbooks floating around with “Becca Dargatz” in them cannot immediately be tied back to me. special shout-out to students that have to suffer through copyediting I did from my couch.

 
my last name is not who I am. but I can totally see how after years of marriage that I could potentially identify more with “Gill.” it would be super weird if I didn’t change or grow anymore as a person once I’m married to Ben, and I like the idea of having a new identity tied to this stage in life. even though it doesn’t take a name change to make a couple a team, it feels like a natural bond I’ll share with Ben and I’m all about it.

 
the best part about all of this is that there isn’t a right way to do things anymore. I’m #GoingGill in 51 days!

highs and lows

when Ben and I moved to Dubuque last year, I was fortunate enough to go remote for my job. a job I loved in part because of my coworkers and the people who surrounded me every day. working from home was an adjustment, but I was thankful to still have a career that I enjoyed and that I was raking in cash to spoil Lucy (wink so hard).

 

it didn’t take long, however, for the newness of working from home to become the bad kind of mundane. after the first week I stopped getting up early enough to rinse off, brush my teeth, and put on clean clothes. it also took Ben less than a week to realize he needed to come home for lunch every day, otherwise I would talk his ear off the first hour he was home after work, let’s be serious the first five hours, probably about how a bird ran into our window, or that some jerk of a person went speeding by our house and don’t they know that there are children in our neighborhood?!

 

I also quickly became my Grandma Dargatz (seriously, not good). I started keeping mental notes (and let’s be real, sticky notes) about my neighbors comings and goings. I severely judged them for not letting their dog out to go to the bathroom until 11 am every morning, when I knew it hadn’t been outside since 7 pm. I honestly have to stop typing because I have a little shame about how much I cared about nothing that matters.

long story short, I wasn’t very happy with my professional life. I wasn’t very happy sitting at home all day looking like a scrub. yes, I could have gotten up earlier to “get ready” before I started my work day. yes, I could have joined more than just my once a month book club. but I didn’t. I was unhappy. Ben knew it. Lucy knew it. I felt like everyone knew it before I realized it was time to make a change. fortunately a combination of dramatic happenings at my previous job and some serious serendipitous (how’s that for alliteration?) timing, made it easy for me to say buh-bye to my life as an editor.

sometime in April I accepted a position with McGraw Hill and to be honest (or tbh as the internet is saying these days), April was really touch and go because the background check process they put me through was like a season of Survivor and the worst episode of Naked and Afraid. I obviously thought I should pass (because I haven’t Dextered anyone), and after numerous sleepless nights and screaming to someone at the background check place that “if you can get in contact with the stupidheads I freelanced for that took months and months to call me back and to pay me, then go ahead and try dammit,” I finally passed. I think that’s a run-on sentence/the worst sentence ever, but if it comes off nearly as dramatic as my days of living it, then mission accomplished. all. woe. every. day.

during the interim of hating my professional life and starting a new job, I pretended to plan my little wedding heart out. and my life looked a little like this:

1. panic every night around 10:00 pm just as I went to bed
2. wonder over and over how everything “comes together”
3. get excited about everyone celebrating together
4. get a little sad knowing it’s going to happen too fast

okay, so it hasn’t been nearly that melodramatic, but I am finally getting to the point where I’m just saying “yes” to make a decision, because while I think I might care a little bit about what the centerpieces look like, I really don’t. I just want to say my vows and put a ring on Ben’s finger.

speaking of rings, we went and picked out wedding bands last night and it was so much fun that I might make us do it again before we buy them. I wouldn’t let us purchase them last night because they only take a few weeks to come in and I quickly envisioned myself wearing it until September. no patience. none.

anyway, we both liked the first ring that each of us put on, and like everything else for the wedding, making a decision felt easier than it should be. it’s in these moments that I am constantly reminded me why I am marrying Ben. because even in the most chaotic chaos, we weather the storm together and all of the mountains look like mole hills. insert other idioms I am missing here.

I might never get over how funny perspective is, but it always feels good to get to a place where you can reflect on what you’ve gone through and open a bottle of red to toast that you’ve survived. and for now, I still have to go think about a thousand more dots that need to be connected before September 10.

108 days until #GoingGill.