Why Suffer When You Don't Have To?

On Sunday I brought our laundry downstairs to the living room for folding, because I would have broken out in a sweat doing it upstairs.  I couldn't deal with the last load so I left it sitting in the basket.  I ran the blow dryer on my hair for exactly two seconds before realizing what a stupid idea that was because our air conditioning broke just in time for the hottest weekend of the year. San Diego county broke high temp records everywhere and there we were, putting off bedtime as long as possible because downstairs wasn't terrible, but upstairs was a sauna.  Laying there spread eagle in bed listening to the hum of the tower fan and feeling it's lukewarm air blow across my body brought back memories of the old days when I lived alone in a studio apartment.  Right now our only choice is to deal with the heat, but it reminded me of the days when I had a choice, and chose to suffer anyway.

It feels like a lifetime ago.  It was a lifetime ago.  I was living alone for the first time ever and newly single.  Street parking was tight, there was a shared laundry room that took quarters only, and no storage to speak of, but my little apartment was so cute.  I was proud that I did it on my own and living alone was pretty neat. 

Like a lot of places, there was no central air.  It had a wall AC unit, but it was sufficient for cooling the whole place since the whole place was essentially the size of a room.  I was on the upper floor, so when it was hot, it was hot and there was no escape.  I don't know how I sat there sweltering, when I could have had relief with the flick of a switch.  The tower fan would have to do, because the wall unit was to be used ONLY while I worked out, and sometimes not even then depending on just how hot it was.  Those were the rules.  I went to bed in stifling heat some nights and woke up to damp sheets.  During the day I holed up in the library or went to the mall when it got too bad.  I took two showers a day because just breathing was enough to make me sweat, but upon pain of death I would not touch that wall unit.

Those were the rules.

And so many rules there were back then because life demanded it.  I could only buy clothing if I absolutely needed it and only from Walmart or Target.  I wasn't allowed to eat after six.  To cut down on gas I couldn't go too far from home most weekends and stops at 7-11 for 99 cent coffee was only allowed once a week. 

Those were the rules because money was tight and discipline of utmost importance. 

Diet soda was allowed daily.   I had one every day with "dinner" to help me feel full.  If you could even call it that.  Three slices of thinly sliced lunch meat ham, slapped between two slices of bread, a 2% Kraft Single, and the thinnest layer of mustard was the main dish with a side of exactly one serving of pretzel sticks.  I counted.  The cans were rinsed and stored in the dishwasher and taken to the recycling center monthly where I would receive my CRV in the form of a grocery store credit at Ralph's next door.  I parked in between the two, so I could haul my cans to the recycling center and then walk to the grocery store where I would painstakingly select each item after carefully scrutinizing the nutritional information.

The thing about it, is that my electric bill was so cheap.  I still don't know how it was so cheap, but it was only about $35.00 per month.  Allowing myself some relief and turning on the wall unit every now and then would have made me much more comfortable, and how high could my bill really get?  Not very high, as I would find out later, but I was too caught up in my own suffering and sadness to find out.  Everything had to be controlled to the maximum level possible.  I didn't allow myself to splurge.  Ever.  On anything.  I embraced hunger, the stifling heat and all the things about my life that was difficult without resistance, but it wasn't just about the money.  It was proving to myself what I had already come to accept at that time.  Life is hard and I wasn't meant to be happy.     
Then I met my husband.
I lived there for five years.  He lived in that little studio with me for the last six months of it, and you better believe that when it got hot he didn't hesitate for a second to turn that thing on.  He couldn't understand my logic.  Why suffer, when you don't have to?  I mean, if you have no choice that is one thing, but when you have a choice, why not choose comfort?  It's usually worth it.  Space was limited and sometimes the clutter made me cranky, but it wasn't just me against the world anymore, and that cold air circulating through the studio felt like a small miracle.  It was pure magic, and my oven which still pristine after five years of very little action was finally getting put to good use.  The girl who didn't want to eat had fallen in love with a foodie.

When we moved into our house I tried to make us both suffer.  Our expenses were high that year between the new house and the wedding.  Old habits die hard.  "We're fine," I'd say.  "It's not that hot," because I was used to sacrificing comfort to save a dime, but MJ wasn't having it.  He went crazy cranking up the AC at just the slightest hint of warm weather, and I went along with it until we got the bill.  I taught him the value of a savings account and he taught me to live a little. I gave in a bit, so did he, and we've found a pretty nice balance over the years. 

I shake my head sometimes thinking about how my life has changed since then.  All for the better, and I am so thankful.  We own a home with central air, we take trips, I don't think twice about stopping at 7-11 for coffee, and I have an Amazon addiction.  My meals are nutritionally balanced, I have an awesome husband, and I no longer look for any excuse to martyr myself.  I'm happy.

Why suffer when you don't have to?  The answer is, you shouldn't.  Air cooling is a wonderful invention.  I am truly humbled after being without it for six hot days and can't wait for it to be fixed next week. 

Disclaimer:  This post was brought to you by our broken air conditioning unit and the wonder that is air cooling, but all thoughts and opinions are my own.

Mysteries of Instagram

I discovered Snap Chat last year, and it's been fun, but out of all the social media outlets Instagram is still my favorite.  I enjoy the ease of interaction and it's also been really helpful to me on my fitness journey.  I joined a great fitness challenge, find inspiration, and discovered a protein powder I love.  It has also gotten me to buy clothes, but we won't talk specifics on that.  I originally just had one with my super secret blog handle, and now that they finally made it easier to toggle between accounts I made a personal one so I could follow friends and family.  It truly is like a time capsule of your life.   Sometimes I fall down the rabbit hole of my own posts just because it's fun to look back on old times.

I have always loved taking pictures, so sometimes I do try for the perfect staged Instagram shot.  I utilize filters.  I take way too many pictures of food and other things that may or may not get posted, but mainly I try to capture the moment.  I am just a regular old run of the mill Instagram user so there are some things I don't understand. 

A photo posted by Cece (@mahoganydrive) on
Are there really people out there who get to spend their entire lives traveling the world on a perpetual vacation?  Like how?  I wanna do that!!

How do some people post their first post one day and then have over 500 followers in a day?  Like how? They have to be buying followers right, but how does that even work?  Who are these people with gain 100 followers instantly in their bio and how did they get into the business of selling followers?  Third question.  Why is it that important?  Especially if you are not a business.  Who are you and why do you need 10k followers?

I get it, people love talented all star cheerleaders and dancers, but how do people get so many followers when they are not celebrity/professional athlete/singer songwriter/public figure type?  Some of them have more followers than Misty Copeland.  Who are they and why are they so interesting? 

What is up with those Insta accounts that have two posts and thousands of followers?  They don't post.  What exactly are you following? 

What is up with those Insta accounts that have four sexy pics and "I need a man for meetings...I'll way for you" in the profile?  What are the logistics of that? Are the pics fakes? Did match.com not work out?  What does she really want and why is she following me? 

How do people get so many selfies and videos at the gym? Personally, I find selfie taking in public kind of embarrassing.  I sneak them in every now and then, but I won't do it if anyone is around!

How do the fitspo girls learn to pose like that?  I get it.  Booty gains is really in right now, and the contortions put it on full display, but try as I might I cannot get my back and waist to contort without looking like I've turned into a statue and stopped breathing.  Mind you, I used to be a gymnast.

Why do people post porn on Instagram?  I found out the hard way while innocently searching hashtag #snapchat.

A photo posted by Cece (@mahoganydrive) on

Do people have personal photographers follow them around taking pictures?  They must!  I'm mostly reduced to selfies and candid shots are very few and far between...like maybe when I'm on vacation.

I realize there is this whole thing about having a theme for your Instagram, but how can someone maintain that for years and years on end?  I scrolled an Instagram account back to August 2015 just out of curiosity and aside from food and denim there were literally seven pictures that featured color outside of black, grey or white but the monochromatic theme, went back much further than that. Are those the only colors that you wear?  Do you systematically refrain from posting Instagram pics while you are wearing vibrant colors?  Themed Instagrams are pretty to look at, but it must take a lot of the Insta out of Instagram and it seems like a lot of work to keep it. 

What is this obsession with white white fur rugs and all white sheets?  I can't help but notice that the flowers, coffee, aviator sunglasses combo is very popular atop white rugs and in the passenger side seats of cars.  Do they really like Starbucks and fresh flowers that much or is it just for Instagram?

Why are so many Instagram accounts starting to look alike? See above.

Why is the list of hashtags on some posts a mile long and sometimes include hashtags that have nothing to do with the picture?  

Why post one picture in a collage of two or three pictures that are exactly the same.  I look for a difference, but nope.  The same exact picture.  

Lastly, how do people always manage to find a perfect brick wall (bonus if it's covered in really cool graffiti) to pose in front of.  I haven't seen any and if I did, I wouldn't have anyone to take a picture of me standing wistully in front of it!

Okay.  I think that covers it.  I have much to learn.

This is What Relaxation Looks Like

We had such a good time in Temecula that I knew we'd be back.  I just didn't realize how soon.  Two weeks after our first stay MJ was like, I wanna go back, and I was like me too and that is how we found ourselves back at South Coast Winery just a month later.  It was like deja vu except this time we stayed for two nights and I already knew just how much fun it was going to be.

I think we have a winery addiction.

The place 'aint cheap so we went with a Thursday to Saturday stay and enjoyed a four day weekend.  Well, technically 3 1/2 day weekend for me since I insisted on working a half day on Thursday.

It was hot.  So hot!  It's been gloomy in So Cal, but it warmed up significantly making Friday one of the most perfect pool days ever.  It got up to 98 degrees while we were out there.  I don't know how people sit in the sun for hours without cover, but I am not a rotisserie chicken, so an umbrella is absolutely mandatory. When you have cover you're set.  We stayed there for hours taking a dip when it got too hot, and relaxing.  We subsisted on wine, cheese, grapes, and salami during the day.  We drank our complimentary bottle of wine at the pool, and then did a tasting at Ponte Winery next door.  Our favorite wine from there is Late Harvest.  It's a red, but so sweet you can taste the berries.  MJ bought two bottles when we were there last time.  We finally ate some real food at the South Coast Winery Rose Restaurant that night.


We most definitely will make it to Napa eventually, but until then Temecula will do nicely.  The grounds are quiet, and serene, but the mood is festive and fun.  There really isn't that much to do at a winery except drink, eat and relax.  I have no problem with that.