Category Archives: First World Problems

Androgynous Marshmallows.

Well, it’s happening.

We all knew it would, of course—but nothing could have prepared me for November snow flurries. When I was a little girl, every time the air grew frosty outside my third grade teacher would confidently declare that it was “snot freezing weather”.

Y’all. IT IS SNOT FREEZING WEATHER.

Once upon a time when I was just crazy in love enough to delude myself into believing that snowy New York sounded JUST FREAKING MAGICAL, [a year ago], I asked for a new coat for Christmas. I understood that the flimsy little North Carolina jacket I’d been skating through fifty degree weather in wouldn’t cut in in the arctic north.

My Mama and I drove to the mall where I picked out a feisty little pink number, because if pink is good enough for Elle Woods it’s good enough for me. Also, nothing says WHAT’S UP Y’ALL like a pink pea coat wandering into a sea of black puffy-coated, disgruntled New Yorkers.

[Black is the new black around these parts.]

Two days after that fateful Christmas, Kellan and hopped an Albany-bound flight to go apartment hunting. I deboarded the plane, happily belted my brand new pea coat and waltzed out of the sliding airport doors…

…and died a thousand deaths. It took approximately three tenths of a second for the bloom to rub off of New York and panic to set in—cold like this was INHUMANE. Meanwhile Kellan took one nervous look at me, scooped me up into his arms and carried me over a snowbank towards the waiting car.

Great in theory, except the aforementioned car was BURIED UNDER A MOUNTAIN OF SNOW. If not for one defiant little rear view mirror bravely peeking out on the left hand side, we might still be wandering around that parking lot!

I got the vapors and channeled Tiny Tim as I stood shivering violently in the frigid cold while Kellan dug the car out. The car which, I kid you not, died in the middle of the highway ten minutes later.

Welcome to New York!

It was clear that my darling pink coat wasn’t going to cut it. I would be forced to join the androgynous, marshmallow ranks of puffy coated New Yorkers everywhere—a dismal inevitability that my color-loving personality abhorred. [Kellan once informed me he needed sunglasses to look into my closet. This, from the man that carefully rotates four pairs of socks.]

After packing up my life and moving to Albany, I began asking around. The ugly coats you people wear—where do you buy them? [And yes, I’m making SCORES of friends up here. Why do you ask?] Everyone told me to head to the mall, and so on Saturday Kellan girded his loins and bravely accompanied me.

I think God knew that this one needed to be as swift and painless as possible, because it didn’t take long to find a knee-length, down, puffy number for 35% off. The impulsive addition of a sassy pair of striped socks served as the proverbial sugar that made the medicine go down, and ten minutes later I was the indignant owner of a marshmallow coat. Kellan gushed about how I “looked like a French model”.  I shot him a look that could have melted all of the snow in New England, and in a voice that sounded eerily like Simba’s criminal Uncle Scar, calmly told him to stop. trying.

Mama told me there’d be days like this.

New York, I’ve caved and bought your uniform. But I’ll have you know that every time you see me waddling around in my black coat, I’M WEARING COLOR UNDERNEATH.

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Filed under First World Problems, Marriage, My ghetto-fab life, The love of my life.

The Hog Queen.

Processed with VSCOcam with t1 presetA week ago today, I met Kellan at the airport and hopped a Raleigh bound flight on account of some unfinished business with the Raleigh DMV. [Operation Becoming a Dickens: Take 83648202947573akjdffa;kjldfda;lkjfdakj;l.

I would have been indignant and possibly slightly dangerous if not for five little words: THE NORTH CAROLINA STATE FAIR.

Home to Turkey legs the size of my head and deep fried erry’thang, and the perfect excuse to wear my cowgirl boots and eat deep friend chocolate chip cookie dough.

Stop looking at me like that.

Given that I’m technically not from North Carolina and haven’t even the slightest interest in biscuits, tractors, hunting or collard greens, the State Fair was a learning experience for me. One of the first times that I went was in college, and some sadistic classmates masquerading as friends took unsuspecting me to a hog race.

I know. That’s a real thing.

Clearly, I hadn’t the foggiest idea what a hog race WAS, which my alleged friends took full advantage of when the hog caller [I know. I KNOW.] asked for volunteers.

With no warning, I was violently pushed to the front of the crowd, where a portly farmer in a John Deer hat grinned and waddled towards me.

Well HAY there, little darlin’!

Gulp. Hello.

There must have been something telling in my tentative “hello”, because he knowingly guffawed and belted You’re not from around here, are ya?

Indignantly: No sir!

Undeterred, he commanded me to pick a hawg, honey!

Now of course, was confused. I have very little hog experience on my resume, merely a deep rooted love for teacup pigs which was approximately ZERO help in that moment. Not to mention, I hadn’t the slightest idea as to why on earth I was picking a hog in the first place! With a weak smile, I pointed in the general direction of a rather indifferent looking brown fellow, and it was declared to the watching world that he was my hog.

Several other women were selected from the crowd [the camouflage and bleached hair added a sort of je ne sais quoi to their nomadic group, of which I was clearly not a part], and the pigs were lined up at the starting line.

And then the portly farmer dropped the bomb:

The winner would be crowned the Hog Queen.

He said it with a grin as wide as Montana, clearly believing he was making my day. My heart stopped and the arena started spinning.

Hog Queen.

Hog. QUEEN.

HOG QUEEN!

My short life flashed before my eyes as camera flashes twinkled like stars. Would I be in the newspaper? Did I need to climb over the fence and race with my pig? Would there be a talent portion of the evening?! DEAR HEAVENS, I WOULD NEVER LIVE THIS DOWN.

Meanwhile, my new blonde compatriots hollered enthusiastically, while my peanut gallery friends turned purple with laughter.

Mercifully, my porker of a pig came in second, nobody had to throw a baton or wear a swimsuit, and the day was saved. Also, given her tearful, Miss America reaction, I believe being crowned the Hog Queen of the North Carolina State Fair was the pinnacle of my new bleached friend’s life.

And really, who am I to take that from someone?

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Filed under Cross cultural hilarity, First World Problems, Home, My ghetto-fab life

How to Save Your Marriage for Fifteen Dollars.

Let’s be clear right off the bat: fifteen dollars cannot buy happiness.

It turns out, however, that fifteen dollars can buy you a little black fan on sale at Target, which will make enough noise at night to drown out the sound of your blissfully unaware husband snoring just four inches from your crazy-eyed face. Which, right now, feels precisely like happiness, so I should probably recant:

In breaking news, it turns out that fifteen dollars can, in fact, buy happiness.

I’m not kidding, I’m contemplating naming our firstborn child “Fan” on account of the thing probably just saved my marriage.

[Where was THAT in premarital counseling?!]

But really, with names like “Apple” and “North” on the table, I think “Fan Dickens” is totally a viable option. And honestly, I like the idea of naming our hypothetical offspring after the things that keep Kellan and I together. Though this point, “Break and Bake Cookies” would have to be in the running as well. And with a name like “Break and Bake Cookies Dickens”, our kid would never make it past kindergarten, and would be destined to grow up to become either a rapper or a stripper.

But hey–at least there would be options.

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Filed under First World Problems, Marriage

Operation: Brownies or Birth Control?

DSC_0195You were all just dears about my apple situation.

I can’t tell you how much I appreciate the comments, notes and texts with recipe ideas! Unfortunately for all of us, half way through my rainy New York day I realized that what I’d secretly been hoping for all along was a recipe for apple molten lava fudge cake.

Preferably something that tasted nothing like apples whilst simultaneously using up ten pounds of them. Also, making it fat-free would have just been a smash.

Alas, nobody read my mind, and so I’ll take some of your other recommendations out for a spin!

It’s all for the best really, because [brace yourselves]: I gave up chocolate two weeks ago.

I know. I KNOW. And it’s taken me two ugly weeks to talk about it because as my darling husband commented, I’ve been busy CHANNELING SATAN.

As all unfortunate stories tend to do, this one started with a honeymoon breakfast buffet. My Mama raised a smart girl, so I know to eat bacon when I see it! Fast forward to two weeks ago, when I stormed out of our bedroom in a blind rage asking Kellan why in HEAVEN’S name he’d SHRUNK MY PANTS.

Try extricating yourself from that one gracefully, gentlemen.

There was no escaping the brutal reality that my pants no longer fit like they’d used to. In fact, there was barely any escaping my pants after I’d spent half an hour jump-pulling. [Am I alone with the jump-pull? Anybody? Bueller?]

It’s common for newlyweds to gain weight in the aftermath of a wedding, but I wasn’t going to stand for it. I knew that for me, a couple of pounds were merely the gateway drug to a Carol Brady haircut, jean jumpers and a home birth in my jacuzzi tub and NO MEANS NO.

Still, a nagging question lingered in the back of my mind: were those extra pounds my fault, or my birth control’s? After all, my doctor had warned me that those tiny yellow pills might make me a little tubby, and all I have to say is WHAT KIND OF WORLD ARE WE LIVING IN when your choice is a muffin top or a baby?!

Apparently, I’d chosen the muffin top, but there was only one way to find out for sure whether birth control or…well, muffins, was the dastardly culprit. It was thus that Operation: Brownies or Birth Control? was born.

I cut out all chocolate out of my life cold-turkey and then cried like a small, emotionally disturbed child for a week. I love molten-lava-anything more than life itself, and if I’m not eating chocolate, I have generally lost the will to live and am certainly not wasting my time on other desserts. I felt certain that if my weight stayed the same on no chocolate, I could blame the pills. [And oh, how I wanted to blame the pills!]

Here are my findings seventeen brutal days in:

  1. If I see one more commercial with chocolate in it, I am going to start stabbing people at random.
  2. Kellan may or may not have found me snuggling a box of Ghirardelli double fudge brownie mix in the baking aisle at Target on Sunday. He may or may not have had to pry the aforementioned box out of my clammy, desperate hands. I may or may not have had crazy eyes.
  3. Speaking of my husband, he sweetly and sacrificially offered to abstain from chocolate with me. Precious, right? BAH! I counted the mini Kit Kats, Kellan Dickens. He didn’t last two days!
  4. I would rather die in some apocalyptic event than eat one more bowl of fruit. EXCEPTION: a bowl of chocolate covered strawberries. [Also, bananas and nutella.]
  5. Sadly, my pants fit again. Chocolate was indeed the culprit, and from my corner of the apple pile the rest of my life looks positively wretched.

These are dark times, friends…

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Filed under First World Problems, My ghetto-fab life

My Apple Predicament.

This weekend started off with a bang, when I wandered down to the mail room and discovered a package addressed to me. [And let it henceforth be known that there are few things in life that I love more than packages!] I ripped into my unexpected manila envelope and discovered this little bit of happy:

photo (22)The note read: “Dear Ashley, couldn’t resist sending ‘househunting files’. Love, favorite Mother in Law.”

BAH! I was so excited that I took my very first selfie, and I’m still embarrassed about it. My sweet mother in law sent me the most adorable Martha Stewart filing system! And who doesn’t love MARTHA? I’ll always have a soft spot for her–decorative pumpkins, criminal record and all. Now, are you ready for “How to Endear Yourself to Your In-Laws, by Ashley Dickens”? Refer to yourself as “your favorite _______”. The day that I married Kellan, I began to refer to myself as “your favorite daughter in law” any time I spoke to Gina and Russ. Call it brainwashing, but by the time Kellan’s younger brother Bryan gets married I intend to have my “favorite” status so solidified that the new girl won’t stand a chance.

Also, odds are that we beat his siblings to grand kids, so there’s always that.

The weekend slipped into bliss-status when one of my very best friends flew into town! Michelle has a wandering hippie heart, and thus I was only mildly surprised when she called me in the middle of last week, and asked if she could come. She’s the latest installment of a panicked flood of friends and family trying to make it to Albany before the snow hits [send. help.], and time with her was unbelievable.

Now, in true Instagram fashion:

photo (23)On Friday night, we spent hours throwing together the perfect fall dinner. Pumpkin pie bars and stuffed acorn squash were only the beginning–the occasion demanded nothing less than my very finest stretchy pants.

photo (24) Saturday morning found us at the Whistling Kettle for brunch! And as we’ve established a thousand times, nothing makes my heart sing like brunch. One pot of salted caramel tea and a crepe later, we dashed off for a hike. And Y’ALL, if there’s one time of year that upstate New York just SHOWS OFF…

photo (25)It’s right about now.  My heart stops every time I leave my apartment–it looks like the world is on fire. The pictures are such a sham next to the real thing.

photo (26)It was breathtaking. Don’t you just love New York in the fall? It makes me want to buy school supplies.

photo (28)We wandered for a couple of hours, and then found ourselves at an apple orchard, where this happened:

photo (27)Do you see that? The girl in the picture may LOOK happy, but don’t be deceived. That right there is ELEVENTY BILLION POUNDS of apples, and for a girl that eats a grand total of maybe three a year, it’s about eleventy billion too many. I was Jedi mind-tricked into thinking that I needed them by a cute little old farmer and a hippie that loves nothing more than eating local. The aforementioned hippie stuffed a couple in her carry on to take home with her [and really, now that Michelle is eating them back in North Carolina we can hardly call it “eating local” anymore], but left me with a formidable pile that’s currently taunting me from my kitchen counter. I can’t stand wasting food, and thus the apples must be used. But what on earth does one do with that many apples?! Kellan is traveling all week, which leaves me and my apple predicament all by our lonesome. The whole thing is very Little House on the Prairie, except Pa Ingalls won’t be around to save the day.

Send help. Also, recipes that won’t make me lop out of my yoga pants.

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Filed under First World Problems, My favorite people, My ghetto-fab life

The Dental Walk of Shame.

Last Thursday, I went to the dentist.

He kindly scheduled me an 8:00 AM appointment for the next morning to have a cavity filled.

Y’all, there are few things in life that are more humiliating than a dentist sitting in a pristine office with a perfect smile and a crisp, white lab coat informing you that your teeth are, in fact, ROTTING OUT OF YOUR HEAD.

I felt like a dirty, rabid hyena.

The urge to explain myself was overwhelming—I bathe! My house is immaculate and I engage in a plethora of varied forms of personal hygiene—THERE ARE THREE DIFFERENT KINDS OF SHAMPOO IN MY SHOWER!! I’M CLEAN!!!

Alas, all I could do was smile weakly [after all, the sorry nubs masquerading as my teeth were about to fall out of my mouth, so I had to be careful!], take my pink reminder slip of shame, and drive home.

Kellan arrived back at the ranch only to find me prostrated on the living room carpet, moaning about how I had to have MAJOR SURGERY.

He grinned, and offered to drive me because the man’s not an idiot.

Friday morning rolled in with a dreary New York fog, and I rolled out of bed and into my yoga pants. I slowly drank a steaming mug of caramel truffle coffee with the vague impression that it might be my last, and then did my best not to swoon as Kellan led me to the car while I mentally composed my last will and testament.

After enough extra pain killer to tranquilize a baby elephant, I spent the duration of our car ride home exclaiming that “Ah fink mehr fehrc ish melteenk awf!” [Translation: I think my face is melting off.], and proceeded to spend the remainder of the day drooling out of the right side of my mouth.

Which MIGHT have been more amusing had we not been having friends over for dinner that night…

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Filed under First World Problems, My ghetto-fab life, Then I found $5.00

Release the Flying Monkeys!

JCP_3508Kellan and I made an impromptu decision to go house hunting this weekend.

Honestly, we’re not even convinced that we’re in the market to buy, but we’re young and had nothing better to do after church than to wander into strangers homes and stare at carpets that saw the Nixon administration.

Also, the terrifying Home Alone basements. I just. I can’t.

The whole experience went as swimmingly as you might imagine, given that Kellan spent our time making mental spread sheets while I walked into each respective foyer, stood eerily still, and waited for the house to “speak” to me. [Not one of them said a darn thing.] While I’ll admit that my strategy may not be the most rational, I remain entirely unapologetic given that  I’m pretty sure my husband wants to buy the little brick number where the realtor had made hot chocolate chip cookies, because HOT CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES. Nine later, and that man was ready to sign a mortgage.

So really, this is going well.

Monday morning found me at the Albany DMV, because my brand spankin’ new social security card had arrived in the mail and I had successfully geared myself up for phase two of becoming a Dickens. Y’all, I even had a FOLDER. A folder with my marriage license, passport, old drivers license, angsty poetry that I wrote in middle school and eleventy billion other scraps of my old life for just in case purposes. After sitting in a dirty waiting room for an hour and a half while the gentleman sitting uncomfortably close to me enjoyed a Hot Pocket [No, I would not like a bite], a bored, gum-smacking blonde who clearly would have rather been anywhere else called me to the front desk. [I VOLUNTEER AS A TRIBUTE!] The aforementioned blonde then proceeded to unapologetically inform me that because North Carolina marriage licenses are different from the ones used in New York, I would need to submit THREE other proofs of name change before I would be permitted to change my license. She helpfully offered the following options as acceptable proof:

  1. NYC pistol license
  2. Welfare/Medicaid/NY food stamp card with photo
  3. St. Regis Mohawk Tribal Photo ID card
  4. Veterans Universal Access Photo ID card

RELEASE THE FLYING MONKEYS.

I spent the rest of the day rolling in the deep with Adele, and making Ina Garten’s chocolate brownie pudding.

Goodbye forever.

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Filed under First World Problems, Marriage, My ghetto-fab life, Then I found $5.00