Nine Years

taylor and nicole bullock anniversary

9 years
8 cars we’ve roadtripped in
7 days a week of “Taylorsmiles”
6 months from 1st date to marriage
5 years to finish college algebra and get your degree
4 states (Utah, California, Michigan, Georgia)
3 domiciles (DTW, ATL, MEM)
2 surgeries (and another one this week)
1 borrowed Toad the Wet Sprocket CD

From 2004 to 2013, I’ve spent 9 years at your side. Even when we’ve had to live and work across the country from each other, you never feel too far away. It hasn’t always been easy, but it’s always been worth it to have you as my best friend and husband. Happy anniversary, Taylor.

My Funny Valentine

taylor collage

Eight and a half years.
Four states.
Six moves.
Adventures galore.

And I still get excited every time you walk into the room.

So many people said that meeting a guy I met on the internet wouldn’t work out. So many people said it was a bad idea for a newly-divorced single mom to be dating, let alone falling in love and getting married again. I’m glad we took chances. I’m glad you’ve been able to follow your dreams. And I’m glad that I borrowed your Toad the Wet Sprocket CD.

Happy Valentine’s Day, Tay.

Facts About Sweethearts Conversation Hearts

Awesome Things About Sweethearts [infographic]
Via: DegreeSearch.org

Conversation Hearts

Those cute little chalky snippets of confectionary sentiment. Who doesn’t love looking at the cute messages on a conversation heart?

Did you know that NECCO (the New England Confectionery Company) began producing stamped candies in 1866? That’s one year after the Civil War ended! An invention from 1847 called the lozenge cutter by Oliver Chase revolutionized the candy industry in the United States. NECCO printed messages on their candies over the next 2 decades, and the earliest candies were different shapes back then: baseballs, watches, postcards and horseshoes. NECCO started printing the Sweethearts conversation hearts (as we know them) in 1902.

conversation heartsA lot has changed since then, including the way people communicate. Sweethearts with classic sayings like “SWEET TALK” and “MARRY ME,” have been replaced with sayings like “TWEET ME” and “CRAZY 4 U.” At one time, NECCO distributed Sweethearts with outdated sayings like “DIG ME” and the cheerful “YOU ARE GAY”, but they have been discontinued. NECCO says that creating text for their candies can be tricky. The new sayings can’t be “offensive, distasteful, or too wordy,” according to Walter Marshall, retired NECCO vice president.

I’ve always loved Necco candies, especially the wafers. This is in part that I grew up with Necco as a nickname for Nicole. Yes they’re chalky, and I know that not everybody likes them, but both Necco wafers and Sweethearts hold a sweet part of nostalgia in my life.

Do you love (or despise) conversation hearts? And do you like this infographic? With my sentimentality for conversation hearts, I urged my creative director at work to produce this graphic. Pretty awesome, right?

Thanks, Joseph, for humoring me.

Do Good Anyway

“People are often unreasonable, illogical, and self-centered;

Forgive them anyway.

If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives;

Be kind anyway.

If you are successful, you will win some false friends and some true enemies;

Succeed anyway.

If you are honest and frank people may cheat you;

Be honest and frank anyway.

What you spend years building, someone could destroy overnight;

Build anyway.

If you find serenity and happiness they may be jealous;

Be happy anyway.

The good you do today people will often forget tomorrow;

Do good anyway.

Give the world the best you have and it may never be enough;

Give the world the best you’ve got anyway.

You see, in the final analysis it is between you and God;

It was never between you and them anyway.

Mother Teresa

(Adapted from Kent M. Keith – The Paradoxical Commandments)

Non-Tangible Birthday Gifts

birthday candles Saturday is my birthday. Other than being excited to see friends for the Frida Tweetup – whoop-de-doo. Make no mistake about it, I do love my birthday. Born on February 5th, I’ve said since about 1985 – “Feb 5 is a great day to come alive.” It’s situated far enough past Christmas that budgets have recovered, and just before people have shot their wad on Valentines’ Day. I do love presents….but this year, it really seems unimportant.

Last year I celebrated my 30th birthday, and it felt pretty monumental. But  for the first time ever…this birthday just feels like another year in the history books. At this point, I’m really just happy to still be around. 30 was a year of physical health struggles, mental health struggles, financial struggles, and the beginning of the biggest identity crisis I’ve ever faced. I’ve made it through with the support of family and friends – both online and in person.

Earlier this week, I had a discussion with a friend over Facebook about birthday gifts. She wanted to know if she should get me an iTunes gift card or something off my Amazon Wishlist. She’s been unemployed for several months, and it meant so much that she was planning to spend her meager funds on me. I hate to think of her spending money on that I know she doesn’t have. I told her that I didn’t need a gift…and she seemed sad that I rejected her opportunity to give. Since then, I’ve been pondering this idea. And late in the night, I had a thought – this year I’d rather have non-tangible gifts.

It means the world to me when a random stranger smiles at me. Or someone offers to watch my daughter so I can have some non-mommy time. I read and reread the heartfelt emails I receive which say why I’m loved and important to them. Blog comments and Twitter replies feel like a gift…it helps me know that my thoughts and words make a difference. I love getting invitations to come over to have dinner with a friend’s family, thus taking away the stress of deciding what to make for dinner after work. I love getting unexpected mentions online, such as links to my blog posts or professional recommendations on LinkedIn. I love when people show up at my house randomly to give me a hug (and don’t judge me for my messy house.) Or just slap a sombrero on my head, sing Happy Birthday in Spanish, and present me with a dish of fried ice cream.


So unless you were planning on giving me a stash of Coke Zero, don’t waste your money on a birthday gift for me. I’m curious what people will do/say, so I will report back next week to let you know how my non-tangible birthday gift experiment went.

Valentine to my Tayv8tor

In Your Eyes

Love I get so lost, sometimes
Days pass
And this emptiness
Fills my heart
When I want to run away
I drive off in my car
But whichever way I go
I come back to the place you are

All my instincts, they return
And the grand facade
So soon will burn
Without a noise
Without my pride
I reach out from the inside

In your eyes, the light the heat
In your eyes, I am complete
In your eyes, I see the doorway
To a thousand churches
In your eyes, The resolution
of all my fruitless searches
In your eyes
I see the light and the heat
In your eyes
Oh, I want to be that complete
I want to touch the light
The heat I see in your eyes

Love, I don’t like to see so much pain
So much wasted, and this moment keeps slipping away
I get so tired of working so hard for our survival
I look to the time with you to keep me awake and alive

And all my instincts, they return
And the grand facade
So soon will burn
Without a noise
Without my pride
I reach out from the inside

In your eyes
The light the heat
In your eyes
I am complete
In your eyes
I see the doorway
To a thousand churches
In your eyes
The resolution of all my fruitless searches
In your eyes
I see the light and the heat
In your eyes
Oh, I want to be that complete
I want to touch the light
The heat I see in your eyes
In your eyes

After 5+ years, I still feel the light and heat in your eyes. You were the resolution to “all my fruitless searches.” I love you more than I’ll ever be able to express. Wish you were here with me to celebrate “everyone’s favorite commercialized February holiday” with me.

Love,
Nicole

(For those who don’t know, Peter Gabriel’s “In Your Eyes” (Acoustic Version, mind you!) was our wedding song. As well as Level 42’s “Something About You.”)

The Bachelor: On The Wings of Love?

Jake Pavelka The BachelorThe Captain of Her Heart?

When I first heard that the new season of ABC’s The Bachelor was going to feature an airline pilot, I thought it was a joke. Knowing what I know as the wife of a pilot, I was baffled that any woman would willingly thrust herself into the pilot wifestyle. Then I realized that most of these women probably DON’T know the reality of being a pilot wife.

This is what I know so far about the Bachelor, Jake Pavelka:

31-year-old Jake Pavelka is out to prove to the world that nice guys don’t finish last. No, they finish in love. Fasten your seatbelts and leave your relationship baggage at the door as this handsome commercial pilot from Dallas prepares to take flight as The Bachelor.

“Jake knows himself well enough to know that he’s not made to live alone. He just needs to find the right woman — his best friend and soul mate – and that’s whom he’ll marry. Searching for a woman who is intelligent, confident, energetic and spontaneous, he admits that he can’t wait for fatherhood.

“Jake Pavelka grew up in Denton, Texas and attended University of North Texas and Embry Engineering University for Aerospace Science. He discovered his passion for flying at a young age, as he started taking lessons at age 12. As an accomplished pilot, he was fortunate to discover his passion at a young age, Jake started taking flying lessons at age 12. An accomplished pilot, he became an airline captain flight instructor at 23. On his days off, he has fun flying acrobatic planes, taking dance lessons and woodworking at the home he owns near Dallas.” (ABC.com)“In person, he’s feeling nothing but love from fans, many of whom are passengers who greet him as they deplane. (Pavelka is a captain and airline flight instructor for Atlantic Southeast Airlines, a Delta Connection carrier.) “Everything’s been so flattering,” he says. “I’ll go to different airports in different parts of the country, and there are really great people going, ‘Hey, so glad you came back.’ That’s really humbling.”(Dallas News)

The Bachelor Jake Pavelka

This first thing that hit me was the fact that he attended Embry-Riddle Engineering University for Aerospace Science. Within the first few minutes of episode one, Jake mentions that he was fortunate to have a “storybook childhood” and that he was the only one in his family to not pursue medicine. For anyone who knows anything about flight training and education, Embry Riddle is typically where you go when your family is rolling in the big bucks. According to the Embry-Riddle website:

Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University is the world’s oldest, largest, and most prestigious university specializing in aviation and aerospace. It is the only accredited, aviation-oriented university in the world.

Undergraduate Cost of Attendance

Tuition and Fees $28,600
Room and Board $8,500
Books (estimated) $1,200
Total, non-flight students $38,300
Estimated annual flight costs* $15,000
Total with Flight $53,300

* Flight Instruction: Embry-Riddle’s flight program is designed to allow students to earn their ratings in just three years (unlike many other schools). Flight students can estimate average annual costs for the first and second year at approximately $15,000 per year. The average cost for the third year of instruction is $10,000.

From what you see, Embry-Riddle’s program appears to cost a little over $53k. But when you read the fine print, it says that flight instruction is $15k for years one and two, and $10k for year three. Add that together….you’re looking at $78,300 to attend the “Ivy League” flight program. To achieve comparable training at a state university (such as UND or UVU), your undergrad studies would be slashed by 2/3rds (plus flight costs).

The next frustration was the wording of the bio on the ABC.com website: “An airline captain flight instructor at 23.” To quote Jake in the introduction of episode one, “I’ve been in the pilot seat for most of my life…I’ve been a commercial pilot for 10 years. My office is at 37,000 feet. There’s really no word to describe my passion for aviation.” He goes on to talk about his obsession with aerobatic airplanes (another luxury of the wealthy pilot)

Now what exactly is an airline captain flight instructor? Oh yeah….there’s no such thing. To paraphrase Wikipedia for a moment; One cannot become a commercial pilot (CPL) until age 18, nor an Airline Transport Pilot (ATP) until age 23. Although one technically could become a Certified Flight Instructor (CFI) once completing one’s CPL, it is highly unlikely that said instructor would be airline captain flight instructor at age 31. A more appropriate description would be “a regional airline captain who flight instructs on the side.”

Jake Pavelka ShirtlessOne thing ABC did get spot on, is the typical pilot obsession for fitness and staying in shape. Pilots must be evaluated by a medical examiner frequently, and many common ailments can disqualify you from flight. My pilot is very concerned with his health and appearance, which can be difficult to keep up with rigorous schedules and limited availability to fitness centers during trips.

So what about the lucky ladies? What advice do I have for them? If you want to be a successful pilot wife, these qualities are a MUST:

Flexibility
: Despite a pilot’s seniority. there will ALWAYS be hiccups in his schedule. Flight mixups, freak weather, maintenance delays, etc. Or he just may have a crappy schedule in the first place. Be prepared for birthdays, anniversaries, and holidays without him, year after year (and always celebrate the ones you DO have together) Don’t expect to live in the same domicile (or country!) for the rest of his career. He could be furloughed, displaced, or downgraded with no notice. His payscale may stagnate, or cut in half (if downgraded from captain to first officer)

Trust: No matter what career your man is in, there WILL be temptation. The persona of an airline pilot is suave, debonair, and powerful, which will attract both flight crews, passengers, and airport employees. Cheating happens in aviation, just as it does in medicine, finance, education, etc; but it is enabled by the provided access to hotel rooms in random cities. This isn’t to say that your pilot will cheat, but you need to keep your relationship strong, and the communication often and honest. If my husband and I don’t talk at least 3 times a day, we really start missing each other. When he’s home, smother him with affection to help him remember why he’s working so hard to support you.

Independence: The pilots who hold fabulous lines will still be gone several weeks per month. If you have children, you’ll have to act as a single parent. At some point, you’ll have to go to parent teacher conferences, recitals, and sporting events alone. You will likely have increased daycare costs (if you work outside the home). Cultivate your talents and begin new hobbies to fill up the time that you’d otherwise sit around lonely. Realize that you may be sitting on the church pew, week after week, without your man at your side. Take advantage of your flight bennies and visit a friend out of town whenever you get a whiff of jealousy of all the fabulous locales he flies to (Evansville, South Bend, Dayton, Wausau…definitely worth getting jealous over!)

Debt Management: Few pilots are as fortunate as Jake to have a “storybook childhood,” with a family able to finance flight training. My husband is a 3rd year first officer at a regional airline, with his take-home pay BARELY able to touch his monthly student loan payments. Most of the pilots I know have well over $100,000 in debt to cover plane rentals, instruction, insurance, exams, and travel expenses. Gone are the idyllic days of extremely wealthy pilots, especially as they start our their careers (except the high-seniority captains, like Sully, who have taken significant paycuts as well). You will probably have to bring in supplemental income to cover the inevitable living expenses beyond his paycheck. Many pilots have to take on second jobs on their off days. Learn how to budget and live within your means.

A good support network
: There are many cities that you pilot may be based: MEM, JFK, DTW, LAX, CVG, MSP, DFW, ATL, etc. Sometimes you will have no control over where you’ll be assigned, and it can be VERY lonely to be in a new city with no friends and family (just look at my posts from Detroit and Atlanta….lonely times) Or your pilot may commute, as mine does, and that is even more time that you are without your significant other. Make it a priority to establish a great LOCAL network of friends, family, neighbors, and church members . Join some of the established websites such as Pilot Wives Club or Wives and Girlfriends of Pilots Facebook page.

Now that I’ve said my two bits, I’m going to sit back and enjoy the romantic reality drama!

The Twilight Years

Twilight Years from Tom on Vimeo.

For all you Twi-hard YSA’s that are reaching that “cut off point” soon…or who have been that age for a while. 18 and 33…can their worlds collide?

“You don’t have roommates. You propose impossibly fast. You got your mission call from Howard W. Hunter. I know what you are.”

“Say it. Out loud. Say it.”

“You’re in the family ward. How old are you?”

“Eighteen”

“How long have you been eighteen?”

“Fifteen years. Are you afraid?”

“No.”

“My friends and I, we’re not like your kind. I moved out of the singles’ ward years ago.”

“I’d rather die than not be with you in your ward. I want to be with you forever.”

“You don’t know how long I’ve waited for you. I’ve loved you ever since you left the Laurels.”

1997 Yahoo! Personals Ads

photo blurred to protect the innocent

The summer before my senior year, my boyfriend was getting ready to leave on his mission. We were coming to terms with the fact that I wasn’t going to “put myself in cold storage for two years.” So we thought it would be fun to put up an online personal ad for me on Yahoo (back when dating on the internet was SO faux pas). While we were at it, we did one for him too.

Woman seeks Man: I’m just a Girl!
Salt Lake City, UT

Seeking: Short-term relationship, activity partner, pen pal

Age: 17 Ethnicity: Caucasian Religion: Christian

Profile: Athletic/fit, 5’9″, non-smoker, non-drinker, no children

Description: If you’re rich, I’m single! Shower me with money and gifts if you wish, but I’d be just as happy going dutch. I am looking for some new friends, preferably LDS, to spend my short abundance of free time with this summer. I consider myself to beautiful, but not fake; Serious, but I know how to have a rockin’ good time; Intelligent, but I’m still working on my Nobel Peace Prize; Mega-feminine, but good luck playing sports against me. Affectionate, but I never kiss on a first date. I love to sing, act, learn, and make the most out of life. You’ll have to get used to me singing along with the radio in the car, but I sing like a pro! I enjoy anything outdoors, especially hiking, swimming, repelling, camping, and sometimes even gardening! There’s a lot more to me than can fit into one paragraph, so if I strike your fancy, “Leave me a message at the beep and I’ll get right back to you” <>

Contact: Citrusfruit

*****
Man seeks Woman: I am in a fishing mood
Salt Lake City, UT

Age: 19 Ethnicity: White Religion: Christian

Education: College Employment: Full time
Profile: Slim/Waifish, 6’1″, non-smoker, non-drinker, no children

Description: So you want to be a wizard. Looking for a little magic? Well search no further. I enjoy long conversations, as long as I am the one talking. I enjoy a variety of interests as long as I choose. I will go out with anyone as long as you pay. If I sound like your archangel, I am. Time and all eternity as long as I control the remote. Being carried across the threshold?…if you insist but don’t hurt your back. If you enjoy a whole 100 pound man, I am your Fabio. If you are looking for an eternal flame, I am your heavenly match. Cuddle on the couch, as long as my team isn’t playing. So write me and if I am impressed enough I will think about responding. I take great pride in my humility.

Contact: okiiniwatori

The Dainty Wildflower

The Dainty Wildflower*

When it comes to youthful affairs of the heart
Though my loves have been but a few
It doesn’t take prideful impressing by him
A sweet romance will always do

When I reflect upon the wildflowers
On the path on which I go
Makes me ponder much of simple times
When hearts would let young lovers know

“To determine the worth of a goodly man”
Said the lass with a delicate air
“A dozen long-stemmed roses from he
will determine the perfect pair”

One shan’t judge a book by its cover
but in roses the belief isn’t so thought
Crimson passion, pink child-life fashion,
Gold-flamed petals be eternally sought

If I were to discern a future fellow
by a flower yellow stained
For a life of selfless giving
Only a friend could I take his name

The most delicate rose, it’s white shining remains
the pure, untouched bloom could very well claim
Loving devotion for a righteous eternity’s bliss
Temple covenants pledged with no shame

Yet as I admire on this heavenly day
God’s creations well aged and fresh new
I yearn for devoted companionship
A worthy mate living life, loving true

My eyes don’t need sight of rare flowers
Money has only Earthly concern
I gaze at each delicate wildflower bud
Simplicity has caused my wild heart to turn

Sincerity’s flower will win my true heart
To a man whose devotion’s unmarred
As we walk down the path of the rest of our lives
He will pluck me up dainty wildflowers

July 1, 1996
Nicole Marie Watson

***
There is a very specific reason I chose a waterfall instead of a wildflower for this post. It was written when I was 16, while hiking around Silver Falls State Park in Silverton, Oregon. It was an incredibly gorgeous day, and despite all my jaunts to Silver Falls….I recall this day as the most beautiful. I walked off the beaten path a bit near South Falls, sat on a large mossy rock, pulled out my notebook, and was immediately touched with the inspiration for this poem.

I am a certifiable hopeless romantic. I can’t remember ANY time in my life where I wasn’t “in love” or had a crush. I idealize relationships, foolishly look past faults, and let my heart grow attached very quickly. I love seeing people in love…the tender glances, the affection, the chivalry, the exploding smiles and blushing cheeks. When I played kissing tag in elementary school, kissing wasn’t gross to me…I liked it because it gave me the chance to be kissed. I love to be “in love.” I am completely in love my husband, but that does not diminish the emotion that I have felt in the past for other men. While some girls grow up dreaming of their ideal fairy-tale weddings, I didn’t really put much thought into the actual wedding. I just wanted a man to love and cherish me for the rest of my life.

I wrote this poem intending to give it to my future husband on my wedding day. But the notebook got tucked away in a box at some point, and I forgot about it. I quickly married in my first year of college, and five years later it ended in divorce. All the hopes and dreams of eternity that I’d idealized for years were splintered, and I wondered if I’d ever find a man that would make me as happy as those dreams.

Around the time I met Taylor, I found the poem and let him read it. His response was so generic….something to the effect of “Yeah, that’s pretty good.” Taylor’s sweet and romantic in his own way, like the numerous love mix CDs he made while we were dating, but it wasn’t the response I expected. He probably didn’t realize how important this poem was to me. I was upset, so back into a box it went until I uncovered it again this week.

I think I now dedicate this poem to the IDEA of the love I wanted for my future; the idea that inspired me to hold fast to my chastity. There have been many bumps along the road, many selfish jerks and users. I’ve been a selfish user. I’ve had my heart broken and I’ve broken hearts. As an adult, I believe that the sum of all the love from those broken hearts has given me the capacity to love more.Tennyson said, ” ‘Tis better to have loved and lost Than never to have loved at all.” To this thought, I heartily agree.