On Coupons and Capital Murder.

Coupons2I’ll tell you about the first time that it happened.

We were newlyweds. Knowing that I loathe trips to the grocery store, Kellan had offered to go with me. Our cart quickly filled, and we made our merry way to the checkout line where we innocently parked our loot behind a petite blonde. [Henceforth known as tinyblondething.] We watched with mild interest as her total crept to over $280.00—and then, it happened.

Do you have any coupons?

With great flourish, tinyblondething whipped a fat stack of coupons out of her purse, and handed them over. I watched with morbid fascination as cents and dollars began peeling off her total, until at long last, her final bill was well under $70.00. Tinyblondething smugly trotted away with her stolen goods, looking for all the world as though she’d just cured cholera instead of saving $1.29 on Cinnamon Toast Crunch.  Then, it was our turn. As Kellan loaded our groceries onto the belt, he turned to me expectantly and let it fly:

Honey, where are our coupons?

Hi. Have we met?

I stared at my newly-minted husband blankly and stated the obvious: Um, WE don’t have any.

His baffled expression made it clear that I might as well have lit a hundred dollar bill on fire and smoked it right there in front of him.

Smalls, it’s FREE money. Why don’t we have any coupons?!

ON ACCOUNT OF THE FACT THAT EVERY SECOND OF MY FREE TIME THIS WEEK WAS DEVOTED TO GOOGLING ‘How to get Mint to file Nordstrom receipts under groceries.’

Now, this story would not be noteworthy but for the startling fact that it proceeded to repeat itself with numbing regularity. Like clockwork, Kellan and I would find ourselves standing in line behind an extreme couponer on Sunday afternoons, and I’d be all OH HI WHEN IS YOUR CULT COMMITTING SUICIDE? Meanwhile, Kellan could always be counted on to turn to me with the same expectant look on his face and ask where our coupons were, confirming my sneaking suspicion that I married a high-functioning sociopath.

Let me be clear: I work hard to save money. I shop sales and pinch pennies with the best of them—but I have yet to fall down the couponing rabbit hole. The blogosphere and TLC specials have created a devout following around the art of it all. Articles like “How to feed your family of ten on $18.00 a week” make me feel like a straight-up SLUGGARD for not stockpiling eleventy-billion rolls of cheap toilet paper next to enough bubble gum toothpaste to caulk the Taj Mahal. Somehow, hoarding boxes of Totino’s pizza rolls has become a mark of the steely fortitude that would have impressed our pioneer ancestors. Frankly, if there is a Zombie apocalypse, I can tell you exactly who will lead survivors into the new world order: THOSE HOARDING COUPONERS AND THEIR FREEZER-BURNED MINI PIZZAS.

Now, I have been forced to study the Proverbs 31 woman at just about every church women’s event I’ve ever attended [Jesus take the wheel], and somehow I missed the part where she spent her evenings clipping coupons for BOGO spicy Cheetos and jumbo tampons.  I consider myself to be a reasonable person, and have made ABUNDANTLY clear to Kellan that I will happily use coupons the second he either starts clipping them or gets me a sister-wife and frankly, I COULD GO EITHER WAY. Until then, I’m standing my ground for the following reasons:

  1. I never see coupons for virtuous foods like cilantro or honeycrisp apples. Coupons arrive for things like nuggets in the shape of small woodland creatures, and CookieKrisp cereal. Now, these are foods that I love so much I could snuggle them, but I’m trying to quit. Because I can’t afford new pants. Because I don’t COUPON. FARE THEE WELL DINO-NUGGETS. FARE. THEE. WELL.
  2. I’m SORRY, but can I tell you what sounds better than spending my evening hours scouring newspapers and clipping coupons? Literally ANYTHING. I fear that I would become ENTIRELY emotionally unhinged and be driven to hard drugs.
  3. With few exceptions, coupons encourage me to purchase food that I wasn’t planning on buying in the first place. HERE’S LOOKING AT YOU canned radioactive cheese sludge! Y’all, my life is hard enough without a violently misfiring colon.
  4. Perhaps most important of all: Kellan knows where the scissors are.

Tell me the truth: am I just lazy? Do you coupon? If so, do you get anything GOOD, and what are your thoughts on sister-wives?

On Beyonce, Recovery Brownies and #WhyITribe

ITFIt started the way these things always do: my friends were doing it.

Over the two and a half years that I spent in New York, [better known as: the years that shall not be named], several of my North Carolina friends joined a gym calledIron Tribe. Similar to Crossfit, I watched from afar as they grew to love the program with cult-like fervor, attending classes multiple times a week and learning to do things like unassisted pullups and HANDSTAND PUSHUPS.

Sidenote: is there anything on this PLANET that could make you feel more like Beyoncethan doing a handstand pushup? I cannot even PRETEND that my envy over this was in check.

Now, did your Mama ever threaten you with the old, “If everyone else was running around naked and jumping off a bridge, would you do it?” For me, the answer has always been yes. YES I WOULD. Better to wildly careen butt-naked through the air than to sit lonely on the sidelines in your sensible turtleneck and Mom-jeans. So three days after Kellan and I moved back to North Carolina, I found myself sitting in a closet-sized gym office talking to the local manager—a man named Josh with biceps so aggressive they ought to come with German Subtitles. To my great surprise, I found myself beinginterviewed. Josh leaned in earnestly, as though he were about to impart to me the secret of life: Tell me, on a scale from 1-10, 1 being you want to get OUT of shape and 10 being you are ALL in, what’s your motivation to get more physically fit? I cocked my head to the side, and after ten seconds of serious contemplation demurely replied, Mmmm, about a seven or eight?

Friends, I have since learned that the correct answer is always a hard ten. BE YE NOT SO STUPID.

Desperately clinging to his promise that I would NOT be the only person who could not do a handstand push up, I sheepishly joined the month-long introductory class scheduled to begin just days later. As rain poured outside the oversized windows and I valiantly tried not to panic-puke, we stood in a circle introducing ourselves and telling the group why we were there. I listened with saucer-eyes as a Dad talked about wanting to get back in shape so he could keep up with his kids, an already-jacked guy about my age mentioned wanting to improve his triathalon time, and a middle aged woman shared about needing a coping mechanism after a devastating breakup. The tone of the room was somber—these were serious athletes, and it was clear they were all tens. My turn came and I nervously blurted HI MY NAME IS ASHLEY AND I’M JUST HERE BECAUSE I LIKE CUPCAKES AS MORE THAN A FRIEND.

Josh leveraged that precious moment to launch into a lecture about the vast benefits of the paleo lifestyle. I clutched at my neck like Blanche Dubois when he informed us that we would be expected to give up carbohydrates AND sugar AND alcohol [and happiness] for the duration of the class. He actually told me with a straight face that a bowl of fruit could be just as satisfying as molten lava fudge cake and I was all WHAT KIND OF NORTH KOREAN PROPOGANDA IS THIS?!

We learned to do kettle bell swings, dead lifts, push-presses and wall-balls, and I learned that Nutella is NOT paleo just because it has nuts in it. [#paleofaileo.] I left class every day entirely exhausted by my own heroism—prancing to my car as though my meager burpee offerings were proof of my immaculate conception. BEYONCE. I felt like Beyonce.

Several weeks in, one of the coaches explained the importance of eating a “recovery meal” after intense workouts. He recommended his favorite protein shake, a sample of which left me reeling for the nearest trash can. One fateful evening after a particularly grueling encounter with a wall ball, Kellan came home from work to find me plastered onto the carpet, inhaling a brownie with all of the wild-eyed fervor of a raccoon digging through a dumpster. I took one defiant look at him and indignantly spat, I CAN’T DRINK THOSE SHAKES THIS IS MY RECOVERY BROWNIE, and #recoverybrownie was born.

Simply showing up to clumsily muddle my way through each new workout has become one of the most gratifying pieces of my day. There’s a quiet magic in being pushed to do the things you never, ever thought that you could do.  I’m four months in, and while I’m still the tragic girl that can’t do a pullup and have every confidence that I will NEVER be able to do a hand stand pushup…somehow, deep down, I’m still secretly convinced that I’m Beyonce.

On Tamir Rice, and Watching Brothers Die.

Jessica Haase Photography Image

I froze in horrified disbelief as you ran towards your brother, and it all came flooding back. The raw, suffocating desperation of watching your little brother die. I know it well--I once watched mine die, too. But this. This was different. You … [Continue reading]

How My Fitbit Ruined My Entire Life. [Tales From My Demon-Bracelet.]


Two weeks ago, Kellan and I were given twin Fitbits. You’ve heard of them, I presume? Gender-confused electronic bracelets designed to track every step you take and every mile you run, all in a valiant effort to coerce America into laying off the … [Continue reading]

Our first pictures of Nora Grace!

Kellan and Nora

We've been talking a lot about Nora Grace around here because friends, I am straight up OBSESSED. :) For the record, I have a laundry list of other things we need to talk about [chiefly, my new Fitbit, which has singlehandedly destroyed my … [Continue reading]

Intentionally Inconvenienced.

Kissing K

I deal in extremes. Case in point, we’d been dating for about a year when Kellan took me to dinner at a restored southern mansion that seemed very much like the sort of place that might be haunted by the disgruntled ghost of Robert E. Lee. It was an … [Continue reading]