Wednesday, October 29, 2014

You Got Me With #NoFilter

Every so often, you meet someone amazing, and you become friends. Good friends. Great friends, even. You find yourself talking more and more, to the point that you are spending hours a day talking to this new friend; you're clearly ready to move on from the current property you manage since you've got this much time on your hands, but you talk non-stop. Eventually you find that on those rare days that you don't get to talk as much, you miss your friend. As time goes on and you continue to talk more, you find that this person is one who really understands you; he picks your brain, he makes you think. He compliments your mind and your personality, and he encourages you to take chances. He's an amazing friend because he makes your entire world a better place to be.

At some point, your friendship begins to cross some boundaries, to step over some lines. You and your friend are spending more time together, you're kissing, you're sleeping in each other's beds. You're spending whole weekends together, and you're starting to meet each other's friends. You're jealous of the other girls he talks about (and you've written off the other guys you were talking about), and you surprise even yourself with the amount of time you're spending thinking about his arms, his eyes, his lips. You find that he's someone who really gets you - he hates dogs and doesn't want to have kids, and his family may just be as fucked up as yours. He wants to travel, likes to read, and loves the beach, just like you. He slowly becomes the safety net that lets you be vulnerable like you've never been, and he lets you make plans to calm his impulsiveness. And then out of nowhere, despite your fear of rejection, your fear of having your heart trampled, your fear of letting someone into your soul, you finally admit to yourself that you're falling in love with your friend - and your heart skips a beat when he reciprocates the sentiment, and asks you to be his more-than-friend - doesn't even ask really, just makes a statement.

And in that moment, you don't think you could be any happier.

Until you get happier.

He takes you to the beach and spends the weekend laughing with you, ordering fancy drinks with you, letting you paint his fingernails hot pink...letting you all the way in. He goes out of town with you, he meets your family and doesn't hate them - hell, he even says great things about them (something you rarely even do). He continues to make you think, continues to push you to your limits when you're scared. And you believe that you're doing the same for him - that when something scares him, you're able to help him see through to the other side of his fear, that he feels the same support you do.

Truth be told, part of what makes you feel so safe, so secure, is that you were friends first, and you know each other. You know the way each other thinks; the way each other's minds work. He knows that you're a control freak and that living with someone else is your biggest fear, and you know he's impulsive, and that he wants to move away and take a lot of big risks. When you're just friends, those things don't matter. They're not a big deal, and you tend to make fun of each other about them. But suddenly, when you're in a relationship, trying to find a groove as a pair instead of two individuals, these things start to play a role. They make you question whether you'll ever be able to heal from the last time you moved in with someone, and you wonder what it would be like to go somewhere new together, somewhere neither of you has ever been. And you lay in bed next to him at night, wondering if he's wondering the same things.

That's the trouble with love. The trouble with love, is that the things that never mattered, maybe kind of matter. The trouble with love, is that you have to compromise and you have to consider someone else - what they think, how they feel. And suddenly, the fact that someone wants to live alone or move away, or the fact that one of you is scared of commitment or afraid of letting go, all start to be more important. The trouble with love, is that individual realities sometimes don't mesh, can't connect. Sometimes there is an inequality of feelings or of passion, that makes one of you unable to take the leap. Sometimes one of you isn't ready for shit to get this real; sometimes, honestly, neither one of you is. The trouble with love, is that sometimes love is a real bitch, that does nothing but give you several amazing months with someone, only to eventually not be enough. And then there are the times that it gets particularly painful - the times that you spend making a friend, being a friend, having a friend, only to ruin it by falling in love with your best friend. That's the real trouble with love; the real trouble with love is that it is so big that it has the potential to wreck everything in its path when it doesn't work. To work on maintaining that friendship if the relationship can't succeed, takes an immense and selfless effort - on both sides - and sometimes that won't be enough (though sometimes it will).

Every so often, you meet someone amazing, and you become friends. Good friends. Great friends, even. And in the midst of building your friendship with this amazing person, you often let your feelings grow, let your guard down. Eventually you realize that your capacity for love is there, and that your ability to be passionate is there, even though you're terrified, even though you're guarding it. My advice? Don't guard it. Don't protect it. If you're in love with someone, tell them. Be brave. Be willing to take risks and step out of your comfort zone. Be open to their new ideas, the way they make decisions and the way they think. Let yourself be passionate; put it all on the table. Communicate openly, be honest, and let yourself love - and be loved - the way that feels best to you. If they're impulsive, relish in that; take a leap with them even when you normally wouldn't. If they're nervous or protected, watch for those moments where they let it all out in front of you, and know that it means they trust you more than anyone else. Because in the end, you'll want to be able to say, I let you all the way in. I was scared, but I didn't let it stop me. You got all of me, #nofilter.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Don't Let the Monkeys Run Your Life

I'm scared.

Of a lot of things.

When people ask me what I'm most afraid of, I always answer the same: monkeys and outhouses.

And on a surface level, that's very true. I am actually very afraid of monkeys, and I am very, very afraid of outhouses. I would argue that I have good reason for both of these insane fears. For one, I was attacked by a monkey at a California zoo as a baby. A small monkey bolted over to my stroller, where it proceeded to head butt me and steal my bottle right from my hands.

Yes, that really did happen.

Then when I was 19, I had an incident in an outhouse that involved a pitch dark night and a stranger's poop. At the end of the story, I rode home in my friend's truck, naked and wrapped in a blanket, after shedding all of my clothes on the side of the highway. Needless to say, I now only use outhouses in the broad daylight, I don't shut the door and therefore make someone stand guard outside, and if there is any (and I do mean any) other place to pee, I use it.

Yes, that also really did happen.

People who don't know me well, get that answer. I'm afraid of monkeys and outhouses. And they move forward, not knowing me, thinking that I have two ridiculous stories ending in entertaining fears, and I move forward, letting them think that that's it.

But then there are the people who take the time to know me for real, who know what I am really scared of. The people who have sat with me and a bottle of wine for hours, the people who have invested in me, the people who have been by my side when I've needed them; these are the people who know that my fears go beyond monkeys and outhouses. These are the people who know I am afraid of losing control and of letting someone all the way in.

Those are my real fears, the ones that really give me a run for my money.

I'm afraid of losing control. I talk to my therapist about this one twice a month, on average, more often when I am dealing with a lot of change at once. I have come far enough to recognize it, to feel what triggers it, and to be aware of it...and also to sometimes have a laugh at myself for it. As an example, I recently decided to get a roommate, and I rented half my apartment to a girl who was moving out of her parents' house for the first time. This was ideal for me, because I have furniture and appliances and dishes and decor...and she doesn't. So essentially, our apartment is furnished with my stuff, with the obvious exception of her bedroom. Recently, she acquired a chair. A chair that sits at the dining room table. So, as anyone else would, she put her new chair out in the dining room, and now we have three chairs at the table - two that I bought with the table, that match...and one random one that doesn't. And this chair has become my nemesis. When I am doing dishes, I stare at it. It bothers me. Not because it's ugly, but because it bothers me that someone else's stuff is in my dining room. Now, mind you this person pays rent, is a legal lease holder on our shared apartment, and has every right to buy a chair and put it wherever she wants. And I'm not mad about it by any means; it just bugs me when I think about it. Because really, I just don't want anyone else to have any control over my life, and somehow this damn chair seems to trigger a time in my life where someone else was controlling my entire existence.

And yes, I realize this makes me sound like a total psycho.

I am also afraid of letting someone into my soul far enough that they could hurt me. People do that, the whole hurting other people thing. Sometimes they even do it intentionally. I've had people hurt me on accident, and I've had people hurt me intentionally. And it's definitely the intentional hurting that stays with you; the fact that someone would maliciously seek out a way to cause you pain. But they're out there, those people. So I feel the need to be cautious.

Unfortunately, that need to protect myself, to protect my heart, often gets in my way. And it gets in my way in ways that I don't see coming at first, sometimes not until it's too late. Sometimes I don't even realize I have my emotional arm up, that I am still guarding some part of me, that's I'm keeping my distance. And it's always the worst when someone you care about has to be the one to point it out, like there's someone out there who is working hard enough to get all the way in, that they're the one who notices when you're making it impossible.

Regardless of how scary it is, there comes a point in your life that you have to let your past shit go. When you have to look your fears in the face and say fuck it. When you have to let your roommate buy a chair you don't like and stop looking at it with dismay on your way out the door in the morning. When you have to look at that person who is working their hardest to know you, and make the choice to let them in. Fear will always be there, trying to hold you back, trying to keep you down. Are you going to let it win? Are you going to let your fear win? Or are you going to make a conscious decision to do what you know feels good, despite any fear of failure or heartache or anything else?

It's okay to be afraid of ridiculous things, like monkeys or spiders or public bathrooms. It's even okay to be afraid of real things, like falling in love with someone you could love forever or moving into an apartment with that person, or even walking away from the things you know and trying something new. Fear is a normal thing, a healthy thing. But it's not okay to be controlled by your fear, and it's not okay to let your fears control your life.

I mean, don't get me wrong, I still have no intention of hanging out with any monkeys...

I'm just never gonna be ready for that.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Crazy Brain is a Crazy Bitch

"It's called a breakup because it's broken." I don't have any ex boyfriends out there who I am still pining for, who I wish I was still with, or who frequently cross my mind (or my path) for any reason. Each of my individual relationships ended for good reason, at a good time, when they were no longer benefiting my life or making me a better person. I have had relationships end because they were simply not satisfying any longer, because they were boring, because of cheating and lying, and because of abuse that I was no longer able to tolerate. I have also had relationships end simply because one of the two of us had lost interest or were not ready for an adult relationship. Across the board, though, each of my relationships was - and is - over for a reason, and I am not left with any regret or wonderment over the classic, what if.

None of the guys I have dated in the past are a staple in my life presently. And I feel that with most of my friends, that statement reigns true. Very few people I know (or have known) maintain relationships with ex boy or girlfriends. Because, it's called a breakup because it's broken. There is a reason you are no longer with this person, so why would you continue on some feeble effort to maintain some weird friendship after a romantic relationship did not succeed? For most of us, we don't. We wash our hands, we say goodbye, and we move forward as best we can, attempting to heal from the wounds in place well enough to be successful in the next relationship we find ourselves. And even in the instances where a friendship does remain possible, that friendship is only possible because you were able to get out before you got too far in; before you got to that point of no return. 

So, knowing what we know about how people generally feel about their exes, what is it that continues to make us jealous of those exes? Why are we jealous over a Facebook post or a Snapchat, and why are we nervous or uncomfortable running into someone's ex? Why do we care what they're saying or doing, what they're texting or emailing? Knowing that we are the one in the current relationship, the one making our partner's life better, why does it matter so much what their ex is doing?

Our logical brain tells us, it doesn't. It really doesn't matter. I could run into all of my ex boyfriends in one day, and it would be like any other day, albeit a bit more awkward. But seeing any one of them at a party or running into them somewhere does not change the fact that they are, in fact, an ex; a person from my past who no longer matters in my present. I could get an email from anyone I've ever broken up with today, and it would have literally zero to do with how deeply content I am with the man who woke up next to me this morning. Whether someone finds me on Facebook or reads my blog, has no relevance in my current relationship. And I assume the same is true for most of us. Our logical brain knows that we really don't care what is happening in the world of our ex boy or girlfriend, and that what matters lies in our current relationship.

Keeping our logic just out of reach, however, is our jealous and/or crazy brain, trying to convince us that is does matter. Crazy brain wants to know why you're friends with your ex on Facebook, or what they could possibly be sending you in a Snapchat - I mean, come on, we all know Snapchat was invented for the sole purpose of sexting without evidence! Crazy brain wants it to bother you, wants it to drive you mad, wants it to piss you off. And crazy brain tends to be stronger, faster, louder than logical brain. Which is ultimately why we sometimes do find ourselves caring about (and being jealous of) the ex. Because crazy brain easily takes control and takes over, and because we often don't even see it coming until it's too late: until we're fully jealous over nothing.

It can be hard to reign in our crazy brain, but our current relationships - and our lives in general, really - are so much better when we get a handle on it and live more in our logical brain. Am I suggesting that I am never jealous, never crazy, never upset about something I read on Facebook? Of course not. I'm human, and it happens. But when it does happen, I have a couple of choices to make. Do I choose to let crazy brain take over and ruin our day, making it hard to maintain any sane level or normalcy? Or do I choose to get it together and remind myself that everyone has a past, and that the past sometimes makes a slight appearance in the present?

Everyone has a past. And truthfully, we all carry baggage from the past into our future; maybe running into someone's ex, or having to meet them at an event, or seeing them on Facebook or Snapchat, is just another means of the baggage we chose to accept in our partner. When you start a relationship with someone, you do take on some of their past - maybe they are afraid of commitment, or maybe the idea of moving in with you is both exciting and simultaneously really frightening, or maybe they've been cheated on or pushed around. Whatever it may be, we all have baggage, we all have triggers, and the person who takes that on, accepts it. The same goes both ways - when I take on a new relationship, I am accepting that person for their past, present, and future, and that includes the messy parts.

The truth is, perfection does not exist. And if it did, it would be insanely boring. I can't imagine a perfect world, with a cookie cutter house and white picket fence, with a perfect boy waiting for me to present him with a perfect meal day in and day out. Perfection isn't real; messy is real. Messy is passionate and deep. Messy is what you fall in love with, the type of love that leaves you tangled in the sheets, wrapped up in each other's arms and legs, at the end of the day. So maybe you have to deal with someone's ex, and maybe they have to deal with yours, but that's just a little bit of mess that connects the two of you on a level you didn't realize you could ever have.

Just remember that at the end of the day, you're with someone who is in love with you; be in love with them back.

Don't let your crazy brain win.

Money Can't Buy Time

At this time five years ago, I lost both of my grandparents, within just a couple of months of each other. It was a hard period of time for my family, and continues to be an emotional time of year for me. I miss them each individually, but I also miss the way they fit into the tight knit dynamic that is ever present in our growing family.

My mom's parents were amazing people. When we were little, they played with us, went sledding with us down their steep driveway in the snow, let us come over, fed us well, and filled our lives with memories that I still think of fondly. As we grew up and they moved to the coast, they allowed us to come visit, spend time, camp out in their yard, and bring armies of friends, boyfriends & girlfriends, and pets with us for weekends away from Portland. There was no shortage of love, quality time, or laughs in their house, and it quickly became my favorite place to spend weekends after I was able to drive and had a car of my own. 

Would you rather: Have more time, or have more money

At this time every year, I wish I would have had more time to spend with my grandma and grandpa; this one is simple, really - I would rather have more time. 

Where does money really get you anyway? Is it a necessary evil to survive, to pay bills, to feed & clothe yourself? Of course. But it is the root of any happiness? No, not at all. I mean, I suppose it contributes - without money, life would be pretty bleak, and I would argue that in the past year or so that I have finally had more of a disposable income and more ability to both spend and save, things are less stressful. But money certainly does not buy happiness on any level. 

I am far more concerned about the time I spend with people, than what I am spending to do so. I don't need to go out to dinner or see a concert, or to take lavish vacations in order to enjoy the company of someone in my life. I am often content to lay in silence in my boyfriend's arms after a home-cooked meal (yea, I make food sometimes now, it's a new thing). I enjoy long walks outside with my girlfriends or dinner at home with my mom & dad. There is more to life than things you have to pay for, and often times the ones you don't have to pay for end up being the best ones anyway. 

For the cost of half of a tank of gas in my '91 Toyota Tercel, I was able to spend years of weekends with my grandparents while they were here; I can't imagine not having those memories, those stories to think over when I visit the beach house now that they're gone. It didn't take a lot of money for me to have those weekends, to sit on the couch and watch TV with Grandpa, or to take a walk on the beach with Grandma. But it took time. Time I could have spent with friends or at the movies or at the mall. Time I preferred to spend with my cousins. 

Money doesn't buy anything as important as time. Sometimes that best thing you can do for yourself, is to make time for yourself, and then to make some time for someone else. Because in the end, you won't have any of the stuff you spent your money on, but you'll be able to find peace in knowing that the people in your life knew you valued your time with them. 

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Tattoos Just Make You Better

I remember the day I got my nose pierced like it was yesterday; I was at Black Hole Body Piercing, and I was pretty newly 18 years old. The guy who pierced it punctured a capillary with the needle, so when he removed the chunk of wine cork from my nostril, a waterfall of blood came pouring out of my face, spilling onto my tee shirt. He quickly stuffed a stud into the hole and grabbed me a wad of Kleenex as I tried to blink away the stars I was seeing. It was quite the ordeal, and then I ended up removing the piercing within the year after it was too much of a nightmare to continuously take in and out for work, where I wasn't allowed to have it.

Would you rather: Have piercings or tattoos?

Outside of my ears, I don't have anything pierced that I once did; it turns out, I decided at some point that piercings weren't worth the trouble of cleaning and shopping for stainless jewelry to satisfy my nickel allergy. I would much prefer tattoos, both on my own body and on the bodies of others. 

I first got my ears pierced in 5th grade, and at some point in junior high was allowed to have a second set of holes in my lobes as well (those have since closed up, been repierced, and closed again). I had my belly button pierced at one time as well, and I have the scar but no longer the piercing. And then there was my nose. That was the extent of the piercing craze for me - I never did upper ears, or my brows, which were all the rage in my generation. I am not a huge fan of piercings and don't get cravings to add holes to my body on a regular basis.

The same is not true of tattoos. I crave tattoos. I have several and I want more, and I generally allow myself to plan for one with at least one quarterly bonus a year - I figure a bonus is meant to be spent on something fun, right? 

My first tattoo, I got when I was 18, and my mom went with me to get it. My friend Josh drew it for me; it's a very small, cross-legged Tinkerbell on the small of my back, off to the side of what would be a "tramp stamp." I got it at a tattoo studio in Milwaukie, which is no longer in business, where all of my high school friends were getting theirs done. It was pretty for a while, but I've had it for 12 years and it's needing redone really badly. I have every intention to cover it up with something big and bright and wild. 

Next, I went up to Dark Something-or-other in Vancouver, where I selected a crescent moon and single star off a wall of art. We added a second star and the initials of two close friends of mine who's passed away that year and a couple years prior, and I left. I never liked it. It was too small for my calf, and the guy just really didn't do a good job. Just last year, I had it covered up by the amazing artist at Tron City in Portland, with a huge purple rose and a swallow. I love it now; I think it's beautiful and I love how big and bright it is. I also love that you can't see the ugly moon anymore. 

My third tattoo I got at Red Rocket Tattoo in New York City. It says "Carpe Diem" in large black block lettering, and it's on my hip. I like it, My mom hates it. I hid it from her for a long time, because I was living with her and for some reason thought I would get in trouble for it. It's not my favorite tattoo, but I love the story behind it and that I got it on one of the best vacations I went on with my best friend. 

Fourth was the aforementioned cover up. 

My fifth tattoo, I got this year, again from Tron City. It's my largest one, and also my favorite, and the one I intend to add to next. It is on my side, up under my armpit, and it's two honey bees and a beehive, meant to represent my grandparents. There's a long story to it that you can read all about, but in general, this is by far my most meaningful tattoo - and the only one with a real story outside of I liked the design. I plan to add huge, vintage-style flowers to it, and probably soon - I like to get tattoos in the winter so they can heal without being on display when they're all gross and peeling. 

Not only do I have several tattoos and want many more, I am also fascinated by tattoos on other people.  I love them, love the stories. I like to look at them. My boyfriend has a tattoo on his shoulder blade that I love to outline with my finger when we're in bed watching TV. I enjoy watching people get tattooed as well, which I hear is weird...I sat through my girlfriend's 5+ hour session and loved it. 

I think tattoos are great. But more importantly, I think that if you want a tattoo or a piercing, you should just get it. Don't worry about what anyone else thinks - it's your body; treat it as such.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Take a Step Backwards, I Can Smell You

Recently, I interrupted my maintenance supervisor mid-sentence and said, dude, you are the loudest person I have ever heard...please speak in whisper. From around the corner, my assistant manager said, you are the TWO loudest people I have ever heard! Well, I can't argue with that.

Would you rather: Only be able to whisper, or only be able to shout?

#LoudGirlProblems. I am loud. I speak loudly. My best friend also speaks loudly. When we are together in public, we tend to be those two girls you can hear laughing from the other side of the store. People who speak loud, I feel, are less annoying than people who speak so softly that you have to get too close to them to hear what they're saying. It's weird when you have to cuddle up into someone's personal space to hear them. It's less weird - apparently - when you're sitting at lunch and can converse with people three tables down. That's me and Rachel. Across the grocery store from each other, sharing one list.

Based on the fact that I prefer to keep a safe distance from people, I would rather only be able to shout, than to have to lean in to whisper all the time.

I hate being close to people. Physically, I mean. I don't like when I can feel someone else's body heat radiating, or when I can smell their breath. I hate when people are too close to me in line at the grocery store, and I feel claustrophobic when I am in a room with too many people. The thought of having to be close enough to everyone that I could whisper and they could hear me, gives me anxiety. I talk to a lot of people on a daily basis, and about 25% of the time, I spray a stream of Febreeze over my desk after they've left; I can't even come to grips that I may have to be any closer to them than I already am.

On the flip side, once I am comfortable with someone, once I have a close relationship with them, I am like a leech (no, not like a clingy). If I know and love you, I want to be in your bubble, and I want you in mine. My hate of being close becomes a craving for touch. I like to hold and be held, and I prefer to be hugging, kissing, holding hands, than to not be doing those things.

So I suppose the whisper rule might be tolerable if I was going to be surrounded by only those people I like the best...

Thursday, October 16, 2014

A Life in Reverse is Backwards

My cousin Daphnie just turned 13 and got to sign up for her own Facebook account. My immediate advice to her was, always remember that what you write on the internet will be there forever. Thanks to the new TimeHop app on the iPhone, we can even get a daily play by play of the things we posted on Facebook and other social media sites on this day last year, the year before last, all the way back to five years ago. A five year play by play of our lives on the internet. That's a scary thought.

Would you rather: Have a rewind button on your life, or a pause button on your life?

I downloaded the TimeHop app, because, well because I was curious, mostly. And I can say - with much certainty - after reading back on my life over the past 5 years, I would much rather have a pause button than a rewind one.

For several reasons.

I don't want to rewind because I don't want to move backwards. My life has progressed, has gotten better, has improved significantly, as time has moved forward - what would I be going backwards to? I mean, there are times in my life - specifically in my childhood - that would be pretty fun to revisit, but in that case, I'd have to argue that whatever that "scene select" feature is called on a DVD would be better than rewind, I'd have to go backwards through all the bad to get to the good I was after. To rewind, I'd have to see all of my fuck ups, my mistakes, my heartaches, in reverse; I'd have to watch it all happen again. Not worth the headache to time hop back to some random fun memory, if you ask me.

I also don't want to rewind because I try to move forward in my life without regret. Rewinding feels like regret; it feels like saying hold on, I wanna do that over. I'm not happy with how I did that. That's what regret sounds like. I try my best to find a lesson or a purpose in the things that happen, the events that take place in my life. Sometimes it's hard to find purpose in the bad, but the reality is, without the bad, I wouldn't appreciate the good. I don't want to rewind because I want my present to be as happy and raw as it is, and changing something that happened in the past would alter the way I am currently experiencing life.

Today specifically, I wouldn't mind a pause feature. Today I feel like life is moving faster than I can keep up with, that people are making decisions and moving forward without me, that I am grasping at air as I fall over the side of a building. I need that slow motion feeling from the movies, where the hero rescues the girl just before she plummets. Today feels like I'd like to pause, mid-fall.

Then again. in the movies, it isn't a real pause; it's more like slow motion. I suppose if I were to really hit pause on my life, it'd be like a stand still. I don't really want my life to stand still...I just want to slow it the fuck down for a moment.

That's the thing about life though; you don't get to speed it up or slow it down. You don't get to back it up or make it stand still. You just have to live it as it happens. And though given the choice between rewinding and pausing I would choose to pause, the reality is I am much more content living my life in regular play mode. #noregrets.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

I've Never Been the Most Important

Every time you start a new relationship, you go through a period of the first time something happens for you. Your first official date, the first time you kiss, the first time they say they love you, the first time you meet their friends or they meet your family. There is no shortage of firsts in a new relationship, and even though you may have had a first kiss with dozens of people, the first kiss with this someone is just as exciting. Because it's new, and it's something you've never experienced with anybody else.

I believe this is what is referred to, as "the honeymoon phase." That super-obnoxious-to-everyone-who-is-not-you stage where you are so gushy-eyed you can barely see straight, and where the most-perfect-for-you person on the planet can simply do no wrong? Yea, that...the honeymoon phase. That first little bit of time with someone new, where all of the newness is exciting and makes you forget you ever dated anyone else. Where the firsts feel like the absolute greatest thing that has ever, could ever, or will ever happen to you. #ohmygodhekissedme!!

I have had plenty of firsts with plenty of people. Some great, others not so great. I've had first kisses, first dates, first times having sex; there have been first times being yelled at, first times being hit, and first times being made to feel shitty about myself. there have been first fights, first make ups and breakups. And every first time is different. That's the thing about a new experience with a new partner, is that it is never identical to the same experience with someone from your past. I had a new first this weekend: for the first time, I went out on a date with my boyfriend, and he danced with me. Not because I begged and pleaded, not because I pouted, and not begrudgingly in the slightest. For the first time, I experienced what it was like to be on a date with someone who made me feel like the most important person in the room.

Side note: A man who dances is sexy as fuck. I don't know who ever told all you boys out there that girls prefer to dance alone while you get drunk bellied up to the bar, but they fully lied to you. There is nothing that guarantees you a night of hot sweaty loving than shaking it with her on a dance floor. Even if you look stupid. Even if you hate it. Even if you would rather die. Dance with her. (Also, dancing does not mean shoving your dick in her back. That grinding-her-gears move is not sexy.)

It's a gratifying feeling, that of feeling like the most important person in the room. It's a feeling that's not easily explained, but it's one that's wildly present in my relationship currently. It's the experience of being with someone who leans in to kiss you even when you're out with a group of friends, or who reaches for your hand when you're walking through a crowded room. These are such small gestures that it may seem insignificant, but when it's something you are experiencing for the first time, it doesn't feel small; it feels huge.

My efforts to explain this concept to my fella were met with shrugged shoulders and a well, you are the most important. Like, duh, why would I have ever felt otherwise? When you're the type of person who values your partner, who always sees them in that light, who is always aware of their presence near you in a crowd, these gestures apparently come as second nature, not to be given another thought. But when it's not the treatment you're used to receiving, it warrants all of the second glances, all of the pleasant surprises.

At the risk of sounding incredibly arrogant, I have always been the thoughtful one in my relationships. I'm the one who remembers important dates, who leaves love notes, who puts a lot of thought into gifts. I have always planned dates or birthdays or anniversaries. And more importantly, I've been the one who says the right things on a bad day or who finds the perfect way to cheer someone up. But as I was laying in bed last night, after the longest work week of my life, falling asleep at 7:30, I felt - for the first time - what it was like when someone else found the perfect way to take care of me back. By letting me fall asleep at a completely unreasonable hour, by rubbing my back while I fell asleep at a completely unreasonable hour, and by falling asleep next to a much more reasonable hour.

Obviously not every first is as great as the first time you realize how important you are to someone else, but the fact is, every first has something to offer. Embrace them. Relish in them. Enjoy the way they make you feel. As they say, there's a first time for everything (remind me again who they are??)

I Love That #LyricalGenius

Last week, after reading my blog post about not getting to do whatever you want to do, my boyfriend noticed that I had written it in some cadence, with some (accidental) rhyming. He called me a Lyrical Genius. #LovedIt.

Day One of Ten: Would you rather...Sing every word you speak, or always speak in rhymes??

I am a terrible singer. Terrible. Awful. So very bad. I am tone deaf, I can't match pitch, and I rarely know the words to anything but the chorus of the latest Taylor Swift single. I am the girl who loves karaoke bars but will never torment the crowd by picking up the mic - rather I am astonished by those who do. I watched, jaw on the floor, as a guy rapped a full Eminem song last weekend at a bar, without sounding like he had his tongue in a light socket. I love to listen to people who can sing. I even love to listen to my fella and his roommate, who can't really sing. But the singing I do, I do in the shower. By my damn self.

To benefit the rest of the world, and to satisfy the writer in me, I would much prefer to always speak in rhyme.

That said, for being a writer, I always sucked at poetry. It felt restricted. I didn't like to read it or write it, and I certainly didn't want it to be my focus. I remember telling my freshman English teacher that I hated the structure of poetry, the way she was asking me to take my story and conform it into a standard prose, with a certain number of syllables per line. What next, are you going to try and tell me I can begin a sentence with the word and? Yes, I can! I didn't like reading poems; they felt stiff and forced, and it would be years into college before I finally found any appreciation for poets such as E.E. Cummings (probably because in high school I was being force fed Shakespeare, which felt a little like squeezing lemon juice into my eyes).

This same English teacher taught me, though, that in writing, it was acceptable to break a few rules. My poetry doesn't have to conform, it doesn't have to rhyme. No one ever said a poem had to be lyrical or read like a sonnet. If I want it to rhyme, great - but it doesn't have to. One of my favorite writing assignments in this particular English class, was to model a poem of my own life after Walt Whitman's Song of Myself. The assignment was essentially to write a poem about myself. But I wanted to make a point of the structure of his poem, so I took it a step further and wrote in his exact, precise style, line by line. And not only did my teacher love it, but she read it aloud to all of her classes and submitted to some publication somewhere that she was involved in; ironically, as much as I hated being confined as a writer, that was the best poem I ever wrote - and I was confined to Whitman's few hundred words to complete it.

When I write, I write by my own rules. I start sentences with and or but or because. I write with hash tags. I overuse the semicolon. And I don't even feel bad about it.

Because rules are made to be broken.

Needless to say, I prefer to do things I'm good at. I'm a good writer and a terrible singer. So as obnoxious as it may be to look for rhyming words all day every day, I would argue that listening to myself sing all day...would be much worse.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Must Be Time For a #BlogChallenge

Nothing makes me feel as centered as a good blog; writing makes me feel better, it relaxes my soul and calms my crazy. And in the last several weeks, as I tackle a new monster at work, I have had less and less time to myself to write - and in the rare moments where I do get the moment, I am too frazzled to come up with anything of substance to write.

Cue. Rachel.

Last year, Rachel and I partook in a 30 day Blog Challenge, where topics were handed to us on a silver platter, to twist as we saw fit. Rachel started this new Would You Rather Blog Challenge today, and I have committed to start with her - because I feel like I need a push to stay on my writing even when I am busy and overwhelmed. As a kickoff to the next ten days, here we go with a ten to one countdown...

10 Facts about Yourself
1. I love to read. One of my favorite pass times is snuggling up in my jammies with a good book for hours on end.
2. My favorite food is raspberries. Preferably fresh off the vine, warm from the sun.
3. Speaking of off the vine, I find picking berries to be extremely therapeutic.
4. And speaking of therapy, I go twice a month, and it's two of the most enjoyable hours of every month.
5. I think men who dance are sexy.
6. I enjoy listening to music, but I am unable to ever recall song titles or artists, so I have a really hard time downloading new tunes and generally just beg people to make me playlists.
7. My favorite movie ever, is My Girl.
8. Having this blog about Juno published in an Amazon e-book is one of my proudest accomplishments to date. 
9. I only wash my hair once a week on average, and it's never been healthier.
10. I like to buy heels but hate to wear them.

9 Favorite Songs (well crap, this one is hard for me...)
1. Taylor Swift "We Are Never Getting Back Together" - this one will always be a fave for my mom and me
2. Ace of Base "The Sign"
3. The Temptations "My Girl"
4. Ed Sheeran "Thinking Out Loud"
5. Matt Nathanson "Wedding Dress"
6. Eminem "White America" 
7. Ed Sheeran "Nina"
8. Bethany Joy Lenz "Feel This"
9. Rascal Flatts "Melt"

8 Places You’d Love to Go to
1. Greece!!
2. Italy
3. Germany
4. Canada - specifically in the winter
5. Niagra Falls
6. Peru
7. The Galapagos Islands
8. Panama

7 Things You Couldn’t Live Without
1. Sleep
2. The beach
3. Yoga pants (no, but really)
4. Sex
5. Soft kisses
6. Mousse (don't judge, this curly hair is out of control)
7. Love

6 Favorite TV Shows
1. One Tree Hill
2. Gilmore Girls
3. How I Met Your Mother
4. True Blood
5. The Voice
6. Teen Mom

5 Favorite Foods 
1. Fettucine Alfredo with broccoli
2. Tacos
3. Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches on white bread
4. Tillamook chocolate ice cream
5. Cheese

4 Favorite Drinks
1. Pepsi
2. Corona with Lime
3. Champagne with berries
4. Blue Moon

3 Things You Like About Yourself
1. Physically? My wild curly hair. 
2. My brains.
3. The fact that I can write well.

2 Things You’re Looking Forward To
1. The END of budget season at work - where I can go back to reality and stop working from my bed every night.
2. Taking the week of Christmas off to spend some quality time with my fella.

1 Quote You Live By 
1. "You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, 'I have lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.' You must do the thing you think you cannot do." * Eleanor Roosevelt

Monday, October 6, 2014

Whatever the Fuck You Want

Bold Statement: You cannot just be whatever the fuck you want to be because it makes you happy.

When we were in grade school, junior high, high school, and even into college, people told us over and over that we could be whatever we wanted. Everybody tells kids they can be whatever they want to be, no matter what. Oh you want to be a superhero? Do it! You want to be rich and never work? Okay go for it! We are raised being told that whatever we want to do, we can certainly do - and the details will just work out for us.

Side note, when I was 5, I told my mom I wanted to be Clyde Drexler. I was in kindergarten and he came to my school. And he was amazing. So amazing that I wanted to be him. All my dreams were shattered when she told me that logistically, a short little white girl could not actually become a 7 foot tall black man.

By telling kids they can do what they want, be what they want, make whatever they want of themselves, aren't we setting up the next generation for failure? I mean, think about it. We don't all get to be whatever we want. I wanted to be Clyde Drexler. What if my mom had said, okay baby girl, go for it? How bummed would I have been all these years later, when I was in fact, not Clyde Drexler?

We cannot all possibly be whatever the fuck we want to be. We cannot all become rich and famous. We cannot all be star athletes. We don't all get to work in careers we love where the money flows like fine wine - in fact many of us will continue to make ends meet by working in jobs we actually hate. Because we have to, not because we want to. Not everyone is smart enough to be a surgeon, and of the ones who are smart enough, not all of them will ever be able to afford to go to medical school. Not everyone is creative; not everyone can write or read or do math or use applied science. But we continue to push kids through the program, encouraging them to just keep trying, just keep applying themselves - you can be whatever you want to, it'll all work out.

Not. Always.

I operate very much in my right brain. I am creative and free thinking, emotional and reactive, and completely void of any natural mathematical competence, Do I do math for a living? Yes. Do I like math? Not even one bit. So why do I have a job in which I have to do something I dislike repeatedly throughout the day? Because my parents raised me to work hard and to be independent, as opposed to encouraging me to go ahead and become that beach bumming creative writer that I desperately want to be. What would make me the happiest in life, would be to sit in a lawn chair drinking champagne in my panties and a hoodie, all day every day, with a laptop - one that has a great click to the keyboard - writing words. That's what I would love to do, that's my dream. Sunshine, alcohol, the ocean, and an amazing man to sit next to me while I type away.

But I can't do that. I have to pay rent, have to buy food. I can't be drunk on champagne every day and write the next great reads based on my own soul. I have to put pants on sometimes, and it isn't always sunny. I have to have a job - one that pays real money - in order to have a place to live and to own the pants I wish I didn't have to wear.

You can't always be whatever the fuck you want to be. And the best thing we can do is stop telling kids in school that they can be. Because they can't. Wouldn't it be better to encourage them to do what they're good at, what they excel in? I mean, I'm not saying we should all go around bashing kids and shooting their dreams into oblivion, but at the same time, I feel like some healthy, realistic goals would be better than an unattainable pipe dream. I can never be Clyde Drexler. I can never be a tall leggy blonde. I also can never be an unemployed yet somehow self-providing independent drunk writer. And I'm okay with that. Because I understand the difference between dreams and goals. I know that I can dream of a world with no pants, but that my life goals will require that I get dressed every morning by about 8:00.

I'm all for having dreams. But when we recognize a dream as unattainable, let's focus on what we can accomplish, what we can do, where we can go, what we can change...because it isn't always whatever we want.