Saturday, April 19, 2014

Day 6: In a Saturday Minute

I'm too tired to write a real post - it's past 10 on a Saturday night and I just remembered I haven't written today.

Stream of consciousness post, coming at 'ya:

It's really cute to me that so many people go home for Easter. I think I used to think it was just a southern thing, but it seems like it's common all over the place. I love ham and painting eggs. I probably won't do either tomorrow.


I just saw "Frozen" for the first time tonight! Usually I am annoyingly (unintentionally) contrarian about crazes but I really enjoyed it. A big part of that was likely that I was watching it with my 7-year-old sister, who was giggling the whole time and so happy to be watching it for the 11th time. I loved that the heroine was so brave, independent, and just wanted to experience human connection. Not that that's necessarily a new thing for Disney movies - see "Beauty and the Beast," and "Mulan," etc. etc. Honestly, the song "Let It Go" wasn't as catchy as I thought it would be. The snowman's little feet were my favorite part. I also loved the girls' white hair (I am weird) but it reminded me of beautiful Lavonne Adams, for all my UNCW peeps.


Last night we saw The War on Drugs in D.C. - it was an absolute blast but we didn't get to bed until almost 3 a.m. As a result, I've been a bit of a zombie all day. It is always such a treat seeing bands live with David. Concerts have been such a huge part of our relationship since day one. The first conversation we ever had was about a concert. The first concert we ever went to was Yo La Tango at the Cat's Cradle in Carboro, North Carolina. We drove up from Wilmington, newly infatuated with each other, when everything was nerve-wracking and exciting and secretive still. Over the years we've seen Radiohead, Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen, and many of our favorites. I hope we always find the time to go see bands together, now so much more comfortable standing side-by-side in the audience, swaying gently to the rhythm of music we both love so much.

Sweet dreams!


Friday, April 18, 2014

Day 5: 11 Things

If you're reading my recent blog resurgence and wondering why it sounds like I'm still 'finding myself,' it's because I still am! I think that is pretty normal for mid- to late-ish 20s (yikes!). But I find it pertinent to share that I also was diagnosed with an auto-immune disease within the past three years that helped explain why I have been SO EXHAUSTED my whole life. Read more here. Since getting on daily medication (and also making some dietary changes due to allergies/sensitivities/general healthfulness, etc) I am feeling a whole hell of a lot better lately.

Actually, I feel like a whole new person these days - sort of.

And part of that whole experience is: Look, I can stay up past 10 p.m.! Look, I can think somewhat clearly! Look, social situations do not put me in a state of panic! Look, not everything makes me feel overwhelmed anymore!

It has been wonderful 'getting back to myself,' but it's a little scary, too. Sometimes I worry that I spent the first 22 years of my life on 'coast,' barely able to get through the day let alone LIVE IT UP as a wild, young thing. In fact, I know that I didn't - and wasn't able to - enjoy my youth as much as I should have, or as others did. But that's OK. I'm alive now, aren't I? And there is still plenty of living left in me.

It's nothing at all like having a serious, terminal illness but in a way the whole situation has helped give me some much-needed perspective on a few things, which I will share with you now:

1. How lucky I am be alive!
2. Woah, life is short and goes by so quickly!
3.You should definitely GO SKYDIVING for your 25th birthday or you never will!
4. You should never turn down a free trip - anywhere!
5. Sleeping is amazing but isn't everything - eventually, you will get caught up (when you die).
6. If you can't 'be you,' while you do it, it's probably not the right thing for you.
7. The ends of movies are often very interesting and it's fun to be able to stay awake long enough to watch them!
8. People have a lot of love to give if you make the effort to reach out and be present with them.
9. Even the things that feel THE MOST SERIOUS in life can be remedied (or at least made easier) with laughter. No matter what's going on, there is always a way through, you just have to find it.
10. Life is give and take - for example my meds clear my head but also give me a terrible memory (cloud brain) at times. You give everything you have to give and take what you can get and make the best of it (even when you just want to whine about it).
11. Marriage is one of the absolute best and HARDEST things ever. They don't tell you that up front (read this article by Momastery). This hard and holy 'love forging' with David over the past seven years has been my all-time best work, - our life's masterpiece. It requires a lot of energy and trust and fear and courage and a good sense of humor and a willingness to SHOW UP, every day, no matter what. This actually applies to all REAL relationships - hard work, folks.

Thank you for bearing with me in this sort of quarter-life-crisis-y thing that's going on with me right now. We'll figure it all out together - or at least have fun doing it!

Love you all!


Thursday, April 17, 2014

Day 4: Motivation

Greetings earthlings: If you are just joining the conversation, I've challenged myself to 30 days of blogging in an effort to force myself to write e'ry day. Check out Day 1, Day 2, Day 3 or just forget the whole thing and start here.
A client just called a moment ago, his voice full of dread.

"I haaaate to do this to you," he said.

I took a breath.

"We need to scrap the May/June cover," he said. "A bar of soap doesn't work for the environmental services piece. They discourage using bar soap in hospitals because they can be hotbeds for germs. I didn't realize. I'm soooo sorry."

I took another breath and shivered at the thought of a germ-y hotbed.

It's no big deal, I explained to him, and hung up the phone with an exaggerated sigh before skipping down the hall to my designer's office.

"Uh oh," she said, her eyes widening. "You have that look."


Lately I've been asked this question a lot:

What motivates you? 

And I think: Honestly? Honestly, it's the promise of pure, unadulterated laziness that really gets me going. For example, last night I speed-walked the dogs, knowing full well I had four hours of delicious 'me time' (plus gelato and comfy pants) ahead of me. We made it around that loop in RECORD time, I assure you.

As I always say: With gelato and sweatpants, all the things can be done. But when it comes to the big stuff - personal goals, self improvement, work, etc. - I am still figuring out that one thing that really lights a fire under my arse. That is to say, I believe myself to be a driven, productive, and (sometimes) upbeat person. How I get from gelato and sweatpants to accomplishing anything by the end of the day is beyond me.

moto - va - tion

Mulling the word over in my head just now, I suddenly thought:

Self: Hey dummy! You just hung up the phone and you got that feeling. You know, the ONE.

I played coy with myself for a minute.  

Self: You know the ONE that gives you chilly, invisible goosebumps and makes your feet kick out a little bit as you march down the hallway!!!!!

Oh, that. Sometimes I get so lost in the daily execution of tasks and emotions and transfers of information that I forget that spark you can feel, snapping you right out of auto-pilot. Grab the wheel!

I've never thought of myself as a competitive person, but I do LOVE a challenge - like that of a client ripping up a cover right before we go to press. That feeling of: time to dig in; batten down the hatches, people; hold on, we can do this; heave-ho! I love the thrill of the juggling that inevitably comes with it: bending and reaching my limbs, overextending, then back again - keeping everything up in the air and moving - correcting the course at moment's notice, bringing it all back to a steady rhythm again.

Movement, I've gotta have it. I can't stand slow talking, moving, thinking, or driving. There is a time and place for slow time (see: home/gelato/sweatpants time), but the rest of it is go time. On-your-toes time. I sort of live by the belief that if I'm swerving, or reaching out, or darting to the side, or (if you know we me well) tripping or stumbling, anything other than standing still, I'm going to figure this this thing out.

Forward movement - progress - a second attempt - a door closing, another opening - a new day - an unexpected turn you take because you don't have another option and maybe because it just feels right in the moment: For me, that's IT.

Perhaps it's the going that keeps me going.


Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Day 3: From the Job Hunt Files

I almost just started another post with "Crap, you guys." Aren't you glad I'm so articulate?

I spent three or more hours out of the office this afternoon so I've got to be quick. All I needed to share with you is:

Holy crap. I think I just met the female Wolf of Wall Street - er, temping. While in the office "helping me find work," those recruiters recruited the SH*T out of me for a sales position with their company. Lovely to see so much (if any) potential in me; scary at how intense SALES people can be. I don't know how many more "work hard, play hard," quasi-parables, and six-figure salary name drops I could take.


Sure, I walked out of there with dollar signs in my eyes, but then I woke up.

I learned a lesson today. (Unless I become very, very, very desperate) I would not be a good fit for sales. I don't have the pushiness for it. I (surprisingly) don't have the ability to talk that long without breath. Also my skin is far too greasy to be on the telephone all day.
Like Leo, if I took that job, I'd just be playing a role. And that's not really what I'm looking for. So check that baby off the list.

Oh, and TOMORROW I promise to talk about something non-work related (maybe).

P.S.: Shout out to some new-ish blog readers, some of whom are undoubtedly making fun of my hair right now. I'VE GOT MY EYE ON YOU, fools.


Editor's note: Much love and respect to all my peoples who are kick-ass salespeople every day o' the week. Keep doing you. xoxo

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Day 2: What Would I Do?

In yesterday's post I inadvertently posed a question to (all of my many thousands of) readers:

What would you do if you could do anything?

I guess in a strange (and rather formatted) way, I was talking to myself, but then something beautiful happened. A few people commented with their answers. I got a few texts about it. A friend told me she thought about it as she fell asleep last night.

Even more lovely than taking a moment to share your thoughts and dreams with a friend was hearing and being reminded that we all have dreams. And we all have things we would rather be doing at this moment in time. We would rather be sprinting down an empty beach than standing elbows-deep in soapy water doing dishes. We would rather be piloting a tiny plane up through the cloud cover than filing our taxes. We would rather be laughing than weeping. We would rather be eating cake than our low-calorie rice cake - 'nuff said.

So thank you to everyone who shared, and even those who didn't share but thought a little extra about their own dreams and hopes as a result of reading my post. For some reason that made me feel so warm and connected.


Short commercial break to talk about DIFFERENCES.

Differences are wonderful and they exist all around us.

For example, my dear sister commented on this post something to the effect of "If I could do anything I'd [do something incredibly humble and kind] but if I had to have a 'real job' I'd open my own gym."

!!!! WOW. The mother load of differences existing right here inside my family circle.

If I could do anything, I would ERASE exercise (especially running, especially fast), and we would all just be healthy and active in our own ways and our bodies would react perfectly. Poof! Exercise no longer exists. That's it. After that I would just bask in the non-existance of crap-I-didn't-work-out-again guilt all day long, maybe getting a tan.

Isn't it great how we are so unique and spectacular in our own unique and spectacular ways?


So I've got to tell you that hearing your If I could do anythings really inspired me and helped getting the wheels turning on my own dreams.

We established yesterday that I don't know much, but here's what I do know:

I would be living near the serene ocean, but not far from the city.
I would own my own publishing firm producing books and mags and other media.
I would have office dogs - all dogs are welcome.
I would work over a quaint coffee shop that makes the best lattes.
I would have lunch with David every day!!!
I would work long hours and eat Chinese food out of the little containers with chopsticks at my desk on occasion.
I would travel once a month for work/pleasure.
I would donate books and magazines to local schools and start an after school mentoring/literacy program.
I would come home every night with red palms from hours of proofreading.
I would spend too long with every manuscript. 
I would publish my friends' great work.
I would (eventually) have a few children who would hang around the office in bean bag chairs.

I would have my whole family over to my house for chaotic and amazing holidays.
I would feel full, as often as possible.

That's as far as I've gotten. I would love to hear some of your dreams in the comments - big or small. All are welcome here.


Monday, April 14, 2014

Oh Shoot, Oh Shoot

Crap, you guys.

I forgot all about this whole thing.

This weekend I went and acted like a normal, well-adjusted person, who (occasionally) files her taxes before the deadline, stumbles and sweats through the masses to see the beautiful cherry blossoms in downtown D.C., and induces exhaustion and blistering with a day full of yard work. I did all of that and I forgot about my challenge (that I came up with on a whim and did not really think through).

My whim and not-thought-through plan, which was hastily typed into Gmail Friday afternoon, says the topic of my first post is: Where I'm At.

Nice, self. And great grammar, by the way.

Where to start. Where to start.

OK, I'm in a weird place. To be fair, I think I'm always in a weird place when I'm here, furiously typing this out to... someone - to you, whoever you are. But I'm in an especially weird place these days because I really don't know what I want.

My mom, if she's reading this, is probably smiling to herself. Maybe I've never really been someone who knew exactly what I wanted. Picture: Me, age 5, crying at the thrift store, toy store, clothing store because everyone else has picked out a little something for themselves and I just can't decide. David also is smiling at the same scene, only I am age 25. OK, let's carry on, shall we?

For some reason (maybe my workaholic genes), work has always been clear to me. There has never been the hanging question mark over it. It was always just: work - for food, for a roof over your head, for gas money, for fun. I started working in 2003 at the local Office Max in the small town in Virginia where I grew up. As you can imagine, it was glamorous work, as most all of my work history has been.

I picked my career path (and never changed it) freshman year of college and worked that bad boy to the bone. I graduated in three and a half years with a double major in English: Technical Writing & Editing and Creative Writing: Nonfiction. I interned with a local lifestyles magazine during college, Wrightsville Beach Magazine, and later freelance wrote for it. I was featured a few times in the campus literary journal, Atlantis. When I wasn't in class, I worked in retail at the mall and later at a family-owned italian restaurant.

I started my first job, as editorial assistant at The Place That Shall Not Be Named two months after graduating and never looked back. I took on more and more responsibility and became assistant online editor. Then I left The Place for a small publishing firm outside of D.C., where I'm currently managing editor and account manager for a variety of our non-profit clients.

I don't really know why I just told you all of that, except to say back story is always helpful? Why is this sounding like a resume all of a sudden?

So, Where I'm At: Here, in this office, where the paintings are being pulled off the walls and files are being boxed up every hour, where protocols and procedures are being reviewed, where torches are being handed off to the next bearer. Where I can feel myself and the work I've done and the roles I've been in slowly dissolving into the background.

My future job history, now a question mark.

Before you get ahead of yourself, just one point: I know this is a good thing. This Place hasn't been the right place, either. I've known that for a while. When I told my mom about my business closing at the end of May, I told her this was God dumping me out of a bucket I already knew I wanted to be out of.

But the question mark is bugging me.

What would you do if you could do anything?

I may not know my long answer to this, but I know that work would be involved - at least where I am right now, I can't imagine not working. Not taking part each day in what I find to be hard and honest toiling. This creating and dividing and manipulating of words and thoughts.

My work, the work I want to be doing, has been the constant of my adult life. No matter the changes, or challenges, or disappointments, it's been there. Hitting the alarm, waking, showering - coffee - driving - email - coffee - arching my back in a desk chair, working my way down the list. Now I feel all of that fading, too.

At some point, over all these years, work stopped being work and became part of me. Security. Is that normal? Is that OK? Am I normal? Am I OK?

Of course, the likeliest path is that I will find something. But I can't fight the nagging question: What if the right thing doesn't come along, not yet? I'm not sure what I will do, which path I will take. Maybe I'll wander for a while, or force myself to lay on the floor and think too much, or travel to see each of my siblings and hold their hands.

"This might be a hard time for you, and it might not end right away" a few people have said to me, in one way or another, over the past few weeks. And I think they're right. I think those people know me, what makes me tick. What makes

So here's the deal: I know where I'm "at," sort of. I DON'T know where I'm going, really, but I DO know that I will be back here tomorrow. And I will write something to you again. (And it will probably be weird and rambly, like this piece.) And that will just have to be good enough, for now.


Friday, April 11, 2014

30 Days

Hello from the dark abyss.

It's been almost a year to the day since my last blog post and oh, what a year it has been - so many joys, jokes, struggles, triumphs, and bags of dog food.

Today, I'm sitting in the same chair but with a different perspective. The past 12 months have been a time of reflection and personal growth for me, and it appears that trend will continue into the months ahead.

With that in mind, I've decided to challenge myself to both write and do something physical every day for 30 days - April 14 to May 14 - in hopes it will kick-start my creativity, passion, and general joie de vivre. And, in hopes that after forcing myself to do these things for a month straight, they will become permanent fixtures in my daily, weekly routine.

I hope you will follow along and support me as so many of you have over the years!

See you back here on Monday!


Monday, April 15, 2013

Glutton for Punishment - Sometimes

I think I've mentioned here before that I'm some sort of an addict. Or, rather, maybe a glutton? (PS: Every time I say/hear "glutton" I think of Steel Magnolias: "You know, I used to think you were crazy for marrying that man. Then for a few years I thought you were a glutton for punishment. Now I know you must be on some mission from God." Anyone else? OK then.) I have a tendency to overdo things, but don't be alarmed. I don't shoot up too much heroin (or any heroin, at that) or even drink too much (well, not often, at least), instead I have a tendency to obsess over things to unhealthy extremes.

Example 1: If there are jellybeans in my home (especially of the Starburst variety) I will go out of my way to walk by those damned beans and grab a handful at least 20 times a day until they are gone. Or until I am sick - literally sick - and even then I might just chomp four or five more.

Example 2: If Sex & the City comes on TV, even if I've already seen that episode 20,453 times (note: I have seen them all 20,453 times), I will watch it anyway, and much to David's misfortune, I will quote every line and make the same sweeping proclamations I always make (to no one in particular): "I mean HOW do you decide between Big and Aidan - HOW? They're both flawed and perfect. Gush. I mean, don't get me wrong, I'm Team Big for life, but..." (Poor David).

Example 3: If there are chips of any kind in my home, see Example 1.

But it's not all bad, rot-your-brain/teeth stuff. Sometimes I get hooked on good things, too. Reading great books is a good example of this. As an editor who spends 70% of the work day squinting at a manuscript or article, I often struggle to read on week nights without feeling like my eyes are going to bleed. (Ouch.) So I strive for weekend reading after my eyes have gotten a bit of rest, and once I'm hooked on a good story, I tell my ole' eyes to man up, and just completely let go, loosing myself in the lives of the characters, the worlds created and enhanced with every turning page.

I cry a lot in books, does this happen to you? Sometimes it even happens when nothing sad or moving took place - I just "come to" and find myself clutching the edges of the book, tears streaming, lost in avenues of the story. Sometimes I cry because I love a character so much, or because I can relate to something someone is going through so strongly it takes my breath away. Then there is the "Oh shit, there are only 10 pages left," realization cry. The toddler-style stomping tantrum, "But I don't waaaaaaaa-aant it to end! WAH!" I'm just that bratty (and proud of it).

Of course the reading thing gives way to getting hooked on one specific author. My most extreme obsessions over the past few years have been Jhumpa Lahiri and Jonathan Franzen. My love for Jhumpa was sparked back in college when David sent me one of her short stories "A Temporary Matter," and things got extreme when I finally got my hands on Interpreter of Maladies, her first collection of short stories. My appetite grew more intense with every bite. Unaccustomed Earth. I was completely submerged in this collection; I never came up for air. OK, maybe once. Then, after seeing the movie, I read The Namesake, and surprised myself with how much I connected to this story of place, belonging, responsibility, tradition, family, and love. Impossibly, my best friend invited me to hear Jhumpa read several ago at an event in Washington, DC. I was so nervous that I refused to get my book signed, and David had to drag me in line and basically hold me up and tell me to breathe. (Poor David again.) I am anxiously awaiting her next piece, and I strongly encourage you to check out her stuff!

I also discovered my old friend (I wish) Jonathan Franzen while in college. (I've written about this very much loved/not-loved man and my obsession with him previously.) He was a guest at a yearly creative writing event and he read an excerpt from "My Bird Problem." I was immediately dead. I searched for it for years. I thought about it all the time, but I couldn't figure out what the essay was and how to get a copy. It wasn't until Freedom came out that I was finally able to track it down. I re-read the article, printed it out, saved it in a file, read Freedom (wept), reread my favorite essay from How to Be Alone, read The Corrections, read Freedom again (wept again), and now I'm reading Strong Motion, a novel set in Boston that makes me miss my friend Emily Brown. From here, I think I'll check out The Twenty-Seventh City then sit and pray for another book to come out - and maaaaybe read Freedom again. I honestly cannot get enough of this man. So many people don't like him and can't relate to his writing, but I feel like every line was written for me - isn't it magical how that can happen?

So I might eat too much, whine too much, and expect too much from people, but at least here, in this reading space, I know I am exempt from judgment or criticism. I am free to lose myself in these moments of throat-pinching, head-nodding, soul-stirring understanding. That feeling - knowing that you can be seen in the truest sense, that you are loved, and - despite the moments of darkness and uncertainty - that you are not alone.