I know birth control can be a little bit of a touchy subject for some, but as a relationship blogger & columnist, I feel it’s almost irresponsible if I don’t at least mention it.
Let’s just get this out of the way: yes, I’m on birth control. I have been for about 8 years. I never thought anything of it, until I missed my period and found out I was pregnant. I had an abortion, and it was quite terrifying and emotionally draining—not something I would recommend on anyone. With that procedure came a prescription for birth control, and I’ve been on it ever since.
There’s several different TYPES of birth control and every person probably prefers something different. I use the NuvaRing, which I like because you insert it once a month, it stays there for three weeks, you take it out for a week, and then put a new one in. Voila, no babies.
The scary thing, though, is that of course it could come out without you realizing it. This hasn’t ever happened to me — it’s come out, but I knew it. If it does come out, you’ve got three hours to put it back in without any consequences (hormonally).
But have you ever wondered about what birth control is putting into your body? While I don’t lose sleep over it, I do think about it. Here’s some popular types:
- Combination Pill—Estrostep Fe, LoEstrin 1/20, Ortho-Novum 7/7/7, Ortho Tri-Cyclen Lo, Yasmin, Yaz. The Good: This birth control mainstay is still 99% effective against pregnancy when taken around the same time every day. It’s also known for easing hot flashes and restoring regular periods. Avoid it if you smoke or have migraines.
- Progestin-only Pill—Micronor, Nora-BE, Nor-QD, Ovrette. The Good: Known as the mini pill, progestin-only meds don’t contain estrogen. They’re safer for smokers, diabetics, and heart disease patients, as well as those at risk for blood clots. They also won’t reduce the milk supply for women who are breast-feeding.
- Extended Cycle Pill—Lybrel, Seasonale, Seasonique. The Good: These pills prevent pregnancy and allow you to have a period only every three months. (Note: Lybrel stops your period for a year, but you must take a pill every day, year-round.) Fact: There’s no evidence proving it’s dangerous not to have periods, but there is still no long-term research to show that it is safe.
- Diaphragm—Milex Wide Seal, Ortho All-Flex, Semina, SILCS. The Good: Made of rubber and shaped like a dome, a diaphragm prevents sperm from fertilizing an egg. It covers the cervix and must always be used with a spermicide. Women must be fitted for a diaphragm in their doctor’s office. Fact: If your weight tends to fluctuate by more than 10 pounds at a time, the diaphragm may not work. If you gain or lose weight, you’ll need to be refitted. Prone to bladder infections? You might want to consider another option.
- IUD—Mirena, ParaGard. The Good: ParaGard is a surgically implanted copper device that prevents sperm from reaching the egg. Mirena, also surgically implanted, works by releasing hormones. Intrauterine devices (IUDs) are more than 99% effective and good for 10 years. Fact: Some doctors recommend the device only for women who have given birth. When the device is implanted, your uterus is expanded, and this might cause pain in women who have not had children. If you’re planning on having children in a year or two, look at other options. The IUD can be removed, but the high cost—up to $500—might not be worth it for short-term use.
- Patch—Ortho Evra. The Good: You can place the hormone-releasing patch on your arm, buttock, or abdomen, and rest easy for one week. Fact: If you’re particularly at risk for blood clots, you might want to find a different method. The patch delivers 60% more estrogen than a low-dose pill, so you’re at an increased risk for dangerous blood clots.
- Implant—Implanon, Norplant. The Good: About the size of a matchstick, the implant is placed under the skin on your upper arm. Implants last for three years and can cost up to $800. They are nearly 100% effective. Fact: Implanon may not work as well for women taking St. John’s wort, or women who are overweight.
Of course, there are condoms (male and female). I didn’t put these in the list, because depending on the situation, it’s a smart idea to use a condom AND another form of birth control. Call me paranoid, but here’s the fact: using a hormonal type of birth control does not do anything to protect you against an STD.
You may thing, oh that would never happen to me, but if you’ve ever had an STD scare (I have, read about it here) you’d know that it’s really, really scary. Using condoms will NOT protect you from every STD, but it will decrease your chances of getting most STDs. I wouldn’t suggest relying solely on condoms, because they can break and then… you’re screwed in more ways than one.
As for the hormones? Women may experience side effects from the hormones during the first three months of use. The side effects include moodiness (ha), nausea, lighter periods. As for that fear of weight gain? There’s no such proof, especially if you use low-dose.
Finally, I wanted to mention the Plan B pill, because yes, I’ve had to take this as well, and it’s something that has changed over its years on the market. The Plan B pill serves as emergency contraception is a backup for regular birth control. Plan B contains a higher dose of the same synthetic hormones found in the combination pill. It works best if taken within 72 hours of unprotected sex, but may work up to five days later. Plan B, known as the morning-after pill, is available over-the-counter at most pharmacies, but only to women 18 years and older. Minors need a prescription.
What type(s) do you use? What works and what doesn’t? What experiences have you had?
You know that feeling you get when you start dating someone new? The stomach flip, the tingles, it seems like the sun is shining all the time; it’s exciting and everything seems right.
That’s how I feel when I’ve got a crush.
This is probably because I don’t know much about those I crush on, but that’s the beauty of it; you can just tell yourself they’re perfect.
A few weeks ago, I developed a decent-sized crush on a guy at my gym (ugh, I hate myself already).
Sure, he’s physically attractive. But I was more interested in the fact that we have similar interests; he has a good sense of humor, and he seemed like a non-douche.
One night, after downing a bottle of wine, I settled in for a round of Tinder swiping.
Not two minutes into my session, whom do I see, but my crush, right there, in front of my face!
In a way, I was a little shocked. I’d never seen anyone I knew on Tinder.
On the other hand, it meant he was single, looking for some type of mingling, and it said he was “active” just 20 minutes prior.
My liquid courage didn’t waver, and I sent him a text message admitting I’d seen him on Tinder.
Like a normal, sober person, he didn’t think it was a big deal and we chatted briefly about the reasons people are on Tinder.
To me, I took this entire conversation to mean that we were in flirtatious territory.
A few nights later, I was out with a slew of people from my gym — it seemed like everyone was there, except him.
So, I sent him a text, and he explained where he was.
“Well, if I’d have known that, I would’ve looked way less cute,” I replied.
My problem isn’t being shy. It’s usually being too forward, which I’m now aware sometimes comes across as being desperate.
He didn’t reply until the following morning, which made me feel like a complete asshole.
When he did reply, he explained that he was hanging out with a girl he’s “been seeing.”
I remembered why it’s called a crush. My stomach dropped and I was embarrassed.
I wished I’d never seen him on Tinder, and I definitely wished I’d never texted him.
My friends told me not to feel stupid, “How were you supposed to know he was seeing someone?”
While true — not to mention the fact that he was on Tinder to begin with — I still felt ridiculous.
I wondered if he really was seeing someone, or if he just said that so I’d leave him alone. Either way, I took his text as a clear message to get away, and fast.
So, I did.
I’ve managed to avoid him at the gym.
I also deleted Tinder, and got the Drizzy App instead.
“You know I pop bottles ‘cause I bottle my emotions.”
Happy St. Patrick’s Day, y’all! Today is probably the busiest day I’ve got planned this week, partly because I’m prepping for a fun little event here at The Bitter Lemon HQ: Drumroll…
Starting at midnight tonight, I will be TWEETING the entire contents of my very first book, “How I Fell.” Remember that one?
My first book was published nearly two years ago, and I want to take advantage of all my people on Twitter, all my people on Instagram, Facebook, the blog, yadda… yadda…
If you’re knew here, my first book is the story of how I fell in love with an alcoholic. I shared my story on this blog and received an overwhelming amount of support and love. It was truly amazing — proof that any situation (even something as completely terrible like being in an emotionally abusive relationship) can flip into something good.
Get more details on my first book, as well as my second and third books, by clicking right HERE.
So, please join me as I Tweet the ENTIRE book, “How I Fell: Love, Lies, & Cocktails” tomorrow, starting at midnight — read the whole book 140 characters at a time. You know I’m always trying to keep things fresh!
Things you can do in the meantime:
- Follow me on Twitter @OrangeJulius7
- Follow me on Instagram @OrangeJulius7 (there may or may not be a giveaway tomorrow)
- Prep your coffee pots with the good ish to read along via Tweet!
In other news, the weather in Baton Rouge has been completely fabulous lately! I was all excited to open the windows and get some fresh air, when I noticed I’ve got not one, but three wasps’ nests right outside three of the four windows I’ve got in my apartment. Fabulous!
Is that something maintenance will take care of? Ugh.
I spent last week being woken up by the smoke alarm — once it was actually the smoke alarm, and the second time it was the building’s fire alarm. So that was…interesting (I dialed maintenance at 1 am). And last night, I discovered my microwave doesn’t work! What the hell is going on?
Oh, maintenance! I need you!
I’ve lived in my apartment for nearly four years now, and the last time I lived an apartment for four years, I moved. I’m wondering if that’s just my time limit, or if I just need to freshen things up. Obviously, I can get things fixed pretty easily and free-of-cost, but maybe I should invest in some real spring cleaning or find ways to give my place a facelift?
What do you do to keep your house looking fresh, or making it a place you love?
Anyway, see you all on Twitter, TONIGHT, at midnight! Be there!
Right after college, I had TERRIBLE acne. I’m not talking a few zits here or there, I’m talking — it was really bad, like the “before” pictures on a Proactive commercial. Not only was it embarrassing and painful, but I worked in the service industry, and I needed to look presentable, so I often wore loads of makeup to try and cover it up — it was a never-ending cycle.
I’d already tried Proactive, which worked for a little while, and I wasn’t in a position to go to a dermatologist. So, I went to a local spa and asked them if there was anything they could do (I was nearly in tears out of embarrassment). They recommended a detox facial.
So that’s what I did. The facial was a series of steam, scrubs, masks, and extractions (which was very painful that first time). I also bought some of the products my esthetician recommended. For awhile, I got the facial once a week. Before I knew it, my face was clearing up and I started going every two weeks, then once a month.
While it was necessary, it was also quite a treat. I have always loved doing at-home facials, with cucumber slices on my eyes and a clay mask on my cheeks — even if just for a short time, it makes my skin feel so smooth.
The thing is, there are TONS of different face masks you can get for at-home use: for dryness, dullness, acne, oil, wrinkles, etc. Some of these are clay masks, or avocado, or honey, or non-drying.
Since I’m constantly stockpiling face masks, I figured I’d share some of my findings with you. Belo are three different masks I’ve recently tried.
Bliss Fabulous Skin-Reviving Rubberizing Mask
I got this for Christmas, and it’s definitely the most-unique at-home spa experience I’ve ever had — very fantastic! According to Macys.com, “The same skin-freshening mask used in Bliss Spas. Boost your skincare regimen with this straight-from-the-spa facial treatment, a weekly must for all skin types. The unique rubberizing mask is designed to envelop skin’s surface, allowing its key ingredients to be optimally absorbed by the skin. The brightening, skin-renewing formula is packed with powerful antioxidants and nourishing, detoxifying seaweed. So if you’re looking for a bright and healthy complexion–‘mask’, and you shall receive!”
When you purchase a box, you’ll get six packets (one packet = one mask). The packets are full of powder, which you mix with water and then apply. It really does turn to rubber, and you can peel the entire mask off your face in 20 minutes. The end result? Super silky skin.
NPW Cucumber & Aloe Vera Soothing, Calming & Revitalizing Face Mask
For New Year’s, I got a Detox Pamper Pack that included a hair mask, foot lotion, eye pads, and this face mask.
I finally put it on a few nights ago, after first exfoliating with a coffee scrub from Posh, and I think it was the first time I’ve tried a non-drying mask. It just stays creamy on the skin, and is really light in feeling.
More than anything, this mask is supposed to help you relax, and leave your skin with a new glow — I definitely think it did just that!
Freeman Avocado & Oatmeal Clay Mask
Ah, the classic clay mask — it’s even light green in color. And if anyone does the clay mask for at-home use like a champ, it’s Freeman. They’ve got a ton of masks to choose from, and you can get a pretty giant tube of the stuff for under $10 (I’m a big fan of the lemon-mint).
I recently tried the Avocado & Oatmeal Clay Mask, and what I love about the green, clay masks is that, although they’re sometimes a little itchy and tight while drying, once you rinse it off, the skin feels so freakin’ soft!
Maximize the Mask
I saved an article I saw in Vogue, “The New Beauty Agenda: Layering Your Face Masks,” which claims we can get even more out of a face mask by layering it — what?
According to the article, “layering” simply means applying one right after the other. In order to get the best effects, apply any exfoliating or purifying masks first, then go for the hydrating or oxygenating, or rejuvenating.
Vogue recommends this routine twice a month, at most.
A. I’m so trying this, and B. If you click the article link above, it offers a few mask “recipes” for your skin type.
Peter Thomas Roth
I can’t do a blog entry on face masks without mentioning Peter Thomas Roth. A large part of my skin regimen recommended by my spa esthetician were products by Peter Thomas Roth. They have tons of different products for acne-prone or aging skin, and I’ve always loved them.
While the products are a little pricy, they last a long time, promise.
One of my FAVORITE products from PTR is the Pumpkin Enzyme Mask. As described by Sephora, “This powerful yet gently exfoliating treatment works in three ways: exfoliates with pumpkin enzyme, peels with alpha hydroxy acid (AHA), and polishes with aluminum oxide. It reveals smoother, younger-looking, radiant, and revitalized skin.”
It’s seriously fabulous — creamy and non-drying, plus it smells like pumpkin (you know me!). What are some of your favorite facial products that make your skin feel amazing?
Ta-da, it’s Friday! Pay no mind that it’s Friday the 13th… because it’s the freakin’ weekend, and even though I have to work all weekend, Friday still makes me pretty happy (mainly because every Friday, there’s a CSI marathon on FX).
Anyway, I’ve probably had a sample of Aquolina’s Pink Sugar in my bin-0-perfumes, and I pulled it out Monday, spritzed a little on and seriously fell in love. Why? Because it smells like donuts.
And I do realize that just yesterday, I posted about how to stick to a healthy diet. I’m not saying eat donuts — but if you can stand it, wearing Pink Sugar is the perfect way to “enjoy” said pastry, minus the calories!
According to Sephora, “Stylish and lively, with a distinctive personality, Pink Sugar takes you on a journey through the pleasures and flavors of childhood with a playful blend of vanilla and caramel.”
Yum! This is the perfect scent for spring (and summer).
The day after Valentine’s, I got a text at 4:30 am.
It was from a guy I went to high school with; we’ve kept in touch over the years, and have hooked up a few times.
Given the timing of the text, I figured it was a drunk thing and I just didn’t reply. We have never said “love” to each other — we don’t even talk on the phone.
While I do like him, and care about him, I don’t think “love” is the word to describe what we have.
About a week after the text, he called me out on it and told me I was rude for not saying “I love you” back.
Love is still a really big word for me. Sure, I’ve been in love (a few times) and I’ve said it to the men I’ve fallen for.
In my past, romantic love has come during a committed relationship. And while I do enjoy talking to this guy, I like seeing him (he travels full time) when I can, and I certainly enjoy hooking up, it’s not love.
After all, he said it in a text message.
This is when I have to wonder if I’m just out of touch. Is this what we’re doing now? Saying “I love you” via text?
Sure, I get it if you’re dating someone and the l-bomb has already been dropped in-person, face-to-face, but…
Of course, this guy was really, really pissed that I had “no manners” and still wouldn’t say it back — a fight happening over text, mind you.
There is a risk anytime you open up to someone, and when you don’t get the response you’re hoping for, it is really difficult. I’ve been there.
But I can’t say something, especially love, that I don’t mean just to make someone feel better, or to keep them from being mad at me.
The first man I ever loved was my best friend. We were friends for years before we started dating, but it didn’t take long for me to be crazy for him.
When that relationship ended, it took years before I fell in love again and I fell hard.
After that, I fell in love with someone destructive, and it’s difficult for me to even know if it was really love. But I did say it to him, after a very short amount of time.
I am well-aware that the nature of dating and relationships are changing every day. Hell, it seems like people aren’t even dating at all anymore.
But no matter the trends, the cultural changes, the technology, love is something that’s got to be an anchor.
Love is what we’re living for, right?
And something that important deserves more than a text message; it deserves a moment.
I thought I’d hear from the guy at least a few days later, admitting he was a little harsh on me, and he’d apologize.
But I haven’t heard from him since. I’m not sure what’s going on there, but I know one thing.
That’s not love.
It seems like so long ago that I had an 8-5 office job — and really it was four months ago. While I am still working out details of my life nearly every week, in ways it seems like things are going along okay, and in other ways, it feels like I’ve got no direction whatsoever.
In December, I was working three retail jobs. One of those was seasonal, so I was down to two jobs. And then, on Saturday, I went to cash a check from one of my jobs and it wouldn’t cash — my employer didn’t have enough money to cover the check. So I quit.
I’m down to one retail job, which I believe will cut down on how burnt-out I’ve felt lately, but I of course worry about making ends meet.
The trend I’ve noticed is that the less hours I’ve got in retail, the more writing gigs I can take on. And that’s great! It’s scary, but it is also very exciting. And, even though I’ve still been applying for office jobs every week, I’m starting to wonder if I’ll ever find myself in an office working for someone else.
Last week, I started listening to some webinars led by people who do what I want to do — make a living by blogging. While they gave some great tips (that I’ll be implementing over the next few months), it was the most comforting thing to hear their struggles before their business dreams became reality.
When I think about it, it seems really exciting to work for myself — I can set my own schedule; do whatever I want; work in my pajamas while watching copious amounts of television; and I can travel.
But everything has a downside. My biggest one? There’s no sick days when you work for yourself. It’s like the court episode of Sex & the City… “I work for myself and no one can cover for me.”
I feel like I’m always telling you readers that I have no idea what’s coming up — which is really weird for me to say because I’m a planner and a strategist. But I really don’t know. Every week around here is so different from the last; so in a month, I sure as hell don’t know.
I do know that I finally had a Sunday off (pictured above) and I slept in for the first time in months. I also took a nap! It is a luxury I haven’t had in awhile.
I also know that I’ve got a few big meetings this week, and I’m nervous and excited all at once. You know what they say, when one door closes, another one opens…
I know I can’t be the only one dragging ass this morning after LOSING an entire hour yesterday — so sad. But the good news is, spring is on the way, and that means summer is just around the corner (especially true if you live in the South. Spring is, like, a day).
Regardless, I hope y’all had a fantastic weekend. I did have to work some shifts, but I was also able to get in a workout and a yoga session, which felt great!
I also tried out a new shade of pink! This one is by L’Oreal Paris and is part of the Colour Riche line, called Blushing Sequin — I love a sequin, so I was really excited to try this color.
Although it looks very bright and bold in the tube, it’s a very nice shade of pink. I will definitely be wearing this one again.
What I’ve noticed, so far, about L’Oreal lipsticks, is that while they aren’t glossy, they do have a creamy texture (see my post on L’Oreal’s Pink Cashmere), which is very rare for a lipstick. This keeps my lips from feeling dry — usually I but on a balm first, but with this lipstick, I didn’t have to. Score!
What bright hues are you looking forward to wearing this spring? Let’s hear it!
A few weeks ago, I received an email from a guy I went to high school with — you may remember him as the guy who wrote this email about me. To make a long story short, it’s a guy I had a massive crush on for years, but for some reason he was terrible to me.
Because of my A. faith in people and their ability to change, and 3. my wavering level of self-confidence, we have kept in touch over the years, though I haven’t seen him in about 10. A little more than a year ago, I stopped communicating with him because he often made me feel bad about myself.
He’s made it clear that he thinks my career is a joke, my life is boring, and he’s got no problem bragging to me about how great everything is for him.
Enter: the email. It was formally written, as he said he knows we’re “not on good terms,” but he was in a position to hire a writer and thought of me (not sure why, but whatevs). He described the project as lucrative.
He also said he hoped that this business deal would somehow mend our friendship, but if I told him to “fuck off,” then he would understand.
After thinking on it for a day, I replied to him, touching on only the business matter at hand. I’m always looking for more, new writing work, so if in fact his proposal was legit, then let’s play ball.
I heard from him a few days later, On Valentine’s Day, via text, saying he was still working out plans on the writing deal.
Then, he started sending me a variety of photos that I wasn’t really sure what I was looking at: various office pictures of some sort, of dogs under desks, people sleeping in weird places, and motivational sayings taped to a glass wall. I didn’t reply.
Then he asked me if I was single for Valentine’s Day, but I had fallen asleep.
When I woke up the next morning, he’d sent me another picture. It was one I’d sent him 10 years ago — a topless photo.
He’d sent a text along with it, “I’m single too, but I still have this to look at, get off to, and help me sleep.”
My stomach churned.
I remembered that I’d sent him the picture — not a smart move, but at least my face wasn’t in it — you could even see my dorm room behind my bare chest.
The picture, of course, made me mad. How many phones had he had since then, and he felt it necessary to save the picture on each phone? But the photo also made me very sad. It was a sign of my past — a time when I did a lot of things to either please people, or get their attention. And for years, I desperately wanted his attention.
I wrote him back and told him that all at once, I remembered why our friendship was over, and that I was no longer interested in the business deal.
I’ve been thinking a lot about my past lately (read last week’s column for further proof), and although I’m getting better at making sound decisions regarding my emotions, it will always be a working journey for me.
The fact of the matter is, as a dating columnist and blogger, there are a lot of people out there that know things about me, that they wouldn’t know otherwise. Most of the time, this doesn’t bother me at all — until I want to get a “serious” writing gig.
I get nervous when I make a pitch — afraid they’ll Google me and see the secrets I’ve shared, that Playboy audition, or my weaknesses in finding a decent man — I’m afraid they’ll judge me; box me in as a fluff writer and call it a day.
I will probably suffer from that battle until I find a job (or jobs) that celebrate the entire me. But that’s the struggle any creative finds himself in. Every blog, every article, poem, one-liner, painting, collection… it’s out there to be judged by those who know nothing of the sort.
That is the risk we take, in order to fulfill our passion.
While I’m not proud of that picture I took 10 years ago (it wasn’t my last, but let’s be real), I can only be proud of the moves I’m making today — the ones that don’t involve the toxic people, in life and in business.
“So, have you found anyone yet?”
It was a question from my coworker whom I’d just met.
“What does that mean?” I asked her.
She found it difficult to believe I was still single. I told her to believe it, because I am very, very single.
“That’s good,” she said. “Wait until you’re like, almost 30 and then settle down.”
Aside from the fact that I’ll be 30 in four months, I don’t understand why coupled people think that being single is a life decision.
My coworker — who has four kids with her boyfriend and lives in his parents’ basement — was suggesting that once I blow out the candles on my 30th birthday cake, I finally say, “yes” to all of those men that have proposed to me.
Oh wait, there are none.
A few days later, I was taking out the trash with my boss. We were talking about furniture we’ve obtained over the years (riveting, I know), which naturally led to the fact that I’m single.
“Are you ever going to settle down?” she asked me.
What the hell? While I don’t have a boyfriend, it’s not like I’m running the streets naked. If I were, perhaps I’d actually have sex more than twice a year.
It’s not as if I wakeup everyday and remind myself to put off a relationship.
In fact, I really feel ready for something serious. But I haven’t found someone to join me in that venture, yet.
“I don’t think that’s a question I can answer,” I told her. “What if I don’t find someone?”
The look on her face was one of terror.
“Don’t say that!” she said.
I wasn’t trying to be outrageous, it was just a fact. There’s some sort of percentage out there that will prove my point: finding a match isn’t easy.
While my boss nor my coworker said it outright, there was a tone in their questions that rubbed me the wrong way.
What’s so terrible about being single? These women acted like me being on my own was the worst possible thing that could happen to me.
I don’t dream of being single forever. After all, I want someone to share things with, to talk to, and to fall asleep next to.
But I can’t just walk out my front door and expect to find the man of my dreams on one knee (if it were only that easy).
Instead, I’m going to work on a social campaign that outlaws coupled folks to ask singletons about their singleness. Frankly, it’s rude and no one’s business.
No matter how many sexy details I reveal on my blog or through this column, stop asking me why I’m single or why I don’t have kids yet.
It’s a collection of questions I don’t have answers for, and for about three seconds, it makes me question my self worth.
That’s the thing about singletons: we know we’re worth more than dating just to date.
If there’s one thing that’s sadder than being single, it’s settling. And I refuse to do it.
I picked up a copy of Maine during a library trip — I had written down a list of authors I wanted to check out and J. Courtney Sullivan was definitely one of them.
Maine is Sullivan’s second novel (the first one is Commencement), and it’s got all the good stuff rolled into one: the story of a multi-generational family, each with its own set of problems. What brings them together, aside from family, is the family-owned beach property, purchased decades prior.
The book is divided into chapters (naturally), but each chapter is told by the perspective of a different family member — I LOVE it when authors do this! The New York Times book review of Maine does a great job of wrapping the characters up in a neat little package:
Alice, the widowed, 83-year-old matriarch, a devoted Catholic and fierce but lonely woman who is haunted by a tragedy in her past; Alice’s granddaughter Maggie, a fiction writer living in Brooklyn whose first collection of stories was about “love gone awry” (and who, though she was supposed to arrive in Maine with her boyfriend, has instead shown up solo, and pregnant, love having gone awry yet again); Maggie’s mother, Kathleen, the black sheep of the family, who on hearing of her daughter’s predicament hops a plane from California even though she vowed after her father’s death that she would never visit Maine again; and Ann Marie, the fastidious, tightly wound wife of Kathleen’s brother, Patrick, whose carefully constructed marriage is not all it seems to be.
Because of the different-character chapter setup, the story really dives into the lives and the history of each character, which is really interesting.
I found an interesting article in Real Simple where Sullivan answered questions about the book. In one, she discussed the deeper meaning of Maine:
Maine is a novel about the roles we play within a family—in the eyes of the Kellehers, Kathleen will always be a mess. But to people in the worm farming and AA communities, she’s something of a leader. And the same is true for Alice. Her kids see her as someone who is too old to be trusted alone, a mean drunk, a racist. But through her church, she prays each day, she visits the sick, she fights to keep her hometown parish alive. Her church community sees her as she wants to be seen. As both Alice and Kathleen show, sometimes it’s much easier to be graceful and generous to outsiders than to your own family.
Fascinating! I have to admit, I didn’t even think about it this way when I was reading the book. Truthfully, I picked up the book, because I have always loved the idea of a beach home that’s shared by a big family — the memories and the drama surrounding it. Plus… beach picnics. With wine.
I am really looking forward to reading other books by Sullivan, including Commencement (a sparkling tale of friendship and a fascinating portrait of the first generation of women who have all the opportunities in the world, but no clear idea about what to choose), The Engagements (an exhilarating novel about Frances Gerety, the real pioneering ad woman who coined the famous slogan “A Diamond is Forever,” and four unique marriages that will test how true—or not—those words might be), and Dating Up (a guide for women everywhere who have worked hard to get where they are in their lives and their careers and deserve to be challenged, excited, and supported).
Posted in Light Pulp
Tags: authors, books, college, Commencement, dating, drinking, engagement, ex boyfriends, family, fighting, first date, getting published, good reads, Holly A. Phillips, How to Make Lemonade, J. Courtney Sullivan, library, Maine, reading, relationships, The Bitter Lemon, writing
Another Friday is among us, and I can’t say I’m complaining! I’m still in the need for a hot guy, so per usual, I’ll turn to the ads of another classic fragrance — I know you know this one — Light Blue by Dolce & Gabanna.
Truthfully, I’d never worn this perfume until this week (anything for the blog). I knew it was a popular fragrance (one of the bestsellers), but I never really understood what the big deal was. I will say, though, that an ex of mine wore Light Blue for men, and it smelled fantastic.
I honestly wasn’t as impressed with the women’s version.
As described by Sephora, “A stunning perfume, overwhelming and irresistible like the joy of living. The scent is surprisingly colored with the liveliness of Sicilian citron, the happiness of Granny Smith apple, and the spontaneity of bluebells. Feminine and resolute notes are expressed with the intensity of jasmine, the freshness of bamboo, and the charm of white rose. The deep and true base embodies the character of cedarwood, the fullness of amber, and the embrace of musk.”
While you know I love a musk, I’m finding that fruity isn’t really my thing, and I definitely smelled more fruit than floral. It’s not a bad fragrance, and I can see why it’s popular: it’s light, not overbearing, and it’s a pretty generic scent.
The real downside? It doesn’t last long, at all.
I hope you’ve got a fantastic weekend in-store! I’ve got all kinds of new stories and adventures to share with you next week. As always, thank you for reading.
I’m not afraid to admit that I watch a lot of stupid shit on TV. I work hard, every single day, I do “serious” things all the time, so when it comes to TV, I don’t mind a little brainless action. “Boy Meets World” is one of the less-stupid things I watch.
I’m the lucky owner of the seasons on DVD, and when you think about the fact that it was only on for seven seasons, there were a TON of life-lessons packed in there! Here’s a few things I’ve learned:
- Mr. Feeny is awesome. If we could all have a George Feeny in our lives — could we be SO lucky? At some points, it gets a little (okay really) crazy, like when Feeny becomes qualified to be a college professor, but ultimately, Feeny is always there for Cory and the gang.
- People change. One thing that gets on my nerves about this show is that Cory and Topanga always claim they’ve always loved each other. In fact, no they haven’t. Cory thought she was weird and wanted nothing to do with her when they were kids. And sure, all boys hate all girls when they’re kids. But hello, Cory and Topanga = true love, forever.
- Everyone had a Mr. Turner. Okay, so maybe that teacher of yours didn’t have an earring and a motorcycle, but the “cool” teacher is so necessary — the one that reminds you learning isn’t so bad, and not all teachers are soulless.
- Opposites do attract. A few times throughout the show, the fact that Cory and Shawn come from different backgrounds, yet remain best friends, comes up. And it also resurfaces when Shawn’s half-brother Jack shows up. People are always surprised when different folks get on together, but it CAN happen and in real life, it happens all the time.
- Getting married in college is a terrible idea. COME AT ME. But let’s not forget that absolutely disgusting apartment Cory and Topanga had when they got married (ahem, eloped). No, thank you.
And because it’s Thursday (meaning, tomorrow is Friday), I’m going to leave you with my favorite episode of Boy Meets World: City Slackers. You’re welcome.
Every couple of years, I meet someone that makes me wish I could change a few things about myself. Often these things are impossible to change, things in my past.
About three years ago, I had a giant crush on my neighbor, John. He was incredibly sexy, even when wearing sweatpants. We bonded over our Midwest backgrounds, our love for orange cats, and one night, we stayed up through the next morning — he even played songs on his guitar.
I wished that I was his type. You know the kind: a woman who’s gorgeous at all hours, but not without makeup, impossibly thin, and always happy.
Or at least, those were the girls I always saw him with at the wine bar beside our apartment complex.
I’m not that.
I skip makeup whenever possible, and no amount of hours at the gym will ever slim my thighs. And my happiness has wavered over the years.
A few weeks ago, I met someone that got me thinking about some decisions I’ve made in the past.
On these pages, I’ve openly discussed that I was involved in an affair, and I also slept with an engaged man for almost a year.
The guy I met, he appears smart, kind, has similar interests as me, and he even plays the guitar (swoon).
The problem is, I met him at one of my regular spots — a place I go several times a week. Despite the numbers, Baton Rouge is a small town.
I teeter from not wanting to regret my past actions, to knowing that people talk. And my actions don’t speak the best of me.
If my past were different, I’d be my usual bold self, and approach him, talk to him, and maybe even text him. But whenever I see him, I fear the Scarlet Letter syndrome and hang back.
If he already thinks I’m a home-wrecking whore, then I certainly don’t want to put the nail in the coffin.
The only thing I can honestly say about my past is that I wasn’t in a good place when those decisions were made. I was leaving my happiness up to someone else, instead of myself. And the result was incredibly hurtful.
I know that everyone has a past, and it’s all about how you overcome it and make things better in the present. I know I’m in a much better place today; a happier place.
Truthfully, I’m not sure the guy in question even knows I exist. If he does, I hope he won’t judge me for my past. After all, a guy worth my time will accept me for me, mistakes and all (right?).
As a single person, it’s easy to fall into the mind trap of feeling like there must be something wrong in order to end up single.
Despite my past, I don’t think there’s anything “wrong” with me, I’m just a woman wishing to be accepted and loved.
It’s been a really long time since I’ve met someone’s parents, but it’s always something I’ve considered myself good at. Why? Mainly because I’m an only-child (I’m not spoiled, swear) and growing up, I spent more time talking to adults than kids my own age. Plus, I love hearing stories — and parents are full of them.
The last time I met “the parents” was actually around this time of year — two years ago. It was Easter Sunday, and my then-boyfriend and I met his mom and dad at church. Of course, I was nervous, but more about going to church than actually meeting his parents. Nonetheless, it went well and his parents actually ended up meeting my mom a month later.
But enough about him… and them. I really got to thinking about “meeting the parents” last week as I watched The Bachelor (don’t judge). It was the “hometown dates” episode where the bachelor visits the four remaining girls in their hometowns and meets their families.
What’s always annoyed me about this part of the show (among other things), is that a majority of the families aren’t divorced — which is impressively awesome — but it seems unreal. Secondly, their homes are usually massive and gorgeous…anyone else wondering if it’s staged?
If I were on the show, there’d be no point in visiting my hometown because no one in my family even lives there — and my parents are divorced, and in fact live hours apart from each other.
The fact is, that is the person you’re dating is at all close to their family, then you’re eventually going to meet them. For me, I am close to my mom and it is important for her to meet someone I’m seeing. But we live 15 hours away from each other. So in our case, meeting the parents is a little less traditional.
So, when it comes down to it, how do you survive meeting the parents? I’ve got you covered:
- Get the details. Where are you meeting them? What are they like? What do they know about you?
- Dress appropriately. A lot of this will depend on where you’re meeting them. But in any case, wear something you feel comfortable and confident in. Per usual, vote for dressing up rather than dressing down.
- Bring it. If it seems appropriate, bring something — perhaps a bottle of wine (if they drink), baked goods (try these white chocolate macadamia cookies), or even flowers.
- Turn on the charm. Don’t go overboard, after all, you want them to like you for YOU. But present the best version of yourself there is. Make a good impression!
- Seal the deal. Don’t forget to tell them “thank you” and that it was nice meeting them. Hopefully it won’t be the last time you get in with the family!
What are your tips and experiences meeting the parents? Share them in the comments. And hey, I just joined Instagram, so follow me @OrangeJulius7