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Fiction Friday: Oil & Ink, part III.

Get inked.

Get inked.

This is the final installment of Holly’s original short story, “Oil & Ink.” Read part one here and part two here, as you wish. 

  *     *     *

“I need to talk to someone about financing a building.”

The clerk looked Charlie up and down; from his miniature blond mohawk to his worn Chuck Taylors. It was the look Charlie always got; because he was just a kid in South Dakota.

“What’s your name?” she asked.

“Charlie Hoffe.”

“Hoffe?” she asked, eyebrows raised. “Any relation to the painter?”

“Yeah,” Charlie sighed. “He’s my father.”

“Must be proud,” she said. “He’s nearly painted this whole town.”

Charlie nodded.

She pointed to the waiting area outside the glass offices.

“Wait there,” she said.

Charlie sat down and hoped there was no one at the shop who wanted a tattoo. When his name was called, he walked into the office and sat next to the candy dish. He told the woman what he was hoping to do and she scowled at his left arm; the one covered in psychedelic designs.

She gave him a few building options, but listed even more problems. All of the buildings had to be brand new or completely renovated to agree with local tattooing laws. “New” meant money and “makeovers” meant even more money. She suggested he stay put for a few more months to save money. Charlie asked if she wanted a tattoo.

She refused.

Three months later, Charlie walked briskly into Tucker’s with a grin on his face. Sara was there; she didn’t look up from filing her nails.

“Today’s my last day,” he said.

“What? Why?”

“I got my own place. No more Tucker’s; no more sharing a sign.”

“Why leave now — you’ve done pretty well here,” she asked.

“I know, but I’ve always wanted my shop, my address, my sign.”

Sara shrugged and got back to her nails. Charlie waited in his corner and spent free time packing his things. He tattooed a semi driver who wanted a nude Elvira figure on his shoulder.

“Good work, kid,” the man told him.

Charlie loaded the Corolla with boxes and supplies and drove home. He opened the door to the other half of his house and setup his tools. It wasn’t a shop on The Strip or near South Beach, but it was his. He opened a box of neon tubing and hung the square in his front window. He plugged in its cord and rolled the switch. “TATTOO” lit up the entire room; a blue and orange glow.

He hadn’t talked to his dad in a good week. His heart was beginning to cool from even trying. But he couldn’t think about that now, his work was cut out for him. The new location brought a new batch of tattoo virgins. He hoped they’d get addicted like he was and return over and over again. He’d done a wolf for the lady next door and a cross for her boyfriend. He’d started a “Starry Night” rendition on the arm of the garage band singer on the corner. He was still eating noodles, but he thought less about it.

He called his dad mid-week.

“Dad, you know I don’t work at Tucker’s anymore.”

“Oh, so you called for money?”

“Nope. Actually, I was calling to tell you to stop by my shop soon.”

“Your shop? Since When?”

“Since…well, since awhile. I’ve been building clients and doin’ okay.”

“That isn’t really what I meant when I said you should look beyond Tucker’s.”

“But this is what I wanted… you should think about stopping by.”

Charlie knew his dad was disgruntled, but he tried not to think much about it. Only Charlie knew what was best for him and he was just glad he really didn’t need the money from his dad. He knew his shop wasn’t up to his father’s standards; it probably never would be.

Later, Charlie was in the middle of a sketch — a thorny rose for the woman bartender in the city — when a truck pulled up. Charlie kept working. It was Charlie’s father. He approached the screen door and stood.

“You okay?” Charlie asked.

“Sure, son. Why wouldn’t I be?”

Charlie opened the door to the shop. His father stepped inside with caution as if the floor would fall in. He slowly gazed at the posters on the walls and looked the bartender up and down.

“Well, this is it,” Charlie said, gesturing around the room.

“Okay, well do you have time to give me a tattoo?”

Charlie’s eyes grew wide.

“Sure,” he said. “You got somethin’ in mind?”

Birth order compatibility.

Golden star for the only child!

Golden star for the only child!

I’m always trying to figure out different things that make people compatible — horoscope signs, personality tests, age, family situation — but what about birth order?

Turns out (after Googling), there’s actually a TON of information out there on this! An article in Women’s Day lays out the characteristics of each birth order “type”:

  • Firstborns: Organized, ambitious, and dominant when it comes to relationships
  • Middleborns: Good at compromise, however some can be secretive
  • Lastborns: Less responsible; less likely to take charge
  • Only Children: A lot like firstborns; responsible and mature

Possible matches:

Screen shot 2015-08-11 at 11.03.09 AM

Yes, I made this handy chart for your reference. The best matches are Oldest/Oldest, Oldest/Youngest, Middle/Middle, and Only/Middle.

Only children are an interesting breed — I am an only child — and according to the aforementioned article, how only children act in relationships is directly related to what “type” of only child they are. Are they independent and responsible like Older children or are they spoiled and needy?

Depending on the type of Only child you are, that determines your match.

An article from e-Harmony has a little more information about what birth order can offer to your relationship:

  • Firstborn: reliable, no guesswork when it comes to relationship; however, they may need help when it comes to spontaneity.
  • Middle: makes a good romantic partner; willing to work hard for a happy relationship; however, will typically try to avoid conflict.
  • Youngest: Less likely to conform; comes up with creative solutions to problems; may expect others to take care of them.
  • Only Children: dependable; sensitive; seeks perfection.

What do you think? Have you had any experience with birth order matches – do they work?

Who Would Jesus Date?

Just some light reading.

Just some light reading.

A few weeks ago, I got a Facebook message from my uncle, my dad’s brother, saying he read my post about my nonexistent relationship with my father.

He told me it was obvious that I was leading an unfulfilling life and the only way I would ever be satisfied, is if I consulted Jesus.

This is the same Uncle who called me a bitch years ago, because I’m a liberal.

What would Jesus do?

Nonetheless, his message got me thinking about religion. I’ve never really been religious, as I feel I don’t know enough about different religions to pick one that suits me — although Buddhism sounds appealing.

According to Google (the highest power there is), a religion is an organized collection of beliefs, cultural systems, and world views that relate humanity to an order of existence.

So really, that could be anything.

A few weeks ago, a coworker was telling me that she got married just three months after dating her now-husband because there were no “questions.”

They are Mormons, so they don’t smoke or drink. To her, she said that made it easy.

“I didn’t have to wonder how he would be if he got drunk, because we don’t drink,” she said.

Having dated an alcoholic, this did sound rather appealing.

But it’s impossible to say that any religion is just going to make a relationship perfect.

After all, I’ve had an affair with a man who had very large religious tattoos. Supposedly, he was a strict Catholic. Still a cheater, though.

I recently joined “Coffee Meets Bagel,” a dating app that looks through your Facebook friends and tries to set you up through mutual people.

On my profile, it asked about religion. I put the usual: Not religious, but spiritual.

What does that even mean?

I do believe in an afterlife, a higher power, reincarnation, and karma.

Most of the men I’ve dated have been Catholic, but I’ve never been with someone really serious about it.

In college, I dated a guy who would say he felt guilty after we had sex. He would say, “Ugh, I regret that,” right after we finished.

It did wonders on my self-esteem.

I suppose that since I’m questioning where I stand on the religious front, it’s directly related to the types of men I date.

I don’t think I could date someone who was really strict into any religion, since I wouldn’t understand it.

I like brunch on Sundays; not church.

But if a person is really devout in their faith, I’d hope they’d be with someone who was just as devout.

After all, religion affects lots of factors in life, in marriage, and it often dictates where and how you can get married.

I’m not against religion at all. But I’ve never met someone that was really true in their faith.

Any religious person I’ve met is filled with just as much hate as the next person.

Call me a hippie, but I’m a firm believer in love and kindness.

I may skip out on Sunday service, but I’m a volunteer and a donor. I smile at strangers, and when I can, I pay it forward, Starbucks’ style.

I want to date someone who’s equally kind, and won’t lie to me.

I appreciate my uncle looking out for me on the religious front, but I’m pretty sure he cheated on his wife, so there’s that.

He can keep Jesus, and I’ll just go with love.

Dads ‘n Daughters.

Gone fishin'.

Gone fishin’.

It’s been 10 months since I’ve talked to my father. I haven’t seen him in two years, and it’s been about 10 years since I’ve spent a holiday with him.

I don’t have his address (it’s somewhere in Kentucky), and the last e-gift card I sent him for his birthday went unopened (and I kept getting automated emails reminding me about it).

Shortly after my 16th birthday, my dad bought me a car, took me to lunch, and told me he was moving out. He left that night.

I can’t and won’t say that I had a bad childhood. I didn’t, and I know my parents worked really hard, and sacrificed a lot to make sure I had the things I needed.

In fact, my dad and I have mostly had a friendly relationship over the years. We have a lot in common; we are both writers, techie-nerds, and we love to laugh.

But I wish he would have been there when it really counted — to scare the shit out of every guy I dated, to teach me how a man should respect a woman, and to give me confidence in my achievements.

My dad is a subject I told myself I’d never touch in this column or on my blog. I know he’d hate me for it.

But it doesn’t take a genius to figure out that a woman with dating issues is usually suffering from daddy issues, too.

Multiple studies over the years reveal that women without a solid father figure are more likely to be desperate for male attention, sexually promiscuous, have an unplanned pregnancy, and perhaps go through a divorce.

For years, I never thought I had these problems. I actually thought I’d beaten the statistics — I didn’t have daddy issues!

But the dots started to connect.

I’ve dated men who abused or manipulated me; I had an unplanned pregnancy, which resulted in an abortion, and I have terrible self-esteem.

I don’t recall my dad ever being happy for me or proud of me. Graduating from college, getting a job, buying my own car… none of those things ever earned his approval.

Many times, they seemed to piss him off.

He started setting rules that made it so we couldn’t see each other; bringing up past court battles with my mom, or saying he doesn’t drive on holidays.

I spent years working around his rules; I just wanted him to support me and love me.

But last summer, I’d reached my breaking point and I finally stood up for myself. I told him the words I’d let build up inside me for years.

And in return, I got silence.

I’ve been through therapy, and am still trying to resolve the question that haunts me daily: if my own father won’t talk to me, love me, or be proud of me, why would anyone else?

Even though we are both adults, I hope that he can understand my feelings, tell me he loves me, and we can move on as a family.

No one can fulfill the relationship a daughter has with her father, and I’m still wishing that ours can be resurrected.

If you’re able to see your dad this Father’s Day, or even talk to him, thank him for being there when it really mattered.

Not all of us are lucky enough to have that option.

Singletons do Baby Showers.

I'm done with baby showers. #SorryNotSorry

I’m done with baby showers. #SorryNotSorry

Last weekend, I drove the 800 miles to my home state of Indiana. I was invited to a baby shower for one of my best friends; a girl I’ve known since 6th grade.

In December, I offered to host a shower for her, but she told me it would be easier for her other friends to host it.

Her other friends owned homes and were married. I felt like all of the sudden, I wasn’t welcome; my lifestyle was seen as a failure, even by someone who’s known me most of my life.

I felt weird that I couldn’t help my friend celebrate one of the biggest moments of her life, but I also didn’t want to stick my nose where it wasn’t welcome.

I RSVP’d to the shower, and drove the 12 hours to get there. I arrived with another friend and my mom. At the shower, there were the two hostesses, my friend having the baby, and her mom.

I kept waiting for more guests to arrive, but no one ever did. We ate, played games, opened gifts, and reminisced on the old days.

While it was great to see my friend, I started wondering where our friendship was headed. We had tons of great memories together, but when would we really start being friends who celebrate our adult lives together?

I sat there, grinning through conversation I know nothing about: bottle nipples, breathable bedding, and baby baths. I felt like my friend had moved on, and I was left behind.

I was hurt; I felt like I was losing a friend, when it would really just take a little extra work to keep our friendship going.

I had to go to a second baby shower that afternoon, so I’m sure I looked like a giant jerk when I left the shower early. But I also felt confused as to why I was one of three guests at a shower that I wasn’t allowed to host.

I would have rather taken my friend to dinner, given her my gifts, and had a real conversation about her son on the way.

But my friend and I had no other plans to visit each other while I was in town, and I’m not sure when we’ll see each other again. The shower felt awkward, and I cried as soon as I walked out of the door. It felt like a big goodbye.

I know I’m pretty clueless when it comes to kids, and I really hate it when they cry. And yes, I’m single with no guy in sight. But does that mean I can’t have mom friends? It’s becoming a clear reality.

A friend of mine suggested that maybe there’s just a crossroads in life when we move on from our childhood friends and have the friends we’ve made as adults.

As sad as it is for me to admit, maybe she’s right. I have no idea what it’s like to be a mom, and perhaps I never will.

It’s the Great Divide of adulthood: parents vs. non-parents.

The day after the shower, I celebrated the freedom I have of not being a mom, with eggs benedict and bloody Marys.

It seems like every time I go “home,” something big has changed. But I know life is moving however it’s supposed to, and of course, I’m happy for my friend and her growing family.

I don’t know if I’ll go in that direction, but I’m enjoying my time as a singleton, nonetheless.

If you don’t see me around any baby showers for awhile, please don’t take it personal. Chances are, I’m just accepting the fact that I’m in a different club — and I don’t want to get in trouble for my potty mouth.

Pic of the Week.

A gift for my mom on Mother's Day.

A gift for my mom on Mother’s Day.

I spent all of last week with my mom, as she was in town to visit. I hadn’t seen my mom in an entire year! Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to ask off work, so I still had to put in 40 hours while she was here, and a lot of our visiting time was early in the morning or late at night.

But nonetheless, it’s still fun to have your mom around. She cleaned my apartment, really getting my bathroom in tip-top shape, and she cleaned my bedroom carpet, and dusted nearly the whole place. I am really thankful for it, because it’s something I feel like I never have time to do.

We also got to eat some yummy local food (gator tacos, boiled crawfish), did some shopping, got our nails done, and just caught up (even though we talk every day).

For Mother’s Day, I gave my mom a few gifts, one of which was a bracelet from Little Words Project. I’ve become obsessed with them after following them on Instagram @Littlewordsproject. Basically, they make and sell bracelets that have words on them, words of encouragement. You give someone a word you think they need, and when they’ve gotten all they need from their word, they pass it along to someone else who may need it.

In April, someone gave me a “Courage” bracelet, which I’ve been wearing ever since. When I went home to Indiana, I gave my friend one that said “Imagine” and then I gave my mom this “Laugh” bracelet.

I love wearing it, and although it’s kind of silly to think, seeing that word (courage) really does give me strength throughout my day! I hope you all had a fantastic weekend with your moms and families.

Pic of the Week.

Roooooooad trip!

Roooooooad trip!

I spent a decent amount of my weekend driving to and from Indiana. I got up Friday morning around 3am and drove the 12 hours to Bloomington, spent Saturday attending baby showers, treated myself to a day of Sunday drinking, and hit the road Monday morning at 4:30 to make it back to Baton Rouge.

It’s been YEARS since I’ve made the drive from Louisiana to Indiana, and I always get a similar feeling when I do it — I’m excited for it when I hit the road, and then about 10 miles into the trip, I realize it’s a long road ahead. Literally.

The cool thing about road trips, though, is that they have this weird ability to temporarily free you from your problems, as you’re driving away from them. It gave me a chance to listen to a ton of music, catch up on old episodes of Johnjay & Rich, and I even listened to a few chapters of an audio book (“How to be Single” by Liz Tuccillo).

Although it was an exhausting drive, it’s a little thrilling to know that if I ever wanted to, I could totally get to Indy in 12 hours and spend a weekend with my friends.

It probably comes as no surprise that I don’t visit Indiana that often. Usually once a year, maybe twice if I’m up for it. And even though I haven’t officially lived there in 10 years, Indiana has this incredible way of delivering life lessons to me — sometimes in the form of a beautifully painted sunset.

It seems like every time I go back to the Midwest, the people I once knew so well have changed. Some for the better, some for the worse, and it always lends a little perspective.

On Sunday, I joined my best friend for brunch before we packed a picnic and ventured to the Indianapolis Museum of Art’s 100 Acre Park to see “Funky Bones” — an outdoor art installation featured in “The Fault in Our Stars.”

It was the simplest day: Bloody Marys, a picnic in a park, a dog, a few pieces of art, and a beautiful sky. It’s the best reminder of why we’re here. These are the moments to live for.

It’s not often (at all) that I get a day off from working; lately I can’t even seem to get five consecutive sleep each night. But I was also reminded of why I work — so I can afford to appreciate the road trips, the days off, and the bottles of wine (heh).

Growing up sure is tough at times, but we’re all doing it, right? Perhaps not willingly, but I think of growing pains are starting to fade.

Introducing the friends.

Couples' night!

Couples’ night!

Alright, I’m going to admit that I’m really bad about this whole “Introducing the significant other to your friends” thing.

In the past, I get really excited when I meet a new guy and we start hanging out (who doesn’t?), and I want him to meet my friends, whom I love so much. I don’t mean for it to be a serious thing, although it is a good idea to see if he fits in with the crowd.

What ends up happening is that it doesn’t work out with the guy, we stop talking, and my friends (or I) never see him again. And I’m left feeling like a big jackass because I just introduced a guy to my friends who ultimately was a blip on my life’s radar.

My friends have assured me that I shouldn’t feel like a jackass — they’ve been single, too, and they know how it goes. I still feel stupid.

In my recent dating adventures, I told myself that I wasn’t going to introduce a guy I’m seeing/talking to anyone, until things are serious — as in, we’re exclusive, and in order for THAT to happen, we have to have been talking for at least three months.

I know, rules. But if I don’t crack the whip, I’m just going to stay single forever, right? I still might ;)

Anyway, I did a little Google searching to see what the interwebs had to say about the matter, and I found a few things.

For starters, YourTango.com suggests that meeting the friends too early can actually put pressure on your FRIENDS, because they feel like they’re pressured to make relationship decisions for you. I’m not sure if this is true, but… they do suggest waiting to introduce a guy until you’ve been on at least three dates (duh) and to keep it casual for the first meeting.

I found some decent advice on April Beyer’s website, which suggested asking yourself WHY you’re introducing your girl/guy to your friends — approval? Locking in the idea that you’re a couple? April suggests waiting until it feels natural, which sounds like a solid idea.

It’s safe to say it’ll be awhile before I introduce a guy to my friends, if I’m ever that lucky. But when I do, I’ll make sure I’m doing it for the right reasons.

Exes: Married With Children.

When your ex straight up moves on... with a wife and a kid.

When your ex straight up moves on… with a wife and a kid.

Sometime last week, I wandered over to my ex-boyfriend’s Facebook page. It’s something I do when I’m feeling rather low about myself, even though looking at his page usually makes me feel worse. Call me a masochist.

Right away, I saw what I figured would be there: his profile picture was a tiny baby. His baby.

Because that is what people do; they get married, and within two years of being married, they have a kid.

When I found out my ex was getting married two years ago, I also found out via Facebook. I was stunned, to say the least, because we’d just broken up a year before.

It was a shitty way to confirm he was cheating on me for the greater part of our four-year relationship.

When I confronted him about it, he lied of course, saying their relationship just moved very quickly.

Finding out an ex is getting married is different for everyone; the reaction is probably relevant to how things ended.

Almost all of my exes are married, and as pathetic as it sounds, my heart broke a little when I found out about each one getting engaged.

I don’t believe any of my exes were “meant” for me, I think it’s more of admitting to myself that they found some sort of happiness with another person that I’ve yet to discover.

But I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t terrified that maybe I’ll never find that level of love, commitment, and happiness with someone.

This particular ex isn’t the only one of my exes to have a child. I think the nature of our relationship is what makes it sting a little, even years later.

We met in college; we were both bartenders at a place under the overpass. Our relationship was fun-loving from the start. It didn’t take long for me to sleep with him, and because of that, I fell for him very quickly.

Although he told me he loved me, his actions showed me that we weren’t on the same level. I loved him more than I’d ever felt for anyone else. And that’s still true today. Enter: the bitterness.

He always told me marriage wasn’t “for him,” and he never talked about wanting children. Those are things I wanted, and to see him married, with a child… it feels like everyone around me has moved on and up, while I’m still here. And still single.

As a singleton, I constantly have to remind myself that just because someone is married, doesn’t mean they’re in a perfect relationship. And just because I’m single, doesn’t mean I’ll never find someone.

Perhaps seeing an ex move on is just a refreshing sign that people can change. Or maybe it just proves that he/she is great at living one giant lie after the next. Now, who wants to hit up happy hour?

Pic of the Week.

All the proper fixins' for a movie premier!

All the proper fixins’ for a movie premier!

Thursday night, I could not wait to finish with work, jump into my sweats and walk right on over to the movie theatre for the midnight premier of “The Longest Ride,” a film adaptation of the Nicholas Sparks bestseller.

I was really excited for several reasons: 1. the book was fantastic. I have very, very fond memories of laying out on my terrace, getting a tan, sipping on a wine spritzer (no, seriously), and falling in love with this unique story, 2. SCOTT EASTWOOD IS FINE, and 3. I allowed myself a cheat and got a junior popcorn, with butter.

Um, hi.

Um, hi.

But seriously, that second point needs to be mentioned one more time… because how have I not noticed him nor his hotness before now?

Anyway, “The Longest Ride” is the story of two couples — very similar couples — in different time periods, whose lives intersect in a very unique way.

The movie and the book tells both of their stories, while in turn, offering a tale of love… as only Nicholas Sparks could. Read more about the book from a previous blog post, here

I think this movie struck me in an interesting way, because some of the issues in the story are easily things that could happen to anyone. Lately, I’ve been having a lot of questions and uncertainty when I think about love and my future. The movie touched on those issues, and although it was a little overwhelming at midnight on a Thursday, it was cathartic.

While I’ve seen all of the movies and read nearly all of Sparks’ books, this one is definitely one of my favorites (I just love “The Last Song”). I don’t, and won’t, spoil the movie for you, but per usual, don’t forget to pack the Kleenex!

Survival Guide: Road trip!

Wahoo! The open road!

Wahoo! The open road!

In just a few weeks, I’m heading on a road trip! It’s been years since I’ve hit the open road for a trip that lasted longer than 4 hours, but I can easily say that I’m looking forward to it.

About a year ago, I took a 19-hour train ride (read about it here), which was fantastic (though I did sleep for quite awhile), but I know my road trip will give me some mental clarity — time for me and some music. After all, the first half of my trip involves just me.

So, how do you accomplish a road trip of a lifetime? Don’t worry, I’ve got some tips for you!

  1. Plan (a little). You don’t want to hit the road with no plan at all — trust me, running out of gas mid-Mississippi isn’t the type of adventure you’re after. Have an idea of where you’re going and places to stop, whether it’s an interesting food stop or for a place to sleep. Don’t over-plan to the point of it being rigid and stressful, a road trip is supposed to be freeing!
  2. Pack the snacks. Nothing beats truck stop snacks, but if you’re anything like me, you’ll want to pack a cooler of drinks (I like to pack energy drinks and La Croix) and snacks (nuts, chocolate, fruit, cheese. Oh hell, pack a meat plate, too). Packing snacks and drinks means stopping less, and the ability to eat as you please instead of getting stuck in a drive-thru.
  3. Get entertainment. Because the first 15 hours of my trip, it’ll just be me (which I’ve done before), I’ll definitely be packing some great music (Sam Smith, John Mayer, Marc Broussard, among others) and possibly an audio book. I also have Sirius radio in my car (I could live off 90s on 9).
  4. To sleep or not to sleep? If you’re with a group, you can sleep in shifts (unless you’re all awake at once) and keep the car on the road. If not, you might have to break the trip up and plan to stop to sleep — don’t drive when you’re tired.
  5. The return. Heading home is typically less-exciting, so make the trip back something to look forward to. Maybe you plan a different route back, or stop at different places, catch a sunrise, listen to new music. Make the entire trip an adventure that’ll be worth your while!

When I was in college, I took a few road trips from Louisiana to Indiana all on my own. The first time I did it, I was so excited. Well, until I realized that driving up the entire state of Mississippi is quite a task. But, I listened to music, saw a sunset, and it was mentally refreshing. I’m looking forward to taking a very similar trip in two weeks. If you’ve got music or audio book recommendations, I’d love to hear them. And as always, follow me on social media @OrangeJulius7 to catch all the roadie pics!

Just remember on the way home, 
That you were never meant to feel alone.
It takes a little while, but you’d be fine:
Another good time coming down the line.

—John Mayer, On The Way Home

Fresh Friday: Warm Cotton.

The perfume for non-perfume wearers.

The perfume for non-perfume wearers.

“Inspired by soap,” is what the package says, and that’s certainly what it smells like! Warm Cotton by CLEAN reminds of the way it smells outside, in the summer, when someone is doing their laundry. Very fresh, clean, and cozy, in a sense.

As described by Sephora, “Cozy up to CLEAN Warm Cotton Eau de Parfum, a fragrance that captures the comforting scent of just-out-of-the-dryer freshness. Blending the crispness of freshly laundered linens into an understated fragrance that is soft and subtly sexy, CLEAN Warm Cotton is perfect for the modern woman who is confident enough to let herself—not her fragrance—command attention.”

Warm Cotton has notes of Citrus, Watery Green Pear, Verbena, Floral Essences, Fruit Essences, Marine Essences, Jasmine, Orange Flower, Musk, Fougere, and Amber. A perfectly subtle scent for spring and summer!

In other news, I hope you all have a fantastic Easter weekend. To me, Easter isn’t a big deal, since I’m not a kid, I don’t have an Easter basket, and I am not celebrating anything religious. However, I am excited that business has slowed for the weekend and I’ll be able to enjoy it, and perhaps spend some time outdoors. I even bought myself a bouquet of coral tulips to celebrate.

Follow me on Instagram and Twitter @OrangeJulius7 to see what I’m up to this weekend! Cheers, y’all!

Pic of the Week.

Allergies be damned.

Allergies be damned.

I spent most of last week in bed. And not in the way you’d expect, or wish upon a person like myself (by that I mean a person who hasn’t gotten laid in awhile). I spent my week in bed sneezing, coughing, sniffling… basically anything that irritated my cat Blanche.

Spring is here, and that means one thing: ALLERGIES.

I didn’t have allergies until I moved to Louisiana. Even then, I didn’t suffer from any of these allergies until about two years ago. I felt like I always needed to carry a box of Kleenex with me. What I thought was a cold that would just never leave, was actually allergies.

So, last week was terrible. I was trying to drink fluids, get rest, and get things cleared up, all while feeling guilty that I wasn’t really working. The good thing about being your own boss is that you don’t have to call in sick. You just… stay in bed for four days.

The bad thing about being your own boss is that… no one can cover for you. Basically, no work gets done. I did lay in bed and conduct a few interviews via phone (no, I’m serious). I asked Blanche to sort my emails, but clearly those didn’t get done.

Outside of sleeping and catching up on TV, I spent a lot of time at Whole Foods. I used the sniffles as an excuse to eat copious amounts of spicy chicken noodle soup from the Asian counter. That shit is awesome and if you haven’t tried it, make plans to get to a Whole Foods, pronto.

Turns out, spicy chicken noodle soup isn’t really a cure for allergies. So, I bought some herbal pills that I’ve been eating ever since. I also got some local raw honey because there’s, like, a one percent chance that it’ll get rid of my allergies.

I’m not sure what I’m allergic to, and that’s the other thing about being your own boss — there’s no health insurance, so fancy tests like allergy ones, aren’t going to happen. We’re just going to assume I’m allergic to Blanche, since it was about two years ago that she showed up and shit hit the fan.

But since I am a loving cat lady, I’ll continue to live in the prison of my own making — that made of cat hair, pipe cleaners, and tuna cans. But hey, we’ve got the local honey.

The truth on birth control.

This picture is so cheesy, I just had to use it.

This picture is so cheesy, I just had to use it.

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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?

Pic of the Week.

Tweeting the entire book, 140 characters at a time.

Tweeting the entire book, 140 characters at a time.

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!

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