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Things I’ve learned from ‘Boy Meets World’

Life lessons from 'Boy Meets World'

Life lessons from ‘Boy Meets World’

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.

Survival Guide: Meeting the parents.

Dont "Fock" it up!

Dont “Fock” it up!

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:

  1. Get the details. Where are you meeting them? What are they like? What do they know about you?
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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!
  5. 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

Fresh Friday: 8.

I wanna get in them jeans.

I wanna get in them jeans.

It’s Friday, and I don’t know about you, but I could use a little dose of HOT GUY. Thank you, Abercrombie old school ads. Actually, the other day, I spritzed on a little 8 by Abercrombie and Fitch just for old time’s sake, and I was surprised at how wonderful it was.

As described by Fragrantica, “8 by Abercrombie & Fitch is a Floral Fruity fragrance for women. Top notes are clementine, mandarin orange and grapefruit; middle notes are lily, melon, amaryllis, violet and freesia; base notes are amber, musk, bourbon vanilla and vetiver.”

Believe it or not, you can still purchase a bottle of 8 in-store. As described by the Abercrombie & Fitch website, “Provocative and sexy, Perfume 8’s spicy, invigorating floral scent is always exciting. Ginger and rich peach nectar combine with subtle hints of jasmine petal for a naturally pretty fragrance that is warm, inviting and perfect for day or night.”

With that, I’m going to spritz on a little 8 and hope the men in my presence rip off their clothes.

WYSK: Donna Tartt.

Author Donna Tartt

Author Donna Tartt

I’m halfway through The Goldfinch, and as I read it, I cannot help but wonder who the hell is this Donna Tartt chick? So I did some digging.

As you may have guessed, she’s the author of The Goldfinch, which won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction in 2014. She is also the author of The Secret History and The Little Friend. She was also named one of Time’s Most Influential People in 2014.

I was pleasantly surprised to see that she’s from Mississippi and went to the University of Mississippi, where she was recognized early for her work in writing.

I’ve been wanting to read The Goldfinch for awhile — I actually purchased it many months ago, but per usual, I had to put it on my list of things to read. Now that I’m finally reading it, it’s very good, it’s just finding the time to read it that’s taking me so long.

In the meantime, I’ve saved articles and clips on the book, because I want to read them, but I’m scared of spoilers. However, I ventured (cautiously) into one I found in Vanity Fair, “It’s Tartt — But is it Art?

The article confirms any rumors about the book being turned into a film — it is! And mentions the fact that The Goldfinch sat on the New York Times Bestseller list for more than seven months, selling nearly two million copies.

The article covers the battle between being a bestselling author, to one that’s respected by critics — an interesting battle. While some of the critics loved The Goldfinch (obviously), others thought it was overwritten and that her words belonged in a children’s book. That we now live in a world where adults read Harry Potter.

Ouch!

The thing is, so far, I’ve loved Tartt’s ability to tell a story, particularly her detailed descriptions. I like knowing that right in my purse, or wherever, there’s another world waiting for me — it makes my breaks from work incredibly interesting.

I’m sure I’ll write another blog post when I finish, but for now, I’ll leave you with a quote from The Goldfinch:

When I looked at the painting I felt the same convergence on a single point: a sunstruck instant that existed now and forever. Only occasionally did I notice the chain on the finch’s ankle, or think what a cruel life for a living creature — fluttering briefly, forced always to land in the same hopeless place. 

Celebrating John Hughes.

John Hughes chats with Ferris Bueller's Day Off star, Matthew Broderick.

John Hughes chats with Ferris Bueller’s Day Off star, Matthew Broderick.

Today, I wanted to celebrate my favorite screenwriter, John Hughes, as today would’ve been his 65th birthday! Hughes wrote two of my favorite movies — Home Alone and Ferris Bueller’s Day Off — among many others, including The Breakfast Club, Pretty in Pink, Uncle Buck, and National Lampoon’s Vacation.

He went to high school in Illinois (fellow Midwesterner!), and his high school would become the inspiration for several of his films. But before his movie career, he wrote jokes for comedians, including Joan Rivers, and also served as ad copywriter.

I’m going to do all my movies here in Chicago. The ‘Tribune’ referred to me as a ‘former Chicagoan.’ As if, to do anything, I had to leave Chicago. I never left. I worked until I was 29 at the Leo Burnett advertising agency, and then I quit to do this. This is a working city, where people go to their jobs and raise their kids and live their lives. 

—John Hughes

Vacation was his first success in written film, and Sixteen Candles was his first success as a director — it kicked off his string of movies geared around high schoolers. His biggest commercial success was Home Alone.

I’ve always loved Home Alone and Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, and it took me years to discover they were both written by Hughes, despite obvious similarities — both are set in Chicago suburbia, both focus around a character that wants to suspend his normal life, get away from his family, only to get what he wants, and realize that what he has is ultimately good. Both movies utilize intense monologues. And both movies are, of course, hilarious.

Aside from being the writer for some of my favorite movies, I look up to Hughes for writing more than 30 screenplays — I’ve wanted to get into screenwriting for a long time. I can appreciate any writer who takes what they know, even if it’s something as simple as life in high school, and turn it into a great piece of work, let alone a pop culture phenomenon.

I’d rather stir controversy than just… fade away.

—John Hughes, 1950-2009

The Oscars did a beautiful tribute to John in 2010, featuring several of the lead actors and actresses in his iconic films:

To learn more about John Hughes’ timeless films, check out Entertainment Weekly’s article, “John Hughes’ 12 Essential Films.”

Pic of the Week.

I need more sleep.

I need more sleep.

I’ve discussed a little about the trouble I’ve had with sleeping over the years. From what I remember, the trouble started during a bad breakup I had several years ago. He was cheating on me and I had these terrible nightmares of him having sex with other women. They were vivid and would wake me up during all hours of the night.

I dated someone after that, someone who could not have been worse for me. Our hours were very different, and he would say things — abusive things — to me before bed. Sometimes, the sex was scarily abusive as well. I went to sleep crying many nights when we were together. When we broke up, I felt this immense sense of freedom — I could finally sleep! And that first night, I jumped into bed early and fell into a quiet, solid sleep.

That is, until I woke up to a banging on my door. He was trying to get in. Luckily, I had already changed the locks and I was safe inside — although I was terrified.

That was almost two years ago, and since then, I’ve done a lot to try and help myself sleep better. I treated myself to an entirely new bed — frame, headboard, mattress, even new (and engraved) bedding. I’ve invested in lavender-scented everything. For Christmas, I got a diffuser for my essential oils and about an hour before bed, I turn it on to fill my bedroom with a relaxing mix.

Then, a few weeks ago, I purchased an all-natural sleeping pill from Melaleuca. I’ve been taking it at least five nights a week, and for the most part, I wakeup feeling refreshed — a feeling I’ve rarely experienced. I let a friend try the pill and he told me it gave him “weird” dreams. I hadn’t noticed that side effect.

In fact, I noticed the opposite. While I’ve been suffering from nightmares (terrifying ones that wake me up in the middle of the night), my dreams on the sleeping aid are pleasant. I had a dream a few weeks ago that I got married — granted, it was to someone I went to high school with that I never talk to, but it still beats night terrors.

Over the weekend, I had a very weird dream, though not entirely unpleasant. It started off as a date, a date with this guy who goes to my gym. We’ve never talked and I’m pretty sure he doesn’t even know my name. Nonetheless, he’s attractive.

We go on this date, which was at a BBQ place I think, and he was on his phone texting most of the date. When I called him out on it, he said I was the one who put myself in “lonely situations every day.” We left, and when I went to my car, my dad pulled up.

Now, my dad is a subject I’ve avoided on this blog, and I’m still not quite ready to venture there just yet. But, I haven’t seen my dad in a long time, nor have I talked to him. When he got out of his car, in my dream, it sure did look just like him, and he told me he was worried about me.

He hugged me, and I cried tears of joy. The hug felt so real. It was a feeling I’ve never experienced. I woke up mid-hug, and although I wasn’t crying, I was overwhelmed with emotion. I really felt like my dad and I just hugged — have you ever experienced a dream that felt real?

The more open I am about my sleeping troubles, the more I learn that a lot of people have trouble sleeping. While it doesn’t work every time, I do try and “wind down” at the end of the night — turning off some lights, watching light TV with the volume on low, and refraining from drinking. Reading, or drinking a relaxing tea also helps me.

Of course, maintaining a healthy diet and partaking in regular exercise also helps with a good sleeping pattern. What are your tips for sleeping soundly?

Single Girl Recipe: Snack edition!

Pre-workout avocado toast.

Pre-workout avocado toast.

For the last month, I’ve been trying to get back into a somewhat healthy routine. When I worked Monday-Friday, 9-5, it was pretty easy for me to meal plan, pack my lunch, and hit the gym every day at 5:15.

But my schedule is so different everyday now, and slowly, I’m finding ways to make it to the gym, but more importantly, eat food that’s good for me, and food that I can eat when I’m at work (where there is no break room, no fridge, and no microwave). I do have a nice lunchbox/cooler, so I can at least pack fresh things, but it’s often not a “meal” — I do better if I just leave it up to healthy snacks all day.

Here’s some of the snacks I’ve tried, and enjoyed, and hopefully it will help you stock your fridge and pantry with some healthier, and easy snack options.

Southwestern Corn & Black Bean Salad 

  • 1 can sweet corn kernels, drained
  • 1 can black beans, rinsed & drained
  • 1 tb fresh cilantro, minced
  • 2 tb chopped red onion
  • 1 Roma tomato, diced
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp hot sauce
  • Juice of 1 lime

Combine all ingredients and chill before serving. Easy, right? I like to eat this with Beanitos chips, or on top of a grilled chicken breast. You could also mix it in with some quinoa. It’s good to double the recipe so you’ll have plenty. If you’re feeling spicy, chop 1 jalapeno and mix it in.

Fresh Blueberry Chicken Salad With Almonds 

  • 2 whole chicken breasts, cooked
  • 1/2 c chopped red onion
  • 1 tb rice vinegar
  • 1/2 c minced green onion
  • 1/4 c chopped flat leaf parsley
  • 1/2 c dried cranberries
  • 1 c fresh blueberries
  • 1/2 c plain Greek yogurt
  • 2 tb low-fat mayonnaise
  • 1/4 c sweet mustard
  • 1/4 c toasted almonds

Dice chicken breasts and place in a bowl. Sprinkle red onion with rice vinegar and toss into bowl. Add the green onion, parsley, cranberries, and blueberries; fold into the mix. In a separate bowl, mix the mayo, yogurt, and mustard. Fold into chicken mix. Garnish with toasted almonds. This is delicious on its own, or in a wrap. Be careful eating with crackers — don’t want to overdo it!

Protein Bars 

Protein Bars are a must-have in my pantry. They are easy to bring to work, filling, and they often satisfy my sweet cravings. However, it’s tough to find good ones if you’re not paying attention. Plus, they can be expensive. I always look for sales (my grocery store often has them on sale for $1 each).

Feel free to make your own — check out this recipe — or, you can purchase them, just be sure to check the labels. Here are some of my favorites:

I also have a go-to protein powder: ChocoRite. It’s less than $15 for a bag, tastes great as a shake (I like to buy a bag of the Peanut Butter and one bag of the Fudge Brownie and mix them), plus it has 24g of protein in one shake .

Other snack ideas:

  • Apple with peanut or almond butter
  • Hummus and veggies (carrots, bell pepper, cucumber)
  • Cottage cheese and tomato (or fruit if you’ve got a sweet tooth)
  • Rice cake with nut butter, unsweetened coconut, and dried fruit
  • Hard-boiled eggs
  • Low-fat string cheese
  • Berries
  • Dried edamame
  • Soy nuts

What are some of your favorite healthy snacks?

Even singletons have love.

Don't hide your feelings, single people!

Don’t hide your feelings, single people!

As a child, Valentine’s Day was marked with gifts. There was a party at school, my dad would buy something for my mom, and my parents would get me one of those heart-shaped boxes of truffles.

Since then, my parents divorced, my dad decided that Valentine’s Day was “just for women,” and he quit talking me to altogether.

As an adult, I’ve spent several Februaries being bitter that I didn’t have a Valentine, until one year, I did.

It was many years ago, my boyfriend and I joined each other on his back stoop, drinking wine from a liter bottle. Eventually, I got drunk and decided climbing his fence was a superb idea — I ended up falling, but he was there to catch me.

I was so in love with him, and I’m certain I haven’t loved someone quite that much since. I didn’t need a gift; I just wanted his company.

Though it didn’t last for us, I’ve spent recent Februaries reminding myself that love comes in many forms — romantic love is just one of them.

Last year, I went on a first date Valentine’s Day night. It was probably a terrible curse, considering the kiss at the end of the date was one of the worst I’ve ever had.

But, there’s something to be said about celebrating the holiday, even if you’re single. After all, I hate feeling left out.

Valentine’s Day falls on a Saturday this year, meaning every decent food joint in the city will be packed with couples. Skip the smooch-fest and do something you like instead — see a movie, hit the spa, or invite your friends over for dinner.

This year, I decided to tell those in my life how much I love them by way of homemade Valentines. I remember how fun it was to get little red and pink cards as a kid, so why not bring that joy back?

A trip to Hobby Lobby, a pound of glitter later, and I’d made cards for my coworkers, my workout partners, my friends, and maybe a crush (or two).

I owe one to Papa Murphy’s for making those heart-shaped pizzas every February, too. I adore them.

These are the people in my life, and if they weren’t there, I’d be one sad gal. We don’t say it enough.

And if you’re reading this, I love you, too. If I had your address, I’d mail you one of my crafty cards.

If you’re lucky enough to have romantic love in your life this Valentine’s Day, I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a little envious.

But hey, there’s always next year. Just be sure to tell them how much you love them; because romantic love, the good, honest kind, is rare and special.

On Valentine’s Day, I haven’t quite decided what I’ll do. I might have to work, maybe I’ll hit the gym, or perhaps I’ll indulge in something sweet. Regardless, it’s just another day in my life — a life I think I’m finally starting to love.

Popping the question.

Puppy love.

Puppy love.

Every year around the holidays, it seems like everyone I know — who’s not already married — is getting engaged. Of course, if it wasn’t for social media, I probably wouldn’t know about 85% of these said proposals, but it’s 2015 and I guess I’ve got reality to deal with.

The thing is, I’m not quite sure which came first: social media or the extravagant proposals? It’s the tree in the forest question — if there’s not 1,000+ people around to see him pop the question, did it actually happen? And my other question: what’s with everyone’s perfect outfits and freshly-mani’d nails? Do you always dress like that or did you have a hunch something special was coming? Because, as I type this, my nails are chipped and my hair is still sweaty from the gym. Not cute.

I will say, that of all these crazy-cool big production proposals, one stands out from a few years ago:

No, seriously, I cry every time I watch it. I don’t know if it’s because I’m just a sap, or what — I really think knowing how much work and time that took on everyone’s part is just incredible and very, very sweet.

My views on proper proposals have changed over the years; much like my views on relationships and marriage have changed. At a young age — when I thought I’d be married by 25 — I dreamed that a guy would totally embarrass himself in order to pop the question. As in, do it in front of some monumental crowd and recite a speech about how amazing I was.

Meh. These days, I try not to think about a proposal in my life. Truthfully, I’m beginning to think I’ll never be quite that lucky — and at some point, I’ll come to terms with that.

But, if I had my way, I’d really want a proposal that reflected our relationship. Perhaps he’d ask me over our morning coffee (I’d be in my sparkly, plaid slippers), or maybe he’d get down on one knee during an evening walk. Maybe, he’d ask me over delivered pizza — as we sat on the floor of our first home, just before moving in.

It’s such an intimate moment, and a very big question, that I’m not sure I’d want many people (if anyone) around. But hey, I probably need to focus on a different kind of question from a guy before I think about a proposal… like, “Wanna grab dinner Friday?”

Tsk.

Pic of the Week.

Some of my finished Valentines.

Some of my finished Valentines.

This weekend, I finally got around to doing something I’ve wanted to do for a long time: I made Valentines!

As February crept around, I realized that I’ve spent way too many Februaries being pissed or upset that I didn’t have romantic love in my life to celebrate the holiday with.

Some years it bothered me less than others, some years I gathered with other single friends to drown our sorrows in alcohol. There were some years that I actually did have a boyfriend, but we never did it big — no roses, fancy dinners, chocolates, or even cards.

A few Februaries ago, I started wondering why it’s all such a big deal? Sure, it would be nice to get flowers, get dressed up and remind each other how much love we have for one another.

But that would be nice on any day.

So, I decided, perhaps many months ago, that I was not going to be sad on Valentine’s Day this year. I’ve been single for almost two years now, and though there are times I wish for someone to share my life with, there’s a lot of other things I’m grateful for.

Of course, I’m thankful for my friends and family. But I’m also thankful for the people I get to see everyday — my coworkers and my trainers — two groups of people that inspire me to be the best (granted, in different ways). And then there’s those people I don’t get to see, some I haven’t even met: my readers!

In order to show my love and appreciation for the ones I love, I ventured to Hobby Lobby and spent a few hours going up and down the aisles, collecting items to make my Valentines. I ended up with various pages of printed paper, heart stickers, red and pink ribbon, and of course, glitter.

Between shifts at work, I sat at my dining table and crafted about two-dozen original cards. While I was at it, I watched some festive movies: When Harry Met Sally, The Fault in Our Stars, and 500 Days of Summer.

And though it sounds cheesy, it made me feel good knowing that maybe something small I did will make someone else smile. Sometimes, happiness comes easy, but I know for most people, it doesn’t come often.

Some of my cards will be hand-delivered this week, others have already been mailed (California, Indiana, Tennessee, Kansas, I’m talking to YOU!). And I may or may not have mailed one to John Mayer… Because… soulmate.

On Saturday, actual Valentine’s Day, I have to work at the shoe store, so chances are, I’ll be helping people get the final touches for their Valentine’s Day dates. And that’s okay. Of course, I wish I had a date, too, but I’m okay just being me.

If you’re feeling sad and/or lonely on Saturday, stop by the mall — I’ll give you a hug, a chocolate-covered strawberry, and let you try on some shoes. Shit, let’s get drinks. Let’s do whatever makes us happy, because that’s all that matters.

The heart at home.

Photo from Columbus North High School Student Body President @Vince_Grana

Photo from Columbus North High School Student Body President @Vince_Grana

One of the best parts about my job as a journalist is being able to meet all kinds of different people; hear their stories; their struggles and triumphs. In the mix, I often end up in spots I wouldn’t normally be.

A few weeks ago, I was in a flower shop, talking to a man as he made corsages. He had a stack of “about 50″ corsages and boutonnieres to make for a local school’s winter formal the following day. As I watched, I remembered my high school dances, my dates (very rare), and that oh-so-awkward moment of exchanging corsages and boutonnieres — I always made my mom pin it on the guy.

“I’ve kept all of my corsages,” I admitted. He gave me the one-eyebrow.

“Seriously?” he asked.

Yes, of course I had. Those were moments I treasured. Sometimes, thinking about the past really gets in my way. When I find myself drifting back, I attempt to put the thoughts away, and focus on the present. Don’t keep living in the past, right?

What’s interesting about my bouts of reminiscing, is that of course, I hated everything when it was happening. Growing up in Columbus, Indiana was so lame at the time — though I did enjoy cruising on country roads.

To me, to us, Columbus didn’t have a clue. There was a bigger world outside of “The Bus” and I was going to find it, conquer it, and never look at Columbus again. But when I moved to Louisiana, I quickly realized the things I took for granted.

At Columbus North High School, I got a fantastic education. One that would cost a Baton Rougean thousands of dollars (seriously). At a school where I felt like I didn’t really fit in, I got plenty of opportunities to express myself — through dance, through the school newspaper, and through freedom of dress.

When I moved, I quickly missed the comforts of Columbus’ chain restaurant diet — Steak n’ Shake and Red Lobster were top on my list. And did you know that more people cram themselves into the Columbus North gym to see the Bulldogs play ball than at Louisiana State University?

I wasn’t sure if it was just the corsages that brought on my memories; after all, I’ve thought a lot about what it was like to be “young” lately, perhaps it’s just my looming 30th birthday. But then I caught a glance of #JoshStrong on my Twitter feed.

From my trail of research, I gathered that one of our own, a Columbus North High School senior, Josh Speidel, was severely injured in a car crash. At the time of this writing, Speidel has been in the hospital for five days, asleep, as the doctors attempt to keep his brain from swelling.

Though there haven’t been many details released about the crash, or his injuries, I know that scenario all too well. As a Columbus North High School student, I got phone calls with bad news too many times.

During those times of loss or stress, pre-social media, we did anything possible to deal with our grief. We wrote on tree stumps and sidewalks. We wore matching t-shirts at the big game. We asked the announcer for moments of silence.

Facebook appeared when I was a freshman in college, and it changed my college experience. I have always wondered what it’s been like for youth in this social-media age. High school was tough enough without crafting status updates and posting Friday night photo albums.

But when I see #JoshStrong, a hashtag I’ve been obsessively following, I see my hometown rising up, rallying behind Speidel and his family. It’s a sight that — even from afar — gives me chills. Naturally, Speidel’s friends and family have taken to social media to post their thoughts, and any medical updates on his current state.

But it’s more than that.

From what I’ve read, Speidel is that guy. You know the one. The basketball star (he currently holds the record for scoring), good in school, all-around good guy. He’s the kind of guy I totally would have crushed on in high school, just hoping for a wave in the hallway that I’d dream about for weeks.

A verbal-commit for Vermont, his future team and coach sent him a get well message that went viral. Then, Columbus North students put together a pasta dinner in the school cafeteria to raise money for his medical bills — raising more than $8,000.

Then there was the game against Hamilton Southeastern — the first game the Bulldogs would play without their star. And Hamilton Southeastern showed up wearing Speidel’s number. Even the hometown rival, Columbus East, wore blue (Bulldog colors) in support of North. The cheerleaders got the whole gym in a “Josh Strong” chant.

It’s not a moment I’ve seen at a college game.

It’s made me think a lot about my hometown; a place that’s somehow risen above a significant amount of loss over the years. I sure would trade a lot to spend another Friday night in that gym, for the big game against East.

To CNHS, if you’re reading this, I know everyone is telling you not to grow up quite so fast. And maybe, you’re thinking of leaving and never looking back. Getting out there is good, but I know you’ll miss something about it once you’ve jumped on 65, or hit the hills for Bloomington.

So before you go, get one more pineapple-Sprite from Zaharako’s. Sink your heals into the midnight sand at the Marina. Cruise Washington, windows down, at sunset. Tell me you don’t fall in love.

Columbus ain’t bad. But I realized it ten years too late. I’m really hoping Speidel makes it out okay. I want to know what it’s like when he sees how he’s affected his town for the better. #JoshStrong is what happens when hearts of children rally for one of their own.

That is love.

Contribute to the Speidel family here

The dating age.

Say gurl.

Say gurl.

I work part-time at a shoe store in the mall. It’s not my dream job, but it provides cash, plus I get to meet all kinds of different people.

About ¼ of the customers I meet are hot guys. When a hottie comes into the store, I think, “Yes! A hot guy!” And then I remind myself that I’m selling shoes and stick to the script, “Can I get a size for you?” Insert obligatory comment about being on my knees here.

Working in retail at 29 is a harsh reality at times — I’ve pushed aside my degree, work odd hours, and most of my coworkers are 19.

At the risk of sounding like a pervert, one of my coworkers caught my eye. He works in the stockroom, has this silky blond hair, and a nickname I still haven’t figured out.

He reminded me of a guy I dated in high school, whom had a punk-rock flair. Enter: my lifelong crush on Something Corporate’s Andrew McMahon.

I knew my coworker had to be young, but I just wasn’t sure how young. That is, until a customer asked him how old he was and he replied coolly, “20.”

Twenty. My heart nearly stopped. At 20, I barely knew who I was, had just lost my virginity, and made terrible decisions.

At 29, I have a crush on a guy nearly 10 years younger than me. I felt slightly guilty for the fantasy I’d drawn up during the shifts we worked together: that he’d throw me up against the rolling racks in the stockroom and really go at it (while on the clock, of course).

Afterward, we’d smoke from his vaporizer pen, because that’s what all the cool kids do.

At times, the words coming out of his mouth form themselves into sentences I want to hear: “Let’s get naked.”

I felt like Stifler’s mom, complete with Al Bundy’s job, and minus the botox.

I’d be lying if I said I’m not attracted to youth — in some way, we all are. Photoshop or not, I’d still pull out my best moves on Justin Bieber.

Although sexing a 20-year-old is totally legal, women are taught to date older. It’s men that can date younger without the stigma (hi, Edwin Edwards).

Nonetheless, I’ve kept my clothes on. In reality, I don’t know how I’d feel sexually attacking someone 10 years younger than me. Plus, I’ve never been a fan of mixing business and pleasure.

I’m not sure what’s brought on my cougar mentality, whether it’s the fact that I haven’t had sex in awhile, that my latest dating attempt went to shit, or that this 20-year-old is just sexy.

When I finally mustered up the courage to tell my coworker about my crush, he was “chill” on the subject.

“But I’m, like, way older than you,” I said.

“So,” he said. “It happens.”

The Column: Sweaty is the New Sexy.

That guy...is FINE.

That guy…is FINE.

The shiny sweat, a shortness of breath, muscles tightening… it’s your workout routine, and it’s (apparently) sexy as hell.

Pickup any magazine, ask any fitness professional, and they’re going to tell you that couples who sweat together, stay together.

A lot of things that happen to the body — the aforementioned sweat, short breaths, muscle exposure — during an intense workout also happen during sex (insert gym grunting), and that gets things going.

A couple working out together is also one that faces and accomplishes challenges together. They’re encouraging each other, and because of it, they’re getting an efficient workout while improving their relationship.

2311_10003091Truthfully, when I see couples at the gym or walking the lakes, I think, “Ugh, can’t you do anything by yourself?”

But I know that’s just because I’m single and not having sex.

I’ve never even dated someone who would consider hitting the gym with me. I have however, slept with my trainer(s). It was completely wrong, but incredibly motivating all at once.

Fitness is pretty important to me. I try to maintain a healthy diet, and I aim for three workouts a week. It feels good to sweat, and at the very least, it relieves stress and helps me sleep.

The last guy I dated was anti-fitness, if you can believe that. He insisted on eating fried, greasy foods for every meal, and got mad when I went to the gym.

I tried to maintain my waistline by cooking us healthier options — baked chicken wings instead of fried and buttered — and he refused to admit they were delicious.

It seems small, but it was detrimental to our relationship. He was close-minded, jealous, and unsupportive.

Having a boyfriend to workout with suddenly sounds attractive and efficient. If I take the hours I spend at the gym, and the hours I spend getting ready for and going on dates, then cut that in half by technically dating while working out, I could have more time to… sleep.

In a perfect world, couples who workout together are also having sex together — burning double the calories. This whole plan just gets better and better.

When you think about it, all of this makes biological sense. We were made to reproduce, which is why we’re so attracted to fit bodies — they’ll thrive and make babies — and in return, we’re all turned on by those who workout and get sweaty.

But what does that mean for the singletons? Don’t succumb to the bon-bons, get a workout partner. A lot of my friends go to the gym; we encourage each other and we chat between sets. It’s efficient, but more importantly, it makes the workout fun.

The thing to avoid, as I’ve learned, is dating someone at the gym (doesn’t mean I don’t look). If things go awry, then your entire workout is ruined. It’s not a good combination.

So, grab your protein shake and meet me at the gym. I’ll be the sweaty singleton on the thigh machine.

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Fresh Friday: Florabotanica.

Is that K-Stew?

Is that K-Stew?

How did I miss the fact that K-Stew was the Face of Balenciaga’s Florabotanica? Hmm. Regardless, I’ve been rocking this scent all week and I smell like spring.

As described by Sephora: “Florabotanica evokes ambivalent bewitching beauty. Velvety and thorny, flirting with hemp and vetiver roots. The scent is flowery, developed on a rose note with a narcotic hemp twist. The wearer is beautiful but dangerous, like some rare botanical species.

Florabotanica is the fragrance of the Balenciaga botanic garden. It instills the brand with modernity and colors. While Balenciaga Paris paid tribute to the genius of Cristobal, this scent celebrates Nicolas’s futuristic perspective. The various facets of Nicolas’s inspiration are reflected in the bottle and outer box. The rich and surprising mix match of architectural lines, vivid colors, and venomous floral prints recurrent in Balenciaga’s fashion are translated into Florabotanica’s unique packaging.”

I was surprised to see the top notes of this fragrance were carnation and mint — two scents you don’t often find in a perfume. The only thing I don’t like? The bottle I got is just a bottle, no roller ball or spritzer, and I feel like it would have more of an effect if I could apply it liberally.

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Minted love.

July - Ruby, Limited edition print by Naomi Ernest.

July – Ruby, Limited edition print by Naomi Ernest.

I’ve always been a little obsessed with my birthday — not celebrating it — more about, what I’ve got in common with others born in July, or things only associated with July birthdays, like the lucky number seven or rubies.

Custom Valentine

Custom Valentine

I’ve got a few pieces of jewelry that feature rubies (or faux ones) and I’ve kind of been thinking about creating a fictional character named Ruby (my kids = fictional book characters). So, of course I fell in love with this piece I saw on Minted.com — artist Naomi Ernest made an entire collection on birthstones, and I’ll say the Opal is also a beauty.

But of course, Minted is home to several independent artists, and they make ALL kinds of cool stuff: prints, photographs, foil art, and even save-the-dates and invitations (now I need parties to plan and place cards to print). And, if you’re super sweet, they even have cute Valentine’s Day cards!

From Minted.com:

We believe that great design lives and thrives in the hands of independent artists that people do not have access to through traditional retailers. Minted uses technology to allow consumers to discover great creative talent, making Minted a place where artists can learn, gain exposure, and build their businesses.

The art is offered in several different sizes, with or without frames, and you can customize it — perfection! If you’re into DIY, Minted can help via their blog, Julep. Get it. Mint. Julep. I can’t.

Check out some of my favorites from Minted.com (as shown), Staredown by Amy Carroll, This Way That Way by Tim & Beck, Winged Heart by Eve Schultz, Louisiana Map by GeekInk Design, and Writer’s Block by Keen Peachy

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