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The Fault In Our Stars.

The_Fault_in_Our_Stars

My most recent read.

Monday night, I finished reading John Green’s, “The Fault In Our Stars.”

This is a book that’s been on my reading list for months, and I had a gift card burning a hole in my pocket, so I jumped at the chance to buy it—splurging on the Collector’s Edition.

I stumbled across Green’s collection of books when I started reading things by Jonathan Tropper. I bought Green’s, “An Abundance of Katherines” and absolutely loved it! I knew I had to read “The Fault In Our Stars,” or TFIOS, as it’s now called, being a cult favorite.

Now, with the movie-version of TFIOS (coming to theatres June 6) on its way, I knew I needed to pick up the pace with my reading schedule.

But once I started reading this book, it took me about three days to get through it.

TFIOS is the story of Hazel Grace and Augustus Waters. They meet in a support group for those dealing with cancer. Hazel has, “Thyroid originally but with an impressive and long-settled satellite colony in my lungs,” cancer, while Augustus has a “Touch of osteosarcoma.”

Augustus and Hazel fall in love.

It is a unique love between two teenagers who have been through more in their years than most of us will probably ever see. But the uniqueness goes way beyond the disease. It’s in the books they read, the poems they recite to each other, the food they eat, the places they travel.

I won’t give anything away, because I think this is a book everyone should read. But, a pretty decent part of the book takes place overseas. Since Augustus and Hazel both have life-threatening illnesses, they were granted “Wishes” and they get to visit a place that is dear to…well, Hazel, but since Augustus loves Hazel, it becomes important to him, too.

This book has so many quirky things, not to mention the BULK of amazing quotes, it’s easy to understand why it’s become so popular.

So, if you have a chance to read this one, I highly recommend it—and, of course, I’ll be at the midnight premier. I may or may not be wearing a TFIOS sweatshirt.

You are so busy being you that you have no idea how unprecedented you are.

—Augustus Waters, The Fault In Our Stars

Seeing Red (Flags).

Living on the beach? Not a red flag.

Living on the beach? Not a red flag.

As a relationship columnist and blogger, sometimes it’s a little embarrassing to admit all of my stories when it comes to dating the wrong guys. While I have dozens (okay, maybe hundreds) of stories, what it really boils down to is ignoring red flags, especially before things get serious.

It’s something that I’ve really been working on, especially in this last year that I’ve been single. If you’re in the same boat as I am, maybe my list of red flags will help you out. If you have any others that I’ve missed, don’t hesitate to leave a comment or Tweet me @OrangeJulius7 

RED FLAGS: WHEN YOUR SIGNIFICANT OTHER…

  • Expects you to do everything
  • Cannot apologize
  • Doesn’t introduce you to friends, family
  • Is not good at communicating
  • Talks down to you
  • Has a mean sense of humor
  • Wants to change you
  • Mentions sex early in the relationship
  • Doesn’t make you feel special
  • Gushes about someone else
  • Is secretive with his phone
  • Doesn’t fight fair
  • Is lazy in bed
  • Is a stage-5 clinger
  • Is never around when you really need them
  • Doesn’t share personal details
  • Uses texting as a main source of communication
  • Needs to go out every single weekend
  • Still talks to The Ex
  • Does drugs
  • Never has any money
  • Can’t remember conversations you’ve shared
  • Changes his/her story

In previous relationships, when one (or several) of red flags would appear, I didn’t think of them as detrimental. I figured, “Oh, boys will be boys,” or that eventually, things would change. But, they didn’t and then I was left feeling like a fool.

In my last relationship, it got on my nerves how much my then-boyfriend was on his phone. He would text during dinner dates and movies. When I asked him what that was about, or who he was texting, he would always say it was work. He also always had his phone with him (even in the bathroom) and had a password on it (he told me it was so his coworkers wouldn’t mess with it). But when I found out he was cheating on me the whole relationship, I wished I would have pressed further and connected the dots sooner.

Of course, every relationship is different, so the red flags might not match my list. In general, I think following your gut is the key to finding any red flags.

Forever My Friend.

There are lots of dates I wish my mind would erase. And by dates, I mean months paired with numbered days of the week.

Next week, one of those days is on my calendar.

When I was a sophomore in college, I was living in my sorority house, and it was the morning of our formal. I was planning to wear my prom dress from my senior year of high school.

It was coral, with layers (dozens of layers) of pink and purple tule as the poofy, floor-length skirt, and the strapless bodice was completely beaded. It was gorgeous, even if my description makes it sound otherwise.

I had planned to get my hair and makeup done at the mall, so there I was. My hair was up and curled, my makeup probably overdone, and I stopped by one of the stores to talk to a friend.

I left the mall, and headed to the sorority house. My friend, the same one from the mall, called me.

“I guessed by your happy face that you didn’t hear the news,” she said. She told me she didn’t want to ruin my makeup, but she had to tell me something.

DC died.

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Dustin Clemons, known to all as DC, was the first person I met at LSU. We met at orientation, and kept in touch the summer before our freshman year. When we both moved onto campus, I was relieved to see a familiar face.

And his face was a cute one.

He was heavily involved in…everything. And although he was probably so busy he never slept, he always made time for me, and for his other friends.

I invited him to join me at sorority functions, and we always had a blast. I felt so lucky to be in his presence, any day.

But on that day, hearing that news, I pulled my car into the nearest parking lot and cried. I had suffered loss before, loss even younger, but I just couldn’t believe it.

When I composed myself, I drove back to the house, poured myself a stiff drink, and sat on the floor of the foyer while other’s dates arrived for the dance.

I had a date—a guy I asked from an English class. He didn’t show up.

So, I got in the car with a friend, and sat alone, dateless, at dinner.

I couldn’t stop thinking about DC. I wished he would have been there. I wished everything could rewind. I wished he never would have crossed the street. I stared at our most recent text conversation, wishing something would come through, proving this all a giant mistake.

But it didn’t.

Instead, I went to his funeral. I didn’t wear black, because I didn’t think he’d want me to be sad. But there, in the pew, I sat and cried into the arms of my sorority sister and friend.

It took me months before I could think of him the way I always had—with a smile. I made a CD of his favorite songs, and played them in my car during cool night drives to clear my head.

Since the day DC died, the month of April has had a haze over it—more than just the rain. And while I knew the numbers associated with such loss, I didn’t realize that it’s been nine years.

Tuesday night, I used a ladder and a flashlight to pull down the boxes from my closet, boxes that held our photos (aside from one I keep framed), and binders that smooth newspaper articles written about him. As I held back tears, I was wearing a custom trucker hat, “I <3 DC.”

He loved trucker hats. And popped collars. And the Tar Heels.

And I miss all of those things.

The thing about losing someone, especially someone young, is that it’s difficult not to think about how much of their life they didn’t get to live.

The only thing that helps me cope with that idea is that they still lived the life they were meant to. In just a short time, DC connected so many people, more than I have, and probably more than I will.

For me, I know because of him I met dozens of people. I had nights I will never forget. And while, I still get sad sometimes wishing he were here, I know he is around in his own way—like when I hear “Mr. Jones” on the radio or in the grocery; I know he’s there with me.

I know I’m not the only one feeling this way lately, as he had a thousand friends (literally), and if it’s just a bit of comfort, know that we are in the presence of great company.

Believe in me, help me believe in anything, I want to be someone who believes.

—Mr. Jones, Counting Crows 

Pic of the Week.

My bargain beauty finds.

My bargain beauty finds.

Pictures like this could probably be my “Pic of the Week” nearly every seven days. I absolutely love (LOVE) bargain shopping, but I particularly love hunting for beauty products at stores like Dollar Tree and Big Lots.

Part of this is out of necessity. I just cannot afford, or justify, spending $20-$50 on a single beauty product. I won’t even spend more than a few dollars on nail polish.

Some of the fun in my beauty bargain adventures is, of course, saving massive amounts of money, while still looking just as pretty as the girls slapping down major credit cards. But the other part of my high is that because the products are so cheap, I’m more likely to try different things.

Neon green nail art pen? Yep, $1.

In the picture, you’ll see my latest grab bag, with products all from Dollar Tree. I got fake nails (with glitter cheetah print on them), nail glue, three bottles of polish, a base coat, a top coat, and various nail glitter (which I have already used).

I switch up my nail color (and have recently been adding nail art and 3D elements) at least once a week, sometimes twice, so arguing with me about the lifetime of my cheap polish isn’t necessary.

When I get products from Big Lots, chances are, the brands are still decent, such as Cover Girl, Revlon, and Neutrogena. The Dollar Tree brands might be sub-par, but when it comes to glitter and eye shadow, I’m not concerned about it.

Take into consideration, my curious cat, who just a few weeks ago, knocked one of my eyeshadow palettes (I love these) off my bathroom counter. At first, I was upset, because I loved the colors, and they were all broken and smudged together, but then I remembered that I got it from Big Lots, and it was only $2.

My friend Ashley joined me on my latest adventure, and we bonded over our bargain finds—I think both of us left the store feeling like we stole something. If you’re someone who only goes for the high-end stuff, I’d dare you to give something less-expensive a chance. I think you’d be surprised to find that the stuff inside is just the same.

Things As They Seem (part II).

[Continued from Part I...]

Suzy and Sam, first picture as a married couple.

Suzy and Sam, first picture as a married couple.

About a week later, Jay and I had plans to attend a birthday outing on a party bus with a group of my friends. As I was getting ready, he sent me a text message saying I had actually already met this girl he’d “gone out with” as she was in my office one day.

Let me think. Not to be a total bitch, but yes, I saw someone in my office who said she knew me because she saw one of my blogging presentations. Cool, I told her. I had no clue what her name was, nor did I recall seeing her in the audience because there was 100 people there and it was a year beforehand, nor did she say, HEY, I’M FUCKING YOUR FRIEND JAY.

But, maybe I’m just an idiot and/or Jay’s girlfriend should get off my status.

Before he (secretly) started seeing someone, he was planning on staying at my apartment that night, instead of driving home, across town. But after I told him I was over the funny shit, he said he wasn’t going to drink much so that he could drive himself home.

Whatever.

We met up to get on the party bus, me wearing my awesome sequined shorts (get the scoop here), and we make it through one bar before Jay starts giving me the talk about how much he “loves” me and always wants me in his life in some form or fashion.

Then, he kissed me. And again. And a lot. This was on January 18, but whose keeping track, anyway? Girlfriend who? What? I don’t know.

We get to the 4th bar on the party bus, Lock and Key, where he was apparently with his secret girlfriend the night before. There, he tells me how great and awesome I am.

“You keep saying I’m awesome,” I said. “But not awesome enough for YOU.”

I got on the bus, and that was that. We ended up at my favorite guilty pleasure, The Cadillac, where I made a fool of myself attempting to do the Cupid Shuffle.

We stumbled off the bus near my apartment, and he came upstairs to sleep over.

When I awoke the next morning to go to brunch, there he was, under the covers, his shoulders bare. I was still completely dressed.

I woke him up, recapped the night, we laughed, he still failed to mention any girlfriend, and so I kissed him goodbye and headed to brunch.

Maybe he really wasn’t dating anyone, I thought.

I told a fellow blogger at brunch about the situation. She told me it was shady and that I needed to stand my ground. Hmm…

During the next few weeks, I started seeing photos of him and girlfriend (or at least I assumed) on Facebook, but whenever I would ask him what he was up to, he would cooly not mention girlfriend.

I decided to just lay low. Our friendship was doomed. But despite being upset, I had already agreed that I would be a guest on Jay’s video podcast to talk about Valentine’s Day survival tips for singletons.

So, I put on my happy face, chugged a glass of wine, and the show started recording. During the live show, Jay’s cohost mentioned Jay’s girlfriend and how much sex they were going to have on February 14.

Smile. Smile. Smile, I told myself. My teeth clenched. Before the show started, he had told me not to mention us hooking up.

I kept quiet and kept my cool, but girlfriend was angry—or that is what I gathered from the amount of text messages blowing up Jay’s phone. I could also see the texts popping up on the iPad screen from which we were recording.

After lots and lots of typing on Jay’s part, I saw it:

“Baby, you’re fine. I love you.”

They were already saying “I love you”? We had messed around just a few weeks prior. I am no mathematician, but that usually doesn’t happen in two weeks.

I hadn’t been placed in any type of friend zone. I had been played like a fucking fool. My mind took me back to that night downtown, when he cheated on his last girlfriend.

I finished my wine and said I needed to leave, dialing my friend’s number as soon as his front door shut.

I needed answers, so I went to a mutual friend and asked him for the scoop. We compared calendars, and his jaw dropped when I pointed to the dates we’d been together. He confirmed there was overlap. I knew I shouldn’t have been surprised, but I was.

This was someone I thought was my friend.

I waited weeks to say anything to Jay, because I knew what would happen when I did. He would try to save face, say that everything I was upset over was untrue, and that I was simply jealous of  girlfriend.

That’s exactly what happened, only Jay added insult to injury when he said, “I’m sorry you disagree.”

Well, you know what? I’m sorry that I don’t accept backhanded apologies. I’m sorry that I deserve friends who don’t lie to me. I am sorry that you should have done the correct thing, and introduced me to your girlfriend, because that is what people do when they fall in love.

I’m sorry that you feel like you need two chicks at once. I’m sorry you took advantage of me. I’m sorry that I fell for you. And I’m sorry that I’m not sorry for not giving a bucket of fucks any longer.

My heart is on the mend, but I’m glad that this isn’t an issue I have to deal with any longer. Sometimes, things really are what they seem. The thing is, we often don’t want to admit what’s true, especially if that means a friend is actually okay with hurting your heart.

I admit we knew we’d get in trouble. That part’s true. We knew people would be worried, and we still ran away, anyway. But something also happened, which we didn’t do on purpose. When we first met each other, something happened to us.

—Sam, Moonrise Kingdom

Collaboration With Dig Magazine!

Designed by Melissa Renee Rushing.

Designed by Melissa Renee Rushing.

I am so, so happy to finally (I’ve kept quiet for a week) announce my collaboration with Dig Magazine, Baton Rouge’s alt-weekly.

While I have written articles for Dig before, my new project is dear to my heart, as I’ll be writing a fresh column each week, based on my adventures in dating—very similar to what I share with you here.

Even though this blog has been around since 2010, I am honored that my favorite city publication is printing my opinions, and sharing my blog with everyone in its (30,000) circulation.

So, if you’re new here because you saw the column (also called The Bitter Lemon)—which debuted today—in Dig Magazine, a big, fat, HOWDY! I am thrilled beyond belief to share my world with you, even though it’s not always pretty.

I hope you’ll join me on another journey of mine, with Dig. Comment, Tweet me, let’s chat! I’d love to hear from you.

You can find the column in the pages of Dig (find an issue here), or you can read it online, too (right here).

I also want to mention that my friend, and f*cking awesome poet, Leslie D. Rose, is the one who took my headshot for the column. If you ever need photographs taken, give her a shout!

Thank you, once again, for reading my words. I look forward to writing for Y’ALL—new and old.

Celeb Crush: Phillip Phillips.

To be honest, I didn’t give a flying flip about Phillip Phillips before I saw him live as John Mayer’s opening act for the Born and Raised tour (which I saw three times).

Before I saw him the first time in July, my mom was the one swooning,”Aw, I wish I was going to the concert!” she told me. “If you see Phillip Phillips, tell him I voted for him on American Idol!”

Well, I didn’t get the chance to tell him. Instead, I got drunk and had way too much fun dancing to his Dave-Matthews-esque voice sing, “Get Up, Get Down.”

For Christmas, my mom and I bought each other his album, The World From the Side of the Moon, and it’s pretty much on repeat in my Jeep. I’m obsessed.

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Phillip Phillips: stupid name, sexy look.

As with most of my musician crushes, this is not one based on looks alone. Let’s face facts, Mr. Phillips looks kind of like a dork, and his name is pretty stupid.

When my friend Kelly and I saw Mayer and Phillips in New Orleans in January, we got to talking about his peculiar name.

“Do you think that’s really his name?” she asked me.

I said what I say in every time of uncertainty.

“Let’s Google it.”

We were instantly educated—yep, that’s his real name, and actually, he’s a “Jr.,” so there’s more than one dude with that name running around.

So, his name is uncool, and the fact that his last name is the same as mine might mean we are related on some level, which is scary, but let’s not go there.

Phillip is from Georgia, which means he’s got a sexy southern accent. What’s even hotter? He’s like 23 years old, and is already beating me in the success bracket—drool worthy in my book.

So, there you have it. Another celeb crush for the books. And just to bring it on home, I took a video of him singing Michael Jackson’s, “Thriller,” at The New Orleans Area. Enjoy!

“Tell me a story long and true, We aren’t what we say, We are what we do, Just pieces of a puzzle to find where we stand just confused, So you are the moon that pulls me through the night.”—Phillip Phillips, Tell Me A Story 

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