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BBC: ‘The Island’.

Hey there! I feel like I haven’t blogged in forever – I’ve been in a bit of a creative slump and I’ve been so busy with work that I have barely been reading. It’s just all-around lame!

But, yesterday I finished reading a book, so let’s jump right in! Today, I’m talking about “The Island” by Elin Hilderbrand. Here is the official description from Amazon:

A summertime story only Elin Hilderbrand can tell: a family in upheaval after a cancelled wedding fill an island summer with heartache, laughter, and surprises.

Birdie Cousins has thrown herself into the details of her daughter Chess’s lavish wedding, from the floating dance floor in her Connecticut back yard to the color of the cocktail napkins. Like any mother of a bride-to-be, she is weathering the storms of excitement and chaos, tears and joy. But Birdie, a woman who prides herself on preparing for every possibility, could never have predicted the late-night phone call from Chess, abruptly announcing that she’s cancelled her engagement.

It’s only the first hint of what will be a summer of upheavals and revelations. Before the dust has even begun to settle, far worse news arrives, sending Chess into a tailspin of despair. Reluctantly taking a break from the first new romance she’s embarked on since the recent end of her 30-year marriage, Birdie circles the wagons and enlists the help of her younger daughter Tate and her own sister India. Soon all four are headed for beautiful, rustic Tuckernuck Island, off the coast of Nantucket, where their family has summered for generations. No phones, no television, no grocery store – a place without distractions where they can escape their troubles.

But throw sisters, daughters, ex-lovers, and long-kept secrets onto a remote island, and what might sound like a peaceful getaway becomes much more. Before summer has ended, dramatic truths are uncovered, old loves are rekindled, and new loves make themselves known.

This is the second book by Elin Hilderbrand I’ve read. I really enjoyed her book, “The Identicals” last August (almost exactly a year ago to-the-day) as Hurricane Harvey was pounding against Texas (read my full review of the book here). I hadn’t heard of Hilderbrand prior, but looked her up and happily discovered she’s written TONS of books!

I randomly selected “The Island” to be my next book from her, and then I wondered if I mistakenly picked a book from one of her mini series’. Thankfully, no, but if you’re looking for a summer trilogy, she’s got one (she also has a winter series) and this awesome website lists the order in which you should read them.

Okay, so let me get into “The Island”! I really liked the premise of this book, and I loved picturing the old house bringing a family back together. I will always admit that books with several characters (especially complex ones) are sometimes a struggle for me – and at times I found myself getting these characters mixed up. Their names were a bit TOO unique for me.

But, about halfway through I was finally getting everyone straight and it was fine. This was generally a smooth read and it had just the right amount of romance, beach life imagery, and a touch of sadness. A good read!

Perfect happiness existed, but perhaps only in small increments.

– The Island

I’m recommending this book to anyone interested in family drama, particularly sisters. And also to anyone looking for a summer read, especially if you like the New England/Nantucket type of beach life.

The next book Blanche’s Book Club will be reading is “Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear” by Elizabeth Gilbert.

Also, just an FYI, if you’re an Amazon Kindle user, you can get up to 80% off top-rated Kindle books this month! The deal ends on August 31, but there’s some goodies for just $1.99!

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2018 Goals: Checking in.

We’re already a week into August, and I have been thinking a lot about the goals I set for myself this year. It’s time to check-in and see what I’ve done and what I’ve got left to do, because I refuse to let another year pass without doing these things!

Raise the standard (In progress)

I wanted to generally raise the standard I hold for my LIFE. I want to do quality things, spend my time wisely, and have quality people in my life, even if that means not very many. And so far, I think I’m getting there. I’ve learned that by cutting less-quality things and people out of my life, I have more time for myself, and more time with the people who support and love me.

Get more involved in ZTA (In progress)

I was really lucky to be involved in a sorority in college, and although I made my mistakes (and there were downsides to it), I think that giving my time and my mind to these ladies could really be a great experience. In April, I took over the position of Judicial Advisor for the ZTA Theta Psi chapter, and am really looking forward to school starting in the fall so I can start attending meetings and getting more involved.

Don’t wait for tomorrow (CHECK!)

Since my dad passed away in February, I have taken this (my friend calls it my “YOLO mentality) to the next level. There are times I’ve felt completely reckless, but we are never promised tomorrow, so whatever it is, I’m doing it today!

Attend an estate sale (Needs Help)

I still haven’t done this, and I don’t even know how to find out about estate sales near me! Help! Do I Google? Pick up the newspaper? What are some tips once I attend? I need all the assistance…

Write, just to write (CHECK!)

Earlier this year, I went to a writer’s retreat for the first time. I have also been journaling almost every day, and it’s really helped me, mentally, and it’s helped me organize my thoughts so I can produce better blog content (it’s a win-win)!

Treat yoself (CHECK!)

This was less of an excuse to spend money and more of an excuse to use things I already have instead of saving them for “something special”. Case-in-point: my Jaclyn Hill eyeshadow palette. I bought it thinking I would use it for a dance showcase, but why just that? I pull it out on random weekdays and wear it to work, because I’m alive, and that’s a gift. I also finally wore a chambray jumpsuit that’s been in my closet for an entire year, never worn. This has been a fun one!

Take a road trip to Marfa, Texas (CHECK!)

I went to Marfa in June, and although the trip took an unexpected turn, I got to see what all the hype was about, and I finally got to pull off on the side of the road and SEE Prada Marfa. Not to mention loads of tumbleweeds! Read all about that trip.

Pay off two more credit cards (In progress)

I have already paid off one card, and I’m really close to paying off a second! It feels so great to finally have a little more financial freedom – in fact, life feels a lot different by making even one or two less payments each month. Suck it, interest rates!

Less time on social media + less social comparison (In progress)

If you follow me on Instagram or Twitter (both @Orangejulius7), you probably know that I spend a decent chunk of my time using the stuff. But in my defense, it’s what I do by trade, and I enjoy using social media! So, while I haven’t done a stellar job cutting back on time spent on social media, I HAVE cut back on comparing my life to others. I know that we are all on our own path, and everyone’s life looks different – and it may not be actually what we see on social media.

Meditate + show up for yourself (In progress)

I started using the Calm app to guide daily meditations, and although I haven’t meditated every day, I’ve done much more than I expected to! I have also started doing more yoga, and really try to use that time to focus on breathing and spending that hour for myself and my mind.

Don’t try and please everyone – it’s going to be okay (CHECK!)

This is a big one for me, and it gets easier and easier every day. I know that my personality isn’t for everyone, and I truly believe I’ve stood up for myself more this year than I ever have. I’ve learned just how much I can do on my own, and how much I can accomplish, and I can do it in my own way. This will be a forever practice, but I think I’ve nailed it thus far.

What goals did you set for yourself this year? Have you accomplished them yet? What do you need to do in order to cross those goals off your list? We’ve only got a little more than 4 months until the end of the year – how will that list shape up?

BBC: ‘How to Party With an Infant’.

Happy Sunday! I took off Friday and Monday from work because… I needed to get my life together. I have been so busy with work (work, work, work, work) that I was feeling really scatter-brained, exhausted, and even little, daily tasks were starting to pile up.

So, I spent Friday running errands – getting my laundry done, getting groceries, going to yoga, I met a friend for coffee, and treated myself to lunch at a new restaurant, and I went to bed early after cleaning my living room.

On Saturday, I did a few hours of writing work and client calls before I cleaned out what I’ve come to call, “The craft closet”. There’s this hallway from my kitchen to my bathroom that has a small coat closet and a bigger “closet” where a washer and dryer would go. I don’t have either of those, so I have been using the closet to house a craft table and all of my supplies.

When I moved to Austin into this apartment that didn’t come with a washer/dryer, I told myself I’d go to a laundromat until I hated doing it. Well, that time has come, my friends. I find myself getting so annoyed that I have to “plan” to do laundry, I hate packing up my car, and I really hate how loud the laundromat is – there’s kids running around, TVs blaring, and a few weeks ago, I almost had a psychotic episode when a grown man was whistling, singing, and performing air guitar at the washer next to me.

I knew the universe was speaking to me when a coworker told me she would sell me her dryer for a small fee. I agreed, and I’m looking for a used washer – but in the meantime, I needed to make space for both!

I made some really great progress yesterday, and I was even able to cook some dinner and finish reading a book (which I’m getting to). I still have plenty of things to do tomorrow – more cleaning and I’m going to post some stuff for sale on Poshmark and eBay. And I’ve got a few boxes of donations to take to Goodwill. There’s something so satisfying about getting rid of stuff, you know?

Okay, let’s get to the latest read from Blanche’s Book Club, because it took me LONG enough to read it! I have been such a zombie lately, that all of my usual “reading” time has been spent laying on my couch mindlessly watching TV.

Today, I’m discussing “How to Party With an Infant” by Kaui Hart Hemmings. Here is the description from Amazon:

“Mommyhood gets hilariously tricky in this novel from the author of The Descendents” (Cosmopolitan). How to Party With an Infant follows a quirky single mom who finds friendship and love in this “smart, funny send-up of modern motherhood, San Francisco-style” (San Francisco Chronicle).

When Mele Bart told her boyfriend Bobby she was pregnant with his child, he stunned her with an announcement of his own: he was engaged to someone else.

Fast forward two years, Mele’s daughter Ellie is a toddler, and Bobby and his fiancée want Ellie to be the flower girl at their wedding. Mele, who also has agreed to attend the nuptials, knows she can’t continue obsessing about Bobby and his cheese making, Napa-residing, fiancée. She needs something to do. So she answers a questionnaire provided by the San Francisco Mommy Club in elaborate and shocking detail and decides to enter their cookbook writing contest. Even though she joined the group out of desperation, Mele has found her people: Annie, Barrett, Georgia, and Henry (a stay-at-home dad). As the wedding date approaches, Mele uses her friends’ stories to inspire recipes and find comfort, both.

I was pretty excited to jump into this book, but I’m going to be honest, it was much different than I pictured. I thought it was going to be funny and more about cooking and life in San Fran – but it was really not about that at all. It was more of a “mom’s book” and I just can’t relate to that. At all.

So, if that sounds up your alley, go for it! But this was just not my cup of tea.

The next book Blanche’s Book Club will be reading is “The Island” by Elin Hilderbrand.

I hope you all enjoy the rest of your weekend!

Makeup: Laura Geller Beauty.

Favorites from Laura Geller Beauty.

Hello there! I came across a few deals on Laura Geller beauty products that I thought would be worthy of sharing here, and then I realized, hey, I have enough of her products to do a complete face, everyday makeup tutorial! So, head over to my Instagram @OrangeJulius7 and take a look at my stories today for some tips, tricks, and see how I use her products.

All of the products I’m currently using will be listed below, along with some deals happening this month.

But before I dive in, I should tell you about how I stumbled upon Laura Geller’s iconic products. It all started with my love for QVC. I used to love watching QVC no matter what they were selling – it’s no drama, nothing crazy, and I especially enjoyed watching it during the holiday season.

This is when I saw Laura Geller for the first time, and she demonstrated several of her baked beauty products on the models. It looked so nice! While I didn’t buy any products right away, I started seeing sampler kits at Ulta. I got one for Christmas a few years ago and have been hooked ever since. Some of her products are my all-time favorites (talking about you, Fifty Kisses Liquid Lipstick)!

Here are the products I’ll be showing in the Instagram tutorial:

Spackle Under Make-up Primer

This is the original formula – I’ve tried the moisturizing version, along with the tinted (champagne), and what I like about all of them is how light and blendable they are. Here is the product description from the Laura Geller website:

Revive your skin with my best-selling Spackle® Under Make-Up Primer, which retexturizes the surface of your skin to achieve a flawlessly smooth finish. Spackle® is made with natural plant extracts and the powerful anti-oxidants, White Tea and Centella Asiatica Extracts. These ingredients protect the skin along with Aloe Vera Gel. Spackle® also helps the skin retain moisture, feel softer and look smoother. It is lush, incredibly lightweight and suitable for all skin types.

Baked Balance-n-Brighten Foundation (fair)

If you’re a fan of powder foundations, this one’s for you. I love that it’s FULL coverage, no questions asked. It also features a swirly mix of different colors, which gives the skin a more dynamic look. I used the shade “fair”, which is almost the lightest one. Here’s the official product description from Ulta:

A revolutionary baked foundation with multiple color infusions to color-correct your skin and give you a glowing, flawless-looking complexion. Mineral oil and paraben-free formulation also contains powerful anti-aging and anti-oxidant protection of centella Asiatica and white tea extracts. Features a matte finish.

Baked Body Frosting All Over Face & Body Glow (Tahitian Glow)

I got this as part of a sampler kit and it is a true, rich, chocolately brown color, but it’s got those signature swirls of color in it, too, so it has a really nice shine to it. I use the shade “Tahitian Glow” but I think that’s the only shade available. It’s a great bronzer to use on your face, but also neck and chest when your outfit allows it. Here’s the product description from Ulta:

This unique Baked Body Frosting polishes your skin to perfection. This moisturizing body powder adds a little sexy bronzed shimmer to your arms, legs, shoulders, back, decollete, and even to the nape of your neck. Mineral oil and paraben-free formulation also contains powerful anti-aging and anti-oxidant protection of Centella Asiatica and White Tea Extracts.

Filter Finish Setting Powder (universal)

I’m not going to lie, this product isn’t your typical setting powder, as it has quite a bit of iridescence to it. I think it makes a better highlighter, especially under the brow, but I’m going to keep playing with it. The product reviews online are mixed – it may just depend on your skin tone. Here’s the product description from Ulta:

Droplets of pure pigments blur flaws, balance your skin tone and illuminate your face with a warm natural glow. Swirl it on liberally over your makeup – there’s no such thing as too much – for the perfect finish.

Editor’s note: I used this as it’s meant to be used in my tutorial on Instagram this morning and I actually LOVED it. It blurs everything together!

Baked Gelato Vivid Swirl Blush (Rosewater)

Another signature baked item, this blush will last forever – a little goes a long way (which I love) and it’s a powder, but almost creamy. I use the color “Rosewater”, but there are a few color options and the “Cantaloupe” looks gorgeous! Here’s the product description from Laura Geller:

Indulge in creamy swirls of Italian gelato with every application of Baked Gelato Vivid Swirl Blush. The fresh 3-D design captures the look of this decadent frozen treat, and lasts until the very last application! The innovative hybrid texture applies like a powder but feels like a cream, creating translucent, vibrant color for a flirty, natural-looking flush.

Baked Highlighter (French Vanilla)

I bought this at Ulta and it came with a special applicator that I love – it’s like a two-side sponge, great for applying highlighter along the bridge of your nose and at the Cupid’s Bow. This color is subtle, but has the perfect amount of sheen for a highlighter. Here is the product description from Laura Geller:

Mineral oil-free and paraben-free highlighters add a gentle glow to skin, creating youthful luminosity. Part of the Baked Collection, each silky dome starts as a cream baked for 24 hours on a terracotta tile, then hand-finished. Simply illuminating, my Baked Highlighters allows you to create dimension and brighten up your face with a lit-from-within glow!

Fortifying Lashes Eyelash Primer

I got this is in one of my monthly Birchboxes, and I use it every single day. Honestly, I should probably toss it and get a new one, but I’m using every last drop! No matter what mascara you put on top of it, it makes my eyelashes POP! Here’s the product description from Birchbox:

You prep your skin before foundation and apply a base coat before nail polish, so it only makes sense to get your lashes ready for mascara too. A swipe of this primer strengthens and lengthens your fringe and helps prevent clumps. The black tinted formula blends in seamlessly underneath your mascara (read: no white streaks in sight), and even wears great alone on low-maintenance mornings. Lashes look longer, more defined, and dramatic for eyes that do all the talking.

DramaLASH Maximum Volumizing Mascara

This mascara has the biggest brush/wand you’ve ever seen – but it offers a big lash without looking clumpy. I am on my second tube of this stuff, and I’m a fan! Here’s the description from Laura Geller:

Our most extravagant mascara ever! Introducing DramaLASH Maximum Volumizing Mascara, an insanely lush, maximizing formula with a rich, luscious texture that plumps every lash. In a single stroke, this innovative gel-based formula expands and thickens each lash to its fullest—without the flaking and drying of traditional volumizing mascara. The specially designed, decadently soft, oversized XXL brush is designed to catch and coat each lash to completely transform your look. Infused with Spherical Powders to enhance the thickness of each lash and Vitamin B5 to help nourish, this creamy, buildable formula creates the false-lash look for seriously dramatic results!

LashBOSS Major Length, Volume, Curl Mascara

I got this as a sample in one of my Birchboxes, and will be using it for the first time in today’s tutorial! Here’s the product description from Laura Geller:

Take control – lengthen, volumize, and curl your lashes like never before! LashBOSS tells your lashes what to do. Laura Gellers signature, protein-infused Take-Charge Technology and dual-sided bristle brush customizes the intensity of your look without clumping or flaking.

Benefits:

  • Hydrolyzed keratin: Strengthens and moisturizes lash hair.
  • Collagen: Makes lashes appear thicker.
  • Take charge peptides: Creates an instant curling effect.

Color Luster Lip Gloss

This is some of the BEST gloss I’ve tried – it adds a nice amount of color and is truly glossy, not sticky! I use “Sugar Cane” nearly every day – it’s a great nude shade, but I also have “Peach Sorbet”, which is great for spring and summer. Here’s the product description from Laura Geller:

Give your lips something to smile about! This moisturizing, high-shine lip gloss leaves lips drenched in light-to-medium coverage with soft, yet brilliant, shine—ideal for everyday wear! The lightweight formula is infused with antioxidant Italian Tomato Extract to protect lips and moisturizing Kendi Oil to condition, leaving lips soft and supple.

Fifty Kisses Lip Locking Liquid Color (Beige Bite)

I saved the best for last – I love, LOVE this liquid lipstick. It has a fantastic matte finish without being drying, and they are NOT lying when they say it stays on! It’s fantastic! I use shade “Beige Bite” regularly, but all of the colors look great – I want to try “Ravishing Rose”! Here is the description from Laura Geller:

No more air kisses. Our pure pigment formula stays true with soft, satiny color that stays put from morning peck to midnight smooch. The uniquely curved applicator hugs lips for precise application. The built-in well delivers the perfect amount of color with each application.

Current Deals:

Do you use Laura Geller products? If so, what are your favorites? I’d love to hear!

Watching ‘The O.C.’, season 4.

Taylor and Ryan. Photo by FOX.

I finished watching season four of “The O.C.” last week, and since there are only four seasons, it’s overrrrrrrrrr!!! I was slowly savoring the episodes when I started on season three, but season four was just… weird.

But, let me offer up the official description from Amazon before I go any further:

High school is over. Time to move on. But events conspire to reunite Ryan, Seth and Summer in posh, seaside Newport. And there may even be a new Core Four. Because after Taylor Townsend says a quick if not passionate au revoir to her education in France, she just might pursue Ryan until he catches her. Time, too, for the series to move on with these 16 Final Episodes. Seth marries Summer? (Maybe.) Ryan goes through life like it’s a steel-cage brawl? (Sometimes.) Kaitlin tries to hook up her mom Julie with a billionaire? (Well, the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.) But things happen, sometimes quite unexpectedly. Time to hit the beach for all the surprising events of a cool, compelling and revealing conclusion of The O.C.

Okay, so if you read my review from season three, maybe you guessed that I didn’t realize Marissa DIED. Obviously, I accidentally found out (thanks, Google) that she was going to die, but I didn’t think they’d kill her off with an entire season left!

So, when season four began and everyone was sad and grieving and Ryan was living in the back of a bar participating in cage fights, I was REAL confused.

Also, I know I’ve got a great group of readers here because no one told me that CHRIS BROWN would make a cameo appearance this season – this was perhaps the best thing about season four.

I mean, I wasn’t a huge fan of Marissa, but without her, it just seemed wrong. I couldn’t get into Ryan dating Taylor, and the scenes of them together just weren’t right.

From the reviews I’ve read, it seemed like lots of people stopped watching during season three, and the ratings plummeted for season four.

I am glad that Seth and Summer ended up together, and that everyone survived all of the earthquakes (random plot twist) and the new baby’s arrival.

So, that’s pretty much that! I’m really glad I decided to watch this show – and if I would have watched it in high school, I’m not sure I would have enjoyed it quite as much.

The question now is – what should I watch next? I’m thinking “Glee” – I have never seen it (I’m hanging my head in embarrassment right now). But what other shows are oldies but goodies? I also have “The West Wing” on DVD that I have yet to watch.

Let me know your favorite old TV series in the comments!

Summer Meltdown… to realness.

Pulled out the chambray jumpsuit.

Last night was yet another showcase for my Dance Austin Studio family. This was the Summer Meltdown, Take 2, which was a music video series. It was, of course, different from other showcases Dance Austin has hosted in the past – it was a four-week series followed by a video shoot, instead of a live performance.

The kicker was that no one (except maybe the choreographers) had seen the videos before last night’s premier – I think all of us dancers were a little anxious to see how all of our hard work turned out.

Naturally, all of the videos were awesome! Each of them had a funny twist, and it was cool to see the different personalities come out in each video.

I know that after each dance showcase I perform in, I write up all the feels from the day in what’s become my traditional showcase wrap-up. But, there wasn’t quite that same batch of feelings after last night.

Yes, it was really weird to show up at The North Door and not have to race to the “backstage” area and get ready for tech rehearsal, or find a spot with decent lighting to put on all of my show makeup. Instead, it was a little more leisurely, and there was a black carpet with a step and repeat #fancy

But I’d be lying if I told you I didn’t have enough emotions swirling around in my mind not to write some sort of something about the state of my life lately.

The truth is that, as I’ve alluded to some in recent weeks, I am struggling pretty hard in the mental health department. I’m chalking it up to grief, and although I’m still not entirely ready to put all of my chips on the table, I’ll offer up what I can thus far.

I’ve experienced loss several times in my life. I lost family members when I was a kid, and when I was in high school, it felt like I went to way too many funerals – those of my peers. It was surreal, and I started to form very small bits of dealing with grief and even just the taste of how short life can be.

In college, though, I suffered a loss that I still cannot talk about without tearing up. He was also my peer, the first person I met when I went to college orientation, we were each other’s dates to Greek functions… I felt a closeness to him unlike any other.

And he was killed while crossing the street.

A good friend told me the news as I was driving, and I pulled off the road to compose myself. I called my dad, and he talked me through it.

Several years later, I had natal reading where a professional looked over the stars during the time of my birth and during the years of my life.

“How does death fit in to your life?” she asked me.

I explained to her that I’d suffered several losses; one particularly difficult. We talked about the photo I have of him and I – framed on my desk at home with a candle beside it. She told me he was my soul mate, and it was likely that we’d met in a previous life, and that he was protecting me from the other side. I could keep his energy alive by lighting the candle and honoring his memory.

But little did I know that even a loss as tough as that one seems like a drop in the bucket compared to losing my dad.

I’ve talked enough on this blog about the relationship my dad and I had to get me in a shit-ton of trouble with most of my family. And even though my dad isn’t around to reprimand me or control the ship, I’ve kept quiet on the home front.

There’s something unsettling about all of it.

As horrible as it sounds, I felt some sort of relief in that my every day, physical life wouldn’t change after my dad died. After all, I hadn’t talked to him in years. We didn’t exchange texts, or cards, nothing.

But it’s been almost six months since his death, and I can tell you that I don’t even remember what it’s like to go a single day without crying; or thinking about it; or feeling guilty.

There have been times I’ve wondered why he had to be the one to go instead of someone else – and then I feel horrible because I know that no one deserves to go through what he did.

So many people have said to me, “Your dad must have been so proud of you.”

And while that’s an incredibly nice thing to say, I don’t know how true it is. My dad was TOUGH. He was quick to tell me all of the things I did wrong, and I can’t recall him ever saying he was proud of me.

At the beginning of this month, I felt so alone, so in the dark about how I was really supposed to get back to how things were – even just inside myself. I feel like I can’t pull myself out of this funk. I realized that my normal cures for bad days weren’t working.

Because this isn’t just a bad day. This isn’t a breakup. This isn’t a fight with a friend.

This is grappling with a major loss. It’s contemplating the meaning of life. Religion. Family.

It’s the realization that hindsight is a cruel bitch.

On the other side of this darkness, though, I’m also experiencing incredible success in my career. Not necessarily in my day job, but in my work as a blogger, editor, and digital strategist. I’ve had work literally fall into my lap almost every single day. I lived in Louisiana for 12 years and barely felt like I’d made a name for myself; been in Texas for less than three and I feel like so many people have reached out for my writing expertise, and I cannot explain how much that means to me. The fruits of my recent labor are allowing me to do things I’ve never thought I could do.

Part of me wonders if my dad is helping me from the other side – but then I feel guilty for even thinking that way. It’s a confusing place to be.

I decided to seek help from a professional (which is a chore in itself). So, I got a referral, and my mom helped me find a few options… and now it’s up to me to make the appointment. I’ve done therapy a few times before (for years), but this time, I’m considering medication.

But with medication comes all sorts of questions and worries. What will it be like? Will it change my personality? Will it make me less creative?

I’m still thinking on it.

In the meantime, I decided to focus on what I was putting into my body and how I was treating it. So, I stopped drinking entirely and am focusing on a plant-based diet. The no-drinking thing is a little more of a chore than I anticipated – I’ve been drinking lots of organic lemonade after realizing that non-alcoholic wine was not really a thing I’m going to do (ha!).

I’m doing more yoga (even if it makes me cry) and trying to get better sleep at night. And I’m still dancing.

Which brings me back to last night’s video premier. Our video shoot was 3.5 hours – beginning at 6:30 am, outside, in the Texas summer sun. And the resulting video was less than three minutes.

It was clever, and looked great, and it was funny to watch. But I couldn’t help but notice that we sure did put allllll of that time into just a few minutes – a highlight reel.

I’m sure you know where I’m going with this. But it’s a lot like life – you spend your whole life living it, no matter how long or short of a time you’ve got – and perhaps it takes you the entirety to realize one thing, or do that ONE thing.

And it all boils down to that highlight reel.

The same could be said for relationships or weddings or vacations. It’s those few moments that stand out.

Last night, one of my fellow dancers said, “You’ve been doing some road-tripping, right?”

I nodded, and explained to her that ever since my dad died, I am going for it, and I’m doing it without much of a second thought. I’m going to the places I’ve never been, eating new foods, facing my fears, and I’m doing it whether anyone is coming along or not.

I’ve already got two more trips planned this year, and I’m eyeing another one.

I don’t know what you dream of when your mind starts to wander, whether it’s dancing on a stage or being in a music video; maybe it’s seeing a Broadway play or getting published in a magazine.

Whatever it is – DO THAT.

At the end of our time here, you’re going to want certain things in that reel, and the time to accomplish them is now.

If I’ve learned anything about myself in the past six months, it’s that we are often our own blockade. So toss the fears aside. Just go for it.

To my dance family, thank you for providing such a supportive environment for me to even think these things. Some days, I struggle to show up to class. Other days, it’s all I want to do. But you’re there, and I hope I can return that favor to you whenever you need it.

END SCENE.

BBC: ‘Amy, My Daughter’.

Happy Saturday! I am so, so happy it’s the weekend (I hate being that person) – this week was so crazy at work and, even though I have lots of things on my to-do list this weekend, I’m happy just to be out of the office.

I actually read the latest pick from Blanche’s Book Club in one sitting last Sunday, but it’s taken me all week to gather my thoughts on it for you. So let’s get into it! Today, I’m talking about, “Amy, My Daughter” by Mitch Winehouse. Here is the description from Amazon:

The intimate, inside story of the ultimately tragic life of multiple Grammy Award-winning singer and songwriter Amy Winehouse (“Rehab,” “Back to Black”)  is told by the one person most able to tell it—Amy’s closest advisor, her inspiration, and best friend: her father, Mitch. Amy, My Daughter includes exclusive, never-before-seen photos and paints an open and honest portrait of one of the greatest musical talents of our time.

Before I get into the heart of the book, I want to say that it took me a really long time to read it. Amy Winehouse’s album “Back to Black” changed my life – sounds super cheesy, but I loved that album (still do).

I listened to it on repeat, and when she got her first “Rolling Stone” cover, I was quick to buy it and read the feature. But it was then I realized all of the drug references in her album were…actually true. And I cried. I remember calling my mom and saying that Amy Winehouse was going to die and why was she living like that?

But still, I loved her and her music, and I framed that cover and hung it in my apartment. Today, it’s hanging in my kitchen. When I learned about Amy’s death, I was heartbroken. I can’t say I was surprised, but I felt she was gone way too soon.

Since then, however, I’ve lived a little more. I’ve dated an addict. And I’ve seen just how bad things can get. I know what it’s like to be with someone that’s possibly the worst person in the world for you. I know what it’s like to hang around a bad crowd. And I know what it’s like to not give a shit about yourself to the point of danger.

When I finally picked this book up from the library and posted about it on social media – I got messages immediately. I was quickly reminded just how controversial Amy was/is and how many questions still surround her short life, and the way she died.

I’ll admit that I didn’t read much press about Amy, even when she was alive. I knew about her husband, Blake, and I knew she was battling addiction and was very close to being thrown in jail. I saw clips of her drunken performances. But, that’s about it.

I still haven’t watched the documentary, and I didn’t know much about her family before reading this book. What I did know, though, is that you cannot force an addict to get help. An addict has to want to get the help for themselves.

I also knew that myself, nor any of the people spouting off opinions, have ever been famous to the point that Amy Winehouse was. Photographers basically lived in her yard, waiting for her to step outside. None of us know what that’s like.

Her music came from a place of pain. In a way, that’s why it was so good. But it was also a part of her downfall.

So, let’s get into the book.

For starters, it’s written by Amy’s dad, Mitch – an important consideration when he talks about his opinion of Amy’s music, and her hair and makeup (heh). He basically is telling Amy’s life story, but most of it does focus on the years when she was in the spotlight while battling addiction. Here are some of the lines I made note of:

  • It was precisely because her songs were dragged up out of her soul that they were so powerful and passionate. The ones that went into Back to Black were about the deepest of emotions. And she went through hell to make it.
  • While the album’s success altered Amy’s career in every way imaginable, it came with a high price tag. The nature of the songs made it hard for her to feel as excited as you might expect about the album’s reception and success. Whereas people might walk along the street humming “Love is a Losing Game”, to Amy it was like a knife in her heart, a reminder of the worst of times.
  • I didn’t think Amy would die, but I just couldn’t see a way out of this. You don’t become an expert in anything overnight, and I was still learning how best to deal with an addict.
  • Perhaps the most difficult thing about loving and helping an addict, which most people who haven’t been through it don’t understand, is this: every day the cycle continues is your new worst day. When looked at from the outside it seems endless, the same thing over and over again, but when you’re living it, it’s like being a hamster on a wheel.

I want to touch on that last point. Amy went to rehab more than a dozen times. Honestly, reading about all of her incidents in the book became a bit exhausting. Each page was starting to sound the same – in the morning she’d say she wanted to get clean, and by lunch there were drug dealers bringing her crack and by nightfall, she was high. The next day, the same thing.

Even with a nurse by her side, waiting for the 12-hour sobriety mark so she could start a proper detox, Amy could not stay sober. She often had drugs brought to her in rehab – stuffed inside teddy bears or hidden in flower bouquets.

As much as I loved her, she lived probably longer than a similar addict would have. Her family did everything they could to help her – kicking people out of her house, supporting her music, hiring guards to keep drug dealers out of rehab, etc.

I cried while reading this book, as it truly is just a tragic story. A talent gone too soon. Some of the most beautiful things come from the darkest of places – but there is often a price to pay, and she suffered the ultimate one.

My heart breaks for her family, particularly her dad, but I know there are fans across the world that will never forget the gift she left all of us, and the path she created for a new kind of woman in music.

I wish I could say no regrets
And no emotional debts
Cause as we kiss goodbye the sun sets
So we are history
The shadow covers me
The sky above ablaze that only lovers see

-Amy Winehouse, “Tears Dry On Their Own”

I’m recommending this book to Amy Winehouse fans – especially those that were not jaded from the (apparently) subjective view of the documentary.

The next book Blanche’s Book Club will be reading is “How to Party With an Infant” by Kaui Hart Hemmings.

Review: FitFabFun Editor’s Box Summer 2018

FitFabFun Editor’s Box!

Hey there! I have been polling my followers on Instagram – I want to offer the content you guys want to see – and the results are in: more beauty content. I was getting ready for work one day and realized that although I’m a beauty junkie, I don’t really talk much about the products I’ve tried on this blog. So, that ends now – I promise not to overload you though.

A few weeks ago, my best friend sent me my first FitFabFun Box! I was so, so excited to see all of the goodies inside, and try them all. Well… I’ve officially tried everything in the box (I am even out of some of the items), so I can offer a full-review now. Here’s what was in my box (it was the Editor’s Box for Summer 2018) and what I thought:

MakeupDrop Silicone Beauty Blender in Winter Glitz

I haven’t tried any of the silicone makeup applicators, so this was exciting to see. I have used makeup brushes for most of my daily application, and then I tried different “Beauty Blender”-type sponges. Honestly, after everything I’ve tried, nothing beats the cheap $2 bag of cosmetic wedges – but that’s just me.

I tried this applicator, and although I wanted to love it (I love the glitter inside it), it wasn’t for me. I use setting spray on my sponges to apply my makeup and this didn’t really allow for that. I also felt like it wasn’t blending my makeup – just sort of smearing it around. However, I didn’t toss it – I’m going to see if it would work for anything else, perhaps applying a mask instead?

On the MakeupDrop website, it shows ways to apply eye shadow with it. It is very easy to clean, and it uses less product, so that’s cool. You can get the original MakeupDrop applicator on Amazon for $18.

Trina Turk Turkish Towel

This 100% cotton towel looks more like a light blanket, which I love. It has a blue diamond pattern with white fringe on the end, and would be cute as a wrap and/or a swimsuit cover-up. I immediately put it on my patio and have been sitting on it while I read books (and babysit Blanche). I love it and can’t wait to take it to the beach with me in September!

This exact towel is $78 but I found a very similar one on Amazon for $16.

TULA Dual-Phase Skin Reviving Pads (5-pack)

I always see lots of beauty and fashion bloggers using Tula products, so I was excited to try these… and I kid you not, I woke up the next morning and was stunned at how different my skin looked! Here’s the full description of what these pads do:

 

  • INSTANT FACIAL: These pads provide both chemical and physical exfoliation without any of the down time, giving you baby soft, smooth and brighter looking skin in just 2 minutes.
  • EASY TO USE: Easy to use applicator makes this fool-proof and individually wrapped pads make this an ideal item to take with you wherever you go.
  • IDEAL FOR all skin types and ages, perfect for those with dull, rough, uneven complexions.
  • TULA & PROBIOTICS: TULA is the leader in probiotic skincare. We combine powerful probiotics and skin superfoods for healthy, balanced and glowing skin. All our products are clean, clinically proven, and effective.

It looks like a regular toner pad (like the Clearasil pads we all used in high school), that you slip your finger in and just use both sides, rinse off, and voila! I have used 3 of these already and after the first one, I searched online to see where I could buy them.

These are $59 for a 16-pack – it says to use them 1-2 times per week, so that would last a few months, which isn’t bad, especially for the awesome results. QVC also sells them, and often has sampler packs with some of their other products (which I would love) – keep your eye out for one-day deals and/or the option to make monthly payments.

 

dr. brandt pores no more® LUMINIZER PRIMER

I love trying different primers, and I have used a few of dr. brandt’s other products from my monthly Birchbox. This primer is a light cream color and is pretty sticky – in a good way – you want your makeup to stay! I really do love its light texture and the color. However, it’s not really “luminizing” – which could be could if you prefer more of a matte look. A 1-ounce bottle is normally around $41 – but it’s on Amazon for $19 right now.

pūrlisse BLUE LOTUS Balancing Moisturizer

I have only used this a few times (I’m trying to use up another moisturizer before I jump into another one), but this has a nice texture. Its light (not heavy) and a bit sheer (almost like a gel), so it’s perfect for daily use under makeup. It is supposed to help with anti-aging, but at this point I can’t speak to that aspect of it. It’s normally $55 but Amazon has it on sale for $35 right now!

AHAVA Mineral Hand Cream

I have been using lots of hand-lotion lately – I went through all of the mini bottles of the stuff I’ve collected over the years (mostly stocking stuffers) and put them in my office at work and use them after washing my hands in the restroom, so I happily added this to my desk and it smells SO FREAKING GOOD. It’s not a strong scent, but perfumy, and the lotion itself is not greasy. A little goes a long way – I love it! The 3.4-ounce bottle is $24.

Yumi Kim Makeup Train Case

Ugh, I am such a sucker for cosmetic bags – it’s really embarrassing how many of them I have. This one is so pretty – it’s a periwinkle blue color with cream and pink flowers all over. But, the best part is that it includes a place to hold makeup brushes! I usually just dump everything into one bag and end up digging through it every day while traveling – not now! I haven’t used this one yet (perfect excuse to take a trip), but I am looking forward to using it soon. This one was a partnership with FitFabFun, but if you google “Yumi Kim Makeup Train Case” – it looks like many of them are being sold on Poshmark for $35-40, which is less than the original price (I believe it’s $58).

Spongellé Body Wash Infused Buffer in Papaya Yuzu

I was really amped for this thing and tried it almost immediately. It’s a flower-shaped sponge that has the soap already inside it… and I’ve used it every single day and it’s already all used up! Whoops! But, no worries, I looked up Spongelle, and they have tons of different scents and even options for kids. You can follow them on Instagram @spongellebeyondcleansing and see all of their products. Most of the sponges are around $20 and I think they would make really great gifts; it’s not something I would think to buy for myself, and it felt luxurious to use. I think I will treat myself though – I’ve been eyeing the “Radiant Amber Shimmer” which does say it has a dash of sparkle. Yes!

And there you have it! Do you use FitFabFun? It seems like a really great deal, so I might have to get myself boxes more often – all of the products are full-size, so you really do get your money’s worth!

It’s Taco Tuesday!

Give me all the tacos!

I’ve been trying to eat mostly vegan (if not, vegetarian) for a year and a half now, and I can easily say that vegan or vegetarian tacos are one of my favorite things to make. The awesome thing is, there are so many options out there – delicious ones – and I wanted to round up FIVE of my favorite vegan taco recipes so far.

Here they are, in no particular order:

Vegan Cauliflower Tacos with Garlic Sauce by Vegan Heaven

I made these last night! I admit, I was slow to get on the cauliflower taco train, but it’s so crazy how much it feels like you’re eating meat or seafood. I was able to get most of the ingredients at Aldi (always a win) and I served them with rice and beans and some store-bought mango salsa. Get the recipe here.

Corn & Green Bean Tomatillio Tacos by Love & Lemons

I had these on my “to try” list for so long, and I’m glad I finally did because they are so good! I wasn’t sure what to expect with the green beans, but they are quite yummy. I love tomatillio salso, so it was impossible to go wrong there. The original recipe (find it here) is technically vegetarian since it includes cheese, but I simply excluded it – more on this a little later. I served this up with pinto beans on the side!

Roasted Cauliflower Tacos with Chipotle Romesco by Minimalist Baker

Okay, I love the Minimalist Baker for all of my simple vegan recipe needs – so, I put all of my trust in her, as this was the first cauliflower taco recipe I tried. Now, I have a bit of a confession to make: sometimes I cut corners on recipes. If a recipe calls for something different (that I don’t already have) or something hard to find, I’ll omit it. But I have really been trying not to do that, because sometimes that little thing or ingredient makes all the difference – and that’s the case with this romesco. I thought, how could this tomato sauce made from almonds be all that great? WRONG. It is great, and so worth it (and not hard to make)! These tacos are spicy and yummy, and would be delicious in the fall (or any time, obviously) – here’s the recipe.

Spice Sweet Potato & Grilled Portobello Tacos by Cocoon Cooks

Ok scratch what I said above because I didn’t grill my portobellos in this recipe – I live in an apartment complex/don’t have a grill of my own/I’m too lazy to walk to the pool and use the shared grill, but I sauteed mine – and it was still amazing. These tacos are spicy (which I love) and very filling between the cashews and the sweet potato. I served them with a side of coconut rice (from Chrissy Tiegen’s cookbook, “Cravings”). So good! Get the taco recipe here.

Crunchy Black Bean Tacos by Pretty Plain Janes

This is another vegetarian recipe, but you can easily sub out the cheese for vegan cheese if you want. This recipe was a little out of my comfort zone frying the tortillas, but it’s well-worth it in the end. These tacos taste like they are from a restaurant and I absolutely love the crunch combined with the heat from the jalapenos! I served these with a simple avocado salad (red onion, tomato, avocado, cilantro, with lime juice) Yum! Get the taco recipe here.

Before I wrap this up – I often get questions about vegan cheese. Honestly, I find that cheese is often unnecessary (and I do love cheese), but I have found a few goods brands that I like for certain recipes. For Mexican food, especially burritos and enchiladas, I usually get the Go Veggie brand shredded cheddar. It’s the closest thing to actual cheese, and it’s good when mixed in with other ingredients.

Got any vegan taco recipes I should try? Let me know! I’m always looking for new ones!

BBC: ‘Limelight’.

Another week is upon us, and I’m feeling pretty good about it. I realized that I go into every weekend hoping to relax and get things done around my apartment or for the blog, as most of my weekdays are filled with work and dance classes… but you know what? It’s really hard for me to truly relax.

This has been an issue for me as long as I can remember, but why not just embrace it? I still allow myself to sleep in on the weekends, and the “work” is different – this weekend, I cleaned and posted things on eBay while watching episodes of “The OC” (I’m almost done with season 4). It’s still kind of relaxing, right?

Anyway, I also read a ton this weekend as I’m trying to work through my stack of summer reading. So, let’s get into the latest read from Blanche’s Book Club: “Limelight” by Amy Poeppel.

I follow a few bookstore owners on Instagram, and that’s where I heard about this book. But before I get into what she said (and why I ultimately put it on my list), here is the description from Amazon:

Allison Brinkley—wife, mother, and former unflappable optimist—discovers that a carefully weighed decision to pack up and move her family from suburban Dallas to the glittery chaos of Manhattan may have been more complicated than she and her husband initially thought.

Allison learns that New York is unruly and bewildering, defying the notions she developed from romantic movies and a memorable childhood visit. After a humiliating call from the principal’s office and the loss of the job she was counting on, Allison begins to accept that New York may not suit her after all.

When Allison has a fender-bender, witnessed by a flock of mothers at her son’s new school, she is led to the penthouse apartment of a luxurious Central Park West building and encounters a spoiled, hungover, unsupervised teenager who looks familiar. It doesn’t take long to recognize him as Carter Reid—a famous pop star who has been cast in a new Broadway musical. Through this brush with stardom, Allison embraces a unique and unexpected opportunity that helps her find her way in the heart of Manhattan.

In a book that delivers laughs, warmth, and delightful wish fulfillment, Poeppel dives into celebrity culture and modern motherhood with her trademark “quick-witted and razor-sharp” (Taylor Jenkins Reid, author of Maybe in Another Life) style.

Okay, so the bookstore owner said this book included a “Justin Bieber-esque character” and naturally, I added it to my list. However, I’m hoping this character, Carter Reid, isn’t modeled after Justin Bieber, because he’s a massive prick. Author Poeppel also put in her own two cents about Bieber putting a line like, “Does anyone take Justin Bieber seriously anymore?” – not appreciated.

In a broad sense, I really enjoyed reading this book. I am always in awe of New York City (I am embarrassed to say I’ve never been there), and I like fantasizing about it. This was sort of everyone’s dream they didn’t know they had – stumbling upon celeb life and getting to see the grit and glam of it all. It’s a fun take on a world most of us can only imagine.

However, there were some character flaws in Allison that kept bothering me – like, she didn’t recognize Carter Reid, but she was a regular reader of gossip tabloids, and also knew designer clothes (and how much they cost) upon first glance. She was also very clueless has to any celeb lifestyle and kept wondering where Reid’s parents were – I think most people are aware of the child star story, right?

Other than that, though, this was a fun one, and I am interested in Poeppel’s other book, “Small Admissions“, which revolves around school admissions and getting over a breakup.

I’m recommending “Limelight” to fans of Broadway, and celeb culture. The next book Blanche’s Book Club will be reading is “Amy, My Daughter” by Mitch Winehouse. Read along with me by following me on Instagram @OrangeJulius7 – see you there!

BBC: ‘Eleanor & Park’.

Hey, hey! I am slowly, but surely making it through my stack of library books – work and my freelance clients have kept me busy lately, but I’m reading when I can. If you’re a fan of YA novels, I think you’ll love the latest read from Blanche’s Book Club, so let’s get into it!

It’s “Eleanor & Park” by Rainbow Rowell. Here is the description from Amazon.com:

Bono met his wife in high school, Park says.
So did Jerry Lee Lewis, Eleanor answers.
I’m not kidding, he says.
You should be, she says, we’re 16.
What about Romeo and Juliet?
Shallow, confused, then dead.
I love you, Park says.
Wherefore art thou, Eleanor answers.
I’m not kidding, he says.
You should be.

Set over the course of one school year in 1986, this is the story of two star-crossed misfits-smart enough to know that first love almost never lasts, but brave and desperate enough to try. When Eleanor meets Park, you’ll remember your own first love-and just how hard it pulled you under.

I read “Landline” by Rowell earlier this year and wanted to check out her other books (she has several others). I looking into reading “Attachments” next.

This one seemed like a popular choice, and I’m never one to shy away from a YA romance.

Eleanor and Park seem to come from opposite backgrounds, and while in one way it seems to pull them together, it’s also the reason they can’t have a smooth relationship.

The book doesn’t give everything away in the beginning; instead, the backgrounds of these characters slowly unfolds over the course of the book, as they are learning about each other.

Overall, it’s a bittersweet story, and was very easy to read (I read it in a single day). I really did enjoy these characters and it was fun getting to know them.

I’m recommending this book to fans of YA novels and young love, especially if you’re in the mood for a bit of a hardship twist.

The next book Blanche’s Book Club is reading is “Limelight” by Amy Poeppel.

Follow along with me on Instagram (I’m trying to post more real-time book reviews on Instagram stories) @OrangeJulius7 – talk to you guys soon!

Do I have a ‘Catitude’ problem?

Miss Blanche!

“All you do is complain.”

My coworker was standing in my boss’ doorway, yelling at me, while I was staring at her, my eyes wide while sipping coffee.

Rewind this about two minutes and you’d have found us on the other side of our office suite. She’d asked me a question that I didn’t have an answer to, so I said, “I don’t know” and walked away.

Big mistake.

“You really should have a better attitude about this,” she said.

If there is one thing anyone can say to me that sets my brain on fire – it’s that.

“No, I don’t,” I said, with my back turned, walking to a meeting with my boss.

Even bigger mistake.

That brings us up to speed for the turrets’ style blowup in the doorway.

“So many people tell you that you have a bad attitude, but you don’t do anything about it,” she continued. “You don’t give a shit.”

She was right about one thing: many people have told me I have a bad attitude. I’ve heard it for most of my life.

Even as a child, my dad predicted that it would never be my actions that got me into trouble, but rather, my mouth.

I was well-behaved in school, but I have never been one to shy away from an opportunity to express myself, whether through makeup, clothes, dance, or by way of words – particularly through writing.

In high school, an opinion piece I wrote landed me in the principal’s office. It was about the lack of work the school was doing to increase handicap access to our buildings. I’d interviewed the vice principal, quoted him, and now he was denying it. Not on my watch (I had interview notes and teachers to back me up) – I didn’t get in trouble.

In college, I managed to piss off countless people via printed newspaper columns over the years. Some of them I knew personally, others wrote letters to the editor. One of them threatened me via email and the campus police got involved. The truth hurts.

During holidays, my family told me I reminded them of Daria – a cartoon character on MTV – known for her dry wit.

I have always taken this as a compliment. Daria is smart, funny, politically involved, and in the end, she always does what’s right (i.e. Saving Quinn from frat boys with bad intentions).

I’ve never set out to say something that will hurt someone – but I’m also not willing to sit idly by while someone else does something I feel is wrong. I’m quick to call it like I see it.

A few years into my first job after college, I got in trouble for something I published on Twitter. A coworker screenshot it and I got called into the big boss’ office. She was really, really angry.

I admitted to what I did, owned it, I didn’t apologize, and I also accepted the punishment (I was fired not too much later).

I said what I said and I stood by it. I have always believed that is my right, and if you don’t like it, then well, there’s the door.

Part of this attitude is in my blood. I come from a family of entrepreneurs; we’ve paved our own path and, most of the time, it’s been successful (albeit not easy).

The other half of this is that, I’m a really hard worker. I’m not trying to toot my own horn here, but I’ve worked my way from the bottom and I’ve done it old school. I’ve hustled – I can’t remember the last time I’ve only had one job.

I’ve slung fried pork loins at drive-ins, dipped frozen custard, had multiple retail gigs, written freelance (for 11 years) for dozens of publications – no job is too small.

I’m always juggling, always trying to think of new ways to do old jobs, and do it without being asked. I have always wished that my work ethic would speak for itself, instead of a fake smile in a meeting.

But, like my coworker said, my attitude always comes up during my annual reviews. Of course, that is something I shared with her in confidence; she was my friend at work, too. We shared lots of things over lunches in my office that we didn’t tell others.

Until she yelled it through my boss’ door loud enough for other coworkers to hear. As she yelled, I sat, stone-faced. But as soon as she left, I cried.

I cried because, well, I hate being yelled at, but also because since my review, I’ve gritted my teeth and smiled more times than I can count. I’ve taken a deep breath instead of jumping to assumptions. It may seem small, but to me, I’ve silenced myself for the sake of my job, and I still get yelled at.

It’s the same feeling I had when I was a cocktail waitress – complete with fish nets and heels – and the rude guy asked me to smile, for him.

You still get the same shitty tip whether you grit and grin or walk away.

A few years ago, I started embracing the term “Cat Lady”. Not because I have several cats, but because I’m not ashamed of who I am.

The term “cat lady” has always been used to shame single, usually older women, who have lots of cats. It also implies you’re unkept, crazy, and recluse.

I was – and still am – on a mission to flip the term into a compliment. Yeah, I’m a Cat Lady: I’m single, I have a cat, I love to read, and I am usually home on Saturday nights. So, what?

My cat Blanche is a calico tortoiseshell. During her first vet visit, she jumped onto the vet’s keyboard – pressing keys as she walked back and forth.

“You’ve got a sassy one,” the vet said. “Tortoiseshells always have that tortitude.”
Tortitude, or catitude, has become the way I describe Blanche’s mood. When she’s upset, she bites me; when she’s happy, she purrs and brings sparkly pipe cleaners. There are rarely miscommunications between us.

Perhaps she is the Jane to my Daria.

While Blanche will never have to cope with the real world, I imagine my “Catitude” will always be an issue for me. That’s not to say I don’t try, but I’ll never be willing to water down my personality for anyone.

As for my coworker, we did meet later to try and hash it out. She said she was mad because she’d worked at 8:30 the night before so that I would feel supported and she felt she deserved respect the next day.

Obviously, I’m not a donut parade, so that excuse wasn’t up to par for me. Her next idea was that I’m not emotionally reliable.

No shit. Next?

It’s been about 6 weeks since that day, and despite us sharing a wall at work, we’ve only exchanged a handful of hellos.

While I hate being really good at cutting people off, I just can’t skate over the words she said: “All you do is complain.”

It put all of my late nights, early mornings, low pay, and creative initiatives into the trash.
Over time, my pain will fade, my work ethic will stay the same, and as for my Catitude?

Well, Daria’s getting a reboot so there’s hope for even the most bitter blogger you know.

BBC: ‘The Female Persuasion’.

Happy Sunday! I had the best day yesterday – I had a gift certificate to a spa, so I got a 90-minute facial that included a massage, eye and lip treatments, and a detox peel – my skin feels amazing! It was in an area of town that I haven’t explored much, so I took that time to eat lunch and walk around. It was fun, relaxing, and I did a little shopping. Very nice!

Then I came home, took a nap, and started in on season four of “The OC”. I made dinner and then settled in determined to finish the latest read in Blanche’s Book Club: “The Female Persuasion” by Meg Wolitzer. Here is the official description from Amazon.com:

From the New York Times-bestselling author of The Interestings, an electric novel not just about who we want to be with, but who we want to be.

To be admired by someone we admire – we all yearn for this: the private, electrifying pleasure of being singled out by someone of esteem. But sometimes it can also mean entry to a new kind of life, a bigger world.

Greer Kadetsky is a shy college freshman when she meets the woman she hopes will change her life. Faith Frank, dazzlingly persuasive and elegant at sixty-three, has been a central pillar of the women’s movement for decades, a figure who inspires others to influence the world. Upon hearing Faith speak for the first time, Greer- madly in love with her boyfriend, Cory, but still full of longing for an ambition that she can’t quite place- feels her inner world light up. And then, astonishingly, Faith invites Greer to make something out of that sense of purpose, leading Greer down the most exciting path of her life as it winds toward and away from her meant-to-be love story with Cory and the future she’d always imagined.

Charming and wise, knowing and witty, Meg Wolitzer delivers a novel about power and influence, ego and loyalty, womanhood and ambition. At its heart, The Female Persuasion is about the flame we all believe is flickering inside of us, waiting to be seen and fanned by the right person at the right time. It’s a story about the people who guide and the people who follow (and how those roles evolve over time), and the desire within all of us to be pulled into the light.

I’ve read Meg Wolitzer before, and loved it, so I was excited to see she had a new book coming out. When it was ready for pickup at the library, I was shocked to see it was thick – hmm!

Within the first 50 pages of the book, we meet Greer, and I could immediately identify with her college struggle – and she quickly finds a group of friends and a cause to fight about. But as we follow Greer, the story takes different turns, focusing on different characters in the book.

At times, I felt it was slow, and I wasn’t sure things were going, but then it would pick up again. I am normally not a fan of books like this – I want books that really grip me from page one and through the end. But, the low points in this book were short-lived, and the good parts were really good, so I’m sticking with it.

This book takes place in the late 90’s and spans into 2010. It covers political issues, particularly women’s issues, including abortion rights. But there are other storylines as well – romance, included. Some of these other storylines I felt could have been entire books on their own.

However, in the end – I’m really glad I read this book. I’m recommending it to fans of Wolitzer’s other work, political activists, and to anyone who’s felt a little lost in their career.

The next book Blanche’s Book Club will be reading is “Eleanor and Park” by Rainbow Rowell. I hope you all have a great rest of your weekend!

Watching: ‘The OC’, season 3.

The core four.

I started watching season 3 of “The OC” during my staycation last week, and I wasn’t surprised when I barreled right through it. I thought season 2 was good, but season 3 was just throwing drama left and right, and you know, I am HERE FOR IT.

Before I go any further, here is the description of season 3 from Amazon.com:

Senior year. Prom. Graduation. College visits. Old friends. New problems. And plenty of Korean popstars. Ryan’s savior complex becomes a recipe for disaster. Seth and Summer’s relationship hits the rocks thanks to Seth’s compulsion to edit the truth. As Kirsten attempts to put her life back together, Sandy assumes leadership of the Newport Group and finds himself the heir-apparent to Caleb Nichol’s legacy of scandal. Marissa spirals out of control after little sis Kaitlin – a Julie Cooper in the making – returns home to stir the pot. And speaking of Julie Cooper, she’s cast out of her Palace – into the slums of the OC.

Please note that the following DOES contain spoilers – I’m assuming I’m the only person who is watching “The OC” for the first time.

Season 2 left off with Marissa just having shot Trey, so season 3 picks up right there. To my shock, Trey was still alive, but obviously in the hospital. There is much controversy over Marissa’s actions and the community questions (and wishes) that Ryan was to blame instead.

Marissa and Ryan get kicked out of Harbor, and its public school for her and Ryan gets a tutor for homeschooling. At her new school, Marissa meets a group of new friends, and you can probably guess what happens next…

The new group of friends has their own trouble, and Marissa gets dragged in, love triangle, and all. Eventually, the group starts to fade away, and the remaining friend dies in an accident. Because of course, right?

Over the course of the season, Marissa and Ryan breakup and get back together, as do Seth and Summer. But the other focus remains on getting Marissa admitted back to Harbor (Ryan gets back in) and applying to college.

College visits brings back a few skeletons – Seth runs into Anna on the Brown campus, and Kirsten sees Teresa at the airport… with a baby that looks a lot like Ryan. Dun, dun, dunnnnn.

In the background of all this, Marissa’s dad disappears after proposing to her mom Julie Cooper, and there is no fortune to be had. This leaves Marissa to live with Summer, and Julie moved into the trailer park, complete with pork rinds and chewing tobacco (!).

In the end, Ryan is still up to his old ways – fighting everyone in sight, and getting involved with Marissa’s ex in stealing a car, which sends Ryan and Marissa into a terrible, flaming car crash in the last few minutes of the season finale.

The season closes with an unclear outcome (of course) – is Marissa alive (I’m thinking yes because we have one more season to go)? Will Ryan go to college? Is Teresa’s baby his?

We will soon see!

Living single… at 33.

Taking in the view on my own.

You might recall a popular TV series in the mid-90’s, “Living Single”, that followed six black singletons living in Brooklyn. They were in their twenties.

Because that’s when most people are single, right?

I haven’t written about my (lack of) dating life in a while – in fact, when I searched through the archives of this blog, it’s been at least a year. Why? Well, until possibly yesterday, I didn’t have much to say on it.

I used to look at being single as sad, and then it became a badge of honor. Now it’s just nothing – or at least, nothing that defines who I am or what I do each day.

I know I’ve got some new readers here – Welcome! – and it’s likely that you never thought this was once a place where ALL I talked about was dating. Why?

Because I did a lot of it in my twenties. I dated, I wrote columns about my experiences, I bartended and met more people to date, and then I published books about it, and spoke about it at open-mic nights… and now I just live it.

I had some fun experiences, some really bad ones, I fell in love a few times, and I also strung myself through abusive relationships.

And then I decided to be single.

Not the single where you have crushes, and “talk” via text, and meet new people on Tindr, and have casual sex. The kind of single where I just get to know myself.

That was at least five years ago, and I’m still in that space.

I definitely never planned on being single at 33, but I also never planned on living in Texas, eating mostly vegan food, or contemplating what life at 55 looks like for a singleton like myself.

At times, being single is scary. I have Miranda’s fear of dying in my apartment, alone, with my cat, and wondering how that ends. And some nights, settling into the covers of my big bed is just a weird reminder of how long it’s been since I fell asleep next to someone I really cared for.

Most of the time, though, I’m happy with my life. Many days, I can’t even remember what it was like to be in a relationship, or to even have a crush on someone. I can do nearly anything I want, and for the most part I do. That was always my saving grace at the end of a relationship – I was free.

If that doesn’t tell you anything about the kinds of relationships I’ve experienced, I don’t know what will.

My jump into being single likely got off to a bitter beginning; I was single because I’d been burned. And there are still remnants of that – it’s embarrassing to admit that I’ve never had a relationship that I’d classify as good or healthy.

But even between relationships, I would quickly meet someone new and move to the next person; one rebound after another.

So being single was a much-needed blow to the cycle. For awhile, I found it difficult to even look at a man, whether at a restaurant or when checking out at a store. I was convinced all men were the same, and I wanted no part of their game.

Don’t worry, I have softened a little since then, and although I don’t meet many people whose relationships I envy, I do follow a few bloggers that give me hope in dating, relationships, and possibly even marriage.

When I graduated from college (10+ years ago), it seemed like everyone was getting married, and many of those same people got divorced, and/or had children. But really, a study came out last year saying the number of marriages in the US, and around the globe, have been declining since the late 90s.

A report from the Urban Institute also stated that many millennials won’t get married until age 40. In the past (say, in 1960), people married for many reasons – to have children, for financial gain (taxes, military, etc.); there was also less pressure on education and careers, for women at least.

Today, being single can mean a plethora of things, and it can look many different ways. That’s the catch 22: there’s almost too many options on how I can spend my years. Do I adopt? Travel? Move elsewhere? Get more hobbies?

I suppose I’ve got time to decide.

In these five years, I’ve gone on a few dates, and unfortunately they’ve been really bad reminders of what I don’t miss about dating – ghosting patterns, mixed messages, messy homes, boring conversations, and selfish sex.

It’s unlikely I’ll go on a date before 2020 rolls around, but when it does, I have a better idea of what I’m after – someone who has it together; a good, fun sense of humor, an appreciation for life, and a kind heart.

Until then, I’ll be obsessively reading library books, cooking new recipes, and planning my next vacation.