Category Archives: The Squeeze
Howdy! I’m still recovering from a two-day work trip to Dallas, and the weekend. I didn’t get back from my trip until Friday night, and still had some loose-ends to tie up before it was really the weekend, but I didn’t waste much time drinking a beer and falling into bed. I had to be up at a reasonable hour for Austin’s leg of the “Take Steps” – a walk to raise money for a cure for Crohn’s disease.
I’ll be honest, I wasn’t particularly looking forward to this walk. While I am SO, so grateful for everyone who sponsored me (I raised $175 toward the cure), no one agreed to walk by my side. So, I woke up on Saturday morning to find it was storming quite heavily in Austin. Nonetheless, I ate, got dressed, and drove 20 minutes to the expo center.
I checked in, soaking wet, and got all sorts of free swag because of the amount of money I raised. I still had an hour before the actual walk started, and there wasn’t much for me to do – there were plenty of things for kids to do, but I sort of slinked away and tried to kill time listening to podcasts and staring off into the rain.
I thought about Cheryl, my friend who died after fighting with Crohn’s. She was my reason for walking on Saturday. Truthfully, I felt like a jerk. She did everything with a smile, and there I was – a grouch. But, I wondered if she was with me in spirit then, and possibly laughing at the fact that this walk was indeed inside a barn, and I was about to embark on a dusty, dirt path in brand new sneakers.
I also wondered why I’d never walked before; why had I not supported my friend when she was alive to see it? The truth is, she made Crohn’s look easy when it probably was not. I know everyone’s experience with it is different, but I know her battle was difficult at times.
As my hour-long wait came to an end, they invited everyone over to the stage. They called up some of the big donors, introduced doctors in the area to help those with Crohn’s and similar diseases, asked those diagnosed to come to the stage, and introduced their “Hero” – a boy who was probably 14-ish, and had been undergoing treatments for years. He spoke, and said his doctor found a treatment that worked for him and put his Crohn’s in remission… until his body developed antibodies to it, and now he was on something new. And while this treatment helped, he said, it was not an eliminator. Our money is working to possibly create an eliminator – and together, Austin raised $62,000+ for the cause.
And with that, we walked. It was a short walk, but I’m glad I did it – for Cheryl, but also for myself. I often take my health for granted, and it was very eye-opening to see others around me who have to work hard and take lots of medications to even try to feel normal. I can’t imagine.
But, my fight for Crohn’s isn’t over. I’m walking again, in a month, in Indianapolis, to raise more money and honor Cheryl once again. And if you’re in the area, I hope you’ll join me. To join my mom’s team with me, please click here. I hope to see you there!
I know I said I would try my best to keep this blog a place where people could escape from politics, and essentially, get away from negativity. But at some point, my silence is complicity, and that is something for which I will not stand.
You may recall last July, when I finally broke my silence after Alton Sterling was murdered in Baton Rouge. It was a week of frustration and heartbreak, and I was at the end of my rope. I saw so much victim-blaming and I was ready to stand on my roof and yell “F the police!”
Here’s a snippet from the post:
I woke up nearly two hours before my alarm on Tuesday, and couldn’t go back to sleep, so I started scrolling through my Twitter feed. I saw the #BlackLivesMatter hashtag had gained popularity and I knew it: another innocent black man had lost his life to the bullet of a police officer.
And sure enough, that was the case for Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. We’ve all heard his story by now, I’m sure. Soon, most of us will be able to sweep him under the rug just as we’ve done before; just like we did for Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, Dontre Hamilton, Eric Garner, John Crawford III, Ezell Ford, Dante Parker, Tanisha Anderson, Akai Gurley, Tamir Rice, Rumain Brisbon, Jerame Reid, Tony Robinson, Phillip White, Eric Harris, Walter Scott, and Freddie Gray, among several others.
As white people, we’re granted the ability to forget about incidents such as these, because we don’t understand the struggle blacks have continued to go through. Introducing white privilege: White privilege is the systemic construct that grants unearned advantages to people based solely on skin color. This definition is significant in that often people see how race puts people of color at a disadvantage, but seldom see the corollary of white skin advantage.
Read the entire post here.
Last Tuesday night, I had a similar, frustrated feeling when I saw the news that there would be no charges against the Baton Rouge police officers who murdered Mr. Sterling, even after the US Department of Justice completed an independent investigation. It was the first case under Jeff Sessions, who airs his racial prejudices openly.
Days after the decision to not press charges, chilling details emerged about the 90-second exchange between Mr. Sterling and two police officers (along with six bullets). “A law enforcement source confirmed that Salamoni calls Sterling both a ‘bitch’ and a ‘motherf*****’ while threatening to “shoot” him in the head if he doesn’t comply” (source).
The reactions to drop charges in Baton Rouge had mixed reactions online, where I saw several activists even saying they “weren’t surprised” this was the outcome. That broke my heart. Many people said Mr. Sterling deserved to die because he had prior charges, and/or because he wasn’t permitted to carry the handgun he had in his pocket. But none of that justifies his death, and it doesn’t answer the bigger problem: institutional racism.
That same week last July, America watched live as Philando Castile, a black man, was murdered by a white police officer. Castile was stopped for having a broken tail light. The officer asked Castile to show him his license and registration, and Castile told the officer he was armed (please note that Castile did have a permit to carry a gun). Then he died – and it was all aired on Facebook Live (source).
In February, his murderer plead not guilty to second-degree manslaughter. The trial date is set for May 30.
About a week ago, the country learned that Jordan Edwards, a 15-year-old black teen was shot and killed by a white police officer. The police officer has since been arrested for Edwards’ murder (source).
The narrative surrounding Edwards was mostly about how great he was – how he made the honor roll. And while that’s fantastic, and sad, it shouldn’t matter what kind of person he was or the grades he made for his life to matter. He was riding in a car, leaving a party – neither of which are illegal, and they’re certainly worthy of getting murdered.
But this is the narrative that works to uphold institutional racism. With Trayvon, they said he wasn’t that great of a student – he smoked weed – he stole things; with Alton, they said he had past charges and was convicted of molestation; comply, don’t die, they say.
But what does the narrative become when you comply? What does it become when you make straight A’s? When you’re sober? When you’re wearing a seatbelt in the backseat of a car?
It’s about being black in America.
I spent a portion of my workday yesterday at the Texas Capitol, taking pictures of women dressed as Handmaids to draw attention to the 30+ anti-abortion bills that have worked themselves into the legislation session this year.
Since I started my job in January – I work as the Digital Communications Manager for a national abortion clinic – I’ve learned a lot about how the government has set itself up against women. Frankly, unless you’re a white male, you’re pretty much doomed to fail in this country.
As far as abortion goes, the anti-choicers have created a narrative that shames women into thinking abortion is immoral, among other things. The narrative uses false stories and urban legends to support their case – a case that is medically inaccurate. There will never be a time when abortion is gone – it will just be illegal, and unsafe.
Since the AHCA passed, I took a look at what it outlines – and it says that rape is considered a pre-existing condition, on top of having a c-section, and having irregular periods.
So, if you’re a woman, you don’t qualify for insurance. And if you’ve been raped, you’ll either have to shame yourself into not saying anything so you can get coverage, or say something and pay out-of-pocket for your medical care.
I know that this one blog post may not make a change, but I was so upset by politics, and the world, last week that I couldn’t continue on without saying something. Because if you just stand by while all of this continues, you’re part of the problem.
But, since I had training on dialogue about institutional racism, and since I’ve started working in abortion care, I have learned just how much change I can make with my voice. Talking creates noise. When I share my opinions with others, I am letting them know what I believe and what I stand for. Even just introducing myself and saying I work in abortion is enough to spark a conversation and let someone know where I stand, and what I’m not willing to tolerate.
So, I’ve said it a million times, and I’ll say it again: Black lives still matter, and Women’s Rights are Human Rights.
Friday after work, I decided to venture slightly north to an area of Texas I’ve come to know well – Cedar Park, near where the Texas Stars hockey team plays. I’d recently learned about a new store opening there, a 365 by Whole Foods Market.
So, I took the 20 minute drive and ended up in a new, really nice shopping center, complete with the freshly minted market. Supposedly, the 365 versions of Whole Foods are a test for the company, and the one in Cedar Park is one of five in the country. These stores are smaller, and house more of the 365 brand products, and are supposedly more affordable than the Whole Foods megastores we’re used to.
I went to the store with a list of things I needed for the week, but also kept the mindset that if they didn’t have what I needed, I’d just get what looked good and hit up my usual H.E.B. later. As I was walking up to the store, I noticed nearly all of the picnic tables outside were filled with people having dinner and drinking fresh juice.
Once I got inside, I could see why: the store had two counters to order food, pizza sold by the slice, ready-made sushi, a coffee counter, and a Juice Land. Major score for those living nearby, and especially for those working inside the shopping center.
At first, I was thinking the place looked a little small (like a Trader Joe’s) and there was no way they were going to have the things I needed. But, I grabbed the produce I needed and then thoroughly checked out the bulk aisle, where I got a big bag of trail mix for $6.
Next up was meats and frozen goods, where they had a bin of Mochi – a Japanese treat made from rice flour. I had never seen it before – it looks like a bath bomb – but I Googled it immediately. Hmm, ok, cool, they’ve got new things here, I thought.
As I left the olive bar, I discovered there was an entire other side to the store that had aisles, along with a section for fresh-baked goods. I went down every aisle, checking things off my list one-by-one. I even picked up a few unique bottles of wine, and got some decently healthy crackers for the salmon salad I planned on making.
But, the geeking out didn’t truly happen until I rounded the corner for the ready-made aisles. There was the sushi (a favorite of mine – I love the rolls with brown rice), and also ready-made meals from Snap Kitchen.
And then, there, under the light from the heavens was the section for cold coffees and energy drinks. For the first time ever, I saw it: Blue Bottle Coffee – right in front of my face.
“Oh my God,” I whispered under my breath. “It’s here!”
There’s only three Blue Bottle locations in the US – two are in California and one is in the Northeast. I discovered it via Instagram and have only drooled over the thought of the stuff given its hefty price tag and that I’d have to have it shipped. But there, on the shelf, was their NOLA iced coffee packaged in small milk cartons, right beside little cans of their cold brew.
It took every ounce of my insides not to do two things: 1. squeal with delight, and 2. put my arm on the shelf and slide it across it in a manner that would place all 40 cartons and cans into my cart.
It was then I realized my life has really turned a corner: There I was, 7pm on a Friday, Cinco de Mayo, and I was talking to myself over gourmet cold brew. Sing it with me, “I don’t know about you, but I’m feelin’ thirty twoooo-o-o-o-o!”
My geeking out didn’t stop there, because I soon discovered bottles of Picnik’s paleo butter coffee, along with a wide collection of Evolution’s pressed juices.
Needless to say, my fridge is really happy right now… even opening it makes me smile. As I write this, I’ve been eating olives from the olive bar, cheese, sesame crackers, salami, and sipping some sangiovase rose. It’s fantastic.
So there. I don’t know how often I’ll make the trek (and fork over the money) to hit up the 365 Market, but it sure was fun while it lasted… and now I have the joy of eating all this delish, healthy stuff!
Hello! As many of you may have read, I lost a dear family friend in February to Crohn’s disease. I wasn’t able to make it home for her funeral in Indiana, so I am Taking Steps in Austin to not only honor her memory, but to raise money and awareness that will hopefully lead to a cure for this terrible illness.
If you live in the Austin area, I could REALLY use some teammates! I’m happy to walk alone, but would love the support, along with the opportunity to make it a fun-filled day for a walk. If you’re able, please join my team by clicking here.
If you’re not in the Austin area, but happen to live in the Indianpolis area, I will be Taking Steps in Indianapolis on Sunday, June 25. Please mark your calendars, and stay tuned for the link to sign up for my team – I would LOVE to see some old friends and their families out in Indy, marching for a cure.
Here is just a snippet of some words I wrote to describe my relationship with my friend, Cheryl:
Cheryl was a ray of light in the darkness – she always found a way to laugh at pretty much any situation, which is a trait I’ve always admired. I can recall so many fun times with Cheryl and her daughter, Sarah – times I will cherish for the rest of my life.
I know Cheryl meant so much to my mom, and to her family. To me, Cheryl was South Carolina sweet grass. She took her daughter and I on a rode trip one summer, from the middle of Indiana to the shores of South Carolina, where we stayed, for what seemed like a month.
It was my first time really discovering a new culture – we went to the market, bought handmade jewelry, tried homemade ice cream, walked cobblestone streets leading to plantation homes, and chased crabs in the sands of Folly Beach. It was heaven.
You can read my entire post about Cheryl, here.
And so, Texas friends – I hope to see you on my team for May 20, and Indiana friends, keep your eyes peeled, but I’ll be there, ready to rumble on June 25.
In advance, thank you always for the support.
Hey yo! I’m starting this week off with an apology – I know I only blogged twice last week, which was not planned. Vacation kicked my ass!
I got back to Austin Monday night around 9:30, and by the time I got home, showered, got myself ready for bed, and watched “Southern Charm”, it was after midnight. When I arrived at work on Tuesday, there was all sorts of unnecessary drama that I did not need.
By the time things were starting to feel back to usual around the office – I even got things organized there, and started catching up on all of my podcasts again – the power went out and completely jacked up our internet, leaving us to work from home for a day and a half. Ugh!
It took me much longer to get back to my “normal” life than I thought. And I wondered… is this vacation after 30? I’ve always heard people complain about jet lag and adjusting back to regular life after vacation, but never really experienced it. Whew, not until now!
But, I did take a few dance classes last week, and then used my weekend to help get myself back in order.
After all of the junk (but very delicious) food and drink I had on vacation, I was excited to clean out my fridge and hit the grocery with a list of fresh produce. I am happy to report that my fridge is now full of Naked Juices, fruit, raw veggies, boiled eggs, and soda water. I’ll be living off that until I feel skinny again.
I spent a majority of my Saturday volunteering for the Austin Film Festival – an event that’s become very special to me. There was an opportunity to earn some hours by passing out fliers for their kids’ Summer Camp… I ended up walking 12,000 steps going door-to-door, and even ran from a couple of roosters on my route! It did nothing for my vacation fatigue, but it was an interesting way to spend a Saturday.
I also finished reading a book – so look for that review right here, on Friday for Blanche’s Book Club.
I did a few chores around the house, and have, at the very least, prepped my laundry for a trip to the laundromat tomorrow. And finally, I got word that my Blog Class at UT was confirmed for this semester, and it starts on Wednesday night! I’m so excited to be back teaching, and am looking forward to meeting a new group of students. Teaching is such a thrill for me and I’m excited to share my love of blogging to a new set of students.
So, I’m hitting the ground running this week – I’m back at work, back to dancing, blogging, teaching, and eating healthy (I even made veggie “sushi”) for awhile – at least until my next vacation, which is planned for the end of June. Summer is here, y’all, and I love me some summer adventures!
Isn’t it true, that when you take a vacation, you just want to keep taking them? I feel like whenever I go on vacation, I try to think of ways I can adjust my current life so that I can take more vacations and/or travel to more places. Then I just simply WISH that my life was a vacation, but I suppose it wouldn’t be as special if that were the case… or would it? I’m willing to be the guinea pig.
And so, I’m back – and I’m finally feeling refreshed. I’ve got some fun stuff planned for the blog this week (“Southern Charm” recap, a John Mayer review, Blanche’s Book Club, etc.), so I hope you’ll stick around. It’s good to be BACK!
Howdy! I’m still very much in recovery mode after a fun-filled trip to Las Vegas over a long weekend. I am tired, and completely off-schedule given the time difference, and in general I feel like I need to do a juice cleanse and/or eat a bunch of acai bowls until I feel clean again.
But of course, life doesn’t stop, work is nuts, my apartment is in shambles, and my calendar is full. Whew!
However, I was so excited to take a look at ALL the pictures I took (it’s a lot, just look at my Instagram @OrangeJulius7), and definitely wanted to post my favorites here – in no particular order.
I landed in Vegas late Thursday night, checked into the Palms, and promptly made myself a drink and hit the slots – losing $20 nearly immediately.
On Friday, it was a little chilly outside so we skipped on the pool and ventured to The Strip to partake in street drinking, gambling, sight-seeing (particularly the fountain at the Bellagio), and overeating at Wahlburgers.
Friday night was the Backstreet Boys concert at the Axis near/in Planet Hollywood, which was difficult AF to find. But, the hunt for the venue was worth it, because BSB pretty much made all of my boy band dreams come true. They played ALL of their hits, danced a lot (they even did the same dance from some of their music videos), and even wore glittery suit jackets for a few songs – and I about lost it. It was fantastic!
After the concert, I was on a mission to find two “secret” gems in Vegas – the Moet champagne vending machine and the unmarked pizza spot. We found them both, met a few cool people along the way, and saw some great views of the city. And, that pizza was some of the best I’ve ever had.
On Saturday, we hit the Palms pool (which was laced with security), shelled out the cash for a giant Palms Punch (nearly $50 for a souvenir cup filled with rum and champagne), and relaxed until it was time to get ready for the John Mayer concert. We even enjoyed a yummy dinner outdoors along the strip, before screaming our faces off at Mayer’s last show before meeting up with Dead & Co.
He mixed things up, singing several songs from “Room for Squares”, and of course, several from “The Search for Everything” – but I think he shocked everyone when he brought out the John Mayer Trio for a few songs.
After the concert, we noticed the roller coaster at New York, New York was eerily close to the T-Mobile arena, so we rode that… which was pretty terrifying, and thankfully was a drunk decision.
On Sunday, we had another day of adventure, hitting Linq for the delicious, huge plates at Hash House a-go-go (I got the Indiana pork tenderloin). Then, we checked out the Linq promenade for the Sprinkles cupcake ATM (I got the chocolate marshmallow), and to check out the High Roller.
Then we caught a ride to Fremont Street – Vegas’ original strip – where there are lights covering the street, live music, and several old casinos (some even spit quarters). To close the night we headed back to the strip for a nice dinner at Hexx – a bottle of wine, impressive charcuterie, shrimp pasta, and a sunset view of the Bellagio.
On Monday morning, we headed out for one last adventure: the Neon Museum. Neon signs are a signature of Las Vegas and have been since it was born, but many casinos change their names or simply lease their signs, so many of these signs end up in a “Boneyard”, which is what we got to tour. It was dozens upon dozens of neon bones, complete with a tour guide who told us all sorts of great history, and we even talked about the history of fonts and how neon is made. It was fantastic!
I flew home to Austin Monday afternoon, and although I felt my body was ready to get back to my usual life, I was sad to leave. That was my second time in Vegas, and both times I’ve just had SO much fun. I always feel like I need to make massive life changes once a vacation is over. I sure was sad driving the country roads home – with no neon or flashing lights to guide me.
But, who knows what’s in store for me over the next few months! I know I’m going to try and keep things exciting. I hope you enjoy my pictures 🙂
It’s been an entire month since I told you guys about my trouble with fatigue, and I am happy to report that things are a little better.
After a week of drinking banana tea, I wanted to try a natural sleeping pill. Making the tea every night was a long process, but the sleep that followed was nice.
I started on the sleeping pill, and for the first few nights things were nice. I have taken this pill before, and have even taken it regularly. It is mostly melatonin, so it helps me relax and fall asleep easily.
I know other people who have taken this same pill and have said it provides a solid night’s sleep. But what I quickly came to learn was that it doesn’t really stand a chance against my life.
To say I’m stressed is an understatement. I am full of worry, scared of the dark, I sleep with the TV on, and my cat wakes me up at least three times a night. The pill doesn’t combat that. Sure, I get a good sleep on the pill if I turn off all the lights and electronics an hour before bed, rub on some lavender, and lock the cat outside. But all of that would probably help my case without the pill.
Let’s just say that if I was a tad bit more unhinged, I’d just do coke (instead of coffee and exercise), and I’d inject a little propofol before bed.
But, I’m not there yet. Despite the weak pill, I was making it. Until I wasn’t. I arrived at work last Monday completely dragging ass, and by 3pm, I could barely hold my head up. I cancelled my dance classes for the night, and gave in to my fatigue.
I went directly home from the office and got into bed. I watched TV for hours and was asleep before 9:30. It took me a few days to recover, but I did remember that I’d forgotten to take my allergy medicine on the weekend and wondered if my body was fighting off mold or pollen.
Either way, I went in search of a new sleeping pill amongst the aisles in HEB. I was happy to see there were almost 10 different ones to choose from, and after lots of label-comparing, I chose another all-natural one. It’s called MidNite and it’s also made of melatonin, but I believe it is a higher dose, and also contains natural herbs to help relax the body.
I have taken this one for two nights, and have had really great sleeps – very similar to the banana tea snoozes.
In other good news, I became eligible for health benefits at my job this week, so I signed up for insurance. As soon as the paperwork is processed, I’ll be able to start making the rounds to my doctors and will possibly have some medical answers.
I am still eating a clean diet, exercising several times a week, and yes, I’m still under a decent amount of stress. However, I will say that usually in stressful times, I skip on sleep. But I know I can’t afford to now, so at the very least, I am trying to listen to my body and give it the rest it needs.
Next week, I am moving into a new office building and I’m hoping the fresh, cheery space will help me even more – but I have already taken note that my personal office has no windows, so I will have to make it a habit to walk outside at least once during the day.
Don’t worry, I’ll be reporting back! For now… I’m hitting the sheets.
Happy Humpday, my friends! Ever since I found out I’m seeing the Backstreet Boys (in just a few short weeks), I have been taking a stroll down memory lane via old CDs. Yes, I still have CDs. A lot of them are still in my car, and once I got started, I couldn’t stop digging through my collection to see which ones still worked and what songs I still remembered.
So, I started thinking about the albums that really, really meant something to me – then, and still very much now. I didn’t realize it until I wrote this post, but they’re all female empowerment albums, so I guess you could say I’ve been a feminist from the start! Here are my life-changers:
Jagged Little Pill (1995)
I first heard Alanis Morissette when she released the music video for “Hand in my Pocket”. I thought she looked so cool, and I loved that song. I was in 5th grade, and she was speaking my soul.
Shortly after, she released “Ironic”, and I was hooked. I begged my mom to take me to see her in concert, and we did, and it was AWESOME (even though she’s a bit much in-person). I have no real idea how her lyrics connected with me at such a young age, but they did.
I had never experienced heartbreak, or at least not really, but I felt like an outsider, and she was rebellious and I liked that. And today? I still do. I actually have “Jagged Little Pill” on vinyl, and it is incredible. My favorite song has to be “All I Really Want”, because all I really want, is SOME JUSTICE…AAHHOOWWWOWOWOWOWOWWOOOOWWWW.
The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill (1998)
The Fugees’ album “The Score” was one of my first tastes of hip-hop. I loved it, so when Lauryn Hill debuted her solo album, I was all over it. And wow. I would venture to say this album has had the most impact on me, musically, in my life thus far.
This was a popular one, selling 1 million copies in its first month (8 million copies in 4 years), and it remained in the top charts for 81 weeks. At the time, Lauren Hill was an icon, and her album was everywhere – even later being placed on several “Best Album Ever” lists.
But in 2000, Hill basically disappeared from the public eye, and stayed hidden for nearly four years. To this day, anytime I see her on TV, I’m shocked. I know that a lot of artists describe an album release as having a child, and she also had a REAL child, after her album release… and I think that album was a once-in-a-lifetime thing.
Regardless, I respect her tremendously, and frankly, I don’t know where I’d be without “Ex-Factor”.
Back to Black (2006)
Amy, Amy, Amy… Rest in peace. I had been a long, long time since an album hit me like this one did. I was fresh off a string of bad men, and wow, this chick had something to say. Frankly, I didn’t realize her authenticity, until I read a Rolling Stone article about her life, her drug use, and her eternal love for Blake.
That article still hangs in a frame in my apartment. It was a true loss of innocence, but also a realization that this was an artist who wasn’t just putting on a show. Sadly, she was living every bit of her pain.
While I couldn’t connect with her drug and alcohol addiction, I could very well connect with her willingness to love wholeheartedly, even when it was just wrong. And I still very much love her for putting all of that into words – it healed me in a way I cannot full understand.
The title track is one of my favorites, as is “He Can Only Hold Her”… it all varies depending on my mood.
…There you have it! Notice you don’t see any John Mayer albums here… while all of his albums have meant a lot to me, they have served as “soundtracks” to sections of my life, but not anthems, if that makes sense (still love you, John!). I’d love to know what albums you can’t quit; tell me in the comments!
Lately, I’ve been feeling lonely. There’s a difference between being alone and feeling lonely, because, well, I’ve been alone for a greater part of the last 14 years. Most of that time, though, I haven’t felt lonely.
After two tragedies struck my friends and family in Indiana over the last six weeks though, I started to feel homesick. I left Indiana at 18, headed South, and really never thought I’d turn back. And yes, I’ve had some great times in these parts, and met some great people – but is anyone ever quite as great as the friends you’ve known since middle school? Doubtful.
I still don’t know if I’ll ever go back to Indiana, or the Midwest, other than for quick visits. Although in times like these, I can’t explain just how much I wish I could hop right on over to Indiana, to spend a Friday night with people who know me; people who make me excited to be alive. Regardless, I’m trying to make the most out of my life in Austin, and I know it’s one of the most entertaining cities in the country.
But my attempts at making friends here have left me feeling more lonely than when I started. People have flaked for things I’ve invited them to do – movies, concerts, brunches – and even things they’ve invited me to do. Everyone is looking for the Bigger, Better Deal (the BBD), and apparently I am not it.
After years of suffering from breakup after breakup, I quickly learned that a man was not going to be the source of my happiness, and I’ve basically given up on that part of my life. I know I can still live a meaningful, happy, and fulfilling life as a single person.
But I can’t do it alone, can I? I suppose I pictured my life as a single person much like the lives of the women on “Sex and the City” – only, minus the sex and designer fashions. Or perhaps like those on “Girls” only minus the sex and easy-going careers. You get the picture: I need a few friends to do shit with.
Because you know what? No matter how cool I think I am, hanging out with just myself gets old. I cannot tell you how many times I’ve tried to surprise myself with yet another great, home-cooked meal. These days, I’m so over myself that I buy all of the organic, pre-made goods I can because then at least I have time to read or to build a plan to get friends.
During the week, I don’t have much time for social outings given my job, my dance schedule, and this blog. Some weekends, I am busy with chores or writing projects, but other weekends it would be nice to meet up with friends for drinks, a sporting event, or simply a movie.
Holidays, though, those are the worst. I hate admitting this, but I spent Thanksgiving and Christmas by myself last year, and as much as I tried to make it pleasant for myself – baking a pie from scratch & mixing craft cocktails – it was a very depressing time.
Because the truth is, when you’re not close to family, and your friends live 19 hours away, it almost seems as if I’ve built so many walls around myself that my only choice is to be alone, even for the moments when being together is all that really matters.
This is not the first time in my life I’ve felt lonely, of course. In fact, it is during these times when I have fallen into a dark pattern of meeting friends, or sometimes, men, who are terribly wrong for me. Because of this, I am very weary of my actions during these times – I don’t want to fall for the wrong people out of desperation.
But it is also during these times when little things hurt even more than they would on a good day. The cat call of a construction worker (“You have a fat ass”) on your morning walk to the Texas Capitol stings more; being ignored by a crush cuts a little deeper; and getting ditched by a girlfriend calls for a bottle of wine to keep all to yourself.
I struggle with gathering the courage and confidence to do things alone, or to simply just curl up on my couch and accept my fate.
After a week of debate, I braved downtown Austin and went to see Big Freedia in concert, alone. I put on my best twerking outfit, dark lipstick, and treated myself to a beer (or two). As I was standing at the bar alone, a few ladies approached me and asked if I’d come alone. Yes, I did, I said.
So had they. All of our friends had ditched us. And so, we danced the night away, together. It was great, and just the night I needed. I had done it for Freedia – her positive attitude and awesome music got me off my couch, and her presence sent me floating into the night.
I am still trying to make friends; and to figure this whole thing out. Until then, perhaps I’ll just live by a new set of words: What Would Freedia Do?
“All I can do is do what I do and make it do what it does.” -Big Freedia
Very rarely in my life have I been praised for my attitude. Since I can remember, I was told I have an attitude problem. Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about attitude, and how it affects the makings of my days.
When I got my first job post-college, I was one of the youngest people there, and I was coming in with fresh ideas and I was really excited to implement them. But, I was up against a really old and traditional way of doing things, and many of my coworkers weren’t interested in change. I pushed back as much as I could – I got side-eyes, and stern conversations, until I was eventually fired after seven years.
After that, I got a dose of reality, and worked like I’ve never worked before. Over the course of the past few years, I feel like I’ve tried to have a better attitude; a more positive outlook on things, because sometimes that’s all I have.
When I started my current job, I met someone – a coworker – with possibly the worst attitude I’ve ever seen. I mean she HATES everything, including but not limited to, In-N-Out, California, the Midwest, shepherd’s pie, Trump, everyone who voted for Trump, reality TV, Fox News, Megyn Kelly, protestors, anti-choicers, slow internet, border patrol, blue states, going to work, planning ahead, big trucks, flying, traveling, being tired, traffic, and the layout of Austin.
I’ve only been at this job for a few months, so I’m sure I’ll learn more about her least favorite things, but you see my point. Eventually, I understood that we weren’t going to have much in common, which is okay.
But what’s not okay is how she treats me. On several occasions, she’s ignored me when I’ve said hello or tried to speak to her. She’s slammed the door into my desk, tossed the company credit card at me, and said racist comments about white women in front of me.
So, I started trying to limit my interactions with her. I wasn’t sure how to maintain my professionalism while still talking to her. But even then, she went to our boss and told her I didn’t talk to her. My boss asked me what was going on between us, but before I could answer she said, “I know she’s really rude and racist toward white people.”
Uhhhh, ok? What more did I need to say? How is this okay?
About two weeks later, the problem hadn’t been addressed, and instead of directly addressing it, my boss simply told our entire team that whatever was happening needed to stop and we were not required to be friends at the office.
Sure, I agree, we don’t have to be friends. But isn’t there a standard for the way we treat each other, as humans? I’ve never worked at a place where it’s totally acceptable to be blatantly rude to your coworkers.
My boss said if we have problems with each other, we need to address them directly. Ah, so there’s the catch: the ole it’s all on ME game.
Basically this takes the pressure off the leader, and puts the responsibility on the employee. If you have a problem, you figure out how to resolve it. If you don’t resolve it, then you must be okay with it.
So, what’s the best way to approach someone and say, hi, it hurts my feelings when you ignore me?
In all honesty, this entire ordeal has really made me look at myself and reevaluate. Am I someone who needs friends at work? No, but I do like to be friendly to those around me. Am I too scared to speak up when someone is disrespecting me? No, but I probably need to figure out a professional way to handle it.
No matter what, though, I’ve realized just how much it sucks to show up to work in a decent mood, only to discover that even just one employee has a bad attitude. It can bring down the entire team, for the whole day – and for what?
But I know it’s up to me to try and maintain a positive attitude. And just when I thought that wasn’t possible, I met up with one of my blogging students for a tutoring session. As we parted ways, he told me how much he appreciated my patience and my help with his blog.
He’s a retired professor, looking to write for leisure now that he has the time, and I was able to help, and without realizing it, I’d made a difference. At least I know things aren’t all bad.
And so today, Monday, I’m going to try to keep things positive. It may mean lots of coffee and podcasts in my ears, but I’ll be smiling.
**The following is a piece of original writing I entered into an essay contest. It didn’t win, but I like it, and I thought you might, too. Happy Humpday, y’all!**
Each employee was to schedule a meeting with our new manager to discuss our job roles, challenges, and goals. My meeting was set for a Thursday afternoon, and I’d taken a few notes on my iPad before heading downstairs to her office.
But when I entered her mahogany kingdom, I was met with an employee from Human Resources. My new manager and I weren’t going to be discussing my job, but rather, the fact that my “services” were no longer needed.
For nearly seven years leading up to that day, I’d served as the Web Editor for a large, state university. I’d written stories for the website, reorganized departmental sites, led national advertising campaigns, and created social media strategies for the brand. I’d just received the largest raise in the office due to my hard work over the years.
That day, my previous work, all of my experience – it meant nothing.
“Any questions?” my boss asked.
There were papers to sign in front of me, and I was given strict instructions to pack up my office (do not touch your computer or any other university property, they said), and would be escorted out of the building and was never to return to campus.
“Yes,” I said, working to move my jaw. “Why is this happening?”
I was told that it was an “at-will” termination, which meant that according to state law, I could be terminated for any reason, at any time, without warning, and without being told of the reason.
So, I went to my office where there were empty boxes waiting to be filled. I was watched as I packed, and escorted to my car, walking past the offices of my former fellow employees.
I’d built my life around my job, which had become my career. I’d stayed in the city, 15 hours from where I grew up, for this job, and had little intent to leave. I lived in a coveted loft, a place I would soon come to resent given the high rent and my lack of funds.
The next day, I started applying for jobs. I applied for jobs like my life depended on it – because, in a way, it did. I applied all over the country, for all sorts of positions that sounded remotely interesting. When weeks passed without so much as a phone call, I started looking for short-term work as well.
The holidays were approaching, so I applied for retail positions that would at least get me out of the apartment and I could earn a paycheck.
Around Thanksgiving, I accepted a position as a part-time associate at a shore store near my apartment. My first shift was scheduled for five hours, but a few hours in, I was asked if I could stay until the store closed, making it a 14-hour shift. I said yes.
It was hard work; I was on my feet, and I only got a 30-minute break. The store was constantly busy, and I quickly learned shoe style numbers, sizing, and how to reasonably make a sale. The pay was only $8 an hour, so I’d packed a peanut butter sandwich in order to avoid the food court.
That night, I cried on my short drive home. I was fairly certain my feet had never hurt quite so bad, and I wondered how long this was going to be my life. My next shift at the store was scheduled to start in just eight hours.
I quickly missed the comfort of my desk, my office, and the luxury of simply knowing how to do my job. But I kept on, working as many shifts as I was allowed and picking up extras for fellow employees when they needed time off. I wasn’t going home for the holidays that year, so I could just keep working.
As the days passed, I sometimes saw friends or old coworkers in the store. It was awkward having to explain my situation. Even a few family members turned on me, making condescending comments about how I was “just a shoe salesman at the mall” now.
For a moment, I hung my head in shame. But, my friend who worked in Human Resources for an ad agency and often served as my workout partner, offered some wisdom.
“Head up,” he said. “Everyone has a job to do.”
He was right. There are all sorts of jobs that are less-then-glamorous, and they are held by employees doing what they need to do to get by in this life. It doesn’t really matter if it’s part of their passion or their intended journey, it was a job that needed to be filled in order for the ways of the world to keep going.
No, I didn’t go to college to work at a shoe store, but I was making an honest living, and I was applying for other jobs during my time off. I also accepted two additional retail jobs, and got a promotion at the shoe store, making my work week at least 60-hours.
I learned how to operate three different cash register systems, memorized the opening and closing procedures for each job, and started to find joy in the little things – greeting and helping customers, getting to know my coworkers (despite our 10-year age difference), and going to bed each night knowing I’d done everything I could that day.
That year, I spent Christmas alone. In fact, Christmas Day was my only day off in weeks, since it was the only day all of the stores were closed. I found comfort on my couch, with my heating pad, and my decorated tree that I’d reluctantly pulled from my closet in November.
It took me eight months to find a job that fit my career path and offered a salary with benefits. The job was in another state, and I worked my retail jobs until the day I moved.
There’s no doubt that it was the most difficult eight months of my life – there were very few days off, no health insurance, and a very tight budget I had to follow. But, I’d somehow made it work. I kept my loft until moving day, never missed a bill, and I learned how to juggle the schedules of three jobs.
I also learned a lot about pride and hard work. At most job interviews, they ask how you’d describe yourself. I’d said I was a hard worker before, but now I’ve truly lived it. I’ve worked when I thought I couldn’t even stand, I’ve done jobs that some people wouldn’t even consider, and I’ve smiled when people from my career-life would whisper, “What are you doing here?”
There are days when even my current salaried gig isn’t all I dreamt of during my long shifts in the retail stores. But no matter what job I have, at any point in my life, I know I’m going to do it with my head held high.
Take pride in the ability to get up each day, and do whatever it is you have to do to keep going. Find joy in the walk to the office, the people you see each shift, or the discovery of all the new things you’ve learned.
Almost two years after unexpectedly losing my job, I still carry fears that it will happen again, but then I remember that I made it work. Sure, it wasn’t easy, but I did it, and I found some good in that chapter of my journey.
Looking back, my job at the university had its perks, and it looked really good on my resume. But it wasn’t challenging, and there was no room for growth, meaning I would have had to leave eventually. How it happened wasn’t any sort of dream scenario, but it forced me out of my comfort zone, and into the reality of another person’s shoes.
It’s been a few weeks since I told the world (yes, that’s the power of this blog) about my case of extreme fatigue – read all about it here – and I figured it’d be a good time for an update.
Just a few days after the post, I decided to spend that weekend getting some relaxing in. Naturally, it was the same weekend that Daylight Saving time happened, so that was dumb, but whatever. I read, spent lots of time on my couch, and caught up on TV.
The thing is, my fatigue could be a result of many things, including: lack of sleep, allergy medication, increased workouts, lack of protein, or stress. So, I vowed to tackle two of those things for at least one entire week, to see if my energy improved.
In order to get more protein into my diet, I did a lot of research to find out how much protein I need each day (46 grams) and I shopped accordingly. I made “egg muffins” with spinach and cheese for breakfast, and I had grilled chicken breast for lunch. Protein? CHECK.
I also bought a fuckton of bananas to try the latest craze from Dr. Oz: Banana “tea”. Here’s the scoop on naner tea from the Dr. Oz website:
Did you know bananas are a sleeping pill in a peel? If you find yourself waking up in the middle of the night, try this banana-infused tea as a bedtime snack. Studies have shown that magnesium can be helpful in preventing you from pulling yourself out of sleep, and the potassium and magnesium help your blood vessels and muscles relax.
You make the tea by simply cutting off the ends of one banana, and boiling it (peel and all) in a pot of water for 10 minutes. Pour water into a mug, and I added cinnamon, because, why not? I also ate the banana, because a warm banana is the closest thing I’ve had to dessert in awhile.
I’ve heard the sleep that comes post-tea, is the deepest sleep ever. So, I gave it the ole college try and I drank this tea every night before bed, for 7 nights in a row. While I cannot say I had the best sleep of my life… it was better sleep than I’ve had in probably two years. The downside of the tea is the time it takes to make it, then wait for it to cool, then drink it all – I had to really plan for it, and by the time I drank the tea, I was so bored I could have probably fallen asleep without it.
But when I slept Friday and Saturday night sans-tea, I slept like SHIT. I woke up, tossed and turned, laid awake for hours. Fuck that.
The real question is, did the protein and tea help me feel more awake during the day? Yes. I wasn’t wired, but I definitely didn’t feel like I was about to pass out at my desk. So, that’s promising.
This week, I’m still eating protein: cottage cheese for breakfast and baked chicken for lunch. And, I’m taking a natural sleep aid at night. I’m going to test this for a solid week and see which works better for me – and of course I can always switch it up.
On the one hand, yes, I feel hopeful that I just need to keep up with my diet and a good sleeping schedule and I may feel back to normal without something seriously being wrong with me. But, on the other hand, I may have to always be really serious about what I eat and the amount of sleep I get. And while I know it’s petty – it’s a problem lots of people would love to have – it’s difficult for me (even just in this last week) to turn off the lights hours before I actually want to; to skip reading into the late night; to have random TV marathons… it means giving up a lot of fun things just so I can function at work.
But, we’ll see! My self-science experiment isn’t over, and hey, getting solid sleep is kinda nice… zzzz…
Last week, I mentioned that I’ve been suffering from extreme fatigue lately. As promised, I spent the weekend, and each night this week really making an effort to get quality sleep in hopes of pinpointing the problem (you can expect a progress report next week).
Part of solving the problem involves taking a solid look at how I spend my time, and if I can devote any extra time to rest. The conclusion thus far? My life is… kind of plain.
I know I sound like Coolio (see: “Gangsta’s Paradise”) right now, but I’m starting to wonder if this is it for me. I’ve been religiously watching this season of “Girls”, and Sunday’s episode involved a laundromat, Hannah’s mom, and a giant bag of weed gummies.
After choking down several of said gummy worms, Hannah’s mom is trying to set the record straight on her future: “I’m alone. This is it. For the rest of my life.”
I swear everything but that line was ringing in my ear for the next hour – hell, I’m still thinking about it. Because this is the most single I have ever felt.
Ever since I can recall, I’ve had some sort of guy in my life – even if only in “crush” form. And it’s been a long time since even that has happened.
My new job has come with several opportunities to travel, which means I’ve had lots of time to bond with my coworkers. “Holly, why don’t you date??” They ask. “You’re cute!”
As flattering as it is, that’s part of the problem. A majority of the men I’ve dated haven’t seen beyond that – and it’s resulted in a lot of relationships that aren’t trusting or healthy. It’s left me so cold, that at times, I don’t even want a male waiter.
Monday morning, a guy called me. I was washing dishes and missed the call by accident; but when I saw it on my phone, I thought certainly it was a mistake. I hadn’t talked to a guy on the phone in six months (yes, six months), and I didn’t even know if I’d have anything interesting to say. After all, I was cleaning my kitchen at 7 am on a Monday morning.
I took a leisurely drive across town Sunday morning and I got to thinking about dating. Most of the people I know who are my age are married, many of them have been married for years, and have children. I look at their lives from afar and sometimes it seems as if they’ve lived entire lifetimes while mine is just strolling along, very similar to how it was three or five or even ten years ago.
Maybe once you hit a certain point in life, you just end up single, I thought. Because the thing is, I don’t ever put myself in situations to meet a suitor. I’m very aware of this, partially because I don’t think I’m ready to date, and partially because my hobbies: dancing, reading, blogging, and cooking aren’t really conducive to meeting straight men.
Every week, I go to work, the dance studio, the library, and the grocery – give or take the laundromat, and that’s pretty much my life. And I have a feeling I’m not alone in that routine (or rut, you make the call); we’re not in college anymore, not really hitting the night scene, or not putting ourselves in new social situations on a regular basis.
Obviously, I never planned on being single at this point in my life. I honestly thought I was going to be married before I was 25. I’ll be 32 in July. However, I have always believed that my life can be fulfilling even if I don’t have a partner.
But what exactly will that life look life? You know when you first start a relationship and everything is so exciting and nearly perfect? I definitely miss that feeling.
The sad part is, much of the excitement I’ve experienced in the latter part of a relationship is the fear of losing it entirely. The last relationship I had was turbulent, I hardly slept, and it thrived on abuse of the alcohol, sexual, and verbal variety.
I’ve never really known what a real, healthy relationship looks or feels like, which leaves me to often associate dating with a sense of weakness within myself. That if I even have the desire to date, then I must be feeling weak, as if I’m not enough on my own.
Somehow, I survived watching every minute of Nick’s season on “The Bachelor”, and in the finale episode on Monday, Vanessa had a heartfelt conversation with Nick’s father. She asked him if love was enough to make a marriage last, and he told her no. That outside of love, it takes sacrifice, compromise, and the realization that you will no longer come first.
I am certain that show is scripted, but DAMN. #TruthBomb
Maybe that’s it – maybe I’m just not willing to put anyone else first just yet. But I have always imagined being in a relationship where I get to do things for my partner; even if it’s just the little things like bringing him coffee or baking his favorite dessert.
Sure, I’ve done those things. But they went unnoticed and I was often taken advantage of.
There are days I feel really strong and proud of myself for building a life where I’m generally happy, and I’m making things work. But I’d be lying to you if I wasn’t very, very cognizant of that fact that I slip into bed each night alone; with no one beside me, no one on the phone, and often, no one on my mind.
There is no path, or standard, for how a single person lives a fulfilling life – because everyone is just waiting for your “Save the Date” card to arrive. I suppose this is a path I’m going to have to make, on my own, of course, and I’m probably going to have to stop for naps along the way given the current state of things.
Don’t worry, I’ll make my own coffee.
If you’re a fan of “The Golden Girls”, you may recall a two-part episode where Dorothy is complaining of extreme fatigue. At the time, she is working as a substitute teacher, and she’s so tired, she can barely complete a day’s work.
She goes to several doctors, and most of them tell her the same thing – that she’s getting old, and yeah, old people get tired. But there is one doctor who finally tells her something is wrong: she is suffering from a rare, but treatable, illness. She is so happy to have a diagnosis that she treats herself to a nice dinner, where she runs into one of the stupid doctors and tells him off – it is a sitcom, after all!
Lately, I’ve been feeling a lot like Dorothy did in those two episodes. The only thing is, I’m not a senior citizen (although my social calendar would show otherwise). I ‘ve traced my recent fatigue back to around the time I started my new job, which was also the same time I started working out more and eating a much healthier diet.
Too many variables, I know! And now I don’t know if it’s one of those things that is causing me to be so exhausted I nearly fall over before 3 pm, or if there is something medically wrong with me. Here’s a mental list of the things I *think* could be causing my sleepiness:
- Stress/emotions of new job
- Body adjusting to new diet
- Reacting to additional, more intense workouts
- Thyroid problems
- Lyme disease
- Lack of sleep
Let’s consider the list. My job isn’t what I would classify and stressful, but it does have an emotional side to it. The thing that affects me is the difference in the schedule – it’s still 9-5, but each day is different from the next, and many of those days begin earlier than 9 if I’m going downtown to the Capitol for a hearing. I definitely think there’s some sort of adjusting curve, and this job has already taught me two things: 1. I’m a creature of habit, and 2. hanging out with white men in suits really sucks the life out of my soul.
Okay, the new diet. Basically I’ve taken “clean eating” to the next level, and am trying to eat very little meat – with most of my meals being vegan-approved. While these meals have been nothing but delicious, my mom made a good point that I may not be getting enough protein to keep me energized throughout my day. According to Google, I need 46 grams of protein a day, and I definitely don’t think I am. So, a food journal may be in my very near future.
I went from taking a few dance classes a week to taking at least 7, with several of those being cardio-dance classes. I’m in a constant state of soreness, and perhaps my body is not quite as strong as I think. I don’t know if I buy this excuse alone, but if I’m not getting enough protein and working out double than before – it could be the cause of my fatigue.
Thyroid problems/thyroid disease. I’ve always associated thyroid issues with weight gain and/or energy levels. When I Googled it, basically everything can be a symptom of thyroid disease, and sometimes diagnosing these problems can be tough. However, I’m not ruling this out of the picture, because it does run in my family.
Lyme disease. Because we have all either seen “Real World: Seattle” or “The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills”, and we’ve seen how Lyme disease either makes you bedridden or completely insane. I have been paranoid about having Lyme disease ever since the Christmas Mouse crossed his annual path in my apartment. Blanche caught him, and I’m convinced she got it and now I have it. But I Googled it, and it turns out you can really only get Lyme disease from a tick. And I’ve never been bitten by a tick (knock on wood).
Lack of sleep. Imagine that! Not getting enough sleep is the story of my life, especially in the last 7ish years. For a year or so, I suffered from terrible night tremors, which I usually awoke in a sweat, sometimes crying, and often too scared to go back to sleep. I also had a terrible time sleeping during a nasty relationship with a restaurant manager. Note to all: Don’t date someone that’s not on your same schedule. It’s just too much.
Anyway, I have found that the only way I can truly get a good night’s sleep is really preparing for it. I mean make sure the bed is just right, don’t drink, set the oil diffuser, put in my mouth guard, take a Rest EZ (natural sleep aid), and ensure I’ve set a solid 8-9 hour window for myself to snore away. Sounds complicated and high maintenance, I know. It’s annoying, even for me.
The other issue is that, frankly, I have a lot on my plate. As many of you know, this blog is a hobby for me, which means I am usually writing it at 10pm the night before it publishes. After work each day, I usually do two hours of dance, I get home around 8:30, shower, eat dinner, and by that time, it’s time to write my blog, and basically go to bed. If I want to do anything else in the evenings – such as read, cook, watch TV, etc. – that means cutting into my sleep time. And most nights, I am just not ready to mentally turn off the light even though my body is way past ready.
So, how the hell am I going to resolve this issue? My original idea was to use this week as a week to make an effort to go to bed early and see if actually getting 8 hours of sleep solved it. But alas, I have already failed at that, with late night dance rehearsal (for a performance on Friday), a mid-week visit to the Capitol (meaning up at 5:30 am!), and a 2-hour private blog class that I’m teaching. Whoops.
By the looks of my calendar, I am free on Sunday. So, I’m making it a priority to ACTUALLY relax on Sunday. I’ll be really busy on Friday and Saturday to get everything done, but on Sunday, I need to relax and get to bed early. Then next week, I’ll focus on getting rest and making sure I get enough protein. We’ll see how that goes… Don’t worry, I’ll report back.
I’m just so tired.
Won’t you sing me to sleep, and fly through my dreams, so I can hitch a ride with you tonight? And get away from this place, have a new name face, I just ain’t without you in my life.
Late night drives. All along in my car, I can’t help but start singin ‘ lines from all our favorite songs. And melodies in the air, singin’ life just ain’t fair. Sometimes I still just believe you’re gone.
And I’m sure the view from heaven beats the hell out of mine here, and if we all believe in heaven, maybe we’ll make it through one more year, down here.
-Yellowcard, View From Heaven