Category Archives: Uncategorized

Invisalign: Two weeks in!

My first 2 weeks using Invisalign!

Okay, I’m about two days shy of the three-week mark using Invisalign, but this will just have to do! I have been curious about Invisalign for the last year for a few reasons.

For starters, I’ve never had traditional braces and I cannot TELL you how many times my dentist has asked me if I’m interested in braces. No, no, and no… until I was.

My teeth aren’t that crooked. Instead, they are very crowded on the bottom and a little angled up top. It has never bothered me until recently. In fact, I often prided myself on the fact that I’d made it this far without orthodontic work.

But the truth is, I take a lot of care in the way I look. I’m not vain or superficial, but I do like to take care of myself, and I also like to experiment with new beauty trends (I just Derma-rolled for the second time ever last night), and I have a bucket of makeup and a tiny collection of face masks to prove it.

I wear makeup on most days – mostly to express myself and help boost my confidence. That’s all great, but I started to feel like my look was incomplete with my teeth. Sure, my nails look great, contour is on-point, lipliner looking fresh… but my teeth?

So, when I switched dentists because of insurance, I specifically looked for one that offered Invisalign. I asked about it immediately, slapped down the down-payment, and they got to work.

The first step was to have impressions taken of my teeth. These impressions were sent off to Invisalign and they made a computer simulation of the changes my teeth would go through from start to finish.

My dentist also took tons of pictures of my teeth, and of my face – she said I would see a slight change in my profile.

Once I approved of the way my teeth would look (according to the simulation), my dentist was able to tell me that my “treatment” would be six months, which is the minimum amount of time for Invisalign.

At my next appointment, my dentist applied some “buttons” onto my teeth – basically they are small raised pieces that help “lock” the Invisalign in place, and they help the teeth move a little faster.

She then had to shave down the sides of some of my teeth since they were so crowded – the shaving involved her flossing my teeth with sandpaper. Literally. It was an interesting and awkward experience.

Before she handed me my first set of trays, she told me I had to wear the trays at least 22 hours each day: sleep in them, only drink clear liquids with them in, and take them out to eat. I was instructed to brush my teeth before putting the trays back in.

She broke two pieces of bad news to me at that point: 1. The first two days of each tray are painful, and 2. My coffee intake would likely be reduced given that I couldn’t drink it with the Invisalign in.

Ohhhhh… I was visibly upset over this coffee news. You see, I usually sip on coffee from the time I wake up (6:30 or so) until around 10. But if I did that, I’d already be breaking the 22-hour rule with Invisalign.

“It’s only for six months,” she said. She didn’t GET IT.

But anyway, I snapped in my first trays and was on my way. And she was right, it HURT. That night, I had so much trouble getting the trays out, I skipped dinner.

Since then, though, it stopped hurting, and it’s very easy to get the trays in and out.

On my two-week mark, I put in a new set of trays, and it hurt some (I took one dose of pain killers), but not as bad as the first one, leading me to believe the “shaving” was actually the issue.

I have 14 trays total, so I’ll be getting new ones about every two weeks. I expect to be putting in tray no. 3 on Thanksgiving Eve… which will make for an interesting Turkey Day.

So far, it’s been okay. It is a little annoying to have to take the trays in and out so much – I feel like I’ve cut down on snacking because it just isn’t worth the time and effort (in case you wondered just how lazy I was).

On the upside, I can already see the progress my teeth are making – and it looks great, even this early in the game! I also started using a whitening toothpaste in hopes of getting a bit of a brighter smile along the way!

I’ll keep you posted…

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Watching: ‘IT’ (original).

Saw this movie almost 30 years later.

Saturday night, I ventured to a Halloween costume party where there was a viewing of Stephen King’s original “IT” film that originally aired as a TV series in 1990.

If you know me at all, you know that it’s very rare for me to say a sentence like the one I just did. I basically hate Halloween. I’m THE definition of a scaredy cat – everything terrifies me. I’m scared every day, even in the summer.

I don’t like masks, random people knocking on my door (especially children wearing masks), and I even have to cover my eyes during scary movie previews. I know, I’m a wimp.

Truthfully, I used to LOVE scary movies…until I moved into an apartment by myself. Then, the fun and games were over. A few years ago, a guy I was dating invited me to his house to pass out candy during Trick-or-Treat. I agreed, because I liked him, but I was pretty terrified at the prospect of seeing masks all night.

I do like true crime, particularly because I like crime investigations and reporting. I know, it’s not really logical, but that’s the things about fears – they aren’t often based on reason or logic.

And so, I got invited to this “IT” watching party and I didn’t want to decline the invitation because, well, when people try and be friendly I think I should do a better job of accepting that into my life. I could use more genuine friends.

So, I put on my trusty Holly Golightly costume and headed out (I brought my pillow and blanket just in case I needed something to shield my eyes). The party house was completely decorated – even the lemon bars had little candy cleavers stuck in them!

After about an hour of snacking (jalapeno popper mummies, deviled eggs, and pumpkin-shaped Rice Krispie Treats…), we watched “IT” – which I’d been told was pretty cheesy.

I’ve seen the previews for the newly released “IT”, and those alone were terrifying: the music, the clown, all of it. But the 90’s version? I totally handled it. IT. ha.

“IT” was released as a novel in 1986, spent 14 weeks on the top-seller list, and aired on TV as a two-night miniseries, starring Tim Curry as Pennywise the clown. The story goes that surrounding a group of murdered children, a group of school kids start seeing this clown around town, particularly near the damn, in the sewer, or even in the drain of their bathroom sink.

Once they think the terror is over, he comes back to haunt them almost 30 years later (which makes the timing of the new adaptation that much more creepy).

Naturally, the movie isn’t reeeaally about a scary clown – it’s more about imagination, growing up, and a loss of innocence.

All-in-all, I’m glad I watched the movie. It was cheesy, I even laughed at several scenes… but I still slept with my bathroom light on that night.

Some things never change…

Comparing makeup finishing sprays.

I haven’t written much about it, but I’ve been experimenting more with my makeup lately. It’s a fun way to express myself, even at my desk job, and I love trying new products – and okay, I really enjoy watching makeup tutorials. It’s oddly calming!

Loved this one for everyday use.

At first, I was hesitant to spray my face in hopes of setting my makeup and helping it last longer. I mean, that just doesn’t seem right. But, lots of people say it works, and why not try it? It’s taken me months to try multiple brands and types – I like to get a complete opinion! While I tried to test different kinds, I also have to stick to what I like, but who knows, maybe you’ll find one you like or have one you can suggest to me! Here goes…

NYX Matte Finish Makeup Setting Spray

This was the first setting spray I purchased. I’ve used NYX products before, and like them, and you can’t really beat the price tag. The bottle looks small, but I usually just need one or two sprays a day and I’m good to go.

Honestly, even with nothing to compare this to, I loved this product. I have always had a problem with my makeup settling into my skin by lunch time, or even fading by the end of the day. This stuff makes my face bullet-proof. Even after a day of work and dance class, my makeup looks good!

I bought this one at Ulta and when I checked the website later, it has 4.5 stars out of 5 – sounds like a winner to me!

Setting spray with SPF.

$7.99 (NYX), for 2.2-oz bottle 

Coola Face SPF 30 Makeup Setting Spray

I got this in one of my monthly Birchbox shipment, and it made for a great setting spray while traveling. I used this anytime I was going to be outdoors, including an outdoor protest/rally, a music festival, and outdoor volunteering – all hoping to get a little extra SPF on my face.

It worked fine as a setting spray – it does have a slight “sunscreen” smell, which doesn’t bother me, but I know it’s not for everyone.

It set my makeup, but I’m not sure I would choose this for everyday use unless my job required me to spend lots of time outdoors. It doesn’t take much though, so purchasing a bottle would probably last you awhile.

$36.00 (Coola), for 1.7-oz bottle

Ulta Matte Makeup Setting Spray

Coconut scented!

I get my hair cut and colored at Ulta, and Often used the 20 minutes under a cap to shop (yes, I’m roaming the aisles in a cape, clear cap, with red dye all over the place). I came across Ulta’s makeup line and saw this matte setting spray had a special feature that sold me: coconut scented.

I know it’s small, and really, no one is getting close enough to my face to smell it, but I can smell it when I spray it on and that’s all that matters. The price was great, and it’s on-par with NYX as far as quality.

I don’t wear a ton of makeup, but I do wear enough that needs to be looking good at the end of the day. This one does well keeping my makeup in place, while keeping shine under control.

$10.00 (Ulta), for 3-oz bottle

So far, I think the NYX is my favorite, but I will probably keep trying new brands. I haven’t tried any of the aerosol setting sprays, so maybe that’s next. I do have a Smashbox primer/setting spray that I have yet to try (not sure how I feel about 2-N-1 products). But let me know what makeup setting sprays you like to use and maybe I’ll give them a try!

Happy birthday, John Mayer!

Hellooooo!

Today is my favorite person’s 40th birthday: John Mayer! I know this date by heart, and in the past, I’ve baked cakes, worn Mayer merch, or simply blasted some of my favorite songs in celebration of the day.

Last night, Mayer took to Instagram Live to share with fans that he was on a plane with eight of his friends (including Andy Cohen) headed to Brazil, and he was wearing a completely silly outfit, eating freshly-made udon right out of the carton.

He said he was born around 4am and would still be mid-flight when he officially turned 40. He also said being on a plane often makes him emotional, plus all of the birthday emotions, and he foresaw many deep thoughts and writings upon the plane’s landing.

Earlier in the week, many news outlets picked up Mayer’s gift to himself: a diamond-encrusted pendant of The Dude. But that purchase should come as no surprise for Mayer fans – John has an extensive jewelry collection, and he admits he’s much more a lover of things, not experiences. Because let’s be honest – he has DAILY experiences, right?

I started listening to John Mayer when I was 16 – thanks to my dad letting me borrow “Room for Squares”. I quickly grew to like the album, but it wasn’t until I saw John live, actually at a street festival in Ohio, that I thought maybe he could be someone to really listen to.

I’ve not missed an album or a tour since. I’m a bit obsessed, and I’m okay with it. He’s an artist that’s grown over time, and he keeps getting better. I turn to his music when times are tough, and I know exactly where to go when I’m happy.

On the plane, John said 40 was a big milestone for him; that it felt like he’d spent all of his years leading up to building a home, and now he’s home. He joked about his analogy, but I like it – I think a lot of people, including myself, spend years thinking about the future they want.

I have moments of feeling like I’m getting there, I’m almost there. And sometimes I feel just the opposite.

I can’t wait to see what’s next for this guy. Happy birthday to the coolest 40-year old on my playlist.

Farewell, Hef.

Hugh and Barbi.

I woke up this morning and saw the news that Hugh Hefner passed away, at 91.

I know there are many mixed feelings about him, and about the business he conducted during his life, but I’ve always admired him as the leader of the sexual revolution, a cutting-edge publisher, and an activist for women’s rights, civil rights, and equality.

In college, I cheered when “Playboy” came to town – complete with its writers and famous photographers. I had my photo taken as part of an audition for a college issue of “Playboy”, and although I didn’t make the cut, I was interviewed and featured in the Baton Rouge newspaper, and had an op-ed on Playboy.com and in my college newspaper (shoutout to “The Reveille”!).

As I said then, I’ve always associated “Playboy” with some of the most beautiful, iconic women of our time: Anna Nicole Smith, Vanna White, and Madonna, among many others. “Playboy” celebrated sex in a way that made it socially acceptable for women to admit they enjoyed sex, and they enjoyed it before marriage.

The magazine highlighted social issues over the years and was used as a platform to highlight the AIDS crisis, support gay rights, and announced its support for abortion eight years before Roe v. Wade. Hefner funded the reward money to resolve a civil rights case and established a foundation that supports rape crisis centers and the Kinsey Institute.

In my bathroom, I’ve got a small collection of framed “Playboy” covers from the 60s and 70s, including one that features one of Hefner’s girlfriends, Barbi Benton, playing a game of chess (with bunny pieces, of course). Benton was famously featured in the magazine four times and was trusted at the center of the “Playboy” enterprise. She even founded the Playboy mansion west, it’s most famous location in California.

In 2006, I traveled to Los Angeles for the first time and was lucky enough to take a trip to Playboy Radio, where models of all sorts were interviewed for the radio show. It was just another side to the industry Hefner created.

On the way to work this morning, a radio show I like was trying to decide if Hefner was generally a thumbs up or a thumbs down for women. I’m sticking to it and saying he’s a thumbs up. Yes, I’ve heard about some of the things that happen at the playboy Mansion, but I’m chalking that up to environment and culture. People will be people.

I’m thankful for Hefner paving the way in publishing; for celebrating women’s bodies and our right to have sex like men. I’m thankful for his contributions to social justice.

Stay cool, Hef.

BBC: ‘Into the Water’.

Happy Friday before a holiday!!! Wahoo! What is it about that extra day off that just makes life so great? I’m not going to analyze it, I’m going to TAKE it and run with it. Actually, I’ll probably be in bed, but who cares?

Anywho, let’s get into this week’s read: “Into the Water” by Paula Hawkins. Here’s the official description from Amazon.com:

A single mother turns up dead at the bottom of the river that runs through town. Earlier in the summer, a vulnerable teenage girl met the same fate. They are not the first women lost to these dark waters, but their deaths disturb the river and its history, dredging up secrets long submerged.
 
Left behind is a lonely fifteen-year-old girl. Parentless and friendless, she now finds herself in the care of her mother’s sister, a fearful stranger who has been dragged back to the place she deliberately ran from—a place to which she vowed she’d never return.
 
With the same propulsive writing and acute understanding of human instincts that captivated millions of readers around the world in her explosive debut thriller, The Girl on the Train, Paula Hawkins delivers an urgent, twisting, deeply satisfying read that hinges on the deceptiveness of emotion and memory, as well as the devastating ways that the past can reach a long arm into the present.
 
Beware a calm surface—you never know what lies beneath.

Ohhhhh man! I was so excited to read this book. When it came out, I immediately put my name on the list for a reserve at the library. I did have to wait awhile, but either way – good deal.

I’m going to say right off the bat that I didn’t end up loving this book as much as I loved “The Girl on the Train”. And, you know, that’s ok. Not every book from an author is going to be the same – obviously.

Is it good? Yes. Chilling? Yes.

I have admitted many times that I don’t do well with lots of characters in a book – it’s just hard for me to concentrate and if they are alike, I get them confused. This was the case for this book. So, you very well may love it!

The reader reviews on the Amazon page for the book has mixed reviews as well. I know it’s easy to assume an author is going to pump out books that are similar and equally likable, but it’s just not that way. Plus, I don’t like it when books are advertised as, “If you liked ‘The Girl on The Train’…” because then you go into thinking it’s going to be just like that and you usually just end up disappointed.

So, there you have it. The next book Blanche’s Book Club will be reading is “Saints for All Occasions” by J. Courtney Sullivan. Read it with us!

Meanwhile, The Bitter Lemon Etsy Shop is having its first S A L E in honor of Labor Day! Enjoy 15% off  (+ FREE shipping anywhere in the US) all of the items in the shop today through Monday!

I’ll be doing a little shopping of my own this weekend – some for myself and some for Hurricane Harvey victims. And hopefully I’ll be making some more jewelry! I’m really enjoying this hobby as it’s a good way to just zone out and have a finished, wearable piece of fun at the end.

So, happy weekend y’all! Do something for Harvey victims – anything. Texas needs your help & get used to see that here. We need to help each other, no matter where you live. Do good.

I’m taking Monday off from the blog, but I’ll be back on Tuesday with a fresh recap of “Siesta Key”! Bye y’all!

Detox Your Dating: Day 2.

Rolling right into Day 2!

Who is ready for Day 2 of this Dating Detox Challenge? ME! Well, sort of. Because here’s the thing: I’m not really dating.

I haven’t been on an actual date in two years, and even that is pretty lenient, because that date was a special situation. Needless to say, it’s been an embarrassingly long time since I’ve been on a date. Why? Because honestly, I’m just not sure it’s the thing for me.

I used to think of myself as really good at dating. I’m fun, smart, I can carry on a conversation with most people, I like swapping stories, and in general, I like meeting new people. But as the years passed, I started seeing that the work I put into dating was never worth the result.

So, Day 2 is interesting… Here goes.

DAY 2: WHAT’S YOUR GUT TELLING YOU?

Why are you dating?

I’m not really dating. I’m currently on one dating app and have only talked to two guys in the last month. I’ve noticed that even when I “match” with a guy on the app, the messages are very short and uninteresting, so it just seems like a waste of my time. However, there IS something keeping me from giving up entirely on dating and that’s me thinking about the future.

In general, I like my day-to-day life, even though I spend most of my time by myself. I do have friends – although I am working to make more friends (I moved to a new city almost two years ago). I am close to my mom, but she lives states away. I have spent many holidays alone, and although I’ve tried to do all I can to make this okay, it hasn’t been a pleasant experience.

Ultimately, I want a partner in life. I want someone to share life with at the end of the day. A forever companion for the holidays, for the ups and downs of life.

So you want to share your life with someone so that you can do or feel what?

I do, at times, feel like something is missing in my life. And it’s not Jesus. I wonder what my life would be like as a 50-year old being single, or at 60? 70? What will I do? Will I regret not putting myself out there more? Will I regret not having children?

And once you have that companionship and feeling that someone else cares about you, what will that do for you? What will that change?

I never want to rely on someone else for my happiness, but I do want to support someone (spiritually/emotionally) and have that same support back.

Homework: Share your WHY statement on the Facebook page.

Here’s what I put on Facebook: Day #2 homework: I honestly haven’t been on a date in two years. There have been times in my life that I am actively “out there” – online and going out and getting set up by friends. Why? Ultimately I want someone to share my life with. As a single person, I do spend a majority of my life by myself. Yes, I have friends and family (although a majority of my family is estranged), but I want that partner, that support. Most of the time, I am happy in my life, but sometimes I wonder: is this IT? Am I always going to come home to my cat? Will I regret not having looked more? Not having children? These are the questions that keep me from shutting out dating entirely.

Indiana: A story of what could be?

The road to Indiana.

Howdy! I had every intention of posting yesterday, but life took over – okay, more like work took over, and I was up until the wee hours this morning finishing things, and packing for my trip to Indiana tomorrow.

I planned this trip months ago, so I could participate in my second “Take Steps for Crohn’s”, which I am still looking forward to, but the trip has also transformed into something else.

It may come as no surprise that I have some pretty strong feelings for a guy in Indiana. It’s not someone new, in fact, he’s been a part of my life for years – but we’ve really been on a roller coaster.

Without going too much into it, I will say that we’ve managed to be there for each other through some very tough times, especially as of late. I’ve had a tiny crush on him since I was 15, and have been fairly honest about my feelings over the years – him, too, even though he hasn’t always felt the same way.

Recently, he quietly admitted he had feelings, too – something I never, ever thought I’d hear him say. And that’s just it: it’s the first time I’ve liked someone so much, I’d accept it if he didn’t like me. I’d rather have his friendship than nothing, and I want him to be happy, even if it’s not with me.

Strong words, I know.

And that’s the other part of this entire thing: I’m in uncharted territory. I’ve never liked someone who was quite so nice to me; never been able to actually talk to someone on the phone (especially about nerdy stuff, like politics and food); never had any sort of relationship that didn’t involve around sex, talking about sex, or planning for sex. It’s refreshing.

But, it’s also scary AF. What exactly is going on here? I can’t answer that right now. And I don’t know if I’ll be able to answer it after this trip, either.

Because if you’ve been here before, you and I both know how this ends (read this, this, this, this, and this, and this, for examples). I’ve done this. Of course, this is someone different – biologically, and in many different ways. But it has ended poorly for me before. I’m bracing myself to get on that plane next week with a broken heart, and no need for a phone.

A long time ago, I concluded I like Indiana boys because they are familiar, and because, well, I live 19 hours away and don’t really have to subject myself to the intimacy that would happen in a real, face-to-face relationship.

But what if the distance was eliminated? I always say I have stayed in the South to benefit my career. I’ve banked on the story I’ve told myself that I will always be single. But what if I put something, or someone, else first this time? What would my life be like?

There is a huge part of me that already knows the answer. My life would probably be filled with a lot more love, and a little less stress. I might actually get the thing I’ve always wanted: love. A partner.

All of that just scares me. I don’t know if I’m ready, but on the other hand, how can I NOT be ready?

I don’t want to bank everything on this trip, but I am hoping it will show me a little taste of what my story could have been; what it could be, if I choose that path, instead of the one I’m on now.

We’ll see!

PS. The blog will be sparse next week as I’ll be vacationing and mind-questing 🙂 Promise I’ll be back.

‘Southern Charm’: Guess Who’s Coming to Lunch.

Had to use this picture with that awesome lamp in the corner!

Howdy! I hope everyone had a fantastic, fun holiday weekend – I sure did! I know I probably say this after every three-day weekend, but I truly believe that’s how long ALL weekends should be. It’s a much better balance, no?

Anyway, last night was another episode of “Southern Charm”, so let’s get into it!

The episode kicks off with various members of the cast making calls and plans – and even Craig gets an email saying he’s satisfied his writing requirement for law school… meaning, he graduated! What?!? He Skypes his parents and they are pretty stoked, of course.

But when Craig asks Naomi to dinner to tell her the news, she is pretty harsh on him, saying this was a bigger relief for her than it was for him. She admits she was starting to lose faith in him, and this helps to restore it. Yeeesh.

She asks him if he’s going to take the bar exam, and he says, yes, OBVIOUSLY. But the tone is suuuuper negative.

Later, Cameron and Chelsea meet up at Home Goods to do some shopping. Cameron tells Chelsea about the previous night, which was the Sari dinner party. In particular, she tells her about how Kathryn came up in the conversation. Chelsea tells Cameron about when Kathryn came in to get her hair cut, and she was nervous after all of the things she’d heard about her.

Shep calls Cameron to apologize about how he spoke to her at the Sari party, and invites her to join him for lunch with Kathryn and some of their other friends. Needless to say, Cameron is a little uneasy about this idea.

Then, Landon is getting ready to go out to dinner with Thomas, and she tells her friend she wants to talk to him about what everyone has been saying about the two of them: that they should get together. She also admits she knows if she “said yes” to him, she could have anything she wanted. #GoldDigger

At dinner, Landon continuously is making Thomas blush, and it’s a little cute!

Shep heads to a restaurant where he meets Craig and Kathryn for lunch, and they order drinks while they wait for Cameron. Cameron picks up Whitney and they head to the lunch – Cameron seems nervous. But as she walks up to the table with Whitney, Kathryn asks “What the fuck?”

Everyone compliments Kathryn on how she looks, and Cameron says she wants Kathryn to feel supported. Kathryn tells the group she wrote Thomas a letter, and is hoping to get to a place where she can co-parent with him.

Later, Austen and Craig head out for some golf. Austen tells Craig about how jealous Shep has been about him and Chelsea. Then, Shep shows up at Chelsea’s salon needing a haircut. He also kind of grills her about Austen. Shep is all about them hanging out and even asks her to have a glass of wine with him right THEN. She says no.

Landon is out with… some guy… and she’s having drinks because she found out she can’t name her online magazine Roam anymore, because it turns out, there’s several OTHER websites named that. What? She didn’t do her research and if she doesn’t change it, she’ll get sued. But she also starts getting upset over her age; the fact that her eggs are “drying up”; and she starts crying when she realizes she has never had a boyfriend who will walk the dog with her…in the last 12 YEARS.

Kathryn meets JD’s wife (I think) for coffee and cake, and she brings a letter from Thomas that basically says he would like it if they could be friends and invites her to the birthday party for their son. Will she go? We will sseeeeee – because the episode is over!

Also, I did a little catching up on “Southern Charm Savannah”… and it is GOOD stuff. Last night was the fourth episode, and although it’s different than the original “Southern Charm”, it’s very entertaining.

BBC: ’13 Reasons Why’.

Eeeek! I am so, so excited to share my latest read from Blanche’s Book Club with you! I know this plot is a popular subject (or at least it seems to be in my world), so let’s get to it.

The book is “13 Reasons Why” by Jay Asher. I had this book on my reserve list for at least two months at the library, and just got it about a week ago. The odd thing is, as soon as I picked it up, I started hearing lots of people talk about it – at the dance studio, on the radio – because it’s also a series on Netflix.

Anyway, here’s the scoop from Amazon.com:

You can’t stop the future. 
You can’t rewind the past.
The only way to learn the secret . . . is to press play.

Clay Jensen returns home from school to find a strange package with his name on it lying on his porch. Inside he discovers several cassette tapes recorded by Hannah Baker—his classmate and crush—who committed suicide two weeks earlier. Hannah’s voice tells him that there are thirteen reasons why she decided to end her life. Clay is one of them. If he listens, he’ll find out why.
               
Clay spends the night crisscrossing his town with Hannah as his guide. He becomes a firsthand witness to Hannah’s pain, and as he follows Hannah’s recorded words throughout his town, what he discovers changes his life forever.

Sounds a little creepy, right? I’ll admit, it was a little eery to read, but I whipped right through it. I’ll be honest, when the reasons for Hannah’s suicide start cropping up – I was a little skeptical – really? I know, it sounds terrible. But, I also remember high school was like, and it ain’t easy. And as the book progressed, her reasons grew darker – and it was sadly relatable.

One thing that was really interesting is the way this book is set up. It moves quickly, tape-by-tape, and although you almost don’t want to know what Hannah is going to say next, you DO at the same time.

At the end of the book, the author included a Q&A where he talks a lot about the inspiration for the book, and he said he got the idea for the cassette tapes after visiting a museum and visiting an exhibit that had an audio component (complete with headphones). He said that although cassettes are dated, he didn’t want to include technology/social media because it was too fast-paced and we wouldn’t necessarily be able to live in the past.

Fascinating, right?! It really works in this story. I am DEFINITELY recommending this book to anyone and everyone – I loved it, and I hope you do, too.

The next book Blanche’s Book Club will be reading is “Since You’ve Been Gone” by Morgan Mastson. Read it with us!

As you read this, I’m already in Vegas, so I hope you’re having an equally wild, fun, and free weekend – catch you later!

Hand-Picked: Better late than never…

I wish this would have scanned better!

I wish this would have scanned better!

Whew! I’m so sorry I’m just getting around to posting this, and it’s almost Friday, when a new post will be up, but yesterday was a crazy day and I barely even made it home before midnight. So, yes, I know this picture above is hardly legible.

But, when I found this note, it’s the whole reason I thought about doing this series in the first place. It’s a letter from a guy I went to high school with, Evan, and I had a crush on him for what seems like FOREVER! I’m actually just now sort of getting over him, which probably seems crazy, but hey.

So I found this note in my filing cabinet; it was handwritten by him, but it has no date on it. I’m pretty sure it’s from college, but I’m not 100% sure. Anyway, it says that he hopes all is well with my boyfriend (so I was obviously dating someone at the time), and that if my boyfriend isn’t treating me right, to let him know.

He also says, “Thanks for taking this shirt” – so I was obviously bringing a shirt to someone? I also don’t know why I don’t remember this better! I blame it on the alcohol.

Notebook cover.

Notebook cover.

This is another one of my “notebooks” I kept with a friend, obviously in 1999, which was the latter-half of my 8th grade year. I do love the glitter on the cover, but I don’t understand Ben Affleck.

A sweet thank you!

A sweet thank you!

After I started my class, “Blogging for Beginners” at LSU, I was asked by many different groups to speak on blogging best practices. It has become one of my favorite things – teaching and speaking to others about my passion for blogging – and now my course is offered at the University of Texas at Austin, as well as online.

So pretty!

So pretty!

When I was in college, one of my best friends and her husband moved to San Diego. I’d never been, but flew there for Thanksgiving and we had a BLAST! For starters, San Diego is one of the most beautiful cities I’ve ever seen. We also went to Balboa Park, ate a delicious dinner (complete with caramel apple martinis), and even got to see “The Grinch” as a play. In Balboa Park, they do not play when it comes to this annual production – they turned the entire theatre area into Whoville, and it even snowed inside the theatre! I bought a little Grinch doll while I was there, and place it inside my Christmas tree each year. It is one of my favorite memories.

Old loves.

Old loves.

Yep, I still have my od iPod (the original) and my Blackberry. My iPod definitely doesn’t even turn on anymore, and it was loaded with 10K songs that were lost on a computer during a hurricane. I was able to listen to it for a little while afterward, but it was eventually just too old. If anyone knows how to get it to work again, I’d owe you FOR LIFE.

Ah, I will be an advocate for Blackberries until I die. I only recently switched to an iPhone (within the last two years), when it became necessary to have apps and be able to blog better from my phone. But my heart is still with the Blackberry, and I’m not ashamed!

I’ll have the final batch of “Hand-Picked” goodies for you, right here, tomorrow!

#LochteGate & other times men failed us.

Boy, did #LochteGate PISS. ME. OFF! Here I am thinking “Omigosh, Ryan Lochte is soooo hot”, and I’m cheering for him in his only two races, and I’m putting him on my SnapChat, and I was so sad when I heard the news that he’d been robbed at gunpoint. I frantically checked Twitter to see if he was okay; I diligently watched TODAY as he explained the entire story… and then we find out it was all a lie? What the hell?

Aside from it just being disappointing that Lochte turned out to be the douche he looks like, it looks bad for all the athletes, and it looks bad that there was no real punishment for him. It’s ridiculous, and I honestly wish he would get his medals taken away and never be allowed in or at an Olympic event ever again.

But this whole Loch-Mess got me thinking about all the times celeb guys let us down – you know, those moments when you just want to put your head in your hands. Pure disappointment. So, here are some of those moments, in no particular order.

John Mayer’s Stupid Mouth 

Everyone knows I love John Mayer. In fact, love is probably an understatement. But, I’m not blind to the fact that he’s said some really stupid shit that will not be repeated here. In fact, there were many years that his stupidity made it difficult to be a fan – it was almost as if every fan had to have a prepped defense at the drop of his name.

There was his comment about Jessica Simpson in bed, his embarrassing interview with Rolling Stone magazine, that unfortunate time he dated Taylor Swift, and his general sense of douche-baggery during the Jennifer Anniston years. We rolled our eyes, and we moved on – but not until he apologized publicly and moved to the bowels of Montana.

Every Contestant on ‘The Bachelor’

Okay, so maybe not EVERY contestant, but that show manages to highlight some of the WORST dudes in society and turn them into D-list celebs. Let’s travel down memory lane to the one and only Jake Pavelka (season 14), who stole our hearts and then chose VIENNA! Argh!! Honestly, his season was probably the one that really turned me off the most. If you recall, Jake was a pilot and ABC ate that shit uuuup – changing up the theme song to feature Jeffrey Osborne’s “On the Wings of Love” – which was catchy as hell, I’ll admit.

And who can forget Juan Pablo Galavis (season 18)? Granted, we were blessed with Andi Dorfman’s spice because of him, but still… he was awful. And I can’t sleep tonight without mentioning Arie Luyendyk, Jr. – from “The Bachelorette”, season 8 – I just cannot with him.

Justin Bieber’s Antics

Between pissing in a mop bucket, to egging his neighbor’s house, getting a DUI, and in general, just being a little punk ass, Justin Bieber lets down us Beliebers a lot. But I’d be lying if I said his little shit storm of an attitude isn’t what makes him so likable. He will never learn, because he doesn’t have to – and we’ll all still be here when he decides to come back to Instagram.

Lance Armstrong Caught Doping

In October 2012, the USADA found Lance Armstrong had bee doping since 1998, and consequently stripped him of his 7 winning titles of the Tour de France, along with any prize money. Suspicion grew against Armstrong for years after quickly recovering from cancer, and having several questionable urine samples. It’s easy to say that after that, his LiveStrong campaign went right down the toilet.

Zac Efron Goes to Rehab

I love me some Zac Efron, but none of us can forget when the hottest star EVER packed his bags and went to rehab for drugs and alcohol in 2013. And don’t get me wrong – I think going to rehab is a respectable move. The disappointing part was the heavy cocaine use that was basically his dirty little secret. Many celeb reporting outlets said Efron was out of control on cocaine, and that his problem was not about alcohol. Either way, he seems to be on the right track (we hope), and should probably come hang out in Austin any day now.

Brian Williams Joins Club of Liars 

In February of last year, it was brought to the world’s attention that newscaster Brian Williams had fabricated a story about being in a helicopter that was shot in a war zone in Iraq. His story contracted that of people that were there, and the top-rated journalist admitted he was wrong. This entire thing made me so sad, because I truly respected him as a reporter. And honestly, I still do, and I’m glad he is working a second chance on MSNBC, after he was quickly blackballed from NBC’s Nightly News.

Pic of the Week.

It’s quite possible I’m still coming off a high from such an incredible weekend.

I took my first paid-vacation day at the new job on Friday to travel to Kansas City, Missouri. A little random? Kind of.

My reasoning was, I got invited to a wedding there. The groom has been a longtime blog reader, turned friend, but we’d never met in-person. What better way to meet someone than on the day of his wedding?

And so, I packed my Jeep and drove. I invited my friend Sheena to be my plus-one, so she did the same, only she was coming from Indiana, and I from Texas.

I’ve been traveling and driving a lot lately, but I waited too late to get a flight, so I hit the road. And honestly? I’m really glad I did. It was one of the most beautiful drives I’ve ever taken.

Most of the route was on I-35, stretching over miles of fields, wind farms, and cows. I even saw an old pickup racing down a dusty trail. It was completely glorious and I felt like I was in a Nicholas Sparks’ book for a few hours.

And at the end of the long, long road, was one of my best friends. We enjoyed wine and food and caught up on our first night in town.

Saturday, we had to taste what Kansas City was famous for: the BBQ. It was sweet and sticky, and insanely delicious. If you ever find yourself in KC, stop by the Smoke Box, order the beans, and eat all of the hunks of meat in them. They’ve been simmering in that damn pot since before you were born and it is melty, meaty goodness.

And then, it was nearly time for the wedding! I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t anxious all day for it.

You see, the blog reader, my friend, the groom, Matt, is also a blogger. That’s how we connected. While I’ve been sitting over here getting off on cynicism, Matt created a blog following on being a “Nice Guy.” He was on a mission to prove that being a nice guy really puts you in the winner’s circle.

After a few years of reading each other’s blogs and exchanging writings, we traded numbers, and in what was probably one of the lowest parts of my life: I reached out for his advice.

I was about two months into my relationship with D. He was drinking every night and we were fighting. “Is this normal?” I texted Matt.

Of course, it wasn’t. And he told me to move on. But, I figured Matt just didn’t know me. Turns out, I should’ve taken his advice, as what followed was enough drama that created my first book: How I Fell.

About that same time, Matt setup to meet a girl he’d been talking to via an online dating site. They met in-person at a dog park, where Matt debuted the love of his life, O’Malley, his rescue dog.

Matt told me the girl, Becca, brought a ball for “Mals,” and that was a major point-score. They saw each other again and again, and they even started dating.

And I? I was dating a jerk and rolled my eyes at Matt and Becca’s smooth sailing. Something had to be less than perfect, right? No.

Matt told me many months later that he was planning to propose to Becca during their vacation trip to Los Angeles.

I was so, so happy and I kept texting Matt, “Has it happened yet?!”

It did. She said yes. And there we we were, about to see the whole thing through.

Matt and Becca got married at an old, yet still-functional, movie theatre in Kansas City. Their names were on the marquee, there was popcorn, arcade games, and traditional theatre seating. There was even a little preview: the Mupetts. Because… Of course.

While the attire was semi formal and the bride and groom were completely decked, the bouquets were made from paper (some of the flowers were made of comics) and they were wearing chucks (I completely called this).

It was so personalized and unique; I absolutely loved it!

I know every wedding is full of love, but I’ll be honest, sometimes there’s so many flowers, and crystals, and people that it’s hard to see it. This was the first time I’ve been to a wedding and could honestly see just how much every single person wanted the bride and groom to be together.

There were lots of happy tears, well-wishes, and congratulations. Everyone was so thankful that these two, who were clearly made for each other, had finally found each other. It was very sweet.

Aside from getting to meet Matt and Becca, there were also a few other blog fans there and it was flattering and humbling and just so fun all at once!

I started my blog (and many others) because I’m always writing and thinking and analyzing. Never did I ever think that one, or two, or from what WordPress tells me, hundreds of people across this globe would read my words, or care about my life.

But there I was, in Kansas City, toasting to two of my very own. To Matt and Becca, I cannot imagine that in my years of blogging (read:over sharing), I’ve given you what you gave me in a single weekend.

You gave me hope that no matter how you meet someone, and even if you’ve got some weird obsessions (ahem, Halloween), there’s still a possibility that a match is out there. More importantly, you proved what I’ve always wondered: that fate is real.

And to that, I say congratulations and thank you!

To the rest of you, take a lesson from Matt and Becca: invite me to your wedding. I will bring gifts but I’ll drink you dry.

Follow me on Twitter, Instagram, and SnapChat @OrangeJulius7

Fiction Friday: Oil & Ink, part II.

Another day at Tucker's...

Another day at Tucker’s…

Oil & Ink is an original fiction piece written by Holly A. Phillips in 2007. Every part of this story i based on a very vivid dream. Read part 1, here.

*     *     *

Charlie shook his head. He wondered how well a tattoo shop did out there. He wondered what kind of ink a tourist wished for after a round of drinks on The Strip. He thought about the skin on a stripper. He knew a shop in Vegas would charge more than $75 for a biker’s eagle.

After the bikers left, Charlie was done for the day. Four hours of drawing eagles made his blue eyes tired. No one was going to come in after 8pm on a Tuesday. He dropped his tool tray in the sterilizer, gathered his unpaid bills, along with the money he made that day: nearly $400. Charlie sat in his ’89 Corolla and shuffled through the envelopes, deciding which bill needed to be paid first. The biker money would help some.

Charlie lived in a duplex just a few exits down from Tucker’s. Once he was home, he immediately searched the fridge for his leftover takeout carton of noodles. He popped it in the microwave when his phone rang. Before looking at his phone, he knew it was his dad calling.

“Hi dad,” he answered. “What’s goin’ on?”

“How come you weren’t at the opening tonight?”

“Well, I ended up having a busy day today… so I couldn’t leave work,” Charlie explained.

“What does that even mean?”

“It means I did four tattoos and that’s okay money,” Charlie said, trying not to get annoyed.

“It might be okay, but you need to look ahead, and look beyond this hobby.”

“Sure, dad,” Charlie said. “Well I’m going to go eat some dinner before I call it a night.”

“Alright, bye.”

Charlie hung up. His dad would never change. He always think Charlie wasn’t good enough, even if Charlie was simply happy.

The remainder of the week brought travelers and young girls into the shop for Charlie to draw on. The weather was nice, so the nearby campgrounds were filling up. The tourists wanted small, Asian symbols on their backs and the girls wanted butterflies on their hips. They all left tips.

“Why do you let those girls get tattoos?” Sara asked from the register.

“Why not? They’re 18.”

“Well you know they still live at home. Their moms will shit,” Sara said.

“It’s not my problem,” Charlie said. “I don’t have to ask their moms.”

Sara shrugged her shoulders and popped her gum. The truth was, Charlie wasn’t thrilled to ink up a young girl’s clean skin. But it was money. He knew the better artists had rules about tattooing — no tongue tattoos, no ink on the fingers or toes, no names, etc. — but Charlie couldn’t confine himself to those limits. He needed all the work he could get. He knew the young girls wouldn’t appreciate the talent he had; they just wanted to show their friends. They didn’t realize that Charlie reset his gun to make up for their thin skin, that he’d used breakable pigments in case they had it removed in 20 years, or that he’d studied popular tattoo designs for years, prior to their arrival.

That week had been good for Charlie. Things were slowly looking up; his stack of unpaid bills was dwindling. He’d paid one each day; tourist season was a big help. When Friday night came around, he stayed at Tucker’s until midnight tattooing a hooker. Her voice was raspy and she wore shiny, red high heels. She paid him in twenties and she tipped well.

The next morning, Charlie’s neighbor was moving out of the other half of the duplex.

“Man, what’s going on?” Charlie asked.

“I got a new position at my job.”

“Oh wow,” Charlie said. “Where ya movin’ to?”

“Oh, just a few counties over to another small house. How’s Tucker’s?”

“It’s been a good few weeks. But I’m about to look for a shop of my own, I think.”

“Really? That’s great, Charlie. Your dad finally come around and give you some money?”

“Yeah right, man. That’ll never happen,” Charlie said. “I’ve been saving. Putting a little here and there. Adds up, I guess.”

“Sure it does. Well, keep it up kid. You’re doing well.”

“Thanks, man. And let me know how the new place is.”

*     *     *

Read the third, and final, part of Oil & Ink right here, Friday, August 14. 

Birthday Perspective.

Cheers, it's ya birthday.

Cheers, it’s ya birthday.

I turned 30 last week.

I’ve never been big on celebrating my birthday. I don’t know if it’s because I’m a little shy at times, or because having a birthday so close to July 4th made parties as a kid nearly impossible (everyone was always out-of-town).

I never thought age would bother me — it’s just a number. But since my 25th birthday, each year the number has bothered me more and more.

I thought I’d be married with kids by now. Is single “okay” at 30?

For my 26th birthday, I flew to Chicago to meet up with my best friend.

I was in an on-off relationship with a guy that, looking back on it, really treated me poorly. Now, he’s married to one of the women he cheated on me with.

During my layover in Houston, I got drunk and missed my connecting flight as I was chatting with a cute guy.

He was on the same flight heading to Chicago, and when we tried to get on a new one, the airline told us we were stuck until the next morning.

So, I did exactly what you’re not supposed to do in this situation and hopped in a cab with a perfect stranger.

We went to a bar, played darts, and took birthday shots. My flight was at 6 am the next morning.

He offered his place for me to sleep, and said he’d take me to the airport.

I had no luggage, so he let me borrow his phone charger, a shirt to sleep in, and we ended up hooking up.

While I would never recommend anyone doing that, I was starting to wonder if my now-30 self would ever be that spontaneous and daring.

I was certain I would not — I find myself getting less excited over potential boyfriends, and I do a lot of telling myself that it’s going to be okay even if I never get married.

But, then my 30th birthday happened.

My friend stuck with tradition and offered to take me to dinner. We went to City Pork Brasserie & Bar, where we had wine and a Grand Board (the salmon pate is delicious).

We closed down the place, bought the kitchen a six-pack, and were ready to hit the town.

Next, we went to Pelican House where we met a slew of pretty cute guys, and drank too many beers.

And somehow, we ended up at The Penthouse Club around 1am with said guys.

Naturally, my friend got a stack of dollars and we proceeded to give the Penthouse ladies some love.

Being that it was my birthday, I got a lap dance and ended up in a private room with Lauren, from New Orleans.

She got most of my dollars.

Just when I thought turning 30 meant giving up my fun card, I had a night like that.

Sure, I felt like absolute crap the next day, but it was completely worth it.

Age is all about what you make it.

At 30, I’m starting to see the world really is my oyster. I’ve got options — sometimes too many — and I can basically do whatever I want… Even if it means lounging at The Penthouse Club on a Thursday night.