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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.

Hey, teach!

After weeks of prepping, I had an interview yesterday to determine whether I could teach a class I created all on my own: Blogging for Beginners.

I got the class!

I will say, right from the start, I never ever thought I would teach. However, over the 10 years of my writing career, I have felt a want to show others just how amazing such an outlet can be. Over these years, I’ve been inspired by people and their stories. However, before all of that were some great teachers who lit a fire within me I didn’t even know I had.

And so, I took ahold of an opportunity placed in front of me. I know I love to blog, and I want to show others that it’s easy and fun! The course I have created will teach how to start and maintain any and every type of blog. It will be an interactive class, so my students can get my help as they work.

I am really excited to meet my course participants and see what kind of blogs they’ve been thinking of. I am also looking forward to learning even more about blogging.

Redundant.

It seems really silly and stupid of me to post two entries in a row that are apologies about not writing.

I have, yet again, put all the fun stuff on hold for what? Work, I suppose.

This book is really important to me, so I don’t know why I keep letting it slip to the wayside. Such is the problem of a writer with no real deadline…someone out there, make me a deadline!

Why blog?

Because you’re reading it!!

Folding Shirts.

I didn’t see or speak to Eddie in months. In January, when I returned back to Baton Rouge after winter break, Kirk and Nicole and I went shopping in the mall. Kirk walked by American Eagle and saw Eddie inside. We went in as a group and messed up a few shirts, acting like we were looking around.

Eddie walked over to us.

“Can I help you guys find something?” he asked.

“Nope,” I said.

And with that, he turned around, without acknowledging that we knew each other.

Relationships with Holly A. Phillips {published on Wednesday, January 24, 2007}:

I got stuck between two idiots.

My last boyfriend, Eddie, recently got back together with his ex-girlfriend, Paige.

Before I met Eddie, they dated for almost two years. A month after we met, Eddie and Paige broke up. For awhile, there was tension between the three os us. I was trying to get closer to him, while she was making efforts to pull their relationship back together. Her things were still in his bathroom, her pictures were still in his room and she still had his house key.

During a trip to meet my family, she was sending him text messages. But I wasn’t worried.

Aside from being my amazing self, Eddie assured me that a failure with Paige was impossible.

“We were in a bad relationship for a long time,” he said. “Girls are crazy.”

He told me why things didn’t work out. She was catty, high-maintenance and full of gossip.

Now they’re back together—inevitably. Their situation is typical. Boy treats girl like crap, girl crawls back to him in tears. Boy gets huge ego.

For the record, I have never gone back with an ex. This is mainly because I see it as a complete waste of time. My attitude toward an ex is simply, “been there, done that.” There is no point to going back to something I know doesn’t work.

I firmly believe people don’t change. I do understand a relationship is an investment. It’s easy to go back with an ex because it’s comfortable. It’s easy to forget why things ended because our mind wants to remember the person in a positive light.

Fortunately, I don’t have that problem. I despise my ex-boyfriends because they are all just like Eddie—good at lying and putting on a sweet facade. During a breakup, my advice is to end a relationship for good or simply stay together. If both people continue back and forth, it’s going to be a never-ending battle.

Just remember: it’s over for a reason.