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Do I have a ‘Catitude’ problem?

Miss Blanche!

“All you do is complain.”

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

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

Big mistake.

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

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

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

Even bigger mistake.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Perhaps she is the Jane to my Daria.

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

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

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

No shit. Next?

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

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

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

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

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BBC: ‘Scrappy Little Nobody’.

Howdy! Is anyone else still having trouble adjusting back to life post-holidays? I’m not sure what my deal is, but I’m still finding I can’t quite get things together – it’s a slow process, and it just might be February before I’m fully ready to tackle 2017.

But, I am having a pretty good time getting back into the groove of reading, and I think you’ll really enjoy the latest read from Blanche’s Book Club: “Scrappy Little Nobody” by Anna Kendrick. Here’s the description from Amazon.com:

Even before she made a name for herself on the silver screen starring in films like PitchPerfect, Up in the Air, Twilight, and Into the Woods, Anna Kendrick was unusually small, weird, and “10 percent defiant.”

At the ripe age of thirteen, she had already resolved to “keep the crazy inside my head where it belonged. Forever. But here’s the thing about crazy: It. Wants. Out.” In Scrappy Little Nobody, she invites readers inside her brain, sharing extraordinary and charmingly ordinary stories with candor and winningly wry observations.

With her razor-sharp wit, Anna recounts the absurdities she’s experienced on her way to and from the heart of pop culture as only she can—from her unusual path to the performing arts (Vanilla Ice and baggy neon pants may have played a role) to her double life as a middle-school student who also starred on Broadway to her initial “dating experiments” (including only liking boys who didn’t like her back) to reviewing a binder full of butt doubles to her struggle to live like an adult woman instead of a perpetual “man-child.”

Enter Anna’s world and follow her rise from “scrappy little nobody” to somebody who dazzles on the stage, the screen, and now the page—with an electric, singular voice, at once familiar and surprising, sharp and sweet, funny and serious (well, not that serious).

Sounds good, right? I know there are people out there who are OBSESSED with Anna Kendrick. I’ve never really understood this, until I read this book.

She’s pretty, funny, talented, and seems pretty damn real and humble. She’s just like us!! Her on-screen humor is definitely read on the page, as well. The book is essentially a collection of short stories from her life, all strung together in an organized way.

I’ll admit, I completely forgot she was in “Up in the Air” with George Clooney, and had absolutely no clue that she got started on Broadway, let alone at 12 years old! Damn, girl!

I’m basically obsessed with her take on men and dating, presented in the “Boys” chapter: “If a guy can convince me he has the answers or a better plan than me, I will follow him anywhere.”

Hells yes! Totally adding her to my list of spiritual leaders (Lin-Manuel Miranda, Trevor Noah, Anderson Cooper…).

I think my favorite part of the book (although there were many to choose from) was when Kendrick admitted to not really enjoying award shows, but relishing in getting home afterward, keeping her borrowed diamonds on, while sitting in her sweatpants and eating mac n’ cheese. Sounds pretty awesome!

So yes, definitely add this book to your list if you’re even the slightest bit of an Anna Kendrick fan – or really just interested in the stories behind successful actresses.

The next book Blanche’s Book Club will be reading is “Big Little Lies” by Liane Moriarty, in preparation for the HBO limited series based on the book! The series premiers on February 19, and looks pretty awesome. Here’s the trailer:

I’m on the road today, heading to the Rio Grande Valley for the weekend, and I packed the book for (hopefully) some relaxing down time. You can follow me on SnapChat @OrangeJulius7 to see all the adventures I come across.

I hope you all have a great weekend, whatever you end up doing! See you right back here on Monday!

BBC: “Still Life”.

Happy Friday the 13th – Mwahahahaha! It’s my last day at my current job, and on Monday I’ll be skipping to someplace new, and of course, I’ll be sharing the next leg of my journey with you.

But today, I want to talk about Blanche’s Book Club’s latest read, “Still Life” by Louise Penny. I heard lots about this book from a podcast (“What Should I Read Next?”) that I listen to each week. The host of the show recommended this book to fans of Robert Galbraith’s (AKA J.K. Rowling) Cormoran Strike series – which I love.

The Louise Penny series – which by the way, I don’t think it’s an actual series as in, I don’t think you have to read them in order (or do you?), but either way, I know you could just pick up any one of the books and read them without having read the ones before it or continuing to read the ones after it.

However, I did start with book one of the group, because I do plan on reading several of them – there are 12 in total, plus a new book that’s coming out in August. Here’s the description for “Still Life” from Amazon.com:

Chief Inspector Armand Gamache of the Surêté du Québec and his team of investigators are called in to the scene of a suspicious death in a rural village south of Montreal. Jane Neal, a local fixture in the tiny hamlet of Three Pines, just north of the U.S. border, has been found dead in the woods. The locals are certain it’s a tragic hunting accident and nothing more, but Gamache smells something foul in these remote woods, and is soon certain that Jane Neal died at the hands of someone much more sinister than a careless bowhunter.

Still Life introduces not only an engaging series hero in Inspector Gamache, who commands his forces–and this series–with integrity and quiet courage, but also a winning and talented new writer of traditional mysteries in the person of Louise Penny.

You can find all of the Chief Inspector Gamache series books here, and this is the order they were published in, just in case you want to tackle them in order: “Still Life”, “A Fatal Grace”, “The Cruelest Month”, “A Rule Against Murder”, “The Brutal Telling”, “Bury Your Dead”, “A Trick of the Light”, “The Beautiful Mystery”, “How the Light Gets In”, “The Long Way Home”, The Nature of the Beast”, and “A Great Reckoning” (the new book coming out in August).

All of the books take place in Three Pines, a small village in Canada. The author, Louise Penny, lives in a small Canadian village, too, so perhaps she took a lot of inspiration from her own life. If you decide to get into the books, there are lots of discussion boards and even recipes inspired by the books posted on the website!

I will admit “Still Life” was a little slow during the first two chapters, but quickly picked up and was a joy to read. I definitely see how fans of the Cormoran Strike series would also enjoy this group of books.

The next book Blanche’s Book Club will be reading is “Scrappy Little Nobody” by Anna Kendrick. I’m so excited to read this book!

I hope you all have a fantastic weekend – if you’ve got a three-day weekend then I’m super jealous! I’m going to be cooking some more recipes from Chrissy Teigen’s cookbook, taking my second pilates class of the week (making it my 7th workout class this week), giving myself a mani and pedi as I prep for my new job, and in general just getting my life together! If you’re following me on SnapChat @OrangeJulius7, I’m certain you’ll see it all go down.

See you here on Monday!

BBC: the birthday edition!

Ba-da-da-da-da!!!! Today is kitty Blanche’s 3rd birthday, so naturally, Blanche and I are sleeping off our raging hangovers (she’s 21 in cat years now, y’all).

No, actually, I’m at work and Blanche gets to stay at home, living the life of luxury all day. Lucky duck! To celebrate, Blanche got a special helping of soft food for breakfast. I gave her a gift early, because I just couldn’t wait: a bright yellow stool from IKEA so she can sit on it and watch birds all day.

Blanche's lookout point.

Blanche’s lookout point.

If the point hasn’t been made clear, I’m a total, loud and proud #CatLady – even though I only have one cat. Everything about my life pretty much revolves around my cat, and I’m fine with it. The funny thing about the stool is that, for some odd reason, I let Blanche BORROW my desk stool to sit at the window and bird watch.

But it quickly became apparent that I wasn’t getting it back. So, I bought her one for herself and took back my original desk stool. I may or may not decorate hers with colorful paints and or glitter. We’ll see. She also got a “smartycat” from my friend, which is one of those motion toys that’s really going to get the party started.

Being that Blanche’s birthday is today, I’ve been thinking a lot about our short time together so far. The truth is, Blanche has been the wildest kitty I’ve had as of yet. She’s got long, crazy hair, sharp claws (and teeth), and a very sassy attitude. But, this pretty kitty came into my life when I was dating an emotionally abusive alcoholic. She was there for many nights when I cried myself to sleep, and when he tried to break into my apartment.

She’s been with me through unemployment, retail life, late nights, and of course, our move to Austin (and she was silent a majority of the 7-hour drive). Blanche was a shelter kitty and was discovered with her mom and siblings in the attic of a school in Baton Rouge. In a way, we saved each other. That’s a cat that deserves some spoiling, amiright? Probably not, but we’re rolling with it. So, Happy Birthday to my wild-eyed, beautiful kitty, Blanche Devereaux!

Before I forget, if you entered the contest yesterday, you won! Congrats to Samantha and my mom, Anna! You should expect an email from Green Chef (sent yesterday).

So, that brings us to BBC, Blanche’s Book Club! We’ve finished reading book #2 for the club, and it’s a real success with the whopping two members on board (one of them being Blanche). But, it’s not a popularity contest. So, our latest read was “The Lair, The Bitch and the Wardrobe” by Allie Kingsley.

From the back of the book:

If you’re going to step on people on your way to the top, you might as well do it in stilettos . . .

. . . Or so she’s been told. Lucy Butler, former wallflower, lands her dream job working for her idol, world-famous fashion photographer Stefano Lepres. But in a world where getting doused in coffee for not getting the order right is the new normal, she isn’t getting any closer to her ideal of being behind the camera herself. Then a superstar actress generously takes Lucy under her wing and teaches her the ways of the rich and famous—treating her to racks of designer clothes and introducing her to a life of private planes and penthouse suites. Soon Lucy is dating a rock star, attending the hottest Hollywood parties, and dressing the part.

Lost in the luxury, she loses sight of the things that once mattered most. It’s going to take a hard blow from the high life to send Lucy back to the real life she always wanted.

 I know it’s kind of early in the year to say this, but this would be a great pool/beach read. It’s lite, sexy, glamorous, edgy, and in parts, laugh-out-loud funny. I’ll admit, it took me a few chapters before I really got into this book, but after that, I pretty much finished it in one sitting.

It’s got mixed reviews on Good Reads, but has some interesting books linked with it in the whole “Other readers enjoyed…” including “The Big Bang” by Linda Joffe Hull (think: Desperate Housewives), “At Least You’re in Tuscany: A Somewhat Diastrous Quest for the Sweet Life” is Jennifer Criswell (memoir: moving from NYC to Tuscany), and “Lucy Gets Her Life Back” by Stef Ann Holm (single mom, super drama).

While I’m fairly certain this is Kingley’s only book of her own, she’s worked in the fashion industry for many years, and worked with Nikki Hilton to publish her book – pretty cool. Plus, she’s got gorgeous red hair, and who doesn’t love a red head?

The next book BBC will be reading is “The Silkworm” by Robert Galbraith, the second book in the Cormoran Strike Series. If you want to contribute to the discussion, leave a comment, email me at Holly@thebitterlemon.com, Snap me or DM me @OrangeJulius7 or whatever you have to do. Or, you can send me a book title to read, but I’m not making any promises, folks. It’s the non-committal book club you’ve always dreamed of!

And what that, I’m signing off until Monday! Prep yourselves for an amazing week of blogs starting right here, on Monday. Muah!

Pic of the Week.

I got a record player for my birthday! Wahoo! It’s something I’ve been wanting for years; mainly because I think it’d be really fun to hunt for records. I was always planning on buying a player for myself, but just never could get around to justifying it.

So, I asked for one and my mom got it for me, along with a few of my favorite records — Amy Winehouse’s “Back to Black” and Alanis Morissette’s “Jagged Little Pill.”

I didn’t get a traditional-looking record player; I wanted something different, and something small. I don’t have much room for anything big in my apartment and the last thing I need is more clutter. I got the Sylvania Turntable in blue, with USB coding (see it here).

The cool thing about it is, you can use batteries with it if you aren’t in a situation to plug it in! And, if you buy a record that you don’t have otherwise, you can hook it up to your computer and it will put the digital files there. Neat!

Last Friday night, I got home from work and needed to get some cleaning done, so I decided to take a moment and set up my record player. Now, I’ve never even touched a record, so I actually did follow the provided directions.

It took me a minute to get everything set up, but I put in Jagged Little Pill first. Everything was sounding good, until it just wasn’t. The song slowed down and sounded completely warped. I looked into the other room where the record player was, and… Blanche.

The open-style of the Sylvania had tempted Blanche — think about it, an open-record, spinning — and she had her paw on the record. Nnnoooooo!

It took me 30 minutes of reminding Blanche, NO, we do not touch the record. This was very, very difficult, as Blanche is a kitty who loves two things: 1. Loud music, and 2. anything mysteriously moving.

But by side two, Blanche had distanced herself (1 foot) from the player and was being a decent cat about the situation. I just hope the record isn’t completely ruined.

In other news, being reminded how freaking good Jagged Little Pill was? PRICELESS. There are songs on there I totally forgot about, and as I was listening, and singing along, I was Googling, and found out that this month, the album turns 20. Wow (I actually found a recent article from Elle on the subject).

“One Hand in my Pocket” might still be my jam.

There’s a ton of albums on my wish list right now — John Mayer, of course, David Gray, Lauren Hill, Alicia Keys, Jamie Cullum, Chris Botti, etc. — but what are some you’ve heard that you think I’d like?

“I feel drunk but I’m sober, I’m young and I’m underpaid. I’m tired but I’m working, yeah. I care but I’m restless, I’m here but I’m really gone. I’m wrong and I’m sorry baby.” — One Hand in my Pocket