Blog Archives

BBC: ‘Head for the Edge, Keep Walking’.

Happy Friday! It has been a busy week on my end, and I’m sort of in a race to the finish – the finish being my flight to Indianapolis a week from today. Before then, I’ve got a lot on my plate and I feel like I’m running on some serious adrenaline, but hey, it’s all good!

I still had some time to read this week, and finished my book sale find ($1) “Head for the Edge, Keep Walking” by Kate Tough. Here’s the description from Amazon.com:

Jill Beech’s nine-year relationship is over. She covers the sadness with madness, going dancing with her off-beat friends and attempting a series of hilariously bad internet dates. Then life is flipped on its head again by some shocking news. Adrift in her mid-thirties, no-one does lost quite like Jill. Wry, witty, resilient but bewildered, she is left asking, what does it take to stay sane in this life? And why does it look easier for everyone else? While her friends are preoccupied with pregnancy, Jill looks elsewhere for meaning. Will she find happiness with a kitten called Cyril? A job she can finally believe in? Or a charming ex-snowboard champion who wants to settle down? Events force Jill to head for the edge—will she fall headlong or turn things around and keep walking?

When I read the back of the book, I felt like “Omigosh, this sounds exactly like me” – minus that whole 9-year relationship thing. But when I read the book, her problems weren’t exactly as the book jacket described.

Yes, she was trying to find her life again, trying to find little bits of joy in her job, and see some sort of meaning in the endless cycle of going out each night. But she was also faced with some semi-serious health issues, on top of attempting to date and find love.

It was a good read – just a little bit different than I expected, and I’ll admit, I often don’t understand British humor.

The next book I’ll be reading is “The Night We Said Yes” by Lauren Gibaldi.

I hope you all have a great weekend – I’ll be doing some baking tonight, so if you want to see it you can catch it on SnapChat @OrangeJulius7. Tomorrow, I’m road-tripping it to Louisiana, and I’ve got a Dispatch album in my console, along with an audio book!

See y’all on Monday!

BBC: ‘Why We Broke Up’.

Hello, hello! My sincere apologies for not posting this on Friday – I had some internet issues on Thursday night, and was simply too tired to stay up and resolve them. But alas! I finished reading another book last week and wanted to share it with you.

Blanche’s Book Club’s latest read is “Why We Broke Up” by Daniel Handler. Here’s the description from Amazon.com: I’m telling you why we broke up, Ed. I’m writing it in this letter, the whole truth of why it happened. Min Green and Ed Slaterton are breaking up, so Min is writing Ed a letter and giving him a box. Inside the box is why they broke up. Two bottle caps, a movie ticket, a folded note, a box of matches, a protractor, books, a toy truck, a pair of ugly earrings, a comb from a motel room, and every other item collected over the course of a giddy, intimate, heartbreaking relationship. Item after item is illustrated and accounted for, and then the box, like a girlfriend, will be dumped.

…Sounds like the leftover from many of the relationships I’ve had!

I got this book from the library and what I noticed off the bat was that it weighed a TON. It wasn’t that big of a book, but upon further inspection I saw that it was printed on thick, glossy paper and was filled with colorful illustrations of the items inside the box. After reading it, I can’t help but wonder if the weight of the book was also supposed to resemble the weight of the box from Min.

This book is very different. The voice is very raw and honest, and although there are stories upon stories about this relationship, the reader is still given lots of room to imagine the course of this couple. Sure, it’s a little dramatic, but Min and Ed are teenagers, and nothing hurts quite like your first broken heart.

While most of the things inside the box represented milestones in their relationship, some of the tokens were proof that we all assign meaning to even the smallest of things – especially if there were very few of them. I can recall not wanting to go to Blockbuster after my first relationship because we would go there to rent movies… us and the entire world! It’s funny how much we invest in the physical parts of a relationship, possibly when there’s not much to feast on emotionally.

The way this book is written – one really long letter to Ed – is different and a bit artsy. If that’s you, I say GO for this one! It was fun and refreshing.

The next book Blanche’s Book Club will be reading is “Bittersweet” by Miranda Beverly-Whittemore. We hope you’ll read it along with us!

I hope you all had a great weekend – I went to dance, lounged at the pool with a book and some wine, did some shopping, and did a little cooking. It was fantastic! I’ve got a busy week ahead between work and travel, and I’ve got my Steps for Crohn’s on Saturday. It should be a good one – but I’m ready for a brand new episode of “Southern Charm” tonight, which I’ll be recapping right here tomorrow. Hope to see you then!

‘So Cosmo’: Cosmo AF.

Le sigh, Evan looks so good.

Does this week seem soooooo long to anyone else? It’s been super crazy at work, and I’m trying my best to keep my cool, but I’m ready for the weekend!

Leave it to “So Cosmo” to provide a little mid-week relief. The episode is all sorts of Cosmo drama when Tiffany wore a borrowed sheer white skirt out, and naturally spilled red wine on it. The skirt has to be returned stain-free, obvi, so that creates an interesting experimental situation for Tiffany’s assistant.

Meanwhile, in Union Square, Evan is trying to finish up an article for the magazine by getting some 1:1 interviews with women who work out. Pretty much everyone he asks thinks he’s a creep, so he calls Diandra in hopes that if he had a woman by his side, he could actually get some quotes.

But when he calls Diandra, she answers her phone all “new phone who dis?” and the conversation is very short and awkward. And frankly, it’s kind of sad.

The staff is having a little goodbye party for Joana, and Michael Buble stops by, because Cosmo.

Back to the stain! Tiffany’s assistant went to the people at Good Housekeeping and talked to the “stain expert” and got some sort of spray to put on the skirt. While Tiffany is worried it won’t work, her assistant says the owner of the skirt has been harassing her to get it back.

Meanwhile, Joana and Michelle are having a meeting of the minds, complete with champs, and it’s very pinky-up-hauty-laughter; very who is going to SURVIVE?! Ugh.

Back at Stain-Gate 2017, Tiffany’s assistant has a friend who thinks he can get the stain out. So he secretly comes into the office and scoops up the skirt and is out of there, but not without Tiffany seeing and she wants to know aaallll the details about it.

In other news, Joana pulls Leah aside to “talk about her career”, and basically tells her that she’s fucking awesome and she probably needs a new challenge. In addition to her title as Beauty Editor at Cosmo, she’s also going to add four additional magazines under her (in the beauty department). So, her new title is Chief Beauty Officer… and it comes with a hefty pay increase.

Some of the other departments are seeing similar shifts – such as the fashion department. Basically everyone is taking over Hearst. I’m envious.

Later, Leah tells her husband about her promotion, and she also slips in that even though it’s not a great time for them to have a second baby, she miiiight be pregnant. What?! Her husband doesn’t seem worried – he’s all “it’s never really a good time; everything will work itself out.”

Evan comes into the office and tells Adam that he’s thinking about quitting because he feels so strongly about Diandra. WHAT?! Evan says he hasn’t felt this way in a long time about someone, and Adam is like uhh hey, you worked really hard for this… and lowkey Adam doesn’t think Diandra is that into him.

Adam runs over to Diandra and tells her what’s about to go down, while at the same time, Evan is in Holly’s office telling her he might not be staying at Cosmo. NOOOOOOOO!!!

Holly is all, “You would be crazy to leave”, and she refuses to accept his resignation. Diandra races into Holly’s office and stops the conversation. Basically, Holly is a class act and says, look, I know what’s going on between the two of you, so please take a walk, and figure this out, and we’ll follow up in a few.

Adam runs over to Tiffany and tells HER what’s happening and Tiffany is all “WHAT THE FUCK”, and she’s ready to knock some sense into these youngins.

Diandra and Evan lock themselves in the lounge, and she flips her shit. She’s like, “I don’t know what you want from me!!!!” and it’s super dramatic. Then he blurts out “I love you!” and she’s crying and he starts sniffling and heads back upstairs.

It’s at about this time I realize a little clump of words in the corner of the screen: “Season Finale”. NNAAAAOOOOOO.

So basically there’s no damn resolution and we just watched 8 hours of “So Cosmo” for nothing more than a view of Evan’s abs.

…I’ll take what I can get, let’s be honest.

 

‘So Cosmo’: Woman Up.

Diandra at “Fun Fearless Money”.

Hey, hey! It has been a bit of a doozy of a week – so bad I almost had to go out and buy myself a bottle of wine, but I didn’t, because 1. I’m too lazy, and 2. I’m really serious about not messing up my “sleep study” (please read Tuesday’s post for clarity). Either way, I’m happy we’re on the downside of the week, and coasting right on into the weekend.

Which means one thing: A new episode of “So Cosmo” was on last night! The episode starts with Diandra and Evan on a D-A-T-E – she gets a helicopter to take them over the city. Seriously? THIS is the type of shit I need to be doing? Where have all the cowboys gone?

It was super romantic until Evan was all, “Is there a Mile High Club for helicopters?”

Meanwhile, Tiffany has a girlfriend over for a little champagne and she just casually has the “Cosmo Karma Sutra” book on her coffee table, because it’s “pretty”. So the ladies are flipping through the book and they get to talking about guys they’ve dated and it comes up that Tiffany actually went through a recent breakup with a guy she thought was “the one”.

In work news, Adam got a great opportunity to shoot the “Tips and Sips” shoot – remember, it’s the spread about manicures inspired by cocktails? Basically he is flipping the fuck out over it, and trying to get help from other coworkers and they are having none of it.

Later, there’s a Facebook Live event where Evan has his shirt off and is holding a puppy (I mean, dear God). The readers are allowed to ask questions and of course, they want to know if he is single. He says Diandra wants to keep things secret, so yeah, he’s single! And heeereeee we gooooo.

The day of the “Tips and Sips” shoot, and Adam is really nervous to show his skillz in front of Leah. And right off the bat, the first look he chose is just too much (think: red sequined jumpsuit with Sangria-inspired nails).

But as the shoot continues, his style picks are right on-point. Leah tells him he did a great job, and he’s really, really relieved. Yay!!

At Diandra’s apartment, her friend is over, and she also invites Evan over, and her girlfriend is like freaking OOOUT over how how Evan is. He does seem flattered that Diandra has at least told one of her friends about them.

At a work event, Diandra gets a text from Evan – a pic of him with his shirt off and damn it looks FWINE – and Tiffany happens to be looking over her shoulder and sees the picture. Naturally, she freaks out and starts asking a ton of questions about what happened in Miami. Diandra plays coy and is now afraid she’s going to be labeled as “The office slore”. Well, yeah. Probably so.

Another night at the office, I’m not sure how, but Diandra and Tiffany are having glasses of wine at their desks, and Tiffany tells Diandra this story about how she ran into her ex- the ex – the night before. I guess he left Tiffany and got married right away, then divorced soon after and already had another girlfriend – who he was with when he ran into Tiffany. Yikes.

Later, a second coworker tells Diandra that she knows about Evan and Diandra needs to “watch out” if she’s thinking of dating someone at work. Diandra says she loves her job, but she also doesn’t want to sacrifice a relationship, but she stands Evan up for their next date, and man does he look sad. Like, real sad.

She eventually tells him they need to cool it because she can’t handle people at work talking about it. And he is sad! Like it seems really sad – I didn’t even know guys cared, at all. So… this has kind of got me hooked because obviously the episode was over after that. Next week, y’all! It goes down!

Is my single life… boring?

What is life?!

Last week, I mentioned that I’ve been suffering from extreme fatigue lately. As promised, I spent the weekend, and each night this week really making an effort to get quality sleep in hopes of pinpointing the problem (you can expect a progress report next week).

Part of solving the problem involves taking a solid look at how I spend my time, and if I can devote any extra time to rest. The conclusion thus far? My life is… kind of plain.

I know I sound like Coolio (see: “Gangsta’s Paradise”) right now, but I’m starting to wonder if this is it for me. I’ve been religiously watching this season of “Girls”, and Sunday’s episode involved a laundromat, Hannah’s mom, and a giant bag of weed gummies.

After choking down several of said gummy worms, Hannah’s mom is trying to set the record straight on her future: “I’m alone. This is it. For the rest of my life.”

I swear everything but that line was ringing in my ear for the next hour – hell, I’m still thinking about it. Because this is the most single I have ever felt.

Ever since I can recall, I’ve had some sort of guy in my life – even if only in “crush” form. And it’s been a long time since even that has happened.

My new job has come with several opportunities to travel, which means I’ve had lots of time to bond with my coworkers. “Holly, why don’t you date??” They ask. “You’re cute!”

As flattering as it is, that’s part of the problem. A majority of the men I’ve dated haven’t seen beyond that – and it’s resulted in a lot of relationships that aren’t trusting or healthy. It’s left me so cold, that at times, I don’t even want a male waiter.

Monday morning, a guy called me. I was washing dishes and missed the call by accident; but when I saw it on my phone, I thought certainly it was a mistake. I hadn’t talked to a guy on the phone in six months (yes, six months), and I didn’t even know if I’d have anything interesting to say. After all, I was cleaning my kitchen at 7 am on a Monday morning.

I took a leisurely drive across town Sunday morning and I got to thinking about dating. Most of the people I know who are my age are married, many of them have been married for years, and have children. I look at their lives from afar and sometimes it seems as if they’ve lived entire lifetimes while mine is just strolling along, very similar to how it was three or five or even ten years ago.

Maybe once you hit a certain point in life, you just end up single, I thought. Because the thing is, I don’t ever put myself in situations to meet a suitor. I’m very aware of this, partially because I don’t think I’m ready to date, and partially because my hobbies: dancing, reading, blogging, and cooking aren’t really conducive to meeting straight men.

Every week, I go to work, the dance studio, the library, and the grocery – give or take the laundromat, and that’s pretty much my life. And I have a feeling I’m not alone in that routine (or rut, you make the call); we’re not in college anymore, not really hitting the night scene, or not putting ourselves in new social situations on a regular basis.

Obviously, I never planned on being single at this point in my life. I honestly thought I was going to be married before I was 25. I’ll be 32 in July. However, I have always believed that my life can be fulfilling even if I don’t have a partner.

But what exactly will that life look life? You know when you first start a relationship and everything is so exciting and nearly perfect? I definitely miss that feeling.

The sad part is, much of the excitement I’ve experienced in the latter part of a relationship is the fear of losing it entirely. The last relationship I had was turbulent, I hardly slept, and it thrived on abuse of the alcohol, sexual, and verbal variety.

I’ve never really known what a real, healthy relationship looks or feels like, which leaves me to often associate dating with a sense of weakness within myself. That if I even have the desire to date, then I must be feeling weak, as if I’m not enough on my own.

Somehow, I survived watching every minute of Nick’s season on “The Bachelor”, and in the finale episode on Monday, Vanessa had a heartfelt conversation with Nick’s father. She asked him if love was enough to make a marriage last, and he told her no. That outside of love, it takes sacrifice, compromise, and the realization that you will no longer come first.

I am certain that show is scripted, but DAMN. #TruthBomb

Maybe that’s it – maybe I’m just not willing to put anyone else first just yet. But I have always imagined being in a relationship where I get to do things for my partner; even if it’s just the little things like bringing him coffee or baking his favorite dessert.

Sure, I’ve done those things. But they went unnoticed and I was often taken advantage of.

There are days I feel really strong and proud of myself for building a life where I’m generally happy, and I’m making things work. But I’d be lying to you if I wasn’t very, very cognizant of that fact that I slip into bed each night alone; with no one beside me, no one on the phone, and often, no one on my mind.

There is no path, or standard, for how a single person lives a fulfilling life – because everyone is just waiting for your “Save the Date” card to arrive. I suppose this is a path I’m going to have to make, on my own, of course, and I’m probably going to have to stop for naps along the way given the current state of things.

Don’t worry, I’ll make my own coffee.

Introducing my spiritual masters.

Broadway playwright and performer Lin-Manuel Miranda.

Broadway playwright and performer Lin-Manuel Miranda.

A few months ago, I was listening to the “Happier” podcast hosted by Gretchen Rubin and her sister Elizabeth Craft. In each episode, they offer a tip you can try at home that might make your daily life a little happier.

In one episode, their tip was to “Imitate a spiritual master”, basically someone you can look to for guidance, or perhaps someone that can inspire you when you need a little push. I’d never really though about having a spiritual leader, but Elizabeth said hers was Barbra Walters.

Uh, yes! I’d always thought it would have to be someone like Ghandi or the Dalai Lama (both would be fantastic spiritual leaders).

Ever since then, I’ve been thinking about who my spiritual masters are, especially in these times – I have a feeling I’m going to be looking to them a lot. So, I made a list:

Lin-Manuel Miranda

“Hamilton” creator and performer Lin-Manuel Miranda was the FIRST person I put on my list of spiritual masters. Frankly, he’s so freakin’ awesome, I think I could have a list of JUST him.

Yesterday, the Oscar nominations were announced, and Miranda is nominated for Best Original Song. Not only is it just another thing that makes him cooler, but it puts him closer to something only few can dream of: an EGOT – a rare title one gets after winning an Emmy, a Grammy, an Oscar, and a Tony. Damn.

As mentioned in a New York Times article, “Mr. Miranda has two Grammys, one for the cast recording to his 2008 Broadway musical “In the Heights” and another for his smash hit “Hamilton.” He has personally won three Tony awards (and his musicals have collected many more). He won an Emmy for his work on the music and lyrics at the 2013 Tony award show.”

So why is Miranda one of my spiritual masters? Aside from being a wildly talented writer and performer that I can look up to, what I look up to most about him is his attitude. He’s willing to speak openly about his political views, but remain positive on a daily basis.

Seriously, when you’re in need of guidance, just go to his Twitter feed @Lin_Manuel and get a dose of sunshine.

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Issa Rae

I first heard of Ms. Issa Rae on the HBO series “Insecure”, which premiered in the fall of last year. I pretty much loved the pilot episode and couldn’t get enough of it after that. Little did I know that Issa was more than just an actress on the show.

After graduating from Stanford and attending the New York Film Academy, Issa had started to build her reputation as a screenwriter and a video producer. She created a series on YouTube, “Awkward Black Girl”, that has more than 200,000 subscribers.

The fantastic and gorgeous, Issa Rae.

The fantastic and gorgeous, Issa Rae.

She later turned her web series into a book (which I am currently on a waiting list for at the library), and it quickly became a New York Times bestseller. And then HBO came a-knockin’ and she actually was given a budget to turn her YouTube series into a hit on network television.

She da-bomb! Yeah, I just said that. She’s beautiful, hilarious, and sharp as hell – I cannot help but look up to this woman.

“It’s a bit cliche, but you can’t go wrong by writing what you know. Even if you’re a horrible writer, your own knowledge and experience is unrivaled. Nobody knows what you know like you know what you know. The way you see things is pretty unique.” – Issa Rae

Trevor Noah

I know I can’t be the only one that’s basically looking to comedian and host of “The Daily Show”, Trevor Noah to guide us through the next four years. I’ve limited my new coverage to 10 minutes of “TODAY” each morning, and then leave it up to Trevor to pick up the pieces each night before bed.

Born in South Africa, Noah comes from a very interesting background which he talks about in his book, “Born a Crime“, and serves as a lense for his unique sense of humor.

One of my biggest concerns in the coming years is how the press is going to handle it all (aside from that whole nuclear thing). We need journalists who are going to be blunt, and check the President on everything. And Noah just so happens to do it with a laugh.

“We get angry about the small things sometimes, I feel, so that we feel like we’re doing something, so that we don’t have to tackle the big things. And it’s fine; let people do that. But I’m not gonna now change because of that. You know? Like, the worst thing that happens to me is you don’t like me. And then what?” -Trevor Noah

Anna Kendrick

I didn’t really get the craze surrounding Anna Kendrick until I read her memoir, “Scrappy Little Nobody” last week… and I loved it. Of course, she was awesome in”Pitch Perfect”, but I had no clue she’s been working her little butt off since she was 12!

The lovely Anna Kendrick.

The lovely Anna Kendrick.

Not only does she have drive, but she’s hilarious, humble, and has a “take it or leave it” attitude when it comes to men and dating, which is just the kind of advice I need from a spiritual master.

“Maybe I am stepping up in the world. Pretty soon I’m going to be 30 and making dope carrot soup and will have my sh-t together.” – Anna Kendrick

JohnJay Van Es

I can’t have a list of spiritual masters without including JohnJay Van Es, co-host of the best radio show ever, “JohnJay and Rich”.

While I know cohosts of the show, Rich and Kyle, would get a big kick out of my trusting of JohnJay with my spiritual guidance, but I’ll explain. I started listening to the show years ago, during a time when my job was pretty rough.

JohnJay Van Es.

JohnJay Van Es.

I found daily solace in listening to their jokes, phone pranks, and the simple chatter of small problems. Little did I know, I was about to lose my job, and when I did, I kept listening to the show. It was sometimes the only thing I looked forward to each day.

Years later, I am still listening every day, and I love laughing along with JohnJay as he tells the stories from his insane life. He’s also the creator of a kindness movement, LoveUp, which promotes random acts of kindness of all sizes, each and every day. It’s changed how I look at the world, and I can’t thank him enough.

There you have it! I’d love to know who your spiritual masters are these days – who knows, maybe I’ll add them to my list!

BBC: ‘Black Heels to Tractor Wheels’.

Hey, hey! I am back at the office today, and wow is that whole come-down after Christmas ROUGH. It’s like this month-long build up for a single day and then, it’s over. It’s honestly how I imagine me meeting John Mayer for the first time, only on a 16-year scale, with devastating disappointment (don’t tell him I said that though).

The good news is, there’s another long weekend on the horizon, so there’s that to look forward to – wow, my life isn’t pathetic or anything.

But! I did get some reading done over my lil Christmas break, and I’m really excited to talk about Blanche’s Book Club’s latest read, “The Pioneer Woman: Black Heels to Tractor Wheels” by Ree Drummond.

I’ve had this book on my list for awhile, but I sort of forgot about it until I stumbled upon it at the library when I was looking for something else. I couldn’t put off reading it any longer; I figured I could probably use a good (and TRUE) love story in my life. Here’s the scoop from Amazon.com:

Wildly popular award-winning blogger, accidental ranch wife, and #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Pioneer Woman Cooks, Ree Drummond (aka The Pioneer Woman) tells the true story of her storybook romance that led her from the Los Angeles glitter to a cattle ranch in rural Oklahoma, and into the arms of her real-life Marlboro Man.

I came across Ree, or “The Pioneer Woman”, for the first time on Food Network, and I came to absolutely love watching her show, “The Pioneer Woman”. She lives on a gorgeous ranch in Oklahoma, and she makes fairly simple (yet delicious) dishes for her family and friends. I’ve made her enchiladas many times, and they never fail to delight!

Her husband, Lad, makes some appearances on the show, and he is very handsome, and he seems really genuine and kind. So, I wasn’t surprised when I read this book and heard the many times she described him as such, only she referred to him as the “Marlboro Man”.

In fact, the book reflected what I assume to be her real-life personality, because it was just how she acts on the show. However, true fans of this Pioneer Woman may have been just as surprised as I was to learn that she was once a big city gal, living in Los Angeles, working in corporate America, drooling over high-end designer clothes, and spending her nights out guzzling martinis. Who would have thought?!

But she did, until her life took an unexpected turn and she ran into this Marlboro Man one night in her home town. A month later, they went on a date… and they’ve basically been inseparable ever since. This is really a love story that touched my heart; one that I really needed to read.

One theme that’s brought up a lot in this book is something I’m still learning and trying to understand about love: that it doesn’t matter how much you embarrass yourself, how silly you are, whether or not your mascara is perfect, or in Ree’s case, just how much you sweat through a gorgeous suit, the one you’re meant to be with is still going to LOVE you.

I’m really glad I got to read this lesson in this way – because Ree’s story is really beautiful, and the way she tells it is sometimes laugh-out-loud funny.

Another cool part about the book is that, of course, Ree talks a lot about food! While it doesn’t quite explain how she got involved in her cooking blog and her show, she discusses the meals she made for Lad when they were dating – many of which she flubbed due to nerves, or simply because she wasn’t an experienced home cook yet.

The back of the book contains recipes for most of the recipes she mentioned, but one stuck out to me the most – the Tagliarini Quattro Formaggi from Intermezzo in West Hollywood. Since angel hair is my FAVORITE form of pasta, I knew I was going to have to replicate this dish… so don’t be shocked if you see it on my social media feed in the near future. But, just in case you want to make it, too, here’s the recipe:

INGREDIENTS: 1 cup of heavy cream, 1 pound of tagliarini or angel hair pasta, 2 tablespoons of butter, 1/2 cup of grated fontina cheese, 1/2 cup of grated parmesan cheese, 1/2 cup of grated romano cheese,  4 ounces of goat cheese, salt and pepper to taste, 1/4 teaspoon of ground nutmeg, and 1 garlic cloved, halved.

DIRECTIONS: warm the cream in a saucepan over low heat. Prepare the pasta according to package direction, but undercook it just a little so it’s al dente. Drain the pasta and return to the pot and add butter. Next, add the warm cream, and all of the cheeses. Stire gently, allowing the cheese to melt and coat the noodles. Add salt and pepper to taste, and add the nutmeg. Stir to combine. Rub the bowls you’re serving in with the garlic, before scooping the pasta into the bowls. Yum!

The next book Blanche’s Book Club will be reading is “A Man Called Ove” by Fredrik Backman. Read it with us by following and chatting right here on the blog or on social media @OrangeJulius7. Happy reading, y’all!

The State of Holly.

Clap on, Paul Ryan.

Clap on, Paul Ryan.

Many years ago, there was a great blog called 2 Birds, 1 Blog, and one of the writers, Meg, used to do “State of The Meg” every so often to write about all the random things happening in her life. It was sort of like the Presidential State of the Union, only obviously way more informative. If you’re looking for a good laugh, go back and read the blog in its entirety. There hasn’t been a post in years, but you’ll laugh your ass off, and given the way 2016 has happened, my guess is you could use a good laugh.

I’ve had a lot on my mind lately (perhaps moreso than usual), and with no real plan on how to address it, I’m doing what all writers do and stealing Meg’s format. But it’s a tribute, because she is fantastic.

So anyway, I briefly mentioned that over Thanksgiving, I had a mild anxiety attack. This is not totally out-of-the-ordinary for me, but it’s been awhile since I had one. Although there are tons of things that can cause anxiety, I know I’ve been feeling stressed over a mix of things including (but not limited to) money, my job, my health, the holidays, and my car.

Well, I am really happy to say that I FINALLY got my damn Jeep fixed. After visiting four dealerships, and being on waiting lists since September, I found a place 20 miles away that fixed my car in less than two days, provided me with a rental car, and honored my Jeep warranty. Luck was definitely on my side, and I’m feeling much better now that the ordeal is over. Seriously, why do things like that have to be SO difficult?

There’s also been something else on my mind, and I’m sort of embarrassed to admit it, but who’s reading this, anyway?

In the spring, I wrote a 6-part series about a…well, I’d say relationship, but I suppose fling is the more appropriate term for what it was. Anyway, the whole thing is still just really bothering me.

The blog series really pissed this guy off, even though I still don’t understand why. I really don’t. They didn’t say anything bad about him; but I suppose he was embarrassed to have people find out that we hooked up (even though I did change his name, and others involved).

He begged for me to remove the posts, and/or stop posting them, and had a friend threaten to sue me over it. I never wrote the posts to hurt anyone, but I also couldn’t agree with him bullying me into removing them – so I never did.

And you know what? His life went on, and he is okay, and he still has a job, and owns a new house, and is probably happily in a new relationship.

In my brain, I know I didn’t do anything wrong. But everywhere else… I feel pretty messed up over the entire thing. I still feel really betrayed by what he did to me prior to me even writing the posts, and then he’d told me that if I stopped publishing the posts, we could go on being friends.

Since I didn’t do what he asked, he’s cut me out entirely. I tried reaching out to him months ago; I wasn’t ready to apologize, and I still am not sure if that’s really in my heart. But, we’d been friends for like, half our lives. Is this really the end of that?

Obviously, he ignored my call and later blocked my messages, and has blocked me on all social media. Even his friends told me he probably will never talk to me, ever.

Sure, I’ve cut people out before… but it was like… when they wanted to kill me. Is what I did really worth that type of punishment? I don’t know.

And that’s the fucked up part. It’s like, I really feel like I just nailed myself onto Karma’s bad side by blogging about what happened between us. Even though it really is what happened between us, and that’s what this blog is: my life, unedited (for the most part). I’ll be even more honest here; there were some things I purposefully left out of the blog posts because I knew they would be hurtful, and I wasn’t trying to do that.

Some days, I really wish he would reach out to me and we could just resolve this and say, hey we could all use someone to lean on and let’s just call it even and wish each other the best. But other days, I know I was just standing up for myself and sharing an experience that happened to me, and he just happened to read it, so fuck it.

But this whole feeling of “fuck it” – I’mma do me… it’s only empowering for a few seconds, because I feel like a person that spends their life saying “Do you” or “I’ll just do me”, ends up in a deserted cabin, alone in the mountains eating canned soup a la the “Dexter” series finale.

Amirite? Like obviously we can’t all just do ourselves or we’d be a globe full of loners.

And hey, part of this mass of thoughts about this situation are because it’s the holidays, and last year around the holidays, we were actually talking and spent New Year’s Eve together. So, please send cases of booze to Austin, Texas in preparation for this NYE party of 1, because I’ll be fucking miserable.

I know, I KNOW you’re saying, but Holly, just get with someone else! And sure, there are days I think of that, too. Like okay, it’s time to stop this whole bitter gig and give a little. But then I hear stories from my girlfriends about dates they’ve been on – stories of bird carcasses hidden in kitchen drawers, “hang outs” instead of actual dates, and hour-late arrivals.

And then I cut myself another slice of chocolate pie, loosen my drawstring pants, and say, “Fuck it, I’mma do ME”. Because, no.

But the truth on that matter is, I am not mentally equipped to move from guy to guy. I have done that, and it ended very poorly for me. It’s taken me years to learn that I have to give myself time, no matter how long the fling or how serious, I need time.

If I don’t allow myself time, I’ll pick a guy out of needs that aren’t fit and I’ll end up more hurt than I am now. And that’s not a place I want to be.

On the good side of things, obviously I have a future in placing my head on other people’s body in photographs, so I can probably make a career change in 2017.

BBC: ‘Modern Romance’.

I know I say this every Friday, but seriously, this time I mean it: I’m SO glad I’ve made it to Friday! Between my blog class, the film festival, prepping for the dance showcase next weekend, and general business at the office, it has been a CRAZY month that has not allowed much time for rest. Whew!

Although I do have a few things to accomplish this weekend (hair cut and color, scheduling a spray tan, dance rehearsal, and general errands), I am planning on setting aside some quality chunks of time to lay in bed – and watch some “House of Cards” and catch up on some HBO goodies.

But anyway, we’re here to talk about books! I am so excited to share with you the latest read from Blanche’s Book Club, because it’s by funny guy Aziz Ansari, his book, “Modern Romance“. I had this book on reserve at the library for several weeks and I was ecstatic when I got the text saying it was ready for pickup. Here’s the scoop:

At some point, every one of us embarks on a journey to find love. We meet people, date, get into and out of relationships, all with the hope of finding someone with whom we share a deep connection. This seems standard now, but it’s wildly different from what people did even just decades ago. Single people today have more romantic options than at any point in human history. With technology, our abilities to connect with and sort through these options are staggering. So why are so many people frustrated?

Some of our problems are unique to our time. “Why did this guy just text me an emoji of a pizza?” “Should I go out with this girl even though she listed Combos as one of her favorite snack foods? Combos?!” “My girlfriend just got a message from some dude named Nathan. Who’s Nathan? Did he just send her a photo of his penis? Should I check just to be sure?” 

But the transformation of our romantic lives can’t be explained by technology alone. In a short period of time, the whole culture of finding love has changed dramatically. A few decades ago, people would find a decent person who lived in their neighborhood. Their families would meet and, after deciding neither party seemed like a murderer, they would get married and soon have a kid, all by the time they were twenty-four. Today, people marry later than ever and spend years of their lives on a quest to find the perfect person, a soul mate.

For years, Aziz Ansari has been aiming his comic insight at modern romance, but for Modern Romance, the book, he decided he needed to take things to another level. He teamed up with NYU sociologist Eric Klinenberg and designed a massive research project, including hundreds of interviews and focus groups conducted everywhere from Tokyo to Buenos Aires to Wichita. They analyzed behavioral data and surveys and created their own online research forum on Reddit, which drew thousands of messages. They enlisted the world’s leading social scientists, including Andrew Cherlin, Eli Finkel, Helen Fisher, Sheena Iyengar, Barry Schwartz, Sherry Turkle, and Robb Willer. The result is unlike any social science or humor book we’ve seen before.

In Modern Romance, Ansari combines his irreverent humor with cutting-edge social science to give us an unforgettable tour of our new romantic world.

I know it’s long, but I wanted you to have all the details. This book is pretty genius in that it combines Ansari’s humorous tone, with actual facts and experiences. And while reading the book doesn’t change the current dating landscape for us singletons, it does explain WHY we go through what we do, and more importantly, that we’re not alone in this.

While I loved reading this whole book, there were two takeaways I found really interesting. The first was the research done about how dating was before technology came along. The book provides charts and graphs to show just how many people dated and married those within their neighborhood – and most people did.

Why? Well, because marriage was seen as a way out. People, especially women, weren’t moving out of their parents’ homes just because – they moved out once they were married. And, many times, women weren’t pursuing educations or careers – so it was marriage and then creating a family.

Once people started going to school and focusing on their careers, marriage started happening later and later in life, and it placed people further apart, physically, which is why less people marry within their hometowns.

FASCINATING.

Interesting takeaway two: Straightwhiteboystexting.org

Thank you, Aziz, for sharing this with me, as I didn’t know it existed prior. And it is a gift from the universe, in the same way that @Textsfromyourex on Instagram is. It is glorious.

Straight White Boys Texting is a submission-based website that captures and publishes the agony that is being a woman having to deal with dudes in today’s dating world. We get gems like:

emisonislifeok

…And there’s many more where that came from on the site.

Modern romance at its finest! You’ve got to read this book if you’re dating today, or if you’ve been dating within the last ten years. It’ll all start to make a little more sense (and keep us all inside for eternity).

The next book Blanche’s Book Club will be reading is “Adnan’s Story: The Search for Truth and Justice After Serial” by Rabia Chaudry. We’d love for you to read it with us! Simply start reading and reach out for discussion at your leisure – after all, it’s the non-committal book club.

Have a fantastic weekend everyone!

Dealing with a cyber-bully.

Who's behind the screen?

Who’s behind the screen?

Over the last few years, cyber bullying has been on the rise, given that since nearly everyone has a smartphone and/or a tablet, it’s much easier to pester someone behind the comfort of a screen. Cyber bullying happens in school, for kids of nearly all ages, and it happens to adults – celebrities often talk about all of the negative things people message them.

But it’s not just happening to children and celebrities. In fact, I’d venture to say that it happens to anyone who’s willing to put themselves out there, online.

As a blogger – I’m coming up on my 10 year anniversary of – I’ve been putting myself out there A LOT. In fact, even before I had a blog, I worked for years as a newspaper columnist, and that was also a vulnerable situation.

During my years as a writer and as a blogger, I’ve encountered many people who want to cut me down based on various things: the way I look, the way I write, my opinions, my actions, etc.

In college, I had a “confrontation” with someone via MySpace. She didn’t send me messages, really, but instead she posted messages about me to her page. The messages were threatening, so I contacted police. She was a fellow LSU student, so when the police looked into her personal email account, they said she had contacted several people she knew to help her harm me physically.

I only saw her once in public during that time – and she threw ice at me. But I quickly left the area and made it home safely.

In the years since I’ve had this blog, I’ve come across many people who leave comments or send me messages saying they disagree with what I’m saying. And hey, that’s okay. We all have opinions and reasons for why we are the way we are – and isn’t diversity what makes this world such an interesting place?

But it’s when those messages turn nasty, that things go dark. Sometimes, I’ve had people completely lash out at me over something I wrote. Most of the time, it’s just a one-time occurrence; I said something that really struck a chord and then it’s over the next day when I post something new.

But, there are other times when a bully just keeps coming back. I have one such bully who is tricky in many regards. She, or he, has been willing to leave many nice comments from time to time, and has also entered in (and won) many of my giveaway contests – including a free week of organic meals from Green Chef and the opportunity to take my blog class for just $1.

But other times, this person says pretty harsh things about the way I write, my opinions, and in general, attacks my personality.

All of this is totally allowed. I am a firm, FIRM believer in our right to freedom of speech, but I’m not a fan of using it to cut people down, just for the sake of being mean. While this person doesn’t claim to be anonymous, I’m not sure if they sign using their real name or email address – another stipulation of this online world. Essentially, I have no idea who this person is.

Over the past year, she got so mad at me, she took to my online blog class and left it a very harsh review. If she really took the class, and hated it, then by all means, leave an honest review. But, as the course instructor, I can see which students are at which points in the course, and she hadn’t even taken it yet.

She was commenting on things she didn’t know, just to give my class a 1-star rating, which affects the course’s potential to make money.

After this, I reached out to her via email. I wanted to know, really, what I did to make her hate me so much. After all, sure, we disagree on a few things, but that’s okay. I played fair when she entered my blog giveaways and tried to just appreciate her as a reader who challenged me in the way I thought.

But, she never wrote me back. Instead, she just kept leaving nasty comments on my blog – and I decided to immediately put them in the digital dumpster.

Here’s a little known fact about me: words are hurtful. And I have put EVERYTHING out there on this blog – I’ve lost a job over it; I’ve had fights with friends; I’ve been threatened to be sued by my family; I’ve dissed exboyfriends… and all of this personal stuff is difficult and therapeutic all at once to put out there, but it makes me vulnerable.

And when someone calls me a cow or says I’m a bad writer or self-absorbed… I just want to hide under my bed. And I don’t know if that feeling will ever change.

The scary thing is… dealing with a cyber bully is difficult. You can’t call the police over someone who simply hurts your feelings or ruins your online business reputation. In fact, I don’t even know this person’s name or location – yes, I can see IP addresses, but there are IP blockers and scramblers that can disguise their location.

It’s tricky, and no matter how much you tell yourself you can handle it, or you’ll just toss the comments in the trash, you still see them. It’s not fun.

I’d honestly feel a little better about people who leave rude comments on my blog, if they had a blog. I have never seen someone leave a mean comment, who links to their blog. If you’ve got so much to say, start a blog!

But, I know it’s not about that. It’s a personal attack for a reason I usually don’t know. I will say, that it gets a little easier over the years, but it will probably never be emotionless. Suffering from an online bully? Here’s some advice from the official Help Guide:

  • Unplug from technology. Taking a break from your computer, tablet, iPod, video games, and cell phone can open you up to meeting new people.
  • Find others who share your same values and interests. You may be able to make friends at a youth group, book club, or religious organization. Learn a new sport, join a team, or take up a new hobby such as chess, art, or music.
  • Share your feelings about bullying. Talk to a parent, counselor, coach, religious leader, or trusted friend. Expressing what you’re going through can make a huge difference to the way you feel, even if it doesn’t change the situation.
  • Boost your confidence. Exercise is a great way to help you feel good about yourself, as well as reduce stress. Punch a mattress or take a kick boxing class to work off your anger.

About six months ago, I wrote a series of posts about an ex. Although I changed his name, he got very (very) upset when people thought they knew who I was talking about. Even though the posts didn’t say anything negative about him, he was embarrassed (for reasons I’m still unsure of), and he went to great lengths to try and get me to take down the posts and/or stop posting them.

He threatened to sue me, told other people to threaten to sue me, and even made up lies about potentially losing his job (even writing a fake email from his boss) to try and get me to take down the blogs. And yes, it was a difficult decision to make: do I please someone I once had a friendship with, or do I continue to write about my life?

I chose the latter and paid for it emotionally – pretty sure there’s a giant group of people in my hometown with voodoo dolls of me (explaining my severe back pain and frequent headaches), but that is the risk I took. I’d be lying if I said I felt good about it, even all these months later, but it was my choice and I did what I could to write about the events and not the person.

It always helps me to just remind myself that I write this blog for me; and I’m not perfect. This blog is the story of my life and everything in it, and it’s not always pretty, not always agreeable, and maybe it’s not even good. But It’s never about that. It’s just a place for me to be me. And if you’re going to attack me for that, then yes, your shit is going in the trash.

36 Questions to find the one.

Are they answering the 36 questions?

Are they answering the 36 questions?

Last year, The New York Times’ weekly column, Modern Love, featured a piece by Mandy Len Catron and her look into a study by psychologist Arthur Aron that revolved around 36 questions that supposedly, if answered by two people looking into each other’s eyes, would lead to love.

The writer, tried this, and is now married to the person she shared her answers with that night.

Now, I know I’m not doing this correctly, but I always wondered what the questions in the study were and if it would work. I’m super skeptical that these questions would lead me to anything, or anyone special, but hey, let’s see.

So, below are the questions and my answers – unless the question is not applicable to me as I sit here on my couch with my cat Blanche.

Here we go:

Set I

1. Given the choice of anyone in the world, whom would you want as a dinner guest?

Living or dead? It would have to be the fabulous Jackie Collins. She lived a life of glamour, while capturing my two favorite things: Hollywood and writing. Okay, and scandal, too. And she did it with grace and style. 

2. Would you like to be famous? In what way?

Yes. Not in a household name type of way, or in a way that was dangerous, but I have always wanted to be well-known for my craft, whether it’s because I’m a great writer or a cool blogger, a fantastic podcaster (yet to come) and film writer (coming soon), that type of thing. As a creative, I feel like you have to be well-known in some way if you expect to pay bills while doing what you love. 

3. Before making a telephone call, do you ever rehearse what you are going to say? Why?

I suppose it depends on the type of phone call I’m making. If it was a really professional call, say an interview for an article I’m working on, I would definitely prepare for that call. But if I was calling a friend, no. I am a firm believer in being yourself, no matter what. 

4. What would constitute a “perfect” day for you?

I always say I want to do nothing, or just sleep, but at the end of each day, I like feeling productive. The perfect day would involve all things creative – whether it’s a great meal, perfect drinks, or a great concert. I love expression and I’m energized by talent in many forms. 

5. When did you last sing to yourself? To someone else?

Uh, probably today? I always sing to myself or to my cat. I sometimes sing cover songs or make up songs on the fly. I wish my life was a musical. 

6. If you were able to live to the age of 90 and retain either the mind or body of a 30-year-old for the last 60 years of your life, which would you want?

Definitely the mind, even though this is something I am always working on. I am much more aware of my age now, at 31, and I know it’s only going to get worse as I get older. My body, well, I’m just hoping that’s something I’m not worried about at 90. I’m not worried about it now, mostly. 

7. Do you have a secret hunch about how you will die?

Car crash. 

8. Name three things you and your partner appear to have in common.

N/A

9. For what in your life do you feel most grateful?

Breath in my lungs. I feel very lucky to have even lived this long and am terrified I’ll die before I’ve accomplished anything I really wanted to. I am fearful of illness or injury, and I’m grateful to be healthy. 

10. If you could change anything about the way you were raised, what would it be?

My father was very tough on me as a child, and although I’m sure it instilled work ethic in me – I wish I had the chance to just be a kid sometimes. And I know if he read this he would disagree completely.

11. Take four minutes and tell your partner your life story in as much detail as possible.

N/A

12. If you could wake up tomorrow having gained any one quality or ability, what would it be?

Confidence. 

Set II

13. If a crystal ball could tell you the truth about yourself, your life, the future or anything else, what would you want to know?

What path to take – career-wise. 

14. Is there something that you’ve dreamed of doing for a long time? Why haven’t you done it?

So. Many. Things. Write another book, move to California, travel the world, write a movie, record a podcast. Why not? Fear. 

15. What is the greatest accomplishment of your life?

Moving out of Indiana at 18. 

16. What do you value most in a friendship?

Honesty. 

17. What is your most treasured memory?

My most treasured memory is being on Pensacola beach in a lounge chair at the end of summer. I had my bare toes in the white sand, I was reading a Nicholas Sparks’ book, and I was drinking a beer. Pure heaven. 

18. What is your most terrible memory?

Anytime I’ve had to say goodbye to someone good. 

19. If you knew that in one year you would die suddenly, would you change anything about the way you are now living? Why?

Yes, I would change my day-to-day life to actually get somewhere, or accomplish one of those dreams I’ve dreamed about for so long. 

20. What does friendship mean to you?

Friendship means the world to me. I don’t have much of a family, so my friends are often all I have. There are times I feel like I barely even have friends – and when I do, it’s only a few, who mean everything. 

21. What roles do love and affection play in your life?

Love and affection to me means romantic love and affection, and this hasn’t played a part in my life in a very long time. I worry that it’s been so long, that I wouldn’t even know where to begin. I don’t even have a desire anymore to have a partner.

22. Alternate sharing something you consider a positive characteristic of your partner. Share a total of five items.

N/A

23. How close and warm is your family? Do you feel your childhood was happier than most other people’s?

Not very. My family isn’t very close, and I’ve always felt some of them were even pretty cruel to one another. I’ve had family members call me fat, try to sue me, and make fun of me for my job. I do not feel my childhood was happier than most people’s.

24. How do you feel about your relationship with your mother?

Great. My mom is my best friend. We’ve had down points, but I feel like we’ve resolved it, and talk every day. I really appreciate the relationship we have.

Set III

25. Make three true “we” statements each. For instance, “We are both in this room feeling … “

N/A

26. Complete this sentence: “I wish I had someone with whom I could share … “

Everyday, little moments.

27. If you were going to become a close friend with your partner, please share what would be important for him or her to know.

Quality time is really important to me.

28. Tell your partner what you like about them; be very honest this time, saying things that you might not say to someone you’ve just met.

N/A

29. Share with your partner an embarrassing moment in your life.

Ugh, there are so many. I peed my pants at school in second grade. I also threw up during art class in elementary school. I screwed up during a dance recital and my dad laughed at me. I honestly feel like I did a lot of things kids do, but either got in trouble or was laughed at by my family.

30. When did you last cry in front of another person? By yourself?

A few months ago, at work. By myself… hmm… Saturday.

31. Tell your partner something that you like about them already.

N/A

32. What, if anything, is too serious to be joked about?

Donald Trump becoming president, and mass shootings.

33. If you were to die this evening with no opportunity to communicate with anyone, what would you most regret not having told someone? Why haven’t you told them yet?

I probably owe people some apologies. But I haven’t come to terms with it yet.

34. Your house, containing everything you own, catches fire. After saving your loved ones and pets, you have time to safely make a final dash to save any one item. What would it be? Why?

My framed picture of a dear friend and I. I had a very deep connection with this person and I believe he watches over me by way of the photo.

35. Of all the people in your family, whose death would you find most disturbing? Why?

My mom. Because I talk to her every day, and she’s really my only family. She knows pretty much everything about me.

36. Share a personal problem and ask your partner’s advice on how he or she might handle it. Also, ask your partner to reflect back to you how you seem to be feeling about the problem you have chosen.

N/A

…So that’s it. Have you ever asked anyone all of these questions? How did it turn out? Would you ever ask anyone these questions?

‘Divorce’ & ‘Insecure’ – Episodes 3.

'Divorce', episode 3.

‘Divorce’, episode 3.

Fact: the weekend went by way too fast. I looked around for cars, fell in love with one, but am still tying up a few loose ends on it. Making adult decisions is really exhausting. I also finished reading a book, started another one, did my laundry, hit up a sale at Ulta, and got groceries – I’m making a few delicious meals this week.

But it’s Monday, and that means I spent most of yesterday plopped in front of my TV while eating brisket pho takeout. Whoops!

Last night was episode three of “Divorce” on HBO. The episode opens with Francis interviewing someone for work – he’s older and says he’s switching career paths just to “see what’s out there”. Francis obviously takes this into her own situation and asks him, “What if there’s nothing out there?”

And this is probably why she’s so willing to give her husband another chance, yes?

Robert meets Francis at a counselor’s office, and he’s annoyingly awkward with the secretary. I definitely think this show is going to have to give us reasons to like Robert and Francis, or else we’re not going to pull for them to be happy – whether or not they end up together.

During the counseling session, Robert brings up the affair and makes a big deal about her lover being French, which naturally turns into an argument because the guy isn’t French. Robert wants to know how many times they slept together, which also does not end well.

Meanwhile, it appears Francis went through with her gallery space, so she’s got that going for her. Robert has taken to pretty much living within one room in the house, and leaves his dirty dishes outside the door for Francis to pickup.

Back at counseling, Robert talks about a pretty deep friendship he had with someone of the opposite sex. He admits they did have feelings for each other, but he still remained faithful in the marriage. They start talking about the difference (if any) between a physical affair, or an emotional affair.

This is another conversation that does not end well.

Robert heads to the hospital to visit his friend, Nick, who’s been in a coma. He’s telling him all about the counseling, and miraculously, Nick wakes from the coma to tell Robert to “shut the fuck up”.

Once again at counseling, Francis tells Robert about the art gallery space. He doesn’t agree that’s how she should be spending her time, and Francis says counseling is obviously a waste of their time. So, they leave.

He tells her he’s going to stay somewhere else, and they have a somber goodbye. We’ll see how this goes… next week!

HBO's "Insecure", episode 3.

HBO’s “Insecure”, episode 3.

…And then there was also a new episode of “Insecure”. I am seriously LOVING this show.

Issa is back home with her boyfriend, and it’s awkward AF. However, he’s trying to prove himself and is out looking for jobs.

After her presentation flub in last week’s episode, she is still having some issues at her job. But, she’s determined to prove her coworkers wrong and make her next project awesome. Her project, “Beach Day”, turns out to be rocky at first, but the kids end up loving it, and her coworkers take notice – we even get to see another one of Issa’s raps. It’s pretty amazing.

Her boyfriend keeps going on interviews, but takes the advice of his recruiter and gets a small job to start getting paychecks aside from unemployment ones. So, he gets a job at Best Buy and cooks Issa dinner. She tells him she’s proud of him, and things seem to be looking up.

Meanwhile, Molly (Issa’s friend), goes on a few dates with another guy she met online. She seems to really like him, until he tells her friends that he actually did not go to college, and he has no regrets about it. This really bothers Molly, and she tells him she’s “not looking for a relationship right now”. Hmm!

Weekend at the Alamo (Drafthouse).

Emily Blunt in 'The Girl on the Train'.

Emily Blunt in ‘The Girl on the Train’.

I read “The Girl on the Train” a few months ago, and I just loved it (read my full review here) – and I was counting down the days until the movie adaptation made its way to theaters. But, I’ll also admit I was a little bit scared. It’s no secret that this story is jarring, and violent. Luckily, I had someone to see it with me.

We went to the Alamo Drafthouse, which is where I’ve seen every single movie since moving to Austin. Not familiar with the Drafthouse? It’s your typical movie theater, but it has comfy chairs and tables… and waiters, because there is a full menu and adult beverages. It’s pretty fantastic and I don’t know why anyone would see a movie any other way.

I did have a beer and a burger with this movie – and it helped to ease my nerves a little. So, the premise of the movie is this: (don’t worry, I will alert you before mentioning any spoilers) Rachel, the girl on the train, watches a couple from her train seat. She starts to idolize this couple, as they appear to have a beautiful life and be deeply in love.

Her obsession with the couple and their home derives from the fact that she used to live just a few doors down from them; with her now-ex-husband. He still lives there with his new wife and their baby.

It should also be known that Rachel is an alcoholic, and sometimes it seems as though her drinking is what has built a seemingly low life around her: no friends, no real home, no job, and no real purpose. That is, until, she sees something happen with her ideal couple, all the way from her seat on the train.

Then, she starts a small investigation inside herself as to what could have happened to the couple, and why? But before she can get very far, she’s approached by police and investigators, and they need her alibi, because something really wrong has happened. The problem? Rachel’s drinking has gotten in the way of her memory, and now she’s in deep – but she’s about to get herself in even deeper.

So, okay, I’d already read this book, so I pretty much knew what to expect when going to see the movie. And I’ll say, the movie really brought the book to life – although there were some parts that were definitely more sensationalized, for film’s sake.

However, there were a few themes in the movie that seemed obvious, but I didn’t notice them while reading the book. I don’t know if I just didn’t notice them in the book, or if they weren’t there, and were added into the film. These themes are:

  • Alcohol

Yes, obviously Rachel is an alcoholic, so there is lots of drinking throughout the movie. However, there’s also things outside of the drinking: such as, what people around her think of her drinking – from strangers on the bus and people in the park. Her ex husband also tells her that her drinking is what got him fired from his job – which turns out not to be true. Alcohol is also used as a truth serum, as Rachel is offered it many times in order to tell stories or act a certain way.

  • Memories

The memory is an interesting thing; and sometimes our mind does us favors by altering the way we remember things – which is huge in the movie. In Rachel’s case, she often relies on others to tell her what happened, because she was usually to drunk to recall. However, what if they’re not telling the truth? Then her memory has to make itself up – and she’s technically remembering things that didn’t happen. This really hit home for me. I’ve definitely had my ways with alcohol, and have had many nights where I need to stitch things together in order to remember them. I’ve also been “that girl”, drunk in public, and unaware of my surroundings. Seeing these parts of the movie was jarring to me.

  • Guilt, Blame, and Manipulation

Whew! This one is a difficult one for me. But all of the women featured in this story are in manipulative relationships – and I’d say the saddest part is, many of these seem like typical relationships. There is a lot of blame – blame on Rachel that she couldn’t have children; blame on her for her addiction; blame on the wife because she was too tired to have sex; guilt for the story line with the baby… and a lot of this hit very close to home for me. I’ve been in too many relationships like this, and it’s so damaging. It was very difficult to watch.

  • Women as Meaningless Objects

Another difficult topic here, but I noticed sex was a bigger theme in the movie than what I noticed in the book. And a lot of the sex was just physical – in fact, taking a women into the woods to have sex is so demeaning to me. That’s where people burn trash. And by the things said during those scenes, I’d venture to say the man didn’t give any shit about the woman involved. There was a lot of this attitude that women are basically expected to be sex servants, and that was very difficult to see. And frankly, a lot of what I saw were things women have to constantly worry about, but men do not: walking alone, riding public transportation, being out after dark, being drunk in public, having non-consensual sex, being pregnant, having an abortion, raising children… the list goes on.

None of this is meant to bash the movie, as I thought it was a really great adaptation of the book. However, it was difficult to watch; perhaps my mind was able to only focus on certain things when I was reading it. I drove home from the theatre a little unnerved, and was happy once I got home safe. It’s not a movie I would ever watch again; as it hit me to the core. But, would I recommend seeing it? Absolutely.

Hmm...

Hmm…

Sunday night, I went right back to the Drafthouse to watch the second presidential debate! Before the first one, I saw that the Drafthouse, along with many other restaurants and bars were showing the debates and I thought that sounded like a lot of fun. After all, a presidential election only comes around every four years, and this is one for the books.

And what better place to watch this spectacle than in a movie theatre with beer and burgers? However, my nights during the week are pretty busy with dance classes and my blog class. But a Sunday night, I can handle.

I was happy to see that upon arrival, there were booths set up to help people register to vote, since the deadline is TODAY! I thought this was so neat! Once I got into the theatre, there were little American flags at each seat, and they were playing the “pre-debate coverage”. An employee came out to explain the rules – clapping and cheering were allowed, but no negative comments or shouting, and yes, we could use social media!

All-in-all the experience was fun. I got to eat a giant pretzel (with queso) and hard cider with about 100 strangers and watch this crazy spectacle of a race. Needless to say, we all had a good laugh. My blog class falls during the next debate, so I’ll have to DVR it – if it even happens, right?

‘Chesapeake Shores’ finale & ‘Divorce’ premier!

The season finale of 'Chesapeake Shores'.

The season finale of ‘Chesapeake Shores’.

I can’t believe it’s already the season finale of “Chesapeake Shores”! After last week’s episode (starring Abby and Trace’s hot little date), I was curious to see how things were going to wrap up.

And the episode started right off with a kiss between the two of them – yeeee!

Abby’s dad made his flight safely, and he’s arrived on site of a project – I’m guessing the project he was upset about over the phone. And his in-person visit isn’t much different; it’s still unclear what’s happening here but it’s something shady and we only have 50 minutes to clear it up!

At Sally’s, Jess is talking about food with her new guy… and she orders a “breakup” – no, really. Then, she cancels the order… no, really. She explains everything to him, about her sister, and then she tells him he may have an opportunity to cook for her at the B&B… and even though she can’t afford to pay him, he’s oddly thrilled by this offer. What?

Abby’s dad, Mick, is confronting his partner – seems he’s (the partner) is backing out on funding due to too many variables; though still not many details here.

Meanwhile, people are STEALING books from the lending library. Oh, Chesapeake Shores and its crime-ridden streets…

Later, Abby gets a text from Wes and it shows her phone screen and she has the font set at, like, 72. Is she blind? It looked crazy. Anyway, she meets him and they go for a walk. He oddly backs down and says Abby and the girls SHOULD live in Chesapeake Shores and that he’s telling the court to go back to the old custody arrangement.

Kevin is still rehabbing, but he’s totally insane on the physical therapy: like doing push-ups when no one is looking kind of thing. Then, he tells Conner he doesn’t think he can get married. Duh!

Abby runs over to Trace’s building to tell him about her custody success, and mid-hug, Lee pops in, and Abby is a lit-tle pissed. Trace assures her that Lee arrived without warning and is excited to work on the album.

While the cook is prepping things in the kitchen, a man comes in looking for Brie – I’m guessing it’s her ex. And I’ll say, cook (can’t remember his name) seems a little jealous. And yes, it is indeed, Brie’s ex-boyfriend, who cheated on her. And it’s really obvious that Brie is not excited to see him.

Guess who else is staying at the B&B? Lee! Wow, this just got awkward…

There’s a BBQ at the B&B, and everyone’s exes have gathered. Then, Trace gets a call – something about needing an ambulance, and he speeds off in his truck. And he speeds right by a State Trooper, who goes after him. After showing his license and registration, Trace is arrested on an outstanding warrant.

Back at the party, Brie finds out she was accepted as the in-resident screenwriter, while Abby just now discovered that Trace is nowhere to be found.

So, then, Abby’s dad gives a beautiful toast to the campfire crowd, and the episode is over. I’m not kidding!! So Trace is in freaking jail while his dad is in the hospital… now I’m wondering if this wasn’t supposed to be the finale, and they just cut the season. Hmm…

One thing I kept thinking about as I watched this last episode was, will there be a season two? Unfortunately, a little bit of Google research didn’t provide me with any clear answers – I did find an article that says it hasn’t been renewed yet, but that article was from April, so who knows. I hope so!

Sarah Jessica Parker stars in HBO's 'Divorce'.

Sarah Jessica Parker stars in HBO’s ‘Divorce’.

You may remember HBO’s “Divorce” as one of the shows I listed on my Fall TV Guide – and I have been counting down the days ever since! I’ll be honest, I wasn’t wowed by the season preview, I think I was mostly excited about Sarah Jessica Parker’s return to HBO.

The 30-minute pilot starts off with Parker’s character getting ready in the bathroom, and her husband is upset because of the time spent in the bathroom between his wife and his daughter, and claims he actually had to take a shit in a coffee can in the garage.

Later, at a party, we meet Molly Shannon’s character – Diane, which is pretty much the same character she’s played in everything. The party is for Diane’s birthday, and her husband gives an oddly rude toast, saying how old she looks.

Parker’s character’s husband (they haven’t mentioned his name at this point) is outside the party looking in and he just looks said – he can see Diane and her husband arguing, while SJP sits inside talking to friends. He is also witness to Diane finding a gun, and frantically pointing it at everyone – even shooting it, but missing. While the bullet misses Diane’s husband, he grips his chest as a result of a heart attack, and Diane is arrested.

Afterward, SJP – I think her name is Francis – is wondering how this happened to a couple who was married for 8 years. She is asking her husband and talking about a memory she had of when he threw her laptop out of a window. She continues down this road, and basically tells him she doesn’t love him anymore, and she wants a divorce.

The next morning, her husband (Robert) wants to know if she really meant what she said. And she assures him, yes, she meant it. He’s frustrated because she won’t go to counseling, but she says they’ve already been to counseling.

Francis walks her kids to school to which her daughter calls her a bitch – yeesh. Francis is riding the train and telling her friend about the divorce. Her friend alludes to a man with whom Francis has been sleeping with, so that’s interesting.

She meets this man – Julien – for sex after her train ride, and she tells him she told Robert about her wanting a divorce. And Julien does not seem amused, at all, by this, which is not the reaction Francis was hoping for.

Back at home for the evening, she seems to kind of go back on her decision – and tells Robert this is their chance to go back and figure out where things went wrong.

The next day, Robert confronts Francis about Julien, and tells her he wants the divorce and that he’s going to make her miserable, and he’s going to make her children hate her. Whoaaaaa!

And then the episode is over. You know, this show got some pretty bad reviews, and many said it was sad. Sure, divorce is sad. But, I kind of liked it. I’m definitely going to stick with it for at least a few more episodes and see where it goes.

Missing the boat, in dating.

Have I 'Missed the boat' in dating?

Have I ‘Missed the boat’ in dating?

A few weeks ago, I was telling a guy friend about a semi-talking-dating-ish thing that was happening to me, and that I just wasn’t feeling it, but I wasn’t sure why other than just sheer mental exhaustion due to the fact that it’s constantly a game of hot and cold with the guy in question.

“Yeah,” my friend said. “He missed the boat.”

 Is that a thing? I suppose it’s just another factor of timing, and if you don’t strike when the iron is hot, then that’s just the way the chips fall (let’s just make this post full of cliches, shall we). But, typically the term “Missed the boat” refers to the fact that it’s OVER, completely. Dead.

So, then I got to thinking, wait… have I missed the boat?

Typically, missing the boat is associated with age – people have that number in their heads of when things are supposed to happen. I definitely thought I was going to be married by 25. That was six whole years ago, and I can’t even fathom the thought of going on a date, period.

If you’ve been ’round these parts for a minute, you’ve probably noticed that the tone of this blog has made a clear shift from dating and guy drama to food, book reviews, and lots of TV. That shift in content is due to a major shift in my life: I’m no longer interested in finding a partner, as I’m much more interested in enriching my life in other ways; filling it with the things I love, i.e. cooking and baking, reading piles of books on my patio, watching hours of TV as I study up on screenwriting, and exploring the city I’ve spent the past year in – Austin!

The guy friend I mentioned above, said something to me about my “shift” in attitude: “You’ve changed,” he said.

And yes, he knew me years before, when I was desperate for a man’s attention, nearly always had a boyfriend or at least a person of interest, and probably had very little of an original personality. I wanted so badly to be in a serious relationship that would lead to marriage, and a family. And while there’s nothing wrong with that, I did nothing for myself, and instead, I did a lot of desperate things in hopes of finding true love.

In return, I spent a lot of time crying. My dating history is full of complete failures that left me trying to find myself, and figure out why these things happened to me. After years of weekly therapy, I found answers: I had no self-confidence, and no self-worth, and because of this, I attracted men that wanted to take advantage of me. And they did; in the form of verbal and sexual abuse, and manipulation.

Years have passed since I’ve been in a relationship, and sure, there are times I’ve felt I’m ready to date someone, and then times I’m okay being single. I’ve met guys who seem cool; they seem different from those of my past, but it ends up being the same scenario in a different costume, and that’s just not the game I’m willing to play anymore – I know I deserve more.

A few months ago, a guy I really liked when I lived in Baton Rouge sent me a few messages on SnapChat. He’s very handsome, and always has a way of making me laugh. We chatted some, and I found out he’s finishing law school in Boston before moving back to Austin, where he’s originally from. Wow, I thought, timing sure is everything – maybe there’s something here.

He was planning a trip to the city in just a few weeks, and wanted to see me. I envisioned us going to a baseball game or hitting up one of the many delicious BBQ joints Austin has to offer. But he told me he had other plans, which involved coming to my apartment and something physical happening between us.

“Are you planning on breaking in?” I asked him. “Because I never invited you to my apartment.”

When I made it clear I had no intentions, or even desires to sleep with him, he stopped talking to me, and even came to town without so much as a “hello”.

Sure, I was frustrated, and even a little offended that all he wanted was sex from me – I know there have been many times where that’s all I am to a man. But this time, like many times over the past three years, I was able to spot it before anything happened, and before I got as hurt I would if I let him into my apartment, my body, or my life.

I don’t think every guy is like that (at least I hope not); but I’m not going to be dating until I find someone who truly is interested in me; my life, my stacks of books, my cat lady tendencies, and my crockpot creations. Sure, maybe it’ll be a little rusty, but I’m worth the wait.

And for the sake of myself, and anyone out there who’s feeling like they’ve “missed the boat” on dating or on dreams or whatever it may be, I’m gonna go ahead and say that’s bullshit. There’s no proper age when love happens for everyone. We all have different stories, and if we’re sticking with the boat metaphors, we can’t all hit the deck at once.

One of my favorite advice columnists, Polly from NY Mag’s “The Cut”, had the same views when a reader wrote in asking if she’d missed the boat on dating at 36 years old, despite having a very full life (read the entire article here). Here’s her (partial) response:

But don’t give up hope. Why wouldn’t you feel optimistic? You’re already pretty happy. You’re going to rock this out and have the life you want no matter what. So be your dangerously girly self, without apology. Be her forever and everywhere. Shout to the sky, “I AM GIRLY. I LOVE KIDS. I LOVE BUILDING FIRES. I LOVE BAKING CAKES. I HAVE FEELINGS. I AM NOT COOL. I WILL NEVER BE COOL. I AM MADE OF MAGIC.”

You haven’t missed the boat. There are boats everywhere. Maybe you’ll like one of them and maybe you won’t. I think you will. But in the meantime, savor this moment. Be exactly who you are, and savor it. Even true love doesn’t come close to feeling as good as that. 

Me, personally? I’m holding out for the captain’s suite, the surf ‘n turf formal dinner, and the sun deck with coconuts for cups. Until then, I’ll be on the beach writing boat puns and singing Drake songs to Blanche, like Controlllaaaaaaa. Controlla.