Blog Archives

BBC: ‘Puddin”.

We made it to Friday, y’all – on top of a ROUGH week at work, some general life stuff, and considering today is Day 5 of having to boil Austin water – let’s praise the higher powers!

I have three non-renewable books due back to the library Sunday, so I really tried to channel any and all of my energy into reading this week. I’m only one book down, but considering it was 400 pages, I’m labeling this as a win.

Plus, I loved this book!

I’m talking about “Puddin‘” by Julie Murphy. Here is the official description from Amazon:

Millie Michalchuk has gone to fat camp every year since she was a little girl. Not this year. This year she has new plans to chase her secret dream of being a newscaster—and to kiss the boy she’s crushing on.

Callie Reyes is the pretty girl who is next in line for dance team captain and has the popular boyfriend. But when it comes to other girls, she’s more frenemy than friend.

When circumstances bring the girls together over the course of a semester, they surprise everyone (especially themselves) by realizing that they might have more in common than they ever imagined.

“Puddin'” is the companion to “Dumplin‘”, which I read earlier this year (read my full review here). The cool thing about a companion book is there’s a little bit of overlapping storyline, but not enough to make reading the other book a requirement.

For starters, I absolutely loved jumping into this world. I have a weak spot for books that fantasize high school, and this one brought me right back to some great memories. I also love that this takes place in a small town in Texas – near Marfa – and even touches a bit in Austin!

But no matter the location, this is a story about seeing who people really are – past all appearances and even a few faults. It really is sweet.

Sometimes you have to fake it till you make it. If I want to call the shots, I have to start acting like it. And when that camera turns on, it’s like someone flips a switch inside me and gives me permission to be the version of myself I only dream of.

I’m recommending this book to anyone who loves YA novels, especially those in small towns, and to anyone who’s been misunderstood.

Meanwhile, the book “Dumplin'” is being turned into a movie that will be released on Netflix, December 7th! Jennifer Anniston stars in it, and Dolly Parton has at least one song on the soundtrack. Yes!

The next book Blanche’s Book Club is “The Dinner List” by Rebecca Serle. Follow me on Instagram @OrangeJulius7 for real-time updates!

Next week on the blog, be on the lookout for my adventures during the Austin Mandatory Water Boil, and an update on my work situation. Have a good weekend, y’all!


BBC: ‘Leah on the Offbeat’.

Hey there! I am going to jump right into the subject matter today because I waited SO long to get this book in my grubby little paws. Today, I’m talking about “Leah on the Offbeat” by Becky Albertalli. As soon as I read “Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda“, I put myself on the library waiting list for the sequel, and well, here we are.

Here is the book’s official description from Amazon:

In this sequel to the acclaimed Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda—now a major motion picture, Love, Simon—we follow Simon’s BFF Leah as she grapples with changing friendships, first love, and senior year angst.

When it comes to drumming, Leah Burke is usually on beat—but real life isn’t always so rhythmic.

She’s an anomaly in her friend group: the only child of a young, single mom, and her life is decidedly less privileged. She loves to draw but is too self-conscious to show it. And even though her mom knows she’s bisexual, she hasn’t mustered the courage to tell her friends—not even her openly gay BFF, Simon.

So Leah really doesn’t know what to do when her rock-solid friend group starts to fracture in unexpected ways. With prom and college on the horizon, tensions are running high.

It’s hard for Leah to strike the right note while the people she loves are fighting—especially when she realizes she might love one of them more than she ever intended.

So… you might have already guessed it, but this book isn’t really about drumming. It’s about high school and all of the twists and turns it brings – especially when you toss love in there.

The characters in this book are in high school, but they are preparing to head to college, so it definitely brought me back to that time in my life. I still remember very vividly my first college visit, and also attending my first frat party while still in high school (complete with lemonade + raspberry vodka – yuuuuck).

Anyway, although the characters in this book are familiar (from reading “Simon), getting to know Leah’s character was fun – she had a different train of thought that is refreshingly funny.

I also really admire Albertalli’s ability to bring to light the experiences of characters who aren’t heterosexual. I don’t know if this was her mission in writing these books, but it’s a nice change, and I’m sure high school students appreciate reading about someone who has experiences more similar to theirs.

I’m recommending this book to anyone who’s read (and liked) “Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda”, and also to fans of YA novels, and/or to anyone looking to relive (temporarily) the high school experience.

The next book Blanche’s Book Club will be reading is “The President is Missing” by James Patterson and Bill Clinton.

BBC: ‘Hate List’.

I almost didn’t want to post anything today – I know you all are probably sick of reading my book reviews, but I have been reading so much lately! I think I’m using books as a bit of an escape from life, stress, grieving, etc… so I’m just going to go with it.

The latest read from Blanche’s Book Club is “Hate List” by Jennifer Brown. Before I get into this ANY further, here is the official description from

Five months ago, Valerie Leftman’s boyfriend, Nick, opened fire on their school cafeteria. Shot trying to stop him, Valerie inadvertently saved the life of a classmate, but was implicated in the shootings because of the list she helped create. A list of people and things she and Nick hated. The list he used to pick his targets.

Now, after a summer of seclusion, Val is forced to confront her guilt as she returns to school to complete her senior year. Haunted by the memory of the boyfriend she still loves and navigating rocky relationships with her family, former friends and the girl whose life she saved, Val must come to grips with the tragedy that took place and her role in it, in order to make amends and move on with her life.

I was reading this book thinking, “Wow, this is so timely…” and then I saw it was published in 2010 and realized probably any book written about a mass shooting has been considered “timely” since Columbine.

Don’t worry, I’m not going to get into politics here, but it did break my heart just a little to realize that, yes, school shootings are so common now that they’re becoming topics in YA novels. Amirite?

I took note of some of my favorite lines from the book:

  • “Bruter’s name was the first of hundreds on the now infamous ‘Hate List’, a red spiral notebook confiscated from Nick Levil’s home just hours after the shooting.”
  • “And then there was the noise. It wasn’t so much a noise in my ears as it was in my brain. It sounded like the whole world was shutting down on me.”
  • “I wanted her to smile, and I wondered if she smiled when she got home and held her kids or if she just came home and sat back in her recliner with a vodka and drank until she couldn’t hear gunshots.”
  • “After your classmates get blown away pretty much everything else in the world – even your father bailing on your family – seems pretty trivial.”

This book did a good job of showing the other side of mass shootings – what happens to the people that knew and loved the person with the gun? It’s not something that is usually covered in the media, but is addressed locally; a funeral often has to be held for the accused as well.

The book also addresses mental health and how we (as humans) digest the things people say to us, such as, were those actual signs? Jokes? Could I have done something to prevent this from happening?

And finally, this story seemed so real; the characters, the school, the high school struggle – I couldn’t help but be completely submerged into this world. A truly fantastic read.

I’m recommending this one to YA novel lovers, and to anyone who enjoys human interest stories.

The next book Blanche’s Book Club will be reading is “There’s Someone Inside Your House” by Stephanie Perkins.

In other news, I DO have other ideas for blog posts in my mind, but like I said, I’ve simply been trying to just take it easy on myself and do anything that doesn’t feel awful. I had tickets to go to a hockey game last night, but when it came time to get into my car and go, I couldn’t do it. I was worried it would remind me too much of my dad and I’d just end up sitting there crying.

I have started going through some of the things willed to me by my dad and am documenting it on my Instagram account @OrangeJulius7 if you’d like to follow along – it’s part of a bigger project I will eventually reveal.

Happy Friday-eve!

Hand-Picked: Better late than never…

I wish this would have scanned better!

I wish this would have scanned better!

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

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

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

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

Notebook cover.

Notebook cover.

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

A sweet thank you!

A sweet thank you!

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

So pretty!

So pretty!

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

Old loves.

Old loves.

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

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

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

Hand-Picked: Tulle skirts & big cities!

In front of the Real World Chicago house.

In front of the Real World Chicago house.

The summer between my junior and senior year in high school, I went to Chicago with my best friend and our moms. We got makeovers, went shopping, visited the front door of the house featured in Real World, season 11, Chicago (which aired in 2002, and was taped during the September 11 attacks), and we also saw John Mayer, with Guster as the opening act.

It was not the first time I’d seen him perform live, but it was my first (of I think a dozen) concert with him as the headliner. He was not very popular at the time, and the convert was in sort of an open parking lot area. It was the first I’d ever heard his song, “Comfortable” [above] – and it is a moment I will never forget.

LA map.

LA map.

I went to Los Angeles, California, for the first time the summer before I graduated from college. I went by myself, stayed at a hotel downtown, and it was the longest flight I’d ever been on. LA is a city of dreamt of since I was in 5th grade, and I have always wanted to live there. I’d gotten a contact through a story I wrote for my journalism course, a guy who owned a public relations company for independent artists. I told him I was heading to LA for a few days to check it out, if he wanted to meet.

He agreed, and I met him and his wife at The Knitting Factory in West Hollywood to see one of the bands he promoted. I took the metro from my hotel to West Hollywood, and saw Mann’s Chinese Theatre. I was in awe.

Thinking back on it, it was a pretty daring thing for me to do all of the by myself, and perhaps not smart to meet someone I didn’t really know. But, it all worked out, and it was a memorable trip. I did the Hollywood walk, and took the Hollywood Homes tour. It was everything I’d hoped it would be!

So sweet!

So sweet!

About four years ago, it seemed like pretty much everyone I knew was getting married. I was in a few weddings, and attended many others – all fun. But there was one weekend that I literally went to one wedding on a Friday night, got up early the next morning, and flew to Florida for a bachelorette weekend. I’d missed night one of the festivities, but the ladies had rented a very Real World-esque loft (complete with colored lights in the shower) and we spent the days on the beach, and the nights out. It was a complete blast!

Invitation from a fancy New Orleans wedding I was in.

Invitation from a fancy New Orleans wedding I was in.

Ah, wedding season. Looking back on it, it was pretty fun, although expensive. But I think now, pretty much everyone I know is married. We should just drink and eat cake anyway, right?

Happy birthday to me!

Happy birthday to me!

Again, you can tell it’s 2003 because of my Tiffany’s… and my terrible haircut. Ha! Truthfully, my 18th birthday (and the summer surrounding it), was a little rough. But, my best friend lit the candles and sang me Happy Birthday a little after midnight, and all was good. And by the way, the cake was German chocolate… my favorite.

Senior prom!

Senior prom!

I remember a very popular senior told me during my junior year that wearing a big, fluffy dress was “not the senior thing to do”. She wore a mermaid dress, and well, I wore a big, fluffy one. But I loved it, and even though I had to ask my date, and I think we didn’t really get along, I had a blast stomping around Circle Centre mall in this thing. After wearing it to prom, and later to a sorority formal, I took lots of pictures of it, and donated it to the Cinderella Project, which allows girls to choose from donated gowns, and alter them if they choose. While I love it the way it is, I think it would look cool shorter in the front, and long in the back. I will never know the fate of the dress, but we sure had some good times.

Hand-Picked: Toga time.

Sorority recruitment (left); toga mixer with my big sis (right)

Sorority recruitment (left); toga mixer with my big sis (right)

Just in case you weren’t here yesterday… here’s the scoop on “Hand-Picked”:

I’m really excited to share a special series with you this week, “Hand-Picked”, because it’s exactly that: hand-picked memories in the form of photos (actual ones that were developed), notes, ticket-stubs, and other random findings I’ve kept over the course of my life thus far.

These are mementos I store in decorative boxes on shelves in my coat closet, and at times, I pull them down and spend hours looking through them, and remembering some of the best times in my life. What’s below are real, original things from my life, my home, and they have not been edited. They are not presented in any particular order, as I’m not that organized. I hope you’ll enjoy them as much as I do, and perhaps you’ll start to travel down your own memorable past.


Holler for 8th grade yearbooks.

Holler for 8th grade yearbooks.

Yep, I still have my middle school yearbooks laying around! I started going to dance classes when I was in 7th grade, and made the school dance team in 8th grade. It became a big part of my life then, and all the way through high school. I took a 10-year break, and am right back in it! I will actually be performing on stage for the second time this year, in November!

Best card ever!

Best card ever!

Remember when “Awkward Family Photos” were popular? What happened to that? This is a birthday card one of my best friends, Angela, got me!

Another mixed CD...

Another mixed CD…

Apparently I made my then-boyfriend so many mixed CDs I had to label them by month! Looking at the songs now, I remember why I loved making these so much – I really tried to make them a true MIX and find different stuff to put on their. Austin and I both loved Marc Broussard:

And even went to see him live after we broke up (I’d gotten us tickets when we were still together), which was super awkward. We pretty much fought the entire drive there, got drunk at the concert, and then fought the entire way back the next day.

All sorts of goodies here!

All sorts of goodies here!

On the left, the bark-heart, is something my very first boyfriend (when I was 16) put on my doorstep one night – so cute! On the right, top, is my high school ID. The fact that we had to have IDs is comical to me, and its construction is really shitty, which makes it even better. Bottom right is my name tag from Ritter’s, one of my favorite jobs ever, and if there was a Ritter’s in Austin, I’d be working there. I really love that place! sweet...

…so sweet…

In college, and for a little while afterward, I worked as a bartender, and met some pretty awesome people. One of my coworkers left Baton Rouge to volunteer in The Peace Corps. We were growing close when he left, so we wrote each other, and I sent him a few packages. I definitely feel like I missed the boat with this guy – he’s smart and really handsome – and he was off learning and doing all of these things to grow his knowledge of culture and I feel like I probably was beneath his intelligence level, and thinking about some of the things I said to him makes me sad. He’s married with a baby, and I will always wish him happiness.

Happy Halloween!

Happy Halloween!

Celebrating Halloween behind the bar! My coworkers called me “Hollywood”, so I ironed the letters on the back of my outfit, and the bar’s name on my hat. I always hated working near Halloween because patrons would come in the bar with masks on – and that is my biggest fear ever. Scariest mask I served? Donny Darko. YIKES.

The decision-maker.

The decision-maker.

This came in a birthday card I got a few years ago, and it’s one of those square-things that has the numbers on the inside, and you pick a number, count it out, and then ultimately your fortune, or your future is on the inside. A Justin Bieber future forecaster is all I needed!

A letter from my pen pal.

A letter from my pen pal.

I started learning French in 8th grade, at school, and as part of the program, we got pen pals in France. My pen pal and I shared a love for the Backstreet Boys, so she often sent me covers of the French-version of Teen Bop, along with general pictures and info about her life there. All of her letters were on colorful stationary, or decorated with sequins. I have kept them all!

Yes, those are TAPES.

Yes, those are TAPES.

I got a video camera for Christmas, I think my senior year in high school, and I used it to pretty much document everything, as you can see. I don’t have the camera anymore, but I saved the tapes – even though now I have no way of watching them… smart.

I’ll see you all tomorrow for a new batch of “Hand-Picked” goodies!

Hand-Picked: The good ‘ole days…

Hello out there! I’m on vacation this week – that’s right, a REAL vacation without my computer, and complete with my toes in the sand, frozen mojitos, and the company of some of my best friends. However, there’s no way I’d leave my favorite readers hanging!

I’m really excited to share a special series with you this week, “Hand-Picked”, because it’s exactly that: hand-picked memories in the form of photos (actual ones that were developed), notes, ticket-stubs, and other random findings I’ve kept over the course of my life thus far.

These are mementos I store in decorative boxes on shelves in my coat closet, and at times, I pull them down and spend hours looking through them, and remembering some of the best times in my life. What’s below are real, original things from my life, my home, and they have not been edited. They are not presented in any particular order, as I’m not that organized. I hope you’ll enjoy them as much as I do, and perhaps you’ll start to travel down your own memorable past.

So young!

So young!

This picture is from the summer between my graduation from high school and me leaving Indiana for Baton Rouge. It was 2003, as you can clearly see from my Tiffany’s heart pendant necklace. This was my boyfriend at the time, and if I’ve ever had to say there was one that got away, I’d venture to say it was him.

I’ve written many a blog post about him; he was smart, athletic, and a family-man, and damn, doesn’t he look cute? He still lives in Indiana, and his married with children. I haven’t spoken to him since 2003 (I saw him that winter, but we didn’t speak), but I sure hope he’s doing well. It was the best summer of my life.

Handwritten thoughts.

Handwritten thoughts.

In 2008, I’d just graduated from college. I’d be lying if I told you I remembered EXACTLY what this handwritten piece of awesomeness is, but I do know that my friend at the time, Mollye, had set me up on a date with a guy, it didn’t work out, and then she dated him, and we got into a pretty big fight. So, it’s probably about that.

Abercrombie life.

Abercrombie life.

For a few years in college, I worked at Abercrombie & Fitch. At the time, of course I hated it, but in all honesty, I met some awesome people there, and we had a lot of fun. We also got to wear overpriced flip-flops to work, and use a Polaroid camera for whatever we wanted – and clearly, we took great pride in our denim walls. Nothing turns me on more than a pair of distressed denim. No, seriously.

I'm so lame.

I’m so lame.

I dated this guy, Austin, in college, and as you can see, he was graduating (and moved from Baton Rouge to Dallas). I was practicing what I wanted to write in his card, and I’m not sure HOW I started calling him “Prada”, but I did and I got him a pair of Prada sunglasses for graduation. We sort of tried the long-distance thing for a little bit, but obviously that didn’t work out for several reasons. He is now married with children, and as far as I know, he still lives in Dallas.

A rather embarrassing tradition...

A rather embarrassing tradition…

I’m not sure how this got started, but whenever I went out and got drunk, I would attempt to write “20 Things I Did Tonight” – probably so I could recall them the next day, or 10 years later, like I am right now. I have stacks of papers like these, and some of them even have wristbands and random bumper stickers attached – you know it’s a good night when there’s physical evidence. This list is… interesting, and I am not sure what “Blue Hurricane” is, but it sounds disgusting!

High school graduation.

High school graduation.

This is a card a classmate wrote to me for our high school graduation. I thought it was so sweet, and written on such professional cardstock, that I kept it. He is still kind, successful, and probably still writes sweet things on thick paper for the people in his life.

Nothing says love like a mixed CD.

Nothing says love like a mixed CD.

The man I loved was moving to New Orleans, and it was ultimately the road to our demise – minus the fact that he was a lying, cheating, asshole. But, I made him a mixed CD anyway, and I think I made a copy for myself because it was so good. I mean who can resist a little David Gray?

Seriously... it's funny now, right?

Seriously… it’s funny now, right?

Yes, you read correctly, my dorm room was infested with termites, as kindly informed to me via this note, from my new roommate, Michelle. It was my freshman year, and I’d just moved in with Michelle, and I came home from studying one night and found this taped to our door. The story was pretty traumatic for Michelle, and LSU actually didn’t have a dorm room for us, so we stayed in a hotel for a few days, which was pretty nice if you ask me…


The top secret notebook!

The top secret notebook!

In 8th grade, I kept notebooks with my girlfriends (lots of girls did this) – instead of writing and folding notes back and forth we sent a notebook back and forth. This was in 1998, and I really like how it says on the front “Do not open or ELSE!!” I’ve read the contents of this notebooks and am actually quite surprised that Leslie was my friend – the letters I write to her are pretty lame, and I’m often complaining about homework (imagine that) and attempting to write in French (we shared French class). Also, 90% of the notes are written in highlighter, or sparkly gel ink – God love the 90s!

I hope you enjoyed day one of “Hand-Picked”! Please come back tomorrow for an entirely new batch of memories – the good, the bad, and… the old!

Implementing the Zack Morris TIME-OUT!

Sup, preppies! Look, it’s almost midnight on Tuesday night, and I really haven’t done anything I needed to do today, because these last 48 hours have been… unexpected.

I don’t even know where to begin, but I’m going to try and spit something out that will explain a little bit of this madness. In the recent past, I published some blogs about a guy, we’ll call him… Mr. Belding (I love “Saved By The Bell”), this was a guy I liked a lot. In a nutshell, he didn’t like me back. It’s the classic love story.

But, as soon as I published these posts, Mr. Belding got really pissed off. At me. And he told me that his mom was upset, and that everyone in the United States was upset (exaggerating because this will be used against me, I am certain), and he also said that many of my readers were texting him pictures and screenshots and messages, OH MY.

He also got Tori, remember her, the biker chick that was kind of on the show for the Fall Dance episode and then faded away, yes, her, Tori was trying to swoop in and save Mr. Belding from the evil, ME (can I be Lisa?). So she was telling him to sue me, and maybe they can get together and talk shit about me and sip wine, and he’ll touch her hair, and they’ll laugh about how awful I am, and they can skip off in the sunset (and a cliff) together.

So, I’ve been dealing with children for two days. But, Mr. Belding also told me that he was going to lose his job over what I said. So, he’s sent me probably around 50 messages asking me to not continue with my series.

So, let me explain a little further here.

Growing up, my father was a journalist for the city paper where I grew up. And I am proud to say that my dad was (and probably still is) a great writer. My dad also had guts when it came to his work. If he wrote something even a TAD controversial, our house phone (that’s how old I am) would be blowing off the hook – people were pissed off about things he said. But my dad never backed down.

And I am really thankful I saw that from a young age. When I grew up a little, and got to high school, I was really lucky to have a journalism teacher who also encouraged us to exercise that right to free speech. We were one of the only high schools in the state of Indiana that didn’t have to have our principal, or any administrator, proofread it before it went to print.

If you’re not a creative, this may all sound like a load of shit. But, asking me to not write, not blog, not publish something, feels like a complete, and total violation. It’s like cutting off my air supply. It’s like getting rid of THE MAX.

I’ve had this blog for more than 5 years. There have been many people that love it, and some people that don’t. And, as I’ve said many times here, that’s the risk you take when you put yourself out there. But, I’ve also learned that the biggest risks sometimes come with the biggest reward.

The reward? Getting messages from men and women around the world, telling me they can relate to my stories. And that is what my blog is about: taking the ugly, embarrassing stuff we deal with on a day-to-day basis, and giving it some sort of resolve. At the very least, this little Bitter Lemon community can know that they are not alone when it comes to the frustrating struggles of relationships.

While I have built this school, this Bayside High, to be a place of honesty and truth (and it will remain that), I also don’t want it to be a place that would cause someone to lose his job. Do I think he really would lose his job? Absolutely, 100 percent not. But what if I am wrong?

Ultimately, the fate of Mr. Belding is no concern of mine. I think the truth hurts, unless you’re a good person, and he’s harassing me out of that fear.

But at the very least, I know that I also don’t want to get another three days worth of threats and bullshit sent to my phone. If you’ve ever had a crush on anyone like Mr. Belding, you know that he is never going to admit any wrongdoing, so it’s the song that never ends.

And he very well may read this and analyze every single word and bitch about them all. But that is what the “Block” button is for on my phone.

I feel like a real lame ass for kind of letting Mr. Belding win a little bit here. So let’s even things out. If he’s Bayside and I’m Valley, let’s put ants in the Bayside Tiger’s pants.

I am going to publish the final three parts of my story. One part on Wednesday, one Thursday, and one on Friday, as planned. And I am going to put a password protection on them. And I’m also going to tell you that the password is in all lowercase letters. And that its rhymes with “rake”. And it starts with a d. A lowercase d. And its the same name as the person who sings “Hotline Bling”.

So, there. If you want to read, I welcome you to do so. If not, that is your right as well.

In any case, there have been so many of you reading this week, and I thank you for that. I do hope that my choice to offer up a slight hurdle to get to the content won’t make me look like too much of a wimp. I hate that the bad guy won here, but he still has to live with his wrongs. Even if he doesn’t care.

You used to call me on my cell phone…

Zaharako's soda fountain in Columbus, Indiana.

Zaharako’s soda fountain in Columbus, Indiana.

The following was written based on memories (and I’ve had drinks since then). Names have been changed to protect the author.

I grew up in Columbus, Indiana. If I had to guess, Columbus is a lot like any other suburban town in middle America: it’s mostly white, pretty safe, fashion trends come late, and teenagers are itching to leave.

At least, that’s how I felt. I remember visiting the middle school for my district – it wasn’t the same school any of my 6th grade classmates were going to, and at orientation, the place appeared gigantic. How would I be able to make it to any of my classes on time? I wondered.

But my 7th grade year, getting to my classes on time was the least of my worries. I knew no one, classes were difficult, and I felt like everyone was instantly popular, except me (I was still wearing Limited Too, while everyone else was in Abercrombie).

In an effort to make friends, I tried out for the school’s dance team, The Spirettes. I had no real dance experience aside from a single jazz class I took at a local gym. However, I felt like my audition was decent enough, dance-wise. But I’m fairly certain I didn’t smile. I didn’t make the team, and I was devastated.

However, things started looking up toward the end of 7th grade. I was making friends – some of whom are still my friends today. When 8th grade came around, I was much more prepared. I also tried out for The Spirettes again, and after slathering Vaseline on my teeth and glittering my face – I made it! Oddly enough, I don’t remember performing a single time; though I do remember after-school practices (our coach was a Colts cheerleader and I thought she was so cool).

As the year came to a close, all of the 8th graders were gearing up for high school – most of us were simply migrating to the giant brick building across the street.

Going into high school was really intimidating. Middle school was cliquey, but damn, high school was bitchy. There were so many groups of students who’d grown up together in different schools, and now we were all in the same sea. It was a nightmare. But I had my few friends I’d known since 6th grade (dare I say it? This was pre- #Squad) and I was generally content.

Of course, I always wished I was more popular – I used to imagine what it was like to be “in” and I figured their lives were so easy and fun. But, don’t worry, I’ve watched enough teen angst flicks and rom-coms to know that’s not true (Enter: Drive Me Crazy).

I joined the school dance team, The Pepsteppers (and no, I’m not sure what’s up with the cutesy names), in 9th grade and I was obsessed with it. I truly loved dancing, and even though I was always nervous as shit before performing at halftime of the boys’ basketball games, I enjoyed it.

I was also on the school newspaper staff – because of course I was – and was learning to express myself in all kinds of new ways. This was probably what set the stage for my life to come; in good ways and bad.

I recall having crushes on boys from a young age, and it probably comes as no surprise that even then, I chased after what I wanted, never learning when it ended terribly.

I’ll be honest, I don’t remember the first time I met Eric. I’d say it probably had something to do with the fact that he was on the basketball team and I danced at halftime. I met a lot of basketball players that way.

Our practice areas were near each other and we did have some of the same classes. And boy, he was cute. He was tall, fit, and had this curly blond hair that was cut short and kept neat.

He was always off-limits – a total serial monogamist, even at 15. He was sweet, funny, and good at basketball: the high school recipe for success.

As months passed, we talked more. Our friends were friends, so we crossed paths outside of school. We became friends easily – he had an amazing sense of humor and a contagious laugh. It was no wonder he was always in a serious relationship. In fact, that is probably another factor that made him even more desirable.

Late night when you need my love…

Of course, there were a few times he was single, or as I’d like to say, between girlfriends. In those weeks (I can’t imagine he’d be single for a month’s time), we would flirt. Hard.

Thinking back, it was probably pretty innocent flirting, but in high school – shit was a big deal. At first, it was on MSN Messenger, because cell phones were still really new, plus MSN was WHERE IT WAS AT, at the end of the day.

Picture it: dial-up internet connection, immediately trying to sign in to MSN, watching those two little icons swirling around each other, and then your contacts list populating, hoping your crush would be online – but you wouldn’t dare talk to him, at least not first, but you’d sit there, perhaps not talking to anyone, debating, should you say “hey”?

It was a nightly battle. But I’d trade a decent piece of jewelry to go back and read some of those conversations I had via MSN.

My close girlfriends knew how much I liked Eric. They were there when I was trying to craft the perfect message to send to him, or when we got digital cameras, what picture should I send him?

And then, before I knew it, he’d already jumped in a serious relationship |red flag| with someone new. Someone that wasn’t me.

Have you seen or read “Paper Towns”? It’s the story of a high school senior, Quentin, who’s kind of a nerd and unpopular, but he lives next door to the coolest girl ever, Margo Roth Spiegelman. They have one fluke night together – driving around their town (very much like Columbus) causing debauchery before dancing near the top of a high-rise.

Quentin loved every bit of Margo – her choice of nail polish, her random sense of style, and even her ability to disappear, wrecking havoc on those she left behind. But Quentin loved Margo the way he imagined her, and as we all eventually learn, nothing is how you imagine it.

I felt the same way about Eric. Only in this story, I’m Quentin, and he’s Margo.

My friends and I found an odd joy in driving through town, whether on a mission for Taco Bell (fuel for late-night video game sessions) or simply just to drive (okay, and an excuse to blare Justin Timberlake’s “Justified” album, you know that shit was fire).

Admittedly, we’d always wonder what other students did that we didn’t know about. At 16, when I had my first boyfriend, I found out: they hung out in finished basements while their moms baked cookies above them. We weren’t missing out.

I’m not sure how it happened, but Eric and I found ourselves single at the same time. His recent breakup was all over school. But, he was quick to ask me on a date for the following weekend.

I joined him and his friend for lunch at Eric’s house – this was nothing new; he lived near school and for us, it meant a quick, free lunch.

“So, what are you going to do about Ashley?” his friend asked him.

“I figure I can just go on a date with someone else…” he said |red flag|.

“Sure, you could do that,” his friend said.

“I asked Holly,” he said, pointing at me. I shrugged.

I don’t know how, but I remember exactly what I was wearing that day: a white scoop neck tee (probably from Express), and this tight, turquoise skirt that had Hawaiian flowers on it. I know it was from Delia’s. I thought I was Britney Spears.

I feel like what I’m about to say makes it appear that I’m placing blame, but it’s also a vital factor if you’re interested in understanding my head space then, and now. As I stood in Eric’s parents’ kitchen, it had been less than a year since my parent’s divorced and my dad moved away. He was also about to get married.

My dad was easily the iron fist, and it was at about this point in my life, when I probably could have used someone to stand at the front door, arms crossed, foot tapping, when boys came to pick me up. Because they did, and I was not rejecting any form of male attention.

So, that weekend, Eric picked me up, and we played Putt-Putt. I think we may have had dinner, too, but I can’t recall. I just remember being certain I was going to kick his ass at Putt-Putt, because my dad and I played a lot when I was a kid. But, Eric won (I think by a lot), even though you’re supposed to let the girl win, right? He was competitive, but he was nice about it.

He drove me home, walked me to my front step, and he kissed me. I had to stand on my tip-toes, but it was an insanely sparkly kiss. I’d dreamt of it, and it was finally happening.

But within the next week, Ashley, Eric’s ex, came back around, and he called me on my purple cordless phone, to tell me that even though he had fun with me, he loved Ashley. Total devastation. But, I understood.

When he and Ashley broke up for the second time, for good, I ended up back at his parents’ house. Only this time, it was late, and we crept into the basement. With the lights off, we made out, and there was lots of over-the-clothes friction happening. It was steamy, in an awkward, high school way.

But without fail, Eric started dating someone new, someone who wasn’t me, just like always. And I was jealous.

They dated for, what seemed like, forever, and before I knew it, our senior year summer was over, and I was packing my car to move to Louisiana.

Please return tomorrow for part two of this five-part series, complete with red flag alerts and Drake lyrics. 

Pic of the Week.

Traveling hooommmme!

Traveling hooommmme!

I really don’t have any great pictures that represent my travels this weekend – it’s very likely that I was having such a good time, I didn’t pick up my phone. But I traveled north and visited some friends from high school, and got to meet my best friend’s baby (cutest baby ever, seriously). It was a rather quick trip, but a much-needed one.

Truthfully, I planned the trip for a few reasons: 1., I really wanted to meet my friend’s baby. I was able to come in town in the spring for her baby shower, but wasn’t able to make it back when he was born, due to my awkward employment situation. I’ve just recently been able to get my finances together to travel. 2. Because of my job, I now have paid vacation days, and with the holiday, there was a built-in day-off that I thought I would take advantage of. And 3., I have tried my best not to mention it, but there’s someone I have a pretty big crush on back home. Until this weekend, I hadn’t seen this guy in 8 years.

If you’re new to these parts, I’ll admit that I’ve got a bit of a weak spot for Indiana guys. I don’t know if it’s a familiarity thing, or just something about the way they are, but I easily fall for their charm, I guess.

Of course, that whole distance thing really sucks. It’s not like it’s a few hours, it’s like a day-drive, or a half-day of flying. It would take planning and a lot of will power to make something like that work.

Personally, I think the distance has its advantages. But it definitely makes for a different relationship dynamic (not saying that we are in a relationship). Let’s be real: I’m probably only good for the casual stuff.

Okay, that’s a lie. I just don’t think he’s into me quite as much as I’m into him (but he was a complete gentleman over the weekend), and I’ll spend the next two weeks convincing myself that I’m good being single for another decade… or two, in order to avoid getting attached and heartbroken.

If I’m being REAL honest, this isn’t the first time I’ve traveled home to see someone I liked. In college, I went back to visit my then-boyfriend. We had a great few days together, and when he took me to my mom’s house at the end of my trip, it was the last time I ever saw him.

He pretty much faded me out instead of formally breaking up with me, but he said something about how the distance was just too difficult. And, like I said, I am aware that it sucks, but I’m also a die-hard romantic. I’d do just about anything to be with someone I cared about; even if it meant taking the plunge and moving, or whatever was on the table.

I want that kind of love so bad, that I’d hate to throw away something good just because we live in different places. Is that part of the whole fate thing? Am I destined to fall in love with a Texan just because that’s where I live? It’s all overwhelming to me.

A trip home is always an interesting one; it brings back a lot of good memories, and it makes me think a lot about how far I’ve come. Right now, I’m at the complete will of my job and career. That’s why I live where I live. In a few years, I could probably live wherever and do what I do.

But for now, I’m still a Singleton in Texas.

A picture is worth…

A few nights ago, I got a Facebook alert that I was tagged in a comment by an old friend, Katie. When I looked at the tag, to my surprise, it was a picture of Katie and I, along with our high school dance teammates.


The picture is nearly 12 years old.

There, in my grown up apartment (pay no mind to my Bieber collection), I was 16 again and I remembered being in that stairwell.

We were practicing a routine for an upcoming performance, I was dating my very first boyfriend, and I had just proclaimed (minutes before the picture was snapped) that I thought I actually loved him.

Ah, love. I didn’t even know what it really meant. But I knew he gave me my very first kiss that made my knees weak, with an additional feeling of drunkness, and I hadn’t even tasted alcohol yet.

All I really knew was that I loved to dance. I loved being a part of that team.

My first dance experience was at a small athletic club when I was in 6th grade. It was a jazz class, and my teacher always wore black leotards and matching tights. She loved “Sweet Dreams Are Made of These.”

In class, we learned a dance routine to Ertha Kitt’s, “Santa Baby,” in which we mysteriously were supposed to pull red boas out of our partner’s back during the performance.

Naturally, I fucked it up, and it took me an extra yank to get the boa out (pre hashtag fail moment).

When I got to 7th grade, I tried out for the middle school dance team, the Spirettes. I know my audition wasn’t perfect, so I wasn’t surprised when my name wasn’t on the list. I was devastated and I watched in envy that year as the beautiful Spirettes took the court at halftime.

I had to be on that team. The following year, I confided in my friend Betsy, asking her to help me nail my audition. I practiced. Hard. And when audition day came, I wore lipstick, slathering vaseline on my teeth so I would constantly smile. I put glitter gel in my hair and dabbled it on the corners of my eyes. I smiled like my life depended on it.

And I fucking made that team.

When I got to high school, I tried out for the Pepsteppers, only to get “alternate” on the team. I was upset, but my mom told me to be the best alternate there was.

So I did. I never missed a practice. And I went to dance camp. Five grueling days of intense training and competition, I walked away with superior ribbons. And my coach gave me a full-time spot on the team.

The following four years on that team were some of the best memories of my life—I learned to be a leader as team captain. I learned about fitness and hard work. And it served as some of the best therapy when that boy I “loved” eventually dumped me, and when my parents got divorced.

And I learned the value of a team when our beloved coach unexpectedly passed away during the season. It is a lesson I carry with me today—that even though dancing these days usually only happens in my kitchen—I have learned that I can always dance in my heart.