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On life, time & the woman of grace.

Life is short, and time moves so fast.

Life is short, and time moves so fast.

It has been said that time is the true teller of things (and people) that really matter. After all, things or moments or people that withstand the test of time – those are the keepers.

A few weeks ago, I realized I’ve done something in my life for the first time: I lost track of time. I don’t mean I let a lazy Sunday go by after floating on a self-made raft of mimosas and pancakes. I mean I stopped counting all of the years, months, weeks, and days it had been since monumental things happened in my life.

In general, we’re obsessed with numbers. We keep track of everything – not just the time on a clock or the days of the week; we have holidays, anniversaries, countdowns, and remembrances. We count calories, calculate bank accounts, and even track the steps we take.

And until recently, I kept track (mentally) of everything. How long it had been since I talked to him, or how long it’s been since I kissed someone; how long has it been since I’ve had a drink; when was the last time I ate red meat…blah, blah, blah.

But what about, when was the last time I just lived my life? Had a blissful moment? Took a second to relax? Told someone I loved them?

Keeping track of the moments or things that don’t really matter, is exhausting. Perhaps, enough time has put a distance between the moment and my memory, so much so, that I’ve all but forgotten the dates and reminders of the things that essentially broke my spirit. And I’m happy to let that go.

This weekend, news from my hometown served me a different reminder of just how precious time is. A woman who attended school with many of my friends lived her last moments in a tragic accident.

She, Jackie, was the type of woman we all wished we could be. Although my conversations with her were limited, I can say with complete confidence that she was sweet, selfless, intelligent, and bright. She was beautiful inside and out, and I know she had an overwhelming love for animals, and for her husband, Michael.

The moments leading up to the sad news seemed like forever. I stayed awake, on the phone with friends, as we hoped and prayed that this would end with Jackie at home, safe. I know we all wanted answers, but now, I’m certain the world could use more time, more days filled with her bright light.

When I suffer a loss, I immediately feel this sense of time and how little we have of it, and the pressure is on to rearrange my priorities in order to fill my time with moments I can look back on with pride and happiness.

Sadly, I’ve felt this pressure twice in just a few weeks – instead of prioritizing, I’ve spend lots of time in tears, moments asking why, and doing anything I can from afar to comfort those in pain.

I don’t know the moments that may have awaited Jackie; her hopes and dreams, but I do know she used her time wisely. She loved purely; she smiled a lot, and she spent hours upon hours caring for animals in need. In these last few days, her close friends and family have posted so many pictures of her with bunnies, dogs, friends, family, and her husband.

She was here for a short time, but her kindness made this world a beautiful place. For those that knew her, I truly think we’re better for it; she has a spirit that will withstand time, and may very well inspire us to use our time here a little differently.

I know I get caught up in the day-to-day madness, and when that happens, I lose sight of the bigger picture. There’s a reason we’re all here; a reason why things happen; and a reason why some of us have slower clocks than others.

For those who knew Jackie, I know the days ahead aren’t going to be easy. I’m wishing you strength and peace. Because of the nature of Jackie’s story, there were questions and speculation. In all honesty, there are some answers we may never get.

But what I do know is that we can honor our lost loves by loving even more; by giving more; by sharing kindness; and possibly by simply showing up – making time for those we care about. I know that’s something I need to get better at.

None of us know how much time we have left, which is why it’s important to make every moment count. But I’m not down with all the counting and numbers, so here’s to simply living with purpose, and doing so beautifully.

If I ever get around to living, it’s gonna be just like I dreamed. I’m gonna take the love I’m given, and set it free. 

If I ever get around to living, I’ll take the end of every day and tie it up to every morning, and sail away.

-John Mayer, If I Ever Get Around to Living 

If you’d like to make a donation in Jackie’s honor, IndyClaw Rescue is where she helped so many fur babies. May her sweet legacy live forever. 

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Goodbye, to you.

The pier at Folly Beach, South Carolina.

The pier at Folly Beach, South Carolina.

On Tuesday, my mom delivered the news to me that a dear family friend of ours had less than a 10 percent chance of surviving.

I wept behind the closed door of my office. This was not just any person – it was Cheryl, my mom’s best friend, a woman she’d known for 34 years, and someone who had influenced my life in many great ways. I wept for my mom, for Cheryl’s daughter, for her husband, for her family, her coworkers, and for anyone who’d ever knew her – even if just for a short moment.

Cheryl was a ray of light in the darkness – she always found a way to laugh at pretty much any situation, which is a trait I’ve always admired. I can recall so many fun times with Cheryl and her daughter, Sarah – times I will cherish for the rest of my life.

I know Cheryl meant so much to my mom, and to her family. To me, Cheryl was South Carolina sweet grass. She took her daughter and I on a rode trip one summer, from the middle of Indiana to the shores of South Carolina, where we stayed, for what seemed like a month.

It was my first time really discovering a new culture – we went to the market, bought handmade jewelry, tried homemade ice cream, walked cobblestone streets leading to plantation homes, and chased crabs in the sands of Folly Beach. It was heaven.

I’d nearly forgotten that Cheryl and Sarah had also joined my mom, dad, and I for a trip to Disney World when I was 10. Sarah and I met as many of the Disney characters as possible, having them all autograph pages in little journals we kept.

Although Cheryl divorced from Sarah’s father when we were very young, later she rekindled with a high school sweetheart whom she married and he became an integral part of the family. I always admired their love story – it was a fairytale.

But the entire time, Cheryl was battling Crohn’s Disease, which affects the digestive tract. The cause of Crohn’s is unknown, and even determining if you have it can be a complicated process. There is also no cure.

Personally, I know very little about Crohn’s, and have only known two people who’ve had it, including Cheryl. I know it affects each person differently, and I know I often forgot that Cheryl was fighting the symptoms of her illness.

But Crohn’s is eventually what took her body from this earth too soon – a move I know she didn’t let happen without a hard fight.

Yesterday, her body was laid to rest in its final place, and my mom was able to say her goodbyes to her dear friend. I couldn’t make it to Indiana for the funeral, which I feel terrible about, but I’ve already had a few talks with Cheryl’s spirit and I hope she understands.

I plan to honor Cheryl in a few ways, aside from just daily “What’s ups” and singing along to some John Mellencamp (she LOVED him). I have registered as a team to do the “Take Steps for Crohn’s” event in Austin at the end of May, so if you’re in the area and would like to join my team – Cheryl’s Southern Belles – or donate to my personal goal of $500, I would really love that.

I have also set up a GoFundMe campaign for Cheryl’s immediate family, as they are stressed about covering the costs of her funeral and her remaining medical bills. Although she had insurance, we all know that isn’t going to cover everything.

I am offering homemade baked goods and free blogging and Twitter courses for the higher donors, but if you would like to donate any amount, or share the link, it would be greatly appreciated.

I know the next few months will be emotional, and that we all deal with loss in our own ways. I wish my mom peace, and I hope everyone that loved Cheryl finds comfort in the fact that she touched so many lives and that we are all better people because of her.

Life goes on, long after the thrill of livin’ is gone.” -John Mellencamp, Jack and Diane

Hand-Picked: Fashionable holidays.

Baton Rouge's first Fashion Week!

Baton Rouge’s first Fashion Week!

Happy Friday, everyone! It’s time for the week’s final installment of “Hand-Picked” – it probably won’t be the last time ever for it, because, well I only went through maybe 1/4 of all the little mementos I have stuffed in boxes in my tiny apartments. But nonetheless, I do hope you’ve enjoyed all of my memories this week! I’ll be back to my regular posting next week, and this gave me a few days to unwind (very much needed) and think about the next direction for the blog.

Okay, first picture (above) is a few pieces I kept from Baton Rouge’s first Fashion Week, hosted by the one, the only Ryan Auld! Ryan was a contestant on Project Runway, and while he didn’t win during the standard season, he was later a contestant on Project Runway All Stars, where he completely knocked the socks off everyone and WON!

One cool thing about Ryan is that he’s from Louisiana! I actually met him while he was still in college, studying fashion at LSU. He was winning fashion competitions then, which is how I met him, because I wrote a story on him, and he got to study in Paris due to his winnings. I later ran into him again – as we unknowingly lived in the same apartment complex. He told me then that big things were happening for him, but he couldn’t tell me what. It was Project Runway.

The other cool thing about Ryan is that he is a two-time cancer survivor. Plus, he makes amazing clothes, and now he has a store in San Antonio. I have had a great time following his career, and cannot wait to see all the cool things he does in the future.

A merry Christmas party!

A merry Christmas party!

There are many cool perks to being a bartender, and one of them was the annual Christmas party. This particular party was always dressy, and included bottomless drinks, of course. That particular year, I loved the dress I bought – white and black color-blocked satin, with leopard-print heels. I even got my makeup done; and had asked my date by rewriting the words to “‘Twas The Night Before Christmas” and leaving it in a Santa hat outside his apartment. We had a blast!

Just a few...

Just a few…

This is about 1/4 of the tickets I’ve got from John Mayer concerts – this is the downfall of digital tickets; that there’s nothing cool to show for it unless you print it. But, as John Mayer would say, we’ll remember it by seeing it with our own eyes.

Did it.

Did it.

In 2012, a few attorneys I respected started a team for Race for the Cure. This was prior to my sheer hatred of anything benefitting the Komen Foundation, but giant, pink margaritas were at the finish line, so I was in. My best friend had come to Baton Rouge to visit, and we did the race together. I’d never done anything like that, and it was fun!

Murder Mystery party!

Murder Mystery party!

Many years ago, I was party of a Mardi Gras Krewe for a short period of time. One of the cool things they did each year was a Murder Mystery Christmas party – I’ve never gone to one of those, but I’d always wanted to after that Murder Mystery weekend episode of “Saved By The Bell” – no, seriously. My character was Sandy, and I was a lifeguard. I wore a whistle, and lots of bronzer, and was carrying sunscreen. I was NOT the murderer.

Hoorah for writing contests!

Hoorah for writing contests!

When I was in college, The New York Times hosted a writing contest for college students, which asked contestants to write about an aspect of their college experience. I entered, and although I did not win, my piece was featured on The New York Times website, which was a very proud moment for me. I have entered many-a-writing contest, and probably will continue to do so (I’m actually working on another entry this weekend), and they are always an interesting challenge.

So sweet!

So sweet!

My best friend’s sister gave me this note – and I thought it was too sweet not to post! And yes, she IS a good friend and sister!

Cheers to the weekend, guys! I’ll see you right back here on Monday!

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!

...so 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!

Life: Is this where you thought you’d be?

Time flies...

Time flies…

I mentioned on Monday (in my review of “What Alice Forgot“) that I’ve been thinking a lot about time lately. I was thinking about it before I read the book, although I’m not entirely sure what brought it on – it very well may be the fact that my 31st birthday less than one month away, or it could be that I just have this feeling that time is going by so, so fast.

And I don’t say that in the whole… conversational way of saying, “omigosh I’m just soooo busy, time flies!” It’s more as if, the days just go by soooo fast. One day it’s Monday, and before I can even realize it, it’s Friday. And then, Monday again, and the next thing I know, it’s 9 months later, and my lease is up, and my one-year review at my job is coming, and here I’ve lived in an entirely new place for legit almost a YEAR, and I still get excited when I don’t have to ask Siri for navigational assistance.

Like, what the hell is that about?

I know part of this whole time thing is Facebook, and I’m also fully aware that I blame Facebook for most of the world’s social problems, including but not limited to, cyber bullying, interpersonal communication skills, dating and relationships, and self-esteem. I sort of hate Mark Zuckerberg, and I kind of like hating him.

But anyway, I think Facebook is what’s brought to my attention just how fast time is passing by, and it’s made it hard and clear, that I’m getting older by the hour.

Many of you, my readers, have connected with me on Facebook, and I’m very thankful for that. But because of our online connection, I’ve literally been able to watch your lives from afar. I’ve seen you graduate from college, get engaged, married, have children, perhaps gone through divorce or relationship turmoil, and now, your children are not babies anymore, they’re actual humans who look like you and speak the same language we speak.

And me? I’m still sitting behind a laptop (the same exact one I was nine years ago), writing about the same things (my hatred of all men aside from John Mayer), and posting pictures of my cat anywhere I can. And I just have to wonder, is this where we’d all be if we’d asked ourselves ten years ago?

You know when you go on an interview, they’re likely to ask you where you see yourself in five to ten years. I’d venture to guess that 90% of the answers to that question are complete bullshit, because most people don’t have a fucking clue. Sure, we’ve all got hopes and dreams – where we’d like to see ourselves in five or ten years.

Ten years ago, I was going into my senior year at LSU. I had to take summer classes in order to graduate in a decent amount of time. So, I took classes from 7-12 each day, I had a two hour break to eat lunch, study, and crank out any writing (I was a news stringer for the university paper). Then, at 2 pm, I had a shift at the mall,  at Abercrombie. My shift was 2-10, Monday through Friday, and that’s what I did every day. On the weekends, I studied.

If you would have told me that in ten years, I would have changed careers, working an entry-level job with a bunch of 23-year-olds way smarter than me, I would have dropped dead. I would have never believed that I’d moved to Austin, a place that ten years ago, I’d been to twice: once for SXSW, and once to meet up with a guy I had a crush on.

I also would be saddened to hear that ten years later, I’m still not at that point where I feel like I’ve got it together. While I am lucky enough to have a salary and benefits,  I’m not financially organized. My apartment is rarely clean, and I spend every other Friday night at the laundromat. I’m single, and have grown quite fond of doing most things alone. I’m not well-traveled; instead, I teach night classes at the University of Texas.

Honestly, what on earth led to this life? It’s not a bad one, I’m not saying that; it’s just not the one I thought of, or planned for – I kind of feel like things just fell this way. And I wonder that about all of you – the ones I’ve seen over the years. Is this the life you created? The one you’ve dreamt of? Planned for?

My current job is tough – the toughest job I’ve had yet, and I think it’s also a big reason I’ve been thinking about time. I do more work in a week now than I think I did in a month at my previous job. It’s more high-pressure, very fast-paced, and I think it’s part of the reason why the weeks fly by as fast as they do.

The nature of my life right now makes me think a lot about who I am. Am I cut out for this environment? Was I meant for this job? Am I meant to be involved in something more creative? Given that most things in my life haven’t changed over the last decade: my relationship status, my checkbook,  passport, available free time, etc., I kind of wonder if I’m living in the past.

Should I have given up this blog when it proved to not be a smashing success? Should I have stopped writing books when none of them sold? Should I stop pitching publications when I’ve yet to get a piece accepted? Should I stop taking dance classes when even the beginning ones leave me breathless and sore?

I mean, of course not. I am still very much navigating this life. It’s certainly not where I thought I would be – but I mean that in both good ways and bad. I know I was led to Austin for a reason; even if I’ve yet to discover it. And I know there’s a reason I’m still hunkered behind this ancient laptop (my last visit to the Genius Bar claimed it’s “vintage”), clacking away on a blog that, to a data analyst, would be worth nothing.

Tonight, I’m teaching my last blog class of the summer semester at UT. It was my first semester teaching in Austin, and I was refreshed to find my students were very eager to tackle the blogosphere. Last week, one of my students raised her hand and asked me the truth about being successful in blogging.

“It takes someone really extraordinary to make it,” she said.

I suppose, in several cases, that could be said about most hobbies and professions. But just like there are hundreds of thousands of food bloggers and mommy bloggers – there’s hundreds and thousands of doctors and authors.

The difference, I told her, is you. No one has the same outlook on this world as you. You have something that no one else has. As cliche as it sounds; that’s what it is. It meaning drive, passion, opinions, style, ability; whatever makes you the cream of the crop – that’s what determines your next ten years; your next twenty.

So, what is it? I’d love to hear from you about where you were ten years ago, where you hope to be in the next ten; twenty, and perhaps what you’re doing to get there. Let’s do it, and by it, I mean… something extraordinary.

PS. UT has already asked me to return for the fall semester. Cheers to the future!

‘Dig’ gone glossy!

You may or may not know this, but usually my Wednesday blog posts are a replicate of the column that is published in a weekly magazine, “Dig”, which is distributed in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

I’ve worked as a contributing writer for Dig since it was born, a little more than five years ago. The column, also called “The Bitter Lemon” has been around for a little more than two years. And I have loved being able to share the “wisdom” from this blog, to print readers in Baton Rouge for this time.

I know this probably sounds like a goodbye letter, but it’s not! Actually, I’m so excited to say that instead of being printed weekly, on newspaper texture, Dig is now becoming a monthly publication on flossy, glossy paper! And, The Bitter Lemon gets to stay!

You can check out letters from the editor and publisher to get the full scoop here. When I got the email from my editor explaining this, I was worried that this was it, maybe The Bitter Lemon had run its course…but nope, we get to stay!

So, there is no column this week. Instead, the first monthly, glossy issue will be on stands (and online, of course), June 1st. In the meantime, you can STILL get your fix of The Bitter Lemon… I’ve put all 90 columns (yes, 90) in one spot, right here, for your reading pleasure.

If you’re new here, that should last you a bit. If you’ve already read them all, perhaps you could take a walk down memory lane – I know I did looking back at nearly 100 pieces!

It’s crazy how looking back I can tell exactly what was going on in my life just by looking at the first few sentences of each column.

Some of my favorites are:

Lose Control in Dating… And Love It (January 27, 2016)

Learning to let go...

Learning to let go…

People often say, “When you’re not looking, that’s when it’ll happen.” These people are usually in a relationship.

I get it – just when you’re busy getting your life together instead of obsessing over dating, Mr. or Mrs. Right could be eyeing you from afar.

It makes sense, but the most difficult thing for me to wrap my brain around when it comes to dating is that it’s one of the only things in our lives that’s completely out of our control.

Think about it: in general, when you work hard, you know at some point, you’ll get a promotion. When you put extra time and effort into a hobby, the chances are likely you’ll get better at it. Read more…


Discovering that dating is ultimately out of my control was one of the most freeing experiences I’ve ever had. It really took the pressure off, and it helped me to stop analyzing every single thing that happened to me – because ultimately, it doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter what I wear, or if a guy calls me after one day or one year; whatever happens is going to happen and there’s nothing I can do about it. As James Bay says, “Leave it to the breeze.”

Searching for Unicorns (November 4, 2015)

What's this crazy talk?

What’s this crazy talk?

At least a year ago, a guy named Daniel invented the “Universal Hot Crazy Matrix,” and presented his findings on YouTube. It went viral, because guys love to call women crazy.

According to the matrix, all women start off at being “at least a four” on the “crazy scale.” If you’re between a 5-8 on the scale, under the crazy line, that’s what Daniel calls the “Fun Zone.”

If you’re an eight hot, and below crazy, that’s the “Wife Zone.” Anything above an eight hot and still below crazy is considered a unicorn and does not exist.

While I know this matrix was created by a 46-year-old white guy with a cell phone clip on his belt, it gets on my nerves. Read more…


This is a column I’d been wanting to write for a very long time. Men calling women crazy really drives me… insane. Not only is it rude and dismissive, but it’s hurtful, and I’m saying that as a woman who’s been called crazy a lot, despite the fact that I’m not, in fact, crazy, nor am I on mind-altering pills. The guy I mentioned in the column, my then-crush, was obsessed with this Crazy-Hot matrix, and now that I no longer talk to him, it’s no wonder he takes his dating advice from a guy on YouTube wearing a cell phone clip.

I’m Single, Stop Asking Why (March 4, 2016)

Single, sexy, and sweet.

Single, sexy, and sweet.

“So, have you found anyone yet?”

It was a question from my coworker whom I’d just met.

“What does that mean?” I asked her.

She found it difficult to believe I was still single. I told her to believe it, because I am very, very single.

“That’s good,” she said. “Wait until you’re like, almost 30 and then settle down.”

Aside from the fact that I’ll be 30 in four months, I don’t understand why coupled people think that being single is a life decision. Read more…


Writers have this ability to turn really small moments into metaphors and symbols and make it seem meaningful to life as a whole. That’s what happened before I wrote this column – it was a simple, rainy day conversation between two coworkers that really got my gears grinding. Single people are, and probably will always be, the outcasts of society given that we didn’t follow that Biblical path everyone seems to follow. Because, why not? But I’m not in a position to follow that path, and I may never be, but it’s not up for judgment.

…And with that, I hope you enjoy looking back at some of the older columns! Don’t worry, I’ll still be blogging five days a week, sometimes it’ll be on dating stuff (or my lack of), and sometimes it’ll be about TV or my devil-cat Blanche, or cooking. Who knows – I’m giving up planning right now.

And thank you, as always for reading! See y’all tomorrow!

Raisin toast: A love story.

Yummmm...

Yummmm…

I know what you’re thinking: “C’mon, Holly, you really don’t have anything better to write about than TOAST?!” And I say, don’t you worry about THAT! If you know me at all, you should see all the crap I’ve got on my list to write about, but I had to interject here and talk about the gloriousness that is raisin toast.

Why? Well, for starters, I am well on my way to finishing an entire loaf of the stuff. Last Friday, I stopped at Whole Foods on my way home from work. I was on a mission to get Ramen (follow me on SnapChat @OrangeJulius7 to see all of my Ramen missions), and of course, I wandered over to the bakery section.

You see, on the weekends, I like to have “special” breakfasts. They aren’t really anything special, but I always make sure I have something in the house other than my Monday-Friday breakfasts of yogurt, a protein shake, or a piece of fruit. On the weekends, I like to have eggs or bacon or biscuits (or all three), and I like to savor it while sitting on my couch with my coffee. I’ve pretty much done this since college.

I LOVE BREAD.

I LOVE BREAD.

So, I came across this pretty loaf of organic raisin bread at Whole Foods, and I was really looking forward to putting a few slices in my toaster and biting into a piece of bread that offers a pleasurable juxtaposition of crunchy and soft; savory and sweet, all at once.

Do I sound like Oprah right now, raving about bread?

Saturday morning, I did just that. I toasted two pieces of the raisin toast and I put a little bit of orange preserves on them. And it was delicious.

You know that scene at the end of “Ratatouille”, when Anton Ego comes to the restaurant and asks for something from the chef, and it’s a dish of ratatouille – typically a peasant dish, and he takes a bite, he closes his eyes, and his world is completely ROCKED?

Yes, well, I’m not going to lie and say raisin toast rocked my world; I don’t have much going for me, but I’ll at least give myself more credit and say I’ve got things happening that are better than toast here. But, my carb-loaded breakfast choice definitely brought me back.

As a kid, it was a real treat to go to Hardee’s and get the raisin biscuits. Remember those? They were basically cinnamon rolls and they had a little bit of icing on them. If I waited until I got home to eat them, the icing was slightly hardened, and that was the SHIT.

And in college, my then-boyfriend always had a loaf of Pepperidge Farm cinnamon raisin bread in his kitchen. If I stayed the night, he would “make us” some the next morning – meaning, he would toast it and put it on plates. He would also walk to the end of his brick path in purple Crocs to get the paper. What can I say? I was a fool in love.

I worked about two blocks from his house, so if time permitted, he would make me lunch on the weekdays. Lunch meant deli meat on white bread with mustard, and  a side of Doritos. It was not my number one lunch choice, but I always liked it because he made it.

When I think about it, a lot of men in my life have served me bread. And hell, bread is delicious, filling, and affordable, and it doesn’t affect men’s bodies the way it often does a woman’s. So, bread for all!

If I’m being honest here, it’s been a bit of a shitty week. And in weeks like these, I latch on to anything that keeps me from jumping off my second-story balcony. Be it a cold bottle of tequila, a bloom on my magnolia bush sitting on my crappy patio, a loaf of raisin bread, or a few simple memories full of ignorant bliss.

Tomorrow is Friday, and that means two things: I’ve survived another week of spreadsheets, and there’s a few good breakfasts on the horizon.

Pic of the Week.

T-shirts full of memories...

T-shirts full of memories…

Helloooo out there, from the world of boxes, packing, and all things moving-related! I’ve been packing and organizing and cleaning whenever I get the chance in order to wrap things up as fast as possible. It’s no secret that moving is a huge task, but it’s one of those necessary evils in life.

As I’m packing, I’m getting rid of a TON of stuff! It’s a good feeling to let go of physical baggage or just that stuff that’s not useful anymore. For the longest time, I’ve had a stack (okay three stacks) of t-shirts on my closet shelf that really just collect dust.

For the longest time, I’ve been saying I’ll go through them, I’ll do something cool with them, blah blah blah. But I really did it! I sorted through my shirts and found around 25 shirts that I don’t wear, but have such great memories attached to them.

So, I paid to have them made into a quilt! I am so, SO excited about this! I cannot think of a better way to make use of my old shirts, then to preserve them, blanket-style, for me to enjoy while I’m binge-watching House of Cards in my new apartment. AMIRIGHT?

I chose Project Repat to make my quilt. Not only do their T-shirt quilts look fantastic (and contain a fleece-backing), but Project Repat is working to bring textile jobs back to the United States. Not to mention the fleece they use is made from recycled plastic bottles. Perfection!

All I did was choose the size of the panels/quilt squares I wanted, the size of the blanket (I got a Full size/5’x6′), and the color of the fleece (gray). Then, I chose my shirts, and just have to send them off! My custom quilt will arrive in 2-3 weeks.

So, what shirts did I choose for my quilt? Here’s a quick description of my shirts in the above picture; from left to right, typewriter style.

  1. Phi Delt Homecoming @ LSU (Phi Delt is my favorite frat!)
  2. Abercrombie & Fitch shirt to commemorate my years of work there and my everlasting love for it
  3. Back of a high school newspaper staff shirt (2003)
  4. High school dance team t-shirt from ’03
  5. First LSU shirt I ever bought; before I was even a student
  6. LSU shirt from my job there
  7. Dance team t-shirt from ’02
  8. Chasing Daylight shirt from Red Dress Run
  9. Various LSU tee
  10. Uncorked BR — the best event in town
  11. Back of dance team tee ’02
  12. A dedication to my love for the sexiest skateboarder alive: Ryan Sheckler
  13. Back of Phi Delt tee: the IMMORTAL six pack
  14. Newspaper staff tee ’02
  15. Custom tee to represent my single life forever 😉
  16. “Kiss my class” journalism tee ’03
  17. LSU Campaign that I worked on
  18. John Mayer tee
  19. Berkelee tee. Because… John Mayer.
  20. Back of dance team tee ’03
  21. Race for the Cure 2012 (there were pink margaritas)
  22. Back of single life tee
  23. Tailgate team tee
  24. Custom Meriwether tee
  25. Bridesmaid shirt. Always a bridesmaid… 😉
  26. Various LSU tee
  27. Love Purple Live Gold campaign tee
  28. Front of custom Meriwether tee
  29. LSU/UCLA Final Four tee ’06
  30. LSU Fall Fest tee

It IS LSU heavy, but hey, when in Baton Rouge… I’m actually happy with the range of colors and graphics for my quilt, and I’m thrilled at all of the fun memories it will bring when I curl up in it. And just in case you’re not sure who Meriwether is:

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.

1495544_10103232550549718_1156712267_n

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.