Blog Archives

Things I’d tell you if I could.

We're goin' downtown....

We’re goin’ downtown….

If we were talking, there’s so many things I’d tell you; but I know the chances of that happening are slim-to-none, and for good reason. I’d like to think that our hurtful actions toward each other came from places we don’t venture often; places of anger and insecurity.

But nevertheless, we are here, apart, not speaking – a scenario that is likely our fate given what’s happened, and despite my attempts to reach out.

There are so many times I wish I could call you – times when I feel there’s really no one I could call, and I remember being able to call you almost every day and tell you about all the little things that happened during my day that possibly no one else would care about.

For example, I went kayaking for the first time EVER earlier this week, and 1. I didn’t flip the watercraft, and 2. it was really fun, and definitely something I want to do again.

I’ve also never tried a stand-up-paddleboard, but I saw several people at the lake on them, and despite my lack of balance, I think I could do it – it’s on my list of things to try.

Surrounding the lake are these giant houses up on cliffs, shaded by thick trees and greenery, and I look at the houses and wonder what life is like inside them. Is it quieter there than anywhere in the city, or are their problems the same inside the walls as we face anywhere else?

It is in these quiet moments when I realize just how alone I feel these days – an amount of loneliness I’ve never felt, and sometimes am not sure how to deal with until I realize I just have two options: 1. cry, or 2. shrug it off and find something to do. My choice depends purely on my surroundings.

A few weeks ago, I wrote a blog post about a meltdown I had and explained that I often feel like a majority of my life is just me going through the motions and acting like I don’t hate everything. I got many responses from readers saying that’s pretty much how it is for everyone.

And you know what? That made me feel really sad for this life. I’m still not entirely sure how I feel about eternal life, but if we only have one shot at this physical being, then I certainly don’t want to spend my years faking my happiness. Right?

 After the kayaking adventure, we went to this BBQ place – and it seemed like a place you’d like, given your willingness to try just about any food, plus it had its own beers on tap. I only had one, mainly because I started noticing the more I drink, the sadder I get, and those are just dark places that I’m trying to steer clear of.

My route home took me through the heart of downtown, and I realized two things: 1. All of the downtowns I’ve seen remind me of each other – and Austin is no different. It reminds me of downtown Dallas, Cincinnati, and even a little bit of Chicago.

When times get tough for me, I have a history of reaching out to those who may not have the best intentions for me. And I hope that’s not the case here.

I suppose that’s what they mean about timing, and possibly fate, too. And perhaps the silence between us will eventually sink in, and I’ll have my answer.

But I do know that wherever you are, whatever is happening in your life, I do hope it’s something good.

‘Famously Single’: Love is in the air…

L is for the way you look at me...

L is for the way you look at me…

Episode six! I am pretty sure THIS is the episode we’ve all been waiting for – I type this post as I’m watching each episode, but the previews for this episode showed the scene in the kitchen with Aubrey and Pauly where she’s asking him if he’s falling love with her. Bloop!

The episode kicks off with Brandi still pissed at Callum from the group talk – when he agreed to go on a second date with someone he met during one of the challenges. If there’s any silver lining to this event, it’s that it brought the girls closer together.

Aubrey and the other girls come to Brandi’s aid, and offer her “anything” – which translates to ears to listen with and buddies to drink with (sounds good to me!).

Aubrey admits in a camera 1-to-1 that watching what’s happening between Brandi and Callum makes her worried about what could happen between her and Pauly. Good point.

Brandi confronts Callum one more time, and he backs up a little on his decision for the second date, claiming that he thought he HAD to take the date (um, bullshit). But, he does apologize, and they agree it’s all good, but you can tell Brandi is still not fully onboard.

Next, Callum has a one-on-one with Dr. Darcy regarding the Brandi situation. She asks him for his perspective on what happened, and he does admit to flipping the script on Brandi to make her feel like it was her fault.

Dr. Darcy does remind Callum that the situation is weird since they are already living together, things are probably going to escalate faster than they would in “real” life. However, Darcy reminds him how defensive and reactionary he is – which remains his greatest challenge when it comes to relationships.

Willis and Jess seem to be getting along swimmingly, and it is beginning to look like something could happen there.

Dr. Darcy has a one-on-one with Jess, and Jess admits to being a loner; that she has to force herself to socialize with others (been there). Jess explains that she grew up in a large family and has never lived with a boyfriend because she has anxiety about not being alone.

Jess traces these issues back to a giant fear of abandonment – that if she’s not connected to anyone then no one can leave her. Whoa. She talks about losing her father to Lupus when she was just 8 years old, and that her mom basically checked out and hasn’t been the same ever since.

Darcy explains that every relationship is a crapshoot – there is no guarantee that it will work, so you may as well just take the risk, if you’re looking for real intimacy. Wow, wow, wow – this shit hits home!

The group is outside talking and they ask Will when he’s going to take Jess on a date – meanwhile, Somaya admits to having a crush on Jessica, too!

Somaya is bisexual, and she says that in a relationship with a man, then she won’t be the one to persue it, but with a woman, she will…hmmm… this should get interesting!

Aubrey tells Pauly they should get married – go to Vegas and get married. Laaawwd. Aubrey starts talking with the guys about when is a good time to have sex with someone, too – the vote is mixed.

Later, the housemates go on dates with the people they met in the previous challenge, minus Aubrey and Brandi, who go out with Pauly and Callum, respectively. It should also be noted that Somaya and Jessica weren’t interested in their options for a second date, so they went out together.

While Jess and Somaya are out, Jess asks her if she thinks Will would be a good match for her. Somaya says no, and then admits to liking her…and shockingly, Jessica says immediately she was attracted to her.

Meanwhile… Willis’ date is nowhere to be found, so he’s sitting in a booth taking selfies, Ha!

Then there’s Jess and Somaya, who are all of the sudden in luurrrve, and Jess suggests they order shots and then kiss. It’s a pretty steamy kiss, and they hold hands as they leave the bar to head home.

Eventually, Willis’ date shows up (45 minutes late), and apologizes, and things seem to move pretty smoothly afterward.

When Somaya and Jess get back to the house, no one else is there, so naturally they have a bubble bath together, however they jump out before everyone gets home.

The double date with Aubrey, Brandi, Pauly, and Callum goes great… until Callum has a few drinks and starts getting pissed off again, and Brandi goes home in tears.

Then, the kitchen scene happens between Pauly and Aubrey, and when he didn’t admit to loving her, she claims he’s playing games. Pauly continuously claims he never said that, and the episode ends. GAAAHHH! Till next week…

BBC: ‘The Widow’s Guide to Sex & Dating’.

One woman I’ve really come to admire over these last few years is Carole Radziwill. Sure, there’s a possibility you recognize her name from “The Real Housewives of New York” – that’s how I have come to know her, too – but, of course, she’s much more than a reality television personality.

Radzi, as she’s often called, started her career in journalism at ABC, where she covered stories on abortion, gun control, foreign policy, and war. She’s won three Emmy’s for her work. On August 27, 1994, she married fellow ABC News producer Anthony Radziwill in East Hampton, New York. Anthony Radziwill died on August 10, 1999 at age forty after a five-year battle with cancer.

Radziwill went on to write a book about losing her husband, along with stories of her work at ABC, called, “What Remains: A Memoir of Fate, Friendship, and Love“.

…I really wanted to read that book first, as it was the first book she wrote. But the library didn’t have it, as in, they don’t even have it in their system, so I went with her second book, “The Widow’s Guide to Sex & Dating“.

Truthfully, I was excited to read it – it sounded really good! Here’s the description from Amazon.com:

“A deliciously smart and funny debut novel about loss, libido…and true love. A decade ago, Claire Byrne, now thirty-two, put her biggest career aspirations and deepest personal desires on hold when she became the wife of Charlie Byrne, the famous sexologist and man about town. Equal parts Alfred Kinsey and Warren Beatty, Charlie is charming yet pompous, supportive yet unfaithful, a firm believer that sex and love can’t coexist. When Charlie is killed one day, in an absurd sidewalk collision with a falling sculpture (a Giacometti, no less!), his death turns Claire’s world upside down. She misses Charlie. She needs to reinvent herself. As unseemly as it may be to admit it, she longs to lose her ‘widow’s virginity.’ And she wants love.”

Right off the bat, this book reminded me of Candace Bushnell’s “One Fifth Avenue”, which I absolutely LOVED. So, Charlie is killed by this falling sculpture, which is tragic, but also oddly comical, and there is a brief investigation surrounding the event – which involves interviewing all of those who live in the building where the sculpture fell.

Speaking of Candace Bushnell, on the cover of the book there is a quote from her regarding “Widow’s Guide” that says something along the lines of Claire being a “Modern day” Holly Golightly. Umm, I love you Candace, but no. Ms. Golightly was a straight up hooker, though classy as shit, but Claire Byrnes is not… not at all! She’s a modern woman trying to find love after loss – I’d venture to say the character of Claire wasn’t straying too far from Radziwill’s very own experience in dating post-loss.

In the book, the reader gets to follow Claire along in her adventures of dating, which seems a little more fabulous than how it really is – or perhaps dating in New York is just fabulous in general. But the men sound hot, and there’s lots of fancy restaurants with dressy cocktails. Yum!

All in all, this was a great book to read; very fun and flirty, and it made me like Radziwill even more than I already do. To read more about “Widow’s Guide”, check out the official review from the New York Times.

I actually spent a few hours this weekend searching two used book stores trying to find Radziwill’s first book (picture me, literally digging through bookshelves), but had no luck. It’s not at the library, as I mentioned, so I might just have to hit up Amazon.

The next book Blanche’s Book Club will be reading is “Paris, He Said” by Christine Sneed. Want to read it with us? We’d love to have you! Share your thoughts on the book with us via the blog comments, email (holly@thebitterlemon.com) or on Twitter & SnapChat @OrangeJulius7.

A history of attitude & badassery

"Gentleness does not get work done unless you happen to be a hen laying eggs." - Coco Chanel

“Gentleness does not get work done unless you happen to be a hen laying eggs.” – Coco Chanel

My attitude has come into question lately, when I had an honest reaction to something that happened in a moment of stress. I’d be lying if I said this wasn’t the first time I’ve gotten a talking to about wearing my heart on my sleeve.

And in all honesty, it is never my intention to hurt someone’s feelings or come across as being rude. I consider myself to be a caring person; I’m very giving, and in general, I think I’m pretty fun!

But, I do have opinions and I’m not afraid to share them. I also was not blessed with the gift of being eloquent – my strength is writing, not speaking, so if I have a response or a look that’s less than stellar, it comes across as an attitude problem.

Like I said, I’m not out to hurt anyone, but I’m also not in the business of walking on eggshells. So, I got to thinking about attitudes, and really, what IS the big deal with my attitude? Do I have an attitude problem? Maybe. And so what if I do? Maybe it’s time to GET OVER IT.

After having this little revelation, I was in traffic the other day, when I noticed the car in front of me had a couple of interesting bumper stickers on it. One said, “Well-behaved women seldom make history.” Bloop!

And I know I’m really doing nothing to change history, so I thought about the women who have. Where are the ladies who’ve broken a few rules, said a few honest things, pissed a few people off – and in the end, they prevailed at something they’re passionate about?

So I found a few – and trust me, not all, because there’s a ton of women who’ve been badasses and have paved the way for us. Here are a few of them:

  • Kathrine Switzer: the first woman to run the Boston Marathon (1967), when the race;’s organizer realized a woman was running in the marathon, he attempted to tackle her! Switzer started training to run in the Boston Marathon when a male runner told her that no woman had ever ran it, and no woman could. She trained hard, paid her entry fee, and on the day of the race, she wore lipstick (refusing not to wear it). When she was attacked by the organizer, he told her to “get the hell out” of his race and attempted to rip the number off her shirt. After four hours and twenty minutes, she finished (read about her entire race experience).
  • Amelia Earhart: Many of us have heard the story of the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic (1928), but Amelia Earhart was passionate about flying for her entire life. Earhart set several records, including the highestaltitude for autogyros of 18,415 feet that stood for years; on January 11, 1935, she became the first person to fly solo across the Pacific from Honolulu to Oakland, California. Later that year, she was the first to fly solo from Mexico City to Newark (read more about her accomplishments).

“Women must try to do things as men have tried. When they fail, their failure must be but a challenge to others.” – Amelia Earhart

  • Rosa Louise Mccauley Parks: This is a story I’m sure you learned in grade school, but the work of Civil Rights activist Rosa Parks is worthy of repeating. On December 1, 1955, Parks had finished a long day’s work, and boarded her bus home, sitting within the first few rows. As the bus began to fill with white people, forcing many of them to stand, the driver started asking black passengers to give up their seats. When Parks refused to give up her seat, the driver called the police, and she was arrested. That same night, bus boycotts were being organized. This event became The Montgomery Bus Boycott, which emptied city buses, and filled black-cab companies. The boycott continued, crippling city transit, forcing them to desegregate the buses just one year later.

“The only tired I was, was tired of giving in.” – Rosa Parks

  • Anne Frank: Born on June 12, 1929, in Frankfurt, Germany, Anne Frank lived in Amsterdam with her family during World War II. Fleeing Nazi persecution of Jews, the family went into hiding for two years; during this time, Frank wrote about her experiences and wishes. She was 15 when the family was found and sent to the camps, where she died. Her work, The Diary of Anne Frank, has gone on to be read by millions.
  • Princess Diana:  Princess Diana became Lady Diana Spencer after her father inherited the title of Earl Spencer in 1975. She married heir to the British throne, Prince Charles, on July 29, 1981. They had two sons and later divorced in 1996. Diana served a strong supporter of many charities and worked to help the homeless, people living with HIV and AIDS and children in need. Diana died in a car crash after trying to escape the paparazzi in Paris on the night of August 30, 1997.

“I like to be a free spirit. Some don’t like that, but that’s the way I am.” – Princess Diana 

  • Marie Stopes: Marie Stopes was a campaigner for women’s rights and a pioneer in the field of family planning. Today, Stopes’ legacy lives on in the form of one of the largest international family planning organisations in the world. Millions of the world’s poorest and most vulnerable women trust Marie Stopes International to provide them with quality family planning and reproductive healthcare.
  • Coco Chanel: Fashion designer Coco Chanel, born August 19, 1883, in Saumur, France, is famous for her timeless designs, trademark suits and little black dresses. Chanel was raised in an orphanage and taught to sew. She had a brief career as a singer before opening her first clothes shop in 1910. In the 1920s, she launched her first perfume and eventually introduced the Chanel suit and the little black dress, with an emphasis on making clothes that were more comfortable for women. She died on January 10, 1971.
  • Margaret Thatcher: Born on October 13, 1925, in Grantham, England, Margaret Thatcher became Britain’s Conservative Party leader and in 1979 was elected prime minister, the first woman to hold the position. During her three terms, she cut social welfare programs, reduced trade union power and privatized certain industries. Thatcher resigned in 1991 due to unpopular policy and power struggles in her party.

“If you want something said, ask a man; if you want something done, ask a woman.” – Margaret Thatcher

  • J.K. Rowling: While struggling to support her daughter and herself on welfare, Rowling worked on a book, the idea for which had reportedly occurred to her while she was traveling on a train from Manchester to London in 1990. After a number of rejections, she finally sold the book, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, for the equivalent of about $4,000. By the summer of 2000, the first three Harry Potter books, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets and Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban earned approximately $480 million in three years, with over 35 million copies in print in 35 languages.

“It is our choices…that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities.” – J.K. Rowling

  • Hillary Clinton: Hillary Diane Rodham Clinton is an American politician and the presumptive nominee of the Democratic Party for President of the United States in the 2016 election. She is the first female candidate to gain that status in a major American political party. She served as the 67th United States Secretary of State from 2009 to 2013, the junior United States Senator representing New York from 2001 to 2009, First Lady of the United States during the presidency of Bill Clinton from 1993 to 2001, and First Lady of Arkansas during the governorship of Bill Clinton from 1979 to 1981 and from 1983 to 1992.

And so, perhaps this can serve as a little Monday Motivation for you – not to have an attitude problem, but to do YOU, to stand up for yourself when you need to, and to keep your chin up when the going gets tough.

See what Holly is up to today by following her on SnapChat @OrangeJulius7 – the chances are likely she’s just hanging out with Blanche, but you never know!

‘Famously Single’: Hey, jealousy.

Brandi & Callum sittin' in a tree...

Brandi & Callum sittin’ in a tree…

We are already FIVE episodes into “Famously Single” and I feel like there’s all sorts of emotions flying around – and you know what that means: DRAMA. So, let’s get this started!

Right off the bat, the roommates continue to be frustrated with Josh because he’s focusing on only physical aspects of the women he’s about to meet. Dr. Darcy explains that Josh is very obsessed with perfection, including physical appearance.

Brandi and Callum are on an official date – and they are holding hands on the ride there. They both love to cook, so Callum sets up a date for them to cook something with a chef. Cute!

Right when they’re getting into the cooking, Callum accidentally calls Brandi Aubrey – Whoopsie!

Meanwhile, back at the house… Aubrey asks Pauly if she can “pen” her name on him…and even though he says no repeatedly, she did it anyway, and it’s super annoying. I am really not understanding why I ever thought she was cool.

The cooking date seems to be going successfully – the meal looks delicious and they talk about being “free flowing” with their relationship; but that they do want to date exclusively during this process.

Josh is meeting up with the chick he went on a date with in the last episode, when he had the earpiece in. Right away, he tells her he was impressed with her on their last date, but that he did have an earpiece in during it.

She didn’t seem to mind his little secret, and they get on with their date at the batting cages (yikes). She takes it pretty well though, and she is able to joke around about some of the weird things he said on their last date. They really seem to get along, and I am hoping they go on more dates.

However, he tells Brandi he’ll probably see her (his date Dianna) again after the season is done taping, which pisses Brandi off. “He’s having girls thrown at him and he’s saying no because they’re not good enough,” Brandi says in her confessional. Yikes!

Dr. Darcy pulls the house together for a talk about looks vs. personality. Josh says he is into more than just looks, but the housemates aren’t buying it.

Many of the women in the house agree they’re into personality more than looks, while the guys agree looks are very important – but they know looks fade over time. Aubrey calls bullshit (and I have to agree).

Because most of the house said personality is more important than looks, Darcy tells them all they are going to have a mixer at the house, but all of the housemates will be blindfolded (these blindfolds allow the person to see shapes, but no details).

Aside from the initial hilarity of the entire house being blind – knocking drinks over and not being able to shake hands – the concept seems to get the point across.

And then there’s Aubrey, in the corner, saying she doesn’t want to participate, because she just wants to be with Pauly. Anyone shocked? No? Okay, moving on.

Josh, being the lil jerk, cheats, and asks the woman he’s talking to to describe herself. I’m rolling my eyes over here…

The guys actually seem to be doing really well with it, and they are having some fun conversations. Some of the guys have even figured out how to blindy hug their dates!

Pauly seems to really like his date, so I’m curious how this is going to fly with Aubrey.

The girls all hated the activity, while the guys were laughing and admitted they didn’t want to hang out with the girls in the house because they would bring the mood down (aw, snap!).

Pauly admits he has chemistry with Aubrey, but he wants to participate in the dates and learn while he’s having this experience.

Dr. Darcy has a one-on-one with Willis and she asks him about his experience in the house so far. He tells her that the coupled up guys in the house still want to experience the dates, but they’re afraid to branch out because of the women.

She asks him about his dating past and he tells her he’s been cheated on, and that even in those situations he’s stayed with the person. She talks to him about standards and being truthful with his intentions and feelings while he’s in relationships.

At the end of the episode, Darcy pulls the house together again and they talk about their blind dates. The deal is, if someone agrees to go on another date with a person, they get to see a picture of them.

Willis says yes, and his date is super cute! It’s Pauly’s turn, and he says he would rather go on a date with Aubrey. WAMP, WAMP. Next is Callum, and he picks his blind date over Brandi. She’s super cute and smart, and I feel for Brandi, because you can tell she’s sitting there trying to be happy for him. Awkward.

Josh is next, and he says he actually liked the same chick as Callum, so then Callum backs out and says, hey Josh you can have her, I’ll take Brandi!

Brandi seems obviously pissed, so it’s back to Josh, and he picks another girl he was talking to – who is cute and seems really sweet. He blushes and agrees to another date with her. Aw!

Meanwhile, Callum literally shakes his finger at Brandi, and she says “Oh, I’m no one’s back up plan” – FUCK yes girl! Callum blows up and says this is just part of the process. Dudes, I swear.

After the group, he is kind of chasing her through the house asking her why she’s mad; she explains how it appeared that she was the backup plan, and he accuses her of thinking he’s a scumbag. He does the whole manipulative thing of “that’s your bad, not mad” blah, blah, blah…

All of the other girls are listening in and they take Brandi’s side, that he’s a shithead. He finishes the convo by saying “If you don’t believe me, that’ your bad”.

Pssshhhhh, boy bye.

Next week? Looks like some steam for Somaya and a decent fight between Pauly and Aubrey. See y’all there!

When the timing is all wrong.

Cute picture from Filler Magazine.

Cute picture from Filler Magazine.

Timing is something I hear a lot about in all aspects of my life: when to find the right job, when to talk about certain subjects, when we’re “supposed” to reach certain life milestones (all of which have surpassed for me), when to get married, when to have a baby… there’s a whole lotta scheduling happening.

Frankly, I’m still figuring out what’s a good time to get to bed each night, how quick I can slap on my makeup in order to sleep in as much as possible without being late to work, and what time to eat my afternoon protein bar so I’m not hungry during dance class.

But of course, there’s that timing in a relationship that everyone is always talking about as one of the vital factors in whether or not the relationship is going to withstand the test of time. Again with the time!

However, when I think about that – you know, when people say, “It just wasn’t the right timing” – what I took that to mean was that it has to be the right time in each person’s life. You’ve each got to be where you want to be in your lives in order to make things work – and this can mean different things for each person.

Factors of timing for me include:

  • Being free (or as close to it) of baggage
  • Feeling confident on my own
  • At an okay place with my job/career
  • Feeling as if my life is full without a partner to avoid neediness
  • Feeling emotionally strong in other areas of my life

…And there’s probably a few more things that I just haven’t thought of yet. I’ve definitely had relationship moments that failed because of timing; many, in fact.

But what if the timing doesn’t have anything to do with those things? What if you actually like each other at different times?

I’m currently experiencing this, or was, I suppose, a few months ago.

You see, I really liked this guy about two years ago, and he said it wasn’t the right time for him. He’d gone through a breakup, and wasn’t ready, which I respected.

We stayed friends – despite having a pretty big fight and not talking for several months – and recently he told me he liked me; that he thought I was cool.

While I appreciated his gesture and thought it was sweet; it felt also like a little bit of an insult. I felt like…wait, a second! I liked you YEARS ago, and I wasn’t cool enough then, so… it finally took you two years to come around?

I know he didn’t mean it like that, but I feel like as soon as a guy says he likes a woman, she’s expected to fawn all over him and treat him like a god.

Meh. That’s not really my style.

Since he told me he liked me, all of the sudden it became important that I reply his texts right away, and when he texted me around 1 am one Sunday morning, I was asleep, so I didn’t respond until around 9:30 later that morning.

And he’s been salty to me ever since – in fact, we really haven’t talked since then.

There’s always the chance that his distance has nothing to do with me, but it sure seems pretty immature, not to mention controlling, and a bit manipulative.

On the one hand, it sadly may mean that it just wasn’t meant to be with this guy that I thought I liked so much. But on the other hand, I’m proud of myself for spotting something like this early – because these are tricks I’ve fallen for in the past, and have ended very poorly for me.

It’s been a very long time since I’ve been in a relationship, and a big reason for that is because the last one was so, so terrible. It has taken me years to find myself again, and gain enough confidence to even think about dating again. While I’m finally starting to feel ready, I also realize that I’m really sensitive to any possible sign of control and manipulation – as that’s something all of my exes have in common.

 I suppose it doesn’t matter exactly WHAT kind of timing we’re tallking about, if fate is in control here, then whatever is meant to be, will be, right?

So… fate… I’m waiting.

Podcasts I’ve been listening to, Part III.

Happy Thursday, y’all! With all of the podcasts I had loaded up on my phone (see them here, and here), it took me quite awhile to listen to them all – I go all the way back and start from episode 1. But, eventually I ran out of things to listen to and have discovered a good little set of things that can get me through the day.

Beautiful Stories From Anonymous People – To be honest, I’m not sure HOW I found out about this one. Once I was really desperate to find things to listen to, I looked through my trusty little notebook for possible ideas. And, sure enough, I found a list of podcast titles I was apparently saving for a rainy day. One of them was this one, and I am so freaking happy I listened to it!

Here’s the official description of the podcast from its website: “1 phone call. 1 hour. No names. No holds barred. That’s the premise behind Beautiful Stories from Anonymous People, hosted by comedian Chris Gethard (the Chris Gethard Show, Broad City, This American Life, and one of Time Out’s “10 best comedians of 2015”). Every week, Chris opens the phone line to one anonymous caller, and he can’t hang up first, no matter what. From shocking confessions and family secrets to philosophical discussions and shameless self-promotion, anything can and will happen!”

From what I understand, Gethard puts the phone number on his Twitter feed, and just starts taking anonymous calls. Of course, I love hearing all of the random stories from these people – but I think the show has been such a success because, it’s not often we hear real things anymore. Think about it; pretty much everything is scripted or staged – even the things we think won’t be like documentaries or Instagram. I think the fact that it’s anonymous allows the callers to be honest about things that have happened to them; it’s really relatable and inspiring. I listened to the first 15 episodes (which are a little more than an hour each) in about a week, and as I write this, I’m seeing there are two new episodes, so guess what I’ll be doing later?

Slumber Party With Alie & Georgia – This podcast was recommended to me by a coworker; we are both constantly looking for new material, so we are always swapping podcasts to fill our ears. Here is the official description from the website, “Alie & Georgia (Cooking Channel, HelloGiggles.com) are two best friends with a knack for entertaining. The notorious creators of the “McNuggetini” now invite you to their slumber party for some quick witted and intimate podcasting from a real life pillow fort!”

Of course, the schtick is that these are grown women hosting a slumber party, complete with wine coolers and candy. They have uncensored conversations with each other, but usually they will feature a guest on each episode and interview them. For the most part, the tone is upbeat, and it’s not too serious, so it’s a good one to work to (doesn’t require much concentration).

My Favorite Murder – Sounds sick, doesn’t it? This one was also recommended to me by the same coworker, but I have a feeling I would have eventually come across it, given that one of the hosts for this podcast is also one of the hosts for “Slumber Party”.

But, here’s what the website says about it, “Ready yourself for a murder adventure hosted by Karen Kilgariff and Georgia Hardstark, two lifelong fans of true crime stories. Each episode the girls tell each other their favorite tales of murder, and hear hometown crime stories from friends and fans. Check your anxiety at the door, ’cause Karen & Georgia are dying to discuss death.”

I will admit, some of the episodes are kind of creepy, but if you’re into true crime, you’d probably like this. It’s two women and they are basically talking about the cases we’ve all heard about, and how we/they felt about them. It’s not newsy, but it’s still based around facts. It’s interesting!

Got a podcast you think I should hear? Tell me! Leave a comment, email me at Holly@thebitterlemon.com, or Tweet me @OrangeJulius7 – Happy listening!

The makings of a meltdown.

Shutting the world out.

Shutting the world out.

It began with tears on the drive home. “It” meaning the realization that I was, indeed, losing my shit – the meltdown itself probably started two years ago.

But, there I was, uncontrollably crying on my drive home from work Wednesday night; attempting to hide behind a pair of aviators I’d purchased months before at the Dollar Tree. I don’t enjoy wearing sunglasses, but I also don’t like thinking about perfect strangers staring at me ugly-girl crying in 5:30 traffic.

As the tears fell, I was thinking about the stories I’d heard on the news – that someone was throwing rocks at vehicles on I-35, and perhaps one of these drives would lead me to my ultimate “Final Destination”-type of end, with a rock shattering the only thing in front of my face.

Yes, I had just had a pretty shitty day, but of course, it wasn’t just about that. Because it never is. Before making it home, I had to stop by Walgreen’s to refill my prescription for birth control. And every time I go to pick up said birth control, I remember that it’s pretty pointless to keep refilling it, when it’s been a solid seven months since I’ve even talked to a human with a penis.

I’d venture to say this meltdown probably started when I unexpectedly lost my job in late-2014. What followed that event was a series of mini-meltdowns, because let’s face facts: my life was shit. I was working my ass off, and still had no clue how my bills would be paid, how I would eat, and not get evicted.

I was going on job interview after job interview, and if that doesn’t test your confidence, I don’t know what does. After eight months of that, I was offered a job, and moved seven hours away to accept said job. I was flooded with a mix of emotions – this was cool! Exciting! A fresh start!

But now, today, nine months after that, I’m here, and my emotions have packed their shit, and moved to Mexico. And not Puerta Vallarta, either. They’ve migrated to the bowels of the boot where there are illegal drugs and warm tequila.

Moving to a new place has proved itself to be tougher than I expected. I’ll admit it, I haven’t really made any friends. And that’s embarrassing. It’s difficult, as an adult, to get out there – even just for friendship’s sake. Sure, I have made a few acquaintances in my dance classes, but that’s about it. And I’ll accept fault where it’s due; I’m probably not the most social of people, and that bad habit of mine is only getting worse as I travel deeper into the comforts of introversion.

Also, nine months in, my finances are still incredibly fucked up. I saw this opportunity as a chance to clear the slate, and actually STOP working on nights and weekends – I was no longer going to be so financially strapped. But, I soon figured out that even my new salary was not enough to survive in Austin, let alone make a dent in my credit card debt from the prior year.

So, a few months ago, I made a spreadsheet, and a budget, and I got back to hunting for side jobs. Sometimes, I’ve been lucky, and have gotten a few well-paying ones, and I’ve at least been able to start paying things back. And then it came time to file my 2015 taxes.

I quickly calculated that in 2015, I made around $20K the entire year – the least I’ve made in my entire adult life. Sitting here, right now, I cannot tell you how the fuck I ate last year.

But having a low income does not skirt me from having to pay taxes. In fact, I owe more taxes on that money than I have ever owed: $2,100. I couldn’t pay it all in April, so I sent what I could: a check for $300 and an application for a payment plan, offering to pay $300 each month until it was completely paid off.

And two weeks ago, the IRS responded, denying my request for payments. I owe the remaining $1,800 on July 4. In the two weeks that I made my promise to pay $300/month, I’d also lost two regular-paying freelance gigs, both of them together paying me $400/month. So, on top of being denied a monthly plan, I was also short on my budget – my budget for regular bills, gas, and food.

Money stress is the worst for me, I know it’s bad for everyone, but it just kills my buzz. I took a hard look at my finances, and found a few things to cut out: I cancelled three of my monthly subscription services, vowed to stop shopping online, and would no longer treat myself to my weekly burger and fries at P.Terry’s. I questioned cutting out my Tuesday night hazelnut latte ($4.28), but have yet to opt out.

I also decided to drag out my box fan, clean it, and go easy on the air conditioning. I know it sounds insane, but this is my attempt to do anything, when I felt completely hopeless. I have been cooking all of my meals at home, and made all of the portions extra small, to stretch every possible dollar.

I also kept applying for freelance jobs; searched online for publications that may be willing to pay me for my writing; entered a few writing contests that had prize money; and toyed with the idea of selling Melaleuca memberships.

I had originally planned to travel to Indiana in a few weeks to see my friends, and to go to a Dave Matthews’ concert. It’s a trip I’ve been dreaming about for almost a year. But the flight prices were a minumum of $500 – money that I know should go to my taxes. So, no trip.

And honestly, I know this is a first-world problem. Boo-hoo, I can’t take a vacation! It’s not about that; it’s about the fact that I’ve had about zero communication with anyone in-person since I moved here, and I don’t like my job, and I want to see my friends, and my birthday is Saturday and I’m going to spend it with my cat, and even at 31 years old, I still can’t fucking afford to do things I want to do because I am an entry-level data monkey with no end-game!

Just breathe. 

It’s fucking embarrassing to admit when you can’t afford things. I feel like everyone my age, or even 5-10 years under my age, is living it up, going on exotic vacations, when my passport is coffee-stained and about to expire.

So, after I came to this sad realization about the trip, I was still sitting at my desk at work on Wednesday, attempting not to cry. When I relayed the message to my mom, she told me to throw myself a pity party.

In truth, I do not want anyone’s pity. I don’t want anyone’s money (unless I’m doing fair work to earn it). I was merely looking for an OUNCE of compassion. A recognition that despite the fact that it’s been almost two years since I lost my job, I’m still – STILL – cleaning up the mess from it. I’m still budgeting my income down to the last dime, and hoping to God that when I open my mailbox, there is not an unexpected bill waiting for me.

Yes, I am still working nights and weekends, and still hoping that maybe one day I won’t have to; maybe one day I’ll make money from this blog, or not feel guilty when I take a long, hot shower, or maybe ONE day, I won’t have to use a calculator at the grocery store for fear of overdrawing my bank account on organic eggs.

As I drove home from Walgreen’s that night, I saw a plane flying over Metric Blvd. It was leaving the Austin airport, and I wished I was on it, no matter where the fuck it was going.

I had skipped dance class, despite knowing damn-well that it’s one of the only things in my life right now that brings me a little happiness. Instead, I did exactly what you’re NOT supposed to do in times like these. I went home, cried to my cat, got my quilt, and watched hours of TV in the pitch black.

I wokeup in the middle of the night when my apartment lost power. I wondered if I’d remembered to pay my bill. Yes, yes I did. I used my phone to make my way to the patio to find that there were no lights for miles. It was dead silent, and hot as hell. I secretly hoped the power would come back on soon, if only to make sure the food in my fridge didn’t go bad – I can’t afford to refill it.

On Thursday, this blog became a warzone with comments. Note to self: don’t talk shit about Beyonce. Queen crap aside, the commenters made sure to let me know that I am a nobody; I haven’t been in a relationship in forever; I’ve never been married; I am in fake relationships with celebrities via SnapChat; I am not self-aware; I’m not good at arguing; I overreact; my blog is full of my dirty laundry; I’m not consistent – blah, blah, blah.

And what the fuck do you want? Do you think I don’t KNOW that I’ve never been married? You think I don’t fucking know that I haven’t been in a relationship in a very long time? That I don’t find myself goddamn pathetic for dreaming about dating celebrities?

How many times have I had to remind myself that this blog is not meant for you? It is a place for me. It is a place for me to document my life, and if you don’t like it, then stop fucking reading it. Do not act like I benefit in any way from trolls reading my words, and then leaving comments cutting me down. That’s the kind of shit that makes me want to drive into the ocean.

Maybe I’m not self-aware, maybe this blog is full of shit, maybe I do suck at arguing – and you know what? Maybe I am a terrible person that doesn’t deserve shit in this life. And if you knew a thing about me, you’d know that I take things hard. That I’ve been in therapy. That I only have two friends I talk to on a regular basis. That I haven’t talked to my father in years. That I’ve had an abortion. That I live with guilt and shame, daily. That I fucking know, that I will probably never be in a relationship. That marriage is not going to happen for me. That I struggle with things most people find easy.

Yes, I know that the last person I slept with was so utterly embarrassed that we hooked up, he had to lie about it to save face. And yes, I know, that not a single fucking man I have ever slept with will ever talk to me again. Because I’m insane, chubby, and insecure, or all of the above.

I know, that every day, I put on an act, and pretend not to hate every thing that happens to me; not to despise every moment I live in. I have to listen to podcasts for eight hours each work day to avoid reality; dance each night to pretend that maybe I can shake out my sadness; blog what’s on my mind so that I don’t slap graffitti all over my apartment complex.

But thanks, thanks for pointing it out; thanks for reminding me that I am alone. And it kills me a little inside to know that a bully, a troll, has someone to go home to. I hope you consider yourself really lucky. In fact, anyone that has a partner, a group of friends, or even just insurance that covers therapy and a prescription for Xanax – you’re really lucky. #goals.

 And I know this all sounds nuts, but mid-meltdown, I don’t really give a shit.

I don’t know what’s next for me; and I don’t really know how to properly handle my feelings at the moment. I assume there will be some sort of light at the end of this. But for now, I’m just going to play this on repeat and hope some inkling of positivity gets into my pores.

If this post didn’t turn you away, guess what? The Bitter Lemon now has a newsletter! Subscribe here to receive exclusive, fresche content right to your inbox, and no, we won’t spam you! 

BBC: ‘The Andy Cohen Diaries’.

I was really excited when Blanche’s Book Club decided to read “The Andy Cohen Diaries” by Andy Cohen, because I’m going to SEE Mr. Cohen LIVE, along with Anderson Cooper tomorrow night, right here in Austin! And… I’m SO excited! You can definitely expect a recap of the event right here next week.

So, the book! “The Andy Cohen Diaries” is Cohen’s second book, and I sadly have yet to read the first one. In “Diaries”, Cohen explains the book was meant to model “The Andy Warhol Diaries“, which was released in the early 90’s, and was considered to be shocking and controversial, given Warhol’s commentary of the celeb-elite.

A description from Amazon.com, “A year in the whirlwind life of the beloved pop icon Andy Cohen, in his own cheeky, candid, and irreverent words. As a TV Producer and host of the smash late night show Watch What Happens Live, Andy Cohen has a front row seat to an exciting world not many get to see. In this dishy, detailed diary of one year in his life, Andy goes out on the town, drops names, hosts a ton of shows, becomes codependent with Real Housewives, makes trouble, calls his mom, drops some more names, and, while searching for love, finds it with a dog. We learn everything from which celebrity peed in her WWHL dressing room to which Housewives are causing trouble and how. Nothing is off limits – including dating. We see Andy at home and with close friends and family (including his beloved and unforgettable mom). Throughout, Andy tells us not only what goes down, but exactly what he thinks about it. Inspired by the diaries of another celebrity-obsessed Andy (Warhol), this honest, irreverent, and laugh-out-loud funny book is a one-of-a-kind account of the whos and whats of pop culture in the 21st century.”

Of course, Cohen is no Warhol, but one thing I definitely noticed about Cohen’s book – he is out and about every single day/night! He’s always heading off to a party, dinner with friends, or pool-hopping in the Hamptons. Frankly, his life sounds pretty damn fabulous! And you can’t forget his almost-daily massages he gets before bed, right in his apartment. I need a job at Bravo, or wherever will pay me that much cash.

I also realized that Cohen is really close with Sarah Jessica Parker, so there’s some dish on her (nothing bad, of course), Kelly Ripa, and… drumroll… John Mayer! I was really happy to hear that when John invited Andy out to Montana, he cooked him breakfast everyday. I would die. D-I-E.

The book is written diary-style, in that there is nearly an entry every single day for the course of one year. Of course, there’s a decent amount of Real Housewives dish – which I found entertaining, and it also felt like I was getting let in on a big secret.

A large part of the book is also about Cohen and his journey in adopting a dog – whom we eventually come to know as Wacha! Their relationship is really cute, and it’s funny how serious Cohen takes his moments with Wacha, and his Instagram posts.

When writing this post, I came across an interesting article from Time magazine, “Andy Cohen’s Memoir Is the Frankest Book About Gay Life In Years”, which talks about Cohen’s documented struggle with fitness and weight loss:

It’s in the latter category that the book becomes resonant and sadder than the author may even realize. Each day is either a victory or a defeat for Cohen, measured alternately in hours at the gym or hors d’oeuvres eaten and drinks consumed. At one point, he meets his goal weight, and then revises that goal weight yet again lower; a litany of fattening foods he is ashamed to have eaten at a party hilariously and tragically includes the addendum “and a Popsicle.”

Many readers might not treat ice pops as a shameful indulgence. And yet many readers aren’t trying to prove their value in a marketplace in which superheroic body proportions win the day. Cohen’s obsession with his appearance — endless documentations of squats and the inevitable “two-hour massage” that follows — are of a piece with a wealthy, urban, privileged gay life that more intellectual or explicitly political novels are loath to expose in such detail. Cohen’s world is not that of most or even of many gay people, but it’s one that really exists and that hasn’t recently gotten this much attention in print.

In the beginning of the book, Cohen talks about feeling pressure to lose weight, and struggles with his lifestyle – it’s tough to lose weight when you’re in a culture of going out to eat and having cocktails with celebs on the daily – in order to drop a few pounds. He does hit the gym pretty religiously, which does not seem to be an issue for him, even when he’s admittedly hungover.

I had no idea his stories were, in any way, representative of “privileged gay life” – and it kind of makes me love him that much more! If you’re at all a pop culture junkie, or a fan of Bravo, and/or, Andy Cohen, I would definitely recommend this book.

The next book Blanche’s Book Club will be reading is “Girls In White Dresses” by Jennifer Close. Want to read it with us? We’d love to have you! Share your thoughts on the book with us via the comments, email (holly@thebitterlemon.com) or on Twitter & SnapChat @OrangeJulius7.

Why are we okay with ‘Lemonade’?

Gurl, bye.

Gurl, bye.

Disclaimer: Beyonce annoys the piss out of me.

I think she’s overrated, has taken advantage of a lot of people to get where she is, and I’ve thought that from day one, her marriage to Jay-Z was a total sham.

But, ALL HAIL, right?

Riddle me this: why are we okay with the queen letting her king walk all over her?

I’ll be honest, I didn’t watch or listen to “Lemonade”. For starters, I do not believe that Beyonce was ever handed lemons. She has a life that many of us would dream of – of course from the outside. If she WERE handed lemons, I’m sure she’d drop them into the hands of a staff member and push them toward her kitchen, made of marble and gold.

When “Lemonade” was dropped, I heard all the chatter and rumors, and what I gathered was that, the things we all thought were true: Jay-Z cheated on Beyonce, many times, with many women. And she smashed shit with a baseball bat in an HBO exclusive.

…And then she forgave him, and now things are fine.

So, you’re telling me that Beyonce, the Queen of “Independant Women” lets her man act like that? Not only is she essentially fine with it, but there was no consequence – instead, she used it to make money and share it with the man who did the harm to begin with!

Huh? How is it possible that women everywhere idolize this person? Are those the values she’ll be teaching her daughter; that it’s okay for a man to run wild?

It’s come out that Beyonce didn’t write most of the songs on “Lemonade”, which is fine, as she doesn’t write most of her songs, ever. And many successful singers don’t, and I’m fine with it. But I do draw the line when you’re pretending to live it.

If you didn’t write the song, then don’t act like you did, ahem “Single Ladies”. Why was she acting high and mighty like she got a ring from Jay-Z? Because she didn’t (they agreed no rings) in the beginning.

So why are you preaching to women everywhere, to demand diamonds and committment from the men, when that’s not how you run your game?

Oh, because it’s catchy and it sells concert tickets. It sells a dream that you, too, can be an independant woman and get a man.

A man that will cheat on you and you’ll forgive him because you’re too weak to stand on your own off-stage.

The other thing that kills me about this, is that we’ll (meaning Beyonce fans, not me personally) stand by women like Beyonce and Rihanna when their men treat them poorly, publically, but we’ll publicly bash women like Hillary Clinton, who has stood by her man over the years after infidelity.

Is it because Hillary rocks the pantsuit and not a leotard? Is it because Jay-Z makes more than Bill Clinton? What is it?

I’m not saying one is better than the other, but it doesn’t add up for me. But don’t teach women to be independant, and then tell them to “cater to” their men – SURFBOARD – and then be weak when they screw you over in real life.

Beyonce is bullshit. #LiveYourTruth

‘Famously Single’: Aubrey’s too good.

The ladies of ' Famously Single'.

The ladies of ‘ Famously Single’.

And we’re back with episode two of “Famously Single”! The cast finds out that some of the people they met at the club in last week’s episode were, in fact, their dating coaches – Laurel and Robert. Awkward.

Willis got called out for being too sexual, too fast – and yeah, he told the dating coach he was going to the bathroom and would she like to join him. Woah. And we wonder why these people are single…

It’s coming to light that Josh, the former contestant on “The Bachelorette”, has issues with assuming everyone knows who he is and wants him just because of the fame. I can kind of understand this, but I also feel the urge to slap him and remind him that he was on “THE BACHELORETTE”. Get over yourself, bro!

There is more shade thrown onto Brandi from the other girls on the house – because Brandi “always” has her tits out. Aubrey claims SHE has more of a “sexualized image” than Brandi, but yet she doesn’t show her chest all day, every day. Hmm…

Brandi has her one-on-one with Dr. Stacey (is that her name? Why do I want to call her Darcy?) that is actually pretty emotional. She talks about her relationship with her ex, and says that she found out he was cheating on her because someone called her and said he was on the cover of a tabloid. Wow.

Her and the Doc talk candidly about her dating life and the mistakes she commonly makes – going after unavailable men. PREACH GIRL.

The cast’s next challenge is for each person to find a date on the street before they leave on a sunset cruise; with the help of their dating coaches, of course. FYI – her name IS Dr. Darcy. I’m a jackass.

The real challenge with this is that, these celebs are used to people approaching them because of their status. A problem most of us don’t have.

This was comical to watch – some of them got rejected, some of them tried pickup lines, and Josh was so freaking shy. It was cute! Aaaand Aubrey didn’t even try to get a date, so she was the only one on the boat that didn’t have a date.

Jessica was able to snag a seemingly-nice guy, and they hit it off right away, having deep conversations and all once the boat left the dock.

Brandi’s guy was 25. Really? And then Aubrey walks up and starts talking to Brandi’s date. Like she totally steals the conversation and then got offended when the guy didn’t know who she was. This was not lost on Dr. Darcy, so I’m sure this will come up at the end of the episode.

Meanwhile, Jessica straight up LEFT her date – as in, she “went to the bathroom” and didn’t come back. What the hell? One of the dating coaches catches her, and calls her out – her date probably really liked her and she got too scared. Blam! After the pep talk from the coach, she apologized to her date, and he seemed to accept it.

During the group session at the end, Brandi, Pauly, and Josh admitted that the challenge was very much out of their comfort zone, but they agreed it was something they needed to do more often.

They gave Jessica a chance to explain herself, and she admitted she ditched her date for 40 minutes. The coaches found out that her date sacrificed a visit with his family to go on the boat with her. She seemed to learn a lot – but we’ll see.

Aubrey got called out, and said she already knew the lessons she would have learned if she would have participated in the date. Rolls eyes. Brandi called her out, and it was kind of fantastic.

Then a little bitch fight started, when Aubrey tells Brandi “You’re not my cup of tea, either”. LOLZ. Aubrey’s lecture got interrupted by Dr. Darcy, and it’s obvious the house is starting to turn on Aubrey after she’s shown her true colors. The fact that Aubrey felt she was “above” choosing a “pedestrian” as a date, makes me like her way less than I did before.

Dr. Darcy pulls Aubrey aside for a one-on-one, and calls her out for humiliating Brandi in front of the group. Honestly? Aubrey straight up tells Dr. Darcy that she’s not calling anyone else out on their shit, and she’s not the no-nonsense chick she says she is. Daaaayyyummm.

Then, Aubrey starts crying (although it’s hard to tell because…botox) and Dr. Darcy gives her a hug and gives in to Aubrey’s childish behavior. Aubrey admits she doesn’t have the right tools to succeed in dating, even though she “reads all the time”.

In the clip for next week’s episode, we finally see what we’ve been hearing about: Pauly and Aubrey, kissing.

What’s burnout & do I have it?

Burn out or just straight drop dead?

Burnout or just straight drop dead?

Despite my recent attempts to make Mondays better, I still find that I’ve become that person. You know, the one that is constantly counting down the hours until the end of the day, and absolutely counting down the days and hours until Friday.

I hate being that person.

So, how did this happen? I’ve been at my job for 10 months now; is it possible I’m already reached the breaking point? That can’t be… can it?

I’ve been hearing a lot about burnout lately – as in, “Don’t get burnout”, “Churn and burn”, in reference to typical agency life, which makes me feel like this is how it’s supposed to be.

I can say the past few months have been crazy at the office – we’re short on people and high on clients. It’s a tough balance to juggle, especially during the summer months when we all want a vacation.

My friends have asked me if I’m going to start looking for a new job. No, I say, what’s the point? I’ll end up at another office, doing the same thing, and still barely able to drag my ass to the coffee pot each morning. Is this something everyone goes through or am I just someone who really just hates work? Am I Peter Gibbons right now?

Regardless, I could totally go for some shrimp poppers right now, and there’s definitely no “Chotchkie’s” or other TGIFriday’s equivalent nearby.

So, what the hell is burnout – and is that what I’m feeling? I did some Googling to find out how to spot burnout and possibly…how to fix it.

The Mayo Clinic defines burnout as, “a special type of job stress — a state of physical, emotional or mental exhaustion combined with doubts about your competence and the value of your work.” They also offer a survey to determine if you’re suffering from burnout:

  • Have you become cynical or critical at work?
  • Do you drag yourself to work and have trouble getting started once you arrive?
  • Have you become irritable or impatient with co-workers, customers or clients?
  • Do you lack the energy to be consistently productive?
  • Do you lack satisfaction from your achievements?
  • Do you feel disillusioned about your job?
  • Are you using food, drugs or alcohol to feel better or to simply not feel?
  • Have your sleep habits or appetite changed?
  • Are you troubled by unexplained headaches, backaches or other physical complaints?

The Mayo Clinic says if you answered “yes” to one of those, there’s a chance you’re suffering from burnout. I answered yes to seven. Whoops.

Okay, so I may be suffering from burnout… How do I get over it? Forbes magazine offers some advice:

  • Take Relaxation Seriously  Whether you take up meditation, listening to music, reading a book, taking a walk or visiting with friends and family, truly think about what you’ll do to relax, and designate time for it.
  • Cultivate a Rich Non-Work Life Find something outside of work that you are passionate about that’s challenging, engaging and really gets you going—whether a hobby, sports or fitness activities or volunteering in the community.
  • Unplug  While communication technology can promote productivity, it can also allow work stressors seep into family time, vacation and social activities. Set boundaries by turning off cell phones at dinner and delegating certain times to check email.
  • Get Enough Sleep  Research suggests that having fewer than six hours of sleep per night is a major risk factor for burnout, not least because poor sleep can have negative effects on your job performance and productivity. It can lead to fatigue, decrease your motivation, make you more sensitive to stressful events, impair your mental function, leave you more susceptible to errors and make it harder to juggle competing demands.
  • Get Organized  Often, when people are burnt out, they spend a lot of time worrying that they’ll forget to do something or that something important is going to slip through the cracks. Get organized, clear your head, put together a to-do list (or an electronic task list) then prioritize. That way, you don’t have to keep thinking about those things because you’ll have systems in place to remind you.
  • Stay Attuned  It’s important to tune into the precursors of those conditions, physical signs that you might be under too much stress: more headaches, tight shoulders, a stiff neck or more frequent stomach upset. In terms of mental health, burnout affects depression, and if you’re depressed, that can also affect your level of burnout—it goes both ways. So, if the issues you’re struggling with are really serious and getting worse, you may need to seek professional help.
  • Know When It’s You, and When It’s Them  Burnout is sometimes motivated by internal factors and sometimes it really is a symptom of external ones. In the first case, you’ll need to ask yourself, “Where is this coming from?” so you can figure out what’s stressing you out, and how to maintain your internal resources to keep yourself motivated, doing your best work and functioning well. Some burnout really is the fault of work. To find out whether it’s time to move on, figure out whether your position is a “mismatch between your needs and what you’re getting working for that particular organization.”

I really like the first suggestion on this list about taking relaxation seriously. About two months ago, I vowed to not take work home, whether after hours during the week or on the weekends (provided I was not on any type of deadline with a client).

It was time I take weekends seriously, and get back to doing the things I love, like reading while laying out at the pool, cooking, sleeping in, and binging on tacky TV. And, pestering Blanche, of course.

And since then, I’ve kept true to my word. Honestly, it makes the weekends way better. I still get really sad on Sunday nights, but at least I feel like I’ve got a few days of freedom to do what I want and not worry about things at the office.

The second suggestion, I’ve always been pretty good about getting involved in things that are non-work related. But, recently my motivation has been drained on that front. I still go to dance classes after work, but I never have that stay-up-late drive like I once had.

And I don’t mean stay up to work; I mean stay up to read a great book or to paint my nails, or write fiction stories that no one will ever see… and that’s the thing that’s worrying me the most. Did I lose my hunger?

I’m starting to wonder if any “day job” out there is the one for me, or if I’m just not cut out for it. I’ve tried the freelance thing, and the stress of the constant hustle, sans-insurance, is not my thing either. But is it possible I could get the job I dreamed of – one where I do have steady work, but it’s at home, or in an office that has way less bullshit?

There’s a few projects I’ve been wanting to start regarding this blog, and just writing in general, and I sit in front of the TV every night and thing, “Damn, wish I had the energy to get THAT done…” Well, it’s time to stop thinking and start actually doing – because right now, the only way I’m going to find a lick of happiness in my life is to make small moves, outside the hours of 9-5, like this guy:

It’s a tough juggle, I know. But I don’t know how else I’ll find my way – and get to do what I have always dreamed of doing. So, if you see a bunch of new stuff around these parts, I hope you’ll participate – all we’ve got is each other, and one life to get everything we’ve dreamed of, done.

Single Girl Recipe: (Paleo) Lemon chia seed muffins.

Mine didn't quite look this cute...

Mine didn’t quite look this cute…

Over the weekend, I was in search of simple – and cheap, if not free – joys. I’m sure I’ll talk more about this at some point, but I’m currently in a personal budgeting crisis. At the same time I lost two of my good freelance gigs, I owe a massive tax bill,  like now.

Money stresses  me out more than anything, and every extra penny I’ve got must go to paying off this bill. So, I needed to have a weekend full of free stuff (I see a lot of weekends like these in my near future).

On Friday night,  I hit up the laundromat, which didn’t cost me anything since I had money loaded up on my Washatopia card. Score! I did go to the grocery store afterward, as I needed eggs and something to drink at the pool on Saturday. I found this organic cucumber-lime and chile Italian soda that I figured would go perfect with some tequila I had in my freezer. I escaped the store in $7.

On Saturday, I spent a little time looking for freelance work, and then I hit the pool. I packed a small cooler with some snacks – chips, hummus, cheese, and grapes – and enough tequila and Italian soda for three large drinks.

For two hours, I was the only one there. I sat, and I read – finishing one book and starting another. I stayed out there for almost five hours. Cost: $0 and I even improved my tan.

I came home and tended to my plants, replanting some grass for Blanche, watering all the other plants, and sweeping the patio. I also made dinner instead of going out – I made brats and fries – and had a few beers that were already stashed away in my fridge. I watched a few episodes of “Dexter” before I was sufficiently freaked out (I only have a few more episodes before I’ve watched the entire series twice) and had to switch to “The Vanilla Ice Project”.

On Sunday, I slept in, enjoyed some coffee, searched for more writing jobs, and then I went to a library that’s pretty close to my house. I’d been there once before to tutor someone, and it’s really nice. I decided to get a library card and spend a few hours hunting for more good reads for Blanche’s Book Club.

The library is really nice, but I will say they checked my address twice to make sure I actually lived within the district. I had no clue libraries were so exclusive. After about an hour of searching, I got “The Friday Night Knitting Club” by Kate Jacobs and “The Widow’s Guide to Sex and Dating” by Carole Radziwill.

I spent the remainder of Sunday reading, looking for writing gigs, cooking, and I baked these paleo lemon chia seed muffins to eat for breakfast during the week. I found the recipe on The Iron You, and I’ll say that even though he calls them Coconut Lemon Chia Seed muffins, there is no coconut flavor in them.

They were pretty easy to make, and for paleo muffins, they turned out delicious – better than anything I tried to bake when I was actually on the paleo diet. The only other thing I’ll say is that my batch didn’t rise that much, so they look like “half muffins”. I will probably make another batch, and I think I’ll use the mini muffin tin to make them look more muffin-y.

The good news? One muffin is 92 calories, with only 3g carbs and 3g of protein! Yes!

INGREDIENTS

  • 1/2 cup of coconut flour
  • 2 tablespoons of chia seeds
  • 1/4 teaspoon of baking soda
  • Pinch of fine grain sea salt
  • Zest of two lemons
  • 1/4 teaspoon of vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons of lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 cup of milk of your choice (I used coconut)
  • 1/2 cup of honey
  • 4 eggs
  • 4 tablespoons of coconut oil, melted

DIRECTIONS

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and place the rack in the middle. Line a muffin tin with paper liners.

In a large bowl, combine coconut flour, chia seeds, baking soda, salt, and lemon zest. In another large bowl, whisk together the eggs, vanilla extract, milk, honey, coconut oil, lemon juice, and apple cider vinegar.

Pour wet ingredients into dry and mix very well until fully incorporated, the mixture has thickened, and there are no clumps of coconut flour left. Pour the batter into the lined muffin tins, 3/4 the way to the top.

Bake for 20-25 minutes until golden brown. Carefully remove from muffin tin and let cool on a wire rack. Makes 12 muffins.

Let me know if you make these muffins, or have any other great healthy recipes!

‘Famously Single’: Initial thoughts…

The cast of 'Famoulsy Single'.

The cast of ‘Famoulsy Single’.

Last night, E! network premiered their latest reality TV installment, “Famously Single”. I’ll admit, I have been counting down the days…and hours… for this to begin. “Famously Single” brings a group of single, B-list celebrities (mostly from other reality shows) into a house, along with a doctor, to find out exactly why they are single and how they can “fix” it.

There are two reasons I was chomping at the bit for this show to start: 1. I love anything to do with dating/being single/celeb couples, etc., and 2. DJ Pauly D is part of the cast. Who doesn’t love that guy?

Despite being a reality TV junkie, I’ll admit that a lot of the cast members are new to me. So, here they are, you know, for reference:

There’s Jessica White (model), who you may recognize from the pages of Sports Illustrated; the popular DJ Pauly D from “Jersey Shore”; singer for Dumblonde, Aubrey O’Day, who was previously on “Making the Band” as a member of Danity Kane; Willis McGahee – former running back for the Buffalo Bills; Brandi Glanville – the infamously firey ex-wife and former castmember of “The Real Houswives of Beverly Hills”; Calum Best, who is fine as hell, is a model and an actor; Somaya Reece, former star of “Love & Hip-Hop”; and Josh Murray (also fine as hell), who was on “The Bachelorette”, and actually won during Andi Dorfman’s season – obviously that didn’t work out…

And finally there’s Dr. Darcy Sterling, who has been sent to make some sort of sense out of all the crazy… and of course she’s got some weird tricks up her sleeve, like sending the castmates on dates with an earpiece in, of course.

When the episode began, there was a short intro with each celeb, in which they talked about why they think they’re single, which was interesting. I’d say Brandi and Aubrey have the same problems I have – a fear of guys cheating, and general committment phobia.

Many of the castmates said that they can’t date someone within “the industry”, because of the schedule issue, and if they date outside of the industry, the other person is usually in it for the wrong reasons… fair enough. Although, when it came time for Josh Murray to give his lil intro he failed to mention the rumors that his relationship with Andi failed because he’s a woman-beater. But, yeah.

Their first challenge was to speed date – with each other. This is when Brandi reveals that Callum has slept with “everyone of” her girlfriends. Aubrey also states that she has no interest in Pauly D because “there’s no substance there” …hello, kettle!

Then, each castmate meets with Dr. Darcy one-on-one, so she can get to the root of WHY they are single. In this, Pauly D reveals he hasn’t had a serious relationship since high school. Woah. He also says he’s never been in love. He also explained an interesting, celebrity dynamic that I’ve never considered – he said that he doesn’t get out anymore. The gym is in his house; tanning bed is in his house (GTL, baby!), food is delivered, and when he’s at the clubs, he’s working. Real talk.

There’s soooo much shade thrown on Brandi already – Aubrey is all “I have to reduce my brain around her”…again, with that. Sorry, Aubrey, but you’re not exactly the sharpest crayon in the box. Amiright?

The gang gets ready to go out for a night on the town, and little to they know, Dr. Darcy has planted two dating coaches at the club to interact with the group and test them. Dun dun dunnnn. The group, obviously, acted like they’d never been out before – all got pretty drunk and acted a fool.

Somaya picked a fight with Brandi, and the guys had to split them up – I predict tension here the ENTIRE season. Somaya was all, “These crazy white bitches…”, and Brandi was all, “I will beat the fuck outta her”. Lawd.

Toward the end of the episode, the cast met with Dr. Darcy (this will probably happen for every episode) and rehashed the night before. It is here Dr. Darcy reveals that she laced the club with dating coaches – but the episode ends before we see exactly WHO the coaches are.

There is a season preview, and there are MAJOR clips of people within the house not only hooking up, but falling for each other. Because what’s better television than a bunch of damaged, beautiful people hooking up with each other. Nothing, my friends, NO-THING!

I am pretty pumped to watch this season unfold, and if it’s okay with you, I’ll probably be reviewing it, episode by episode. I hope you’ll watch the crazy unfold, right along with me!

27 questions in hopes of justice.

Standford University... home of sexual preditors.

Standford University… home of sexual predators.

I was really questioning whether I should post anything about this case, but the more I’ve seen and read about it, how could I not? This case – The Stanford Rapist (I will not glorify his name or former accolades here) vs. The Victim – and its ruling affects women everywhere, and it has made me incredibly angry and emotional over these last few weeks.

In the last year, the general conversation over rape culture and sexual consent has finally started to come out from the bottom shelf, and it’s made me think a lot about the men of my past and the experiences that have shaped my views on sex. While I am lucky enough to not have been in a situation quite like The Victim’s in this case, I will say that it’s not been a bed of roses.

To explain one instance among many, my best friend and I attended a frat party during our freshman year in college. We were drinking, and dancing with many of the different fraternity brothers, and one in particular was swinging us around, laughing with us.

Less than one month later, his name was in the paper as he’d been charged with sexual assault, in a very similar situation we’d witnessed that night. He was accused of drugging a woman at a party. That very well could have been my friend, or me, or someone else I knew. And I know I’m not the only one who’s been that close to being The Victim.

And so, I’ve got 27 questions surrounding this case – because I’m truly left dumbfounded.

  1. Why are we referring to someone who was removed from a University as a University athlete?
  2. Who cares about his athletic statistics?
  3. Why did the judge play favorites?
  4. Does the judge have a daughter?
  5. What would the ruling be if the rapist were black?
  6. What would the ruling be if the rapist never went to college?
  7. Why is the rapist getting away with, not only rape and assault, but also underage drinking?
  8. Why isn’t Stanford addressing their fraternity culture?
  9. Why aren’t we talking more about how the rapist lied about using drugs in the past?
  10. Why are we okay with blaming this on alcohol?
  11. Why do we assume that women are more likely to lie about being raped?
  12. Why didn’t he take ANY blame for what he did?
  13. Why is his father referring to rape as “20 minutes of action”?
  14. Why did the rapist treat The Victim like literal trash?
  15. Why is the rapist already getting out of jail early?
  16. Why was the judge worried about what happened to the rapist?
  17. What would the ruling be if it was the same judge, same rapist, plus a murder?
  18. Why are women taught how to stay safe against rape but men are not taught to stop raping women?
  19. Why do men think women were put on this earth for only their enjoyment?
  20. Why do we celebrate rape in pop culture (I’m talking to you, 50 Shades)?
  21. Why did the rapist use “she agreed to come back to my dorm room” as an excuse?
  22. Why would we accept that as consent?
  23. What is keeping the rapist from doing this again, again, and again?
  24. How does the rapist’s mom feel about this?
  25. How would the rapist’s mom feel if it had happened to her in college?
  26. What does this teach prestigious frat guys everywhere?
  27. How are we supposed to live without fear when this is our justice system?

Unfortunately, the judge in this case began his new term on Tuesday, as he ran unopposed. To get involved in his recall, click here.