Blog Archives

Taking steps for Crohn’s.

Take Steps for Crohn’s!

Howdy! I’m still recovering from a two-day work trip to Dallas, and the weekend. I didn’t get back from my trip until Friday night, and still had some loose-ends to tie up before it was really the weekend, but I didn’t waste much time drinking a beer and falling into bed. I had to be up at a reasonable hour for Austin’s leg of the “Take Steps” – a walk to raise money for a cure for Crohn’s disease.

I’ll be honest, I wasn’t particularly looking forward to this walk. While I am SO, so grateful for everyone who sponsored me (I raised $175 toward the cure), no one agreed to walk by my side. So, I woke up on Saturday morning to find it was storming quite heavily in Austin. Nonetheless, I ate, got dressed, and drove 20 minutes to the expo center.

I checked in, soaking wet, and got all sorts of free swag because of the amount of money I raised. I still had an hour before the actual walk started, and there wasn’t much for me to do – there were plenty of things for kids to do, but I sort of slinked away and tried to kill time listening to podcasts and staring off into the rain.

I thought about Cheryl, my friend who died after fighting with Crohn’s. She was my reason for walking on Saturday. Truthfully, I felt like a jerk. She did everything with a smile, and there I was – a grouch. But, I wondered if she was with me in spirit then, and possibly laughing at the fact that this walk was indeed inside a barn, and I was about to embark on a dusty, dirt path in brand new sneakers.

I also wondered why I’d never walked before; why had I not supported my friend when she was alive to see it? The truth is, she made Crohn’s look easy when it probably was not. I know everyone’s experience with it is different, but I know her battle was difficult at times.

As my hour-long wait came to an end, they invited everyone over to the stage. They called up some of the big donors, introduced doctors in the area to help those with Crohn’s and similar diseases, asked those diagnosed to come to the stage, and introduced their “Hero” – a boy who was probably 14-ish, and had been undergoing treatments for years. He spoke, and said his doctor found a treatment that worked for him and put his Crohn’s in remission… until his body developed antibodies to it, and now he was on something new. And while this treatment helped, he said, it was not an eliminator. Our money is working to possibly create an eliminator – and together, Austin raised $62,000+ for the cause.

And with that, we walked. It was a short walk, but I’m glad I did it – for Cheryl, but also for myself. I often take my health for granted, and it was very eye-opening to see others around me who have to work hard and take lots of medications to even try to feel normal. I can’t imagine.

But, my fight for Crohn’s isn’t over. I’m walking again, in a month, in Indianapolis, to raise more money and honor Cheryl once again. And if you’re in the area, I hope you’ll join me. To join my mom’s team with me, please click here. I hope to see you there!

‘Southern Charm’: To Liver and Die in Charleston.

Shep and Cam.

Can I just say that Monday nights are pretty awesome – I’ve got two of my favorite dance classes to take, and then I come home to some great TV, plus there’s that whole feeling that at least Monday is over. Right??

I was extra excited to see last night’s episode after last week’s craziness with Craig and Naomi. So, let’s get into it. At the top of the episode, Shep’s doctor calls and tells him the results of his labs. Turns out he has an elevated enzyme in his live and needs to cut back on the drinking, and will be tested again in two to three months.

At another house, Cameron is waiting on Craig (typical). She’s showing him some investment properties so he can fulfill one of his many dreams! Turns out, he’s pretty picky about what he wants in a rental home, and Cameron asks him if Naomi is supportive of this financial decision. He says he can’t continue to do things JUST for her, or else he’ll come to resent her.

Meanwhile, Patricia is at the pool with Chauncey and Whitney stops by and tells her about the conversation he had with Thomas about dating. Patricia suggests Landon as a possible match for Thomas, and of course, she decides she should host a casual dinner party and she can seat Thomas next to Landon (how Charleston of her).

Then, Chelsea and Austen go on another date – beer tasting (perfection). They get to talking about Shep and Austen tells Chelsea that Shep was a little disappointed that he was the last to know about the two of them talking. However, Austen assures Chelsea that he’s squashed it and he has no questions about it, and he does not feel like he violated Bro Code.

Remember last week, when Cameron had the witch doll made for Shep? Well, she takes him out to dinner: a table for Cameron, Shep… and Mama Estelle (Cam’s doll). She explains to Shep that she had a doll made for him because she was going to cast a love spell on him but she’d since changed her mind. So, she gave him the doll and said he could use it when he met someone worth falling in love with.

Later, Patricia’s is putting the final touches on her dinner party, and she says, “With these kids, I can just go to Costco and buy all the liquor.” Seriously? I would PAY to see Patricia in a Costco. The dinner party goes fine, but it doesn’t seem like any crazy sparks are flying. However, Thomas sniffs out that it’s a setup pretty early in the evening.

Meanwhile, Craig is on the sewing machine, embroidering tiny images of his cat, Gizmo, onto pillowcases. Naomi is not impressed by this at all, and when Craig casually mentions that he put an offer in on a house, she’s not really interested in that, either.

Later, Shep joins Kathryn for his first ever yoga class, as he continues his journey to detox. He’s struggling pretty hard throughout the class, but afterward tells Kathryn that he’s trying to see what it’s like not to drink every night. There’s a few clips of Shep at home, taking vitamins, and making a fruit smoothie in a Vitamix. He then calls his mom and says, “I just made a smoothie!” …It’s probably one of the cutest TV moments, ever.

Speaking of parents, Austen has dinner with his parents, and they are REALLY fired up about him starting a business. They don’t see his work as a beer salesman as anything serious; they want him to settle down, get married, and have a 9-5, and they really want him to make a business plan to show them he’s getting serious. Whoa.

And finally, the gang heads to Jennifer’s sip and see, where Thomas and Landon are flirting pretty heavily, and Naomi and Craig continue their fighting in front of everyone. Basically, she’s calling him out on his bullshit and he sees it as her not being loyal…which doesn’t really make sense.

But at the end of the episode, it doesn’t look like things between them are getting cleared up anytime soon, because she leaves the party without him. Bloop, bloop! Guess we’ll find out next week!

Life after vacation.

Le sigh.

Hey yo! I’m starting this week off with an apology – I know I only blogged twice last week, which was not planned. Vacation kicked my ass!

I got back to Austin Monday night around 9:30, and by the time I got home, showered, got myself ready for bed, and watched “Southern Charm”, it was after midnight. When I arrived at work on Tuesday, there was all sorts of unnecessary drama that I did not need.

By the time things were starting to feel back to usual around the office – I even got things organized there, and started catching up on all of my podcasts again – the power went out and completely jacked up our internet, leaving us to work from home for a day and a half. Ugh!

It took me much longer to get back to my “normal” life than I thought. And I wondered… is this vacation after 30? I’ve always heard people complain about jet lag and adjusting back to regular life after vacation, but never really experienced it. Whew, not until now!

But, I did take a few dance classes last week, and then used my weekend to help get myself back in order.

After all of the junk (but very delicious) food and drink I had on vacation, I was excited to clean out my fridge and hit the grocery with a list of fresh produce. I am happy to report that my fridge is now full of Naked Juices, fruit, raw veggies, boiled eggs, and soda water. I’ll be living off that until I feel skinny again.

I spent a majority of my Saturday volunteering for the Austin Film Festival – an event that’s become very special to me. There was an opportunity to earn some hours by passing out fliers for their kids’ Summer Camp… I ended up walking 12,000 steps going door-to-door, and even ran from a couple of roosters on my route! It did nothing for my vacation fatigue, but it was an interesting way to spend a Saturday.

I also finished reading a book – so look for that review right here, on Friday for Blanche’s Book Club.

I did a few chores around the house, and have, at the very least, prepped my laundry for a trip to the laundromat tomorrow. And finally, I got word that my Blog Class at UT was confirmed for this semester, and it starts on Wednesday night! I’m so excited to be back teaching, and am looking forward to meeting a new group of students. Teaching is such a thrill for me and I’m excited to share my love of blogging to a new set of students.

So, I’m hitting the ground running this week – I’m back at work, back to dancing, blogging, teaching, and eating healthy (I even made veggie “sushi”) for awhile – at least until my next vacation, which is planned for the end of June. Summer is here, y’all, and I love me some summer adventures!

Isn’t it true, that when you take a vacation, you just want to keep taking them? I feel like whenever I go on vacation, I try to think of ways I can adjust my current life so that I can take more vacations and/or travel to more places. Then I just simply WISH that my life was a vacation, but I suppose it wouldn’t be as special if that were the case… or would it? I’m willing to be the guinea pig.

And so, I’m back – and I’m finally feeling refreshed. I’ve got some fun stuff planned for the blog this week (“Southern Charm” recap, a John Mayer review, Blanche’s Book Club, etc.), so I hope you’ll stick around. It’s good to be BACK!

Vegas recap.

Howdy! I’m still very much in recovery mode after a fun-filled trip to Las Vegas over a long weekend. I am tired, and completely off-schedule given the time difference, and in general I feel like I need to do a juice cleanse and/or eat a bunch of acai bowls until I feel clean again.

But of course, life doesn’t stop, work is nuts, my apartment is in shambles, and my calendar is full. Whew!

However, I was so excited to take a look at ALL the pictures I took (it’s a lot, just look at my Instagram @OrangeJulius7), and definitely wanted to post my favorites here – in no particular order.

I landed in Vegas late Thursday night, checked into the Palms, and promptly made myself a drink and hit the slots – losing $20 nearly immediately.

On Friday, it was a little chilly outside so we skipped on the pool and ventured to The Strip to partake in street drinking, gambling, sight-seeing (particularly the fountain at the Bellagio), and overeating at Wahlburgers.

Friday night was the Backstreet Boys concert at the Axis near/in Planet Hollywood, which was difficult AF to find. But, the hunt for the venue was worth it, because BSB pretty much made all of my boy band dreams come true. They played ALL of their hits, danced a lot (they even did the same dance from some of their music videos), and even wore glittery suit jackets for a few songs – and I about lost it. It was fantastic!

After the concert, I was on a mission to find two “secret” gems in Vegas – the Moet champagne vending machine and the unmarked pizza spot. We found them both, met a few cool people along the way, and saw some great views of the city. And, that pizza was some of the best I’ve ever had.

View from the Palms pool + lounge.

On Saturday, we hit the Palms pool (which was laced with security), shelled out the cash for a giant Palms Punch (nearly $50 for a souvenir cup filled with rum and champagne), and relaxed until it was time to get ready for the John Mayer concert. We even enjoyed a yummy dinner outdoors along the strip, before screaming our faces off at Mayer’s last show before meeting up with Dead & Co.

He mixed things up, singing several songs from “Room for Squares”, and of course, several from “The Search for Everything” – but I think he shocked everyone when he brought out the John Mayer Trio for a few songs.

After the concert, we noticed the roller coaster at New York, New York was eerily close to the T-Mobile arena, so we rode that… which was pretty terrifying, and thankfully was a drunk decision.

On Sunday, we had another day of adventure, hitting Linq for the delicious, huge plates at Hash House a-go-go (I got the Indiana pork tenderloin). Then, we checked out the Linq promenade for the Sprinkles cupcake ATM (I got the chocolate marshmallow), and to check out the High Roller.

Then we caught a ride to Fremont Street – Vegas’ original strip – where there are lights covering the street, live music, and several old casinos (some even spit quarters). To close the night we headed back to the strip for a nice dinner at Hexx – a bottle of wine, impressive charcuterie, shrimp pasta, and a sunset view of the Bellagio.

On Monday morning, we headed out for one last adventure: the Neon Museum. Neon signs are a signature of Las Vegas and have been since it was born, but many casinos change their names or simply lease their signs, so many of these signs end up in a “Boneyard”, which is what we got to tour. It was dozens upon dozens of neon bones, complete with a tour guide who told us all sorts of great history, and we even talked about the history of fonts and how neon is made. It was fantastic!

I flew home to Austin Monday afternoon, and although I felt my body was ready to get back to my usual life, I was sad to leave. That was my second time in Vegas, and both times I’ve just had SO much fun. I always feel like I need to make massive life changes once a vacation is over. I sure was sad driving the country roads home – with no neon or flashing lights to guide me.

But, who knows what’s in store for me over the next few months! I know I’m going to try and keep things exciting. I hope you enjoy my pictures 🙂

The history of Las Vegas.

Viva Las Vegas!

Tonight, I’m hopping on a flight to Las Vegas, ready to spend most of my dollars on drinks and slot machines, wear some of my tackiest clothes (a cactus bodysuit is packed), and eat sinfully delicious food until my stomach hurts.

It will be my second time in Vegas, a place I’ve come to associate with good times. But how did Vegas, as we know it, come to be? I looked up a little info.

Las Vegas was incorporated in 1911, and its first claim to fame was its railroads. At the time, gambling was illegal, that is until 1931 when casinos began to takeover Fremont Street (the city’s only paved road), joined by showgirls.

In just 10 years, “The Strip” was born, and served as a second home to casinos and huge, glittery signs running off hydropower. By 1966, small casinos turned into massive ones that took their design cues from escapes around the globe – Paris, Rome, Egypt, and New York.

I remember years ago, before I’d ever been to Vegas, a family member went for a work conference. Upon his return he said he didn’t like it – “It’s just excess in every single way.”

And that’s exactly why I love it! Want a casino? How about one that’s 171,000 square feet, like at the MGM? It’s the biggest casino in the world.

During my last trip to Vegas, we stayed at the MGM hotel & casino, not knowing how historically huge it is, and I was stunned every time I went downstairs. You could actually never leave if you wanted to – or you COULD leave and step outside to see the lights, huge fountains, ceiling-high strands of crystals, a near-replica of the Eiffel Tower – it’s all so much to take it, but it’s a treat for the senses!

This time, we’re staying at the The Palms and I’m just SO excited! The Palms is owned by a very famous Vegas family, the Maloofs – which may sound familiar to you if you’ve watched “The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills”, as Adrienne Maloof is one of the heirs to the throne.

The Palms was, at one time, home to the only Playboy club in the world. It has since closed, but it was quite iconic with crystal chandeliers, magazine covers throughout, and Roberto Cavallie bunny costumes.

The Palms is also home to a few famous suites, including the Hardwood Suite, which runs a cold $25,000 per night. Here’s the scoop from CNN Money: You don’t have to be a professional basketball player to enjoy the hardwood suite at the Palms, although if you are, then this is the room for you. In addition to the half basketball court, electronic scoreboard and extra-long beds, there’s also a locker room that can be stocked upon request with basketball jerseys and or cheerleading outfits — heck, you can even get your own cheerleaders if that’s what you want. As a general rule, most special requests will be gladly filled by the hotel staff. The two-story suite, which has a full bar as well as plenty of room for a DJ booth, is as well suited to partying as it is to playing games; in fact Russell Simmons and Paris Hilton have both hosted lavish affairs here.

If you’re a fan of MTV’s “Real World”, you may remember the cast of “Real World Las Vegas” resided at the Palms, and their suite still stands as the “Real World Suite”, minus all the cameras. It’s 3,000 square feet and even houses the original “confessional” room if that’s what you’re into ($10,000 per night).

…So, there’s that. I’m ready. It’s been a minute since I’ve had a vacation and I’m looking forward to a long weekend of glitter and adventure!

John Mayer’s perfect setlist.

Hello, love.

Well, I’m heading to Vegas on Thursday and aside from seeing the Backstreet Boys, the excitement of the Strip, the relaxation of the Palms’ pool (and bar), I’m also seeing my soulmate, John Mayer.

I’ve loved John Mayer since the first time I saw him live, when I was 16. If you do the math, that was almost 16 years ago – a very long time to be in love. But, like most relationships, we’ve had our ups and downs…

Almost exactly five years ago, I made plans to cross an item off my bucket list: Go to a city I’ve never been to and see a concert.

That city was Las Vegas, and that concert was John Mayer. I bought the tickets, lined up to meet a friend there, and we were SO excited. But about six weeks before our trip, John Mayer cancelled his tour because he had to have surgery on his vocal chords, and would be on rest.

Needless to say, I was crushed. But, my friend and I still decided to go to Vegas, and we still had a lot of fun. It would be another long while before John Mayer went on tour. And when he did, I saw him three times, in three separate states. I’d seen his tour so many times that year, I’d nearly memorized his set list, and could often tell by his guitar choice or chord tuning, what he was about to play.

But that was, like, three years ago – and now the guy is finally back on tour. I’ll be honest, I’m not so sure about this album, “The Search for Everything“. Yes, there’s some songs I like, but it’s no “Paradise Valley” – I absolutely love that album.

When he released “Love on the Weekend“, he promised he was going on tour, and he also said it would be everything we’d ever dreamed of. Whoa, whoa, whoa – big promises! It’s really okay, John, you don’t have to put on a nationwide tour just to finally profess your love for me.

Kidding aside, I got to thinking about what a perfect John Mayer concert would look like. After seeing him at least a dozen times over the years, I’ve heard him play some of my favorites. But what if there was a concert full of them?

I’ve refrained from looking up the setlist for this tour, but I’ve put together my own – what would be the perfect John Mayer concert setlist for me? This was tough, but here it is:

Why Georgia

If I Ever Get Around to Living

Moving On And Getting Over

Waitin’ On The Day

Split Screen Sadness

Born And Raised

Love On The Weekend

Clarity

On The Way Home

Tracing

In Repair

Dear Marie

Stop This Train

*Encore*

In Your Atmosphere

Wildfire

…What do you think? We will see how his concert compares… I have absolutely NO idea what to expect! I’ll definitely let you know… (you could also follow me on SnapChat and see for yourself @OrangeJulius7).

 

Countdown to Vegas, baby!

The famous scene from “Ocean’s Eleven” in front of the Bellagio Hotel & Casino.

In just a few weeks, I’m heading to Vegas for an extended weekend of sun, relaxation, and well, lots of massive drinks. Because, Vegas! I have been to Vegas before, but it was several years ago, and I’m excited to revisit some of my favorite spots (the Paris Hotel & Casino, and Hash House A-Go-Go), while trying some new spots (fishbowls at the Sugar Factory and the Neon Graveyard Museum).

In order to make the most out of my fun-filled days out West, I’m planning a few things in advance, packing strategically, staying on my diet, and hyping myself up. So, I’ve put together a list of my favorite movies that feature Sin City in all its glittery glory.

Ocean’s Eleven 

George Clooney + Brad Pitt… Yes! 2001 really served it to us in this action-packed movie that involves 11 dudes ready to take down Vegas, by robbing three casinos at the same time. You go boys! And it makes visiting the Bellagio fountains that much more iconic.

Swingers

When I suffered my very first breakup, my dad introduced me to the 1996 cult classic, “Swingers”. I’m so glad he did, because I can’t get enough of Trent and Mike and their ways with the ladies, especially once they hit the Vegas strip. Everything is “Money, baby”, and frankly, this movie is one of my all-time favorites.

Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas

No self-respecting writer can turn his or her back on Hunter S. Thompson and his beloved book-turned-movie, “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas”. When a unique journalist (played by Johnny Depp) and his lawyer head to Vegas, deciphering reality from illusion becomes the challenge. It’s a must-see.

21

I’ll admit it, the book (“Busting Vegas”) was better, but the movie adaptation was on-point. The movie tells the true story of six MIT students who learned how to count cards, and took millions of dollars from the Vegas casinos. It’s a thriller, that’s for sure, and Kevin Spacey is perfection.

I had a 1590 on my SAT. I got a 44 on my MCATs. And I have a 4.0 GPA from MIT. I thought I had my life mapped out. But then I remembered what my Nonlinear Equations professor once told me, always account for variable change.

The Hangover 

In 2009, we were blessed with the start of “The Hangover” trilogy. Although the entire franchise puts me in giggles, the first one is my favorite. This movie is what Vegas is all about: Wolf packs, strippers, cocaine, and partying so hard that you lose your memory, and the bachelor. Think: “Dude, Where’s My Car?” only in Vegas, with a bottomless budget. It’s hilariously fantastic, and I love going to Cesar’s Palace to look for a payphone 😉

…So, don’t be shocked if you see me Tweeting (@OrangeJulius7) about these movies in the coming weeks. What movies about Vegas do you like to watch?

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

You got exactly what you asked for.

Runnin' out of pages in your passport.

Runnin’ out of pages in your passport.

Every other Friday, I take an alternate route home from the office. It’s a few miles west of where I live, toward a place Texans call Hill Country. And it is beautiful. The road overlooks dozens of homes made of stucco, usually sitting under a colorful sunset.

If you’re new here, you should know that sunsets are one of my favorite things about living. Ever. But as I took my alternate route Friday, there was no sunset. This was probably partly due to the time change, and partly due to the thunderstorm rolling in, putting dark clouds over those tiled-roofs.

As disappointed as I was to have missed the sunset this time, it paired decently with my mood. Last week was ROUGH. The chances are likely, you probably saw that last week, I published a 5-part series based on my most-recent dating experience.

One thing about having a blog like The Bitter Lemon is that I get to write about the everyday happenings of my life, sometimes it’s simple things, like my alternate route home in order to swing by the laundromat. Other times, it’s a steamy, sexy story that ends in great disappointment.

But the other part of publishing real life stories is that, often, people react to those stories. And last week? People reacted in a way that I have never experienced. And while I have no interest in dragging out the drama any longer; I feel like it sort of can’t be ignored. This shit was crazy.

On Sunday night, before the blog series even published, I talked extensively about it to my mom. I always get a little nervous when things like this publish, because frankly, it’s embarrassing to tell the world that yes, I fell for an asshole once again, I slept with him, and I got sad about it.

However, I feel like that’s a way of coping for me. It’s a way to deal with what’s happened, and make some sort of sense of out my sadness. And so, the words I’d thought of for months, finally published on Monday around 1 am.

Literally.

Literally.

By 9:30 am, I already had a text message from the subject of these blog posts:

“Holly, I know your job is write and you’re great at it. And this may make things worse, but if your goal is to embarrass and cause problems for me with your articles, then it’s working, and I probably should’ve seen it coming based on how badly I hurt you. Anyone that reads your posts knows that’s me, based on the way that’s written you’re going to smash me on there. Please know my intent wasn’t to have it go the way it did. I know you don’t believe me, but it really wasn’t. It’s probably way too late, is there anything that can happen here for you to not just obliterate me? I clearly really hurt you and you’re definitely going to really hurt me with this series. I’m sorry (was before your post today and am now).”

Let’s unpack the facts here:

  • My job is not to write; it’s my calling, my life’s mission, my way of life
  • My goal was not to embarrass anyone or cause problems for anyone
  • Not everyone that read my posts knew it was him
  • Intentions lead to actions and actions lead to reactions
  • Nothing can happen here, there, or anywhere

The interesting thing that’s important to note here, is that part 1 of the series says nothing negative about anyone. It’s simply background information about me, where I grew up, and how I met this person. So, he was shitting his pants before the party got started.

Secondly, a lot of the content of the posts talks about how much I LIKED this guy, talks about how hot I thought he was, how much I was attracted to him… am I that hideous of a person that having people know he hooked up with me is worth a Trumpertantrum? Please, child.

I did not reply to this text message because I didn’t want to open up that can of worms – this person is the type of person that will never take no for an answer.

About an hour later, he sent his PR team of 1 over to my Facebook inbox. It was a girl I went to high school with, and she told me she saw both sides of the story, but this guy was just SO upset, and she didn’t want to see anyone else get more hurt. And then she sprinkled in that he was thinking of suing me for defamation of character.

Ha. Ha ha. Ha ha. This post had been published for about 10 hours and I was already being threatened.

Let’s unpack the facts:

  • This girl does not know me
  • The blog post, or the situation, had nothing to do with her
  • She didn’t know the end of the story
  • Defamation of character is the legal term for harming someone’s reputation by making false statements
  • The things I said actually happened; I know, because I lived them
Bye Felicia.

Bye Felicia.

So, then I really did get into it with the guy. I told him to stop having his PR team threaten me, and that our attorneys could talk if he really felt like that was the best way to end everything. He begged to talk to me so maybe we could work things out; he said ‘everyone’ knew it was him in the blog, and the fact that I said it was a “5-part series” really bothered him (still not understanding this).

I asked him what he was so afraid of and he said he was afraid his mom would see it (he’s 31, BTW). He also told me that “everyone” was taking it to heart and that what people think DOES matter (not to me). I stopped responding because I don’t like talking to idiots.

The next morning, part 2 was published around 1 am. By lunch, he’d already sent me another long ass text, and called my best friend at work to see if she could stop me (I’m so evil). His text read: “I know this won’t matter but I have heard from my boss today Holly. It got to both of them on social media. Both articles. Too many personal descriptive details to not know that you’re talking about me. I’m being asked to go into the administration offices when we return from break. Please don’t publish anymore this is putting my career in question. You said yesterday you just want it to be over. Please Holly, my boss said people have been let go over less. This is my whole livelihood here. Please don’t do this. My mom called crying today because of what someone at work said to her about me.”

Let’s unpack the facts:

  • He’s right, he doesn’t matter
  • He did not hear from his boss
  • It did not get to his boss on social media
  • Neither of the articles got to his boss
  • Not everyone knew who I was talking about
  • He is not a celebrity
  • His mom did not call him crying
  • No one at work said anything to his mom about him

This guy spent his entire day building on this story. He offered three times to show me the email his boss sent him, and backed down three times saying he had to respect the boss’ privacy. So, I looked up the boss’ email address and phone number, and told him there was no need for privacy. He still refused. I called him. He still refused. Finally, he agreed to show me the email, with the names covered.

Let’s unpack the facts:

  • It was not a real email
  • He wrote the email
  • It was full of typos and misspellings
  • The email address domains were incorrect
  • It was in “edit” mode, within his “Work in progress” folder
  • There was no signature
  • He is full of shit
  • He spent his spring break making up lies and crying

When posts 3 (password is drake), 4, and 5 were published, he said nothing. Because what other lie was he going to make up? Was he going to say that he was losing custody of his dog because of my blog? That he’d grown fatally ill because of it? It was truly the pity party of the century. It’s also really sad that someone that pathetic works in the education system.

Sure, I’ve gotten reactions from people pissed off about things I’ve written. The last guy I dated got an entire book written about him (How I Fell: Love, Lies, & Cocktails), and he told me my blog ruined his life. Really? Did my blog grow a body and walk itself to his place of business and put him at gunpoint to steal money from the register for three years before ultimately getting fired? Nope. No, it didn’t. Because if it, then I wouldn’t have to go to work everyday.

Forever.

Forever.

So, I’m pretty over people saying my blog does things that it, in fact, cannot do. My blog has not ruined anyone’s life. My blog did not make up a story about this guy and tell the world. He did things that he shouldn’t have, and those things were now being outlined for him to see. When he slept with me, and stopped talking to me, he knew it would be easy to never talk to me again. Until the truth was laid out, in black and white.

And in the end, nothing happened to him. He didn’t get in trouble. He didn’t have to answer to his mommy. He didn’t lose his job. And I’m fine with all of that. Because, it is not my responsibility to punish people for their wrongs. I believe the universe does a fine job of that on its own.

It’s one thing to learn that a guy you like is a douche. But it’s another thing to learn that he’s a complete psychopath and a pathological liar.

When I’m left to pick up the pieces of my relationship messes, I always try and figure out something I learned so it won’t be a complete waste of time. In all honesty, I keep learning the same lessons repeatedly, but I’ve learned a lot about red flags and gut instincts. If things seem off, they are, no matter how much glitter is clouding my view.

I learned more about just how complicated relationships can be. I learned that no matter how successful, smart, or nice someone seems – the truth eventually reveals itself. I also learned that not all women are interested in sticking up for other women. I later found out that the little PR team? She was the one responsible for suggesting he sue me. And while it was a stupid idea that never would have seen it’s day in court, it disgusts me that she jumped to his side without knowing what I went through. What if I was about to reveal in post #4 that he hit me? Sexually assaulted me? Disrespected me? And she’d rather have a dishonest prick on her side than that of a brave, honest woman.

Part of it is sad, and the other part? It’s so high school.

 

Ever since I left the city, you & me, we just don’t get along.

I'm leavin' on a jet plane...

I’m leavin’ on a jet plane…

The following was written based on memories (many of which involve vodka). Names have been changed to protect the author. Catch up on parts one, two, and three here

I left Indiana a few days later around 6 am. It was Eric’s birthday, and I’d left him a note on his nightstand wishing him a great day. I missed him already. I tried to text him between flights, but he wasn’t too talkative.

I looked up flight prices so I could get back to Indiana and see him soon; but my mention of that didn’t warrant a great response from him. I got home to my apartment, and was glad to see my kitty, but felt lonelier than ever.

The truth is, I’d played this game before. It was not the first time I’d gone to Indiana to see a boy, and it definitely wasn’t the first time I was getting the cold shoulder after having sex with a guy. It was actually becoming more common than not.

After a few days of it just being awkward with Eric, I made attempts to clear the air. I asked him if he felt different with our friendship.

“Of course I feel different,” he said. “But I’m trying to find a way to show you I’m interested without it being anything serious.”

I told him that we should just agree that it won’t be anything serious. We lived far apart, and he was getting over a divorce and I had just moved to a new city. But I did want to keep that door open, so maybe something could happen between us in the future.

Things between us seemed back to normal for a few days, but eventually they fell back into, what I call the “Ice Age”, where a guy is just icing me out. We went about a week without talking, and we hadn’t talked on the phone since before I made the trip.

I was upset, and having trouble thinking about anything else, so I finally texted him on a Friday night. He was in Chicago, so I felt like an idiot for bothering him, and vowed to just let him have his weekend with his friends.

But the next day, he texted me asking if we were going to start talking again or what was going on?

I tried to explain my side in the nicest way possible, and tell him that I felt like ever since I’d gotten back, he’d gone cold, and I didn’t know why or how that happened. Was I bad in bed? Did I say something offensive?

He explained that no, I was not bad in bed or offensive, it was just him, and he genuinely apologized. “I’ve never really been single and I’m just really bad at this,” he said. “I want to get back to normal.”

“Normal” to me meant we were back to texting each other often, but my text that night went with no reply. I was up until around 3, and still never heard from him. Even when I awoke the next morning around 9, still nothing. It wasn’t like him, and I started to panic.

“Eric, is everything okay?” I texted him.

He replied an hour or so later.

“Yeah, just trying to leave the city,” he said. “Was out until 7 am.”

And my gears were grinding. Out until 7 am, but he couldn’t text me? Okay. Takes two to tango here. I told him he was shady, but whatever, do what you please.

“hahahaha” he replied.

I didn’t understand what the fuck was so funny.

“So I don’t have to answer to you but I’m shady?” he said.

You got it, mother fucker. I didn’t know what his problem was. Was he trying to prove to me that yes, he was single, and he could do whatever he wanted? I didn’t appreciate him acting that way toward me. Was he trying to make me jealous of him? Of girls he was with?

I stopped replying to his texts and got on with my day. I wasn’t going to bother with that train I couldn’t control.

Later that night, he called me.

“Are you mad at me?” he asked.

“Nope,” I said. I was determined to stop caring. Easy breezy cool girl, right here.

“Okay, well you didn’t reply my text,” he said.

“Well, you never reply to mine,” I said. “I was busy.”

Oh, how the tables have turned. Pulling out the same lines he used on me. Our chat was over quickly.

You make me feel like I did you wrong.

What I now refer to as the “Chicago Conversation”, bothered me more than I can properly explain. The truth was, I really didn’t care if he was out with other girls, or hooked up. But I did care that he was trying to flaunt it in my face. He was trying to make me feel bad about myself, and that is a feeling I’ve felt from men for my entire life.

For the next week, I cried myself to sleep multiple times. I needed some resolve. I already know I’m bad about seeing the red flags and running from them; but I thought I picked a good guy this time. But that is what I thought every time. And every time, it ended like a Taylor Swift song.

I got to thinking about control and how it affects our dating lives. There were things we all tried to control in relationships – who has the power; who cares less or more – we were trying to control the uncontrollable.

As simple as this idea sounds, I finally got it: dating was out of my control. It didn’t matter how nice I was, how thin I was, how pretty I looked, how much beer I could guzzle, or how funny I was, a guy was going to either like me and treat me right, or he wasn’t.

This idea, alone, made me feel so much better. It took the pressure off. Okay, so it didn’t workout with Eric, handsome Eric who I thought had potential for something serious, but it was no big deal. He wasn’t the one for me. If he texted me, great, if not, great. Chalk it up to a fun weekend, and just be done with it.

But my new outlook didn’t bode well with Eric. I had finally stopped chasing him, and he noticed. About a week later, I heard a statistic on the radio that said the #1 reason men will dump a woman is because they don’t listen.

This shocked me, so I texted Eric, and asked him if it was true. He said it was.

“We’re selfish, so all we want is a girl who’s going to listen to everything we say and act like it’s the coolest thing ever,” he said.

While I agreed with him on the selfish front, I’d just assumed men were not concerned with whether a women listened or not.

But, what a man wants was no longer a concern of mine. I was without a care, I’d gotten a new haircut to reflect my carefree ways, and I was feeling good. I’d spent years listening to and being interested in every detail of men’s lives, and it had resulted in too many notches on the bedpost and a bitter attitude. Fuck it.

From that point forward, my interactions with Eric were so negative. It was just constant saltiness; like we were gearing up for our next go ‘round in the ring. It made me sad. I knew, and I know, that neither of us wanted to be the people we were being.

I was heading to Baton Rouge a week later, and Eric sent me a sharp text message about me being MIA. I was already kind of over the bickering.

“Are you mad at me?” I asked him.

He said no, but if that was true, what was with the attitude? I decided to just call him and hash this out. Let’s be adults. He ignored my call, and texted me that he was “at a bar. Can’t talk. What’s up?”

I wasn’t going to resolve this over text. I also wasn’t going to deal with these games. Fucking step outside the bar and answer the phone, asshole. But, I didn’t reply. I left my phone in my car, and was on with my weekend.

As the weekend came to a close, he was quick to tell me he was going back to Chicago. Riddle me this: why bring up something that is obviously a sensitive subject? We were back to ground zero, with him trying to prove to me he could do whatever he wanted, and he was going to, and then he would toss the used condom in my face.

And with that, I had to hang my white flag. I was not going to participate in negative energy any longer.

With that, I deleted him from all of my social media channels. And yes, I know this appears like a lame move on my part (he asked me if I was 12 years old, for doing this). But, it was creeping me out that we weren’t talking, yet he was watching my SnapChat feed. I was grasping at straws to try and gain some sense of control in a situation that had gone so wrong.

We went about three weeks without talking, when I reached out to him, and told him I’d been meaning to talk to him, but I just didn’t know what to say.

“I have no explanation for why things fell off,” he said. “They just did. It’s probably because I don’t know how to be single, and who knows if I’m ready for anything. All terrible reasons and I’m sorry if they affected you.”

While I did appreciate him trying to explain his side, and it was nice to know I didn’t do anything wrong, I didn’t like his backhanded apology.

Of course I was affected. I was heartbroken. I understood that he didn’t mean to hurt me on purpose, but that’s what happened and I felt like I deserved a real apology. When I told him this, the world pretty much blew up.

“I wish instead of sending me these messages and jumping to conclusions, you would call me and see what I’ve been going through lately. I had no intention of being this way to you and yes we did get close. I have pretty much cut off everyone, unfortunately, not just you.”

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

Protected: Glasses of champagne out on the dance floor…

This content is password protected. To view it please enter your password below:

Ever since I left the city, you got a reputation for yourself now.

Bottoms up!

Bottoms up!

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

In college, I kept in touch with Eric. I had a tendency of drunk dialing him after late nights at Fred’s bar, and he would answer, also drunk. At times, he’d pass the phone to his roommate (who I also imagined to be attractive), and we would drunkenly talk until Eric returned on the line.

Not soon after, the evil Mark Zuckerberg introduced the world to his college-exclusive social network, Facebook. It was then I got to see what everyone in high school had been up to, and what they were currently doing; no matter how real or fake it was.

At one point or another, Eric and I were talking a lot – whether it was by cell phone or AOL Instant Messenger – we were going to pick up right where we left off. I was graduating that December, and I was planning to fly home to Indiana for the holidays just a few days later.

Eric offered to pick me up from the airport and bring me to his apartment for the night. I agreed. I hadn’t seen him maybe but once since high school – we had some catching up to do.

My plane landed in Indy, and as I walked toward the baggage claim, I saw so many people running toward someone waiting, there were hugs and kisses, and I was just there, alone. But as I rode down the escalator, there was Eric. He was wearing a black pea coat, and he looked just as handsome as I remembered.

I smiled, picked up my pace, and gave him a giant hug. Once we got to his apartment, we took shots of Jagermeister, and went upstairs to his room. It didn’t take long for things to fall into place. We’d hooked up many times before, though not had sex, but I was ready to DO this.

Naked, on top of him, it was looking like it was about to happen. But, then, it just didn’t. We fell asleep, and a few hours later, he woke me up by way of putting his #%*! between my $&/?. Up to that point, it was one of the most intense sexual experiences I’d had. But we still didn’t do the deed.

The next morning, he drove me to my mom’s house in Greenwood. We said our goodbyes, and that was the last time I saw him for several years.

After the holidays, I went back to Louisiana, where I moved into my first apartment. I really did like Eric – he was a teacher and a basketball coach – he had this sense of small town stability that was sexy to me. I don’t necessarily know how we clicked, but we did. He was sweet, and he always made me feel attractive.

But clearly, distance wasn’t on our side, and we both sort of agreed that it just probably wasn’t our time. I had no hard feelings. I was bartending, and doing freelance writing jobs while I looked for a 9-5 job. Eventually, I started dating someone, and quickly fell in love. Eric was off my radar.

Thanks to Facebook, I could see that Eric was in a relationship, too, and per usual, it looked pretty serious. He was dating someone from home, she was his sister’s friend, which was kind of weird in an after-school-sitcom sort of way. I didn’t know her, but had heard of her though mutual friends.

Regardless, it wasn’t my business. Although I thought of him randomly over the years, I tried not to pay too much attention when he eventually got engaged, married, and moved states away with his wife. From what I could tell, most of my classmates were falling into a similar pattern – because that is what you do when you get older; you get married, get a house, and start a family.

Years passed, and I didn’t talk to Eric. I still had no hard feelings toward him, but it was clear our paths were done crossing.

Until they did, last summer.

I blame SnapChat, because this is how we reconnected. I snapped a selfie as I was heading into work. I had been let go of my 7-year salaried job, and was back to job hunting while working 60 hours a week of retail to make ends meet.

“You look great!” he replied to the snap.

It was random, but okay.

I replied back with another selfie that read, “Thanks!”

He sent back a selfie saying, “You’re welcome!”

In the quick time the snapped selfie was alive, I analyzed what I could. He appeared to be in casual clothes, it was at night, and he was on a couch or in a recliner of some sort. He still looked as handsome as ever.

But… where was his wife? Taking a selfie is kind of obvious, so surely she wasn’t sitting there snapping selfies in front of her, right?

I tried not to think too much of it, and went to sleep.

Over the next few weeks, we communicated via SnapChat off and on; nothing serious. But one night, I had a dream with him in it. He was running toward me, wearing a white medical jacket, and once he ran up to me, he asked me if I was going to watch “the big game”. I remember thinking, no, probably not, but I told him I would. He said something else I can’t remember, smiled, and ran off.

I told him about it the next day on SnapChat. He replied via text, “We could just text,” he said. Truthfully, I didn’t even know we still had each other’s numbers.

We texted some, but the more we talked, the more I was wondering about his wife. Where was she during all of this?

Admittedly, I’ve had some experiences with married men in my past. I’m not proud of them, and it’s not something I’m aiming to continue to do, as it never ends well, and of course, it’s just not right and it’s not who I want to be.

So, I asked one of my girlfriends from 7th grade about it.

I explained that Eric had been texting me, but what about his wife?

“There haven’t been any pictures of them together on Facebook in a while,” she said. “I don’t think they are together.”

What?

I figured Eric would tell me if he felt it was necessary. And he did. However, that story is his and not mine to tell. I’ll just say that I felt terrible for him.

His divorce was pending paperwork, and he’d moved back to our hometown, as he’d gotten a job in the same place we’d first crossed paths – that gigantic school.

I couldn’t believe it! Things were oddly coming full circle; I was sad for his divorce, but I was happy for his new job opportunity. He’s one of those people that was made to be a leader, plus he looked really great in a suit.

We talked for months, mostly by text, but sometimes on the phone. It was mostly just friendly chatter, but it certainly was nice to talk to someone at the end of the day. He was open with me about the pain of his divorce, and I was struggling to find a full-time job.

But eventually, I did get a job, and he talked me through my move to Texas, and texted me good luck on my first day at my new job.

During my first two weeks in Texas, my apartment wasn’t ready, so I was living in an Extended Stay off I-35. I was living out of a suitcase, eating frozen dinners, and watching homemade marathons of Gossip Girl from the hotel bed. One night, Eric Facetimed me.

He had a creative project at work he needed help with. I was happy to help, although he later said his coworkers didn’t go for my ideas.

One night, I was driving home from work and I called him. He answered, on speaker phone.

“I’m in the car with Aaron,” he said.

Aaron went to high school with us.

“I’m about to drop him off in Taylorsville,” he said. “Can I call you back then?”

“Yeah, of course,” I said.

When he called me back, I had to ask the obvious.

“Was Aaron like, uh, why is Holly Phillips calling you right now?” I asked.

“Yeah, I told him I we were talking,” he said, nonchalantly.

I supposed we were talking, but I didn’t think he thought of it that way. I was used to crushing on guys that wanted very little to do with me.

“What did he say?” I asked.

“He said it was great, because we’ve always had something,” he said.

He had a point.

It was October, and I wanted to make it a point to get to Indiana sometime soon to see Eric. I wanted to see if there really still was something there between us.

For a few weeks, we got to talking every day. We talked on the phone a lot, and sometimes had Facetime dates on Friday nights; we would have drinks while on the phone, and it nearly felt like we were really in the same room.

Toward the end of the month, he was acting distant |red flag|. He’d been talking about how he was just “so busy” at work planning and preparing for a fundraising lock-in at the school. If there’s one way to piss me off, it’s to tell me you’re too busy.

I’ve always been someone juggling several things at once, in fact, if I don’t have enough things on my plate, then I don’t know what to do with myself. I am of the school of thought that telling someone you’re too busy for them is just a copout way of blowing them off.

So, I took the hint he was tossing my way, and we stopped talking. I was upset, naturally I assumed he was seeing someone else, and I wrote about it in my weekly column (in Dig magazine, on stands in Baton Rouge, Louisiana).

From my perspective, he was attempting to blow me off by continually telling me how busy he was. I told him I could “take a hint.” So, I put my phone on silent and tried my damnedest to remove him from my brain (read: I went shopping).

But here’s the thing. This guy is really nice. He’s successful, attractive, loves kids and animals, and he even calls me sometimes — really, it’s overwhelming how all-around hot he is.

He offered up an invitation to a pity party in the form of, “I was up all night, got up early on a Saturday to work, and my ankles are swollen, so I guess you can be mad at that.” |red flag|

Great way #2 to piss me off: feel sorry for yourself and pull me down with you. But, after a few weeks of not talking, I fell for it, and called him.

My crush and I were in a little bit of a stand-off after I tried to explain myself to him. I wanted an apology and he wasn’t going to give it. There were tumbleweeds and rusted spurs, until I called him and we agreed it was a miscommunication.

But if I’m being totally honest, I can’t shake it. I feel like whatever fire was between us, has fizzled, because I did the ultimate thing you’re not supposed to do — I acted crazy. I’m no longer that fantastical pony with glittery hair (#goals). I’m just another crazy one, flailing her arms for attention.

My best friend was coming to visit me for Thanksgiving. The night before her arrival, I was frantically cleaning my apartment, when my cat discovered a mouse in the bathroom.

The mouse was clearly after me, so I ran as fast as I could, screaming bloody murder, to reach the highest point in the apartment: the back of my couch.

I called Eric, and as soon as he answered, I screamed, “THERE’S A MOUSE IN MY APARTMENT!!!”

“What? Go get traps, I’m at the bowling alley, I’ll call you later,” he said.

I did as I was told, and by the time I got home to set the traps, he walked me through it on the phone. It sounds silly, I know, but the guy had completely turned my world around. Do you ever notice that? How one person can make even the worst things seem okay.

I was really starting to love getting his texts each night before I fell asleep that said, “Goodnight babe” and he always had an equally sweet text in the morning. We were texting all day, every day, and would Facetime almost every night.

But, I hadn’t forgotten the fact that he was fresh off a tough divorce. Was he just replacing the feelings he had for his ex with me? Were we two miserable sacks just looking for company? I expressed my concerns to him, adding the fact that as many times as we’d tried to make this work before, it hadn’t. There had to be some sort of reason it never worked for us; would I be his rebound again?

“Not this time,” he said. “Just let me be good to you.”

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

You used to call me on my cell phone…

Zaharako's soda fountain in Columbus, Indiana.

Zaharako’s soda fountain in Columbus, Indiana.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Late night when you need my love…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pic of the Week.

I don’t know about you, but I’m just glad last week is OVER. That first week back to reality after a vacation was rough (and I only had a 3-day week!).

After spending such a great time with my friends in Indiana over New Year’s, I was really feeling in the dumps last week. I was feeling homesick for Indiana and Louisiana all at once, and truthfully, I just wanted to curl up under my electric blanket and sleep for days (which is kind of what I did this weekend).

I will admit, though, that I was happy and relieved to see Blanche waiting for me when I returned to Austin. It was the longest I’ve left her home alone and not only did I miss her, but I was worried. She was fine, and happy to see me. She’s been by my side this entire week (if you’re following me on SnapChat, you’ve probably seen some funny ones featuring my fuzzy sidekick).

Although I was in the dumps, I’ve got my New Year’s goals fresh on the brain, and I think I did a good job of getting right to it! On Wednesday, I faced my fears and went back to dance class. I hadn’t been since my car was broken into, but I’m committed to a monthly membership, and let’s face it: dancing makes me happy and burns calories. I need it.

So, I went to two classes last week (Wednesday and Saturday) and we danced to TWO Justin Bieber songs. I loved every second of it. I’m looking forward to going back for more this week.

I also heard from two friends this week who want to meet up soon in Austin. I’m really excited to do a little exploring with some people I haven’t talked to in awhile. I’ll be honest, I don’t know how long I’ll be a Texan, but I want to give it a fair chance, and at least do some fun things while I’m here.

As for my goal to pay off debt, I took on a few small freelance jobs that I completed over the weekend and sent the funds DIRECTLY to my credit cards that I’m trying to pay off. Even though it was a small dent, it felt good to throw in an extra payment without even touching my checking account.

While I did sit behind my computer for a majority of the weekend (I also had my TV on and made a massive dent in my DVR recordings), I took a little bit of time for myself and indulged in some at-home facial treatments (this is my latest favorite face mask) and I even painted my nails with my first Essie polish (in “Cocktail Bling”).

One of my friends and I get each other small gifts for New Year’s Eve instead of for Christmas, and she got me an Essie box that has 4 mini bottles in it. She also got me an E.L.F lip kit with five colors, and you’re going to hear about it all year long, because it’s fantastic!

I also did a little grocery shopping (not much, because my first shipment from Green Chef comes this week), laundry, and watched a few episodes of Newsroom (no spoilers, I’m only on season one). I indulged in a large order of spicy chicken ramen (even added the pickled veggies) and a bottle of bordeaux – what can I say, it’s in the 30’s in Texas!

Some of my finished Valentines.

Some of my finished Valentines.

Sure, I was productive, but I’m really admiring people who travel for a living. It takes a lot out of a person, living from a suitcase sucks, and I feel like it’s taking me awhile to get back into the swing of things. I’m sure this week will be better – but I’m already eyeing my next few trips: Louisiana and Floribama are on the horizon!

And, before I forget, we’re like a month away from the most depressing holiday ever (read: Valentine’s Day). I’m totally planning on sending out a slew of homemade Valentine’s again this year to spread some love, so if you’re reading this (yes, YOU) and would like a Valentine (or know someone who would), please send me your address! You can email me at: holly@thebitterlemon.com – seriously, no shame! I want to send as many as possible. You can check out last year’s Valentine’s by checking out the post here. See y’all tomorrow!

2015: Year in review!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

I’m not necessarily a fan of “Year in Review”-type things, but man, I feel like 2015 was pretty CRAZY for me! Looking back at all of my ‘Pic of the Week’ photos, I recall, that not only did I move a solid 7 hours away to a new city, get a new job/career, and a new apartment, I also flipped the script when I got an iPhone (still miss my Blackberry at times, won’t lie), I made a Halloween costume, went to Hangout Fest, traveled to Kansas City, rocked gold sequined pants, made my own Valentines, got hooked on protein shakes and House of Cards, and survived an Escape Room, among other things. It was really a fantastic year!

WordPress, my blog platform, also sends us stats at the end of every year, and this year’s stats got me feeling pretty good. In short:

  • This blog was viewed 30,000 times in 2015 (up from 21,000 times in 2014), from 114 countries
  • Top posts of the year were:
    • 1 The heart at home. (
    • 2 Pic of the Week. (
    • 3 Baring it all, in business? (
    • 4 Me & my bullshit, part two. (
    • 5 Dads ‘n Daughters. (June 2015) – The crumbling relationship with my father.

    I want to sincerely thank you all for reading The Bitter Lemon in 2015. I’m so happy with the places this blog has taken me, and I know we’re not at the end of the road here. I’ve got tons of fun things planned for 2016 and I’m so excited to share them with you all, right here!