Blog Archives

BBC: ‘Ramona Blue’.

Happy Hump Day! We’re already halfway through the week, plus I’m so excited to share Blanche’s Book Club’s latest read – it’s a goodie!

Today, we’re talking about “Ramona Blue” by Julie Murphy. Here is the description from Amazon.com:

Ramona was only five years old when Hurricane Katrina changed her life forever.

Since then, it’s been Ramona and her family against the world. Standing over six feet tall with unmistakable blue hair, Ramona is sure of three things: she likes girls, she’s fiercely devoted to her family, and she knows she’s destined for something bigger than the trailer she calls home in Eulogy, Mississippi.

But juggling multiple jobs, her flaky mom, and her well-meaning but ineffectual dad forces her to be the adult of the family. Now, with her sister, Hattie, pregnant, responsibility weighs more heavily than ever.

The return of her childhood friend Freddie brings a welcome distraction. Ramona’s friendship with the former competitive swimmer picks up exactly where it left off, and soon he’s talked her into joining him for laps at the pool.

But as Ramona falls in love with swimming, her feelings for Freddie begin to shift too, which is the last thing she expected. With her growing affection for Freddie making her question her sexual identity, Ramona begins to wonder if perhaps she likes girls and guys or if this new attraction is just a fluke.

Either way, Ramona will discover that, for her, life and love are more fluid than they seem.

I went into this book thinking it would be focused on the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, but it was more about family, friendship, and love. I absolutely adored the way it was written – very descriptive and visual.

In fact, about halfway through the book, I checked my library to see if they had any more books written by Murphy. They did, her other two titles, and I’ve got them on my reserve list!

I wrote down some quotes I loved from this book:

  • “Something about the moon makes us a little braver.”
  • “Sometimes catastrophes split you in half, even if all the pieces are there, they might not ever fit back together.”
  • “Folks in Eulogy don’t use years to measure time. They use storms, and I guess I’m just waiting for the next big one.”
  • “I know what it feels like to revisit something from your childhood and find that the mysterious magic it once held has evaporated.”
  • “We always joke about Vermont, but maybe we don’t have to wait until we’re old ladies with fifty cats, making maple syrup.”

This book had ups and downs, and at times, seemed real instead of fiction. I loved it! This one is for all the YA lovers, Katrina survivors, and fans of teenage nostalgia.

The next book we’ll be reading is “The Other Side of Everything” by Lauren Doyle Owens.

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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. 

Marriage expectations. 

Aisle, reception... now what?

Aisle, reception… now what?

I spend a decent amount of time telling myself that it’s likely I’ll never get married. No, I’m not saying that to be dramatic, I just have this feeling that something different is in the cards for me.

Because of this, I’ve really never thought much about what it would be like to actually BE married. Of course, I’ve imagined it, but by now we all know my imagination gets a little wild.

But about a year ago, my mom came to visit and she was a guest on my podcast, Learning From Strangers. If you haven’t listened before, my cohost is a married (and very funny) guy, so I suggested him and my mom discuss marriage expectations. I would chime in when possible.

It turned out to be a pretty decent discussion. One thing my mom said really struck me: marriage is not a game changer. As in, it’s not a fairy tale that’s going to solve all of your problems.

It sounds like a no brainer, but I’ve been to several beautiful weddings over the years, and it’s easy to fall into that trap of thinking, “Oh, if I could just get a boyfriend/fiancé/husband… Then everything would be great.”

My mom’s statement really got me thinking about every day life – what mine is like now versus what it would be like if I were married.

Right now, my life is incredibly hectic. I get up around 5 every day, and I write or edit until I need to shower/get dressed for a meeting. By 5pm, I try to be at the gym, get a workout done, and head back home to edit and/or write until I’m too exhausted to make sense.

In a way, my life (while it doesn’t sound it) has luxuries in that everything I’m doing is directly for me. I really don’t even have to consider anyone else! Kind of weird when you really think about it.

But I know it’s a double-edged sword, and that if I had someone else to consider, he would (presumably) consider me, too, and maybe he’d cook dinner for me or start a load of laundry, and in turn, we’d watch TV together or perhaps get more than 5 hours of sleep. Win-win.

On the podcast, we talked about lots of other expectations like cooking, cleaning, staying in shape, opinions on cats (!), laundry, singing, bathroom etiquette, and day drinking.

Here are my thoughts in a nutshell: yes, sorta, yes, YAS, meh, no, ugh, and yep.

But I’ve got to know about YOU, because I think a lot of my readers are married. What were your marriage expectations? Did marriage measure up, or even exceed them? What should a singleton like myself be thinking about when it comes to marriage expectations?

PS. I’m totally obsessed with this video, and I’d be lying if I didn’t spend a decent chuck of my Sunday night practicing the dance moves in it, whilst putting away the dishes and scrubbing my countertops. “I’m fresher than yooouuuuuu…” Because that’s what I can do as a singleton. #HoldThatCupLikeAlcohol

Exes: Married With Children.

When your ex straight up moves on... with a wife and a kid.

When your ex straight up moves on… with a wife and a kid.

Sometime last week, I wandered over to my ex-boyfriend’s Facebook page. It’s something I do when I’m feeling rather low about myself, even though looking at his page usually makes me feel worse. Call me a masochist.

Right away, I saw what I figured would be there: his profile picture was a tiny baby. His baby.

Because that is what people do; they get married, and within two years of being married, they have a kid.

When I found out my ex was getting married two years ago, I also found out via Facebook. I was stunned, to say the least, because we’d just broken up a year before.

It was a shitty way to confirm he was cheating on me for the greater part of our four-year relationship.

When I confronted him about it, he lied of course, saying their relationship just moved very quickly.

Finding out an ex is getting married is different for everyone; the reaction is probably relevant to how things ended.

Almost all of my exes are married, and as pathetic as it sounds, my heart broke a little when I found out about each one getting engaged.

I don’t believe any of my exes were “meant” for me, I think it’s more of admitting to myself that they found some sort of happiness with another person that I’ve yet to discover.

But I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t terrified that maybe I’ll never find that level of love, commitment, and happiness with someone.

This particular ex isn’t the only one of my exes to have a child. I think the nature of our relationship is what makes it sting a little, even years later.

We met in college; we were both bartenders at a place under the overpass. Our relationship was fun-loving from the start. It didn’t take long for me to sleep with him, and because of that, I fell for him very quickly.

Although he told me he loved me, his actions showed me that we weren’t on the same level. I loved him more than I’d ever felt for anyone else. And that’s still true today. Enter: the bitterness.

He always told me marriage wasn’t “for him,” and he never talked about wanting children. Those are things I wanted, and to see him married, with a child… it feels like everyone around me has moved on and up, while I’m still here. And still single.

As a singleton, I constantly have to remind myself that just because someone is married, doesn’t mean they’re in a perfect relationship. And just because I’m single, doesn’t mean I’ll never find someone.

Perhaps seeing an ex move on is just a refreshing sign that people can change. Or maybe it just proves that he/she is great at living one giant lie after the next. Now, who wants to hit up happy hour?

Pic of the Week.

All the proper fixins' for a movie premier!

All the proper fixins’ for a movie premier!

Thursday night, I could not wait to finish with work, jump into my sweats and walk right on over to the movie theatre for the midnight premier of “The Longest Ride,” a film adaptation of the Nicholas Sparks bestseller.

I was really excited for several reasons: 1. the book was fantastic. I have very, very fond memories of laying out on my terrace, getting a tan, sipping on a wine spritzer (no, seriously), and falling in love with this unique story, 2. SCOTT EASTWOOD IS FINE, and 3. I allowed myself a cheat and got a junior popcorn, with butter.

Um, hi.

Um, hi.

But seriously, that second point needs to be mentioned one more time… because how have I not noticed him nor his hotness before now?

Anyway, “The Longest Ride” is the story of two couples — very similar couples — in different time periods, whose lives intersect in a very unique way.

The movie and the book tells both of their stories, while in turn, offering a tale of love… as only Nicholas Sparks could. Read more about the book from a previous blog post, here

I think this movie struck me in an interesting way, because some of the issues in the story are easily things that could happen to anyone. Lately, I’ve been having a lot of questions and uncertainty when I think about love and my future. The movie touched on those issues, and although it was a little overwhelming at midnight on a Thursday, it was cathartic.

While I’ve seen all of the movies and read nearly all of Sparks’ books, this one is definitely one of my favorites (I just love “The Last Song”). I don’t, and won’t, spoil the movie for you, but per usual, don’t forget to pack the Kleenex!

7/50 Shades: Girl Next Door.

Second product on the right, folks.

Second product on the right, folks.

Although shade no. 7 is a gloss — I just cannot pull myself away. I blame this completely on Bonne Bell, for getting me addicted to shiny, glitter glosses delivered to my lips via sponge applicator.

Girl Next Door by Hard Candy is sheer, with a touch of silvery shimmer. It doesn’t have a scent or a flavor, really, but it is a tiny bit sweet. Mega plus? It’s thick, stays on for awhile, and it’s a lip plumper.

I can never REALLY tell if these things work, but I love the idea of it, regardless. But it did get me wondering how they work? I went to Google for the answer, and there was WebMD to my rescue.

According to WebMD, some over-the-counter lip plumping products contain ingredients that cause blood to flow to the lips, such as cinnamon, ginger mint, or wintergreen. When blood flows to the lips, they appear slightly larger than normal, or “bee stung” for a few hours.

Hey, that sounds pretty good to me!

I like to use Girl Next Door as a “top coat” to some of the other pink lipsticks I’ve mentioned before. It shines up a lipstick, plus adds the plump. Best of both worlds!

Looking for Alaska.

Quote from Looking for Alaska by John Green.

Quote from Looking for Alaska by John Green.

I’m sad and happy (all at once) to announce that I’ve got NO more John Green books to read! I saved Looking for Alaska for last, because while I was excited to read it, I was also sad knowing that I’d have no more books of Green’s to read!

Looking for Alaska was Green’s first book, and has won many awards including the 2006 Michael L. Printz Award. It was listed in the Top 10 Best Book for Young Adults in 2006, and the 2006 Quick Pick for Reluctant Young Adult Readers, among several others.

CANNOT wait.

CANNOT wait.

Looking for Alaska is the story of Miles Halter. Miles is a man of few words, though he is obsessed with last words — having memorized the last words of many well-known people. He’s going to boarding school for the first time and meets the COOLEST girl… ever. Alaska Young.

I really don’t want to spoil this book if you haven’t read it. And if you haven’t read it, you MUST read this book!

Now that I’ve read all of Green’s books, I can say there are many similarities (I often get Paper Towns and Looking for Alaska mixed up) in all of them — which might be why I love them all so much. While Looking for Alaska wasn’t my favorite, it connected with me in ways that others didn’t.

Like I said, I don’t want to give anything away, BUT this book has a layer of seriousness to it, but at the same time, a great layer of imagination that I appreciate. As always, I went crazy with my digital highlighter while reading the book, so here are some of my favorite quotes:

‘I go to seek a Great Perhaps.’ That’s why I’m going. So I don’t have to wait until I die to start seeking a Great Perhaps.

That didn’t happen, of course. Things never happened like I imagined them.

And now is as good a time as any to say that she was beautiful.

You spend your whole life stuck in the labyrinth, thinking about how you’ll escape it one day, and how awesome it will be, and imagining that future keeps you going, but you never do it. You just use the future to escape the present.

You’ve got your oats. You’ve got your meal. You’ve got your cream. It’s a fuckin’ food pyramid.

I just did some calculations, and I’ve been able to determine that you’re full of shit.

I finally decided that people believed in an afterlife because they couldn’t bear not to.

There comes a time when we realize that our parents cannot save themselves or save us, that everyone who wades through time eventually gets dragged out to sea by the undertow—that, in short, we are all going.

I gritted my teeth, and then before us, broken glass glittered in the blare of the sun like the road was wearing jewelry, and that spot must be the spot.

And so… even though we’re ALL (ok, me) looking forward to Paper Towns hitting theatres this summer, Looking for Alaska will be in theatres NEXT summer!

While not much has been released about the film adaptation, I am so excited to see how they turn his first book into his third movie!

Anyone out there read Looking for Alaska? I’d be thrilled to nerd out about it with you!

Luv vs. Love.

Right through the heart...

Right through the heart…

The day after Valentine’s, I got a text at 4:30 am.

“Love you.”

It was from a guy I went to high school with; we’ve kept in touch over the years, and have hooked up a few times.

Given the timing of the text, I figured it was a drunk thing and I just didn’t reply. We have never said “love” to each other — we don’t even talk on the phone.

While I do like him, and care about him, I don’t think “love” is the word to describe what we have.

About a week after the text, he called me out on it and told me I was rude for not saying “I love you” back.

Huh?

Love is still a really big word for me. Sure, I’ve been in love (a few times) and I’ve said it to the men I’ve fallen for.

In my past, romantic love has come during a committed relationship. And while I do enjoy talking to this guy, I like seeing him (he travels full time) when I can, and I certainly enjoy hooking up, it’s not love.

After all, he said it in a text message.

This is when I have to wonder if I’m just out of touch. Is this what we’re doing now? Saying “I love you” via text?

Sure, I get it if you’re dating someone and the l-bomb has already been dropped in-person, face-to-face, but…

Of course, this guy was really, really pissed that I had “no manners” and still wouldn’t say it back — a fight happening over text, mind you.

There is a risk anytime you open up to someone, and when you don’t get the response you’re hoping for, it is really difficult. I’ve been there.

But I can’t say something, especially love, that I don’t mean just to make someone feel better, or to keep them from being mad at me.

The first man I ever loved was my best friend. We were friends for years before we started dating, but it didn’t take long for me to be crazy for him.

When that relationship ended, it took years before I fell in love again and I fell hard.

After that, I fell in love with someone destructive, and it’s difficult for me to even know if it was really love. But I did say it to him, after a very short amount of time.

I am well-aware that the nature of dating and relationships are changing every day. Hell, it seems like people aren’t even dating at all anymore.

But no matter the trends, the cultural changes, the technology, love is something that’s got to be an anchor.

Love is what we’re living for, right?

And something that important deserves more than a text message; it deserves a moment.

I thought I’d hear from the guy at least a few days later, admitting he was a little harsh on me, and he’d apologize.

But I haven’t heard from him since. I’m not sure what’s going on there, but I know one thing.

That’s not love.

Pic of the Week.

Just home... at the office.

Just home… at the office.

It seems like so long ago that I had an 8-5 office job — and really it was four months ago. While I am still working out details of my life nearly every week, in ways it seems like things are going along okay, and in other ways, it feels like I’ve got no direction whatsoever.

In December, I was working three retail jobs. One of those was seasonal, so I was down to two jobs. And then, on Saturday, I went to cash a check from one of my jobs and it wouldn’t cash — my employer didn’t have enough money to cover the check. So I quit.

I’m down to one retail job, which I believe will cut down on how burnt-out I’ve felt lately, but I of course worry about making ends meet.

The trend I’ve noticed is that the less hours I’ve got in retail, the more writing gigs I can take on. And that’s great! It’s scary, but it is also very exciting. And, even though I’ve still been applying for office jobs every week, I’m starting to wonder if I’ll ever find myself in an office working for someone else.

Last week, I started listening to some webinars led by people who do what I want to do — make a living by blogging. While they gave some great tips (that I’ll be implementing over the next few months), it was the most comforting thing to hear their struggles before their business dreams became reality.

When I think about it, it seems really exciting to work for myself — I can set my own schedule; do whatever I want; work in my pajamas while watching copious amounts of television; and I can travel.

But everything has a downside. My biggest one? There’s no sick days when you work for yourself. It’s like the court episode of Sex & the City… “I work for myself and no one can cover for me.”

I feel like I’m always telling you readers that I have no idea what’s coming up — which is really weird for me to say because I’m a planner and a strategist. But I really don’t know. Every week around here is so different from the last; so in a month, I sure as hell don’t know.

I do know that I finally had a Sunday off (pictured above) and I slept in for the first time in months. I also took a nap! It is a luxury I haven’t had in awhile.

I also know that I’ve got a few big meetings this week, and I’m nervous and excited all at once. You know what they say, when one door closes, another one opens…

6/50 Shades: Blushing Sequin.

Spring is on its way, bring on the brights!

Spring is on its way, bring on the brights!

I know I can’t be the only one dragging ass this morning after LOSING an entire hour yesterday — so sad. But the good news is, spring is on the way, and that means summer is just around the corner (especially true if you live in the South. Spring is, like, a day).

Regardless, I hope y’all had a fantastic weekend. I did have to work some shifts, but I was also able to get in a workout and a yoga session, which felt great!

I also tried out a new shade of pink! This one is by L’Oreal Paris and is part of the Colour Riche line, called Blushing Sequin — I love a sequin, so I was really excited to try this color.

Although it looks very bright and bold in the tube, it’s a very nice shade of pink. I will definitely be wearing this one again.

What I’ve noticed, so far, about L’Oreal lipsticks, is that while they aren’t glossy, they do have a creamy texture (see my post on L’Oreal’s Pink Cashmere), which is very rare for a lipstick. This keeps my lips from feeling dry — usually I but on a balm first, but with this lipstick, I didn’t have to. Score!

What bright hues are you looking forward to wearing this spring? Let’s hear it!

Baring it all, in business?

A topless picture I sent 10 years ago, has come back... in a business proposal.

A topless picture I sent 10 years ago, has come back… in a business proposal.

A few weeks ago, I received an email from a guy I went to high school with — you may remember him as the guy who wrote this email about me. To make a long story short, it’s a guy I had a massive crush on for years, but for some reason he was terrible to me.

Because of my A. faith in people and their ability to change, and 3. my wavering level of self-confidence, we have kept in touch over the years, though I haven’t seen him in about 10. A little more than a year ago, I stopped communicating with him because he often made me feel bad about myself.

He’s made it clear that he thinks my career is a joke, my life is boring, and he’s got no problem bragging to me about how great everything is for him.

Enter: the email. It was formally written, as he said he knows we’re “not on good terms,” but he was in a position to hire a writer and thought of me (not sure why, but whatevs). He described the project as lucrative.

He also said he hoped that this business deal would somehow mend our friendship, but if I told him to “fuck off,” then he would understand.

After thinking on it for a day, I replied to him, touching on only the business matter at hand. I’m always looking for more, new writing work, so if in fact his proposal was legit, then let’s play ball.

I heard from him a few days later, On Valentine’s Day, via text, saying he was still working out plans on the writing deal.

Then, he started sending me a variety of photos that I wasn’t really sure what I was looking at: various office pictures of some sort, of dogs under desks, people sleeping in weird places, and motivational sayings taped to a glass wall. I didn’t reply.

Then he asked me if I was single for Valentine’s Day, but I had fallen asleep.

When I woke up the next morning, he’d sent me another picture. It was one I’d sent him 10 years ago — a topless photo.

He’d sent a text along with it, “I’m single too, but I still have this to look at, get off to, and help me sleep.”

My stomach churned.

I remembered that I’d sent him the picture — not a smart move, but at least my face wasn’t in it — you could even see my dorm room behind my bare chest.

The picture, of course, made me mad. How many phones had he had since then, and he felt it necessary to save the picture on each phone? But the photo also made me very sad. It was a sign of my past — a time when I did a lot of things to either please people, or get their attention. And for years, I desperately wanted his attention.

I wrote him back and told him that all at once, I remembered why our friendship was over, and that I was no longer interested in the business deal.

I’ve been thinking a lot about my past lately (read last week’s column for further proof), and although I’m getting better at making sound decisions regarding my emotions, it will always be a working journey for me.

The fact of the matter is, as a dating columnist and blogger, there are a lot of people out there that know things about me, that they wouldn’t know otherwise. Most of the time, this doesn’t bother me at all — until I want to get a “serious” writing gig.

I get nervous when I make a pitch — afraid they’ll Google me and see the secrets I’ve shared, that Playboy audition, or my weaknesses in finding a decent man — I’m afraid they’ll judge me; box me in as a fluff writer and call it a day.

I will probably suffer from that battle until I find a job (or jobs) that celebrate the entire me. But that’s the struggle any creative finds himself in. Every blog, every article, poem, one-liner, painting, collection… it’s out there to be judged by those who know nothing of the sort.

That is the risk we take, in order to fulfill our passion.

While I’m not proud of that picture I took 10 years ago (it wasn’t my last, but let’s be real), I can only be proud of the moves I’m making today — the ones that don’t involve the toxic people, in life and in business.

Things I’ve learned from ‘Boy Meets World’

Life lessons from 'Boy Meets World'

Life lessons from ‘Boy Meets World’

I’m not afraid to admit that I watch a lot of stupid shit on TV. I work hard, every single day, I do “serious” things all the time, so when it comes to TV, I don’t mind a little brainless action. “Boy Meets World” is one of the less-stupid things I watch.

I’m the lucky owner of the seasons on DVD, and when you think about the fact that it was only on for seven seasons, there were a TON of life-lessons packed in there! Here’s a few things I’ve learned:

  • Mr. Feeny is awesome. If we could all have a George Feeny in our lives — could we be SO lucky? At some points, it gets a little (okay really) crazy, like when Feeny becomes qualified to be a college professor, but ultimately, Feeny is always there for Cory and the gang.
  • People change. One thing that gets on my nerves about this show is that Cory and Topanga always claim they’ve always loved each other. In fact, no they haven’t. Cory thought she was weird and wanted nothing to do with her when they were kids. And sure, all boys hate all girls when they’re kids. But hello, Cory and Topanga = true love, forever.
  • Everyone had a Mr. Turner. Okay, so maybe that teacher of yours didn’t have an earring and a motorcycle, but the “cool” teacher is so necessary — the one that reminds you learning isn’t so bad, and not all teachers are soulless.
  • Opposites do attract. A few times throughout the show, the fact that Cory and Shawn come from different backgrounds, yet remain best friends, comes up. And it also resurfaces when Shawn’s half-brother Jack shows up. People are always surprised when different folks get on together, but it CAN happen and in real life, it happens all the time.
  • Getting married in college is a terrible idea. COME AT ME. But let’s not forget that absolutely disgusting apartment Cory and Topanga had when they got married (ahem, eloped). No, thank you.

And because it’s Thursday (meaning, tomorrow is Friday), I’m going to leave you with my favorite episode of Boy Meets World: City Slackers. You’re welcome.

Survival Guide: Meeting the parents.

Dont "Fock" it up!

Dont “Fock” it up!

It’s been a really long time since I’ve met someone’s parents, but it’s always something I’ve considered myself good at. Why? Mainly because I’m an only-child (I’m not spoiled, swear) and growing up, I spent more time talking to adults than kids my own age. Plus, I love hearing stories — and parents are full of them.

The last time I met “the parents” was actually around this time of year — two years ago. It was Easter Sunday, and my then-boyfriend and I met his mom and dad at church. Of course, I was nervous, but more about going to church than actually meeting his parents. Nonetheless, it went well and his parents actually ended up meeting my mom a month later.

But enough about him… and them. I really got to thinking about “meeting the parents” last week as I watched The Bachelor (don’t judge). It was the “hometown dates” episode where the bachelor visits the four remaining girls in their hometowns and meets their families.

What’s always annoyed me about this part of the show (among other things), is that a majority of the families aren’t divorced — which is impressively awesome — but it seems unreal. Secondly, their homes are usually massive and gorgeous…anyone else wondering if it’s staged?

If I were on the show, there’d be no point in visiting my hometown because no one in my family even lives there — and my parents are divorced, and in fact live hours apart from each other.

The fact is, that is the person you’re dating is at all close to their family, then you’re eventually going to meet them. For me, I am close to my mom and it is important for her to meet someone I’m seeing. But we live 15 hours away from each other. So in our case, meeting the parents is a little less traditional.

So, when it comes down to it, how do you survive meeting the parents? I’ve got you covered:

  1. Get the details. Where are you meeting them? What are they like? What do they know about you?
  2. Dress appropriately. A lot of this will depend on where you’re meeting them. But in any case, wear something you feel comfortable and confident in. Per usual, vote for dressing up rather than dressing down.
  3. Bring it. If it seems appropriate, bring something — perhaps a bottle of wine (if they drink), baked goods (try these white chocolate macadamia cookies), or even flowers.
  4. Turn on the charm. Don’t go overboard, after all, you want them to like you for YOU. But present the best version of yourself there is. Make a good impression!
  5. Seal the deal. Don’t forget to tell them “thank you” and that it was nice meeting them. Hopefully it won’t be the last time you get in with the family!

What are your tips and experiences meeting the parents? Share them in the comments. And hey, I just joined Instagram, so follow me @OrangeJulius7

Celebrating John Hughes.

John Hughes chats with Ferris Bueller's Day Off star, Matthew Broderick.

John Hughes chats with Ferris Bueller’s Day Off star, Matthew Broderick.

Today, I wanted to celebrate my favorite screenwriter, John Hughes, as today would’ve been his 65th birthday! Hughes wrote two of my favorite movies — Home Alone and Ferris Bueller’s Day Off — among many others, including The Breakfast Club, Pretty in Pink, Uncle Buck, and National Lampoon’s Vacation.

He went to high school in Illinois (fellow Midwesterner!), and his high school would become the inspiration for several of his films. But before his movie career, he wrote jokes for comedians, including Joan Rivers, and also served as ad copywriter.

I’m going to do all my movies here in Chicago. The ‘Tribune’ referred to me as a ‘former Chicagoan.’ As if, to do anything, I had to leave Chicago. I never left. I worked until I was 29 at the Leo Burnett advertising agency, and then I quit to do this. This is a working city, where people go to their jobs and raise their kids and live their lives. 

—John Hughes

Vacation was his first success in written film, and Sixteen Candles was his first success as a director — it kicked off his string of movies geared around high schoolers. His biggest commercial success was Home Alone.

I’ve always loved Home Alone and Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, and it took me years to discover they were both written by Hughes, despite obvious similarities — both are set in Chicago suburbia, both focus around a character that wants to suspend his normal life, get away from his family, only to get what he wants, and realize that what he has is ultimately good. Both movies utilize intense monologues. And both movies are, of course, hilarious.

Aside from being the writer for some of my favorite movies, I look up to Hughes for writing more than 30 screenplays — I’ve wanted to get into screenwriting for a long time. I can appreciate any writer who takes what they know, even if it’s something as simple as life in high school, and turn it into a great piece of work, let alone a pop culture phenomenon.

I’d rather stir controversy than just… fade away.

—John Hughes, 1950-2009

The Oscars did a beautiful tribute to John in 2010, featuring several of the lead actors and actresses in his iconic films:

To learn more about John Hughes’ timeless films, check out Entertainment Weekly’s article, “John Hughes’ 12 Essential Films.”

Even singletons have love.

Don't hide your feelings, single people!

Don’t hide your feelings, single people!

As a child, Valentine’s Day was marked with gifts. There was a party at school, my dad would buy something for my mom, and my parents would get me one of those heart-shaped boxes of truffles.

Since then, my parents divorced, my dad decided that Valentine’s Day was “just for women,” and he quit talking me to altogether.

As an adult, I’ve spent several Februaries being bitter that I didn’t have a Valentine, until one year, I did.

It was many years ago, my boyfriend and I joined each other on his back stoop, drinking wine from a liter bottle. Eventually, I got drunk and decided climbing his fence was a superb idea — I ended up falling, but he was there to catch me.

I was so in love with him, and I’m certain I haven’t loved someone quite that much since. I didn’t need a gift; I just wanted his company.

Though it didn’t last for us, I’ve spent recent Februaries reminding myself that love comes in many forms — romantic love is just one of them.

Last year, I went on a first date Valentine’s Day night. It was probably a terrible curse, considering the kiss at the end of the date was one of the worst I’ve ever had.

But, there’s something to be said about celebrating the holiday, even if you’re single. After all, I hate feeling left out.

Valentine’s Day falls on a Saturday this year, meaning every decent food joint in the city will be packed with couples. Skip the smooch-fest and do something you like instead — see a movie, hit the spa, or invite your friends over for dinner.

This year, I decided to tell those in my life how much I love them by way of homemade Valentines. I remember how fun it was to get little red and pink cards as a kid, so why not bring that joy back?

A trip to Hobby Lobby, a pound of glitter later, and I’d made cards for my coworkers, my workout partners, my friends, and maybe a crush (or two).

I owe one to Papa Murphy’s for making those heart-shaped pizzas every February, too. I adore them.

These are the people in my life, and if they weren’t there, I’d be one sad gal. We don’t say it enough.

And if you’re reading this, I love you, too. If I had your address, I’d mail you one of my crafty cards.

If you’re lucky enough to have romantic love in your life this Valentine’s Day, I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a little envious.

But hey, there’s always next year. Just be sure to tell them how much you love them; because romantic love, the good, honest kind, is rare and special.

On Valentine’s Day, I haven’t quite decided what I’ll do. I might have to work, maybe I’ll hit the gym, or perhaps I’ll indulge in something sweet. Regardless, it’s just another day in my life — a life I think I’m finally starting to love.