My First Apartment

“Do you remember when you were young and you wanted to set the world on fire?” ~Against Me!, I Was a Teenage Anarchist

I graduated college when I was 22. When I graduated, I knew I wanted a change of scenery. I lived in St. Louis my entire life and was ready to find out what it was like to live somewhere else. After I graduated, I took a crappy office job to pay the bills. I needed money and a job I could easily leave once I found my ticket out of town. I graduated in May, and my ticket arrived that August. I received a call from one of my best buds living in Chicago. It was a simple question and an easy answer. “Hey. One of my roommates is moving out at the end of September. Do you still want to move up here?” The answer was yes. An immediate yes. I was going to be living in a three bedroom apartment with two male roommates – both already good friends of mine.

The following October 1st, I printed some resumes, packed whatever I could fit in my car and drove 300 miles to Chicago alone. I had $600. I can’t fully explain the wave of emotions and empowerment I felt leaving a stable life behind to see what else was out there. It was absolutely liberating.

When I pulled up to my apartment, my bud was there waiting. I immediately knew I made the right decision. We unloaded my car and had some beers…pretty much setting the tone for the next year of what life would be like in my new home. That year was fueled with booze, jokes, laughing, late night food, wheel barrel bonfires and rooftop fireworks. I think when you’re 22, this is the best time to do all of these things. It turns out you can get away with a lot of bad behavior when your neighbor is a drug dealer who doesn’t give a shit, and your landlord doesn’t renew the lease of the people in the apartments above you. Here are some things you would have witnessed on any given weekend in my first apartment:

  • You would have seen my friends chop up old furniture found in the storage units left by old tenants with a samurai sword in the middle of the living room. Not on the floor. No, no. That’s boring. Someone would have been holding up a chair in the air while another person swung the sword. I have no idea how we have all of our limbs.
  • You would have seen my friends and I take that chopped up furniture, put it in a wheel barrel we found from somewhere and set it all on fire. You might have also seen my bud push it around the yard while the flames were in full force.
  • It’s possible you would have walked in the backyard and witnessed two dudes naked in a kiddie pool attempting to start a whirl pool…at 8am after drinking champagne all night.
  • At the time, I was the only one in the house with a 9-5 job. So you would have seen my bud come home hammered from his bar job, kick open my bedroom door and yell, “Wake up, bitch! Lets do some shots!” This was usually around 3am. I woke up for work at 6am. A handful of times, you would have seen me actually get up and do shots with him. Ok, more than a handful.
  • After a minor bike accident (where my bud was trying to race me home on his bike. I was in a cab….), you would have seen our drunk selves laughing while trying to turn paper towels and duct tape into Band-Aids.
  • When we had nothing better to do, we would sneak to the rooftop of our building, which we were specifically told was off limits, and shoot off bottle rockets into the condos being built across the street.
  • While I was out of town you would have seen my bud rub his butt on the handle of the doorknob to my bedroom door and leave a note on my dresser telling me what I just touched when I got home. You also would have seen the sign he left on my pillow…”I farted on one of your pillows. Guess which one?”

What else? Who knows? It was all documented on film that was later stolen from my second apartment. We keep waiting for these videos to show up on YouTube. Between the videos and pictures, I could never run for office. I’m glad. It means I lived. I think all 22 year olds should get a year to act a fool before the pains of true adulthood kick in. I credit that apartment and experience for so many things. It opened my eyes to a new world, new people, new friends, gave me a new perspective on life, and, despite the stories to the contrary, it helped me grow up. It’s one of those years I will reflect on and appreciate for the rest of my life.

Brazilian, Bikini or Bush?

“Do you know what it’s like to not know a single thing about yourself, and it’s all your fault?” ~Lifetime, What She Said

When you have the same partner for years upon years, you get used to the way each other look naked. You cater to what their likes and dislikes are to keep the attraction alive. At least that’s how I rolled. When that relationship spans a decade, you completely stop paying attention to what the single kids are doing and focus on each other. As you should. Then when that relationship ends, the thought of a new person seeing you naked for the first time hits you. It can be jarring along with exciting and terrifying…depending on how you feel about yourself.

For me, I thought…oh shit…I have to do this first time thing all over again? Naturally, I began to express these concerns to my sister while picking myself apart. She immediately squashed that hate talk as a good sister does. Seriously though, I felt so out of the loop on what was happening in the single world in terms of nakedness. What were guys and gals into these days? I took it to the streets to ask folks and find out. By streets I mean brunch. And by folks I mean my best girlfriends.

They informed me the trend with young, single ladies was full on bald vaginas. My response? “Bald? Like having sex with a prepubescent child? Guys are into that? I don’t think I want to have sex with someone who finds kid vaginas attractive.” Naturally the conversation snowballed into who does what waxing and how often. Then came the stories of pain and horror. Here are some of those stories:

  • One friend left halfway through a Brazilian because it hurts so bad. The woman said, “What about your husband?” My friend’s response, “Fuck him!” What did the lady do? She patted her vagina and said, “You remind me of my daughter.” I mean…
  • One of my friends had a new esthetician performing her Brazilian. She noticed the woman make a face and then add more wax to a layer she already applied. When she tried removing, something wasn’t right. More wax was applied. When she tried removing it again, pain. Full on pain, and the wax wouldn’t come off. The esthetician left and brought someone else in the room. Apparently she left the wax on too long and kept adding more thinking it would warm up the wax below. That’s not a thing, and my poor friend was the victim of her terrible troubleshooting. She was left to endure some severe pain getting it off.
  • One girlfriend’s feedback was short and to the point. “Oh. It’s fucking awful.”
  • My last bit of advice was, “Yeah. It sucks, but you get used to it.” I could deal with that.

Despite these horror stories, the newly single me wanted a new look. It became clear I had some vagina decisions to make. I have a high pain tolerance, but how much could I handle in my swimsuit area? What kind of esthetician would I have and would she cross some weird territory into comparing my business to someone else’s? Will she be ok walking me through my options? Turns out yes, and I hit the jackpot. She’s the best! I checked around for some recommendations, and I received the same one from a couple people. I made my appointment…

I should note I was in the height of my sad turning to anger stage of healing from my divorce, so I wasn’t really a terribly happy person at the time of my first appointment. I was confused in all aspects of my life, so I naturally overthought this experience. She couldn’t have been lovelier. She talked me through my awkward questioning and settled on a plan. It was emotionally painless. It was not hair removal painless. Breathing techniques were involved. Some relationship venting was involved. All was good, and I felt pretty damn great once it was all over. Actually, I sort of felt like a badass. It’s hard to believe I look forward to having a spotlight on my vagina while hair is being ripped off every few weeks, but I do! That’s the point of self care, I guess. If you consider ripping hair from your most sensitive area self care. Which I now do. (It’s also the result of my kickass esthetician.)

It’s worth a try if you’ve never done it. Us women are tough cookies so don’t think for a second you couldn’t handle it. Also, I read somewhere that the bald trend is going away. Good. I have no interest in sleeping with you if you’re into that.

Stripper Poem

“Shawty had them apple bottom jeans, boots with the fur. The whole club was looking at her…” ~Flo Rida, Low

I went to Catholic school. From kindergarten until my senior year of high school, I was an angst-filled, plaid skirt wearing student with a dream of one day not being forced to attend church and prayer assemblies. Was it really that bad? Well, yes and no. I was in a pretty safe environment, but it was also a very controlled environment. I have a natural inclination to immediately find a way to bend the rules without going too far in these scenarios. Some may call that an issue with authority. I call it trying to keep a sense of individualism. Tomato, tomata.

It was hard to find ways to step out of line and not get detention or in trouble in my schools. Our teachers had rulers to measure lengths of our skirts and wearing the wrong shirt color was obvious. All of those things gave you “demerits” in my school. Five of those got you into detention. We all had to carry a demerit card on us. If you didn’t have it on you when a teacher wanted to issue one, you immediately got sent to the principal’s office. Ditching class, bad language, showing up high or drug dealing were pretty much guaranteed detention or worse. I had to find a way to pay for college. These shenanigans weren’t an option for me to get me to where I needed to go. So how does one skirt the rules? For me, it was English class. Let me explain…

I had an English teacher my sophomore year who was a nun. Sister Barbara. I think it’s safe to say she did not like me. I could almost feel her cringe every time I turned in my papers. I always met the assignment requirements and turned everything in on time or early. She had to grade accordingly. What she wasn’t happy about was my subject matter. This is where I opted to not pretend I fully agreed with the books, the teachings of the church or her social views…anything in which I had a difference of opinion…to get a good grade. This was creative writing. I was going to get creative. My favorite moment? The time we had an in-class poetry assignment. I paired up with one of my best friends who was a bit of a wild child. As we sat there trying to think of what to write about, our brainstorming went in the direction of “wouldn’t it be funny if we wrote about (insert inappropriate topics here), and she read it out loud in class?” Yes! Yes, that would be funny. Knowing the likelihood she wouldn’t pick my paper to read out loud on purpose, we went for it. Giggling, we wrote our poem and turned it in.

Typically, Sister Barbara chose this chick Mary’s stuff to read in class. Mary wanted to become a nun. It made sense. Today, for reasons unknown but so grateful for, Sister Barbara decided to get a little crazy, mix up the papers and randomly pick one with her eyes closed. You know where I’m going with this. Our poem was the first one she picked. I thought I might pee my pants as she read the first line of our poem “The Dancer” clearly about a stripper, in perfect iambic pentameter might I add…from both laughter and fear.

It took Sister Barbara until about line three or so before she realized what she was reading. It was written vague enough that we could talk ourselves out of trouble, but there was no mistaking it. The changing look on her face from smile to disgust was perfectly timed with the slowing of her voice. She turned in our direction looking at us while she finished reading it. I couldn’t look at her because I would have started laughing and maybe never stopped therefore revealing and admitting, yes…our dancer was not a ballerina.

I’ll tell you this though. That Catholic guilt is a motherfucker. Say what you want, but even if you’re not religious, if you went to Catholic school it creeps in. I envisioned the phone call to my mom. I mentally cancelled my weekend plans. But nothing happened. I have no idea why she never said anything. Perhaps instead of sending us to the office she thought we needed prayers. Maybe she was just too embarrassed to talk to anyone about it. I have no idea. All I know is I wish I still had my handwritten copy so I could share it with you. I’m pretty sure that sucker was in the bottom of the trash as soon as the bell rang.

People Watching

“Do you ever feel like you just landed on this earth? See the creatures all do their dances back and forth. You get restless and then you join them on the floor. Suddenly it’s tomorrow. It’s not today anymore.” ~Nada Surf, Hi-Speed Soul

I recently had an old friend come to town, and we decided to have one of our “tourist in your own city” weekends. Man, it was eye-opening. My days are pretty scheduled and/or low key, and I have given up dealing with the hustle of downtown Chicago on the weekends or going to crowded beaches to avoid tourists. I did all of the things I avoid last weekend, and holy smokes…people are bizarre. I mean that in the best way because I had free entertainment for hours.

We went to North Avenue beach, which I am pretty sure I have only been to one other time. Maybe two. I hated it then (too crowded and not my scene) and was almost certain I would hate it now. After melting for about an hour or so on the beach listening to the conversation of a group of gentlemen next to us (and being a bit appalled by their comments on girls that look “barely legal”), we went to Castaways. I’ve never been here because of the douche bag and tourist reputation. It’s a boat-shaped restaurant and bar. My friend wanted to go, and if you drive five hours to have drinks with me, I’ll take you where you want to go. We lucked out and found a table that was located close to the DJ booth and dance floor. I say lucked out because it gave us the perfect view to the daytime shenanigans happening on the dance floor. We planned to stay for one drink and stayed for three. This is what was happening:

  • As soon as we sat down, a guy walked by wearing a tank top saying “Sleeves are bullshit.” I knew it was only going up from there.
  • There were several bachelorette parties. You knew who the brides were as all of them had what appeared to be mini veils pinned to the back of their bikini bottoms. The first was a group of girls wanting to dance but clearly not drunk enough yet. It was casual swaying while sipping drinks, not making eye contact with one another and looking to see who was watching them. Who was watching them? These guys…
  • The bachelor party on the other side of the dance floor. There was one guy we couldn’t stop watching. He was probably around 5’8″, decent build and insecure as all get out. He stood there puffing out his chest, sucking in his stomach and flexing while drinking his beer. He kept staring over at the girls and inching his way over to them then slipping back to the safety of his group. He walked by my table at some point and I noticed his wedding ring. His wife is lucky…
  • The second bachelorette party was hilarious, already hammered and got everyone else dancing. The mom of the bride was the target for all of the guys looking to make their way into the group of bikini clad ladies. They would grab her and spin her in circles while trying to creep on the other girls. No one paid attention to the dudes and the mom had fun. Well done ladies.
  • The third bachelorette party all wore these bright pink sun hats and were also hilarious. The second and third lady party ended up mingling and, if I recall, tried starting a failed conga line. Where were you on that one bachelor party? Free booty grabs! Fail on their part.
  • I saw a large man walk in with a shirt that had a cartoon animal on it with a conversation bubble stating, “I put my thang down flip it and reverse it.” I never get mad at Missy Elliott lyrics.
  • An Indian couple start doing some Bali dancing in the middle of the booty shakers, and it was awesome. Everyone else thought so, too.
  • The older gentleman (I’m guessing in his 60s) at the table next to us made eye contact with me and started mouthing rap lyrics and was encouraging us to engage him in some partying while busting out his best “raising the roof” dance move.

That’s when we called it a day. We were having fun minding our own business. When the dance party starting encroaching on our observation party, we asked for the check. Who knew this is what was happening on the weekends while I was at home wondering if anyone wants to meet me for brunch?

The next day we gave day one a run for its money…

  • We got even more Chicago and went to the Billy Goat Tavern while waiting for our turn to board the architecture tour. I take my friends to only the classiest of places. I ordered a Schlitz…like a lady. Nothing oozes Chicago more to me than the regulars at the original Billy Goat. If you end up making conversation with them, they will always tell you this is where John Belushi used to hang out and how this is the only location where you can’t get fries. “You can get fries at the other locations, but this is the original!”
  • On our way to the architecture tour, I noticed a woman exchanging numbers with the guy who poses as the Tin Man for tourists.
  • Another woman was pleasantly gazing out over the river. It was a bit windy that day, and her dress kept flying up in the back. To give you a visual, I knew she wasn’t wearing underwear. At first we thought it was just a one time thing. But it kept happening, and there were no more secrets between us and this stranger. While hilarious, I did walk over and tell her the wind was lifting her dress a little high in the back. She thanked me.
  • We saw a woman screaming and yelling at some bushes to “get out of here.” I don’t blame her. They were sort of ugly and served no purpose.
  • On our boat tour we had the pleasure of watching other folks partying on their boats. One guy caught our attention. He was dancing like a wild man while facing his two friends on the boat. They didn’t seem impressed. Actually, no one was. The guys sitting next to me also happened to be watching him and said, “What is he doing?” I guess abs and a nice tan don’t override terrible dancing.

The day continued on like this, and I became increasingly aware of how boring I am. Then I wondered what some of those wonderful weirdos thought about me walking down the street. Is there something about my presence that would cause a chuckle? Do I care? Not at all.

I think I need to get out of my comfort zone more. This weekend was the best I’ve had in a long time. I guess my lesson learned from last weekend was one I learned many moons ago…Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it. (Sorry. It felt rude not to end a Chicago story with a Ferris Bueller quote.)

Fresh Old Wounds

“Through the dawn I’d seen it, too. I caught a glimpse I thought was you. And I was overwhelmed. Lightning blue eyes against the daylight.” ~Secret Machines, Lightning Blue Eyes

How can simple words, a song, a smell…bring up old wounds and make them feel so fresh again? So raw? Months, years maybe, could go by and one scent or song teleports those wounds in the exact spot you’re standing. You feel the needles in your cells. You feel your heart race. Your breath feels heavy, then fast. You try not to cry. You push back the tears. You try to stop your chest from rising and falling so fast.

I was listening to some music while sifting through some old boxes of photos recently when a song came on I nearly forgot about. It was Lightning Blue Eyes by Secret Machines. This was a band introduced to me by my ex. I started sobbing. What the hell, right? I got a little worried about my own reaction. I had no idea where these emotions were hiding.

I questioned. Why am I so upset? (I started to panic a little.) Why does it feel like I reliving the worst of times? I’m looking at photos of me laughing! How do I make it stop?

Good question. How do you make it stop? Does it ever stop? Every day I’ve put one foot in front of the other. I’m happy again. I feel like myself again. I did a mental run down….I grieved. Check. I got angry. I tried to keep it in under control, but I was certainly angry. Check. I’ve accepted things for what they are. That was one of the final steps towards healing, I’m pretty sure. Check. So…what is happening? Honestly, I’m still not sure.

I recalled previous times when I think back to the old volleyball days or high school and get sentimental about them. I’ve laughed and cried over that, so perhaps this was a similar deal. Right or wrong, here is what I did:

I talked myself down. I’m human. I’m not regressing. Perhaps it’s just a gentle reminder to not make the same mistake. Not to let the wrong person in again. Maybe the wound resurgence is one of life’s tests. A pop quiz. Maybe life thought…she’s been working hard and got her life together…let’s see if she remembers how to react to shit she learned last semester.

I remembered who I am and how I could probably lift a car now from all of the strength I’ve built up over the last year. I remembered what I want out of life. These pictures weren’t that life. I remembered how far I’ve come and where I’m going. Then thanked my lucky scars for helping me get there.

When You Meet a Nice Guy So Naturally Get Suspicious

“There comes a time, in a short life. Turn it around, get a rewrite.” ~Cold War Kids, First

My dating and relationship history is not good. I dated immature bozos and consequently unsuccessfully married one. Why did I date these guys? I have no idea. That’s not true. I know why. They were funny and bended the rules on life. I love both of those things. What those things weren’t paired with was honesty, loyalty, true love and respect. Those are some pretty big gaps in a relationship, and since I am not used to them…I get a little suspicious when I meet someone with those qualities. I mean, I know these exist; they just haven’t been my personal experience. Let me explain with examples of behavior and sample conversation.

Here is an average conversation I would have with my ex after getting dolled up to go out:

Ex: (playing video games and not looking at me) You ready?

Me: Yep! (waiting for him to look in my general direction and perhaps say I looked nice)

Ex: Ok. Let’s go. Can you drive? (He may or may not have made eye contact with me.)

Me: Sure. (Actually, not cool. Did he notice me? Or is he not saying anything because he doesn’t have anything nice to say?)

Ex: Cool. The sleeves are kind of weird on that shirt.

This is a recent experience I had:

New person: You’re beautiful.

Me: (quickly looks at myself and wondering what his angle is…or wait, do you think he means it? Is he being nice because he just wants to fuck me? Do I care if that’s the reason? This dude just told me I’m beautiful. Say something!) Thank you!

Here is a list of things from various relationships I have put up with in the past and thought was normal:

  • Silent treatment for no reason
  • Playing video games online with pre-teens and cursing at them (for hours) then complaining to me when he was wasted he doesn’t get enough time to play video games
  • Putting thousands of dollars on my credit card for tattoos then complaining we didn’t have money for vacation
  • Criticizing my appearance
  • Getting so drunk nearly every time we went out that I have to carry him into the house while he is saying mean things…then of course doesn’t remember in the morning
  • Taking his turn being the designated driver then proceeding to match me drink for drink and get mad at me for expressing concern; inevitably I would stop drinking and be the designated driver anyway
  • Passive aggressive controlling
  • Jealousy over guy friends I’ve had for years and demanded I no longer speak with them

Crazy, right? What the hell is the matter with me? I wish the enlightened me could go back and smack stupid, sad me. I got accustomed to being treated with second hand love that I thought that’s what I deserved. When a nice guy comes along and sees me as this kickass woman, it causes a double-take and questioning. I wonder what his motivation is rather than accepting the compliment. This is sad. I deserve more. It took me a minute, but I now know I deserve the nice guy. It feels amazing, and I’m not looking back.

When you’ve dated bozos because they’re exciting and somewhat unpredictable…that’s what you get…unpredictability. When you’re growing up and wanting to put substance in your life, these are not the guys that are going to make you happy. Is it fun at first? Yes, but they’re not going to give you what you need or, most importantly, what you deserve. Is it attractive at first? Yes. Excitement is hot, but it’s superficial. You’re not superficial. After a certain amount of time, you have to figure this out and either accept your life are those bullet points above or get the hell out. I chose the latter.

You know what’s hot to me now? A guy who shows up. A guy who calls and doesn’t play the stupid wait three days before contacting game. A guy who is career motivated. A guy who knows what he wants. A guy who respects women. A guy who is HAPPY. That’s hot.

Are you wondering what happened with the “new guy” from our skit above that told me I was beautiful? This guy bought me a drink, offered to buy me a second one (I declined so as to not get too drunk talking to him) asked me about myself and was a true gentleman. He didn’t overstay his welcome. He didn’t say anything creepy or sleazy, so yes…he got my number. Did he wait three days before texting/calling? No. He didn’t. The first message came the next day. That’s what I’m talking about! Or texting about, rather.

My mom once told me that what I allow in a relationship is what will continue. She’s right. I would like to add to that, what you think you deserve is what you’re going to get. If you think you deserve the best, he’ll find you. What you are looking for is looking for you, too. Be patient. It will happen.

When I Say Hoosier I Don’t Mean Someone From Indiana

“Peach fuzz mustache, butt cut. El Camino pick-up truck. Aerosmith, Loverboy, Motley Crue. Holding hands just me and you.” ~MU330, Hoosier Love

I grew up in St. Louis, and I’ve noticed St. Louisans (Is that a word? If not, it is now.) have their own way of speaking. Many cities and towns do, but St. Louis has one word that the rest of the country defines in a completely different way. Hoosier. When I say that word, you probably think of someone from Indiana. The Hoosier State. You would be wrong. At least in St. Louis. In St. Louis this word is meant to describe someone others define as redneck, hick or white trash. To put it in context, here are some of the ways in which the word is used:

  • That’s sooo hoosier.
  • Oh, that bar? It’s a total hoosier bar.
  • That guy needs to put a shirt on! What a hoosier!
  • Did you see that mullet? What a hoosh! (This is the shortened version of our STL slang.)
  • Oh, you grew up in south city? Isn’t that neighborhood full of hoosiers?

You get the idea. If you Google St. Louis Hoosier, I’m sure you can find some visuals. I didn’t want to post one because I don’t want to give the impression I am making fun. I’m not. I’m part hoosier myself. This is a term I used my entire life and still do. When I moved to Chicago, I forgot my definition was not universal. I got weird looks from people, and I would get questions on why I hated Indiana so much. Even after I explained they would get it…but not really.

I never really questioned how St. Louis got started using this term. My minimal internet searches said it stemmed from a strike that occurred in St. Louis in the 1930’s. Workers were supposedly brought in from Indiana to fill in for the strikers. The term was not used as a compliment from that point on. Supposedly.

However, I will say this. Much like Indiana, there are some folks in St. Louis who wear the term like a badge of honor. They’re proud of their low brow self and give zero fucks if you like their jean shorts, no shirt, bad tattoos and Busch Light. Why? Because fuck you, they’re having a good time just livin’. You can go to your fancy sushi restaurants and drink your wine, but they’ll be in their yard grilling and chilling comfortably like a mother fucker. So long as there is a cooler of beer, they’re having a good time. You don’t need to go out of your way to try and impress a hoosier. They’d prefer it if you don’t, actually. You just need to provide a place where they can wear comfortable clothes, have a few cold beers, listen to good tunes and keep their good times attitude. It’s really that simple.

Being that I grew up in south city for the first 23 years of my life…I will forever have a little bit of the hoosier in me. It keeps me grounded. I’ve opened up my world and have experienced the high end lifestyle and everything in between. Being part hoosier keeps everything into perspective. It doesn’t allow you to take yourself too seriously. This is a good thing.

I get asked sometimes when I introduce my St. Louis friends to my Chicago friends why they’re so fun and awesome. I often hear, “They’re so down to earth and treated me like we were old friends.” I just say it’s because they’re from St. Louis. But what I really mean is, we have a little bit of that hoosier lifestyle in us. That’s just how we roll. Everyone is a friend and everywhere can be turned into a good time.

The Bearer of Bad News

“Learning to walk again. I believe I’ve waited long enough. Where do I begin?” ~Foo Fighters, Walk

If there is one thing I learned people hate to be over the last year it’s this…the bearer of bad news. When a marriage ends, it’s pretty common for one person to move on almost immediately. I’ve seen it and experienced it first hand. This causes confusion and stress for the mutual friends of the broken couple/marriage. What do they tell the person who chose to heal and deal instead of jump into a relationship? Do they “protect” them and tell them nothing or let them know what’s going on so they’re not caught off guard? When I say what’s going on, I don’t mean spew every detail of the ex’s life. That’s not productive to the healing process. I mean major things such as your ex got a girlfriend right away, your ex moved in with someone or your ex husband is getting married again about a year after your divorce. Things of that nature. Major details you’ll find out anyway but the blow would be lessened coming from a friend and not social media or overheard at a party where you’re trying to enjoy yourself.

It’s tricky, I guess. It takes a lot of courage to tell someone you care about something that may hurt them. It took me a while to figure out the people that will tell you the bad news are not always who you count on, assume or expect. I’ve also discovered not everyone is cut out to deal with these situations. It hurts when you feel let down and like your friends are keeping things from you. I have been doing my best lately to take a step back and put myself in their shoes to feel the discomfort they must feel. It doesn’t make the shortcomings right, but it doesn’t mean they love you any less. Like I said…it’s tricky.

So, who is capable of bearing the bad news? In my experience, it’s the people who have been through what you’ve been through. They get it. They have been on the roller coaster in the front seat. They’ll tell you the tough details without hesitation. They recall moments when they wish someone had been straight with them and will pay it forward. Be thankful for them and tell them so.

I feel like I should write a pamphlet of “bullshit to look forward to when ending your marriage” so people can have a reference.

I think a mistake I made in the aftermath of my divorce was not aligning myself sooner with people who have been through the experience or supported someone through the experience. I guess this is why support groups exist, eh? I probably should have given that a go. Your friends are doing their best, but sometimes they just won’t understand everything you’re going through.

How do you get over the disappointment of not being told pertinent details by your nearest and dearest? Well, that’s really up to you. My advice is to walk yourself through some of the following questions and thoughts:

  • Can you get to a place of understanding, or do you feel strongly it’s a sign they’re not that great of a friend? Only you can make that choice. I suggest you make it with a clear head so you have no regrets.
  • Do you want these friends who are having their own internal struggle as your friends later in life? What has helped me answer that was knowing at some point the actions of my ex won’t mean shit to me. For me, when the answer is yes, I do what I did in the aftermath of the split…deal and heal. Sometimes the answer is no, and I let go. I don’t miss those people.
  • Can you get over the shortcomings and not hold a grudge? If the answer is yes, you really can’t hold a grudge. You HAVE to let it go. No one likes shit being held over their head. If the answer is no, well, then fuck it. Say what you want about them.

You’ll figure it out. Just don’t get drunk and mouthy or fly off the handle before you do. Some things can’t be undone. Be patient and give yourself time to decide.

Side note: I feel like I should write a pamphlet of “bullshit to look forward to when ending your marriage” so people can have a reference. For me, I wasn’t fully prepared to deal with these scenarios because I didn’t know to expect them. It’s exhausting.

My advice to folks who are on the flip side and find themselves in this pickle of do I tell or not…the answer is yes. It’s always yes, and your pal that might get hurt from the news will always prefer to hear it from you. If you define this person as one of your best friends, suck it up. Bring wine. Maybe have a joke ready. But tell them before they find out from any other outlet than your mouth.

If I find myself at a similar crossroad in the future, I’ll know what to do. I’m not thrilled to say I know how to properly handle these situations because it means I’ve been through some shit. However, I’m glad I’m now aware. Statistically speaking, some of my friends are going to get divorced. I now know to put on a brave face, have wine at the ready while being the bearer of bad news.

Modern Romance (is a title from a book I just read)

“There’s no sign of life. It’s just the power to charm. I’m lying in the rain, but I never wave bye-bye. But I try, I try…” ~David Bowie, Modern Love

I took the opportunity while I was on vacation and traveling to read Aziz Ansari’s book Modern Romance. My friends have been suggesting I read it since last summer. My fears of online dating are widely known amongst my friends and family, and I think they thought this would help calm my nerves. They’re adorable. I can’t say it didn’t help. I can’t say it made me want to create an account either…at least not yet. We’ll see what the future brings, or rather what it doesn’t bring resulting in me caving and creating a profile.

What did this book do for me besides make me laugh and maybe not feel so bad about my love life? For starters, it made me think Aziz and I would be good pals. I realize this wasn’t the point, but still. Jokes, love of fresh pasta and taking to multiple sources to research and find the best taco for my taco craving? Mmm hmmm. I feel you, Aziz.

Secondly, it confirmed what I was feeling. I love/hate that technology now plays such a big role in the dating world. I am not a huge fan that texting overrides phone calls when asking someone out. I do like that it allows for easy ways to send someone a quick note to let them know you’re thinking about them. I hate the games played with texting – the time taken to respond to not seem eager or desperate (this is exhausting), the lack of thought put into the conversation and the dudes that forget you’re a person and not a screen. I’ve received some terrible messages and been spoken to in a way I know they would not say to me verbally or in person. (Those numbers are deleted.) On the flip side, he made a point about having documentation of a budding relationship. So, should things work out, you have your awkward and nervous initial conversations right there in front of you to reminisce over. That’s pretty cute.

What else? Ah, the guidance on what not to do should I ever dip into the online dating pool. (Please universe don’t make me do this.) Basically, it’s like this…get off your butt and meet these people. Quit spending so much time messaging back and forth. Once you determine they’re not crazy (this is where I will have the biggest problem – thank you, Dateline!), just go meet them in person. I agree with this, and I think this applies (to me anyway) with texting, too. If it never leads to someone asking the other out, what’s the point? If we have good banter, it’s obvious I’m interested and nothing? Why keep wasting time? I’ll assume you’re truly not interested and move on. I’ll also move on should I be the only one making the effort to keep the conversation going. I feel like a lot of people get stuck here. Too many messages, not enough dates.

Sexting. Still on the fence with this one. I have never had a reason to do this and my thoughts on this are…if you’re going for it just don’t include any parts of you that are unique and identifiable (like tattoos, piercings…your face!) so you can deny, deny, deny… Unless boobs are like snowflakes in that no one is the same, but I think you’re fine here.

Finally, the grass is always greener…until it isn’t. This can get tricky. If you find someone you get along with well enough on a first date, do you go out again or move on because it doesn’t blow your mind and there are so many options (seemingly) available online? According to Aziz’s theory, if you had a nice enough time and the other doesn’t seem like a crazy person, go for date two. I agree with this one. Being that I have mostly encountered losers, creeps and clowns the last year, I would go for date two even if I just had an average amount of fun. Initial conversations are usually overviews. I want to know the good stuff. I feel like date two is where you start learning some good stuff. If you keep going on first date after first date…zzzzz. What? Sorry, I fell asleep from being tired of thinking about only first dates. You get my point.

I think if you’re in a dating rut, scared to death of online dating, confused as to why the dating world looks so different since you were last single or just want some laughs (I just described my life), this is a good read. WARNING:  He talks a lot about his love of food, so you’ll probably be hungry or want to seek out the best place to eat ramen in Japan. Which now I totally do. Who wants to go on a first date to Japan?

Travel Puts Things In To Perspective

“Close your brown eyes and lay down next to me. Close your eyes, lay down. Cause there goes the fear, let it go.” ~The Doves, There Goes the Fear

I spent the last nine days away from home. One personal trip that flowed directly into a work trip. I didn’t realize how much I needed a break from my own life. I have been making an effort to be open and put myself out there in the world, but it’s difficult when you don’t get out of your daily routine and out of your city. You tend to forget there are other people in the world going through what you’re going through. You’re not alone even if it feels like it sometimes. I can’t think of a time in recent years where I came back from a trip and didn’t make a life change, even if it was a small one. My recent trips have encouraged me to practice vulnerability.

I took a trip to California with two of my best friends and had the joy of spending time with old friends who live in the Bay Area. These were all my friends and people I knew before I ever met my ex, committed and got married…then divorced. They were friends that knew me when I was young, dumb and free and somehow nearly 15-20 years later still value my friendship as much as I value theirs. Do you know what that does for you when you are on the upswing of a hard-fought, divorce healing process? It basically shoots you to the moon. I think the best way to put it is that I felt whole again. It was a gentle reminder that I am me. My own person. The person I worked hard to be and am proud of. I’m not this awful event that happened to me or a product of a bad marriage. I can’t recall a time in recent years where I laughed so hard for so many days and felt genuinely loved by people. The happiness I felt somehow brought about the idea that I should stop being so scared to put myself out there and be vulnerable. It’s ok to be vulnerable (I slightly shuddered as I typed that. I’m still having periods of doubt, but I’m committed to trying.) because being vulnerable brought some amazing people in my life.

Vulnerable. Such a tricky word, right? People spend so much time being it, testing it out or straight-up avoiding it. I understand why people avoid it because I did it. I was door #3. It’s scary because you know it means certain rejection (as awesome as you are, not everyone is going to like you) and rejection is usually a bummer. I was bummed out for about 18 months. Being vulnerable at a time of pain and sadness was just too much for me no matter how much I truly wanted to start looking for the right partner. So, for the reasons I just stated, I’ve allowed myself to keep my feelings to myself.

These days I can’t say I’m still hurt, and I’m not sad. I have no excuses. No one is going to want to take a chance on someone emotionally vacant. I’m thirty-something. I can’t walk around admitting I can’t tell a dude how I feel. That’s embarrassing. Who wants a partner or even a friend who can’t say how they feel about them? I don’t, so I can’t be that person. It’s time to put my big girl pants on (so I can eventually take them off with someone. Hey-o!). My nerves may prevent me from perfect execution, but I’m going to at least give it a go. I’ll get there.

Thank you California and friends for taking me out of my own head for several days. Thank you for the beautiful views and friendships that remind me emotional connection and human touch are the things that give our lives meaning. Thank you for giving me the courage to make solid attempts to wear my heart on my sleeve and leave it there no matter what.


You make me dizzy, Miss Lizzy. The way you rock and roll. You make me dizzy, Miss Lizzy. When we do the stroll. Come on, Miss Lizzy. Love me before I grow too old. -The Beatles, Dizzy Miss Lizzy

Father’s Day is this weekend, so I would be a total jerk if I did not share some stories about mine. I have mentioned him in some previous stories like when he used to scare my siblings and I by telling us a dead woman named Rachel lived in the walls of our house, but there is lots more to tell. 

While I learned compassion and how to laugh through the tough times from my mom, I learned discipline, mental toughness, how to bend rules and stand up for myself from my dad. Or, as he would put…not taking shit from anyone. I might have also gotten my potty mouth from him. Mom isn’t pleased about that one. 

In addition to dad duties growing up, my dad was a carpenter and a soccer coach. He coached, very successfully, my brother’s club teams and our grade school soccer teams. You’d think being the coaches daughter, you’d get privileges. Nope. Opposite. I had to work harder because he wanted it clear there was no favoritism. The message was loud and clear for me. In the end, I was a solid player, strong and made Varsity as a freshmen in both soccer and volleyball. While he never coached volleyball, the mental toughness and discipline required for the sport I learned from him. It’s carried me through life and is one of the sole reasons I didn’t lose my shit going through my divorce last year. 

Music. He loves it like my mom loves it. Growing up I was exposed to all the classic rock one could handle. Turns out I can handle a lot! Once when my parents picked me up from the airport on a visit home, I hopped in the car where my dad was in the passenger seat. No hello. The first thing out of his mouth was, “Ok, I have the new Bruce Springsteen or the new Rush.” He was holding the cds up for me to choose for the ride home. My response? “Let’s start with Bruce and go from there. Also, HI!” Dizzy Miss Lizzy by The Beatles was one of my favorite songs as a little girl, and he played it often for me. I wanted it to be our Father/Daughter dance at my wedding. Work injuries prevented him from getting down like that, BUT he is getting both knees replaced. Perhaps at my next wedding, we can rock to my original selection. 

Beers. He’s always down to have one with you. 

Grilling. Every Thanksgiving and Christmas he has about 5 pits going. Turkey, salmon, pork tenderloins, squash, whatever vegetables my mom wants…you name it. He’s making it, and I’m eating all of it until I’m uncomfortable. It’s an impressive thing to watch. He has a marker board with times and temps of each pit. He still uses the Homer Simpson Weber we bought him when the Simpson’s turned 10. It’s bright yellow and hilarious. 

About five years ago my dad decided to stop cutting his hair. When someone told him he looked like old Ric Flair, he kept growing it. My mom was PISSED. He has short hair again. 

He drops everything he is doing to help me when I need it. This requires a 10 hour drive (round trip), and he is happy to do it. Who does that?

St. Louis has a strange tradition of having to tell knock knock jokes for candy while Trick-or-Treating. He taught me all my jokes and helped me practice my delivery. 

He chose to laugh and not get mad when I used to come home drunk at 3am, wake him up and talk to him in third person. 

I have listened to him tell my mom she’s beautiful and open her door my entire life. I’m holding out for a partner who treats me the same way because I know it exists. I’m not wasting my second chance. 

The dad-daughter relationship is a crucial but delicate one. My dad isn’t perfect, but he is proof to me that people can own their mistakes and change, proof chivalry and loyalty isn’t dead and proof someone can love another unconditionally. Happy Father’s Day, Daddy-O!

Flying Isn’t Always My Friend

“…It’s hard to be a passenger for me. You know I’m always looking down.” ~Jets to Brazil, Air Traffic Control

Every time I pack for a trip, I go through my checklist of things I carefully write out so I don’t forget anything. I also walk myself through the list of embarrassing things I have done on flights and hope I don’t have a repeat. Have you ever seen someone look somewhat scared while doing breathing exercises? Be awake one second and then pass out the next? Doing something ridiculous while sleeping? Spill on themselves? Hit themselves in the head with their own suitcase? If you have, chances are we’ve been on a flight together and the person you were laughing at was me. Here are some of the highlights:

  • I used to have a major fear of flying. I’m still not comfortable, but I’ve never let it stop me from boarding. For a solid two years, I would be so anxious that by the time the plane would takeoff, I would pass out. Immediately. I have a whole system that I still practice today just in case! I have a window seat unless I’m flying with someone I know that is comfortable with me using their shoulder as a landing pad. (Pun intended.) I place a sweater or something I can use as a pillow (because I forgot the actual travel pillow) between me and the plane wall. I rest my head on it and close my eyes pretending I’m already asleep so when I pass out I don’t freak anyone out. It’s a good a system until…
  • I found out the hard way sometimes my head doesn’t stay in place. On three occasions I have passed out so hard that my head slid so I was asleep looking down. Not the worst, right? Wrong. Every time this happened my lower jaw somehow managed to unhinge and push itself forward. I wake up while still in this position. Have you ever seen Sling Blade? Yeah. That’s right. I’m Karl. I was so embarrassed the first time that it took me several minutes to slowly move myself out of this position.
  • Where do you place falling asleep on a stranger’s shoulder on the embarrassing scale now that you heard the Sling Blade incidents? It probably doesn’t seem as bad now. However, this has happened. The only saving grace is I didn’t drool.
  • Once I couldn’t get my bag out of the overhead compartment. I didn’t realize it was hooked on the strap of the bag next to mine because, well, I’m not that tall. It was causing me to hold up the line. By the time I broke the sucker lose, I nailed myself in the head. No one bothered to help me. I think someone asked if I was ok. I don’t remember because I was walking away as fast as humanly possible.
  • I knocked my soda over and spilled on my pants. Then I spilled my water while trying to clean up the soda because I didn’t put the cap on the bottle all the way and apparently have octopus arms.

I’m sort of curious but not too curious what will happen on the four flights I’m taking in the next two weeks. If there is anything significant, I’ll write a Part II to this story.

I almost wrote Part Deux, and then I remembered that was the name of the second Hot Shots! movie. Do you guys remember those? If it wasn’t for my Sling Blade performance, I would be most embarrassed about the number of times I watched those movies back in the day.