Tuesday, December 20, 2011

The Last Summer (of you and me)

Going to the beach is something I look forward to every summer. There's just nothing like it. But when I can't physically get there, there's nothing like a good beach-read to transport me to my happy place.

I read The Last Summer (of you and me) by Ann Brashares this January. One night when I couldn't fall asleep in my old bed at home (isn't it scary when you start to feel more comfortable at your apartment than your childhood home? Helllooo growing up.), I picked up the book sitting on my bedside table, assuming my mom left it there after she read it. It happened to be The Last Summer (of you and me) and I couldn't put it down until I finished it that night (or should I say the next morning?).

Ann Brashares has a gift when it comes to appealing directly to the fondest memories of my life thus far. She started with The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants series that defined my pre-teen years. It was like something straight out of my diary; falling in love with the camp counselor, having a group of amazing friends that eventually become separated, moving to Greece and finding my soulmate...oh wait, that last one was just a fantasy. Maybe it was that combination of fantasy and reality that made me love it so much or maybe it's that Brashares just has an amazing gift of weaving together stories into a heart-wrenching novel.

One year later...

I started this post almost exactly a year ago and never finished it. Now, coming back to it, I feel a different meaning in it. When I began writing this, the title was merely the title of a novel to me, but now it's somewhat of a reality. I never thought that I would be finishing this post as...(pause for dramatic effect) a single person. After 3 years with the same person, and 2 1/2 years with someone before that, I am single, more or less, for the first time in my adult life.

When I read the title of this post today, a lump formed in my throat. Now, you've obviously figured out that I'm a slight cheese-ball just by the fact that I love novels like this one, but my sentimentality has hit an all time high since the end of my relationship. They say it's normal for things to remind you of your ex in the wake of a break up, but is it normal to cry when you find one of his hairs on your pillow? And then subsequently refuse to wash those sheets for weeks out of fear of never seeing one of his hairs ever again? (I swear I'm normally a very sanitary person). I think that reaction is an example of my emotions getting a little out of hand. Every time I look around my apartment, my eyes can't help but fall on something that reminds me of him, whether it's something as mundane as one of his hairs, or a picture of us in Cabo san Lucas. At first the pain of being constantly bombarded with his memory was unbearable; I couldn't be alone in my apartment. But as the weeks have dragged on, instead of wishing to suppress the memories, I've started to let myself be comforted by them; by the good times.

An interesting phenomenon that I've discovered occurs when I see a picture of us, looking like the perfect couple, and automatically think, "Oh God, I've ruined it all. I'll never have another perfect moment like that." But then often, I'll stop and think about the event that picture was taken at and remember that, just moments later, he would do something to piss me off and the night would end in tears. So, while it'as nice to hold onto the good times, it's important for me to remember that not all of them were as perfect as the pictures would lead me to believe.

Lesson Learned: "Memory is infinitely more beautiful than reality." -- Anonymous

Monday, June 6, 2011

Some Dance to Remember, Some Dance to Forget

The other day, I woke up to a very sad email from my mom. Driving home from at movie at 6:30 pm, she passed a girl on the sidewalk who stepped into the middle of the road, back turned to traffic, with her thumb stuck out, trying to hitch a ride. My mom saw her stumbling and realizing she was drunk, turned around and called to her from the other side of the road, told her she was a mom and asked if she needed help. The girl immediately hopped into my mom's car without a second thought, reeking of alcohol and looking like she'd been at the pool all day. My mom said she was virtually incoherent but could at least direct her to her house while rambling on about how her friends took her keys to keep her from driving and she was mad at them, etc.

I couldn't help but think how incredibly lucky that girl was that is was my mom who picked her up and not a rapist or murderer. Then, right as I started to judge the girl for being so drunk and foolish, I started to think back on my wild nights in college; how that girl easily could have been one of my friends. At the tender age of 21 years and 2 weeks old I suddenly realized that, to me, the risk is no longer worth the "fun" when it comes to drinking. When you first enter college and feel that sense of freedom, you think you're invincible, that drinking until you black out is what everyone does, not a dangerous game of circumstance that you might lose one day. And then your second year, you drink to forget all the embarrassing things you did your first year. And in your third year you drink to pretend you're a first year again, and so the cycle begins and sadly, for some people never stops. Now, in my fourth year, I've found I like to remember what I did last night instead of having to piece it together through incoherent text messages and pictures on Facebook. Not to mention I have way too much going on to spend the day hung over.

Now I'm not saying I don't still enjoy a good night of slightly loosened inhibitions, but there's a line that I don't plan on crossing anymore and I think it's good to start pulling in the reigns now, before it's too late. Alcohol may be an acceptable way to deal with getting my first C in a college course, but in the real world, there are a lot more healthy options to handling disappointment, embarrassment and tough times.

Lesson Learned: If you know someone who tries to drown their sorrows, you might tell them sorrows know how to swim.  ~Quoted in P.S. I Love You, compiled by H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Work Like You Need the Money

The other day my boyfriend told me he "can't afford me." Now, any woman knows that's a compliment -- I obviously have expensive tastes! But the truth is, lately, I can't afford me either. It seems like money is just slipping through my fingers and yet, I have no cute clothes, shoes or accessories to show for it. Ok, well maybe a couple pairs of shoes but not nearly as many as I would like.

So where's it all going? Well according to my bank statement, it's all going to Moe's, Chick Fil A and Target. Not exactly glamorous. This led to my first realization about the grown-up world: food is expensive. When I lived at home all I had to spend my money on was what I wanted; clothes. I remember the places I used to shop at in high school and flinch when I think of all the money I used to spend! I wore nicer clothes when I was seventeen than I do now at twenty-one and didn't think a thing of it.

But back to food; it's undeniable that eating out is an incredibly expensive habit, whether you're eating at Chops or Panera. Unfortunately, eating out seems to have become the only acceptable form of social interaction between sorority girls. And yes, contrary to popular belief, we actually love to eat. Sure, we may whine about how many calories we're consuming while we shove chips dripping in queso into our mouths but that doesn't seem to stop us. So the problem is, try as I might to restrain my own eating out during the week by packing my lunch instead of going out or waiting until I get home to eat no matter how starving I am on the way home from work, every weekend all my well-intentioned plans are ruined when one of my friends suggests margaritas at El Amigo Friday night and then lunch at Fresh to Order on Saturday.

I blame this lunching ladies obsession on Sex and the City. What are the four girls doing in almost every scene? Eating somewhere, from lunch to dinner to just drinks! And what is my generation of young women obsessed with? Imitating Sex and the City. We seem to conveniently forget how unrealistic their lifestyles are in our pursuit of designer shoes, handsome men and other glamorous goods.

So what's a girl to do? Stop having lunch with her girlfriends? Sure I could suggest staying in and drinking wine while watching a movie (I'll give you one guess which movie) but then again, that costs money too. The solution I seemed to have settled on is to get a job. My job at the clothing store gives me a little money to play around with but it still doesn't seem like enough. This constant feeling of wanting what's outside of my means has really driven me to work hard in college to ensure that I can get a real job with a real salary that will support my social and shopping habits. Yes you heard me right, I'm planning on making my own money instead of spending my future husbands! (Pause for the shock that the rest of my sorority is experiencing).

Lesson Learned: "I'm living so far beyond my income that we may almost be said to be living apart." -- E.E. Cummings

Tuesday, February 8, 2011


Ba-dum, ba-dum, ba-dum. The lullaby I
fall asleep to each night permeates your
rhythmically rising chest and softly
vibrates my cheek, willing me to forget
the day's worries and remember
what it is that really matters –
your heart and mine still beat
together, in time, in this still, dark room.
A soothing melody so persistent, so sure,
that it does not matter that you
are snoring loudly or that my brain won't stop
trying to hold on to the worry
and the pain of daily life. All
I know to be true, to be certain,
is that in this moment you and I are here
and we are content. I am content.

Lesson Learned: Thomas Lux once told me, "This is a love poem. You gotta right them, and that's ok." 

Friday, February 4, 2011

Sister, Sister

"What is a friend? A single soul dwelling in two bodies." -- Aristotle

When I was only about 7 or 8, someone read me this quote and it stuck. It even made its way onto my senior yearbook page, not to mention my permanent "favorite quotes" on Facebook. Well, no offense to Aristotle, but he set some pretty high standards for me at a very young age.

Once the girl who was teased by her dad for having "too many friends," I now find myself a friend "idealist." Translated: I'm too picky when it comes to who I trust and now suddenly, in my 20th year of life, feel very alone. Making friends has never been my problem -- I know someone from every high school in Georgia -- but lately keeping them has been hard. I could blame it on my traumatic middle school experience in which I was betrayed over and over again by countless cruel-hearted preteens, but who doesn't recount middle school with some shudder of relief that they survived? Then in high school I always blamed the fact that I transferred schools before freshmen year for my habit of bouncing around to different friend groups. It seemed wherever I went, "best friends" had already paired off, years ago. Sure I had girls I was close to, but never someone I would call a friend by Aristotle's definition.

So college rolls around and I think I finally have it figured out. I join a sorority, I have a close group of friends and one in particular seems to be my "best." We sail through the first 2 years of college with relative ease until the curse of the third year friendship sets in. Basically, I think we all got sick of spending so much damn time with each other. So long story short, I put myself out there, I think I've found a true friend, and bam, I'm back to square one, feeling needy, hurt and abandoned.

All of sudden I feel like I've forgotten how to be a gal pal -- I don't take pleasure in the idle gossip of my friends' lives like I once did, I don't feel the need to consult them every time I get dressed, and I certainly don't want call them to cry when something goes wrong in my life. I'm starting to realize we may have all become friends based solely on the fact that we all needed friends.

This may seem silly, but as I get older I'm starting to wonder, "Will I ever be someone's maid of honor?" I know that seems like a strange thing to worry about, and this could just be my ego talking, but I feel like I'm no one's best friend. I know girls who seem like they could make a living being a best friend -- they have multiples of them and I can't even find one. I can't figure out what the difference is between them and me. Where's the disconnect?

Maybe the problem is that I've always had a boyfriend. I've never had to rely on a girl to comfort me, to solve my problems, to give me advice. So maybe I missed something in those crucial years of adolescence. Maybe the key was right there and I was too caught up in kissing boys to see it.

Whatever the reason, the bottom line is I want to learn how to be a friend again. I think the problem is just that I've been looking in all the wrong places to find that friend. Perhaps being too picky isn't a problem, it's a blessing that will eventually reveal itself. I have to remind myself that I'm young; people haven't become who they really are yet, including me. So it may take a little time, but for a soul mate, I guess I can wait.

Lesson Learned: "Truly great friends are hard to find, difficult to leave, and impossible to forget." -- Anonymous

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Lady Luck

The idea that you "make your own luck" has always appealed to me. It reminds me of the way karma works and I can't even tell you how many times my mom has held me while I've cried and told me "what goes around, comes around." That's always been a reassuring thought -- that those mean girls who pulled down your skirt in the lunch room in 7th grade will end up living in a trailer park married to a guy named Billy Bob. Ok, so I don't know that will happen for sure, but I just like to picture it.

So lately, I feel like I'm cashing in on all those awful years I spent in the hell hole we call adolescence. I may be jinxing it by saying this (did I mention I'm also superstitious?), but things just seem to be going my way. Yes, I may have ran into the call box outside my apartment 4 days after I got my brand new car, but when I took it to be repaired, I was dreading getting the estimate but fully prepared to pay in cash so my dad wouldn't find out about my little blonde moment, when the repairman told me I owed...NOTHING! When does that ever happen? You're broke and get a break? Answer: never. Then out of the blue, I get a promotion at work and go from being a retail sales associate to managing all the online marketing. Did I mention the amazing raise it included?

With all these wonderful things happening in my life, I can't help but think, where's the catch? Maybe I have some good karma coming my way, but Lord knows I'm not perfect either. I'm sure I've got some bad karma coming eventually. Plus, to quote Charlotte in Sex and the City, "Nobody gets everything they want." I find myself getting nervous every time I get in the car, wondering if today is going to be the day I get run off the road. Talk about morbid. That's no way to live life.

So instead of living like a paranoid crazy person, I'm just going to embrace my recent fortune, accept that it is something I deserve, but also keep in mind that things can't stay this way forever, but when they do change, it's not the end of world. As my mother always says, "Life is a ferris wheel. Sometimes you're at the top, and sometimes you're at the bottom."

Lesson Learned: "I've been lucky. I'll be lucky again." -- Bette Davis

Monday, January 17, 2011

Northside Tavern

Driving home Monday night, after the usual "dollar bowling" at our favorite bowling alley that happens to offer dollar jello shots as well, my boyfriend spotted the delightful hole in the wall, otherwise known as Northside Tavern. He yelled, "Pull in! Let's check it out!" It was already 1 a.m., I figured I was going to be late for my morning class anyways, so what the heck? I U-turned it into the parking lot and we hopped out. As I tentatively stepped into the smoke filled room, it took a moment for my eyes to adjust. When they finally did, this is what I saw: walls painted black, covered in old music posters, some ripped and some still legible, sticky tables with barstools missing legs, and locals that looked as if they hadn't moved from their spots at the bar for about 20 years, and had adopted a somewhat barnacle like appearance.

Now it may not look like much, but this bar is the stuff of legends. One of the best kept secrets in Atlanta, it has been host to some of the most incredible live blues musicians in the Southeast. Judging by the looks I was getting, I was quite possibly the first sorority girl to grace this fine establishment. As we walked up to the bar and ordered drinks, I tried to shake off the feeling that I should have maybe worn something a little less pink. Trying to get into character, I ordered a whiskey and soda, instead of the usual college staple, vodka cranberry. I settled onto my wobbly bar stool and after a few sips of my drink which was heavy on the whiskey and light on the soda, I found myself swaying along with the music and laughing at the ancient bassist who was smoking something I could only assume was not a cigarette.

By the end of the night, we were vowing to come back with friends, but only a select few we knew would appreciate the "beauty" of the place. We probably only stayed for an hour total, but only left because the music stopped. We may have gotten some strange looks and I won't lie, I didn't let my purse out of my sight once, but we had a great time. I believe it's important to make yourself leave your comfort zone every once and while. Go to a strange bar (only accompanied by a strong fraternity man escort, of course), listen to music you don't hear on 94.9 The Bull, drink something you wouldn't tell your mom about. You never know what you actually like until you try other things.

Lesson Learned: "Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. Life is either a daring adventure or nothing." -- Helen Keller