Thursday, December 31, 2009

5 Ways To Make Your New Year Suck Less Than Last Year

2009 was one heck of a ride, wasn't it? We each have our own memoir of the past year, but the general consensus (read: Facebook status updates) indicates that 2009's evil reign will be eagerly toasted away.

My year was a mixed bag of dull razor blades, cat feces, and a few solid gold coins. But as the perpetual optimist, I wouldn't change a thing. In fact, the crap in my personal 2009 bag might help you in 2010. And isn't that what makes this digital age of constant connection so fantastic? Perhaps someone will google "Ways To Make Your New Year Suck Less Than Last Year," and they'll find this:

5 Ways To Make Your New Year Suck Less Than Last Year
  1. Feel everything. Repressing your emotions or denying your true feelings leads to unresolved conflict - inner and outer. Plus, you're not Freud.
  2. Offer forgiveness. Your parents were right when they told you to "play nice" and always apologize. So let go of your anger. Holding grudges isn't fashionable... and your pride's not that attractive, either.
  3. Stand your ground. My friend, Shakepeare, said it best: "To thine own self be true." You were most likely raised to follow decent morals, and you probably developed certain beliefs in support of those morals. Don't compromise them - no prize, promotion, or palace is worth it.
  4. Don't settle. And that goes for every aspect of your life. If you're not passionate about your job or career, make a change. If you know your significant other isn't ultimately a good life partner, accept it and walk away.
  5. Respect yourself. This is the mack-daddy lesson most people forget, and it encompasses the prior four tips. You have to be around yourself 24/7, and it's easier to do that when you like yourself.
In 2010, gulp the inevitable bad with the good and chase it with a healthy dose of optimism. The mixture will swirl around for awhile, bumping your bones, but it'll eventually settle. That is, until the next evil entree. It's a wonderful ebb and flow, my friends.


Thursday, December 3, 2009

Three Coronas Later

My short stories are living, breathing documents. From their inception, my characters are constantly evolving in my mind. I wrote the story "Night" in April of 2005. I'd been toying with a few of the motifs for awhile, but it was the third beer (or maybe it was wine; I don't recall) that sent me to my laptop... and three hours later, "Night" was born.

It was raw and unedited, a mere manifestation of repressed emotions, not entirely fictional. And ultimately unsatisfying. I submitted it for publication regardless, because that's what buzzed writers do at 4am (We're bizarre creatures and you really should think twice before befriending us.)

Two weeks later, I received an email informing me that my piece had been accepted. I remember my reaction: I laughed outloud. And then I read the last line of the email. Not only were they going to publish the piece, but I had been awarded first prize - a $100 check.

What? I laughed harder. That was the first time I'd received any kind of monetary compensation for my writing, and I'd somehow managed to achieve this goal while under the influence of my dear friend, Corona. I remember the drink clearly now. I'd been fresh out of limes.

"Night" has remained unedited to this day, but I want to revisit it. Your feedback is encouraged... and I really need an ending. I think I know how to end it, though. The story has already ended itself, in its own way.



Salty wetness blinded her as she sped down the windy road. She had specifically chosen this road, where everything had started.

And now where everything would end.

The windshield wipers screeched across the glass as the moonlight created a disturbing glare in her rearview mirror. Not that it mattered; she wouldn’t be using the rearview mirror that night.

Or ever again.

She watched the wipers whiz back and forth, back and forth, obscuring the canopy of trees that had oddly engulfed the road. If she let go of the wheel, would the car know to turn? She flicked the headlights off, allowing the car to blindly surge through mud puddles, splattering the remains over the windshield. She liked the way the mud drained down the passenger window, like blood from a wound.

She had been playing by his rules her entire life. But not tonight. This night was hers to destroy.

She flicked the headlights back on, but took her eyes off the road. She was entranced by the ranch houses, broken fences, open fields—all of which blended smoothly together to form everything she wanted to see, everything she had been trying to see, but had never stopped to look at.

They had broken into one of those houses. They had sat on those fences, smoking cigarettes until dawn. They had made love in that field.

She felt her heart reverberate in her chest, thumping wildly. She pressed the pedal to the floor— the car lurched forward, its wheels spinning more mud. The canopy of trees had lowered itself into the road. Branches had become tangled in the telephone wires, reaching out for her.

She let go of the wheel and she didn’t pray.

“Maybe if you’d stop being so fucking stubborn for a minute, I could help you,” he said, reaching across the table for her paper.

She pulled away. “You think I’m actually going to let you read this? You’ll just tear it apart. You always do.”

Justin pulled his hand back. “Fine. Fail. See if I care.”

Callie flung her story back at him. “Take it,” she said. “I was on a roll for awhile, but then I got sidetracked and forgot where I was going with it.”

Justin glanced over the first few paragraphs. He liked to read Callie’s stories. He liked getting inside her head. Any chance she would give him, he’d take.


He looked up at her, smirking. “It could be better. It could be worse.”

She ignored his playfulness, as usual. “But do you get it?”

“What’s not to get?” he asked. “Psycho girl drives car in rainstorm. Crashes car. Girl dies. The end.”

Callie looked hurt. “Is that all you got out of it?”

“Would you like me to get more out of it?”

He wondered why he couldn’t make it work with her. She was beautiful. He wasn’t ugly. They could hold conversations for hours, their wits a perfect match. Sure, they had tried dating. Several times, actually. They spent many memorable nights together, physically and emotionally bound by forces beyond their control.

“You’re impossible,” she said, beginning to pack up her bag.

“And you love it,” he said. He sensed a hint of flirtation in her voice.

Or maybe he was just hoping.

They had met last fall by chance at a coffee shop’s poetry reading downtown. Justin attended them on occasion, when his roommates had their girlfriends over or when he didn’t have enough money to get drunk enough with the rest of the college alcoholics. Callie attended them religiously, since she didn’t care much for campus life, and she was an avid poet herself.

He had seen her on campus before, though he had never any reason to approach her. She had her group of friends, as did he. But for some reason, that night was different. Maybe it was the way she held her coffee. Maybe it was the way she twirled her hair between her fingertips, an action Justin grew to understand. Or maybe it was because he was alone. He sat on the couch across the room from her, keeping his distance.

Justin watched the way her eyes felt every emotion of the reading poets. Callie stared intently at each reader, seeing each poet for the first time, yet her eyes conveyed a mutual understanding of “yes, I’ve been there” or, “how beautiful.” He admired her as she jotted down notes in a blue notebook. And he chuckled when she laughed during a reading and spilled coffee down her shirt— not because it was funny, but because Callie didn’t care.

The reading was coming to an end, with the final reader taking his position at the microphone. Justin quickly walked across the room, taking a seat in one of the many brown leather chairs that adorned the shop. He could now smell Callie’s perfume, which may have been too strong for some, but Justin breathed deeper that night.

He wondered if she would leave when the poet was finished. Was she heading back to campus? Did she already have plans for the evening?

The reader finished, receiving a polite applause. Justin glanced at Callie, and she caught his eye.

“Do you know him?” she asked.

He was taken aback. “Um, no, well, he was good, I mean… why do you ask?”

She smiled. “I just assumed you did. I mean, you were sitting in back the whole time before he got up.”

So she had noticed him. Justin pondered whether to flirt with her. Was she inviting flirtation? Maybe he should just remain neutral. It was safer…

“So you noticed me, huh?” he said, returning her smile.

“Are you gay?”

“What? No. Do you often start conversations with strangers like this?”

She shrugged. “Hey, it’s no problem if you are. I just like to lay out all the cards on the table.”

“Well, that’s no fun,” he said. “But no, I’m completely straight, thanks.”

“A straight guy going to a poetry reading on a Friday night,” she mused, sipping her coffee.

He chuckled. “You don’t believe me?”

“Maybe, maybe not,” she said. “Either way, you’re still a stranger.”

Justin took that as an invitation to introduce himself. He discovered that Callie, too, was a senior, though she was studying theater and minoring in creative writing, whereas he was a double major in theology and journalism. He admitted that he hadn’t been to any of their college’s productions, for which he had no excuse except laziness.

“That’s ok,” she responded. “I’m an atheist.”

“Where are you going?” Justin asked, handing Callie her story. He noticed that the campus center had emptied out, as it usually did on Friday afternoons.

“Rehearsal,” she responded, in a tone that suggested Justin should have known. He knew their school was putting on West Side Story in a few months, he just hadn’t realized Callie had auditioned.

“Nice to know you pay attention to what’s going on in your friends’ lives,” Callie added.

Friends. At least their status had been defined. He wondered why he had let himself become so detached from her. Six months ago they were inseparable. He knew it wasn’t a commitment issue; he’d been with several girls during his college years for spans of several months each.

“No, I knew,” Justin said. “So do you want my thoughts on your story or not?”

“Well it’s not done yet,” she said. “But if it were, would that beginning make you want to read more?”

Justin grinned. “Are you going to write more this weekend?”

“Yeah. It’s due Monday.”

“Then I can’t wait to read the rest of it.”

Callie smiled, the first genuine smile she had given him in awhile. Maybe he hadn’t blown it after all.

“Wait. You don’t believe in God?” Justin asked.

“Thank you, Captain Obvious,” Callie laughed. “Hence the meaning of the word.”

“I’ve never met an atheist before,” he said.

“It’s an exclusive group. We have Bible-burning sessions and lots of premarital sex.”

Justin laughed. “Where do I join?”

“Theology Major Turns Atheist,” Callie announced. “There’s your next headline. You can start by interviewing me first.”

They remained at the coffee shop for the next few hours, exchanging anecdotes about their lives and future plans.

“I’m going to be a hermit,” Callie said. “I’ll live by myself with 30 cats and concentrate on my writing. Maybe I’ll teach acting classes.”

“To who? The cats?” Justin teased.

“Haven’t you heard of the Broadway musical?”

“You can teach me how to act,” he offered. “I’m terrible.”

She shrugged. “You’ve got a cute face. And today that’s pretty much all you need.”

The two strolled out of the coffee shop around 11pm, after the manager had politely told them, for the third time, that he wanted to clean up and go home.

“So… would you want to hang out sometime?” Justin asked. The winter wind swirled around Callie’s face, her loose brown curls dancing in the glow of the streetlights.

“Define ‘sometime’,” Callie said.

“Well, I guess sooner rather than later.”

She grinned. “I might be able to squeeze you in tonight, if it’s not too short notice.”

Callie agreed to meet Justin at his apartment once they returned to campus. Since they had each taken their cars to the reading, Justin watched her as she walked down the sidewalk toward her car. She walked with confidence, ease— the strut of a girl who knew what she wanted.

And, damn. She had a great body.

“You coming over after rehearsal then?” Justin asked.

Callie hesitated. “I don’t know… probably not a good idea.”

“Right, yeah. Well, have fun.” He turned to begin walking back to his apartment, but she stopped him.

“What’re we doing here, Just.”

He shrugged. “I dunno. Thought I did.”

She nodded. “Which I why I can’t come over anymore.”

Callie turned and headed toward the school auditorium. She would make a quick transformation into Maria. And she would sing and dance, immerse herself in acting— briefly forgetting everything else. He stood there for awhile, watching his breath take shape in the air, a reminder of the days and nights they spent together, laying in open fields, inhaling sweet nicotine— one body, one breath.

As Justin climbed the hill to his apartment, he thought he heard Callie’s distinct singing voice… “Hold my hand and we’re halfway there; hold my hand and I'll take you there. Somehow! Someday! Some...”

“Nice place,” Callie commented, taking off her jacket and tossing it on the kitchen table.

Justin glanced around his apartment, double-checking its cleanliness, hoping it wouldn’t scare her away. He liked to keep things fairly neat, though his five male roommates didn’t always oblige.

He gave her the grand tour, which took all of three minutes. He wondered where his roommates were, and if he should be expecting them anytime soon.

“Movie?” Justin asked. “I’ve got plenty of ‘em.”

“Something scary?”


He wondered if they should watch it in the living room or in his bedroom. He didn’t want to give her the wrong impression. He watched as Callie settled on the couch. Looks like she didn’t want to give him the wrong idea, either.

“So, who are you?” Callie asked, ten minutes into the movie.

“Huh? Like, what do I like to do?”

“Yeah, sure.”

Justin didn’t know how to answer her. He wanted to make his life sound more exciting than it was. This girl didn’t know him, so it really didn’t matter what he said.

“Well, I’d like to work for a newspaper someday. And I definitely want to leave this city.”

“Don’t we all,” she sighed.

“So, why are you an atheist?” he asked.

She hesitated. “Let’s go for a walk. It’s not too cold out. And I don’t feel much like watching a movie.”

“Ok,” Justin said.

He loved being outside at night, regardless of the time of year. He loved running during muggy summer nights— the sound of his feet hitting the pavement in rhythm was a form of meditation he didn’t think anyone understood. In winter, the stars twinkled with a different life force, brighter than usual, as if trying to stay warm.

They walked in silent unison for awhile, an odd yet comfortable silence, the snow crunching beneath their shoes. He wondered what she was thinking about. Was the silence comfortable for her, too?

“I’m an atheist,” Callie began, “because God has never been there for me. I used to pray all the time, and it was always a one-sided conversation.”

“So you stopped trying?” Justin asked. He felt his theological side rumble.

She shrugged. “It seemed pointless at the time.”

“I don’t mean to pry, but what were you asking for?”

“My mom’s life.”

“Oh,” he murmured. “I’m sorry… we don’t have to talk about this any further if you don’t want to.”

She smiled. “No, it’s ok. It was a long time ago anyway.”

“Nobody I’ve known has ever died.”

“Well, I’m sorry for you then,” Callie said.

“Come again?”

“Death has a remarkably positive force to it,” she said. “Someone dies and it’s like your own mortality is so much more tangible, you know? Death kind of makes you want to live.”

“Just because I don’t know anyone who’s died doesn’t mean I don’t know how to live,” Justin said.

Callie laughed. “Oh no, I wasn’t implying—“

“Oh, I know exactly what you were implying,” he interrupted. “And now you’ll have to suffer the consequence.”

He quickly scooped a pile of snow into his hands, packed it together, and launched it at Callie. She shrieked and ducked.

“Oh, it’s on,” she said.

They transformed into children, hurling snowballs at each other, laughing and name-calling. Justin tackled Callie by the waist, dragging her down into the snow. She squirmed underneath him, her constant laughter eventually giving way to exhaustion.

“See, now you’re just cheating,” she said, trying to free one of her hands in hopes of putting snow down his back.

“Cheating? I’d say I’m winning,” he laughed.

“Well, the least you could do is kiss me if you’re not going to let me win.”

So he did. And then they laid there in the silent snow. Justin’s hands were shaking, his heart’s rhythm struggling to remain under control.

“So if someone I know dies, this is how I’m gonna feel,” he said quietly.

“How’s that?” Callie asked.


After play rehearsal, Callie sat down at her computer. She would finish the story. Maybe she would show the rest of it to Justin…

Two hours later the paramedics arrived at the scene of the crash. She remained in the car, the roof smashed in, trapping her body between the steering wheel and what was left of her seat. She breathed slowly, wondering how many of her bones were broken. She knew she had lived. But she didn’t know how. Or why.

She tried to move her legs.

“I can’t feel my legs. I can’t feel my legs!” She thought she was screaming, but her mouth wasn’t moving. The crash had broken her jaw, shattering her nose and knocking out most of her teeth.

Suddenly a large light shined in her eyes. She couldn’t squint. She couldn’t move.

“We’re gonna get you out!” a deep voice said, loudly.

She was eventually pulled from the wreckage. She heard bits and pieces of conversations.

“…can’t believe it…”

“…driving so fast…”

“Alcohol related… other driver killed…”

Callie grasped those two words: “other driver.”

Who had she hit?

She had killed someone with her own manic stupidity. She wanted to tell him she was sorry. She wanted to tell everyone she was sorry. It should have been her. She should have been the one to die.

She felt weightless for a moment, realizing she had been lifted onto a stretcher. The paramedics wheeled her over to the ambulance, lifted her and pushed her into the back.

She didn’t feel any physical pain. Was this was death would be like? Would she hear voices and see colors and bright lights?

Would she feel anything ever again?

…Or maybe Callie would fold the story away. She would lock it in a drawer, and when the time was right, they could read it together.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Millenial Musings

I am a millennial. I think.

I've been in denial for a few years, possibly because our generation gets such a bad reputation. We're the "trophy kids." We were pampered during our formative years, repeatedly told that "everyone is a winner," and our parents were known to call the teacher to determine the source of that big F on yesterday's geometry quiz. And don't even get me started on how our generation is perceived in the workplace. Apparently, we're self-destructive rebels who can't conduct ourselves civilly, much less professionally. My mind immediately wanders to Animal  (doesn't he eat glass?) from The Muppet Show. Are we really that bad?

But I'd also been in denial because my birth year (1982) teeters between Gen X and Gen Y (Millenial) in multiple sources. In some sources I'm at the tail end of Generation X; in others I'm an early Millenial and therefore not a true member of Generation Y. According to those dates, my brothers and I are all Millenials. They are 16, 18, and 25. There's an eleven year gap between me and my youngest brother, and I'm pretty sure we don't fall neatly into the Millenial package together. At 15, he had a Blackberry Storm®. At 15, I had a plastic pager. And even at 16, my "cell" phone was attached to the center console in my Ford Bronco. I think it was called a "car phone."

Mainly, though, my denial stems from a lack of feeling like a Millenial. The top characteristics of a Millenial revolve around technology since our generation was/is shaped by technological advances. But I don't consider myself to be a techy. My VCR --yes, that's right-- and DVD player were disconnected for most of my senior year of college because I couldn't figure out how to hook them up to my obsolete TV.

I do, however, try to embrace technology if it means I can accomplish a task more efficiently. For example, I hate fax machines. Hate them. Emailing an attachment is much more seamless, and I don't have to leave my cubicle. With email, I also don't have to wait for the incessant, mocking beep indicating that my memo was successfully sent. And what if it doesn't beep? Then what? Kicking it a few times is great for Office Space, but probably frowned upon in reality - and wouldn't help the Millenial reputuation.

According to definition, we (Millenials) grew up having information readily available at our fingertips via the internet and we are externally connected 24/7, thanks to social networks, texting, and e-mail.

All right, I'll bite.

I started using a computer for socializing in eighth grade. Remember America Online (AOL)? I'd come home from school, grab my snack from the "snack drawer" that Mom kept stocked with an assortment of Fruit Roll-Ups, Gushers, Yodels, or the like, and log onto AOL. This could take anywhere from three to fifteen minutes. That haunting, albeit familiar, dial-up noise is probably some younger Millenial's downloaded ring-tone ($4.99! Seriously?), and they don't even know its origin. I would spend an hour or two chatting on Instant Messenger with one or two of my friends, but as soon as Mom got home I'd have to log off because I was tying up the phone line.

I also grew up playing Nintendo games, though usually at a friend's house because we didn't own the console. No video game will ever be as great as Super Mario Brothers or Duck Hunt.

As for social networks, I joined Facebook my senior year of college, but didn't really start using it until three years ago. I created a MySpace page shortly after graduating college, but the amount of users who abused HTML code (glitter was meant for arts and crafts, not the internet) was overwhelming, so I deleted my account shortly thereafter.

My husband (a true-blood Millenial by definition) gets annoyed with me because I don't take advantage of the technology that's, quite literally, right at my fingertips. I'll often sit on the couch with my laptop while he's at his desktop computer across the living room, and I'll ask him to look something up for me.

"Why can't you do it?" he asks, both amused and irritated. "You have a computer right in front of you."

He's right. But I know he'll find the information much faster than I would.

So, am I a Millenial? I still don't know. What do you think? Do you suffer from similar conflictions?

Friday, November 20, 2009

Words of Weakness

I used to have a love affair with words... but lately, they won't return my phone calls. I thought our commitment to regular postings was mutual, but it appears I've been mislead yet again. I should have seen the signs.

"I'm Too Tired"
I get that one a lot; I'm warmed up and ready to go but the words might as well be half asleep. I fear logging into or (worse) for verbiage inspiration. It might constitute cheating (it's still under debate).

"There's Too Much Good TV Tonight"
This can be a real distraction. An innocent few minutes spent channel-surfing turns into a lost afternoon. Syntax takes a seat on the couch and diction sprawls languidly on the futon made for two. And here I sit, laptop burning my thighs, staring at a blinking cursor, waiting for release.

"I'm Just Not In The Mood"
This is the worst. Not because this excuse has a female patent, but because we always used to be simultaneously in the mood. This is what you're made for! Without you, we'd live on a frozen planet, void of imagery, dialogue, and themes. I can't afford a new laptop right now, so all you get from me is a freshened blog template and a washed up creative writer at your knees.

And just in case you're wondering - I'm not giving up. Our history is too intense and I have far too much invested to walk away. Remember the golden years in college? We were hand in hand, pen to paper, fingers to keys. Each publication strengthened our growing relationship (and the expensive college tutition for that English degree didn't hurt our goal).

I guess I'm just asking for a second chance. I know I've been distracted with the tech writing, and perhaps that's the true blame for our rocky creative relationship. My neglect has made it easier for the words to make excuses. Nevertheless, I'm still willing to work at this. We can get back on the hampster wheel. Baby, lets run.

Saturday, November 14, 2009


I started a blog titled "A Carnival For Those Who Dream" at the beginning of 2008. I wanted to piggyback off an online journal I'd maintained for four years prior and it was time for a change (the developers of the site weren't working to meet the demands of technologically-curious millenials). Thus, I found blogger.

My blog's original intent was a space to showcase my writing and generate a network of followers and other writing professionals. Who doesn't like free marketing? However, the blog quickly morphed into a progression of soul-searching and self-discovery. I used the blog as an outlet for my inner thoughts, as opposed to a platform for posting my poems and short fiction. Much of that diary-esque content has since been deleted, though not without first exporting it onto the hard drive of my computer for future reflection.

What you're looking at now appears to be the same blog, but I've made a few tweaks, including a new blogger address. And I'm still not sure the direction this altered blog will take, but perhaps with a dedication to posting regularly it'll become more apparent.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Dark New World

The bulls have run rampant through the once peaceful town:
a hypnotized army lead by Hitler's descent;
they pillage and plunder, punishing their prisoners.

The weak won't fight back for fear of retaliation:
a sheep in a herd is safe and secure;
they wane when requested while whipped in the rear.

The shadows will drown those who suffer in silence:
a dark new World with a windowless view;
they seek the surface but can't find the sun.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Quick Five Year Reflection

On June 2, 2004, I started working for the Mouse. Five years ago today. It's been an incredibly eye-opening journey: from my decision to accept an internship in Walt Disney World during my senior year at a New England school, my move from Massachusetts to Florida a week after graduating college with roughly $96 to my name (see previous post), my success in landing a job with the word "writer" in the title, the friendships that simultaneously opened my heart and regrounded me in my values, to meeting the man I'm going to marry in less than five months.

When I came to Florida in 2004 on a seven month internship, I was insecure and still going through the "what am I going to do with my life?" phase. At the time, I was still convinced I was going to be a big-name screenwriter and graduate top of my class at USC's Film School; Disney was just going to be a stepping-stone for me. Surely, I would meet someone in Florida who would connect me to the glitz and glamour of the life of a Hollywood screenwriter. I was naive to the extreme. Instead, I found a culture of dream-making, a tapestry of people from all over the world united for a single cause: to work at the happiest place on earth. We didn't make much money starting out, but it didn't matter. We were creating memories for families--memories I could pratically sing out loud, because I, too, experienced the wonder of Walt while growing up. I wanted each family, particularly each child, to experience what I still vividly remember as the best part of my childhood.

This is where I belong, even if my magic-making is now done from an office cubicle. But the documents I currently write are similar to the ones that enabled me, five years ago, to learn the operation I immediately loved. I'm thankful for being given the opportunity to find myself within this Company, and I hope the next five years are equally as memorable.

Pictures from 2004

Monday, April 27, 2009

Painful Writer's Block

My friend, Jane, is going to an art retreat this weekend. She will spend five days and evenings in Virginia taking classes all revolving around her true passion: art. I could hear the click-clack of her excited fingers racing across the keyboard (our office cubicles are adjacent) as she messaged me a quick summary of her plans to engross herself in learning more skills and techniques in the art world. Even though I have no artistic skill (I could barely color between the lines in elementary school, let alone sodder a piece of metal into something elegant), I couldn't help getting sucked into her enthusiam.

I used to have enthusiam towards writing, and not for just the blog entries you read that appear here from time to time.

In elementary school, I would opt out of recess so that I could stay inside and finish a paragraph for a story I was writing. A story that wasn't part of any school assignment. I wrote 52 front-to-back scrawled pages, in pencil, of a short story titled "Being The New Kid Isn't Always Easy." I read a lot as a child, and I learned how to format dialogue from Judy Blume and Gertrude Chandler Warner (The Boxcar Children). I still have this story in my writing cabinet, though I wish it were in ink.

In middle school, I wrote song parodies. I loved making others laugh with my silly songs, even though I couldn't sing a bloody note. It didn't occur to me that "Weird Al" Yankovic had already snagged that claim to fame.

In high school, I wrote short stories about my friends as a method of escape during my parents' divorce (at least that's what the psychologist believed). I also completed my first poetry anthology.

In college, I used to ache to get back to my dorm room after a long lecture and scribble my creative flow onto a piece of paper. It would physically hurt if I couldn't express myself creatively. The four years I spent in college were definitely my Golden Years of writing; I was almost always writing something, whether it was for one of my numerous writing workshops, or a simple poem crafted while waiting for someone to show up with the weekend's booze.

And thus brings us to my current problem: I graduated four years ago and have done nothing towards furthering my creative writing skills. My first eight months out of college were spent trying to find a job where I would actually use my expensive education (only $15,867 left to pay off), while working in an administrative role that grew monotonous after day four.

I moved southbound across the country one week (literally) after graduation to work in the administrative role, a six-month temporary position, hoping to use it as a stepping stone to a writing career with a big entertainment company. I had no guarantee of a permanent position, but I also knew I didn't want to be living in my childhood bedroom after being semi-independent for four years at college. Love my parents and my siblings, but there was something unsettling about the situation.

So, I took a huge risk, and I highly recommend leaving the nest as quickly as possible after graduation. You need to be independent at some point, so why delay the inevitable? If you can't find a job, that's one thing-- I'm not promoting the kind of risk that could potentially leave you homeless in the street. But if you have a job that pays more than minimum wage, you can afford to move out of your parents' abode. I moved from Massachusetts to Florida with roughly $96.00 in my checking account and made out just fine, excluding the interesting roommate experiences, but we'll save that for another blog. But maybe you're one of the kids who does live on his or her own, but still receives an allowance from the 'rents. You know the type: dad still pays the credit card bill, or the you're still under the parents' car insurance. It's time to grow up and accept responsibility for your own life as an adult, even if you can't easily afford it.

I grasped an opportunity that was presented to me and now I write for a living. I actually get paid to write, and have been receiving said salary for a little over three years. But it's not the type of writing that anyone--my friends, my family, or even myself-- would have predicted. I'm proud of the work I produce, and I enjoy what I do, but there's a small part of me that's slowly dying. And, unfortunately, it's been dying since the day I received my diploma that stated, "Yes, you did concentrate in Creative Writing; now go forth and prosper."

I haven't written a poem in over a year. And sculpting an introduction to a short story makes my head hurt, since the words and quick phrases don't come to me as easily as they once did. But the death I'm referring to is not so much a death of skill (though it's clearly in skeletal form these days), but a death of motivation. Where is the motivation I once had to write? And this blog just doesn't count, in my mind anyway. The bank pages stare back at me, taunting me. I'm not sure which is worse: fear that I'm losing the one skill that I truly felt confident in, or the fear that I'm not even motivated enough to care.

In a way, I envy Jane's desire for her art. She's both skilled and motivated to sharpen those skills. Here's hoping I can shake a little motivation from the verbiage trees. Even if it's a brief love affair, it's better than the loneliness of writer's block.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Constant Manic Monday

Oh. Hi, blog.

I'd like to say the reason for my lack of dedication to my writing is a result of my busy schedule (read: my tendency to overbook and over commit). While this is partly true, it's certainly not a valid enough reason.

Not for me.

Not for someone who claims organizational skill and time management as natural as breathing.

Maximizing my time has become a bit... obsessive. More so than usual, which (if you know me) is scary. I'm multi-tasking to the extreme, making lists of my lists of things to do, resorting to informal mass emails to friends and family rather than phone calls to save time, checking friends' facebook status updates and considering myself fully informed of their personal lives. When an edict at work was announced that we must take our full hour lunch breaks (a 30 minute paid and a 30 minute unpaid break), my first thought was that's an extra 2.5 hours per week I'm going to lose and my mind launched into overdrive of how to make up that time.

I'm jumping over hurdles each day but never winning the race. Or so it feels.

But I go through spurts of this. It's an ebb and flow of manic planning and a packed calendar. Eventually, the banshee screaming in my ear to "plan Plan PLAN!" takes a vacation, balance resumes, and all is right with the world.

Such is the life of of someone with an OCD. Sometimes it's tough to keep my thoughts and emotions in check, but I think I've been doing a fairly decent job at maintaining normalcy the past 16 years.

I've had plenty to write about the past month or so with the various changes in my coroporate surroundings, or the wedding plans, or my volleyball teams, or a few minor squabblings with loved ones. But, with the way I've been feeling, it would been spewn across the screen as a neurotic jumbled stream of consciousness that may not have been literate English and it would have been littered with run-on sentences and careless typos merely because I have too much that I need to get out but I'm not capable of typing fast enough because I don't even type correctly to begin with.

And this, my dear readers, is why I haven't written lately.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Travel Blogging

My cousin, Andy, is currently backpacking and hitchhiking through New Zealand and beyond. I've been following his blog with envy as he recounts his tales of discovery and wine overseas.

One of his recent entries features the following passage:

"Hurry up and get in brah, I'm not supposed to be stopping along here," he said to me as I contemplated how to fit myself and my backpack into the front seat of his tiny 2-door hatchback. "And watch out for the feathers." Great.

I'd only really hitchhiked once before. I was at a music festival in upstate new york a few years ago and discovered during the second day that I had misplaced my car. The festival "staff" were as puzzled as I was, and suggested that maybe it had been parked incorrectly and towed somewhere. As I walked along the road I got a ride from an older hippie guy who had misplaced the music festival, so working together we drank beer and tracked down what the other was seeking.

Turns out my second ride was also from an older hippie guy on his way to a gypsy festival, although between his heavy accent and the roar of his overworked Japanese engine I could hardly understand anything he was saying. Thinking he was asking where I was from, I confidently replied Oregon, which puzzled him. After explaining where Oregon was he stared at me blankly and pointed to his left hip. "Oh" I said, and buckled my seatbelt.

He went on to tell me how everything in the world is contaminated (or that he had a dog), and gave me a small card with a Buddhist Deity on it. 10 minutes later we had arrived at the festival, and while he graciously offered to allow me to leave my backpack in his car while I went to check it out...I elected to move on. I wandered a bit further down the road, this time making sure there was enough space for a car to pull over safely, and tried my luck again.

People do curious things when they see hitchhikers. Some wave and smile, some pretend they don't see you, some say things (or at least move their lips), and still others make rather curious hand signals. But the nice ones pull over and give you a lift.

My next ride came from an middle-aged guy who had come down for the weekend from Auckland to see his kids in Motueka (a town about 15km from Marahau, where I was headed). After we had covered the usual where from and doing what, the conversation turned to music and beer (funny that). As it turns out he was an avid Radiohead fan (he had even taken up guitar so he could play their songs at local open mic events) and also a homebrewer. We talked hops through Motueka, and before I knew it he was dropping me in Marahau.

Something about the imagery and the characters in this passage just makes me smile. As I read his blog, I'm prompted to encourage him to turn his writings into a more formal travel memoir. And part of me wishes that I, too, had such unique stories to share...

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Warm Welcome

My apartment has a gorgeous view of the pool. I love relaxing on the futon with a good book within earshot of the pool's fountains, especially on days when all our windows are open and the breeze circulates through each room. The days are getting warmer (this weekend forecasted mid 80s), which means it won't be long before we'll be slaves to the AC and higher energy bills. Until then, I've got all five windows and the sliding porch door wide open, welcoming the warmth.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Horseback Therapy

A few weekends ago I went horseback riding at Horse World with my grandparents and their seemingly adopted daughter, Donna. My grandpa treated me, claiming it was my birthday present. My birthday isn't until August, but I didn't have the heart to remind him, and I wasn't about to look a gift horse in the mouth. (You loved the pun. Admit it.)

I took horseback riding lessons when I was a kid. I have distinct memories of walking into the stables and combing the horse's mane, waiting for the instructor to come help me with the saddle. I have a few other blurred memories of cantering around the arena, though I can't remember if I ever progressed to the level of a controlled gallop. But I remember the day I had to quit horseback riding: my mom told me that it was becoming too expensive, and I couldn't play soccer and ride horses. So, I chose to become a soccer player, which as I've written about before, laid the foundation for my adolescence.
My grandparents decided to pass on riding the horses once we arrived at the Horse World stables, so Donna and I met our guide and were soon saddled up and ready to ride.

Our guide led the way through the woods at a slow walking pace. Donna followed, and I brought up the rear. Hershey, my horse that afternoon, was a slow, 17 year-old horse, who had clearly been giving guided tours for many moons. She knew the sandy path well. Even when I tried to detour off the path, she pulled me right back on. "Hey now," she implied as she pulled under the reins. "You're breaking the rules."

I enjoyed the hour-long tour, basking in the warm sun and listening to the various bird calls in the woods. Occasionally, the conversation between Donna and our guide floated back to me, but I purposely fell behind to lose myself in nature and the soothing rhythm of Hershey's trit-trot. A simple visit to nature's therapeutic realms always leaves me feeling calm and refreshed.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

A More Perfect Union

A few weeks ago after two stir-crazy days in the apartment over a long weekend, I hopped in my car and drove the five minute stretch to one of my favorite spots: the bookstore. When you've got time to kill (and a gift card to spend), there is nothing more satisfying than losing yourself amongst the stacks and shelves of book titles. I prefer the non-fiction genre-- travel writing, memoirs, social commentaries-- over the latest fiction release.

Aside: Will someone please explain this Twilight disease? I'm always weary of items in our culture that generate soldout midnight movie showings or overnight Facebook bumper stickers and pieces of flair. I'll admit I haven't seen the movie or read any of the books (and I hear there's several books; calm down, Harry Potter), but the media has pumped up this vampire frenzy of a novel so much that now I'm almost certain I will hate it. My aunt found out that I, "Shelly, the English Major," hadn't yet read the book, and she proceeded to buy it for me, because, clearly, I have nothing better to do between working my full time job, playing on two volleyball teams, a soccer team, a softball team, and planning a wedding than to read a romance novel about vampires. She handed it to me in a plastic Barnes and Nobles bag in a way that said, "I expected better from you."

The first Twilight book is now sitting on my desk; I fear that if I open it, I will be sucked into a world of fiction-escapism and I may never come back. If I open it, I just might like it, and I can't like it, because I have already convinced myself that I won't like it.

My hesitance to jump on the Twilight bandwagon is similar to how Hanna Schank views wedding planning in a wonderful book titled A More Perfect Union: How I Survived the Happiest Day of My Life, which was one of the books I picked up on my trip to the bookstore. Schank kicks off her engagement with the determination to have a small, low-key wedding. She will not obsess. She will be laid-back, and her bridesmaids and family members will call her a "cool, laid back, bride." She starts off as a cynical bride-to-be: she offers interesting wedding industry history, critiques why otherwise profesionally sound women morph into obsessive compulsive 'bridezillas', and she provides an overall social commentary of a 72-billion dollar industry.

On creating a wedding registry, Schank writes, "The problem was that I wasn't entirely sure what was wrong. She had, after all, a much clearer vision of who I should be than I did myself. I should care about juice glasses. I should know what a table runner is. I should want a nice set of china. I should be setting up a home for her son, never mind that we contribute equally to the household fiancially, that between the two of us, Steven is the one who is most looking forward to having and raising children, that no one I know has a clue what a chafing dish is or why you would need one. Never mind any of that, because, regardless, I am still going to be a wife, and this is what a wife does... It is possible that marriages and families and children all depend on having the right juice glasses. It is possible that I'm an inadequate bride who doesn't know how to register, and that as a result I'm going to be a rotten homemaker and a miserable wife and mother, and my marriage will end in divorce and scandal."

Schank tries to avoid meaningless wedding traditions and paying thousands of dollars to a industry that thrives on pushing the notion of perfection, but even she can't seem to resist: "But this is the problem: once you embrace the idea of perfection, it holds you in its grasp and refuses to let go; and even though I was not using the word 'perfect' I had the sense that I wanted things to be 'right,' which is more or less the same thing--and by that, I meant that I wanted things to be right. I wanted menus and I wanted them to look nice. I wanted little floral arrangements in the bathrooms that told my guests I had tried extra hard to make things nice for them. I wanted what I wanted. End of story.

And the end result was that, as much as I tried to fight it, as much as I tried to shut the wedding out of all the little crevices of my life, it crept in anyway, like grout. Because once you're thinking about all the million little things that you want to be right, you can't stop. It's rediculous, really. Here you are making this huge life decision to spend the rest of your life with someone, and instead of thinking about love and marriage, you are tormented by retailers demanding that you have perfect tuxedos, that your skin be not just clear but radiant, that your cocktails match your lifestick. And the truth was, no matter how revolting I had found the industry's demands, that I had become obsessed with my wedding."

I enjoyed the author's wry tone and her use of wedding industry facts to explain why weddings are the way they are. But mostly, I enjoyed her social commentary, because it is almost identical to my own current experience. It kills me to charge my credit card for a dress I will wear once, for a grand total of probably no more than 6 hours. (It's a beautiful dress, though, and "so Shelly," according to some of my bridesmaids.) I feel like I'm betraying my inner tomboy when I purchase wedding decor that could be described as, dare I say it, girly. ("Oh, but it will bring more color into the room," says my mother). I've even started contemplating the color coordination of table cloths (table cloths!), napkins (napkins!), and floral arrangements. What the hell is wrong with me? I've fallen into Wedding Land and I can't get out.

But don't throw me a rope just yet, because I'm not sure I'm ready to come back...

Schank's closing advice to brides-to-be is this: "Know that there is no such thing as the girliest girly-girl... Know that no matter what you do there will be people who think your wedding is too traditional or too wacky or just not their thing. And know that, if all goes well, you will never have to plan another wedding. So savor it. Revel in your dip into uber-femininity... Learn about all the flowers that are indigenous to your region and force all your bridesmaids to go out into a meadow and pick their own bouquets because you want a 'hand-plucked' look. Get as girly as you want to be. Because after your wedding, you will tuck your dress away in a corner and you probably won't look back. You will go back to being the woman you used to be before this whole silly wedding thing happened. So breathe deeply. And enjoy."

Shank may have lost a few points with me when she used the word "uber," but I get her message. I'm still planning to use faux flowers and make my own bouquets, but it doesn't hurt to research the real deal. And I know there will be people who have an opinion on various aspects of our wedding, and some of those people have already, not-so-tactfully, divulged those opinions. With Jolyon's help, my thicker skin is growing, and I'm trying to learn to just let things go. (Just because someone referred to our chosen wedding location as "nothing more than a Holiday Inn," doesn't mean I should jump all over said person.) In the end, it will be our wedding-- an expression of who we are as a couple, with the exception that, in the end, it will probably end up being the most money I've spent on anything in my entire life.

In the meantime, I may crack open Twilight.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Shellyon Wedding

It's official! I'm getting married!

Of course, I knew that back in September when Jolyon proposed. But now, I'm officially getting married. Or, at least now it feels official. When experienced wedding-goers ask me, "So, when's the wedding?" I no longer shuffle my feet and blush, muttering, "Uh, this fall...sometime... you know. We're still, uh, looking" as they chuckle and walk away, clearly disappointed at my lack of planning.

(Screw you, Wedding Industry. Who are you to tell me how long my engagement should be? Stop cramming magazines and bridal shows down my throat. Who are you to dictate what my "perfect day" entails, anyway? Who are you to tell me that spending $1,000 on a dress I'll wear once is justifiable? And, PS- I'm capable of doing my own makeup, thankyouverymuch.)

I'm glad we took our time to research venues, rather than rush into something that just wasn't "us." And I'm proud of myself for not giving into the various subtle guilt trips that floated in and out of my email inbox and facebook page:

Don't make us travel too far, now. You know we're all located in this one area. Oh, but ultimately the choice is yours. But just remember...


We're getting married on October 17, 2009 on Captiva Island, west of Fort Myers, FL.

In a previous post, I had mentioned Tween Waters Inn as a potential wedding location. I take back all the slightly mean things I wrote about their sales manager. (Apparently her true personality does not translate well through email. I should know this; much of my job requires heavy email communication, and after awhile, you just need to get to the point and aren't overly concerned about your tone.)

Upon arrival at Tween Waters Inn two weeks ago, Jolyon and I were greeted by a friendly woman, who enthusiastically drove us around the resort via golf cart. She showed us the various reception venues, answering our questions without an agenda, and she even gave us a tour of some of the onsite guest rooms. She was open and honest with us, which was a pleasant surprise, especially after some of the reviews I had read. She wasn't pushy; she truly just wanted to inform us of everything they had to offer. And she genuinely wanted to help us: "I want to see you guys get married," she said with a laugh. "I don't want to rip you off."

Almost immediately after arriving at the resort, I knew this was the place for us. Its casual ambiance was prevalent: small, rustic cottages were nestled in the palm trees, the registration building consisted of a single room, complete with faded couches, and the Gulf of Mexico was directly in front of the resort, with only a small road dividing the inn from the sand.
When the sales manager showed us the reception room that would be suitable for our wedding size, I melted. The room, accessible by stairs or elevator, overlooked the gulf, courtesy of several french doors. I walked out onto the balcony and looked out onto the beach, and my heart did a bit of hopskotch: there was a volleyball net on the beach. A wonderful, permanent, privately-owned volleyball net for Tween Waters Inn guest use only. I was sold.
Jolyon and I celebrated the selection of our wedding venue at the resort's pool bar, where the sales manager treated us to lunch (grilled cheese and nachos, yum!), and the friendly staff congratulated us and insisted on taking our picture.
We wandered around the small "downtown" area of Captiva Island, immersing ourselves in what felt like a tiny piece of the Caribbean: unique art shops, colorful buildings, and sand in the streets. We passed a woman who had set up shop on the side of the road, art canvas and all, to paint a portrait of the unique architecture on one of the side streets. I fell in love with Captiva Island and I want to learn more about its few year-round residents.
After we returned to Orlando, news spread quickly that we had officially set a date and booked a venue. Naturally, my planner instinct kicked in (as well as a "39 emails?! Oh this can't happen" reaction), and we completed our wedding website, which is full of useful information for our guests. It's a way for me to stay organized, a medium to excite our guests about our untraditional, destination wedding, and also a way to simply avoid a few nagging phone calls: "So, where are you getting married? What time is the cermony? Where should we stay?") Provided we have the correct email address for our family and friends, we shouldn't hear the excuse, "Well, had I known about it in advance..." or "Oh, I didn't know it was a beach wedding..."
Even though we've officially booked our wedding, I'm still glad that we've given ourselves enough time to simply enjoy being engaged... to talk about our futures, to spend time participating in our mutual hobbies, and to find new ways to love each other and those around us. After all, the wedding is just one day (or a short weekend, in our case). It's the days after the wedding--the marriage itself-- that truly matter.

I look at our engagement as not only the period of time in which we're promising our lives to each other, but we're working together to plan what will hopefully be the most memorable day of our lives. It's the first of many projects we'll undertake as a team: it's Jolyon and Shelly vs. The World. Watch out!

Monday, February 9, 2009

Sleepy Blog

I had hoped to set aside some time tonight to write about the past several weeks. And I still plan to do just that. However, my sleepy-eyed self won't be able to give this post the attention it deserves tonight...
But it's coming. I promise. And this one will be worth waiting for...

Monday, January 19, 2009


I picked up yet another wedding book at the Border's Outlet this weekend (read: I had a gift card): The Everything Creative Wedding Book. So far (I'm almost halfway through) it's been a fun read.

Example, from page 159, regarding planning a destination wedding: "The weekend wedding is also ideal for Type-A personalities, as this type of celebration requires intensive planning, a high degree of organizational skill, and plenty of follow-up to ensure all the details are in place."

Wait. Did I write this book? Sounds like I'm on the right track.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

101 Reasons...

I know it's a bit late in the resolution-making game, but perhaps you're still wondering what kind of change you can make in 2009.

101 Reasons Why I'm Vegetarian

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Comment Moderation

It's very cool that people who are currently residing in Brazil, Israel, India, Ireland, the Bahamas, and the UK have read my blog this week. And a few of you have even posted here. That's one of the great wonders of the World Wide Web... and also one of the great wonders of Site Meter.

Unfortunately, my blog has also attracted a lot of comment spam recently, so I'm placing some comment moderation on my account. While I mainly write for my own reflection, I truly enjoy a thoughtful comment from time to time. However, I don't consider a list of words (such as "prada bag," "handbag," "shoes," "necklace" etc.) to be thoughtful comments. These comments have since been deleted, so please take your business elsewhere.

As for you devoted readers (and you know who you are), please feel free to continue commenting, but understand that your comment will no longer immediately appear after posting.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Our Wedding Year

2009 marks what Jolyon has deemed our "Wedding Year."

The term is cute, despite the fact that his using it connotes his original protest to having a wedding in the first place. Having a wedding means planning that wedding, which requires effort and, more important, money. And in American culture, most weddings take a year, or longer, to plan... mainly because the couple has to reserve their ceremony and/or reception venues very far in advance. I'm looking forward to the planning aspect; as you know, I love to plan. Thus, Jolyon and I have entered our Wedding Year, in which our current effort is focused on finding the venue for our tropical destination wedding... a venue that doesn't require maxing out our credit cards, taking out a loan, or selling off the cats.

Over the weekend, I saw the movie Bride Wars. (It had been awhile since I'd seen a chick flick, so don't judge me.) While the majority of the ladies in the audience were obviously relating to the two young girls' dreams of having the "perfect" wedding at The Plaza in Manhatten, I caught myself thinking about my own childhood wedding dream in which I realized... I never had one. I must have been too busy getting grass stains on my clothes or playing whiffle ball with the neighborhood boys.

In fact, I didn't start thinking about wedding traditions or wedding details until Jolyon proposed. And even then, I didn't know what you were supposed to DO at a wedding, or what would be expected of you (I have only been to 1.5 weddings).

I started browsing through some over-priced wedding books at the book stores back in October.

Your Guide to a Picture-Perfect Wedding. (Wouldn't that depend on the individual's definition of perfection?)
How to Have Your Dream Wedding for Less Than $10,000. (People spend more than that? What the hell.)
The Ultimate Wedding Planner. (This book was heavier than my college astronomy textbook.)
Bride on a Budget. (Aren't we all on a budget?)

Needless to say, I was a bit jaded by the whole wedding idea after reading articles in some of those books. Did I say jaded? I mean overwhelmed. Overwhelmed at the thought of spending that much money on one day. Overwhelmed at the thought that somehow, for some strange out-of-character reason... I wanted to spend that much money on one day.

I feel guilty for wanting a wedding. And I'm having trouble figuring out the origin of this guilt... and the last thing I want is to feel a guilted weight as we plan this milestone day. Maybe it's because I know Jolyon doesn't want a wedding; he would kiss my feet and carry me directly to City Hall tomorrow morning if I let him. Maybe it's because my parents have offered us a large sum of money to pay for the wedding in a sub-par economy. Or maybe it's because I'm more traditional than I'd pegged myself to be. My original desire to have a casual beach wedding keeps getting distracted by magazine articles, bridal shows, and wedding websites. Ok, Wedding Industry. I give. What else do you want to throw my way before I decide that maybe Jolyon's suggestion to elope ain't so bad?

The wedding industry plays a mean little game with us brides-to-be. For example, I found this pretty spectacular-seeming location in Captiva Island: South Seas Island Beach Resort. They claim they can work with "any budget" and can "customize" most "packages." And, of course, they plaster their site with beautiful pictures and venues, appealing to my easily-persuaded emotional side. Naturally, I got excited, like the thousands of brides before me, I'm sure... until my requested information packet arrived via email, in which their per person price for the reception dinners was $200 each. For that kind of money, the food better be served on solid gold plates by the hands of Jesus himself.

I did, however (thanks to my stepfather's research), find a quaint beach inn, also located on Captiva Island: 'Tween Waters Inn. The location and amenities for an informal beach wedding seem almost too perfect, and their reasonable prices equally so. Perhaps their prices are cheaper than the other locations on Captiva Island because at this resort, you have to deal with a sales manager who speaks and writes in vague brevity, and from the reviews I've read, treats the brides as part of a wedding factory: several weddings per day with no special attention paid to the bride and groom. For her, it's truly "strictly business."

Truly, if the location is right for us, and is within our budget, I don't care if she doesn't become my pal. I read some positive reviews as well, though I suppose I will form my own opinion after Jolyon and I see this resort in person on the 31st. I've always wanted to venture to Captiva Island, so even if 'Tween Waters turns out not to be the location for us, it will be fun to see a different part of Florida.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

2009: Open Eyes and Open Heart

Hey there, 2009.

At the risk of introducing my favorite cliche (sorry, but there's really no other way to sum it up): 2008 was one heck of a roller coaster ride--the vertical climb, followed by the lets's-scream-our-head-off drop, and a dozen crazy bends and twists, culminating with a screeching halt and an easy glide to the exit zone.

Let's gloss over the highlights...

In January, I helped my best friend, at the time, cope with the ending of her marriage. I coached her through the final stages of the divorce process; she had the inner strength to get through what seemed like the end of her universe... and I made sure she realized this. In turn, she helped me reach the clarity that I had been blinded to for years: I, too, was in an unhealthy relationship, denying myself true happiness by staying with someone I knew wasn't right for me. I truly believe that my friend and I met for a reason. We were each other's crutch during our lives' turning points.

In February, I sought the help of a therapist to promote my personal growth.

In March, I confessed to Jolyon, whom I had fallen in love with in 2007, that I didn't want him to date other people, and that I certainly wouldn't be able to either, because he had enhanced my life in every possible way.

In May, Jolyon moved in with me.

In June, I started playing soccer again. This was both a blessing and a curse, as I realized that my true "glory days" were long behind me; my body simply wouldn't let me perform on the field the same way it did when I was 18.

In July, I attended Liz's wedding, the first of my childhood friends to tie the knot.

In August, I ended what had been an incredible two-year friendship with the woman I had often referred to as my sister. This was an extremely difficult move for me, mainly because I was still hurt , angry, and confused... and not completely confidant I was making the best decision by shutting her out of my life. I never would have expected her to lie to me, and I eventually accepted that our friendship would never be the same, even if I did attempt to contact her again: "We tell lies when we are afraid... afraid of what we don't know, afraid of what others will think, afraid of what will be found out about us. But every time we tell a lie, the thing that we fear grows stronger " (Tad Williams).

In September, Jolyon and I went on our first cruise. On our first night at sea, he asked me to marry him.

2008 will be tucked away in its own separate memory box, in case I need to reference any of the many life-lessons learned. I'm moving forward into 2009 with open eyes, an open mind, and an open heart.