Monday, October 14, 2013

things I would tell my 20 year old self.

These blog posts with the common theme "what I would tell me twenty-year old self" are dime-a-dozen and featured daily on Facebook, and I'm think it's about time someone says something about it.

I get it, we were young, dumb and we made mistakes. But come on, if your twenty-something-year-old-self really went back in your time machine would you change it all? Impart some earth-shattering advice about self-esteem and keeping your friends close then miraculously graduate with a honors into your fantasy life, with a big house and rich husband?

I wouldn't. And with that, here are the bits of advice I would tell my twenty-year old self, knowing there is no f**king way that could ever f**king happen:

-Weed your garden. Friends will come and go. Some will stay. Love them if you feel like it, leave them if you feel like it. Be a good enough person to be surrounded by good enough people, and you'll be fine. Even if you lose touch, you can always stalk them later on Facebook.

-Drink too much. This is the only time in your life you will be able to afford it. Well, maybe not financially, but in terms of calories and hours of sleep you need to survive, this is as good as it's going to get. There will soon come a time when you are handed a diploma and can no longer mix Franzia blush boxed wine, Keystone light beer from a keg and McCormick's brand anything in the same night and survive it. Which brings me to...

-Frat Guys. What a blessing. They aren't all what your parents warned you about. Sure, you should keep an eye on your drink, but adults have to use that caution as well. Frat guys are the best. They're just normal guys disguised in Polo and Ray Bans, and they have an endless supply of the above stated libations. Frat-party it up.

-Designate a driver. The best choice is the one with a yellow light on top of his yellow car. Because the likelihood of anyone else in the group staying true to the task is narrow at best. And if you don't trust yourself enough on this one, rent an apartment within stumbling distance to the bars.

-Go to class, most of the time. You're gonna skip class, it's gonna affect your GPA. NO ONE LOOKS AT YOUR GPA. Trust me, you'll watch the grades suffer, you'll learn your lesson. You'll learn an unbreakable work ethic, through experience and mistakes. You'll leave your GPA off your resume, you'll make connections and you'll land that job. But still give it a good effort and never ever schedule an 8am class.

-Wear UGG Boots. Sure, everyone says they look stupid. And with Nike Running shorts, they kind of do. But you're about to move to Colorado and discover that UGG Boots are the shit. But just remember, you're poor, so buy the knock-offs from Target. And rock those boots with the fur, girl. But not with leggings. Leggings are not pants. Not anywhere. Never.

And there's absolutely nothing else I would tell myself. 20, as well as the surrounding ages is the only time in your life (until you're 90, with dementia) when you can say, do and feel anything you want and you will be forgiven (within reason, don't be a dick or a felon.) You'll make mistakes, you'll rebuild. You'll want to tell all 20 year olds to grow up. Bite your tongue. Let life take it's course. None of us got where we are today because our future, lame-ass selves jumped on our hippogriffs and shook our fist at our crazy-ass selves.

Plus, soon we'll be thirty and nothing will be forgiven. And that's gonna suck.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

honk if you have missed ali jay.

Some facts you should know about me that will help you understand this post:
  • It typically takes no longer than 4.5 seconds behind the wheel to develop extreme, pervasive road rage. 
  • I was a psychotherapist.
  • Ergo, I can move past said road rage easily, just by stepping out of the car. 
  • I have never honked my horn as a result of road rage. 
  • I have never gestured my middle finger, or any of my fingers for that matter as a result of road rage.
  • Unless you have a vantage point to catch a passive eye roll, or you can read thoughts...you would not know I had road rage. *Exceptions include, but are not limited to: my mother, My Dustin, my former MHCD clients
So today my drive home was not unlike most, frustrating and slow and full of demon-fun-suckers in fancy cars. But as you would assume, I stayed focused on my silver-lining; a job I get to drive to, in my mediocre, paid-off vehicle so I can afford to eat gluten-free oreos dipped in nutella in my tiny, cozy apartment.

THEN-

While I was stopped behind a car at a red light, the light turned green and the car to the left of me honked at the truck in front of them. The driver in front of me turned his entire body around to flip me "the bird"*. Then we all got on our way. But no one was happy. But out of the four of us affected by this exchange....WHO BENEFITED FROM ALL THE MADNESS!? No one.

No one got home faster. I assume no one got home and told their significant other how amazing their human experience had been in the last hour. 

So maybe we talk about circumstances during which it OK to use your horn:
  • When someone is about to crash into you.
  • When you are about to crash into someone.
  • When you see a Texas Tech decal on the back of a car in Colorado.
And that's about it folks. 

Now I know my previous posts essentially dance around a certain anecdote via run-on sentences and a strategic use of italics, then bring it full circle to support some profound thought. But this evening, I don't have anything profound to say.

It's really quite simple. Let's be nice in traffic y'all. You're not just honking at a car. You're honking at a person with their own priorities, issues, likes and dislikes. And you're also honking to everyone within earshot of that person. And sometimes that person is trying to enjoy some nutella oreos in their tiny-ass apartment IN PEACE while you are busy throwing a pointless temper tantrum behind the wheel at the intersection outside her window! And sometimes the demon-bird-flipper doesn't know who is honking and takes it out on the innocent, patience, former psychotherapist behind him, and it really effs up everyone's day.

So just be cool y'all. Your horn isn't some miraculous toggle that when activated will jet us all home .4 seconds faster. 

*Why it is called "the bird" is beyond me. It should be called "the shark" or "the spider" or "the gecko" or some other abomination of a creature, because birds really aren't that bad. I don't think it's fair to associate them with such a nasty, pointless gesture. "The centipede", however, really gets the point across. 

Monday, August 26, 2013

BioMarin Can Save Andi

Friends, this morning we took to our social media outlets to post our thoughts on the VMAs, our back to school photos and our typical 'Monday' memes. What if you could use the same social media to save a life? 

I'll keep it short because I would really like for everyone I know to read this and take action:

Our friend, Andi Sloan needs access to an investigational medication called BMN 673.

BioMarin is a pharmaceutical company that could provide Andi with compassionate use of the medication.

Andi is a fighter with a whole army behind her. And that army is fighting hard to get the attention of BioMarin so they may let Andi try their product.

If you have a Twitter account, please follow Andi. Retweet her so we can get BioMarin to respond and see how much we care about Andi's precious life. https://twitter.com/andi_sloan

If you are on Facebook, join the army! https://www.facebook.com/groups/andisarmy/?ref=br_rs

If you'd like, please sign the petitionhttp://www.change.org/petitions/biomarin-pharmaceuticals-allow-andrea-sloan-andi-sloan-to-take-their-experimental-drug-bmn673

Use your social media power for the good. No one wants to hear any more about Miley Cyrus today anyway. :)

Happy Monday!
-Ali Jay

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

we're closer now than we've ever been.

I am not a runner. I love fitness, but I've never been good at or enjoyed running. I could probably contribute this to my A.D.D. coupled with a crippling fear of suffocating. That being said, sometimes I get hasty and think 'there is no reason why I couldn't run a 5k', so I sign up for one and invite all my friends and brag about it and "train" and watch the days go by in horror as the race date grows closer.

The night before the race is usually when I start sabotaging. I drink too much, stay up too late, maybe eat 9 wings with ranch dressing and large fries. And that's precisely what happened last winter when I signed up for a 5k, drank too much, ate too much and stayed up too late before it.

I felt rough y'all. And if you've ever been hungover before, [which I'm sure you have, because you're reading this, so you're my friend and I'm not friends with people who haven't been hungover] you know that running is the thing you are least capable of doing in such a state. But ALAS, I had moral support [that for about 3/4 of the race ditched me because they WEREN'T hungover and are CAPABLE of jogging 3 miles] and my dear friend Calley provided profound inspiration* as she tends to do by stating, "we're closer now than we've ever been."

A bit dramatic for the task at-hand, but so applicable to EVERYTHING. I told her immediately, "I'm going to blog that, I will." So I've had this draft blog sitting around here basically since last December and I'm finally inspired enough to relate it to something.

~

I realized that I was so focused on mimosas the finish line that I never enjoyed the process. And y'all this was an ugly sweater 5k, so the process was fricken hysterical.

"We're closer now than we've ever been" gave me the drive and perspective I needed to reach my end-goal and I became obsessed with the mantra. But that's just my anxious personality taking over and my anxious personality tends to miss out on what's happening around it.

So I need a new mantra now, for every activity that is not running, that will remind me not to focus on the finish line, but to slow down and take in the beauty [or the ugly sweater parade] that surrounds me.

When you're always focused on long-term goals it's hard to be thankful for the path that got you there. And when those goals are too long-term it's hard to congratulate yourself for your small victories. Personally, I think I deserve a cupcake and champagne every time I get out of bed before the fourth alarm, but that's just me and if I had champagne for breakfast I would never meet any goals anyway so I just settle for a cup of coffee and get on with my day.

Let this be a lesson to you, not only on patience but also on never accepting an invitation from me to run in a 5k.

*If you need therapy, which you probably do because you are reading this, so you're my friend and I'm not friends with people who don't need therapy, click the link above.

Friday, July 5, 2013

silly yak.

Six years ago today, I ate a turkey sandwich, sat down at my computer and logged on to find out that the turkey sandwich I just consumed was virtually poison to my body. The ten months leading up to these results were hellacious. And while I was relieved to have an answer, the answer was not one I wanted.
Celiac Disease is a tricky little diagnosis, because while it is non-life-threatening, it’s still a life changer. I feel fortunate that the only thing missing from my body is a tiny little enzyme that processes a tiny little protein, but there are some times when I just want to punch someone in the face for taking my diet as a joke.
So on my six year anniversary, let me share with you a little friendly advice from a self-proclaimed, gluten-free expert:
It’s not a choice, so don’t make fun. It’s a disease. If you wouldn’t run through a hospital making fun of patients there, don’t make fun of me either.
Stop rubbing it in our faces. I know what a donut tastes like. I really wish I could drink that beer too. I don’t need you to remind me of what I’m missing out on. I can’t stress this enough.
Gluten-free is not that hard, or expensive. It can be, yes. But if you eat healthy and get a little creative, you can have almost meal without having to go to the end of the earth. They make bread, it kind of sucks and it is three times more expensive than glutenous bread. Turn your sandwich into a salad or a taco. Stuff your pizza ingredients into a mushroom cap and bake it.
That being said, I don’t want to go to Panera with you for lunch. A salad is not the same when there is bread baking in the back. It’s like in True Blood, when the vampire is quietly enjoying their synthesized blood cocktail and a human walks in. Enough said. Unless someone from Panera Corporate is reading this- PLEASE MAKE GLUTEN FREE BREAD.
When I bring something to your party/potluck/whatever, taste it!  I spent 20 years of my life eating gluten, and the first four years of my GF diet making mistakes in the kitchen. I know what it’s supposed to taste like, and after six years I can make any dish and it will likely be healthier than the alternative. So be open-minded and enjoy your not-stomach-ache later. But if you want to be close-minded, nbd, because I’m going to go to town on the leftovers.  
Champagne is gluten-free. A fine alternative to beer.
Time to step down from my soapbox now and enjoy my big gluten-free day. I love you GF diet, thanks for the last six, let's stay together forever.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

june twentieth.

I've always been a wanderer. Spontaneous. I'm told that as a child I would get bored with a restaurant or a show and decide I needed to explore the bathroom or whatever I could find as a change of scenery.

Once, while visiting family in Dallas, I asked my parents if I could stay longer and took my first solo plane trip back to Austin a few days later.

In high school, on a whim, I joined my best friend Amanda for these silly dance auditions at 7am and for the next four years, drill team was my life. 

After several hollow dreams of the west coast and Ivy League schools passed, I followed my young, naive heart to Lubbock, Texas, a city I had never been to, a University of which I did not know the mascot.

My grandma is reading this or else I would even tell you how many tattoos I have!!!

I don't think any of these circumstances could have prepared my parents for what I did on June 20, 2011. 

...

About two months prior, I laid in my bed with strep throat and applied to 44 jobs in Denver, Colorado. I didn't tell too many people, as my plan had been to return to Austin and look for jobs there. But a couple weeks later, my now friend Michelle called me to offer me an interview as a Mental Health Case Manager in Denver! I flew out, and y'all, no one thought that plane ticket would pay itself off. (Side note: they were right, you don't make any money in social work, badumm chhhhh) Fast foward, two weeks later I got a call back offering me a temporary position for another employee's maternity leave.

My family is a helluva lot more reasonable than I, so they all told me to wait for a permanent position, but my I accidentally left my heart in Denver during the interview so I had to go back and get it. 

...

Today, exactly two years after I drove away from my hometown with my car loaded down, my heart is heavy (as are my tear ducts). But not heavy in a bad way. Heavy with love, wonder, homesickness, new memories, old memories, friendships, more memories than I thought were possible, confusion, anxiety, peace, more love.

I love my family, I love my friends, but y'all...I'm so happy I didn't listen to you and your reason. I'm so happy I've never listened. I've made so many mistakes, I've been so irresponsible. But I've just been following my wandering, attention-deficit, bleeding heart.

And now as my little brothers have both taken that drive over the Texas border, my parents sit at home and watch "Sheldon" (Big Bang Theory), and share stories of our dogs like they are another generation of children, I hope they are proud. And I hope their hearts are as heavy as mine with pride and enough worry and wonder to occasionally come visit us or buy us plane tickets back home. Because they gave us this gift, a sense of adventure bigger than a sense of fear, and let us fly, but not too far.
Vienna - Billy Joel

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

a strangely wrapped gift.

I've never been known for having outstanding luck. As my grandma always says, "That wouldn't happen to anyone but you." Always. She always has the opportunity to say it!

I thought that removing myself from the field of social work would help bring some order and normalcy to my life, but on this, my first day in human resources, life was anything but orderly.

Last night, I was flying back from Omaha, NE so obviously that would be the evening some hooligan decided to pull a telephonic bomb threat. While my tensions rose about the time I would have to prepare for my first day of work, I managed to keep calm and be thankful for the safety of travelers and for a couple extra hours of bliss and red wine with the love of my life. [Side note: there has never been a moment that I wasn't thankful for red wine.] [Wait, maybe that one time I drank too much Barefoot wine, but we don't have to revisit that memory.]

My flight wasn't full, but it was bumpy so I managed to get about 14 minutes of nap and 62 minutes of staring at the tiny white bag in the seat back pouch in front of me, strategically planning its impending removal and use.

Once I had my feet on the ground I was looking for[ward to] the RTD bus that would take me back to the shady, dark parking lot in which my car was parked. Fast forward to the next hour of my life, there was no bus. I decided that 7.5 miles in a taxi was an affordable alternative and ventured to the Ground Transportation level of the airport.

You would think for $45, the driver would assist me with my luggage, but noooo. I barreled my way into the taxi van, dropping my phone and not realizing my wallet as well.

I'm just going to give up on the rest of last night because it just gets worse and worse. [See: Gas light flashing, then google how many gas stations are open after midnight in Denver.]

So, if you're still with me, here's the golden moment:

I put literally everything except tooth-brushing off until this morning, based on my zombie-state. So I woke up around 5:45am, showered, breakfasted, took a 15 minute nap, made coffee, stared at my closet rack, changed clothes 4.5 times, spent 35 minutes on my hair for my new badge picture and walked right out the door at 7am without said coffee. 

I stopped at the gas station, started the pump and took a relaxing seat back in my car and RIPPED MY ANN TAYLOR BLACK SUMMER SLACKS FROM LOWER BACK TO NETHER REGION STRAIGHT DOWN THE MIDDLE OF MY BUTT.

The end.

Moral of the story: Everything happens for a blessed reason, my friends. Whether it's for a few more precious memories with a loved one, to give you perspective that you are fortunate enough to take a cab alternatively to public transportation, or so that you stop for gas and rip your pants BEFORE getting to your brand new job. Life is a gift, even when it seems like it isn't.

Monday, March 18, 2013

home is where the feet are.


To say I haven't had the best luck with housing in the last year would be an understatement.

Last April, I was left to live solo in an apartment made for two [incomes] with my drug dealing neighbors and a broken fragile heart. But time worked quickly to patch up my life, and I found what I thought would be an ideal setup by June. Cato and I packed up our bags and moved into a massive, modern basement apartment in pretty much the scariest "up and coming" neighborhood in Denver.

Unfortunately, the scariest experience we had there was just trying to walk in the front door. You see, my basement apartment was only accessible after passing by a dog-door, and my landlord was incredibly neglectful when it came to her two weimaraners and one golden-doodle. Fast forward about 12 dog bites, thousands of dollars in anxiety treatment and a new family for Cato, and a chewed up front door I knew it was time to move.

In the interest of replenishing my depleted bank account I opted for a room mate and found a sweet little condo a block from Cheesman Park. The price was right and the location couldn't have been better so I signed up...for a six month lease. [Note: I did not sign up for a 5.5 month lease, I signed up for a SIX MONTH LEASE]

You probably see where this is going.

About two weeks ago, my landlord informed me she was selling the condo from under us, and 7 emails later I received a notice to vacate 15 days before my lease end-date, because "having tenants in the apartment while trying to sell it isn't working out for anyone".

I can't lie to you guys, I started to feel really homeless out here in the wild mid-west.

Luckily, I was blessed and provided with the opportunity to travel for the past two weekends, which afforded me the frame of mind to appreciate my new nomadic lifestyle.

I got to travel back to Austin and I was asked on the plane if I was leaving or coming home. The only answer I could come up with was both! [Sidebar: I've also been taking American Sign Language classes and I love that there are different signs for 'house' and 'home'. Because I tell you what, they are so often not the same.] I may not have a stable apartment in Denver, but I know for sure that I am home.

Home is not the roof over my head, but the ground that I stand on when I'm surrounded by loving, caring and reasonable people. And most recently home has been...
On this overlook in Boulder, CO
At Church on Christmas Eve in Austin, TX
In my parents' backyard on this way too sunny day in Austin, TX
In this movie theater with Reeses Pieces in my popcorn

In front of this sunset in Boulder, CO

Inside this dream in Rocky Mountain National Park

Standing on this, my first frozen lake in Rocky Mountain National Park








Wednesday, March 6, 2013

rsvp.

This is a story about how my friend Megan changed my life.

OK, that was dramatic, but truthful. And the truth is what this story is all about!

Once upon a time, I was reading Megan's blog and I came across a post entitled "An Invitation to Not be a Liar". I was inspired. Now, in an effort to be all therapisty and balanced and whatnot, I stored this phrase in the mantra department of my brain. The thing about the mantra department, is that it's severely underutilized. A few months passed and little progress was made toward goals of being direct and open and honest with others.

I've never been much of a blatant liar...just more of a truth avoider. I guess I'm an avoider of all things uncomfortable. And for that reason I tend to leave out the uncomfortable details when communicating with others. This week I experienced a perspective shift. For the first time I was aware that I was the one being spared of an uncomfortable fact. AND IT SUCKED.

A few weeks ago I interviewed for a job I was really passionate about. I knew the position needed to be filled quickly, so each day following the interview I checked my phone and my email thinking I would get some kind of quick response, and hopefully the news would be good. I even ran into the hiring manager several times a week and received nothing but a "hey, how are ya". Two days ago, I found out through the grapevine that a new person was starting in the position. That person was not me. And guess what little phrase sneaked right up to the tip of my tongue and has been camping out ever since!

An invitation to not be a liar.

I still haven't gotten my rejection, and I don't know if I ever will. But I do know that through bitterness can come change. So change is what I did. I started an internal campaign to change my behaviors and my communication strategies so the people in my life aren't left checking their phone and email 47 times an hour waiting for news that will likely never come.

My first order of business was to break some hearts. I recently tried online dating. I felt it was the most effective way to fully-immerse myself back into the dating scene after the ol' detox. And immersed I was. I was hasty with my phone number, but it did get into the hands of a few lucky gentlemen and dates were set up. And y'all- guess what. I met someone. I met someone so right that everyone else seemed wrong. And I couldn't rectify going on any more wrong dates. So I knew what I had to do.

But the thought of canceling things freezes my brain and my words and my hands and I end up ignoring people and never-ever-ever getting back together.

But in response to Megan's invitation, I decided to just send some simple, truthful texts and not be a liar. I mean it would have been easy to say I was sick, or busy, or that aliens had abducted my car, or that my legs had been amputated. But saying those things wouldn't have gotten the point across that it just wasn't going to work out this time. And I would have had to keep getting sick, or abducted, week after week, and I'm just not that creative. So I said it like it was.

And y'all, it worked. It was the easiest thing I ever imagined to be terrifying!

And I lived honestly ever after, the end.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

blog, meet job.


This afternoon, one of my new clients greeted me by saying "Wow, someone is having a bad hair day, miss case manager".

We were meeting in a crowded lobby, and she was quite loud so most people turned to look at my half straightened, half wavy hair which I had haphazardly knotted on top of my head at least four hours prior. I could have felt embarrassed. I should have felt like maybe I should reassess my life as I thought back to the three coworkers who asked me if I was sick the day before [I wasn't]. But instead I just took a seat and laughed with utter relief.

Because all she was showing me with her statement was acceptance.

And all you hope to receive from a lifelong gang affiliate with a laundry list of felonies who once stabbed another person is acceptance. 
She's a person who has been through many traumatic experiences. She has learned to put up a wall with new people. She has a hard exterior, and her being real with me was her way of opening up to me. Her way of letting me know that we are going to work well together. Because she can say what's on her mind to me. And for someone who has been through so much to trust a new clinician in their life enough to be real, is a defining moment in recovery.


When I tell people about my job, I usually get some variation of the following questions:
- You have to drive those people in your car?
- Can you carry a weapon?
- So do you have a mental illness? **

So, as I begin to share stories from my job, here are the facts:
I am a clinical case manager on a high-intensity treatment team. I work with adults diagnosed with mental illness; some with co-occurring substance abuse disorders. I have a deep, passionate belief in recovery and the resiliency that all humans possess. My job is often frustrating, exhausting and emotional. But every day I witness growth, compassion and strength ; all of which provide me with the greatest reward.

I am not scared to be around my clients. When meeting new clients, like the individual in the story above, I am usually intimidated, but never scared. With a smaller caseload, I develop close therapeutic relationships with all of my clients. And more time with these folks equals more stories.

I find humor in many moments that some may consider emotionally intense. It helps to ease the emotional burden I carry from working with this population. As I share my stories, regardless of my tone, please be mindful that mental illness is a real concern. It is estimated that 1 in every 5 people struggles with mental illness and help is available.

If you or someone you know is in need of resources,  click here for help locating services.

All that being said, stay tuned for my adventures in Social Work!

-ali jay.

**This is an actual question I was asked once. I laughed it off, but upon further review, that person may have been onto something.....

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

at least it's not about dating.

As my sixtyish day date detox comes to an end, I've been reflecting on the changes that came with it. If you read my last blog post, you know I developed insight and defined what it is I'm looking for in a partner. [So if you're reading this and are currently dating me, congratulations! You passed the disqualifying round!] But fear not! This post is not about dating.

It's about my very favorite part of being single. Something that always meant so much to me, but I often forgot to focus on. This post is about friendship. And specifically, the types of friends I think everyone should have and keep close at all times.

In no particular order:
*Names have been omitted for the sake of humility and possible legal implications.

   -The friend who, despite spending every other minute g-chatting, texting and phone-calling, you still have standing Saturday morning brunch plans with. The same friend who will drop everything in the middle of a busy trial to act as your attorney for some mess you got yourself into and can't get rid of. Her ADHD may be so severe that you never hear the end of a story, but you love her anyway. And she loves you.
   - The friend who knows exactly when and where your favorite artists and bands are playing and without a doubt will be singing obnoxiously in the front row with you. This friend is great because the only time he'll ever break your trust if when he orders you a tonic instead of soda. But it's still got vodka in it, so you're not even that mad.
   - The friend who will laugh with you, not at you, when you mistake your own reflection for a girl wearing the same hat as you. Who you don't even need to go to the gym with, because every conversation is an ab-workout. Roadtrips are ideal with this friend because she makes 13-hours feel like not long enough. If co-dependence is wrong, I don't want to be right.
   -The best friend's boyfriend, who takes the time to know you, cook for you, be your designated driver, give you boy advice, threaten you for not updating your blog and put up with hours of girl talk, just because he's so crazy about your best friend that he takes the time to become your friend too.
   -The friend who is more like a seeeeester, so you never have to worry about work or school getting too demanding to come between you.
   -The friend who you can call any time you drive by her house and she will be outside ready to hop in the car and start another adventure. This kind of friend useful as they are always game for sharing a Frisbee full of french fried calories.
   -The friends that you sometimes forget to be professional around, but then you realize they are your coworkers and you could get in trouble if someone overhears you, but then you realize you don't care because they are your best friends and nothing else matters but friends. Well I guess except paying the rent, so maybe we should lock it up guys.
   -The friend that is really your mom but sometimes you forget because she is so much cooler than you. And sometimes you think, 'maybe she just has to be this nice to me because I'm the one in charge of how nice of a nursing home she will spend the last of her days in'. But then you know that can't be the reason because when she is old and frail you're going to hold her and cry and never leave her side because she literally couldn't have been more supportive of you from day one.
   -The friend that is married to your mom, but sometimes you question her loyalty because you think, 'I can't possibly be related to someone this kind, talented and responsible'. But then you catch a glimpse of yourself in the mirror and realize, 'oh yeah, we are definitely related..where else would I have gotten these good looks from.' That's the kind of friend that subscribes himself to Denver Groupon just to make sure you get fed every now and then.
   -The friends that are the four most admirable men you've ever known. That have set the standards for anyone you date at a basically unreachable level. You're always protected when you keep these types of friends.
   -The friend with whom you have so much in common that miles can't stop you from being by her side as she marries her high school sweetheart and makes you cry all over your silk chiffon dress and poppy colored pumps.
-The far away but not forgotten Texan friends, whose names seriously light up your day when they pop-up randomly via phone or computer.

If you've got friends like these nothing can make you feel empty.

Thank you friends, for keeping my head above water when the world turns cruel and ugly.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

hang up on the hookup.

Alright, first things first: All credit of this title goes to my father. When this blog post turns into a New York Times Best Selling Self-Help Guide, trademark goes to Dave Jarrott. [Re: NYT - Sometimes they actually review books as "unputdownable", which is exactly how I want my writing to be remembered.] Unfortunately for dear old dad, written proof exists that he wishes for me to publish his phrase, so he will receive no royalties when I'm famous. Sorry, dad.

Onward. 

Speaking of the New York Times, I have some thoughts on an article I came across this week on the end of courtship.  I'd highly recommend you take a short break and read it, but it's kind of long, so if you'd like the nutshell version, here it is:

1) Girl puts on her skinny jeans and gets all pretty, and cute, and desperate for a date she is asked out on via OkCupid.
2) He texts her thirty minutes after said date start-time to ask her if she wants to meet up with him + friends. She declines.
3)  Author gives up completely on the hope and prosperity of "hookup culture millennials". [My spell-check is informing me that she may have made the last word up. Go girl.]
4) Evidence, evidence, more evidence. Clever pop-culture references. Evidence. Witty simile. More evidence. Shameless plugs for various innovative online dating opportunities.
5) Author takes a quick venture into online stalking methods, backing up theory that there is no use for a real first date after you've googled, facebooked, twittered, tumblred, instagrammed and linkedin your crush. [Who's making up words now, chick?]
6) She theorizes that traditional dating makes a man feel like things are getting too serious, too soon.
7) Some San Franciscan rarity breaks the mold by refusing to accept anything less. Happy ending. Yay!

Don't misplace my snarky attitude here. I LOVE THIS ARTICLE. I LIVE THIS ARTICLE. My frustration stems from the truth behind it. And also the fact that the author offers no realistic cure.

I've been dating for the better part of nine months, in a big city, with a notable excess in the population of men versus women. For the most part, I know what I want. My standards are usually high. I have yet to break the mold.

In December, I decided to take a one month hiatus from dating. I cleverly referred to it as my hi-date-us. I failed miserably due to my lack of boundaries and my immense threshold for being bullshitted. [Spell-check says that one's a word. You learn something new every day.] I didn't go on any actual dates, but I didn't eliminate from my life those who complicated it. So really the only thing that changed about my lifestyle was no more free meals or drinks. Not helpful.

At the end of December, I was drunkenly invited to partake in a structured date detox for the month of January and decided that was a GREAT IDEA! This one includes eliminating from your life any male who has ever made you feel human feelings AND creating lists of qualities you have experienced and would like to experience in the future. Also no flirting. Ha.

It has been half of a month and I would say I've earned an A- so far. January 12th was questionable, but spending time brainstorming what I really want in my life has empowered me like I've never felt before. I think I've told my partner-in-detox about 15 times that I'd like to just remain abstinent from dating forever. Obviously that's not going to happen, but I do believe I'm well on my way to breaking the mold.

So with that, my single friends, I offer you my cure:
If you don't want something, don't settle for it. If you do want something, hold out for it. If you want flowers at your doorstep, stop responding to the late night "hey, what r u doin" texts. If you want to get to know who a man really is, turn off the computer and ask him to dinner. If you want a happy, stable man in your life, shut the door and find happiness within first. Create a framework for the partner you truly desire. There are so many fish in the sea, but it's not about quantity. Figure out which kind of fish you like the most, research which region that fish inhabits and pray that when you catch him he's tall, rich and sensitive. But even if he's not, maybe he has all ten of the "must-haves" your date detox asked you to define and carry with you at all times. And you'll live happily ever after.

*After thought: As I was writing this angst-ridden blog post, I received a picture of a ridiculously romantic gift my brother had just presented to the girl he is dating. I know that real, decent human men exist. I just happen to be related to all of them.


Wednesday, January 2, 2013

103 degrees of optimism.

There's something to be said about the power of optimism. I'm just not sure what it is yet, so I'm gonna start writing to try to get to the bottom of it.

New Year's Eve is undoubtedly my favorite night of the entire year, but in trying to make plans for this glorious occasion, I quickly discovered that my affliction is a rare one. It's actually my first New Year being single, so I wanted to get the biggest group of my favorite people together for dancing, drinks and meeting strangers. Most people had the same response, "it's a night with such high expectations that someone always ends up mad or disappointed."

WHAT?

My brain could not comprehend...I don't recall a December 31st on which I didn't feel an overwhelming sense of shiny newness. There has never been a person, or a thing, or an event that could take away the magic of my favorite night. So imagine my surprise when I woke up on the morning of my favorite day feeling ever so slightly awful.

I took the day off and tried to nap throughout the day so I could make it to a party I had purchased some not-very-cheap tickets to. I put on my party pants [well, my party dress that I'd been waiting half a year to wear on this very night] and with an impending sense of doom I braved the cold, the crowd and the craziness. I woke up the next morning feeling about as bad as it gets. Most people just assumed it was the "bottle flu" so I went with it, despite having maybe 4 drinks between the hours of 7:30pm and 1:30am.

 Oh heck no, the morning of January 2nd, I tested positive for Influenza Type A with a high risk for pneumonia, due to the condition of my now very damaged, untreated lungs. Now maybe it's just me, but it would SEEM my New Year parade was being rained on. And the storm isn't expected to let up for another 5-7 days.

You're not gonna buy this, but I don't think the flu could have hit at a more perfect time [ok, yes it could have waited until I regained some PTO at work]. Since I was already in a period immense happiness, it's been really difficult to get me down. Through all the pain, chills, aches, loneliness, coughs, and through one moment of genuine concern that I was going to incinerate my pillow with the temperature of my skin, I have tried to remain optimistic. And optimism has given me the opportunity to pick out the perks of being sick, rather than to just focus on how deathly I feel.

1 - Between Thanksgiving and Christmas feasts, I gained quite a few lbs. But between my loss of appetite and my cough, I have dropped the extra pounds and I'm getting a 20 hour/day ab workout. Super head start on the weight loss resolution this year.

2 - I have watched at least half of my favorite movies so far and have spent some really great quality time with my kindle. This has created a very peaceful start to my year, during which would otherwise be quite the hectic week. Sometimes you just need an excuse to veg with movies and books for a few days in order to maintain sanity on a long term basis.

3 - This one may seem backhanded, but you know how I like to turn negatives into positives...isn't that the essence of optimism anyway? I've had to tackle this flu for the most part on my own. Now if you're reading this and you're one of my friends who has offered to bring me literally anything I need, it has not gone unnoticed. But what I'm getting at is that in times like these it's really hard to be a thousand miles away from your parents and your home. I've never been this sick without my mom and dad in the next room, and doing this alone has shown me just how much independent strength I've gained since moving to Colorado. And I only broke down emotionally once, just a little bit.

4 - A week or so ago, after I somewhat failed my own date detox in December, I drunkenly agreed to do a structured date detox with my friend Kristie. The closer we got to January 1st, the more I regretted this agreement. But after this flu passes, I will be one week into the detox. And three weeks of not dating doesn't sound nearly as bad as four. I think at this time next week, I will be pretty accustomed to spending every waking moment alone in my bed with my TV/books. [Future blog post to come, this should be interesting]

5 - This one is similar to the last in that I need to get used to staying in. But, one of my New Year's resolutions is to save money and other than my tab at Walgreens, I'd say a week of no exposure to the universe is a decent jumping off point.

So, I guess I just want to say thank you, flu, for promoting all of my resolutions right from the start. I probably, literally wouldn't have done it without you.

**Disclaimer: If none of this makes sense at all, the combination of drugs in my system and my high grade fever have induced quite a bit of lethargy in my brain. My apologies.**