My family didn’t have a lot of money when I was growing up, but you could never tell if you saw us on the surface. I went to a private school with my brother and always had nice clothes to wear. I went to that school because I had good grades and a scholarship (as did my brother) and we got all of our wardrobe at Dillard’s on a crazy good discount where my dad worked part-time in the evenings in addition to his full time job. Because for a time in my life when we only had one car in the family, my brother, mom, and I would spend a great portion of our weeknights at Dillard’s. Not every kid can say that they called a department store their second home for over a decade in their life. I used to do my homework on the model beds on the third floor in the housing department. I spent a lot of time surrounded by designer men’s shoes and suits. We usually got home on these nights after 10 PM. But none of it was bad at all. There was always a lot of laughter, food, warmth, love and I feel like I never went without for the important things that mattered. Sure, at several points in my childhood we couldn’t afford certain pieces of furniture and kept our clothes folded neatly in big plastic buckets but that was hardly troubling. If anything, it probably reflects to who I am now more than ever - I will buy a lot of clothes but I won’t touch much furniture that weighs you to the ground. (And as far as things that tested us as a family, nothing, absolutely nothing, made me grow up faster or take responsibility more than when I was 7 years old when my mom had a stroke. A very defining moment in my life.)
This all being said, one of my dreams as a little girl was to become a ballerina. The problem with this dream was that I wanted it too late in life - age 10 - and didn’t have a dancer’s background. But my mom signed me up for a basic intro to dance/ballet course and on my first day, I was totally ecstatic to be there. I had on a leotard and leg warmers and these elaborate black and purple shoes with black and purple silk ribbons that tied up. (Goddamn those were some great shoes.) I fumbled a bit but overall the first class went very well and my mom actually came in at the tail end to watch me! I couldn’t wait to come back for the next class and even if I never became a prima ballerina (highly likely!) at least I could say I did what I could to get there.
That first class wound up being my last class. The very next day, I was picked up from school by my mom with my brother who told me that my dad’s work schedules had been changed around. Dillard’s would be weekends only now and we had to go pick him every night of the week from his full-time job, located all the way downtown and conveniently enough, the bus line he used to take from said job had been cut. She told me she had to drop me from the class because once it let out, it would be too long of a wait for me to sit outside in the dark alone waiting for someone to pick me up from. The ballerina dream was over and I cried some pretty ugly tears in the car ride downtown.
About a year later, I got my ballerina wish for a day with my Halloween costume seen above. It was super elaborate with a frilly tutu, tons of makeup on my face including shimmering stars on my cheeks, and a super fancy hair/veil piece from the neighborhood costume shop. I loved that costume! I think I even wore it to sleep in after.
Because that was the day where I got to not just be a ballerina but one who ate lots of brownies and candy. If that was my ultimate future when it came to dance, then I can’t argue with that kind of logic.
"I like NeNe Leakes."
-my mom on the phone with me this morning, breaking up the conversation every now and then to tell me about the lululemon pants she was looking at
Last week, my dad celebrated his birthday. The big 6-0. This is very strange to me to think about because he doesn’t act like he’s 60 in any way, shape, or form, but then again nobody in my intermediate family has ever acted their age which is both awesome and somewhat questionable if you think about it for too long. What I mean to say here is that he may be 60, but he still acts about the same as he did 15 years ago which brings about the following memory I have of him.
Growing up, my dad had a lot of trouble hanging onto important items which chiefly included the following: his wallet, tie, handkerchief, keys, and wedding ring. As a result, every morning of my life between the ages of 5-20 I would hear him walking around the house mumbling these item names to himself as he attempted to round them all up before leaving for work. We always left the back door unlocked for at least twenty minutes after he left in the event that he would come back in a hurry after realizing he forgot one of the items on that list. If you left the door locked for whatever reason, he would pound on it until it damn near came off of the hinges and would then run into the house shouting expletives until he found the item he needed. My mom would follow him around, using her soothing Southern voice to calm him back into behaving like a sane person and he would eventually start breathing normally and head off to work not about to burst a blood vessel.
If you have to compare my parents to any fictional TV couple, they would be Larry David and Cheryl Hines from Curb Your Enthusiasm, minus the divorce in season 8. Dad who says or does something he probably shouldn’t and Mom who makes everything better and serves as the voice of reason. They are like peanut butter and jelly together with me and my three brothers serving as the bread.
At some point in everyone’s life (ideally) there comes a time where you look around and think, “hey, this is my family.” and really understand where you’re at and where you belong. For me, that moment came in the 1st grade when my mom had a stroke. She made a full recovery, blowing everyone away with the sheer rarity of it all, but things were very bleak for some time in our household where I more or less remembered moving through life in a weird daze. On one of the first visits to the hospital room to see her that my dad, brother, and I made, I remember we all walked in and sat around her in the hospital bed. We were all very quiet for a moment because nobody knew what to say or if they could say anything without immediately crying. And I had already cried a lot and didn’t want to anymore. I remember seeing a Jell-o pudding cup on her food tray and asked if I could have it if she wasn’t going to eat it. I don’t know why but this moment broke a lot of the sadness in that room and we all started laughing and cracking jokes and then she started laughing with us and it felt like victory not to be upset anymore. Like life really did keep on moving and you could see and make light of what normally couldn’t be light-hearted.
My family is not composed of perfect people. We’re moody, prone to getting upset easily, are loud and jovial and use our hands to express everything we feel and think, and like inside jokes about silly stuff way too much. We’re only like this when we’re all together. Splinter one of us from our little tribe and some of those emotions we tuck away until we’re all back together. But while not perfect, we do love deeply and my parents have given me gifts that nobody else could have. I have my father’s work ethic merged with my mother’s inability to give up on a person. The very best of both worlds. Who else but they could have given me these invaluable traits?
I’ve got a lot of gratitude for the Taylor family, my family. Couldn’t imagine being born into a different one.
I may be 2000 miles away from my family but that doesn’t mean I don’t stop seeing bits and pieces of their personalities crop up in weird places around me.
This post is dedicated to my brother Earl whose favorite animal is the octopus. I was reading the Spirit Magazine on my flight yesterday and spotted a kids illustration of a group of small children at an aquarium. You have to spot 10 things wrong with the picture and it’s pretty easy. One girl has a mermaid tail. There’s a pinata being broken in the background. A faucet is outside one of the water tanks.
And this little boy is apparently taking an octopus home with him which is a fantasy I’m sure Earl has at some point in his life before. Don’t they both look pleased with themselves in his picture? If you look closely, the octopus has a tiny smile on his face. Rules? What rules? THEY AIN’T CARE.
You can be sure I ripped that page out of the magazine and took it home with me.
Want to hear something spooky? In less than a few days, it will have been 2 years since I graduated from college. 2 years!
ZOMG GUYZZZ I AM SOOOOOO OLD.
Just kidding. BUT AM I.
Graduating from college was a fairly underwhelming experience as I’ve noted every major graduation ceremony in my life has seemed to be. There’s a lot of waiting to get your piece of paper and handshake and then it’s all over and everyone clears out faster than lightning and has a meal together and goes home. Everything builds and builds and builds for at least a few hours and it all dies away too fast ending with everyone rolling back into the same routine as always. That never fails to stun me. You always think that post-grad your life will evolve into some sort of movie: scene one at the graduation reception with friends and family, scene two at a huge loft apartment signing a lease, scene three waltzing into your first day at work. Not so much. More like all the scenes take place at home and will continue to for a moment there because all these grown-up things after college take more time than you’d think. And there’s never a montage with ’80s music either.
I didn’t have a single blood relative present at my college graduation. This is not unusual behavior from my family. We don’t celebrate graduation ceremonies like the rest of North America does, all dolled up with a bouquet of balloons and presents and like 45 extended family members including grandparents and godparents and long lost cousins in attendance. In our family, graduation isn’t this crazy huge milestone you need to achieve in your life. It’s implied that you’ll obviously graduate from middle/high school but college is an entirely different matter. College for me has always been one of those “do it if you want to or not” matters. Being a part of a rather long military based family tree has the vast majority of my relatives rooting for all of us to do the army/navy route and when someone doesn’t (i.e. me) the ball is in my court to prove that my decision holds worth after graduation.
For my 8th grade ceremony, my parents went home immediately after with my brothers and didn’t stay for the reception which embarrassed the hell out of me because literally everyone in my grade did. I wound up walking home alone that night and crying. I do remember what I was wearing though- a very mature for my age LBD that I had bought myself with money from my first job.
In high school, my dad outright refused to attend the ceremony which in retrospect was kind of smart. It was a Catholic high school and the damn thing lasted for 3 and a half hours. My mom and brother went though. But they almost didn’t take me to my grad night lock-in after because of the ceremony going on and on into forever. I went to the lock-in, got a very cute caricature of myself as a superhero, won a mini fridge by basically laying on it in the prize room, wanted to tell a cute guy from my trig class that I liked him BUUUUUUT I shook his hand farewell instead because being cordial always wins out with me over expressing stronger emotions, went home at 5 AM with my mom, threw up on the way there because I hadn’t eaten anything all night but a stale cupcake, and went to work two hours later.
I’m still more or less the same person I was then six years later.
College! Nobody in my family went to that ceremony either. My old dorm roommate and her boyfriend (now fiance and also my intern coincidentally) went with me and took me out to lunch after which was so nice of them both that I wanted to cry. It made me feel special. Graduation is many things but above all, it’s a celebration. And for the first time, I got to experience the flip side of the coin that most graduates are accustomed to- toasting and cheering your scholarly accomplishments and the fact that for the most part, they’re over and it’s time for the real world to begin.
Since it’s that time of year again and both the Wall Street Journal and the Washington Post are handing out life lessons you won’t hear at commencement followed by a couple more you definitely won’t hear, I thought I’d add my two cents into the mix. But I’m not going to tell you what other people won’t tell you because you’ve probably already heard it all and thought “ENOUGH ALREADY WITH THE OVERLY SAPPY OPTIMISM/PSEUDO WISDOM FROM A TWENTYSOMETHING/DOWNRIGHT DEBBIE DOWNERISMS.”
Those are the three categories most of this advice typically falls under:
a) the “you can do it eventually!” stats based gold star smiley faces advice.
b) some twentysomething writing in Thought Catalog about their two years “on life’s journey” that their parents co-signed for.
c) a big mess of anger masking itself for an educational article that was probably due to the writer having a lousy college experience and not drinking as much as they should have.
These are just 10 things I did post graduation and learned from.
1) I ate cheaply and budgeted all of my grocery things. There were a lot of Ramen noodles, waffles, and quesadillas happening in my world. Over the summer upon graduating I did have ONE weekend where I went crazy with the grocery store budget- for a BBQ that my friends were coming over for- and I bought like $70 worth of food. Even got the brand name BBQ sauce. CRAY. But otherwise it was hello, coupons and sales.
2) I lived with another set of roommates. For the most part, post college this is a smart thing to do if you want to live with people who aren’t your parents and save money at the same time while living in (hopefully) sweet quarters on your own. My first apartment is still my current apartment for the sheer reason that it is 100 times nicer than anything I expected to be living in. Hasn’t even been two years in the joint yet and I still absolutely adore it.
3) I took on a job that I hated to pay my way through life for nine months. Sometimes the first job out of college blows and you do it for survival purposes. If you’re in that situation, suck it up and deal and keep looking for something better. It’s really all you can do, outside of unemployment.
4) I didn’t give up on the things I liked. I still wrote quite a bit in an old blog of mine. It was one of the biggest releases I had after a long day of awful. The nice thing about blogging is that it just is. You can dump all of your words and issues out into a space and bitch and moan. Not everything you say is going to fall out of you painstakingly tidily and with eloquence in every single sentence and nor should you make it either. Just be and express yourself as yourself. Same goes for artwork, music, and most every other creative outlet you can think of.
5) I spent a lot of time reading in bookstores. This was awesome because I was finally able to catch up on books I didn’t have the time for during college.
6. I blew through my savings. Inevitable when you aren’t employed for two months and then get hired on a very crappy minimum wage. To almost run out of money is a terrifying thing when you don’t have a lot to begin with, but steady yourself and face that fear head-on. Money is replaceable. Money is liquid. I often thought of Adrian Veidt (Ozymandias) from the Watchmen graphic novel and how he purposefully gave away all of his money he inherited to build himself from the ground up financially from absolutely nothing. Aside from the whole not having an inheritance thing, I found the image to be one that was comforting. Don’t worry though, I don’t plan on attacking the world with a giant squid or anything.
7. I stayed optimistic and kept job searching on a daily basis. It is and was a terribly, terribly hard thing to do, particularly when the news increasingly got more and more realistic day in and day out. I can’t tell anyone how to be hopeful that things will get better. I can’t create hope in anyone. It takes you to make it in yourself, corny as that may sound. However you find a glimmer of hope, in whatever capacity, take it and hang onto it and don’t let that sucker go for nothing. Find a way to make it grow and burn brighter with each day.
8. I kept up with my networking contacts. Ironically enough, I was almost hired by a company that the company I currently work for is partners with. To date, one of my best contacts has been my university. It has an excellent reputation out here and everyone knows at least one or more people who work there.
9. Sometimes I’d dream myself to a better place at night. This was especially true when I had that terrible job. It was as though my head was like, “Alright your waking life is blowing the big one right now, let’s put you someplace nicer in your nightdreams.” And it usually was. I’d have dreams about sunlight and riding bikes and fields of flowers and laughter and spending time with people I used to know and didn’t know and in places that I had never been to before. I say sometimes here because you can’t determine how your dreams will go, but for the most part mine were quite pleasant.
10. I still hung out with friends. During my two months of unemployment, my awesome former internship boss let me return to the office to work so I wouldn’t look like I had this gaping hole in my resume. I explored my new neighborhood. I learned how to cook. I put together my own set of furniture with nails and hammers and lots of swear words. I bought my first bed. I even went to Vegas that first year. Okay, maybe that’s not a good example of scrimping and pinching but all saving and no spending makes Heather a very dull person indeed. I also still found ways to laugh or make a joke which to this day I still find incredibly important to getting through the tough times. The remarkable aspect was that I found a way to make jokes or find something that made me smile multiple times a day. Times may be a’changing and hard for dreamers but you have to gather yourself up and keep on living (L-I-V-I-N).
… I think that may be the most pop culture references I ever stuffed into one sentence.
The editor-in-chief of WomenOnTheFence.com Erica Diamond recently wrote up an article on the Huffington Post on spending the weekend travelling up to Toronto with her mom to attend Oprah’s Lifeclass Tour. I know. I didn’t know she had one either. The tour did not consist of just the Big O as the speaker alone- other speakers included Deepak Chopra and Tony Robbins, all of which dished on 23 secrets to improving your life.
The secrets were of the nicely written variety that in some cases ultimately sound worse than they appear. “Leap and the net will appear.” “Your story is what blocks you from your breakthrough.” “Act like you know you’re golden.”
Here’s my version of the 23 secrets to improving your life I didn’t see mentioned. In no particular order:
1. Laugh. It’s really the key to all issues big and small- if you can find something to laugh about or make a joke out of, do it.
2. Michael Bluth: What have we always said is the most important thing?
George Michael Bluth: Breakfast
Michael Bluth: Family
George Michael Bluth: Oh, right. Family. I thought you meant of the things you eat.
(basically put family and breakfast on the same level of importance in your life)
3. If you love what you do, show it. Make everyone feel your passion before you can.
4. If you love someone, make sure they know it. If possible make it known on a daily basis.
5. Go to Disneyland or Disneyworld at least once. Even if you aren’t “a Disney person” do it. Stay for the fireworks show.
7. Get angry every once in a while. This is not a popular idea for “life improvement” but trust me your life is going to suck if you never, ever get upset over anything and keep it all bottled up inside.
8. Learn how to cook a good meal that doesn’t come out of a bag or a box.
9. "Have 2 glasses of wine, have 10 glasses of wine."
-Betty Caruso, Bronx Beat, SNL
(LIVE. BY. THIS.)
10. Travel and move around. Book all of your flights in advance though so that you not only have time off from work to go, you can get a cheaper seat and hotel this way.
11. "Treat Yo Self"
-Donna and Tom, Parks and Recreation
(Indulge yourself every now and then, especially on a bad day.)
12. Do your own thing and ignore anyone who talks trash on it. Those people only do that because they’re jelly of you and your free-thinking self.
13. "Take chances! Make mistakes! Get messy!"
-the awesome Miss Frizzle from The Magic School Bus
14. Dress up even if you think you’re going nowhere special. Every day is worth a little extra effort and sometimes the day can surprise you.
15. Cynthia: God, don’t you ever feel like everything we do and everything we’ve been taught is just to service the future?
Tony: Yeah I know, like it’s all preparation.
Cynthia: Right. But what are we preparing ourselves for?
Tony: Life of the party.
Mike: It’s true.
Cynthia: You know, but that’s valid because if we are all gonna die anyway shouldn’t we be enjoying ourselves now? You know, I’d like to quit thinking of the present, like right now, as some minor insignificant preamble to something else.
-Dazed and Confused
(I quote this movie too much. But yeah, enjoy yourself where you are right now.)
16. If you have good health, be thankful for it. On a daily basis I am thankful for my legs and that they can walk everywhere and my eyes for seeing stuff and the fact that I don’t have liver problems and things like that. It’s always taken for granted, always.
17. Go to the top of a very tall building and look down at everything below and think a little bit from up there. It may change your train of thought on your place in the world.
18. Read, goddamnit, read.
19. Sleep in and/or nap it out.
20. Hang out on the beach and in the ocean as many times as you humanly can. Wear sunscreen though. That’s pretty important.
21. Exercise and stretch even if it hurts. Actually it should hurt to some degree if you’re doing it right.
22. "Don’t feel guilty if you don’t know what you want to do with your life. The most interesting people I know didn’t know at 22 what they wanted to do with their lives. Some of the most interesting 40 year olds I know still don’t."
-Baz Luhrmann, Everyone’s Free (To Wear Sunscreen)
(This song is deep. You should listen to it. Also, listen to lots of music, as much as humanly possible.)
23. And remember: party on Wayne, party on Garth.
Me: My roommate is moving out and moving in with her boyfriend and his roommates.
Mom: Oh Heather. Well, you’ll meet the right boy for yourself someday.
Me: Oh no I won’t! I have it on good authority I won’t. It’s going to be exactly the way I always thought it would be: everyone paddling off into the sunset in pairs and me struggling with my oars in the boat and not asking for help because I think I can do it alone.
Mom: Whatever you do, don’t marry because you’re lonely. That’s what your dad did (note: my dad married once before he married my mom). He thought he needed someone because he was lonely in the house.
Me: I can’t marry anyone right now! I’m too busy.
Mom: You might have already met the man you’re going to marry and just don’t know it.
Note: That sentence right there? Read it out loud to yourself. IT WILL BE THE BIGGEST MINDFUCK OF YOUR LIFE. My god, what if this dude was the kid in kindergarten who had a crush on me? Or some random Subway customer? Or a guy I used to tutor in college? What the what is happening.
Me: OH GOD. What if it was that hot guy in college I had the writing class with???
Mom: Or it could be that boy James who keeps writing all over your Facebook wall.
Mom: Well, you both seem to get along so well.
Me: Mom, he’s my intern. And engaged to marry one of my best friends and former roommate.
Mom: Oh. Well I didn’t know.
Me: Can I not have guy friends anymore.
And now you know where I get my creeping skills from. Runs in the family.
Yesterday I got back from five days at home, aka something a lot of people would refer to as a vacation which if you know me, you’ll know vacays and I don’t mix well. The trip was way overdue, both in visiting home and in taking some time off for myself. It had its ups and downs. I found some really pretty dresses in my closet that still fit me (we’re talking dresses I wore when I was 16 that are still fashionable enough to wear today), danced a lot and drank even more, and ate some really delicious food at all of my favorite eateries. There were other moments though that were less than stellar. It’s hard for me to write it all down without sounding like a bitchy complainer who obviously has it made in spades, but I’ll try to convey some of the feelings I had in as not-spoiled a voice as I can.
1) You Might Have Outgrown It
I can sum up exactly how I felt toward my former home in one word: far. I felt so far from where I was three years ago, it was almost like visiting another life I had lived. Which it was. It was another life where I was younger, more naive (though that could still be debated within the context of my current age). I had different priorities when I lived there, working at different places, still lived with my parents and did the bazillion extracurricular activities I’ve always done while in high school.
Being under the same roof as three boys while you’ve been comfortable with living with girls for some time was also a jarring experience. Jesus Christ. The amount of swearing and dirty jokes I heard during those five days alone was enough to last me for years and years to come. Never before have I craved being back in my new world of cleanliness and bitchiness brought on by PMS sessions and everyone gathering together for an episode of True Blood or Sex and the City. I could never go back to living with my family again. It would make for a serious case of losing my mind.
Also my bed was really old and the few times I slept on it, it nearly broke underneath me. And when I say old, I mean a bed I’ve been sleeping in since I was four years old.
2) You Won’t Get to Do Everything
I had lofty aspirations for this visit. I wanted to go everywhere and do everything that I could. My schedule allowed me for next to no time sleeping but that ain’t nothing but a thang- I don’t get much sleep as it is!
But then my grandmother came to visit (which was a whole other kettle of fish that I won’t touch on here) and my lofty plans began to change and revamp into something else entirely. This is why I don’t like to go on vacation with other people, family or not. I like to make plans on where to go and what places to spend lots of time at and don’t like it when everyone else wants to spend more time at a place I find dull or not want to go out at night (and how can you NOT want to go out??).
Despite the change in plans, I was able to do most of the things I wanted specifically because I have awesome friends who also like to go out too. As the days rolled on, I began to realize that realistically it would have been impossible to go everywhere in the span of under 48 hours. But you know what? The places I did get to see made up for it. Being back in my favorite neighborhoods and exploring the old walking areas was pretty sweet.
3) Maybe It’s More Ghetto but The Booze is Cheap!
Outside of one of the dance clubs we went to was a guy in an SUV making barbecue for himself at 1am. He was listening to Girl Talk. Nobody at the club was marching outside and telling him to GTFO either. It was that single moment that made me proud of the city that I grew up in and I smiled and even laughed a little.
A little drunk at that moment too.
How could you not be though? My hometown has had an incredible amount of bars sprout up in it over the years and I’m pretty sure I was drinking every single day until the morning I left for home (actually a little bit that morning too). And everything was so cheap. At this club Library we went to (which used to be an actual library and features old books on the shelves) I ordered a drink for myself at about midnight. Something called a Cherry Bomb. I braced myself for typical California prices- at least $8.
3.50? Are you shitting me with that amazingness? Oh dear lord when was the last time I paid three American dollars and fifty cents for alcohol, ANYWHERE? Excluding fair grounds that is. And for a mixed drink, one of my girly ones that are notoriously overpriced??? It was a thing of beauty.
I partied like it was 1999.
I’m also extremely surprised that I didn’t get a hideous hangover either. Welp, I was back in the land of the headquarters to Anheuser Busch, where the booze flows like water throughout the city. But I still sent one of my best friends some needy texts which I knew she’d be fine with. And I didn’t drunk dial or text any guys I knew!! Somebody give me a round of applause because that shiz never happens.
4) I Love My Friends
This trip made me realize something I didn’t even need to realize: I love my friends. I love my Midwest girls and my West Coast ladies. Being with them, all reunited again and talking, talking, talking about everything only strengthened some already pretty strong bonds together. They’re another extension of me, the girls who know me the best and are very much like a second family to me.
No matter what coast you’re on, we’ve all got the same problems and things to talk about. Relationships and work were the top two. It was fun getting to pass my business card out to everyone who all oohed and ahhed over my “big girl” job that I have…I’m a very modest person so the entire visit I was blushing like cray cray. Being with my girls and their boyfriends was also a departure from my younger years because I know for a fact that two in particular will wind up getting married to the guys that they are currently with, something we definitely could not have had happen three years ago. And I am very happy with knowing this early on because they are such good guys for my friends. I’ve seen my friends go through a lot of shitty relationships and with these guys, it’s like all of the old ones don’t even matter. Like it was a rite of passage. First you must date boy A, B, C, D, and even E and F to get to the good one. The right one. The one. And even though everybody looks back on the old ones and wonders what if before they get to the one, once they get there they never look back again.
It was all so inspiring, it (almost) made me wish I was with someone.
Conversations weren’t always centered on work and relationships. There were some hilarious recaps on my high school classmates who recently had a five year class reunion (they could not wait for the 10 year apparently) and many of which are extreme hot messes. There was some mention about who now had babies and who broke up with who. Then there were your requisite depressing as fuck stories about who was now on heroin and a girl who was raped in the Porta Potty at a outdoor concert my friend went to. In particular, I spent a lot of time talking with my very best buddy Melissa who has grown the most out of anyone I know in the last couple of years and is very much on the best track in life again. She’s no longer hanging out with her ex-friends who were definitely dragging her life down (buncha lowlifes) and is in beauty school, working on creating hair masterpieces and beautifying the world, one eye shadow brush at a time. Making everything beautiful just as she is, inside and out! Spending time with her and with all of my girlfriends just made my heart full to bursting at times because I was surrounded by so much love and such kind people. People I can never not have in my life.
We also included another good friend at the table with us aside from ye olde Captain Morgan: food. Sweet baby Jesus did I have some goooood eats back at home. Burgers with fries and turkey sandwiches with Caesar salad and Mexican food in plates the size of like, four of my heads combined and provel cheese coated pizza and buffalo wing wraps with beer and free shots since the bartender used to be my old boss once upon a time ago.
5) Full On Summer
Beer and cheap alcohol aside, the humidity made every single day like stepping out into a swampland and the bugs were everywhere. I came back with dozens of mosquito bites, heard the cicadas screaming every night, and was hot, hot, hot every morning, afternoon, and evening outside.
Summer in the city, baby.
On the morning before I went home, I was sitting with the girls out by Coffee Cartel, one of our coffee hangout spots in the always-thriving and awake Central West End. I mentioned at one point something about how success isn’t something we all have to have right now and that’s relative. Your success comes at different points in your life and isn’t always going to be what everyone defines success to be- it’ll be the kind that suits you and works best for you and your life at that moment.
When I finished on my little spiel, my friend Marcella cried out, “Isn’t she so wise?” to which everyone nodded along to and I once more, blushed a whole bunch. I just read a lot is all and think too often.
When I was at home, I thought a lot about home in general. Former ones and current ones. Future ones that would appear later in my life. They say home is where the heart is. My home is where my bed is. I thought about how one place for so long was my home and now it didn’t feel like it was anymore. Then I thought about how one day (sooner or later) the place I now live at will not be my home either.
That spooked me. Where is my home? Do I even have one? Is it there or is it here? Is it somewhere else entirely (my guess is on that one)? What will it mean to me to have a concrete home one day in the future, one that might potentially contain a family or at least a study for all of my work. What if I just live out of hotels and apartments forever? Home obviously can’t be where your stuff is- in that case there’s home for me in many places and probably dozens of others where I’ve lost things at. If it’s where the heart is, I’m in big trouble because I keep leaving bits of my heart behind at too many places. Maybe there were some places I left my heart I don’t even remember. And why was the adage “home is where the heart is” anyway? Why not where your soul is or your mind or maybe just a place where you had a good laugh or a good cry? I feel like your home is where your spirit is- in a place so wholly comfortable that you know but continues to challenge you in different ways and teach you new lessons.
My biggest realization from that moment was that I don’t think I’ve been to that spirit home yet.
But I will soon!
A slightly less tired version of me,
I took this from my friend Mayan because I thought it would make a fun writing exercise for my brain this morning before I start diving into work blogging. These don’t have an actual order either. The best things that happened to me were all great on their own terms and it would be difficult to place one ahead of another.
5. Making the choice to go to a liberal arts school in Southern California. Never in a million years will I ever regret my decision to go there because that school changed my life for the better and my future as well. I was accepted to a university in Missouri and one in New York, but did not feel drawn to attend either one. The university in MO I ruled out because they had an assigned cafeteria menu schedule (meat loaf night, gross) and the NY one was for a two year program which was cool but I wanted a more traditional longer college experience. The SoCal school just happened to be advertised in a stack of postcards in the mail and I cannot tell you how I just knew looking at the card that this was my school. It was the one. I had to delay going there for a year a half by attending community college since I didn’t have a loan co-signer but that was okay. It was what kept me motivated the entire time to do my best there before leaving. That SoCal university was where I made my best friends and worked great jobs and internships and had some wonderful professors and classes. The effect it had on my personality and behavior was radical- I became much happier and optimistic in a way I had not been since childhood. That university changed everything for me. It made me open up and express myself more. I felt free there. I’m very loyal to that school and always will be.
4. The film class I took at the aforementioned college. Okay, I wasn’t enrolled in the class and not even auditing it. The professor and I were good friends and she told me to drop by whenever I could (it met once a week) to watch the films there. And I did because I had two friends enrolled in the class and liked to hang out with them. The significance of this class is that it was there I would meet two more good friends of mine who sat 2 rows behind me. One of them would be my future first apartment roommate. In the class, we didn’t really talk but I remember looking at both of these girls and thinking, “I wanna be their friends.” That sounds creepy but I swear it wasn’t- it was just a sense of curiosity. The first one I’d wind up tutoring with later on and the second (future roommate) I would meet again several months later when I was modeling for our university’s fashion show. At the time I was going through some issues with an old roommate in the dorms, and when we both met up again, we were excited to see each other and greeted the other like old friends. We went to the senior social that night and began hanging out immediately after. It was a totally natural friendship from the get go. She just gets me and it makes me really happy. I often think of her as the sister I never had. PS, I’m still close with all 4 girls from that film class. They should make a Sisterhood of the Traveling Trench Coats movie about us (our wardrobe staple of choice).
3. The first time I went to SF. I went alone and stayed for a week during spring break in college. I had never traveled alone before and was itching to. Also I really wanted to go somewhere not only new but fun. Growing up in a big family means when you do travel, it’s on the cheap and usually to a relative’s house or some destination you really don’t want to go to. Nobody in my family believes in an itinerary either which does not jive with my anal personality so I wind up scheduling us with activities to keep everyone busy (I hate sitting around doing nothing). When I went alone, I stayed at a beautiful hotel with a gorgeous sweeping view of the city. Each day I went on explorations of the city- venturing to new places and areas each day. I would usually leave the hotel at 9am and get back at about 7ish at night. I loved being able to walk everywhere and not use transportation and go where I wanted to. I moseyed through art galleries, wandered along Haight Ashbury, drank at Cafe Zoetrope where Francis Ford Coppola wrote The Godfather, had breakfast at French cafes, etc. The experience heightened my independent streak and ensured me that when travelling, I knew I could do it alone, afford it, and still be content. Figuring out if you can travel alone is important: you need to be comfortable with the company of yourself if you want to get the most out of it.
2. My current job and freelance work. I work as a social media manager for a company not far from where I live and manage all of their blogging, Facebook, and Twitter outlets. I also freelance write at a bunch of different websites and at work, write with Forbes. Just this week, I’m also going to be adding another freelance account to my list and also contributing to a friend’s blog. Oh, and I have my two blogs, this one and my photo one.
In case you were wondering, I’m very happy.
And I also don’t sleep much either. A friend of mine once said I’ll sleep when I’m dead which sums up my life pretty well.
1. My family. There are so many moments where we fight and argue and disagree on issues and choices, but at the end of the day there’s always a joke to be made and a smile to be had. I’m going home to see everyone in August. I haven’t seen my family in two years. That seems like awhile, but I’m pretty good with not needing to visit everyone often. A couple years in between works out fine for me. See number 2 above for more reasons why I don’t go home often.