Tuesday, June 28, 2011

one year later

Okay folks, it's sharing time. There's something I haven't mentioned yet that I've been meaning to discuss for a while. You see, long, long ago (last year), in a land far, far away (quite close actually), I was living in a house with 59 other women. (And no, I do not mean a brothel, you weirdos...)

I am, in fact... a sorority girl.

Yep, you heard me. I drank from coozies, I sported pearls, I bought god knows how many T-shirts to support god knows how many philanthropic causes, and I wore headbands. Lots and lots of headbands.

Perhaps this doesn't surprise some of you. I certainly have my tendencies (ie. wearing Nike running shorts to the grocery store and pearl studs from time to time), but here's what you must know. I go most days with little to no makeup on. I wait until the nail polish on my toes chips away so badly that some kind friend actually mentions something to me and THEN I decide it's time for a pedicure (what? they can get expensive.) I don't own anything Lilly Pulitzer (truth be told I actually just googled it to see if it was spelled with one L or two) and I've never actually purchased a spray tan. (Okay, one time I tried that Neutrogena stuff but it just made me sticky and I started to smell weird. I don't recommend it.) Anyway, you get the picture. If you saw me on the street, you might think I could almost pass for a normal, non-greek part of society. But alas, you'd be wrong. 

So judge me if you will, and let the many stereotypes that are currently flooding your brain run rampant (or feel free to find new ones by following this account on Twitter, it makes me chuckle), because the truth is... it was awesome. Sororities may get a bad wrap sometimes, but at least for me, it was one of the best decisions I made coming into college. I met amazing people, got to make incredible memories that I'll carry with me all my life, and it really made my college experience a full and meaningful one.

When I graduated, I left school with a group of about eight girls that made up my closest pledge sisters. You can identify them in this graduation pic to my right. (What? The carefully coordinated orange and blue ensembles were a coincidence, I swear.) I think there's just something about the people you bond with in college. They're with you in your bad decisions (aka that fourth tequila shot) and your momentous victories (landing a killer internship in NYC.) I did so much growing in those four years and these girls saw it all. After college ended, we pretty much all scattered about the East Coast pursuing our various careers, but vowed to get back together at least once a year for a reunion trip. Even if we were terrible at keeping in touch, this would be our time to reconnect.

And that trip, hallelujah, was this past weekend in Amelia Island. Which is incredibly hard to believe considering I remember when it felt like a lifetime away. When I moved to North Carolina and started my first job not knowing a single soul, all I wanted was to fast-forward life one whole year and be with my best friends again - the people that knew me best. But I couldn't. So I figured it out on my own. And over the past year I've changed a lot. I mean, A LOT.

What I honestly didn't expect was all the anxiety I felt coming into our trip because of those changes. Of course I kept up with everyone throughout the year, but I guess I started feeling insecure about the person I had grown to be. What if that person was so different from the college me that I would no longer fit in with my best friends? (It sounds crazy, but again, these are the girly thoughts that plague my mind.) I kept thinking most of the choices I made aren't exactly the easiest to relate to. I'm the only one living with my boyfriend (in sin of course, sorry Mom) and the only one that has already moved on to my second job. Jason's job requires him to have an internet TV show and get paid to wear t-shirts (yeah, super relatable), and as far as they know, my job requires me to Facebook all day. I never really go out any more and have hung up my heels in favor of lazy Friday nights with some sushi and a movie. And then there's this blog of course, something that is undoubtedly a little odd to them - writing down my whole life for the internet to see, criticize, enjoy, comment on, share, etc.

So yeah, I was scared. Not to mention sarcasm is pretty much the language of our friend group, so I was heading in with the expectation of fielding at least a snarky comment or two. What I realized is that I didn't give my friends enough credit, and quite frankly, I was pretty silly (nice word for dumb) to think that I was the only one that had changed. As we chatted on the beach and drank wine in our PJ's (soooo sorority, btw), it became clear that each of us, having had time away from the group, had evolved into our very distinct selves and found our identities outside of the group. That was my favorite part of the weekend - seeing who everyone had grown to be just one year later. 

I think growing up is about whittling away the layers of uncertainty and getting down to the heart of who you are. I'd like to believe that with each passing year I will become more and more "myself." Now I realize that journey will never really be complete, but that's not the point. All I know is I'm looking forward to the journey.

This weekend completely surprised me. Before, I guess I felt that I was somehow betraying half of myself by living with one foot on each side of a line - my old self and my new self. Am I the frat-tank-loving, headband-wearing somewhat artsy girl that all my girlfriends knew in college? Or am I the tech-loving, social-media-craving full-on-craftypants girl that loves to blog? My conclusion is that I'm both.

I thought if I couldn't decide on which person I associated myself with, it was somehow like I was lacking individuality. As it turns out, being both of those things IS my individuality. I like chick flicks AND sci-fi movies. I may stalk wedding albums on Facebook (what, act like you don't) but I also post infographics and links to Kickstarter projects too. I have always been proud of myself for being open-minded, but it seems in a twist of irony, by not fitting into one of my predetermined boxes, I actually confused myself. It's not one or the other. It's both. And following this weekend, I got the validation from my friends that I needed to feel like though I may have grown up a bit, we all have, and that's okay.

I'm my own person and whether that is a sorority girl or not doesn't matter. Either way, I have the best friends a girl could ask for and I can't wait until a year from now when I can see my friends, and myself, get that much closer to the people we have always meant to be.

Now if you'll excuse me, I have to go do a keg stand and volunteer my time to a charity. (Thanks for reading this far - it was a long one!)

Thursday, June 23, 2011

pure michigan

Okay I feel terrible. Just terrible. Here I am making all these fancy promises about posting regularly and Michiganese story-telling and whatnot, and yet, nothing. Well before you go jumping on my case, I defend myself by saying I've been really, really... really busy. Points for a super original excuse? No? Okay, it's a lame excuse and I know it. I confess my lack-of-blogging sins and ask for forgiveness. Let's just move on, shall we? Even though we returned from our trip a week and a half ago, tales I promised you and so it's tales you shall have. Which brings us to...


Puuuuuure Michigan. Okay, just kidding. I only said that because I can't say the word Michigan now without hearing Tim the Toolman Taylor's soothing voice whispering those two majestic words in my ear. (Another win for the evil-doers known as advertisers!) Although, I can tell you first-hand, the state does have a unique tranquil vibe to it. Tim Allen was an excellent voiceover choice. But I digress. 

Now for your sake (and the sake of your attention span) I won't take you through each and every detail of our trip to the fair city of Grand Rapids, Michigan. Just know, delicious meals were eaten (see waffle.) Belly laughs were had (see ridiculous picture of me on a giant tire swing.) Grand Rapids never knew what hit 'em.

The part that does beg to be discussed, however, is one of the few times in my life I have felt like I was living in a movie. You know, one of those moments where you take a step back and go, Is this really my life? I'm far too flawed a human and have not worked nearly enough to deserve this good fortune...  Well that's exactly what I said on Thursday morning when we checked into the JW Marriott Grand Rapids (fan-freaking-tastic hotel by the way), and I learned we would be staying in the Founder's Suite as a part of the hotel's sponsorship with Jason. Now I'm not entirely certain who these "founders" are, but let me assure you, they have exquisite taste.

As we approached the suite, I noticed that the entry had double doors, which gave me a small indication of the type of situation we were about to walk into. However, nothing could have prepared me for how beautiful this place was. It was massive. You could tell every last detail was thought of and no expense was spared. And of course, being the sophisticated woman I am, immediately following the departure of the bellhop, I went running from one end of the suite to the other stopping in every room to do a few loops, just because I could. (Post freak-out I was actually out of breath - not sure if that indicates how big the place was or how out of shape I am.) Also, I may or may not have done a front flip onto the bed. So what if I'm an infant? It was fun! Here are a couple photos of the nicest place I have ever rested my head (again, my poor photography skills don't do it justice. I'm working on it though, I promise.)

It was simply incredible. The suite itself was beautiful of course, but the experience of enjoying it was what made it so memorable. Growing up, my family never had a ton of money and while I had a perfectly happy and wonderful childhood, "luxury" is honestly a completely new concept for me. I'm the girl who whispers to Jason How much does this cost? every time a flight attendant hands me something in First Class. (You think I'm gonna let that lady with a neck scarf pull one over on me? No way.) Anyway, because of this completely foreign concept, I tried to soak up every single moment I could.

Each morning I woke up with the sun pouring into the room through the huge bedroom windows. I would groggily roll over and the first glimpse of each day was this expansive view looking out over the entire downtown. For a few minutes (okay fine, a half hour) I would just lay in bed with the huge, fluffy, marshmallow of a comforter enveloping me. (Fun fact about me: I adore the sound of a crisp, cotton comforter shuffling against itself. If you haven't heard it, it's impossible to describe but hopefully someone out there knows what I'm talking about. It's a bit weird I guess, but the sound is one of life's simple pleasures to me.)

Also, it must be mentioned, as further proof of the fact that I'm dating a 13-year-old trapped in a 29-year-old's body, my mature, accomplished businessman of a boyfriend ordered a root beer float from room service on Thursday. (Reason #241 that I love him.) Seeing the hotel staff deliver it to such an expensive room on a wooden tray with a spoon so carefully presented was pretty hilarious. (Needless to say we ordered one every single day thereafter.) If a hand-delivered root beer float doesn't say luxury, I don't know what does.

At night I got to curl up on the cozy couch in the office and watch TV (and by watch I mean fall asleep to) while Jason worked at the desk. The glow of the lights from the city peeked through the window sheers and created such a wonderful warm light in the room. Just the ambiance you'd expect in a place called the Fouuuuundah's Suite (please read with hoity a toity self-imposed accent, because that's certainly how I wrote it.) I drank the delicious red wine that the general manager left for us at a completely unacceptable hour of the afternoon because, hey, it was vacation. Best of all, in a display of pure and unabashed girliness, I drew a huge bubble bath in the gargantuan tub and soaked while I watched the Meg Ryan chick flick "French Kiss" from the mounted flatscreen in the bathroom (playing on the Oprah Winfrey Network no less. Talk about quintessential girl activity.) Every second was absolutely heavenly. (Side note: Can we talk about how weird Meg Ryan's walk is? And where has she been for the past ten years? Weird.)

Now I would hope that the people close to me know that extravagance like this is not what's important to me. In fact, if I never have another chance to stay in a place like that again, it's fine by me because I don't think that's what leads to a full life. Still, I have to admit it was nice to have a peek at what true luxury is, and it was a great memory to share with my big-kid of a boyfriend. These are things I never imagined I would be able do when I was growing up. I'm so incredibly grateful for the experiences I've had thanks to Jason and the business he's created. I can't help but feel a little unworthy sometimes, but I can only hope that someday I find something I'm so passionate about that my hard work produces some incredible experiences of its own. Payback is gonna be awesome.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

where clumsy comes in

First order of business, I survived the air travel to and from Michigan. (I know, you were worried.) In spite of some turbulence/lightning on the trip home, I also refrained from passing out, which I'm quite proud of. I plan to get a post up soon regaling you of my many Michigan travel tales, but I had to get this out there first... 

I consider it a day worth mentioning when I can say I managed to execute three flawless #clumsycarol moves in a matter of hours. Yep, if flailing was a sport, I pretty much pulled off a turkey today. 

Prepare to be dazzled...

Episode 1. Dinner at Bento would have been lovely had it not proved to be too difficult for me to maneuver without making a mess. About halfway through our meal, as I was reaching for my California Roll (way on the other side of my Bento Box), I accidentally painted my forearm with the spicy mayo atop my Special Mexican Roll. (Darn you, motor skills!) Hey, at least I wasn't wearing long sleeves or a jacket AND I was able to catch it as it happened instead of walking around obliviously for hours after. That's still a win in my book. 

Episode 2. After driving home from the movie tonight, I pulled into our driveway, grabbed my work backpack (black one-pocket Jansport, thanks for asking), and proceeded to ram my body into my horn as I exited the Corolla which let out a long, ridiculously loud honk. (If you follow my tweets, you know this has happened before. Possibly a few times before.) Given the fact that the mean age in our neighborhood is 62, I very well could have caused someone a heart attack. Not good. 

Episode 3. Approximately twelve seconds later, I walked into the garage in my foam Old Navy flip-flops (an excellent decision in footwear given the two-inch-deep puddle of water that practically covered the entire city today), and immediately my right foot took off sliding. (FYI: Wet flops + sealed concrete = bad news bears.) As my right foot ran away from my body, you can imagine how caught off guard my left leg must've been. It clearly decided the best course of action was to collapse underneath me, sending my left knee straight for the ground. Um, ouch. Yeah, pretty sure that will be leaving a bruise. 

Now let's all just take a moment to appreciate those three events in succession. I mean, I'll be the first to admit I have my clumsy moments but today's display was pretty incredible. I can't make this stuff up, people. 

As I picked myself up from my half-kneel and walked toward the door to the kitchen, I could feel the tears welling up in my eyes. I opened the door and there Jason was, looking at first like What took you so long? and then soon thereafter like Oh god, are those tears? My knee was still in pain but when I managed to shove out a few words (words that made absolutely no sense in the order I put them in... fell... garage... knee... flip-flop...) I was so embarrassed/frustrated/amused by my clumsiness that I started laughing and sort of crying at the same time. 

Now ladies, if you really want to mess up a guy's world, might I suggest the ole' laugh n' cry combo. It's like the most hilariously mean mix of emotions you can throw at a guy because they have NO IDEA how to react. Oh god, they are tears. Wait... did I hear a laugh? Is she laughing? Oh crap, do I make a joke? I should make a joke. Or maybe I should hug her. But what if that makes her cry harder?? But she's laughing, so... yeah, I'll tell a joke.  Poor thing. Just hilarious. 

So here I am, finally in bed, no tears and no more throbbing knee. Even though times like these make me giggle in retrospect, there are definitely moments where I desperately wish I could be graceful and poised (and not fear for my life when I encounter a sealed concrete floor), but let's be honest, that would make for a far less interesting blog. Clumsy is simply one of the cards I was dealt in life and that's fine with me. At the very least I hope I can entertain a few people with it. Good night, and here's to hoping tomorrow goes a little more smoothly than today. 

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

are we there yet?

I hate flying. I really do. But you know what I like? Writing. So writing while flying I guess kind of evens things out. Yes, I'm feeling quite neutral at the moment. And neutral is certainly better than anxious.

Now before you go throwing your statistics at me about how my chances of dying in a plane crash are minuscule compared to a car accident or freak camel-riding accident (any Real Housewives of New York fans in the house?), don't bother. I'm not afraid of flying because I think I'm going to die (seriously, you all are morbid...) I more or less just hate the feeling of flying. I'm very sensitive to changes in pressure so my stomach feels like it's doing flips when we change altitudes (aka right now, EEP!) Plus when I'm up here I think too much about how planes really shouldn't work and something made of metal this heavy shouldn't be able to just float in midair. With 50 people on it. You planes and your black magic. Not to mention accessing the internet to write this post right now. I mean, how is that even possible? (ps. What is the internet anyway? Oh no, it's started...I'm thinking too much again...)

Anyway, as I'm sitting on this plane I can't help but be taken back to the many, many Friday evenings I spent on planes headed from North Carolina to Jacksonville. I was working up there while Jason (and my family) was in Jax and we were doing the long distance thing. I remember how I hated rushing out of the office to skidaddle to the airport and how I despised eating (and paying for) overpriced airport food and how bored I was during the ridiculously long layovers. But I also remember how happy it made me when I finally got to see Jason. Even though I knew it would only be for a day and a half each time, that was what "dating" was to us for a long time. I'm so thankful I had that time to live life out on my own if even just for a short while, but I'm more thankful that life is different for us now. I believe that life is as happy and full as the people that are around you, and I now get to surround myself with the people that mean the most to me. Even now, as I count the seconds until I'm on the ground again, I step back and realize how truly lucky I am.


Okay, I have a sidenote. (What? Like you weren't expecting it?) Can we talk about whoever decided airport bathrooms should be just like normal bathrooms. Like really designers? We haven't come up with a better solution than stalls that are standard sized with doors that open IN? Yeah okay TSA, if you don't want me to leave my luggage unattended, how about you make it so I can fit my suitcase in a bathroom stall. I'd prefer not to look like I'm performing some sort of magic trick as I stuff myself into a small box. Hell, I don't know, chain my luggage to a wall when I walk in the bathroom. Don't care. Just an alternative to what we currently got going on because it aint working. That is all. Onward to Michigan!

target, how i love thee

Preface: this is not a post about my personal style (if you can even call it that.) If I was forced to categorize "my look" I guess I'd say it's Just-rolled-out-of-bed chic or yes-I-realize-it's-just-a-t-shirt-but-did-you-see-this-big-shiny-necklace-so-it-totally-passes-as-an-outfit (umm... InStyle magazine's words?) No, I'm not dishing out fashion advice. This post is rather about my love affair with a tiny mom n' pop retailer named Target and how fun it is to treat yourself to a little retail therapy every now and again. So...

Tomorrow after work I'm headed to Grand Rapids, Michigan, for a lovely little four-day vacation. Jason's been up there since Sunday promoting local businesses in the area and as part of the sponsorships we have a ton of fun stuff planned around the city. As much as I was looking forward to my vacation being of the more relaxing type (ie. sleeping in and doing nothing... did I mention I like sleep?), I'm actually pretty glad it's going to be busy. You don't make memories laying on the beach people! (Well, depends on how you got there I suppose...) 

I'm also excited about it because we took the same trip this time last year (we had only been dating about a month at that point), so it's pretty cool to go back being in a completely different place in our relationship. Fun fact: last time while we were up there we rented a Jeep Wrangler and had a blast driving around everywhere in it. Wranglers inherently make driving feel like an adventure. (Now that I think about it, driving around with the top half of your car basically missing is in fact an adventure, so I guess that explains that.) Anyhooter, Jason sent me a text last night to show me he rented a Wrangler again for this year's trip. He can be quite the thoughtful fellow sometimes. Can't wait to get my Wrangle on!  

Before heading up there tomorrow I thought, what could possibly make vacation even more fun? And the answer clearly is: new clothes. Every girl knows that when it comes time to pack for a trip, you go over your wardrobe in your head and every last article of clothing you own suddenly seems "not quite right" for whatever occasions you have planned. And I'm no exception to these feminine mind games, hence the shopping trip. So off I went to the mall after having dinner with my mom (she's a doll by the way.)

First, let's get a few things squared away, I purchase new clothing like once every three months. And even then I buy maybe two things, one of which I will likely return due to buyer's remorse and the other of which I will wear until it has holes in it. (And even then I'll convince myself it's a part of the item's charm and will continue to rock it well beyond its recommended lifespan.) So, frankly, I feel as though I deserve to treat myself every now and again. This is one of those times. 

Now that my guilt is absolved, can I just say - I am so pleased with my purchases! Check them out below in all their glory. And the best part - I got it all for under $90! Target, how I love thee! Let's take inventory, shall we? 

- White summer scarf (I'm obsessed with scarves no matter the season and white is just so versatile.)
- Coral and white stripey cotton day dress (might get demoted to cover-up but cute nonetheless. You should know I also have an irresistible affinity for stripes.)
- White sleeveless light tank (turquoise necklace already purchased, but it's my favesies and I'm planning to wear it with the tank and some khaki shorts.)
- Teal drapey pocket tank (one of my favorite items - been trying to find one of these that actually looks good on me and so happy I finally found it. I was beginning to think you had to be skin and bones to pull this off, but alas you do not. Also looks good with a skinny black belt and black tank underneath, just sayin'.)
- One-shoulder black casual-ish dress (I decided I'm gonna be brave and try out the one-shoulder look. Not sure it's my thing but I think it's really cute and I want to at least try it. Likely that Jason will laugh at me, especially because there are ruffles involved, but whatever. It's was too cute not to give a chance.)
- And finally, the light-brown double-wrap-around skinny belt (I feel like I just described a figure-skating trick.) I love it. Thinking of really pulling a crazy move and wearing it WITH the black number. Black and brown? I don't even recognize myself anymore. I'm a new woman!)

So that's the loot. For under $90. What the heck are you Target people doing to me! (Sidenote: I'd also like to say that I appreciate that the Target I went to had excellent dressing room lighting. You know what I'm talking about when a store has the grossest, most harsh lighting ever and all the sudden trying on clothes becomes the most negatively emotional experience you've ever had. That was not the case here, so whoever carefully thought that out - congratulations, your self-esteem-boosting lighting led to the purchase of several items today.)

Today's shopping excursion also led to a few new discoveries about myself that I felt were amusing enough to share:

1. Apparently stepping on my tippy toes when I try clothes on makes them look better on me. Or so my brain thinks. Seriously, I have a habit of doing this whether the outfit requires heels or not. Without fail. I think I also slightly raise one eyebrow. Because apparently I have to see what the clothes will look like when I'm walking around in my daily life with flexed calves and one raised eyebrow (my standard posture, of course.)

2. Aviators make everything look more fashionable on me. Purchased a pair last week and in the dressing room whenever I felt as though I wasn't fashionable enough (ie trying on the one-shoulder dress), I just slid those puppies on and suddenly I felt like I could pull it off. Magic. 

3. I have an unhealthy obsession with the colors teal and coral. Check out my purchases and my current blog color scheme. I never get tired of these colors. Can't help it. 

Okay, that's all for now. Wish me luck on my travels tomorrow - I LOATHE flying so not looking forward to the transit part. Maybe I'll craft a post from the air to distract myself. The blog saves the day again! 

Good night folks, and happy shopping. 

Monday, June 6, 2011

put your crafty pants on: social media cork tiles

It's a miracle! I actually finished a project! Well...kind of.

I was beginning to think I made a mistake including "crafty" in the title of my blog. Yep, clumsy and happy probably would have covered it nicely. I was also starting to get worried that the "sissypants" comments were going to start popping up (if confused, see last paragraph of this post.) Thankfully though, I've had some ideas for a while now and this weekend I was determined to put my crafty pants on (As you'll notice, I wear a lot of pants.)

First, though, let me just say, today was a perfectly simple Sunday. Jason and I woke up around 8:30 to get an early start (and by Jason and I woke up, of course I mean Jason woke up on time and I propped myself up into a deceivingly alert posture while proceeding to shut my eyes for another 30 minutes. TOTALLY fooled him.) We then decided to head to an early movie (like 10:30 early, yes this showing actually exists) because we were both dying to see X-Men First Class but were too busy all weekend.

Quick tangent: Can I just say there are few things in life that make me as happy as Sunday morning movies. Kind of lame I know (ok fine! a lot lame) but there's just something about it that makes it feel like a treat. It's never packed, so it somehow manages to seem more special in a way. I guess my brain expects that when I exit a movie it should be dark outside, so when the bright warmth of the afternoon all-but-blinds me on the way out, it's such a pleasant surprise. Anyway, few people enjoy going to movies more than Jason and I do so it was a lovely little day-date for us.

On the way back from the movie I asked him to stop by the craft store with me because I really wanted to at least start a gosh-darn art project before the weekend was over. (I knew Jason was leaving for Michigan at 4ish and I was already pre-plotting my evening craft party.) We walked into Joann's and while I had a few staple items to pick up in my head, I thoroughly enjoy the process of wandering around a craft store and waiting to be inspired. You know, letting the unfinished bird houses 'speak to me' and what not. Normally this little exploration phase might last a good 20 minutes, but if you've been paying attention you may remember one important detail: the boy was in toe. Wish you all could have seen him following me around with a puzzled expression as I darted from aisle to aisle. Finally he asks, If you tell me what's on your list, maybe I can help you grab some things. Oh Jas. That's cute. You think I have a list.

Just as I was passing the beautiful assortment of craft papers I remembered I had four cork tiles at home that were collecting dust. I've been meaning to do something with them for my office ever since I started my latest job (oh ya know, just six months ago) but haven't thought of an idea quite inspired enough. (By the way, my cube and desk at work are painfully bare and I see you people that walk by giving it a quick scan and I just know you're thinking, How long have you been here, again? Okay people, I get it, my cube is boring!)

In an effort to add a little personality, I thought it would be fun to do something with social media icons. I am a "Social Media Manager" after all (ugh, sometimes I hate that title - it can have a thick air of self-importance to it, but I try to ignore it), and while it may seem cliche and predictable, there's something whimsical and alluring to me about social media icons. I love that they're different colors with different personalities but they have a common design aesthetic to them. And you can translate them to a million different mediums and styles. Just plain fun.

So instead of painting them on small square canvases (a series I thought of doing a while back) I decided to make something a bit more utilitarian and dust off the cork tiles. While walking past the scrapbooking section, I realized I really wanted to incorporate some fun patterns to add some visual interest (plus I'm always looking for an excuse to buy those darn craft papers. The way they're organized so neatly and by color just draws me in like an irresistibly intricate rainbow.)

So I did just that. And below is what I came up with! Doesn't quite do them justice not hanging on the wall with fun pictures and notes hanging all over them (fyi: strongly considered planting fake ones all Pottery-Barn-catalogue-style. You've seen them... "Bobby's Doc. Appt. @ 9:15!" written in suspiciously perfect handwriting. Almost went there for effect but refrained. You're welcome.)

So there are installments #1 and #2, Facebook and Twitter. Still have two tiles so may do two more but I'm pretty happy with the turn out. The camera/lighting/my terrible photography doesn't do them their justice, but I'll try to update the post with a before and after shot from the office.

Finally I can revel in the accomplishment of actually getting a craft post up. Hooray! Perhaps I'll be able to keep up with this whole "blog" thing after all.

I'm leaving for Grand Rapids, Michigan on Wednesday to meet up with Jason. That trip will no doubt provide some thoughtful fodder for me, so expect a post on that trip. And, as always, I appreciate anyone out there reading and continually supporting my ever-hopeless parenthetical addiction. Many thanks.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

to my baby sister

Happy birthday.

Eighteen years ago today you came into this world and into my life. I have so many memories of your big baby blues looking up at me full of wonder, and while I knew you were a beautiful little girl back then, I had no idea what a beautiful person you would grow up to be.

Last night as we laughed and talked at your birthday dinner, I kept going back to a distinct memory I have of you from when we were young. We were on our family trip up to Stone Mountain and you were striking poses in your "baby suit" (aka bathing suit) as someone was snapping pictures of you. What a ham. You couldn't have been more than four but even then you had this fearless confidence about you. You were so full of life and personality, and years and years later you're still striking poses just as effortlessly.

As you sat across from me last night, it sounds cliche but for the first time I no longer saw you as just my little sister - I saw you first as a peer. An equal. A friend. It feels as if it happened in an instant, but I know truthfully it's been happening for some time. You have grown up to be such a strong, fun-loving, creative lady and someone I am glad to call family. Wish I could take credit for all that and say that I paved the way for you growing up, but we both know you've been forging your own path from the very beginning (and it's a good thing because lord knows if you followed my footsteps your fashion sense certainly wouldn't be as fabulous as it is now...)

I am so unbelievably excited to see where life takes you these next few years, and I'm looking forward to being there every step of the way.

One of the greatest gifts I feel I could give you as a sister is a five year head start to the new chapter you're about to enter in life - a compilation of foresight carefully curated by someone who has walked before you. Here's what I learned in the (almost) five years since my eighteenth birthday, and it's advice (whether good or bad) that you can take with you to college.


First and foremost, have ridiculous amounts of fun. You will never have another time in your life when the balance between gaining independence and lacking responsibility is more favorable, so live it up. Do silly things and laugh until you think you're going to pee yourself. (But don't actually pee yourself 'cuz, let's be honest, that's awkward and leads to nicknames that won't be easily forgotten thanks to a little friend named Facebook.) Find friends that bring you happiness and joy and comfort, but build relationships that are based on more than drinking at a bar or laying out by the pool. Find people that you can be yourself around and hold on to them as tightly as you can.

Sleep in. Enjoy every second of glorious, gluttonous sleep you're able to soak up in college (dear god I miss it.) Apparently staying in bed until noon is frowned upon in the "adult world," so go ahead and get it out of your system now.

But not always. Somedays, wake up earlier than you ever thought you could for no reason at all because I promise, you'll be glad you taught yourself what it means to be self-disciplined.

Take roadtrips with your friends and make way-too-carefully crafted playlists. Years later you'll be driving home from work and one of those songs will find its way to your shuffle. You'll be instantly transported back to that simple time in your life and you'll smile because the comfort of the memory will make whatever frustrations you might have from work or bills or responsibility simply melt away.

Study hard. Develop a standard of excellence for yourself, but remember, ultimately it's just that - a standard for yourself. So do it for you and not for the rope at graduation. Do it because you take pride in your accomplishments and not because you take pride in doing better than others or in making Dad happy (sorry Lamar.)

Don't ever settle for less than you're capable of. And I know how much you're capable of.

I realize now that college is less about what you learn while you're there and more about what you're able to teach yourself, so whenever possible work on you. It is the greatest assignment you'll ever have, and it won't stop when you graduate. It will only really begin.

Head's up, this one is important. Learn what it really means to be independent. When you run out of money, work more hours. When your car breaks down, take it to the shop yourself. When you realize you have an assignment due the next morning and you haven't started yet, don't borrow a friend's or take the easy route - power through and do it right. I promise you that entering the working world will be a lot less painful if you're confident in your abilities and comfortable depending on yourself.

And for pete's sake, try to remember that drunk girls are not sexy. Really. They're not. Having fun is a part of being young and knowing your limits will be a lesson you have to learn, but know this: drinking too little will never lead to regret, while drinking too much will almost certainly lead to regret. And when your friend calls at 2am because she needs to be picked up from a bar, answer. Be the friend that always answers, mindful of the fact that you really could be saving someone's life.

And finally, regarding love. Don't go looking for love. Go looking for the things you love to do and develop those passions. The women that have a strong sense of themselves are the ones that attract the right men. There is no such thing as a man that completes you, only a man that complements the you that is already whole.


There are probably a million more "nuggets of wisdom" that I could impart on you, but we both know I'm not that wise. You'll figure out all of life's lessons in your own way, in your own time. And just know, when it comes to the tough ones, I mean the really hard lessons you'll have to learn (and I promise they'll happen), just know that I'll be there every step of the way. I love you, I'm proud of you, and I hope you celebrate your pants off for your birthday (not literally) because you deserve it.

All my love,


Wednesday, June 1, 2011

i'm not a "go-together" kind of girl

My life has a habit of revealing its lessons to me in the most random of circumstances. It's a sneaky lil thang, that life, and it's at it again.

Last week it was Jason and I's one-year anniversary (of our first date of course... cue the snickers...) We promised each other not to do gifts BUT two weeks ago I was meandering through a bookshop by my office downtown, and a few prints tacked on the wall caught my eye. I recognized them because Jason had sent me the link to the local artist months and months before. (Anyone that knows me will understand what a miracle it is that I remembered this.) The prints are quirky, colorful and delightfully geeky (oh hey, stormtrooper) which is just perfect for Jason. When I saw them I knew I had to get them (mostly because I'm a terribly insecure gift-giver so when I'm confident somebody will like something, it's such a rare occurrence that I convince myself I HAVE to buy it.) I was beaming with pride as I purchased them, signed by the artist no less, and brought them home to Jason.

Now buying art can be tricky because in order for it to be worth it, you need to have somewhere to put it. The entire time I was picturing the pieces going in the "studio room"of our house. We have a bedroom that has been converted into a studio because Jason's business involves a daily live show on the web. Each wall is painted a different ridiculous color, there is a drawing wall covered in dry-erase paint, cameras/boxlights/cords everywhere, props strewn about...anyway, the point is that the room itself is a hodge-podge of fun, much like these art pieces. I thought, bottabing-bottaboom, they'll join the rest of the quirky wall art in the studio room, I'll be the best gift-giving girlfriend extraordinairre ever and Jason will gush for years to come about my incredibly thoughtful nature.

Well, as I probably should have known, the reaction I planned out in my head (my woman-brain loves to do this - curses!) was not at all what happened in reality. I hadn't explored the thought that Jas might like the paintings so much that he would want them displayed in a more prominent spot in our home, like oh, say, the DINING ROOM aka the first room you see when you enter our house. Now I now realize I should have taken this as the biggest compliment in the world because he loved them enough that he wanted every guest in our home to see them. However, instead of being excited all I could think about was how the bold colors of the paintings totally clashed with the color scheme I had already worked so hard to tie in from the living room. (SERIOUSLY? These are the times I step outside of myself and realize Okay, I kind of get how guys think girls are crazy. Emphasis on kind of, though.

Nevertheless, it's how I felt at the time and the back and forth that followed taught me an important lesson about myself and our relationship, a lesson I thought was worth sharing. Bear with me.

Over the past few months I've been very careful about the things I add to our house. I moved in with Jason about six months ago (hopefully you're not judging. I TOTALLY respect any couple that chooses to wait until marriage to live together, it's just my personal choice to test-drive a person's living habits before committing my eternal life to them.) Despite the fact that I love decorating and DIY, I wanted to hold off on waving my girly wand at his man-cave and taking the uber-masculine edge off the place, at least for a bit. I didn't want to scare him off with my throw pillows and my knick-knacks (do you know how scary these things are to a man that has never lived with a woman?) However, as I started to get more comfortable with the idea of a permanent coexistence (ie. I heard him say the phrase "our house" once and decided I could take my shoes off and stay a while), I decided that adding my flare to the place was not only important in the health of our relationship, but it was necessary for my own personal happiness.

So I did it. One weekend I added throw pillows and placemats and a great tray for the coffee table which accented the dark wood of "our" furniture (wink, wink.) All the while I went to great lengths to pick out things that were warm and cozy but still masculine. I tried so hard to make the haphazard bold colors he originally had (hi random red chairs, oh hey sage green rug) sing harmoniously in something remotely resembling a "palette." And I was happy with the outcome. Even though Jason still doesn't understand the purpose of a coffee table tray to this day (Okay, I know it's a tray, but what's it FOR...) he was accepting and surprisingly grateful for the work I put into the room.

So originally I thought my objection to the mis-matched paintings had to do with the hard work I put in to the whole process. Or I thought maybe it was overcoming the insecurity of turning "his space" into "our space." I thought the decor had all those things wrapped up in it and I was attached to it for those reasons. But I dug deeper (as I always do, for better or for worse) and I tried to be honest with myself about what was really going on.

Here's the thing. I was trying too hard to be perfect. I was trying to make everything "go together" when the truth is, I'm not a "go together" kind of girl. And he's not a "go together" kind of guy. In fact, I'm fairly certain that's what we love about each other. Subconsciously I thought that if our home looked more like something out of a magazine, it made some "statement" about us in a way - that we have it together or that I have it together. But guess what. I don't. Like, not even a little. I have sooo far to go before I have it together and that's the way I like it. I really want to enjoy this time of fun and spontaneity and discovery in my life. I don't want my house to be boring and matchy and perfect, and I certainly don't want our relationship to be that way. We have a mini basketball hoop hanging in our living room for pete's sake and I love it! Who do I think I am?

Anyway, the lesson is this: be authentic. Surround yourself with things that reflect your personality and that make you happy, and who cares if they fit into a "scheme" or a "palette." Life is simply too short to worry about making things match. And ladies, I'm here to tell you, pick your battles. When you find yourself in a back and forth think, Why am I making such a big deal about this? Is it because this is actually important to me, or is it because I think it should be important to me for some artificial reason.

When Jason gets back from traveling, we're ordering frames and those three prints will be hanging in our dining room. Do they go together? Not really. Do they match the decor? No. But do they remind me of the fun life that I get to have every day because of him? Absolutely. And I couldn't think of a better "statement" than that.