Welcome to the Thunderdome

At work I have a bully, a nemesis, a jerk… And honestly, I’m not really sure how this came to be. A few years ago when we first met, he seemed normal. We even had a few pleasant conversations in passing.

Then one day, everything changed.

It was around the time that everyone stopped calling and started texting. Someone decided to have an entire conversation with me via rapid-fire text. This guy resided just over the cubicle wall from me, so he heard every “ding” before I could silence it.

He reported me to my boss for the noise. At the time I just figured he didn’t like noise. Soon after that first incident, he reported me again when I forgot to silence the critical stop on my computer. I was learning to write code, so my critical stop beep was going off a lot. It took me, my boss, and my manager quite a while to pinpoint the source of his discontent since the critical stop beeps were so quiet.

Because of this malcontent, I’ve had the ringer on my phone on silent for almost 10 years now. Yes, seriously. I forget to enable the ringer when I’m not at work. This, of course, makes my life a little more peaceful, but it also causes me to miss a lot of calls/texts when I’m not wearing my Apple watch.

For a long time I thought I was in the clear since I hadn’t been a “noisy neighbor.” Then my manager told me that a co-worker had noticed that when I had suffered a terrible cold, every time I blew my nose, this guy would loudly “hock a loogie” into his trash can. Whenever I cleared my throat, he would clear his throat louder. He’d started mocking my bodily functions back at me. This was ridiculous and absurd, but above all that, it was bullying.

I thought about it. I talked to my friends about it. I posted about it on Facebook. A few people asked if perhaps he was autistic. (He’s not, BTW. He’s just an asshole who likes to pick on people.) I moved offices to be farther away from him. This didn’t stop him. I got a lot of awful advice from people who just wanted to start trouble, but the best advice I got was to confront him. Fight passive aggressive with straight up in-yo-face aggressive.

I swore to myself that I’d give him one more time and if it happened again, I’d say something to him directly. After all, if I didn’t stand up for myself, who would? If I kept allowing his bad behavior to continue, it was partially my fault.

Sure enough, it happened again. I’ve had an ear infection for a while now because my Eustachian tube doesn’t drain properly and it causes sinus pressure, so I blew my nose. I didn’t think it was too loud, it was just what needed to happen at the time.
Like clockwork, the loudest, most disgusting loogie was coughed up by this jerk. It was deliberate and disgusting. I sat for a minute and almost just shrugged it off. Then something inside me said, “NOPE… NOT TODAY. YOU WALK OVER THERE AND YOU TAKE CARE OF YOUR BUSINESS MISSY!”

So I did. And just to let you know, I’m not a fan of confrontation. I did, however, relish this revenge fantasy for a few months before seeing it come anywhere close to fruition, which alone is satisfaction enough.

Me: “Do you bully other people in the office or is it just me?”
Him: (grumbled) “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
Me: “Because every time I sneeze, every time I clear my throat, cough, blow my nose, I hear you over here.”

At that point he looks directly down as if he thinks not having me in his sight-lines will make me disappear… like when you’re late to class and refuse to make eye-contact with the teacher. Surprise. I’m still there.

Me: (I almost walk away, then I stop) “You know… others see it too.”
Him: “Okay”

Just as I pass out of his sight, I find myself in the cube of another co-worker that he’s been mean to. I didn’t realize he was right next door, hearing this whole thing transpire. He was doing the most awesome silent cheering thing I’ve ever seen.

As I walked away, I called the guy a dick under my breath.
It literally could not be contained behind my teeth. The word forced its way out before I could stop it.
I left this part out when I told my manager about the whole incident. My co-worker didn’t. My manager just came to pat me on the back.

Sometimes it’s like that.

I’m liking this new “Take Charge” Me with no filter.
(Okay, we may have to tweak the filter part just a tiny bit…
Naaahhhhhhhh)

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The Art of Letting Go

Nothing will sabotage the present more than a preconceived notion of what your future should look like.

This is exactly what torpedoed my last relationship. He was still holding onto the idea of the future he’d created in his mind with his most recent ex wife. This revolved around the big house out in the middle of nowhere that was purchased in order to create a comfortable life for 5. It didn’t hit him until after he began the process of selling and moving that he was still living in the past. The wife left, one kid had been at an out-of-state school for a few years, one graduated high school this year, so he was left with 2 people, a lot of space, a lot of house, and a lot of memories.

Attempting not to make the same mistakes again, he held himself back from any sort of emotional connection or growth. I kept going as if everything was normal until I couldn’t.

Mistakes aren’t all bad if we can learn from them, and luckily, I was in the position to learn from his as well as my own. It was as if a light switched on in my brain. Just like that, I decided to let go of any and all preconceived notions I had about my future and just started LIVING. Sure I’ve led quite an interesting and exciting life thus far, but there were a few ideals in my subconscious that I still clung to. I’d wanted kids. I’d wanted to be married. And even though I watched a lot of my friends suffer through a failed marriage or 3, I still found myself seeking out the big endgame, sometimes in spite of where the relationship should have gone. Too many times I used the power of sheer will to make things work long after they should have ended. I saw things in people that simply weren’t there. And this led to mistake after mistake.

The square peg will never fit the round hole.

I never knew what it truly felt like to JUST LET GO. And now, there are still some times that I have to quiet the inner voice that reminds me of what I thought my own life would look like when I got to this point. But they are fewer and farther between.

A few weeks passed and I started talking to a guy I’d met who lived 3-hours away. Although the sparks flew when we met, we attempted to ignore them because of the distance.

Now he’s my boyfriend. And I couldn’t be happier. We’ve made vacation plans through September, and that’s the only future I see. No preconceived notions. Just fun. Every 3 or 4 days, he drives here to see me… because we can’t stay away from each other any longer than that. It’s a feeling I’ve missed. When you’re no longer forcing or trying to control things, the best things can happen. They just need the space to do so.

We’re taking my dog to the beach in August because he’s never seen the waves and sand. I honestly just wanted to see his reaction, but I know that whatever happens, I’ll love every minute.

It’s a great place to be… in the moment. And it’s something that has always seemed so simple, yet has always eluded me.

I don’t know what the future will bring, but I can tell you one thing… I’m going to enjoy every moment that I’m given. That’s a promise.

Our first weekend together. He didn’t flinch when I said “Let’s do mud masks!”

Even my dog loves him

Your Best Self

Recently I started working out with a personal trainer. I first met him over 10 years ago when I made the decision to learn a little something about fitness. Working out with him has been the only thing that has really worked for me, so after 10 years of denial, I’m back in the gym building muscle again.

In the interim, I tried every “quick fix” I could get my hands on. From Herbalife to Plexus to It Works! I tried it all. I was a Lululemon-wearing, green juice-guzzling Barre snob for a little longer than I should have been. I even went to a “weight loss doctor” who discovered that I was hypothyroid. After that she did nothing more than require bi-weekly visits that consisted of a tiny bit of small talk, a weigh-in, and a shot in my butt that was supposed to boost my metabolism. I left each visit $180 poorer with a pocket full of pills that made me hungry, irritable, and anxious. And then I quit.

I had all the excuses: No time, no money… blah, blah, blah. But when I compared all the time, effort and money I’d wasted possibly making myself even more unhealthy, there was no contest. Sure, personal trainers are expensive, but so is everything else. And nothing can equal the satisfaction of accomplishing goals and breaking through barriers.

Before I met Wade I’d never set foot in a gym. As a girl who had grown up never having to worry about her weight, I knew nothing about diet and even less about exercise. Instead of sports, I chose art and music. I had no active hobbies. My mother didn’t cook, so I learned how to survive on fast food and junk food. And it caught up to me. It took its sweet time about it, but it finally did.

When you need something fixed, you consult an expert. Wade has always been that for me. He knows I lack motivation and discipline, so he works to counteract that. He prevents me from sabotaging my progress. He keeps me out of my own way.

As you may have guessed, I’ve decided to move this whole “Year of Yes” thing in an even more positive direction. I’m definitely not missing any opportunities, but I’ve also decided to incorporate being my “best self” as well. I’m not a fan of stagnation or negativity, so these concepts have been an ongoing theme.

525,600 Minutes

A lot can happen in a year. It’s funny to think that I started off the year recovering from a relationship that made me feel like a prisoner. I took the necessary time to put it behind me, then made 2017 my Year Of Yes. I spent most of my time doing what I wanted to do, when I wanted to do it. I went to a TON of concerts. I hired a contractor to transform my house into a place I could thrive in, instead of the place where I keep all my stuff. I spent time with so many friends, made new ones and caught up with old ones.

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I opened myself up to the thought of another actual romantic relationship, which was a terrible idea, but I’m only wiser as a result. I fielded crazy texts from crazy boys, but they were well outnumbered by the pleasant interactions. I graduated from the Citizen’s Police Academy. I said “YES” to a musical project that my guitarist from Cherry (a band I formed in 2008 that had a successful 4.5 year run before I went to esthetician school) put together for the purpose of playing a HUGE venue with Biz Markie the day after Thanksgiving. Now we’re playing again and have someone opening FOR US! For our second show ever, this is monumental. Especially since our opening act is the talented Chris Hendricks, currently of Castle Wild.

Sure, this year had a lot of ups and downs. Without them what would life be?

If I had it all to do over again, I wouldn’t have hired a matchmaker. When it comes down to it, no one knows you as well as you do. Expecting someone to be able to find a match for you based only on information you provide is illogical. We all put our “best selves” out there when we are trying to get selected for anything in life. The guys my matchmaker selected had done just that. She had found them in a database based on my criteria. They were the best in the bunch in her opinion. (Of course, it’s also possible that they were the only guys within a 50-mile radius of me as well.)

I could have done the same thing myself. There are plenty of apps bursting with people looking for “Mrs. Right,” but most are looking for enough “Miss Right Nows” to fill the gaps in their schedule. It takes time and effort to actually get to know someone. Eventually, they will show you everything. It’s just a matter of whether or not you choose to stick around for the whole show. Sometimes you see enough in the previews to know that the movie will be a complete flop.

“Show me your crazy, so I can avoid it”
– Me

I’m also learning a lot about the home renovation process. (I painted my cabinets TWICE before I saw that Lowe’s carries paint specifically for cabinet refinishing… Duh) I hired and fired some excellent (albeit overpriced) lawn people. I also purchased a lawnmower. (It’s still in the box because my shed is full of contractor tools) The whole process has made me feel more in control of my surroundings, even though there were certainly parts of the process that no one seemed to have control over. At least I’m ending the year on my own terms with a clear idea of how I want this project to be completed. Yes, it’s been ongoing since May. No, I haven’t killed anyone yet, but I’ve gotten more than a handful of people fired.

I choose to end this year on a high note. Looking back, was 2017 everything I wanted it to be? Yes, except for a few minor hiccups, it absolutely was. I’m a little older, a LOT wiser, and perhaps a little worse for the wear… but I made some amazing memories with the people I care most about in this world. That part, I’m going to keep. And to be honest, I think I’ll continue this “Year of Yes” thing (with discretion) right through 2018 as well. I did, in fact, get a late start this year after all.

Vegas Love Story

I was only home a few days when news of the recent tragedy in Las Vegas broke. Amid the many rumors, it was reported that the music festival I attended was considered as a previous target. This made my blood run cold. The stage that I called home for 2 straight days was his intended target. I can’t even imagine.

The Life Is Beautiful festival became a special part of my life in 2015, when I attended by myself. The lineup was INSANE!

Life-is-Beautiful-Festival-2015-Lineup

One night when I was checking the tour schedule for Twenty-One Pilots, I ended up on the Life Is Beautiful website. Within a few days, I’d spoken to a friend who lives there and purchased airfare/hotel for myself. He worked at one of the casinos on the strip and told me he’d be able to get a handful of tickets.

Two days before my trip, he became unreachable. When I arrived in Las Vegas, there was no one to greet me. Luckily, another friend saw my Facebook post and just happened to be in Vegas attending a business convention. He was kind enough to pick me up and take me to dinner while I began to sort things out. Long story short, I was able to hang out with him during non-festival hours and met some concertgoers from Utah who hung out with me a bit during the festival. The friend I’d originally planned to see never connected with me.

I’d come down with a cold the day before I left, which only got worse as the festival went on. I’m still mad at myself for missing most of the bands I came to see, but that couldn’t be helped. I did, however, get to ride the zip-line which encompasses most of Freemont Street.

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We’re such tourists. I like this photo because you can’t tell I’m deathly ill. I must have taken SO MUCH COLD MEDICINE that weekend. And in my excited state when I was purchasing airline tickets, I didn’t realize that my departure date and time would cut the festival short. Thankfully, I had the chance to return 2 years later.
I did, however, get to see X-Ambassadors, Awolnation, Lindsey Stirling, Weezer, and Big Data. I was also there when The Killers made a surprise appearance as part of Brandon Flowers’ solo set. I saw Rosario Dawson’s talk from the second row (I love her) and stumbled right into the Duran Duran Q & A by accident when I was attempting to leave, take medicine and get some sleep.

By the last day of the concert, my Utah friends were nowhere to be found. I ran into one of them when I was leaving who said they’d all caught a cold. Ooops… I never told her that I was the culprit.

This year, I made my friend Bill go with me. This was the lineup.

LIB-Lineup-2017

Okay, you’re right, he was pretty stoked to go. And he’s an ex-military GIANT, so I felt the safest I’ve ever been.

The night we arrived we met and befriended Zowie Bowie, apparently the best cover band in Las Vegas. I inadvertently picked up the keyboard player, who was a total sweetheart. It’s nice to talk to someone who has so much in common with you when you’re so far from home.

The next 2 days were spent sequestered at the front of the main stage. (At least for me they were. Poor Bill had to take breaks from all of that standing and being pushed up against by thousands of our closest millennial friends.)

After I got to see Muse from the front row (which was the pinnacle of my concert journey), I decided it was time to relinquish my spot. The third day Bill & I roamed around trying to do everything we’d missed the 2 days before. By about 9:30pm, I’d learned that perhaps 3 days is a little much. I passed out well before MGMT and The Gorillaz made it to the stage.

But my point…

My love affair with Vegas began ironically when I was abandoned by my friend who lives there. I was welcomed by every concertgoer I met with open arms. Everywhere I went, I befriended someone new. I never met a stranger.

I remember standing in the middle of the crowd, watching Awolnation and thinking how amazing it all was. There was no place on earth I would rather have been at that moment. Everyone around me was smiling and enjoying the music… just like me. They loved the band… just like me. The whole atmosphere was so positive and peaceful. It was my musical Utopia.

When I went back, 2 years later, it was exactly the same. Everyone was amazing. Total strangers would make a point to compliment me and each other. We were all connected by the same thread… the music.

And it was beautiful.

I’ve attached my favorite images from the experience. Enjoy!

Dream A Little Dream

I had a nightmare last night. Maybe it was just a bad dream, but unlike most of my dreams, I actually remembered this one and woke up believing it was real.

First I have to give you a little backstory…

A long time ago in the MySpace days, I was asked to do restaurant reviews for a local publication. At the time, I had just finished reading The Between Boyfriends Book by former SATC writer Cindy Chupack and had pitched an idea to the editor of the Dating & Love section. In the last chapter, Chupack discusses the BAD/GOOD date ratio: how many bad dates a girl must endure in order to get to a good one. My idea was to pick an eligible bachelor at random from MySpace and have him accompany me on each restaurant review meal. I would write about my experiences using aliases. By the second date, I had decided to focus my attention solely on the guy I’d chosen and table the article.

I’d been peeking at this guy’s MySpace profile for a while, so I wrote him. I realized that the head shot on his profile was done by a photographer friend of mine who’d hired me to do the makeup and hair for that corporate website session. The guy was shy and I remembered talking him into letting me put a little product in his beautiful, thick hair to give it a little texture. (To be honest, I didn’t recall this detail until I’d been on a few dates with him, but it was a better story than the whole truth, so I told it whenever people asked how we met. Not that I’m encouraging half-truths, but since online dating was terribly taboo at the time, I rolled with it.)

I was tasked with doing a review for a local sushi restaurant. Knowing myself, and my fear of eating strange things, I knew that I had to find a more adventurous, more culunarily-cultured counterpart. This guy just happened to have a photo posted of him eating something strange and raw with chopsticks, so I used it as part of my opener. I sent him a message asking if he would like to accompany me on my reviewing adventure. He accepted. Soon after, we were seen all over town enjoying dinners, drinks and the occasional hockey game.

He was the first guy in a long time that I looked up to. He was smart and enterprising… owning, running and selling several companies and one restaurant. And he was the first guy I’d ever met who could tell me that he was an “Entrepreneur” without making me cringe and immediately think he was selling Amway. I respected him. He had an interesting life of his own and we never had a boring interaction.

Flash forward to present day.

We’re still in touch. We’ve both been through our share of failed relationships. The last for both of us ended last year. I still see him occasionally, as friends… Friends with a history.

I have no idea what spawned my subconscious to create the images it did last night, but they’re still vivid in my mind and I’m still a little shaken up by them.

Years ago when we were in the heat of our off-again on-again relationship, I never asked him to define what we were to each other. He’s one of those people who isn’t fond of PDA or discussing feelings of any type. When he took me to Puerto Rico, he spoke of a long relationship that recently ended. It was the first time I heard any sort of emotion in his voice, so although I really wanted to, I didn’t pry. He was a bit of a conundrum. I loved and hated it at the same time.

Because we never defined “US,” we found each other getting into other relationships, then coming back to each other. Although I kept looking for signs that I would be the next bona fide relationship, I never was. Instead, I was just the person he sought to fill the space in between. Evidently, this has affected me more than I thought.

Last night I dreamed that we’d been seeing each other just like we used to when one day he decided to tell me that he was in a new relationship, so we couldn’t continue. I was crushed. After all this time, I let it happen again. I could feel my heart beating out of my chest as I held back tears while trying to communicate. This time was different. He actually told me face to face instead of just ghosting me. Everything was the same, yet so different. And I was different. I finally found the words that I needed to say.

I told him “I was good enough to have fun with, but not good enough to be your girlfriend? That’s what hurts.” In fact, that has been an issue all along. I kept thinking that one day he would wake up and see me differently, but he never did. Perhaps he never will.

And although I know how much I have to offer, there’s a chance that some people will always blind to it. I was beating a dead horse, and although it’s my horse to beat, I don’t ever want to feel that way again.

I’ve had dreams that were premonitions. I’ve also had dreams that made no sense at all. But this one, although it was difficult, taught me a valuable lesson. My worth has nothing to do with how people treat me. I was tolerating behavior that made me feel less than, and I needed to move on. And just like that, the pedestal I put him on for so long is gone and I’ve finally found my voice.

Voice

SuperCon

So there I was in a line of the sweaty, costumed masses that stretched completely around the Raleigh Civic & Convention Center. My first thought was that I didn’t bring any sunscreen, my second was that I was going to be extremely close to some of my favorite celebrities and I didn’t want to look or smell like a sweaty mess and I didn’t have deodorant in my ridiculously large bag. I’d packed everything else I could possibly need (snacks, portable phone charger, zip up hoodie for warmth, water bottle, extra t-shirt, cash, memorabilia for signatures…) I’d never been to a convention of any type, but I was a damn-quick study.

A guy dressed as batman, driving a convertible replica of the Batmobile (and probably also sitting in a puddle of his own sweat from what I could imagine) pulled up just in time for a tiny joker to appear and leer at him from behind a telephone pole. I giggled and walked past. It was like I was walking through a film set… or perhaps Bizarroworld. Not typical by any stretch of the imagination, but this was MY typical Saturday.

Once inside I felt lost only for a moment, then, as if by magic I was found by multiple people who picked me out of the crowd. (I’ll admit, I wasn’t dressed in a costume of any sort and I wasn’t slogging around in a t-shirt and jeans so I was probably the sorest of all thumbs in the bunch. But THIS, I’m accustomed to.) After I made my way to a restroom, blotted any dew I’d accumulated and taken a few deep breaths to collect myself, I ran straight into my friend John, who in recent months had begun trying his hand at CosPlay photography. He’d been hired to take all the group shots at the SuperCon so although he was busy, he took a moment to show me how to get where I needed to be… I went straight to where the celebrities are.

I’ve always been most at home with them. I think that’s something I’ve always known. They’re just more interesting than normal people. And I’ve always been drawn to those who set themselves apart.

My list included: Gaten Matarazzo (Stranger Things), Jason Mewes (Clerks, Mallrats, Jay & Silent Bob), Emma Caulfield (Buffy the Vampire Slayer, TiMER), Brian O’Halloran (Clerks, Mallrats), and Joey Lauren Adams (Chasing Amy, Big Daddy, Dazed & Confused). I loved ALL of them. Some interactions were a little more rushed than others. Some remembered me and interacted with me throughout the convention. (I even got to hug Emma goodbye and wish her safe travels. She really is the sweetest! I told her about my friend Jenn who named her second son Xander. She said, “Now THAT’S dedication! And we laughed.)

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And Joey… I can’t say enough about Joey. The convention organizers placed Emma and Joey right next to each other and I can certainly understand why. They are both Sweetness and Light. During the View Askew panel while Jason was walking around being ADHD and Brian was being a comedian, Joey just sat back, calmly answered questions (no matter how off-color they were) and just glowed. She has an aura about her that is definitely old soul, but there’s a sweet vulnerability and a touch of “cool kid” that makes you want to hang out with her. In her Q&A, I asked her who was her role model. She responded without hesitation, Deborah Winger. Now I feel the need to watch more Deborah Winger movies.

But the best part was when I told her that ever since I’d watched Chasing Amy, I’d wanted her to be my best friend, she smiled and giggled and we chatted some more. She then took a stunning photo with me. What I hadn’t noticed was that she had personalized my DVD in response to our conversation. Now I’m the one who’s glowing.

When I first heard about the SuperCon, my friend Madeline had sent me a message last weekend when I went to see Kevin Smith at the comedy club. She told me that “Jay and Dante” would be there, which at the time were intriguing but not quite impressive enough for me to be completely convinced. When I saw that Joey was accompanying the boys, I clicked the purchase button immediately. As soon as I saw Emma was there, I knew my decision was a solid choice.

Madeline had a wedding to shoot in Virginia on Saturday, so I extended my ticket purchase to I could accompany her on Sunday. (Sunday was also Joey’s Q&A, so it was a win-win regardless) I got everything I wanted to do for myself done on Saturday so that I could relax and enjoy everything with Madeline on Sunday. It was the perfect plan.