Archives for June 2014

Those Were the Best Days of My Life…Or Were They?

The other day I was jammin’ out in the car to Summer of ’69. As I was singing (and likely annoying the crap out of Brian), I started thinking about the places that this song takes me.

As a little girl, I was a junior cheerleader for a K-8 football and cheerleading organization. I was with the same team from 3rd through 8th grade, and we competed in poms against other suburban cheer teams. One of our first-place routines was choreographed to Summer of ’69, so it certainly has fond memories for me. I almost busted out a kick line and imagined myself ponying. In the car. In case you forgot.

But this time, instead of just reminiscing to my childhood, I found myself listening to the lyrics as I belted them out to Brian’s dismay (the singing, not the thinking).

In the song, Bryan Adams sings about the good ol’ days when he was carefree and in love, before responsibility and adulthood.

Those were the best days of my life…

And I looked back on my past (all *cough*29*cough* years) life and thought about it. Which of those years or experiences were the BEST days of my life? Where would I go back if given the chance? What summer truly seemed to last forever?

And the answer was simple. I’m living the best days of my life. Good, bad and ugly, my present is so much better than my past. Because my past led me here. And the here and now will lead me to my future, so that I can always say that my present is the best days of my life.

Those were the best days of my life…

I have had some absolutely wonderful experiences, childhood vacations and camping trips. Family memories full of love. Friendships that have withstood the test of time. A growing circle of friends that has expanded and multiplied with more friends and their families. Relationships that helped me realize who I am and what I want so that I could find (and pester until he finally took me out on a date) and recognize the person that I am meant to be with.

I’m lucky.

But for every bright day, there was a dark one. For every memory of love, I have a memory of being bullied or watching my brother get bullied. For every memory of friendship, I have a memory of deception or cruelty or loneliness. For every memory of sheer happiness, I know and understand depression. For every heartwarming relationship memory, I’ve known gut-wrenching heartbreak. For every success, I also recall the failures.

Our lives are not measured solely on the successes. Nor are they measured on the failures. Each piece of the puzzle has added a layer to our personality. Every triumph, every stumble. But each of these experiences is merely a stepping stone to the next. And the days, whether dark or light, that shall come to pass will be wiser steps to a brighter future.

Those were the best days of my life…

We are unique. Our experiences are shared, but different. Alike, but completely one of a kind. We empathize (or don’t).

I struggle. I have a hard time keeping it all together. Working a full time job. Commuting more than 10 hours a week. In total 55+ hours devoted to work. Looking for ways to progress my career, to learn more, to see more, to be MORE. Looking for a new home by buying a house and making it a home. Writing for me. Blogging, but also creating characters and stories, so that one day I may have that best-selling novel all writers hope to attain. Living a life that I can be proud of. Enjoying time with friends. Family. Experiencing things so that I can have something to write about.

I struggle, but I’m not alone. I’m surrounded by my family. My friends. You.

You make this blog worth writing. Because of you, I am here. And for that I thank you.

Do you agree? Do you think the present is full of the best days or is there another, more relevant time in your life that constitutes the best? Do you wish you could go back or are you always looking ahead?

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!

We Broke Up With Our House…Or…We Almost Bought a House

Remember two weeks ago, when I was planning all the exciting things for a house we hadn’t bought?

And last week, when I bragged about a secret?

And Tuesday when I teased about an exciting day to my Facebook followers?

And the majority of those two weeks were spent pinning home decorating images to my Pinterest board?

Last Saturday, Brian and I put a bid on a house. And within two hours of starting the paperwork, we had negotiated a deal with the sellers.

We were on cloud nine. We had a quirky amazing house. And plans.

Old bones with big additions. I was calling it my 90’s chic 90-year-old house.

Vaulted ceilings, book nooks, connected closets, walk-in closets as big as bedrooms, a gigantic jet tub in the master suite, a loft–it was insane. Great location. Near the train. Near highways. A little extravagant, perhaps, but somehow fell in our price range. We couldn’t turn it down. It called to us.

When we walked in, we knew it was our house. Just like everyone says about houses…you just know.

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Vaulted ceilings in the bedroom

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Built-in bookshelves and nooks

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Tuesday, we had our inspection. We had told ourselves that there wasn’t anything they could find that would deter us from the house.

We were wrong.

Our inspector was GOOD. I mean as a person? Not my kinda guy…a cocky dude who talked down to Brian, for sure, but he knew what he was doing. He was thorough.

His thoroughness quickly found major issues with the foundation and property grading, some current, some potential. But big.

And we can try to append the contract to factor in these major problems, but do we want to?

Brian’s stipulations had always been that he didn’t want to deal with foundations or roofs at the starting gate. I can’t blame him. It’s a lot to deal with.

So we both grieved. Which seems bizarre for a house that we’ve only known for two weeks.

We learned a lot from the inspector (about clues to look for, how to tell the age of certain appliances and fixtures, features we should recognize…it was eye-opening).

And we realized that there were other things we were willing to overlook, but we’re relieved that we won’t have to deal with (ALL old appliances, huge heating and cooling costs, a creepy basement, and unusually high taxes, among other things…)

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The creepy basement

I do know, though, that we will find a house. It just isn’t this one.

Have you bought a house before? Have you lost a house? What was your experience with the inspector? Tell me your story.

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!

The Rules of Blogging According to Brian

I wanted to title this post, “I Know Something You Don’t Know,” but then I didn’t. Because that would have been sassy and taunting…and then there would have been something that I know…that you don’t know…or that you might know because I’m a big blabbermouth, sometimes.

Now is not one of those sometimes.

Because this post is all about Brian. And his trickery. And his rules.
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Obviously (or maybe not quite so obviously), I am a grown adult and I do what I want. But sometimes Brian requests that I do or do not do certain things. Here is a list of those…requests.

Do not tell secrets on the internet

Sometimes there are things that I want to tell you. On Facebook. Or Twitter. Or Instagram. Or this blog. And Brian says no. Because they’re still secrets. And of course, then he’ll say, “You do what you want…but…” and it’s the but that makes me second guess my secret-telling on the internet.

Do not embarrass me on the internet

And by “me” I mean Brian. Because he gives me mostly free reign to embarrass myself on the internet. His family teases him enough for writing about him the way I see him and not the way anyone else sees him. God forbid I should tell you all the delightfully adorable things that come out of his mouth (words, OBVIOUSLY).

Always post smart things I say on the internet

Brian’s a really smart guy. He may not admit to this, but I know he wants you to know that he’s a genius. He always wants you to know the brilliant things that he thinks. It’s unfortunate for him that I often forget the smart stuff he says (because I may or may not be falling asleep as he says them) and instead post only the hilarious or ridiculous verbiage. But rest assured, he says A LOT of smart things. He just likes to be show-offy and smart when I’m tired and ready to go to sleep.

Don’t let the internet hurt your feelings

Because I totally put myself out there with this blog and all the lovely social media outlets that I play around on, I leave myself open to the cruel and unusual punishment that is internet bullying. Brian is an advocate for my feelings in every way possible, but he thought the whole Reddit thing was fucking awesome (except for the people who said horrible things. Because those people are not awesome). Mostly because of the crazy way my stats jumped. Even if 90% of those people never come back, some will. And whether it’s to find new ways to hate me or because they actually do enjoy my sense of humor, my writing style or my personality in general, it’s a win for me.

Do not tell secrets on the internet

I mean, it’s not like I have a secret or anything. Especially not one I’m not allowed to tell you about. Because that would be unfair. But if I had a secret, I wouldn’t be allowed to tell you. Because Brian said so.

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!

Rest in Pieces, Delilah: A Eulogy

In honor of my dear friend of 19 years.

She was a true champion. We met the summer between 7th and 8th grade. She kept my little brother and I occupied, distracted, and entertained that first summer she arrived, when Mom was sick. She taught me about responsiblity, maintenance, and pride in a job well done. She helped me practice my flip flops in high school. She gave us a place filled with memories. Something to do early in the morning and late at night. She was the life of every party.

Although she had no name for much of our friendship, she will forever be known in my heart as Delilah. Thanks to a few beers with Dad and my little brother.

My brother sent me a picture last night as I was heading home on the train. And I knew. Delilah was a goner.

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She passed slowly, starting last night, and carrying on until morning. Now, she’s merely an empty shell in my parents’ backyard.

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I called Mom immediately to see what happened. Apparently everyone was in the pool but me. I had always joked that I wanted to be there when she exploded so, of course, my first comment was, “I can’t believe you didn’t wait for me!”

We had dozens of inside jokes, from Pool Cheese (Kraft singles, wrapped in plastic, still taste like Kraft singles-gross, even when they come from the bottom of the pool) to her name, Delilah, which Mom hated (I think it had something to do with naming inanimate objects).

My parents may get a new pool, but it’s also time to pass the torch. When I was a kid, Gram had a pool. Then, when that pool died, Mom got a pool. Now it’s my turn. House. Then pool. It’s the natural state of progression.

I made my way over to the parents’ place to say goodbye and offer my condolences to Dad, who was Delilah’s closest companion since I moved out.

For the last 5 years, Delilah had been living on borrowed time. Pool life support in the form of rusted caulk and Gorilla Glue. FIVE YEARS, you guys. I stand by Gorilla Glue for LIFE knowing that 10,000 gallons of water were held together wirh this magical glue…however unattractive it may be.

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But in the end, the pool rusted out.

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This is what the pole used to look like:

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So here’s to Delilah. You were a reliable and loyal friend. You’ll be missed.

Did you ever have a pool? Do you want one? Have you ever witnessed a large appliance or structure in your home kick the bucket?

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!

Confession Friday: I Have a Planning Problem

In the last several weeks, we’ve been browsing house after house after house looking for OUR house. From hundreds of houses online to dozens of showings, we’ve/I’ve spent countless hours looking for just the right house.

Several times in the last few weeks, we’ve even thought to ourselves is this our home? And truly meant it. So we plan. We plan what we would need to do to it to make it ours and often…it’s too much.

Well, we’d have to knock out that wall.

We’d want to add on an entire section to make that room fit for a grown adult and not a gnome.

We should refinish those kitchen cabinets.

We need to remodel the entire kitchen.

Why don’t we just MAKE that room part of the kitchen?

That bathroom needs a nice tub.

I veto the claustrophobic shower.

We need wood trim throughout the house.

Oh dear God! Why would they paint that beautiful trim?

The list of random suburban home planning goes on. We realized that none of those houses were our house. We need a mix of old house bones and charm wirh modern conveniences like air conditioning for hot Chicago summers and a large kitchen for all the parties I can’t wait to host.

I also plan for parties. How we would decorate for Halloween and Christmas. Because I want to host Christmas. And you already know how I feel about Halloween.

The other day, Brian tried to rein in my Christmas tree problem by telling me that we couldn’t get a new tree if we end up with vaulted ceilings…which is ridiculous because I’ve already planned for the giant ass Christmas tree I’m going to put in whatever giant ass room I can.

So I have a planning problem. Because right now, I’m sitting here with a notebook and a pen…writing a list…drawing diagrams…planning.

For a house we haven’t bought.

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!

Heading to BlogHer 2014 in San Jose and Things I’m Going to Con Brian into Doing

Guys, I am SO stoked to be heading to my second BlogHer convention. Last year, it was in Chicago–just 5 minute cab ride from my office, so I made my way over there after work on the first day of the conference. This year, I’ll be traveling to California for the first time ever and heading to San Jose to meet up with some of my bloggie friends, mentors and heroes for 4 days of joy.

Of course, I figured if I were heading out there for a conference, I might as well enjoy a few days of sightseeing before the big event. So Brian decided to join me on the upcoming adventure.

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This is Brian and I on adventures

We’ll be flying into San Francisco for a couple of days, then making our way up to wine country, and finishing our journey with BlogHer in San Jose (and flying out of San Jose. I REALLY love Southwest. Bags fly free and you can easily book one-way trips.)

While I’m conferencing with my bloggie friends, Brian will have a few days of down time to do…well…whatever he wants. Without me dragging him all over hell and high water.  Because that’s TOTALLY going to happen. I’ve created a little wishlist of things that I REALLY feel are an important part of our west coast journey.

1. Pictures in front of the Full House house. Yes. I know that people live there. But you know what? They moved into the Full House house. I’m going to be a covert creeper and make that shit happen.

2. Picnic in Alamo Square Park (bonus: Play the Full House theme song from a boom box.) This kind of goes along with San Fran goal #1. But seriously guys… FULL HOUSE. It was like…the epitome of childhood.

3. Sea-shelling on the Pacific coast. I read that one of the top ten shelling beaches in the United States is just north of San Francisco…so I pretty much HAVE to make my way over there to check it out. You know how much I love shelling!

4.  Visit the Winchester Mansion. If you haven’t heard of it, look it up. Sarah Winchester thought the ghosts of every person who ever died from a Winchester rifle was haunting her. So she built this crazy house and kept building until the day she died. Doors that lead to walls, hallways to nowhere, windows in the middle of the house…Crazy shit. I CAN’T WAIT.

5. Attend some blogger party or event. I don’t expect him to want to partake in the entire conference, but I think it will be fun to intro him to some of the bloggers of my “tribe.” (Hint: That’s you guys)

There are other things on the list, but those are my top 5.

Have you been to northern California? What would be on your don’t-miss list? Are you going to BlogHer?

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!

Things I Discovered While Eating Healthier (Plus Pocketful of Quirky Grace DietBet Results)

As y’all know, I started the DietBet a month ago. I knew that it was scheduled to end just days after my birthday, and still I signed up. After several years of slight drops, but mostly raises, in weight, I wasn’t sure I would ever feel that drive to lose a few pounds. I’m comfortable in my own skin. Do I wish that jeans were more comfortable and that I could fit into my skinny girl dresses? Of course…but do I also think that I look awesome in the clothes I have now? Yep. Because sometimes the right plus size clothes can make a girl feel just right.

But somehow, I was finally ready to start dropping the pounds. And DietBet provided just the right amount of motivation: Money. But not just like…losing money…the opportunity to WIN money. I signed up for two DietBets: The 30 day bet with Joules and Kari and a 6 month bet with 800-ish other people.

I’m in this thing for the long haul kids.

I started fast and furious, dropping weight like nobody’s business. It was awesome. Then I tapered off right before my birthday… And it was a rough patch to get back on track. The last several days have been a serious effort to lose that last pound…we’ll find out soon enough if I made it or did not. Even if I didn’t make it, the group of 31 players lost over 200 pounds! That’s a pretty sweet deal if you asked me.

So before I share my weight loss victory or not, I thought I’d share a few things I learned during the start of this long journey.

Healthy eating tips and tricks that make it just a little bit easier

  • Zucchini, when sliced thin and grilled to a dark crisp, tastes like toasted marshmallows. (You heard it from me first.) Now I get why my dad always called it nature’s candy.
  • If you put enough delicious on a salad, you won’t need dressing.  (And no, I didn’t use bacon or salt.) I’ll show you sometime. 😀
  • This one surprised me the most: The less of the bad stuff you eat (salt, refined sugars, heavy carbs), the less hungry you get. On the days that I ate mostly fruits, veggies, cheese and proteins, I ate less without feeling hungry. Eye-opener.

So, did I win the DietBet? Yep. Im down 10.5 pounds in a month. It was hard work, especially with the birthday celebrations this past weekend, but I made it. The goal is to keep chugging along (probably at a slower pace than this one-month kickoff, but I’m super excited for the next 5 months) and lose several more pounds.

I dont notice the weight loss as much in my stomach as I do in my face, but it’s all got to come off eventually!
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Thanks for the support, kids!

And congrats to all of the Pocketful of Quirky Grace betters, because more than 200 pounds is no small feat!

Would you try a DietBet? Does it seem like a motivator that would work for you? What healthy eating tips do you have for me?

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!

Life-Gaming: Trolly Want a Cracker?

I’ve finally arrived.

This past weekend was my birthday weekend, as well as my two-year blogiversary, and the blog was overloaded with visitors. Particularly visits skyrocketed to my copyright notice page. When I say overloaded, I mean it was a serious birthday gift of JOY to discover thousands of page views on my little ole blog.

Someone on Reddit came across pictures of me playing around in a cardboard box like a kid. Because it was fun. Apparently, that person thought that my blog was SO BAD that it wasn’t worthy of a copyright notice. I made it into the “delusional artists” subreddit. For those of you who don’t know what Reddit is, it’s kind of like…a message board version of Pinterest.

I chatted with some of my friends immediately upon noticing my recently-discovered infamy, and I realized quickly that being targeted as a “delusional artist,” put me in an excellent position to meta game the fuck out of Reddit and the trolls who think it’s worth their time to talk about how crappy they think I am. Oh, feel free to read about why I’m a delusional artist. If you agree, go ahead and join them. I won’t mind.

As you can imagine, with comments like, “You are not good enough” and I have never met this person and I already hate her on a deeply personal level,” I began my journey through Reddit in a state of confusion. 

I'm sorry, what?

I’m sorry, what?

Trolls are kind of like bullies, but they don’t have the balls to say shit to your face, using their real names. Wait, so you’re saying that strangers who are so proud of their work they hide behind screen names like “nilleftw,” “stormchaser” and (my favorite) “bangwhimper?”

Then I thought to myself, REALLY? Really? 

Are you kidding me?

Are you kidding me?

They couldn’t even find anything valuable to criticize. I could have done a better job of talking shit about my blog. Bangwhimper went to the trouble of creating an Imgur picture with a screen shot of my goal to read 16 books this year, commenting on my “gargantuan cultural appetite.” I, of course, had it removed from Imgur shortly thereafter for…wait for it…copyright violation.

At this point, I started to laugh.

Laughing at trolls

And laugh.

More laughing at trolls

And laugh some more.

Laughter is the best medicine

I was getting well over my norm for blog traffic, and 15 of the several THOUSAND people who came to my site could think of something negative to say…and even those comments made little to no sense.

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I especially liked the comments that talked about how weird I am…or that I’m chubby. I don’t think there has been a post on this blog in which I make any claims that I’m not weird or chubby. In fact, I’m pretty sure I own the fuck out of weird and chubby. That’s a part of who I am. I’m not offended, but I’m certainly baffled.

Oh, and then there was that one guy (or gal) who thought that commenting on my blog would be fun. He must not have realized that I had the power to edit anything he said and turn it into a lovely message.

I’m pretty sure that in the world of trolls and internets, I won this round. But you know, in case you ever want to feed the trolls, here are a few pointers to really get them going.

I was the victim of Reddit bullying. This is how I combatted them. Sort of. Really, it was just a way to poke them with a stick and get more views. They were mean and I cried...but poke poke poke.

How Trolls Win on the Internet

  1. Trolls make you sad. They want to feel better about themselves, so they aim to tear you down and make you cry the ugly cry.  And who’s crying the ugly cry? You. Who’s laughing? Trolls. They’ve won.
Cry the ugly cry

You don’t want them to see you like this, do you?

  1. Trolls make you angry. They want to start something. If you get angry and fight back, they think to themselves, “oooh, this is fun. Look at you squirm!” And then they have more to play with. They’ve won.
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This might make you look bad ass, but does it really work?

  1. Trolls trick you into trying to please them. They want you to want them to love you, but they’ll keep moving the goal posts. Fix what they’re criticizing and try to chase their approval? Boom! They’ve won.
Trolls trick you into trying to please them

Please love me… (no, really…don’t love me. I don’t need your trolly love.)

How You Win on the Internet

Keep on keepin’ on. Ignore what some pimply kid or 40-year-old virgin on Reddit thinks. You’re the only you that will ever be. Whether you’ve got 2 followers or 20,000, there is someone out there who gets it. And gets you. Make friends and have fun. Forget about people who aren’t or don’t like you. They’re never going to be your target audience, and you don’t want them anyways. Continue doing what you’re doing and own it. You win.

Of course, if you ever have problems with trolls, feel free to repeat the following:

“So, this is what I say to fucking trolls. Fuck you. Douchebags.”

Then smile. Because you're fucking awesome.

Then smile. Because you’re fucking awesome. Even when you want to fuck around with a cardboard box.

Have you ever had problems with bullies? Cyber or real life? How did you handle it?

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!