Because I Need to Take Care of Myself

I’ve been thinking about self-care a lot lately. I haven’t been taking proper care of myself. Brian likes to joke that he feels responsible for making sure I’m well cared for, and I joke that it’s because my parents gave up that responsibility when he walked into my life. In reality, I need to make sure that I’m doing everything in my power to actually take care of my mind and body. Because when one part of me isn’t working right, the rest follows suit.

I participated in an Influencer Activation Program on behalf of Influence-Central for Massage Envy. I received compensation as a thank you for creating this content. As usual, the thoughts, opinions, and beliefs expressed in this post are wholly my own.

With the last week and a half off work, I’ve been focusing more on me and what I need. As a gregarious lady, I need vastly different things in my life than my introverted boyfriend. I’m at my happiest when I’m surrounded by people that make me smile, laugh, love or some combination of the three in a comfortable setting. Basically, I consider myself to be an introverted extrovert so I want to be in a place I know and feel welcome, but I recharge through the energy of people. In short – Party at my house, people!

Just kidding. Sort of. Self-maintenance, for me, involves a combination of activities that allow my physical and emotional well-being to thrive. This is how I do:

In your busy life, you need to make sure you're taking time for yourself. Try one of these 5 ways to promote self-care in your own life.

Yoga – physical and emotional

My practice is a safe space to meditate, relax, and breath. Not only does it help me move my body physically and stretch muscles to encourage activity without injury (well…I try anyways), but it also calms my thoughts, minimizes my anxiety and makes me a more positive person. I need yoga in my life. It gives me confidence, strength, peace. It gives me a sense of control. This is something I’ve been missing for a few months, since returning to my normal from my back injury, and I know I need to regain my yoga time. I’m starting back up again, and can’t tell you how excited I am to do so.

Yoga is part of my self-care routine.

Writing – emotional

Who needs a therapist when you can write all your crazy out in a story or blog post? When I’m anxious or depressed or just can’t seem to sleep, writing is my go-to version of insta-therapy. I can sit down with a notebook or in front of a computer screen and pour my heart out through words. In my previous role, I was writing so much dull marketing content, that I was slacking on writing for me, a mistake I won’t be making again.

Writing and painting my nails are both therapeutic exercises for me

Writing and painting my nails are both therapeutic exercises for me, which leads me to the next part of my self-care

Painting my nails – emotional and physical

Yeah, yeah…I know what you’re thinking. Chrissy, that can’t possibly be part of your self-care routine. And yet, here it is. When I can occupy my mind doing something that requires physical concentration, I can often think better, focus more thoroughly, and listen more intently. I paint my nails when I’m binge watching TV or having a conversation with Brian, because I’m more apt to pay attention without distraction. Also, when my nails look nice, I feel better about myself. It’s something I can pride myself in, and I take that as a necessary part of caring for myself and my body.

Socialization – emotional

While I can’t get behind the idea of forced socialization (something that happens when you feel obligated to join a group for a social outing – typically a work or organization obligation when you don’t love your peers), I love being with my people. It is an unfortunate circumstance that some of my writer friends are scattered around the world, but I’m also super lucky to have a lot of fabulous friends right in my backyard.

Just me and a bunch of awesome ginger writers. No big deal

Just me and a bunch of awesome ginger writers. No big deal (except that it’s totally a big deal).

In addition to interacting with my peer groups through parties, dinners, and board gaming, I find myself soaking up the brilliance and silliness in Facebook groups with writers I adore, I attend conferences and meet those writers face to face, and I recently met up with one of my new favorite people to talk, snack, and write.

Massage – physical

Monthly massage is one of the most important things that I do for myself. I’ve been a member of Massage Envy since the summer of 2007 when I was a catering manager who was consistently spraining her ankle and pulling muscles. For a few months, I saw whatever therapists were available, but the day I met Craig, everything changed. He asked if I had a preferred therapist, and I shrugged. His response is burned into my memory, ‘Well, let’s see if we can change that.”

Eight and a half years later, I feel like I’m cheating on Craig when I visit another therapist (which he,  encourages when he’s unavailable). When I hurt my back this summer, I made several extra visits to Massage Envy in addition to my regular monthly massage (sometimes with Craig, who only works Monday through Friday, and sometimes at another location with my secondary therapist who works weekends).

 

Massage is not some fluffy thing I do as a luxury for myself, it’s a necessary part of my Total Body Care.

Because I am active.

Because I spend 8-10 hours a day sitting in front of a computer.

Because I fall down, trip over chains, walk into poles.

Because I hurt myself.

Because I still feel injuries from more than a decade ago whenever the weather changes.

Because I care about my mental and physical health.

Because it makes my body feel healthier.

I am an advocate for taking care of yourself, your body, and your mind.

What is your because moment? What do you do to take care of your emotional and physical well-being? Do you take the time out to get regular massages? What activities do you participate in that make you you?

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!

Why My Best Friend is Cooler than Your Best Friend.

My best friend…

…can open a frozen can of Pepsi. Even when the pop tab is missing.

…sometimes talks to inanimate objects, making me laugh harder than nearly anyone else.

…loves me, even when I don’t love myself. And then tells me why I’m amazing.

…offers to hit people who hurt my feelings over the head with a Corona bottle.

…has wicked cool dance moves, and TOTALLY gets down with me at parties.

…inspires me.

…knows exactly what to do when I’m feeling down. Even when it includes silly interpretive dances.

…believes in whimsy and magic.

…is willing to discuss poop with me, even though, it’s…well…poop.

…is normal. And makes me feel normal by association.

Now. Blog friends. Tell me something awesome about your best friend.

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!

Monday Memories: Snow Day

I live in the Midwest. We get snow. Sometimes, we get a lot of snow. Like a couple of years ago during the giant Chicago Blizzard of 2011, also known as SnO-M-G, Snomageddon, or The Snopocalypse, when the world as we (Chicagoans) know it was put on hold for a whole week(which actually felt like a lifetime.)

When I was a senior in high school, I had a car that I will one day write a whole post about (it was that awesome). And in our neighborhood, the bus was nasty, overcrowded, and smelled really really really really really bad. So even before I had a car, Mom drove our bus-hating asses to school every morning. And picked our bus-hating asses up every evening (My brother and I were also 2.5 season athletes, so we often needed the late night pick-up, anyways.)

So when my senior year came, and I was granted the coveted spot at one of the parents’ friends’ parents’ house across the street from our high school for the year, I was the happiest teenager ever. It was about 10 feet closer than the 50-spot lottery student lot. It was a mile closer than where non-lottery winners parked. It was awesome. And several of the kids in the neighborhood benefited from this spot. I drove my brother, myself, and at least 3 other kids to and from school on a daily basis. My Ford Explorer could fit several more (shhhh, don’t tell my mom), so sometimes we did.

One winter day in the early months of 2001, a blizzard was set to hit the Chi and surround ‘burbs. It was a normal weekday, and we had all made our way to school like it was no big thing. At about 9:30 in the morning, though, my brother and I were paged to the Dean’s office. Unexpected, but not unusual, I made my way to the office, where I sometimes spent a little free time, partially because I kind of liked the deans…and mostly because I was a total suck-up.

Mom had apparently called and told them to send her children home, because the blizzard was about to get bad she was not having and of this 17-year-old daughter driving home in a blizzard crap. Brian and I high-fived (does it confuse you that my brother and my boyfriend have the same name? My family hates it…There’s also a girl Bry in our fam too…and a boy Chris…it’s funny…err anyways…) So we looked at each other, plotting with the wonder twin powers (we’re Irish twins)…and I looked at the Dean and said, “What about the other kids we drive?”

The Dean looked a little confused and I went on…”There are 4 other kids who depend on us for a ride home every day. What about them? They need to leave with us, too.”

The Dean stared at me. Not surprised, he shook his head at me. “Write down their names.” A few minutes later, one by one, my friends from the neighborhood started piling into the office. The Dean greeted them as I grinned my Cheshire grin, “Call your parents. If they give you permission to leave school early, you can go home with Chrissy and Brian.”

30 minutes later, 6 of us were headed back to my house, where everyone was to stay until their parents got home. Mom made homemade chicken soup for everyone, while we played in the snow. We got the next day off of school with everyone else, but no one else got a day and a half, like we did. And it was a magical day.

High school Snow day snow day 3 Snow Day

Do you have any snow day memories, Blog Friends? Tell me yours!

Also, if you are interested in doing Monday Memories with me, I think that each week I’m going to have a topic, so let me know and I will give you the topic and link to you!

While you’re here, please click on this button to vote for me on Picket Fences. Just a click and that’s all! Thanks!

Oh and if you’re feeling EXTRA generous…you can go nominate me, Words for Worms, and any other bloggers that are AWESOME (I’m looking at you, B(itch)log, First Time Mom & Dad, It’s a Dome Life, Pocketful of Joules, Megcentric, That Ash Girl, Baking in a Tornado, and the list totally goes on, but I’d like to get this post published today and not next week…so if I read you regularly, odds are I nominated you, too–I think I nominated like 25-30 different freakin’ blogs!) for the 2013 Bloggies.

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: In Which I Talk About Black Wednesday

Confession Friday: I went out on Black Wednesday. In sweat pants. And drank water. At a bar.

I’ll bet you thought I was going to talk about Black Friday, didn’t you? Admit it.

So, every year since turning 21, I’ve joined in on the “everyone’s home for the holiday, no one has to work tomorrow, let’s go out and get shmammered like we’re still in college” holiday. The busiest bar night of the year, I spent many a Thanksgivings praying over my grandmother’s toilet, unable to consume so much as a piece of cheese throughout the day. (To be fair, this had also happened on Christmas and Easter…I was a bit of a lush back in my younger days.)

Some years, (back in the owning-of-the-bar years), I would be working–though I often turned down the shift in order to participate in the debauchery of drinking with my peers, my brother, and my dad.

Last year, Brian and I went out to a fancy-pants dinner with some friends, where we ate, drank, and were merry…instead of doing the bar scene. But there was that air of “we don’t have to work tomorrow” excitement.

This year, one of my best girlfriends is leaving me. Lily is packing up all her stuff tomorrow and moving to freakin’ Iowa. (I know what you’re thinking…who the hell moves from Chicago to Iowa?) I’ve been thinking that since the day she told me. But she’s moving.

And since her going-away-party was not really a chance to actually hang out with her…because she has a lot of friends and I couldn’t really get some legit Lily time out of it, I made her go out last night for karaoke at our local tavern of choice. Where we both drank water. And sang some karaoke. And I argued with some young early 20-something dude about almost everything.

Singing Karaoke

This was not Wednesday night. But I like this picture. Because I was skinnier then. And I was singing karaoke at Sal’s. Which is what I was doing on Wednesday night.

So I had fun doing the things we used to do before we got old. Except for drinking. Because we were both tired. And I don’t like to drive on amateur nights with any alcohol in my system. Because people are stupid. And my insurance is high enough.

Enjoy the long weekend, kids!

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: My Jealousy Complex Leads to the Project: Fairy Tales

Yes, it’s true. I have a jealousy complex. Honestly, I think that most people do…

I’ve always been a little bit jealous of the majority of my pals (I mean, they all have qualities that I admire–that’s why they’re my pals!), jealous of girls who are skinnier than me, prettier than me, taller than me, shorter than me, have more money than me, are smarter than me…you get the point. Jealousy. It’s a problem.

I love my best friend with all my heart. Alas, I am just slightly jealous of her brilliance (and her adorableness, and her amazing-ness). My favorite Word Worm over at Words for Worms proclaimed yesterday that she was participating in a super cool reader-blog-dealie… in which everyone reads a fairy tale of their choosing and then reads other versions/modernized versions of said fairy tale and discusses them in future blog posts (sometime in early 2013).

Obviously, I wanted to play. I realize that I am not a book blog. Or a reader blog. But I love reading. In fact, I have several posts dedicated to books. OK. I have two posts dedicated to books. But still… you get it.

Luckily for me, in her post, she directed me, just as I shall direct you to Project: Fairy Tale if you, too, would like to be as cool as the other readers and writers and play the fairy tale game.

The rules for said game are simple: Choose fairy tale. Read fairy tale. Read 3 like-stories. Write. Write. Write. Write. Excitement! I happen to have just the book for the assignment!

Classic Fairy Tales

I knew this book would come in handy one day!

So, I made my way over to the Project: Fairy Tale page, perused the already chosen stories, and decided on Rumpelstiltskin.

Rumpelstiltskin Fairy Tale

I’ve always been a fan

As Rumpel is my favorite character on Once Upon a Time, and it was one of my favorite Faerie Tale Theatre episodes starring Shelly Duvall, I got super stoked to look into his tale a little deeper…and find more stories like his.Wikipedia gave me a few suggestions, but I’m going to try to find some more.

So I’m pumped! I’ve already got a bazillion fairy tale esque blog post ideas brewing in my brain. The month this blog circle goes live is going to be so so fun.

From slightly feigned/slightly real jealousy to fun with fairy tales…does that mean a happy ending?

 

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 Dating Game

If you’ve ever seen How I Met Your Mother, you know the “Have You Met Ted?” game. I discovered this amusing “game” while watching HIMYM with Mark, who replaced Scrubs with the cast of Barney and his pals. Not going to lie, Barney makes that show. In fact, the BF makes a really great point: Why bother watching the show, when you can watch clips of the funny parts later? Which is what he’ll say right before we look up the video about the Vicky Mendoza Diagonal (which CLEARLY makes perfect sense). Just for added fun:

Anyways, so the Have you met Ted? game translates pretty well in real life. In fact I’ve used it often. One of my most entertaining evenings, was several years ago at a dive bar in Lombard. My pal, Molly, and I were out drinking. While I was in a relationship at the time, Molly was trolling for dudes. Of course, maybe we should have known better than to be trolling for dudes at a dive bar…but we were young.

While I’ve always found a great deal of enjoyment in the chase, Molly is one of those ladies who prefers to be chased. But the shy girl thing doesn’t always work too well without additional help. That’s why girls like Molly have friends like me. To increase the chances of “the chase.” Among other things…

Cue a tall, attractive man sipping on a cheap draft. Molly scopes, then points him out to me. Oh, this should be easy. Without a second thought, I grabbed Molly and dragged her up to the bar. I squeezed in next to the cutie and ordered a drink. As I was waiting for my beverage, I turned on the Chrissy charm.

“Hi!” I grinned at this tall thinner-than-I-would-go-for guy.

He smiled back at me. “Hey, what’s up?”

“Not a whole lot. Have you met Molly?” I asked as I pulled Molly in towards my spot at the bar.

“No, I haven’t. I’m Tom.”

“Hi, I’m Molly” she whispered with the shy girl, I-have-no-idea-what’s-happening smile.

I looked at the two of them, and giggled to myself at the awkward silence that followed their sort of self-introduction. “OK, Tom, this is Molly. Molly, this is Tom. A peanut is neither a pea nor a nut. Discuss.” And with that, I walked away.

Fifteen minutes later, Molly was back at my side as I was chatting with one of my other girls, Becca. “Not so much?”

Molly shook her head. “I didn’t know what else to talk about.” Then she laughed. “I can’t believe you just did that!”

I shrugged, “Just doing my thang…”

She laughed. Just then, Becca’s douchebag boyfriend and his roommate walked up to us. His roommate seemed a little f*ed up, but harmless. He proceeded to shower Molly with compliments and affection. By the end of the night, the were canoodling and kissing. And I barely had to put in any work into that one!

Of course, he wasn’t really boyfriend material. So, even though he continued to call Molly for several weeks thereafter…and pester Becca about Molly…nothing ever came of that night. But hey, Molly had fun. I was entertained. I call that a winning night for a couple of early to mid 20-somethings.

 

 

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!

Smoke and Mirrors

It’s really hard not to judge a book by its cover…or it’s title…or it’s self-description. But  I try. Sometimes.

I know that I judge some of my friends, because they don’t understand things that I understand all too well. I know that I’ve judged my absolute best friend in the world, and I also know that she’s judged me. Penny and I had that “Come to Jesus talk” that best friends have when judgement overwhelms the friendship, and we survived with flying colors. I can’t speak for sure on her behalf, but I know that I haven’t judged her since a series of e-mail messages started by a blog post entitled “I Didn’t Enter a Beauty Pageant, I Don’t Need to Be Judged.” The string of messages eventually led to us realizing that we both only wanted what was best for the other, and that neither of us really understood certain aspects of the others’ lifestyles. I believe that at that moment, our friendship became stronger.

The hardest thing for me to not judge is when people have never had to struggle to stay afloat. People who don’t understand having nothing. I’ve been completely flat broke. I’ve gone 6 months without a job. I’ve struggled to pay my tiny set of bills. I’ve claimed BK and survived it. I have been without health insurance for several years at a time. I grew up behind a world of smoke and mirrors in which my family appeared to have a decent amount of money, but really it was just that…an illusion.

Not that I ever wanted for anything that I needed. My family blessed me with love and affection in addition to countless memories of a really amazing childhood. Our family vacations were often small, but frequent (weekend camping trips, nights in hotels because Mom worked for a hotel chain). We did have several big family vacations–I was lucky enough to visit Walt Disney World 4 times before I went away to college. Credit will do that for you. But there were also times that we ate Ramen, Kraft Blue Box, or whatever else was on sale, out of necessity. I know many people who will never know that.

Or so I think. No one knew we were on the lower end of the middle class. The smoke and mirrors provided an excellent facade for everyone. So maybe I’m judging books by their covers. Maybe there are more smoke and mirror situations than I could ever imagine.  And so I stop. And think. And try really hard to quit judging.

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!

Knock Down Drag Out What?

One of the few times I saw the sun come up before going to sleep, happened about a year after I graduated college. We decided that once Flaherty’s closed, it would be a good idea to go to Galways, the nearest 4am bar, which closely resembles a frat party. One 30 dollar cab ride later, the cabby was trying to screw us out of another 10 dollars, because we were 3 drunk girls. Unfortunately for him, I was smart enough to catch that shit. So I handled it and we proceeded inside. We went in, and found it was exactly like a frat party complete with the typical Talky McOld Guy who would always manage to find me and not leave me alone at these places. Finally, we were hiding pretty decently. Beth was getting her mack on with some very nice guy, Elizabeth disappeared and I was chatting up some random cute guy.

Fast forward to my showing off to the cutie and hanging out in the DJ booth, talking to the DJ, who somehow remembered me from the night before when I was at a random bar singing karaoke like a rockstar.

Out of the blue, I saw this security guard slam some dude against the wall, grab him by his neck, put him in a head lock, drag him out of the bar, and I swear to God I thought he was trying to break the guy’s neck. Elizabeth was right there in the line of fire when this craziness ensued and she managed to get slammed equally as hard by the security guard, who cared about nothing but his pride, apparently. Elizabeth was standing between the miscreant and the wall, hence being slammed into.

So Elizabeth walked over to me in the DJ booth, and started speaking strangely and acting really weird. For the soberest one in our group, she looked and sounded pretty hammered… The next thing I knew, she had dropped down to the floor like a noodle. My brother was there in seconds to help me out; thankfully he was there, too. He picked Elizabeth up and said in his most dominant don’t-argue-with-me voice, “We’re leaving now.”

I thanked the DJ and waved goodbye to the cute guy as Elizabeth was trying to stumble out, hanging on to my brother. Before we even left the dance floor, she passed out again. I grabbed Beth and told her that we were leaving immediately, as my brother and some other guy carried a limp Elizabeth out to the parking lot. I was yelling at the security guards trying not to cry, basically freaking out because my best friend since forever had come to visit me and this shit happened under my watch, so to speak. I was PISSED.

So we made it out into the parking lot, and the paramedics came to look at her. They were yelling at her, Talky McOld Guy refused to shut up and kept saying that she was fine and didn’t need anything, and  I was sitting there watching her unable to focus because 10 minutes earlier she was FINE. There was no way that she was drunk. Either she was drugged or she had a concussion.

The paramedics were all over the place saying she needed to go to the hospital, threatening Ella’s impending death. I asked them very nicely if I could ride with her so she wasn’t alone and would have someone with her at the ER.

“NO,” they tell me, “Don’t you have a car?”

Um HELLO?

I told them, “I’ve been drinking, and I can’t drive.” What? Do they want me to get a DUI on the way to the hospital because my friend got knocked out by a security guard?

I may have started to make a scene, arguing with the paramedics and police…The police officer yelled at me, “No, you don’t have to get a DUI. Take a cab.”

I had two dollars in my pocket and I wasn’t really sure how I would get home from the hospital even if I could get there.

So finally, my brother came around and said “Get in the car, I’ll drive you but then I gotta go home, you’ll have to find your own way home.” In the hopes that someone would come pick us up and for fear that I may have gotten arrested, I got into the car.

We beat Elizabeth to the hospital, snuck our way into the ER, and finally (after her arrival) ended up in her little curtained corner of the ER world. The super bitchy registration lady and the evil/awful nurses shot us dirty looks every time they passed. I really wanted to say to them, I’m sorry, do you SEE my friend laying there shaking like a freakin’ Mexican jumping bean? She’s alone and scared and this wasn’t her fault. I’ll show you bitch ass nurses what you can do with your dirty looks.

So finally, this adorably hot doctor (Doctor Rob) came to the rescue. He checked out all of the important stuff, got Ella’s CT scan taken care of, and spent a little time chatting with us.. He told us that Ella had a concussion, and he said we could go home. The bitchy nurses took their sweet time getting things unplugged, but Dr. Rob talked to us for a while like we were actual people. We told him our story, including the nasty paramedics who yelled at drunk Chrissy and told her to drive herself to the hospital. And he sympathized and joked with us.

Finally, we got to go home. Joe, this guy that we all met at the bar (the one with Beth) who’s a friend of my brothers had graciously stayed at the hospital with us, and kindly offered us a ride back to Flaherty’s for our cars. Thank God for small favors.

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!

Student Teacher Super Fans

I’ve been cleaning out my bedroom at my parents’ house recently, and occasionally, I’ll take a few moments to look through my box. Every sentimental kid has a box. You know, the one full of your childhood, high school, and college memories? Mine’s huge. It’s one of those under-the-bed storage containers, and it’s full to the brim with pictures, invitations, cards, letters, scrapbooks, and other memory paraphernalia.

I make a point to toss out a few things every now and then for good measure (so there’s room to add more, of course), and I almost threw a high-quality piece away. I opted not to. What is it? You may be asking yourself…

A tee-shirt

But it’s not just any tee-shirt. It’s one of those handmade with markers and paint white tee-shirts that high schoolers make for school spirit. Except that no where on it does the shirt say, “Go Rams!”

The shirt, made with two other matching tees (worn by my two actually-musically-talented pals, Sophie Bee and Kathrine Anne), had big bright letters that said, “Dillinger’s Biggest Fans.”

Who is Dillinger?

Well, Dillinger was our Music Theory AP student teacher. (Yes, I took MT AP. And barely made it out by the skin of my teeth.) 1st period of second semester. Every day. We walked in to see this handsome college guy, who would soon be a real high school music teacher. Oh-how-we-adored-him. So, like any love-sick teenage girl, we decided that we would make tee-shirts.

Using our crafty knowledge (as cheerleaders and poms) we followed standard tee-shirt protocol, using markers and paint in school colors to showcase our spirit. We gave ourselves numbers, and added Dilly (as we lovingly referred to him) quotes, like “Easy Peasy” and “I’m not trying to ignore, I’m just trying to share the wealth.” That last one, I’m sure, is because we demanded his constant attention…and he wasn’t always around us.

We wore these tee-shirts to a Friday night football game, to share our adoration with the world. Walking in front of the marching band and Mr. Dillinger was a pretty scary feat, but we really thought that it was a great idea. We pranced around showing off our “cool” tee-shirts and walked right up to him and showed him our awesome shirts. I’m pretty sure that Dillinger was incredibly embarrassed, and having now been a student teacher, I can say with perfect confidence that he likely had no idea what to do other than smile and laugh and tell us that we were a little crazy.

Indeed we were. Indeed. We. Were.

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!

A Middle School Misfit

When I was a socially awkward eleven-year-old misfit, I had two friends. My BFF since kindergarten, was significantly more popular than me, and adjusting well to the wonderful world of middle school. Our friendship remained intact, although I really didn’t see too much of her until high school. Another friend, I think, took pity on me and welcomed me into her life. Both were childhood friends from the neighborhood and complete polar opposites.

Don’t get me wrong. There were plenty of other children who were acquaintances or friends who went their separate ways with the segregated clique dynamic of middle class suburban middle schools. I just didn’t have a clue where I was or who I was or what I wanted…It took years to figure that out, and I’m still not quite sure I’ve gotten the hang of this thing called life.

I remember several things about sixth grade. The first is that I ate a lot of Edy’s Mint Chocolate Chip single serving containers for lunch. They were inexpensive and I had a tendency to hoard money, a habit that I wish I still had more control over. Long before cell phone bills, car insurance, and gas, I was holding onto money like Mr. Scrooge. As I was only eating a tiny container of ice cream most days for lunch, weighing myself every day to make sure I didn’t gain weight was a ridiculous habit. I never strayed from a 7 pound range that I would kill to be at right now (which still wasn’t “thin” by any stretch of the imagination).

The second thing I remember is while I was eating my Edy’s, I was typically eating it alone. In middle school, lunch seats were chosen the first week of school. They were then assigned for the duration of the year. There could be no more than six children to a table. Those were the rules. So, when the only friends I really had could not fit me at their tables, I accepted that with a dulled understanding.

Middle School Misfit

Yes, I had dirty socks, leggings (that were, by then out of style), probably boogers on the sleeve of that sweatshirt, and a bad widow’s peak. I was very much the epitome of not cool.

Then of course, there was picture day. It was 1994, so vests were somewhat trendy, but the combination of my outfit would not have been cool in 1987, let alone when I wore it. A purple turtleneck, remnants of my junior cheerleading days, layered with a cream colored knit vest. I couldn’t find a pair of pants to match this great ensemble, so I matched it with a pair of black spandex running shorts. Oh yes, spandex. Which leads me to the next thing I remember about being eleven and awkward: my first pair of jeans in six years.

After the debacle with the painted jeans from kindergarten, in which I refused to wear jeans ever again (due to the travesty that was outgrowing my favorite pair of pants), I decided that it was time to start dressing a little more with the times. My mother took me to Von Maur, which had just opened in the mall, and we scavenged the racks until we found a pair of khakis and a few pairs of jeans to try on and eventually buy.

Soon after my wardrobe change, I was finally coming into my own and making a few more friends. I even had a little clique of girls that called themselves my friends. By the end of sixth grade, I was still socially awkward, but at least I wasn’t alone.

Settled in with a group of the “bad girls,” I came into some really amazing friends. Amanda (the friend who likely took pity on me) was certainly the ringleader of the group. In sixth grade, she called my Crispy in the most endearing way. She was the first to smoke a cigarette, steal booze, and lose her virginity; one would think that hanging out with her would have sent me on the path of least resistance pretty quickly. But it didn’t. I maintained a sweet and naive innocence that stayed with me for several more years.

I spent many a summer nights sleeping over at her house and vice-versa. At all of the slumber parties, the girls would sneak out at around 11, and I would stay tucked into my sleeping bag. Part of me wonders if it was the fear of getting caught or the desire to sleep that kept me in the house. Some of the other girls would try to get me to drink or smoke, and Am would just look at them, wise beyond her years, and tell the girls, “it’s refreshing that Crispy is as innocent as she is. Why would you want to change that?”

At some point in the midst of seventh grade, Am and Jenny (my two besties at the time) were sitting in Am’s kitchen with me discussing our group of friends.

“I’m so glad that we’re friends. Our group is pretty awesome” Amanda had said to us. Jenny, the quiet one, smiled and told us that we were the best friends that she had ever had.

I told them, “It’s going to be so sad when we get to high school. I think that Kate is probably going to end up leaving our circle. She seems like she doesn’t really like hanging out with us anymore.”

“You’re probably right. But high school is going to be so fun. We’re lucky to have each other. We’ll be best friends for life.” Amanda had said with perfect confidence.

As the years progressed on, I ended up being the first to leave the group, making the cheerleading team in 8th grade, and becoming friends with a new group of girls. Thanks to Facebook, Amanda and I are reconnected, and I’m so happy to see that things are going exceptionally well for her. We had a million great memories together from grade school through middle school. She will always be a childhood best friend.

I ran into Jenny once in the lunch room, and it was one of the most awkward moments of my high school career. She and I had shared a really brilliant summer of friendship between 7th and 8th grade, but when it came down to high school politics, we just weren’t friends anymore. There was nothing to talk about.

Our junior year of high school, an announcement was made that Jenny had passed away in a car accident. I’m not sure whether drugs or alcohol were involved, but I know that she lived a lot in her young life. My mom and I went to the wake, and I was wearing my letter-man’s jacket. The stares that I got from Jenny’s at-the-time friends could cut through a rock. But it didn’t matter. She was my best friend in seventh grade, and dammit I was going to pay my respects.

Those girls hold a special place in my heart. They made middle school just a little less traumatic. We were all misfits, but we were friends.

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