Fear and loathing in Las Vegas

You guys. I made it back alive from Vegas, and if all goes according to plan, I’m in the Mouse House as the post is published. I thought I’d throw down a few highlights of my Viva Las Vegas jaunt.

There were ghosts or someone was stalking my room. I walked into my hotel room at about 10pm, and the T.V. was on. Thoroughly creeped out, I scanned the room for signs of someone else’s luggage. Then I called the front desk and asked if that was normal. Spoiler alert: It’s not. She told me to “be careful” and I thought those were some pretty bold words for someone sitting in a proverbial tower. I opened every door, turned on every light,  pulled the curtains wide open and patted them down for good measure, and slept with one eye open. It was not unlike that one time I was alone and afraid in my house when we first bought it.

The Backstreet Boys are still awesome. Amber and I had one hell of a time. It was like being 14 and in college at the same time all over again. Although my love for Nick Carter died a quick and painless death, I realized that I am definitely a Brian kinda girl. 

I read 3 books. This may not seem all that exciting to you, but when you’ve got a cocktail in a cool spot by the pool, you can  churn through a lot of books and call it research for your own book. Of course, you can also start reading a fourth book,  a series that was highly recommended to you, and not understand why in the world you couldn’t get into it…and also why it was super confusing…until you realize you’ve started with the second book and you feel like an idiot.  You know…hypothetically. 

I realized that I can make friends everywhere. Whether I want to or not. On Saturday evening,  I sat down in the coolest little pool nook,  right alongside the deep end.  I was hanging out, people watching, and taking selfies, as I’m typically wont to do, when a group of people sat down next to me. A man eho was about my age affectionately told an older woman to sit there beside me. So I scooted over when teo more people came up on my other side. I was almost disappointingly trapped, but they started talking to me, and we had a bizarre conversation about the Backstreet Boys,  Britney Spears, and Mariah Carey’s ex-boyfriend. 

My new friends weren’t the only ones to invade my personal space that weekend,  though. Poolside again on Sunday, I was giving off my very serious KeepOut vibe as the sun slowly crept up the foot of my chaise lounge, when a leathery, red-tanned man in his 50s or 60s walked up to me. 

“Hey sexy, can you do me a favor? Can you put some sunscreen on my back?” 

Whatever was unfolding, I’m not one to take skin care lightly. I agreed, as he definitely looked like he needed it. 

“I can put some on you too.” 

“No thanks, I’m good.” I had alread doused myself in half a can of spray sunscreen.

“I don’t want to get burned ya know?” 

“Me neither. That’s why I’m hiding from the sun.”

I quickly patted some sunscreen on his back and sent him on his merry way. He returmed to the pool where a few of his friends were laighing and smiling. Whether I was a bet or not, I hope he got a good story out of it too. 

Going places without my husband is weird. I forget sometimes what it’s like to be single, but both of my aforementioned interactions included, “Where is your boyfriend/husband?” With the first group, I’m sure it was merely curiosity, as I’d preciously mentioned him in conversation (because I love the word, “husband”). The second was definitely fishing for information. Both times, though, “your husband doesn’t mind you traveling without him?”

Mind? I’m pretty sure he appreciates that I don’t drag him on every wild adventure I say yes to. 

Speaking of wild adventures, follow me on the social medias to catch the next leg of my summer adventure.

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!

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!

I’ve Got Friends in Low Places…

Friends come into your life for a reason, a season or a lifetime.

I’m blessed to have found all of the above. Yes, even the seasonal friends. Sure, they didn’t have some BIG part of me becoming me, but I sure enjoyed the ride.

For Day 13 of the 25 Songs in 25 Days, we’re asked to share a song that reminds us of a former friend.

With my chosen song, I think of many former friends all at once. Back when my parents owned a bar and I was an Irish princess. Everyone’s your friend when you own the bar. It’s when you stop owning the bar that you discover your true friends. The lifetime friends. And even the reason friends. The rest were just there for a season. And that’s okay.

When I was a little girl, dancing around the bar after my daddy’s softball games, playing with the other kids, we’d listen to the old-school jukebox and rock out to the 80’s music we loved. Of course, we weren’t the only ones plugging money into the machine (money we got from nice bar patrons who would hand us dollars to play whatever we wanted). And more often that I would have liked at the ripe old age of 8, Garth Brooks would croon about his friends in low places. And you know what?

He was right.

I may have hated that song when I was 8, but by the time I was an adult, consuming my own legal beverages at the bar, I was singing along to the tune with the best of them. I had friends in low places, where the whiskey drowned and the beer chased my blues away…From Peoria to Lombard I had friends at bars across the state. And that was my world for a spell. An intoxicated, swaying world. But it was fun. And I still have some of those friends. But not all. And such is life.

What songs remind you of old friends?

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!

Real Jungle Harmony…Just the Bare Necessities Around Here…

Day 9 of the 25 Days of 25 songs really sung to me (puntended).

A song that gives you hope.

I knew it had to be a Disney song, because nothing makes me happier than Disney music.

And while I was getting my lunch ready with my pal, CC, we were talking about my incessant need to dig my back/shoulder into the corner of the wall to get the knots out…and she told me I was just like Baloo…

And Brian and Baloo ARE buddies…

Brian and Baloo

Then she started singing The Bare Necessities…

Done.

“Forget about your worries and your strife!”

“You’re workin’ too hard!”

Blog Friends, what songs give you hope?

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!

Do You Want to be a Polyester Bride?

I’m only kind of bad at this 25 songs in 25 days. But I couldn’t miss out on a song that reminds you of a best friend. Sure, I just talked about her on Sunday…but she’s just that awesome.

Because I finally have my computer back, this is way easier to copy from Twindaddy’s Blog (Go read about him, and check out other participants in the 25/25 music challenge.)

I don’t know if you remember, but I’m a wretched bouquet toss vixen. I catch a bouquet like nobody’s business. Katie and I fought for bouquets for years (and I pretty much always won. Because I’m vicious.)

Brooke bouquet Toss

So when Katie’s wedding came (it really only took FOREVER for her hubs to do the proposal thing…I mean… I heart you Katie’s husband!) and I was preparing to catch her bouquet (vying for it right next to my ex-boyfriend’s girlfriend), I was excited that her bouquet song was Polyester Bride by Liz Phair. Because that song is awesome. And it was one of our many hairbrush songs freshman year.

The week of Katie’s wedding, she e-mailed me the following note along with the passage that I would be reading at her wedding:

“I heart you so much. And that bouquet is yours, BTW. I haven’t decided yet whether I’m actually going to toss it, or just turn around and hand it to you.”

Of course, Katie wisely opted to throw the bouquet in my direction, so as not to cause bodily injury to her other wedding guests. Because…

It’s not what catching the bouquet means…it’s about taking out the competition.

catching the bouquet

On another positive note, I received permission to write about my Breaking Bad experience a few weeks ago. You’re welcome in advance.

What songs remind you of your bestie? Are you a bouquet (or garter) fiend?

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 Could Live Beside the Ocean…

Today’s 25/25 music is a song that calms me down.

When I was in college, I was a hot mess. Some things never change, I guess…but my best friend on the planet knew just what to do when I was freaking out. Katie and I would have girly dance parties, singing into hair brushes and dancing on desk chairs.

When Lisa Loeb and Liz Phair didn’t cut it, though…Katie brought out the big guns. She brought out the Everclear.

Somehow, there was nothing in this world back in those college days that could make me relax more than watching Katie (and eventually joining in) with her choreographed dance to 
Santa Monica.

It was one of those dances where you act out the actions of the lyrics, so OBVIOUSLY it was awesome. Maybe one day I’ll convince her to YouTube it… Until then, you can watch the normal video and imagine the moves.

Blog friends, is there a tune that calms your crazy?

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!

I Don’t Really Hope it Gives you Hell…

For Day 2 of the 25 songs in 25 days, I’m supposed to choose a song that reminds me of my most recent ex boyfriend. Except that it’s been more than 3 years since my last days as a singleton…and even longer than that since my last boyfriend before Brian.

So it seems odd to bring that up…plus I’ve already introduced you to him…and I was kind of bitchy about it…you remember my ex boyfriend and his manwife, right?

But a challenge is a challenge…and I’m not one to back down on Day 2 now, am I?

(Insert 37 minute pause to think about this. Also, during this time, include a Google search for best breakup songs of 2009…because there aren’t really any songs that make me think of this guy.)

End result:

Gives You Hell by The All-American Rejects

When The Bartender broke up with me, I wasn’t heartbroken; I was angry. It fueled a crazy need to be on my own for a while. It pushed me to become president of the Jaycees. It gave me a list of things I didn’t want in a boyf. And in the end, it was the kick I needed to remind me that I deserved real love. And really…I won. Because I have Brian. But for a long time, I hated him for choosing some college girl over me. So yeah. That song.

Do you have an ex that you don’t really ever think about? Or one that you do? Do you feel competitive with them? Did you win?

Go visit Twindaddy’s Stuphblog for more participants in the 25/25 challenge!

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!

Straight Up Now-Baby Got Back…and Wants to Lose it, Lose it.

image

My baby brother and cousin rockin’ out in the sandbox.

I just started playing the throwback  game in the social media world. So I thought it was pretty perfect when Twindaddy planned to start his 25 songs in 25 days challenge on a Thursday with the first song being “A song from your childhood.”

I have two songs for you. Because I’m a terrible decision maker. And I’m doing something else this month for funsies.

The first song is one my cousin (the adorbs blonde above on the left) and I used to dance around my mother’s living room listening to…on CASSETTE TAPE.

Straight Up by Paula Abdul

Most of the music I listened to as a kid was from my parents’ fave radio stations, but we loooved the Paula Abdul.

The second song is from my high school cheerleading days. Not quite childhood, but pretty darn close.

Baby Got Back by Sir Mix a Lot

Yes. That. Our senior year, this song was part of our competition routine. And yours truly was the girl who stood up valley-girl-style to say, “OH. MY. GOD.” It was awesome.

image

In this picture, I was doing a single extension with the support of a spotter. It was my proudest cheercomplishment.

As I checked out this pic, I thought about how I used to think I was fat, because I was bigger than the other girls…and what I wouldn’t give to have those legs again! Which leads me to the The Pocketful of Quirky Grace DietBet.

I’m joing up with two of my bloggy friends, Joules of Pockful of Joules and and Kari of A Graceful Life, to lose a few pounds.

Pocketful of Quirky Grace DietBet Team

And you can join us too! I’ve done the Weight Watchers thing since, well, high school…and it has worked and it has not worked…So I’m doing this with my own diet and exercise and financial accountability, but you can use whatever method works for you. The goal is to lose 4% of my body weight in 4 weeks. With DietBet, everyone can win. Join our DietBet now!

  • The DietBet’s official start date is Tuesday, May 6, 2014.
  • All participants will need to weigh-in on May 4th or May 5th.
  • The cost to participate is $20.
  • The Bet is to lose 4% of your body weight in 4 weeks.
  • The official end date is June 2, 2014.
  • You can make your weight private so that only YOU see it.
  • Your pictures can also be private (your full body shot and scale shot).
  • We can all support each other on the DietBet site to stay motivated.
  • At the end of the bet, the total amount of money in the pot is split between the winners (after they take their fee out).
  • If we ALL win, DietBet will not take their fee and we will all get our $20 back.

So wish me luck. And get excited for the next 24 days of musically themed posts!

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!

Because I Can Totally Get Two Blog Posts Out of my Sweet Songwriting Skills.

In case you didn’t know this about me…I make up songs. Like a child. You know how little kids take a tune they know and start making up words? About common things? Like eating a sandwich or drinking a milkshake or even watching their favorite TV show?

do that.

Brian is SO lucky to live with me. Not only does he get to hear my made up songs on a daily basis, but also he gets to hear me repeat them over and over and over again until I’ve almost mastered the lyrics. And stopped filming anyway. Because the 17th time’s the charm.

If you didn’t read the post about saying goodbye my Christmas trees, you should probably do that now. Don’t worry; this video will be here when you get back.

You’ll note that even after 17 tries, I still messed the song up a smidge. Whatever. Enjoy anyways.

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!

I Ate Vegan and Didn’t Die. On an Unrelated Note, I Also Met Someone Famous and Didn’t Make an Ass of Myself. I Didn’t Talk Either, so There’s That…

After my run-ins with The Bloggess, Dr Travis Stork, and other semi-famous people who I’ve made an ass out of myself in front of…you’d think I’d be used to dealing with this sort of nonsense.

Let me start from the beginning.

A few months ago, a friend of ours invited us to go see Toad the Wet Sprocket in Chicago. I thought to myself, “self, you really enjoyed Toad the Wet Sprocket in the 90’s. Remember middle school? That shit was the bomb. Dancing in a big circle, huddled up with your closest pals, swaying to the music and smiling at the boy you had a crush on? Go. Seriously. Go to this concert.”

So we made plans…and then magically, Saturday, it was Toad the Wet Sprocket. Our friend Will thought that dining at a vegan restaurant would be a brilliant idea…while my boyfriend and I…well…we had a lot of fun laughing about it before hand. Phrases like this were bounced around on Saturday morning:

“Fake cheese is an abomination.”

“Wait. Chicken wings? Why lie? Why not call them tofu sticks?”

“I can’t take this place seriously.”

And so we decided that we absolutely HAD to go to this vegan locale, because at the very least, I’d get a funny blog post out of it. Unfortunately, I didn’t get a terribly funny blog post, because I got the most stereotypical vegan entree (a salad) that contained no fake cheese or fake meat. F that. I did manage to try a fake chicken tender…which was surprisingly okay. Even if the texture was a little weird.

But the part about this visit that was particularly blog-worthy had nothing to do with the food at said vegan restaurant. And EVERYTHING to do with the Toad the Wet Sprocket concert that we’d be attending a block away.

One minute I was making fun of a fake chicken wing; the next minute Will is all, “What’s going on, man?” to this guy standing at the counter ordering. “We’re looking forward to the show,” he says…

What?!

Glen Phillips, lead singer of Toad the Wet Sprockets was getting ready to nosh on some vegan fair. And he was totally cool.

And I was totally speechless.

Our other friend managed to strike up an entire conversation with him, about how great he looked for his age (he really does look like he’s in his 20’s.) And I just sat there, barely saying a word. Thinking all of the things I wanted to say.

  • “Can I interview you?”
  • “Can I get your picture?”
  • “Can I touch your chest?”
  • “Your voice makes me want to have your babies.”

No? Probably shouldn’t go there on date night with the boyfriend sitting right next to me…right?

So I said nothing. And he smiled. And made us laugh. And then a few hours later, he was jammin’ out on stage. It was…pretty fantastic. By the way, if you dig on 90’s tunes, and have the chance? GO. Go see Toad the Wet Sprocket. They are JUST as amazing live as they are on the radio or an album. Super impressive.

Also?

I mentioned this before at the Wallflowers concert we attended a few months back…but it needs to be reiterated.

I seriously wanted to cut the bitch who was texting on her phone all night long three rows in front of us. Or the bitch behind us who kept taking videos and pictures. I was mostly impressed with the lack of visible technology because the majority of concert-goers had RESPECT for the other audience members…But the few that were all up in the video/camera/busy checking Facebook/texting world? Stop being douchebags. Turn your tech off for a few hours and enjoy the music.

And that’s why I have no pictures of said concert.

How was your weekend blog friends? If you’re in the central Illinois area (or anywhere in the midwest devastated by Sunday’s storm), my thoughts go out to you and your families. Even up here in the west suburbs it was terrifying…I can’t imagine what it was south of us.

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!