Grattitude

*Note: I am aware “Grattitude” is actually spelt “Gratitude” – there’s a sign near the city that has is spelt this way because gratitude is really about your attitude.  See what I did there?  Let’s move on…

As I’m sure you’re aware, this past week was Thanksgiving.  My fiancé, or ‘fiancebabe’ as we like to call each other and he shall hence be known as, spent Wednesday-Saturday (technically Sunday morning) with various combinations of our family members.

While I’m sure a lot of people might think “Jesus. You must have wanted to shoot yourself,” we were thinking “Jesus. We’re REALLY lucky.”

I have an unconventional family that we refer to as our “modern family” and I love every single one of them, no matter how we’re related.  I also have an incredible future family-in-law that I would seriously choose to spend time with.  Not many people can say that.

Instead of raging the town at some bar in the city, we spent pre-Thanksgiving doing what every good Italian family does; eating.  As we went around the table and shared what we’re thankful and grateful for, I reflected on the many blessings in my life.  I went for the sappy road and shared my gratitude for my beloved fiancebabe and my soon-to-be in-laws.  But here are some other things I am (and lot of us should be) grateful for…

  • I’m grateful for the $8.17 organic chicken bone broth (with added organic bone marrow) I bought for lunch because it means I have a stable job and salary that allows me to enjoy such extravagances (once in a while).
  • I’m grateful for the many empty whiskey and wine bottles in my apartment because it means I have good friends who helped us drink them.  And even better friends who brought them.
  • I’m grateful for my insanely sore thighs because it means I am healthy enough to use them, and that I was able to treat myself to a Soul Cycle class.
  • I’m grateful for the medication I take every day because it means I have health insurance, a good doctor, and a country that’s finally recognizing the importance of mental health.
  • I’m grateful for the hangover I had on Saturday because it means I had a great time and that my mom can still out drink me.  It also means my body has a checks and balances system in place that makes me say “I mean it this time – I’m only having one glass of wine tonight.”
  • I’m grateful when my phone blows up from a group text because it means I have friends who want to stay connected to each other.  Plus it means I have a phone and my phone is super helpful, and it entertains me on my way to work.
  • Most of all, I’m grateful for when I feel uncomfortably full, for when I’m so comfortable I don’t want to get out of bed, for when my face hurts from smiling, and when my stomach hurts from laughing because it means that I have a good and plentiful life.

I almost forgot to mention something else I’m grateful for, or should I say someone else – I’m so grateful for my fiancebabe. Because of him I get to share all of the good (and the bad) things with someone who loves me in such a unique and powerful way.  He’s also not too bad on the eyes (wink).

I hope everyone found something to be grateful for this year, and I hope you find even more to be grateful for next year.

Oh, one last thing – I am also grateful for Pumpkin Spice Lattes because they are amazing and they mean it’s fall and I am NOT SORRY ABOUT IT.

Depression is a Dick

Depression is a dick for many reasons.  It waits for an event or moment that’s extremely important to you, whether it be a visit from your best friend or an interview for your dream job, and then right when you’re supposed to be happy and excited BAM! Depression is here and it’s ready to ruin your day.  Or week.  Or month.  Or year.

Depression is a dick because it’s like having a leech stuck to your foot. It slowly drains you of your energy, excitement, and passion.  While no one around you sees the cause, they all see the result.  They say “Why are you so down all the time?  You used to be fun,” and “Can’t you just snap out of it?”  But you know it’s the depression that’s making you like this.  You think, “I am fun, I just don’t feel like myself right now.  I’m trying to snap out of it, but it doesn’t work like that.”

Depression is a dick because it makes colors fade into grey.  Foods that used to make your mouth water start to taste like cardboard.  Friends that used to make you happy start to make you exhausted and embarrassed.  Work that used to fulfill you starts to drain you.  And getting out of bed suddenly starts to seem impossible.

But the main reason depression is a dick, the reason I don’t think people realize, is that depression lies.

As depression sinks in and takes a hold of you, it becomes harder to fight back and easier to give in.  Instead of thinking “I am fun,” you think “They’re right.  I must not be fun to be around anymore.”  Depression makes its way into your mind and tells you that you’re not good at your job, you’re not attractive, you’re not likable, and you’re not worthy of happiness.  And if you let it, depression can make you think that your life isn’t worth living.

Do not listen to it.

Fight back against it.  Fight back with therapy, medication, art, music, loved ones – anything that makes you happy.  Don’t listen to depression when it tells you those things don’t matter anymore, remember that depression is a dick and it’s lying to you.
Remember that you are talented, you are beautiful, you are loved, and you are extremely worthy of happiness.  Don’t let depression win.

Do Me a Favor – Never Say That Again

It’s human nature (or at least it certainly appears to be) to say something stupid from time to time.  We’ve all had the moment(s).  You know that moment where words come out of your mouth and the expression on people’s faces immediately tells you that you have made a horrific error?  Yeah, that moment.  Commonly known as “foot in mouth” or as I like to refer to it “stop talking immediately”.  Profusely apologizing and saying that you’re really tired and distracted because your cat is sick and you just got fired and you had no idea what you said was offensive can sometimes alleviate your faux pas.  Other times, you just need to never EVER say it again.

For your reading pleasure, here are some of the hilariously stupid and ignorant things people have said to me over the years:

“Women don’t drink whiskey.”

Someone legit said this to me at a bar.  Pretty sure “I will cut you” was my response.

“Your job sounds really boring.”

It often is, thanks for bringing that up.  It’s also how I pay my rent, buy whiskey, and feed myself.  What do you do?  Oh you’re an accountant?  Your work must be riveting.

“But you seem so normal.” [In reference to my bipolar disorder]

That’s because I’m medicated – if I wasn’t, you certainly wouldn’t be thinking that! You’d be preoccupied trying to figure out an escape route.  Also, educate yourself.

“You’re so lucky you’re thin.”

I get up at 6:20 in the morning to go to CrossFit i.e., expensive self-inflicted torture that gives you a nice butt.  And when I don’t do that, I spend my lunch break at a spin class.  I also eat pretty damn clean (minus my occasional jelly bean indulgences), drink almost a gallon of water a day, and cut way back on beer.  This isn’t luck, it’s dedication – I earned this body.  End of rant.

“You’re successful for a woman.”

Also something someone legit said to me at a bar.  That was the end of that conversation.  And that man’s self-esteem after I ripped into him.

“Where do you see yourself in five years.”

Ideally?  On a private island writing my second best-selling novel and eating truffle fries.  Realistically? Writing fucking user guides.

“That’s what you wear to work?”

I sit on the non-client-facing floor of my office surrounded by engineers wearing tee-shirts and sneakers.  So yeah, I’m wearing jeans and a hoodie.  You don’t know my life.

“I’m voting for trump.”

Get away from me. I can’t.

The 10 Relationship Commandments

Thou Shalt Share the Remote

When the hour of HBO’s Girls strikes 10pm, thou shalt hand over the remote and play on thy tablet or phone.  When the era of March Madness dawns, thou shall hand over the remote and go on Pinterest.  Or thou shalt journey to ye ole sports bar or thy friend’s quarters.

Thou Shalt Keep it Spicy

Should winter descend upon thy bed, thou shalt get creative with games, costumes, and toys.  Heed this advice – all ye new interests must be consulted and agreed upon before thou doth get it on. And the lovers shall establish a safe word.

Thou Shalt Apologize for What Thou said while Drunk/Hungry/PMSing

While anger and rage make take over body and mind, thou shalt ask forgiveness for calling thy loved one “incompetent” while looking for parking, and for eating all of the cookies.

Remember thy anniversary to prevent the silent treatment.

Should this day (or birthday) be forgotten, thou art in for it.

Thou Shalt Not Lie

Unless questioned “Does this make me look fat?”

Honor Thy Partner

When accompanying thy partner to work events, family parties, and friend’s dinner parties, thou shalt not consume too many tequila shots or tell the tale about when thy partner got arrested for urinating in public.

Thou Shalt “Return the Favor”

Thou knows what I mean, ladies and gents.

Thou Shalt Communicate Effectively

Should one partner piss off another, thou shalt express these feelings of disdain in a respectful, mature manner and not ye bar parking lot one month later at 2am.

Thou Shalt Not Depend On Thy Partner For Everything

Thou must maintain personal relationships outside of the relationship with thy partner.  Should thou not do so, thou risks becoming overly dependent and irritating thy partner which could lead to squabbles (and unnecessary drama which annoys thy friends).

Thou Shalt Love Thyself Before Thou Loves Another

Thou must resolve personal issues as not to destroy thy relationship with baggage. As it is written in the great text of Ru Paul’s Drag Race, “If you can’t love yourself, how the hell you gonna love somebody else? Can I get an amen?”

Amen

Life Happiness = Work Happiness (Not the Other Way Around)

Today, a very cherished employee left my company.  Not only was she phenomenal at her job (god help her replacement), she was a genuinely great person to have around.  No matter what was going on, she always did her best and kept everyone motivated with a smile on her face.

As she made her rounds saying her good-byes, I thought about how strange it will feel without her warm, positive presence around the office.  Whenever I felt down or self-conscious at work, anytime I had a meeting with her or even saw her in the hallway, her smile always made me feel better.  I’ve worked in eight offices, each with a completely different vibe and energy, and I’ve realized it’s VERY rare to find people who make you smile.

It’s very easy, almost too easy, to let life’s bullshit bring you down, especially at work.  At one of the offices I worked in, it seemed like there were only two people (out of sixty) who didn’t look completely miserable.  For over a year, I was one of them.  I didn’t have the most exciting job, but it caused me zero stress, I made friends in the office, and my paycheck (barely) allowed me to live in my own (tiny) apartment and have fun with my friends.  But somewhere along the way that stopped being enough.  I got this idea in my head that my job defined who I was.  I mean “what do you do?” is usually one of the first things you ask someone when you meet them for the first time.  Suddenly I wasn’t fulfilled by my job and before I knew it, I was miserable at work.  I decided I needed to make a change, so I found a new job in a new city and set out to start a new life.  You know what happened?  I was still miserable.  Even more than I was before.  Thus began, the year of job hopping.  In one year, I had five different jobs at five different jobs.  To my credit, only two of them were full-time, but three of them had the potential to become full-time (the other was freelance because I needed the money).  Every time I switched jobs it was a huge blow to my self-esteem.  If my self-esteem had been a log at that first job, it had been whittled down to a toothpick by the time I got to my current job.

It’s been almost two years since I made the decision to leave that first job, and I finally learned what my problem was – as corny as it sounds, I was putting all my eggs in one basket.  I was looking at my job as not only my identity, but as an indicator of my self-worth.  As I mentioned, my jobs didn’t work out which I internalized as me not working out.  I believed everything that went wrong must have been some reflection of myself.  When you feel that way inside, it’s almost impossible not to show it on the outside.  Even if you don’t realize you’re doing it; if you feel miserable, you probably look miserable.

You know what else I learned?  Happy people avoid miserable people.  Not in the sense that they don’t want to help someone who’s upset.  Think of it this way – if you’re walking down the street and you see someone stomping down the sidewalk looking pissed or upset, you’re probably not going to smile at them and say “good morning!”  I know this is New York so saying “good morning” would be weird even if the person looked happy, but you get what I’m saying.  Frowns and scowls are not inviting.

But what if your job is making you miserable?  Then what do you do?  I never advocate pretending to be happy or forcing a smile.  Forced smiles usually make people look insane.  If you’re stuck at your job until you find a new one or get through a rough patch, do this instead – put it in perspective.  Easier said than I done, I know.  I have to actively do this a lot because I take every single thing WAY too personally, but I swear it helps.

Think about this:

  • Does your job allow you to pay for rent and/or groceries?
  • Does your job give you health insurance or other benefits?
  • Does your job allow you to do fun things with your friends (like going out to dinner) or for yourself (like buying a new shirt)?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, then that’s a reason to be happy; you have something that gives you something you want.  Try to look at the things in your life that make you happy and feel good about yourself.  Like I feel really good when I’m out with my friends.  My job allows me the time, since I don’t work 90 hours a week, and the salary to be able to go out for dinner or drinks.  I don’t make enough to do it every night, but then again I wouldn’t want to go out every night.  My job also allows me to pay rent for my apartment which is where I get to spend time doing other things that make me feel happy and important, like writing or cooking dinner for my boyfriend.

It’s taken me two years to realize this and is still something I have to remind myself, but there are lots of things in life to be happy and grateful for, even if one big thing makes you unhappy.  When work makes me feel inadequate and useful, I try to remember that my job title is not my whole identity.  I may be a technical writer, but I’m also a blogger, a whiskey enthusiast, a dancer, a CrossFitter, an animal lover, a cook, and a lot of other things.  I’m lucky to have a job, even when it makes me stressed or upset, because it lets me be some of those things (especially a whiskey enthusiast) and have the freedom and ability to become other things.

If your job is bringing you down, try to focus on what it allows you to do, no matter how small.  That way you’ll feel better about yourself and create a positive environment around you.  Who knows, maybe you’ll be the smiling person that helps other people who are feeling down feel better.

Silver Linings of Rejection

Today I received my second rejection letter from grad school.  Grad school had always been idea in the back of my mind, so I decided to apply to two Creative Writing MFA programs.  Although I knew my chances were slim (the acceptance rate is 1% – only 6 students were admitted), I still had hope that I would be the 1% that got in.  Alas, something I really, truly wanted didn’t happen.  C’est la vie.  The first rejection letter, which I received two weeks ago, really hurt but the second one didn’t.  In fact, it actually made me feel good.  Well, after the initial “f*ck grad school, what a huge waste of time that would have been, creative writing programs are dumb” feeling wore off.  I get to stay at my job and keep working for an amazing company, and I don’t have to try to persuade my boyfriend to move to the middle of nowhere for two years.  That’s not all, I’m also taking away three important things:

It redirected my focus

Before I applied to grad school I was feeling very overwhelmed.  Everything in my life seemed to make me feel frustrated, overwhelmed, and lost.  I felt like I was rudderless and couldn’t focus my energy on one thing I actually wanted.  When the idea of grad school popped into my mind, it allowed me to concentrate on the one thing I really want to do but had lost sight of; write a book.  If I ever felt stressed from work or city life (which was often), I thought about grad school and living in a completely different place.  Even though I’m not going to grad school or moving (at least not any time soon), that ‘mental break’ thinking about grad school gave me was well worth the whole process.

I took the GRE

I’m sure most people look at this as a horrific experience I had to endure with no reward, but I don’t see it that way.  Was the GRE unpleasant?  Hell yeah – I had to sit in a room for four hours and answer questions that in no way, shape, or form tested my knowledge, but rather tested my ability to study for the GRE.  Even though that SUCKED, something pretty great happened from the experience; I learned I can still do math.

That may sound insignificant or stupid, but I legitimately thought I no longer knew how to do math (minus addition and subtraction).  My math scores were exponentially higher than I anticipated as were my writing scores (although I wasn’t too surprised with my high essay score – I mean, come on).  It felt really good to know that my brain has not melted over the past 6 years since I last took a test.

I started writing something important

Although I consider all of my writing important, I started writing something that could become the most significant thing I’ve ever written (fingers crossed); my book.  For years I’ve known I wanted to write a book, but I didn’t know how I wanted to focus all of the millions of thoughts and ideas buzzing around my mind.  Preparing a writing sample for grad school gave me the opportunity to organize, plan, and start the story that I’ve been dying to get out.  So keep a look out for chapters or excerpts that may appear on this blog or one of my other blogs.

The schools were in Wisconsin and Wyoming so it looks like I’ll be staying on the east coast…for now at least.  I actually really wanted to move to Madison, but after keeping a careful eye on their weather this past winter, perhaps it’s for the best that I won’t live somewhere where -25 is a realistic (and common) temperature.
If there’s anything you’ve ever wanted to try or secretly dreamt about doing, I highly suggest you give it a shot.  Even if you don’t get it, the things you do get as a result of the process could lead to something even better.

Irrational (and Slightly Rational) Fears

I know I’m not alone in having fears that some may consider irrational.  I should probably be concerned with fears that most people have, like terrorism, disease, and nuclear warfare.  But for whatever reason, those don’t bother too much.  I’m certainly not in favor of them, but I don’t actively fear them.  Instead, I’m over here thinking of strategies of what to do if I ever come in contact with a hippo (do I pet it or run?) or what if it starts snowing one day and never, ever stops.  What then, world?

I decided to confront these fears and rank them from most likely to happen to highly unlikely.  Hopefully this will help me overcome them…someday.

Getting pushed into the subway tracks

Actually, this isn’t irrational at all…this happens.  I’m actually surprised it doesn’t happen more often based on how packed the subway platforms can get.  I’m still shocked I survived the E platform the day before Thanksgiving last year.

Water going up my nose

This is still a chance I take every time I swim in the ocean…so I still hold my nose like a child when I dive under a wave.  That’s right, I’m almost 30 and I take the safety precautions of an 8 year old.  Have you ever had salt water go up your nose?  It’s like snorting hot sauce.  Any sort of water near my nose is upsetting to me.  I can’t even put my face under the shower, I need to gather water in my hands and splash my face with it.  The idea of neti pot truly disturbs me.

Dropping my giant mug of tea on a coworker and/or their computer

Due to how clumsy I am, this could happen.  My open office is an obstacle course of desks, chairs, and people having stand-up meetings.  Since the water that comes out of our water cooler could melt the flesh off your skin, I would feel really bad if I dumped a huge mug of it on someone.  And I’m pretty sure I would be stoned to death for spilling something on a computer.  At least it would smell like peaches…

Getting stuck in an elevator when I have to pee

I have walked up the 6 flights of stairs to my apartment instead of taking the elevator when I really had to pee.  I refer to the mad dash to the bathroom as a “photo finish” when it’s really bad and you juuuust make it.  You know what I’m talking about.  Like not another second could have gone by or you would have peed yourself.  I fear that one time I’ll be stuck in an elevator when this happens and there will no other choice then to do the unspeakable.

Wanting another drink at a restaurant and the server never coming back

I know it’s unlikely that my server will up and quit mid-meal and the restaurant won’t send a replacement.  But what if that happens right before someone is about to make a toast and no one has refilled my glass?  You can’t cheers with an empty glass and using a water glass is stupid.  It’s also frowned up to sneak up to the bar and order a drink while you’re eating at a table.  What then?!

A pigeon flying into my apartment and not being able to get it out

Ever since my window sill was overtaken by pigeons a few years ago and I gained insight into their sadistic bird world, I have feared having one enter my home.  I feel like I wouldn’t be able to catch it and killing or hurting it is not an option, so I would be reduced to trying to coerce it out the window.  But then what if more pigeons came in and suddenly my apartment was overtaken by pigeons? I guess I would just have to move.

And finally…

Sloths

I. F**king. Hate. Sloths.  I know they’re very in right now and people find them adorable, but they just terrify me.  I feel like they’re not really that slow, it’s all just a sick game to make us think they’re harmless.  We’ll all be like “silly sloths, they’re so slow and lazy haha.”  But the sloths knows better. They’re lurking, waiting, to make their move and destroy the humans.  That’s why they’re always doing that creepy smile thing.  Plus, they grow f**cking algae on their fur!  What is that about?  Is it some form of protection or adaption?  How is no one else disturbed by this?  I’m onto to you, you stupid plant mammal.

Also, they basically have knives for hands.  Not ok.

Now that I think of it, I also fear…

Leaving my hair straightener on and my apartment burning down…even though I haven’t used my straightener in 2 years…

Dropping (and smashing) a good bottle of whiskey.  Or really any whiskey.  What a travesty that would be.

Being attacked by pigeons on my way to work, like in the movie ‘The Birds’.

Lunar moths.  You want to see a (sort of) adult hide in a corner?  Bring me to a butterfly house that some monster has released these in.

It’s amazing I’ve made it this far.

Bro Chick Problems

Whenever I tell people about this site, the first question they typically ask is “What does ‘bro chick’ mean?” I included the section found in the header of this blog for just that reason, but I wanted to elaborate on it further.  Urban dictionary defines  a bro chick as “a girl who will sit back, drink beer, play video games and football with you, and still spend 5 f**king hours doing her makeup.”  Well said Urban dictionary, well said.  The nickname was given to me because I say and do things like the following:

“I really want to watch the football game at 1pm, but all the good produce at the farmer’s market will be gone by 2pm.  Ahhhh.”

“I want to look pretty but I don’t understand how hair curlers or eyelash curlers work.”  Pretty much any beauty tool seems more like a weapon than a make-me-pretty device in my opinion.

I cannot walk in heels.  I look constipated.

I don’t watch sports to look “cute”.  I have genuine interest in this game and have a lot riding on it for my fantasy team.

Other women think dude friends want something “more” than friendship from women.  Not the case as with my friends I am seen as a non-sexual object, like a little sister.  Or a lamp.

On that note, once you become a non-sexual object all the vulgar stories and gross behavior men do without the presence of a female comes forth.  For you are now another bro and things like pooping and girl’s nipple sizes become frequent topics of discussion.

In college I was frequently handed Mike’s Hard Lemonades or Smirnoff Ices instead of beers.  Now I frequently have to pipe up when the bartender looks around and says “Who ordered the whiskey?”  I did, no Cosmopolitans here.  No sir.

“No that’s his salad.  I ordered the bacon mac and cheese.”

Interrupting thoughts such as “I can’t believe Eli threw four interceptions last night.  So awf…oh man I need a manicure.  My nails look like a farmers…I wonder how many calories are in this smoothie.  Who has a bye week next week?

A bro chick is a unique hybrid between a guy and a girl; she will manage your fantasy football league and then buy a wildly over-priced pair of rain boots because they’re “in” and “functional”.  She will wear a cocktail dress and drink beer until the dress gets too tight which is when she will promptly switch to whiskey.  She is your drinking buddy, your wing-woman, and your bro with boobs.  Do not be put off by her lack of interest in hairstyles and fashion for she will make up for that with her sweet baking skills.  She is sarcastic, she is unique, and she is writing this post.

24601

I often sing showtunes in my head or out loud depending on my mood.  So many songs can sum up life events perfectly that I could probably explain my entire life in showtunes.

Recently, I’ve been feeling like I’m losing touch with myself.  I feel like I’m in a very stagnant place and I often don’t feel like myself.  This situation, like most life situations, makes me think of a showtune; “Who Am I?” from Les Mis.  One of the things I always thought was so interesting about this song was at the end,when Jean Valjean decides to reveal who is really is, he yells out his prisoner number “24601”.  I always think that line is interesting because he’s using a terrible time in his life to identify who he is.  Yes, Javert knew him as 24601 but he sings it out so triumphantly.  Perhaps it’s because his time as a prisoner helped define who he is.  It led to him hiding his identity and then realizing that he had to be true to who he is and exclaim it for all to hear, in song of course.

Sometimes I feel like I created a life for myself based on things I was hiding from and things I felt were expected from me.  I think back to when I was 22, when I had the most self-confidence I’ve ever had.

I was messy, impulsive, and wild, and I certainly didn’t have everything all figured out but I didn’t pretend that I did.  I didn’t try to be something I’m not.  A few months ago I was walking through the city in a suit and I caught my reflection in a window.  It actually stopped me in my tracks because I thought back to the time I profoundly told my mom that I would never work in a cubicle and wear a suit to work.  I was 11.  Sorry younger self, I failed you.

I have this enormous need to be true to myself and to put my time and energy into things that matter, at least to me.  Writing is something that has always been important to me because I believe it can help people, including the author.  I stopped writing about the harder things because I wanted to forget about those times in my life.  I realize now that those are things that matter the most because they made me who I am and gave me ideas about who I want to me.  Those are things I need to write down because they’re what people need to read. There are things I prefer to forget and things I try to cover up, but those are things I like to read from others.  I love seeing writers pour themselves into their writing because it means something and it’s relatable, which is why we write.  Maybe it’s time to stop being polite and start getting real (yes this is a Real World reference), and write the “real” stuff.  No one wants to read about a perfect life, they want to see the mangled, disjointed, and insane road that got to that life.