May the odds be ever in my favor

PS_0251W_EXHAUSTING_ADULTI’m not good at goodbyes. And by “not good,” I mean I tend to avoid them all together (One big exception would be crying in an alley with my little before I abandoned her to study abroad, but I digress…).

With a major chapter of my life coming to a close, I feel obligated to write all these goodbye tribute posts. Farewell to Kappa. Farewell to college. Farewell to Boston. Farewell to childhood. But it doesn’t feel like closure, somehow. It feels like… I’m not entirely sure. It feels like I still have a ways to go before the chapter really concludes.

I’m not sad, necessarily, because there’s still much to look forward to. I’m not excited, necessarily, because there’s still much to do (and few people to help me do it). In all honesty, I feel like I’m faking it, like one of these days someone is going to pull back the curtain and realize that I’m just pretending to be an adult. Surprise! I have no idea what I’m doing.

I made the mistake of counting, and this upcoming move will be my 12th since I graduated high school. That’s roughly three moves a year. I’ve learned to save my boxes, leave certain boxes unpacked, and minimize. I’m looking for stability, yet I have a temporary position that won’t really support me financially and a savings account that’s dwindling at best. I joked recently that I’m going to end up buying a house when I’m 26 just so I can point to one red front door in a sea of doors and say, That one. That’s mine.

In all honestly, I’m absolutely terrified. I feel ill-equipped to jump into a new industry, I (quite rightly) feel ill-prepared to support myself. I feel exhausted by my potential (that’s a good thing?) and by having to itemize my priorities when I have little to go off of—What’s more important? Being near AB? Making money and supporting myself? Doing what I want to do? What about when those things conflict?

What people don’t tell you is that once you graduate, it’s no longer six-month co-op commitments. Every decision factors in the five-year trajectory. Where do I want to live in five years? Will I be in a comfortable position to transfer by that time? When do I want to have a family? Why is none of this—job, relationship, career path—guaranteed?

And perhaps I’m being a little melodramatic. Okay, a lot melodramatic. I have a uniquely potent dose of the real world right now and it’s a lot to handle. I’m trying for grace, grace and gumption during this uniquely turbulent next couple of months. Compared to all this “real world” stuff, college sounds easy as pie. Maybe that’s why I’m not too keen on saying goodbye just yet…

2013: The Year in Review

2013-010As December marches on, it seems only appropriate that I do what I always do this time of year—reflect on the good, bad, and ugly, and evaluate my Bucket List 2013 successes. As I go through the list, remember that over the year, interests and priorities change. So while I may not have completed some items, it’s not necessarily bad. Doing something just for the sake of completing it isn’t half as gratifying as these lists are intended to be.

Though I don’t usually title them, 2013 was a year of love. When I returned from Europe January 5, I jumped head-first into a fulfilling and incredible relationship with AB. I introduced him to my mother (success), traveled with him and friends to Puerto Rico for Spring Break, watched him walk at graduation, and helped him move to New York (by help, I mean I provided emotional support. No heavy lifting or apartment hunting, sorry babe). He, in turn, put up with my waking up at 3 a.m. to go to my internship, supported me throughout my job search, and, well, put up with me. So there’s that. Then, for Thanksgiving, I actually traveled down to the D.C.-area and met the whole famn damily (and loved them). How’s that for commitment (me?!).

There was love in other corners of my world, as well. My relationship with my mother, as ever, grew stronger still. I talked more, and subsequently more openly with my dad and my older brother, and felt overwhelmed by their unconditional love and support. My relationship with Captain America was strengthened by trips to Walmart, where we bought awesome-ly horrible tie-dye cat shirts (and then found a couple wearing equally hideous matching three-cat-moon shirts and took a picture. Small world), and by impulsive road trips. And flung together by mutual feelings of abandonment and a shared love of caffeine, my friendship with Batman grew, too. Then, this fall, my baby brother moved to Boston, and for the first time I had family (the real kind—not my haphazardly created, but nonetheless wonderful, fake family) with me in my city. And speaking of “fake” families, I fell back in love with all things Kappa, thanks in no small part to my amazing dreamlittle and an endearingly crazed fellow blogger named Sugarwoman (guest post to come!). Other highlights…

There were hardships, too, when I acutely felt the pain from the Boston Marathon bombings, as I struggled to manage an unideal roommate situation, deal with various financial hardship and instability, figure out “real world” stuff, and do long-distance. I also still can’t figure out what I want to do with my life (Four-year-olds know what they want to be “when they grow up.” Come on, Mar).

I dyed my hair. A lot (To his credit, AB noticed 2/3 times). I finally acknowledged the harmful effects of tanning—on both my skin and my wallet—and cancelled my membership, I cut out preservatives (sorta), and tried to be gluten-free (cookies don’t count). I started lifting weights with AB and found that I loved spicing up my workout. I read more about health and nutrition, and then took a class in it (97%, woop woop!).

And I started to do adult things. Like get a full-size bed. Buy a car. Gradutate. Get a job. Find an apartment. Get my wisdom teeth out (ugh). And five years late, I actually started to care about my classes and invest time and energy into learning things just for the sake of learning them. (Pause for reaction).

Some years (Ahem, 2011, I’m looking at you), I’ve looked toward the new year with a sense of relief because at the very least, a new year means that no more bad things can happen in this year. But I’m admittedly a little sad to see 2013 go. There are few memories this year that I don’t look back on fondly. 2014 will pull the rug out from under me, but here’s hoping it’s in the best of spirits. With the support network I’ve garnered, particularly in the past year, I can’t imagine any potential hardships would be unbearable.

So in that spirit, let’s evaluate my 2013 Bucket List: Continue reading

Life on the Edge

beach-cliff-cute-girl-water-Favim.com-419890_largeSo I’m at this really important turning point in my life, right?—Just moved into this amazing, new apartment, boyfriend moves to the big city to start up his life and blaze a trail for me to follow, and I’ve got a measly four months left of college before I’m dumped in the real world. So, naturally, at this precipice of all precipices, I go ahead and lose my planner on a plane. Go me.

But even without my color-coded little planner, I am choosing to take an optimistic view of the next couple of months. Sure, long distance will suck, but I’m going to make this an incredible semester, end on a high note, and… I don’t know. Figure it out or something.

Step 1: FOOD

As many people know, I am a total foodie, and I care a lot about the things I put into my body. I’ve also tried many different diet changes, and they each have their pros and cons. This semester, I’ve re-started my biweekly produce delivery with Boston Organics. This time around, I’m subscribing to the small 2/3 vegetable box (more variety. One of my biggest qualms with the dogma localvore box was the lack of variety. I can only scarf down so many beets). The rest of my diet will consist of basically quinoa and meat, because there’s one more diet detail: I’m cutting out gluten.

Now let me explain—I’m don’t have celiac, nor am I particularly gluten-sensitive. But I tried this for a week before, and it was hard, but I enjoyed the benefits. Most of my go-to, on-the-go snacks and meals (breakfast sandwiches, wraps, burritos) are bread-based, and no gluten means I have to eat more protein and rely on vegetables as filler. I found when I cut out gluten, I snacked less, packed in tons more fiber, and ultimately felt “cleaner” and skinnier. I’ll miss beer, but I think this is a great way to force myself to plan out meals, cut down on snacking, and save money by avoiding eating and drinking out.

Step 2: WORKOUTS

I briefly mentioned a while ago how last semester, AB got me to start lifting weights. We went three times a week and the benefits were awesome. I felt sexy and powerful. And then summer happened and it all just kind of fell by the wayside. But he and I worked together and found a new three-day-a-week lifting routine, with varying degrees of difficulty. I’ll lift three days a week, and do cardio two or three days. The lift routine is here, and for cardio, I’ll rely mostly on spinning and running (surprised?). I found this great app on my phone called Spin Class, which basically enforces intervals. You can design your own routines or use their pre-made ones. And it uses the music already in iTunes.

With AB gone, one of the most important things for me is to fill my time. Because busy girls don’t miss their boyfriends (as much). I’m hoping some gym time can help me out.

Step 3: LIFE

When I’m not cooking, or at the gym, or making a dedicated effort to be more involved in Kappa (another goal—better late than never?), my free time will be devoted to job hunting. I’m piecing together my demo reel, revamped this website (you like?) and my resume (coming soon), and am committing to applying to a job a day. I want to be in the Northeast, and doing something I love, but I figure variety is key. I’m looking for reporter positions, yes, but also paralegal work, research, writing, HR, nonprofits, whatever. I know that if I’m good enough at something, I’ll enjoy it, no matter what it is.

Here’s to an awesome semester at my new home (pictures to come), full of great food, fitness, fun, and drive to accomplish my goals. Now who’s down for some cliff diving?

One Plus One

This is what happens when one plus one equals one (LOL). **

This is completely random and off topic (though I’m always random and this blog has no set topic), but I came to what I deem a significant and belated realization last night when I couldn’t sleep.

For as long as I can remember, I’ve heard significant someones referred to as “my other half.” Romantic, right? You meet some stranger and they fill in the bits you might be missing, they “complete” you, like those little half-heart “Best Friends Forever” necklaces. Together, you’re one.

Awww.

Only wait. That’s incredibly fucked up (pardon my French, another word just wouldn’t have had the same effect). I don’t want my other half. I don’t want a half at all. I want a whole. A whole other person who complements my whole person.

One and one don’t equal one, baby. Except in the romantic world, apparently (and the Catholic world, where one and one and one equal one? The Holy Trinity, ruining math for children since the birth of Christ). Argh, that’s so robbing people of the true potential their romantic lives could reach.

I was googling embarrassing things last night like “I’m dating a workaholic” (temporarily true, but the workaholic-ness pretty much ends today! YAY!) and reading on forums all kinds of weird shit. Yay, Internet. One girl wrote that she couldn’t tell if he was a workaholic or if she was just too needy. There were how-tos, too.

How to Date a Workaholic. Seriously? Weird. But not terrible advice, actually. One of the first points listed was that she ought to get a life. Because the only thing worse than dating someone who’s super busy is not being busy while they’re running around rocking the world. I haven’t strictly followed that rule, but I’m in Paris. I get a “Get out of jail free” card.

But gosh… my last relationship? I loved him. He loved me. That’s all fine and dandy and whatever. But he didn’t have a whole lot in the way of extracurriculars. And I did, but I kind of let them fall by the wayside. Friends, jobs, sanity—all second tier priorities.

And I sound like a terrible person, but I know I was his first priority. It was two halves of persons trying to make a whole person. But that’s absolutely not okay.

And now? Well first off, I’m 3,000 miles away, so there’s a level of independence that’s pretty much mandatory. And I won’t pretend like talking once a month is ideal, but there’s no pining and whining (okay, a little whining from me). There’s no relationships falling by the wayside. In fact, my relationships with my friends are even better, even the friends that might not like this significant someone all that much. And I’m extremely close with some of his friends, too.

I’m my own person. He’s his own person/(temporary robot). Together, we’re two very different people. Not one. But we nonetheless complement each other, challenge each other, support each other. He’s not my other half. He’s my other whole.

And that means twice the goodness.

 

**Don’t get my sick humor? Watch, “Fatal Attraction.”

I’m so happy that I ama…

The night before my initiation into Kappa Kappa Gamma

It’s that time of year again, when people are overflowing with happiness and love and pride. They decorate their dorm rooms with colorful posters and goodies, give and get loads of presents, and eat lots and lots and lots of cake (No, but really, there’s always a ton of cake).

I’m not talking about Christmas here, folks. It’s Bid Day season.

Greek life gets a bad reputation because people only see the external shell—girls running around in matching shirts, choreographing dances, and squealing with happiness when they run into said girls with matching shirts in the halls. But what the outside “haters” don’t see is what happens within a sorority: the ongoing and unconditional love and support from more than 100 fellow women, the hours of community service that they commit to (and enjoy because they’re together), the late night study sessions, and the real world experience running an organization, planning events, and working with others to achieve common goals. They don’t see the pillars that we build our organizations on, and each sorority’s dedication to producing educated, socially competent, morally sound, and —let’s be honest—stylish women.

My freshman year, I decided to join an organization because I wanted a fresh start. And what I actually got was tenfold. I wrote a column for the paper that spring, full of love and appreciation for all that my sorority had given me in those few first months.

“I took a chance; I jumped. And I fell into the best decision I’ve made since coming to school.”

Since I wrote that piece almost three years ago, a lot has changed in my personal life. I’ve traveled the world, worked some of the best (and worst) jobs I could have hoped for, and moved to Paris. I’ve dealt with the devastating losses of lives and of friendships. I was converted from a Windows/Blackberry lover to an Apple advocate. I’ve fallen in and out of love. I’ve become more and more independent. I chopped my hair off…

But there has been one constant throughout it all: family. My biological family has provided love and support from afar, but my Kappa family has provided love, support, diversion (when necessary), and baked goods when I needed it most. There have been times when I’ve been less involved in my sorority, and when I’ve subsequently gotten less out of it. But if and when I need it, I can always return to her.

I’ve been going through all of Kappa Kappa Gamma’s new members and friending (slash stalking) them on Facebook. These enthusiastic young women are complete strangers; and yet, they are sisters, and I share a bond with each and every one of them that is both unconditional and completely unique.

I’m overflowing with love and pride for my sorority, because I know that it will do for these new women what it’s already done for thousands. And I’m honored that they loved my sisters just as much as I do, that they chose to be a part of this family and this community of able, beautiful, talented women. Welcome to Kappa, ladies!

The Seven Men Every Woman Needs

My mother has lots of little sayings, Anne-isms if you will: The answer’s always yes as long as it makes sense; You can do anything you set your mind to; Never have more children than you have hands. Usually, they’re pretty useful mantras to go by.

Lately, she’s adopted a new one. Every woman needs seven men in her life. She then goes on to argue that only one of those men needs to be straight, but she never specifies who the seven men actually are. It kind of got me thinking… What are the original seven? So in no apparent order, and just because I want to, I present my list of the seven men every woman needs:

1.  The supporter. In most cases, this tends to be the father-figure type, someone who knows you and loves you unconditionally, and who can provide advice and support you whenever you need a little boost. Or maybe it’s your personal trainer, who pushes you beyond your self imposed limits.

2.  The boyfriend. Or husband. Or hookup. Or significant-something-but-we’re-not-putting-a-label-on-it, whatever. As long as he can satisfy your, ahem, physical needs. And it doesn’t hurt if he’s a decent person or knows how to cook, too.

3.  The shopper. He doesn’t have to wear a scarf, or go with you to the mall. But this is the guy who knows your taste and preference and can help you make any purchasing decision, from shoes to kindle covers.

4.  The unspeakable. Presumably, everyone’s been through a bad breakup. This is the guy whom you never talk to, but his existence is a reminder that you can overcome hurdles, and that you’re more woman for it.

5.  The handyman. Self explanatory, really, but this isn’t just your landlord’s handyman. This is the guy you can call when you need someone to help you move your couch, or when you’re having computer problems or need help with that DIY project. All you have to do is pay him back in baked goods.

6.  The flirter. Yes, a boyfriend is your one and only. But this guy is the one that makes you feel beautiful on days when you otherwise wouldn’t, if only because flirting is a major release of happy hormones. You don’t really hang out, but it still feels good to be noticed.

7.  The platonic. He comes to you for romantic advice or to bitch about his mother, you go to him for boy troubles, and there’s zero awkwardness because there’s zero sexual tension. And then you can lounge and do nothing all day. You can talk about anything (really). No pressure, and all fun.

Not bad, eh? Did I miss anything? As I was putting it all together, though, I realized that one person can fit into more than one category. For example, ideally, your boyfriend (or whatever) fulfills some other roles, as well. But a handyman can just as easily be a shopper.

An Open Letter to My Ex-Boyfriend(s)

Dear ex-boyfriend,

Hello, long time no see. Or talk. Or text. It’s certainly been a while. And occasionally, I check in (and by that I mean Internet stalk) to see how things are going. Sometimes it’s difficult because for some reason (I hurt you; you’re wife hates me), you’ve blocked me on every possible forum, but I do what I can. It’s not meant as creepy. In fact, if you’re reading this, you get it. But I just find comfort in knowing that you’re doing fine.

You’re fine, I’m fine, the world goes on. But for some reason, I feel compelled to share that I always cared for you, and still do. It doesn’t always manifest itself in the best way, but you wouldn’t have been in my life if that weren’t true. Things may not be perfect now, but you played a role in my life for which I’ll be forever grateful. You made me happy, gave me butterflies. I loved you. And in my own way, I still do love you, because you are still the same you, at the heart of it all.

I don’t mean that in a condescending way. I’m just saying hi. And thank you for being everything I needed when I needed it. You may hate me now, or I may hate you now. Maybe I call you on your birthday every year. Maybe I wish you’d give me back my painting. Maybe I don’t talk to you at all, or avoid saying goodbye before I leave the country. My circumstances have changed, I know. But still… thank you for being there for me.

I may never be able to hit you as hard as I want to avenge how much you hurt me. I may never be able to be there so you can hit me to avenge how much I hurt you. These things aren’t ever righted. But this isn’t some Adele heartwrencher, and this may not sound as poetic as you might wish. But still. Thank you for playing your role in my life. I wouldn’t be who I am without it, without you.

Sincerely,

Mar/Marian/Baby Girl/Marbear
(your ex-girlfriend)

P.S. You need a haircut.

Ventfest: #Daniellsfamilyproblems

Let me preface this by saying that I love my family. That’s probably the most important detail here.

Now, with that being said, my family drives me absolutely insane. And while this phenomenon is nothing new, it makes me want to punch a whole in the wall. I’m home now for the first time since Christmas, and for the longest time since my freshman year. When I’m in Boston (or elsewhere), I contact my family almost daily, to chat, to plan, to share grievances (aka complain). My mother is the most honest girlfriend and the best travel partner I’ve ever had. My dad and I are on the same emotional page and can talk about anything under the sun. My brothers… well we all live with our parents and talk about that.

I’ve had friends describe the many benefits of long-distance relationships: You get to have your own life, as does your partner, but you still come back together at the end of the day and share secrets and romance and stories. In many ways, my relationship with my family 11 months out of the year is like the best ever long-distance relationship. I call to check in. I email to ask for money. And for the most part, I’m free to live independently and privately.

But here… Continue reading

Meanwhile, in San Diego…

I’ve been playing around with my computer for the last five hours. I got home to San Diego late last night and it’s everything I can do to distract and busy myself. I don’t do well with leaving.

But I really am making an effort to busy myself while I’m here. There’s an ongoing list… write (in my journal), write (stories that pay me), write (on my blog), revamp my online presence (like the new design?), train for the half marathon (I signed up for one next month), read (okay, no more parentheses), sleep, learn French, and photograph. With the photographs, I’m trying to figure out a way to display them on the site, so I’ve been playing with some programs like Polyvore and Picasa. I really like that Picasa makes collages really simple. And to practice, I made one for my amazing Kappa little, Laura.

I’m hoping to make a regular photography segment on the blog called “Through the Looking Glass,” and featuring a collage of photos I took that week. I think it would make for a great opportunity to share what I see, how I see it, when I’m away from home. More to come…

Ventfest: Monkey Suits and Momma’s Shoes

The other day, I watched my friend head to his job at a major Boston financial firm, wearing a suit and bowtie (It was “Bowtie Monday,” obviously). As he walked away in his monkey suit, I couldn’t help but think he looked a little like a kid in his dad’s suit, or a girl plodding around in her mother’s high heels.

We like to think that we’re all grown up now, no longer teenagers (unless you’re me), living on our own, working full-time, managing our own finances–even doing our own taxes. We cook and clean and separate lights from darks. Some people even think they’re old enough to get married.

But the reality of the world is I’m just as young as my (real) ID says I am. I’m reliant on my parents for emotional support and financial support, I’m listed as a dependant on their taxes, and I have no idea how to work insurance.

I’m a child, yes, but I’ve realized lately that age doesn’t equate to maturity. Two people whom I used to confide in, two people I loved, have hurt me in the past couple of months. Continue reading