Is A Return After A Long Absence Worth It?

Hey all!

It has been over 2 and a half years since I’ve even been on WordPress and I’ll admit it, it’s producing a little anxiety. What am I doing back here? They say you can never go home again, but is that my goal? So much has changed that there is no way this blog will follow the same trajectory as before. I’m a different person. I mean, an amazingly different person. But I feel like I have something to say again, something to share, a lot of things to make sense of, and I hope it’s something that interests past and new readers as I once did before.

This blog was aptly named ‘Tales of a 30-Year-Old Nothing’ at the time I created it and now I feel it could be more like ‘Tales of a 30-Something-Year-Old Something’. (Name change currently under debate in my head). When we last met I was mainly struggling through unemployment and the dreaded job search. I got a job, or 2, or 3 and switched to find struggles with nothingness, lack of motivation, uncertainty and instability, depression, this past winter on the east coast (you know what I’m talking about NE-ers), finding purpose, finding my place in life, an eventual move back to my hometown, making sense of the adult I was fighting against becoming and the adult I’m working so hard to be. It’s no pleasure cruise (but sign me up for one of those stat), and looking back knowing that there has been a 2 1/2 year gap between then and now makes me realize how little and how much growth there has been. These progressions aren’t happening over night and they have been met with resistance from my own psyche as well as other’s. The old adage 1 step forward, 2 steps back becomes a way of life and the best we can do is make sure that step forward is more of a stride. It’s the only way to get anywhere. Now don’t get me wrong, there have been many moments of contentment and happiness, times of pure elation, ecstasy, and joy that have shaped my journey. It all matters and plays a role. And really, I’m not a heavy person. Put on a cheesy 80s song (such as the one I’m listening to now) and I’ll dance to it like a lunatic. (Unfortunately, videos will not be provided).

I’m not looking back anymore. At least not to live. I will, however, take a handy-dandy time machine to certain points that I feel are important to address in hopes of achieving a deeper understanding and to share with those who are/have been stuck right along with me.

So I’ve heard starting at the very beginning is a very good place to start, and I feel it’s time to reintroduce myself to the WordPress community. I’m 33, I moved to Philadelphia within the past year after over a decade in Manhattan, and am reawakening a part of myself that has laid dormant for far too long. I’ve always loved writing but occasionally lose focus when life gets in the way. Just like working out, once you put it off a few days, months, years, what’s a few more? This time I’m committed, as I am in all aspects of my life. That is the difference. And I’m on the computer all day anyway (like the rest of us dry-eyed zombies) so what’s another hour? But why am I on the computer all day? I work in social media. It’s a glamorous life of home offices in bedrooms, neighborly door-slamming distractions, soap opera lunch breaks, and bun hairdos. My co-worker/housemate is a cat and I have a pair of Kurdish farming pants hanging on my bedroom wall to remind me of a trip to Turkey in my 20’s. My favorite color is pink and I like long walks on the beach… (wait, just kidding, that last bit is not at all true). Most importantly, I’m navigating through a series of mazes and obstacles on my way to living the life I want and know I deserve. We can do it with a little help, determination, time, and a very well-timed bet that a friend jokingly proposes but you take on with extreme gusto.

-xo

Putting the ‘Y’ in Gym

In seventh grade, I had this insane urge to join the lacrosse team. My sister had done it years prior, and my friends were joining. The thing I didn’t realize was that they all had natural athletic abilities, and I did not. I run like Peggy Bundy and get nauseous after the first two minutes. I never got the ball, let alone scored a goal (or whatever they call it in lacrosse). But during the last game of the season, I had a chance to shine. It was a total inspirational sports movie ending, all in my hands. Last couple minutes, down a point against the rival school, I was at the goal… totally open. My teammate tosses/throws/lobs (?) the ball to me and I watch it breeze right by my head in slow motion. No sports glory for me. To this day, when my nephew throws me a ball I flinch as if I’m about to get a Marsha Brady nose job.

I’m terrible at sports. All sports. It’s just not my aptitude, I don’t even look good in a hat. In elementary school I managed to stretch my required ‘run’ of the mile to a stealthy twenty-six minutes, so after the mile I didn’t have to also play basketball. And when I did attempt to put some effort into it I broke my wrist during the shuttle run (you know the one with the erasers?), followed by a nice old vomiting session. So I went back to my old ways, doing everything I could to do exert the least amount of effort in gym class. There was no reason to hurt myself for nothing, I wasn’t going to become an Olympic athlete. So I worked on entertaining myself by seeing how long I could sit in the locker room before being called for, how loud I could yell ‘get the fucking ball!’ to someone before I got detention, and wishing for mono so I could have a couple of weeks off. Those things worked, most of the time. That is until a high school gym teacher forced me to run the time, with her, while she sang girl scout songs. I didn’t think gym class could get any worse.

Today, I know my place. I won’t play football in the park with you, I can’t go ride bikes with you (those things terrify me), and as much as I love it for some reason, I don’t think you want me playing tennis. I’m happy in my natural habitat, the couch, with a beer, watching General Hospital or a Hoarders marathon.

And for exercise? I walk. Just walk. Because I know how to do that pretty well… most of the time.

-xo

*This short post brought to you by the fact that it’s my birthday! So back to enjoying the day, my way.

Should I Add Professional Part Time Dog-Sitter to My Resume?

Oh, hey! I’m still alive, just completely neglecting things that I find important. I suppose it’s natural to go through these phases, especially in the summertime. I guess we never veer far from our lazy, out-of-school childhood selves once June hits. And still being out of a job, that laziness creeps up on me like nobody’s business if I don’t keep it at bay.

I lose that battle more than I’d like to admit.

BUT! I’ve recently deposited some money into the bank thanks to a job that still has allowed me to maintain my level of summertime sloth, in the form of dog-sitting. And not even for my parent’s dog this time!

... Or maybe dog-lazing

This is Churro. A three-year old blond, long-haired dachshund. I’ve known him since he was a puppy and I love him lots.

He belongs to the family I nannied for for eight years of my life. We tightly bonded during our year in Hong Kong together, and since moving back nearly two years ago and not being needed by a teenage boy as often, I barely get to see this cute little mug. Now, most of last week and again for a week starting tomorrow, I have him all to myself.

As a puppy he was, of course, super hyper-active as well as an excited/nervous pee-er. The boy I watched quite enjoyed getting Churro riled up while on my lap… resulting in many instances of damp jeans. But, as an intense animal lover, it barely bothered me. He also suffered through some abandonment issues, probably stemming from the family’s very busy, very active lifestyle. The issue was exacerbated even further with our move to Hong Kong six months after being brought home for the first time. He traveled separately from us via a pet-handling service, making an over night stop in an Amsterdam pet hotel where he picked up fleas which freaked him out even more. He was a neurotic mess most of his puppy life.

Our first day in Hong Kong

My heart went out to this little tortured soul so I hoped to create a more stable living environment. It also helped me have an easier time dealing with missing the hell out of my cat, who was with my parents on the other side of the world. So maybe my taking on of this new task wasn’t completely selfless. But, being the hired help that I was (though was rarely made to feel that way), I took on Churro as my second charge being responsible for a good deal of his daily care-giving, as well as occasional nighttime snuggle partner.

My favorite thing to do was take him out for long walks most days for exercise. But it was also in hopes of tiring him out so he wouldn’t bark all day when we left the house.

Scratching his belly on the pavement

The walks never worked in terms of the barking, but it did manage to keep my beer belly to a minimum. Those crazy Hong Kong people can party, another year there might have killed me!

Now that the boy is too old for a nanny (you don’t know how many times I tried to figure out how to keep him a kid forever so I wouldn’t have to go look for another, less awesome job), I don’t get to see little Churro much so I was excited to receive an email requesting my fantastic sitting services. (It also meant I would be staying in an apartment with a working air conditioner!) We’ve resumed our long walks, this time enjoying the sights of Central Park rather than the views of the part of the city Hong Kong calls Central.

Looking over the reservoir to the westside in Central Park. NY.

The view of Central over to Kowloon I got to see every time we went for a walk. Hong Kong.

Not too shabby as far as eye entertainment, if you ask me. I’ll take either one any day of the week.

I’m going to miss Churro after this week because I have no idea when I’ll get to spend this much time with him again. But at least when I get back to my cat he’ll have all new smells to inspect when I walk in the door.

-xo

I’d Like to Dedicate This Song To…

I took a little drive south for the weekend, again, to visit my best friend. She’s moving out west soon so she threw a little gathering which included beer drinking and dance partying. It was, as always, a great time. On my drive home I was listening to my iPod and singing along as I normally do.

On long drives I end up becoming one of those people passing drivers stare at, because I quickly go from mouthing the words to belting the song out within seconds. Before I realize it, I’m putting on a concert for my dashboard and I’m total crazy-person-entertainment for all of I-95. It’s my only way to live out my rock star dreams.

Suddenly, Debbie Gibson’s ‘Foolish Beat‘ came on and I was ready for my big performance. I’m not ashamed at all, I’d sing it again right in front of all of you if the mood struck. When the feeling comes over me, I can’t be stopped. I sang along with Debbie as if I was some heartbroken teenager scribbling on a school book in my room. Someone really must have broken her fragile, little, seventeen-year-old heart. When it was over I grabbed my iPod and played it again… just because I could.

While I was lost in Ms. Gibson’s heartache, my mind started to wander back to the early to mid 90s when a Philadelphia radio station, Star 104.5, played a late night show called Between the Sheets. It played from probably 8pm to 12am, spinning love songs and taking requests from heartbroken souls and the lonely half of two lovers. They’d call in, tell a little story about why a particular song reminded them of the dedicatee, then the smooth-voiced DJ would speak out to all those hoping to hear ‘their’ song.

For some reason, my sister (who was probably around 16 at the time) loved listening to this love fest on our drives back to our mom’s house, from our dad’s house, after having dinner. Maybe she thought her boyfriend was going to call in and dedicate some cheesy Celine Dion or Bryan Adams song. I guess that’s romantic. I first thought the whole idea was lame, but I soon came to find myself understanding the need to reach out to someone while driving down a dark road counting headlights. It instantly became nostalgic, and it never hurt that I almost always heard ‘Eternal Flame‘ by The Bangles. It’s a classic.

Now I tend to recreate this in my car, alone, more often than not (sans all the mushy dedicating). Especially since I’ve been going on so many long drives this summer. I promise, though, there is no Celine Dion and the only Bryan Adams song on my iPod is ‘Run to You’. But you bet your bippy that little Debbie Gibson is going to be thrown into the mix a lot more, since she seems to have been hiding among my playlist in plain sight. That was definitely my main jam yesterday.

I would like you to know that I’m actually not at all a sap. I don’t very rarely cry, I don’t dwell on lost relationships, most of the ‘love’ songs that remind me of past boys are not your typical ballads. (In fact, many are synth-pop 80s songs). Yes, I’ve been called a robot on more than one occasion but I’m really nice, I swear. I prefer upbeat, dancy music that makes me happy. I want stuff with a good groove that I can bop around (as well as sing) to, even in my seat, and that’s what I was doing on the ride that brought my car odometer to 100,000 miles.

Go Speed Racer!

It was late morning on the Jersey Turnpike, hence the location of the arrow on the speedometer. I did slow down a little so I could get a good picture, don’t worry.

I dedicate this picture to my dad, because he got me the car oh so many years ago. We’ve been through a lot (the car and I), mainly this summer (as previous posted here). It was starting to become iffy as to whether we’d actually make it to this momentous milestone, but we’re still going strong. I’d be lost without that crazy thing, I have so many more mobile concerts to put on for myself.

-xo

Educating Roni

I never thought I’d be here at thirty, way back when I was a teenager. Hell, I didn’t even know thirty existed for me when I was a punk-ass fourteen-year-old wearing knee-high combat boots, mini skirts referred to as ‘wash cloths’ by peers, and bright dyed hair in the colors of red, purple, or pink depending on my mood. (PS. Not much really has changed.) I didn’t think I had to look that far ahead because either all of my idols died before the dreaded thirties, or were rock stars with the ability to continue acting like children. I was going to be a rock star, nothing else made sense.

I spent all my free time, and time that should have been dedicated to school work, listening to, singing along with, dancing to, reading about, and thinking about music. Every square inch of my room, including the ceiling, was wall papered with torn out images of my favorite bands from magazines. It inspired and comforted me years beyond moving to New York, until my mom took it upon herself to tear it all down soon before one of my visits home. I still can’t believe it’s all gone. But then again, those kind of superficial attachments may just be the kind of stuff I should talk to a shrink about.

I wasn’t a great student, but that’s because I wasn’t interested. I was smart enough to know how to get out of big projects, to not get in trouble for skipping class, even how to find a way around actually having to show up for my senior year. I made friends with the right teachers, and sworn enemies with the ones I hated. I did my best sleeping in chemistry and math, my best arguing in english class, and my best goofing off in shop or art.

I hated high school as a whole. I never attended a prom or school function, and the night of graduation my parents took me out to Red Lobster for shrimp scampi and a margarita. Throughout those four years, I was certain that college wasn’t for me, but I changed my mind last-minute. Literally, the last day of registration at the local community college the fall after I graduated. I thought it was worth giving a try. And I loved it. (Except for one teacher I reported to the Dean for being a total ass. He didn’t take kindly to me challenging his unfairness and fondness for randomly changing the rules in class, to the point of making it personal. He failed me, but I take comfort in the knowledge that I didn’t take it sitting down.)

I did the community college thing until I had the crazy idea to move to New York to finish off my college career. I applied to one school, and got in, planning to start the fall of 2001. My housing fell through, forcing me to defer a semester while I searched for a new apartment. Then Sept 11, 2001 happened. I suppose the fact I couldn’t move up there when I wanted was a blessing in disguise. I don’t envy anyone who had to function in the days, weeks, and months after that event. But I was determined and did make it up there to start the spring 2002 semester. I haven’t looked back since.

I thrived in college. I enjoyed going to class, even participated in those classes, I took summer school just to get extra credits out-of-the-way, made the Dean’s List a couple times, did my homework! Granted, I took my time graduating (any attempts at true expediency would be out of character), but at least I did it.

Now, I’m not saying I was an amazing student. I did my best. I absorbed the most I could and made it worth my while.

The sad fact is that college degrees don’t ensure any extra ease when searching for a job these days. So far, my education has only afforded me the opportunity to be a substantially qualified errand girl.

-xo

The Heart of Rock and Roll Is Still Beating

After writing my previous post at the beginning of this holiday weekend, I jumped in the car for a two-hour drive to my friend’s house. I still had loads of summer songs dancing in my head (as if I was going to continue the list and bore you all to death). I really just wanted to listen to them all and get pumped for the impending dance party. By the time I got to my destination, I was hoarse from singing along to my iPod and I don’t care how strange I looked to passersby. But while I was having a one-woman-karaoke-party in my car, I couldn’t help thinking about how much of an impact music has made on my life. I love it. I need it. That is, if I’m not watching TV.

My memories are surrounded by music, the songs that were playing are just as vivid as the images in my brain. I can see the view while sitting on my Dad’s shoulders at the Michael Jackson concert with the Jackson 5 in 1983, not being able to hear after seeing Kool & The Gang with my Mom and step father the following year, being subjected to my step father belting out his best falsetto along with his favorite Queen tape on road trips in our old Buick Riviera, the whole year my Dad was obsessed with and played The Phantom of the Opera soundtrack everywhere we went, and being embarrassed along with my sister when my Dad would pump his brakes along to the beat of Madonna’s first album at red lights. I wore out Paula Abdul’s Forever Your Girl tape almost instantly and was banned from watching her ‘Cold Hearted‘ video because it was too suggestive. I remember being invited by a friend to see Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch, we sat in the front row, right next to his dressing room and I thought I was in love. You get the picture, I need to get to the point, I should probably save some memories for future posts.

During my car ride sing-along, Huey Lewis and the News popped up on my iPod. It brought me back to the days when my older sister, my two older cousins and I would secretly choreograph then perform routines for our parents after big family dinners. We’d lock everyone out of the living room so we could create some silly dance reminiscent of your typical 80s music video, complete with plastic sunglasses and cheesy synchronized moves. One of our showcases included The Heart of Rock and Roll, by Huey Lewis. With our footwork down we’d call for our audience. At the beginning you hear a heartbeat, which sets the tone for the rest of the song. We’d all be hiding behind the curtain. One-by-one we would spin around from behind the heavy, yellow and brown, woven drapes while miming the heartbeat over our chest. The rest is a blur, because I’m pretty sure I forgot a step, got embarrassed and ran away. The curse of being the youngest and most eager to impress, I suppose.

Maybe, in a few years, my nephew will start doing routines for his parents and me to Lady Gaga or something. That would be amazing.

-xo

No, No. It’s Not Alright.

A month before my high school graduation, the book store I worked at went out of business. I needed a new job, so a teacher I was close with suggested a small company that needed an office assistant. I ended up working in a place that I never imagined myself in, a towing company. There was rarely a shortage of interesting people entering the office. And it was always fun when I had to take money from an acquaintance so they could get their car out of the impound lot. I worked parking wars before the show Parking Wars!

They were really cool and became a second family to me. I only got jokey, evil looks when I showed up late or hung over, and they never cared if I did my homework during my down time. After I moved to New York for college, I would even go back there on my breaks to help out. All in all, I worked with them for eight years.

Everyday, we had the radio tuned in to one of those typical soft rock, office-friendly stations. Lots of Elton John and Billy Joel, which only drove me up the wall when we were painfully slow.

I’ll never forget one day, I came to after a morning full of paper work and thought to myself, ‘the radio just played this song.’ Some time passed and I thought to myself, ‘I didn’t realize this song was so long.’ Another small amount of time passed and I thought to myself, ‘didn’t they just play this song?’

Something was weird.

I asked the other woman in the office to pay attention to the radio, because at this point I thought I was going insane. She began to notice it too and we wondered if the people at the radio station realized what they were doing. I toyed with the idea of changing the station, but it was an old boombox and the only other station we could get without static was smooth jazz. (Snooze!)

By about hour three of being certain ‘Here Comes the Sun’ by The Beatles was stuck on loop, I was ready to throw myself in front of our flatbed truck. We turned the radio off and worked in silence the rest of the day. I’m still not sure which is worse.

The next day we found out that the radio station was changing hands from Star 104.5 to Sunny 104.5. (Get it?) They thought 24 hours of ‘Here Comes the Sun’ was a great way to promote the new format. It wasn’t. I avoided the station for years (that is, when I would actually listen to the radio).

Today, my mom and I took my nephew to lunch. He loves listening to music and dancing, so I turned on the radio. He’ll bop in his car seat to any tune, then sing if no one is watching. ‘Here Comes the Sun’ came on and I instantly thought back to that horrible day. Whenever I hear it, images of being stuck in that tiny, greasy office enter my brain similar to what I imagine Vietnam flashbacks are like. It was a very traumatic experience for me.

Luckily, it’s very rare that I catch a part of the song, but I would be happy to avoid it all together. Good thing I was never really a fan of it before all that nonsense went down.

-xo