For someone who doesn’t technically have a job right now, I sure do feel busy.
It’s almost like looking for a job is a full-time job.
Except it’s not, at least for me, because I’m also up to my fake twitching eyeball in other projects. For the blog alone, I owe you probably about 64 updates about what’s going on with our home changes, I’ve got some really fantastic recipes to share, and the consumption of the Spanish bottles of wine we brought home have inspired some really deep thoughts, like why was the Bachelorette so hung up on that Bentley guy (I mean his name is Bentley, for crying out loud), and I wonder how long I can get away with not removing the toenail polish I applied before leaving for Spain.
Apparently the answer is at least 5 weeks, because I only have about 40% coverage left per toe and I still haven’t fixed it.
So aside from all the blog posts gurgling around in my head, I have projects galore. The office is still a work-in-progress, and hopefully I’ll have updates soon. I’m applying for jobs. I’m working on writing projects. I’m one of the first few people getting to read my friend’s yet-unpublished novel. And on top of all that, Alaina’s baby shower is in a mere week-and-a-half.
What’s that? You didn’t know I was throwing a baby shower?
Let’s see… we all know I’m awkward around children, I’d probably make a terrible parent, and until recently I assumed a boppy was something teenagers took recreationally at raves. So me throwing a baby shower makes perfect sense, right?
Lucky for me, Alaina doesn’t want just a baby shower. She wants a baby party — complete with alcohol, drinking games, and… wait for it… boys. See, just because she can’t drink, she doesn’t feel the need to punish everyone else. Especially me. And I’m also fortunate that a couple of her other dear friends are helping me out.
So this is pretty much what my world looks like right now:
(This last one actually has nothing to do with the baby shower. It’s for a different project entirely, but I couldn’t resist. You know I like to keep you guessing.)
I never thought I’d say this, but I’m pretty excited for this baby shower to happen. Not to give anything away, but it’s probably going to involve a relay race with strollers and the chugging of White Russians from baby bottles. The drink — not the people.
I know… you’re thinking, here we go. She’s going to talk about one of those revelations again — it’ll be one of those posts where she makes some big declaration about how she’s finally going to get off her ass and start making changes and find her dream job and discover spiritual enlightenment, and blah, blah blah.
Seriously. Can’t. Wait.
Well, you’re in luck, because it IS one of those. Kind of. But not really.
Because I have to be realistic. I’m realizing it’s kind of difficult to get off your ass and make your dream job happen if you don’t exactly know what it is or how to get started. So, following that train of thought, I’ve been looking for an interim job — something to get me out of doing laundry every once-in-a-while and help me remember what it’s like to earn a paycheck. Maybe an office clerk or a realtor’s assistant or something along those lines.
Because dammit, I would be good at that.
The problem is that at the moment, these jobs are few and far between. And where they do exist, they’re highly competitive. And for some reason, “Freelance Writer from Jan-July 2011” and “Hot Sauce Maker Extraordinaire from Sep-Nov 2010” don’t immediately present themselves as qualifying work experiences.
But that’s because they don’t know me. If they’d just get to know me, they’d see how my life experience, combined of course with technical know-how, above-average literacy, and superb communication skills, would make me pretty much an awesome person to have as their right-hand-man.
Unfortunately, the only jobs I’m finding listed along those lines turn out to be spammers — jackasses who solely exist in this world to prey upon people who are just looking for a decent break.
At least they give Karma something to do.
The good(?) news is that the 247 illegitimate employment responses I’ve received are making me reevaluate my entire find-something-to-keep-me-busy-and-pay-the-bills-so-I-can-structure-my-schedule-and-feel-less-guilty-about-not-working-and-just-find-time-to-write-on-the-side plan.
See, not too long ago, I whined about lack of signs showing me I was on the right path. And, in effect, perhaps I was ignoring signs telling me I was on the wrong path. But here’s the thing — It’s pretty impossible to ignore the fact that every single sign I receive about getting a crappy office job is telling me NOT to do it. (Let’s just pretend the terrible economy and almost nonexistent job market has nothing to do with it, mmmkay?)
The sad fact is that when I’m honest with myself, one of those jobs would put me exactly back in the position I was in when I first flipped my lid, quit my job, and moved to Costa Rica. And that really can’t be a healthy cycle to start over.
Where does that leave me?
Well, I’m going to continue my quest for interim employment and keep my fingers crossed for something remotely stimulating, challenging, and worthwhile (perhaps an assistant to someone busy and interesting and trusting of my creative personality and the ways I can assist him/her in maintaining the status of being the type of person I’d like to become).
Because, hey — laundry is laundry and a paycheck is a paycheck.
But. I can’t lose focus on my goal, which is writing. Or travel. Or both.
And for me, travel is like breathing – a bare necessity of life.
I kind of forgot where I was going with this, so I will end with two propositions:
1) If you need an assistant — even a virtual one who can type, make phone calls, organize schedules, file, collate, fax and email, I’m your girl. Oh, and I can also make really awesome flyers. Because if you’re cool, you probably need someone who can make flyers.
2) If you want to pay someone to travel to exotic places, take pictures and write back to you about all the exciting things I’m eating, drinking and doing because you’re curious about the world but terrified you might get stuck on a plane next to the most banal, talkative person in existence who also happens to have the bird flu and never washes his hands or covers his mouth when he sneezes, I am definitely your girl.
Because while I don’t particularly want to contract bird flu, I have a feeling that kind of job would be worth it.
Sometimes I like to pretend that I’m more popular than I actually am.
You know, like if someone asks whether I can grab a drink next Saturday, I might tell her, “I think I’m available that night, but it seems like I remember there’s a possibility that I might have had something going on so I’ll check and get back to you.”
The problem is that people know me and know I’m not actually that popular, and inside I’m probably jumping at the chance to go out. But I have to play it cool, you know, so I don’t scare away potential friends.
It’s kind of like when you’re playing the dating game and you don’t want to show your potential love interest you’re too interested, because displaying intense desire translates to desperate, which translates to if nobody else wants to date you, then why would I?, which translates to unattractive and undesirable candidate for courtship.
Which is complete BS if you ask me, because just because I’m eager to hang out with you doesn’t mean no one else wants to be friends with me. There’s like… a whole waiting list of people who want to be friends with me.
And the cycle continues.
Since I’ve gotten a couple of questions about things I’ve mentioned on the blog out of curiosity or my lackadaisical approach to follow-up, I’m going to pretend that I’ve received a whole slew of questions about issues I’ve failed to address, because I’m pretty sure you want to ask me these things, but you haven’t because you’re too scared to make contact or you don’t actually exist.
Here we go:
Why did I put the tick in vodka?I honestly don’t know. But something (a faded memory from something I read? Instinct? Complete irrationality caused by paralyzing fear?) told me it was the right thing to do. I thought if I put it directly in the toilet, there was a possibility it could crawl out and take revenge. But if I got it drunk first, it would obviously be too uncoordinated to swim.
Makes perfect sense.
How’s the office decorating project going? Umm… I was decorating the office? Oh, yeah. Well, I did buy that desk from Overstock, and it’s awesome. But that’s about as far as we got until I got home from the bar (the one where I work — not where I drink) at 3 a.m. on Sunday morning to discover this sitting in the garage:
It’s probably been too long for you to remember, but I was originally going to create an L-shaped desk with the one from Overstock as the short end, and then use an old door sitting on top of some filing cabinets for the long end. However, Justin insisted on building the long part of the L to match the desk we purchased, and I was all “Yeah, okay that’s great — I can’t wait to have a desk that you made with your bare hands (har-har) in like a year since that’s how long it will probably take you to make it,” and then Sunday at 3 a.m. I had to pretty much stick my entire foot in my mouth and then my calf up to my frickin’ knee because I’ll be damned if that desk isn’t just the most perfect, coolest desk I have ever seen.
Now we just have to paint it, and Operation Office Decor will be back in full swing.
What? You’re still working in a bar? Haven’t you gotten a real job yet? Oh you just had to go there, didn’t you? As a matter of fact, Saturday night/Sunday morning, right before I had to stick my entire foot in my mouth because it turns out my husband is actually pretty awesome at building desks, I worked my last shift at the bar.
It was bittersweet. Bitter because I worked with some pretty awesome people I really don’t want to lose track of, yet sweet because I’m pretty sure that’s the last time I’ll ever have to wait tables again.
Oh, and also bitter because I still haven’t found another job. Even just one for a part-time office assistant. The pickins are slim out there, people. And I can’t count how many times the evil Craigslist has broken my heart by making me think someone was emailing me with an actual response but it was really just spam.
I mean, don’t get me wrong — I’m enjoying the fact that I can spend the entire day not wearing pants because I’m not required to physically interact with the outside world. But sometimes? Sometimes I want an excuse to wear pants.
Speaking of not wearing pants, you already revealed that you umm… revealed the “girls” at the beaches in Spain, but that wasn’t the real question — the question was, did you remember the SPF 100 for your nips? (It wasn’t phrased exactly like this, but laxsupermom really did ask this question. And I kind of love her for it.)
Oh, yes. I had expressed concern, prior to our trip to Spain, about the very real possibility of experiencing nipple burnage on the nude beaches. Well, I’m very happy to inform you that I did remember to wear sunscreen. Almost every time. Some general pinkness did occur in the overall vicinity one time due to carelessness, but overall, my first nude beach experience was a thrilling success.
Thank you for taking an interest in my precautionary measures for avoiding skin cancer and public boob itching unbecoming a young woman.
Your concern means the world to me.
You can all now go back to your regularly scheduled programs.
While my sister was here for an impromptu visit last week, we quite frequently took our 4 — count ’em, four — combined mutts down to the lake near our house for some much-needed energy expenditure. On their part, not ours. Kelly and I were too busy downing Cazadores tequila and Squirts to expend any energy on much else.
(Oh, and I didn’t take any pictures while my sister was here because I’m a bad blogger. Bad.)
Now, my dogs love the water. They jump right in, splash around, dunk their heads beneath the surface to cool off, lap some up, etc. But Kelly’s dogs? Kelly’s dogs loooove the water. The chocolate lab swims around in circles while the little dopey (but I still love him) rescue mutt swims along the shoreline like a damn little beaver, and I’m pretty sure he’s taunting my dogs about the fact that they don’t go past the spot where they can reach the lake bottom.
Finally, I’d decided I’d witnessed enough mediocrity from my children dogs. I waded in to just below the hemline of my shorts (didn’t want any of that pesky capillary action to take hold if the bottom of my shorts got wet), and used my sweetest, most enticing voice to call Capone, who looked more intrigued than Mara about the idea of possibly leaving the safety of the shoreline.
This is Capone.
He came as far as his legs would reach the bottom and let out a small whimper. So I extended my arms, smiled in encouragement, and said, “Swim, buddy! You can do it! Come to mama!”
And then he jumped.
Not a slight push off of the drop-off edge so he could paddle his way to me, but a flat-out LEAP from the water and straight into my waiting embrace. The problem is that my embrace wasn’t expecting to have over 50 pounds of muscular, soaking wet canine come barreling into it, and I was knocked flat backwards into the water as said canine continued to panic and use my body as a gripping post to claw his way to the surface.
I only bled a little.
Kelly laughed a lot.
After that I decided that maybe it wasn’t worth it to try to teach Capone to swim. Clearly, he wasn’t grasping the concept. What I didn’t realize is that Capone isn’t a take-this-in-baby-steps type of dog. If he’s going to do something, then he’s damn-well going to do it.
Fast-forward to yesterday’s walk. I try to take each dog on a 2-mile loop every morning. I don’t dare try to walk them both at once, and I let each of them off the leash for a bit at the lake so they can cool down. When I let Capone off his leash yesterday, he chased a couple of ducks into the water. Of course, he only pursued them as far as his legs would reach. They taunted him just a few feet beyond the drop-off, quack-laughing and probably saying, “Whew! Good thing that dog can’t swim!”
I watched him.
He watched the ducks.
Then he did something strange. He looked at me and let out a frustrated whine. And I’m not sure now, but I think I might’ve said something like, “Yeah… too bad you’re too much of a pussy to go after ’em.”
And that’s when he jumped. Except this time, there was no one there to catch him. Instinct immediately kicked in, and he paddled his little heart out after those ducks. He wanted those ducks. Surprised, the ducks kept swimming and flitting just feet outside his reach. Further and further from the shore.
My pride was quickly replaced by panic as I realized my dog, who’d never swum before, was now about 50 yards off the shoreline. I kicked off my shoes and socks and frantically waved and yelled from the water’s edge, yet I still didn’t go in after him. Finally — finally — the ducks flew off, and suddenly Capone realized he was in the middle of the lake. So he turned around and swam back.
I guess my point in telling you all this is to explain why I’d be an entirely inadequate mother. Aside from the reasons I wrote about here. I love my dogs. And you can bet I would’ve gone in after Capone if I’d sensed he was in trouble. But 50 yards is kind of a long way. Not to mention calling him a pussy. What kind of caretaker does that?
I’m also not very good at other mom stuff — especially the gross stuff. Especially the gross stuff that involves bugs.
Like today, Mara had a tick.
This is Mara.
The tick was on her ear. Now. I don’t know anyone who particularly likes ticks, but they rank pretty high on my list of the most repulsive things I’ve ever seen in this world. And I’ve seen quite a few things.
Unfortunately, I knew this probably couldn’t wait until Justin gets home from work. So I gathered the necessary supplies and called my sweet, trusting pup over to me, tweezers in hand.
I’m pretty sure I heard it let out a faint bug scream as its body burst between my tweezers when I yanked it from my poor mutt’s ear and dropped it into a vat — okay it was a cup — of frigid vodka I’d poured from the bottle in the freezer. (Okay, I poured it from one of 3 bottles in the freezer, but that’s not the point.) The point is, I’m not 100% positive I got the entire head out, but I’m willing to let closer inspection wait until Justin gets home because right now I’m still trying to shake the feeling that I have ticks crawling up and down my back and maybe I should check in the mirror one more time and I’m not sure if I can ever drink out of that cup again and why the hell do they have to look like such scary little aliens???
Also, I’m not sure I should waste any more money on flea and tick medication, because if I still have to go through trauma like this, what is the point?
So. Considering the fact that I’m lucky my dogs are even still alive at this point, I think actual motherhood might be out of the question. Unless they start making kennels I can just put my baby in when I leave the house…
I have been craving pasta lately. Like, when I rack my brain for dinner ideas, all I can think about is pasta. Long noodles, stubby noodles, twisty noodles… it doesn’t matter. Red sauce, white wine, tomato cream, butter, oil… whatever, I’m game.
The good news is that making pasta allows me to clean other, long-forgotten items from the nooks and crannies of my pantry, like half-used boxes of bowtie pasta, dusty bottles of artichoke hearts and cans of tomato paste, and nearly empty tubes of breadcrumbs. (I confessed on Facebook the other day that I actually threw out a box of breadcrumbs that expired in October, 2008. No joke. Lucky for me, my friends had awesome senses of humor in their responses, and I still had another open box for my pasta.)
The bad news is that pasta, especially if it’s exceptionally tasty pasta, isn’t exactly the healthiest of meals. And considering I gained about 5 pounds in Spain, I’m thinking this insatiable pasta craving upon our return must be some cruel, cruel joke.
That, or it’s God’s way of telling me we should’ve tacked on a trip to Italy right after Spain.
Either way, it’s messed up.
So last night I tried to find a way to make the pasta a wee bit healthier, by avoiding things like cream, excessive amounts of butter, cream, and cream.
Of course I had to use some butter, but that’s just responsible cooking. The recipe is for a Greek flavor-inspired pasta dish, and it’s a combination of various recipes I found on Allrecipes.com as well as using a couple of things I had on-hand and tossing ’em in. The result? I thought it was pretty phenomenal. However, I’ll be honest and say that Justin wasn’t quite as enthused, but he a) doesn’t care for tomatoes, and b) still said, “It’s pretty good — you know — for something healthy.”
I think he missed the cream.
This comfortably feeds 2 people with plenty of leftovers. To make it, you will need:
8 oz. pasta (Whatever you want — I used bowtie because I had half a box left, but it’d be great with some type of spiral pasta or penne.)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
1/2 chopped red onion
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 – 1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breast (I used 1/2 lb.)
Splash of white wine
1 small jar artichoke hearts, marinated in oil and chopped (Next time I would use 2 jars. You could use the cans of hearts in water, but I think they have more flavor this way. And sometimes, you just don’t substitute health for flavor.)
1/2 can diced tomatoes (You could also use a fresh tomato, but again, I was trying to use up stuff in my pantry. If you love tomatoes, go ahead and throw in the whole can. Also, I used about half the water in the can and drained the rest.)
1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese (Could stand to add a bit more, but I was trying to keep this lighter. The feta melts and gives the dish a really delicious, subtle flavor. It’s not as “bitey” as unmelted feta.)
~15 Kalamata olives, chopped and seeds removed (Optional — I had been snacking on these earlier and decided to add them to the pasta. If you use them, go easy on adding any additional salt to the dish because these are salty enough!)
3 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
Juice from 1/2 a lemon
2 teaspoons dried oregano
Salt and pepper to taste
Whew. That looks like a lot of ingredients. But I promise you, it’s just a matter of chopping a few things and throwing ’em all in a pot. I tried to take a family portrait, but, as usual, I missed a few members and actually have a couple of extras in there. (Ignore the jars of roasted red peppers and sundried tomatoes — I bought those yesterday for another recipe, then forgot what I bought them for, and they somehow ended up in this picture. Oops.)
Okay, so pretend that there’s wine, butter and artichoke hearts in this photo, and that there’s NOT a jar of roasted red peppers and a jar of sundried tomatoes. Thank you.
Oh, and every single photo in this post is blurry because I had the aperture set too wide. Or maybe I had the shakes. You know, because I hadn’t had my pasta yet.
Here’s the jar of artichoke hearts. Cheeky bugger.
1. Get a large pot of salted water boiling on the stove, and cook your 8 oz. of pasta according to the package directions.
2. While the pasta is cooking, chop up your onion and garlic. Melt your butter and heat the olive oil over medium-high heat, and toss in the garlic and onion for around 2 minutes.
Melt butter and heat oil.
Let red onion and garlic cook for around 2 minutes.
3. Chop your chicken into bite-sized pieces and toss that into the pan. Let the chicken cook for 5-6 minutes, until it’s no longer pink and the juices run clear.
4. Now. At this point, I felt like the pan could use a little deglazing, which is fancy cooking speech for using some kind of liquid to get all the brown crusties off the bottom of the pan.
See the crusties?
So I took my glass of wine and poured some in.
Which is actually kind of difficult to do. If you try this, I’d go straight from the bottle. And I probably wouldn’t try to take a picture at the same time. Because it might look something like this:
The picture is awful, but the wine did the trick.
5. Then throw in everything else: chopped artichoke hearts, feta cheese, diced tomatoes, Kalamata olives, chopped parsley, dried oregano, lemon juice, and salt and pepper to taste.
Remember, if you’re using the olives, go easy on the salt!
Stir it all around until the cheese melts completely. Then throw in your cooked and drained pasta. If it seems kind of dry, add some of the liquids from your can of diced tomatoes. If you’re using fresh tomatoes, add more lemon juice. Or wine. Or water from the pasta. Whatever your little heart desires.
But, it’s important to note that this isn’t a particularly saucy pasta recipe. There should be a light coating of moisture on your pasta, but no excess sauce, per se.
I don’t want to say this is a girly pasta, but yeah. It’s kind of girly. I suppose because it’s not… hearty? It’s fresh. It tastes light. It goes excellent with a glass of white wine.
And if manly men know what’s good for them, they’ll like it too.
Every bite is like a different medley of flavors. In some, you taste the rich feta. In others, the tangy artichoke. Sometimes salty olives. Sometimes savory chicken.
It’s pretty much fantastic because it doesn’t get boring. And, you know, it’s not bad… for something healthy. ish.
I’m just going to be honest here, and you can judge me as you will.
And most likely, you will.
I’m at a point in my life where I pretty much consider myself too old for the club scene.
Well. Maybe not too old, but too crotchety.
Maybe that’s it. Whether I’m headed out with Justin or with a few good friends, I’d much prefer the mellow sanctity of a martini at a jazzy bar, a spicy margarita and faux mariachi at my favorite Tex Mex hole, sipping a SoCo and coke with a splash of lime and dash of salt at a local dive while listening to a solo guitarist as he stands, essentially naked on the stage, because — as far as he’s concerned — he’s showing us a piece of his soul.
Yes, I’d much prefer that to finding myself surrounded by a mass of wobbly-drunk, sweaty, crop-dusting strangers. (I’m not exaggerating about the crop dusting — I actually saw a guy lift his leg when he did it.)
And I don’t think it’s a married thing. I’m pretty sure this wasn’t my scene when I was single, either.
Lucky for me, aside from the wild, expensive dance clubs for which it is famous, the island of Ibiza is packed full of stunning natural landscapes, interesting architecture, and a slew of culturally diverse inhabitants. Our server from Bratislava, who was fluent in 3 languages and working on a 4th, couldn’t hide his elation that he’d finally saved the money he needed to move to his favorite vacation spot and was now living the dream.
He served us this sangria.
And I’ll never forget our quirky, art-loving hostel director who, upon figuring out how she wanted to spend her recent and substantial inheritance, arrived in Ibiza for a week-long vacation and simply never left.
Even the Spaniards don’t want you to fill out the paperwork, she reasoned, while explaining how she’d managed to remain an illegal, business-owning resident for the past 16 years. It’s nothing but headaches for everyone involved.
And based on my very limited experience in the country and stories offered up by my sister-in-law who was there on a work visa, I’m thinking she was probably right.
Ibiza at dusk.
So I was more than satisfied on Ibiza, using a rental car to explore our small corner of the island, searching for its signature smooth shells on the beach with Becca, playing paddle ball with Brad in the surf, laying in bed with Justin while listening to inebriated teenagers try to find their way back to their hostels by bouncing shouts off the city walls and timing how long it took for their echos to return. Apparently.
Playing paddle ball. Yes, my exposure sucks.
But Brad. Young, unmarried, still-able-to-consume-copious-amounts-of-liquor-wine-and-beer-in-a-single-night-without-sporting-a-massive-next-day-hangover, Brad. Brad had a rather fuzzy-yet-exciting memory leftover from the last time he’d visited Ibiza, and he was determined to recreate the experience with our group while we were there. It was his birthday, so we couldn’t argue, and I’ll admit — his proposal did sound intriguing.
The plan was to buy ample supplies at the grocery store and then stay up eating and playing drinking games in our room until 1 a.m.
Photo by Brad Thayer. Since Justin’s and my room had 3 beds for some inexplicable reason, ours was the designated party room.
Crackers, white cheese, Spanish ham, chorizo, olives, chocolate cookies, crackers with chocolate, chips, orange juice, rum, our cheap-ass 40s, and soda.
Then, Becca and I were told to get “club-ready,” which — thankfully in Ibiza — simply means putting on a swimsuit underneath a strapless beach dress and trying not to poke our eyes out while drunkenly applying a fresh coat of mascara. The boys threw on swim trunks and t-shirts, we wrapped our 40s in plastic bags (yes, we were classy — and they were only like €1 each, which is $1.50), and headed out into the chilly night air to walk about a mile to Club Paradis, for which we’d earlier bought pre-paid entrance tickets for €15 each (that was half the price!).
The “house music” (aka. techno) assaulted us immediately upon entering, but I will say this: the enormity of the room, the sunken dance floor, the crisscrossing catwalks with scantily clad dancers, the pure energy of the place was exciting as hell and made me feel like I’d suddenly been transported to Vegas. We pushed our way down into the dance pit, which managed to resemble a giant hot tub under some Greek columns with a bunch of fluffy pillows covering the steps. Beautiful — and I mean imported-from-Eastern-Europe beautiful — costumed dancers did their thing on the catwalks overhead, while some creepy metro guy with spiked hair and high tops walked around playing amplified bongos, and I couldn’t help but think, as a random stranger with only 1 lens in his sunglasses walked up and pet my face, that this whole scene would be best experienced with a hit of ecstasy.
But it was too late for that.
Image from Ibizavote.com.
So we danced. Or at least, Brad, Becca and Justin danced while I attempted to dance. But my buzz quickly wore off from all the stimulation, and after 2 1/2 hours of back-and-forth between the crammed dance floor and the blissfully air-conditioned ladies’ room, I was ready to leave before the main event.
But I didn’t.
I stuck it out.
Because the thing we were waiting for was something I’ll undoubtedly never see again in my lifetime. Most likely because I’ll never stay at a club until 4:30 in the morning again in my lifetime. With each dramatic climb of the techno, we thought the moment had finally arrived. But it hadn’t.
Until, finally, it had.
In a surprisingly anticlimactic change of music from heady techno beats to a cutsie rendition of “Singing in the Rain,” fountains burst forth from the top steps of the dance pit and began filling it with water.
A fact that no one seemed to notice, because we were inside, dancing, and it was raining, people! We’re about to be in a pool! In a club! With our clothes on! Except apparently those are optional because some definitely came off.
Now. If you’re one of those people who gets nervous about swimming in a public pool because some kid might have peed in it, imagine standing in a pool at a club where everyone is wasted. Aside from the flip-flops, plastic cups, and random pieces of clothing I saw floating around on the surface, I can’t imagine what might have been in that water. And after almost getting squashed by a 180-lb. guy who never learned that pools aren’t for rough-housing, I decided it was time to get out. I didn’t want to be a pooper, but I’m sorry — I refuse to be that girl who ends up in the morning headlines because I had my front teeth knocked out on the dance floor steps while partying a little too hard at El Paradis. Stone sober. No way.
Image from spotlight-forums.com.
However, once I was free from the sloppy stew that had once been a dance floor and shivering uncontrollably on the sidelines, I was able to appreciate this as one of those moments I’d likely never come close to experiencing again.
And while I can’t say that’s a bad thing, I also can’t say that I’m not happy we went. If I had it to do over again, I’d definitely bring money for more drinks at the bar. I’d hide a sweater somewhere in the club. I’d take lots and lots of vitamin C. And I’d put my game face on because if anyone’s losing a tooth, it’s the 180-lb. guy who thought he could push me around.
The walk back to our hostel was freezing. And we had to get up in 4 hours to check out and catch a ferry to Formentera. But I slept better than I had during any night on that island.
Maybe because I’d finally moved past the pretty beaches, the sunsets, the shells, and the water, and embraced the true nature of the beast — the thumping, gyrating, strobe-light phenomenon that is, for better or for worse, Ibiza.
So how about you? Do you love going to clubs, or would you rather stay in your jammies eating ice cream and watching reruns of Seinfeld?
If that was your immediate response, then you’re either: a) One of those women who doesn’t need to wear makeup, b) A feminist male.
The women I’m talking about are sometimes those with smooth, luminescent skin. Big doe eyes that don’t need added enhancement. Bone structure. Defined eyebrows. Long lashes.
The list goes on.
There isn’t any one particular physical feature that defines a pre-airbrushed woman — she just is.
Sometimes it might be something inside: A predisposed confidence and ease with her appearance resulting from true physical beauty, lack of judgmental figures in her life, or never comparing herself to models in magazines.
Her outward beauty could be a direct reflection of that found within.
What’s more, she has emotionally accepted the fact that she’s going to age, and she does it with grace and style.
For her, laugh lines are transformed into endearing accessories. Like earrings.
Unruly streaks of gray hair morph into a sophisticated highlight she never has to pay for.
Sporadic battle scars, moles, and birthmarks become trademarked, unique elements of mystique.
It’s hard to decipher which came first: Is her apparent beauty an inner peace derived from knowing she’s physically beautiful, or is it, even more poetically, a physical symptom of her beautiful soul?
If it’s the latter, maybe we all have a shot.
Whatever it is, I envy them.
And, ironically, that envy separates me even further as the woman I am from the woman I strive to become.
I think, from now on, I might start being a little nicer to myself. Less critical. Not for the sake of vanity, but in the name of compassion. Because I could be wrong, but I’m pretty sure that’s where it all starts.
***UPDATE*** It has been brought to my attention by my good friend Leslie (huge country buff and friend to country singers everywhere), that the person I should be slamming in the title of this post is Miley Cyrus and NOT Taylor Swift. Since it’s a pain in the ass to change post titles once published and they’re all the same to me, I’m not going to change it. But since I love Leslie and don’t want to blame Taylor for Miley’s missteps, I will, for the record, stand corrected.
(But Taylor probably doesn’t know what she’s talking about either.)
I’ve been to a few beaches in my time.
It’s odd because as a teenager, I always thought I was more of a mountain girl. That might have something to do with the fact that I primarily grew up in Nebraska, and it wasn’t unusual to take family trips to the magnificent Rockies where my sister and I would don knee-length shorts and flannel shirts tied around our waists (hey, it was the 90’s grunge era, and if I’m not mistaken, the plaid shirt thing is currently making a comeback, suckas!), and we’d hike the scenic trails of Estes Park, marveling at pristine mountain lakes from pointy vistas, trying desperately to comprehend sheer size and distance based on the veritable layers of mountains that faded off into a purple haze on the horizon.
Fortunately, for the most part, the mountains still have that effect on me.
But nothing — and I mean nothing — has ever made me feel smaller than the ocean.
Except maybe that senior who called me ugly during my freshman year of high school.
But while oceans have swallowed ships the size of small cities and an entire mountain range that, if its base were above sea level, would boast peaks higher than the Himalayas, all that senior managed to swallow was a drop of my 15-year-old self-esteem, which, by comparison, was much smaller.
So, considering the fact that I haven’t yet been to outer space, the ocean reigns supreme on my list of awe-inspiring things in terms of sheer vastness.
In this life, I’ve been lucky enough to dig sand dollars from the warm gulf surf off the cost of Georgia; scuba dive the reefs near St. Lucia’s black sand beaches, feeling the stunning shock of sea gnats while gazing at the limitless colors of coral and fish; view the North Pacific, with its cliffs of rock rising out from its frigid depths, as it feasted on the remnants of hundreds of sand castles along its beaches; witness the power of waves that looked like building-tall scoops of ice cream sprinkled with runaway surfboards as they tested human courage on the beauty of Oahu’s North Shore; watch cruise ships dump inconceivable amounts of pollution into the shockingly blue waters of the Gulf of Mexico; buy trinkets sold by colorful hippies and artists while absorbing the vibrancy of the beach known as Venice; frantically flee strange, floating jellyfish in the bathtub-warm waters of the Caribbean while learning how to scream through a snorkel; accept a proposal for marriage on a beach composed entirely of shells on the east coast of Florida; and accidentally lose track of the top of my bathing suit in a wave working its way towards the famous shore of Tamarindo Beach in Costa Rica.
Until I recently dipped my toes into the surprisingly June-cool waters of the Mediterranean, I was convinced I’d seen it all.
But that’s the beauty of the ocean.
No one has ever, ever seen it all.
You know that song that’s all, It’s not about what’s waiting on the other side… it’s the climb? I think it’s by Taylor Swift. Well. As you can see, she was dead wrong.
The climb, which we did on bicycles, sucked. But that thing that was waiting on the other side?
Pretty. Damn. Fantastic.
So. To answer the burning question I know everyone is wondering but is too afraid to ask:
Did I “lose” my top on the notorious nude beaches of Formentera?
Let’s just say that I never realized how utterly uncomfortable bikini tops are — until I experienced a world without one.
Okay, don’t get mad at me. I promise I fully intend to share some interesting stories from Spain and answer a few questions I’m sure some of you have. But, like I mentioned yesterday, I had an unexpected house guest arrive late last night.
Well, mostly unexpected — she did give me 12 hours notice, which is approximately the time it takes, going roughly 10 miles per hour over the speed limit with 2 rest stops, to drive from Fort Lauderdale, Florida, to Sanford, North Carolina. My little sister arrived in a whirlwind of fast food wrappers, dirty laundry, 2 mangy mutts (that’s right — there are currently four dogs staying in my house), and early-20’s angst.
I love her dearly.
Needless to say, my plans for the rest of the week have been a bit thrown, meaning I’m about to take 4 dogs down to a lake instead of writing pitches and sending my resume in for part-time gigs. I also don’t have the time to write a proper post for today.
So, in case you missed it, I’m posting the piece I wrote for Simply Solo the week before I went to Spain. If you did pop over there to read it, I’m sorry for the repeat so soon after the original.
But I have to work with what I got, ya know?
Don’t Worry – Cinderella was as Jaded as the Rest of Us
I remember that brief yet exciting time in my life when I was sans relationship. The world was full of possibilities. I could travel wherever I wanted, sleep with whomever I wanted, and the only person I really worried about disappointing was me.
The good days, right?
But no matter how happy I was, how free I felt, there was always that pesky bruise on an otherwise perfect fruit: I wanted love. I wanted to feel love, and I wanted to give it. I wanted to know how it felt to have someone waiting for me when I came home, to ask about my day, and to tickle my back with his fingertips when we settled into the sofa to watch the latest romantic comedy that he thoughtfully picked up from the video store on his way home from buying me flowers.
Because that happens, right?
The good news is that at the start of any decent relationship, it can and does happen. For a few moments in time, we find out what it’s like to live inside a movie – to become the center of someone’s world and put another person’s happiness above our own.
But then… then we get comfortable. The new car smell is replaced by McDonald’s takeout and sweaty gym socks. The charming way he always lets us choose the movie or the restaurant or the weekend getaway location is now just plain annoying. Why can’t he have an opinion? The conversations become stale. The sex becomes predictable.
This, my friends, is true intimacy – when our prince – *gasp* – becomes a real-life person.
And while he still asks about our day and tickles our back during movies, it’s also true that sometimes he wishes we might stay at work just a little later so he can put his feet on the coffee table, fart without leaving the room, and finish that Star Wars movie without judgment or ridicule.
We find ourselves wondering, why do we even care about these things, anyway? We never used to. Or if we did, we let them slide because we’d finally found that elusive love. That love we’d thought we’d wanted so much.
Is it simply because the longer we know each other, the more difficult it becomes to maintain niceties and politeness? Is it because we no longer have the excitement of peeling back layers to get to the golden nuggety center of another person’s history, values, and beliefs? Or is it – and I almost hate to say this – because we, as humans (or is it just us women?), just can’t find it within ourselves to be content with being content?
Think about it. We are trained from an early age to look for drama in our relationships. Aspiring writers are taught that we can’t have a story without an antagonist. We can’t create intrigue without obstacles in the plot. And a story without intrigue is never worth reading.
So why would a story without intrigue ever be worth living?
Maybe that’s why we create these problems within our own, otherwise placid plotlines – why we become our own antagonist and throw rocks at the glassy surface by nagging him about his dirty laundry, complaining to mutual friends about our arguments, making a joke at his expense, or letting ourselves think he came home late because he was out trolling for other women, because there’s no way he could possibly still love us after all. these. rocks.
The movies teach us we need ripples to be happy.
They don’t tell us how Cinderella could never quite get those ashes out from underneath her fingernails. How she hated cleaning Prince Charming’s whiskers out of the bathroom sink. How sometimes – sometimes—she still reminisced about the days when the forest animals adoringly assisted with her morning chores as she sang about longing for her prince to come – when her prince was still a perfect image in her mind of the man who would magically solve all of her issues and finally make her life complete.
But that’s the problem – all we see is that our fairy tale lovers had to fight evil stepmothers, magic mirrors, and fire-breathing dragons to complete their ceremonious commitment to one another. And since there’s no room for such things in modern times, we make ripples of our own. We throw rocks to create intrigue and prove that the love that survives at the end – assuming it survives at all – was worth fighting for.
However, I’m going to share a secret for singles or those who perpetually find themselves in unhappy relationships – a secret that will either solve all of your problems, or crush your world in one fell swoop: What they never tell us about our own story line – about the intricate, ever-changing world we create for ourselves from second to second in search of a happy ending – is that while the existence of dragons is possible but not proven, there is no such thing as complete.
So. What I find myself learning, now that I’ve found that intimacy I wanted so badly when I was single, is that no relationship – not even a marriage – will ever really complete me. I will always be someone who strives to learn, to evolve, to make myself a better person.
And in the interim that most of us refer to as life, I will consider it a bonus that, whether I’m crying through a chick flick or snickering through Star Wars, I’ve found a willing hand to tickle my back.
It has recently occurred to me that I’m not really a “roll with the punches” sort of person.
Nor am I a take-that-full-blown-fist-to-the-face-then-just-shake-it-off type of person.
Both are admirable qualities, each of which — whether it be laid-back option A or stubborn as hell option B — I’ve been known to show from time-to-time, but rarely with any consistency.
So what type of person am I?
Turns out I pretty much like to avoid punches all together.
Yep. You read that correctly.
It’s ironic, because until this moment of clarity, I (and probably everyone else who’s close to me) have viewed myself as pretty damn confrontational. I mean, if you over charge me for fixing my vehicle or call my cell phone to solicit money, I will voice my displeasure. If you ask me to analyze your relationship or evaluate whether those pants are too tight or tell you whether you acted like an ass last night because you had far too much to drink, I will most likely tell you the truth.
My friends know this.
I’m the girl they go to when they simply just need to hear the truth. (Or at least the truth as I see it.)
I will even confront my own issues, whether it’s mentally, through friends, or via this blog, but I realized something today: When it comes to actually acting on said issues — when I have to make a decision and choose a move — I’m all about the tuck-and-roll.
I avoid that punch like a Connecticut prep school boy avoids hippy chicks from NoCal — it might be dangerously exciting to dabble on occasion, but any type of serious commitment is pretty much out of the question.
Otherwise I won’t get my trust fund.
Except I don’t have a trust fund.
Which is kind of another bummer in itself.
Where was I?
Oh, yes. What I realized today, especially after my whiny little self-pity session from yesterday, is that it’s easy for me to analyze and discuss and churn possibilities and outcomes through my head, but the sad little truth is that nothing will actually start happening unless I commit to a move.
Which I pretty much never do.
At least not long-term.
So while I can declare that I’m about to make a change, like I have many times on this blog, I’m quickly learning that saying and doing are two completely different things.
One thing I’ve learned from my husband’s unhealthy affinity for all things Star Wars, is that the Yoda character — if you can mentally move beyond the strange way he mixes up sentence structure — is a wise, wise man.
Midget with weird raptor feet?
Whatever he is, he dispenses this little face-slap of eloquent truth:
“Do or do not. There is no try.”
It’s hard to argue with that.
The problem is I have all kinds of excuses: Trip to Costa Rica, finishing house projects, trip to Spain, planning a baby shower party, making a gift for our Spain hosts, writing the blog, figuring out what to make for dinner, doing favors for friends, getting the house ready for a visitor who will be arriving in approximately 5 hours whose imminent arrival I learned about 6 hours ago, etc.
And there will always be excuses. The trick is going to be learning the self-discipline it takes to move beyond them.
My friend (and family member) Anna gave me some fantastic advice in the comments yesterday (among other peoples’ fantastic comments) that she learned from a writer’s workshop:
1. Get out of your own way.
2. Begin Anywhere (John Cage)
So these things I intend to do.
Pitches, here I come!
(As soon as I finish making dinner tonight and finish my resume for a “filler” job and clean the sheets in the guest bedroom and make the decorations for the baby party and vacuum and clean the guest bathroom and finish 2 handmade gifts for 2 different people and give myself a pedicure.)