To: Whitney From: The Grown-Up Version of Yourself

And these days the only place you have to lose yourself is the Music. You are just so freaking together it's unbelievable. You have a job, you have a lover, you have the brightest future a life like yours would allow. And yet, you want to run away. You want to escape where things aren't quite so formulaic and crafted. You want to exist in a world you spent your life convincing yourself you didn't belong to.

The part of it that amazes you, that contradicts everything you just wrote is that you know if you still belonged there, you'd wish you were somewhere else. You'd wish you fit right into the Suburban mold with your dog and your fence and your commercialized ideals of living.

I know you, better than you think. I know that you will never be happy, because I know that you were born one of those people who will never be happy. I know the only time you find inspiration is in your misery, and perhaps that's why you cling so tightly to it--- like your misery is all that gives you character. If you allowed yourself to be content with your cookie-cutter world you might fall into that trap of being like everyone else. But, if you confess your discontent alone to your computer, well that makes you somehow different then, doesn't it? At least you get what you're doing is pathetic...at least you're mourning the loss of dreams you thought you'd one day chase.

Don't you remember the days when you wanted to live? Look deep inside yourself---what does it really mean to you to live? Do you long to ride elephants in Africa, touch the hands of Buddhist religious leaders? What happened to that part of you that dreamt of leaving it all behind for something deeper, and greater?

And then you wonder, too, if maybe those things have to really entail living. What is wrong with simplicity-- with a family to love, roots laid down around you, certainty ahead of you? Predictability does not have to be this term you run from, rather something you can embrace. The opportunity to be someone's loving wife, someone's mother, someone's best friend, to impact the world around you in ways that may not make you famous with the media, or make people want to buy your books, are those not the most effective ways to impact the world--- little by little, and one by one?

I think it is that you want to be beautiful, smart, strong, and successful. Maybe you have grown up enough to realize that you don't have to run off to New York City to experience life as you want to experience it. With age, you have developed into this person for whom, without family and friends, experience means nothing. Hugs from your Granny, long conversations with your mother, Friday nights spent alone with yourself, your books, and your music, coming home to the love of your life and your dog and your bird, this is life. You are not yet a slave to corporate America, you do not feel unhappy or empty. The part you're most uncomfortable with is that you are comfortable with the way the world exists for you at this point. You never saw this coming--- you missed the point where the person you thought you wanted to be became the person you are right now. You were not aware of the moment when that became okay with you.

And the flying high, the uncertainty, the idea of leaving it all behind to backpack through Europe and have one-night stands with gorgeous Italian men, it all sounds glamorous and ritzy, and, in theory, exciting. But at the end of the day- what you want is someone you love to come home to. You want music in your ears and the sun on your back, and you want to be able to list on both hands the people you love- and you want them to be the same people who love you back. You want an open mind and a warm heart, and you want to reach out and embrace those who aren't quite so lucky. And at the end of the day, you realize you can do all of those things from exactly where you're standing.


Why I "Settled" but not really

This post was inspired by a new favorite blogger, where she wrote about Lori Gottlieb's new book Marry Him: The Case for Settling for Mr. Good Enough, and why she's insulted by the term "settling". I agree with this blogger on all accounts, though I've decided to tackle the case for settling from the relationship angle.

A long time ago, when I was just a little girl, I was hooked on Disney movies. I would watch and rewatch Cinderella, and then I'd retreat to my room and act out my own fairytales with my Barbies. In these little fantasies I had, Ken and Barbie fell madly in love and had cute little plastic babies. Barbie was, of course, a princess, and Ken was her prince. Eventually, they became King and Queen of Plasticland, and were never heard from again. Until the next day, when I watched Sleeping Beauty, and Ken and Barbie got to fall in love all over again.

A few years later, after Ken and Barbie were sent into retirement, I discovered a new outlet for my romantic fantasies--- romantic comedies- back before someone pressed their "rinse, wash, and repeat" button and they actually felt somewhat original. I watched these movies, and instead of retreating to my room to play with Barbies, I retreated into my room to write in my journal. I would pen angst-ridden words about the guy out there I would never find- the Freddie Prinze Jr. lookalike who would steal my soul, sweep me off my feet, and ride with me off into the sunset. Yes, as a teenager, I was terrified that I would end up alone. I can't tell you how many times I'd put 98 degrees songs on repeat and fantasize about the kind of guy who would sing those lyrics directly to me. My poofy hair and chubby physique were enemies even then because it was absolutely what kept me from finding the man of my dreams, the man all these fictional women seemed to land so easily, and in just 90 minutes.

Fast-forward to my twenties. Now, I am only 21 years of age, and before you laugh and tell me I know nothing about relationships because I don't even know who I am, understand that, for a multitude of reasons, I grew up way too fast. I don't regret it, but it's simply a reality. Ok, so here we are, my twenties. At present, I live with a man I've been dating for what will be three years on April Fool's day. We have a dog and a bird, and I cook him dinner every night and we are very happy at this point in our lives and our relationship. We even see it being a long-term kind of thing. BUT WHY THE HELL DIDN'T I GET THE MEMO THAT A RELATIONSHIP TOOK WORK!? Why didn't someone tell me that I would sometimes have doubts?! Why wasn't it explained to me that eventually the hormones and endorphins shooting all through my body that made me feel those "just fine jumping off a bridge because I was so damned happy and oh, my God we are on top of the world" kind of feelings would eventually fade and I would actually have to decide if I liked this man? Whose idea was it to stop the Disney movies and the romantic comedies as soon as the guy and the girl got together, before all the reality set in? Why didn't, in my days of playing Barbies, I consider that Ken may have had an adulterous affair with the younger babysitter named Skipper, would my delusions of love have been easier to recover from? If someone had made a sequel to Pretty Woman to show that even Julia Roberts and Richard Gere weren't always attending operas and climbing ladders and making it glamorous to be hookers and were actually sometimes having bad sex and ignoring one another and gaining five or ten pounds after the comfort factor set in, would I maybe have been more prepared for what it took to make a healthy relationship function?

I really think it's possible. Because I can tell you, I learned all those lessons the hard way. It took me quite some time to realize that just because I didn't get so nervous/excited everytime I laid eyes on Shawn that my stomach felt like it was doing flipflops, that that didn't mean there was something wrong with my relationship. It took many off days to realize that off days were acceptable in a long-term relationship. That I would not always feel like spending hours in front of the mirror just because I was going to see him. That we would fight, that he would ignore me to watch the Colts play. That I would ignore him when Grey's Anatomy was on. That he would be messy to live with, and leave the toilet seat up sometimes and that did not mean that our relationship was doomed because he was not the perfect guy.

I do not think it's a coincidence that with the onset of Disney movies, romantic comedies, and this fairly modern notion that love means 100%, blissfully happy 100% of the time, and that hormones and endorphins make it easy and you never have to work to get it right, that divorce rates have also risen. It is not quite love if the person is flawless in every single way, love grows in accepting the flaws about the person because their qualities pale the flaws in comparison. There are some days when I do look at Shawn and get butterflies, some days that I am overwhelmed and quite surprised by how much I love him, but there are some days that are just okay, too. And, I'll admit it, some days that pulling my hair out strand by strand would be more tolerable than being in the same room with him. But we are a team, and we are committed to one another, and that means not running at the first sign that things don't compare to what we grew up seeing in the movies.

To sum it up, I do see what Gottlieb means when she says "settling", but, like the other blogger, I, too resent the term settling. I have not settled for anything. I do not think that I could do better because I think that similar problems and ups and downs would arise with another person, I just may not be so lucky in another relationship to have someone as committed to the relationship as I am. Gottlieb's got a good thing going, I think she just used the wrong term. We should not have to feel bad about the connotations that go with the word "settle" just because we have chosen to open our eyes and choose not to believe the lies we've been told, we should celebrate for being so liberated. It isn't settling, it's being realistic.


Reasons why I love the man snoring next to me

1. He is my best friend.
2. He gets it when I would rather jump into oncoming traffic than be affectionate.
3. He loves his computer as much as I do-- so the little moments when I'm sitting next to him on my laptop, while he is on his laptop, neither of us are saying a word, and yet we are perfectly, blissfully, happy, and I see this nerdiness repeating itself well into our elderly years.
4. He only yells at me for being a bad driver when I'm about to kill us...
5. The way he looks at our puppy
6. He's not ashamed to buy me Tampons and Midol, even if I'm not shopping with him
7. He makes snarky comments so quietly that only I can hear them...and I laugh and no one understands what I'm laughing about
8. His laugh makes me laugh harder than my favorite stand-up comedians' jokes
9. He knows when to just let me rant, eventually I'll calm down and realize what a dumbass I'm being. I do.
10. Sometimes we act like big kids together
11. He doesn't get annoyed when I cry over the homeless animal commercials on TV
12. He humors me when I want to make those $1 donations to animal shelters and children's hospitals
13. He promises to humor me one day by volunteering for a few days at the Best Friends Animal Sanctuary in Utah.
14. He, too, thinks it would be cool to be Mario and Luigi for Halloween.
15. The rule we have about the radio- if I'm driving, I pick the music. If he drives, he gets to.
16. He kissed me in the rain at a Counting Crows concert.
17. He usually falls asleep before me, so when I go to sleep at night I always whisper 'I love you', and he always whispers it back <3
18. He never makes me feel stupid for my computer/electronic illiteracy, even when I can't figure out the TV remote for the umpteenth time.
19. When I won't tell him what's wrong, he calls my best friend because he knows that she'll know.
20. He loves my Mommy and Granny almost as much as I do.
21. He can read maps well, I have special needs for map-reading.
22. He's awesome at making my computer work again.
23. He has patience. More than I could ever hope to have.
24. He is the least judgmental person I've ever met.
25. He knows I don't like rudeness or crudeness--- so he avoids mention of bodily fluids, flatulence, and peeing in front of me as best he can.
26. I admire him. He admires me.
27. I respect him. He respects me.
28. He's more conservative with money than me, thus, preserving our hopes of enjoying a happy retirement and not living paycheck to paycheck.
29. He always smells good.
30. He is my future.

To be continued...I hope everyone had a happy Valentine's day. We spent the first part of our day househunting, and we found some absolutely beautiful homes! It was just amazing to envision our family there one of these days. Then we came home to relax a little and then went to dinner at Bravo for some delicious Italian food. I'm so lucky to have spent the day with the best friend I've ever had and the person I will love for the rest of my days. You know, at the risk of sounding cheesy.



For the love of the dog--- and the bird

As I sit here on this quiet February afternoon, I look around our cute little apartment and take everything in--- the larger-than-life plasma TV that we did not need (Hi, Shawn!), the decorations on the wall that I'm already sick of, my boots in the corner that have been seriously victimized by the snow--- and of course, the dog hair. And the bird feathers. Oh, and the dog and the bird. I've realize that, without these two additions to our home, it wouldn't be quite our home. Archie and Fiona are part of the family, they keep things colorful, they make us laugh, and I, for one, cannot picture life without them. Sure, I may have to go in the other room when I'm talking on the phone because Archie can't bare any moment when he's not the center of attention and makes it known so loudly via his squawking that I can't hear myself think, and of course I have to keep a lint roller on hand 24/7 to brush the dog hair off the couch and our clothes, but you know what? I think it is absolutely worth it. It's worth it because, when I first see Archie in the morning, he never fails to wish me a very enthusiastic "Good morning!"- even if I slept past noon. Expensive dog food and necessary vaccinations are so worth the exuberant tail-wagging I get when I come in the door, even if I've only been gone for five minutes.

I've sacrificed many-a-pairs of good shoes because a little puppy named Fiona was teething and pissed off at us for leaving her in the apartment. Countless migraines have been worsened due to Archie's incessant need to let his presence be known, not just by us, but by the neighbors, too. I vacuum daily because Fiona likes to rip the stuffing out of her new toys, and unless I take Archie into the other room with me when I go, he screams at me, clearly outraged by his temporary abandonment. Toilet paper was shredded, our comforter has a tiny hole in it where Fiona attempted to create her own Winter Wonderland by destuffing it, there's a spot of drywall in the bathroom we're gonna have to fix before we move, and Fiona and her puppy friend Bella even decided to play dress up with my makeup one night while we were gone, scattering Cover Girl bronzer all over our tan carpet.

Owning pets has been an adventure, but one I wouldn't trade for the world. The love I have for my animals surprises me sometimes-- my loyalty to them, my empathy for them. Somewhere along the way, I became one of those people--- who throw birthday parties for their dogs, swaddle their birds in towels like babies so they'll relax, and dress their puppies up for Halloween. I became one of those people, who would rather hurt myself than see one of my animals hurt, who has somewhat humanized the personalities of my pets, and will likely need to be committed the day one of them departs from this world. And you know what? I'm proud to call myself an animal lover. I just simply do not understand how people can mistreat animals- or buy them like the hottest commodity and then cast them aside when they become somewhat inconvenient.

Owning a pet, while, in my opinion, the benefits certainly out weigh the inconveniences, is a huge commitment. I wish more people would realize that before they get something they can't take care of, or just don't want to take care of. I wish spay and neutering laws were mandatory in all fifty states, and I wish people would think twice before buying an animal from a breeder or pet store- and instead consult their local animal shelter- where half the animals that go in, never come out. I look at Fiona and how much she loves me unconditionally, how she trusts me to always do what's best for her, and I wonder how anyone could be mean to something so innocent and pure. A dog's sole purpose in its life is to make its master happy, and we too often take that for granted. I can barely fathom the horror stories I hear about animal abuse and neglect- leaving a dog when one's home is foreclosed on, keeping a dog tied up out back, duct-taping a cat, plucking a bird's feathers for the fun of it- I just don't understand.

note, I photoshopped the bird onto the dog's head when someone needed a copy of them together for a Christmas gift- they don't get this close.

My animals have been there for me in my darkest moments, they've kept me company on the loneliest of days. They forgive me, time and time again, for being human. They are always excited to see me, and they couldn't care less about the state my hair is in. I don't have to jump through any hoops to get them to love me, they just do. Unconditionally, and for the simple reason that I loved them back. In a perfect world, every animal would be loved- none would be harmed unnecessarily, none would be euthanized because they were considered "unadoptable". Every homeless animal would find a loving home. If I could, I would scoop up every dog, cat, bird, fish, iguana, hamster, guinea pig, chinchilla, and rooster in the world that was in need of some love, and take it home and feed it, clean it up, and make it feel at home. But I can't-- the only thing more sad than cruelty to animals is animal neglect because someone thought they were doing good and took in too many animals, far more than they could care for. All I can do is encourage you to adopt an animal from a shelter, research the relationship between pet stores and puppy mills, look on sites like Craigslist and Free Cycle for people who are trying to find loving homes for their animals- save a life.


Snowed-in Saturday

Today was just an all around terrible day. But, before I go into all those drab details, I'll share the one good thing that came out of this day-that-can-go-to-hell-and-never-repeat-itself:

That, my dear friends, is my Fiona- trying to make sense of the mounds and mounds of snow that fell while she was sleeping. I am a tried and true animal lover, but the love I have for that dog may be slightly unhealthy. Until I am unselfish enough to give my life over to another human being (i.e., birth a child), Fiona is my baby. Who am I kidding, she'll go on being my baby even after that whole kid thing happens.

I have a bird, too. But he squawked all day and added insult to injury, so he didn't make today's list of things that made me smile. The injury part was Shawn's car getting broken into--- and his satellite radio getting stolen. BLEGH. As much as the stolen radio sucked, the worst part was cleaning up minute shards of glass in the dead of winter. To the thief: Why did you have to shatter the window? Couldn't you have been a little more meticulous that the pieces of glass I was picking up did not look more like shavings? I mean, really? Don't they write books about how to steal things with the most concern for the victim of the theft? I'll dream on.

Anyway, that's THAT. I was certainly happy to see midnight come around and the previous day go out the window. I can't wait to partake in Super Bowl shenanigans. Shawn and I and a few of our friends are heading over to a local Cinema Grill to watch the game on the big screen and eat our weight in all-you-can-eat wings and pizza. Go Colts!


Social media games stole my youth

Mmmmm, I believe I need a nap. The more sane amongst you would tell me I just need to call it a night, or a very early morning, and get the hell to bed. I'm gonna go with a nap. What I NEED, desperately, pathetically NEED, is to get my days and nights back on track. I've never had a problem sleeping in late, and, as long as I'm awake before noon, I don't consider it a day wasted. But it just gets so damned lonely in the wee hours of the morning when I'm still bright-eyed and bushy-tailed and Shawn and Fiona are sawing them off next to me. Even the bird is sleeping! But me? Not me. Here I sit, playing stupid games on Facebook and wondering why someone's tank on Fishville is cooler than mine. It's a Friday night. I am twenty one years old. I don't think I even need to ask you what's wrong with this picture.

Truth be told, though, I feel like I've lived well for my age. No, this is probably not the typical night of a 21-year-old (although many are up at this hour, something tells me they're not getting jealous of other people's virtual fish tanks), but it's the typical night for me. What can I say, as much as I love to go out and get drunk out of my mind and rage until 6am, I'm just as content to curl up in my bed with my boyfriend and my puppy dog and thank my lucky stars I was born into a technologically literate generation. Why the latter portion of that statement, you ask? Without technology to keep me busy, I might actually be doing something *gasp* that is worthwhile- like keeping the sleeping hours of a normal human being, or reading a good book, or working on my writing again-- what on earth would I do without all these mind numbing distractions that have come to define a generation?

I may blog more about this tomorrow, but has anyone seen the 1992 flick Hero? It stars Dustin Hoffman, Gina Davis, Joan Cusack, and Andy Garcia. If not, it's a must see. They don't make feel-good movies like that anymore. Thank goodness for Netflix.

Okay, I'm off to bed. Good morning, world!


Rolling with the punches

I slept until 1:30 today. The Nyquil did its job and kicked in, but not until like 3am, which defeated the entire purpose of taking it in the first place. After I woke up, I realized I felt like hell. I was achy and tired, and all I could really think of doing was going back to sleep. This cold sore will be the death of me. I wish people would get it over with and start calling it herpes already. Isn't that what it is? Herpes of the mouth? Awesome. All I know is that I'd like to slap whatever adult passed it onto me while they were showering me with kisses while I was an infant. If I had had a say in the matter, I would have passed on the kisses. Unfortunately, I had no say.

So, I looked up the cold sore. Apparently, cold sores can also cause flu like symptoms. Which would explain the aching back and fatigue. Great. I don't have the flu, but I might as well have for as bad as I felt.

In the grand scheme of things, today was a bigger waste than most of the days I've spent at home. Not that any of them are too monumental and/or productive. But I'm pretty sure I moved from the couch only to eat, drink, or use the restroom today. I felt that bad.

I would give you a play-by-play of my day, but you could just as well look in my Internet history to find out what I did. A little Facebook stalking, a lot of Facebook gaming, repeatedly checking my email. You know, the usual mind numbing things you do when you're on an indefinite break from being a productive, tax-paying citizen.

When Shawn comes home, I'm always so happy. Always so excited to see him walk through that door. I instantly feel better, less alone, and happier. He just has that effect on me. He doesn't poke fun at me for sitting around doing nothing all day. In fact, he knows that it was probably just as long of a day for me as it was for him. We're happy to come home to each other. I hope we always are.

I cooked a pretty tasty dinner. Not working has given me an appreciation for cooking, an appreciation I was never aware of having up to this point. Italian style porkchops, yum. Shawn seemed to appreciate them, and Fiona certainly did, as she begged at our feet waiting for scraps to fall. Then we cleaned up the kitchen, played some Mario, watched a couple episodes of Lost, and now, more Facebook gaming and stalking. Such the exciting life I lead! Ugh.

I need a goal, I need some direction that I'm heading. That way, all this free time doesn't feel wasted. The problem is, though, that nothing sounds appealing. I was so overworked and stressed out for so long that now I'm content to sit back and let my brain turn to mush. Well, I don't know that I'm content, but it seems that that's what my body is forcing me to do---so I'm just rolling with it. I've been applying for several jobs, but I'm still hopeful that I'll hear back from the company I've been waiting on for a month now. Stupid corporate red tape. I need a job! Don't they understand that?