Two Thousand Thirteen

On my block, 2013 began with a man standing in the middle of the street, beating a turtle with a stick while his girlfriend and children screamed and cried around him. Happy New Year. Try to top that.

I don’t really do resolutions because I find that my inability to stick to things, coupled with my amazing skill for beating myself up for even the smallest failures makes resolving to do something a losing endeavor. I’ve actually been a little reluctant to look forward at all because 2012 was a pretty great year for me, and 2013 stands to be quite a bit more stressful, unpredictable and probably quite frustrating at times. We’ve got some big changes on the horizon (no, I’m not pregnant).

The only things I’m going to actually resolve to do this year are to keep an open mind, remain optimistic and remember that every year comes to an end and you get a chance to start over again and make the next one better if need be. Whatever 2013 brings, it’s only 365 days and I’m planning on spending pretty much all of today watching football, so let’s go ahead and call it 364. Bring it on. I’m ready.

Although I don’t make resolutions, I do have things that I hope will happen, that I’d like to try to do. Like a list of good thoughts and desires that I will release into the ether and wait for them to return to me in some tangible, recognizable way throughout the year.

-To read lots of fabulous books. I read some really amazing stuff in 2012 and I’d like that trend to continue. I’m pretty set up for a good start with both The Revolution Was Televised and This Is How You Lose Her given to me as Christmas gifts, but if you have any recommendations please send them my way.

-To be productive, but patient in my creative pursuits. This year I will be working on a book with a friend of mine and I’m determined to follow the plan I’ve created and push myself to work hard on this project, but I also recognize that sometimes life gets in the way and I have to be willing to give myself the space to recoup and relax when necessary.

-To run a lot, winter be damned.

-To find a way to spend more time communicating with my sister, because the hardest change in 2013 is going to be not having the three months of living together that I got in 2012. I miss you every day, Lizzy.

-To continue to grow my business. I had an incredible year in 2012 and I want to continue that trend and improve even more. I have some big ideas for how to continue branching out that I’m hoping to implement sometime in the year to come.

-To save up a little each month to put toward a vacation. Probably not the vacation I would like to take, depending on what happens with some of our bigger changes this year, but a vacation all the same. Everyone needs a vacation now and then. I took a bunch of wonderful trips in 2012, so I’m fine only doing one or two small, fairly local weekend sojourns in 2013, but I’m determined to get out of the house and out into nature and venture to places I’ve never been before. I want to eat hoagies and grinders. I want to live Marge. Why won’t you let me live?

-To focus on the positive. Whatever, I’m a dork. A lot of bad shit happened in 2012 and I spent a good portion of the year feeling ragey and irate and honestly, it didn’t seem to make a bit of difference. I’m not going to close my eyes to the kind of dangerous nonsense that makes me jump on my high horse to begin with, but I’m going to try to balance that out a bit more by focusing on and writing about the things I really enjoy or am pleasantly surprised by this year.

Happy New Year, everyone. May 2013 be a year of great success and joy.

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This Year I’m Thankful For How Much I Rock

It’s that time of year again where even the most cynical among us (points finger directly at self) takes a look back over the past year and decides what we are most thankful for. This year, I’m thankful for how awesome I am. That sounds obnoxious, but after a lifetime of pretty much hating myself and everything that I’ve ever done, it’s a fairly significant achievement for me to reflect on all that I have accomplished this year and the ways in which I have pushed myself to be better in my work life, my creative life and my home life, and actually come to the conclusion that yeah, I did pretty much rock it in 2012. Go me. Achieving such fantastic levels of awesoming should be more than enough, but this was a pretty solid year all around, so here’s a list of some other people and things that I’m also thankful for.

-Christina Aguilera’s boobs. Their persistent and frenzied attempts to retreat from the ever expanding borders of her ridiculously oversized belts on this season of The Voice afforded my sister and me multiple opportunities for boob-related humor, and I assure you that we made the most of it.

-Granola Thins. Thank you for being on sale at Costco that one time so I could purchase two boxes of your granola-chocolate combo deliciousness. Your advertised thinness combined with my continued assertions that dark chocolate is good for heart health has allowed me to justify eating 4-5 granola thins per day. SHUT UP, IT HAS ANTIOXIDANTS!

-The Election, for finally being over. I’m really looking forward to the next two months before the new campaign season kicks into gear.

-The Mindy Project. I was worried you weren’t going to be good, and it would be one of these situations where I really want Mindy Kaling to succeed because she’s funny and talented, so I would force myself to watch her show even if it was painfully unfunny and offensively trying too hard. But you’re actually funny! The writing is quite good and Chris Messina is hot and Mindy is decidedly not Kelly Kapoor, and Kaling has the acting chops to carry a show. But please figure out what to do with Gwen.

-My friends who have babies, for letting me play with your babies when they are cute and giggling and then letting me pass them back to you when they start to cry or smell bad. It has not helped me resolve my “do I even want babies ever?” confusion, but it has made me perfectly content with my no babies up to this point decision making. Your children are adorable and I love spending time with them (and you!), but I’m glad that the only things I’m responsible for keeping alive are a few houseplants, a well-behaved dog and fairly self-sustaining cat. Right now I get all the fun of being around adorable kids and none of the “what if my child grows up to become a serial killer?” worry. That’s a worry parents have, right? What I’m saying is, your babies are cute and I don’t think any of them will grow up to be cannibals or Fox News contributors, BUT YOU NEVER KNOW! And this is why I’m not sure about the whole kids thing…

Wild, by Cheryl Strayed. You were a really good book and I’m thankful that I read you this year.

-Decent running weather. I feel like we had a lot of this in Baltimore this year. Or maybe I just managed to force myself out the door in spite of it all more often. Either way, it was a good running year and I’m thankful for all the stress reduction and body confidence that this activity has provided me.

-The Southwest companion pass that my husband got because he has to fly so often for work that Southwest was like, damn man, all right, well at least take along someone you like. That someone was me! I got to go on a lot of trips this year and see places that I never would have seen without that free traveling pass. Finally all those nights I’ve spent alone in bed while Dan was off in Bumble-Wherever, USA have paid off. And now they are adding a flight to Puerto Rico, so if anyone out there wants to build a sports complex down that way so that we have an excuse for another vacation, I will totally add you to this list next year.

-I should probably also thank my husband, just in general. He’s been really supportive and compassionate, and he grew an awesome beard that I find surprisingly hot.

-My family and friends, and basically all of the people in my life who make me laugh and put up with my bullshit and bother to read this blog on the regular and might think to themselves, even if it is just for a minute, “I hope Claire is having a nice Thanksgiving.” Thank you for thinking of me, and being there for me and for being interested in my ridiculous stories and my overly-expressive daily rehashing and all of the other nonsense of my life. Thanks for listening when I complain about bullshit that makes me seem entitled and privileged and maybe even a little bit spoiled because really, who cares if my neighbors are loud at night, or if those damn kids on the street hit the front of my house with a ball enough times that it finally knocked the numbers off and now it looks like we just live at 1? These are petty concerns and silly frustrations, but really most of life is just silly frustrations and the great thing is that sometimes you’re lucky enough to find people who will listen to your complaints and respond with things like, “yeah, stupid kids.” Stupid kids, indeed. Get off my lawn.

-Thanks to the Detroit Tigers for winning the World Ser– oh no, wait. Scratch that.

-But there’s always next year. There’s always tomorrow. And for that, I am very thankful.

Charlottesville: Quick Thoughts On A Short Trip

I took my husband on a weekend trip to Charlottesville, VA for his birthday because it’s been a crazy year and he’s been super supportive and deserved a special celebration. We were in and out in a flash, only staying two days, but seeing as how the goal of this trip was just to relax and enjoy ourselves and we had nothing major planned and no grand expectations, two days was plenty of time to get a feel for the Cavaliers’ home town and I have a few quick reflections to share.

1. There is an area of Charlottesville that sits between the campus and the historic downtown. If you follow University Ave toward downtown, you pass through Starr Hill, otherwise known as my favorite part of the city. It’s this adorable little piece of Main St. (or still Univ. Ave, I’m not sure) that is sprinkled with restaurants and boutiques and all manner of eating and shopping venues that are housed in what are clearly converted auto repair shops. It is such a fantastic repurposing of existing structures and gives the neighborhood a wonderful charm.

2. So many bookstores. Having grown up in a college town where, for at least a while there, both large and small bookstores started disappearing, it warmed my heart to see a place where bookshops were practically around every corner. There were tiny places, well worn places with piles of used books, fancy little shops with vintage books, and my favorite, from the Starr Hill neighborhood, a fine example of the converted auto shop.

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3. Speaking of Starr Hill, if you ever visit Charlottesville, definitely check out Starr Hill Brewery. It’s located just outside the city in Crozet and they have super good beer and the tasting was cheap and the staff was incredibly nice. We didn’t get to do a tour, but the tasting room area is right there in the middle of the brewery so you can see how it gets bottled and packaged and all that jazz while you sit an enjoy a pint.

4. And also check out South Street Brewery. Whereas Starr Hill is a straight up brewery, South Street is a brew pub. They also had some really impressive beers and hard cider. Sit at the bar in front of the wood burning fireplace. The food was good, the decor is all dark wood and soft lighting. Go. It was great.

5. They also apparently have wood burning fires in some of the student housing on UVA’s campus. We wandered around the main quad and all of the student rooms that surround the quad had piles of firewood stacked outside their doors and we saw one kid carrying a stack of wood into his room. This is both incredibly awesome and an absolutely terrible idea. I love it.

6. Just outside of the city limit in Charlottesville North where our hotel was, there is a shopping center that just opened. Like, this thing was apparently brand new at the start of November. Right now it has an operational 14-screen movie theater/IMAX, a Pier 1 and a Trader Joe’s. That’s it. Eventually it is going to be a massive complex with a ton of shops and restaurants, but right now, those are the only three things that are open to the public. I have never in my life seen a place as crowded as this was pretty much 24 hours a day. Every time we drove past this complex the parking lot was absolutely packed with cars. On Friday night, we went to the movie theater there to see Skyfall and it was almost impossible to find a parking space. There’s tons of parking and all of it was occupied. It was baffling how an area with so little stuff could attract so many people. Also, there were college students walking around marveling at how amazing the whole thing was. “This is going to be like Heaven,” we heard one girl say, and then we wept for our collective humanity.

7. So much khaki. And loafers. It’s like the official uniform of Charlottesville.

8. The further I move beyond my college years, the harder it gets for me to identify people’s ages. I’m pretty sure every student at UVA is actually 16. No one looks a day over 18 for sure and based solely on appearances, I have to assume that we were the only two people in the one campus bar that we went to who were actually of legal drinking age. I refuse to believe that at 5 and half years removed from college, I look that much older than all of the students. Why cruel world? Why?

Lies I Regularly Tell and What I Really Mean

-“That sounds great, but I can’t really afford it right now.”

That sounds boring and I’d rather spend my money on wine.

-“I’d love to, but I already have other plans.”

I’m going to sit on the couch in my underwear and watch Seinfeld reruns.

-“I’d love to, but I already have other plans.”

I hate your boyfriend.

-“Oh man, I hear ya.”

I completely zoned out while you were talking. What’s going on?

-“You know, it’s been a long time since I read/saw/heard it.”

I never read/saw/heard this. Can we please stop talking about it so I don’t feel like such an idiot?

-“I’ve been battling a cold for like the last week or so.”

I’ve been super depressed and did not want to see or talk to another living soul, but for some reason that still isn’t considered a legitimate excuse to be an antisocial hermit.

-“Sure, that sounds like fun.”

Sure, I’ll force myself to be social just this once.

-“Ha. Yeah, that show has some funny moments.”

You have a terrible sense of humor.

-“I’m fine with just water, thanks.”

Why can’t wine be free?

Things I’ve Learned In The Process Of Becoming Adultish

  • Boxed brownies are the best brownies. Sometimes people are like, “oh my gosh, I make the best brownies,” and I’m all, “yeah, so I do. They come from powder and I just add a couple of eggs and some canola oil.”
  • It’s important to let things go. Regret should be a short-lived emotion. Maybe 5, 10, however many years ago you did some stuff that you’re not too proud of. Make your apologies, come to terms with who you were and then let those memories fade away. You’re going to do plenty of bad, stupid shit in the future that you can beat yourself up about. There’s no use in dragging the past along with you.
  • That said, some grudges are worth holding on to. There’s a person from my middle school years that to this day I hate with every single fiber of my being. My hatred for her knows nothing about the constraints of time, or place, or maturation. That continued hatred, though perhaps childish, has kept me from investing in relationships that would have led to nothing but frustration and strife. It has taught me how to stand up for myself and my interests, how to put my life and my emotions first. It forever reminds me that some people are just crappy people who simply are not worth my time and energy.
  • And speaking of friendship and letting go, you don’t have to be friends with people forever. It’s okay to move on, to stop calling and stop reaching out. Just because you were seriously close friends with someone growing up, or because you were practically joined at the hip during college, doesn’t mean that you’re going to be friends forever and that’s okay. Sometimes friendships disappear gradually. Sometimes you have to push them away for reasons of your own. It can be sad, but it’s natural. If a friendship requires significantly more effort than the level of enjoyment it provides, stop forcing it to last. You’ll meet other friends. You’ll find new people who are better for this moment in your life. If those old friendships are supposed to be a part of your life, you’ll return to them someday. Friendships come and go throughout your life and you can’t expect to get everything from just one person. There is no best. There is no need to rank your relationships.
  • Everyone cares way more about their own lives than they could ever possibly care about yours. People are going to get big, important jobs that force them to work long hours. People’s relationships are going to get more serious, maybe they’ll even get married and they’ll have less interest in going out each week and drinking away their misery. Some people are going to have babies and you’ll only see them from time to time. That’s life. You have to have enough stuff that you care about and are interested in that you don’t have to spend your time resenting others for caring more about their own stuff than about you. They aren’t here to care about you. They’re here to live their own lives.
  • It is pretty much inevitable that if you go to a grocery store where the cashier bags your items for you, the last two items left for bagging will be something like a loaf of soft bread and a giant butternut squash. Bag your own groceries whenever possible.
  • If something genuinely upsets or offends someone then it’s not something you should joke about. Not every opportunity for a joke needs to be taken and no joke is worth causing someone else pain. If you didn’t know that what you said would be upsetting, just apologize and try to be more considerate in the future. Don’t hide behind the “you’re too sensitive” defense.
  • Like the things you like and don’t be ashamed of it. I’m so tired of people apologizing for or being embarrassed by the things that they enjoy. We don’t all have to have the same tastes and it doesn’t matter if I think something you love is basically the stupidest fucking thing in the world. What the hell do I know? I like plenty of stupid stuff. Unless what you love is like killing small animals, or rubbing up against women on public transit. I have the right to call you out on that kind of stuff. That’s not guilty pleasure stuff, that’s guilty in a court of law stuff.
  • If you get sick every time you drink tequila, you should just stop drinking tequila.
  • Paul Simon’s, Graceland, is the greatest feel good music in the history of everything. Seriously, I dare you to put that album on and feel bad about life. Even if you don’t like Paul Simon, you’ll still end up like, you know what, yeah, I will call you Al.
  • Nobody can make you do things you don’t want to do. I mean, obviously they can, but they shouldn’t, so don’t let them. Peer pressure is for children and chumps. It’s one thing to be mostly indifferent and then end up getting sucked into something that turns out to be a no fun waste of time, or worse, a flat out terrible situation, but if you know it’s something you want no part of then don’t let people convince you otherwise. It’s okay to say no. My point is, I don’t care how exhilarating and once-in-a-lifetime it might be, I’m not throwing myself out of an airplane unless that bitch is going down anyway and jumping is my only chance of survival.
  • DO NOT WORRY ABOUT BEING COOL. Adults who actually believe they are cool are really just douchebags.
  • Throw away your bathroom scale, or at least avoid stepping on it whenever possible. That thing is not your friend.
  • All that math you struggled to understand? You really rarely use it. Why do teachers keep telling this lie? That doesn’t mean it’s not worth learning. Just don’t stress yourself out by the claim that “you’ll need this someday.” You won’t.
  • Just be yourself. Some people are not going to like you, but whatever, those people are assholes anyway. Sometimes you’re going to embarrass yourself, but you’ll get over it and people will move on. Sometimes you’re going to walk into a room and everyone will get quiet and you’ll have flashbacks to high school and think people were talking about you, but odds are they were talking about themselves and would just prefer that you not hear. People really spend most of their time talking about themselves.
  • If you want to watch Dirty Dancing three times in the same week, go right ahead. It’s your life and no one can stop you.
  • There is almost nothing in this world that doesn’t taste better with sea salt on it.
  • When someone says, “it’s going to be awesome,” you can be pretty sure that it is not going to be awesome. You should probably just stay home and sit on the couch in your pjs, watch some TV, drink wine and eat an entire batch of boxed brownies. It doesn’t get any better than that. Trust me.