Tag Archives: happy

Buongiorno Milano!

Standard

Shopping Center

Milan’s cobblestone streets are flooded with Italian women wrapped tightly in fur coats and men in designer jeans and studded belts. Nodding heads on subway cars look more like Ralph Lauren billboards than tired passengers heading home from a day of work. This city has a pulse and it beats rapidly, deeply through the night and early into the morning. Where I can pass as a local in some places, Italy knows better. My pale skin, pale hair and blue eyes cause long stares and incoherent words under soft breath. Men whistle as they pass by, staring too long with eager lust in their eyes. But even the greatest offense sounds beautiful when it is muttered in Italian.

This language shakes and breathes and dives in and out and up and down. Every word sounds like a call to action, a battle cry, a plea to join a cause. And the people lift their arms high, and put their hands close to your face and speak with a passion I’ve not experienced in my most heated moments. Hymns sung to Beethoven’s Fifth in an intense and frightening way to an ear that knows no better. The metro hums with chatter and booming laughter and a sense of famiglia encapsulates the city and all of the people inside it.

Duomo di Milano

Duomo di Milano

We visit the Duomo, a beautiful, skyscraping cathedral, if there ever was such a thing. Never have I seen so much art in one place. Every inch is ornate and ironic in the most beautiful way: the walls, covered in sculptures up to the ceilings, which you can barely see with human eyes; stained glass windows stretch beyond my grip of sight; the floor, a maze of complicated patterns and colors; paintings hang, two-up all the way down the church on either side. We try to make sense of everything our body is trying to absorb, but we fail and become overwhelmed, groggy from the dim lights and evaporating holy water. We leave the church, letting ourselves get lost, wandering narrow streets; every turn a new discovery, a new way to get lost again and again. We are asked for change, harassed by people on the streets collecting money for ‘Africa’ or to feed their hungry babies. We push past, pretending not to understand, and stop at a tobacco shop to enjoy a freshly rolled cigarette on a cold patio, surrounded by like-minded  locals.

And on a Thursday night, we walk into a small bar, where we are greeted by a group of men, laughing and eating cichete and drinking the local birra. Ciao! Ciao! Ciao!! echoes around us in a room with walls covered in old newspapers, slot machines lining the back perimeter. We swiftly and quietly order “due birre” from the bar and take our place at a small table in the corner. We quickly learn that’s not how Italians make friends. We are stoned to death with questions, and brought endless plates of formaggio and freshly sliced prosciutto,  deviled eggs, cheeses, salami, bread and  chips and dips. Every time we finish one plate, another one comes to replace it. Arthur works on a computer in the corner, ridden with unnecessary programs and a long history of user error. He tries to navigate Windows in Italian, and the men joke, calling him Bill Gates, gesturing to his over-sized head. They string together sentences in Italian and broken English, furrowing their brows when we don’t understand, then burning paper and building charades with toothpicks to help us along. They laugh because we don’t understand much; Armando, who knows the most English translates what he cans, and makes inappropriate gestures to either party in between his translations. The men tease each other with gay jokes and pepper their sentences with ‘fuck’ as often as possible. They apologize because I’m a girl, and immediately joke that they will take me home with them; their wives will forgive them tomorrow, they say.

IMG_0786Then a free round of beers come before the bar closes, but we stay inside, laughing and eating, filling the room with the sweet, choking smell of competing tobaccos. The owner pulls out his camera, points to his wall of photos, and we spend the next 15 minutes posing for pictures we’ll never see. We part ways, but not before receiving an invitation for the next night, which we know we will accept. And we will come back the next night, but it won’t be quite the same. These fleeting moments are never able to be repeated, and so we cherish them even more.

Day 58: The Beatles had it Wrong

Standard

One of the hardest lessons I’ve had to learn in life is that you need a little more than just love sometimes. It’s so nice to think that if you care about someone and they care back, everything will work out okay in the end.

What a convenient, little story book lie.

It seems so many relationships are crumbling around me lately, and it’s easy to see that my friends are better off for it, but living in that moment, with that pain, is much different when it’s happening to you. We jump back into the arms of people we know aren’t right for us because we get scared. We get lonely… If only we could see our own relationships with the clarity that our friends do.

So the love is definitely the most important part of a relationship, whatever the context. But if both parties aren’t willing to make some sacrifices, to choke on their pride, to devote the time that’s needed to make the other person happy, than the love can’t survive, and eventually, it will die.

And that’s the best part. Our hearts self-preserve, let us heal, and move us on. We develop antibodies toward a person who makes us unhealthy, and the things that used to make our hearts crumble eventually just become ‘things.’ As much as it may hurt, it will hurt less eventually. As much as you think you may regret letting go because “if only a few things would change it would be perfect”, you won’t. Because it never will change.

It’s so much easier than we make it out to be. When it comes down to it, a person who wants to be with you will. A person who loves you will never make you feel small. You will curl up in each other’s arms and you will feel your hearts beating together, feel protected. You will have outrageously wonderful sex that you didn’t even know existed. You won’t have to worry why he hasn’t called, or frantically search for clues as to what you did wrong. He will send you flowers if flowers make you happy, or she’ll take you to Comic-con if that’s your ecstasy. The right person will go the extra mile with you, for you. They will let you cry when you need to cry, and won’t bring it up or laugh about it to their friends later. There will be respect and patience and a stronger desire to win your heart than win an argument.

I only know it because I’ve seen it, but I believe it. So don’t strive for a tragic sort of Romeo and Juliet love. Find a love that’s more easy than hard, more smiling than tears, more excitement than panic. It’s out there. You owe it to yourself to look around bit.

Day 50: Care Bear

Standard

Today, I’m thankful for one of my best friends on the planet, Ms. Carrie Stribling. I could have easily written this post last week, while I was in Phoenix and staying with her and Jake. We had a great time entertaining ourselves all week, the same way we have since we were in grade school. But, after talking to her until late last night because I was upset, and continuing our conversation again throughout the day today (thanks to Voxer… you’ll get a post soon too my little voice-activated friend) I realized how valuable a friendship is that you don’t have to be physically around for.

So, let me take a minute and tell you why she’s so great. First. She works really hard. She not only works a full time job, but she also runs her own photography business, and she’s actually really good at taking pictures. I’m not saying that in an obligatory ‘she’s my friend so I have of’ sort of way. When I first saw her work I was shocked. Not because I didn’t think she was capable, but because I didn’t realize we were at a place in our lives where we  were able to be really good at something. She’s creative not just in her job, but in the rest of her life as well. She’s planning an adorable wedding, she can draw, she blogs, photographs, works for a design company… she has a vision and she makes it work. She took a risk to do the thing that she loved, even though a lot of people told her that it wasn’t a stable form of work. She started out slow, but now she has a steady stream of work, and her skills continue to grow with every shoot. You can see for yourself here.

So there’s that. The hard work, integrity thing that makes you say, “wow, that person really gives a shit about their life.” I can’t help but admire that in a person.

Second. It’s who she is as a person. It’s only fitting her “pet name” in high school was Care Bear. (Sorry, “nickname” wasn’t quite the right word there). Carrie doesn’t only give a shit about her life, but she gives a shit about other people’s too. We were joking tonight that we will always be the people that cling onto the leg of a person trying to run from us, the way a toddler does when it wants to be picked up. Carrie will always be the apologizer, even if she don’t completely understand the reason for it. Not to be insincere when apologizing, but to be completely dedicated to a friend and a relationship. And she always is. She notices when people around her are off, if only just a little. She’ll follow you to the bathroom to hold your hand when no one else even noticed you were crying. And she doesn’t tell you everything will be okay because she knows you know that. She just lets you be sad, and then she hugs you and tells you she loves you.

And I’ll end with one more – although I could go on for the remaining 90 days.

I love how much she’s able to love. I can honestly say she knows the darkest, most character-degrading deeds I’ve committed, and she loves me anyway. She’s had a hard time telling me things in the past, but she trusted enough to let me in so that I know her twisted, hard-to-tell stories too. And then there’s Jake. Soon to be husband, always to be a character. They just fit together. He’s thrust her into change (I know he’d appreciate my word choice there) and she’s made him an honest man. They’ve been through it, but she loves him so unconditionally. Little Ms. Life-Plan-to-be-Married-and-have-Babies-by-25 put in almost nine solid years and her blue print is with the engineers. Pretty soon she’ll have 14 kids and that many more to love.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

So, at risk of sounding like a complete lesbian, I just want to express gratitude for one of my very best friends, and part of my family. When I was out dress shopping with Carrie and her mom last week, her mom said that she thinks we all got to be so close because we all had brothers and no sisters. I think that may have something to do with it.

We found our own sisters in the world.

Who would have guessed our taste would have been so spot-on as third-graders. I love you Carebear. I’m so excited to see where you let life take you.

Day 45: Total Eclipse of my Heart

Standard

Today, one of my best friend’s told me I get “sloppy”.  And ya know what? Damn right I do.

I am 24 years old and my life is at least a quarter of the way over. I’m not running for Congress or marrying a Duke of whatever so who cares what people think? Real friends know me and love me anyway. I’m worried about having fun while I know what the word means. If that makes me sloppy, so be it. Life’s too short to wear a tie to bed.

Tonight, I sang karaoke with a very hoarse, manly voice. Total Eclipse of the Heart? Oh yes we did. Thanks for singing backup John. We KILLED IT. And don’t forget, you owe me a child before I hit menopause. You can have one too if you want.

 I leave for home tomorrow and I’ve had such a great trip. Don’t get me wrong, there were some interesting moments. Some yelling, some confusion and a lot of awkward silence. But when it’s all said and done, I’ve got really amazing people here who really know who I am. Sure, we will get into fights. We will dig our claws in and twist. We will make the wrong decision and hurt each other. But even that is beautiful in its own right – to be able to screw up and say irrational things and be forgiven.

At the end of the day, there’s mostly laughter. The tears are mostly happy. There’s always a shoulder to cry on, a hand that will hold yours. There’s another round of drinks at the bar, another song we know all the words to. Where every other sentence is an inside joke. Where you can see an expression out of the corner of your eye and know what your best friend is thinking. We sing junior high hymns at Applebee’s and talk our way into happy hour prices after happy hour. We take pictures until our cameras die. We double over laughing. We sample each other’s cocktails.
 

Arizona has a special little corner in my heart. It’s beautiful to know that regardless of where I end up, I can always come home.

 

Day 44: Jack Ass of all Trades

Standard

My little brother always reminds me that a Jack of all trades is an expert of none. I like to think that I’m pretty darn good with words, with people, with getting a message across when I need to. I won’t say I’m always good with any of those things, but when I make up my mind to be particularly social, I make new friends; when I’m trying to get something for nothing, become a damn good sales person; when I need to whip out a 20 page paper in a few hours, I turn into quite the Wordsworth. So I may not be an expert, but I’m good enough to get by, better than most. I don’t think even Einstein would call himself an expert – the more you learn the less you know – you know the cliché I’m referencing.

So I’ve got the things I’m “good at,” if only in my own head. But I’m also okay at a lot of things. I can look at a problem and figure it out pretty quickly. I can work through numbers (calculus aside), I can draw okay, my handwriting is decent, I can cook and clean and change the oil in my car. So, expert or not, I’m glad that I’m okay at a lot of things. I’m glad that when people need a second opinion, they value mine; when they need someone to confide in, they call me; when they need someone to draw an outline for painting pottery, they give me the marker. Being okay isn’t all that bad.

Day 35: Soulsong: Music that Moves Us

Standard

Music has the power to transcend a murky soul or damn it further into submission. It takes us to a place where heartache heals, love prevails, passion ignites – where pain has a repeat button, and snotty tears break a shaking voice. And it’s so intimate in that way. We wallow with our favorite singer/songwriter when we need someone to understand that we haven’t moved on yet, but are too afraid to say it out loud, to admit to ourselves. We scream the lyrics to an empty room, wishing we had the courage to say those words aloud to someone… wishing those words were our own. We bob our heads at our steering wheels. We turn the volume up when we get ready on a Friday night, soaking in the energy of every pop!beat!ye-ah! We sing happily and freely with our friends at the bar, words uniting us, subtle reminders how similar we are. We cha cha slide, we macarena, we show how low we can go.

We associate songs to our experiences; those cries of pain to our own, or a distant joy that fuels us. We relate them to people; when we are in love, when we stop loving. They make us sick to our stomach – a reminder of a life you thought was yours, now mocking. And even though we shouldn’t listen to those songs – the ones that make us remember a time that now seems a million miles away – sometimes we do. And sometimes our hearts are broken all over again for it. But we are able to find another, and speak through a voice that’s not our own. We find strength through a streaming courage.

__________________________________________________________________________

Every time I hear the Spin Doctors I am reminded of driving to my brother’s t-ball practice in my mom’s minivan. Whenever my Format album is playing, I am transported to my 16-year-old self, the back seat of an old Civic, windows down, a car full of giggling girls. Lynyrd Skynyrd’s We Ain’t Much Different will remind me of my father until the end of time. I Want it that Way was my first couple-skate song in the fifth grade. I belted Lady Gaga’s Speechless to my steering wheel in a mellow dramatic frenzy for weeks on end when stitching up my heart. It still gives me the same feeling of empowerment, even more perhaps, now that I’m on the other side.

And, I know it almost seems too obvious, but Modest Mouse puts a smile on my face on the worst of days with “Float On.”

I’ve had Fun.’s Aim and Ignite album in my car for weeks (yes I’m still living in the age of CDs…) and every time I hear The Gambler, nearly without fail, I start sobbing uncontrollably. I’m not sure why- it’s not intended to be sad, nor do I feel sad when listening to it. It’s a love song. A life-long, old on the porch, sort of love song about falling in deep and having babies and growing old. There is something so beautiful about it to me that I just can’t hold back. I don’t imagine anyone else could really feel the same way toward it. And, that’s the beautiful thing about the music. It’s one of my soulsongs.

What are some of yours?

I swear when I grow up, I won’t just buy you a rose.
I will buy the flower shop, and you will never be lonely.
Even if the sun stops waking up over the fields
I will not leave, I will not leave ’till it’s our time.
So just take my hand, you know that I will never leave your side.

Day 27: Sexy Monday

Standard

A lot of us attribute the start of our week to being ill. You just begin to settle into the joy of the weekend, and before you know it, you are saying goodbye to Sunday Funday and hello to Manic Monday. You hit snooze a few too many times, put your makeup on during your drive to work, and spend the day with your office door closed, hoping no one notices that you are wearing two different shoes. Mondays are all work and no play… sort of like Tuesday, only further from Friday.

But, I’m here to tell you – there is another way.

Mondays should be sexy. It’s not hard to have a sexy Monday (zing!) you just have to know how to make it happen. So here are my tips and tricks for taking the mania out of Monday, and adding a little bit of fun to not just get your week going, but rip-roaring.

A sexy Monday starts on Sunday. Lay out your clothes before going to bed Sunday night. Not only will you save yourself a few extra minutes in the morning, but if the outfit is already there, you’re less likely to trade the sexy pencil skirt for your go-to black slacks and oversized sweater. Paint your nails something other than nail-color. If you can’t have colored nails at work, go south to your toes. Even if they aren’t showing, you know they’re down there. Be … dare I say it? Feisty! My favorite shade of fesity is OPI’s Lincoln Park After Dark.

Set your alarm. Pick a fun ringtone to wake up to. “Chime” and “Ring” may not be the best way for you to start the day. Make it something that resonates with you. My personal favorite is John Legend’s “Good Morning”. The perfect combination of soft and sultry for 6 a.m.

Wake up. Give yourself an extra 20 minutes. Yes, I know, what you’re thinking … wake up earlier – this girl’s clearly a crazy. But seriously, give it a try. A few extra minutes in the morning takes away the craziness of rushing around and lets you enjoy what you are doing without obsessing over the clock.

Get clean. If you’re a morning ‘showerer,’ try some fun scented body wash, or use facial cleanser on your body for an added thrill. I smear the old-school Noxema in a jar on my face and shoulders in the shower for a refreshing tingle.

This is when I go in my room and shut the door. Lock it, maybe. I pull up Pandora and listen to something with a beat. “Gotye” radio has been a recent favorite, and “Sex on Fire” radio never disappoints. Put on your favorite brand of lotion, and slip on the type underwear you’d like to get caught in. Then, just dance for a minute. Yeah, I know how that sounds, and trust me – it looks ridiculous. But there is something extremely therapeutic about dancing around in your underwear. You don’t have to pop drop and lock it if it’s not your style, but just check yourself out and notice the good parts. Be ridiculous. It feels good.

Put on your sexy outfit with sexy shoes, over your sexy underwear, and style your sexy hair (mine is lose, unkept waves) even if you don’t have meetings today. You deserve the best version of yourself even more than anyone else you encounter. Look good because it makes you feel good – whether that’s a little black dress or a pair of sweats doesn’t matter. Dress in what makes you feel best.

Have your favorite thing for breakfast. Hey, look. You’ve even got time to whip up an omelet! Aren’t you glad you woke up early?

Pop a pill. I’m a firm believer in the power of vitamins. A couple of energy boosting favorites are Magnesium and B12. I love biotin too – makes your nails and hair super strong (for the long haul sexy Monday.) Always consult your doctor, of course.

Listen to what you love. Enjoy your favorite album in the car or at work if you’re able. Don’t get trapped in slow mopey songs. If you have an ‘F you’ attitude today, embrace it! Ceelo Greens “Forget You” and “I am not a Robot” by Marina and the Diamonds are some of my favorites.

Say hello. Yes, people in the office may think you’re losing it, but talk to them. Ask your coworkers how their weekends were, share your stories, smile about it. Fake it till you make it if you have to.

Make a list.  The best way to feel good about what you accomplish for the day is to keep track of it. Write a list and don’t become overwelmed by the work-week. All you’ve got to worry about is today. And if that list doesn’t get checked off by tomorrow, hey guess what, you’ve already got part of tomorrow’s list done! Now you’re ahead of schedule!

Treat yourself to yummy goodness. Put your favorite creamer in your morning cup of coffee. For lunch, I know it’s easy to take leftovers, but consider going out with a friend or coworker instead. If you do bring leftovers, enjoy your lunch somewhere other than at your desk. Take the time you are permitted for your lunch. The work will be there tomorrow.

Accessorize your water. I’m an avid water drinker – staying hydrated is crucial to good health – so when I get tired of drinking wet air, I throw some diced fruit into my glass. A couple strawberries or slices of nectarine (or whatever you love) will flavor your water all day. Just as healthy, but much more sexy.

Happy Hour. Consider making Monday your happy hour day. Start your week off with a few friends and cheap drinks. Celebrate the fact that you made it through the work day!

Fit Hour. If you forego cocktails and finger foods, spend some time in the evening being physical. Whether that means walking the dog, doing yoga in the park, or hitting the gym, do the thing you like best. Don’t let the little tired voice in your head convince you that it’s okay to sit on the couch, watching reruns of American Idol. Exercising releases endorphins for a short-term natural high, and the long-term physical benefits, well, I’m sure you’ve seen enough episodes of Dr. Oz to know what I’m talking about.

Take some YOU time. As the night dwindles down, take some time to hang out with yourself. Whether it’s a bubble bath, a date with a good book or a playlist of YouTube videos, just spend some time doing something you enjoy. After all, you are really good company. Plus, you’ve got some wild dance moves.

Lights out. As you lay in bed, think about something that happened during your day that you enjoyed – something that you are thankful for. Then, come up with another. If negative thoughts try to squeeze inside your head, visualize yourself karate kicking them out. Focus on slowing your breathing and roll into sleep.

Hope you enjoyed your Sexy Monday. Now, the only unfortunate part is that you have to wait an entire week for another! (Feel free to let Tuesday in on the secret too.)