january observations

So last week I mentioned how I always want to do an end of the year recap, but I never seem to make time for it in January. I’m going to try to work around that for 2012 and better prepare myself. I’ve decided to end each month by writing a post which recaps the highlights (and pitfalls) that happened during the month. That way, at the end of 2012, my year will already be summed up for me.

January Highlights:

  • Mr. O and I did the Polar Bear Plunge. It was my second time and his first.
  • I was chosen by my fellow classmates to be the graduation speaker in July!
  • Officially living with Mr. O
  • Finding out that Kim Dana Kupperman would be my thesis semester mentor!
  • Mr. O and I celebrated our anniversary
  • Finding out another super duper close friend is having a baby!

Stinky January Moments:

  • I got sick right after I came back from school. Which means that I needed to take more time off of work after just being away for ten days.
  • One of my very close friends who is pregnant fell at work and needed to be admitted to the hospital for a few days. Now she is on home rest for the rest of her pregnancy. But, things seem to be okay. She is still having a lot of issues, but the longer the baby stays inside, the better things will be. Stay in, baby. It is cold out here!
  • When we moved, it was the day after a huge snowstorm, and Mr. O’s old landlord didn’t shovel the walks or the driveways. Not fun.
  • Starting my thesis semester. Boo. Now, I could have mentioned this in the highlight section, as it is exciting to even be in my final semester of graduate school, but I chose to put it in the stinky section for a few reasons. 1)It means I’m going to have to work my ass off this semester. I’m lazy. 2) It means that I am going to graduate, and as cool as it will be to have MFA, I’m going to desperately miss my writing program.
  • A person I care about found out that both her husband and sibling are very sick. I need my blogging friends to rally their positive, healing thoughts together to send good energy their way.

Other Mentionable Moments:

  • My handsome nephew turned four years old.
  • His mother- my sister-in-law- also had a birthday.
  • My mentor from last semester celebrated another year of awesomeness as well. Happy bday PK!
  • I finished my final residency in graduate school. Yes, I still have a residency in July to attend, but it will be a bit different since it will be my graduation residency. In July I’ll have to teach a seminar, give a reading of my work and graduate! It was an interesting residency since the septic broke on the island where we stay. But they were kind enough to put us up in hotels off island, so I can’t complain.

I’m looking forward to____ in February:

  • LASIK eye surgery! I won’t lie; I’m quite nervous about this one.
  • Valentine’s Day. Last year Mr. O and I had a perfect VDay. This year Wolverine will be joining us, so I’m sure it’s going to be absolutely epic.
  • Kicking ass with the new writing I need to do this semester.
  • A baby shower for one of my close friends
  • A handful of birthdays for people I love a whole lot.

new around this neck of the woods?

Bonjour!

Have you recently found your way over here from Erin or Ashley’s blogs? If so, welcome! Make yourself at home. I bet you’re wondering, “Who is this Erin character?” Now, that is a good question. The easiest way to get a brief overview of who I am is to check out the “About the Girl” tab at the top of this page (which really does need to be updated, sigh). However, I’ve provided a short list below because I like to make things nice and simple for you.

  • I’m afraid of bees. However, alligators are my favorite animals.
  • I am a graduate student studying creative nonfiction and I do a lot of whining about how I procrastinate too much. (I also don’t have good grammar on this blog, beware!)
  • Besides my day job, I have a part-time gig as a relief worker for adults with mental illnesses, and I also coordinate and plan events such as weddings and concerts. (I’m available for hire! Wink Wink)
  • If I told you that I was a great cook then I’d be lying to you, and I really am an honest person. I can however tell you that I want to be a good cook one day. My boyfriend makes fantastic meals; he’s teaching me what he knows, and the rest we plan on learning together. I’ve been updating this blog with all the cooking I’ve been doing. I cook every single week. Occasionally I’ve been recooking some previously attempted meals, but I like to try new things best.
  • I think everyone really should have a lucky number and a favorite color.
  • I also really want to know people’s middle names. I try to imagine what the middle names might be if people don’t tell me.
  • If it wasn’t for 20 Something Bloggers, I don’t know if I would have continued to blog since I first started in 2008. I also owe a lot of my blogging gratitude to my 101 in 1001 goals list and NaBloPoMo and NaNoWriMo and Grace in Small Things as well.
  • I love everything about home improvement. However, I still do not own my own home. Still, I fantasize about home design projects and knocking down walls and painting and everything that could have to do with houses. Mr. O and I are trying to buy a house right now,  but the process isn’t as glamorous as it may seem.
  • I love to travel. Anywhere.

And here are some of the key players on this blog:

  • Mr. O: The most wonderful man in the world (at least in my eyes). As corny as it may sound, Mr. O is my boyfriend and my best friend. I tend to profess my love for him on here.  I’m apologizing for that ahead of time.
  • Wolverine: The most wonderful boy in the world. Wolverine is Mr. O’s son, and he truly makes every single one of my days better by just being in it. I try not to write too much about him on the blog, but I occasionally profess my love for him as well.
  • Fairfield University MFA Program: I write a LOT about my grad school experiences, and on top of that, you have the chance to get to know some of my classmates, like Phil and AJ and Reuben (who was a guest blogger twice!) and Brooke and Ioanna.
  • Fenway: My Chihuahua/Terrier mix. She’s a rescue dog I adopted while living in Virginia. She definitely keeps me on my toes.

Oh…and these things happen often around these parts.

  • The Defining Moments Guest Series: So far Amanda, AJ, Phil, Brooke, Reuben, Heidi ,Kat, Micaela, Justin, Michaela (with an ‘H’), Holly and Ioanna have all posted about moments of reinvention or inspiration. This series has been a big hit for my readers, and I am always looking for more people to write a guest blog on this topic. You don’t have to be a regular blogger to do this. Kat wasn’t a blogger when she first wrote her post for me… now she has a Tumblr. Micaela still isn’t a blogger, but enjoyed the experience.
  • My Lessons- The Thoughts on Love Series: Now, I’m not an expert, but I’ve been thinking a lot about love this year…what it takes to be in a relationship, choices people make, how other people can affect your relationships, etc. I started this series to share my observations, thoughts and feelings.

So… That’s all folks! I’d love it if you introduced yourself, because I love to check out new blogs. Have an amazing day!

what really is normal?

Apparently, after a successful NaBloPoMo, one doesn’t post for two weeks. Or maybe that is just me…

I realized this morning that I spend so much of my time wondering what “normal” is. Unfortunately, this is something I have done my entire life. I guess when I get down to it, it’s because I’m a very emotional, sensitive person and I feel things very deeply. So a lot of the time, I think to myself, Is feeling like this normal? Do other people feel this way, or is it just me?

My life is good: My life is filled with extreme love and joy. But like I said, I feel things very strongly. This is great when I feel Mr. O’s love or if I’m playing with Wolverine or spending time with my friends. This isn’t so great when I feel tension between myself and someone else or work/school gets stressful or when I’m sorting through my grandmother’s belongings, since she now lives in a nursing home. Times like this I really feel the tension or the sadness.

And I guess the question I’m asking is, when it comes to emotions, what is normal? Do I just sit an experience all these emotions, or do I do something? And what is there to do?

I watched The Green Mile last night and loved the movie. I don’t want to spoil it for anyone if you’ve never watched it, so let’s just say that at some point someone in the movie was 108 years old and mentioned how they’ve outlived all the people in their life. It got me thinking about my memere (grandmother).

In three weeks my memere will be 101 years old. Up until about 4 months ago, she lived in her own apartment with minor assistance. But at that point, my memere needed a great amount of assistance, and the only option was a nursing home. I like the place she is in. It is small, clean, and her roommate is quite funny. But the whole situation can get a little overwhelming at times. Like now, when I’m cleaning out her apartment with my father. Sorting through her stuff- deciding what is worthy of being kept, who will get what, what do toss and what to donate (does anyone need an alarm clock?) isn’t that easy. Much of her stuff can go. I don’t need a hundred pamphlets from the 80’s when my dad started a business. I don’t need twenty rosaries. I don’t need her very pretty dishes or silverware because I already own too much. But I hate throwing it away (we’re donating quite a bit, but you get my point). I feel like it is just erasing a part of her from my life.

The funny thing was, it didn’t catch up to me until last night. I cleaned away, tossed the trash, wrapped up the dishes, etc to be donated. And then last night, when the movie was over and Mr. O and I were starting to fall asleep, I just felt so utterly sad about it all. My chin was quivering before I even could say “I miss my memere.” I spent so much of my life in her apartment, watching soap operas, Wheel of Fortune, Jeopardy, cartoons, etc. Every Saturday morning when I woke up, I would go there for Pop Tarts and KoolAid rather than head down to my own kitchen. I was lucky to never really have babysitters; my memere watched us. I understand I should be lucky that my she is still alive. But it feels like I’m mourning her.

Is that normal? Part of me feels like “normal” humans wouldn’t feel this way. I mean, I’m assuming “normal” humans would get sad if they had to sort through a love one’s belongings, but I think they would maybe take it “better” than I am and just go about their day, appreciate that she is still alive. Don’t get me wrong I am happy she is alive, but I just feel bad that almost all her friends and family have passed away. I feel bad that she is in a nursing home. I feel bad that there is so little she remembers. Is she happy? I don’t know. I just want her to be happy.

In the past few years, I’ve come to understand that “normal” doesn’t really exist. We all have to figure out what our own baseline is. No one can figure that out for us; we have to do that on our own. We can’t compare ourselves to anyone else either, because things affect us all differently. I understand this, but when I’m feeling low, it still makes me wonder… is this normal?

a look back, a look forward

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Happy New Year Y’all!

I hope you had a safe and happy New Year’s Eve. The lovely Angela Noelle was kind enough to share these 1. What did you do in 2011 that you’d never done before?
Polar Bear Plunge on 1/1/11. Broke my foot. Traveled to PA and VT. Ate pho. Got my first real grown up tree. This list could go on an on and on.

2. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
I didn’t really make NY resolutions. I followed a Cuban tradition of eating 12 red grapes and making 12 goals or intentions as I like to call them. I think I did really great with my intentions. I did the same tradition again this year with Mr. O. Thank you Daisy for bring that into my life.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?
No, actually, I don’t think so. But I do have two nieces who turned one this year, and now I have three close friends to me pregnant, and another real good friend too!

4. Did anyone close to you die?
My sister-in-law’s grandfather. He was close to our family, and I do miss him when we have family gatherings. Plus, I didn’t like to see her hurt.

5. What countries did you visit?
Just the United States in 2011!

6. What would you like to have in 2012 that you didn’t have in 2011?
I have everything I need. But one thing I will get in 2012 (well, unless something goes drastically wrong) is a DIPLOMA!! I’ll have my MFA 🙂

7. What dates from 2011 will be etched upon your memory, and why?
The day I first saw Mr. O, and then every day between that and the first time he told me he loved me. It was the perfect beginning to a relationship.

8. What was your biggest achievement of this year?
My 3rd semester project. I also felt very proud when I was elected by my peers to be our graduation speaker. Losing a little weight (to a # I hadn’t seen on the scale in a decade) although, I haven’t checked my weight in the past few weeks, and god knows I’ve gained a few pounds.

9. What was your biggest failure?
Failure? Hmm. Nothing. If there was any time that I “failed” I definitely learned from those moments, and I can’t consider learning moments failures.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
I broke my foot on 1/4/11.

11. What was the best thing you bought?
Vacations? I like the iPhone, although I wish I didn’t drop my Droid in the ocean.

12. Whose behavior merited celebration?
Mr. O. He is kind and loving.

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?
Ha. I get appalled by people who are disrespectful. I sometimes feel sad FOR people when they act pathetically, but I’ve learned to not give any emotional response to people who don’t deserve it.

14. Where did most of your money go?
The house fund. Or: school, vacations, Christmas and birthdays

15. What did you get really excited about?
Being in a happy, healthy relationship. Surprise presents from my guy. Our vacations, especially when Wolverine came with us. Learning how to cook.

16. What song will always remind you of 2011?
A song I love from John Legend

17. Compared to this time last year, are you:
a) happier or sadder?
Happier
b) thinner or fatter? 
Thinner
c) richer or poorer? 
Richer. House money safely in the bank and no credit card debt (well, after I get paid this week to finish paying the damn Christmas gifts)

18. What do you wish you’d done more of?
Write more.

19. What do you wish you’d done less of?
Care about other people’s actions/thoughts. I only want to care about my own actions, and those of the people who are vital in my life.

20. How will you spend Christmas?
I spent it with Mr. O, Wolverine and both our families.

21. Did you fall in love in 2011?
Oh, yes, yes I did. And if you couldn’t tell that from reading this blog, please get your vision checked.

22. What was your favorite TV program?
I don’t like television that much, but surprisingly, I loved New Girl and XFactor.

23. What was the best book you read?
Oh goodness. I read so much for school, I honestly do not know. I think my favorite thing I read was an essay at school in a workshop. I’ll remember the name and edit the blog when I do.

24. What was your greatest musical discovery?
SAde and John Legend together in concert. YES!

25. What did you want and get?
Two fantastic guys: Mr. O and Wolverine.

26. What did you want and not get?
In 2011 I received more than I could possibly ask for.

27. What was your favorite film of 2011?
Tough one. Well, we went to the theaters to see Transformers and Hangover. Those were good.

28. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
I turned 26 and went out with a bunch of great friends. Mr. O, my bestie and I went to lunch and the batting cages on my actual bday.

29. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
Buying a house is not as fun as it seems 😉

30. How would you describe your personal fashion concept of 2011?
Stop trying to look “pretty” and feel “pretty” in what you already own. I guess I’m learning to dress in my own style, and not feeling like I have to wear the same thing as everybody else? Does that make sense?

31. What kept you sane?
Having great people- especially Mr. O and Wolverine- around me.

32. What political issue stirred you the most?
Osama Bin Ladin getting killed. After you have a friend die overseas, it is tough to understand the “War” as well as you thought you once did. Then to have the #1 Most Wanted person killed, it’s kind of like…What Now? Does his death justify my friend’s? And I personally can’t celebrate easily in another person being killed, so I had mixed emotions about that in general.

33. Who did you miss?
I missed Mr. O while I was away at school. And Wolverine, especially him this time around. People talk about the quirky things their kids say and do and it really makes me wonder what he is doing, and how school is and what books he is reading at night etc. I miss Poppa (my SIL’s grandfather) around the holidays and family parties. I miss Robert a bunch. I miss my dog Khiva here and there even though it has been 4 whole years since she has passed away.

34. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2011.
Every single thing is a choice. Everything.

35. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year.
In this life, we all know
Friends may come, and they may go
Through the years I know
I will stay

this is always one of my favorite days

Only 8 More Days Until 2012. Unbelievable!

I love Christmas Eve. I do. It has always been one of my favorite days of the year. I used to get real let down during the holiday season. Well, at least in my twenties. Prior to that, my family made sure my holiday season was fabulous. But see, in my twenties, I put so much effort into gifts for everyone (I doubt this will ever change). The problem was that I bought too much. So, I think it hurt some of the people who didn’t or couldn’t spend much on me. I had to learn to try to keep to a budget with my fellow gift givers. But folks…my gift? The best gift I can get is to see the person I’m giving a gift to excited about their present. I Don’t want anything. I never really have. Don’t get me wrong, I could make you a list of books I’d like or clothing I wouldn’t mind owning or the latest gadget I think is cool. Of course, I like stuff. But when it comes time for holidays and birthdays, I feel very uncomfortable getting gifts.

Then after those early twenties, it was very tough for me to see my siblings moving on with their families. That is hard to write. I love their families. Their families are my families. I consider my sisters-in law my sisters. My nieces and nephew mean the entire world to me, but when push came to shove, their creating their own little families felt a lot like getting totally left behind. I was so happy for them; I loved to be a part of it, but I missed having a family. In a sense my family didn’t exist any more. When I was a kid, I had grandparents, parents and two siblings. That was my family (duh, I know that it still is). Now, my siblings have a family that I’m not part of.

I had my own family… me and Fenway. But then my family stole Fen and included her in their family (I’m thankful behind belief to share her with my parents, who provide for her more than I can give at times). So life wasn’t like it was when I lived in Virginia. In VA, it was just me and Fen (and the best roommates in the world when they were in town, lol).  Now, Fenway belongs to my entire household.

So life around the holidays felt both extremely full and very empty. I felt like a part of the group, but like more of a witness than a key player. This isn’t to say that my family MADE me feel like this, because that is the farthest from the truth. My family ALWAYS includes me. It’s just a feeling I had. I can’t describe it well. I wish I could, but I can’t. It was little things, like feeling like I was forcing my brothers to do a Secret Santa between the five of us (them, their wives and little ol’ me). That tradition died this year when no one besides me wanted to keep it up. Whomp whomp whomp. Oh well, those bastards are all getting something from me  now 😉

Anyway, I haven’t accomplished what I wanted to say at all in this post. I really hope that it doesn’t come off hardcore whiny, because I understand I am being whiny. I had a great family who loved me and did everything possible to make me feel included. I am the one who chose to feel like a loner. I understand that.

Back to the point. This holiday season I have two amazing incredible guys in my life. Mr. O and Wolverine are now my very own family. I am truly blessed with the most incredible little family I could ever dream up. And not just Mr. O and Wolverine. I now have extended family. I now have a new set of “parents” and a new “sister” and new “grandparents” even. They have all welcomed me into their lives straight since day one, and I couldn’t be more grateful for how included and cared for they have always made me feel. I feel selfish now for feeling so alone these past few years. I feel blessed beyond belief to have two huge (Mr. O’s family and mine-including my SILs’ families) families to celebrate with and shower presents upon.

But again, I still haven’t made my point. I’ve already been given the best gift this year. No… I haven’t opened any presents yet. Well, that is a lie. My grandparents gave me and Mr. O our gift. Thanks Mom Mom and Pop Pop! But besides that. My gifts are wrapped and I don’t know what I will be getting. I still have been given the most beautiful gift of all………

Last week Wolverine told me he loved me for the first time. I’m still in awe of how much that meant to me. I knew he obviously cared about me a super lot. I never doubted that, but to hear a child that you love with your whole heart tell you that he loves you is an amazing moment. I will never ever forget it. Plus, he kissed me for the first time. He’s been letting me give him bedtime kisses for a while now, but that night he made sure to give me a bedtime kiss. I slept very happily that evening.

I’m so in love with my two guys. I read something on Nora’s blog a while ago about how someone told her that the reason she met Knight and his two girls was because she had so much love to give, it was meant for more than one person. I think about that thought a lot. I’m fucking FULL of love. I’ve always known that I’ve given too much of myself to the men I’ve dated. I just didn’t know that the love I had was meant for two people, not one: Mr. O and Wolverine.

The most beautiful thing in the whole wide world is to have a family to call your own. I’m in love with my guys, and I could never ask for anything more.

Oh Christmas Tree, Oh Christimas Tree

Days Until 2012: via I am super proud to announce that I have my very first real Christmas tree since 2006! Oh, and it’s my first tree with Mr. O and Wolverine too.

Oh… and… today is my brother’s birthday! Happy Birthday Brother!

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it’s the most wonderful time of the year

This post probably will have nothing to do with December being “the most wonderful time of the year,” because in all honesty, I think that’s a crock of shit. Late spring/early summer is the most wonderful time of the year.

But anyway… I really wanted to sing you a song.

WAKE UP, WAKE UP, WAKE UP….. IT’S THE FIRST OF THE MONTH. (Maybe one day I will actually post a video of me singing that…)

Yup, that was it. I typed up a whole blog post for you, and accidentally deleted the majority of it, so I decided to just keep it short and say what I meant to say:

It is the first of the month, and while it is hectic, December is a beautiful month. It is filled with birthdays of some of the most important people in my life, the holidays and another upcoming residency for school. My graduate school career is quickly coming to an end (how the HECK did that happen?), so I’m going to really try to cherish this last residency.

Here is to the month of December. I hope it brings beautiful moments into all of your lives. I have high hopes for this month. I sense the beginning of a special time in my life, and I know that no matter what happens this month (or in the next 7 months until I graduate), everything that happens is meant to happen.

Cheers.

living with intention

Last week I had a mini breakdown.

And by mini breakdown, I mean that I pretty much freaked the heck out from Thursday am to Friday night. This happened last month too, and while I very much wish I could pin it on PMS or something of the sort, I just can’t (although there was a full moon- just saying). I’m the type of person who likes to understand why things happen. I believe that there is a “reason” for everything, and it honestly makes me feel so much more comfortable and calm to know how things are related. For example, if I don’t take my vitamins or I start eating food with a lot of whey, my joints will begin to really hurt. So, when I feel like my world is crashing down, I like to understand why I feel like that.

The problem is… that there are no problems. I’m very, very fortunate to be as happy as I am in my life.

I am head over heels in love with my boyfriend and his son.  I love every single moment of our lives together, and cherish every single step we take towards our future, like buying a house with Mr.O or reading stories and bedtime kisses with Wolverine. Even more than that, I couldn’t ever thank Mr. O enough for the support he gives me in times like this. He is nonjudgemental and loving and kind. More importantly, he doesn’t make things easier for me (which drives me a bit crazy, but this might be the most important aspect). When I am sad, I want to immediate relief. I want Mr. O to play Prince Charming and have him swoop in and make everything better. But he won’t. This is what I’m grateful for. He is smart enough to understand that I need to fix my own emotions; he can support and encourage me; he can hug and kiss and hold me, but I am the only one who can change my life. This is what makes my heart flip and flop for him. He probably hurts to see me sad, but he doesn’t bandage over the sadness, he lets me experience it and move past it. He makes me feel confident enough to know he won’t leave me, and he firmly reminds me that I am absolutely not “crazy” when I claim that something is really wrong with me. This true love.

I am a student in the greatest creative writing graduate program ever. I am working with a kick ass, incredible mentor this semester and am very proud of my critical project I’ve created this semester (Side note: today is the last day to submit to The Story Behind the Status, so if you’re interested, get a move on!) I will be graduating in less than 8 months, and I’m kinda bummed about it. I wish I could get my MFA, but stay in the program forever (and not have to pay for it). Thank goodness for our Alumni Association!

I have some pretty amazing friends and family. I’m lucky to have people around me who support me and usually do not question my decisions, etc. It is nice to know you have people in your corner. I’m so glad to have friends that I can pick up with easily even if we haven’t spoken in a while. I went out last Friday night (which is what helped kick me out of my melt down) for my best friend’s birthday, and was able to spend time with a handful of other friends who mean so much to me. Plus, I had a FANTASTIC margarita.

I work for a great company in a job that I’m good at.
I changed jobs the month after I started graduate school I went from working in the HR field for 8+ years to a medical software company where I would be training clients. There was a pretty major pay increase and I love to teach, so I thought it would be perfect. There were a lot of people who didn’t think this was the best decision, and I do understand why. I needed to devote my brain to school, and by changing careers, I couldn’t give school the attention it needed. It felt like I went to school during the day (for work) and then came home and went right to school (for school). There was a LOT to learn in my company before I could start training clients, and by the time I got home, I felt mentally EXHAUSTED. The company is great, and the friends I made there are great, but it isn’t where I needed to be in my life right now.
However, I know now that going to work there was one of the best things that ever happened to me. In my time there, I completely paid off my credit card debt, and I met the man I will spend the rest of my life with.
But, I needed a change. So my “fairy godmother” (aka my current boss- who also happened to be my old HR boss) contacted me one day in May and presented a golden opportunity- a job that was the next city over from my house (meaning a daily commute of about 30-40 minutes total instead of the 3 hours daily at the medical software company), with a salary that I was very pleased with, a job that I’d be creating from the ground up and best of all, in a field where I KNEW MY STUFF. Did/do I have a lot to learn here? Absolutely! I’m actually working soley in one area of human resources that I was never involved in before, but I GET it. That is the amazing thing. I understand it all, and the things I need to learn, well I absorb them easily. It isn’t my dream job. I want to be standing in front of a college classroom challenging them to WRITE! But for now… it is exactly what I need. I feel safe and secure here. I love having my “fairy godmother” for a boss. She teaches me, pushes me, trusts me and is a really great friend too. Do things get hectic here? Every Single Day. Does it work for me right now? You betcha!

So why the meltdowns? Actually, why the multiple meltdowns? I had one last week, one in the end of September and then again a week later in the beginning of October, and umm, I think I had one in June. Why?

When I breakdown, I feel like my world is crashing around me. I know that it isn’t. I mean, I’m rational enough to understand that things are great, but then acknowledging that makes me feel even more nuts. If things are great, then what the F U C K is wrong? Am I crazy? Like legitimately, I mean that. Is something wrong with me? My thoughts are like a carousel and I obsess and I freak out and imagine all the bad things that could happen and then I imagine how I would feel if they would happen and then I think about all that is wrong with the world and then I think about how nuts I am being and then I think about how much I don’t like myself sometimes and then I just cry.

and cry…

and cry…

and do some more crying.

Mr. O made a very valuable point on Friday. When I get in freak out mode like that and cry like a nutjob, it is as if I’m a little kid who is inconsolable. You know when kids start to cry for whatever reason (they don’t want to eat their dinner, someone said something mean to them on the playground, it is bathtime, etc) and then they can’t stop crying. And the crying gets louder and the breathing gets all crazy and they get themselves to the point where they could almost throw up? Yeah, that is what happens to me. I was so interested when he said that. He is SO correct! Let me tell you one thing about Mr. O… he gets me to THINK sometimes. That is EXACTLY what I do. I get to the point where I am absolutely inconsolable, and because of this, even if I pull myself out of a crying fit, the sadness will linger for a good couple days.

Now, the freak out at the end of September was justified. I understand why I cried like a maniac. I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that the one in October was probably the remaining emotions from the September freak out. But I do not understand my freak outs last week and in June.

Do you think I’m being nuts writing an extremely long blog post about four crying incidents? Because if I didn’t make this clear enough, these incidents didn’t FEEL like temporary moments of sadness. They FELT like the end of my world as I knew it. Dramatic? Yes. But was that how it felt? Yes. I am extremely uncomfortable feeling like this (I’m also extremely uncomfortable with the amount of adverbs in this post). A few years ago I had a period of pretty severe depression that lasted almost a year I’d say. Obviously depression is unexplainable, and just happens. But it feels horrible and scary (actually terrifying is a better word) and unending. So, for the record, I never, ever, ever want to feel like that again, and take my mental health very seriously. These four mini breakdowns felt like that depression. And THAT is what terrifies me.

I don’t want to scare you guys. I feel remarkably better. I feel safe and normal. But I do feel cautious. Was it a mini bout of depression? I don’t know. Probably not. It was probably just an overwhelming moment. While my life is truly blessed, I do have a lot of stress. All of the blessings I noted above can be overwhelming. I’ve got deadlines for school and projects I’m behind with at work. I’ve got houses to look at and disappointments when my favorites go off the market. I’ve got friends I don’t see, things I don’t do.

It all adds up.

And then I usually break down.

Why the hell am I writing all of this? Who knows. I guess I just want to be real. I can’t do everything. I can’t be everything. I’ve got to take everything one day at a time. I just want you to know that this is who I am. I wrote a post a week or so inspired by Ashley of all the things I don’t do. I’m not Wonderwoman. To me, my life is perfect…it is everything I could have ever wanted. But that doesn’t mean I can’t get overwhelmed at times. Because I do.

I wish I could sum this up better– present you all with the key to managing life, paint a pretty picture– but I can’t. If there is anything that I have learned this whole year is that our life MUST be defined by ourselves. Am I crazy? Not by my standards. Am I happy? Yes, by my standards. Is my life where I want it to be? By my standards, you betcha. I’m still going to have tough days here and there. I won’t always understand why. But it’s a part of life I need to accept, acknowledge and experience. And once I learn how to do that…. I will feel better.

Oh, and side note. I want to thank you. My blog followers always amaze me. You guys are some of the most supportive, caring individuals. You too make my life better every day. I couldn’t do it without you.

i just don’t..

Inspired by Ashley and Becky’s posts, I decided to also share all the things I don’t do.
Ashley wrote about the mask of perfection, in the sense that, while there are so many wonderful things she has experienced or witnessed via blogging, she also see so much “perfection” on blogs that just seem too good to be true. She suggested we “declare ourselves rife with imperfection” (love that phrase) which I think is just the greatest thing we can all do. Here goes nothing…

  • While I do actually work at my 101 in 1001 list, I never update the blog. This drives me insane personally, because I take notes and take photos; all I need to do is post them. My first 101 list ended on 10/1/2011, and my second one started 10/2/11. I haven’t even posted or updated anything about the new list! I’m so behind schedule.
  • I don’t write nearly as much as a graduate student (in creative writing) should. I hate to admit it, but it is true. That is something I have been working on very hard this semester, and I should probably pat myself on the back and admit that it is slightly getting better.
  • I haven’t been on the 20SB site in forever. I love the community and what it has grown to be, but I’m neglecting it.
  • I buy birthday, holiday, new house, new baby, new job, congratulations, thank you, retirement and sympathy cards all the time. When I need one, I usually fill it out and address it. Then it sits somewhere stamp-less for way too long. I just found a card for one of my friend’s who got an awesome job in May. It is November and it was never mailed.
  • I don’t know how to cook very much. I can cook killer breakfasts: anything with eggs, pancakes, waffles, french toast, cinnamon rolls, monkey bread.  I make a mean spaghetti, great chow mein, mac and cheese, oh yeah I made a great salmon (like twice) ehhhh… I can grill stuff good too. I sear a tuna like a  pro. Basically, I’ve been learning how to cook. Mr. O has been helping me learn, and I’m excited about it.
  • I don’t spend as much time with my grandparents as I would like to. I know how important it is, and I just need to put more effort in.
  • I don’t comment on blogs like I used to. I read every single post in my reader, and I “star” so many of them so that when I have a chance I can go over and comment. But 1/2 the time I never end up doing it. 🙁
  • I don’t ever complete a NaBloPoMo. Ever. I’m on day three and going strong though, so I’ve got hope for this month.
  • I don’t clean my apartment like a normal human. I’m hardly ever there, so I tend to just let things pile up until it is a big mess and then try like hell to attack it all at once.
  • I don’t do my laundry more than once a week. In fact there is a good chance that I do my laundry every other week. How? Well, I’m fortunate to own a LOT of clothing. The only thing that stinks about this is that I usually do a LOT of loads all at once.
  • I don’t get my oil changes on time… EVER. I wait and I wait and I wait and then the guilt piles up and finally I get it done.
  • I don’t send attachments in emails. Most of the time. I’ll send an email out at work that says something like, “reference the attached email,” but then forget to attach it.
  • I don’t remember half of what I am supposed to. It is sad, but true. Lists keep me sane.
  • I don’t complete 98% of the DIY or craft projects I aim to. I still however love to shop at Michael’s and AC Moore.
  • I don’t watch Grey’s Anatomy this season. It is my favorite show, but I just can’t remember to put it on.
  • I don’t wash my hair everyday. If I did it would be stringy and gross. However. If I go more than 48 hours without washing it, it will be ridiculously greasy. It’s a lose-lose.
  • I don’t floss as often as I should. I’ve got no excuses for this one.
  • I don’t write in my diary. I like my diary, but between school, this blog and the talking I do with friends and family, there isn’t that much more to say.
  • I don’t wake up early enough for work every single morning, which in turns make me rushed and almost/sometimes late.

my declaration of independence

I’m super excited about Michaela’s post. If you like it too, then you will check out her blog and then leave harassing comments begging her to actually blog more than once a season.

“We can spend our lives letting [our] history tell us how good or bad we are. Letting our past decide our future. Or we can decide for ourselves. And maybe it’s our job to invent something better.” -Chuck Palahniuk

When I came across Erin’s proposition to write a guest blog about a “defining moment” I’ve experienced, it took me about 25 seconds of soul-searching to determine which singular event has had the biggest influence on my life. It’s taken me a couple of months, however, to write this story for you, dear stranger. I wondered, Will they get it? Can they relate? Will I sound like I take myself too seriously? Can I talk about myself for that long without sounding narcissistic? Is that question narcissistic? Can I write an entire blog post without saying ‘fuck’ at least once, for emphasis? Instead of working out the obstacles that have delayed this post, I’ve decided to shoot from the hip and maybe the heart.

I’ll share some history with you first, to help you understand my defining moment’s significance. I’m 26, and the last four years of my life have been full of big changes. I became a mom to two babies, becoming a single mom this year. These have been the most pivotal events in my life, but I don’t believe any of them exclusively define me. Bringing my children into the world was a tremendously significant experience, but I can’t claim that it was solely mine. Those moments also belong to my children; we did it together. Their births defined us collectively.

Breaking up with their dad was the most painful decision I’ve ever made. I had the emotional support of my friends and family, but I felt like I’d failed and worried incessantly about the kids’ future. Although the break-up shaped the course of my future, it doesn’t represent my identity.

When we broke up, the kids and I had to move. My best friend’s parents offered us their home while I figured things out. I didn’t know how I’d be able to afford our own place, but I saved for it anyway. My ex’s words taunted me; he’d said I’d never be able to make it on my own. At the time, I was working part-time at a clothing store. I took home only $100 some weeks, but I saved almost every dollar I earned.

In February, I was hired part-time at a property management company. I kept my retail job to piece together a livable income and juggled around babysitters for whom I will forever be thankful. I also found an apartment in a great school district that fit my budget.

Signing the lease on March 5th, 2011 was my defining moment.

This moment was quiet, and although my landlord was there, the moment was mine. I gave him a chunk of my savings and signed my name, committing myself and my children to a 12 month lease and a home of our own. I bought myself new sheets. I decided where to put the furniture. I’ve put a few too many holes in the walls, choosing where to hang my favorite art pieces and photographs. To me, my lease isn’t just a financial and legal commitment. My lease represents a promise to myself and my kids that I can do it on my own.

It is my fucking declaration of independence.

I live frugally, and money is tight sometimes, but I feel like my rent is the best investment I make each month. We live in a safe neighborhood in a nice town. My neighbors are friendly, and my landlord looks out for us.

I finally have my own walls, and everything inside them belongs to me and the two people I love most. My apartment is a reflection of the space I wanted to create for my family. It’s comfortable, quiet and playful. It’s also messy sometimes, just like me.

Saving for and ultimately moving into my own apartment defined me: I’m determined. I’m strong. I’m a provider. I’m mama bear. I’m still a terrible cook. And I’m happy. It’s been a hell of a year, and it’s tested my willpower. As it turns out, I’ve got plenty of it.

inspirations turn to aspirations

I’m pretty excited to welcome the newest edition of guest bloggers for my series on defining moments and reinvention. Micaela is a former coworker and close friend. She does not have a blog, and has never before written her private thoughts out in such a public format. I think it takes a lot of strength to be so brave to take a chance and step out of your comfort zone.

I have never really been a writer so please bear with me on this. Somehow Erin’s call to write about “reinvention” morphed into an inspiration for me. I have been thinking about writing this since the day that she asked, but I didn’t know what to write about. Once an idea came to my head I didn’t think it was the right fit for what she was asking. Then I realized, Erin doesn’t care! My thought process evolved much like one of our conversations.

I am going to write about the four women that I have identified as the biggest inspirations in my life and have shaped who I am and who I want to be.

The first woman I would like to write about is my mother. Of course as a teenager, you think your parents know nothing, but as I have grown, I have watched her evolve as well. When my brother and I were younger my father traveled every week and as a single parent, I can now see how difficult it can be to play both roles. My father, as with my son’s father, was very much a part of my life. However, a lack of physical presence of the other person can be a very difficult challenge when raising children. As I went on to college, our relationship changed in that she was still parenting, but we also began developing a friendship. I have never been more grateful for my mother than when I became a mother myself. She has always offered opinion when appropriate or answered the questions I have asked. No matter what, even if she disagrees, she always enforces what I say with my child and supports the decisions I make. She recognizes that she has raised me, and it is time to step back and allow me to move forward. My mother is an amazing friend and the mother I would love to be.

The next woman I am inspired by, and always have been since I was a little girl, is my aunt Ann. She is such an amazing mother to her wonderful boys (my dream!), one of whom is my godson. And she also has a wonderful husband and marriage. My Aunt is the kind of person who will truly listen to anything that you need to say and never pass judgment. She loves people for who they are and not what they are. She takes care of those who need her without being asked, and never looks for any acknowledgement or credit in return. Aunt Ann is one of the most real people I have ever met; she has always been a source of inspiration and a role model to me since I was a small child putting on her makeup.

The third source of positive inspiration in my life is a family friend Barbara. I have known her for years and grew up with her oldest daughter, who just became a mother herself! With her five children getting older, I have seen how close the family remains. I see how often they do things together. As families grow it is so easy for siblings and families to grow apart. The family she has raised is a true inspiration to me as to what a family should be. Barbara is also just a wonderful person who has love for everyone. Anything she can do to
help another she will, and you can see her love for others in her smile. She is a wonderful mother of five and an amazing ‘Second Mother’ to many others. I aspire to be such a kind and loving person that can raise a family as close as theirs.

The final source of inspiration I have in my life is not exactly a positive one, but definitely one of the most “defining” in my role as a parent. I struggled a bit with even calling her a source of inspiration, and that probably still is not the right choice of words. The reason I have struggled with this is that this person has shown me everything I will try my hardest to never be. I am not going to get into details as I did with the other ladies, but because of this person, I know that I am striving to be the best parent I can be. My son’s father and I have a great relationship that allows us to co-parent very effectively. We do not have to be friends; we just have to be on the same page, because nothing is about us, and everything is about him. I truly believe that we work so well together because of the pain we saw caused by this woman. Through her intentionally hurtful actions, she taught me how to be a good parent. I guess that is some twisted form of karma or something.

I guess as I have written, these inspirations have evolved more into aspirations of what I would like to be, or not be. I like to think about the people and situations that have shaped who I am. I feel that is a very powerful thing to be aware of. Writing this was very ‘out of the box’ for me, but I was honored that Erin asked. I am glad I did it, after all Erin is my Oprah.

themes

Okay, folks… I’ve been gone for quite some time. Now I’m back, refreshed from my little break and ready to start pumping some new material into this blog.

First, I really need to give a shot out to all the wonderful guest bloggers who wrote about moments of inspiration or times when they felt they reinvented themselves. Afraid you missed something? Well, Amanda kicked off the guest blogging by writing about greyhounds. The next four are all students in my MFA program at Fairfield University. Anne wrote the different names she goes by. Phil and Brooke wrote about when they realized they were writers. Reuben wrote about the time he spent in jail. Finally, Heidi talked about finding her calling and how every opportunity  is a new moment of reinvention. There are many more folks who have shown interest in writing guest posts for me, so expect to see some more wonderful writing on this blog in the coming weeks.

I bet you’re wondering what I’ve (finally) got to say. It’s been a while since I’ve been vocal around these parts. Truth is, I’m not sure. A couple of my favorite bloggers have recently began to “reinvent” themselves a bit on the web. Erin has moved her blog from Stylish Handwriting over to The Speckled Palate and her professional photography blog. Rachel stopped writing at Confessions of a Jersey Girl and now blogs at her own professional photography blog (both are amazing photographers by the way…check out their portfolios!). Now, I’m not going anywhere, and you can hold me to that. It has, however, really led me to question what my intentions are with Reinventing Erin.

When I started this blog, I had recently began graduate school. Now I’m officially halfway finished. (Just the thought of that makes me anxious. I’m not ready to graduate yet!) I had changed careers too. My life was just in a different place than it was when I blogged at my previous site. It was time to begin somewhere new. I didn’t’ know what would that meant for my writing. Looking through my previous pages, it seems as if the content on here has dealt mostly with graduate school, my friends and my relationship with Mr. O. Which is all fine and dandy in my opinion. My life really just consists of work (which I choose not to blog about) school (which is all I seem to write about on here), and the experiences I have with my friends, family and my love.

But how exactly does my theme of “reinvention” relate to all those subjects? I don’t want this blog to be considered a journal or a diary of any sorts, because well, it simply isn’t. However, I do want it to chronical the changes in my life, and in myself over a period of time. So, inspired by all my guest bloggers, Erin and Rachel, I’ve been thinking about trying to showcase my “reinvention” a bit more rather than popping up to write about my writer’s block or how in love I am. Because while I know I’ve got the greatest readers in the world, and you all care about what makes me happy and sad, who really wants to hear the same old stuff over and over again?

Like I said before, I don’t really know what this means for me… I don’t plan on changing anything (except maybe the blog design—I’m still looking for someone to help me with that!) or going anywhere. I do have a few ideas of what direction I’d like to take the topics I write about. With the help of Mr. O, I’ve been learning how to cook, and I think it would be fun to showcase some of the recipes I’ve tried. I also have done a lot of event planning in my life and love home design, so I think it would be fun to higlight some of the projects I’ve completed (or would like to complete). I’ve done an amazing job eliminating all the credit card debt from my life (I never thought that would happen), but am considering writing about my savings goals and ideas I have for budgeting. Besides getting in good financial shape, I really want to get in better physical shape, so maybe you’ll hear more about that journey on here. Oh, and I’m trying to majorly declutter my life, so maybe I’ll write about the process of donating and trashing my belongings.

Who knows?

But don’t worry, I’m sure you’ll hear more about my writing anxieties and how much I love being in a relationship 😉

 

First Guest Blogger: Amanda on Greyhounds

The first guest blogger is…..drum roll please…..Amanda from Cusp of Normal! Amanda aka Mermanda is probably one of the first members of 20Something Bloggers who I started to read, and even now years later, she keeps me coming back. I’m truly honored to have her be my first guest on Reinventing Erin. Enjoy and go over to her site to visit when you’re done reading 🙂

The lovely Erin has asked me to write about a moment of realization that I have experienced. I could write about the day that I realized the worst heartbreak of my life made me a stronger person. I could write about the day that I realized that, yes, it really is possible to eat too much sushi in one sitting. I could write about the day that I realized I am the kind of person who cries at cat food commercials… and the kind of person who should never again stray from capable hands of my hairstylist. But instead, I want to tell you about the day that I realized that I am destined for a life full of lean, long-legged, pointy-snouted, tattooed creatures known as greyhounds.

Andrew and I were not yet engaged, but in the midst of our first year of cohabitation. At that time of my life, my biggest concern was that I would never fully realize my dream of being a contestant on “Deal or No Deal.” But that is a story for another time.

One afternoon, Andrew and I went shopping in Shadyside, a fancy-pants neighborhood of Pittsburgh. Like most visits to Shadyside, we were probably there to feed my addiction for crazy eyeliner (urban decay, fyi), or to pick up an ahhh-mayyy-zing burnt almond tortefrom the famous Prantl’s Bakery. (Non-Pittsburgh dwellers, you can and SHOULD order one of these magic desserts online.)

At some point during our afternoon in Shadyside, we stumbled upon odd, yet gracefully beautiful, creatures. The animals were there for an adoption event for one of Pittsburgh’s many greyhound rescue groups. I had never seen a greyhound before, but I was enchanted. The dogs are quite tall, with their heads at about the height of my hips. I took a knee to be face-to-face with the gentle greyhound before me.  Eye-to-eye, the greyhound could not have been more at ease. And just like that, he rested his delicate chin on my shoulder. It was at that moment that I melted into a puddle of goo. Cleanup on aisle 12!

It was at that precise moment that I was certain that there would be many greyhounds in my future. Andrew was equally smitten. We  began researching them and were so excited to learn that greyhounds make great pets. Because they have hair rather than fur, they don’t have that typical “dog” smell and need bathed only about twice a year. (Hair vs. fur also makes them a great choice for people with allergies!) Greyhounds also hardly shed, so a little brushing once a month is all the grooming that they require. They also are one of the most quiet breeds, they hardly ever bark. (This makes them a poor choice if a watch dog is what you are after.) Despite the common misconception that greyhounds require lots of daily physical activity, these dogs will endear themselves to your couch faster than you can say “couch potato.” Just one or two short walks a day keeps them happy and healthy. Greyhounds are also one of the healthiest breeds thanks to their diverse breeding. (I can research my greyhound’s lineage back to the 1800s.) And I have already mentioned how extremely calm and gentle greyhounds are. They can be great with kids, and some even like the company of cats.

It wasn’t long before I was applying to adopt through Pittsburgh’s Going Home Greyhounds.(Highly recommended for any Pittsburghers looking to adopt!)


Luke with his new family on the day of his adoption

Three weeks after we bought our house in 2009,  Luke joined our family. And while we may not be able to add to the pack right away, I know he is the first of many amazing rescued retired racing greyhounds in our life. (For more about life with Luke, visit my blog, cuspofnormal.com.)

Oh, and did I mention that April is National Adopt-a-Greyhound Month? Meet Cal.

this thing called happy…

The Elusive Happy. I think I’ve found it.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve been very happy the past couple years. I’ve surrounded myself with good people, and in turn have been rewarded with so many incredible experiences. I’m fortunate to have deep bonds with the people I include in my life. Environment is key, and mine is healthy.

I’ve pushed myself to take chances in my career as well as my education. Leaving my former job was an extremely difficult decision. I had started working there when I was only 17 years old. The people there became my family. They surprised me out one night to watch me sing in a karaoke contest. They suggested I audition for American Idol- one of the ladies even went so far to offer me her father’s house (which was near the venue) for the evening! They were there for my high school graduation, college graduation and my acceptance into graduate school. Needless to say it isn’t easy to leave an environment where you have such history to start fresh in a completely different atmosphere. Yet, things turned out wonderfully. I’m still learning at my new job, but I work with a group of people who I truly care about. People I get, and who get me.

School? I can’t say enough about it. Obviously y’all know that since school is all I seem to talk about on here lately. I love my teachers, the administration, my peers, the reading, the writing, Ender’s Island. I love being able to call myself a student again. I love everything about it.

My family has grown so much in the past couple of years as well. I can’t claim any credit for that though. Since 2007, I now have three beautiful nieces and one handsome nephew. They (and Fenway) are the loves of my life. Watching them grow (even though I request almost daily that the oldest two stop growing… the youngest two don’t speak quite yet) has been probably the greatest joy I’ve ever experienced.

And now? Now I’ve got this guy in my life. A guy who loves his friends and family with all his heart. A guy who is kind. A guy who is relaxed, who doesn’t let little things bother him. A guy who will show up at my house with flowers for my grandmother’s birthday, even though we had only been dating for about a week. A guy who jumps out of his comfort level to try things like sushi just because I love it. A guy who makes lists with me (you all know how strongly I feel about lists) about all the things we want to do together. A guy who has made room for me in his life. A guy who I know will be in my life for quite some time.

So, The Elusive Happy?

I wonder if it just creeped up on me throughout the maze of these past two years. I feel like I’ve had this thing called happy all along. It’s just….It’s just that I’m taking a second to recognize it.

I am very, very blessed, folks. I’m at a place in my life where I know who I am, what I want, why I want these things, and where I belong. And all I can really say about it all? Life…is…good.

I wish you recognition of your own elusive happy.

lists

I like lists.

  • I’m pretty proud of Ray Allen for breaking the 3 point record last week.
  • I had the best Valentine’s Day of my life last night. It was heartfelt and noncommercial-just as it should be.
  • Yes, I celebrated Valentine’s Day.
  • MY GRANDMOTHER TURNED 100 YEARS OLD LAST WEEK!
  • I’m kind of overwhelmed with life in general (in a good way). I just wish I felt more organized while feeling overwhelmed. I don’t mind being calm and pulled in a thousand directions. I do mind being disorganized.
  • I turn in my first packet of the semester today. I guess I can take a day “off” tomorrow.
  • Tomorrow I’m going party dress shopping.
  • This weekend I will be going to Foxwoods to be celebrating my friends’ birthdays.
  • I have unrealistic expectations about writing. Somehow I think just because I’m so dedicated to it that it should come naturally. It does not work that way. Writing takes practice. Regular practice.
  • I started watching Glee, and all I can think about is how I should have started long, long ago.
  • I haven’t updated my 101 in 1001 in a serious amount of time. MUST do so this week!
  • The first official Masshole Writers meeting happened this past Saturday. It was spectacular.
  • I love my FUMFA older brother and little sister like WOAH.
  • I got my FUMFA Polar Bear Plunge tshirt in the mail. Cant wait to wear it!

…to be continued

happy

I had an incredible evening. It was epic, perfectly epic.
I’m so lucky to have such amazing people in my life. My friends are incredible. My family is amazing. Every where I turn I realize how fortunate I am.
And now I just can’t stop smiling.
Tonight was perfect.

And “long johns” apparently has two G’s…