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?
b) thinner or fatter? 
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

fixing this will be a christmas miracle

Days Until 2012: viaWordPress and I are in a fight. Yup, I said it. FIGHT.

  • My most lovely friend from Her New Deal was kind enough to let me know my comments weren’t working (via twitter). Still don’t know how to fix that one, but I’m thinking an update/reinstall will help. I’ll save that for later tonight.
  • The connection between my WordPress for iPhone and the WordPress computer version is flukey, which is so irritating! I don’t get it either, because I have never ever had a problem with it until maybe about 3 or 4 days ago. It started posting pictures, but not the content I wrote to go with the pictures. And then yesterday, I had no pictures in my post, but I had typed up a decent sized post on my phone and it didn’t publish any of the words! (Thank goodness I recognized that during the day, so I could shoot out a quick post on my computer and I didn’t mess up my NaBloPoMo).
  • If you have a chance, swing by the blog and check it out (I’m assuming many of you read through some type of RSS reader. I’ve updated the posts for the past couple days with the missing content.

Enough whining. Let’s chat. Happy holidays folks. I hope you are all fully enjoying this season of holidays. I love that there are so many different types of celebrations depending on beliefs at this time. I love to learn about different religions or different customs. I’m a forever student. I want to constantly be learning.

Last night my Masshole Writers Group met to critique each others writing and do a holiday book swap. I’m super pumped to have been given a novel to read. With all these deadlines and requirements happening for school, I don’t read very often, but since I was given the book as a gift, you better believe I will read it!

I’m so fortunate to have such great friends. My Masshole friends, my blog friends, my school friends, my “real life” friends, etc.

the old and the new



12 Days Until 2012!

This is what I originally intended to appear on the blog on 12/20: I am one wild and crazy critiquing machine. Besides the 12 essays and 7 poems I need to read and critique (not including any of the seminars) for this upcoming residency, well there are three more submissions I need to prepare for tonight! I’m not complaining though, I love this. Tonight the Masshole Writers will be coming over for a buffet of Chinese food and an evening of writing discussion. It’s always a good time with these guys. We get off topic about every 5 to 6 seconds (something my brain is quite used to). It is a night I really cherish having every month. Two of the writers will be graduating the MFA program in a week or two (I can’t keep my dates straight) so I hope they continue meeting with us. We’re doing a book swap tonight, and I keep forgetting to wrap my book. Sigh.

This is what did originally post: Is anyone else having trouble with WordPress on their Iphones? For the past three days, I’ve been having trouble when I upload/change things on my phone….Today the whole post didn’t show up, but it posted a blank post…. What the heck?

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.



  • I’m not a big fan of waiting. I’m an action girl. I like to make things happen, not sit and wait for them to happen.
  • I am a very positive person, and believe in the power of intention.
  • I really need to type up and post my new 101 in 1001 list that went live 10/2/11.
  • Even more than that, I need to post all the updates for my original 101 challenge that ended 10/1/11.
  • I need to organize my entire life… because it isn’t.
  • I also need to see Michaela soon, because it has been ages since we have been together, and that, well that just doesn’t feel right.
  • I am addicted to Pinterest. It’s true. I can’t stop pinning. I just want to do it all the time.
  • I’m getting a coffee this weekend with Kristen, the fantastic Season 5 Statejoy blogger who happens to live near me. This will be epic.
  • I’ve cooked a whole lot since I started the new 101 challenge. At least once a week. So I need to get those blog posts written and posted.
  • My graduate school project is coming to a quick end, and I’m already wishing I had more time to develop it. I loved studying social media and its relation to writing. I definitely want to do more with this project in the future.
  • Speaking of school, my kick ass mentor Porochista won a NEA Grant! And so did two other amazing teachers in my program. Great job ladies!
  • Oh, and the Director of my MFA program won the Best Fiction Connecticut Book Award for his novel Beautiful Assassin.


Edit: I never finished this post yesterday morning. I had plans of finishing it when I got home, but instead I watched some X Factor and fell asleep. This morning I woke up to a comment from the aforementioned Michaela, and it made me feel all warm and fuzzy, because we were both thinking of each other yesterday. I really miss her.

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.

thought i would share

So 10/10 has officially past and I still have yet to finish my 101 in 1001 goals list. I plan on completing it by the weekend. What bums me out is that this weekend I will be completing two items which are currently already on the new list! One is a carryover from the last list (Ride on a train) and the other is a new item, but one that I added to the list in September. Grr. Do they count if I still haven’t “activated” the new list? I don’t know. You tell me.

I keep thinking these really interesting thoughts that I swear would make for great blogs, but I can never seem to remember them when it is time to sit down and write a post. I’m seriously going to have to buckle down and write my thoughts on a notebook, or even the notepad on my iPhone.

Speaking of my iPhone, I’m pretty bummed about Steve Jobs’ death. I mean, I get sad when anyone I know– or know of– passes away. But, I think he was a visionary. I also think he said some pretty rad quotes.

As much as I truly don’t think I’d ever like to do this project again (well, at least at a scale as large as I did last time- 365 days straight) but I do miss listing the things I am grateful for every day. I’m a pretty thankful person, which I think is super awesome. I have a heart that is overflowing with love. So I generally always acknowledge my gratitude, but I guess there is something about publicly being thankful for something. So today, I am grateful for “Family Dinners”. Usually once a week Mr. O, his son (who I still need a blog nickname for) and I will get together with Mr. O’s best friend (“Jackie”), his girlfriend (“Kim”), and her two children for dinner. Someone (or a couple of us) will cook, then we will eat together, catch up on things and clean up together too. It is really nice to spend that time together every week. There are many times I miss this dinner because I’m off doing graduate school related things, but I really appreciate my friends, the kiddies and my wonderful boyfriend. This is how I like to spend my time, and these moments are the ones I want to create my “past.”

an education in space and time

This is my first round two! Reuben wrote about an experience in jail for his first Defining Moments post. When I put out a call asking if anyone in my MFA program were interested in writing something, Reuben asked if he could contribute a second piece. “Hell Yeah,” was my answer.

My best friend’s name is Lesson. It’s his, as in he chose it; changed his driver’s license, amended his birth certificate. Freedictionary.com, then, defines him as “something to be learned.”

*          *          *

Three days ago, when the Texas temperature finally dropped below 100 degrees, we sat outside on the patio of the house I choose for us, the house I scoured Austin, with a real estate agent in tow, to find for us, and he tells me he’s making a road trip. His freckled, cherub-esque, perma-smile flattened and his eyes criss-crossed my face, picking up all my micro-expressions because we both know this is  trip I wasn’t taking with him.

For the nine years that we’ve known each other the open road has been some sort of component of our lives. When I was living in Atlanta with my family, one phone call, one text message was all it took for Lesson to pack up from Orlando and bolt out on the eight hour drive to come get me.

Three years ago we drove out to Texas together because we wanted to see something different. We drove for twenty hours straight through, not once turning on the radio. We’re the kind of best friends who can have conversations across whole time zones.

Lesson is always the driver, and I’m always the navigator. He can pull the car up mountains, eyes focused on the few hundred yards in front of him, and I can read the road signs, gauge the sun in the sky and tell us where we are, where we’re going.

*          *          *

Two days ago, I watch Lesson and his girlfriend pack. I ask questions like a bad actor in rehearsal, an amateur who turns into cardboard when they aren’t speaking lines.

“You’re going where first?” I over-emphasize.
“San Francisco.” Lesson says, “It’ll probably take a day or two. And then I’m thinking Denver, you remember Devin and Ben? They live there now.”
“I go to school with someone who lives in Denver.”
“And then Richmond, to visit Lani.” Lesson’s girlfriend hands him folded clothes and he packs them into his duffle bag. “She’s got this garage that I want to talk to her about converting, putting in A/C, bunking down.”
I deliver my line flat, “And then Orlando?”
“Yep yep! Cross country.”
“My birthday is in two weeks.”
“I know, I’m sorry, brother. We might not make it back in time.”

*          *          *

No one’s sad in these last few days. There’s no hurt feelings. Lesson and I joke, and I breathe in his amped anticipation like oxygen. In the spaces where conversation lulls and laughter peters out I notice we both breathe in and stare ahead of us. I realize we’re both prepping ourselves for the road ahead. Austin’s become a fork and we’re about to take different paths.

We call each other “brother,” not just to ourselves but to other people. At concerts when we lose track of each other I ask people, “have you seen my brother? He’s about this high, chubby, red-orangish hair? He’s white.” From him it’s, “my brother’s that Arab-looking guy, you know, with the curls.” We have friends from the bar scene who think we grew up together in foster care.

*          *          *

Yesterday, the he day he left, I ride shotgun through all his last-minute errands. New tires, inspections, oil changes. I have school work and a deadline for grad school but I don’t think to even touch my computer or pick up a book.

Randomly, we light cigarettes for each other and say, “I’m gonna miss you, man.” He’ll be gone two weeks, maybe three. Maybe a month. Lesson will be on the road for as long as he can take it. Parts of him will come back but I know enough: parts of him won’t. Parts of Lesson will change, grow without me. Parts of me will settle and emulsify, without him. A season will change, it will be Fall; I’ll be older when he gets back. And we’ll both know: our friendship isn’t going to die; it can’t because we are brothers. What it can do is bend, twist and turn, branch out like a maze. There’s always options, choices between two roads. And there will always be a driver and a navigator. One to propel, one to orient.

Today, I get phone call from Lesson.

 “I saw the Pacific.” He says.
“Is it beautiful?”
“Gorgeous! I miss you, Brother.”
“I miss you too.”
“Gotta go. I love you, Reuben.”
“I love you, Lesson.”

And that’s what I’ve learned.

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.

just thinking…

  • So last week I wrote about a horrible man, whom I thought was a pretty evil character. Mr. O was kind enough to send me this article about an even more horrible human being, so I figured I would share it with you.
  • My MFA Big Brother Phil has put me to shame. When he first started blogging, he asked me if I had any suggestions. My advice was: Write often. Who cares if you think that you have nothing to say, just say anything…eventually you’ll have a lot to say. Well, folks. At this point, Phil’s blog has evolved into what I’d like to call a Rock Star Blog. He’s posting pretty much every day, and people get upset with him when he doesn’t say anything. I think I have to take some of my own advice.
  • Two nights ago I had three wonderful humans come to my house for a writing group. We’re called the Masshole Writers, and I’m so grateful to be part of such a rad team. When we get together we chow down; this time we had a Chinese and Lebanese food buffet. Then we settle into workshop mode and go over each other’s submissions. There are two fiction writers, a poet, and me- the nonfiction writer. It is refreshing to workshop with writers out of your own genre.
  • Woah, I don’t think I made a super amazing announcement on my blog yet! (What the hell is wrong with me?) Porochista Khakpour will be my new faculty mentor for this semester. (Cue the parade and confetti and balloons!) I am F-ing PUMPED, folks. I’ve always admired Porochista, but assumed that because she was hired as a faculty member for the fiction genre, I wouldn’t get the chance to have her as a mentor. Well, this is just another lesson that nothing is impossible. I’m fortunate to be in my 3rd semester now for graduate school, and we spend the majority of the next few months working on a “project.” I needed a spunky, funny, enthusiastic teacher to advise me this semester and Porochista is my gal. I’ll give you details about the project in a future post, because I might even need your help!
  • Mr. O and I want to go on a mini vacation in September, but our choices are very limited. Both of our birthdays are next month, which also happens to be Hurricane Season. So cancel almost all southern states and Caribbean locations. Any suggestions?
  • On Friday, I’ll be attending my last wedding of 2011. I am pretty excited because I have a dark purple dress I have been DYING to wear somewhere. One of my close friends from high school is getting married to a fabulous guy. I’ve heard this is going to be a good time. Can’t wait to find out.

weekly findings

Here are some things that I really liked this week:

One of my greatest, most awesome friends has made her return to blogging, and let me tell you, this is something you definititely want to check out. Michaela is hialrious, intelligent and fantastic. This will make blogging history, folks.

Pinterest. Yup. Anything that has to do with it.

The Pittsburg Steelers coach Ray Horton sold his Mercedes to a cook at the sports complex for $20 before leaving to coach for the Arizona Cardinals. via

Here are some things I didn’t really like at all this week:

This sign a man put up on his front door telling his neighbor to die. Since this story was originally published, this man has tried to apologize many times, but I still think its extremely sad to see such hatred like this. via

welcome new friends!

49 go on a cruise (9)Ola, amigos. Have you recently found your way over here from Kyla’s blog? If so, welcome! Make yourself at home. I bet you’re wondering, “Who is this Erin character?” That’s 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. However, I’ve provided a short list below cause 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.
  • 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 think everyone really should have a lucky number and a favorite color.
  • I also really want to know people’s middle names.
  • 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 gratitide 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 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.
  • 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. Sorry, folks.
  • 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 and Brooke.
  • 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 and Kat 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. There are two more guest bloggers that will be coming up this week. One of them has never blogged before, and probably won’t again (unless I can convince her to write another guest post!).
  • 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.

looking over your shoulder

And the guest blogging series returns! Today my friend Kat will write about defining moments in her life. Kat and I went to college together. We both preformed in the Vagina Monologues and took a few of the same classes. I’ve always respected her opinion, so even though she doesn’t have a blog and isn’t in my graduate school, I figured…. Why not ask her? She has a lot to share, and I think there will be quite a few people out there who will relate to her. Enjoy!

An interesting thing happened when Erin invited me to guest blog about a defining moment in my life.  I was eager to write something and flattered that she’d thought of me, but when I saw what the topic was, I felt completely paralyzed.  You could almost say I panicked. 

Let me give you a little background first.  I grew up in poverty. My parents were immigrants to this country with limited education and work experience who worked in factories for most of my childhood.  I was a pretty precocious, though extremely quiet kid who always seemed to do well in school with limited parental engagement in my studies.  My mom worked third shift at a factory, so she wasn’t the kind of mom that chaperoned field trips or volunteered to run girl scouts (not that I was a girl scout, but you get the picture).  I don’t fault her for that – it was tough to raise kids when you had to work as much as possible in a physically challenging environment just so you’d make enough money to have only some confidence that there’d be food on the table every night. My parents worked hard and instilled in me that same strong work ethic.  What also got instilled in me along the way, though, was a sense of fatalism – that things just happen to you (and they’re usually bad), that you have to just work with the hand you’re dealt, and that you’d better get smart and get a job or you’ll be poor and working in a factory for the rest of your life. Life sucks and then you die.

I didn’t have the best relationship with my dad. Okay, I had a horrible relationship with my dad.  That’s a whole other topic though, so we’ll just leave it at that.  So when it was time to think about what I wanted to be when I grew up, it was pretty clear.  I think I subconsciously decided that I wasn’t going to waste my time dreaming about being president or a neuro-surgeon. That sort of stuff doesn’t happen to kids like me (and nowhere had I been taught that I can MAKE it happen).  But I did have a pretty clear goal before me.  Wherever or whatever I ended up, I was not going to be like my parents.  I was not going to live paycheck to paycheck, I was not going to do back-breaking work, I was not going to be absent from my future children’s successes.  I knew I needed to go to college in order to get a good job and get the hell out of Dodge. 

So I did.  I got a full scholarship, finished college suma cum laude, got a job in my profession.  I met a great guy, had a kid, got a masters degree, got laid off from work, got a new job, bought a house, sold a house, had another kid.  I did it all. I grew up. But I never really felt satisfied – something was always lacking.  And I was always looking over my shoulder, the demons of my past creeping slowly behind me.  I had to be on my A game so I wouldn’t end up like them.  Keep going Kat. Stay out of Dodge.  Don’t go back.  Don’t fuck up.

Then one day I signed up for a leadership seminar my CEO offered to staff.  The first assignment was to write the Times News article about ourselves 5 years from now. This was basically a fantasy exercise – time to dream, be crazy, and write about where we could see ourselves (or wished to see ourselves) 5 years down the road.  What did we want to be when we grew up?

I couldn’t do it. I thought and though about it for weeks, stared at blank pages waiting for inspiration to hit me. The day of the next class came and we were asked to share what we’d come up with.  Everyone around me was excited about what they’d written. Some sat down knowing exactly what they had in mind. Others were surprised about what they discovered about themselves along the way. I had nothing.  I had lots of excuses (I’m too busy to think about this, maybe I’m a little depressed so it’s hard to get really excited about something) but no dream.

I had completely forgotten about that assignment until Erin emailed me.  A defining moment in my life? I saw this as an opportunity to write about a moment that made me “ME.”  But who am I? What is it, exactly that I’m working towards? Where am I going and how did I realize that’s where I needed to progress to? A couple of days later an email went out at work that a coworker of mine was leaving the organization. She and her husband were focused on starting a family and she wanted to give more attention to her passion for writing.  So I thought about it.  Essentially, she was quitting her job to go be what she really really wanted to be.  What if someone came to me and said, “Kat, feel free to quit your job right now and go do what you’re passionate about – go make that Times News article come true!”  What would I do? Where would I go? What am I passionate about? Is there a career goal to which I would strive? A hobby I would pour myself into?

You guessed it. I. Got. Nothing.  So I started talking to people about it.  What the hell? Who doesn’t have a dream? Who doesn’t know what they want? Who doesn’t have goals?  Here’s what I found out about myself. Here’s my defining moment (or moments, really).  Maybe I had spent so much time knowing what I didn’t want, that I never had the time, energy, or emotional capacity to figure out what I DID want.  I spent so much time and energy getting out of Dodge that I never really thought about which new town I wanted to end up in.  I was too busy looking back over my shoulder that I never thought to chart the path before me.  Not that. Not them.  That was my goal.

So now that I’ve recognized this, I have the somewhat daunting task before me of learning to dream, finding my passions, and paving the road before me instead of running from the past all the time.  Believe it or not, that feels really hard to do.  I don’t even know where to start.  One suggestion I got was to think about what I loved when I was 10, as that’s around the age you’re at your truest self.  Other advice was to stop worrying about 5 years from now so much and just enjoy the right now.  Either way, I think some lying in the grass and looking for shapes in the clouds is in order. Who knows, maybe I’ll start blogging, since this was such a defining process in my life.

food escapades…take one

Our Homemade Chicken Pot Pies!

So I mentioned yesterday that I planned on writing more posts about my cooking escapades. I figured I’d go easy on you, and tell you about the homemade dinner Mr. O and I made last week. Now, I should preface this entire blog by saying that Mr. O did almost all of the work himself. I simply helped put the top layer of dough on the chicken pot pies, and I also mashed the potatoes. The mashed potatoes weren’t the best I’ve ever had, but I didn’t hear any complaints. We made dinner for Jackie and Jersey (I hope you guys like your nicknames. I know Jackie will) and Mr. O’s son… who also needs a nickname for the blog…Wolverine? Little O? Hmm, I’m going to have to think about that one.

I showed those potatoes who was boss!

So, I really don’t have much to say about our dinner since I can’t take much credit for it. I was actually really proud of Mr. O’s cooking skills after I finished eating. I’ve never been a huge fan of pot pies, so I figured I’d feel all “ehh whatever” about dinner. Oh, no! I was more like “yum, yum, yumm, give me more!” Mr. O has always proven to be a great chef. He’s a good teacher too. I like to be in the kitchen with him and prepare our meals together. A lot of times we’re in a rush or I have a lot of homework to do, so he does most of the cooking. But that doesn’t mean I’m not interested… I plan on doing a lot more cooking.

Almost ready!


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 😉


little miss sunshine

When I was in college, I was talking to my friend N8, this excellent human being who I wish everyone could meet, even if just for a second. I was a little down in the dumps and he and I were just discussing my life. What did I want from life? What did I feel like I was lacking? How could I get to where I wanted to be?…

He said something to me that always stood with me. He was telling me that my positive attitude would get me very far in life. I responded by saying how that was all fine and dandy, but I knew that people occasionally were irritated by my “Little Miss Sunshine” outlook. “Who cares,” he said. “You’ve got enough love inside you to keep a handful of small countries running. They wouldn’t even need electricity with all your positive energy.”

I know that love and positive thinking can’t run a country, but I liked what he meant. Who cares what people think of my bubbly personality. It took me a long time to be comfortable with my level of “happy,” but I think I’m a very lucky person. I’d much rather wake up every single morning happy to be alive than wake up every single morning miserable. Trust me, I’ve been in both situations.

What’s my point? Ha. I don’t really know. I guess I just feel so lucky, so in love, so happy. I know this outlook I have is a gift, and I should be grateful for this “gift” every single day. Am I cranky sometimes? Of course! But in general, I take every moment of every single day as an opportunity to LIVE and celebrate life.

So today, I’m celebrating.

I’m celebrating the people I have in my life. I’m celebrating the opportunities I have to learn and grow. I’m celebrating all the bad that has brought me to this good. I’m celebrating me; I’m celebrating you. Thanks for reading my blog, for taking time out of your special day to see what is happening in mine. Y’all are the absolute best.

Today…is a good day. I’m full of love.

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