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.

billboards= blog posts

I am in love.

I keep telling my boyfriend (aka Mr. O) that I’m going to buy a billboard on the local highway and declare my love for him. He thinks I’m silly. I’m serious; I just don’t happen to have the money to be able to pull this off. I keep thinking about this nonexistent billboard too. I feel like I’m just bursting with love, and I want the whole wide world to know about it. Granted the whole wide world isn’t travelling through my hometown highway, but you get the point. I’m in love and I want everyone to know. So what’s a girl to do when she can’t devote her love to her guy via a humongous poster in the sky?

Write a blog post about it.

I feel very protective about my relationship. He is a pretty private person. I, on the other hand, tend to live a pretty public life. But it isn’t necessarily his need for privacy that I am trying to protect. I’m protective because I love what I have, and I refuse to let outside influences impact my relationship. So this creates a possible conundrum. What to share and what to keep to myself?

I try to keep slightly mum about Mr. O on the blog. I mean, I’ve written about how I am in a relationship, mentioned him quite a bit, but the details have been very vague. Here is some random information:

He is the sexiest man alive. It is true. I’m so attracted to him. Sometimes I just want to stare at him (well, more like all the time, but sometimes sounds less creepy). He is a fantastic father, and I love watching him with his son. He tickles me…like tickles me a lot. He opens my car doors for me; he surprises me, my mom and both my grandmothers with flowers. He nurtures his friendships. He remembers EVERY SINGLE THING. I’m sure you could guess how important this would be to a girl who can’t remember what she said two sentences before. He cares about my writing. He goes out of his way to do stuff like cook dinner or wash the dishes so that I can have more time to do my homework or write a blog post.

He amazes me. Our commitment to our relationship amazes me. Having a partner who is truly just as committed to your union as you are is one of the greatest gifts you can ever receive in your life.

Being with Mr. O has made me want to be a better Erin. Not for him, not for our us, but for me. I feel good. I feel alive. I know that our love is a huge reason why I feel so grounded and safe and comfortable in life right now. I like who I am. I want to live in the present every moment of every day.

So while I may not be able to rent a billboard, I am totally able to write a blog post.

Thank you, Mr. O…. I love you.

“Oh I’ll stay with you through the ups and the downs
Oh I’ll stay with you when no one else is around
And when the dark clouds arrive
I will stay by your side
I know we’ll be alright
I will stay with you”

missing robert

I’m trying to convince myself that writing a blog post is productive, because at least I’m writing. I’ve yet to write anything of substance for this semester. Don’t get me wrong, I probably have about eight or nine or ten single spaced pages of nonsense, but nonsense just won’t cut it.

It’s just that I have this problem: every time I sit down to write lately, all I can think about is Robert. You don’t need to analyze me; I’ll do it for you. If I’m sitting down to write and all I can think about is one person, then that probably means there is an important story to be told.

So why not tell it? Good question. Because it hurts too much? Maybe I’m afraid? It makes me feel too vulnerable? Because I don’t even know what I have to say about him? The story isn’t just about him; its about me, it’s about people who are here and safe and out of harm’s way… people who I worried about for years. It’s about how I didn’t worry enough for Robert.

If I were to start my story, here is what I would say: “Robert was killed on Jeremy’s birthday.”

That is as far as I can get. I can’t write about sitting on my parent’s couch and getting a call from my brother telling me that he heard that Robert had been killed in Afghanistan. How Jeremy asked me to find out if it was true, to look on facebook, to make some calls. I can’t write about how I searched the internet  for hours like I was some kind of cyber detective looking for clues, even though my good friend John spoke with Robert’s mother and called to let me know. I don’t want to talk about how angry I was that the newspapers and tv stations weren’t announcing his death. Where was his picture? I don’t want to talk about how physically sick I felt and still feel when I actually saw his photo on tv, next to the words “Soldier Killed in Afghanistan.” I don’t want to write about how I still haven’t talked to his sister Becky since the funeral. How I don’t know how she is doing. How I don’t know how his two- maybe even three- year old daughter is doing.

I don’t want to write about how for years I made deals with God, crying and pleading, “If you bring Nicholas home safely I will never ever in my life smoke a cigarette again; I’ll go back to church. If you bring him home, I don’t care if he and I never even speak again, as long as he’s safe” or how I bargained with powers I don’t know for sure exisit to keep Gene and Stephan alive too. How even now, the USS Enterprise holds a special place in my heart. How that for years I was so terrified that something would happen to my friends. How I obsessed about it. How I was convinced that one day I would be forced to stand in front of a flag draped casket, to see their uniforms, empty boots on the side, to hear someone play Taps. I don’t want to write about how years later, when they were all safe and finished their tours of duty, there I was looking at a young boy’s empty boots, uniform, gun. I don’t want to write about how I didn’t even consider this being an option. How I didn’t obsess over Robert.

No, I don’t want to write about that. I don’t want to write about how the day before Robert shipped out, I told him he’d be fine “because I know everything.” My signature line. “Trust me; I know everything.” I hate those words. I hate myself for ever speaking those words. I don’t want to write about how we’d instant message each other at 3:00am because we both couldn’t sleep. How we’d always talk about my grad school applications, and how much work it all was. How he’d send me messages just to check in and make sure I wasn’t overdoing it; that I was taking care of myself. I don’t want to write about how he was a much better friend to me than I was to him. I don’t want to remember those conversations, even though they are all that’s really left.

I was looking through pictures of my oldest brother’s wedding a few weeks ago, when all of a sudden I saw Robert. I had looked at this picture many times before, but never did I notice him in the pew as Mike and I walked down the aisle. He looked so happy. He was always such a good friend to Jeremy; he looked up to him. Robert was still in high school then. He hadn’t yet enlisted. I remember how at Jeremy’s wedding he was talking about what a great time he was having, how he said he would have done the whole night over again when it was over.

Wouldn’t that be nice? To have the chance to do the whole night over….

i’ve got a crush on you…

Sigh…Oh, how I love crushes.

My life is boring when I have no crushes. Its fun to look forward to talking to someone or running into that person when you least expect it. I seriously doubt that I will ever in my entire life stop finding people to crush on. There is something special about it, something whimsical.

There really are no rules to it either.

I mean, there are the legitimate crushes in which you are actually interested in another person. You keep the phone near you in case he calls; you scrutinize all the clothing in your closet to plan the perfect outfit for your dates, even if he’ll barely notice; you truly want to get to know him, possibly start a relationship. I haven’t had a legitimate crush in a while, but I’m starting to wonder if one is in the works. A very handsome man sent me a silly picture message yesterday of tacos, and I giggled. Later that night I found out he really liked Grey’s Anatomy, and I swear my heart skipped a beat (its obviously pretty easy to make me happy). There is a possibility that I might have a legitimate crush on him. Just not sure if I’m ready to admit it yet.

Then there are the acquaintance or stranger crushes… someone you run into at your office, the gym, the supermarket. Someone you might have some association with, but barely enough to really get to know the other person. These are always fun, and I find myself crushing on so many guys I may never even see again- the nice man who helped the little old lady put her grocery bags into the trunk of her car a few days ago or the very handsome man who I met in the elevator at work (even though I totally embarassed myself in front of him).

And, of course, I can’t forget about celebrity crushes. Totally self explanatory too. I could pretty much just keep a running list of my favorites, because it changes all the time: Channing Tatum, Richard Gere, Matt Long, Mike Lowell, Colin Farrell, the list could go on and on and on.

But sometimes I crush in totally non-romantic ways. I get crushes on women celebrities when I watch awards shows and see them in their amazingly gorgeous dresses. I crush on blog friends, because some of the people I’m friends with on here are just so wonderful that it hurts (check out my blogroll if you’re looking for a good time). I crush on my real life girl friends all of the time, because I am fortunate to know the most amazing women alive. I’ve been crushing on all the people in my group since I started my new job last month, because they are just fantastic.

I think crushes are incredibly healthy and normal. Especially right now in my life. I am a 26 year old, single, childless, graduate student who works way too much for her own good. I’ve been out of a “real” (ha) relationship for about two years. I’ve dated a few people in that time… some just to fill the lonely spaces and some I was actually interested in.

There have been moments that I’ve longed to be in a relationship.  Moments when I’m in bed alone at night and I wished and wished I had a warm body beside mine that I could cuddle up to, feel his breath on my neck, hold his hand- and not just any warm body. I could easily have any random warm body in my bed if I so chose to, but that’s just not what I want. There have been other moments, like when I attended my first residency of graduate school, and my new friends would excuse themselves to call their respective boyfriends or husbands. The only person I could think of to call at the time was my best friend, and she was away on a cruise!  Weddings have been tough, too. I’ve been to endless weddings in the past two years, one of which was my brother’s wedding and three of which were my closest friends’ weddings.  There I was- completely alone- celebrating the love of two people I care about deeply, surrounded by other wonderful friends who were there with their significant others. In moments like these, I feel deeply lonely.

BUT…don’t feel too sorry for me, because these past two years have probably been the happiest, most motivating years of my life. I’ve grown (unfortunately not physically :), I’m still the short kid) and for the first time, I feel very comfortable in my own shoes. I have a much better understanding of who I am,  what I want and where I’d like to be. I’ve got great friends, family and the best dog in the whole wide world. I’m so busy with school, work and my social life that I honestly barely have time to acknowledge the fact that I’m not in a relationship. Basically, my life is full, very full.

There really is not a “point” to this post. I think what I am trying to say, is that I’m at a crux.

Do I want to be in a relationship? Do I want to stay single?
Its not like any of these questions can or will be answered easily or right away. Even if I knew the answer, it isn’t like there is a handsome, kind, happy, personable man who is just sitting there, waiting for me to start a relationship with him. But what I do know for sure, is that I love, love, love to crush. I guess we’ll all just have to wait and see if my crushes develop into anything like a relationship, or if they end up a passing fancy.

But until we know for sure… I’m going to relish in this attraction.