Monday, July 29, 2013

The Day I Stopped Being Afraid of Victoria's Secret Employees

In case you've forgotten,
this is what I typically wear
On Thursday, July 25, I traveled to Portland to go to the DMV for the third time that week. It turns out, to be a journalist, it sometimes requires driving. As such, I need a working car, and a driver's licence. Only, mine had been expired since my April.

The first time I'd gone, I'd needed a birth certificate. (Hard to do because my mother is unreliable, etc.) So I got my birth certificate, and went back a few days later with a co worker. This time, because I don't have a lease, and haven't registered my car to the town I'm living in, and all my mail goes to my PO Box, I don't exist as a I was rejected again and handed affidavits for people to fill out stating that I do, in fact, live in Maine.

Finally, at my third time at the DMV, I got my picture taken, proved my vision is worthless without my glasses or contacts, and boom! I now have a temporary licence while I wait for mine to come in the mail. (For those keeping count, I've now had licences in Michigan, Massachusetts, and now, Maine!) In celebration of FINALLY being a real person again, I went to the mall to buy a new bra.

I have this thing with Victoria's Secret. I love their bras and undies, however, I'm always SUPER awkward about going into their store. As always, I stood outside for an extra second, took a deep breath, convinced myself I'm an adult, and walked through into the land of pink.

Somehow, though I'd been waiting for it all year, I'd managed to miss the semi annual sale. There was still a small bin of bras left, so I looked at them and went to the fitting room. (Ladies, if you've never tried on anything at Victoria's Secret, you need to. I am not kidding. Their mirrors just make you want to take off your clothes.) So I took off the dress I was wearing and tried on the bras that were the same size as the one I had on...only...something didn't feel right.

In the fitting rooms, they have service buttons, and the woman who'd opened the door for me told me to push it if I needed "sized". Well, it turns out I did. After about a minute of debating with myself (I didn't have any pants on, I'd only worn a dress in...etc) I pushed the little button, panicked because I was literally standing there in a bra and underwear, and then she came in and agreed, I was totally wearing the incorrect size. Not only the band size, but cup as well. I had to go down two band sizes and up a cup.

From that moment on, she came to my fitting room several times with different bras to try on, a tape measure, etc. She didn't look at my body like I was disgusting. She didn't shame me or make me feel like an idiot for being uncomfortable in my own skin, or not truly understanding how to pick out a proper bra even though I'm 25 years old. She was professional and incredibly helpful. She even went so far as to find me which bras I wanted to buy.
And on that day, I bought two new bras :)

I understand that for many women, this sort of thing is easy, but for me, it wasn't. I'm not used to wearing girl clothes. I'm not used to talking about boobs, or bra sizes, or allowing strangers to see me mostly naked. But the woman who helped me never once made me feel like an idiot, or some sub par female for needing/asking for help.

I'm not going to lie, it felt pretty empowering to finally get a bra that hugs me rather than hides me.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Living the Dream

My first day of a big girl job apparel 
It's 7am and my alarm is going off. For the last several months, it'd be typical for me to roll out of bed around 9am or even as late as 11am. No longer. I get away with snoozing two to three times. Then. I HAVE to get up.

My hair is sticking up in all directions. The make-up I couldn't wash off my face last night attaches itself just under my sleep filled eyes. I snap my fingers twice to avoid talking for another few minutes, and Baxter and Kyla meet me at the door to go outside.

I shower, eat breakfast, debate on putting on make-up again, dress, pet the dogs, make sure I have everything: voice recorder, notebooks, pens, pictures of Baxter to put on my desk, wallet, keys, cell phone, etc, kiss the dogs goodbye, and then I'm out the door. Most mornings, I make one stop: the coffee shop, where I'll spend $2-$4 on either coffee or an iced caramel macciato. Usually by noon, I start shaking and forgetting how to make the letter "D".

My first day, I worked over ten hours. My second day was somewhere around 9. By day three, I passed out at 5pm and woke up at around 7:30pm. It's been a challenging and exhausting week, but it's been amazing to see this:

Two of these FRONT PAGE stories
are mine!
If your theory of Living the Dream is getting paid to write, I feel like I've made it. I work 40 hours a week. I get assigned articles, and get to cover ones I think are interesting. I get paid to write. Not to stock shelves, cash people out, get yelled at for ID people who look under age.

I feel like I'm on top of the world right now.

Just you know, a little tired.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Getting To Know You

It's been awhile since I participated in a blog hop, and because of another author, I stumbled across the Getting To Know You blog hop, and I figured why not?

Getting To Know You Blog Hop

How do you remember your first kiss?
I was a little bit of what you'd call a mouth-slut as a small child. I chased boys on the playground, and if I caught them, their punishment was usually a kiss. When riding the bus home, I'd kiss boys under the seat. However, they were always pecks on the cheek (well, typically. I think in second or third grade, I graduated to lip kisses.)

As I got older, we began playing more intense rounds of Truth or Dare. I can't remember if I got dared, or if he got dared, but either way, we were dared to ::GASP:: french kiss! Soon enough, his mouth was on mine, and his tongue felt like licking a slug. We jerked away, and promptly went to the bathroom to brush our teeth and get each other's tastes out of our mouths. 

I waited a few years before trying again.

What was your first favorite love song?
Oh, wow. This is a hard one. I've always been surrounded by music, and I've always gone around liking and unliking songs. It's hard to remember my first (perhaps, Damn, I wish I was your lover? Because I got to sing the word "Damn" without getting in trouble?).

What's the first thing you do when you begin writing for the day?
Probably clean or organize something to avoid writing. Play on facebook, gmail. twitter pet the dogs, realize Baxter's ears need cleaned. When I sit down to write, I avoid it for at least another hour.

Who's the first writer who truly inspired you to become a writer?
Kerry Cohen and Zu Vincent, I think. I met them both at AWP. Kerry is the author of Loose Girl, and she is just so brave, and blunt, and amazing. She's not afraid of the mistakes she's made in her life. I was humbled just being in the room with her.
Zu (author of The Lucky Place) on the other hand has helped guide me through this crazy process. She read a few pages of a manuscript and told me to keep pressing on.
I know there have been TONS of other writers who have influenced and helped me, but those two rocked my world.

Did the final revision of your first book have the same first chapter it started with?
No way in hell. God, my first chapter was AWFUL. So bad in fact, I asked my sister to read/edit it for me, she got three pages in and emailed me saying, "Please, please don't make me read any more of this."

For your first book, which came first: major characters, plot, or setting?
Setting, I think. Sometime in the future. Then the main character, and the love interest. He was always there.

What's the first word you want to roll off the tip of someone's tongue when they think of your writing?

Friday, July 12, 2013

Streaked Mountain Old and Young

Billy, on top of the world
A friend I'd lost touch with over the winter got a hold of me this week, inviting me for coffee and an adventure. However, the adventure started at 7:30am, and I'm a slow riser. Ugh.

He drove us to Streaked Mountain, and we spent the next hour or so hiking one of the steepest mountains I've hiked. (I actually lost my footing one of the times and managed to twist my ankle. So graceful :) ). When we got to the top, I saw a bush. "What's that?"

"Wild blueberries," he answered.

"Can I eat them without dying?" (The entire time I was thinking about Hunger Games.)

"Probably," he said.

Me on top of the world.
And like that, I grabbed a few and popped them in my mouth. It was an explosion of sweet. We met a hiker along the way who stopped at each bush and ate a few. I decided this was a good goal to have next time around. (Perhaps with a bottle of water to rinse them off first.)

Days after the adventure, I was sitting in the newspaper office and mentioned hiking. I was asked (rather ferociously) if there were blueberries. I said yes and that I'd eaten some. The woman slumped with jealousy.

That same day, I made my voyage for the Real People column and interviewed a 98 year old woman. She's from the area, and used to go to school via horse and wagon. She told me about her brother dying in WWII (he was only 23, and very, very handsome). Closer to the end, she talked about hiking Streaked Mountain when she was younger, and eating the wild blueberries.

My mouth fell open. "I just did that."

"Really? Were they wonderful?" she asked.

I recounted the way they tasted, and how it was my first time ever to the mountain.

As I left, holding my notes from the interview, I was washed with a million feelings. I am 25. She is 98. Yet, chances are we'd stood in the same place, overlooking the surrounding mountains, perhaps even eating from the same blueberry bush.

I have every intention of hiking Streaked tomorrow morning with another friend, this time, knowing that I carry a 98 year old's memories with me. I'll be sure to eat some blueberries for her.

Wild Blueberries!

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

What I'm Learning About Frienship

In my life, I've had some really, really bad friends. Ones who steal money from me, abandon me when I need them most, and ones that just use me to get something in return.

It hasn't been until this whole Seek Healthy Relationships mission that I've truly started to see what makes friendship such a beautiful thing. Because we all know how much I love lists, here's a small list of what true friendship is (and don't worry, I'm still learning).

My sister and I. She pushed me pretty hard.
7) They push you to be better than you currently are.
My teacher friend saw potential in me and roped me into this public speaking gig. My other friends pushed me to submit my resume to the newspaper. Your friends should always seek the best for you, and if you're afraid to take the first steps, they'll know how to support and challenge you so that you, too, want the best for yourself.

Some of my very, very good friends.
6) They don't have to be remotely anywhere near your age.
I have friends who haven't graduated high school yet. I have friends who are in their 80's. I have friends in-between those age gaps. We don't have a generation gap, we find mutual ground, a mutual respect for each other, and bond over snowboarding, or our hatred of our jobs, our love of animals, or our fucked up pasts.

5) They help take care of you.
My little friend, Allie and I before I left NC
There are times in your life where you can't take care of yourself. Whether it's because you're puking from drinking too much, you can't carry your food to the couch because you're on crutches, you're curled up in the fetal position crying for days, or your dog has gotten seriously sick and you can't afford his vet bills. True friends will help you. They will spot you money, they will break and enter with you so you can get your stuff back from a creepy old man who'd exposed himself to you, they will pick you up from the couch you've refused to rise from.

4) Though you may embarrass them, frequently, they're still not ashamed to be seen in public with you.
Yep. I was rocking hooker boots at a family function.
Laura (sister) yells at me quite a bit for not having any social tact. I talk about a lot of things I shouldn't, especially at the dinner table. In recent weekends, I went to Connecticut to help my friends celebrate their new house as well as their engagement, and we went out to dinner. I talked too loud, and told some poo stories, and puke stories. Needless to say....I should learn tact, some day. But they're still my friends. It's kind of that whole "Accepting you for you" type of thing.

I see these cats less than once a year.
3) You don't have to see them every day.
Some of my favorite people to be around, I only get to see either once every few months, or once a year. Some of my very good friends (blogging friends, twitter friends) I've never even met. Many of them have helped me (especially with Baxter). Many of them support me. Many offer advice, even when I don't want to hear it.

2) They protect you.
Friends from CT. They're very happy people.
A few weekends ago, I was in CT for a friend's engagement party. I'd had a beer and minimal amounts of food. When a guy handed me another beer, my friend (also a boy) looked right at me and mouthed, "Be Careful." He spent the next hour convincing me that I needed to eat and drink water. We were told repeatedly that we sounded/seemed like an old married couple.

1) Things that are important to you, matter to them.
My friends from Ecuador and the Philippines!
Another amazing example of friendship is an example from my time in CT. When they saw me, they ALL asked how Baxter was doing. They've never met my handsome little man. But they knew he was sick and tried to help him. They asked how he was because he's my entire world. It meant more to me than I can express.
They also allowed me to talk about my organization, my writing, and my dog, over, and over, and over. They never told me to shut up (except when I embarrassed them :) )

This is only a small list, but each point has shocked me. I always imagined that you see your friends every day, or you interact with them, or you've somehow known them your entire life. I managed to forget that you can go weeks, months, years, without seeing each other, and nothing can change. I forget that they can influence you to be a better person, to stop selling yourself short.

In unrelated news, each person in these pictures has helped save my life at one time or another.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Your Societal Debt and a McDonald's IOU

A happy picture, of polar bears :)
After an incredibly rough night, I woke up to find that there was no food in my house. I had cereal, but no milk. I had peanut butter but no bread. So I made the two mile voyage to McDonald's, excited about getting a $1 iced coffee, and breakfast burrito.

Instead, as I stood in line there was a sign on each register that wasn't typically:

We currently cannot accept any credit or debit cards. 
Sorry for the inconvenience.

"Is that true? None of the computers can take cards?" I asked in a panic. I looked at my watch. I had fifteen minutes to get to work. Not exactly enough time to go anywhere and get a decent breakfast.

"It's true. Even the drive through is down."

Panic rose in my throat. I needed food. More importantly, I needed coffee. It wasn't even 7:30am yet. "Is there any way I can write you guys an IOU? I get out of work at 4, and I swear to God I'll pay it."

The cashier looked at me uncomfortably before saying, "I can get my manager and you can ask her."

She did, and the manager asked what I was getting. "It'll only be two dollars," I said. She had me sign a receipt, I got my coffee (which was hot rather than iced, but I figured beggars can't be choosers) and my breakfast burrito, and went to work.

A few hours later, I returned bottles, got $3.00 back, and paid $2.10 to the lovely manager who'd allowed me to write an IOU.

So how does this story tie into societal debt?

It's simple. When you get burned enough times, you stop trusting people. In example, if I hadn't paid the manager back, and someone else had done the same thing, a future person in a similar "emergency" would
When people get hurt enough,
they learn their lesson...
probably be rejected by the proposition of an IOU. In order to allow that future person the same luxury I was allowed, I had to pay my societal debt, and make sure the manager continues to trust honest people.

You can take this debt further. Take it into relationships with people. If your relationship sucks, you become more guarded in the next. If that one sucks, you're more guarded, and so on, until you just feel dead inside and can't remember how to function in a relationship. As a relationship, it's up to you not to hurt your significant other, and especially if you're breaking up, not to scar them for future relationships. Think of this when people loan you money and you need to pay them back. Or when you borrow something and need to return it.

Pay your debt. Ensure that people are safe, and unhurt. Protect the invisible future person from damage you may have caused.

Happy Monday.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Why Break Ups Suck

I've been reading a lot of newspapers recently where the crazy ex or boyfriend kills the girl. He strangles her, stabs her, or some other atrocious act of violence to end her life. I've read them in Cosmo, and I've read them in the newspaper.

When I was in college, I read an article that discussed how the first month of the break up is the most dangerous. If you're a woman and you broke up with a guy, he can go through a stalking, "Maybe I can get her back" phase. It can be cute, but it can also be horrific.

Keeping these things in the back of my mind during the last month or so of my current break up, I've been trying to keep my distance. For the first two weeks or so, I'd said if he changed and grew up, I'd be willing to reconsider the break up.

Then it was abundantly clear that nothing was going to get better. It was over.

As time went on, things degraded very quickly. He threatened to kill me if I brought a boy home. (Also threatened to kill the boy, too.) He tried to use the fact I don't have parents, I used to cut myself, I have a lot of male friends, etc against me. Then in the next breath, he'd say he loves me, or will always have feelings for me. I'm not saying I was an angle, and I didn't scream, and name call, and whatever else. But when the door gets kicked in and I have to call the cops, there's a serious issue that he's not addressing, and I seriously hope he gets help before he hurts himself or someone else.

It's hard because I still remember that time he drove to Boston when I was stranded at 3am and took me home when we both had to work morning shifts. It's hard because I remember him disappearing one night, and I found him scraping off my car when it was covered in snow so I could drive home. It's hard because I remember going to sleep, and him kissing me on the forehead. It's hard because now I walk the dogs by myself at night, and it's nicer to talk to someone, even if it's only superficial. It's hard because I've seen the destruction of the relationship, and that's why I ended things in the first place.

Since 2011 I've made it my mission to seek healthy relationships. With friends, with boyfriends, with siblings, hell, even with my mother (who we're constantly trying to establish boundaries). I don't want to end up like my neighbors last summer who just screamed at each other every night. I don't want to end up like my parents and their toxic relationship.

Every person on this planet deserves to be healthy. Everyone deserve to be happy. This is a small set back, but at least I can say I ended things when they crossed into unhealthy territory, and in the end stuck to that decision (which has recently been made abundantly clear it was the right decision.

With that said, take some time to evaluate your relationships in your life. Is there a way to make them stronger? More stable? And when you're done with that, have an awesome weekend :)

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Shit Just Got Real

They are super excited for me :)
This one time in May, I started working for a newspaper with the Real People column. It's been fun, and challenging, and making me wonder if I could get involved more with the newspaper.

As of yesterday, I had an interview, where I got to talk about abortion rights and my involvement, protests, and other things you typically shouldn't say at an interview.

And this morning, as I lay in bed with Baxter and Kyla, my phone went off.

And they offered me the position of a reporter! It's salary. I shouldn't rely on a roommate anymore!

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