Friday, July 23, 2010

Technical difficulties

Lest my limited postings lead you think I've lost interest in this blog, I wanted to explain my temporary absence. I'm in the process of moving and that means that I'm also waiting for Comcast to set up my new place with TV, internet, and about 900 new channels... including the NHL and NFL Networks!!!! So, that means I'm bouncing between apartments, moving and cleaning and that doesn't leave much time for posting. I'm enjoying my lil interwebs hiatus. It's nice to check out for a while.

Monday, July 19, 2010

My biggest regret

I've been debating whether or not to reveal this for a while now. I generally live my life without regret; even when I screw up, I usually learn something so I don't regret my mistakes or actions. Sure, there are some I wish I could take back, but ultimately everything is a learning experience and worth the joy or pain or whatever emotion comes with it.

This one... this one, though, eats away at me almost daily:

I defriended someone on Facebook about a month before she died.

We had been friends on and off since we were 14. I say "on and off" not because we fought or had an irreparable falling out, but because we rarely lived in the same place after high school and remained close mostly by our association with other people in our social circle. She was there for a lot of formative moments in my life. I think we were a lot more alike than either of us ever wanted to admit, having similar family situations and stuff going on in our lives. We were also both headstrong and loud, which made us collaborate and clash equally. We were kids. We were friends.

When I defriended her I was going through a period where I defriended lots of people who I felt I had little connection with or whose updates bothered me or who I decided I wasn't close enough to in real life to merit an online connection. I've always had this odd relationship with Facebook where I simultaneously love and loathe the constant updates of friends, family and people who I shared a hallway with at one point. I also am prone to these valleys where I think everyone is out to get me, and I irrationally single someone (or several people) out and react virtually, "deleting" their imaginary poison from my life. More often than not, that poison is self-created and administered, a figment of my insane mind and no more than that. So I clicked a link and let her go into the vast virtual word of fiber optic code.

And now she's gone. For real, this time. And every time I log on to Facebook and see the truncated friends list of 60 people in my social circle, I see her name without a profile picture, all information kept private except for the list of 60 who stayed with her online through their and her down periods, and without any way for me to make amends and have some last lingering reminder of her with me here on earth.

It'll be a year this coming November since she passed away. I believe she's the sixth or seventh in our graduating class to die far too young, but she was by far the closest to me of any of them. Maybe she hated me, maybe she didn't; we didn't talk enough for me to know either way. I don't want sympathy, nor do I want to be criticized for my absolute sadness over my hasty and illogical decision (both are part of the reason I've kept this to myself for so long). I had to get it out. I had to confess to what I did; a confession of the slight committed against someone who did nothing to me but be there, be a friend, and love those who I loved. I have pictures of her sharing in freshman year... my 16th birthday... making the "noise machine"... South Parkland soccer... the five-year reunion... and memories of her and our best friend, who I lived with for a year after college and who had to deliver the news of her best friend's death to the rest of us scattered throughout the country. I have those photos, tangible pieces of intangible memories, but that is all I have. That's all any of us have.

I see that blue portrait outline - the reminder of her inaccessibility - and am devastated by my action. Although the action of defriending may seem harmless in its virtual nature, to me it was horrible, me at my worst, inexcusable and eternally haunting. If I could do it all over, if I could take it back, I would let go of 20 other current "friends" before I let go of her. Fifty "friends." Maybe more. She knew me at my worst and saw me through to the person I am now. I wish she were here. I wish I hadn't clicked that button when I had. I wish we were 14 again.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

The hardest break up of my life

I smoked my first cigarette in Adam Hennessey's front yard when I was 13. I don't think I inhaled, because when I smoked again at 14 with my cousin, I wanted to die. I bought my last pack of smokes in October of 2009 and ended a decade-long love affair with a dangerous lover. I know they're bad for me, but I can't stop thinking about it. Even after all this time - when they're out of my body for good - I can't stop.

I want a cigarette so fucking badly right now.

I smoked on and off for years, quitting during sports seasons, hiding from my parents and smoking socially depending on the situation. After my college sports days were numbered, and when cigarette breaks became legitimate breaks from work, I smoked more regularly. A few here and there became a pack a day, especially when I was studying in Europe. I even remember dragging my buddy Jaxon back into smoking the first weekend we met. He was taking a medical aid to stop; I had given up on the patch. My friend Ashley and I walked a mile in the snow to buy four packs from the local dive bar of the ski town in which we were staying to provide sustenance for ourselves, Jax and the rest of the drunken, smoking fools in our hotel. I spent a long time - and a lot of money - on something that was killing me.

But, damn... it felt good. And I miss it.

Yeah, I do. I'm no longer physically addicted... in all honesty, I never felt the physical addiction that intensely. I was able to quit when necessitated by sports or my living arrangements. But I love the act of smoking. I totally love the act. I love the inhale and the slow, elongated exhale. I think the feeling I get when I smoke. Call it an oral fixation, or what you will, but I love it. And the last few days, I've really been struggling with not smoking. I quit after my friend Mark's wedding on November 1, 2009. That was my last trip to Philly - a place where all my friends smoke and it's hard to escape the temptation when it's in your face every day. And while it's not a defining element of our lives, it's something our friends and I always did together: we listened to music, went outside to smoke and gossip, went back into the bar for more music (and Jager) and back out to get fresh air... or horrifically stale, smokey air... whatever.

It's hard to break those types of habits, irrespective of the physical addiction aspect. It makes me think that maybe I should invest in those "smokeless" electronic cigarettes I see in the mall kiosks. I destroyed my year-old emergency pack two weeks ago when I started interviewing for jobs, my stress getting the best of me. Every morning after, I felt like complete shit, with the back of my throat feeling like a burnt and peeling marshmallow. But still - I want one. Bad.

So far, so good. I haven't made a mad dash to the gas station across the street for a pack of Parliament Lights. I guess I have the government to thank; I don't really have the extra $8 to spend on something I'm just going to feel bad about in the morning. Hell, even a one-night stand is cheaper than that for the same end result (and probably even less pleasure).

I'm keeping my head up and trying not to watch TV shows that glorify smoking (i.e. "Sex and the City," "Mad Men"). I'm remembering how much Juno hates the smell and how far I've come since last October. I had my slip ups, but they never involved running out to buy a pack. Plus, I know that once I start again, it's going to be 20 times more difficult to stop. My relationship with nicotine was my longest, most reliable... and most destructive. But still, I found it hard to leave and still find it hard to forget. The key is to love myself more than the drug.

I hope someday that will be natural and not a battle.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Good morning, beautiful: Real Fast Plane

I've been physically and emotionally invested in a flurry of moving boxes, packing tape and job interviews this week. It's also a balls-hot 90-something degrees all up in here, which makes my partially-packed, not-clean-enough apartment even more miserable. I've been wetting towels, sticking 'em in the freezer and putting them on various spots on my bed for me and the pup. Anyway, my brain's in "stop sweating in your interview suit... seriously, stop sweating" mode lately, which leaves little time for blogging.

Good thing my friends are creative when I can't be. Grab your morning coffee, load up this video and let The Shakers get stuck in your head today. CLee and Jodie perform the perfect acoustic summer song in this one. I know, I'm totally gay for this band lately and not just because they're my friends. They've really come into their own over the past year and a half and they're really, really damn good.

Here's 1/2 of The Shakers, in the stand-out L.A. venue known as... CLee's living room... performing "Real Fast Plane."

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Define a "successful" relationship.

After a mead tasting and one beer later, the conversation turned to relationships and how some of ours started. A friend of mine began by saying that she knew instantly that the guy was right for her; it wasn't a relationship that took time to blossom, like a friend into a boyfriend. They met and it was done. She said that all of her successful relationships started that way... then she took that back. She recanted:

"Well, I'm not with them now, so I guess they weren't 'successful'."

I thought about it for a split second and then replied that I didn't think that they weren't successful. What makes a relationship successful? Because it ends in marriage? Or something else?

I told her that I thought my most successful relationships ended with me and the formerly-significant other being friends, being able to talk and hang out and leaving the relationship having learned something. That, for me, was what defines "successful."

As I've thought about it more tonight, I realized that most people consider relationships to be "successful" when there's some sort of finality attached: they end in marriage. I'm guessing this is because marriage is the logical point of reference for most people's "successful" relationships.

But that's never been a point of reference for me.

My parents' relationship didn't end in marriage; it ended in divorce. Most of my married friends are either newly or re-married. And, honestly, most of the people I know in long-term relationships *never* got that piece of paper that proclaimed them "married." I'm not saying their relationships have been without cheating or break ups or problems... but they're still together after many, many years. Their relationships never underwent legal changes and the inevitable (aka court-ordered) financial ramifications. They handled their problems without a judge, and sometimes, the problems worked themselves out without a "divorce."

I'm guessing it's all perspective. For me, "successful" relationships don't end in marriage. However, for most people, they do. I'm not going to understand the other perspective, although I can appreciate it. I don't think that's a logical way of looking at relationships... that is, to assume that being successful means lasting forever. I think that people grow and change, and through life, people outgrow and out-change each other. If you don't grow and change, then what's the point of living? I mean, I hope that I can find someone to grow and change with me and I with them. However, I have experienced firsthand how unrealistic that hope can be. Hey - I also know that it works for A LOT of people... I've just never seen it in my own life. So it's not a reality for me. This is nothing to be sad or self-loathing about... it's just the truth. For me. And maybe some others. And maybe no one else. But it's all I know.

Happy birthday, Captain.

Wow, two big celebrity birthdays in a row.

I'm sending well-wishes all the way into the 24th century to Captain Jean-Luc Picard... okay, Patrick Stewart, the awesome member of Star Fleet to ever be knighted. Today he celebrates a big ol' 70th birthday. SEVENTY. He looks awesome and has about five projects in production. Although it's now a bit outdated, the picture below says it all:

Damn right. Engage.

Photos via and via.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Happy birthday.

Wishing a happy 62nd birthday to Richard Simmons, American fitness (and gay?) icon.

I've always thought he was pretty great. He doesn't seem to take his persona too seriously. However, he does seem to take fitness seriously. Simmons was one of the few people in L.A. in the '70s to offer the gym/weight-loss experience to people who didn't live up to the L.A. standard of beauty. Of course, L.A. would have gyms solely intended for good-looking and fit people. But I digress...

Here's one of the funniest and most popular videos of him performing as, among other things, a jet ski on "Whose Line is it Anyway?"

Hilarious. Enjoy.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Stuck in my head: Soraia, "Shed the Skin"

Soraia's one of my favorite Philly bands and they've been steadily gaining steam since I left in 2008. They were one of five bands who played my going away party free of charge, for me and our friends; they've also toured the U.S. several times and opened for Bon Jovi more than once. They've never been too big for their fans and friends, but they are definitely breaking out big time on the national scene. Soraia will open for Bon Jovi (again) on July 11 at their Saratoga Springs show.

Today I read a story about them, centered on Sue, their front woman and one of the primary songwriters. It wasn't about her because she's simply a hot rocker chick (although, she certainly fucking is), but because she's got a compelling story, one I never knew until today. The way she and the boys came together to create was simultaneously tragic and beautiful. I commented on her Facebook that I was sad that I read about it in an article - it's one of those things I wish we could have talked about outside of Grape Street over an illicit cigarette at 2 in the morning. But I have to say I'm absolutely honored (and have always been) to count this strong, talented and beautiful woman as a friend (why she ever chose to be benevolent to a crazy alcoholic like I was at the time, I'll never know). You can read that article here.

But on to the music. Here's a video of Soraia live, playing "Shed the Skin," the title track from their first album:

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Awkward things I didn't know existed

Here's a list of awkward things I've found while packing my apartment:

1) Framed "Be Mine" lithograph that my first-ex-boyfriend-named-John made me in 2003.
2) Pictures of me and Seth, my "boyfriend" in 2005, who broke up with me a month before graduation because he was too stressed out by lacrosse (during the same week that I injured my back and couldn't walk) and then resumed dating his crazy pants homicidal ex-girlfriend the next day. Great memories from that one.
3) Janice Peck's final exam, fall 2008 (B-).
4) Photos from my 21st birthday at Hamilton aka the night the volleyball team invaded the freshman dorm and stole alcohol from 18-year-old boys.
5) Irish dancing T-shirt with "Seana's Sister" on the back.
6) Copy of Ramparts magazine with Che Guevara's diary from 1968 that Nick gave me. It had a lot of meaning at one time, but it's just old pieces of paper now.
7) Springhouse Junior High yearbook, 1997-98.

I should bite the bullet and burn half of this shit. S'mores, anyone?

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

The stresses of summer

It's been an interesting few days.

I was about to label the past couple days "rough," but I did have a fantastic 4th of July weekend on the whole. I'm doing my best to hold onto those recent memories and stay positive, but, man, is shit crazy right about now. Save for the deaths of friends and family, and a cancer scare a few years back, this is probably the most difficult time in my life. And I take the cancer scare back because 1) if I had it, fuck it, it was there and I'd have to deal with it and 2) I had some surgery, got all the scary shit out and have been fine since. Death of loved ones is definitely the worst, especially since so many I've known have died far too young. But right now, man... shit...

I've started packing my apartment. Everyone asks where I'm moving and the answer is: I don't know. I still don't have a job, despite applying for at *least* one per day since graduation. I set my emergency apartment finding date at July 15 - basically, I'm signing a lease that day somewhere, anywhere, that seems decent and will accept Juno (the breed restrictions around here are hellacious and stupid). I have to decide if that place will be in Boulder or Philly. Thankfully, I've stashed money in two separate savings accounts, but I'm pretending like it doesn't exist because I'm going to need it for movers and to fix the umpteen million things that are wrong with my beater Acura. It's there, but it's already spent.

So that's where I stand: no job, no place to live, no certainty.

Not gonna lie: I'm fucking scared right about now. I've never not had a plan B... hell, even after Gypsies stole all my shit in Prague back in '04 I had a plan (I also had a passport still, so that made things easier, but I digress...). There's no backup plan. I can't move home – that's not an option. Can't say I'm not happy about that; I'm one of few people my age without that crutch and it forced me to grow up and get my shit together. I own all of my furniture and I've got a living thing who depends on me, so I don't plan on couch surfing either. I wouldn't impose on my friends like that. This is all on me.

If this is the most difficult thing that I go through in my life, then I'll be lucky as hell. I've dealt with worse things, for sure, but the bad things have always had an element of certainty. People die, the end. You're healthy or not, the end. You're in love and he's not – done. But in this situation, there's no certainty, there's no binary, it's not a zero-sum game.

I can live with the black and white, but haven't quite learned to deal with the gray.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Happy Fourth

Happy 4th of July to everyone reading!!

Also, a happy fourth to *everyone* who ran the Avery Brewing 4K on the 4th race this morning! Any race that ends in free beer and breakfast burritos works for me :). You can check the results here, but I have to give props to Jordan and Robbie for totally kicking ass today! Much thanks to Terry, Kia, Mister DJ Bodhi the Real Deal, Ted, Andrea, Dana, Paul, Mike, Katie and Heather for rocking out at today's race!!

Much fun was had by all. I think the first guy came in around 10 minutes. Props to him to be in it to win it... I was just in it for the beer!!

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Cruel Intentions

A few weeks ago, I had a conversation with a friend about another person with whom I was having issues. My friend arrived at the conclusion that this other person didn't have bad intentions, but was just being himself.

Well, the road to hell is paved with good intentions.

When you get to a certain age, you know you're being an asshole. The excuse that one "didn't mean to be a jerk" or "didn't mean to hurt your feelings" no longer works. Not with me. Of course, there are the occasional off-color remarks, maybe a joke or two that doesn't sit well with another. But when a friend tells you "it bothers me when you say x" and you still say "x," you goddamn well know what you're doing. When you persist to act in a certain way that disregards the feelings of your so-called "friend," then your intentions don't matter. In fact, it's your *lack* of intention that matters.

You don't intend to change. You don't intend to care about my feelings. You don't intend to ever look outside of yourself as to the way you treat someone else.

In that case, I totally intend to tell you to "fuck off."

Friday, July 2, 2010

Stuck in my head: Boston, "More Than a Feeling"

Alright, you hooligans – there seem to be some very strong opinions about last night's running playlist, especially regarding the inclusion of Boston.

Some of you didn't player hate, but appreciated and to that I say, you are fine individuals with stellar taste in music and I am honored to be your pal. To the haters... well, I've got some news for you. Boston kicks ass. How do I know this? Because I'm awesome, that's how. And if you disagree, you are stupid and wrong. So there!

(With reasoning skills like that, it's amazing that boyfriends actually put up with me for extended periods of time, isn't it? ;) )

Anyway, I was debating whether to stick this under "Stuck in My Head" or "Good Morning, Beautiful." I'm still tinkering with the would-be regular features on this site and decided that SIMH is probably going to produce far more blogging fodder, since my music taste is not only eclectic and extensive, but obsessive. I saw a snippet of this video today on VH1's "Greatest Hard Rock Songs" and it's been, appropriately, stuck in my head. It was also the only song on the first Guitar Hero that I didn't suck at on medium.

In memory of Brad Delp, I present to you Boston's "More Than a Feeling."

Thursday, July 1, 2010

First run of July

First off, happy July.

Tonight I had one of the best runs I've had in a long ass time... probably since when I was training for the half-marathon, before being sidelined by a nasty stomach bug. I haven't run too much since, focusing more on volleyball, my bike and long walks with my dog. Sometimes I lose the will to run, forget the passion I normally have. The heat doesn't help either. Tonight was different though, and it felt really, really *good*.

I wasn't gearing up for something long and crazy, but Juno had to go out and I was bored as hell. I also had just shoved the remnants of last night's veggie lo mein into my gullet, pounded two Upslope IPAs and was generally feeling repulsed by myself. So I decided to run. I brought Juno, four poop bags and a satchel of treats with me. After one ridiculously-large-for-a-45-pound-dog poop stop and some fiddling with the iPod, we were on our way.

The air out here is perfect summer night air – it's cool, but not too crisp and blissfully free of humidity. The mosquitoes seemed to have disappeared, and lawn sprinklers gently watered my ankles at the edges of the concrete. We ran up Baseline to Williams Village and then hopped on the bike path, generously devoid of bikes tonight, and had the place to ourselves. When we hit Mohawk I realized that I was breathing hard but not heavy and was pacing faster (for me, at least) than I had in weeks. Usually I give myself waypoints where I can stop: "Okay, just to that intersection, and you can walk... just to that tree..." Not tonight. We ran all the way home, kicking in a block away to sprint to our door.

I think we ran a little under three miles. Juno's in bed (mine) looking at me as I sit on the floor of my bedroom directly in front of my fan, cramping as my fingers struggle to interpret the feeling I have right now from that run. It was perfect – quick, rewarding, refreshing. It was everything running means to me when I'm into it and everything I need to remember to feel when I'm "too tired" or it's "too hot."

The nighttime runs with just my reflective vest, Juno and a killer playlist might help turn this summer around yet. And just might have burned off that lo mein guilt.

Don Henley - "Boys of Summer"
Pearl Jam - "Alive"
Dispatch - "The General"
Boston - "More than a Feeling"
Geto Boys - "Damn It Feels Good to Be a Gangsta"
The Specials - "Pressure Drop"