An adjustment

I just took the least-expensive vacation I’ll ever have, and it was glorious. But that’s a post for another day. What I want to tell you about now is how poor I am and how weird my day-to-day life is in this moment.

Regular readers will know that recently my rent DOUBLED because my boyfriend and I broke up and we shared a one-bedroom I didn’t want to give up. I don’t have any money, you guys. I hear myself saying things to my girlfriends like, “Let’s not go out for drinks! I am pretty sure I have half a bottle of cotton candy-flavored vodka in my freezer.” It’s gone now, of course. I’ve also eaten all the chocolate that was in my apartment ever, including the baking chips. I feel like the cat is always judging me for most of my (at least slightly questionable) nutritional choices, which is ironic because, uhh, she eats kibble made from fish guts. On the plus side, I go to the gym with more regularity now, because they charge me $20 each month whether I set foot in there or not, soooo, bring on the flavored vodka.

It’s just me — me, and the cat. Kevin has been gone for weeks now, and I’m running out of excuses to myself for why I have yet to give him back his stuff and clear all this crap out of the dining room. That said, despite sharing a train stop, laundromat, grocery store, and general three-block radius, we don’t see each other that much. Maybe once every couple of weeks with friends for trivia. But even though our paths don’t cross, it’s still painful and confusing to remind myself we are no longer the same thing to each other that we used to be.

Also, I still talk to him at least a little bit everyday even though everyone I know has said that this is a bad idea.

Break-ups need air. Other than failing to resist sharing good/bad news with Kevin when applicable, I think I’ve been okay, for the most part, about setting boundaries in my life and giving myself the space I need to bounce back from this. But waiting to not hurt anymore is hard, and being alone is scary. I hate that that’s true.

I never wanted to get married until I wanted to marry Kevin. Maybe someday I’ll want to marry someone else, but right now that feels kind of impossible, and I have this sick feeling in the pit of my stomach like I’ve screwed things up horribly, somehow. But I was fine with not getting married for a really, really long time. I think I can be fine with it again.

Or maybe I’m full of it, who knows.

I could really use some good news, you guys. Or cheaper rent. That cat’s just not pulling her weight around here and fish-gut kibble ain’t free.

Elliptical dance party playlist

Get abs like Gwen! (Photo credit: Huffington Post)

Get abs like Gwen! (Photo credit: Huffington Post)

This used to be a blog in which there were sometimes lists, and it has been a very, very long time since I posted one. See below my workout playlist, tailor-made for a 30-45-minute dance party on the elliptical. Maybe it translates to the treadmill, but I wouldn’t know, because I am a terrible runner.

It’s a mix of upbeat indie bands and Top 40 pop songs from before 2009, which is coincidentally the last time I paid money for music.

  • “Lights and Music,” Cut Copy: This is an ideal warm-up song because it’s got like a two-minute intro that builds up to a really fast-paced chorus.
  • “You,” by Atmosphere: This song has great energy and there’s a lot of swearing.
  • “I Think We’re Alone Now,” Tiffany: This song is so bad! I love it so hard, you guys. Listen to it. Tell me it doesn’t make you want to run/elliptical through the woods hand-in-hand with some hot guy/girl.
  • “Escape,” Enrique Iglesias: See above description. FEEL THE EMOTIONS.
  • “All of Me,” Tanlines: Dance party to-the-max foreverrr.
  • “Last Night,” Diddy ft. Keyshia Cole: This song is like six minutes long and has a slower tempo than the rest of the playlist, so I usually only play the whole thing on the days when I am just feeling lazy. Still has a great rhythm to keeping moving to, though.
  • “Shake It,” Metro Station: This song has a terrible, terrible message but damn is it catchy.
  • “We Can”t Stop,” Miley Cirus: Also definitely suggests questionable values/behavior. BUT DANG GIRL.
  • “Summertime Sadness,” Lana Del Rey: If this song doesn’t make you pull a muscle trying to keep up during your dance party, nothing will. Also, always be careful on the cardio equipment.
  • “The Con,” Tegan and Sara: See also “Closer,” and “Back in Your Head”
  • “What You Waiting For,” Gwen Stefani: I love me some Gwen in any and all forms. This one will not only make you go bonkers during your workout, it also contains the motivational line, “Look at your watch now, you’re still a super-hot female.” YES YOU ARE, Gwen.
  • “Pompeii,” Bastille: My most recent addition to this playlist, and one I kind of can’t help lip-singing along to at the gym. No one likes to be on the machines next to me anymore.
  • “Dancing on my Own,” Robyn: This song is just amazing in its own right but bring it to the dance party for best results.

So there you have it. Add Katy Perry to taste, and always remember to resist the urge to play it at full-volume because you only get one set of ears and hearing loss is expensive.


Valentines Day: A Personal History

This year's care package (and a gift for my sister-in-law, who has a birthday close to Valentines Day)

This year’s care package (and a gift for my sister-in-law, who has a birthday close to Valentines Day)

I have always loved Valentines Day, whether I had a boyfriend in a given year or not. I remember in elementary school, they used to sell carnations for some reason and the teachers would deliver them to your friends or whichever random kid you had a crush on that week. A pink one meant you were buddies but a RED ONE meant it was real 6th grade love forever. It was the best.

In college one year, my friend Christina and I made valentines and sold them at our college town’s coffee shop. It was so much fun to make them and we picked up a few bucks, too. A couple years later, while we were both living in Columbus, I’d get together with Christina again to make some cards for our friends, and by happenstance invite a co-worker I was just getting to know to come along. It was the first time we hung out outside of the office, and that co-worker, Eileen, would go on to be another one of my closest friends. That’s the power of a silly little holiday I have always loved celebrating in my own way.

I don’t remember when this started (my grandpa would say much earlier than it really did, I’m sure) but for years now, I’ve sent a care package to my grandpa for Valentine’s Day. It almost always involves a small plush toy, candy, and in more recent years, a batch of homemade cookies. I’ve only forgotten one year, and it’s only because a week earlier my mom was diagnosed with cancer and it, among other things I’m sure, kind of slipped my mind. He didn’t bring up the error until a long time later, but I’ve been extra-careful to plan ahead ever since.

This year, he wanted a teapot, of all things. It was surprisingly hard to track down, but I found one Saturday.

I rarely remember the things I’m given on Valentines Day (sorry, ex-boyfriends), but I always remember what I give. I’ve always made a big deal about it, and while that can usually mean having high expectations (a condition of which I’ve certainly been guilty), I’ve never really had a Valentines Day that let me down. With that, there is one gift I do remember: The first February after I moved to Chicago, single and jobless, my step-mom sent me a giant box of homemade cookies — at least five different kinds. She said she wanted to make sure I had a good Valentines Day that year, and I will never forget that she did it.

This year, I may not have a homemade dinner planned for anyone or the perfect handmade card or gift, but I do have a nontraditional celebration in store: Season two of “House of Cards” and takeout with a great girlfriend. Nothing says Valentines Day like Kevin Spacey and an exaggerated southern drawl.

Maybe I’ll even have time to make some cards before Friday. Happy (early) Valentines Day, all.

Waiting it out

Oh hey guys, what’s up? How’ve you been this terrible February? I’m still here, trying to conduct as little self-destructive behavior as possible. You know. The usual.

It’s been three weeks. I’ve been doing this for 21 days now, but sometimes (most of the time?) it doesn’t feel yet like I am single. An awesome circle of friends has seen to it that I have plans every night, and my budget has seen to it that I don’t just buy wine in bulk and spend my time drinking alone on my couch.

I don’t particularly like living alone, for the most part. I kind of suspected I wouldn’t, but it’s still disappointing. I should appreciate the independence of it all, but it’s not as easy as I thought. I used to like the rare nights when Kevin had board game nights with friends, so I could get things done in peace or, more often than not, watch the shows and movies I knew he didn’t care about missing. I’d drink the kinds of beer he didn’t like as much, and order a pizza with whatever I wanted on it.

Now I guess I can watch/eat/wear/do/decorate the apartment with whatever I want. But I never felt like I couldn’t before. I was already being my complete, true self and it hadn’t mattered a bit that someone else was there to see it.

When Kevin lived with me there were lots of lots of work nights where we’d eat in front of the TV and fall asleep together on the couch while “West Wing” episodes played on Netflix in the background. I’d later think to myself, what a waste of an evening. Now, I can be super productive and do my laundry while working out at the gym next door and hit the grocery store on my way home, and maybe I’ll feel proud of my hard work for a bit. But there will still be that little voice in the back of my brain that’s telling me, no, that was a waste of an evening.

Everything wakes me up now. The near-deaf girl who slept like a rock for the last two-and-a-half years? Turns out she can hear her neighbors tossing over in bed in the middle of the night, because now she’s convinced there are never not burglars roaming the halls waiting to murder her and steal her comically-small TV. I’m sure that will just be a matter of adjusting. (Right?)

On the other hand, I’ve rarely had more things to look forward to at once as I do in this moment: I am flying to California to see Eileen in a couple of weeks, just for a weekend out of snowy, treacherous Chicago. Then in May, I’m going to Boston Calling, a music festival with a band line up tailor-made for me: Death Cab, Jenny Lewis, Tegan and Sara, AND Modest Mouse, among others. I’ve never been to Boston before, and I get to stay with a wonderful friend there.

I’m excited for it to be warm again, someday. I look forward to music Mondays in the park with wine and friends. I look forward to people back home wanting to visit my city when it’s not frozen and intolerable. I look forward to listening to summery, non-break-up-related music. Someday, these things will happen.

All I can do now is wait for a time when it’s not below zero degrees out, and a time when I no longer feel like I do right now. It’s coming, you guys. Just wait for it.