Sink or Swim

No one prepares you for the sneak attacks, close calls, near-misses and gut punches that Life often delivers. Instead, you get thrown into the deep end without a life preserver and learn pretty quickly how to swim. I’ve been doing a decent amount of swimming lately. In fact, swimming is probably not even the proper word… It’s a bit more like thrashing, splashing and recklessly tossing limbs hither and yon trying to stay afloat. So I do hope you’ll forgive me, Dear Readers, when I say that my fingers have been a bit too busy to type. As soon as I am able to let go of my emergency floatation device I promise I’ll get back to my regularly scheduled posts.

Blocked.

It happens every now and then to those who love to share their inner most thoughts via the written word. Writer’s block. And no I’m not beating around the bush in some flowery, creative way to lead you, the reader, to that conclusion. After all I haven’t the words to do so even if I wanted to. Though in struggling with this problem I decided to do what else… but write about it.

Who knows, maybe it will knock something loose in my brain and ideas will rush like rivers through my fingertips and out onto the keyboard. Maybe not. But at least you’ll know why my posts have been fewer and farther between as of late.

I don’t get paid to blog. Most of us who do this will never see one red cent for what we key and cast into cyberspace. But many of us do it because we love to write. We observe, experience and ruminate and after we’ve said all we can possibly say to anyone within earshot… we type because the words are still spilling out of us and need a place to go.

But what if there is nothing to say? Or what if I am too distracted to sit down and focus long enough to string together some cohesive or entertaining thoughts? A small audience of 150 people are planning on reading whatever it is I have to say and I feel I must deliver! Desperately I file through my mental rolodex, searching the events of my week, my day or the last hour seeking a precious nugget of wisdom, an adventure, a humiliating personal anecdote or a tale of some random idiot who crossed my path.

The woman I saw in the produce section wearing a parka when it’s 70 outside. Is that anything? The dude who showed up before me at an interview for a graphic design job… without a resume or portfolio. Could I possibly spin that into something interesting or entertaining? The adventure that was clipping Stanley’s nails yesterday afternoon. Is there a story/moral lesson/side-splitting account there?

Parka Lady. Unprepared-still jobless-SansPortfolio Dude. Clipping the cat’s nails. I told you I was desperate.

But I must remind myself that it happens every now and then to everyone who loves to write. We worry we will never have another original thought… ever again… for the remainder of our lives. And we think about it… and think about it… and then we think about it some more. Then we do what we do best. We write about it.

NYC: I Heart New York or The Post Vacation Funk, Part 2

On July 1, 2011 I wrote an entry called The Post Vacation Funk after returning to real life from an 8-day trip up and down the New England Coast with my then-boyfriend. It turns out it was a popular post and actually garnered me a spot on the WordPress home page, in the Freshly Pressed section… which ending up catapulting me OUT of my funk because I was getting almost 3,000 hits a day for 5 days!

Unfortunately while the Freshly Pressed lightning has yet to strike again… The Post Vacation Funk has struck full force leaving me void of words and cursing the cursor on my computer as I struggle to cobble together an entry for you faithful readers to (hopefully) enjoy.

Therefore… I have decided to compromise by borrowing my previous post and tailoring it to the city that never sleeps

I just returned from a 4-day get-a-way to New York City with my fiance… and it was A-MAZ-ING. However… it is now official. I am in the midst of a full-fledged, hard-core, post-vacation funk. And I am here to tell you that the fabled funk is very real and I would argue that it is an inevitable occurrence in the life of any vacationer.

All the fun you’ve been planning for, saving for and laid awake with great night-before-Christmas anticipation for … is over. The photos are now in your camera instead of the brochure and the t-shirt is hanging in the closet.

Mind you, the funk does not occur overnight. Rather it seeps into your conscience slowly and before you know it you are completely mired in it. Suddenly you find yourself knee-deep in the reality that you are neither: A. Independently wealthy, or B. Free from the obscenity that is Responsibility … with a capital “R.”

When you first arrive home—a weary traveler surrounded by the familiar sights, scents and sounds of your “stuff”—you can’t help but experience Dorothy’s “There’s No Place Like Home”  feeling and sleeping in your own bed (on the memory foam that still remembers you) is blissful.

The next day comes and whether at home or the office, it is a flurry of activity. You’re answering emails, returning calls and taking care of household chores with that rested, happy glow that only a true getaway can provide. You’re still sportin’ the amped-up attitude that comes from spending 4 invigorating days in a lively, noisy, pulsing city, surrounded by millions of people and you are recounting the details of your adventure to anyone who will listen.

People expect that you will not exactly be “at the top of your game” since your head is most likely still in the clouds (or on top of the Empire State Building, or on a sunny bench in Central Park, or at the comedy club or that really cool pizzeria you found and are determined is owned and operated by one of the Five Families) and minor errors and gaffs are swiftly forgiven.

Day three brings with it the bi!@# that is reality. The alarm sounds for the second time since you’ve been back and you suddenly remember that this was why you went on vacation in the first place … to escape that d@mn alarm and the daily grind that follows it.

Day four is the same as the third only worse. The alarm clock hits you like a punch in the face reminding you that yesterday was not a fluke or a joke or a drill or even a bad dream. YOU. ARE. NOW. HOME. And it is only Wednesday. This is when you begin to play a sadistic little game with yourself that I like to call: “Where Were You Exactly One Week Ago (or Two in this case) Today?” And a word to the wise about playing this game: The non-vacation version of you will always wind up the loser.

By the way… exactly TWO weeks ago today… we were having authentic New York bagels in Brooklyn (complete with lox) … but whatever. I’m not playing.

By day five you understand your fate, but you do not necessarily like it. Anger builds. You can’t stop playing the “Where Were You Exactly One Week Ago (or Two in this case) Today?” game every time you open the empty refrigerator, notice a heaping pile of laundry, encounter a pair of tall, sad, suede boots lying lifeless on the floor or reach into your purse in search of a pen only to grab your NY Metrocard instead.

It is at this point that you begin to entertain wild imaginings about how you might achieve the life of a full-time vacationer. What if I just disappeared?  What might be the consequences of that?  How much DO those people who serve over-priced cocktails, take tickets for the boat ride to the Statue of Liberty or sell I Heart NY t-shirts on the sidewalk actually make? Is it hard to learn how to make hand-rolled bagels like the guy behind the counter at that quaint little bakery on the Lower East Side? Is it too late to get a degree in Recreation or Hospitality and Tourism Management? Am I too old to become a bike messenger?

They say that there are five stages of grief: Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression and finally Acceptance. They are not necessarily experienced in order. The bereaved might vacillate between the five for several weeks or months languishing for a time at one stage or another. So far I think I have experienced all of them and it has yet to be two full weeks.

Hopefully by the time I post this, I will have quietly accepted my life just the way it is. It’s either that or you will likely find me behind a counter in a hairnet and apron, serving kosher pickles to tourists.

Putting a Pin In It

Recently I have become aware of a new phrase that has crept into our popular culture and me—being the words-person that I am—am intrigued by it. The phrase I am referring to is: “Let’s put a pin in it!” Basically defined it means: Let’s plan on doing <insert the name of said activity/task/chore/meeting here> at SOME point in time… just not THIS particular point in time.

I have not personally used the phrase but have observed it being used on at least three different TV shows this season. I’m not sure where it started or how long it has been around… yet I cannot help but wonder with all of the interest circling a little thing called Pinterest these days… Is there a connection?

I was introduced to Pinterest by a blog called Becoming Cliche. She was beginning to examine the social networking and idea-sharing site and discussing Pinterest’s false exclusivity and how she wanted so badly to be a member, that is, until they accepted her as a member. You see, everyone eventually gets to be a member, whether you are invited to join by another member or you shamelessly solicit membership directly FROM the site itself.

Anyway, I managed to stay away from this addicting site, that is, until a friend invited me to join since I would be doing some redecorating in the near future. It was then that I realized how many of my friends were already on it and how active they all were in generating these virtual bulletin boards bursting with fun, fresh ideas from fashion, decorating and design to books, movies and basic car repair.

The trouble is, I’ve been too busy with my move to actually get into creating my OWN board and it is making me feel like a super, cyber slacker. Everyday I see my inbox grow with messages that another friend and another friend and another friend are now following me on Pinterest. Maybe no one actually cares. Maybe no one actually LOOKS at my blank corkboard made of pixels. But the perfectionist and “joiner” in me causes me to imagine the deep disappointment of my friends when they visit me and find… Nothing. Nada. Zip. Zero. And zilch.

So for now… with regard to my activity on Pinterest, or lack thereof… I guess I’d just like to say to my fellow friends and Pinsters out there… Let’s just put a pin in it. At least until I actually take the time to figure out how the hell to use it.

The Last Day

When you’re actively employed—waking up early to the nagging of the alarm clock and slogging to work day after day—one cannot help but imagine that the day will inevitably come that is their “Last Day of Work.” Whether it be to retire, begin a new job or explore a life/career change… we imagine it will be miraculous and glorious with the choirs of angels singing and the clouds parting and all that jazz.

Well, dear friends and readers… today is that day for me and so far there are no choirs of angels or parting of clouds. Now, bear in mind that I have never and I mean NEVER left a position without another similar or better position waiting in the wings. Or at the very least several promising interviews on the books and resumes scattering the earth like propaganda leaflets being dropped by plane.

I have always worked. Since I was 15 years old I have held down at least one and as many as four different jobs at a time. So I never, in my wildest dreams, thought I’d be leaving a job with a generous, comprehensive benefits package behind in pursuit of “whatever happens.” But this time… THIS time is unique.

This time I have a supportive and encouraging man in my life who sees my full potential and recognizes that “it will be OK” if I don’t find that dream replacement job tomorrow. Words cannot express the peace and joy with which his calm confidence fills me.

In the interim, my plan is to try my hand at domesticity. (Please pick up reading wherever you left off after the laughter has stopped.) Martha Stewart I am not, but that doesn’t mean I cannot learn the artful ways of the domestic goddess. Right? You’re still laughing aren’t you? Until the dream job comes calling I plan to take full advantage of the opportunity to get back in shape and keep a home. I’m serious.

Ten of the 50 pounds I recently lost have moved back in and taken up residency on my ass and both of us abhor the wallpaper in the living and dining rooms. It’s officially time to tackle my fear of the oven and its cousin, the stove. My wardrobe needs a good looking over and some serious organization.

The jury is still out on whether or not I’ll miss the office gossip, dressing up for work each day and talking to other professionals… but I suspect there will likely be a bit of a honeymoon period for me, my sweats, my yoga mat and the cat. I promise to take as many of you who care (or dare) to join me along on this new expedition—and with the whole domestic goddess goal in the mix—I can also promise that it shan’t be boring.

The Space Between

Our new shower rod was resting on the dining room table along side Christmas presents, gloves and our newest stack of purchases from the local used book store. Wrapping paper, ribbons and holiday bags were strewn about the hallway in what can only be described as the result of a full-blown holiday fury. New lamps and old, skirted the edges of the living room as the “appropriate decorative illumination” deliberations entered into their second day. As far as I was concerned, nothing seemed to be in its “place” and it was driving me crazy.

You see, this wasn’t yet my house… but it soon would be. None of my things were there… but they soon would be. My mind was swimming with questions and concerns: Where will I put my favorite side table? Will my throw pillows match his couch? Man I wish I had my Keurig… and my favorite flannel pjs… my down pillows… my DVDs… and Stanley.

During the transition from an old life to a new one, there is a space that lies between. This is where I found myself then and even though I can see the other side from where I am now—as I inch ever-closer day by day—I’m still standing on the bridge over the gap.

Within the gap there are some everyday things that inevitably get caught in the cracks between the transitions we make in our lives. Things like misplaced shower rods, bagels and laundry laying where they aren’t supposed to be along with mixed-up emotions lacking any proper explanation. Yesterday, I was reminded by a beautiful writer in her recent post about a personal life transition just how out-of-whack life seems in the midst of major change.

No matter what our journeys look like. No matter our transitions… be it a career change, a new baby, a relocation, a tragic loss or the beginning or ending of a vital relationship… there will always be the transition and that awkward space between when we’re bound to feel out of place, discovering our “things” in odd locations where it seems they don’t belong.

Gratitude

I had a different plan for my post today… I’m working on something in the spirit of the holidays about a little guy you may or may not have heard of called The Elf on the Shelf. And while I cannot wait to share it with you… I have decided that he will have to stay on the shelf for another day.

Today I just want to express how truly thankful I am to have so many amazing friends and acquaintances from literally all over the globe. There are my childhood friends and school mates who remember Lee and I from that very first day in the 5th grade… and then there are my college buddies who remember how much I worried whether or not I’d ever fall in love.

Fellow dude ranchers from Colorado and mi familia from New Mexico who taught me how to  “grow up,” “suck it up” or “get over it” when I inevitably encountered my initial doses of reality and first snags of adulthood. And all of my new friends that I’ve met since returning home to Ohio as an (eh-hem) “grown-up” … and the really new ones that I’ve bumped into here — in the blogoshpere.

I feel so lucky to have the opportunity—thanks to this technology—to have what feels like one big cyber-party during such an amazing time! Thank you for tuning in and for your lovely comments, encouragements and displays of mutual excitement. I can’t possibly tell each and every one of you what your words have meant to me, but with a few key strokes and clicks of the mouse… I might begin to scratch the surface.

A Couple of Blank Pages…

As much as I hate to say it, I am honored that there seems to be an increasingly widening audience in which to say it to.

I am taking a little break from the blog. And I truly do mean that: a little break. It may only be a few days or a week… tops. And even though it is just a short pause, I feel the need to acknowledge it since I post faithfully on a daily basis and many of you have expressed how much you appreciate that.

… Believe me, on those not-so-creative days you are the reason I sit down and write…

But for some personal reasons I am stepping back for a bit. I do hope that when I return, you will also come back to read my rants and ramblings.

Until then, my friends, readers and fellow bloggers… take care. Have a great week and weekend. And I promise to see you shortly… on the other side!

Domain Thing

It wasn’t that long ago I didn’t even know what a domain name was. I avoided the whole technology thing for awhile… Or at least longer than many of my peers. I put off getting a cell phone for a LONG time until it became necessary. I told people it was because I quote: “Did not want to be that accessible.”

Amazing how time changes things. It’s almost impossible to remember life before email or the internet, isn’t it? Then a few years ago it was Facebook. Sometimes I literally sit and hurt my head trying to recall what life was like Pre-FB. What in the hell did I do with all of that extra time? I don’t think I read more books. I don’t think I exercised more. I certainly didn’t bake, crochet, cook or clean. Maybe I just watched more CSI and Survivor.

So now I find it extremely curious that 2 days ago I broke down and bought and registered my own domain name: womaninthrisis.com. That’s right. I’ve become one of “those people” that I swore I thought I’d never become. I own a website. I am a blogger. And it’s a little unsettling.

Back in the CSI and Survivor days, bloggers and people with their own websites were (to me) nerds who never saw the light of day. They were spindly with translucent skin and bloodshot eyes. They slept all day and stayed up all night in their dark little caves, stabbing away at the keyboard with great gusto illuminated by the other-worldly glow of the monitor. They wrote about conspiracy theories, dark matter, worm holes and absolute zero.

While I, with my expensive, fake tan, french manicure and well-toned muscles did “normal” things like sit on my ass all day at Starbucks drinking iced-caramel machiattos and people-watching… Or perfecting my downward-facing dog, warrior and sun salutation in the mornings and paying $50 a month to literally get the crap beat out of me by my kickboxing instructor every other night.

My, my, my how things have changed. See, the thing is… I love to write. I have ALWAYS loved to write. Except that now I have discovered there is this amazing community of people all over the world just like me who enjoy sitting down at the computer, basking in it’s other-worldly glow and pecking away at the keyboard sharing thoughts, ideas, observations and inspirations about day-to-day life… And anything and everything from conspiracy theories to the perfect french manicure. And I have found it to be fascinating and fun.

Though, I do have just one question…

Do my eyes look bloodshot to you? Maybe it’s time to drag out the yoga mat… Or hit the gym. UGH. As the proud, sole owner and proprietor of  Woman In Thrisis, who has time for all of that now anyway? Soooo… make my caramel mach a double, please. And where’s the number for that tanning salon?

An Honor Just Being Nominated…

Although it’s not a Pulitzer, I was honored yesterday when a fellow blogger nominated me for WordPress’s “Versatile Blogger Award.”  There is no trophy, cash prize or trip to Hawaii attached to the privilege. The only honor is that of the proverbial, but reassuring pat on the back from a fellow would-be writer. And I’ll take it. Happily. It is such a thrill to know that other people, many of whom I have never and will never meet, actually ENJOY reading the thoughts that I key in day after day after day! At times, when my creative juices are running on empty, it is the only thing that keeps me coming back to the cursor.

The first order of business is to thank the individual who thought my musings worthy of such mention. I “met” her not long ago when she dropped by Woman in Thrisis and left a comment. Commenters are usually the blogs that I tend to visit most often. I found her blog to be witty, fun and unique. Be sure to check out her writing at Becoming Cliche and I promise you won’t be disappointed.

The second order of business required of all nominees is to list seven random/fascinating/weird or odd things about themselves that their readers most likely do not know. So here goes…

  1. I am insanely fearful of ALL insects. Even gnats. In fact, I conduct my day-to-day life in such a way as to fully AVOID anything (living or dead) that exists in the insect realm.
  2. I am, however, completely cool with snakes, lizards and rodents. Once, on a trip to the beach, I carried a python around on the boardwalk by wearing it around my neck because I thought I looked totally cool. That is, until it started to wrap itself around my neck… and I decided our little bonding session was over.
  3. My cat is named Stanley, though he isn’t just ANY Stanley. His full, given name (the one on the microchip between his shoulder blades) is Stanley Kubrick… In honor of my favorite filmmaker. In case you’re unfamiliar with Kubrick’s work, think A Clockwork Orange, 2001: A Space Odyssey and Full Metal Jacket. He was a cinematic genius. The filmmaker, not the cat. AND Stanley is completely mute. The cat, not the filmmaker.
  4. Though deathly afraid of insects, I will try just about anything for the sake of adventure… Scuba diving, mountain climbing and herding cattle on horseback to name a few. I know, I am acutely aware of the contradiction.
  5. At 5’2” and barely 120 lbs., I once won a grape-stomping contest at a New Mexico vineyard by producing the largest amount of juice in the least amount of time.
  6. As a small child, I had an intense obsession with stuffed bunny rabbits that I carried around in my mouth by the ears and then rubbed said soppy, wet bunny ears constantly beneath my nose until it was chapped beyond recognition. Suffice it to say… cautionary measures were taken.
  7. In addition to insects, I am disproportionately afraid of nutcrackers, marionettes, puppets and claymation. They scare the bejezzus out of me. Because of this fear… Christmas is a difficult holiday. My father likes to hide wooden nutcrackers all over my house in random places continually finding sadistic delight in his cruel little prank until ALL of the aforementioned creepy puppets have been located and properly disposed of. Oddest place he ever hid one: in my freezer.

And now for the third and final order of business to fulfill my duty as a nominee… naming OTHER fellow bloggers for whom I feel deserving of the same award… I hope you will take the time to pay them a visit as well. I promise you will laugh, ponder and find inspiration in their words.

I’ll be waiting / with a gun and a pack of sandwiches  The name alone is worthy of checking it out. Variety, truth and humor all rolled into one. Everyone will find something they can relate to.

My One Precious Life  Honesty. Sincerity. And adventure all rolled into one.

Storytelling Nomad  Travel and Literature. If either of these are YOUR things, you’ll really enjoy this one.

The Great Balancing Act  Health and wellness, recipes and great getaways in this blog. But also the incredible and transparent account of a young woman’s day to day battle with leukemia. Very informative and extremely inspiring.

The wuc  Simply HILARIOUS. Enough said.

Where Pleasant Fountains Lie  Beautiful poetry and well-written words of wisdom and self-awareness.

Side of the Leaf  Real and entertaining stories about life set to music

Craves Adventure Fun travel tips and beautiful photography. If you want to take a trip in just 10 minutes, give it a read.

Food4ThoughtFood4Life  Insightful, humorous and reflective… A one stop shop.

I have several other faves. Those are just to name a few. I’m sorry if I left anyone out. I’m sure I did. Please don’t hold it against me. Happy reading friends. Pour yourselves a cup of coffee and take a walk in someone else’s very unique shoes.