Floating Away From My Fears

Earlier this week, thanks to the encouragement and support from my husband, I did something I haven’t been brave enough to do since 2003. I got into a pool – more specifically, the Endless River in the water park at Waldameer (the local amusement park, if you’re not familiar). 26 inches of water shouldn’t hold much weight, but nothing has ever scared me more.

This is a blog post about facing your fears.

My anxiety about water is something I’ve dealt with my whole life. Long story short… I’m really, really terrified of water. I never learned how to swim. If my childhood friends made me go in a pool with them, I’d cling to a float or the edge until I felt like I was going to throw up from nerves, then I’d awkwardly sit far enough away that no one would be tempted to call me back to the pool, and rejoice when it was time to go home. I don’t get seasick from the motion of a boat, but the churning of my nerves is enough to keep me from them now. Even flying over water sets off flares in my nervous system.

So, how in the world did I find myself agreeing to go to a water park this week?

I asked myself that (over and over) (and over) while we settled in on our lounge chairs. And the voice in my head screamed it when I leaned over to my husband and asked if he wanted to go in the endless river (he had wanted to go down a slide or two if it wasn’t too crowded, but that wasn’t the case). Louder than that voice, though, was my beautiful, perfect, reassuring husband. This guy has damn near worked miracles to help improve my life over the past four (!!) years – why should this be any different?

We took three laps in the river that afternoon. By the middle of the third one, the crowd picked up and people were getting rowdy, so I had definitely had enough and we got out. But in that half hour or so that we spent in the water, something clicked. I laughed with my husband and even almost enjoyed the sensation of floating along – I took a lot of comfort in knowing the bottom of the pool was literally right there, that all I had to do was slightly bend my leg and I could stand up.

That being said… I’m still terrified of water. I still can’t swim, nor do I have any shred of a desire to learn – the idea of going under water makes me want to scream and cry and disappear and claw my skin off (anxiety is fun!!!). The only boat I’ll consider going on is a ferry at the Magic Kingdom (and I would much rather be stuffed onto a busy monorail before that option), and our flight to Miami this fall is going to scare the crap out of me. But… I realized something, huge, that afternoon.

Fear is an important – and necessary – part of the human experience. Obviously, there are situations that are downright scary and those should be avoided at all costs. But for those fears that aren’t really grounded in anything (shh, I know anxiety thrives off this and that’s always going to be my weakness, I know that)… if you have someone by your side, someone to figuratively (or literally) hold your hand and help you experience something new or scary? Sometimes those scary things are worth it.

I’m still trapped by my anxiety triggers – nothing will change that – but now that I know that I can hang onto a pool float and enjoy myself? I feel like a changed woman. I feel a smidge braver, like I could possibly take on something new (like freaking finally starting to learn bass guitar – I finally got myself a beginner book!). If that becomes my main take-away from this experience, I won’t be disappointed – I’m capable of more than I knew just a few days ago.

Getting Lost in a Drive

Hi, readers!

To continue the trend I seem to have started in my previous post, I don't necessarily have a topic in mind for you today. But, that worked really well for me last time, so… hello! It's weekend and I'm blogging, which is what I originally intended when I started this blog – I really want to get myself into the habit of writing something every weekend.

I'd be mad at myself if I didn't start this post with a dinner/date night recommendation. A few months ago, my husband and I heard about a new restaurant that opened in the area – we finally tried it Friday and I will be singing its praises for a long time to come! If you're in North East, PA – or just want an excuse to explore one of my favorite parts of the Erie area, go to Noosa. It's small and sort of hidden on (in? I don't know boat culture) the marina, but it's so worth the drive. Their cocktail menu is incredible – I totally recommend their blackberry ginger – a spin on a manhattan with the most delightfully smoky whiskey. And the food!! I want to go back immediately so we can try the rest of the menu.

After dinner, we took a little stroll along the marina. I'll never tire of the views you get on Lake Erie. I know I'm partial, but there's nothing at all like an Erie sunset, even if it's so hazy that there's no line on the horizon (aaahh, she's got U2 jokes!!). I can already see us making many return trips, hopefully with more exciting sunset colors!

Our drive home was full of me being an emotional dummy because Where the Streets Have No Name came on the radio – my life is one big U2 joke, let's be real. I had some ~moments~ on that drive, which I think will be fodder for the rest of this post. Buckle up, readers, it's about it go all stream of consciousness up in here!

The drive in from North East is one I've done countless times; my parents and I spent my childhood weekends taking day-trips all over this tri-state area. As I grew into a more-than-slightly angsty teen, those drives saw me hiding in the back seat, first with a discman, then with various iPods. Even though those trips feel like they were an entire lifetime ago (and in so many ways, they were), it was so easy for me to remember exactly what went through my pre-teen brain as we drove home last night.

I've written before about how music has the ability to make every-day happenings feel timeless, even remarkable. When I think back on those drives with my parents, it's not the destinations I remember – it's my getting entirely lost in the music I was listening to. That's what happened Friday night. My husband, ever the good sport to my emotional, excited outbursts, just smiled at me and calmly drove, letting me wax rhapsodic about the Moment we found ourselves in.

Those moments are something I find myself experiencing – and embracing – more and more often. My favorite college professor called me out on that, in the best way, a few years back. We were catching up on all sorts of things, and after I explained to him how I feel about ~life~ as a whole, he sat thoughtfully for a moment, then told me I must operate on a slightly different plane than most other people. That's something that I'd always felt, but never really put words to before that evening, and it's exactly what goes on when I'm lost in a drive or a song or what have you.

Instead of focusing on the physical act of driving, of going from point a to point b, I instead focus on the very basic things that make up that drive – the way the trees look as they're flying by, the connection of the car to the road under it, the way the music mixes with the sounds of our 15-year-old Jeep. I get thoroughly lost in them – the way the leaves catch light, why those exact trees were planted, how many other people have driven past them in their lifetime. That's how I've always operated – I get lost in moments, in pieces of moments, and I never seem to shake them. Now, every time I drive that stretch of road again, I'm going to both attempt to re-create Friday night, as well as embrace what's different and new.

If nothing else, I think this gives y'all more a look into how my brain works. My closest friends know and embrace this part of me, and it's definitely something I've become more comfortable with expressing over the past few years – it's so much a part of who I am that I can't ignore it – but I also know that when I get lost in moments like this… I can be a lot to handle. My blog is almost a year old now, though (!), so this seems as good a time as any to make a more focused effort to share these things here. As I said at the beginning of this post, I'm doubling down on my effort to write weekly – please, hold me accountable to this, readers!

Where the Blog Posts Have No Name

…Oops.

I was going to write this post almost three weeks ago – the weekend immediately after I saw U2 in Pittsburgh. Life happened, emotional volatility happened, depression happened and I felt so crappy yesterday that I actually almost deleted this blog altogether.

But then, my husband happened and he helped me remember that I’m not doing all this for nothing. So, here I am, writing about a concert that was the better part of a month ago, because this is my blog and I’ll do what I want with it!

I’ve been a fan of the U2 for as long as I can remember – my parents got a mix CD as a wedding favor when I was a kid, and the second I heard Sweetest Thing, I was hooked. Other musical obsessions have come and gone, but I always find myself putting their discography on shuffle when I’m on a road trip or having a bad – or terrific – day.

This is a blog post about my favorite band.

Say what you will about U2 (and Bono, in particular). They’re too feel-good, they’re over-exposed, whatever. They don’t care about that, which I think is part of why I love them so very much. They have done exactly what they want to do for 40 years now. They make music that connects with their audience.

One of my earliest memories of listening to them has me in the backseat of whatever car my dad was borrowing from his dealership at the time. I had my discman, and I had Joshua Tree borrowed from the library. I was probably nine years old, and With or Without You had me sobbing like a damn fool (and trying to hide my tears from my parents). I obviously hadn’t yet experienced heartache like Bono’s wailing, but I felt the emotion in his voice, in those ringing guitar chords, in the crashing drums.

That connection was something I needed, even though I didn’t quite realize it at the time.

I don’t want every blog post here to become “Hey, did you know I’m a depressed mess?!” but it’s something to note in this post. My depression manifests itself in loneliness – I’m extroverted and outgoing, but when I’m not actively engaged with people, I often feel like the entire world is pulling away from me. Enter Bono.

The One Campaign is not without fault, and I’ve never ignored that. What I love about it is its simplest philosophy. Bono explained it in his pre-One performance in Pittsburgh. Basically, you can, and should be able to, connect with every single person, from every walk of life, on at the very least, ONE topic. One common ground. One tiny thing that allows you to see the humanity in everyone. That connection is something I’ve made an effort to remember every day, whether I’m annoyed with seemingly everyone at work, or I’m feeling particularly hopeless. I’m not alone, no one is.

So, three weeks back, my husband and I went to one of my favorite cities, to see my favorite band. I was supposed to see their 360 Tour a few years back, but I was without transportation, so my tickets went to waste. I was heartbroken, but I think I’m actually happier now that this Joshua Tree 2017 Tour was my first. It’s so apparent how much this tour means to the band, which made it that much more special.

I’m not exactly sure what the best way to write about my experience is, so I’m just going to intersperse the rest of this post with pictures from the show (sorry for the crap quality – we were in literally the last row and the stands were actually moving the entire time, the crowd was so into it), with thoughts and memories. Basically, if you don’t care about U2, this isn’t the post for you?

Okay, first off, I can’t be a lifelong fan of U2 without some fangirling over Bono. He’s aging like a fine, fine wine, and he looks so joyful that I often forgot that he’s nearing 60. He ran around the stage, grinned boyishly, and just clearly had the time of his life on that massive tree.

Being in the back row meant we were surrounded by… interesting people. The best, though, was the man we now affectionately refer to as Dancing Guy. This dude… was living his best life. The second U2 took the stage, his shirt was off, and he proceeded to dance like a maniac the. entire. concert. He only stopped flailing his arms to eat french fries that his not-thrilled sons had. I only looked away from the stage to watch him dancing, and each time, I was overcome with joyful laughter.

(This post is all over the place and I’m sorry)

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So, I went into this assuming that they would play Joshua Tree first, then go into a small greatest hits set. They actually start with five or songs before Where the Streets Have No Name happens, and when it does… god. The chills, as the stage turned red and the Joshua Tree glowed and those driving guitars set off. It was one of those moments I’ll never forget. The sun had just completely set and the night just became sincerely alive.

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Speaking of the sky, moments before U2 took the stage, a rainbow appeared right over Heinz Field! It never rained, but it was super overcast… and then the sun happened to duck below the clouds just enough to cast a perfect rainbow. Un. Real.

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Okay also! (I’m so sorry I’m doing this with no semblance of chronological order. This is a terrible post) The Lumineers were SO GOOD. I’ve listened to them a little before, and their brand of drum-and-guitar-heavy folksy rock is right up my alley, but I didn’t expect to love them as much as I did. Wesley Schultz’ voice rang over the rivers and he was so fun to watch. Consider me a new full-fledged fan.

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The emotional climax of the concert came in Exit, a song I’ve rarely listened to, to be honest. That’s completely changed after this concert – now, that mostly-instrumental jam is one of my go-to’s when driving. For the concert, Bono rants and raves and struts around the stage as Shadow Man. IT WAS A LOT TO TAKE IN AND I LOVED EVERY SECOND.

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If you’ve known me for any number of years, you know how much of a role music has played in my life. I grew up doing theater and singing in various bands and choirs. I haven’t performed in several years now, but truthfully, the only thing I miss is the power music has to, at once, connect you to something bigger than yourself, and to entirely disconnect you from the real world. That feeling was so overpowering that night in Pittsburgh. I could glance up from the stage and see downtown, and see people carrying about their normal evening. They were removed from what I was experiencing, but because we’re all people just trying to get by… I felt overwhelming love and humanity.

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Um, this post is a mess and I am sincerely sorry if you wasted your time reading it. I guess if you’ve stuck around til now, I can tell you that I couldn’t get enough of this tour… so I got myself a GA ticket for their Buffalo date – and I’m doing the damn thing. I’m going to find the line the morning before the show, camp out if I’m able to, and try like hell to get right up on the rail. This band means more to me than I can properly express here. Clearly. Since this post is a disaster.

Thanks for… reading? Hopefully next time, I’ll be able to write cohesively?

There’s a Reason We Stopped Doing MySpace Surveys

Hello, dear readers.

It’s been a while.

And I have no excuse for it. I could lie and say that life got in the way of my writing here, but I’ve had time to tweet excessively, and I’ve kept up with posting on Instagram at least once a day.

But this here blog, the one place on the internet I’m spending money for the privilege of using… hasn’t been updated in over a month now.

Oops.

I guess I’ll blame it on writer’s block, because I honestly have not had much motivation. I’ve started a few posts that I almost immediately scrapped – maybe I’ll return to them someday, but let me tell y’all that one of them was my feelings toward death and it was going to a Place?? It was wild. Maybe I’ll revisit it for Halloween.

ANYWAY. I can’t just let this blog sit here with nothing new on it. I’m going old school and forcing myself to write SOMETHING today… by way of one of those janky old “surveys” we all remember from our MySpace and LiveJournal days. Let’s go.

Questions to Really Get to Know Someone

1. Are you a morning or night person? Truthfully, a mix of both. I think as I’ve gotten older, I’ve become more of a morning person, but I also still really like late night conversations and things (when I can stay up late enough…).

2. Which do you prefer, sweet or salty foods? Neither. Give me savory snacks. Beef jerky, pepperoni, roasted chick peas, etc.

3. Ninjas or pirates? Okay first of all, what was WITH the early 2000s? I feel like questions like this were everywhere. I suppose I’ll say pirates, but like, not the gross Johnny Depp-type. Just cool ones.

4. Ninjas vs pirates. Discuss. …No thank you? (Guys, I’m beginning to regret this post idea and I’m only four questions in…)

5. Autobots or Decipticons? So I guess I should have at least skimmed the questions in this survey before I picked it.

6. What was your favorite childhood television program? I was a PBS kid (with a little Nickelodeon mixed in). Hell, I’ll still watch Sesame Street if there’s nothing else on.

7. Are you a collector of anything? My office is full of little collections! I love knick knacks. Shot glasses are definitely my most active – I try to get one wherever I travel/visit/etc and I’m well over 60 from the past 12 or so years. I also collect Pop Funko and stuffed animal Winnie the Poohs.

8. If you could be any animal, what would you be? My favorite animals are hippos and zebras, so I guess one of them would be alright.

9. If you could have any superpower, what would it be? Flight, without a doubt. I have too much wanderlust for my bank account.

10. What is usually your first thought when you wake up? Gratitude.

11. What do you usually think about right before falling asleep? Probably just hope that I actually DO fall asleep. I’m not good at sleeping.

12. What’s your favorite color? Green, I think. Also pink.

13. What’s your favorite animal? Okay, see now I’m realizing how lousy of a read this post is going to be. Sorry, y’all.

14. Do you believe in life on other planets? Absolutely. Ignorance of that is just ridiculous.

15. Do you believe in ghosts? Yes.

16. Ever been addicted to video/computer games? If so, which ones? I feel like the original Sims and Roller Coaster Tycoon were made in such a way that you HAD to be addicted to them to actually accomplish anything (read: drown your housemates and fling your entire theme parks’ worth of guests off a coaster).

17. You’re given one million dollars. What do you spend it on? I’d pay off my student loans, then finally buy a car. I’d put the rest toward travel and little improvements around our house.

18. Have any bad habits? I pick at the skin around my fingernails (then get mad at myself for doing so). I recently got a fidget cube, though, which has been a significant help!

19. Which bad habits, if any, drive you crazy? I can’t stand the sound of people loudly chewing food, to the point it actually makes me angry.

20. List three of your best personality traits. I’d like to think I’m resilient, typically optimistic, and a damn good cheerleader for my friends.

21. List three of your worst personality traits. I hate to say it but I know I have lazy tendencies. Also, my optimism often comes back to bite me in the ass. Aaaand I can be judgmental, as much as I try to fight it.

22. Have any celebrity crushes? *looks up at the massive Dave Grohl poster that takes up almost an entire wall of my office* hmm? Who? (also, Jon Hamm and Seth Meyers).

23. What’s one thing you wish you could change about yourself? Physically? My stomach. Otherwise? I wish I hadn’t gone to college. Sincere money drain.

24. Any tattoos or piercings? Just my ears. I’ve wanted several tattoos over the years, but with my crazy skin issues (oh, maybe that should have been my answer for the previous question – I hate how sensitive my skin has become), I’m too scared to go for one.

25. What’s the first thing you notice in the opposite sex? Hair, definitely.

26. What personality traits do you look for in a partner? My husband’s sense of humor plays perfectly off mine. He’s also terrifically supportive and hard-working.

27. What personality traits do you dislike in other people? I’m SO here for self-confidence, but when it crosses into the territory where you’re only impressed by your own actions and thoughts, give me a break.

28. Do you see yourself getting married in the next five years? Aw, remember doing these surveys in high school and shuddering at the thought of these questions?

29. Are you mostly a clean or messy person? Okay, see, I think that clean and messy aren’t exactly opposites. Clean and dirty are, and I am definitely clean. My office may look like messy chaos, but I know where everything is, so.

30. If you could live anywhere, where would you live? As evidenced in my last post, I love living in Erie, but I’m not ruling anything out for my future.

31. If you could visit anywhere in the world, where would you go? I still want to visit the Mediterranean and Amsterdam, as well as the Pacific Northwest and all of the National Parks.

32. List five goals on your life’s to-do list. Oh, I always disliked questions like this. I’m not one to itemize my life – it’s why I don’t see myself ever having anything resembling a traditional career. I like living and experiencing every moment put in front of me. Clearly, travel is important to me, and I want to freelance more.

33. Name one regret you have. Oh, I already did this. I regret going to college.

34. Name one thing you miss about being a kid. Making movies with my neighborhood friends.

35. Name one thing you love about being an adult. Finally having a house that I can decorate and enjoy the way I’ve always wanted to.

36. What’s your favorite song at the moment? Harry Styles ‘Carolina’.

37. What’s your favorite song of all time? It’s a tie between the Foo’s ‘Times Like These’ and U2’s ‘October’.

38. What’s your favorite thing to do on a Saturday night? Sleep. I’m old.

39. What’s your favorite thing to do on a Sunday afternoon? Take my cameras out and go exploring.

40. Have any hidden talents? I can sort of twirl a baton…? Oh, and I can make balloon animals!

41. If you knew it was your last, what would be your last meal? Literally anything from Salvatore’s Italian Gardens, in Buffalo, NY.

42. What would be your dream job? I would love to someday make enough freelancing that I didn’t need my college bookstore job, but like I said, I’m not one to wish for a career.

43. What would you rather have, 100 million dollars or true love? Since I already found my true love and he’s not going anywhere, can I have the money?

44. If you could have three wishes granted, what would they be? That money in the last question sure would make things easier. I’d also wish for some sort of guidance to help our country through all this, and maybe just… time. Enough time in this life to do all the things I want to do, with the people I love.

45. Ever wish you had been the opposite gender? Not really. Also, strict gender roles are dumb. Do what you want.

46. Name one thing not many people know about you. It’s funny to me that so many of my current friends know nothing of my theater history. I was in over 50 musicals and plays, and stage managed 15 or so more. I once had the lead role of a musical written for me! I got to yell in the face of the director of the local community theater!

47. If you had to change your first name, what would you change it to? Oh, I don’t know. Being Meredith for almost 30 years now makes it difficult for me to picture being anyone else.

48. Do you believe in the afterlife? Sort of? I don’t know. I know that spirits don’t really leave us.

Okay, there you have it. Some dumb questions (sorry about my half-assed answers…) that probably didn’t enrich you or this blog in any way. But, this is the longest I’ve spent typing anything in the past month, so we’ll call this post a tiny victory. Have a wonderful Memorial Day, readers!

Treating Anxiety With a Big Apple

A few weeks ago, I took my husband to New York City, for his first time ever. I’ve been to the city six times now, and each time, I’ve loved it more than the previous.

For a really long time, I wanted to live there. When I started my current job, I was so excited, because I found out how easy it is to transfer between stores – and my company has over 700 stores across the country. I told myself I would work here for a year, then figure out how to move to the city of my dreams.

For myriad reasons, that didn’t happen – but I’m not upset about it. I love my life. I love the house my husband and I share, and I love the people who are around me every day.

That being said… there’s one very specific thing I’ve only found happens when I’m in NYC – and I’m trying like mad to replicate that here in the fourth largest city in Pennsylvania. This most recent trip allowed me some time to really think about what I had been noticing on previous ones, and I’m so glad to have finally figured it out.

When I am in New York City, my anxiety all but disappears.

The first time I really noticed this happening was on a trip in 2011, with some of my dearest old friends. We were going about our day, enjoying the city, and taking our time getting ready for the evening. We had tickets to a Broadway show (Mary Poppins, I believe), and for whatever reason, we all assumed and believed the show started at one time… only to check the tickets while we were getting ready, and seeing that it was actually starting a half hour earlier than we thought – aka, in about five minutes. Our hotel was in Times Square, so we didn’t have to go far, but you try fighting through primetime crowds in the center of the city. It was a situation that, here in my city, would have caused me to break down and freak out – I hate being late, and a lifetime in theater means nothing makes me more ashamed than sneaking into an already-dark venue.

I found myself as the leader of our group, pulling my friends behind me through literal hoards of people (I think Times Square was more crowded than New Year’s Eve that night). We made it to the theater a moment before curtain, giddy and out of breath, and I realized that I felt truly awesome. 

That feeling is what I think I’ve been subconsciously chasing since.

This most recent trip was especially important to me, for a number of reasons. As I said, it was my husband’s first time, so everything felt a little special and new – I love showing him places that hold a lot of meaning for me, and I especially love when he comes to enjoy them as much as I do.

My previous trips to New York felt like a whole lot of tourism. While I love taking cliche pictures of famous sights as much as the next person, there’s only so much of that you can take – and, in a place like New York, you are missing so much if Times Square is all you see. For this trip, we stayed with friends who live in the city, so our time felt much more leisurely, and it was so nice knowing where to get the good bagels and burgers!

The biggest reason this trip meant so much to me, though, was my utter lack of anxiety. I know that’s partially due to my symptoms being far more in check now than they used to be, but a larger part is because I don’t have time to be anxious in New York. The parts of my brain that fill with entirely unfounded dread at home (or anywhere else, let’s be real) are full of subway routes, dinner ideas, and the general buzz of a completely alive city. I don’t do well when I’m left alone with my thoughts – I need things outside me to be at least pleasant to keep myself in check.

This was something I noticed to a lesser extent in Disney World – there’s a ton of stimulation there, as well, but it’s a little more in-your-face than New York, so THAT in itself gets to me after a while. But in New York… I can just BE. The city itself is the exact balance I need of things to do and see, white noise, people-watching, and beautiful things to photograph. There’s something to be said about the way New Yorkers interact with each other, as well. Instead of being in other people’s business, everyone is just trying to make their own way the best they can. That mindset works really well with me.

It doesn’t take much thought to acknowledge that, all things considered, moving to New York would make sense for me. If money wasn’t an object, I think we would already be there by now. But, I’m not as disappointed as you might expect. This trip was a great way for me to do a hard reset on my anxious brain.

Usually when I come home from a vacation, I crash (hard, in the case of Disney World). That didn’t happen this time. I’ve felt nothing but clear-minded and happy with where my life currently is – a nice change from the constant dread that usually takes over! I’m sure part of this is due to the wonderful company we had in the city; getting to reunite with some of your favorite friends is bound to leave you in a really good place. That place means just a little more when it’s somewhere you always struggled to get to before.

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December 19, 2016

I have been very, very terrible at blogging.

To be honest, I don’t have an excuse. I know my blog is here. I know I paid for my domain for the sole purpose of remembering I put money into this, so I better use it.

…and it’s been nearly a month since my last post? That’s just not good.

So, this post will be a bit more informal than what I had originally intended this blog to look like – we’ll call it catching up and I promise I will get back on track next week! Each of these paragraphs could very well have become their own posts, but, like I said, I have no excuse for not properly writing. So, here we go. Random thoughts.

It’s winter now, which means my skin is dryer than I knew it could be – I always forget that I need to prep for this frigid air (sidebar: the Frigidaire refrigerator brand suddenly makes sense). That also means that Christmas – and my birthday! – are close. My husband and I sincerely kicked ass buying gifts this year; if you’re on our list, get ready to love your present!

Real talk, I’m fairly certain my brain put so much emphasis on seasons just now because of the Gilmore girls revival. I have… feelings? about it??? I sobbed like a damn fool while I watched the episodes (two days after they came out – and NOTHING got spoiled for me – thank you, internet), but the next morning, I had a LOT of questions and… complaints? I’ve been devouring every think-piece I can find on the revival and while I’m not going to post spoilers here, if you want to talk about it, please shoot me a message!

As I type this, I’m staring at my fingernails, so I have to plug a nail polish brand. My dear friend Amber introduced me to Super Black Lacquers. I’m picky with nail polish – if it’s full of harmful ingredients, keep it away from my precious fingers. Super Black is as safe as they come, plus it’s a tiny operation – who doesn’t love supporting a small business? I have three of their colors, currently – two are shimmery and have SO MANY tones, and a classic red that I’m currently rocking for Christmas.

I also need to make a more personal plug. I found Harness Magazine on Instagram a few weeks ago. Another small, relatively local company! Harness is made up of contributors like me who simply want to get their work out. I submitted a poem I originally workshopped in college for their Christmas issue, which you can read right here.

Um… what else. I’m still reeling from the election and I’m truly not sure if that sick feeling is going to go away any time in the next four years. I haven’t been talking about it all much lately, solely because it makes my head spin when I think about it all. Just… I’m sad about all of it. I’m really, profoundly sad.

OKAY. Let’s switch gears and talk about sports for a second. A few things here: 1) the way the Bengals played yesterday was gross and entirely unnecessary. I couldn’t be prouder of Le’Veon Bell for fully ignoring Burfict’s taunting after every single play. 2) I’ve been encouraging my husband to start a Twitter so he can talk sports with people who will truly listen and engage with him, soooo if you know him, maybe help me nudge him? 3) I played Madden for the first time ever yesterday. I… am not good at Madden.

OH! How in the world could I forget to mention this? Years ago, I took a semester of guitar as a grade school elective class. My dad’s side of the family was overjoyed because they’re all musically inclined (okay, one is a legit prodigy), but when the  semester ended, I had to give up my loaner guitar. I’ve been searching for a new creative outlet lately (…because this moderately-abandoned blog isn’t enough?), and my dad wound up finding me a Fender bass at a pawn shop! It’s in great condition, and once I get an amp, I’m going to settle down and teach myself to play.

…Has this been enough of a blog post? I feel pretty good about it, so I’ll leave it here. I hope you all enjoy your holidays and I will see you in 2017!

We are married people!!

I’m writing my wedding/honeymoon recap post from 38,000 feet up in the air and a passenger just gave me their free drink coupons and I am emotional, so bear with me. Or don’t; no one is actually making you read this (yes, yes I am).

So. Nine days ago, Scott and I got married. We have rings on our fingers as proof! The day was so chaotic and loud and full of hugs and laughter and I never wanted it to end. I’m not sure if I’ll ever be able to properly express my gratitude to our family and friends who helped make our day what it was. Just, if you were there, thank you, from both of us.

Then there was last Saturday. You may recall that our honeymoon destination was closed because of Hurricane Matthew… the day before we were set to arrive. You may also recall that I deal with terrifically crippling anxiety and depression, SO. The instant that first hurricane warning came out… I was convinced Disney World was going to be destroyed. I stayed up almost the entire night before our wedding coming up with potential alternate honeymoon plans (highlights included Vegas and this hotel in the Poconos with the most gloriously ridiculous hot tubs I’ve ever seen – I woke Scott up at 3am to show him that!).

(Not-so) sadly, we didn’t get to see that insane Poconos resort (though we may have just planned our fifth anniversary trip there! thanks, airplane gin!)… by some insane stroke of luck, we booked a later flight to Orlando, arrived at the Pittsburgh airport and then got put on an earlier flight that was leaving literally the minute after we boarded. Honestly, it wasn’t until we were walking toward the Magical Express that I actually let myself believe our original honeymoon plans were still on!

I won’t bore you all with recaps of our seven full days in the happiest place on earth. I will, however, dump some pictures here for you! In standard me fashion, I took more photos in the past week than I have in the past six months put together. Also, if you are planning a trip to Disney World, I completely recommend paying for the Memory Maker. I’m an avid Disney blog reader, so I see a lot of moms recommending it so the entire family can get in photos, which is great, but I think it was completely worth it for us, too! It was so nice to not have to worry about handing my camera off to random people (y’all know that thing is like my baby), and we got some amazing photos that we otherwise wouldn’t have!

So, that’s it for the text part of this post. Highlights from our wedding and honeymoon to follow…

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