In a Ben Gibbard lyric he talks about feeling discouraged by a lack of color, I have felt downhearted lately for this reason. The lack of color I refer to is my inspiration, it has gone missing. The world is such a noisy busy place and so often I feel lost in the bustle. The more time I spend out in the commotion the less I am able to hear myself. The artist in me is completely stifled by the deafening clamor of people buzzing around me, pulling me this way and that. It is a trade-off I suppose, I love the connection to the world and to people but I also feel a strong urge to withdrawal for the sake of self-preservation.

With the holidays and work being busy it has felt like I have been trapped in a room with no exit for weeks. It is a bright room filled with all kinds of odd sounds, ringing, doors slamming, multiple people talking over all at once each one competing to be the loudest. It is a room of constant stimulation and I have been standing in the middle juggling. Today I escaped! I found the exit and fled as fast as I could.

Todd has been out-of-town for a week, returning tomorrow. With this I spent most of last week at my parents house for the holiday. Their house is entirely too crowded. 5 adults (including me) 2 children, a dog and a cat. By the time I am done at work and get over there my energy level is running on fumes just to be bombarded by even more stimulus the moment I walk in the door. Make no mistake, children are energy siphons.

This morning I got up early and drove home to the solitude and silence of my empty house. I spent the first three hours taking in the quiet and calm of my sleepy home as I washed dishes and put away Christmas presents.

Once my chores were finished I spent a little time online ordering some odds and ends for the wedding. I spent the rest of my afternoon sipping tea and coloring while When Harry met Sally played low in the background. For my birthday my brother bought me a new coloring book and some new pencils. I don’t know if I have ever mentioned this before but I have quite a large coloring book collection. It was of the things I do to relax when I need to unwind. It is the closest I have been able to come to any artistic outlet of late because any creative insight I have has been buried under responsibility and structure. I have not even had the want to write, which is unlike me.

This evening one of my girlfriends and I went out for dinner and drinks. With the holidays keeping us both preoccupied we had not seen each other since before my birthday. When she came over the first thing she did was present me with my birthday gift and she did well. She is paying for us to do a painting session together.

The artist or whomever runs the event comes to one of our local bars and guides us as we paint whatever the chosen piece is. Although it is a predetermined piece we will be working on I am still excited to get a brush in my hand, a glass of wine in the other and create. The fact that my girlfriend will be working alongside me is an incredible bonus. I have heard about these events and always wanted to go to one, I am thrilled to have the chance. The one I think we will be going to is actually at one of our favorite bars, Red Light Red Light, and therefore is within walking distance of my girlfriends house, extra added bonus.

Today was a good day that is ending with some Simon and Garfunkel along with an over due unburdening of my emotions. I feel still again, I can hear my own voice and soon I know my inspiration will dig out from under the burdens that have kept it tied down and it will once again pour out of me onto whatever medium it chooses.

An Ode to my twenties

After dinner Saturday night one of my girlfriends stayed the night at my place. We came home after dinner and had a girls night-in complete with an Indie feel-good movie and at home pedicures. I also compiled a list of some our favorite memories from the last decade together (you know I love lists), a tribute list to some of the high lights of our twenties if you will..

IMG_0796– A day at Cassadaga. Our day started with us driving to the wrong beach and having to turn completely around. Luckily we started early so we still arrived by lunch time. The rest of the day was filled with witches and palm/card readings as well time at the beach.

25058_356145375734_4833501_n– West Palm Concerts. We went to too many concerts to count but West Palm was one of our favorite venues and we saw some of the best concerts there. Not to mention my best friends infamous beach story from the after Dave Matthews that she will never live down. She will be lucky if I don’t bring that one up at her wedding one day.

8135_128027525734_5587765_n– St Augustine road trip. That was for Modest Mouse and this road trip stood out because it was more than the usual crowd. We packed 5 people into a hatch back Jetta and most of the rest of the weekend was a fantastic blur of music, beach, and everything else St Augustine is.

26950_384161045734_415279_n– Bar-B-Q Bar. This bar was our religion in that we went there religiously. Rain or shine we were there without fail. We met a lot of interesting people, including a now ex-boyfriend for one of us and a husband for another one of us. We made a lot a friends and danced ourselves skinny.

14657_169031595734_909795_n– Halloween ’08. It was the best one.

14106_336969145734_6242893_nThanksgiving Eve. Our Favorite night to go out.

8135_149206715734_7634796_n-Crawfish Festival. Where I got the lovely cut that formed into a lovely scar on my arm.

IMG_0675-As Tall As Lions. We saw this band 4 or 5 times over the years and they served as the soundtrack to our twenties.

IMG_1955– Back porch parties.

8135_138373665734_6735323_n– Wednesday Tea Time. Mine and my best friend’s weekly tea date in Winter Park. A chance to catch up in the middle of a busy week, drink tea as well as check out the local art and music.

IMG_2137-Girls nights in and Sleepovers.

034– Me moving downtown. Closer to the action.

537218_10151233274290735_829893731_n– My bestie having her first child.

246687_10150198734625735_12754_n– My two other besties getting married.375220_10150354613075735_211790640_n


016-My meeting, moving in with and becoming engaged to Todd.

It would be impossible to pack it all into one little list but these are the highlights of what turned out to be a really great time in our lives.

Look both ways before crossing into adulthood

This weekend was a good one. Friday Todd and I did some Christmas shopping, met my Mom and our niece for lunch followed by time at the park. Later we went out to dinner and then to movie night in the park. I think the movie has to be my favorite part of my birthday weekend. It was so fun sitting out under the stars in a grassy area surrounded by trees watching an old black and white. For a moment it was easy to forget how close to the city we were. We had a picnic basket full of wine and fruit and a blanket to sit on, it is absolutely one of the best dates I have ever had.

Saturday I wrapped Christmas gifts during the day, one of my favorite parts of the season. I love getting creative with the wrapping and embellishments on the packages, it is like an art project to me. That night I went to dinner with two of my best girlfriends. Quiet alone time for girl talk and to process being 30, it was perfect. One of my girlfriends turned 30 a few years ago and has two children now, the other is in her late 20’s and just had her first child. We were talking about how weird it feels to be this age and be “settling down” in life. It seems like just a few years ago we were going out every weekend and spending all our money on concerts and road trips. The birthday card one of my girlfriends gave me talked about looking at the world through grown up eyes now and the unfamiliar feelings of being an adult.. All I could think while reading it was The Hallmark writers are really getting good. It’s true, this all feels a bit unfamiliar.

When I woke up on my actual birthday I laid quiet in bed for a little while thinking about the last ten years and the next ten. What I have concluded is I am really glad I had the chance to enjoy myself and be irresponsible for a while. I am always talking about the importance of our life decisions because we don’t get time back. “We don’t get to be this age again, We don’t get a do-over at the end of our life, There is no restart button”. I am constantly reminding myself of that. For me turning 30 has less to do with “Where am I now?” and more to do with “What got me here?” I have the rest of my life to be married, have children, work.. etc. I am really glad that I had fun when I was young and single and no one was depending on me. I feel like that is what my twenties were for. Todd and I have the rest of our lives together, I am glad I gave some of my life to my girlfriends and to adventures and trying new things. When I am old I will look back at those years with fond memories.

Looking forward I am so excited about the direction my life has taken. In my twenties my biggest anxiety was the unknown about the rest of my life. I had nothing figured out, that is what I was working on then. Now I have certainty about my life, myself, and the future. I am still in transition, I always will be, that is what life is, a constant transition. I am excited about getting married, starting and finishing my degree as well as starting work, becoming a mother, celebrating my friend’s milestones with them… This is what the next ten years holds for me. I can’t see it all clearly yet but I know what I am moving towards and I am excited. I have a feeling this will be the best time of my life and I want to embrace all of it fully.

The Introvert at a Party


When I was in high school I did not go to parties. I would occasionally receive an invite but I always had an excuse, something else to do, somewhere else to be. I did not drink and I did not like crowds of people so the whole idea of being crammed into a house with a bunch of drunk teenagers really didn’t interest me. Ironically I met my first boyfriend out of high school at a graduation house party. Looking back on the situation I can see how misleading this would be for him.. By meeting me at a party I’m sure he felt it was safe to assume that I was the type of girl who went to parties, this is in fact completely untrue for me. When I met him I was drunk because my friend that dragged me to the party knew I had never had a drink before so deliberately over served me to be a part of the experience of my first time being inebriated. Some friend. I ended up sick in front of my parents house later that night. To this day I do not understand the appeal of being drunk. I don’t like the feeling of being out of control of my body and I certainly don’t enjoy being sick, kind of ruins any fun you were having earlier in the night.

Parties have always been a point of contention in relationships for me. To me it seems like such a silly thing to get hot about but to others they are apparently very important. It has never been that I refuse to go to parties with whoever I am dating at the time, the issue has always been me feeling left to fend for myself in a sea of drunk people, most of whom I do not know on an intimate level meaning small talk is mandatory for survival. Small talk with a drunk person when you are not drunk.. Does anyone actually think that sounds fun??

Think of a person who did not learn to swim until later in life. Sure they may eventually be able to dog paddle or learn to float but they are never going to be completely comfortable swimming in the deep end on their own. That’s how this has always felt for me. I will go to a party with you but I am a weak swimmer so, at least at first, I need to be not be left alone trying to swim in the deep end. I will flail and attempt to keep my head above water but inevitably I will start to drown.  After being involved with a certain group of people for enough time I would develop more intimate relationships with a few of them so parties became easier, I essentially became a stronger swimmer. But in the beginning when I would get to the point of drowning I would just leave. I realize this may not have been the best way to handle the situation but I have never had the ability to fake how I am feeling very well. I am a feeler. I wear most of what I am feeling on my face, it is very hard for me to hide when I am uncomfortable, upset, sad.. Any of those negative feelings, as well as the positive ones  for that matter. Because I know I cannot hide how I feel, especially if I am feeling something very strong, I have never really tried to. I am pretty up front and honest about what is going on inside. So in my defense before I would just peel out on my date I would let them know I was feeling uncomfortable. If I was still left to fend for myself after that point, I would bail.

I cannot tell you how many arguments were started because of something as everyday as going to a party. It was not until I dated Todd that things changed. I remember when he invited me to a party for the first time in order to meet all his friends, my first thought was Crap. I thought I would I have more time until this came up. We had only be dating a few weeks. I really liked him but I had been in the same position enough times with others to know it never ends well. I told him I was not quite ready for a party but encouraged him to go. That night we stayed home, listened to music and just talked all night long. (A much better alternative to a party if you ask me). It wasn’t until months later I discovered Todd feels the same way about parties as I do. The only reason he asked me to got to that party so early on is because he didn’t really care to go and wanted company. Since then parties have not been a problem because neither of us are left on our own in the deep end to drown. Not to mention at this point in our lives we have widdle our circle of friends down to those who share the same values and interests. Neither of us are heavy drinkers and neither of us are comfortable in situations where we are being made to feel lame for not drinking heavily. Those relationships eventually faded out.

I bring all this up because I am just days away from turning 30 now. I have to say I have been more excited about this Birthday than any other I have had up to this point (including my 21st – as you can probably imagine that one did not mean much to me). I feel good about how I ended my twenties. They may have started a little rocky but the middle was great and they are ending with me finally having a sense of self thanks to years of mistakes, learning opportunities and self discovery.

30 is like 21 in a way because it is one of those birthdays that has a bit of pressure out on it to do something BIG. The truth is I have thought about it but it’s not what I want. If I had some big party and invited everyone I know (my close friends and the few on the outskirts- coworkers, social friends I have made at the bars over the years..etc) I would be doing it for someone elses reasons. All I have wanted to do for my birthday is spend time with my very best girlfriends, my family and Todd which is what I have decided to do.

Friday I have off from work so Todd and I are going to Movie in the Park at a local garden near our home and then out to dinner. Saturday I am having dinner with my girlfriends at a local Tapas restaurant that is known not only for their food but the incredible cocktails they create. Then next weekend we are having the entire extended family over to celebrate me and my grandmother who is celebrating her 80th birthday as well. I am very excited for all the plans that have been made.

I am not condemning parties or saying that they are not great fun for some people, it just isn’t usually my preference. Sometimes I feel like the world is driven by extroverts and those of us with quieter voices can get lost in the noise.

(Photo from

Our Third “First” Christmas Together

nana's xmas

The last few weeks have been particularly gray and moody, a far cry from the usual warm weather and sunshine that can follow us into December in Florida. It reminds me of our Christmas in Chicago last year and the fall weather I have come to know from my visits to Illinois over the years. I have found the dim-lit days and breezy afternoons calming. Everything seems quieter when the weather turns gray.

Friday we decorated for Christmas. We do not partake in Black Friday shopping. I am sure it will surprise no one that I find the very idea overwhelming and a disgusting display of consumerism.

I really enjoyed decorating the tree this year. When Todd’s parents were here earlier this fall his mother left with us three boxes of ornaments she had stored for him over the years. Apparently Todd has quite the collection, most were Christmas gifts from his mother and aunts. It was fun going through and seeing all the different ornaments that had been gifted to him. There ornaments of famous baseball players, a nod to the years of baseball Todd played in school, as well as other sport related decorations. There were drummer boys and Snoopy ornaments. My contribution to the tree has sentimental value as well. I am lucky enough to have many of my Nana’s ornaments still in tact from the 50’s and 60’s (the two above were hers). These are my favorites, they are some of the only things of hers we have. I also have ornaments from the other grandmothers, my aunt and my mother. Not to mention a few that I picked up over the years that speak to my tastes, like tea pots and birds. A tradition that Todd and I started our first Christmas together was buying a new ornament for the tree each year, I think even then we knew we would end up together. Our first year he bought me an Illini ornament, the mascot of his alma matter. Our Second Christmas he bought me a ornamnet that displays a snowy scene of the Chicago skyline since it was my first time ever seeing snow and we were in the city. This year we have decided we will get an ornament having to do with our becoming engaged this year.

I am a deeply sentimental person, this also should come as no surprise. While I was looking at our tree Friday night, all lit up and beautiful, I was thinking about how lucky Todd and I are that every Christmas we have had together has been a “first”. I love firsts, I think they are special because they are what you remember. For example, Todd and I’s first house together.. We will live in other homes together, nicer homes, homes filled with laughter and children and wonderful memories but there is something special about that first place, you know? Our first Christmas was special because it was our first Christmas. Last Christmas was my first time ever seeing snow. This Christmas is our first Christmas in our home together as home owners. Next Christmas will be our first Christmas as a married couple. How lucky are we that we get year after year of firsts together. I do not take that for granted.

We had another first this weekend as well. While decorating we were discussing what to get the other one for Christmas this year (and my birthday which is now only days away). The truth is, I had nothing. I had a hard time coming up with anything I wanted and he was struggling as well. I mentioned a cup holder for my bicycle and maybe some new loose tea from the tea shop but that’s really it. He was not satisfied with my answer, nor was I with his.. “work socks and underwear”. I don’t think so buddy.

After changing the subject a few times and coming back to it we decided to buy new bedroom furniture together as a joint gift to ourselves. I was very excited. Of course I am a woman and I am excited about new furniture simply because it is new furniture but even more than that I was excited to be buying our first furniture set together as a couple. We are very happy with the furniture we currently have, but at some point we know we will upgrade and buy furniture together that we both want. This might sound silly but it felt very adult going into these furniture stores together and picking our master bedroom set. I just love knowing this is ours together, not mine that we now share or his that we now share, it is ours. We picked it out together, paid for it together. This is a first for me and for us in our relationship. There is something very comforting about finding the person who will be your first everything going forward in life.