Friday, November 22, 2013

As Not Good As It Gets, I Hope



A wise friend told me she enters every New Year being the best version of herself. Instead of going out drinking and kissing strangers, she rings in midnight and the new year by doing something good and productive for herself. She said it sets the tone for the year ahead.

My friend was right.

This year, I rang in the New Year in a hot yoga studio with 60 other people, willing myself not to pass out. Then I shared a tofu stir fry with said 60 other people. I didn't know a soul and for some reason, I still kind of felt a little drunk as I walked back to my apartment at 12:30am, sipping ever so slightly on champagne from a coffee mug.

Doing Bikram's Countdown to Midnight's class was probably one of the best decisions I've made for 2013 has been a truly epic year. Like any year, it has had its ups and downs...but I recall a lot more ups. My heart has been on a roller coaster ride. I got to travel more. I went out more with friends and even by myself.

I don't want to make this a year in review post, because...that will inevitably come in December or at the beginning of January, but I'm just wondering if there is some sort of karmic truth to having a great year by ringing in the year being the best version of yourself.

Also, how do I top 2013? I mean, really? I've been published for the first time since 2008. I got to spend some quality time with my best friend and hang out with his friends as well. I went to an epic wedding as a +1 and had a blast. I got to attend my cousin's bridal shower and enjoy fun times with some family. Oh, and I'm about to start writing an art column for an upcoming magazine in Philadelphia. Also, I graduate my Masters program in May! Still rocking that really high GPA. :-)

Not sure how to make 2014 even better. It is going to be hard to top 2013.

Until next time...


Tuesday, November 19, 2013

12 Random Idiosyncrasies of Mine

I felt like making a listical...aka a list of items under a common theme. I guess I'm inspired by Thought Catalog (they still won't accept any of my work) and Facebook because everyone has been playing that like-my-status-I-give-you-a-number-game where you write up a number of random factoids about yourself based on the number you got for liking someone else's factoids.

I digress.

1. I prefer the taller/thicker straws at Starbucks and Dunkin Ds for my ice coffee. As in, I get really bummed if I'm stuck with a short skinny (normal size) straw.

2. When eating Cheese Crunch Wheat Thins, I deliberately search for the crackers that have the most cheese powder on them and eat them first. I think I also pick out the cheese crackers in cheese flavored Chex Mix and eat them first as well. I'm weird.

3. If I'm flipping through channels and a Harry Potter movie is on, doesn't matter what I'm doing, I will stop and watch it through the ending EVERY SINGLE TIME.

4. I like, and I know I'm not the only person who has this preference....to sit in corners or against walls in spaces like conferences, cafes, and public transit (I don't care if you sit with me just give me the window seat!) I think its one part feeling secure and one part feeling in control of my surroundings since people can't sneak up behind/beside me. Its not that I perceive a threat, its just I feel secure. I get agitated when someone beats me to my favorite corner table at Starbucks and I'm left to sit vulnerable and out in the open.

5. Every morning when I pass this huge robot dinosaur outside the Academy of Natural Sciences I say "Good morning Dinosaur!"  Out loud. When I used to commute from Huntingdon Valley, I used to pass a horse farm and would say "good morning/Goodnight horsies and geese!" Also when I have a minor fail I say "try again" to myself out loud.

6. I honestly believe that becoming the straight and female version of David Sedaris is an attainable life goal.

7. Diet orange soda, grenadine and tequila is one of my delicious drink inventions. I call it a "Tequila Sunburst." Its like a sunrise without orange juice, but the pop of orange soda instead. Hence, sunburst. I love it.

8. I make a game out of naming dog breeds in my head whenever I see a dog. Then I Google image my answer to see if I'm right (unless its an obvious Dalmatian or Poodle or something).

9. When shaving my legs (gross and personal I know) I do this little two step shuffle when I switch legs. Shaved leg down, unshaven foot tap, shaved leg foot tap, unshaven leg up. I have no idea why I do it, and it is not necessary to complete the task. I just do it unless I consciously tell myself not to do it.

10. I never eat anything with pickles on it. I take the pickles off and eat them separately. I enjoy pickles, just not on any kind of sandwich or burger.

11. I get a very large feeling of satisfaction when I can attribute an actor on a certain show/movie to another show/movie...especially if he or she is guest starring on one episode and guest starred on different show for one episode previously. The intense desire to be right or place said actor is so great, I will pause the show/movie and check IMDB to find out.

12. I started this habit years ago. But I will not open a can of soda or beer without lightly first tapping the closed lid part three or four times. I think I started this because it would prevent the beverage from exploding upon opening. I don't know if it has any effect but the habit is so ingrained I don't even think about it when I do it.

Until next time...

Monday, November 18, 2013

I'm Not Rational When You Wake Me Up From Deep Slumber

After a truly great weekend of chores, errands, fitness, cooking and a little bit of creative writing work...I went to bed pretty tuckered out. At first I thought my mind would go 1,000 mph, as it usually does on Sunday nights before the work week ahead but after a half hour or so I was out and in dreamland.

A few hours later I heard rapid knocking. It was one of those things where the outside noise is part of your dream until you actually wake up and realize the noise is real. After a minute of knocking, I woke up and realized it was coming from the hallway outside my apartment door. I listened carefully and heard someone whisper my name.

The girl that lives below me locks herself out all of the time. I figured she might be trying to wake me up to use my phone or tools or something to get back in her place. So, I unlocked my door and opened it. Outside the apartment across from mine stood, not the girl from downstairs but a kind of cute, tall guy about my age.

"Hey, I'm sorry. I was trying to see my friend Caitlin," he said.

I'm standing there in a ratty t-shirt and jersey shorts, half awake wondering what this attractive man is doing outside my hallway and also why attractive man doesn't know what I know.

"Um, sorry but Caitlin moved out. That apartment has been vacant for about two weeks now. They've been doing work in it, getting it ready for the next tenant."

"What? No way! She said 20th! She texted me 10 minutes ago and my phone is now dead. Damn," he said.

"Sorry man. This is 21st. She must have moved a block away or something. Can't help you."

"Thats ok. Its a bummer. She just texted me. This is a late night booty call," he said.

Now, a number of things occurred to me during this conversation and not ONE of them should have been part of my thought process.

Thought 1: It is raining outside and you don't look wet. Wow, you will get wet when you leave here.
Thought 2: Wow, why did you tell me this is a booty call?
Thought 3: You don't look like her type and didn't she used to live with her boyfriend or something?
Thought 4: Caitlin really didn't tell you she moved? WTF?

It wasn't until after I locked my doors and crawled back into bed thinking, "wait...how did he get into our apartment building? The door is locked."

Needless to say, my roused-from-a-deep-sleep-thought processes is anything but logical. I shouldn't have opened my door because what if he was like a serial killer or something. He didn't whisper my name he whispered hers. Also, he has access to a spare key and now knows where I live. I could have been killed. He could have broke into my apartment. And btw...all of this transpired at 3:26am.

When I woke up I wondered if I dreamt the whole thing but remembered going to the bathroom after the ordeal before climbing back into bed. What a weird night.

Until next time...

Friday, November 15, 2013

Quitting


It started with a Groupon.

I bought 10 kickboxing classes for $15 or $20. The classes were held at Amerikick South Philly on Synder Ave.In my very first class I had to do 50 jumping jacks in the warm up. I was so proud of myself that I could keep in step with the the instructor. Many classes made me want to vomit and since my name is pretty unique, the instructor called me out all the time. Mary Anna, those aren't high knees! Mary Anna, put your butt down in that push up! Mary Anna, keep up! I seriously wanted to change my  name by the end of it. However, despite the fact that this energetic Vietnamese kid who tested our limits weekly was screaming at me, I loved it and I fell in love with kickboxing.

My Groupon expired and I found another deal and signed up for that. Being cheap, this was my way of cheating the system. The owner of Americks was kind of annoyed. He redeemed my voucher but called the master company to cancel all future Groupons. My instructor would be leaving in a month to work the Monorail at Disneyland. Kickboxing would be over.

In the very last class, the only kickboxers who came were myself and a girl named....get this...Anna Marie. The instructor tried to slaughter us one more time and we ended class with a very sweaty group hug.

Fast forward to Christmas 2012. My mom and I are driving to my work after my Christmas break in Virginia and we spot the Philadelphia Martial Arts & Kickboxing sign. My mother encourages me to call them, asking if they have deals for the New Year. I hesitate for a month before I work up the courage to make a stupid phone call. The owner makes an appointment for me to come in and discuss my goals.

I was nervous. I didn't want to be buffaloed into an agreement on the spot but I have a horrible time saying no. He told me the class schedule (3 a week) and the price (high but not out of my range) and next thing I knew I signed a contract and had plans to start up in four days. I returned the next day to put down my year deposit and purchase my very first pair of boxing gloves (we didn't train with them in South Philly).

My first class at the new gym was at 10am on a cold wintry Saturday morning. I had to get up early, take several modes of public transit and drag myself into the studio. There were only two other students, girls that had been taking the class since the owner opened the gym in October 2012. They were better than me but, ever the zealot, I had to prove myself. So I kicked harder, and tried relentlessly to prove to the instructor that yes, I may be fat and awkward but I trained in South Philly and I KNOW how to kickbox. Look at my form! I'm awesome.

He kept trying to reassure me, telling me that I was doing a great job in my first class and silently hoping I'd stop trying to show off and just learn something. haha

For the next 7 months I got up early on Saturdays (unless I was out of town) and took the Monday night or Thursday night classes. My own determination and consistency surprised me. I made some friends, enjoyed partnering up with various "classmates" when we had partner drills. I sort of became a cheerleader for others, encouraging my partners whenever I could.

Then in September, I ran a 5K on a whim and tore my LCL after a klutzy accident. I had to take a month off from kickboxing to tend to my injury. When I finally felt able to return, I learned they cancelled Saturday classes. The 10am class was now a 9am class if you confirmed ahead of time (Thurs) that you would be able to attend. I went on Thursday only to find out the class had been cancelled due to Halloween.

Then I registered for classes for my final semester of graduate school. I scored a spot in a coveted web design class but it met not one but two nights a week. That plus my other class meant I'd be working late, running the tutoring programs at work on Mondays, be in class Tue-Thurs, and then the only opportunity I would have to kickbox would be on Saturday at 9am.

I had to make a hard decision. It was time to quit.

As I walked to my final class, I listened to "Scream and Shout" by Britney Spears, a song that I listened to in order to pump myself up when I first started at this gym. I got there, shed my outer layer of clothes and met with the owner to inform him of my cancellation.

After that business was addressed, I took the floor to begin my last workout with Philadelphia Martial Arts & Kickboxing. To my delight, my favorite instructor would be teaching the class that evening. I informed him it was my last class and he said in a low voice, "Well Mary Anna, what would you like to work on today?"

I smiled. That meant a lot. I told him I wanted to do a lot of roundhouse kicks and bag work, my favorite things to do in the class. He assured me we'd have a great bag workout and he was right.

My last class was similar to my first. I was overweight, determined to keep up and overcompensating in an attempt to prove myself. But instead of showing off, I took things easy as to not re injure my delicate torn LCL knee. I huffed, puffed and respected my limitations. In my last drill I gave it my all, performing my favorite movies with as much gusto as I could muster. The workout music was a mix CD they've had since opening and I even mused to myself during our ab workout as a song skipped and commented on how that song has been skipping for the past 7 months.

We stretched and clapped at the end. The instructor turned to me and said "So how was that?"

"Perfect," I replied. What a way to go out. I thanked him for his classes and the manner he teaches.

"I'm so thankful and it is just so fitting that YOU were the instructor for my last class here," I said with my voice cracking ever so slightly.

After a hug, I returned to the lobby, gathered my belongings and began the bittersweet trek home. Time to hang up the gloves for now.

I hope I can return to a different school after I graduate grad school and my schedule opens up. I love the feeling of punching, the gratifying smacking sound my leg makes when I connect with the bag, and the fact that...even after a months hiatus...I could still keep up and grab my foot in the stretches. (Before I started I could barely grasp my ankle).

It has been a good run.

Until next time...




Thursday, November 14, 2013

Rejection

I'm sitting on the EL, ice coffee in hand. I'm having a sneezing fit and wondering if I'm coming down with a cold or if I'm having an adverse allergic reaction to the rapid weather changes we've been going through these past few weeks. I'm tired, feeling quite run down by my demanding work/school schedule and I'm also dreading the day ahead. My bus was late and cramped and even though I got to see my friend Sarah on my bus (a sign that it will be a good day), I have my doubts. I would be working 9am-7pm. I have a boatload of assessments and service plans (social work stuff) to complete. Also, tonight marks my last night of kickboxing for awhile...a decision I know is necessary due to time constraints but also disheartening because I feel like a quitter.

I grab my phone and check some e-mails. The telecommute job I applied for earlier in the week has emailed me. Wow, they got back to me quickly.

As much as they enjoyed reading my application and writing samples, they simply believe that they are not a good fit for me and my goals. Thanks but no thanks.

Rejected.

I give them credit. At least they actually took the time out to reject me. Lately as I frantically try to grab onto any media job I can find, the employers reject me in the manner of my last breakup. Silence. We both just stop talking to one another. They don't acknowledge that I applied and I don't "shark it up" and demand to know if they got my materials, how long they will consider my application, why did they reject me...etc. Also, this start-up viral content company that rejected me had the nicest way of doing so. "We're not a good fit for you." I read that as "you're not a good fit for us" but that wasn't the words they chose. They wanted to let me down gently.

I'm not entirely butt hurt over the rejection. I wasn't crazy about the idea of regurgitating and packaging preexisting content to create viral trends. I would have done it and maybe even enjoyed it, given the opportunity. But I'm more of an original content kind of girl. That is where my talent lies. I hope I eventually reached that point where each rejection will roll off of my shoulders and I'll hum Jay Z's "On to the Next One" to myself as I search for a new opening to apply for.

It still stung a bit as the crappy day continued and I made my way into the job I thankfully have with the health insurance I thankfully don't have to change (and can afford). Even though my current job is pretty disastrous to my mental health as of late. I'm pretty sure I had a minute bout of nausea after reading my rejection e-mail.

I began to ponder the rejections and the sheer multitude of silent rejections I have received. I mean, I've applied for 3 university communications positions, one of which dealt directly with editing print media content. Another position led me to believe I would be interviewed once I passed the gates of HR, but for some reason my application never crossed the threshold. I've applied for 3 non-profit communications coordinator positions, only one informed me of my rejection. I've applied for a freelance gig after a direct reference to the position (a spot I thought I had a legitimate shot at a shot at) and was never granted the slightest e-mail or call of acknowledgement that the editor received my materials. And now this rejection.

They say that millennials have a hard time communicating effectively thanks to technology. We hide behind our computer screens, phone screens, text messages...etc and our ability to communicate with one another regresses each day.

Well the same can be said for potential employers. Man up and reject with effort.

Until next time....

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

It Started Innocently Enough....

It all started with a silly e-card that I took a screenshot of and sent to three of my best friends. 

One friend immediately replied "I'm Sophia!" and that was that. So I thought about Blanche, Rose, and Dorothy and pondered as to which Golden Girl am I most like? Now, the friends I sent this to would certainty overlap in types. We'd have two Dorothys, two Sophias and a Blanche/Rose mix. So in the context of my friend who claimed Sophia, I thought....which one am I?

I thought this musing would pass and I'd get distracted by the newest viral cat video or God forbid, actual work...but it didn't. I continued to analyze the characters I grew up watching (mainly on Lifetime) and decide which Golden Girl most accurately represents who I am.

My first thought was Dorothy. See, she's very smart, snarky, sarcastic and very to the point. She has awful luck in the love department and comes off as strong and resilient. However, with these attributes comes her horrible self-esteem. I guess my self-esteem ebbs and flows like the tide, but I think I have more gusto and confidence about myself than Dorothy. I see her as the grounded, organized leader of the four women...which I tend to be in my group of friends. However, I'm also a storytelling dreamer that lacks common sense.....

So I must be Rose. I'm one of those help the helpless, non-judgy, love all serve all kind of people. I'm kindhearted and often get taken advantage of. Most people know me for my storytelling ability. Although, rarely am I called a dumbass after reciting one of my stories. I have difficulty standing up for myself since I retreat from most verbal and direct conflict. I rarely engage in debates because I don't want to offend the other person. However, I'm anything but simple minded. Yet Rose is a grief counselor and I am a social worker....

I ruled out Blanche because she's the lovable slut and I'm lovable but nowhere near a slut. However, in terms of personality traits, Blanche and I share a lot in common. We're both bold, attention seekers, drama queens, and have fierce leadership tendencies. (Her and Dorothy clash all the time..mainly due to jealousy but their personalities are both pretty strong).

If I were to consider Sophia, I'm a storyteller and I love shutting people down with snark and love telling stories. Most of Sophia's stories have a positive reception (as do mine). I also have a bad habit of mothering my friends, being the person with the nappy wipes, and making sure we drink water on a night on the town. I have that mothering instinct which Sophia portrays in the show.

Honestly, everyone could pick a character trait from each of these women and apply it to themselves. I'd have to say I'm a mix of all four: a Golden Girl hybrid. I'm just amused that I put hours of thought into this when I should be doing other, more productive things with my time. It was an interesting experiment. Maybe I'll have to do it with Orange is the New Black characters sometime.

Until next time....

Sick September A Recap

After an fantastic month of August where all the stars were aligned and life seemed damn near perfect, I entered the month of September with...