V-day D-day

Jessica M

Before I met my current boyfriend, I spent 25 years of my life perpetually single, hopping from short fling to dysfunctional fling, to “what the heck is going on here?!” fling, and back again.  And it was fine.  I LOVED being single.  LUURRVED might actually be a better word because I don’t think loved quite cuts it, I enjoyed single life that tremendously (don’t be confused, I LURVE my boyfriend and my new life as part of a duo as well).  That being said, I like to think of myself as a “connoisseur” of single life.  A concierge, a maven, a master, someone who knows what single gal life is really life.  I spent a lot of time hanging out with myself, and it was pretty awesome.  Most days I still consider myself a single gal, even if only in spirit (I am a one man lady).

This time of year is a dreaded time of year for single ladies.  It’s February, the month of

photo via buzzfeed

photo via buzzfeed

love, which means Valentine’s Day is coming up.  I for one have never been a fan of the holiday.  I love hearts, and pink, and chocolate, and puppies, and all other cute things that come along with Valentine’s day.  I loved the fling I had with a waiter around Valentine’s Day 2009 (finally, a college guy that had enough money to buy all my drinks at the bar – because obviously that was important in a partner then, oh the priorities of a 21 year old).  I s  However, I do not love waiting 45 minutes to get a table at a restaurant.  I do not love sitting elbow to elbow in a movie theater.  I do not love hearing about animals that end up in shelters because they were a Valentine’s Day gift that the receiver wasn’t ready for.  I do not love being taken out and spoiled because someone felt OBLIGATED to.  I think that’s most people’s complaint with Valentine’s Day.  You shouldn’t be told to do something nice for your partner, you should just do it.

Anyhow, I digress.  I started this entry with the intention of giving a few pointers on how single gals can enjoy this day (or any day they’re feeling a little lonely, we all get there), despite being surrounded by throngs of cutsie wootsie couples doing cutsie wootsie things.  You can take my advice, I am a single gal maven after all…

1.  Spend it with your pals!  I have some really fond memories of anti-valentine parties with my closest friends (some of whom were in relationships at the time).  Throw a party, go out to dinner, laugh at the couples that are putting so much pressure on having a perfect

photo via HBO/buzzfeed

photo via HBO/buzzfeed

night, have one too many drinks, and celebrate the importance and power of friendship – it is a relationship after all.  I spent several years celebrating Valentine’s Day with one of my best girlfriends, despite our relationship statuses.  The only reason we stopped is it’s now a two hour commute to see each other.

2.  Watch anti-valentine movies.  My recommendations include Annie Hall, 500 Days of Summer, Blue Valentine, Broken Flowers, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, and Sleepwalk with Me.  Few things will make you feel better on Valentine’s Day than a movie marathon of failed relationships.  Or any horror flick (if that’s more your thing).

3.  Treat yourself girl!  Stuck with a bunch of friends that are going on dates for Valentine’s

photo via Cartoon Network/buzzfeed

photo via Cartoon Network/buzzfeed

Day?  No worries.  This is the perfect opportunity for you to grab the current issue of your favorite magazine/load up your favorite blog/pull out a much loved book, fill up the bathtub, turn on your favorite (soothing) Pandora station, light some candles, and kick back.  It may sound cliche (single girl having a bathtub pampering session on Valentine’s Day) but trust me, cliche or not – it’s awesome.

4. Stay up until midnight (or get up early the 15th) then go to the grocery store and buy the discounted candy.  Chocolate on sale… does this really need justified?

There ya have it.  It’s a made up holiday that makes single ladies feel bad about themselves.  Instead of being bummed you don’t have a lover to spend the day with, spend your time celebrating the most important relationship you’ll ever have – the one with yourself. :)

photo via NBC/buzzfeed

photo via NBC/buzzfeed

The proximety of long distance

Jessica M

There once was a time, not so long ago, when we were forced to go out and meet new people and make new friends.  A time when being in a big enough city (or, if not, making a minor relocation) was enough to get away from a bad breakup.  I can barely remember this time, but I know it used to exist.

Social networking makes it so easy to stay in touch with those far away, which is a good thing.  I have friends all over the US, from Buffalo New York, to Honolulu Hawaii (I know, lucky jerk).  I’m thankful that thanks to technology I can keep in touch with them all.  When I was a kid, I don’t remember my mom every talking about her friends from out of town, or taking weekend trips to “meet up with the girls.”  But she wasn’t a homebody.  To this day, she still meets weekly with her girlfriends for drinks, or cards, or movies, etc.  How does she do it?  Without my ever doting boyfriend, my nights would be lonelier than I like to think.  Thanks to Facebook, text messaging, Instagram, email, Gchat, and Facetime I’m able to keep in touch with all my college friends, like we’re still sharing a six bedroom house in our tiny college town. I don’t feel the need to go out and meet new people.  The women I work with are all nice enough, but I have no desire to go out to happy hour or to the Christmas party.  I have a solid group of friends, why would I need more?  Juggling relationships can be hard.  It all sounds so cynical, is this the way we live now?

Just a few days ago, I recieved a text message from a former fling.  We haven’t spoken in over a year, and we didn’t exactly end on good terms (what can I say, I get bored easily – it’s not a bad thing, it’s a sign of intelligence).  Regardless, he asked me to meet up for drinks sometime thinking I lived in his town.  I actually live two hours away, so it was easy to avoid the “well I’m in a serious relationship now, idiot” speech, but I couldn’t help but be flabbergasted.  Are we getting just as lazy with forming romantic relationships asnwe are with friendships?  It’s easier to scroll through a cell phone list of contacts and reach out to an ex (despite how it ended) than it is to get out there and meet someone new.  Facebook makes it even easier now that we can check and see if someone is in a relationship or not before sending that text (my gentleman caller conveniently doesn’t have a Facebook account).  Even Instagram has recently introduced an option for direct messaging.

This all leads me to another question, is it appropriate to keep these failed relationships (both romantic and friendships) available through technology?  Thinking about it, a text message is quite personal.  It’s a private conversation between two people.  It’s sent directly, and it gives senders time to formulate thoughts before sending.  It eliminates the risk of immediate embarassment and opens up an opportunity for more bold conversation.  Should we be blocking exfriends and exlovers from contacting us this way?  Like I mentioned earler, things like this never used to be an issue.  Without these new forms of instant and direct conversation, a two hour gap in between people would be enough to keep an ex at bay.

It’s hard to say if these forms of e-communication are a blessing or a curse.  I’ll take the ability to keep in touch with my lady soulmates (it feels like just yesterday we were still living under the same roof) if it means having to endure awkward conversation with old flames at the same time.  As I type this, I’m sitting in an airport terminal surrounded by people ending their holiday travel.  It looks like even with all these new ways of getting together without actually getting together aren’t a total deterrant for loved ones getting together in person and it’s heartwarming – even for my cold, electronic chatting, heart.

Thankful and thankful and thankful again

Jessica M

It’s that time of year again, everyone is thankful for something.  But shouldn’t we be thankful all year round?  I’ve been really impressed with my Facebook friends that have committed to putting up one thing they’re thankful for every day this month.  I keep thinking, there’s no way I could come up with that many things to be thankful for – but that’s the attitude of the discourage and while my mid twenties might not be everything I hoped they’d be, I refuse to get gloomy.  So I’ve challenged myself to come up with a list of the things I’m most thankful for.  Took make it a little more interesting to look at, I’ve decided to only use pictures from my Facebook (I’ve been scrolling through them lately and it’s helped to remind me how much I have to be thankful for).  And from now on when I’m feeling sad or gloomy I’ll have this list to refer back to – year round – and remember there’s lots to be thankful for, even if it’s not November.

What I’m thankful for (as told in pictures)

1. I’m thankful that my boyfriend is as big of a nerd as I am.  Recently, we spent an entire day (literally) playing two different versions of Final Fantasy at the same time.

1419805_979504099430_962639884_n2. I am thankful for my parents.  They’ve been together for 28 years and make me believe in soulmates.  If everyone had parents as great as mine, the world would be an incredible place.

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3. I am thankful for pets.  To feel unconditional love it rare, but I’ve found it in my dogs.  Recently, I stopped by my parents house to check on my dog Kelly after she had a wart removed.  She was so high on pain pills I don’t even know if she knew I was there but I was happy to baby her for an afternoon.

kelly belly4. I am thankful for learning new things.  Last year I swallowed my nerves and learned how to ride a motorcycle.  Not only is it another super fun activity I can now do, but it gave my dad and I a unique activity to do together and that’s really the best part. 

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5. Cheese.  I’m definitely thankful for cheese.  I think the best cheese of my life was Brie with honey drizzled over it from a seafood restaurant in Wilmington NC. 

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6. I am thankful for creativity.  I have enough resources at my fingertips to start new projects and discover new passions regularly.  An outlet of creativity keeps my mind sharp now that I’m no longer in school. 

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7. I’m thankful for good books and reading.  It’s the best way to escape life and expand your thinking.

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8. I’m thankful for slumber parties.  There are few better ways to unwind and forget about all the stresses of getting older than grabbing a bunch of blankets, board games, and friends and unwinding for the night.  I’m also thankful that I have an awesome circle of friends that would agree with me.

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9. I’m thankful for Bonnaroo.  It’s the one time I year I get to let loose and be a total dirty hippie along with 80,000 other people, and it’s socially acceptable.

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10. I’m thankful for my friends.  98% of them are certified lunatics, but I love them just the same.

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11.  Most of all, I’m thankful for moments like this:

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12.  And these

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13. Last one

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14. And sushi.  Cannot forget about sushi.

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Seven: on change and keeping positive about change

jess

If there’s anything I’ve learned in life, it’s that a lot can change over time. A lot has changed for me in this past year alone, and a lot more will change in another six months. Luckily, I’ve seen more changes to be positive things in my life than negative.

A year ago, my current boyfriend and I were broken up and I was dealing by doing everything that I wanted and could do to keep me happy and going (traveling, seeing friends I never see, staying out late and just trying to seize every chance to do something fun or different.) A couple of months prior, I decided that I desperately wanted a big life change and had been trying to make plans to move to Nashville. I later realized that there was no way I was going to be able to have enough money saved in order to make such a huge move (it was quite a rash decision) and the boyfriend and I had started talking about seeing each other again so we went on a few casual dates. Since then, I’ve never loved Pittsburgh or my boyfriend more. We eased into dating again and the break was probably the best thing for both of us to get things straightened out. At the same time, I learned to see this city in such a positive light again, instead of looking at it as a place that I was stuck. At my museum job, a new position was created in the Spring and I started giving talks and tours and getting to actually be more hands on and creative at work, which felt wonderful. This past summer has been great for growing and continuing to find artistic inspiration. Now, last week, my boyfriend informed me that he had a potential job offer to run a business in his hometown in Ohio. On Sunday, I was told that it was happening (well, 95% sure it’s happening since all the technical things haven’t been completed) and this only means even more change, some of which will be happening very soon. Since everything hasn’t been completely worked out, we’re not sure when he’ll be going, but I know I won’t be able to follow until Spring due to my current apartment lease. There’s so much to be done, even more on his part than mine initially, but I’m almost feeling overwhelmed with the thought of it all. I know I’m going to make some lists soon and I also know that this is something he and I will have to figure out as we go along.

When it comes to my life decisions, I am so lucky to have parents that are always supportive and there to help me talk through things when I need it. After discussing details with my boyfriend, I called my mom to tell her the news. She told me that we should look at it as another adventure and enjoy the changes. I’ve thought about how positive so many changes have been for me throughout my life, especially the ones that seemed so scary at first.

Winter can be a really depressing time for me (I’m like a little plant and I don’t do well without sunlight and warmth) so once I have more details about what’s going on this Spring, I plan to start a timeline of tasks for myself to keep up with what I need to do in order to make this transition as easy as possible. I’m also planning to try to keep up with doing at least a little bit of something creative, as it is also a really hard time for me to feel creative as well. I have ideas for handmade gifts for holidays and a little project to surprise my boyfriend with for his birthday that I hope help keep me thinking creatively.

Here’s to any and all other potential changes I have coming for me.