No man is an island (but all women kind of are)

In a lot of ways, I’ve always existed just slightly on the fringe of what I’d call the rest of the world.

That’s not to say I’m a loner; I’ve had friends, sure, but I’m often the person who’s more of the friend you bump into, not the friend you call to deliberately meet up with. I’m extremely introverted, meaning I’m often in my own head rather than in the present. I also have a strange obsession with being right (ha), so I have a habit of falling down the rabbit hole of tedium and minutiae – particularly when it comes to grammar and language – which not everyone finds as fascinating as I do. I like to call it job security, but in a lot of ways being interested in the things no one else cares about is, gasp!, isolating.

In fact, I have a tendency to take on challenges that others aren’t interested in, or don’t want to try. In my relatively short career post-college, the majority of my jobs have been the only one of their kind at that company. Even my position now, which I job share and therefore actually DO have a counterpart, is somewhat isolating in its ubiquity. We work across all clients, making us simultaneously members of every team and of no team.

But at work, I like being one-of-a-kind. It leaves me as the go-to person for answers (see aforementioned obsession with being right) and gives me the autonomy and authority to act as I deem necessary, mostly because there’s really no one else to consult. There’s a freedom to being on your own in this way; I can pop in and out of projects, leave my mark and then move on to the next.

At home, though, those same qualities that look like drive and ambition at work can lead to my taking on way more than I can chew. And because of that inability to let go, to delegate, to work as a team, I wind up feeling like I’m doing it all alone.

Because I am. Because I’m a crazy person.

Because god forbid, something gets done in a way different than how I would do it.

The funny thing is – I don’t think I’m alone in feeling this way.

As women, as mothers, as wives, we’re told we can have it all, but the underlying sentiment is that we have to have it all. We have to be the best wife, mother, daughter, employee, sister, friend and so on. That we have to figure it out. That if we just put our minds to it, we can totally handle it all.

But that’s just it. We’re putting our minds to everything  keeping track of the things that keep the house running – and doing it all alone.

It’s not that the men of the world aren’t stepping up – they absolutely are, and my husband is a prime example – but if I can be so bold as to generalize, the women of the world are still handling so much of the unseen work that it’s absolutely beating us down. (Check out this article on Time that explains it so much better than I could.)

And instead of finding solidarity, support or camaraderie in our always-connected social era, we find comparison and self-loathing for any and all of our shortcomings. We see Insta-edited versions of the lives our friends and family live and wonder, why can’t I do that? Why can’t I handle it like she can?

Why am I the only one who just, simply, can’t?

Personally, I very much do not have it all together. On any given day, there’s a pile of dishes in my sink, laundry getting wrinkled in baskets on the floor and a kid going off to daycare with blueberry stains under his fingernails. My mind races between the work I need to do, the money I need to spend (or save, and for what and how much) and the questions I need to remember for the doctor’s appointment coming up at the end of the month.

It never ends. And the more I tack onto my mental to-do list, the more I feel like I’m falling behind in the endless and solitary pursuit of perfection. The ever-elusive “all.”

So with that, I say, can we all agree to just cut the bullshit here and now?

Maybe if we all quit pretending we have it all, we could all feel a little better about not having it all.

Who really wants it all anyway? That just sounds like more to clean.

Oh what thanks there are to give…

This Thanksgiving, I find myself in a much different situation than I’ve ever been before. I’ve always struggled with over planning, future-glancing and wondering what things should be, all of which came crashing down in one fell swoop this year. But remarkably, that crash of all-things-planned was exactly what I needed in order to be happy, proving once again that all things happen for a reason.

A year ago today, I was still relatively new at a small company, all sunshine and unicorns at the possibilities that awaited me there. Darrell was less than satisfied in his role, and was looking to make a change. Since then, we’ve been lucky enough to have Darrell move into a position he loves, giving him a change of pace, scenery and salary, all three things he’d been needing for a very long time. And while the honeymoon phase of my employment waned, my desire to start freelancing grew. The wonderful happenstance of Darrell’s new employment meant the possibility that I’d be able to strike out on my own was becoming possible, and as you already know, fell into my lap unexpectedly just a few months ago. Since then, we’ve both become incredibly aware of just how lucky we are. And with that, I think it’s time I list out just a few of the things I’m very thankful for this year:

  • I’m thankful that both of us are healthy and happy.
  • I’m thankful that we find satisfaction in what we do for a living.
  • I’m thankful that we’re able to spend more time together.
  • I’m thankful for two wonderful families that love and support us in everything we do.
  • I’m thankful for all of the opportunities that lie ahead of us.

This blog, of course, has suffered a bit in the throes of change. It’s difficult for me to talk about things before they become a reality; I’m sort of superstitious and don’t want to jinx things before they happen. So when I’m awaiting news, contracts or anything else that seems blog-worthy, I tend to go radio silent for fear of losing out on a major opportunity. And that’s how things have been for the past month or so, working here and there on projects while a few potentially big opportunities await on the horizon. Suffice it to say that I’m still waiting, but there are so many things to be thankful for right now that I had to break the moratorium on posts.

I’d love to hear from you: what are you thankful for this year? What silver linings have you stumbled upon this year?

Day 21: Panic! at the Disco

So, I promised you a concert review, yes?

Yes.

Last night, Darrell and I attended the Panic! (yes I still put that exclamation point in there) at the Disco at the 20th Century Theatre in Oakley. It was the first time either of us had ever been to that venue, but even knowing it’s one of the smaller venues in the city, we were shocked at how intimate the setting was.

Panic at the disco

Lay off me, all I had was an iPhone

Perfect for a concert, if you ask me.

Right, concert … back to the story.

In 2006, back when no idea was a bad idea and distance was measured in CDs required rather than hours on the road, my good friend Lauren and another friend Travis hopped in the car and drove more than five hours from Muncie, Ind. to Grand Rapids, Mich. to see Panic! at the Disco for the first time. The venue was terrible: in what was essentially a very large pole barn we watched Panic’s first headlining tour unfold, complete with half dressed dancers and elaborate sets. We got our first introduction to another great duo, The Dresden Dolls, who opened for the show (unfortunately, they’re no longer performing, but if you get a chance you should probably check out Coin Operated Boy).

Anyway, Panic. Last night’s show could not have been more different than their performance 7 years ago. This time, the smaller stage invited their individual personalities to shine rather than blur into the highly choreographed movements of dozens of actors and dancers. And while everyone loves the glitz and glamour, there’s something infinitely more charming and relatable about a lead singer struggling through sound issues by cracking jokes in the microphone.

Small venue wins over large arena in my book, every time.

Panic! made a great show by being human. Their attitude on stage made you feel like you were part of some inside joke; their presence made you feel undoubtedly welcome. Of course, the music was fantastic; they played the best of their three existing albums and two from their yet-to-be-released album, “Too weird to live, too rare to die!” I knew exactly which song would be a part of their encore, although I had forgotten their tendency to cover a female artist song.

Can I call it a tendency if I only know it’s happened at two tours? Regardless, this time around it was Titanium … completely unexpected yet impeccably covered.

As far as the new album, I know I’ve pre-ordered my copy. Of course, I already own the other three (A Fever You Can’t Sweat Out, Pretty. Odd., and Vices and Virtues), so it only made sense to complete the set. Again, they’re awesome, so a pre-order gets you two early downloads.

Should I stop bragging about these guys yet?

Anyway, to the guys of Panic!: thank you for putting on such a great show. I was quickly able to forget the fact that as an early stage fan, I was unfortunately one of the oldest members of the audience. Pretty sure some most of the girls that were there are younger than I was at my first Panic! show, but it doesn’t matter.

You still rock, and I’m still loving it.

Thanks for being awesome.

Day 19: Breaking Bad

About 5 months ago, Darrell and I decided to cancel our cable service.

For the most part, it’s been awesome. We cut our cable bill from around $100/month to $8/month by streaming TV shows through our Xbox 360. We don’t obsess over which shows are on which nights. We (OK, I) don’t get sucked into multiple hour trash TV marathons.

But I’ll be honest. There are some shows we miss. Some things we wish we could keep up on. But more than anything, I’m enjoying how we choose to spend our TV time. Do we still watch probably way too much television? Yes. But do we have to consciously decide what to put on our TV? Also yes, and it’s been great.

For me, I really enjoy getting wrapped up into one series at a time. I like getting to know characters as they develop, and being able to choose a series and watch multiple episodes at once helps build that character background. It’s the same way I read books … a good story can captivate me for days.

That’s how it was when Darrell and I finally started on Breaking Bad last fall. He bought season one on DVD in preparation for a long car ride to Green Bay (did I mention he’s a Packer fan?) because it was on sale at Best Buy. By the time we got home, we’d finished season one and went straight to Best Buy to get seasons two through four. Since then, we’ve been waiting for season five to arrive on streaming video and, last night, we realized it had.

I should pause here. I realize it’s weird to get this stoked about a TV show. Go ahead and judge, but watch a few episodes and then we’ll talk.

Anyway, so tonight Darrell and I spent an inordinate amount of time watching Breaking Bad, Season Five. I would say I wish I had something more significant to tell you about, but I don’t. I love these tiny little, seemingly insignificant evenings that I’m now able to enjoy fully because the nagging feeling that there’s work to be done is gone. Sure, for my own business I bust tail, but knowing that the person accountable is also the person taking a break, makes taking that break much easier to do.

Maybe spending hours glued to the TV wasn’t the most glamorous way to spend that break, but that’s a tale for another day. For now, I’ll just relish in the fact that for 4 unadulterated hours, I was able to relax and spend time with my husband and the pups that just can’t help but curl up next to me.

And that’s a pretty perfect Sunday if you ask me.

See you tomorrow.

Day 14: Change is good

I have a confession to make.

I’m one of those, “everything happens for a reason,” people. I believe that when the world appears to help you or hurt you, it’s because it’s all a part of a grander scheme.

But more than simply accept things for what they are, I like to reflect on how I arrived and what circumstances brought me to a given point. It’s something I’ve done with friendships, relationships and every other major component of my life.

I like to look back, review the course of history and find new meaning to small, seemingly insignificant happenings in my life and appreciate them for what they are: stepping blocks to the me I’m supposed to be. I like to consider what had to happen – and what had to not happen – in order for something to have taken place.

So what does that look like exactly? Usually it starts because I’m trying to figure out how I came across something, how I met a person or how I find myself in a given situation. Let’s take my relationship with my husband, for example. (Side note: there are a million ways to play these lines. I usually just pick one thing and run with it.)

I met Darrell at an internship. I took that internship because, quite frankly, all of the internships I applied for outside of Muncie didn’t pan out and I was getting desperate as the semester loomed closer. Don’t get me wrong: I loved my internship, but at the time I was convinced I was settling.

Anyway, back to the point. I met Darrell at my internship, but there’s more to it than that. The day we met, I was filling in for the receptionist while she was out sick; I only covered the front desk for a few days. Normally I sat tucked around a corner in the back of the office, but that day, I was sitting at reception. Take into consideration the number of life events (or non-events) that put Darrell at that same place at that same time and you’ve got yourself quite a tangled web of circumstance.

Perhaps more importantly, you have quite a few changes in plans. I had intended on going out of state for my internship; our receptionist had certainly never intended to get sick and Darrell had needed a change in professional scenery. It’s really pretty remarkable that we ever met, let alone fell in love and got married.

So what’s the point, you’re probably wondering? Every day, I’m filled with questions about what I should do next, what choices I should make and what battles I should choose to fight. But in reality, no matter how much I prepare or plan or ponder my decisions, changes in those plans and decisions are inevitable. Whatever happens, happens for a reason, and it’s not something worth agonizing over.

Que sera, sera, I suppose.

Might as well dive in and enjoy the changes as they come.

Day 3: Happy Friday

Happy Friday! 

Two simple words to you, maybe, but there’s something you should know. 

When I was at Ball State, Friday was more than just the last day of classes. Friday had it’s own special magic to it, and I don’t mean the remnants of Thursday night’s haze. 

Happy Friday Guy

Yes, this was voluntary.

Friday had a secret password. Friday had an anthem. And Friday… had a mascot. 

You see, at Ball State, we had: Happy Friday Guy

Who is Happy Friday Guy?

Happy Friday Guy (a.k.a. Scooter Bob) is an enigma, wrapped in a mystery, served on a razor scooter through campus every Friday at noon. As he raced through campus in blue tights and a red cape, he handed out hugs, high fives and sometimes even candy to everyone in sight, proclaiming “Happy Friday!” to anyone within earshot of his belting voice. 

He was an icon. A legend. And he showed in all weather to remind us all to have a very special, very happy day. 

But that’s not fair, we didn’t have a Happy anything guy!

Fear not, my fine friends. I’m happy to share with you the magic of Happy Friday Guy, embedded neatly in the video below. 

Because even though Fridays are always happy, it never hurts to have a reminder. 

Happy Friday, everyone. 

May Day, May Day!

Friends, I cannot tell you how much I was looking forward to this weekend.

Why, you ask?

It was May Day 2013 in Indianapolis!

Image

My good friend Lauren and her boyfriend David invited Darrell and me to come up for the day-long concert, and when I saw the lineup of course I was in: Buckcherry, Bush and Soundgarden – it was like a time travel back to high school! (And you better believe those tunes sounded pretty sweet coming out of my Geo Storm back then.)

Don’t let the sunny photo fool you, I think we encountered every type of weather that you can in May – cold, warm, rainy, cloudy, sunny – but it was absolutely worth it.

While I was definitely looking forward mostly to the headliners, I really loved New Politics, a band out of Copenhagen that opened up the show. They were super high energy, sounded great and were an awesome way to shake off the cool weather and gear up for a great concert. I’ll be plugging in the headphones today to hear more, for sure.

Buckcherry came on second (which was a bummer – I would have loved for them to have a bit longer of a set) and they sounded fantastic. Darrell even commented they sounded better than he would have thought, and coming from someone who isn’t a huge rock fan, I’d say that’s a compliment.

AWOLNATION, a band I wasn’t super familiar with going in, put on a good show. It was probably a little more hard rock than I typically listen to, but I recognized “Sail” and really enjoyed the whole set.

Bush was up next, and sounded fantastic as expected. Unfortunately, the Indiana crazies showed their colors when Gavin Rossdale decided to run out onto the lawn. He was swarmed in minutes and made the whole thing very uncomfortable!

Luckily, after a few shouts telling people to get back, he was safely back on stage and performing like nothing had happened. Making an assumption here because I couldn’t really see much, but come on ladies, get it together.

By the time Soundgarden made it to the stage, it was getting late and really starting to cool off. Once we heard Pretty Noose and Black Hole Sun, we all agreed to call it a night.

The weekend seriously rekindled my love for summer concerts, making me realize I need to put a few more on the books for this year.

What are some of your favorite bands to see live? What concerts are you most looking forward to this summer?