Monday, December 31, 2012

2012 in Review

Happy New Year, angel-faces

I thought about doing an end of the year survey here, then decided I didn't want to. I don't really like looking back very much. It makes me miss the good times, and sad all over again about the bad times. But then, because I love to change my mind, I decided that it would be interesting and good for me. So here you are, loves. I borrowed this from the lovely Chrissy at The New Me. (You should check out her blog, because she and it are awesome.)

1. What did you do in 2012 that you'd never done before?
Honestly, I can't think of anything particularly cool. This is not a promising beginning to this post.

2. Did you keep your New Year's Resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
Nope! I wanted to drink more water, play with my rats every day, do yoga every day, and blog. I did keep up with blogging, which I'm pretty damn proud of. Yoga and rats sadly were not quite a daily occurrence, but I think my resolutions helped me keep them an integral part of my life. As far as water... I am one dehydrated piece of crap. At least I drink a lot of tea? 
For 2013, I plan to blog more frequently (probably with shorter posts), take more pictures, and get to the yoga studio at least 2x a week.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?
My friend Natalie had a beautiful little bambina named Carolyn!

4. Did anyone close to you die?
No people, thankfully - just my ratlets.

5. What places did you visit?
Gettysburg, PA a couple times; Charlotte and Asheville in NC; Philly; and I went to NYC for a couple hours to pick up Ann from publishing school.

6.What would you like to have in 2013 that you lacked in 2012?
I made all my Christmas presents this year, and it got me wanting to make more crafty projects. I really, really, really want to move into DC in 2013. A boyfriend would be nice, too.

7. What dates from 2012 will remain etched in your memory, and why?
January 27 was a day I got some big news.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
I learned to trust myself, stand up for myself, forgive myself and others, be emotionally self-sufficient and intentionally happy.

9. What was your biggest failure?
I struggled with the above things as well, and sometimes failed.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
Nope, I fared pretty well this year.

11. What was the best thing you bought?
Probably my Mac Air. That, and lots of cute clothes that make me smile. And every single fucking thing I ate in Asheville.

12. Whose behavior merited celebration?
Ann wins roommate and bff of the year award, as per usual. Despite much terrorizing, including a Christmas gift of a mug covered in death threats, she is always incredibly supportive, always willing to listen and give honest, thoughtful advice, always sharing my love and enthusiasm for life and finding things to laugh about. Jamie, for constantly making me laugh harder than just about anyone, for adventuring with me, for being a steady, calming presence when I'm feeling sad. My beautiful friend Emmy, who has become a regular fixture in my life again after years of not seeing each other nearly enough. And, of course, my family.

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?
Stella. Who could imagine that sweet angel face could be capable of so much destruction, so much misery, so many pee stains?

14. Where did most of your money go?
Rent, car payments, Kirby's constantly ailing body.

15. What did you get really excited about?
All of my theater projects, big and small. My trips. Halloween. Christmas. Each season. Lots of other littler things as well. I'm a rather excitable person.

16. What song will always remind you of 2012?
I can't pick one, so here's a few: Us Against the World (Coldplay). You and I Both (Jason Mraz). Some Nights (Fun.).

17. Compared to this time last year, are you:

a. happier or sadder? About the same. I think I'm a little less trusting in some regards, and I think I have the potential to be a little harder than I was before. I think my moments of trust and love and joy are more intentional now, and more powerful, if that makes sense. I have my rough moments, but overall I'm very happy.
b. thinner or fatter? It's a little hard to say. My legs are much more toned, as a result of upping my daily dog walks from 2 miles to about 12. My arms and stomach are less toned, as a result of downgrading yoga from a daily ritual to a weekly one. 
c. richer or poorer? Slightly richer, which is just lovely!

18. What do you wish you'd done more of?
I'm pretty ok with the things I didn't do, actually. I wasn't doing them because other things were taking a priority. Although I kind of wish I'd cleaned a little more. I'm a total slob, and it's embarrassing.

19. What do you wish you'd done less of?
Late night internet comas. Agonizing over things I have no control over.

20. How did you spend Christmas?

At my parents' house, with my mom and dad and seestor and grandma.

21. Did you fall in love in 2012?

Nah. Maybe next year.

22. What was your favorite TV program?

Game of Thrones and New Girl

23. Do you hate anyone now that you didn't hate at this time last year?
I've never hated anyone.

24. What was the best book you read?

I wasn't expecting that much from Hunger Games, but that trilogy really blew me away.

25. What music did you get excited about?

Ken Yates, Ingrid Michaelson, Jay-Z, Mumford and Sons, Passenger, The Lumineers.

26. What did you want and get?

A big girl job. Theater work. Several different bouts of boy drama (exciting enough to give me butterflies, light-hearted enough to not turn me into a stress-case).

27. What did you want and not get?

A big girl job with a big girl salary. As much theater work as I would have liked. A drama-free boy scenario.

28. What was your favorite film of this year?

Cabin in the Woods, Lincoln, Life of Pi. Les Miserables. (Are you getting that I don't like to pick just one favorite?)

29. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?

I turned 25 and went out dancing with my amigos!


30. What one thing would have made your year more satisfying?
Well, this year had some hard patches. When I look back, though, I think it forced me to do some growing up, and if certain things had gone more the way I wanted, I'm not sure that would have happened. I can think of things that might have made it more satisfying in the short term, but probably wouldn't have helped me out much in the long haul.

31. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2012?

This year I was all the hell about dresses, cardigans, bright colors, fun patterns, and accessories.

32. What kept you sane?

Amazing and supportive friends and family, yoga, cats, rats, dogs, journaling.

33. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?
I fell in and out of crush-love with Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Nick from New Girl. I still have a lady boner for RG3, B.o.B., and Jon Snow of Game of Thrones.

34. What political issue stirred you the most?
Gay rights.

35. Whom did you miss?
A friend I had a falling out with. 

36. Who was the best new person you met?

I started having girls' nights with some lovely Annapolitan ladies, and the cast and crew from my last show in particular had some real gems.

37. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2012.

You don't determine the plot of your life, but you determine how you narrate it.

38. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year.

Oh lord, I'm still not sure what I stand for.

Happy New Year, kittens! 

Monday, December 17, 2012

The Weight of the Bad

What happened on Friday has shaken me.

I am a fierce optimist. I search for the kindness, the beauty, the love in everything around me. I rarely have a hard time finding it.

I have believed, for quite some time now, that the world is equal parts darkness and light. There is much suffering in the world, to be sure. But I have believed that out of great suffering comes great compassion. You can choose to focus on the worst parts of the world, or focus on the best. You can be bogged down by the horrors of humanity, or fight to heal them. I have always chosen the latter.

Of all the tragedies I've heard of in the news, none has ever hit me as hard as this. I know terrible things happen every day. I know many parts of the world are no strangers to senseless violence against children. I know.

But I can't stop thinking about these kids. I can't stop thinking about how scared they must have been, how much they must have wanted their moms and dads. I can't stop thinking about the teachers. I can't stop thinking about the parents. I can't stop thinking about the lucky ones - the parents who, upon finding out their children were among the survivors, must have then felt the sickening guilt knowing their relief meant another parent had lost their child. The little, little, little kids who escaped, but had to run past the bodies of their teachers and friends. I can't stop thinking about Ryan and Peter Lanza.

As I was driving to perform in my show Friday night, I heard on the radio a candlelight vigil was taking place in front of the White House. Once my show ended, I drove over there as fast as I could. I knew, at 11:30 at night, there was very little chance it was still going on. I couldn't quite put my finger on why I so desperately wanted to be there, as I sped down I-95. Looking back, I think I just felt so helpless, and wanted to find some way to show everyone affected by this that I supported them.

By the time I got to the White House, no one was there, save for a few tourists taking pictures. As I walked back to my car, I saw a truck parked about 20 yards away from me. It had a large "Merry Christmas" sign over it, which made me smile. As I got closer, I realized it was a Westboro Baptist truck. It was covered in pictures and words - you know the kind, I'm not going to describe them - but I will say that they were significantly more gruesome and violent than I've seen before.

I quite literally felt like I had been punched in the stomach. My emotions did a rapid 180 from desolate to furious. I rarely react to anything with aggression, but I looked at those messages and thought, "If someone gets out of that truck and tries to say something to me, I am going to lose my shit". I was preparing what I would say - something along the lines of them being what is wrong with the world, and what the fuck could possibly possess them to spread this message of hate when a bunch of fucking CHILDREN are lying shot to pieces in a classroom tonight - but there was no one in the truck. So I got in my car, and I listened to the news, and I cried the whole way home.

I realized, after this, that even though I have said evil is balanced by good in this world, I did not believe it. I subconsciously have thought that good is the more powerful force in this world. That love is always stronger than hate, stronger than despair, stronger than destruction.

I don't know that I believe that now.

 I still believe that love is immensely powerful. I keep scanning the news, searching for stories of bravery and kindness. And I'm finding them. The compassion of humanity is not letting me down.

But I think, before now, I have underestimated the ugliness of the world. I don't think I fully appreciated how hard it is to focus on the joy. This isn't my tragedy, these aren't my kids, these teachers aren't my sisters or friends. But something in this has hit me very, very hard.

The solution here isn't to abandon optimism. I believe now, more than ever, that the only way to fight despair is with love. And I think we should remember, as best we can, that as much as we may disagree with each other, we are all reacting to the pain of this. The people fighting vehemently for gun control, the people who feel that it is disrespectful to those grieving to talk politics, even Mike Huckabee who thinks prayer in schools is the answer - everyone is struggling to find a solution to this tragedy the best way they know how. We can disagree and argue with each other, certainly - that's how we stand up and fight for what we believe - but I think we should try to find a way to do so with the understanding that most people are hurting over this, and trying to do what they think is best.

We have to keep loving. We have to keep caring. We have to keep helping, crying, working, searching every day for the good. Because there is a lot of bad out there, and it is going to take everything we have to fight it.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Thanking Thankful Thanks


I am thankful for this wonderful home I've made with my best friend. Our apartment is warm and cozy. Our kitchen is full of good smells, our couch is full of blankets and snuggly cats, our lives are full of laughter and sometimes screams of terror (because Ann and I are fucking crazy, if you haven't noticed). My years living here have been some of the happiest of my life, and I know I will miss them long after they are gone.

Not only am I able to support my artistic career with day jobs, but I am able to do so with day jobs that I love. Leasing apartments lets me interact with people (which fills my extroverted little heart with glee), many of whom come from all over the world; helps me give back to the apartment community I love, and provides me with ample down time in between appointments where I can just hang out on my couch and read. Walking dogs seems like a magical wonder-job dreamed up just for me. I've learned so much about dog training and handling. I love when an abused, frightened dog chooses to trust and bond to me; I love the challenge of working with dominant, potentially dangerous dogs and learning to do so without fear. I love the amount of exercise I get every day. I love being outside. I mean, come on. I literally get paid to play with puppies all day.

And - I get to act. I get to be a professional story teller. Nothing on earth makes me feel more alive than getting inside someone else's head and helping others see things from their shoes. I've made people laugh and cry, I've made people love me and hate me, I've been ugly and I've been beautiful, I've been strong and I've been broken. When I was a very little kid, the first thing I remember telling people I wanted to be was an actor. And I grew up, and that's what I did.

I live in an area with a vast array of food choices. I can buy food without GMOs, organic food, vegetarian and vegan food, local food, food straight from the farmer, exotic food from all over the world, high quality ingredients, gluten-free food, dairy alternatives, food made by people who really love food. I love how health-conscious DC is, and I love that there are so many people here who are as passionate about food as I am.

My friends are brilliant and perfect and gorgeous. I've found people who get my weird ass sense of humor and make me laugh until I can't breathe. I have friends who I know will love me at my worst, support me at my weakest, and whom I want to love and support. I have friends I rarely hear from who will send me a sweet message when they know I'm sad, or are just thinking of me, and it brightens my day so much. My friends are intelligent and passionate. They are the kind of people who have been filling up my newsfeed with daily Thanksgiving posts of their own. I have friends of different ages, races, political opinions, spiritual beliefs, socio-economic statuses, cultures, and lifestyles. They make my life richer and they make me better.

I have a father who raised me to believe there was nothing I couldn't do, who taught his daughter about tools and carpentry and campfires and bugs and playing in the dirt just like he would have a son,  who taught me to be brave and strong and to have a sense of honor. I have a mother who is endlessly patient, a careful listener, and an amazingly resilient woman who taught me to love endlessly, to never judge, to value everyone's opinion, to give with everything I have. I have a sister who never tires of sharing deep philosophical Harry Potter conversations with me, who I can call at any time to share one of our hundreds of inside jokes and know she will find it just as hilarious as she did the first time, who stands up for me when I'm too unsure to stand up for myself, who somewhere along the way went from being my annoying little sister to my best friend. I have a grandmother who believes in growth and change even at eighty-seven years of age; who, despite growing up on a North Carolina farm in a time and place of racism and misogyny, voted for Obama because of his stances on women's and gay rights; who is my ultimate inspiration for aging without losing curiosity and joy. I have aunts and uncles and cousins, some who are very similar to me, and some who are very different - but who all find ways to bond and connect with me, and who love and support me.

I have this blog, this little corner of the internet, where I can share my thoughts. Good friends read it, acquaintances I didn't realize still thought of me read it, strangers read it. This blog is quite small in the scheme of the blogisphere, but I am so grateful to all of you who stop by here and check up on my life and thoughts. I can't tell you just how much it means to me.

I live in a country where I can make change happen, by voting with my ballot and my wallet, by protesting, by signing petitions, by sharing my opinions through public social media without fear of arrest or prosecution. There are many place in the world where that is not the case, and I am deeply grateful for this privilege.

I have a skinny orange knock-kneed cat I adopted because I was afraid no one else would, who was unfriendly and aloof for an entire year, who eventually warmed up to me and became a more devoted and loving little pet than I ever could have imagined. I have a very sweet, very stupid, very tiny cat with the softest, most beautiful fur, who runs around and breaks my things and meows nonstop and constantly tries to jump into the dishwasher/fridge/oven and sometimes wakes me up by knocking a lamp on my head, but snuggles right up next to my face every night, and who loves nothing more than being rocked like a baby, carried around my apartment with her head on my shoulder until she purs herself to sleep. I have the most loving little elderly rat who snuggles into my pockets and does his little rat purr as I scratch behind his ears, peeing on me all the while.

I have a healthy, strong, bendy body that can do all sorts of things. It can dance around and run and climb up high and perch (and then be terrified to come down) and stretch and hug and have sex (heh) and see and hear and taste and smell and touch. It is a wonderful vehicle to experience the world through.

I spend most of my life very, very happy. There are so many things that bring me joy. I feel overwhelmed by how much love and beauty exists. There is a lot of bad in this world, but there is so much good. I'm thankful I can see it.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Here's Some Crap I've Been Up To Lately

Since last we spake, I have been involved in 2 theater projects. First, I assistant directed my friend Jason for a short piece of three ten-minute plays. Having no directorial experience whatsoever, I pretty much fell into this position, a la the following:

Jason: Want to be a reader for auditions tonight?
Me: Sure. Why not.

Jason: Want to stick around for callbacks and help me cast?
Me: Sure. Why not.

Jason: That was fun. Want to AD?
Me: I absolutely do not have time to. But sure. Why not.

I had to miss the last week of rehearsals and the one performance due to theater project number two, which was a bummer (missing the rehearsals/show, not working on the 2nd project). Half of the cast was people I'm already friends with, the other half was delightful, and they were all great actors, so all in all the experience was quite marvelous for me.

The second project is a play with Venus Theatre called Claudie Hukill.


It's the first time in a few years since I've worked with a cast of such ranging ages, and I really like it. We've got a cast of good listeners, and I'm loving doing scene work with everyone. I think our chemistry is already strong, and I'm looking forward to digging deeper into our characters' relationships.  Also, working with a smart director is always wonderful, and that is definitely Deb :)

So yeah. If the idea of me desperately trying to speak in a Boston accent while the rest of the cast uses a West Virginian accent sounds amusing to you, you should come see it. 

~*~

I am getting a little crazily excited for Thanksgiving.

Here's the thing. Everyone always shits all over Thanksgiving. Halloween gets so much hype (rightfully so), and Christmas gets even more hype (naturally), but THEN everyone decides they are just SO DAMN EXCITED about Christmas, they steamroll Thanksgiving and bust out the Christmas crap Nov. 1. And I'm aware it's mostly retailers that are responsible for this, but you know a few of you out there allow yourselves a Christmassy thing or two before Black Friday.

There are several major qualms I have with this. First of all, I have OCD (actually though, as in I've been medicated for it) and have many rules about how I think the world should behave. For example, you can begin celebrating Christmas the day after Thanksgiving. And no one celebrates Christmas like me. I go ape-shit on Christmas. I listen to nothing by Christmas music for the entire month, I watch a minimum of three Christmas movies every week, I bake cookies and roast chestnuts, I obsess over Christmas presents, I decorate, I change the lyrics to carols to make them about my pets and sing to them all day around the apartment. It's a little intense. But I wait until the day after Thanksgiving like a FUCKING SANE PERSON. 

Because Thanksgiving is wonderful. I get to spend time with my family (whom I adore), I get to happily think of all the fantastic things in my life that I'm grateful for, I get to enjoy the last bit of autumn, and, best of all, I get to cook for people. (Food is my favorite thing. Cooking is my favorite thing. Cooking for other people is my favorite thing. Nothing makes me happier than showing people I love them by making them tasty food. That, and knitting them scarves.) I have been scouring the internet, my cookbooks, and the absurd number of foodie magazines I hoard collect for the past couple weeks, trying to decide what recipes I want to try out on my family. 

So please. Don't let Christmas be a greedy bitch. Thanksgiving is just the nicest.

~*~

If you don't follow Ann and (her brother) Shawn's blog, Sibling and Charybdis, it is possible that you are an idiot (because they are brilliant and hilarious and you should follow it, duh). It is also possible that you missed this.




And on that note, I am going to go eat some brussels sprouts. Peace out, bitchlets.



Friday, November 2, 2012

Ingrid Michaelson Is My Soul-Twin


The audio and video get a little out of sync at the end, but my new computer is apparently incapable of filming a video correctly... so I'm sorry, internet, but you'll just have to deal. And please pardon the crash at one point. It was Stella doing something terrible. Other than that, enjoy!


video

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

How to Hit on Ladies

Winking always gets you sex.

Ask any woman, and she will tell you that walking down the street - especially in a city - attracts a certain number of cat calls. Doesn't seem to matter that much what you're wearing or how you look - if you're a girl, you're going to get some attention. As a professional dog walker who spends about six hours every day walking around the city, I get this a lot. Usually it's just a simple whistle or "Hey sexy", but sometimes you get some particularly creative incidents.

Last week, for example, I was walking a cute little dog named Cinnamon through the suburbs of DC. As I strolled down the street, two men standing about twenty feet apart from each other began to engage in an extremely loud, excruciatingly specific conversation about my various body parts. They spoke to each other and did not acknowledge my presence at all. This went on until I was about halfway down the block from them.

Naturally, this experience left me feeling flattered, respected, and a bit aroused. It got me thinking, though, about all the poor unlucky-in-love schmucks out there going about things entirely the wrong way. Thing is, there are actually gents who think the clear shot to a lady's heart is by "getting to know her" through "conversation" before asking her out on a "date", not shouting at her like she's a stripper on a pole. You know where your crazy antics are getting you, dude? Straight on the fast track to friend zone and celibacy. And so, based on my own experiences, I have decided to lay out a fool-proof, step-by-step guide to bang-city. Observe:

1. Get her attention by whistling or making kissing noises. Women love being beckoned like animals. It shows off your care-giving side.

2. Offer up a "Hey, sexy/baby/gorgeous". I am confident I speak for all females when I say that nothing endears me more to a man than being addressed with a degree of intimacy usually reserved only for people I've already slept with.

3. Compliment her on her appearance. We all know she wants you to. You think she's wearing those yoga pants because they're comfortable? Heck no, techno. Homegirl's practically begging for someone to tell her her butt looks like two cantaloupes squished together.

4. Ask for her number. Because asking someone for their number ten seconds into an interaction always works.

If, for some reason, she's a frigid bitch and didn't give you her number, you now have two options.

5a. "I want to (verb) your (adjective) (noun)." To be fair, the lady just met you. She has yet to be acquainted with the glory that is your mighty sexual man prowess. Inform her. Immediately. Once she knows just what a romantic interlude with you will look like, she won't be able to resist. And don't be afraid to get creative when it comes to verbs. "Go balls deep in" might sound like a mouthful (pun intended), but when used in the right context, the results can be magnificent.

5b. Yell "HEY! I'M TALKING TO YOU!" with as much aggression as you can muster. There's nothing chicks love more than an alpha male. If you've got one who's especially shrewish (and if she's ignoring your advances so far, we are most certainly dealing with a Grade A Femi-Nazi Man-Hating Bitch), nothing is going to make her weak in the knees faster than a man who is willing and ready to put her in her place. Use this step with caution, however. There's always the chance this will backfire and really, genuinely scare the shit out of her - because you're significantly stronger than her, about 50-100 pounds heavier, and you know, rape is a thing.

So there you have it. Stop playing the nice guy card like a little bitch, and get out there and lasso yourself a lady. Happy hunting, gentlemen.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Guest Post from Carolyn @ Full-On Fit!

I recently got an email from the lovely Carolyn asking if I would be interested in having a guest blogger. I said yes, because a) networky stuff is one of my favorite aspects of blogging, and b) her post is about yoga, and we all know I'm hella about yoga. Check out Carolyn's blog Full-On Fit to follow her "journey to find physical, mental and emotional health."

Without further ado, here's Carolyn's post!


A Quest for the Perfect Exercise: How Yoga Enlightened Me

I love to exercise, but nothing had ever made me feel the way I felt when I discovered yoga. The initial experience was so new and exciting that I'll never forget about it for as long as I live. Yeah, it was that memorable. If you've been on the search for an all-encompassing exercise that stimulates mind, body, and soul, listen to how I got involved in this life-changing art.

First, here's a little background on me. I've always been a fairly active and athletic person. My favorite ways to exercise included kickboxing classes and spinning. Classes are great because you are in an environment conducive to working out. You work alongside people just like you who are also trying to find an exciting way to get in shape. Kickboxing is fairly self-explanatory--you practice punch and kick combinations with the guidance of an instructor either in the air or on a heavy bag. Spinning refers to an instructor-led stationary cycling class where music and verbal encouragement are the key forms of motivation to work hard and get fit. While both workout styles offered different aspects that I really enjoyed, I was always interested in trying yoga one day.

So why did I decide to try yoga? I'd been doing plenty of research on it out of pure curiosity and believed that it would offer me more health benefits than both the kickboxing and the spinning. I learned that yoga aided with improvements in three major areas: the immune system, muscle tone, and posture.

Immune System
The breathing aspects of yoga work to strengthen the immune system in a number of ways. The focus on breathing provides the body with proper oxygen for exercise and daily function, while exhalation detoxifies your lungs. Yoga also helps to create a balance in hormone release, decreases the major illness causes of stress and anxiety, and aids in ridding harmful microbes from the body when acupressure points are stimulated.

Muscle Tone
Yoga involves many holds, twists, and bends that all require the muscles to flex and release. Some of these positions force the arms and legs to support the bodyweight for seconds or minutes at a time. All of these movements stimulate muscle growth and aid in burning fat and increasing definition.  Dr. Glen Axelrod of the Center for Orthopedic & Spine Care even claims, “Many professional athletic teams use yoga as an integral part of their training.”

Posture
Improved posture comes with an increase in muscle mass and greater flexibility that results from practicing all the different holds. Poor posture inhibits bloodflow and the proper functioning of organs leading to disease.

After plenty of Web-surfing and article reading, I jumped at the chance to take a yoga class with a friend named Alyssa. Alyssa was already a practitioner of yoga--even though it had only been six months since she began. Regardless, she was far more experienced than I and taught me more than I could've ever have imagined in such a short amount of time. My friend helped me pick out the proper clothing and yoga mat, and she offered many tips that came in very handy during the class. I even learned that shoes weren't required!

After my first session, I was hooked. It was an experience like no other. I was nervous at first since I was a newbie, but everybody was in their own little universe when I entered the room. You could hear the drop of a needle--that's how silent it was. We started with simple breathing, then moved on to basic poses, called asanas, including the mountain and warrior. Even though the poses were difficult and felt awkward at first, I quickly got used to them and had a blast during my first session. I felt sore and out of breath at the end of class, but it was in a very good way. Alyssa was there to support me with smiles and eye contact the whole time.

Since that initial yoga class, I've taken several more and practice at home as well. I already feel stronger, more flexible, more energized, and healthier in general. Yoga is the best thing that has ever happened to me, and I'll definitely continue to learn and improve my technique from now on.

http://blog.gaiam.com/blog/3-yoga-moves-to-boost-immunity/

Friday, October 5, 2012

Sing Along Friday

Check out these tunes, cuz I think they're rockin'.










And then this one, because it's my favorite scary music video ever and it's Halloween-time, muhfuckas. If you don't like vulgarity and glorified violence, maybe don't watch it. 



I'm off to pack my weekend full of awesomeness. Do the same, cupcakes.




Wednesday, September 26, 2012

A Letter to Myself On My Birthday, One Year Ago


I remember how you're feeling. You feel as though you're on the cusp of something big. For the first time in six years, you are going to examine your life outside of the context of someone else. You've gotten over the initial heartache. You're done feeling sad. You've pushed your bruised, slightly battered little heart to the back of the shelf to deal with later. This year is going to be big and exciting, and it's going to change you. You can tell.

You'll use your newfound free time to cultivate friendships, figure out what it is that makes you tick, and just spend some time with you. You'll start to appreciate yourself in a way you never did before. You'll understand what people love about you, and you'll realize that as long as you love yourself, it's okay if not everyone else does. You'll grow stronger in your own opinions. When someone disagrees with you, you won't surrender or fight for your say. Instead you'll listen, share, learn, grow. You'll learn to stand up for yourself. You'll learn to fill your life with people who make you feel fantastic and love you enough to tell you things you don't want to hear. You'll stop wasting time on people who make you feel small. You'll begin to differentiate between someone else making you feel small, and you attributing your feelings of smallness to another person.

Someone will look at you carefully and say, "I think your heart is very guarded right now." You'll nod. It needs to be. You'll deal with that later.

You will feel so much joy, so much fullness, so much love. You will find beauty in everything around you. You will be shocked that you could have been missing this and not even known. You will begin to think that nothing could ever bring you down.

It can. Hold on. This one's going to hurt.

You will see sides of yourself you have never seen before. You will experience your emotions in a way you never have before. But even through the worst of it, you will feel that you are stronger. When you are lying on your back, staring up at your ceiling and feeling like your chest will cave in, you will remember a walk in the dark at three in the morning when you told yourself, "This will end. This will pass. I will be okay." And you will know it's true now, because it was true then.

You will see others around you reaching different milestones. You will think back to how you thought your life would look now, and you will feel discouraged. You will try a number of things, thinking they will bring you what you want. Some will, some won't. You will ultimately reach a sort of peace, knowing that you can achieve more than you thought you could, and knowing that your path doesn't need to look like everyone else's.

You will see your body grow stronger than you ever imagined. You will wonder if your heart can do the same. You will consider re-examining it.

Now that you have some perspective, you will immerse yourself back into some of those deep scars you have. You'll see how much further they go back than you realized. You'll begin to recognize that no one else can fix you. You have to heal yourself.

You'll try to open your heart again to other people. You'll be scared, so scared that you can only love people who can't quite love you as much. Each time you'll get a little closer to what you're looking for. Each time you'll have a clearer idea of who he'll be.

You will find beauty in all these struggles. You will have enough perspective to see how much you are growing. For every time you feel bogged down by the world, you will have ten times where you feel lifted up with gratitude that your life is so damn good.

You will learn forgiveness in a more painful way than you have ever imagined. You will be overwhelmed by the wonderful, beautiful people in your life who have chosen to love you. You will learn how to protect yourself but never, ever stop loving. You will find your backbone.

I wish I could tell you that your life on this side of the year looks the way you are expecting it to. I'm not where you thought I'd be on several fronts. However, I can promise you this: I am joyful. I am peaceful. I am stronger. I am thoroughly and utterly content.

I love you, and I am so, so proud of you.

I'll see you soon.

-Katie



Wednesday, September 12, 2012

The Stresses of Being a Cat Mom

Their love is so cute I can't even handle it.

My cats are making my gray hairs multiply faster than Obama's every time Joe Biden's let out of his cage.*

It started about two months, ago, when Kirby started obsessively licking his gentlemanly parts and crying. After a few days of this, I became concerned enough to take him to the vet.

You probably think your pet hates the vet. All pets do, right? Well, amigo, I can almost guarantee you your pet's got nothing on my fuzzy little demon baby. Kirby has a special note in his file. I'm not sure what it says, but whenever the receptionist sees it, she gets a panicked look on her face and rushes in the back to warn the vet. He has to be sedated (to the tune of $90) for a standard check up. It once took 4 people to hold him down so the vet could perform a simple procedure. Vet visits with Kirby always end with everyone (especially me) covered in blood, shredded clothing, and their own tears. Add to that the fun fact that Kirby is apparently a genetic cesspool of maladies and in constant need of medical attention, and you've got a recipe for a fairly frequent draining of money, blood, and joy. 

And so, I find myself sitting in a waiting room, stroking my furious cat's little face and softly offering assurances in my absolutely insane cat voice (it's sort of a combination of Gollum and Marcel the Shell with Shoes On and maybe a muppet or something). In walks Dr.Hotface McGee the vet, sending me into a flurry of flirtation. Not easy, let me tell you. Do you have any idea how hard it is to seductively talk about bladder infections and stool samples? But Stella and Kirby need a father figure, and they're certainly not going to get one by me NOT using every professional interaction to inappropriately flirt my face off.

The vet then begins to try to examine Kirby, which prompts him to leap approximately 3 feet into the air, and come down in a gnashing lashing fury of teeth and claws. I start trying to wrangle him to the ground, and as the vet looks on with concern.

Vet: Um... are you ok?
Me: (having my shirt ripped, arms gashed, shoulders bit) Yep! Haha yeah, totally fine! Sorry, he's normally... um... kind of friendly.... he's just really scared.
Kirby: MREEEEEEEEEEEEOOOOOOOOWWWWW!!!!!!!!!!
Vet: (timidly hiding in the corner. I have quickly become entirely disenchanted with him. Seriously, dude? You're a damn animal professional. Grow a pair and let my cat chew on you for a second.) Um... well... I don't want you to get hurt...
Kirby: (Chomping down on the center of my thumbnail as hard as he can.)
Me: SHIT!
Vet: (Perhaps noticing the blood that is now oozing out from under my nail) Um... you know, we can always sedate him...
Me: Nope! No, thank you, I really think I can handle it... OW! Um, yeah, I can't really - DAMMIT - afford to have him sedated right now so.....crap.... just let me try to calm him down...

Moral of the story, we eventually calm Kirby enough to get a urine sample, and find out he has crystals in his urine. I buy some expensive-ass prescription cat food, and we're on our way.

Now, some of you may know that I used to work at a holistic pet food store. It's basically resulted in me being as much of a snob about my pets' diets as my own. The cats get expensive, grain-free food. Pippin gets organic rat food with fresh fruits and veggies every day. They all drink filtered water. And I treat almost all of their health problems holistically. Therefore, I knew that prescription food from a vets is low-quality, grain-laden shit pumped full of chemicals. However, urine crystals can quickly turn into kidney stones, so I figured this was the less of two evils.

It started off ok. Kirby stopped awkwardly crying over his genitals, and they both loved the new food. However, after a couple weeks, he started to have an allergic reaction called a hot spot. It basically means his skin was itchy, so he was licking a spot on his back leg so much the fur was falling off. This was unfortunate, but since the change in diet was only temporary, I figured I'd let it go. Within a matter of days, though, Kirby had turned his leg and a huge spot on his stomach into hairless, oozing sores. I rushed off to Big Bad Woof for a hot spot ointment. Kirby screeched with fury every time I applied it, as was to be expected, but then actually started licking the spots even more in an attempt to get the ointment off. Next bet I figured was to get him an e-collar.

Not Kirby. Just a doppelganger. Kirby looked much sadder.

Well. In true Kirby drama queen fashion, this was a freaking catastrophe. When I first put the collar on him, he had a straight up panic attack. He flopped about, ran around the room in terror, tried to claw it off himself, and cried. Stella was equally frightened, and appeared to think the scary new collar was attacking Kirby. She seemed to think the best way to handle this was to TACKLE HIM AND BITE THE SHIT OUT OF THE COLLAR. This obviously made the situation tons better. 

Once Kirby got past the initial shock of the collar, he went into a state of deep depression. He barely ate and pretty much spent the next three days sleeping in my closet, occasionally being ambushed by Stella, who was apparently still under the impression that the collar was a monster that needed to be battled. Nothing would console him. Every time I saw him I wanted to cry. It was awful, but I figured it would be worth it once the sores were gone.

In the midst of all this, Stella, who had lost her playmate due to his epic despair, had decided to regress to her kittenish tyrannical misbehavior from her earliest days with us. She was jumping on the counter. She was jumping on the stove. She was jumping in the dishwasher. And the thing was, she would wait til we were looking at her, wait til we said, "NO, Stella", then, hold eye contact with us as she fucking did it anyway. She decided she no longer cared about the spray bottle, so we had to up her punishment to holding her down and spraying her repeatedly in the face. It's not fun having to punish one cat non-stop and forcing another cat to live in utter misery. I was suffering from some serious cat-mama guilt.

Then, after a few days, I get a call from Ann, saying that despite the damn cone Kirby can still lick his gross stupid gimpy leg. I make the executive decision to lose the collar and switch him back over to his regular food (at this point he had been on the prescription diet as long as the vet had recommended). I hoped the hot spots would go away, now that the allergen was gone. 

Nope. Still there (and getting worse). So I went back to the store, this time looking for a product that would act as a healing agent as well as a taste deterrent. I came back with an all natural (of course) product chock full of cayenne pepper. I held Kirby down, and Ann doused his sores with this new spray.

Holy. Fucking. Hell. We both started choking and gasping on that pepper spray and could not stop. Kirby ran off, not appearing to have such problems. As per usual, he ran a safe distance from us and tried to start licking his leg.

And stopped. And coughed. And tried again. And gagged. And finally gave us a disgusted look and ran off into my room.

We've been keeping it up for a few days, and already his wounds are scabbing and his fur's growing back in. I'm finally starting to calm down. Kirby is acting a little less trusting of us lately, but is being a surprisingly good sport, considering all he's been through the past couple months. I'm trying to make an extra effort to play with Stella a lot and to hold her more. (She loves being carried like a baby. She'll cry until you pick her up, rest her on your shoulder, and walk around the room bouncing her. She'll fall asleep like that. It's adorable.) I thought maybe helping her find an extra-curricular activity like modeling would help her burn off energy, but she told me she doesn't appreciate the materialism of the modeling industry. 

Of course, the day I finally sit down to write a post about how effing stressful they've been lately, they both are sleeping soundly like little angels. Jerks.

*Don't get me wrong, I love Joe. But there's no denying that a PR nightmare erupts every time someone lets that guy talk.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Changing Seasons

OH em gee.

I love seasons. I love each season. I try to squeeze every seasonally appropriate thing I can get out of each of them. (Working outside everyday helps a bunch.) This summer, I went to the beach, ate a lot of crabs, ate a ton of produce (berries and cucumbers and watermelon and peaches and corn), went kayaking, went to barbecues, showed off my tramp stamp every chance I got, saw 4th of July fireworks, took a road trip, hung out at the pool most weekends, wore sun dresses, swam in the river, spent a lot of time barefoot, did a Fringe show (which is quintessential summer for me), went to King's Dominion, went white water tubing, held a lot of cicadas (I <3<3<3 cicadas), went to an outdoor concert, and got pretty tan.

Therefore, it is with the knowledge that I have milked summer for all it is worth, that as we fast approach the end of August, I can shout from the rooftops that

I AM HELLA EXCITED ABOUT FALL.

And of course, because I love me some lists, I'm going to break it down for you all, list style (a la my similar spring post). Let's go.

1. Autumnal activities. I am so freaking pumped to go apple picking, pumpkin picking, vineyard touring... not to mention all the other outdoorsy things that are just more beautiful in the fall. The way the light looks, the crisp air, the gorgeous changing leaves, that fall smell... it makes camping, hiking, and general outdoorsiness so much more beautiful. It definitely makes dog walking more scenic.

2. Fall clothes. I have loved the light, breezy clothes of summer, but there's something so cozy about tights and boots and sweaters. I currently have an embarrassingly large word document where I have been putting pictures of outfits I find on the internet and want. (Yes, I understand this is a ghetto version of Pinterest. Yes, I have a Pinterest account that I use rather frequently. No, I cannot tell you why on earth I am not just actually pinning these things.) Plus, I really want some green skinny cords from Old Navy, and that shit just does not work in the summer.

3. Fall food. Of course. I'm always excited about food. I'm going to make homemade applesauce and pumpkin bread and roasted eggplant and vegetarian chili and more soups and stews than your little heart can imagine. Come over for dinner and let me feed you. It'll be a win all around.*

4. HALLOWEEN. Did you all know how out of control obsessed with Halloween I am? Oh sweet lord. I am all the crap about Halloween. I already decided on my costume (which is going to be fan-fucking-tastic). The cats will also have costumes. I'm not positive, but I'm thinking devil costume for Kirby and a princess costume for Stella. Plus, my October will be chock-full of ghost tours, late night ghost stories, scary movies, haunted houses, haunted trails, and a stay in a real haunted house (Ann and I are going back to the Farnsworth Inn in Gettysburg). If I don't end this October possessed/haunted forever by a restless spirit I've angered, I've done something wrong.

So yeah. Fall. I hope you all just got real excited. We still have a week of summer left, so we should all still be wearing our flip flops and doing summery things (I'm going to my family's annual reunion/crab feast this weekend). But soon, guys. Get psyched.

*Holy hell I almost forgot about PUMPKIN BEER.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Yo Yo Yiggity Yo

Good day, peaches. (I'm sipping a peach and nectarine smoothie right now, which is why I addressed you all as peaches instead of muffins or gumdrops or some equally obnoxious pet name.) I've been busy doing all sorts of important business as of late, such as:

1. Setting myself on fire.

That doesn't look safe.

I was supervised by my friend who is a professional stunt-man (aka don't go home and try this and expect not to die in a fiery inferno). I screamed the whole time it was happening. My mom found this picture on Facebook and was fairly alarmed.

2. Finally getting around to watching season two of Game of Thrones. It's amazing, of course. But you know how season one is chock-full of completely unnecessary, extremely graphic sex scenes? (So graphic. I literally googled "how the hell do they film Game of Thrones sex scenes without actually making the actors bone?" I didn't find an answer, which I think is a bit suspicious.) Well, in season two, they decide to do away with a lot of that, and add a crap-ton of nausea-inducing violence. You know what I like watching? Hot people having sex. You know what I don't like watching? Hot people getting eaten by rats. I usually have a pretty strong stomach for gory movies, but this literally had me jumping around and screaming on the opposite end of the room from my muted computer for a couple of scenes. On the plus side, I have a new fake person crush on Jon Snow. (Other contenders include Nick from New Girl and Adam from 50/50). So if anyone knows of any sword-wielding medieval-attired hotties with some good facial scruff to carry me through the snowy wilderness and protect me from dangerous brutes.... let me know.

3. Trimming my nails. I've had short nails for years, and decided to see what I would look like with lady-hands. My long nails were lovely, but they pretty much made it impossible to play the guitar. I've been trying to ignore this fact for the past few months, but recently my increasingly-wretched guitar playing has been making me somewhat miserable. I hacked them all off last night and serenaded the cats for an hour. Expect less awful videos in the future.

4. Getting antsy for fall. I love summer so mucho, but I love fall so so mucho. I'm starting to get excited about apple picking and boots and all things pumpkin. It's almost fall, y'all.

I also did more interesting things, like going to the zoo and King's Dominion and going white-water tubing, but I don't really feel like describing how awesome they were right now. Just know that they were better than most things you've done this summer, probably.

Hope you have a great day, my gumdroppy muffins! You're my absolute freaking favorite (yes, you).

Monday, August 6, 2012

Why Are All the Best Blues Songs Written for Men?

I don't know what it is about being happy that makes me want to sing the blues. Maybe it's because singing the blues when you're sad would just be too depressing. And bluesy songs have a kind of fun feel to them that most sad songs don't. Whatever the reason, I came back from the pool on Saturday and felt like playing my favorite summer blues song.

This song really sounds better with a piano. I don't have a piano, though. I have a guitar. And I can't play it very well. If anyone would like to get me a piano, I would be more than happy to paint it a fun color and serenade you all with equally unsophisticated piano music. Or I could call on one of my piano playing gent friends (I'm looking at you, Andrew Lincoln) to accompany me as I lounge across the top of the piano like a smokey bar songstress.

Unfortunately for you, this recording is just going to be me and my shitty guitar skills. Feel free to close your eyes and imagine a much more musically gifted pianist playing a hand-painted, candy apple red piano as I stretch luxuriously across the top in a slinky, sequined dress, smoking a cigarette and singing you some tunes. Or just watch me in all my pool-hair glory. Up to you.

video