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Who Says I Can’t Have My Cake and Eat It Too?

26 Jan

The secret to staying young is to live honestly, eat slowly and lie about your age. – Lucille Ball

Today is my 25th birthday. I’m a quarter-century old, which means my quarter-life crisis is going to happen any day now.  It also means that I can eat cake for lunch (already done), buy myself a fun present (also already done) and revel in all the attention and birthday wishes.

my first birthday and first bite of cake - yum!

Mom used to say that she’d never have kids in January. Instead, she ended up with two, although my due date wasn’t until the end of February. I’ve always believed that being a preemie influenced my personality: I’m very type-A and a bit of a control freak; I’m quite punctual (even when I feel like I’m running late); and I can be a bit high strung (only sometimes though). Similarly, my brother arrived 10 days late (and two days after my third birthday) with an attitude that reflects his laid-back entrance into this world.

Growing up, we always had the greatest birthday parties.  I’m not sure how old I was turning, but my favorite one was an Alice-in-Wonderland-themed celebration.  We had a trunk full of costumes and a make-up artist to work her magic on my friends and me. For an afternoon, my basement was transformed into Wonderland, and I got to play the leading lady. I couldn’t have been a happier little girl!

As I’ve gotten older, I’ve gotten out of the habit of marking the occasion with a party. This year, however, my boyfriend wouldn’t let me get away with it. Because we couldn’t be together on my real birthday, we celebrated a pretend birthday, complete with presents, a movie date (my choice) and a sunset picnic of sushi (my favorite).  If I have to be in my mid-twenties, at least I have a wonderful boy in my life to grow older with me.

not a bad view, huh?

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Hitting the Slopes

13 Jan

Skiing is a dance, and the mountain always leads. – Author Unknown

Today, I skied for the first time in four years. To say that I was nervous is an understatement.  My boyfriend kept telling me not to worry, that it was like riding a bike, and I kept reminding him that I don’t know how to ride a bike. As it turns out, my worries weren’t entirely valid: I survived! I didn’t lose a glove or a pole (much easier than it sounds), and I only fell once (which happened to be while I was standing still) – a successful day in my book.

how do you put these things on?

I first skied when I was seven years old and spent a week or so in Colorado or Utah during each winter after that.  My brother and I would spend our mornings in ski school before being rewarded with an afternoon of skiing with Mom and Dad. Once we got a bit older, we both proved to be quite fearless (Colin more so than me), flying through the trees with not a care in the world.  We were lucky enough to see the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City and also spent many a New Year’s Eve in the mountains.  Needless to say, I had a very blessed childhood.

little ski bunnies

family ski day at Deer Valley

Despite my history of hitting the slopes, today was a first for me: I skied with my boyfriend and navigated the mountain without my parents or brother leading the way. Not that there was much navigating. Ross is a man without a plan who tends to make last-minute decisions, and his skiing styled proved to be no different. Even so, he didn’t take me on any deathly runs (although I may have yelled “I’m going to die!” a few times), nearly ran over me only once and led us safely to a ski lift after each hill.

There were a lot of highlights in my day.  By the time we exited the gondola, I had convinced Ross to trade goggles with me because his pair matched my outfit better (very important when skiing in Aspen). The first run that we skied was Dipsy Doodle; the name alone put me in a wonderful mood.  At lunch, I inhaled an oyster po-boy (one of my favorite sandwiches) and convinced my sweet boyfriend to buy me a neck warmer (my complaining can be very charming). But my favorite moment was during a ride up the mountain when Ross looked at me and nonchalantly said, “I’m so in love with you.” Who knew I’d end up with a boy more romantic than me?

not a bad view, huh?

playing footsie on the chair lift

Now, it’s time to drink some hot chocolate with peppermint schnapps and snuggle with my man before I return to the real world tomorrow. Good night!

Going the Distance

7 Jan

Absence sharpens love; presence strengthens it. – Benjamin Franklin

Seven days into the new year, and I can say with great certainty that it’s off to a wonderful start. For the first time in our relationship, I’ve been lucky enough to spend an entire week with my boyfriend (with one more week to go!).  Invading his world has made me quite conscious of my girly tendencies. It’s also made me quite conscious of his boyish habits. A few noteworthy moments…

  • After spending New Year’s weekend in Telluride, we returned to Ross’ house, and I immediately jumped into domestic mode, folding blankets, making his bed and picking up his clothes (clean and dirty). Fortunate for me, he’s been very patient with my need to be neat. One afternoon, he even allowed us to focus solely on cleaning (although he limited me to two rooms). Who knew that the sweetest boy I know is also the messiest?

our very happy (but cold) new year.

  • Somehow, in spite of my fear of guns, he convinced me to go shooting with him and one of his buddies. I grew up with a brother who left a shotgun propped by the door every time a boy came over, but I’ve never been comfortable around guns. Still, Ross persuaded me to shot not one but two guns. If that’s not true love, I don’t what is.

i was much more smiley without a gun in my hands...

  • Being an avid reader of my blog (although he admits that he “skims over” the fashion-focused posts), he knew that one of my resolutions for 2011 was to cook more often. Helping me keep my word, we’ve enjoyed more home-cooked meals this week than I expected. He’s even been understanding of my vegetarian preferences and stuck with seafood-based meals (including a very delicious meal of goat cheese-stuffed-shrimp). Tonight, I was the lucky recipient of (drumroll, please)…macaroni and cheese with baby tomatoes. That still counts as cooking, right?
  • Time for a confession: I’m (more than) a bit accident-prone. Yesterday, I managed to dislocate my shoulder while brushing my hair (it’s possible, I swear). One thing that always amazes me about Ross is his ability to be rational (or what he calls “right”) in every situation. I tend to base my decisions on my emotions, which means that reason is often clouded in my mind. Through my tears and stubbornness, he convinced me to call my dad (my doctor), who told him that he needed to take me to the emergency room. A few hours and Vicodin tablets later, we returned home with my shoulder where it belonged. As nervous as he was (he’s going to kill me for saying that), he handled the crisis quite well and proved that he’s a great guy to have on my side.

After dating from so far apart for so long, I was more than a little nervous about being with Ross 24-7. I quickly realized, though, that being together for two weeks is really no different than spending as many long weekends together as possible. We just fit. We make sense. I suppose it’s true: opposites do attract (after all, I’d pick shoe shopping over a shooting range any day).  There’s no denying that I’m a very lucky girl.

Music & Memories

18 Nov

Every song has a memory; every song has the ability to make or break your heart. – Andy Warhol

I love music. Yes, I am a Gleek. Yes, I see a Broadway show whenever the opportunity presents itself (which was twice during one particularly rainy New York City weekend). Yes, when a song strikes a chord (pun intended), I have a tendency to listen to it again and again – why mess with a good thing? And no, I cannot carry a tune in a bucket – or a barrel, for that matter.

No matter my mood, country music is always my first choice for background noise.  I was lucky enough to take a class on the history of country music during my senior year in college (one perk of going to school in Nashville) and got a behind-the-scenes look into this genre.  Most notably, country music is unique to America; it is the only music that we can claim as our own.  Started by the working men and women in the early 1900s, these songs are relatable and real, telling the stories of the people who sung them.  While country music has evolved tremendously, it still captures happiness and heartache, connecting its listeners through these common feelings.

It is this type of music that serves as the soundtrack for my own experiences. The first song that I listened to on innumerable repeat was “She’s In Love with the Boy,” by Trisha Yearwood. As a girl who has always been boy crazy, I wanted to fall in love with a Tommy who drives a beat-up Chevy truck (and I also wanted to be named Katie).

A big mile-marker in my little girl world was my first dance with a boy. I’ll forever think of this moment and this boy every time I hear “Strawberry Wine,” by Deana Carter.  We were at a middle school Christmas dance (very romantic, I know), and I was wearing a long-sleeved, knee-length red crushed velvet dress.  As tragic as this fashion choice seems, it was selected with incredible excitement for this very event (an early example of occasion shopping).

More recently, when recovering from a broken heart, one song meant more to me than anything else: “Red Light,” by David Nail.  This song mirrors my own break-up nearly exactly, serving as proof-positive that someone else experienced – and survived – the same sadness and grief. Now, when I hear this song, I am reminded of the strength that I gained from that relationship – and I know that I am where I am now because of its ending.

Now, let’s shift gears a bit.  Since it’s (almost) December, I have a confession to make: I’ve been listening to Christmas music since the start of November (a certain boyfriend of mine is cringing right now). Thanksgiving happens to be my favorite holiday, so by no means am I skipping over this time of year. I just prefer to make the most of my holiday playlist (aptly titled Christmas Carols), listening to it non-stop until the New Year begins.  And sometimes in July too.

one of my first CDs - Trisha Yearwood

the newest addition to my holiday playlist - Glee: The Christmas Album

Skinned Knees and Broken Hearts

19 Oct

If you want the rainbow, you’ve got to put up with the rain. – Dolly Parton

It seems like our injuries get more painful and harder to manage with age.  From a skinned knee to a broken heart, how does a girl cope with all that hurt? Practice certainly doesn’t make perfect; in fact, when it comes to love lost, it may make things that much trickier.  If only there were a big enough band-aid, preferably Hello Kitty-themed and accompanied by kisses.

I’ve had a million skinned knees and one broken heart in my life – and I’ve got the scars to prove it. The scar on my left knee is a forever reminder of my childhood pet, a yellow Labrador retriever named Travis. An adamant fetcher, he ran right through me, throwing me up in the air before I tumbled down my backyard’s slope. He was in dogged pursuit of a recently-thrown tennis ball, and I was an easily surmountable obstacle.

Now, the wounds on my right knee are solely the fault of my brother; I accept no responsibility. Three years younger and over a foot taller than me, he has tested my limits since we were little kids.  He once dared me to roller blade down the boat ramp next my house.  As should be expected, I lost my balance by the end of that steep hill, skidded through the gravel and crashed right into the water. As tears streamed down my face, my patient father dug the gravel out of my knee, but the remaining marks have proven more difficult to erase.

The scars of a broken heart are a little bit harder to assess.  In the beginning, I remember waking up every morning and hoping that I loved him a little less by the end of the day, that I would feel a little less broken when fell asleep that night. Eventually, I picked up all the pieces, but then I spent months struggling with how to put them back together.  For a long time, I thought that I would never be unbroken again. Although I’ll never forget those feelings of heartache – after all, they affected my life for quite some time and changed who I am – I’m whole again, healed and happy. Even in love.

Healing, from whatever ailment, requires baby steps and deep breaths. We learn from our mistakes and never forget because of our scars. It’s easier to let fear hold us back, but we must focus on moving forward – on lacing up those roller blades again or opening ourselves up to a new relationship. Because of those skinned knees and broken hearts, the successful attempts down that hill and the falling in love feel fulfilling, worthwhile, that much better than the previous pain.

me and travis, the first man to sweep me off my feet