The Good Old Days

The Good Old Days

Hey kids, it’s been a while, hasn’t it? Since June 30th to be exact. I’ve started taking a Financial Accounting class to decide whether I like Business enough to try out a Masters and I’m in a new position at work. I went to a cycling class for the first time, it was so hard and the college kids kicked my ass. It was a struggle. I was also late and had to awkwardly roll a bike in from the hallway because they ran out of them before I got there. How do you not have enough bikes when you only allow a certain number of people to show up? These are the answers we will never know.

Anyway, so here I am. I’ve been thinking about something the last couple weeks. I do most of my thinking on the drive to and from work. It’s 45 minutes to an hour on country roads. No traffic. Lots of cows. Taylor Swift and I have many duets. It gets intense.

I just finished reading this book by Ernest Cline, Ready Player One. It was a quick read filled with wonderful pop culture references and nerdy video game stuff. I feel like if they do it correctly it will transition to the big screen quite well.

So in this book there is this thing called the OASIS. Like a virtual reality world, people basically live in it at this point because it’s the future and the world has gone to shit and regardless of your gender, race, social status, etc., you could be whoever you wanted in the OASIS.

A little backtracking. Sometimes after I’ve had a hard day or when I feel alone, I sit and watch people on Instagram hanging out at Disney. I ask myself why I miss Florida so much when at the time when we left I wanted so desperately to leave. I’ve started analyzing this at least twice a day on my drives to and from work. It’s not the weather, because my hair does not miss that humidity, though I have already started to dread the snow. It’s not my old job. It’s not our apartment.

I’ve narrowed it down to this, and I’ve sort of mentioned it before. Florida was Wonderland. Marc and I hid out there living our life in seclusion. When I had a horrendous day (and there were many) we would simply walk down the street, stroll into Universal, and I could ride the damn Hogwarts Express back and forth until I forgot why my day was so terrible. I can’t explain to you the immense feeling of joy I would get when we’d be on the train and the music would start up and Hogwarts would show up on the window screen. I had so many places there where I could just hide from things that were real and I could forget that there was this whole other life going on outside of the theme parks where bad things happened. I could sit outside of Hogwarts and drink a butterbeer and afterwards we would walk home in the dark and laugh about stupid things while trying to avoid the swarms of gnats that flew around the bridge we crossed to get to our apartment.

When I would leave to visit my family it was like I was reminded that life was still continuing and people were going through things. It would make me sad and after a few days I would run back to my Wonderland, put on my Minnie ears and ride the carousel because I didn’t want to feel that sad feeling anymore.

Here there is nowhere to hide. Trust me, I’ve looked. I’ve hiked stairs and steep hills, visited the most beautiful waterfalls, but it’s not Wonderland. And working in a college you can’t escape real life. Everything is real, and it’s overwhelming, and sometimes I feel helpless and I just want to run away.

Florida and my theme parks were my OASIS. I watch people on Instagram at Disney because I miss having somewhere to runaway to and hide. Where I didn’t have to be ‘on’ all the time. Where I could find a nice wall to sit on near the castle, my legs dangling, popcorn in hand, a lot of the time just there by myself surrounded by thousands of people I didn’t know, watching Tink fly through the air and listening to everyone gasp and cheer. Everyone else was in their OASIS too, taking a break from real life, wearing silly shirts and hats.

I remember ten years ago when Marc took me to see Illuminations for the first time. We stood leaning forward against the railing watching the ducks swim by. Our elbows were touching. My hair was in frizzy poofy pigtails. I talked about how I wanted to be a writer, whatever that meant. I remember watching the fireworks and there’s this part where the fountains are going and the song is building up while the videos play on the globe, it still gives me butterflies when I hear it, just like when I heard it the first time. It’s when I fell in love with Marc, fell in love with Wonderland, and jumped down the rabbit hole without having any idea what to expect.

I think I knew leaving Wonderland would be hard. I don’t think I knew how hard. Because it’s been over a year and sometimes when I’m watching Fantasmic through someone else’s cracked iPhone lens after a long day I just wish we could pack up everything and drive back so I could go buy a soft pretzel and sit in the front row of the theater jamming to the part of the show where the monkeys are dancing on the boats.

But real life isn’t going anywhere, and as my girl Dory says, we gotta just keep swimming.

May we always look back and think
(it was better than it was)
Maybe these are the moments
(Maybe I’ve been missing what it’s about)
Been scared of the future, thinking about the past
(While missing out on now)
We’ve come so far, I guess I’m proud

  • “Good Old Days” Macklemore ft. Kesha

And in the end in Wonderland we both went mad…

And in the end in Wonderland we both went mad…

I’ve been struggling with this whole identity thing lately. Like I had my Florida identity and for some reason that doesn’t seem to be working in Ithaca so I’m trying to find an Ithaca identity and I’m just having a hard time with it.

Let me back track a little bit.

So growing up in Michigan I never really felt like I fit. My brother and sister are so much alike, I always wanted to be just like them so I fit in. I was so awkward, my interests were always younger than my age and kids my age thought I was weird. I remember being in like 5th or 6th grade and I’d ordered a Pokémon drawing book or something from the Scholastic book order and when the teacher called my name to come get it from her desk all the kids in class laughed because it was a Pokémon thing and we were too old for that now. I was so scared of everyone and what they thought of me, I mumbled something about it being for my sister and started dedicating my life to being invisible. I would do whatever I could and like whatever people told me to like so I wouldn’t get made fun of. At least I tried this at school. At home I surrounded myself with video games and my walls were covered in magazine posters of boy bands and song lyrics. 

At home I could read my books and watch romantic comedies and talk on the phone with my best friend for hours about how awesome it would be if *NSYNC or the Backstreet Boys just showed up at our houses and asked us to go in tour with them. 

I always dreamed of escaping and moving somewhere where I would find more people like me, people who watched High School Musical who weren’t under the age of 10. Who when I said I loved High School Musical wouldn’t be like, “Uh aren’t you a little old for that?” Because no, you’re never too old to watch Zac Efron sing and dance, thank you very much.

I always felt ashamed of the things I loved, felt like I should be acting my age when I didn’t even know what that meant. Hell, I still don’t know what the fuck that means. 

When I was applying for colleges and wanted to run away, I was told I wasn’t ready. I didn’t know what that meant either, so I stayed put while everyone I knew grew up and moved away. 

Then I decided to do the College Program and only then did I finally find my people. We were all a little weird, all a little awkward, we were from everywhere trying to figure shit out, but we all had one thing in common, we were all working an insane amount of hours in ugly outfits in 100 degree weather with 100% humidity for a cartoon mouse. And after a few rocky months I fell in love.

My confidence grew because I was around people who didn’t tell me I was too old to love Disney. I watched that damn High School Musical show at MGM Studios aka Hollywood Studios SO MANY TIMES. I saw Monique Coleman backstage once and almost DIED. I had a High School Musical purse, I had disney stuffed animals and Disney clothes and I saw FIREWORKS every night and I got to sell glow necklaces and light up Mickey ears and I had a family of Snow Birds in the winter and on Mondays and Tuesdays I worked with the moms who made me feel at home. 

I remember when my brother came to visit me, it was in like October I think, I’d been in Florida for a few months. I took him and Nicole and Tiara to Fantasmic! And I was so excited for him to see where I worked and what I did. After the show was over we sat there for a few minutes and watched the people leave, and he was like, “That was really cool.” And it was like my life had meaning, because my brother is so cool and for him to think what I was doing was cool was a big deal. 

But over time as Marc and I got older, we started to feel like Florida wasn’t where we should be anymore. I was still me and I still loved my theme parks and my life, but we were growing tired of the heat and our apartments falling apart and we missed being close to family. 

And now we’re here, where sometimes I feel like I’m back in high school when my previously confident self casually says something about something I love and I know people think I’m a little weird. I’m struggling to figure out where I fit, where my place is, where I belong. I miss people knowing what I’m talking about when I make references to things.

Sometimes I feel like I’m in that episode of Buffy where the demon takes away all the sound and I talk but no one can hear me and everyone is just moving along and I can’t get anyone to listen.

I’ve been trying so hard not to lose who I am here, and trust me some days it’s tough. Like sometimes I wish I could just be in Diagon Alley in my Hogwarts dress, drinking a frozen butterbeer waving a wand at an umbrella to make it rain. Or eating an eclair in Epcot while leaning against the railing in Italy next to the fountain, waiting for Illuminations to start. Or walking to City Walk to see a movie, followed by a frozen yogurt and in depth movie analysis discussion at Menchie’s.

If you can’t tell, most of my memories revolve around food. 

But I have to remember that Wonderland is not real life, and eventually we have to climb out of the rabbit hole and keep moving forward. 

Trying To Find These Perfect Places

Trying To Find These Perfect Places

Just last week Marc and I went to Michigan and on the way home to see the family we stopped to spend a few days in Mackinaw City/Mackinaw Island (Mackinac Island? No one can make up their damn minds so I don’t know which one is right.) It was the first time we’d had a vacation on our own just the two of us since our honeymoon, and I was having a bit of a breakdown at that point in my life and my anxiety was a mess and I was NOT a pleasant person to be around. For our honeymoon we went to Vermont in the month of March I think because I wanted to see snow and we spent a full day at Ben & Jerry’s. That was fourish years ago though and we needed a vaca.

I wanted to go to Mackinaw because my mom and dad took my sister and I there when we were younger and I loved it. We stayed at a hotel right on the beach and in the mornings my dad and I stood on the balcony and watched all the geese roaming around. I remember taking my Nicholas Sparks book down to the beach and sitting on a bench pretending to be cool and chill, waiting for cute boys to notice me. Or like Nsync to show up or something. I always used to think Nsync would show up somewhere and we’d be friends. All that fanfiction I read messed with my brain. Why the hell would Nsync just like as a group be walking down the beach in Mackinaw City, Michigan? Its nonsense but it’s what I spent most of my time thinking about back then. It was a simpler time.

Anyway, we hadn’t been to Mackinaw in a long time because I used to get car sick during the drive when I was really little (see the previous post about car sickness anxiety problems :).) My mom got tired of having to stop at fast food restaurant bathrooms and throw people out of the way so I could puke in a nasty public restroom toilet, so we stopped going.

It’s funny because when Marc and I drove there ourselves this time, and I looked to see how close Mackinaw was to my families’ house, it’s like literally 3 hours. Compared to the 20 hour Florida/New York drive, three hours is chump change. It’s NOTHING. How did I not survive that before, and why did it seem like WAY longer? I have no idea.

We finally ended up going back to Mackinaw when I was in like 8th grade or something I think, I don’t think I was in high school yet. I remembered it being so beautiful and it had all this history, the island didn’t allow cars so you got to walk and ride a horse drawn carriage and there was SO. MUCH. FUDGE. So when Marc and I were looking into vacation possibilities, Mackinaw seemed like the best idea. Like good little adults we researched our hotel and booked it and then Marc refused to let me plan ANYTHING because he said we’d just “wing it”. He may have thought we “winged it” but I’d downloaded the Trip Advisor app and Yelp and everything we did was strategically researched.

So the fun thing about Mackinaw is you get to ride a ferry boat to the island. They take you under the Mackinaw Bridge and tell you fun facts about how the Mackinaw Bridge USED to be the longest bridge ever but now it’s like the 16th longest. Poor Mackinaw. It’s okay though, it’s still a pretty bridge though. Then they make a fun quip about how you’ve been in two great lakes at once and then they finally take you to the island. It was bummer ‘cause I wanted to sit on the top of the boat for the ride, but 1. it was a little cold and 2. FISH FLIES EVERYWHERE OH MY GOD LIKE WTF. They were EVERYWHERE. They have NO purpose except to fly around an just sort of run in to you. It was insane. It reminded me of this Michael Crichton book ‘Prey’. I was waiting for the swarms to just eat me alive. Like we passed a house that I think was supposed to be white, and with all the fish flies it was more of a dark gray. HORRIFYING.

On the island itself not much had changed since I had last been there, at least not that I can remember. Except everywhere takes credit cards now, and of course there’s a Starbucks. Because even a random island has to have a Starbucks, #smoresfrapploveforever. My whole goal for this trip was to have some good educational fun. We signed up for a Carriage Tour, where some kind tour guides told us the rich history of Mackinaw while horses poopooed mere feet away from our faces.

You know what the biggest bummer was? I had built this whole thing up for Marc. I was like, “This place is amazing, there’s so much history here, you’re going to learn about how amazing it is.” Well, you know what the story is friends? So there was a fort on the island, Fort Mackinaw, and one day the British came to the island and snuck up behind the fort. The guy who ran the fort was like, “Well that sucks, we are short some people. Guess we better surrender.” The end.

No, I am not lying, that’s it.

And as we went through Fort Mackinaw, meandering in and out of the buildings reading all the informational posters while school kids ran around frantically trying to fill out scavenger hunt fact sheets for their classes, we stopped to read a sign that said something along the lines of, look, war is a tough time, the guy was stressed, you gotta make some big decisions when an army sneaks up on you in the middle of the night, what would YOU have done, huh?

Apparently the guy who surrendered was not a popular man.

Other history of the island was that a giant turtle came up out of the lake one day and life started to grow on it’s back. Therefore, all the gift shops on the island MUST sell turtle figurines. I wanted to know where the fudge, popcorn, and taffy craze originated from. Not that I’m complaining. I had Mackinaw Island fudge ice cream for 3 days in a row. The last time I’d had it was when I went to visit my family and the ice cream shop we went to hadn’t put out that flavor yet, and my dad explained to the employees that I’d come all the way from Florida just for this ice cream (he speaks the truth) and then they went to the back and pulled out the gallon just for me. My mom says I’m spoiled. I don’t see it.

Going on vacation as an adult as opposed to being a kid is fun though, because you plan your own stuff and you do your own thing and you kind of just do whatever. Like spend the morning walking around the island until your legs feel like they’re going to fall off. 8.2 miles kids. And there were so many fish flies the buzzing echoed off the trees like something out of a horror film.

You know one thing that was also nice about Mackinaw, something that is also a little more common here in Ithaca than it ever was in Florida? Everyone we saw on our walk to the ferry in the morning said good morning to us. The people there are SO DAMN FRIENDLY. Marc was like, “Why do they feel obligated to say hello?” Omg because they’re nice and no one is nice anymore so it’s weird when it happens!

Overall it was a fun adventure. Would you like to know some other fun facts? There is only one doctor on the island, and 2 vets (because horses are VERY important). There is a restaurant called ‘Seabiscuit’, because there’s that movie about the horse, and the island has horses, do you see what they did there?

Alright one more one more, so there are 15 fudge shops on the island and if you sample fudge at all of them you’ll have eaten 1 pound of fudge and you’ll be praying that one doctor is available. Side note, the carriage rides were like the Jungle Cruise at Disney, SO MANY PUNS I LOVED IT. I laughed at every single joke.

Go somewhere beautiful. Don’t make a schedule (or like a strict one because I have a problem and need SOMETHING). EAT ALL THE FOOD.

Where Have All The Summer Songs Gone?

Where Have All The Summer Songs Gone?

Sorry ya’ll, this one is rough. The writer’s block struggle is real. Just work through this with me and we’ll get through it together!

Though it may not feel like it when it comes to the weather (30 degrees in May, WTF is this place?) but summer is coming. The school semester is almost over and when I lived in Florida, this was the time I started to put together the perfect tanning playlist with all the songs that reminded me of summer, and all the songs that were supposed to be big “summer” songs. Even though the Ithaca weather has not been cooperating, I’m still trying to get in that summer mood and look for songs that have that summer vibe.

Have you looked on iTunes right now though? All the new songs are SLOW. Summer songs need to be upbeat, fun, and occasionally have the word summer in them somewhere. Slow songs are for January and February, when everyone is cold and depressed.

Summer songs are the ones you blast when you can open the windows for the first time in months. When I lived at home my room was in the basement, and I remember turning my boombox radio on and Nsync’s  “Pop” was playing so loud, I would open the window and that fresh air smell would come in, I would take a deep breath of it, wet dirt and budding flowers, the breeze was like a warm hug. It was the time of year where I’d clean every inch of my room. I had a vanity filled perfumes and lotions that I barely used, but I’d use this one lavender hand lotion when the weather was just right, my hands would smell like spring. As I get older, whenever I smell lavender I think of pigtails and roll on glitter and jean overalls, the strum of Incubus “Drive”.

My first year in college, driving down country roads with the windows down, I’d listen to Justin Timberlake’s Future/Sex Love Sounds album, the volume so loud my heart beat changed to the beat of the songs. “Love Stoned/I Think She Knows” was the best when the sun was the highest in the sky, my elbow resting on the door. Seriously that transition between songs is AMAZING.

One summer after we moved to our second apartment in Florida, we got annual passes to Universal Studios and on the weekends when Marc was working I would walk to the park on the weekends and go to the summer concerts. I would craft the perfect playlist, depending on who the performer was that weekend, walking down Kirkman Road with my headphones in and the sweat sliding down my back, the sun burning my shoulders and my face. The sidewalk was my runway, Flo Rida’s “Low” would be blasting and I’d hear Tyra Banks cheering me on, “Smize!” “Do the booty tooch!” I’d pretend Miss Jay was critiquing my runway walk, I was in a fashion show for one, wearing hot pink basketball shorts, beat up tennis shoes, a harry potter t-shirt and a white baseball hat. My hair would be sticking to the sides of my face, I’d look at my reflection in the windows of the McDonald’s, lip synching to “Blurred Lines”.

Maybe it’s a little early for me to be looking for good summer songs, but I’ve been checking iTunes every Friday and so far nothing but slow songs. Harry Styles? Slow song. Katy Perry’s new songs? Um no. New Linkin Park? BORING. Where is the next “Shake it Off” or “Cool for the Summer”?! Am I going to be dragging the Chain Smokers “Closer” from LAST YEAR all the way to this summer? Because I don’t know if I can handle it anymore. We could use “Paris” but that’s still a little slow. It’s missing that summer sound. I’ve been using “Can’t Stop The Feeling” as my alarm song since it came out last year. Marc HATES 5:30 AM because he can’t take JT anymore.

Ya know, I love Adele, but I blame her. She makes millions off of slow depressing music. She is such a sweet person and I love listening to her talk and she’s so FUNNY. Like my girl Kelly Clarkson (who has SO MANY SUMMER WORTHY SONGS I can’t list them all, but we can start with “Miss Independent” OR anything from From Justin to Kelly, that movie oozes of summer with a hint of failed careers (I’m looking at you Mr. Guarini), but anyway, Adele, girl, you made everyone want to write sad songs to win Grammys even though no one can do that but you cause you are so talented no one can reach you. So tell everyone to go back to singing their bubble gum pop. Everyone is so miserable with life right now; music doesn’t need to be miserable too.

You know what I think has great potential for being a summer hit? “Despacito” by Luis Fonsi & Daddy Yankee ft. Justin Bieber. I know, Bieber is a tool, but I LOVE that kid’s music. I just keep giving him my money to be a jerk and make good music. I am part of that problem, I accept it. I also think “Stay” by Zedd and Alessia Cara has summer possibilities, maybe “Hey Ma” by Pitbull with my girl former Fifth Harmony member Camila Cabello. I have high hopes for her, but that performance on the MTV Movie awards last night just was not strong enough. She looked fab though.

Maybe it’s just too early and I’m so desperate for warm weather that I’m expecting my summer songs in May when they are waiting until June. What do you think? Please share your fave summer songs with me!

Nugs Not Drugs

Nugs Not Drugs

I’ve been thinking about Higgins Lake a lot lately. I think it’s because Ithaca reminds me of it. Also, Facebook’s On This Day thing brought up a status the other day from like 10 years ago where I was like “misses Higgins Lake.” I was so intense back then.

Marc and I sometimes walk to Cayuga Lake and I’ll be standing there with the breeze tangling itself in my hair and the waves gulping up rocks and spitting up sticks and I feel like I’m a freshman in high school, terrified of getting lost in the woods.

The first year we went I didn’t get it. We were traveling two hours to the wilderness (I say wilderness, but it was a state park. You know how much I love being over dramatic though.) and we’d stay at a conference center for a few days and we were told when we got there that we should get lost in the woods and write about something. Anything.

It sounded like an awful idea.

My Language Arts class was made up of kids from every grade and I was scared of all of them. They were way better at writing than me and were also way cooler. Everything I said sounded stupid.

So the first year I went, we got to the MacMullan Conference Center and were given a notebook, a folder filled with prompts and journaling ideas and a map of the area. We were told not to stay in our rooms and to walk away from the cabins. We were told to be one with nature.

I remember thinking I had to be in some kind of nightmare.

You bet I still have all of these.

I struggled most of my freshman year with trying to be concrete with my language and my descriptions in my writing. I’d think I’d written some deep shit and then get my poem back with notes like, “But what did that look like or sound like or smell like?” Hell if I knew. I’d spent the last 5 years writing Nsync fanfiction. Those readers didn’t care how things smelled or sounded, they just loved dramatic stories about girls falling in love with Justin Timberlake. They loved phrases like ‘silent tears’ and ‘cotton candy clouds’. That was as descriptive as I got at the time.

Now I was supposed to climb a tree and write about it. I hated it all.

Some of the people I socialized with went off hiking on one of the trails. I decided to stay behind. I didn’t really have “friends” in that class my freshman year. I had people I spoke with occasionally to guarantee partners during group work. We didn’t like hang out after school or anything.

I remember it was raining and I had no sense of direction. I’ve seen horror movies before and I wasn’t going anywhere more than 10 feet from cabin. I sat on the porch under the awning with my blank notebook and listened to the rain. The air smelled like Christmas trees and the rain sounded like pop rocks on your tongue. It was 11:00 AM and felt like 9:00 PM, but I didn’t write any of that down. I was too busy worrying about sharing a bathroom with other people.

I was uncomfortable and I wanted to leave.

Did I mention that we couldn’t really get away with not writing anything? Because in the evening we’d all come together as a group and share with everyone something we’d written. I’d previously been able to hide my lack of writing talent. Not anymore. Torture is a real thing in high school.

I don’t remember how long I sat there panicking, but eventually I was able to scribble enough down for the evening’s gathering.

That evening we all sat together in a circle in a conference room. The other kids shared stories of falling in mud pits and not bringing enough socks. I’m pretty sure I was the last to share (I never volunteered first or at all for anything). I read my poem meekly with no confidence, and stumbled through it like a drunk.

You’ll be happy to know I didn’t die. Once I was finished, my teacher smiled and said it was a good start, a big improvement from what I’d previously been doing. Take that MrSTiMbErLaKeLuVeR4EVER who was going to have the most popular fanfiction website NOW?

Yikes. That’s right, still have this too. First Higgins Lake poem.

I started to get it then. Sort of. I still had a lot of work to do, but the trip to the deep dark wilderness was a success and like I said, I didn’t die.

I was in that class for the remainder of high school and we went on that trip every year. Sophomore year changed everything because there was this sweet bubbly girl named Aimee, with frizzy curly blonde hair who wore tiny white tennis shoes who came up to me one day, saw the empty desk next to me where I’d purposely placed my combined Lord of the Rings trilogy book (that thing was a HUGE) so that no one would sit next to me because I was anti-social and she asked if she could sit there.

A wonderful friendship was born.

Because you know what makes going to the deadly wilderness great? Having a friend. It’s a bonus when they have great navigational skills.

I ventured beyond the cabin with Aimee, climbed the roots of fallen trees, found a swing set and an abandoned camp (it wasn’t really abandoned but it was fun to think it was) and sat on the wooden ledge next to the lake with our shoes covered in dirt and we’d write and laugh and talk about drama that only matters in high school. One morning a bunch of us got up super early and stood on the dock blowing bubbles. The air was so cold that they fell straight down to the wood, leaving dark circles around our feet.

My senior year the trip fell right around Spring Break and I was having writer’s block. I was focused on college and graduating and life. I’d run out of things to say about the trees, the ants, the leaves.

Instead, Aimee and I went to the swings in the woods and we swung for hours, sometimes talking, sometimes in silence. Aimee was a year younger than me and wouldn’t graduate until next year. It was weird to me to think that I wouldn’t see her every day, or wouldn’t go on adventures with her at Higgins Lake at the same time every year.

I wrote one good poem that trip, about how we were doing all these things for the last time. I shared it at the final sharing class, and our teacher who had retired 2 years prior showed up and smiled as I read. I had a voice now and I was so excited for her to hear. It was her who taught me how to write what I saw and smelled and heard.

I thought I would be fine without going to Higgins Lake after I graduated, but it was harder than I thought. There’s something about running away to some remote place to write now that’s so appealing.

When we first moved to Ithaca and came to the lake, I stood near the edge with my toes in the water, wishing I had something to write with. Marc and I go to the lake a lot now, but he has a hard time staying in one place for a long period of time. So we usually just walk along the edge until he gets antsy and we move on. One day though when we went, and the sun was out for the first time in days, we stayed in the same spot for an hour. He skipped rocks and I just stood next to the water in my rain boots, breathing in the smell of fish and tangy sand, listening to the rocks smacking quickly, one, two, three times before sinking to the bottom as Marc threw them.

Which leads me to being here today, curled up on a bench facing the lake, bugs playing tag by my face and just landing and dying bloody deaths on my notebook pages. No Higgins Lake notebook came back bug-gut free if you were doing the trip right.

There are some men on the dock fishing, laughing in between casting, followed by a splash. The ripples on the water are small today. The clouds are blue and swelling with rain, the air is heavy and wet.

I ventured away from the house today on my own, brought my notebook and my pen. I’m surrounded by dandelions and chunks of slate and cigarette butts. But if I close my eyes I’m at Higgins Lake, sitting on the cement outside that cabin for the first time, my knees tucked up to my chin, watching the rain drops hit the leaves, trying to figure out who I am and what I’m doing here.

Never Let Them See The Worst Of Me

Never Let Them See The Worst Of Me

The dress was off white,
a soft cotton fabric with turquoise polka dots.
When I wore it I felt like a doll,
delicate and dainty,
a porcelain twirling teacup.

For the first year it stayed hidden in my closet,
on summer days I would gently touch the hem
try it on in my room
feel uncomfortable and put it away again.

My skin wasn’t clear enough,
not tan enough,
my stomach wasn’t flat enough,
breasts weren’t big enough.

It was a dress for someone prettier than me,
more confident than me,
for a young women,
not a girl who was afraid to shop for new bras
for her new dress

As I packed for Florida for the second time
the dress lay on the bed,
still on the hanger,
tags attached.

We stared each other down.

I placed the hanger over my head,
the fabric draped over my shoulders.

I watched myself in the mirror,
picked out every flaw,
acne scarred shoulders and
stretch marked arms and
vein speckled legs,
thighs and bottom like
water stained wrinkled paper.

I folded the dress,
tucked it in a space bag,
buried it in my suitcase.

Our new apartment had a walk-in closet.

The dress was shoved to the back,
the way back
where the light didn’t reach.

One day,
a month or so later,
when it was 100 degrees and
the air was full of water,
we came face to face again as I pulled out a hanger,
and a strap was caught and
the dress fell limp onto the carpet.

I placed it on the closet door,
sat on the bed and

It had not changed at all,
aside from a few wrinkles.

I think I had though.

I’d started to see beyond
stretch marks,
and rippled skin.

I had someone lifting my chin up.
The sky is beautiful,
did you know?

The dress fit better
than when I first tried it on.

I felt like a princess,
with worn out flip flops,
pigtails and plastic jewelry.

We left the house that day,
my baby doll polka dotted dress and I,
me a little self-conscious,
both of us a little wrinkled.

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A First-Time Homeowner’s Tale

A First-Time Homeowner’s Tale

I’m going to set the scene here. It’s Friday night, I’m dressed in M&M pajama pants, a gigantic bubblegum pink Purity ice cream sweatshirt, and fuzzy bunny slippers, leaning against the dryer in the laundry room next to a huge pile of wet laundry, watching Marc clean out the washing machine filter with paper towels, q-tips, and toothpicks. 

The back panel of the washing machine is resting against the wall, and the water hoses are draped on the ground. 

Water stopped coming into the machine about an hour ago, and no matter how many times we stopped and restarted it, it just continued to spin and buzz and shut off. 

After a call to GeekSquad told us no one could come out until next Friday, Marc as usual took matters into his own hands. So here we are, picking sand and dirt out of the back of the washing machine filter because we live in the middle of nowhere and well water is full of weird shit. 

I used to have a lot of ideas of what buying a house would be like. It usually involved me walking around with the Property Brothers while they told me I couldn’t afford the mansion and I needed to go with the fixer upper. I accepted this. We deserved nothing more than a tiny building with asbestos in the walls. (I don’t know if there is actually asbestos in the walls of our home but in all honesty you just never know and that shit creeps up on you when you least expect it. Like when you’re trying to knock down a wall to get that open concept American dream and BOOM RUN IT CAN KILL YOU!) Next thing you know you’re giving up your heated bathroom floors to decontaminate this thing you just spent a shit ton of money on.

I think the most annoying thing about having a house is that the minute you talk about having to fix something someone is like “that’s what you get for having a house!” Because apparently being a homeowner is fucking miserable and you’re never supposed to be happy because something is always breaking and you have to fix it yourself or spend a ton of money on something. 

Well, news flash, none of the apartments we lived in ever had decent maintenance people so we fixed everything ourselves anyway. And we knew houses cost money when we bought one. I have a carefully crafted savings plan. 

Anyway, Marc fixes most of the broken things. However, since we’ve gotten our house I’ve become quite resourceful. You know what is a godsend to people who own houses? YouTube. There is a video. For. EVERYTHING. The washing machine that came with the house stopped working one day and I looked up a video for how to clean the filter. I opened up the little door and a tiny rockslide fell out. Problem solved. Take that adulthood. 

You know who didn’t know how to adult? The people who owned this house before us. They lived here for ten years and didn’t get the septic tank emptied ONCE. There was LITERALLY shit leaking out of it before we moved in. You’re supposed to get that handled every two years. Instead there was TEN YEARS OF POO.

The dryer was overflowing with lint (a fire nightmare, did their mother never tell them the 100 ways that anything can catch on fire? Cause I sure as hell know them all.) 

The carpets were caked with dog fur and the bathroom looked like someone went crazy with orange hair dye all over the toilet and shower. Rust EVERYWHERE. Because they lived here for ten years and didn’t know what it meant to use a filter. It’s horrendous. We have TWO water filters because well water is disgusting. 

Our house also has a spider dungeon. There is a scary door in the bathroom that leads to a crawl space where all the spider beasts live. And I am in no way exaggerating, they wave at you when they walk into the room and scream when you squish them. I’m also confident there is a troll down there. Marc says there isn’t, but I just know. 

I feel like before you get a house though there should like be a class. Or maybe two or three classes. Like one class for how to buy a house and what the normal process is, a second one for how to fix and handle things when shit starts falling apart, or maybe just a list of the most popular YouTube videos for fixing things, and a third that’s like a marriage counseling session where someone sits down and explains to you that yes, you are basically like Laura Ingalls Wilder filling a pellet stove with wooden pellets to stay warm or die an ice death, but when the pellet stove doesn’t work right away you need to remain calm and not freak out about how terrible your life decisions are and why the hell did you decide to move to a place where you need a wood burning stove to survive. Maybe a forth class for how to say you’re sorry for what you said when you were cold. 

There is a sense of accomplishment though, when you fix something yourself. Tonight, after watching Marc clean all poo looking nastiness out of the washing machine filter for a good 20 minutes, he put everything back together and cleaned everything up. We pushed the machine back up against the wall and turned it on. The moment of truth, Marc said. We stared at it like we’d built it from scratch ourselves. 

The barrel spun and some things clicked and we heard the water start splashing. The sound of success. You know that episode of Boy Meets World, there Cory and Topanga move into that dump apartment and the water is brown, and Cory’s parents refuse to help him fix it, but eventually he does it himself and runs over to their house with clean water and goes crazy about how he fixed it himself. I understand that feeling thoroughly now on a weekly basis. 

When you’re younger, you don’t realize that one of your most satisfying accomplishments won’t be graduating college, it will be getting that super expensive washing machine to work on your own because you can’t afford another and no one can come to fix it soon and you can’t just not wash your clothes. Because life. 

The washing machine now runs through a full cycle without freaking out. Take that adulting, we kicked you’re ass. Or Marc kicked your ass, but I supervised and handed tools to him. So I get half the credit. 

The End