You belong among the wildflowers

You belong among the wildflowers

When I was little I wanted to be a veterinarian because I loved animals. That quickly changed when I learned that I would have to do surgery on the animals which even at a young age I knew I would not mentally be able to handle.

I then went through an artist phase. I envied the kids in art class in elementary school who were praised for their art skills. I thought I was amazing because I could draw two hills with the sun in between and blend the colors to look like a sunset. I could also draw a pig by connecting letters together. Art was not my thing.

When American Idol came out I wanted to be a singer. I never told anyone because I knew I couldn’t sing. But if only my family were rich they could get me a singing coach and I could be the next Kelly Clarkson. I wanted to have that moment at a talent show where I would surprise everyone and come out in a cute outfit and sing like Christina Aguilera. The small issue was 1. I was terrified of being in front of people and 2. I had no talent. I’ve gotten pretty good with my volume quality since moving to Ithaca though. Taylor Swift and I are a beautiful harmonized duo on drives to and from work every day.

I was in dance for a while and dreamed of being a ballerina. Except when I got old enough for pointe shoes I was not strong enough to stand on them. I was heavier at that point in my life and not at all healthy. Eventually right before the final recital the teacher told me that I didn’t have to go on all the way on my top toes. It was a devastating moment for me.

When I switched to public school in 7th grade my mom put me in the Language Arts concentration so I could write. My first writing assignment I wrote a short story that was basically boyband fanfiction. Lesson 1. If you’re going to write fanfiction in middle school, don’t tell anyone about it. We did peer reviews. I was made fun of. Being a kid is a pain in the ass.

However, I went on to have a very successful Nsync fanfiction website that I legit spent hours learning HTML for. RIP Geocities! I had followers on FanFiction.Net who were super into hearing who I would have fall in love with Justin Timberlake every week, and I had two close friends who were just as into boyband fanfiction as I was. It was a good couple of years. Then Fanfiction.Net had to remove all the “real people” fanfiction because of some sort of issue and my platform was gone. It was a sad time, trust me. Sometimes I miss the days when the most tragic thing going on in my life was fanfiction.net removing all of my stories. Don’t worry though, they live on in notebooks in a Rubbermaid tub in our guestroom closet. If anyone every comes to stay with us feel free to snoop for I am no longer ashamed! When I die I hope someone retypes it all and publishes it and *NSYNC attends the book release party.

Anyway, I decided somewhere around that time that I wanted to be a journalist. Mainly because I was obsessed with celebrities and I wanted to interview them on TRL. My goals were to 1. Lose enough weight to wear hip hugger jeans and belly shirts and 2. Interview Nsync, become their best friend, and be the godmother to all of their children. There was 0.00000001% possibility of success, but I hung on to it anyway.

However, in my senior year of high school the Language Arts teacher started a school paper and I jumped on the chance to be the entertainment editor, I realized I HATED interviewing people. I was so awkward, I didn’t know how to talk to people or ask them questions, and I was so paranoid I would get what they said wrong and quote them incorrectly. It was a stressful time because I had banked a lot on becoming an MTV TRL host and now I realized I couldn’t even interview the guidance counselor about why she liked her job.

When I started community college I decided to put myself on an English major track. Regardless of my terrible interviewing skills I had been a pretty strong writer throughout high school, and even though I had no idea what to do with an English degree, I figured what the hell.

Also, can I just side track here for a second and share that in my first week of English class in college we had to pick a group to be in and this girl legit said no to me when I asked if I could be in their group ’cause like I thought I was in their group because of where I was sitting and when the teacher was like, “Is Stephanie in your group too?” AND THIS GIRL WAS LIKE “NO SHE ISN’T” and I had to awkwardly move to a different group somewhere else and this girl straight looked me up and down in my Babies R Us polo cause some of us girls gotta work after we learn and after our first writing assignment I wrote a SUPER EFFING AWESOME POEM and suddenly after that they were like “OMG WILL YOU BE IN OUR GROUP NEXT TIME” and I was like NO I WILL NOT ‘CAUSE I HAVE MY OWN GROUP NOW BITCHES. Okay the second part didn’t happen like that entirely, that was mostly in my head, but like the guy in their group was like, “omg that was awesome” and the girl got super annoyed, and I dropped the mic in my head.

ANYWAY, so skip to me at UCF orientation a couple years later where I was sitting at a table with this girl and we were just doing the awkward small talk thing and she asked me what my major was. I said I would probably just pick journalism because I honestly did no research before attending this college it was just the closest school to my house. I know, I am a nightmare. So this girl says, “I was thinking about creative writing, but I don’t really know.” My mind was blown, I was like woah, woah, woah, there is a Creative Writing major at this school? You can actually MAJOR in Creative Writing? This girl had clearly done more prep work than I had. So, when at orientation they called each of the majors and told us to go with that group, I grabbed my things and switched my non-existent life plan to an entirely different major.

I know, if you know me now, you’re like ‘Who is this person? This person who does not analyze and plan?’ I have no idea, it was weird time. But honestly it was so nice to take classes that I actually enjoyed and was okay paying for (YES I PAID FOR THEM WITH MY MONEY AT THAT POINT CALM DOWN OVER THERE). And when people would be like “So, are you going to teach?” I’d be like “Nah” and then they’d be like “What ARE you going to do with that degree then?” and I’d be like “Eh I’ll just wing it.”

I am every parent’s nightmare. I did something I enjoyed and had no idea what I was going to do afterwards. I used to be like, “There will be someone out there somewhere who needs someone who can write something.” You can quote that and put it over a photo background of a lovely lake scene and hang it in your living room for inspiration. You’re welcome. I won’t even charge for that motivational advice.

I once wrote the greeting for the school superintendent’s Christmas Card that was sent to people all over the district. I remember wondering at the time how long I could ride out that fame and maybe skip college to become a greeting card writer. Something along the lines of “Wishing you and your family a happy holiday.” Was chosen out of a group of 30 other potential greetings. There’s really nowhere to go but down from there honestly, that’s a peak moment. Someone out there in the world has to write that nonsense.

What’s amazing is that somehow I managed to make it to adulthood with college me’s mentality of just winging it. And I have this job now that most days I don’t feel like I deserve. I mean I had to spend my first year after college in a professional internship working 17 hour shifts saying things like, “Do you want Sarah on Chicken Fries or Burger Drinks when she clocks in?” over a Nextel Radio. Trust me that was job was so hard because understanding someone saying “Chicken Fries” over what was basically a walkie talkie was like translating a foreign language, but like if Sarah didn’t get Chicken Fries then Brad wouldn’t get his break and then we’d be behind on breaks and that’s a disaster. After that I spent 4.5 years at my next job teaching myself how to be a leader and a voice for some really amazing people who I knew would go on to do great things.

Honestly, I have no idea where I’m going with this anymore, this has taken me like 2.5 hours and I haven’t been able to breathe through my nose for a few days because of this cold that I haven’t been able to talk myself out of so I’m sure I’ve lost some brain cells due to lack of oxygen or something. I just had a good work day today and I started a class this semester that’s going to help me with my job, because like honestly I still have no idea what I want to be doing with my life but it feels good to be at a place that encourages you to do things to help you figure it out.

Oh, and Marc got Oliver a new toy today that is a stuffed potato wearing boxer shorts. Like the potato doesn’t have legs or anything so it’s just wearing these shorts. And Oliver keeps sticking his nose under the boxer shorts to chew on the potato and it’s just really inappropriate.

I’ll end there.

WAIT ONE LAST THING. Miley Cyrus has this song on Spotify called Wildflower and it’s delightful. The title of this post is one of the lyrics. You should listen to it. Okay I’m done now oversharing about my life.

Advertisements

“I can tell that it’s gonna be a long road”

“I can tell that it’s gonna be a long road”

Ya know it’s weird sometimes how dogs have this like intuition and know when you really need them. I came home after class today and cried in the kitchen because I’d taken my first test in a classroom since like my freshman year of college and I had a mini panic attack when the test started and none of the questions made sense. It’s been awhile since I’ve had to talk myself off the panic ledge. It’s like the words on the test started to rearrange themselves and nothing made sense and I started to feel sick and warm and everyone was rustling the pages of their tests and there was a huge clock on the screen reminding me of how much time I was wasting mentally talking myself down.

I’d studied for 5 days straight. All weekend, every night after work, during my lunch break. I made flash cards and did tons of practice problems. All of it was gone the minute I read the first problem and broke down the minute I didn’t understand the question. Then it’s like this spiral where I’m falling down this hole and I have to catch myself before I get too far.

It’s an improvement though, when I was younger I use to dig my nails into my palms and rock back and forth and tell myself not to pass out. Once I was alter serving during Christmas mass and I was standing in front of everyone in a robe that was itchy and hot, I remember trying to find something to focus on to keep myself from feeling dizzy. I had on a butterfly ring and I was spinning it spinning it spinning it around my finger and my skin was turning red and suddenly I jerked up because I felt my dad’s hands in my shoulder and he’d come up behind me in front of everyone and told me to sit down.

I didn’t alter serve anymore after that.

I was so disappointed in myself today, thinking of how I should have studied more, maybe I should have asked for help before the test, though I honestly thought I knew the material. I did well on the midterm because I was able to take it early due to a conference being on the same day as the test. I was able to study all day, then when I was good and ready I cleared off the dining room table, set my timer and was so calm and confident.

After I took Oliver out today I sat on the couch. Lately he’s been curling up in his bed under his blankets. But today he sat in my lap, curled up and rested his head under my arm.

One of the many trainers we had for Oliver once told me that sometimes the world feels too big for little dogs. There’s too much going on and they can’t handle it and they need to be alone so they can focus. I always tell Marc that Oliver and I are a lot alike. We need our little bubble, because sometimes the world is too big and we just need to be alone.

Marc always says “you know he’s a dog right, not a person?” Which I do know, but it’s me and him, my Lil Pup, sometimes cute, sometimes a huge turd face. From the time we brought him home and I slept on the floor next to his crate with my hand under his chin so he wouldn’t cry, it’s been me and my shadow, my kid. Occasionally taking on the big world but only with Marc because someone has to tell us it’s going to be okay when sometimes the world feels too big.

And I will still be here, stargazing

And I will still be here, stargazing

Tonight I took Oliver out and the sky was so clear I could see all of the stars. One of the benefits of living in the country is a lack of light pollution. You can see all the constellations and then all the little freckled stars in between. I could feel the cold on my cheeks and my breath was tiny smoke clouds. Today my legs were wrapped in fleece tights, aka cozy leg sweaters, made for someone who is 7 feet tall. Even with them pulled all the way up over my belly button they still scrunched up around my ankles.

Warmth is more important than fashion though, so for the next 5 months, baggy ankles it is.

I didn’t stay outside long, Oliver ran back to the door quickly and I’m reading IT right now and fully expect a demon clown to come out of the woods at any moment when it’s dark out so we don’t stay outside any longer than necessary. Today though instead of scoping the woods for red balloons I stopped freaking myself out and stared at the sky.

I took an astronomy class my first year of college, it was my first and only lecture/lab experience. I needed a science class and thought astronomy would be easy. That is not a correct assumption. I will make more of these in the future. They will be covered on a later date.

That man gave me my first B of my college career. It was devastating. But honestly it’s the class I remember the most. The lab, not the lecture, the lecture was too much math. The lab was at night in the winter. I’d dress in a huge oversized sweatshirt, sweatpants and fake Ugg boots and we’d sit in the school planetarium staring at twinkle lights.

Twice during the semester we drove to the city planetarium. I’d curl up in the seat and listen to the professor tell stories about the constellations and the stars, while thinking about that time when I went to that planetarium in elementary school and held hands with a boy in the dark while the stars spun.

There was a boy in my astronomy class who would always sit next to me and be my partner for projects. Once he asked me to go to a hockey game after class and I told him no because I had to study for a test. I never believed anyone would possibly be interested in me. I was instead convinced that he was just feeling sorry for me because I wore the same outfit to class every week. Note: it was winter thus the warmth is more important than fashion comes in to play here.

The main part of the exam for that class was picking three random constellations and stars and locating them in the planetarium. I am a stickler for routine so I’d sat in the same position on the far end of the room for the entire semester and only recognized things from that particular perspective. I remember nervously picking a paper out, and panicking when I stood next to the professor and couldn’t locate the star. After a moment of convincing myself that I wasn’t going to pass out I asked if I could stand somewhere else, to which he said that was fine. The remainder of my exam consisted of me taking a paper and sprinting all the way to the other side of the room to shout out the answer and use the red laser to point things out.

I got an A in the lab. I just want to make sure I point that out.

Before Marc and I started dating, after work we’d walk from the bus to his apartment and stand next to the steps and I’d talk too much and too loudly and he’d just listen to me ramble on awkwardly because he’s just that kind of person.

One night the sky was clear and I was taking a breath from talking about nothing because it was just nice to have someone to talk to and I looked up and tried to find the pictures in the stars. It was like I was sitting in a different spot in the planetarium, nothing was where I thought should be but we both pointed out constellations and when we found Cassiopeia I asked him if he’d ever seen Serendipity, where John Cusak draws Cassiopeia in the freckles of her skin, and in the end they come together at the ice rink in Central Park and it’s beautiful.

In case you were wondering, he had never seen that movie. Never fear though, he’s seen it now.

When I was little and looked at the stars I thought of Timon and Pumba, laying there with Simba talking about fireflies and balls of gas.

Now I think of me and you, sitting on the apartment steps after work, thick watered down air, both of us on the wrong side of the planetarium together, trying to figure out where everything we thought we knew was in the sky.

We’ve Got Brighter Lights Back Home

We’ve Got Brighter Lights Back Home

I should totally be doing my homework, but I know if I decide to wait until after the reading my brain will be fried and in ‘accounting mode’ and will be totally useless. See, I’ve been inspired by everyone starting Nano today, and I wanted to write too. Calm down, I’m not writing a novel, I learned early on in my life that don’t have the attention span for that, but I had an interesting conversation with a faculty member today about music. During my drive home when I do the recapping of every conversation I had throughout the day and analyze everything I said and everything they said and every reaction they had to what I said and if my response to what they said was the proper, intelligent response, I stopped on that conversation and spent more time on it than the other conversations I’d had today.

I’ve always really loved music. Which I guess is a weird statement because I assume everyone loves some type of music. I love music and food. But food I didn’t grow up loving because food and I had a rocky start, but music has never let me down.

I used to decide how my day was going to go based on the song that was playing when my alarm went off, what music videos I saw while watching MTV while eating breakfast in the morning, and what songs were on the radio before I was dropped off at school. This can be broken down to, if Nsync didn’t somehow show up in the first hour of me being awake, well I might as well scrap the whole day because it was going to be a disaster. But I was also very much on it had to just happen. I couldn’t play Nsync, Nsync had to just play. If Nsync didn’t play and something bad happened in my day, well it was because MTV didn’t play the “Gone” video that morning.

I let music dictate my life quite a bit, I get so involved in scores of movies and songs playing in the background of events because I love that feeling when you hear the same song later you immediately remember where you were when you heard it.

Recent example, we were at the Cornell Homecoming fireworks show a couple weekends ago. The fireworks started and we had this group of 12 or 13-year-old girls behind us dressed in tulle skirts from Justice, absolutely adorable. And they knew the words to every song that played with the fireworks, and then a Shawn Mendes song came on. I’d heard the song before but had never been that much into it, but the chorus came and these girls sang so loud and with the fireworks and the lasers and the energy from the people around me, it was this great feeling. I’ve since downloaded that song and it’s one of my favorites right now because every time I hear it I’m back in that moment.

Another big one is “Greatest Time of Year” by Aly and Aj, aka best Christmas song ever. With this one, I’m in a crowd of thousands on the Streets of America waiting for it to be dusk. And I know what’s coming but not everyone else does, and there is all this excitement and everyone is wearing plastic Christmas lightbulb necklaces and Mickey ears and silly hats and drinking hot cocoa and eating churros and candied almonds. Everyone is looking up and around and looking at their watches and suddenly the booming intro starts, a lucky kid flips a huge light switch, and the Streets of America lights up so bright and everyone collectively gasps and cheers and the music starts and the lights dance and everyone starts dancing while the soap snowflakes fall. It’s one of my most amazing music moments. I used to love working the first night of the lights, I would stand in the back with my glow necklaces, wearing my blue shirt and yellow bow tie and my flashing Mickey headband, waiting for everyone to see the lights turn on for the first time. Then I would walk up and down the street and dance with people I’d never met and would never see again, and we’d sing and take pictures and the kids would yell “She glows just like the lights!”

Of course, not all songs bring along good memories. As you all of course know I love my girl Taylor Swift. Basically, anything she does I love. But any time I hear “State of Grace” from her Red album I feel a heavy weight in my stomach. I remember waking up in the morning to go to work and feeling so much dread that I felt sick. I would count down the minutes of every day, constantly feeling a tightness in my chest and my throat and feeling like I couldn’t breathe, my anxiety was the worst than it had been in a long time, I had attacks constantly and it was first time I finally decided to go to a doctor for it. I felt so uncomfortable with myself and my body and everything around me. Needless to say, I don’t listen to the Red album much. 1989 though? All. Damn. Day.

A few other quick ones, “Bye, Bye, Bye” is my bedroom in the basement, frizzy pigtails, baggy Aeropostale cargo pants, bandana headbands and glitter eye shadow, cutting letters for song lyrics out of construction paper and taping them to the door and talking to my best friend over the phone about fan fiction ideas until the cordless phone battery died.

“What Makes You Different (Makes You Beautiful)” is the school bus, extra-large concert t-shirts and khaki flares, my portable CD player and flimsy headphones, wondering if I’d ever have someone love me like that guy with the Beatles haircut loved Princess Mia when she had frizzy hair before she knew she was a princess. Princess Mia will always be my movie doppleganger. You can teach us to straighten our hair and pluck our eyebrows but the weirdness and awkwardness remains.

“Sexyback” is the drive to community college, windows down, feeling free for the first time of the obligation to have tons of friends, act a certain way, try to be cool, try to fit in. Seeing that Disney sign on the way to class wearing sweatpants and fake UGG boots and a huge hooded sweatshirt with my headphones in.

“Promise” is Epcot, it’s our first date, our engagement, our wedding, it’s eclairs and chocolate mousse and ham and cheese croissants and giant pretzels. It’s sitting on the cement with our backs against the fence talking about our day, watching people walk by with sleeping kids in strollers while the sky grew dark. It’s that drive home with my mom that January, counting the cows from Florida to Michigan wondering if the last six months had really happened and my aunt checking in earlier in November asking, “Do you even plan on coming home?”

When I first started at the college here, the girl who sat at the desk next to mine used to listen to music that sounded like what they play in Future World in Epcot. Some days I didn’t mind, other days it made me homesick for my Wonderland.

This morning I listened to Charlie Brown Christmas on my drive to work. That song is winter in Michigan, me reading a Goosebumps book in the living room while my mom cleaned and made brownies, snow flurries blowing outside, the fake fire DVD playing on the television. It’s her bringing up the Christmas decoration tubs one at a time, and us watching her intently as she took the items out of the tubs one by one and looked around for a minute before finding just the right place to put them. It’s my aunts doing the Charlie Brown dance, my dad doing his crazy dance, laughing so hard my eyes water and my stomach hurts.

Ya know, sometimes I still let the music I hear in the morning dictate my day. Except now I pick the song I want to wake me up for my alarm (Why you no have a shuffle option Apple?!) and I have a perfectly sculpted playlist for my long car rides. I start to get nervous though, when I get close to work and I haven’t heard just the right song. I start scrambling at stop lights to find one that I feel like will set just the right mood for the day. This can depend on the weather, the day of the week, or what I know is planned for the day. If I need to kick ass, I need to make sure I have Demi telling me I am a Warrior.

Not this morning though.

This morning I wanted dancing lights and soap snow, fresh baked brownies and perfectly placed decorations.  I wanted to glow. Just like the lights.

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.