Sunday, August 14, 2011

stretch armstrong

Sometimes there are some holes in my stories.

Sometimes I stretch the truth a bit. Especially on here.

It's not that I lie, necessarily. It's more that I don't share
all the pieces. Maybe I share the emotion, but not why I'm feeling it. I share the story, but not why it's significant to me. I share the questions swirling around, but not why I'm asking them. Sometimes I tell the story that's easier, that's safer to tell than the one that's real. Because the real story? That story can hurt to tell. That story can bite you in the butt.

But I think I owe you (honestly, I owe myself) the truth: It's not that I haven't had anything to write over the past months. It's that everything I've started writing has been too real. Too honest. Too better-keep-those-feelings-
hidden-you-crazy-girl. And, so, I did. I've kept it to myself. I relegated it to my journal. Safe away from any need to actually own up to it.

So here's what I haven't been saying: I'm not necessarily good at vulnerable. I try to laugh things off when I can. I default to sarcasm and indifference. I poke fun at myself to show that I'm not hurting. When I fall down (which I tend to do a lot), I jump up, scrape off my knees and get back in the action. I act like I'm okay and hope eventually I will be. After all,
I'm strong. I can take this. At the end of the day, though, I'm a girl. And a girl, despite how tough she may seem on the football field, is often more fragile that she likes to admit.

And I've been struggling. Struggling with what makes me unique. With what makes me someone anyone should find lovable. What makes me worth it.

Struggling with what I'm supposed to be doing. Struggling with the notion of working to live vs. living to work. There are days when I feel like I couldn't have a job better suited for me. Where I'm flying high. And then there are days where I enviously eye the receptionist, thinking how great it would be if the biggest problem I had to solve today was how to handle two calls coming in at once. Umm... Can you hold, please?

Struggling with what defines me. Are those the things I want to define me necessarily? And if they're not, how can I change that?

Just struggling. And vulnerable. And not myself.

So there. That's it. That's what I haven't been saying. That's what has been blocking me for three months. That's the big secret.

And now I can try to move on. Move up. Just move.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

the best laid plans

I've said it before (and I'm sure this won't be the last time), but I'm a "planner". Almost to a fault. I'm not good at relaxing. I'm not okay with 'nothing going on'. And I'm even worse at sitting still. I just always want there to be something to do. Something to look forward to. Somewhere to go. I hate a blank calendar. Especially when there's so many opportunities to fill it.

I know this isn't always the most desirable quality for those around me. I think I tend to drive my roommate, my friends, my family and pretty much anyone on my email contact list crazy with my constant wanting to be doing something. Add to this that I'm restless. I'm anally organized. I'm all kinds of type A personality. And when you throw all of these wonderful traits together and you have on your hands the perfect combination for one high-strung girl.

But I'm working on it.

And most of the time, I think I'm getting better. Sure, you won't find me hanging out on the couch for hours on end on a Saturday or Sunday, but I have stopped inundating whatver email inboxes I can get my hands on with all sorts of requests to do this or that with me. I even made it my New Years resolution last year not to send more than one mass email a quarter. And while I think that lasted maybe until May (if I'm lucky), the point is I'm trying.

But then there's the past eighteen hours where I booked 3 flights for the fall which 'required' sending about a million emails to my college roommates about a trip to Denver, a hundred-thousand emails with my Chicago gals about grabbing our cowboy boots and heading to Austin and about eight-hundred texts with Suzzle about the IU/OSU football game. A huge search for the perfect Non-Book Book Club July event - a movie in the park. And to top it all off, a massive email to all my Chicago friends trying to coordinate a country concert in August.

It's like I'm an addict slipping back into a relapse. I can't help myself.

And just when I think I'm making progress.

Someone better take away my planner and my access to gmail.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

dot dot dot

Leave it to my favorite TV obsession (or maybe second favorite, next to Criminal Minds), The Bachelorette, to provide me with just the right bait to lure me out of my month+ blogging hiatus. I may be less than inspired these days, but there's just something about Bentley that makes me (and just about every girl in America) want to comment. And by comment I mean scream you're a jerk! every time he opens his mouth.

Now, I'd be withholding some incriminating evidence if I didn't admit that I pre-picked Bentley from ABC's website as my personal favorite before the season began. (What? It was important for our office pool!). I mean look at this seemingly innocent and rough-and-rugged face:

So, I guess I understood a bit when Ashley, despite being warned that Bentley was on the show for the 'wrong reasons' (my favorite over-used phrase in Bachelor(ette) history), started to get all over-the-moon for Bentley. In a situation where 24 guys were fighting for her attention and professing their love-at-first-sight for her, Bentley was the challenge. Bentley was the wild card. Bentley, therefore, was the one she wanted to win over.

I'd like to shake some sense into her if I wasn't guilty of the same thing more times than I'd like to admit.

Well, minus the 24 guys vying for my affection part.

It was clear to we, the TV viewer, though, very early on that Bentley was indeed not there for Ashley. He didn't give a hoot. But that didn't stop him from enjoying her woo-ing all over him at every chance she got. I guess when it comes down to it, we all like attention. Even if we don't necessarily like like the person we're getting it from.

Difference is the rest of us usually feel a little bad about it. Or at least don't brag about it. On national TV nonetheless.

But Bentley does.

Fast forward through countless you're a jerk! comments and you get to the first good, nobel decision we've seen Bentley make: to leave the show. Only instead of confessing that he's not feeling an ounce for Ashley of what she's feeling he decides to blame his leaving on the fact that he misses his daughter. Sick-o.

In his attempt to "console" (if I can call it that) Ashley, he insisted that they leave the goodbye with a "..." instead of a "." You're a jerk! While this "..." meant for Bentley that he 'wouldn't mind hooking up with her every now and then' to Ashley it meant that things were unfinished. Feelings were unsaid. There was still hope.

And hope, I unfortunately know, isn't always a good thing.

I've come to realize that in this crazy world of dating and boy-and-girls and love and things-that-feel-sort-of-like-love, there isn't anything worse than the "...". It's not fair to give them out in hopes of sparing someone's feelings. And it sucks, quite frankly, to have them handed to you. Only, the worst part is, it doesn't suck at the time. At the time you want anything but a period. Anything but something definite. Anything but the end.

Only later, when you're living in the "..." do you realize how bad it really is.

Wikipedia (yeah, I realize that comes out of left field) says that "when placed at the end of a sentence, the ellipsis can also inspire a feeling of melancholy longing." Melancholy longing. Emotional purgatory. Frankly, it's the pits.

So while you annoy me about 85% of the time, Ashley, I can't help but commiserate with you on this. Bentley, of all people (you'll realize when you watch the show yourself, girl), didn't need to leave you with a "...". Everyone deserves better than that.

But, man, I'm going to miss that Bentley commentary...

Yes, that "..." is intentional. After all, I'll be longing for it every Monday night.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

the young and the restless

I've cleaned out my closet 3 times in the past two months. I bought two new mascaras. And seriously considered dying my hair. If I lived alone (and had the space to actually to do so), I would have rearranged the furniture in my apartment at least once.

I'm restless again.

Do you ever have those days? Those weeks? Those months? Where you’re looking around at your life and thinking something has to change. Maybe not a big thing, necessarily. Then again, maybe so. But maybe it's just something tiny. Something in the everyday details.

Part of me feels like I'm living in this worn-out, over-sized, old sweatshirt. I'm comfy and cozy. I generally like where I'm at. I like who's around me. I like what I see when I look out my window. It's familiar. It's safe. It's nice.

But then part of me doesn't feel comfortable at all. Feels like it's time to shed that lazy lounge wear and get my butt in gear. Part of me wonders when comfort becomes complacency. And complacency is just not something I'm comfortable with. I just can't deal with the idea of settling.

And so there's restlessness. One of the very worst feelings. It's just dull and boring and itching and twitchy. It's like you're just waiting for the heat of something to pull you towards it. Waiting for the passion to move you in the right direction. Just waiting.

I generally like to get where I'm going.

I walk too fast. I tend to drive just a little over the speed limit. I pay my bills ahead of time. I get that assignment due Friday done on Wednesday. I don't do well with the slow and scenic route. If I know that there's a destination, I just want to get. there. already.

So waiting? And restlessness? Not really my cup of tea.

I want to move. I want to do. I want to be calling the shots. I want to be in control.

And yet I'm back in the antsy mode, wondering what comes next.

Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one, wild and crazy life? - Mary Oliver

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

i know you are, but what am i?

They say as a writer (so I'm assuming as a blogger) you're supposed to write what you know. You know, write what you're feeling. What you're experiencing. What's real. And maybe that's why I haven't written much lately. I'm not sure what I know at the moment. Things I thought I knew just don't seem as steady as they did before. And so I've got nothing to write.

So maybe instead of what I know, I should reach out to what I don't know...

I don't know how to hang on to an umbrella for more than 2 months. An El train. A cab. A restaurant. The salon. All of these are obstacles that stand in the way of me actually owning an umbrella for any length of time. Why those bad boys don't come with some sort of strap to hang around your wrist or something... Oh wait...

I don't know how to use our coffee pot at work. I don't think it's that it's particularly fancy or top-of-the-line or anything. It just sits there on the counter, looking all intimidating. Taunting me every morning. If it were my own coffee pot, in the safety of my home, I might just give it a whirl. But who wants to be one to blame when everyone is complaining about the coffee around your 9am meeting? Not this girl. And so, every morning, I get to work early. And wait. Wait for someone else to come in and start up the pot. God bless you, brave soul.

I don't know how 27 and 3/4ths is supposed to feel. Older? More responsible? More grounded? And I better figure it out fast because 28 is quickly approaching and I certainly don't know how to be 28.
I don't know how to get from here to there. Here, of course, being now. Today. The present. To there. The future. Where I'm supposed to be. What I'm supposed to be doing. Who I'm supposed to be.

I don't know why it's April 18th and it's snowing. And, for that matter, I don't know why I live in Chicago in the winters.

I don't know how in the world the Indians are leading the AL Central. I don't know how they're above .500, much less 12-5, for that matter. And, while we're at it, I don't know if I could name more than about 5 players on this years roster. And I call myself a fan...

I don't know how two people ever fall in love in this world. I just don't know how it ever happens. That they're at the same place at the same time. That one of them actually gets up the idea to go talk to the other. That someone feels a spark. That they actually meet up again. And again. And again. And the timing's just right. (Or at least not horribly wrong.) That they both like each other enough to give it a shot. And when they do, that they both fall in love... It's just mind-blowing to me. How does it all work out?

I don't even know how to be a girlfriend.

I don't know how to walk into lululemon and not spend at least $100 dollars.

I don't know.

I just don't know.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

lessons on love via brad womack

Monday wrapped up another season of my biggest obsession to ever grace the TV airways, The Bachelor. And while I watched 3 hours (3 hours!?) of the final drama unfold, I realized that while I've been quick to criticize this season in particular, I have to admit, I've actually learned a thing or two from watching.

And so I give you "What I've learned from The Bachelor"...

1. It’s better to be on the aggressive side than the shy side. Shy girls do not get air time. Or roses. So, when you see something you like, sometimes you've got to suck it up and make a move. Even if there are 24 girls surrounding him.

2. Sometimes a guy will keep you around because he thinks you're pretty awesome. He likes you. He likes hanging out with you. Heck, he probably even likes kissing you. This does not mean you're the one and only girl for him. He may be keeping you around because you're
one of the best girls available to him. And, well, why would he say goodbye to you before the number of roses indicates he has to?

3. Hands down, helicopter rides make for the best. dates. ever.

4. Sometimes when a guy isn't telling you he's in love with you it's because he's contractually obligated not to let on to his true feelings until the last episode. Other times it's because he's actually not in love with you. Unfortunately, it's hard to tell the difference between the two and a majority of the time you're left balling your eyes out in the back of a limo wondering why you ever put your heart on the line in the first place.

5. It’s okay (heck, it's encouraged) to confess your love after two dates. Especially when he's dating other people. I mean, what could go wrong here?

6. Connections come in different shapes and sizes. And just because you have a connection with someone doesn't mean they don't also have a connection with someone else. It is possible to be in like with two people at the same time. It's not, though, possible to be in love with two people at the same time. Love, after all, is not only an emotion. It's a choice. A choice to give that final rose (and humongous Neil Lane diamond) to one person and be ready to accept America's criticism After the Final Rose.

7. Someone you can "totally see yourself hanging out with every single day for the rest of your life" is apparently not someone you see yourself marrying.

I've got to admit, Brad, you threw me for a loop on this last one. I sort of thought that the whole point of dating was finding that person who you would want to hang out with for the rest of your life. That's marriage, isn't it? It's why I always thought that people wanted to marry someone who was their best friend. Someone they laugh with. And want to go on helicopter rides with. And have overnight dates with. But mostly someone who they just want to hang out with. Every single day. For the rest of their life.

But what do I know? I'm just a single gal who couldn't even make it on The Bachelor.

Friday, March 11, 2011

spring forward

Here I was having a pretty productive day. Reveling in the fact that it's Friday. It's sunny outside. And I'm out of here at 5 o'clock on the dot to head to Indy for a great weekend.

Then this email happened.

To: Everyone
From: Announcements
Subject: Daylight Savings Time

Remember that Daylight Savings Time begins this Sunday, Mar 13 at 2:00am. Don't forget to set your clocks ahead one hour.

Daylight Savings Time will end on Sunday, Nov 6.

Which prompted this gchat exchange.

Brooke: Oh liz! This is spring forward weekend haha
we just had one of these like in Oct
bad news is we lose an hour
me: i had NO CLUE it was coming up so quickly again
Brooke: haha i heard through the grapevine
me: this is not the type of news that can just be casually passed through the grapevine!!
come on, people!
Brooke: you would think after 5 years of living here it would catch on haha
me: and yet it gets me every time
sneaky sneaky DST
Brooke: hahaha

Give me a break! How many of these things can one girl handle in a year? (Well, two, it would seem.)


Saturday, March 5, 2011

alexander and the terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day

One of my favorite books from growing up was Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day. In it, from the moment Alexander wakes up with gum in his hair, things just don't go his way. From everything to not finding a prize in his cereal box at breakfast (while, of course, his two brothers do) to his teacher not liking his picture of the invisible castle (which is actually just a blank sheet of paper) to his friend, Paul, deserting him for his third best friend to finding out he has a cavity at the dentist to having lima beans for dinner (which he hates) to there being kissing on TV (which he also hates) to having to wear his railroad train pajamas to bed (yeah, you guess it, he hates his railroad train pajamas). This just isn't Alexander's day. So much so that at the end of the day, he just wishes he could move to Australia. That is, until his mom reminds him that everyone, even people in Australia, have bad days.

Yesterday just wasn't my day. Yesterday? Yesterday was just the pits.

From the moment I got out of bed. Scratch that. From the moment I was asleep, nothing, I mean nothing, went my way. It all started when, for the 3rd night in a row, I just could not get any useful sleep. I tossed. I turned. I checked the clock. I checked it again. I tried to shut off my mind. But it just wasn't any use. Sleep was a reality in bits and pieces. Rest, on the other hand, was not.

Luckily, I had a doctor's appointment at 9:30, so at least I got to sleep in a bit and still get my work-out in. However, the doctor had directed that I fast from 8pm the night before so by the time I was done with my work-out I was starving, but not able to do anything about it. I got ready, looked out the window and realized it was raining. Lovely. Especially when I realized that I had left my umbrella in my rental car. Guess I'd be toting my huge golf umbrella around today. Fantastic.

So I, and my grandpa umbrella, made it to the doctor's office on time and then proceeded to wait. And wait. And wait. Ugh. Not to mention, the doctor's office was a complete dead zone for my cell phone so as I waited, I just knew I was falling further and further behind. And then, just when I thought I was about ready to leave the office, the doctor let me know that she wanted me to get some blood work. Of which I waited for another 20 minutes. And when I finally did get into the lab? Well, the technician couldn't seem to find a vein (good thing I'm not a crack fein, eh?) and proceeded to poke around my inner elbow for a bit before she finally just poked the needle in and, I'm convinced, hoped for the best. Ouch. But at least I was making progress.

Finally, I was checked out of the office and on my way. When about 5 minutes away from the office, just as all of my emails, voicemails and text messages were pouring in, I realized I left my only remaining umbrella at the doctor's office. Bummer. Especially when the afternoon forecast calls for 70% showers. Perfect.

Of course, as luck would have it, one of those voicemails was from the president of my company, wondering if I could head out to our clients for an 11am meeting with the president of cheese (yes, that's an actual title). It was 10:52 when I received the voicemail. And our clients are 35 minutes away. On a good day. This is never going to happen. What's worse, I had asked about this particular meeting on Monday I was told by my boss that there wouldn't be an issue and if anyone was going to go from our agency, she would. Glad we got that covered.

So, I'm rushing back into the office in a fit because I'm letting down my president and missing out on an opportunity for face time with a really prestigious client. Double whammy. I rush to make it across the street before the light turns red when I nearly get hit by a car only to jump and lose some of the contents of my purse. I, glad to still have my life, decide against dodging back into traffic for my favorite pen and my Carmex. Rats.

I make it back to work only to find out I have to cover a 12:30 call and I'm not going to be able to grab anything for lunch until around 2. I'm sweating from my rush into the office. My stomach is growling at me. I'm flushed trying to catch up on everything I missed while in the cell phone-hating doctor's office. And when my creative director comes up to talk about prepping for our 3 o'clock client meeting, I turn into a huge monster. I'm rude. I'm short. I'm all hot and bothered. I'm probably the worst version of myself.

Ugh. Double ugh.

The afternoon included a fight with the color printer 15 minutes before the meeting. My computer freezing during a client presentation. My hitting my knee 3 times on the conference room table. And me finally getting out of the office around 7:30.

It just wasn't my day.

Luckily, despite the late Friday night and the evening downpour, I made it to drinks and dinner with Abby and Julie. There's nothing like a perfect night with good friends to erase even the most terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day.

So, maybe I won't pick up and move to Australia after all either.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

warriors, monkeys, and happy babies

I want to like yoga. I really do. But last night, after my first official yoga class (the yoga video in p90x doesn't count because no one can actually see - or critique - me doing the poses), I confirmed what I always thought I knew. I. Hate. Yoga.

mean really just hate it.

Maybe I'm not serene enough. Or mature enough. Or spiritually evolved enough. Or
bendy enough. Because I just cannot appreciate yoga. It seems like a very zen-like thing to do. And I envy those girls that just love yoga and blab on and on about all the great things it's done for their body, mind and soul. I mean, I really want to enjoy it. I want to be able to stand on one leg while holding the other out at a right angle. I want to be able touch my palms and heels to the floor at the same time. I want to be a yoga-er. But, quite frankly, I find it boring and slow and just plain awful. Which, I'm well aware of, is a very unpopular point of view to have these days.

But you know what? I just don't care. Life is too short to downward dog when you don't want to.

Perhaps I am too Type A. Too wound up. Too impatient. Too in need of something intense, gritty, sweaty, and
unpleasant to get my heart racing and send me into a stress-relieving trance. (Which, of course, is what you'll be able to find me doing once again when all of this yoga business is said and done. Beating up my body. And loving every miserable minute of it.)

But, in the meantime, let me walk you through last night...

We walk into the already jam-packed room a couple minutes late from filling out our new student forms. So if I was already self-conscious about what the heck I was doing, I'm even more so as I can feel people watching as I lay out my mat, grab my blocks and get situated. However, I managed to get all set up on my little mat (which reminds me of preschool nap time) and join in the class.

We're then told by the instructor to lay on the ground, supporting our spine and just pay attention to our breathing. Easy, right? Wrong. It's during this 10 minutes (do we really need 10 minutes for this?) that I not only realize that I cannot pay attention to my breathing, but also that when I actually start to for a couple seconds, my breathing is rather unable to be controlled. This, in turn, makes me anxious about why I can't control my breathing and causes my mind to wander about what else could be physically wrong with me.

At which point our instructor encouragingly reminds us to leave behind all the stress of the day and be here in the present. Well, now that you mention it oh, nimble one, I do have some stresses. Thanks for reminding me and causing my mind to wander to those for a while. On the plus side, though, this diverts my attention away from my brief lapse into hypochondria.

Editors note: Now, I definitely would consider yoga "exercise". And would even admit that certain poses are physically strenuous. But I just don't think anything where you lay on the ground, still, breathing for 10-15 minutes can be considered activity. Or a work out. Or purposeful for that matter.

But, nevertheless, that's what we do. And then, what feels like 15 long, boring and pointless minutes later, we're ready to move to the next thing.

Through-out the next 30-60 minutes, I'm guided to contort my body into one unnatural shape after another. All the while, straining my neck to see what the heck the instructor (or the girl next to me) is doing because I don’t know all the poses by name and I cannot, for the life of me, figure out what 'prosperous pose' could quite possibly mean without a visual reference. However, when I look up all I can think of is 'how in the world is she doing that!?' I then, not be be defeated, muster my best attempt to mold my body into a form like hers only to have her gently push my back somewhere it doesn't want to go as she walks by and says 'Now relax and go deeper'. Fat chance, sister of nature.

The perfectly balanced and relaxed people around me must be looking at me with pity, wondering why my face is turning bright red as the blood rushes to my head. Actually, that's a lie. Because while I can't help but steal a glance each and every direction when I get the chance to check out how other people's poses look, no one else seems to notice or care. And it's pretty clear that, while I was busy stressing out during corpse pose (which, much like it's name would indicate, could easily be preformed by a dead person), they were 'clearing their mind' and 'releasing their worries' and 'letting go of the day'. Allowing them to be all zen and spiritually focused now. I, on the other hand, continue to feel the tension build in my neck and back.

But, still, I'm trying. I promise. Because I really, truly want to walk away liking this.

So there I am holding each and every shaky pose while our instructor, looking perfectly muscular, balanced, flexible and
skinny, continues to encourage our deeper decent into stillness and peacefulness. Which only continues to remind me that I'm not feeling any of the such. And through it all. The twisting. The bending. The Namaste-ing. The breathing. The only thing I can think about is not my 'center' or finding peace within, but rather, "what the heck am I doing here, and how can I make it stop?"

As we go into one of our last poses, the instructor gets all spiritual about being able to just feel our heartbeat and, again, I realize I cannot feel my heart beating. Yoga has, literally, bored me to death. So I stand there, hand over my heart, trying desperately to just feel my heartbeat. Seriously, not feeling a thing but confusion.

At the end, we're told again to lay on the ground and just be at peace.

Not a chance in hell this is happening for me.

And as we lay in the dark room while Jeff Buckley's Hallelujah plays in the background, I know I'm supposed to be feeling calm and relaxed. But I think by now you know how that's going for me. I, on the other hand, am running through the things I have to get done tonight. What I need to do to prep for Friday's big client meeting. How in the world I'm going to break it off with the newest nice guy in my life. Why in the world I'm not just feeling relaxed already. Basically, this exercise is going for me the exact opposite of what it should be.

After we leave the studio, Brooke looks at me with excitement and asks "Sooo, did you like it!?

I hated it.

But she was so happy about it and I wished I felt like that. I wished forced relaxation was something I could embrace. I wished I felt revived. I wish I was excited about our next class. I just wished I could be that way about it. So, I reassured her that I would, indeed, not be bailing on our 5-class Groupon.

Yes, yes, I agreed to give it 4 more classes. (What!? I'm not one to waste my money... except for when it comes to shots at 3am.) And I promise to give it my all. But, if in the end, I'm still as miserable as I was last night, I'm going to call it a day. You know, let sleeping downward dogs lie. (Or something like that.) And just accept that maybe yoga isn't for everyone.


Wednesday, February 2, 2011

wordless wednesday #3

Snowmageddon. Snowcropolis. The Blizzard of 2011.

Chicago is, indeed, blanketed with nearly 2 feet of snow. And I'm forced to take back all my snide comments about weatherman always being wrong. Making too much of everything. Preparing us for the worse, when in all actuality we get a flurry. The scene from outside my living room window (and every news station around) is living up to all the hype.

win this time, Andy Avalos.

As I laid in bed last night hoping for a snow day today, I couldn't help but feel like a 3rd grader, desperately waiting to hear the news that school was out tomorrow. Remember just how great that was? Today a "snow day" means working from my kitchen table, coordinating conference calls from a variety of locations and the headaches that come with schedule delays. Back then it just meant one thing: snow ball fight!

And so, in honor of my 3rd grade self who's healthy imagination could turn a snowy backyard into any number of wild adventures, I bring you my favorite quote from Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland:

There is no use trying, said Alice; one can't believe impossible things.

I dare say you haven't had much practice, said the Queen. When I was your age, I always did it for half an hour a day. Why, sometimes I've believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

because i said so

My mind is, well, heavy right now.

I often times find myself considering the actions of friends, co-workers, etc and wondering if they are at peace with their decisions. They seem to be so content with themselves. Do they ever wrestle with the consequences (whether positive or negative) of their actions like I do? Or are they more of the carpe diem type? Able to suck up even the worse situation as a classic case of better luck next time. You live you learn. It's better to regret something you have done than something you haven't. You win some, you lose some.
Have they accepted that mistakes are just a part of life?

When we were growing up there were so many things we couldn't do. Couldn't do because we weren't old enough. Because we weren't big enough. Because our parents didn't think it was best for us. Because it was a school night. Because 'I told you so'. They were so many rules in place to help shape us into the type of people our parents set out to raise.

But as we get older it becomes increasingly clear: the rules we set for ourselves are the only rules we know are real.

I yearn for clarity when I wrestle with my own actions, decisions, emotions and desires. I’m constantly caught between action and thought. There have been several times when I was faced with a situation and I had to decide: do I break my own rule? And if I do, will there be any consequences? I mean, certainly my parents won't be grounding me...

There are times when I was terrified of doing the "wrong" thing and regretting it. So, instead, I fought my emotions, what I wanted to do, and my "better judgment" won a battle that it probably should have lost. And for what? Just so that I didn't break my self-imposed rule? Just because I was worried what someone else might say or think? Times when I've stuck to my guns and found myself looking back and, on one hand, being proud of myself for abiding by my rules, but on the other hand filled with regret at the fact that maybe, just maybe, I thought too much and acted too little.

I'm not saying I regret all of the time. Or even most of the time. But every once in a while I regret. The things I haven't done likely could have only made things worse. But I'll never know for sure and I have a hard time accepting that on some days.

As I write this I realize that it’s certainly possible that I think too much and act too little. Sometimes I should just go with it. Do what I want to do at the time. Not burden myself with whether or not I'm going to regret it tomorrow. Or next week. Or next year.

I feel sort of relieved and excited about this confession of inner turmoil, doubt and shame. The next step is to live now, in real time, knowing that tomorrow isn't promised to anyone. Today's actions could bring about hardship, heartbreak and regret in the future. But they could also bring about something unexpectedly amazing. The thing is you never know. There's no way to. So you've got to live for what you know, and what you feel, now. And let tomorrow figure itself out.

After all, if I'm the one making the rules, aren't I also the one allowed to break them? And if I'm not going to do it, then who is?

Monday, January 24, 2011

of mice and men and a honda accord

aka: grand theft auto
aka: early onset alzheimer's

aka: dude, where's my car?

Plans are funny things.

One minute you're planning on a trip to the grocery store and an early matinee movie. The next minute you're searching the streets for any sign of your car, swearing you left it right here the last time you drove it. One minute you're carefully pulling together your grocery list and checking fandango for movie show times. The next minute you're tracing and retracing every step you've taken over the past 2 days, wondering what the heck you're forgetting. One minute you have a nice little Saturday of errands planned. The next you're on the phone with the Chicago police department reporting a stolen vehicle.

What an unexpected Saturday!

As soon as I started walking towards the spot I knew I had left my car on Wednesday night, I felt like something was wrong.
What's that grey SUV doing in my spot? But to go right to "someone stole my car" just seemed a little rash. So I walked up and down and around the block a couple times. I retraced every move I could remember making between 9pm on Wednesday night when I parked my car after work to 11am on Saturday morning when it was no longer there.

Did I actually end up driving to work on Thursday or Friday and forget I had, leaving my car in the parking garage? Had I moved the car recently without remembering why? Had I actually parked somewhere differently on Wednesday night? Is this just another sign of early onset Alzheimer's

After asking these over and over, in a million different ways. (And actually calling my dad to re-walk through the last 72 hours just to be sure I wasn't missing anything.) The only real answer to any of these questions was no. And that's when I had to say it out loud:
I think my car has been stolen. Cue intense cop drama music here.

Cut to me calling the cops to file a police report. In which case I wasn't sure exactly what to say so I defaulted to every movie or show I've seen and stuck with "I'd like to report a stolen vehicle". Cut to me frantically looking up my insurance coverage to be sure that I indeed had upgraded from just collision to comprehensive back when I purchase the Accord a couple years ago. (Luckily, I had.) Cut to a montage of all the random questions from the CPD and Progressive that, I suppose, they just
have to ask....

Is there any signage around the spot that indicates parking restrictions? (Would someone actually go straight to a grand theft auto accusation before checking this all out themselves?) Do you typically lock your car? (Ummmm yes. I live in Chicago. Do people not lock their cars?) Do you typically take your keys with you from the car? (I find it helps, especially when you lock your car, to actually take the keys with you in order to unlock it in the future.) Do you have your keys now? (Do you mean am I sure a roommate or friend didn't just borrow it?) And, finally, how old are you? (Is this relevant?)

I promise I wasn't as snarky as I sound in my commentary above. But I do have to admit, the whole ordeal was rather comical. Which, on the plus side, kept my spirits up admits the initial uncertainty of
what the heck happens next?

I guess what happens next is I wait. Wait for the car to someone show up. Wait for the police to call. Wait for any word on it's whereabouts. Just wait. Both the CPD and Progressive kept letting me know that
when they find my vehicle this or that would happen. Glad to see they're so optimistic. But I've seen The Other Guys. At this point I'd rather not have my car be returned to me after God knows what happened to it in the last few days.

In the meantime, my new Progressive claims rep, Josh, has been a major help in securing a rental car for me from Enterprise and letting me know he hopes to have it all buttoned-up in a matter of 2-3 weeks.

In his experience it usually turns up in the first 7-10 days. So if we get to day 11, I should probably be looking for a new set of wheels.
.. You know, as much as I have complained about my car's age and lack of radio and, most recently, noises, when it comes down to it I'm rather happy to have a car. Rather happy to have my car even. Sure it may not be the most stylish ride on the block, but it gets me from point a to point b in one piece. And it's paid off.

I certainly wasn't planning (or saving) for a new vehicle just yet.

But the best laid plans of mice and men, right?

Friday, January 21, 2011

jerseys are becoming my cats

I was seriously considering purchasing another Colts jersey... when I had to stop myself, assess the situation and decide against it. I have two jerseys already. (Well, three, if you count the fact that I actually have two Peyton Manning jerseys - one that's a men's small and another that's a kid's large because I got sick of swimming in the men's one.) So, as much as I want a Dallas Clark or Jeff Saturday jersey. And as much as I can try to justify it by saying that my Sanders jersey is bad luck. Or mine are all blue and I need a home one. When it comes down to it I, as a 27-year-old girl, do not need another jersey. Because if I get another one, when will it stop?

I think jerseys could end up becoming my cats.

You know, as a single girl, one may be okay. Two, even, if you really like 'em. But once you start getting more and more, you're just on your way to quickly becoming the cat (er, in this case, jersey) lady.

And there's no coming back from that.

7:25PM Correction:
I have 3 (technically 4) jerseys. How could I forget about my Indiana Hoosiers football jersey!? No one (and I mean no one) in their right might needs one of those.

Thursday, January 20, 2011


So your girlfriend rolls a Honda, playing work-out tapes by Fonda.
My Honda's acting up. It's cold. It's consistently parked on the street. Not to mention it's just plan getting old. (My brother reminded the other day that if my car were a person it would have it's own learner's permit by now.) So I suppose this should be expected. But, as any car owner knows, car troubles always seem like the absolute worst kind of troubles. Unexpected. Expensive. And, overall, a real wrench in your routine.

While I was home at Christmas, my car behaved perfectly. No sounds. No creaks. No weird spinning noises under the hood. Nothing that I had been so carefully trying to replicate to my father over the phone for the past month or so. Nada. That is until I was backing out of the driveway, ready to head back to Chicago. Thanks, Accord.

Turns out there was a problem causing one of my power steering belts to wear. But, ultimately, the crank shaft was worn down and spurring on this problem to begin with. (Do I sound like I even slightly understand this jargon?) So what started as just replacing the belt turned into a wild goose chase around the city of Fort Wayne (and then the broader state of Indiana) to find a crank shaft that would be compatible with my 1996 Accord.

Luckily, a couple days and $550 later, my car was good as (almost) new. Supposedly.

Not two days after I got it back into the city and made a couple treks out for client meetings in the suburbs did a new little sound begin to resonate through the streets (and even more loudly through the parking garage). Now, I'm driving around with a car that consistently sounds like it's auditioning to be the squeaky bed-spring sound effects at the beginning of Trillville's 2004 hit Some Cut.

Don't pretend like you don't remember the jam.

Identity theft.
Alternative working title: Rachel Nichols is a poor man's Erin Andrews.

I'm increasingly convinced that Rachel Nichols has stolen my identity. Or what was meant to be my identity anyway. Each and every time I watch (or even overhear) her reporting live from some big NFL game, I'm left somewhat stunned at just how much better I think I'd be at that job if I ever got the chance.

Confession time: I have, on occasion or two, practiced my would-be sign-off: Reporting live from outside the Colts hotel in Miami, Florida, this is Liz Brune. ESPN. Practiced the different scenarios. Mastered the inflection (and the ever so slight of a pause between the first and last two syllables) in "ESPN". Made myself as ready as possible for the one-in-a-million chance that I just so happen to be sitting mid-field when Rachel goes down and someone (ohhh, pick me!) needs to step in so the broadcast can go on.

Yes, I realize this makes me sound incredibly ungrounded in reality. But it also proves I'm more than ready.

And I promise I will deliver whatever "breaking" news needs to be delivered with more heart, more interest and more entertainment value than Rachel could ever muster. Plus, my hair may be a mousy color that can't decide if it's brown or blonde, but it will never, ever be that badly dyed (and fried) red.

Editors note: If ever, in a million years, I'm actually being considered for some sort of journalism job at ESPN and this blog, for whatever reason, is being used as an example of my writing, I reserve the right to take back this prior paragraph and all my nasty, bitter, possibly exaggerated and clearly envious accusations regarding a certain employee thereof. After all, no need to ruffle feathers in Bristol before my first day on the job, right?

Actually, on second thought, if this blog is being used as an example of my writing. Of my potential as a writer. Of my ability to report on anything. Or of my ability to form complete and competent sentences. Use correct grammar. Or legitimate English words. Then I doubt I have to worry about a first day anyway.

You win again, Rachel.

Now, back to you Boomer.

Pete and Repeat were in a boat...
In the same way I was obsessed with my new apartment a couple months ago, I'm now fixated on P90X. Which may be understandable when you realized that for nearly 3 weeks now, I've been hanging out with Tony Horton for at least an hour a day. Sadly enough, this could qualify as the longest "relationship" I've ever been committed to. Lord help me when I make it all the way to 90 days. I think I could end up being in love for the first time.

The real point here though is that Tony has a couple catch phrases that he seems to pepper in through-out the various videos. And since I do each video once a week, I inevitably hear them over and over again. There's one especially that always stands out to me: This makes me happy. Which he says in at least one (although I swear it's more) of the videos in my current weekly phase. I realize that, especially after having watched the video(s) now a number of times, that this should be incredibly annoying and infuriating. Especially at 5:30am. But quite the contrary. I've found that it actually does, indeed, make
me happy.

Finding things that should be annoying actually rather endearing? Shoot, I think this means it's definitely love.

Banana Peppers changed my life.
I am a creature of habit. And nowhere is this more true than at Subway. I, without fail, (except for a few visits this past summer during the short-lived era of the Orchard Chicken Salad), order the exact same thing. 6 inch Veggie on Honey Oat wheat bread with Provolone cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers, green peppers, extra pickles and black olives, topped off with Honey Mustard sauce. That is, until I discovered something that would change my Subway experience forever: the banana pepper. I know, I know. This is by no means a new vegetable. It's not even new to the Subway condiment row. But, for whatever reason, I never noticed or thought about it until about 2 months ago. My life - and my sub - will never be the same.

Can you use it in a sentence?
I cannot spell convenience for the life of me.

Scratch that. My family and every teacher I've ever had would argue that the more accurate sentence would be: I cannot spell for the life of me.

It's true.

Up until about 4th grade I couldn't even spell the name of my own hometown.


I consistently spelled it out as Fort Wanye. (Which, to this day, my family uses against me at any and every chance they get. It's like the comeback that trumps any Brune family argument. Sis can't spell Fort Wayne. KO. Fight's over. We have a winner.) In fact, I'm not sure I ever really learned to spell it. I just learned a clever little way to remember where the letters go: the "y" clearly needs to be in the exact middle of the 5-letter word to balance it out. Fort Wanye. Fort Wayne.

So this "convenience" revelation of mine likely does not come as much of a shock. The shock may actually be that I feel the need to limit my spelling troubles to one specific word. When, clearly, it's more of an epidemic. But this word in particular trips me up every. single. time. And, what's worse, the way I always attempt to spell it (convience) isn't even close enough for spell check to provide "convenience" as a suggested alternative.

Not very convient, er, convenient if you ask me.

Tennis lesson of the day: How to return a backhanded serve.
It must be something in the water. But I've been receiving all sorts of backhanded complements recently. The two best ones within the last 24 hours?

1. After sending out an extremely detailed and (albeit a biased opinion) incredibly well thought-out 923-word email, (yes, in research for this entry, I most definitely copy-and-pasted it into Word so that I could check the actual word count. I mean I had college assignments shorter than that!), one of my clients replied with this: Hahahaha... have not read a thing, but just wanted to acknowledge that you are great .. and I thought I was the only crazy one on this brand. Thanks for being awesome!! Yeah, Arthur, I'm right there in the padded cell next to you. Thanks for the, um, complement. I think.

2. While waiting in line at Subway (see banana peppers above for additional context), I realized I was just a person away from a woman (from a partner marketing agency) that I had worked with recently on a client assignment. Well, we got into talking about a couple things and soon I realized that instead of knowing that I was an account person, she actually thought I worked in consumer insights/planning. Which lead her to exclaim: You mean you're an account person? (Hope her almost palpable disgust is coming through here.) I could have sworn you were a planner. You seem too smart to be an account person. Thank you, I suppose, for thinking I'm smart. But thank you, also, for belittling my career path, position and what I spend 12+ hours a day doing.


Wednesday, January 19, 2011

wordless wednesday #2

One of my very best friends just got back from Paris (where she got engaged!) and, in true Darcey fashion, brought back with her the most thoughtful gift for me. (She's the absolute best at unique and personal gifts. It's unreal how she truly nails it every time.) Well, she did it again! This time she bought me a new, uniquely hard-covered version of The Great Gatsby, one of my top 5 favorite books of all time. I can't tell you how excited I am to replace my current version, a paperback back from when I was required to read it in high-school, with this fancy new one, deserving of all the love and appreciation I have for the story.

And so, in honor of Darcey (and my newest favorite book on my shelf), my second Wordless Wednesday is dedicated to my absolute favorite quote from The Great Gatsby (and probably the reason I adore the book so much) ...

He smiled understandingly - much more than understandingly. It was one of those rare smiles with a quality of eternal reassurance in it that you may come across four or five times in life. It faced - or seemed to face - the whole external world for an instant, and then concentrate on you with an irresistible prejudice in your favor. It understood you just so far as you wanted to be understood, believed in you as you like to believe in yourself and assured you that it had precisely the impression of you that, at your best, you hoped to convey.

I'm not sure I've ever come across another piece of writing that so beautifully captures a moment and a feeling the way that Mr. Fitzgerald does above.
It gives me chills (the good kind) every time I read it.

Oh, to be able to write like that...

Monday, January 17, 2011

it all hangs in the balance

As I was (rather comedically) trying to hang on to a yoga pose in one of my P90x videos the other morning, I got to thinking about balance. Or, rather, the lack thereof. The fact that, when I really think about it, most of my major resolutions for 2011 all hinge on the notion of balance, actually. Work/life balance. Spiritual balance. Emotional balance. Physical balance. 2011, for me, is all about the attempting to push the scale from lopsided to a little more evened-out. Attempting to achieve some sort of balance amidst all the things in this crazy life that aim to tip our see-saw one way or the other.

1. Physical Balance
Put me out on a field or a court and throw some sort of ball my way and I tend to be able to (at least 95% of the time) look pretty coordinated and balanced. But athletic balance, I've learned, is much, much different than real-life balance. You know, the ability to walk down a straight street without tripping kind. That, my friend, is something I've yet to master. Or even start to obtain. (If you don't quite believe me, I have plenty of scars, pants with ripped knees and even a ankle x-ray to prove it.) Balance is not one my strong suits. Or, as my family has taken to reminding me: Grace is definitely not my middle name.
So, as much as I hate it, I'm attempting to incorporate yoga into my routine. To balance out my body. To strengthen my core. To push myself in ways that may typical running or weightlifting isn't quite accomplishing.

I've got the mat. I've got the pants. And I've got a Groupon for 5 classes to kick it off.

Now, I just need to find a Wednesday that I can actually leave work in time to make the 7:45 beginners class.

Which brings me to the 2nd resolution...

2. Work/Life Balance

It's two weeks into January and already this year feels like the longest year in the history of my world. (Except, perhaps, my 20th year when I just couldn't wait to be 21 already.)
Whatever refreshment I felt after my holiday time off is a distant, distant memory. Work, officially, is kicking me in the butt. And while I'm trying to keep my outsides smiley and cheerful, my insides are grouchy, exhausted and on the brink of throwing my papers up in the air, running to the elevator and disappearing for a couple weeks.

Now, I'll be the first to admit that I'm a workaholic. Work is the one place in my life where I feel like I have it all together. Where I feel successful. Accomplished. Ahead of the game. But even that's not enough to combat that feeling that something's just not right when I spend just about every waking minute at work. When I neglect friends and family because there's one more thing I should get done before I leave tonight. When I can't remember the last time I left a work email unanswered because I was "off the clock".

I've gotta find the balance. I've got to stop shoving a work-out into the wee hours of the morning because that's when I know I'll actually get it done. I've got to stop canceling plans at the last minute because I'm stuck at the office. Or, worse yet, neglecting to make plans because I anticipate I will be.

The funny thing is, over break, I actually got pretty used to not being at work. And I realized that I could really, really like my life even if work wasn't a part of it. That's not saying I'm going to go quit my job and throw caution to the wind (unless, of course, one of these 5 lotto tickets is a big winner)... It just means I'm going to try to remember that defining myself outside of my job is just as (if not more) important than defining myself at work.

And so, like the pot of gold at the end of a rainbow, I'm chasing the elusive work/life balance.

3. Emotional Balance

I'm not completely sure how to classify this, but "emotional" seems as good a word as any, so here goes... It's really, really easy to get caught up in the me-ness of life sometimes. You know, the tendency to focus on what's happening to you and not take a step back to look at the bigger picture. I'm just as guilty as the next person when it comes to focusing on the bad, not the good. That's not to say that I walk around all sad and depressed all the time. In fact, I'd like to think that's not the case at all. I'm just saying that I have more than enough times when I find myself all caught up in how unfair things seems to be for me. (Sob.) I want to more willingly accept the fact that life, indeed, is incredibly unfair. Especially when you look at it from a limited, personal perspective. Any one of us can find 100 things to be upset or discouraged or down about. But we could also find a gazillion things to be happy about. To thank our lucky stars for.
I want to concentrate more on those things. More of the time.

4. Spiritual Balance

I'm trying to get better at the trusting in a higher plan. In letting go. And letting God. But it's a real struggle for me. I like to control things. I like to plan things out. I like to know where I'm going. And how I'm going to get there. Trusting, for me, is easier said than done. Even when it comes to God. I realize this is incredibly foolish, but it's the truth. It's like most of the time, I know and truly believe there's a bigger plan for my life and all these little things along the way are in pursuit of that plan. But sometimes, especially when I'm focused on the little things themselves, it's incredibly hard to see the bigger picture. Incredibly hard to trust that my utmost well-being truly is being looked after. I want something now. And God says "wait". I say "please". And God says "No, it's not best for you". It's that whole notion of learning to love and live the questions. So that, one day when the time is right, you'll eventually get the answer you need. Although perhaps not the answer you want right now.

And so I'm working on it. I'm praying about it. I'm trying to loosen the reins I have on my life because I know it's a silly thing. I'm trying to trust more. And look to Him for guidance when I can't seem to understand it on my own. Ultimately, I'm trying to balance this selfish, foolish desire for control with the trust and reassurance in His plan.


So those are the four big pillars that make up the mammoth balance resolution. I'm not saying it's an easy feat. But I do think it's an important thing to work towards, even if it may take a lifetime getting there.

Now excuse me while I go work on my Warrior II pose. (Grunt.)

Sunday, January 9, 2011

will you accept this rose?

The Bachelor is back for what seems like the 96th season (don't misinterpret me; I'm definitely not complaining). Brad Womack, the Bachelor who three years ago in the most. dramatic. rose ceremony. ever. chose neither Jenny or DeAnna, but instead walked away alone, is back in the Bachelor saddle again. Merry belated Christmas to me from my friends at ABC!

After watching last Monday's first episode I've come to a pretty solid conclusion why I never got a call back from ABC... I'm way too
normal for this show. I mean you've got Madison, the vampire. Raichel, the manscaper. Shawntel, the funeral director. Keltie, the Radio City Rockette. And who could forget Emily, the drop dead gorgeous platinum blonde who's high-school sweetheart and former fiance died in a tragic plane crash just before their wedding. Only to find out just a week later that she was pregnant with his child! It's like a line straight out of All My Children. And to top it off, she's a southern belle and as sweet as pie.

I, with my advertising job in Chicago and a totally normal/alive family and friends, didn't even stand a chance to get into this cast of love-struck characters vying for the final rose.

I guess I should have known when I was filling out the 18 page (no exaggeration here) application form that I wasn't right for this. When I couldn't keep a straight face while answering "Why do you think you haven't found true love?" and "Do you think you can find true love on The Bachelor?". When I sarcastically answered that I was saving children from a burning apartment when the person filming me at the in-person interview asked how I broke my ankle.

I'm just not what ABC is looking for.

Because, when it comes down to it, as much as I love the show, I just don't believe it's good for anything other than pure entertainment and a couple exotic dates. I just don't. And unless ABC is going to bring back Jesse Palmer, the most dreamy Bachelor in the history of the show, I just don't believe I'd ever fall into love on this mess of a show.

Because I don't find it particularly tragic that Brad didn't pick either girl last time he was on the show. In fact, I liked him more for that. I liked that instead of proposing (proposing!) to someone he had only known for a couple weeks within the context of this make-believe, non-realistic, reality show bubble, he took a deep breath and realized he didn't like either of them enough to move forward.

I'm clearly alone here. If you watched Monday's premiere you can see that ABC has brainwashed us all, including Brad, into thinking this was the cardinal sin. Meeting and dating 25 beautiful women and then not liking any of them enough to propose? There must be something wrong with this guy. So much so that Brad's apparently been in therapy over the past three years trying to figure out why in the world he didn't find true love (gasp!) on The Bachelor. So much so that they just had to bring back his jilted lovers so they could comment on his commitment issues and whether or not they believe he'll be able to actually find true love this time through. (Note: both DeAnna and Jenny are happily engaged. Get over it, ABC!)

Give the guy a break. This happens every day in real life. You meet great people. You may go on a date or two with some of them. And, inevitably, most of those don't work out because you just don't like them enough. But that's where the Bachelor gets you. It tries to make you believe that maybe just maybe with a little romance (and a lot of eligible choices) true love is inevitable. Even if history would tend to put that notion in it's place. And so we watch with earnest interest. For true love to blossom? Perhaps, if you're a sap. But more so because it makes us feel better about our crazy dating lives.

I mean, I may be a single, total-wreck-when-it-comes-to-dating headcase most of the time... But at least I don't have fangs. (Yep, that one's for you Madison.)