Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Chapter 1: Back Porch Cigarettes

The following is a work of fiction:

Ever since I left Henry, I have felt like some part of me has been missing. When I'm laughing at a funny movie, I find myself questioning if what I'm watching is even funny. Or if I'm out to lunch with a friend, it's as if a part of me was only half heartedly hearing what they were saying, even though my undivided attention is on them. It was more than feeling like something was missing - something was missing.

I wish I could tell you that my life is pieced together into a perfect web of circumstances and tales. I wish I could tell you that I'm a loving woman who didn't deserve to fall out of love with a man who so deeply cared about me. I wish I could tell you that I appreciated my beauty, that I cared about others more than myself, or that I am making a difference in the world. Better yet, I wish I knew the woman I was destined to be in this world.

Instead, I sit here on a cool night, smoking what I promise to myself will be my last cigarette on the wooden steps of a back porch overlooking a beach in Florida. The house that belongs to this back porch is tiny, but perfect. It's the type of house the belongs in no other location than Florida. The one bedroom house is probably no more than 500 square feet with a tiny bathroom, mismatching white and cream furniture, and bright yellow walls. The house was surrounded by much larger homes – this house was probably the smallest and oldest house on the block. Whoever purchased it next would surely tear it down and turn it into a 3,000 square foot home with a dock, pool and 3 car garage. I could have rented one of those mansions from my early success in life,  well, my combined success with Henry. You see, no one ever talks about the hardships of when both you both make money in a relationship, but that's just what Henry and I had. We both started and managed a small oil company in the conservative state of Texas in our 20's and haven't had to work a day since I turned 26. I own 25% of that company and haven't ever known what it's like to stare debt in the face or struggle to pay bills on time. Most look at me as a spoiled girl and I never argue with them when I hear the infamous, "you lucky girl." But luck is an interesting word my friends and defines my situation completely. I fell in love with a man when I was 18 who begged me to invest money I had inherited from my grandparents, into a new company. Luck found its way into my life by making that money quadruple within just the second year. Luck has found it's way into a majority of my life and I wish I could figure out why.

I'm renting this house for the rest of the summer and have frequently taken to sitting on the back steps here at night after enjoying a couple glasses of wine with a late dinner. Somehow the days weren't enough for me to sit there and reflect on life with literally no obligations for the day. No, I had to find those few moments of solitude at the evening where I whispered to myself, "what the fuck are you doing here?" And that's just it, I wasn't 100% sure. I have traveled the world and somehow was drawn to sitting on this beach in Florida, in this tiny beach house for the summer, with no idea what my plans were for the future. I did know that my plans for the future no longer involved Henry.

I sat there on those steps after putting my cigarette into the overflowing ashtray and thought to myself that this summer was either the beginning of something brilliant or the ending of a chapter in my life. Or maybe, if I was lucky, it could be both.

Monday, November 5, 2012

The Beginning

“You see those lights in the distance?”
“Where?” the excitement was building in her voice. They had climbed halfway up a mountain after they realized the train didn’t make it to the top.
“Wait for it – there!”
She let out a small gasp, “I see it! What are those?”
“Those are the fountain lights outside of the palace - they light up every single night.”
“Beautiful” was all she could mutter from her mouth.
“Indeed. They are even more beautiful from this view.”
She let the silence stand between them as she looked at the fountain lights mesmerized by the ever-changing, glowing colors. It felt like a dream, something completely surreal.
“Most people don’t know that you can see the lights from up here.”
“Yeah, they think you have to be right next to the foundations. Like every other tourist,” he spoke impressed with himself that he had led her and their few other friends up here to the top of this mountain and shared with her this secret view.
She laughed at him, and gauging from his expression, he was taken aback.
“What?” he asked surprised.
“…like every other tourist. Damnit, you are a tourist” she responded with the biggest smile on her face lovingly teasing him. His naturally tan skin and dark eyes easily mistaken him for a local in this beautiful Espana country.
“So, naturally I stole the idea from some native, eh?”
“Exactly” she responded cooly.
“Well, I’m a good thief.” He said with a smile on his face as he looked over at her and continued to see the green, blue, and red lights light up the pupils of her eyes. She was transfixed in the foundation and had the biggest grin on her face. He didn’t want to leave.
He looked over at his other friends who were out of ear shot and realized this was his moment. “Shit” he kept whispering in his head to himself. Maybe it was a mixture of the cheap red wine juice boxes they had drank, or maybe it was the beautiful view before him with this girl. Or maybe it was a little combination of both. 
He muttered to himself again.. shit… and took a deep breath, reached out and cautiously grabbed her hand, squeezed it as he drew her in as he whispered in her ear a line that he would never have been able say if it weren’t for the wine, “glad I get to share this view with you.”
He lingered his hand there for a while when he saw the one look. The one look every guy lives to see in any girl: hope. The look guys want to see after they gather up the balls to do something bold and drastic for a girl. Hope lived in her eyes as she took her eyes off of the fountain and looked into his eyes, and didn’t let go of his hand. 
He slowly exhaled as he realized that she hadn’t let go of his hand or been repulsed by the gesture, and that he had seen hope in her eyes. Or maybe that truly was the wine talking now.

Friday, November 2, 2012

30 Days of Gratitude

I joined an email list for a 30 Days of Gratitude challenge. I'm absolutely in love with this quote. Ironic for this to follow after I post to write drunk, edit sober.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Write Drunk; Edit Sober.

Ernest Hemingway spoke very wise words, "Write drunk; edit sober."

I read this quote on a picture frame in my friends apartment this week and I immediately fell in love with this quote. Beyond just the reason that I love to drink, but because there is actually some immense truth behind this. When we are drunk, our standards are lowered. We say things we never would say if we were sober, and absolutely ridiculous things seem to make sense. How many times have you woken up the next day after a drunken evening and thought to yourself, "why did I think that was a good idea?"

But look beyond just a drunken evening. Look at the idea here that with absolutely no inhibition, the thoughts would just continue to pour out of my mind and translate into words. Even more so than the words, great ideas might be born. Ridiculous thoughts that never would have crossed your mind if it weren't for the four glasses of wine. Revisit the story 24 hours later and make edits, which will most likely be many edits, since you most likely did not have any care in the world with grammar or spelling, and you have yourself some amazing writing. It seems like a great recipe to me. The idea is so painfully obvious and simple. One of my absolute favorite places in the world is sitting on an airplane, with a glass of wine in hand, staring out the window as I type or write whatever is on my mind. It's in those moments that it seems as if anything is possible.

I sound like an alcoholic as I write this, but I truly believe that Ernest Hemingway knew exactly what he was talking about and his writing shows that. Indeed, many of his stories were ones with moments of great sadness, but nonetheless, the stories were beautiful; my favorite being The Sun Also Rises.

So I'm going to test this theory over the next month or so. I want to sit down on a Sunday evening, have those few glasses of wine, and see how my writing changes. It might be complete chaos when I read it the next day and not any of it makes sense. But a small part of me knows that there will be some snippets of true brilliance. I'm sitting here on a Friday evening on my balcony in the cool fall air, sipping my bourbon and coke one and the idea sounds exciting.

Write drunk; edit sober... Words I want to live by in hopes that one day, my writing will catch on and always be as brilliant as when I am drunk.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Where is Home?

I ventured home this weekend and visited my friends and family, which sparked a questions I have grappled with my whole life: where is home? When is the exact moment in time when you call one location your home? What if you know that your whole life you might float around between a variety of cities? What do you call home? I started struggling with this question when I was in college. I was driving back from visiting my family in Chicago and in those past two weeks I had been in almost half a dozen other states and locations. As I sat there in the car, I realized that I was fulfilled seeing my family at home, yet I was anxiously wanting to get back to the friends I called my family at school. It was during that car ride that I realized home can no longer be an exact location for me or else I might go crazy with sadness. This realization became ever more true as I graduated from undergraduate, and more and more of my friends began venturing around the entire country and even world to all different locations. I feel at home when I pick up the phone and talk with them over the phone. So how do we define what we call home?
I felt even more confused this weekend over what really is home. I had thought for sure Dallas was my home, and right now I do call it home. I had assured myself that I did not want to live in Chicago anytime soon. And yet after a weekend in the city, seeing some of my best friends I have known since childhood, I realized that Chicago could work too. Is it more important to be in a location that makes you happy? For me that’s the warm weather. Or does it mean to be home when you are in the company of many of those that you love and cherish in life?
Home has to continue not being a location for me for some time. Its my siblings, parents, nieces, friends in Milwaukee, Chicago, Ohio, Michigan, Arizonia, Colorado, Nebraska, and Dallas. Home is when I pick up the phone and call them when I need to hear a friendly voice. Home is when I visit them and we talk about our goals and dreams. Home is in the people I cherish most in this life and will continue to be for quite some time.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

No Queso

Last weekend I ate an entire block of cheese myself. Combined, Brandon and I ate two entire blocks of cheese. And those weren't for meals, those were after dinner snacks. It was Sunday night and I had a glass of red wine in my hand and when I said that statement out loud, I realized my passion for cheese has gotten out of control. I'm obsessed. I could eat cheese and red wine for days. It's the ideal combination of food I dream of more so than anything else. Oh, and my favorite food in the entire world is Mac 'N Cheese. It's my comfort food and deserves to be capitalized when spoken of.

I've recently learned how sensitive I am to dairy - doesn't sit well with me and not to mention it's not helping my naturally high cholesterol. They say that to get rid of a habit it takes 30 days. So I'm up to the challenge and have decided to cut cheese out of my diet for 30 days. It's been one week so far and let me tell you that there were some days that drove me crazy. Like last Tuesday, right next to where I sit at work sat free pizza for an entire afternoon. The combination of my hunger, the fact that it was free, and that I could actually look at the boxes of exotic pizza from my work chair, were enough to make me want to run over to the pizza and start devouring it.

You would think that it would be easy to cut out cheese, but let me tell you that cheese sneaks into so many meals at a restaurants: sandwiches, soups, salads, side dishes. Restaurants even love to add it to the top of dishes. Cheese is everywhere. I ordered breakfast tacos on Friday for an early meeting and every single one of them came with cheese. I asked for one without and that taco received its very own "Special" sticker.

Will I forever give up wine and cheese after these four weeks? No. But I'm hoping that after another 3 weeks of this, I start to ask for some things without cheese, which will ultimately help my little arteries and heart and keep my obsession under control. Until then, I will dream of cheese and it's ultimate bliss. The prize for myself and Brandon enduring this for 3 weeks? A progressive Mac 'N Cheese date. 4 different places in Dallas that have made our list of top Mac 'N Cheese contendors and ending with a bottle of wine. Whoever gives in first, pays. Can't wait until October 15.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

God's Gift to Breakfast: Honey Buttered Chicken Biscuit Sandwich

I was walking down a side stair case on a Friday afternoon at work with a huge grin on my face as I clutched my lap top on one side of me as I held nothing other than a Chick-fil-A sandwich in the other hand. As I walked down that stair case, I realized that the fact that this sandwich had literally made my day, showed how much of a foodie I am.

But let me tell you that Chick-fil-A is not like any other fast food chain out there. For those of you that have not had the priviledge to eat at this fine establishment, which may be due to the fact of your location, Northerners – you are just getting your first glimpse of Chick-fil-A, so for now, I will cut you some slack. But the next chance you see one, immediately turn your car into that parking lot, walk into the store (don't mess around with the drive thru, you won't get the full experience), and order this: #1 Original Chicken Sandwich and add honey to it. Trust me. And don't skip on the waffle fries – they cook their food in peanut oil, so you can feel at ease knowing that this food is marginally better for you than any other fried food. And don't resort to a Diet Coke, go for the lemonade and your taste buds will adore you and your choice. If you are there at the lucky hours before 10:30am, get nothing other than the honey butter chicken sandwich. This is the exact sandwich I was clutching at 2:30pm on Friday afternoon and I was the happiest girl in the world. Which is saying something that this sandwich was from that morning's breakfast, so at least about 6 hours old, and I was happy to take that sandwich back to my desk, heat it up in our kitchen's microwave and happily eat this amazing treat.

I hugged my friend who handed me the sandwich who said, "We had an extra and I thought immediately of you." She knows me too well and my obsession with this wonderful place. My taste buds are salivating just writing this and I'm cursing the fact that they are closed today on a Sunday, ironic that I'm cursing since they observe the Sabbath. It was while I was in that staircase that I realized that it is the little things in life, like a honey buttered chicken sandwich, that make up the good things in life.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Tales from Bunko!

This week I embarked on a game I had never heard of until I moved to Texas. It's a game that takes zero skill, requires multiple glasses of cheap wine, and lots of laughter. It's a game I instantly loved: Bunko. Although, I feel as if the word "Bunko" needs to have an explanation mark after it, which would make it Bunko! Whenever you get three dice of the same three numbers when it's that number's round, you shout Bunko! Exactly why the explanation mark is needed. I learned recently that some people spell it Bunco and others call it Bunko. The real spelling of this? Who will ever know and what different does it make since this game requires wine?

What I do know is that I walked into a room of people and only knew the hostess and I walked out with a smile on my face and a belly full of wine after hours of good conversation. It wasn't my typical Wednesday night. I chipped in my $5 to play, and ended up being the worst player there after 3 rounds of 6 games each round. I won't bore you with the details regarding the rules of Bunko!, but if for some reason you do want to learn (which I highly suggest), and start playing with friends, start with the infamous overview and directions from Wikipedia. I'm hooked. I'm hooked with the fact that each round the only thing of your side is luck. At times I would find myself rolling the dice with two hands versus one – hoping it truly would make a difference when I am rolling three dice. It did not.

I instantly was a hit in this room as I repeatedly kept finding myself at the "losers" table. My justification for drinking more wine in between each turn was the fact that I was losing. After 6 rounds of 3 games, I lost by a landslide. My reward was $15 and a candle. I could get used to winning if it continues to look like this. I sat there after some trickled out from the room and talked with the people around me about traveling, life, work, love, and realized that Bunko! is meant for everyone. Next month we will be at a new house with someone hosting an October themed Bunko!, which I was warned involved a theme of "Boo"nko, which only made me laugh at how incredibly uncreative I am when it comes to party themes. I walked into work the next day with a hangover from wine on an empty stomach but was a happy girl from just three dice and refilling my glass with wine with good company.

Monday, September 3, 2012

The Adventures of Extraordinary

I originally dedicated this blog to my traveling adventures, and sadly that chapter of my life has slowed, only for now... only for now. I look back on the entry titles from this blog and realize that the last few years of my life have been absolutely wonderful, and mostly because of the places I have traveled to. For now, I have put that on hold as I venture into the adult world and work on my responsibilities of paying off student loans and paying my bills on time every month. Hopefully, my near future will bring traveling back into my life. It's the reason why I put a portion of every pay check into a small savings account labeled, "Traveling Dreams." The desire is there and will never fade away.

So what do I write about when the stars of places I have traveled to on my world map have not increased since I ventured to India last year? What do I have to offer the world when my day largely revolves around my job, which I do love. I'm stuck inside freezing air conditioned walls when it's 100 degrees outside here in Dallas, and at night my thoughts drift back to South Africa, London, Rome, and mostly Barcelona, and the carelessness I had during those few months. I had no bills to pay, students loans to fret over. My only stresses were finding the right bottle of cava and sipping it on the perfect beach that day. We aren't meant to live like that forever, this I know. But I wish more than anything that the typing of my keyboard was in a real coffee shop in Europe while listening to a live band instead of the headphones on my ears listening to the lovely Frank Sinatra. Or that I could sit overlooking the Mediterranean ocean letting the warm atmosphere take over my mood as I write inspiring words. That dream is on the horizon. For now, I'm going to start writing about something so simple: the ordinary life. I think for the dozen or so years of my life, I have lead a completely unordinary life: synchronized ice skating, traveling to exotic locations around the world, graduating undergraduate a year early and starting graduate school, dating a boy long distance for 3 years.

And now? Now I work 10-12 hours a day and work desperately to have a social life, dating life, to attend church each Sunday, and to continue having adventure in my life. It's a constant struggle and fight. And trying to workout everyday? I have resorted to taking the stairs in my office. So for now, I'm dedicating this blog to finding the extraordinary in the ordinary. It's a title so dear to my heart. The first book I wrote is titled, "Red Story: Turning Ordinary into Extraordinary." Right now, I want to find the ordinary in this Texas city. I have no idea what my next blog posts will look like or if they will be any good. But my promise to you is to blog once a week and to continue my passion of writing. Writing about all of the little things in my life that make life so interesting. Something I have learned in these last few years is that life is about the details. It's the details that I love and that I tend to overlook so often. So cheers to the details I am going to uncover in my life and cheers to the extraordinary I long to find. Because I know it's there.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

You Say Good-Bye, but I Say Hello

We left India so quickly that I felt so cheated on my time to fully reflect those last couples days everything I saw . I saw so many difficult things that I never could have imagined. I saw many beautiful places that my mind could never have dreamt or imagined. The two weeks I spent in India were literally a 180 degree difference from my life here in the U.S. I always tell people what I mentioned before that traveling in India literally threw me out of my comfort zone.

My biggest struggle now that I am back is what to do with everything that I saw. This small part of my brain looks at the photos from my trip, hears myself telling others snippet stories of what I saw, and I keep thinking, "So what?" What do I do with the hardship I saw? What do I do with the knowledge I gained from actually visiting one of the emerging economies in our world. I have so many questions and I'm not sure I'm come to any answers yet. I'm still looking. I still read about India as much as I can in newspapers, online blogs and even Twitter. I still care about that country and its people. The famous Beatles song I can't seem to get out of my head, "You say good-bye, I say hello. Hello hello. I don't know why you say good-bye I say hello." Hello India.

My wish is that someday an advertising job will bring me back to India and I will visit Mumbai and see what I never saw. My hope is that visiting India will forever impact the marketing messages I help create. I may have left India without any desire in my entire body to leave. My body is physically gone from that country. But a piece of me is still there in every monument we saw, restaurant we ate in, every smiling face that smiled at me, and every street I walked. A piece of my heart is still in India and will forever be there.