It’s been quite a week.

I’m proud of myself this week. And since blogs are just a way for narcissism to fly under-the-radar, I’m going to talk about all of the reasons I’m proud of myself here.

There are two.

To start, last weekend I took a fiction-writing class. It was expensive and nerve-wracking. Especially considering that I hadn’t written academically since 2009, and I was going to be expected to do so, in a high-school classroom, surrounded by people who were poised to talk about “what they were working on.” And what they were working on wasn’t a social strategy for a brand, just to be clear. These people were writing short stories and novels. NOVELS. Like those 200+ page things that are a chock-fill of beautiful writing, subtle teachings on morality, the universe, and mankind. Basically, I was surrounded by geniuses. I was clearly the fool in the room, but I DUG it. It was so freaking cool and fun and fresh and motivating and god I can’t believe I’m actually writing and it’s not horrible and it isn’t even about my boring life and gahhhh this is so amazing. We developed characters based on astrological signs. We wrote a climax about a fat blind girl, and a skinny boy-band singer, who were stranded on a boat, and only one could live (!). We wrote about meaningful places in our childhood. We wrote about how a 13-year-old would break up with a 15-year-old. It was simply magical. I wrote a bit yesterday (it was the epitome of ehh), but I really want to commit to doing it more. If I don’t start now, then when will I start? Also I’m reading “I’m Worried About My Neck” by Nora Ephron and thinking, “I could maybe, potentially, one-day, write like this,” even though I always thought I’d write fiction (and never thought I’d do anything remotely close to memoir writing. And even saying it now is strange, so I probably won’t ever write a memoir.). Anyway, it was a wonderful wonderful moment (or 420 moments because it was a 7-hour class) for my creative self.  I’m so glad I did it. All of you should take one too – maybe we can even take one together!

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Secondly, I am in the midst of a juice cleanse. Well, I’m more than two-thirds done now, but the next twelve hours will be no joke. I can assure you of that. I don’t really know what possessed me to do this. You know of my love for food. I really really love food. Food is my life. But I never knew how TRULY true this was until I started this cleanse. It’s so psychological – my love for food that is.  I haven’t felt hungry at all in the last two days. I’ve been completely full and completely healthy. I’m getting everything I need to function fully and happily. But I just. Want. To. Eat. Goddamnit. I’ve realized that my entire day revolves around looking forward to meals, and then consuming said meals. The minute 11am rolls around, I can’t wait to eat lunch. At 2pm, I just want a snack. At 3 pm, it’s almost dinner time, right?! My obsession with food has nothing to do with how nourished I feel, and often doesn’t even have to do with the fact that I’m hungry. I associate food with happiness. Food IS my happiness. I’m sure many of you feel similarly, but have you ever thought about how insane that is? We really should eat to live, not live to eat, as trite as that sounds. So I’m proud. I haven’t eaten a single bite of solid food since 9pm on Monday night. ME! I usually can’t even go two hours without eating. Such a lesson in self-control. Maybe some of these learnings will stick.

Please don’t think I’m discounting how hard this is. It’s brutal. BF had to talk me off a ledge repeatedly last night. I was grumpy and pissed and just wanted to eat something (Goddamnit). It’s not fun and it’s not “cool.” But if you make the cleanse your bitch, you’ll get through it.

Btw, in  case you’re wondering. I chose to do Liquiteria’s Level One Nourish cleanse, and I loved it. The juices are actually tasty!

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So those are the things I am proud of. The year is off to a magnificent start.

And my sister is coming tonight. To celebrate her 21st birthday. It’s going to be wild. XO

AG

Why Going Home for the Holidays is Humbling

It’s the third time I’m having to say this today, and it’s not getting any easier, but yesterday on my flight back to NYC, I read the most recent Cosmo. I subscribe, I get it every month, and I hardly ever read it. I read the Zooey Dechanel issue in October, because I love her, and I was blown away (for the hundredth time) by how guy-centric it all is. 10 Love Moves to Turn Him to Mush, Make  His 4 Sex Wishes Come True, Scents No Guy Can Resist (these are all real). Now yes, I agree it’s good to smell nice. And it’s even nicer when your guy thinks you smell nice. But come on.

But as I was skimming through the December Cosmo, a few of the pieces actually caught my eye. One in particular was about going home for the holidays, and how it can effect your psyche. I don’t have the article in front of me, but to paraphrase: When people go home, back to their parents house, and into their childhood room, they often revert back to who they were when they existed in that place. Part of this is based on location, but the other is based on people’s roles within the family. Growing up, my parents would remind me to stop thinking the best of people all the time (it was one of my biggest problems). That sometimes, it’s smart to keep your guard up. To always re-evaluate situations over and over to ensure that people aren’t taking advantage of you. This may sound a little dreary, but it’s true. And their advice kept me from getting trampled (at least most of the time). I took their words to heart, and kept them at the forefront of my mind during my teenage/early adult years. And from what I can see, it has helped me a in a lot of ways. And I feel stronger, more steadfast, and more equipped to deal with all sorts of people. But my parents, God bless them, still think of me as the naive, malleable little girl I was when I lived at home. Sometimes. Even though I’m not. Or at least I think I’m not.

Or am I?

Every time I go home, I am reminded of who I was. The events, places, people who made me the person I am today. My high school extracurriculars, which showed me that I can create something big and bring it to life. Volunteer work, which introduced me to a much harsher world that one I’d ever known. The friend whose intolerance made me incredibly sensitive to people in all situations. The co-worker who opened my eyes to the importance of a college education – and the fact that many people would never get one. The teacher who told me I could go anywhere in the world. The boy who taught me what it was to love. And I realize how lucky I was, and I am, to have experienced all of this. How lucky the current me is to have a full, happy, close-knit family. To have a boy that loves me to call when I feel lonely at night.

But what I realized on the plane ride back last night, is that I’m also very lucky I remember who I was (and to have people to remind me in case I forget). And keep that littler, sillier, dreamier girl safe and sound inside me. To allow a bit of naiveté and idealism to peek out from behind my “hardened” (hyperbole, obvs) “adult” exterior, and still believe that people are wonderful, often victims of circumstance, and that hundreds of beautiful opportunities lie ahead.

This is why I love going home. Because everyone should be able to step away from the current, and go back to their roots (or in this case, rooms). It really is humbling.

XO,

AG

Things I Learned At My Birthday Party

I’m just coming off the (figurative) high from my birthday weekend. I still feel like my sister will be waiting for me on the couch when I get home, ready to go shopping (again), or eat something junky, or just talk. I still feel warm and (literally) fuzzy from having  all of my friends around. From smiling, and cheers-ing, and boozing, and eating sweets. Birthdays are so incredibly wonderful. Everyone deserves to feel that loved, even if it’s for one day a year (though the more the better, of course! Half birthdays, perhaps?).

But birthdays also always provide a huge moment of clarity. A yearly reality check, if you will. A good glimpse into the condition of your life, relationships, yourself. Here are 5 things I learn, every year, on my birthday.

1. Who my real friends are.

This year, I ended the night surrounded by my closest friends (minus a few who had to make early departures (or were forced to) & were out of town), outside Katz Deli, and then a Chicken & Rice cart. Laughing hysterically, snapping photographs, eating fries suggestively (why are there so many references to food already!?), and taking the occasional sip of Qui tequila (PLUG!) from the bottle I was cradling in my arms for the entirety of the late night. I also had a dance party with my sister as my poor poor roommate watched at approximately 4am. In the kitchen. Yes. It was that kind of night.

But these things change from year to year. Last year some people showed and others didn’t. Some people called and others didn’t. A Facebook message is never the same as a text which is never the same as a call. An e-card will never replace one that’s been handwritten. But some effort is always better than none! Even if it’s belated.

2. What my expectations of people are.

For some reason, people think that the world should stop, turn, and focus on them and them only, on their birthday. I can’t say I’ve never felt this way. In fact, on Saturday I found myself asking my sister to table a conversation because she was ” here for one night and it’s my birthday and I just want to have fun!” That’s not cool. The best way to have a good birthday is not to have expectations. Don’t let one person’s absence ruin your night. If someone wants to leave, let them. If you’re too sober, buy yourself a drink (for God’s sake!). I’m not saying you shouldn’t think your night will be fabulous – of course it will be – but fabulousness should be based on things you can control. Namely, not people. People have their own minds and their own lives and their own stories. You never know what happened to them before they arrived at your party. And that’s just it. It’s YOUR party, not theirs.

But if you really love someone, stay at their shindig as long as you can (or as long as you feel comfortable), don’t stand silently in a corner, even if you know no one, and smile to show them you’ve having a good time. Everyone’s biggest concern is that people won’t have fun at their birthday party. So all of these go a long way (a longer way than buying them a drink, I would say! Especially once they’ve had more than they can keep track of…). If you can’t make it, just let them know. They’ll understand! It’s likely that they’ve missed a birthday party in their day, too.

3. How I’ve evolved.

In college, I wanted my parties to be EPIC. And thanks to my amazing friends, they almost always were. Blue lighting, fishbowls, wall decals, speciality playlists, themes (Court, I’m talking to you!). They were quite literally the bomb.

This year, I didn’t want to do anything. Now this is almost equally bad. I didn’t want to be a Debby Downer (as you know from my last post, I love my birthday, and can’t wait to be 25), but I just wanted something small, intimate, cozy, comfortable. Namely, I didn’t want the pressure of inviting people, not having them show up, and then being sad – re how i’ve learned fabulousness must be based on things you can control. In the end, I was convinced otherwise. A smart friend told me that when the day came around, I would want it to be memorable and wonderful and at least marginally epic. So I invited friends to a bar. Not a club. A bar, where I knew people could sit if they wanted to, chat if that was their drunken thing, and still dance their butt off if they so desired. This “bar” ended up being sort of party-tastic (dark, crowded, bumpin’), but everyone had a great time. And it may not have been as massively epic as my college birthdays (none of the aforementioned lighting, etc…. Though I could probably argue that it was), but for me, it was memorable and wonderful and frankly, just what I wanted! That’s so much more than I could have asked for.

4. How much people actually love me / How lucky I am.

Isn’t it astonishing? The amount of love you feel on your birthday? The people who will go buck wild, jumping on and off the crazy train, just to celebrate you? Good Lord. It’s amazing.

This is why birthdays are the shit. Seriously.

5. How much I love certain people.

This should be relatively self explanatory. It’s a case of “IF YOU LOVE [IT/THEM] SO MUCH WHY DON’T YOU MARRY [IT/THEM]!?!” Well, I will. I will marry them. And I will use Blakey Lively’s perfect engagement ring to propose. To show them this is true love.

I also learned one more thing. I can’t quite mentally justify it needing its own paragraph, so I’ll just put it out there here. 6. How important it is to wear a really great outfit. And maybe get a good manicure.

Happy birthday to me!

AG

The Dawn of a Quarter Century

I’m so ashamed to say this. But I haven’t been writing at all the last few weeks. My pervious post was my last attempt at putting pen to paper (I wish this would still hold. Damn computers). Since then I’ve been having flings with all sorts of different books. Starting and abandoning quickly when I feel unfulfilled. I’ve been desperately seeking out some sort of inspiration, and coming up empty handed.

There have been enough distractions to keep my mind off it, though. Visitors, parties, lovely weather. And this isn’t the end of them. My sister pops into the city tomorrow for my birthday weekend, and next week I’m off to St. Lucia.

No complaints! Of course, all of these things are exceedingly wonderful and far more upbeat than bashing my head on my keyboard before bed, trying to squeeze articulate, eloquent, succinct prose from my brain.

So for now, I’m just going to let myself focus on these things. The writing will come. Or so I tell myself.

And perhaps these reflections are just a result of my impending 25th birthday. It’s my first big birthday since 21, a moment which revolved quite heavily around booze and clubbing (though I can’t say the subsequent ones didn’t pan out a bit like that…). This one feels different. Not because I suddenly feel like a sophisticated woman. I most certainly don’t and I wouldn’t want anyone to assume that. I still feel young. But this year, I’m ready, and rearing to go. 25 just seems like a good age, you know? I’m excited to be one year wiser, with more experiences under my (now classic and timeless) belt (remember those hideous chain belts people wore? That should be reserved for belly dancers and such?). I’m ready to be a little more trusted. A little more responsible. A little better at the things I do. That’s good stuff. And a lot of it just comes with time. So in this case, time is on my side.

Until I start getting wrinkles. Then we’ll be sworn enemies and I’ll bitch about time forever.

But for now, I’m excited! My 26th year of life is going to be a good one. A big one, I suspect.

XO,

AG

The Maturation of Heartbreaks

When people think about heartbreak, they almost immediately fall into the realm of romance. Having their stomach drop when they see their freshly estranged lover in an embrace, even if it’s casual and brought on by a few drinks, with a relatively attractive new friend. Passionately consuming old emails, unblinking, trying to re-imagine, for the hundredth time, what it felt like to be with them. Digging through dresser drawers and shelves with stacked clothes for something that may have retained the slightest scent. Or at least a strong memory that hadn’t been unearthed yet.

One should never undermine this sort of heartbreak, of course. For it’s the sharpest, and most enduring sort.

But there are other heartbreaks, too. And as life chugs along, they become more and more prevalent, and sometimes, comparably gut-wrenching.

Because it’s only appropriate that once one’s love life starts to settle down, the world finds other ways to keep them on their (now blue and battered) toes.

My number one cause for heartbreak of late has been friendships. It’s my own fault. I always approach things with the highest of high expectations, always believing that everyone will go above and beyond, pick me up when I’m down, and generally look out for me. This is ridiculous of course, because everyone has to look after themselves, first and foremost. And I, as an adult woman, should have realized that quite some time ago.

And so I find myself frequently burned. And heartbroken. And taken advantage of. And seriously confused.

The same way I felt when I was 13 and the boy I liked didn’t like me back. A lingering feeling of crushed.

I’ve realized that friendships change as people grow. I’ll never have those quixotic-type friendships again.  I’ll never feel that symbiotic, mutual reliance that makes friendships flourish. I’ll never trust in the same way. I’ll never put anyone before myself (with the exception of family). I’ve learned my lessons and know that while walls are a bit too opaque, a translucent glass shield should always exist. And I should always be prepared to retreat behind it, if only for a bit.

That way, next time, at least I’ll have preserved myself from the get-go. And I can sit back and say I knew it was coming. Because a blindsided heartbreak is the absolute worst sort.

But no big deal. This will be better for all of us.

(Shield up.)

AG

The Nature of Missing

I’ve talked places before. The places I’ve been, lived, loved, stayed, left, and currently gallivant around. And what has made these places special. Or memorable.

Being a serious and chronic homebody, homes have always held a special place in my heart. I’m the type to miss streets, grassy knolls, coffee shops, and 25 cent ice cream. I miss the feeling of the carpet in my pre-teen room, the scent of our kitchen when I arrived home from a long (ha!) day at school, calls on the landline phone, dark nights on our deck, my mom’s cold coffee, all my backyards. And there are times when I yearn for those things. I miss them so intensely, it’s like someone I love has been tragically ripped from my life. Dramatic, I know.

And then I realize. That’s exactly why we miss. Because places and things wind themselves so tightly with the people who bring them to life.

My dad sent me a picture of our old house in Chicago last night, and my reaction was so visceral, I sort of choked. I had a lump in my throat and my eyes started to burn. I know how much he misses it (the picture was accompanied by an “I miss it,” and from my emotionally contained dad, that’s saying a lot), and that made me miss it, too. It made me want to jump back to a time and a place where we were all together. And even though, at the core of my sadness, I missed my family, I wanted to BE in that house. It was a funny partnership there, between missing people I love, and missing the places where I’ve loved them. Maybe that’s why people say “Home Sweet Home,” or “Home is Where the Heart is.” Maybe that’s why I’m always Homesick.

I’m sure this is how I’ll feel about New York one day (assuming I ever leave, because how many times have we all been told, “leave New York when you have kids!”). The dirty, filthy subways. The tiny apartments. The excruciatingly long work-nights. I just know how much I’ll miss it all. But not because I enjoy the New York smog, or the stench, or the closet-less bedrooms (good Lord, you can’t believe how difficult it makes life!). I’ll miss the moments, with the people. Riding the subway home with my boyfriend after a fun night out. Watching hour upon hour of girly (and frankly, pre-teen) television with my roommate. Having an unbelievably wide-eyed, fascinating, must-absorb-every-word conversation with colleagues. It’s those moments, with those people, that ultimately make a place so irresistible. So hard to leave. Especially a place like New York.

 

AG

Bad AG

I’m really bad. I’m really truly, honestly and audaciously bad. And not in the cool, rocker chick, secretly awesome (because outwardly awesome is just obnoxious), badass kind of way. In the lame, I-can’t-sustain-anything-in-my-life-outside-of-work, kind.

Not only have I not updated this blog in about month, I’ve fallen short on a lot of my promises lately. These aren’t promises to friends, or family, or colleagues, these are promises to myself. Which almost makes this situation worse.

I began this year with a so much promise. A massive and uncontrollable fire under my butt. I told myself I would write for 30 minutes each morning, I would exercise (HELLO last post all about Yoga?!), I would eat well, I would lose myself in everything and anything that I loved. Instead, I’ve lost sight.

I can’t write. I’m not reading much. I can’t even find a song that makes my soul sing. Imagine that. I have $60 of iTunes credit sitting on my quickly deteriorating, 2008 MacBook Pro, that I can’t figure out how to spend. This is frightening.

But in my defense, because we all deserve redemption, even if it’s from ourselves, a lot has happened in this month. A very loved friend, and a very loved pet were both diagnosed with cancer. One very serious, and one less so. For a cancer novice, this is all-consuming. Hours pass without me allocating a single thought elsewhere. I’d like to think most of these sad thoughts are actually masked vibes of positive energy, and that in some way, they’re constructive.

My guy met the last of my grandparents. This is big. I am a lucky gal with four, healthy, engaged, vibrant, and loving grandparents. And now, the love they have for me, for the first time, extends outside our immediate blood line. This is really special, and poignantly reassuring. When the people who love you, love the one you love, it’s crazy amazing. Hello, world of happy adult relationships! I’m so glad to make your acquaintance!

I am now in search of my second New York apartment. This experience was completely and utterly hellish the first time around, so imagine my dismay. But this time, I have some experience under my belt. It helps. I’m excited for more space, and one more friend at home :)

I’ve been keeping busy with these little bits. But I do, I do I do, want to get back to doing more things for me.

And the first of these things is going to be a long awaited vacation. In this case, to St. Lucia, later this year. It’s all booked and waiting for my (upcoming) bikini body!

The second is going to be writing more. And not just blog writing, because I wouldn’t really ever write a piece of fiction in this ridiculous, ultra girly, whiny, didactic, frequently self-pitying tone. Or would I? :) I need a way to keep myself accountable. How do people motivate themselves?!? I’m determined to figure it out. Anyone had an epiphany they care to share?

Until then, I may be in and out, and here and there on Whole Creativity. Maybe I’m in a phase that’s more about absorbing than sharing. Who knows.

Guess I’ll have to figure it out as I go.

Talk soon(er than you probably expect at this point).

Kisses.

AG