#LoveLetterToThePassingYear

Dear 2020,

You were a year of calm. Okay, it was the year of absolute utter bullshit but it’s the year that I became calm. Well, calmer.

My mental health was something that I took seriously this year. I became really conscious. I paid close attention to my thoughts, to the words that came out of my mouth, to what I put in my body, to the actions and people that were lifting me up and putting me down, to how much movement I was doing every day, to the things and moments that made me feel truly happy and alive…

Back in February, I just discovered this song and have listened to it at least ten times a day since. One of Nao’s lyric went like this: “I wish that perfect was enough for my own heart.” It got me thinking about perfection and how much I self-sabotaged demanding perfection all the time. I think back on something my friend Lisa once said- don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good. Yes, I didn’t get the “dream” job that I wanted but I was able to work and buy the things that I needed (I got new glasses!). I didn’t find my perfect Mr. Right but I met some really cool and kind people. I found my hobbies again, as well as my tribe here in Austin, after being lost for such a long time. I also got more into biking, finally finished a painting and really celebrated my Puerto Rican background this year- three things that I’m really proud of. I feel good.

I learned a lot. I learned what I really wanted out of my life: the type of career I wanted, the relationship that I desire and deserve, the kind of lifestyle that I wanted to live. I may not have an exact five year plan but I finally defined my goals. I learned how to breaks- I took a social media break over the summer which was a godsend. I learned what triggers my depression- mostly finances but surprisingly, not loneliness as I once thought it did. I learned that I have a voice in my relationships and with the world around me. I learned that our country, though incredibly divided, will stand for what’s right. Black Lives will ALWAYS Matter and I’m hopeful about the state of our country. I do believe that we are slowly healing from the hate, as well as COVID-19.

In short, we keep fighting. We are intrepid. We carry on.

To end on a positive note (because the world needs more positivity), I hope we take the lessons that we learned from you, 2020, and keep in our hearts. I hope we continue to keep each other safe and let everything know that they’re loved.

Thanks for the memories. You were a dumpster fire of a year but I loved you, Andrea

#Blessing

I’ve been thinking a lot about fate these days and how we are destined for some things and not for others. Maybe fate is the wrong word. The hand of God. Manifestation. Magic. Dumb luck. Whatever. I’ve been noticing how certain recent events dominoed into each other in somewhat kismet ways…

Story time: I was supposed to go to New York City for my birthday at the beginning of the month. My friend, Tom, very graciously paid for my flight to the Big Apple and I started packing for a long weekend up north. At the last minute, Tom told me that he was going to cancel my flight, saying that COVID-19 spreading and he was scared for my safety. I was upset but I understood his rationale. I ended up spending my birthday with friends, eating dinner at my favorite Italian place. One friend told us about the guy she started dating and how they met on the dating app, Coffee Meet Bagel. Me, perhaps being bitter about love, brushed off the app but Trenna insisted that there were decent, attractive guys on there. Later that night (when I was buzzed from some birthday booze), I downloaded the app and created a profile. Two days later, I matched with Amit, an engineer who recently moved to Austin from New York City. We started texting, then met two days later for dinner and clicked. We had three dates after that and decided to quarantine together when the stay-at-home mandate was announced.

Now as I lay in bed next to Amit, I think about the timing of our relationship and how things worked out. If I went to New York, I maybe would have not met him. I’d be spending this time alone with my cat, rewatching “Gossip Girl” and “Sex and the City” to savor my recent moments in NYC. I think about the other recent luck I’ve had especially with jobs. I wish that I could say that I had the foresight of today when I quit my waitressing position a few months ago but I’m glad that I’m in the position that I am in now. With work, I was devastated when SXSW was canceled. I heard from my coworkers about the mass amount of tips I was going to receive- I really needed that money. My hours were eventually cut. But that was okay. Amit and I had a lengthy discussion during date four and decided to bunk and weather out the storm together. Since then, we spend our time together listening to music and cooking, watching movies and talking for hours upon hours. If SXWS wasn’t canceled, we wouldn’t be able to have this quality time together.

I call Austin the Curse– everything that could have gone wrong went wrong since I moved here a year and half ago- cancer, job loss, loneliness, financial problems, etc. But looking right now how things turned out, maybe Austin isn’t a curse. Maybe the city is actually a blessing in disguise. I still don’t know if everything happens for a reason or if a magic wand has waved over me, I’m grateful with how the way things turned out.

#MoveYoAss

Please don’t come in my bedroom. Up until a couple of days ago, I was sleeping on a pile of clean clothes (my cat, Canela, liked to snuggle against one of my fuzzier sweaters). There is a half-built dresser on my floor that I gave up on (I’m constantly stepping on its loose nails). There are art prints that I recently bought that still need to be framed and hung on the walls. And let’s not talk about the state of my bathroom. All of this is on my to-do list, the thing that used to bring great joy as I crossed off each item. Now, I look at my list and shove it back in my purse. But then, I beat myself up for being so lazy.

When I moved to Austin, I had this vision of what my new life would be like. I was going to be more lively, healthier and more fit, with an incredibly active social and love life, ending the day feeling happy and satisfied with work and the risks that I’m taking. My current reality is far from it. My apartment doesn’t look the way I dream it would. Nor my social life. I go to work, sit in front of my laptop for almost nine hours. Go home, make myself a cocktail, put on a show, get comfy in bed and pass out until 1am. Then, watch another show, pass out again for another hour or two and wake up the next day to get ready for work… Ugh. Bad habits all around. There are no risks. There’s no spark. Zero passion and zero zest.

I could be putting in so much more effort to build my life but laziness get in the way. I’m well aware of it- in college, one of my journalism professors told me that I could be one of the greatest students in the department but I was lazy. I’ll never forget what Paul said (and how much I cried after). He was right and his words still ring true to this day. If I wasn’t so quote-unquote lazy, how different- perhaps better- would my life be? Another thing that I’m well aware of is how depression robs you of motivation. I don’t want to give my mental state that power, though. There has to be something that I do to break through.

I’ve been reading other women’s suggestions and I’m putting them into effect- don’t take off my bra and pants as soon as you get home. Don’t sit or lay in your bed until you’re ready to go to sleep (I have terrible sleep hygiene but that’s another post for another day). Wait until you accomplish a few things on the to-do list before making that nightly cocktail. Simplifly after-work activities (the gym, hanging out with friends, etc). My friends have suggested breaking things down into more manageable pieces. Instead of tackling the task of clean my bathroom, I need to break it down into more manageable pieces (which I did last night- instead of cleaning the whole, I just scrubbed my bathtub- and I was pretty happy about that). But of course, my brain wants to complicate things. I should be doing more. How do I train myself to do more? How do I create better habits?

How do you motivate yourself, dear reader?

#CancerThoughts

It makes me that much stronger;
Makes me work a little bit harder;
It makes me that much wiser;
So thanks for making me a fighter

In November, I visited my OB/GYN to get a Pap smear and an IUD. A few weeks later, I received a phone call from the doctor, requesting a biopsy. I panicked when hearing the word and waited to after the holiday season to make the appointment. Two weeks ago, I held my friend’s hand as my doctor performed a colposcopy.  After three days of waiting for him to ring, my doctor called.

Cancer. The dreaded C-word, or how I lovingly refer to it, CC (cervical cancer).

Every day, I tell myself that I’m going to be okay, that CC is not a death sentence. This was caught early and I’m still young. My body and spirit are both fighters and I’m going to get through this. However, telling myself this is completely different than believing it. 

My friends who know me really well have told me that I’m being positive about the entire thing. They’re impressed with my outlook and perkiness. But frankly, my positivity is a front. I’m freaking out on the inside. For the last two weeks, I’ve been beating myself up for not taking care of better care of my body and for ignoring my health. I’ve spent hours projecting into the future, thinking about everything from surgical scars to cancer coming back in my old age to chemotherapy and losing my hair. (I do owe credit to the Paxil that I’m on. If I wasn’t on it, I would never leave my bed.)

My OB/GYN recommended a hysterectomy. I’m meeting with an oncologist later in the week to verify these claims but I’m already thinking about that word. Hysterectomy. It sounds ugly and depressing… I want to have a family. I’ve always wanted to. To one day be pregnant and have a little person growing inside of me. During major bouts of depression, when things felt especially hopeless and looked dark, the thing that kept me going was the thought of one day, me being a mom. I’ll have a kid that looks like me. Maybe they would have my eyes or my skin color. Maybe they would have my childhood lisp. I’ll look at them and see what my body meticulously created and perfected. And now, I terrified that that won’t happen. I know that I’m jumping to conclusions and there are others surgery options (I’m currently looking at a cone biopsy). There are also SO many ways to have a family these days. But my heart is still heavy. I get consumed with thoughts like if maybe certain relationships didn’t end, I could be married with a kid now. What would happen if that one pregnancy scare wasn’t a scare? The ifs and should’ve/would’ve/could’ve bounce around my brain. 

Cancer is such a scary word in general and to add it into my mix of all the other pieces in my mess of a life right now… POW! I’m terrified about the status of my job and losing my health insurance (my boss gave me an ADA Medical Status Evaluation Form earlier today and I had a small panic attack, thinking that she was going to take my job responsibilities away from me). I just started seeing this wonderful man but I already gave him an out. Cancer is incredibly heavy for a relationship that’s only a month old and I’m an emotional person. The other relationships in my life shifted. My friends reach out with their concerns and I don’t want to talk about it at all. They’re offering me support and advice and I brush it all in under the rug. I’m continuously asking to change the conversation when the talk goes cancer. I don’t want pity- I just want to be healed and move on with my life. 

I am going to move on from this, though. It’s just another chapter in my crazy choose-your-own-adventure of a life. My friends already call me a cancer survivor. I’m going to have surgery and I’m going to be fine. The last few days when my brain is spinning and it tell me, “Your life sucks,” I counter that thought and say, “Nah, your life is interesting.” I think about all the experiences I’ve had, all the places I’ve lived and people I’ve met and I grateful on how things fell perfectly into place. Life is going. I’m going. I’m moving and shaking. And my CC and my negative thoughts and feelings around it are, too (buh-bye).

But still… fuck cancer, dear reader. 

#Election2018

Voting is my superpower- is it yours, too?

I know that you’ve seen all of the ads, read all the social media posts, heard all the noise but hell! I’m going to ask you anyway…

Have you voted, dear reader?

I’m not going to tell you about who I think you should vote for nor write about the opposing viewpoints on the major issues. I will tell you this- I’m tired of reading about the people who will not vote (see here and here). That’s all a bunch of bull. My parents said that who don’t vote can’t complain. So yes, if you don’t vote, you don’t earn the right to complain about the state of our government. PERIOD.

If you didn’t participate in early voting, please stand in lines at the voting polls tomorrow. Educate yourself with the various candidates and their platforms. Fill out and submit that ballot (take a selfie with your “I voted”/”Yo voté” sticker!). Let your voice be heard. It truly does make a difference. It matters.

#Jaded

Love can suck it…

I hate to say it but I’m one of those millennials- advertising doesn’t faze me. It’s the same with most millennials- traditional ads don’t have an affect on us. I’ve been in the ad business for sometime now and I know a ton of marketing tricks- product placement, influencers, DOOH, geotargeting… my eyes glaze over posts when scrolling social media accounts. I may look at an ad for a nanosecond but then the message flies out of my brain and I immediately forget the messaging. I installed AdBlocker on all my devices so I don’t have to bother with someone trying to sell me something. I don’t mean to be jaded about it advertising- or maybe I am? I guess you can say the same thing about love…

Let me introduce to my friends- Friend A, Friend B, Friend C and Friend D.

Friend A– Single. Desperately wants to be in a relationship. Plays by the “rules.” She’s on a bunch of dating apps and receives many messages (in one day, SIXTY messages!) But then is often ghosted or stood up on their first date. Is she acting too desperate?

Friend B– Single but wants someone special. Frequent Tinder/Bumble/Hitch user. Meets guys offline for drinks but always goes back to ex-boyfriends (and their beds). There is too much former temptation.

Friend C–  Recently divorced. Was happy to get out of her failing marriage and is ready to swear off men for the rest of her life (“thank God for dildos,” as she puts it) unless the perfect man (i.e. Channing Tatum) comes into her life. Every guy she meets is a quote-unquote dirty bag.

Friend D- Single for a year or two. Is currently dating couple of guys but hasn’t experienced any sparks. The men she’s meeting are nice but they aren’t exactly who she’s looking for. She wants to give up.

Relationships- ew…

I would like to introduce you to my Jaded in Love friends. We drink way too many brunch mimosas as we talk about our favorite subject: love and all that comes with it. It’s amazing what my friends think about the L word and relationships. They are strong, smart women who have been burned by men and are having difficulty finding quality me to date, let alone marry. Lately, they have been chatting about never finding anyone and settling down to a life of singlehood (um… nope). Me, being the relationship Pollyanna, try to give my friends advice. Get off the apps, I say. When you’re supposed to meet someone, that someone will turn up in your life. Paradoxically, when you stop looking, the right person turns up. Or- pick one and see what happens (I’ve had this exact conversation before, minus the Elmo and Cookie Monster voices- “just take a bite!”). I know that there are a TON of options on OkCupid but you have to choose one. Despite my efforts, my friends leave the bar refusing to go to any more weddings of happy couples, looking down on themselves and feeling alone.

I hate that my friends were screwed over and I get it- dating, relationship, it all can be awful (been there, done that plenty of times). They can suck. You’re tired of trying. You’re tired of getting hurt. You’re tired of being unappreciated and giving your all especially if you realize that your partner isn’t in it for the long haul. You’re burnt out and when you are, it’s hard seeing the good in people. It’s hard being vulnerable. It’s even hard to put on lipstick and a cute dress when you know it won’t impress. So, how do we get rid of such feelings?

The thing with being jaded is that you’re fixated on past pain- and that’s what I tell my friends. Being jaded is a defense mechanism that helps people rationalize their bad dating life and relationship experience. I feel like my therapist when I tell them to dig deeper into their dating psychosis. That includes the pain. You can notice it, acknowledge it and move on. The past is in the past. And this is coming from someone who is always living in the past. What is responsible for those issues- an ex? Daddy issues? If you’re still hurting over an ex, try to appreciate what you had while you were together. It was one part of your life that you should be grateful for- find the learning lessons (but remember that he’s an ex for a particular reason). Break down those issues.

You will find your Ricky.

There are good people out there. Sometimes, they’re not online. They’re your friends. Your coworkers. Your next door neighbor. Get out of your shell and get out there. But don’t rush things. My mom once said that love is like cooking arroz y gandules– you need to let it simmer before it gets tasty. And remember that people different- one may think that “all guys are dogs” but there is a single man out there who is kind and generous and wants to give someone like you the world. We also put so much emphasis on the total package- looks, personality, security. Believe me, Channing is nice to look at but that guy at the end of the bar will always make you laugh and buy you your favorite flowers. Give him a chance, too. Be open and just try.

And remember that dating is supposed to be fun. Fun, I tell you! If it’s not, then you’re doing something wrong.

To my friends- you will find that love you so deeply desire soon. I promise. Stay hopeful- love comes when there’s hope. Until then, I will continue to buy y’all champagne and orange juice.

Are you jaded over love, dear reader? What else are you not feeling?

#BuildingOne

One of the things that I love the most about my job is the community. Believe it or not, the active kink world is a pretty small group- especially out here in Northern Nevada (everyone knows everyone in Reno). I’ve been going to different events around town, talking about taboo subjects like BDSM (i.e. bondage, rope) and sexual health (STIs, condom usage, using poorly made adult toys, etc.). It gives me great joy, not only educating people but making new friends and building connections. It wasn’t until I starting doing this when I realized that I was starved for such kinship. That connection of community.

I have a lot of friends and I know a ton of people but lately, I’ve been craving more. I need that sense of community in my life. I miss feeling like I’m a part of something BIGGER. Perhaps it’s because I stepped away from politics and volunteering. Maybe I’m finally morphing into my inner curmudgeon/ hermit (I think I just need to get out of my head). Communities provide support to those who are impacted by daily stress, struggles and chaos of modern life- it offers several valuable gifts that combine to improve our emotional state, relationships and quality of life. Human beings are meant to be social and find some sort of meaning within their communities. So, why is it difficult to find your tribe?

Making (and keeping) friends when you’re an adult is incredibly difficult. I’ve lost plenty over the last several years. They have moved. They have refocused their lives, leaning in towards their jobs, partners, children. We’ve had falling outs. Hey, that’s okay. I’ve done my fair share of pushing people away and not giving them my full commitment (and for that, I’m truly sorry). My best friend and I recently compared lists of what we want in a future partner. We gushed over each other’s lists but then asked ourselves, we expect all these qualities in a partner. But do we have these qualities ourselves? I ask you, dear reader, if you were to make a list of the top ten qualities you want in a friend, would you say that you own those same qualities? Are you kind? Are you supportive? Are you being the friend you want to be friends with?

Without your community, you’re irrelevant (I’m feeling this heavily). Without your community, you’re invisible. Without your community, you’re ignorant. Political, racial, arts, work, blogging and even the ones online (Reddit totally counts!)- COMMUNITIES! Explore all of those aforementioned options and don’t be afraid to say ‘hi’ and be open. We all feel the need to belong and we all are looking for that connection. Your community is looking for you and your gifts.

Now, excuse me… I have a MeetUp group to check out and a gallery to visit… Who is a part of your community, dear reader? What are you doing to build it up?

Today is also International Women’s Day and we celebrate the social, economic, cultural and political achievement of women. Shout out to those women who influence others positively, those who challenge stereotypes and bias and to those who continue to progressively press forward to a better future. To quote Former First Lady Michelle Obama, “As women we must stand up for ourselves, for each other and for justice for all.” Go out today and support your community of sisters!

#WhatIsMakingMeHappyThisWeek


“Help me, Obi-Wan Kenobi. You’re my only hope.”

The word of the week is HOPE- it’s a thought that escaped my mental memory sometime last year but has ever so slowly found its way back into both my brain and my vocabulary. Saturday’s Women’s March on Washington was inspiring, spreading hope to everyone who participated or had a Facebook feed. When our new president made several choice decisions this week, the world responded back. I’m happy to see that people finally feel like they have a voice and are trying to do something, make some positive change happen. Things may not be as bleak as they once seemed.

I spent Sunday afternoon painting my friend’s living room. As I sat on the floor, cleaning up paint droplets I accidentally dripped onto the floor, this wonderful feeling of hope came over me. Perhaps hope is too weak of a word- FAITH. I had faith- of all the good things that will come to me in the very near future. I saw my future self moving into a cute apartment with hardwood floors with my loving significant other. I saw my future self being able to afford such a wonderful apartment with a job that paid me more than I ever wanted, that gives me joy and my life meaning. I saw me happy and all around healthy, with pink hair. I saw my future self painting my new place (complete with my cats and terrible taste in art and furniture), transforming it into my home.

Change will happen soon enough- both political and personal change. You just need to have a little bit of hope and faith.

What has made you happy this week, dear reader?

Each week, my favorite NPR podcast, Pop Culture Happy Hour ends their program with the question, “What is making me happy this week?” The podcast’s commentators then share the best parts of their lives from Sunday ’til Saturday. As I’m trying to live a more positive life and focus more on my own happiness, I started asking myself this question, with hopes that I can happiness everywhere in my world.

#MakingFriends #PostCollege

 

Bridesmaids” -my favorite movie about female friendship

I’ve been reading a lot of Reddit posts lately from women all over the country and their struggle trying to make friends after college. My heart goes out to these women- I’ve been in that lonely position, too; wanting to reach out to someone after a rough day and see if they want to grab a cocktail and gab about whoever we were dating at the moment.

I think about the time when I moved across the country and didn’t know anyone. I left a tight group of college friends (hello Student Orientation Staff and Student Ambassadors!) and started working in a new city in an office where I was the one of the youngest employees. When I moved back, my social circle expanded again (yay!). Then, my friends started to get married and pregnant, things I’m looking forward to but simply can’t relate to at the moment. Maybe I didn’t do enough of it in my twenties but I still want to party and go on adventures often. Then, I fell into the patterns of serious relationships, focusing on my boyfriends and slowly faded from my friends’ lives. Over this past summer, I felt desperate for close friends again- I needed that female companionship your partner just cannot give you.

I was going through my quarter life friend crisis.  I always found that true friendships happened in more organic settings where you aren’t forced to talk about crafting or politics- when you befriended a co-worker (how I met Amanda Kelly and Ashley), a roommate (Telaia), the person standing next to you at a bar (Marie), during a race (Barbie). But organic encounters are not the easiest to make. Many people suggested MeetUp but I didn’t exactly find what I was looking for (many of the meet ups I attended consisted of older adults- this is Reno, after all). Believe it or not, I found my two newest best friends on a dating app, Bumble. In this day and age, finding a BFF on the internet shouldn’t sound as strange to us as it does. If people can find the love of their lives on Tinder, why does finding a new best friend on a swiping site sound so bizarre? #ItsNot.

I’ll be there for you, when the rain starts to fall…”

I always have remind myself  that it’s quality not quantity of friends you have. You don’t have be popular in order to be loved. Just be yourself. The older I get, the more I appreciate the rare times I spend with my friends (more so than I did in college and my late twenties). My friends are loudest cheerleaders- they’re nurturing, supportive and motivating. They help keep me honest and make my life better, more fun. If you’re feeling as lonely as I once did, start researching ways that you can meet people and make the effort to do so.  It will require you to give and give some more. It’ll require you to become the very friend you desperately desire. But in the end, it will be worth every ounce of energy you commit to it.

How do you deal with making new friends after college, dear reader?

#DearHillary

Dear Hillary,

First off, I wish you a speedy recovery. Pneumonia is awful but you showed the world the power of women- we are always hustling. Even when we’re sick, we hustle- we take care of business and the people that we love. I want you to know that I’ve been a supporter since day one. But I do have some comments and a few questions for you…

Many people say you are untrustworthy. Many think you lied to the American people about your email server; that you broke the law and deserve to go to jail. They say that’s you’re responsible for the Benghazi attacks. Allegedly, when you were Secretary of State, over 600 requests were made for more security for that facility. Nevertheless, in the end, the building was attacked and  four men died.

There are those who branded you as a liar and a crook, saying that large amounts of money went directly into yours and your husband’s pockets for doing speeches and guest appearances as you claimed the money went to the Clinton Foundation. That money influenced the State Department into doing favors for those deep-pocket donors.

On a more personal level, people have questioned your morals, saying that you don’t follow your convictions. Why be with a husband who’s (allegedly) banging everyone in town, they ask. Does it benefit you in any way?

Is any of this true?

Despite all of these allegations, your personal life is none of my business- it’s not anyone’s business- and I think you’re more than qualified to run the country. I understand why you seem cold and get right to the point (not everyone is as smooth as President Obama). Sure, people will have their doubts but you still have my vote this November. Andrea

Follow #Greetings30 on SnapChat (or are we into Instagram stories?) @andrealynntyrel.