#AllTheTimeInTheWorld

My weekly to-do list is at least a page long and I prioritize things in this order:
1. My day job (because, you know, I have bills to pay)
2. Job hunting (I’m trying to find full-time, 8-to-5 Monday through Friday position in marketing or editorial with health benefits)
3. My boyfriend, Amit
4. My friends (and not just spending time with them but giving them my full, undivided attention)
5. Sleep (I’d like to get a full eight hours per sleep cycle but I usually only get five)
6. Chores (grocery shopping, cleaning my apartment, beauty treatments like my plucking eyebrows which unfortunately take a long time, etc.)
7. My hobbies (running, writing, painting, filmmaking, volunteering, etc.)

Yeah… it’s a lot.

I never feel like I have enough time anymore even now with the constraints of the Coronavirus. At the start of the pandemic, I was excited for all the “free time” I had to get stuff done. But now, as life is returning to “normal,” I’m being pulled in a million directions. My work hours have increased, which I’m grateful for, but I rarely have weekends and nights off. My boyfriend and the majority of my friends work standard business hours so our schedules conflict. Over the last couple of weeks, I’ve turned down multiple invitations out. I’m missing the early days of summer where I could just hop on Zoom for an hour or so, catch up and that was that. I didn’t have to incorporate travel time and other random events that popped up.

I only hang out with my boyfriend once a week, usually Sunday evenings when I can sleepover. I’m grateful that Amit is low-key and is fine not seeing each other in person every week. We text each other all the time and keep it old-school with talking on the phone almost every evening. Although we live in opposites sides of Austin, he doesn’t care that I don’t have a car (which does bother me severely- it would make my life so much easier. But I can’t afford one). Amit is happy to pick me up, even if it takes him an hour roundtrip (which it does with Texas traffic).

I’m trying to find my permanent job position (which is another blog post in itself) which takes up a lot of my free time. I know that my life will be better when I am not only making more money (to buy a car) but also have a consistent schedule to plan time for my friendships and hobbies. One of the biggest anxieties of my life right now is trying to get everything done while maintaining a positive mental health. I know that I can’t get everything done nor make everyone happy. But I’m not happy.

I’ve been trying to figure out better time management skills even though I’m not doing a good job with it. I do prioritize. I use my calendar to plan ahead and keep (most ) appointments. I try to set time limits with certain tasks (especially with job hunting. Being on Indeed all day can be soul draining and I need breaks from my computer). Yet, I have daily panic attacks where I don’t feel enough- like I’m doing enough or am a good enough person (employee, girlfriend, renter- ugh, the state of my kitchen, friend, creator, etc.). I feel guilty all the time and it’s a feeling that I can’t shake off.

How do you manage your time, dear reader? How do you get your to-do list completed while keeping your important relationships happy and healthy without giving yourself an anxiety attack?

#Paula

Paula Fletcher was my mother’s best friend since they were in sixth grade. They grew up around the corner from each other in New Jersey and celebrated various life milestones together- she was the maid of honor at both of my mother’s weddings (to my father and then, her second husband). A couple of years back, I traveled to Dallas to spend Thanksgiving with Paula where we jammed out to the Purple Rain soundtrack and burned a turkey. The last conversation I had with her was back in April, asking her if she needed anything, any help through the COVID-19 pandemic. She said that she was fine and hoped that I was doing well in Austin. Paula recently died of heart failure. She was 58 years old.

I’ve been helping my mom sort through her funeral details. It’s been a challenge with COVID-19 but somehow, we’re making it work. Paula didn’t have much of a family life- my mom was considered her family, and Paula was never married. I asked Mom about this. Growing up, I remember Paula being around often but without a boyfriend or a partner. She said that Paula dated quite a lot but never found “the one.” She focused on her work and her friends. I’ve been thinking a lot about that these past few days, how Paula didn’t have a significant other in her life. She never seemed lonely. Paula had her friends, my mom especially. I can’t help but compare her story to my own- dating around but never settling on one person.

I’ve been floating in and out of relationships this year. My relationships lean more towards a sexual gratification which is great- it’s what I need, and I’m finding myself more alone during the hours that I’m not working. I’m really enjoying this alone time, catching up on books and painting. Perhaps I’m bitter from my last break-up but I struggle with seeing the purpose of a partner. I’m doing great without one. This time, being quarantined, has taught me that I am all-encompassing and I very much enjoy being alone. I don’t want to be with anyone.

What are the benefits of being partnered? Do the benefits of being single outweigh them? I think about Paula and her free spirit without the need to answer to anyone (although my inner feminist says that you don’t need to answer to a partner to begin with). She didn’t need permission or to check in with anyone. She didn’t have children. I asked my mom if Paula ever expressed desire to have kids and she said that she was fine being to the “cool aunt” to me and my siblings. I however, unlike Paula, aspire to have children. Lately, the only benefit that I can come up with to having a partner is to have someone to raise children with (I like to note that I do have several sperm donor options for when/if I choose to have a kid on my own). I have read the benefits of raising a child in a traditional mother/father household. But then again. I know of so many women who are raising bright and well adjusted kids alone, by themselves, as well as great people who were raised by a single parent.

As always, my thoughts eventually venture to death. I like to think that it would be nice to have someone hold my hand on my death bed but then I ask myself if it is the worst thing to die alone? Don’t we all die alone anyway? There are many benefits to being single (I know… I just Googled a bunch). I used to think worst thing in the world was being alone. So much so that I’d chase these awful relationships with awful men who destroyed me emotionally. I once heard that your 20s is when you make the mistakes and your 30s is when you learn the lessons from them. Now at the ripe age of 34, I’ve been reviewing such past mistakes of mine and I came to this conclusion: I’m really good at being single and I really enjoy it. Same as Paula.

Rest in peace, Paula. We miss you and will love you forever. And you, dear reader; even if you’re alone, I hope you don’t feel alone. Being single isn’t a curse- its a gift.

#FiveYearPlan

My little sister is pregnant and I’m having a hard time being happy for her. I have to admit that I’ve always been jealous of this particular sister. In high school, I was envious of how she was skinner than me, had a cute boyfriend and seemed to be known and loved by everyone. She eventually pursued a career that I thought about chasing myself, got married and resided in city that I have dreamed of living in. As I’ve gotten older, I sat with these feelings and learned where they came from (my own insecurities, unnecessary parental pressures and judgements, etc). These days, I’m wise enough to know that I can’t compare my life to anyone else’s but this news still hurts. I want that life. My life is supposed to look like that… but it doesn’t.

I’m still in the middle of job hunting and I spend each morning asking myself interview questions to prep. My “favorite” question (and note the quotation marks) is where do you see yourself in five years? As much as I practice the answer to this questions aloud, I still have no solid, concerete idea. If someone asked me this question in 2015, I would have never have thought, “I’d be in quarantine from COVID-19.” Although I can’t exactly see where I am, I can imagine the way I feel in 2025- I’m feeling supported and successful with my job. I’m happy and in love in a romantic relationship. I’m enjoying the comforts of my apartment, the companionship of friends and feeling mental and physically strong.

It’s halfway into the 2020 and I know that the majority of the world threw out their yearly plans with the rise of Coronavirus. I know that I have. I feel like I have thrown away most of my plans since arriving to Texas almost two years ago (ask me why I call Austin, “the curse”). I recently figured out while it is good to have plans and keep planning for the future (especially financially), life happens. Epidemics happen. Job loss happens. Break ups happen. Bullshit happens. And that’s okay. I had this exact plan of how I wanted things to develop this year. None of those plans came to fruition so I’m just letting all of that go. As much as I love planning every single detail of my life, I’m just going to be for a while.

I know what I will- one day- get the job I’m desperately seeking, that dreamy relationship, my future family, etc. It will most definitely won’t go the way I plan but I feel like I’m half way there to what I’m envisioning for myself- I’m here in Austin where there are a lot of opportunity and I have a solid group of friends here and around the globe. Regardless of what my life feels like it lacks, my life is full at the moment and it’s only going to feel fuller. I just need to relax, be patient and keep ever so slowly pushing forward.

How are you taking a step back, dear reader? Do you have a five year plan?

#AnotherCWord

Can we talk about another C word? Comradery.

I’ve been running a lot in my boyfriend’s neighborhood since the start of COVID-19. He lives in a part of Austin where a lot of senior citizens live. Usually I blast my music through my headphones but lately, I’ve been running without tunes and try to say hello to those I run by. People are friendly and thank me as I stay the mandated six feet apart as I sprint by. I always see this older gentleman walking his toy poodle every morning. The first day I met him, I screamed from across the street, “Good morning! OH MY GOD-  you have the cutest dog! Aren’t you the fluffiest fluff in the world!” Now the man lets his dog run across the street so I can pet it and give it some quick loving.

We’re living in the strangest timeline with the Coronavirus but I’m trying to make the best of it. People are scared and anxious. I know when I feel that way, I need to be around people. But because that isn’t safe to do, I’m exploring other ways to reach out and be kind. I’ve been on Zoom and Houseparty chats almost daily with friends. I text my besties almost every day, checking in on their mental health and levels of boredom. The USPS is still up and running so I’ve been mailing postcards and love letters. I signed up for Table Wisdom, which pairs mentors and mentees together online to chat, as well as the People’s Dialer. When I’m at the grocery store, I thank the staff for working (I also tip when I can). I seek out that level of friendship and gratitude, that level of comradery that makes people feel good (even an introvert like me).

Thank God for the internet. If you look, there are a lot of ways others are reaching out and giving back online. Celebs are lending their voices, reading children’s books aloud online. Prestigious colleges and universities are offering free online courses (check out courses from Coursera and Harvard University). Museums, galleries and zoos around the globe are offering free virtual tours. One of my favorite things that has come out of the Coronavirus is the live sets my favorite artists are doing- DJs, producers and bands all over the world are live streaming from their own living rooms (I highly recommend D Nice’s Club Quarantine, sets by my “husband,” Diplo and Kayper and Death Cab for Cutie’s Ben Gibbard’s cover sessions). Sure, it doesn’t make up for being in a club but their sets remind us that we will be at concerts, venues and cook outs together again soon.

Living in the time of COVID-19 has been a lonely period for some. I texted one of my friends in Philly who lives alone. He hasn’t been out of his apartment for weeks and misses touching people- shaking hands, giving and receiving hugs and and fist bumps.  Even those in relationships are being tested. I truthfully thought that being quarantined with my boyfriend would lead us to being more physical (especially since our relationship is so new) but I was wrong. We spend a good chunk of our day alone, doing our own thing which can be pretty lonely.

If you are feeling alone, I do encourage you to reach out. There are a lot of resources out there (including things like free therapy apps like Youper and Moodpath. If you’re looking for professional help, check out this NPR article for a list of affordable resources). This is a difficult time right now but the entire world is in this together. You may be by yourself but you are not truly alone.

What are you doing to reach out to your friends, loved ones, even strangers, dear reader?

 

#AnxietyInTheTimeOfCoronavirus


Despite the world being on fire, my anxiety levels have been surprisingly low. It’s truthfully refreshing to see the world riding the same anxiety wave that I’m usually on.  I am terrified that when things get back to “normal,” I’m going to sink back into depression, continue to have no luck job hunting and struggle financially.

But there are things that have change in my since pre-Coronavirus: I’m in a great relationship. I started applying for government positions and internships, and feel like I will hear back about them soon. The student loan payment freeze is actually beneficial to my credit score and I’ve been spending more time outside, wandering around while catching up on missed podcasts and getting ample amounts of sun. I’m not alone. I have a roof over my head. I have food. I have money (at the moment). I’m not sick. My loved ones are not sick. I’m doing good- and no matter what happens, everything is going to be okay (maybe just boring for a while). There is nothing to worry about, right?

For the times that I notice my anxiety is peaking, I go through my Burning Man checklist for mental wellness: Did I eat? Did I drink enough water? Have I gotten any exercise? Enough sun? Too much sun? Have I rested? Talked to someone about my feelings? I also started focusing on the things that I can control- the food and drink I’m putting into my body, the amount of exercise I do daily, how much social media and news briefs I consume.

I also focus on living in the moment, day-by-day. Who knows what the future holds, whether it’s a few hours from now or a few months away. I’m doing the best I can to take care of myself and those around me by constantly washing my hands, wearing gloves, practicing social distancing and staying home when I don’t have to work. I have to admit, it’s hard especially when you’re someone who likes to hug. I miss my Sunday Social Rides around the east side of Austin. I’m lonely for my friends and the places that I used to frequent regularly. My life is not perfect but it is good.

To quote my favorite Oasis song, these are crazy days but they make me shine. How are you shining, dear reader? Are you scared about the present, about the future? What anxieties are you experiencing at this time? How are you staying positive? How can I support you? Remember that we’re all in this together and that I’m here for you, as well.

#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.

#TwoTruths

Why, hello! It’s me!

Have you ever played the game Two Truth and a Lie? It’s popular when you’re trying to get to know someone (at least that’s what Hinge says…) The version that I’m playing is Two Truths and Then I’m Lying Down to go to Bed (I need to be up at 4am).

I’ve been thinking a lot about two different ideas the last couple of days. I turn 34 later in the week and I already had a panic attack about what I haven’t accomplished during my time on the planet. I have to admit that I have this anxiety attack every year. The older I get, the better I get about self-soothing and reminding myself that I have done A LOT with my life and that I’m okay. This past Sunday reminded me of this. After a morning of tears, I decided to hop on my bike and meet some friends for a drink. We toasted with tequila to my upcoming birthday, somehow managed to find slices of cake (sorry to the baby shower we crashed), rode our bikes through my favorite neighborhood and shared grilled cheeses. I made new friends, flirted a bit and had fun- it was the perfect end of the day and start of my birthday week.

As I biked home that evening, I thought to myself how I obsess so much about getting the “perfect” life with that job and that relationship and buying those things. My life isn’t perfect but it is pretty good. I let perfection be the enemy of good and I need to start focusing on all the good stuff in my life- my friends, my job, the fact that I live in such a beautiful city. It’s time to celebrate that. Sure, I can still work on my goals. There is still a lot that I want to achieve, especially this year. I can be driven and hungry and want a bigger, better life but still be happy.

Any new revelations with you, dear reader? (And happy March birthdays!)

#TheBestOf2019

I’m going to skip my usual ramble about how good entertainment was this year (it was SO good) and get to the meat of this post. Let’s go!

MOVIES. This year, I worked at an art house cinema and one of the perks of working there was the chance to see movies for free. I took advantage of that opportunity as often as I could and saw some gems that I would have never considered. I was blown away by a lot of the movies that the production company, A24, put out but there were a few films that were particularly special to me.

  • The Last Black Man in San Francisco. This is my favorite movie of the year, hands down. There’s this scene in the middle of the film where one of the characters stares into a mirror, puffs up his chest and tries to replicate the mannerisms of one of his peers. If you’re like me and spent a good time questioning your racial identity and mimicked stereotypes from your culture, you will understand that scene. It broke me and made me cry. But I loved it. Everything about the movie is beautiful. Seeing San Francisco filmed so vibrantly made me yearn for the West Coast- this cover does, too.
  • The Lighthouse. What a wonderfully weird movie… I hope it’s nominated for Best Picture at the Academy Awards next year (maybe for Best Foreign Language Film because I had no idea what Willem Dafoe was saying a good chunk of the time). The song playing over the closing credit WILL get stuck in your head- I sing it to my cat quite often.
  • Midsommer. I’m not a horror person. I watch scary movies through the cracks of my fingers as they cover my eyes. But man, this movie was fantastic. It doesn’t play into the traditional horror troupes, the ones with lots of blood and gore. The movie is bright and cheerful at points. It does have the Final Girl troupe– and she does came back triumphantly.
  • Hustlers. Not going to lie- I love strip clubs. And I loved this movie. Yeah, the ending was abrupt but can we just talk about the make-up- all that black eyeliner and glitter? My high school self ate up those costumes. I also love how JLo asked Fiona Apple permission to use her song, “Criminal” in the movie. Jennifer Lopez is an icon. Puerto Rican pride all the way.
  • Avengers: Endgame. I’m so tired of superhero movies. I loved Black Panther but I didn’t see the majority of the other Marvel films. I saw Avengers: Infinity War (my friend, Ashley, dragged me by the ear to see it with her) and I liked it (mostly because of Chris Evans- hello, nurse!) But man, was this a solid end to a story building up the last ten years (unlike a series about a certain Jedi…Ugh).

The Last Black Man in San Francisco

TELEVISION. This year was an especially hard one for me and TV was such a comfort. I loved coming home from work, making myself dinner and binging on something until I went to bed. I sought out shows that took me out of my life and I discovered- rediscovered- some gems. (And yes, I have to mention Game of Thrones. The last episode was the first full one I watched and honestly, I didn’t think it was terrible. I’ll get through the series eventually.)

  • Euphoria (HBO). After the credits of the final GoT episode, HBO previewed a trailer for Euphoria, a high school drama featuring Zendaya. I will always stand for tales of high school (Can’t Hardly Wait continues to be one of my favorites) so I decided to check it out. Man, high school has changed A LOT since I was a student. Maybe for the better? Maybe for the worse? I don’t know. But I loved this show. It’s dark yet colorful. The acting is stellar. And the music… I’ll get to that later.
  • Watchmen (HBO). I’m one of the few who actually like Zack Snyder’s Watchmen. So when HBO announced that they’re bringing the series to their network, I was pumped! What a roller coaster those episodes were- just give Regina King her Emmy now! I’m bummed that audiences didn’t love the show as much as I did. I hope that HBO continues with the series despite what viewers thought- ahem, the pool scene in the last episode. If you saw that, you know what I’m talking about and I know that you want to know what happens next.
  • Mr. Robot (USA). I have to admit that I stopped waiting Mr. Robot after the second season (a lot of people did). Something told me to start watching again this season and boy, I’m glad that I did. Like Watchmen, this season is this gradually build up of intensity. There’s this episode in the middle of this season that almost feels like a play with the four leads bouncing line after line off each other. Rami Malek’s eyes alone do so much talking and connecting. There is ONLY one episode left of the series. I can’t wait to see how it ends (I’m guessing a time loop?).
  • Unbelievable (Netflix). I was recommend this show several times but finally gave it a watch because Toni Collette is a powerhouse in it. It’s a tough to view (especially when you are a survivor of sexual assault) but the ending is so satisfying. I can’t believe that this series of events happened and I’m glad the story is being visually told. I also highly recommend a book about the case. I just finished it and WOW. (Side note: I need to write more long form pieces. New Year’s resolution #1 is getting back into journalistic reporting somewhere, somehow.)
  • Sex Education (Netflix). Quirky. Fun. British. Do I need to say more? Sex Education was another recommendation and let’s face it- Gillian Anderson makes the show. I love how eager her character is to fix everyone’s love/sex life. I can’t wait for the next season. I want more and more.
  • Modern Love (Amazon). I fell in love with The New York Times‘ “Modern Love” column a few years ago and gobbled up tales of romantic, heartbreak and New York City. When the show was released, I binged the entire season in bed with a bowl of ice cream and six glasses of wine. My favorite story is in the  third episode that features Anne Hathaway. As someone who has depression, I related to this episode’s message so much (another side note: dating when you have  a mental illness can be tough but remember to be kind to yourself as if you’re the person you’re seeing).
  • Conan Without Borders (TBS). Conan O’Brien will always be my favorite late night host. I was devastated what happened to him at NBC but Conan only came back stronger. He and his team have this great segment where they travel to various part of the world, interview the locals and learn their customs. It’s brilliant, hilarious and at times, incredibly touching. This year, Conan went to Australia and Greenland but it was his trip to Ghana that was most impressive. He went to experience the Year of Return, which marks 400 years of the first enslaved Africans arriving in Jamestown Virginia. That particular episode was so insightful and Conan hosted with love and grace. Please give him the funding for a full-time travel show already.
  • Joe Pera Talks With You (Adult Swim/ Cartoon Network). Are you having a bad day? Watch Joe Pera Talks With You. A bad week? Watch Joe Pera Talks With You. A bad month? Watch Joe Pera Talks With You. A bad year? Watch Joe Pera Talks With You. Joe offers the most wholesome humor in each 10-minute episode. Start with episode six of the first season and let your worries melt away. Your heart will sing and your face will hurt from smiling so much.
  • YouTube. Does YouTube count as television? Sure, it does! GQ and Vanity Fair‘s YouTube channels have this awesome series where different actors break down movies from their careers, adding fun trivia and tidbits about their directors and costars. Most recently, the publications have had Kathy Bates and Jack Black talking about the highlights of their most memorable films. The Pastry Chef Attempts to Make Gourmet series on Bon Appétit‘s channel is the perfect watch when you need something light and comforting (and are done with Joe Pera). I want to be BFFs with their chef, Claire Saffitz– can we make gourmet Maltesers together, please?

MUSIC. Look, I listen to the same ten songs on Spotify account, as well as the same six podcasts. It usually takes an act from God for me to listen to something new so when I do, I scream about it. Below is some of the reasons why I have a sore throat now:

  • “The Ride” by Amanda Palmer. It was a Sunday after a terrible week. I spent the day before in bed, didn’t shower but needed from coffee. I put on clothes, found the New Music tab in Spotify and walked to Starbucks for a latte. “The Ride” was the first song that came up. I stopped midway and cried as I listened to the lyrics. I only knew Amanda Palmer from the Dresden Dolls, a band my college roommate loved. I’m a fan now. From the sweeping carousel sounds to the lyrics about getting off the ride… I can lie in bed and listen to it over and over and over again and somehow, it makes me feel safe and less alone.
  • Lil Nas X and Lizzo. It was their year. Need I say more? I love them both and all of the positivity they both stand for.
  • “Medellín” by Madonna and Maluma. I tried to challenge myself musically this year and break away from my regular song rotation, incorporating more Latin music through my day. 2020 will be the year I finally become fluent in Spanish and I had a good refreshers translating lyrics from Latin pop hits. I also am my mother’s daughter and thus, will be a Madonna fan for the rest of my life. This year, she release Madame X which featured a lot of Latin-inspired rhythm and beats. She brought Maluma, this fantastic Colombian singer, on a few tracks and they make magic for your ears.
  • “I Know” by King Princess and Fiona Apple. Who knows when Fiona Apple will release a new album? Until then, I devoured this reworking of her song with King Princess. I have no idea why this version feels more “Fiona Apple” then the original version but nevertheless, it’s gorgeous.
  • “All For Us” by Zendaya and Labrinth. I raved about Euphoria earlier. The show is fantastic but the music is… whoa. The closing scene uses a reworking of a Labrinth song which now features Zendaya. Just do me a favor and watch the YouTube clip. Trust me. Do it.
  • Music from Avengers: Endgame. Alan Silvestri was given the incredible task of scoring the biggest movie of the year and boy, is it good! From the building crescendo of the strings to the thunderous brass and percussion, listening to the whole album makes me feel like a superhero. It’s my favorite music to run to (I pretend that I’m Captain Marvel when I do).
  • Music inspired by Game of Thrones: I didn’t watch GoT but I listened to a lot of great music inspired by the series- like this YouTube video that I played countless times (man, I wish that I could play like Tom Morello). The Weeknd, SZA and Travis Scott also came out with this great little number that I fell for.

MUSIC OF THE DECADE. I wanted to add something about the musicians that inspired me this most this decade. Music has the been the form of entertainment that  shaped my soul the most and I can think about the two artists that I will always rep and hold close to my heart.

  • Lana Del Rey. I was living in Brooklyn in 2011 when I first heard the songstress’s voice for the first time. “Blue Jeans” was moody and haunting and pulled me in instantly. I just went through my first break-up with a boyfriend and Lana felt like the pain of losing a first love. She felt like New York City. I followed her career closely since and have been memorized by everything she puts out. Lana is my musical best friend, getting me through bouts of depression and pumping me up for a night out.
  • James Blake. One of my favorite TV shows ended this year. “iZombie” had its ups and downs but in its first season’s finale, “Retrograde” by James Blake was heavily featured. I heard that loop of his vocals and hooked. As decade progressed, I appreciated the fact that he collaborated with artists like Kendrick Lamar and Beyonce.  James is so innovative and gives me the chills. I had the privilege of seeing him live this past autumn and I stood in the crowd mentally sobbing with the biggest smile on my face. I love him and everything he stands for.

What were your favorites of the year, dear reader?

#StopInTheNameOfLove

I was never one for relationship boundaries. I always wanted to be the cool girlfriend, the one that was super relaxed and let her boyfriend do whatever he wanted. His happiness surpassed my own and I’d do whatever it took to make him happy. After several trials and tribulations (with men that coincidentally share the same first name), I realized that I was rather stupid. I was 1) settling and 2) not being true to myself. I walked down some dark paths, losing not only myself in these relationships but also losing out on my friends and personal goals. Since moving to Austin, I told myself when I felt ready to date, I would do so with my guard up. I’m not just going to let anyone in anymore AND I wasn’t going to fall for any more bullshit. But I’m now wondering if I’m stifling myself from meeting someone great…

Building a foundation of boundaries for myself means asking myself the hard questions- what am I looking for? How much do I want to commit? What do I want in a partner? And most importantly- what does a healthy relationship look like? I know who I am as a partner, what strengths (adventurous and kind; a good cook but better kisser) and weaknesses (terrible anxiety and can never figure out what to eat) I bring to any relationship. I want something long term, with weeknights making dinner together; then, on the cuddling couch watching “Frasier,” and going out adventuring together and with friends on the weekends. My ideal relationship is easy-going, stress-free and filled with love and respect for each other. My partner and I communicate well, are regularly affectionate and let each other be weird and have our own lives.

Establishing your boundaries is one thing but communicating them is tricky. I have a better sense of self now at 33. I find it easier with my older age to say “no” and ask for what I want. But there still a small part of me that wants to please everyone. We tend to focus on adjusting to others, taking time away from focusing on ourselves. Setting boundaries need to reflect who you are and who you ultimately want to be. And hey, boundaries do change sometimes. It’s important to be honest and let your partner be honest about needs and desires.

So, what are my boundaries for dating today? Well, depending on the status of the relationship (either regularly dating someone exclusively or a friends-with-benefits situation), I’ve come up with a set of rules for myself that not only protect my heart but my sanity, as well. My current dating boundaries include:

  • Refusing to date anyone married or in a polyamorous relationship (no cheating).
  • Going out on dates (whatever they may be) regularly with said potential person- at least once a week… We can’t stay in bed the entire time.
  • Using protection.
  • My past is my past and I don’t need to share every single detail of my life until I’m ready to.
  • We have to meet each other’s friends.
  • No more dating DJs.

It’s also important to note that boundaries do get crossed and it’s up to you to decide if they’re a dealbreaker. Nobody is perfect and people make mistakes. You have to make it clear from the get-go that you will end the relationship when lines are crossed. Other times, you may need to discuss the consequences of a repeated violation of a less important boundary. In the past, I overlooked my own feelings because I didn’t want to be alone. Well, fuck that. I now know that it’s better to be alone rather than with someone who doesn’t respect you.

Maybe you’re like me- I didn’t grow up with solid boundaries. Lack of boundaries means that you will put up with anything in the name of getting love, attention and validation (hello, old me). However, actual love and a healthy, decent relationship require you to have something established for yourself. No boundaries son no buenos. Stand up for yourself- if you believe in a thing called love, believe in its sibling, respect. Love yourself and respect yourself.

What are your relationship boundaries, dear reader?

#SummerSolstice

Just out here in #ATX, enjoying the sunshine! ☀️

These last several weeks have been a blur. I’ve been busy with both my jobs- at the ad agency, I took on two new projects that I’m pretty proud about and added weekday late nights to my schedule at the bar. Healthwise, I’ve turned my concerns to getting my teeth fixed (even though recently, I started losing chunks of my hair and I’ve been debating whether or not to shave my head). The Austin heat is getting intense and I’m spending evenings sweating at the bouldering gym near my apartment or with friends and Canela the cat on my lap on my porch. Oh- and I’m dating again (whoa)! Most days are easygoing and drama-free. I credit that to the self-care practices I’ve implemented into my daily routine; practices like reminding myself to take one day at a time.

One day at a time. I hear that phrase often. It’s one of my mom’s favorites and my therapist reminds me of it often. I’ve been going to a therapist on-and-off for years now but it’s only recently that I actually start listening and actively participating in post-session homework. I sit on Heather’s couch as we talk about my relationship with myself. Why do I exhibit certain positive and negative behaviors? How can I stop being so hard on myself? What can I do to celebrate a mundane weekday? We break down each feeling, each small moment, into teeny pieces that I can emotionally chow down. I’m finding that it’s easier to do the things the smaller they are. When I physically feel like garbage, I ask myself, have you eaten? Drank water? Are you too hot (take off your sweater)? When emotionally shitty, why do you feel this way? Who or what was the trigger? Can you step back and look at the issue? What do I need to do now- cry, take a walk? 

Other mini-mantras I have on mental rotation include Is this going to matter in five minutes (Five days? Five months? Five years?)And no one else knows what the hell they’re doing. And you’re doing a good job (even if I don’t feel like I am). Repeat those long enough (and repeat with intention) and the mantras start to ring true. Also, I started giving moments a percentage rating instead of focusing on two polarizing absolutes- right vs. wrong; good vs. bad. For example: I didn’t have a bad day at work. It was a 4.5 out of ten. That date was fantastic- a 9 out of ten. I am at seven out of ten with my intense sad emotions today. Another thing has been spending money on myself. I know that money can’t buy true happiness but I’m the person who usually spends cash on other people rather than myself. I was cleaning out my closet the other day and debated if I should throw away my six-year-old running shoes and purchase new ones. I never buy myself new shoes, I thought to myself, and new Nikes would make me happy. So, into the trash the old pair went and off I went to buy a new pink pair. I’ve never been the person who focused on the little things that made me smile (forever Debbie Downer) but I’m trying to bring in more items and experiences that spark joy into my life (the best feeling in the world? Knowing that you’re going on fantastic vacation in a month that you worked hard to pay for! And I never take vacations!).

There is something to say about summer. The days are longer and seem slower (despite being incredibly busy). That pacing is doing me well mentally, reminding me to not necessarily take it easy but to ease into the day and its challenges. I joke with others and say that I have reverse season affective disorder (I blame the heat) but my mental health has been priority number one this season. Anything to lift that dreaded summertime sadness.

How is your summer treating you, dear reader? What mantras do you tell yourself daily?