Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Staying Hot This Summer

Memorial Day weekend, so we all know, is the unofficial kick off to summer. Unofficial because summer isn't really officially recognized until its late June and we're all already drowning in pools of our own sweat.

If you're like me, or anyone in the Northeast apparently, this weekend was the perfect long weekend to kick off summer. Unseasonably high temperatures, sunshine and if you're lucky enough, pool side lounging. But besides parties and pools, Memorial Day weekend marked the beginning of much, much more. I got a crash course in what I like to call "summer is trying to make you ugly." Let me break it down, and I hope for some of you, its not too late. 

Ladies and gentlemen, we have begun the season of the ponytail/bun/rats nest. With temperatures that reached almost 95 degrees this weekend I started to experience some of my favorite summer past times; near heat stroke walking up two flights of stairs, the "glow" of a hot summer day and sweating while practically still in the shower. Hot, hot, hot. So begins the season of the ponytail. I have tossed aside my foolish ways and practically stopped blow drying my hair altogether (another great way to start sweating upon exiting the shower) and began rocking the ever so popular wet hair pony tail. But not the slicked back, glamorous do you see below. More a wet pony tail reminiscent of the pony tail that you swam around the pool in all day. Damp. Frizzy. Sweaty. Tangled. If only I had some Umbro shorts and a hemp choker you'd swear I was the Meghan you knew and loved in 4th grade, a far cry from the picture below:
Summer is suppose to be a time to be outside and enjoy the beautiful weather you've been given. Right? Kind of. This weekend was the classic excuse of "its too hot." Too hot for what? To walk around, run, breathe, pick your nose. All of the above. Turning my AC unit from "fan" to "cool" was about the only work my biceps got this weekend. Realistically, sweating in my make-shift sauna of an apartment was about the only hope I had of shedding pounds this weekend (unless "trying not move" is a new exercise craze I missed out on).

Speaking of shedding the pounds, beware, summer is trying to work against all of us (because I refuse to speak only for myself). Have you ever heard anyone say "its too hot to eat"? First of all, false. Its like those people who get so busy they "forget" to eat lunch. I never "forget" to eat lunch and its certainly never too hot for me to eat. Case in point, this weekend. BBQ season is the best. But its another way summer is trying to work against your hot, chiseled bod. Last time I checked beer + pasta salad + 2 hot dogs (I would say 1 but we're in the trust tree here) + laying in the air conditioning all day, does not a hot body make.  Apparently these VS models don't get invited to a lot of BBQs:
My last tip to avoid becoming a hot mess this summer, is watch the sun. Everyone loves a tan. Why? Because a tan always makes you look better. I'm sorry, its just science. I don't know about you, but I've found that even if you're not beach ready come summer, tan problem areas look better than translucent, pasty problem areas. Its why I refuse to try on bathing suits in the winter. Its just cruel and unsightly. For everyone. For those of you that tan easily, treat this as a questionnaire and skip to the bottom portion of this blog. For anyone else who suffers from what I like to call "the Irish glow," listen up. Sunscreen is your friend. You know what else is your friend? Evenly applied sunscreen. Because I don't have enough fingers and toes to count the number of times I've ended up looking something like this: 
Summer is a wonderful time of year. Remember, I love summer! But if you don't pay close attention, summer may end up turning you into a mess. So learn from my mistakes and join me; find a new up-do, buy some deodorant, invest in some breathable fabrics, do some lunges on the way to the air conditioner and for the love of God, apply your sunscreen evenly or don't apply it at all.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

A Guide to Summer 2011

Welcome one and all. Today you've tuned into a super, special edition here at Am I There Yet?; Oprah's Meghan's Favorite Things: Summer Edition (cue screaming audience)... And if you all stick with me through the end of this post there may even be free iPads in it for all of you as well. 

No more teachers, no more books: Ahhhh, it is officially upon us. Summer, at least for some of us. I take this opportunity to apologize to all of you who aren't in summer mode yet. I on, the other hand, will be reveling in it. The sun is shining, the grass is green and I have three glorious months free of night classes and all things learning related (yes, I am the future of America people). But for now, I refuse to feel guilty. Instead, you can find me frying sunning myself at my friend's rooftop pool and drinking gallons of DD iced coffee. If nothing else, I will be caffeinated and bronzed.

Reading: Maybe this wasn't the best follow up after banishing school and learning for the summer months. Oh well, bringing me back full circle to make me once again, a nerd. The end of the school year leaves time for all the summer reading that took a backseat September-May. I made the executive decision that if I were reading anything during the school year it should be my homework (although that didn't really pan out either). So I had to wait until now. My favorite so far? 

Tina Fey's Bossypants. I would recommend this for anyone who secretly enjoys laughing aloud while reading in bed in their empty apartment. I'm just saying. Next on the list? Room, the Hunger Games series and copious amounts of reading material penned by reality TV stars-turned-authors. Did I mention summer is all about guilty pleasures too?

Traveling: Summer gives me plenty of time to catch up on my international, trans-America, exotic, Northeastern travels. Ok so maybe "traveling" is a little too glamorous, but please continue to picture me backpacking through Europe if that's where your mind is taking you. Unfortunately, my travel will be a little narrower, like a 4 hour radius narrower. Already on the list? New York City, Baltimore, Connecticut and the grand finale, Elmira. It'll be easy, inexpensive and fun. Stop trying to make Europe happen, ok?

Zoos and brews: After taking some time to eat my face off recover post-half marathon I've already scheduled my next race--a 10 miler June 18th near the Baltimore Zoo with two friends. But this race, my friends, is special. While crossing the finish line will be incentive enough (yeah right), there is an added bonus for this one; complementary beer for participants and live music following the race. Zoos, brews, and blues? Somewhere, God is listening to me. 

 Ok, so maybe I lied about the iPads...

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Parents Just Don't Understand

Yes, yes, yes. If we haven't all said it out loud, I'm sure we've at least thought it a few dozen one time or another. What don't they understand? Well, I'm sure everything at one point or another. Growing up it was mostly the usuals: they don't understand curfews, or what all the other parents are doing, they don't "get" fashion, how to work any piece of electronic equipment, and the list goes on and on. I hope my own parents can take this with a grain of salt and see where I am going with all of this. 
Tell 'em Will
I touch on this because last month I had my own conversation with my parents where "I just don't understand" was basically the thesis of our conversation. My boyfriend and I, as I've breezed over a couple times here, have made the decision to move in together once he moves to Philadelphia. Because I already know that my parents aren't really on the cohabitation bandwagon, I felt the need to address the obvious (and whether they'd like to admit it or not, what they knew was coming). Not so much a conversation to ask their permission more a courtesy to a) test the waters and b) to get any arguments out of the way early (which thankfully there were none). The conversation went very well actually, but as I talked honestly with my parents about our decision the "we don't understand it" part was a little hard to swallow. 

When I try to look at this particular situation from their perspective, what I do understand is that this just isn't how things operated when they were younger. At least for them, it just didn't happen this way. If you're committed enough to live together, why not just get married (they said, like this is what every 22 year old is thinking)? But moving in, sharing a space, an apartment, responsibilities, finances, a daily routine and a life essentially, isn't that enough (the young lady felt like screaming)?! Isn't that the same commitment? What is there not to understand? How are we not on the same page here?

And so the conversation went. Not in circles, I'd say looping is a better describer. I guess sometimes its just a draw. Agree to disagree. Luckily, I know my parents are always behind me 100% in whatever I choose to do, however I think its natural that we want our parents to be behind us because they understand our decisions and not just because they're our parents and love us unconditionally. Herein lies the problem when we hit that generational gap (sorry parents, have I made you all feel ancient yet?), and lets face it guys, sometimes parents just don't understand. Different generation, different values, different lenses. Insert dilemma: when do we have to (cover your ears parents) forgive the misunderstandings, stop listening to our parents and just trust ourselves?

For me, its a classic struggle of growing up and still wanting to be my parent's daughter. And I'm sure for many of you its the exact same thing--you want to appease your parents when you think of all the countless things they've done for you, given you and how they've supported you. On paper, you want to pay it back by making the decisions that they'd make...until you realize you don't. 

So what happens when you grow up and things get a little more complicated. When parents don't understand more than curfews and fashion and how to work the god damn DVD player (note: to protect the innocent I'm not saying this has actually happened in our household... but I'm also not denying it)? Where's the script for when you (gasp) grow up and realize that you don't agree on everything. You want to be respectful, but you just don't see eye to eye. The million dollar question: is there a time when you have to stop being your parents daughter in order to become all the other people you're destined to be? When you have to trust your own decisions as a girlfriend, a friend, an employee, a boss, as yourself and so on and so on and so on. Maybe you'll never get to be the best version of those people if you don't trust your own decisions and intuition, understood or not.

But isn't this the person your parents have taught you to be? I guess its all full circle, maybe parents really do understand. Maybe they knew this day would come all along.

Monday, May 16, 2011

13.1 Miles In My Shoes

What a great weekend in Pittsburgh. A chance to see my brother, his wife and my niece (we became fast friends again although by the sounds of it she may think my name is "Mike"), all of whom I hadn't seen since January. But lets not forget why I was there---Sunday was (cue drum roll).. RACE DAY! 

Baby's first half marathon, as I like to call it. While I knew I was as ready as I was going to be, it was still naturally a bit scary, but in an exciting way. I'll tell you one thing, few things will get me this awake at 5:00am. 
My brother and I arrived in downtown Pittsburgh around 6:15am for the 7:00am start. My sister in law had warned us to expect long bathroom lines. Apparently, I had no idea what she meant. The whole morning I had been conflicted between hydrating my body and not forgetting my oh-so-small bladder situation (understatement of the year). I seriously panicked that we would a) miss the start (even with the 45 minutes we still had left to wait in line) or b) I would acutally pee myself mid run. Eff.

Long story short, 35 minutes in line later we hopped the barricades and found our spots in our "corral" (literally) with minutes to spare. Phew. Then it was time! For those of you who haven't had the opportunity to stand in a sea of people, all as excited and as pumped up on crazy as you are, you're absolutely missing out. I could not believe the adrenaline that was already surging through my veins. My heart was racing out of my chest; part of me feared that I would somehow still pee myself despite my empty bladder. It took us about 10 minutes to walk to the actual starting line. One last "good luck" exchange with my brother, started up the iPod, crossed the starting line, and knew there was officially no turning back.

The amazing thing is, I really was ready. Whenever you can say that the first eight miles breezed by, I think you're doing alright. As I approached mile 10 I started to feel the time wearing on my body, but by that point I was so far in there was no turning back. I had to let the cheering crowd be my reminder of how badly I wanted this. Slowly, mile 10 turned into 11 which turned into 12 and before I knew it I was in the final half mile stretch, turning the corner catching a glimpse of the finish line. While I wish I could say I sprinted that last half mile to the finish, my body violently rejected that idea, but I did pick up the pace significantly. 

Then at 2:20:22 I crossed the finish line (along with a Nigerian to my right who was completing the FULL marathon). I stopped, after unsuccessfully trying to walk in an straight line, only to bend slightly doubled over to catch my breath. I stood up, and collected myself. I thought about what I'd just done. I thought about what it had taken to get here. Much more than 13.1 miles. Oh my god, I just did that. 

And just like that, it was over...for now.

Next stop?

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

A Reminder

This struck a chord with me, especially today. So now I share it with all of you, because sometimes we all need a reminder of why we do the things we do:

"The thought of this life, that's what kept me going. I had an idea of our happiness."--The Hours

'Nuff said.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Time, Time & Time

For those of us so (un)fortunate to still be students (parenthesis included because my feelings change daily), the end of a school year feels much like the end of a calendar year. The day before your last final takes on the feeling of New Years Eve and its all a big countdown to finish and attack with a fresh start. The weather is getting nicer, often times you're starting an internship or conversely switching gears from working all school year and relaxing. 

After I torched and burned anything that resembled remnants of the school year, I got thinking about where I was at this time last year. How much can happen in a year. 

At this time last year, I was enjoying my first visit from my boyfriend. Its hard to imagine that I hadn't yet made one of my three cross-country trips to see him and we had never said "I love you." Now, in three months time he'll be moving in.

At this time last year, I was graduating. Well, formally graduating. I'd graduated in December and spent five months trying to contain the spread of athlete's foot at the downtown YMCA pool by day and being a professional hostess by night at your neighborhood Chilis (really, I couldn't make this shit up). Now, I am finishing my first year of graduate school so I never have to do that again.

At this time last year I was saying goodbye to a great group of friends at school; refrigerator friends. So nervous that it would take me forever to find friends like these in my new home. Now, I'm planning a summer with great, amazing people I've met in such a short period of time. 

At this time last year I was embarking on a new summer job that, little did I know, was about as much fun as putting hot coals in your eyes (God, I hope they're reading this). Now...well, I'm  not which is good enough for me. 

At this time last year I could run five consecutive miles on the treadmill. Now, in four days I'll be completing a half marathon. 

At this time last year I was prepared for my boyfriend's early spring release date...forever. Now, I'm watching him leave again.

The planner in me naturally wonders what next year will bring. What will change?

I'll be a graduate, again (didn't I just do this)? 

I'll be living in the same city and physical structure as my boyfriend, something we've never known and one monstrous step for relationship-kind. 

I We will have a  new apartment. 

I'll be one year older. 

From there, its anyone's game. This year has taught me a lot about myself. But the number one thing its taught me? I have no idea what tomorrow, let alone next year brings. And for once, looking at all the unexpected (and unplanned for..pains me to say) great things that have come out of this year, that's just fine by me. 

Sunday, May 8, 2011

For My Mom

First, a very Happy Mothers Day to all of the mothers out there! I think most of us can agree that when Mothers Day rolls around there is always the slightly guilty feeling of "why does this only roll around once a year?"

So today on this Mothers Day I wanted to share some of the things that have made my mom so special, for 22 years, 365 days of the year:

He ability to make you feel special: I don't know how mothers of more than one seem to keep everyone straight (can you tell I have a lot to learn before entering motherhood?) but my mom always had the ability to make all of us feel special, and I know it would have been the same had there been 4 of us, 8 of us or 18 of us. Your favorite meals for days when returning home from college, a fridge stocked with anything you may have ever mentioned that you once liked (she once single handedly supported my Red Bull habit for a whole summer.. who knew they came in 12 packs!), flannel sheets on your bed the moment the season began to change, and lets not forget about the "special plate" for birthdays and special occasions. 

Her persistence: I don't know why this example stands out more than the rest, probably because it happened more than once, but I can remember multiple times where we would go shopping for school clothes, prom dresses, shoes, etc. and there would always be that one thing I never got because most of the time it was too expensive or I felt too guilty. Now, mothers have this sixth sense that it took me awhile to figure out (that I'm sure we sometimes all wish they didn't). She'd know that said item was still on my mind, and guess what? She'd return to the store at 7 am, coupon in hand and make it happen. I think I get part of that from her; it can't ever wait, or we'll be thinking about it forever. For this same reason I constantly drive my friends crazy buying 18 different sizes and styles at various stores letting them know that if I save the receipt, I can always return it (thanks Mom). 

Her mentality: Don't get me wrong, we were by no means spoiled children, something I attribute to both of my parents. With that being said they have always helped us out as much as they could. My mom's famous line, "numbers in, numbers out." They never made us feel guilty about where we wanted to get an education (public or private), experiencing life abroad or taking a new job in a city that we may have not quite been able to afford just yet. Numbers in, numbers out, my mom would say. But one of us is responsible for buying her a motorcycle when we finally make our millions (my money's on Kevin). 

Her heart: My mother is honestly, without a doubt, the kindest person I know. As her children, my siblings and I would be lucky enough to pick up just a trace of that. We all joke that none of us want to become our mothers, but when I do catch myself doing small things with my mother's heart, it makes me smile. Its funny as you start to grow up, you find traces of your parents in everything you do. Picking up my boyfriend's favorite x,y or z before his visit, writing a friend a nice card when he or she is going through something difficult, buying someone a gift just because it looks more like them than me. The little things.

While I can wait to be a mother (and will wait, I don't want to give my mother a heart attack on her day of days), I know that whatever it takes I will be one. I find myself so lucky to have beautiful examples of great mothers all around me; friends, aunts, sister-in-laws, close family friends. But I find myself most fortunate that I have the best example of all, one that I would be lucky to duplicate, but I'd settle to give my children even 1% of what she's given me. 

Happy Mothers Day, Mom!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

A Bag Situation

If you're anything like me, leaving your apartment for sometimes 8-12 hour spans in the day, making sure you have everything you need in the morning is a major task. That's why for me, I've found an absolute necessity for my day to day life:
You may recognize it, free with your purchase of any signature VS fragrances
Hello world. I have a confession. My name is Meghan, and I am a bag lady. But not the kind of Coach toting, lunching in the park, fabulous and stylish bag lady that everyone would love to be. I'm the free large canvas tote, home to my packed lunch and stinky sneakers, kind of bag lady. The "multi-functional" bag lady if you will. 

On a typical day, my bag holds the following: 
-Gym clothes
-Class materials (books, folders, notes, etc)
-Another change of shoes (winter time, seasonal addition)
-Kitchen sink (yesterday I actually had the security guard ask if I was moving in. I get it...I've got a lot of shit)

Additionally, my wonder bag moonlights as my means of transporting groceries, beer and small animals (kittens, puppies, muskrats, etc.). While I will revel in the functionality of my big bag until it falls apart at the seams, part of me does fear where this is going. One giant bag now, whats next? Am I doomed to be the Mom wearing the backpack, satchel and purse all at once? Diaper bags cris-crossed against my body? The ever dreaded fanny pack?
Hello world..
For now I've given up on the struggle of putting 10 pounds of shit in a 5 pound bag--I just choose to put 10 pounds of shit in a 10 pound bag. I've tried to be cute, stylish and professional with my bag choices, but the truth is they don't make gi-normous bags in fashionable options for a gal like me. 

Or do they?

The future of the bag lady

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Heavy Boots

Noise, noise, noise. Its inescapable. 

With school coming to an end, finals beginning, saying goodbye on my mind and summer right around the corner, there are a lot of loose ends to be tied up. Work schedules, internship arrangements, end of classes, finals, group projects, meetings and meetings and meetings.  At times, all of our days are filled with too much.

When I arrived home after spending nearly 12 hours on campus I was right back out the door (and down 10 flights of stairs) when my building's fire alarm went off. Just what I needed, more noise..literally. Any motivation I had to begin work post-9:00pm was officially shot. I wanted to decompress from the day. I wanted to write, to work, but my brain was literally..mush (picture that "this is your brain on drugs" PSA--that's what I felt like). I was anxious and drained at the same time. Restless and overwhelmed.

It got me thinking about Oskar and his heavy boots. 
For those of you who haven't read Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close (which I highly recommend), you have no idea what I'm talking about. Oskar, the narrator, is a witty and clever 9 year old, wise beyond his years, and often talks about his heavy boots. Oskar's heavy boots describe his feelings of anxiousness, sadness, confusion and at times an overwhelming sense of fear. Oskar's heavy boots arise in situations where he literally feels pulled down, overwhelmed. Think of it like a weight on your shoulders. 

While I wouldn't equate my own heavy boots to Oskar's complex and challenging feelings, I think we all know what its like to feel overwhelmed, bogged down, trapped under the weight of projects, time lines, complex relationships and those days when you just don't feel yourself. Days when you're feeling, well, heavy boots. Maybe not sad, or depressed or anxious like Oskar, but going through the motions, on repeat, trapped in a day full of noise (figurative or literal).

Personally, I think its natural to have heavy boots once and awhile; one of life's many stresses. But its equally important to understand how to kick them off and allow yourself to breathe under the weight of everything, because crazy days, noise--they're not going anywhere.

For me last night it was simple. Silence. Now that may seem like a strange concept, seeing as how I live alone, but last night my apartment was truly silent. No 18 forms of entertainment on at once, no catching up on the phone, no talking to myself (please, you know you all do it), and somehow what felt like not a single thought in my head. I cleaned, I sat on the computer, I made my lunch for the following day, I waded into nothingness for as long as it took to decompress. No thoughts of deployment, no thoughts of finals, research, work or what tomorrow would bring. Just clarity and some much needed perspective. 

Times get tough, tougher for some than others, but its hard to think clear with a head full of noise. We all have different heavy boots, but the important thing is this: don't get trapped. Sometimes all it takes is a deep breathe, an hour of silence, or a mind swimming with nothing to kick them off for good.