Monday, March 11, 2013

New Book Review Blog!

If you like romance, young adult, adult, paranormal, fantasy, urban fantasy, and the hot 'n steamy, head over to my new book blog!

Monday, November 19, 2012

Ever Have a Crisis of Self-Worth? Me Too.

I've had the topic of this post floating around in my head for a few days now, keeping me up at night reaching for my iPhone so I can surreptitiously record voice memos of ideas or directions to take it in.  Did I want it to be funny so that the heavy tone is somewhat lightened?  Did I want to write it in the third person to give myself a little distance from something that would otherwise leave me feeling vulnerable and, therefore, uncomfortable?  Or how about having it be just a stream-of-consciousness thing -- since this makes absolutely no sense in my head, why should it make any sense when its out of my head, right?

This goes on and on until I'm making myself fucking crazy because it's all still there except I don't know how to give it voice.  Then, on Friday morning (and aren't Friday's the best?), an amazing realization: I need to just let all of that wondering and worrying and self-editing go, and just lay it out there, because that's what I do.  I share things with you through this blog, even though it makes me seem like an insane, insecure person.  Because maybe that's how we connect.  You know?

And then it all came full circle once I thought about it, since the topic I wanted to write about was my need to be perfect, to get approval from others, to find value in myself only if they found value in me too.  I can't pinpoint ever being taught these things, except maybe in a Pavolvian dog sort of way.

You know:
Listen to teacher = get praised
Do what you're told = get good grades
Get good grades = get even more praise
Get into college = make everyone proud
Get into law school = be exceptional
Get a good job = make people prouder still
Do whatever your boss says = get more and more praise

In this sort of way, the system totally works for me.  I've been a fantastic student, a good daughter, a stellar employee.  But in maybe the more important ways, the system has totally failed me.  Because I'll be all of these things and do all of these things at the expense of myself, and my self-esteem.  I've wrapped my self-worth up so completely in what others think of me -- she's at the top of her class; she got straight A's; she's on the Dean's List again; she received a full scholarship; she's so detail-oriented; she's so great at this job -- that when I'm left to my own defenses, I end up lost.

I run myself into the ground in jobs I hate because I know they're the jobs I'm good at, and the last thing I want to do is disappoint my bosses or try things I've never tried before.  I stick to Plan A because it's a sure-thing, a safe, secure path that leads to Success, even after catching a glimpse of Plans B, C and D and recognizing that that's where I want to be instead.  You know, in some ideal world.  I don't take risks because, God, what if I fail?  What would everyone think?  Who would I even be if I didn't succeed at the things I tried to do?

I'm afraid to be wrong because I don't want people to think I'm incapable or incompetent (I shudder.  Seriously, I shudder).  I'm afraid to be creative because there are no rules or guidelines, nothing to let me know I'm Doing It Right.  I'm afraid to say the wrong thing, do the wrong thing, be the wrong way.  I don't take chances because it inherently means there's a chance things will go badly.

And I've been rewarded, for the most part, for being this way, so why change it now?

Well, that's simple, really: because no one should live their entire lives based on what others think or want or value.  And because we're human, so being perfect is impossible.

At least, this is what I'm telling myself.  I'm taking the next month or so to really examine this part of myself, to work on figuring out what it is I want, rather than what I think everyone else wants of/for me.  I need to set up systems, healthy systems, to help me break old habits and come up with new ones.  I need to put those into practice.  I need to spend some time on self-care, even though I think it's a bit woo-woo.  I need to find my own damn worth, sans everybody else.

And I would love any resources or suggestions you may have on getting this all done.

Okay, that's all the soul-baring I can do for now.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Hello, Ireland? It's Me Again.

In my last post, I mentioned that I've been dreaming lately of a cottage in Ireland (or something similar).  That thought eventually spiraled into me just thinking of Ireland in general, which obviously meant I then had to go through all of the pictures I've taken while there, which led to this post.

There you go.  That's how I create.  Just in case you ever wanted to know (but why would you?).

Anyway, when I was a kid, the final project for Mr. Cloud's sixth grade history class was to choose a country, any country, do some research on it at the local library--this was so way before the internet that it hurts my brain to even think about it -- and give a short presentation to the class.  I chose Ireland.  I don't know what made me choose this small spit of land halfway around the world -- I think it had something to do with a picture I saw once.  It just looked so beautiful, so far away, so green.

That assignment is when Ireland became my first Big Dream.  As far as I was concerned, Ireland (and eventually Cape Cod) was the only place I ever wanted to go.  Like, ever.

During the last semester of my freshman year in college, I noticed a study abroad opportunity in a department that I was considering majoring in.  The program, which would focus on human rights and history, would take students to Belfast, Northern Ireland, where they would stay at the local university, study The Troubles and travel around the six counties.  Quietly, without telling anyone, I applied to go on the trip.  A few weeks later, I got a phone call at work letting me know I'd been accepted.  I think I called everyone I knew and told them.

I took Nate back there a few years ago, though we spent most of our time in Dublin and County Clare.  I wanted him to see this place, knowing it would help him to understand just a bit more about me.  What that is, I can't tell you.  I still don't fully understand what draws me to this place time and time again.  But something does.  There are only a handful of places that I've traveled to so far that just fit, and Ireland is definitely one of them.  Why do some places call us more than others?  Why do we dream about them?  Think about them all the time?

If anyone has Ireland stories of their own -- or maybe places we should visit the next time we're there -- I'd love to hear them!

Monday, November 12, 2012

A Belief in Naming

I've been thinking a lot about naming the things I want.  Naming the Big Dream.  Naming the type of relationship I want to have with my health and body.  Naming the kind of person I want to be so as to better understand the direction I need and want to take my life in.

And then doing.

There's something to be said about putting your dreams out there into the Universe, right?  Something about manifesting intentions and positive energy?  (I can use these words because I live in California, obviously).

I don't have any concrete proof that all this works, but I'm going to put my faith in it because, in the end, what do I really know about how the Universe works?

So here's a dream of mine that I haven't been able to get out of my head lately:

I want to spend time in retreat.  Not retreating from something or someone, but rather, retreating into something.  My creativity, actually.  I want to spend a week, two weeks, even a month at some hideaway.  In my head, this is usually a cottage in Ireland like the one I stayed in on my last trip there, or somewhere in Mendocino County because it's one of my favorite places in California, or somewhere in the islands or mountains of Washington State.  A small town, a village, a country road.  Somewhere quiet and simple.  Somewhere cozy, where all I'll ever want to do is be there.  I want to sit at a table or in a really comfy chair and just write.  I want to be free of all the distractions and excuses I usually put in front of myself (though I have a sneaking suspicion they'll probably follow me anywhere, but I want to be able to rely on something other than my own willpower--like maybe the fact that there's just nothing else to do--to get my ass in gear).

I just want a place to be for a minute, and I'd like some fresh air.  Some different air.

So, Universe?  If this little dream could just, you know, manifest, that would be awesome.  But in the meantime, I'll see what I can do about this on my end too.

Monday, October 15, 2012

[Unemployed Life]: An 'Interview' Worst Case Scenario

We all probably know what it's like to go on job interviews.  It's one giant nerve-wracking, anxiety-ridden, self-confidence killing some odd hours, no matter how often you're told to think of it "like you're interviewing them."  Because that bullshit?  It doesn't work.

In the best cases, you love the place you're interviewing with.  The people are phenomenal, the job sounds even better in person than it does on paper, and you're pretty sure you've got this one in the bag because, come on, you're super friggin' qualified for it.  If this has been your experience, leave now because I think I hate you.  (Okay, you don't have to leave, but you do have to go sit in the corner quietly where I can't see or hear you.)

In the worst cases (and hint hint, this post is really about the worst cases), you wonder why you even showed up -- to like, LIFE -- to begin with.  You get there, and you know right away that this wouldn't be your ideal working environment.  It's quiet, no chatter, not a whole lot of natural light.  And where the heck is everyone?  You can't help comparing it to other places that have seemed  But then you think, whatever, the work is amazing -- truly, truly amazing -- so you'll deal.  Plus, think of the income!  The health care!  The gym membership!  In your head, you've already pictured those things as yours.  You've gone down this dangerous road a million times in the last week and now it's too late to stop it.  Your hopes are up, and it's a long way down from here.

So there you are, sitting in an empty waiting room reading last years annual report while the previous interview wraps up, and you realize that that interview has gone over the allotted time.  In your now-rattled mind, this must mean that interview is going swimmingly.  They must love this person.  You picture the interviewers laughing and listening intently, inspired by what your competition is saying, thinking that all the rest of the interviews are pointless because this person is it.  This makes your hands sweat a little bit, which is gross.  No one wants to shake hands with sweaty girl.  You wipe them off on the pant legs of the partial suit you're wearing, and you're reminded of how much you don't want to work at a place that requires pant suits.  Ever.

And then you're up.  You walk in, and there are three people in the conference room you're interviewing in.  And while they're seated casually around a glossy wood table, you're not fooled, you recognize a firing squad when you see one.  So it begins.  Hi, how are you.  Why don't we tell you more about the position.  Their intelligence is intimidating.  Your youth -- or maybe just the fact that, for a 28 year old, you look 16 -- makes you feel at a disadvantage already.  They've done so much!  They're world-renowned, well-traveled, published, seasoned vets in an arena you've only started to dip your toes in!  Then they want to know more about you.  Why do you feel singularly qualified for this position?  What will you bring to this work?  What have you done in your [short, limited] career that has prepared you for the rigors of this job and field?  You answer, but the words don't sound right to your ears.  You sound unsure of yourself, like you're trying to persuade them.  You try to reign yourself in, to tell yourself to just be you.  But you're asked questions you didn't anticipate.  The job requires qualifications you don't have.  You find yourself stuttering over and over, "I'm sorry, I don't have any experience with that," and "No, I've never worked on this sort of thing before."  It's misstep after misstep until finally, one of the interviewers takes pity on you.  They look over your cover letter once more, then look up and smile.  They say some nice things, trying to either bolster your confidence or remind you of your own damn work experience.  And you realize that this, this hail Mary life raft, maybe worse than if they'd just let you flounder, because now you really know you're screwed.

At a certain point, it becomes funny.  You start picturing what it would look like if you ran screaming from the room, arms flailing, heels clapping over the linoleum floor, hair -- which was once perfectly coiffed -- in mad disarray.  You wonder briefly if the endless hour of questions you couldn't answer has made you hysterical, or if it's just a byproduct of your self-esteem bottoming out.

Eventually, it ends.  You shake hands with the firing squad, realizing dimly that this interview was significantly shorter than the last (the one that ran over as you waited in the lobby), and that they're trying to let you leave almost as quickly as you're trying to get out of there.  They were nice people, nicer still because of the warm smiles they give you as you're led out.  This makes you wonder if it's obvious how badly you want to laugh maniacally just to make sure you don't start crying.  You feel stupid.  You feel incompetent.  You feel embarrassed, which is probably worst of all.

But then you get out in the fresh air.  You take a deep breath, text your boyfriend to say that you've got one hell of a story for him, and check your watch to make sure you're not going to be late getting back to your part-time job.  You square your shoulders, tell yourself that you'll get one good cry later tonight with a bottle of wine, and smile.

It was probably the worst interview of your life.  But things can only go up from here, right?

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Daily Inspiration

Friends, I'm writing again.  More on this to come, but if you have a glass please raise it up because this is cause for some serious celebration.

[Photo source:]

Monday, October 8, 2012

The Oncoming Overwhelm and Why People Should be Nicer to Women

Was it just me, or was last week an "off" week?  Did anyone else feel like that?

It probably started on Saturday.  Some friends and I went to a Renaissance Faire (shut up, you know you wish you were this cool) to, you know, eat turkey legs and people watch, and I was just not with it.  I was with two of my favorite people and just kept feeling like a total spaz.  I was lost in my own head, not really a part of the day.  I felt myself tuning in and out of conversation, thinking about things that had nothing to do with jousting, dirty jokes or palm reading.  The day, in the end, was wasted on me since I just couldn't pull my shit together and rally. 

Then the week began and my work email hosting service bested me in the worst possible way.  What was initially supposed to be the quick task of migrating mail from one host to two others (because I'm stupid and picky and want to use the calendar on one service and the mail on another.  Don't ask.) ended up being me, four hours later, screaming at my computer, close to tears as Nate ignores his work and frantically tries retrieve all the email I somehow deleted from one account and accomplish the fucking impossible by getting it into another account.  I hate my email.  We're still not on speaking terms and my messages are still not where I need them to be.

So there was that.

Then it was just a bunch of other little things.  It was my first week working solo in my part-time position and there's always a learning curve, but the little mistakes made while learning new processes always makes me feel incompetent.  And an author Nate and I love spoke on the same night as the first Presidential debate and we had to choose which to see.  We chose to debate which, after watching it, obviously WE CHOSE WRONG.

Finally, on Thursday things just got weird.  Let me preface by saying I only had one cup of coffee.  One cup.  So there I am, alone in the office, trying to get through a stack of things, listening to Pandora, and I'm positively jittery.  I am giggly and fidgety, dancing around in my rolling chair, lip syncing like I was Milli Vanilli.  I mean, I was having a moment.  And to cap off this shining moment, I got a call back about a pretty sweet job that I applied for.  They want to interview me so yay!  Celebrate!  Fast-forward three hours later and I'm practically crying.  Did something happen, you ask?  Did I get some bad news?  Did I make some horrible misstep at work?  You guys.  Nothing is clear at this point except that I am AN EMOTIONAL BASKET CASE.

And so there I am, no longer dancing, no longer feeling like Milli Vanilli, and I start thinking of the week, of the fact that this overwhelm has been building for days.  I should have seen this coming, right?  And that's interesting, because there's really not a whole lot for me to feel overwhelmed about right now.  So what is it?

Why am I feeling super irrational, super emotional, super just a big fucking mess?

Ohhh, PMS.  You.  Win.

Once I actually realized what was going on, my choices for dealing became absolutely clear.  I cancelled all plans I had for the weekend -- which, unfortunately, included a free bluegrass concert in the park where The Civil Wars were playing -- and told Nate that we were going to take it easy, get out of town, and spend some time together.  I wanted as low-stress of a two-days as humanly possible.  No crowds, no big productions, just peace and quiet and time to let the overwhelm settle, let the hormones run their course.

It's Sunday, and I'm feeling like a brand new woman.

Lessons learned?  Be intentional with your time.  Listen to yourself enough to recognize what it is you need at that moment, and then give it to yourself.

And also, be nicer to women.  We are fucking champions.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

[Unemployed Life]: Dealing with Wants

Over the past week or so, I've been struggling a lot with being semi-unemployed in the face of the things I want. This is probably the most frequent reoccurring problem I face and has the ability to get me down and put me in moods I'd rather not be in because they're just not productive.

And the truth is that I've come a long way in some respects.  I used to shop -- like, seriously shop -- when I had no money to do it.  If I saw something I liked, I'd somehow manage to rationalize the purchase regardless of what it cost or what I had in my bank account.  I shopped for therapy; I shopped to kill boredom; I shopped to make myself feel better about my body; I shopped to purchase things for others so they knew how much they meant to me.  But I'm happy to say that things have changed.  I'm hyper aware of my spending these days.  I rarely ever go into clothing stores because I can't afford to buy anything and I don't want to tempt or frustrate myself.  I analyze then over-analyze almost all my purchases to make sure I really, really want whatever I'm buying.  I'm better at saying No to myself.

But this doesn't meant that the wanting goes away.  Just because I've trained myself to say No doesn't mean I don't always want to first say Yes.  I want new running and hiking shoes; I want to buy a few tops from Anthropologie; I want to get a hair cut and a massage; I want[ed] to buy tickets to Jack's Mannequin's final show in L.A.; I want to take a few creative writing and grammar classes; I want more books; I want to get my dog to a trainer; I want to buy my ticket home for Christmas; I want a facial; I want to go back up to Seattle in the Fall; I want, I want, I want...

But, for now, the answer has to be and always

So when I start to get frustrated and discouraged about my situation, when I start to get down on myself about any number of things I feel like I should be able to change about the way things are right now, I try my best to get my brain moving in another direction fast.  In the past, I've updated my Christmas wishlist.  It sounds stupid, but this makes me feel so much better.  Something about knowing that there's a slight possibility that I'll get what I want in a few months makes it seem more okay.  Plus, the who wishlist process has taught me the value of thinking things over before purchasing, since half of the time I go back and delete things I thought I wanted more than life itself a few weeks after adding it to the list anyway.

I also try to do something I really love that doesn't cost any money.  In my case, what I love (long car drives into the country) costs no money other than gas.  But doing this simple thing makes me feel so much better.  These drives have been my go-to stress reliever for years now, and they never fail to make me feel better, no matter what's going on in my  life.  They're my time for quiet reflection, for space, for breathing room.

And, because I'm a planner, I also tend to prioritize and plan my way through the sads.  I mean, let's be real here: I don't really need new clothes, a concert ticket, or pampering.  Those things would be a waste of my limited funds in the long run.  The things I do really need are new shoes and a plane ticket home.  So those are the things I'm going to concentrate all my meager income on getting.  Going through my list of Wants and really asking myself, "How much do you need this?" has been one of my best strategies for getting over my mood [and myself] lately.

Finally, I make some serious effort to refocus my energies and turn a shitty situation into a productive one.  Last week, for example, I really wanted a massage and facial after the stress of dealing with back issues for three weeks.  I mean, I was willing to give you a kidney for an hour at a spa.  It was that serious.  But let's face it, those things don't come cheap and there was no way I could rationalize it.  It just couldn't be helped.  So instead, I tried to refocus my energies.  I read a few blogs that I know usually inspire me to be creative, and I began writing (free!).  I also re-read some books that are seriously addicting and I knew would get my mind off of my frustrations (free!).  It takes effort to refocus, but it's a great way to redirect all that energy to a place where it can be useful.

These aren't fail-proof (I mean, what is?), and they don't always help me.  But they've worked enough times in the past that I'm willing to continue trying them in the future.  After all, I'm feeling better this week than I was last week, and I've literally gone through and practiced each of these strategies to pull myself out of the crapper of a mood I was in.  Do I have any of the things on my list now?  No.

Do I still want most of them?  Not really.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

[Girl♥Health]: Digging Deep to Find a Goal

Did you know that Nicole over at just released an e-book all about running and motivation?  Did you know you can get it super easily by clicking this link and signing up?  Did you do it yet?  No?


Here's the gist of what it's about from Nicole's blog: Stop Making Excuses & Start Running is a 41-page bullshit-free guide to redefining motivation that will give you the mental tools you need to get from the couch to the finish line of your dream race. Part e-book, part workbook, and part swift-kick-in-the-ass, this powerhouse of actionable steps will help you build a life-long relationship with running.

You guys, you all know that I've been trying to get healthy for the past year or so, right?  I mean, that's what Girl♥Health is all about.  I'm changing eating habits, trying to incorporate exercise into my daily schedule, thinking and rethinking about goals I want to make and accomplish, and planning for how all of that can actually happen when my motivation is low and my resistance is high.  So I was so excited when one of my favorite bloggers announced that this little gem of a book -- which is totally applicable to all my health-related (and some non-health related) goals -- was coming out.  I read it in one sitting and am slowly making my way through the prompts.

One thing that this e-book has already helped me to do in the few days that I've had is to really examine what I want.  I've been saying for the past however long that I wanted to be a runner.  Why?  Because I wanted to be healthy.  And that was my problem right there.  The vagueness of this goal.  Saying I want to "be healthy" is like saying I want to "be happy."  It's like, no shit, of course I want to be healthy.  Who goes around thinking they want to be unhealthy?  So, because my goal wasn't actually a real, measurable, achievable goal, I wasn't really committed to it or the process I needed to go through to accomplish it.

This also pointed out to me the glaring fact that I didn't really want to be a runner either.  If I did, if running itself is what got me going, then I wouldn't need the excuse of something else in order to do it.  I would just want it bad enough that being a runner was my goal in and of itself.  Sure, running still has it's appeal to me: I think runners are fit and lithe and I would like to be that.  I also see running as a great stress reliever (when the thought of running itself isn't causing me stress) and a time to quiet my mind and let things sort of...go.  But those reasons aren't enough for me, I guess.

Realizing all of this was, in a strange way, both a relief and slightly devastating.  A relief because I can now stop beating myself up over not being "a runner" because it's not what I really want.  But it's devastating because, if running isn't what I really want, than what the hell is my goal?!

This was going to require me to dig deep.  What did I love to do?  What health-related images kept coming to mind when I thought about my Dream Life?  Where were my self-conscious hang-ups?  What did I fear doing the most?  When I imagined being a fit badass, what activities did I do?  What did health mean to me?

The answer slightly embarrasses me.  It's embarrassing because it touches on one of my deepest shames: my weight.  Being a person who loves the outdoors, I seem to surround myself with other outdoorsy people as well.  The upside of this is obvious: camping and day trips.  The downside of this is where it gets a little bit humiliating.  Nearly all of my friends love to hike.  And when they ask me to go along, the thought that runs through my brain is: Dear God, please let it be a flat hike or I won't be able to do it.  I've been that girl who everyone has had to stop for on a hike because I need to catch my breath.  I've been that girl who has had to ask to not take a certain trail because it's just too steep.  I've been that girl who has had to turn around before reaching the top.

And can I just say: it's makes a person's self-esteem feel about as low as humanly possible.

This is what I want to change.  This is my goal.  I want to feel confident enough to go on long-distance hikes.  I want to go backpacking and not be so scared out of my mind that my weight will hold me back that I chicken out.  I want to go to the top of Half Dome.  I want to see places that you can't get to by car.  I want to hike parts of the Pacific Crest and Appalachian Trails.  This will be a physical challenge, a conquering of a fear, and a stare down with my insecurities.  It's specific (finish a long-distance hike) while still being broad enough to encompass meeting small, less specific goals (like losing weight, lowering cholesterol, strengthening my core, having a healthy back, eating less crap, running, weight lifting, etc.) -- after all, I'll need to "be healthy" in order to see this through, right?

While I haven't fleshed out the details yet, I know there are tons of things I need to work on in order to accomplish this. For now though, I'm sort of just sitting with it all for a minute, just to see how it feels and if it still fits when the rush of naming it has faded a little.

[Photo source:]

Monday, September 24, 2012

The Evolution of Friendships

I've had a surprising number of conversations recently about the evolution of friendships.  Mainly, about how sometimes it seems like we remain friends with those we met during childhood or high school in spite of the fact that we've grown up and changed.  Whereas we seem to be friends with those we met during college and after because we've grown up and changed.

I don't know if this is true for everyone, but it seems to be true for a lot of the people in my life right now and, to a certain extent, it's also true for me.  It's amazing how the seasons of our lives are marked by the friendships we made as well as the friendships we ended.

When I was a child, one of my best friends taught me to love books.  She was/is so incredibly smart and, though I didn't realize it at the time (and therefore balked at it when my 10 year old brain took any notice), she held me to a higher standard than I held myself.  She moved away when we were in the fifth grade but we somehow managed to check in with one another once or twice every five years or so.  We evolved.  We aren't best friends anymore, but we are definitely friends.  We've changed, but I still love her so dearly.  There are no strings attached to our friendship, no roles we claimed for ourselves as children that we've been unable to get out of as adults.  We are accepting of our individuality, our growth.  And I've come to recognize that the person I would be had we never been childhood friends is so very different from the person I am and the person I want to be.

There were also friendships made during my childhood that were never meant to grow up with me.  They were meant to teach me lessons, and then to fade away.  From these friendships, I learned about the kind of friend I'd been, and that I didn't want to be that anymore.  I didn't want to be judgmental or mean (as tween girls can so be).  I didn't want to be clique-y and exclusive.  Making fun of other girls, putting myself in a place of grade-school power just so I wasn't the one being made fun of was way to grow up.  It made me a lousy person.  These friendships taught me these lessons when they turned on me, when rumors flew and the catty stares I'd once given were now aimed my way.  It was a hard way to learn it, but I'm so grateful for it.  I'm not sure it could have been taught any other way.

At a certain point, our friendships can seem like rocky love affairs.  We are co-dependent and jealous, selfish and self-absorbed.  These relationships can burn bright and then burn out, and it's a painful struggle as you learn to let go.  I met a girl in middle school and we just clicked immediately.  She was, I now recognize, everything I wanted to be but wasn't.  We were opposites and we filled gaps in each other that needed to be filled for a time.  Where she was reckless, I was cautious; where she was in-your-face, I was mild-mannered.  My other friends tried to warn me off our friendship but I didn't listen.  We stopped being friends, the way high school girls do, more times than I can count before patching things up and being inseparable for another few months.  There was a final straw involving her and a boy I'd liked for 2 years.  I knew after that that this wasn't the kind of friendship I needed in my life.  I slowly started to back out of it.  After graduation, we lost touch almost completely.  Our lives have taken vastly different roads headed in almost opposite directions.  I see things now about her, about who I was then, about our friendship, that I wasn't able to see at 15.  We fed each others insecurities and were in constant competition for I don't know what.  But I'm still thankful that we were friends at all.  She allowed me to be a bit wild with her, and that's not something I was able to do elsewhere.  This was a friendship characterized by fun and freedom, even while we held one another down.

But not all high school friendships are like that one.  There are women in my life right now that have been with me forever.  We dealt with homesickness together during the first few weeks of boarding school.  We were fans of NSYNC together.  We obsessed about boys and wrote fan fiction together.  We got ready for school dances and got drunk off of Smirnoff Ice on beaches together.  We fell in love with Coldplay and screamed at football games together.  We cried at graduation together because we worried things would never be the same.  And now we're going to each other's weddings, texting one another from across the country, talking about jobs and babies and "Ohmygod, did you see that so-and-so from high school has five kids already?!"  These friendships are not always easy because we became friends with certain versions of ourselves -- so it can be hard to find commonalities between us as adults.  But we work at that.  And we try to give each other space to grow.  Because these friendships still bring something to my life; these women are familiar and funny and they know my story without me having to tell them.  They are the ones that I am 100% sure will be there for me in the darkest of times because they have been in the past, no matter what.  That bond is difficult to break.

And then there are the friendships we make as adults.  These friendships can seem the closest, the most immediate, because these are the friends you see or talk to all the time, the friends that the You you are now has chosen.  My current circle includes friends that were Nate's and are now mine, friends we've made together as a couple, and the friends I've made on my own either during or after law school.  I don't know how to explain these relationships other than to say that they are so engaging, so supportive and encouraging.  These are the friends I see at "Family Dinner" on Fridays and Saturdays.  These are the friends who come over to bring me wine and movies when I have a slipped disk.  These are my Girls Night and my camping crew.  They know my drink preferences and the fact that I want to become a long-distance hiker.  Our conversations are most often about issues like politics and greed and socialism and nutrition and poverty and education (and friendships...this blog post came from one of those conversations) because that's just what's important to us.  We are friendships built on ideas, on who we want to become, on who we are at the moment, and the things that drive us.  My life would be so much less without them right now.

This is all to say that I think the best friendships are the ones we choose to keep because they enrich us, they bring something to us and we know we can bring something to these friends.  Friendships, like all relationships, require work and acceptance and space and commitment.  But they are worth it.  Regardless of whether certain friendships have lasted or have faded, they have all been worth it.
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