Thursday, December 30, 2010

You Didn't Think I'd Let The Year End Without My Top Ten, Did You?

I like that my last blog of the year will be my 50th entry since I started this project back in July. Whole numbers make me happy. 

You know what else makes me happy? The New Year. 

For many years now, New Year's Day has been my favorite holiday. I get corrected on this often - "You mean New's Year's Eve, right? Because that's where the party happens!!" 

Yes, my lushy friends, I am aware of this. However, it is actually New Year's Day, January 1st, that is my favorite day of the year. 

I'm not really a big fan of Valentine's Day but one thing I do enjoy about the holiday is that it almost forces people… or rather, gives them an excuse, to show their lovers how much they love them. Many can argue that this kind of behavior should be happening every day between lovers anyway, but come on - we all know life gets in the way and some of us (yes, girls, this includes you) need a little reminding push every now and then. Personally, my favorite part about Valentine's Day is that a bunch of dudes got together and created Steak and BJ Day in it's honor. For those of you who don't know, this "holiday" takes place one month later, on March 14th. (To all my male friends: you are welcome) 

New Year's Day is kind of like Valentine's Day to me. Yes, we have the power to make every day a "clean slate" day - but just in case we've fallen into a rut in the last few months (like overeating, overdrinking, undersleeping and underexercising - hello, fat jeans, haven't seen you in a while!) we now have a day designated to throw all of that in the past and start fresh. 

"Finish each day and be done with it. You have done what you could. Some blunders and absurdities have crept in; forget them as soon as you can. Tomorrow is a new day. You shall begin it serenely and with too high a spirit to be encumbered with your old nonsense." - Ralph Waldo Emerson. 

I love this quote. And while I do my best to live by it each day, January 1st is when I read it as finishing each year instead of each day. It's time to move past what didn't work in 2010 and embrace what did in order to move into 2011 with that high spirit he speaks of. 

New Year's Eve is the day I take to reflect on where I was celebrating just 365 days ago and how different my life is since then. For example, when the clock rolled from 11:59pm to midnight, bringing the year 2010 into my life, I was sitting at a desk in the office of the Chili's on Rainbow and Lake Mead, typing the dinner numbers into the computer. It was my first solo shift as a manager. After only three months of training, I knew I had made a very bad decision in moving into management. My days of climbing the corporate ladder were finished when I left the Hyatt. With the exception of my General Manager at that restaurant, every other manager I worked with acted as a daily reminder of the kind of person I never want to be. Angry, righteous, overweight and simply miserable to be around. 

I was hoping when I moved to my new restaurant a week later, I might feel differently and be able to make this job into something worthwhile. And while I was much happier that the managers I worked with at the new restaurant were nothing like the assholes that "trained" me, being locked in a building for 10-12 hours a day with my days off few and far between and every holiday on the schedule showing a TV assigned to it? Yeah, this got old quickly. As in, three months of this and I was ready to commit a felony. By April, I was right back behind the bar at the South Strip location. 

To all the restaurant managers out there? I have a lot of respect for what you do day in and day out and will never scoff at your positions again. I also think you might be clinically insane. 

I was also dating Cory last New Year's Eve… I think… he and I did the on again, off again thing around that time of year and honestly, I can't remember which way the switch was at the time. Then again, this was kind of the defining statement of our entire relationship. 

So, indeed, things sure are different now! Tomorrow night, I'll be spending the evening with some friends singing karaoke, doing shots of some sort of flavor infused vodka and enjoying each other's company. Jeremy is back home again, as he enjoys his holidays with his family. I'm not upset about Thanksgiving or Christmas but a little bitter than he is not here to spend midnight of my favorite holiday with me. I like that midnight kiss and it's been a few years since I have had one. A real one, at least - I'm sure some poor schmuck will have to endure a "you'll do" kiss when the ball drops tomorrow, but it's always nice to ring in the year with the person that you hope will be making it a special one for you. Selfish, I know… but I'm allowed every now and then. 

Okay, time for the juicy stuff and the reason this is my favorite holiday: Resolutions! 

I always make it a point to type out my resolutions for the year. Normally, I don't put a lot of thought into it beforehand. I mean, I have some general ideas going into it, but it's a lot more fun to just let my mind go and see what comes up as far as what I'd like to get accomplished. I'll be honest… I'm not much for action plans and I know that putting one together would ultimately help me succeed in achieving many of my goals. However, the list itself sort of becomes an action plan for me. As you know, I believe in Universal Law which asks, simply, to put what you want out there to the Universe and do so with intention. Then, if your actions are consistent with your requests, the Universe will respond accordingly. 

I was talking to Travis the other day on the phone - he hasn't been staying with me for a while and so I gave him my computer to use as I have the Macbook now. He told me that he had come across my resolutions list for last year and was impressed that I had accomplished many of my goals. Honestly, I can't even remember what most of them were! (One was getting a Macbook, I know that for sure) I can recall typing that list up - I think it was on December 30th as well - and never looking at it again. It's amazing what we can do when we simply believe we can do it. 

And so, without further ado, Tina's 2011 Resolutions (in no particular order). 

Oh, and of course there are 10 of them. Whole numbers = happiness. 

Book it, baby! 
I had no idea was I was onto when I started writing this blog. As I've said before, I needed an outlet for my thoughts and turning 30 had done a weird thing to my head. So, I started writing. Initially, it was the "living in lack" idea with the no sex, drugs, liquor, etc… however it has morphed into something so much bigger than I could have imagined. It has started to take the form of a story that talks about getting everything I've always wanted by choosing to live my life on purpose and without permission (to quote Jeremy). 

In the six short months that I have been writing, I have created a closer relationship with my mom, I have met an incredible man who has given me the opportunity to find out what really makes me happy in life, I have attracted new people into my space that exude positive energy and I have reconnected with old friends and established stronger and more meaningful relationships with them. I have found something that excites me, fulfills me and gives me a sense of purpose. I have helped people put a voice to their own internal monologue and given them something to relate to. I wake up in the morning and genuinely love the person I have become. As I told my friend Justin a while ago - I truly feel like I am the best version of me I've ever been. 

Obviously, I'm going to keep writing. My plan is to keep putting content out consistently and when my birthday rolls around again (July 2nd), I will begin to get very serious about taking all of this and putting it into book form. With the help of my friend Whitney, I am looking to have something very concrete to present to publishers by the end of the year. I am very interested to see how things begin to unfold over the next six months. Right now, it seems as if I am simply journaling the goings on of my life - but I know that I have a message and am confident that it will come together as I continue to write. 

So please continue to read! You are a wonderful audience and your feedback is invaluable. I would also ask as a favor to everyone - recommend my blog to at least one person in your life who you think could find value in my words. This will really help me out as much of my motivation stems from hearing from those who read my words. 

Give them something else to read about 
Sin City Seagull is not your "typical" blog. It's long form and tells more like a story. While I make an effort to give each individual entry it's own life, in reality, they are meant to be read in the order that they are written as each is a continuation of the previous post. Because of this, it doesn't appeal to everyone. I am perfectly fine with this and understand it completely. If you don't like reading, this is not the blog for you! 

However, I love to write and I would like to expand my audience. So, instead of changing this blog to be something different (which I do not feel would make me very happy), I am going to try out a new blogging project based on a good friend's recommendation. I am going to start a review blog about Las Vegas locations. On the strip, off the strip, restaurants, entertainment, etc. Basically, I'd like to give my readers an idea of what it is like to be a local in Las Vegas. I love this city and all of it's sinful implications. I also love that you can live a perfectly normal life, regardless of the craziness that Las Vegas has to offer. 

We have some of the most amazing restaurants in the world. I had a bagel sandwich at a tiny little cafe in the Bellagio called Snacks that was delicious! You know why? Because it has to be! Especially on the strip, all food and beverage needs to be top notch. Not all of them are, but the majority of them make a bigger effort than the fancy places you'll find in other cities across the country. This goes the same for shows, concerts and other forms of entertainment. Again, not all of them knock it out of the park, but almost always, it's worth stepping up to bat. 
Irish Coffee at McMullan's Irish Pub 
Rising Sun burger at Holstein's in the Cosmopolitan

Steak and Lobster presentation at Fix in Bellagio
I have been trying to come up with a name for this blog and still haven't been able to find one I like. I am definitely taking suggestions! As soon as I have one, I'll build the website and get moving. I am looking forward to this new project as the writing will be quite different than the Sin City Seagull blog. Plus, it gives me the opportunity to showcase the city I love. Stay tuned! 

You spin me right round, baby right round 
I heart spin. I can't believe it's taken me this long to get into it. What I love so much about taking the spin classes at Las Vegas Athletic Club is that there are so many different times and teachers that it always fits into my schedule. And unlike Yoga, where I am very attached to a specific instructor and only take his class, I love that every spin teacher has a different style. One morning, I dragged myself out of bed at 6:00am to take a spin class and the teacher's music was all Las Vegas based. Everything from Elvis's Viva Las Vegas to Katy Perry's Waking Up In Vegas. She even had songs by Cher and Elton John because they perform here and the Killers because they are from here. She really put a lot of thought into her music selections and it made for one of the best classes I've taken so far. 

In fact, it was because of this particular session that I started thinking about becoming an instructor myself. I would love to put together a variety of musical compilations to get people excited and moving. I love all the hooting and hollering that goes on during a high energy spin class, not to mention the massive amount of calories that are burned. With at least three days of spin, two days of Yoga and a day of weight resistance, I should be able to maintain a body weight that I am happy with while still enjoying the occasional night out with dinner and wine. 

They have instructor classes through LVAC so I will look into this and see what it entails. I have often thought about becoming a personal trainer but spin is something that would fit into my lifestyle better and I would still be able to make a difference for those that are trying to improve their health, be a good example for their children or spouse or simply just look better naked! Whatever the reason, it would be nice to be a part of it. 

Super awesome new spin shoes

Please don't stop the music 
As I mentioned in my Thanksgiving blog, I am so grateful for my satellite radio because of all the new music I have been introduced to. This will be the third year in a row that I have included Music Overhaul on my list of resolutions. 

Luckily, this coincides with my spin goal as I would need to download all kinds of new music and organize my existing music into specific playlists. So, hopefully, this will be a better incentive to get moving on this goal. I think I had also said last year that I wanted to wait until I had my Macbook before revamping my itunes. Well, I got it! 

My other incentive is that I really, really, really want the new ipod touch. So now, I am not going to let myself get one until all of my own personal music is downloaded and I have at least 100 new songs ready to go. I stopped by Best Buy the other day just to touch one… so sexy…. 

Hold your horses 
With 50 blogs now under my belt, I can't remember if I expressed how much I love horses in any of them. Well, I do. When I was little, I was that girl that wanted a pony… and never stopped asking until one day, my parents got me my very first horse. She was a 20 year old retired race horse named Rima's Marc. My brother and uncle used to send me into tears when they would talk about how close she was to the glue factory. However, my dad's shoulder injury from being thrown from her sings a different tune. This horse knew two speeds: fast and faster. She kept me on my toes and I enjoyed every second I had her. 

However, I became pretty involved in 4-H and wanted to participate in more shows and needed a younger horse for this. So, we gave Rima away and I got an eight year old Arabian named Lightning. He was fun. We barrel raced, went on trail rides and I even took a ribbon once in a Fitting and Showing event at the fair. I boarded him near my house and after a few years, I started to become more interested in boys than horses (something I still regret to this day). So, I gave lessons to the little girls who lived at the stable where I boarded Lightning and then sold him to them. 

It's been so long since I've been around horses that I couldn't even find a picture to post that has me interacting with either of the horses I had. A few years ago, I leased a horse up at Mt. Charleston for six months. Three months into it, he threw me to the ground in the riding arena and crushed my right tricep with his hoof. I spent the afternoon in the emergency room. I decided that leasing someone else's horse without knowing anything about it was probably not a good idea. 

Still, I have a pull all the time to be around horses again. So, I started emailing some local stables to see if I can volunteer once or twice a week. As weird as it sounds, I don't even mind cleaning stalls and grooming horses for free - I just want to be around them again. I have gotten a few responses with people who are interested but haven't actually locked anyone in to having me start coming by. I would like to make this a bigger priority in 2011 as this is most definitely a part of my past I would like to reconnect with. 

"Your multiplicity of talents continues to amaze me" 
This was posted on my Facebook wall by a friend of mine after I plugged my side business called "Picasso's Pets" as possible Christmas gift ideas. 

I started drawing before I could write my name. For years, it was only horses. As an adult, I have not done much drawing until just a few years ago when I decided to pick up my colored pencils and give it a go. As it turns out, drawing for me was like riding a bike. Only I remember not being able to pop a wheely and now, I was doing BMX Big Air tricks. My talent for art had grown significantly and I realized that I really had something to work with. So, I started my pet portrait business on the side and actually did pretty well. I did take some criticism which slowed my progress, but I kept at it and got better and better. This last year, admittedly, I became a little burned out and didn't do much drawing at all. 

However, I set up my drawing table to get some projects out for the holidays and remembered just how incredible it felt when someone first looked at a picture I did of their beloved animal and tears came to their eyes. It's neat to have a talent like that. 




My dad has started a business called Affordable Custom Cages. He builds the most incredible bird and small animal cages that I have seen. He is working on a website to increase interest and distribution but in the meantime, he is using Ebay to create an online store where people can shop and bid on his products. 

Between this blog and my new review blog, building a website is not really on my list of things I want to do. So, I am going to take advantage of this Ebay store idea for my portraits and see what kind of interest I can get. I am also going to finish this portrait of Elvis that I started over two years ago - in my opinion, it's the best thing I've ever drawn - and get the licensing permission to distribute it. In my mind's eye, I see it for sale at the gift shop outside of the Elvis show at the Aria. Ooh… that would be awesome… 

Bowling Jesus died for your pins 
Another silly thing a friend posted on Facebook the other day. Got a chuckle out of me. 

My parents met in a bowling alley. My dad worked as a lane mechanic and my mom worked at the concession stand. It was love at first strike (I couldn't resist). Ever since then, we have been a bowling family. I bowl every Wednesday with my dad at the Santa Fe Station and have been bowling as a substitute at Red Rock Lanes on Monday as my mom broke her wrist and can't pick up her bowling ball for another month. 

I'm not bad. I bowl anywhere between a 175-180 average, which is fairly respectable and means I get lots of spares. However, given the fact that I've been bowling since I was eight years old, I would like to see my name at the top of a lot more weekly recap sheets than I do now. 

I live right next to the Santa Fe. As in, walking distance. The bowling alley opens early and by myself, I can bust out three games in less than an hour. In 2011, I'd like to up my game a bit. Besides any recreational open bowling I do with my friends, I am going to take one morning a week to bowl at least three games on my own to iron out technique, more quickly recognize changing lane conditions and therefore better my adjustments. I have a solid strike ball and a pretty decent spare ball and there is no reason that I shouldn't be bowling more consistently than I do now. 

I would like to finish 2011 averaging between 190-200 in my winter bowling league. This would mean I get a lot more strike runs in addition to my spares. It's a little aggressive, but I know I can do it! 

Prepare for the kamikaze! And no, not the girly bar shot… 
When I was dating Eric, we ended up at a gay bar in Long Beach one night where they were doing karaoke. By the way, not uncommon or weird to end up at a gay bar when you live in Long Beach so you can keep the jokes to a minimum. 

We sort of dared each other to sing. Being the closet attention whore that I am (how's that for an oxymoron?), it didn't take much twisting of my arm. I signed up for Tom Petty's American Girl and proceeded to butcher the hell out of it in front of a bar full of people. It was that day that my love for karaoke was formed. 

No, I don't always sing
karaoke in costume. This
was actually Halloween
I've done karaoke more times than I can count. I've done it in every city I've lived in as well as Boston, Chicago, Orlando, Kingman (boy was that scary), Laughlin and San Diego. I've sang karaoke with a live band performing behind me and in a small room with a bunch of friends, Japanese style. I've sang in front of a roomful of seniors as well as an entire bar full of cowboys (who, by the way, do NOT like Alanis Morrissette). I have a list in my phone of all the songs I have sang, would like to sing and will never sing again. 

Yeah, I'm that into it. 

Now, don't get me wrong, I'm no good. I mean, I'm not awful (sure, I've been awful, but I can usually hold my own). It's just that karaoke is liberating to me for some reason. In one of his early correspondences to me, Jeremy told me about the first time his friends talked him into doing karaoke and how much he loved it. He found that he actually had a good singing voice and enjoyed being in the spotlight. I don't know what it is, but there is something rather freeing about belting out one of your favorite songs in front of a roomful of strangers. I admit, this kind of public display of humiliation is not for everyone. But I love it. 

There is this fun version of karaoke here in the valley called Karate Karaoke. I am a white belt. I have to sing a certain number of songs before I qualify to go for my next belt color. In order to actually graduate and receive this new belt, I must sing a specific number of "kamikaze" songs. These are songs that are chosen randomly for me while I am standing at the microphone trying not to lose my lunch - or whatever shot special I just consumed. The song could be something I know, something I have never heard of and could quite possibly not even be in English. 

This takes karaoke to a whole new level for me. And it causes me to get even further outside my comfort zone so, I'm all for it. My goal for 2011 is to receive my black belt in karate karaoke. For those of you who read this and have the pleasure of seeing me destroy my kamikaze songs… thanks in advance for your support! 

I don't need a Kindle, just some time and motivation 
I do enjoy reading, I just don't make that much time for it. I read quite a bit online but there is still something special to me about cozying up in the corner of my room with a hot tea and a fleece blanket and wrapping my head around a good story. So, instead of saying I'm going to just "read more", I've gotten specific. My reading list for this year includes the following: 

These Ayn Rand novels (in this order) 

* Anthem 
* The Fountainhead 
* Atlas Shrugged 
(honestly, I'm amazed I haven't read these already… time to get moving) 

The next three novels in Janet Evanovich's Stephanie Plum collection 

* High Five 
* Hot Six 
* Seven Up 
(I'm a late bloomer with Ms. Plum's adventures) 

Three other novels that come my way, preferably non-fiction. I'm thinking but not attached to… 

* On Writing by Stephen King 
* Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin 
* Almost Grown, The Rise of Rock and Roll by James Miller 

Like attracts like… how can I expect people to read my stories if I don't read theirs? 

Mirror, mirror, on the wall…. 
Even though I have listed this one last, it is probably the most important resolution to me of all. 

I have what some people might refer to as an issue with self image. I can always be thinner and more attractive. Well, most of the time being thinner to me means being more attractive. And the thinner, the better. 

I am the person that looks in the mirror and immediately sees what's wrong with my face and body. I am obsessed with what the scale reads when I get on it. If it's a few pounds heavier than last time, I go into a period of loathing and self hatred that usually pushes my loved ones away from me, allowing me to be right about people only liking me when I'm thin. 

I also get a little crazy about my workouts. I count each calorie that comes off and relate it to something I have eaten earlier that day. I stress out so much that I burn myself out and then take a week off of going to the gym, in which time I put on even more weight and the cycle starts all over again. 

I wake up in the morning and eat a light breakfast, healthy lunch, intelligent snacks and then go out with friends and eat an amazing dinner filled with all the fat, sodium and sugar I was trying to avoid all day. A few drinks later, and I needed to have spent three hours at the gym that morning to feel like I was worthy of my fun night out. 

I know there isn't anything I can do about making my face prettier except figure out how to afford braces and improve my complexion. I get frustrated that everyone around me has perfect teeth and flawless skin. I'm a "cute" girl who would give anything to be considered "gorgeous". 

These are not fun thoughts to have. 

A couple of months ago, I started the process of learning how to love myself. All of myself - not just the things I pick out that I like. I have an oval mirror in my room that I use specifically to tell myself how beautiful I am every day and how deserving I am to have what life has given me. I have had a lot of fun over the holidays and now none of my jeans fit. Instead of hating myself and being ashamed of putting on weight, I simply bought bigger jeans to wear until I take the weight off again. Which I will - because in general, I lead a very active and healthy lifestyle. I can't be so hard on myself when I've had a few weeks of enjoying the libations and goodies that come with being with friends and family. 

I look in the mirror with my hands on my belly and am thankful that I have so much food to eat. I am thankful for the extra weight in my chest and booty that make my dresses a little more fun to wear. I like to eat. I like to drink. I like good food and delicious beer. I like handcrafted cocktails and specialty wines. I like cheese. I like salads with rich dressings and steaks seasoned to perfection. And I absolutely love chocolate molten and red velvet cake. If I gave up all of these foods, I would always fit into my size 2 Lucky jeans. But life wouldn't be quite as much fun. 

So, I'm better off being happy with who I am then going on and on about who I could be. 

I bought new workout clothes to get excited about going to the gym again and stocked up the kitchen with all the healthy food I love to eat. I threw away all of my skin products that are based on harsh chemicals and replaced them with natural washes, lotions and oils that may not make my skin flawless, but will certainly make me feel good every time I use them. And my teeth? Perhaps one day… in the meantime, they don't define who I am and I'm not going to let them anymore. 

I don't expect to cure 30 years of being unhappy with my physical appearance to go away in one year. But I do want to accept myself fully for who I am and let my confidence take over from there. This will need to include affirmations every single day and positive reinforcements whenever I'm feeling blue. I'm up for the challenge - I have too much to offer to live in my head and not like who I am. 

So get ready world, "Gorgeous Tina" is on her way! 


There they are. The statements that will spearhead a new year of excitement, abundance, love and endless gifts. It is a full plate and one thing I definitely get to learn is how to establish a work week for myself so that I can get as much accomplished each day as possible. I need to give myself ample time for work, play, meditations and creative outlets. Through at least one of these sources, I get to find a way to create an income for myself as what I have in savings will not take me to the end of the year. I am confident that I will be able to create this. Because I am talented, smart and beautiful and I write my story. 

I wrote a daily affirmation on my white board a few days ago that I decided to keep and repeat until the first of the year as it captures the momentum I have carrying me into 2011: 

Surrender to what life is! My life is exactly what I've made it. 2011 is the year to LOVE. 

Namaste..

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

The GREEN Lantern? Tina VERDE? Coincidence? I Think Not...

My mood is very much matching the weather today here in Las Vegas. It's been overcast pretty much all day and the clouds are thick and cover the sky completely. Unlike Washington state, the sky continues to have texture, not just a plain gray slate that threatens rain all day long. I doubt it will rain, but it's not looking likely that it will clear up either. 

I've attempted a few standbys that usually perk me up, but nothing seems to be working. So… I thought maybe I'd just go ahead and let myself be sad for a while. Sometimes I think it is as important as being happy - I read once that we need to embrace the times we are feeling unhappy so that when the time comes that cheerfulness returns, we can recognize and cherish it all the more. 

The trouble with these kinds of days is that my brain starts to go. And when it goes, it goes. Instead of just sitting in a corner and allowing it to runneth over, so to speak, I thought sitting down for a good healthy write would be a better outlet. 

I updated my relationship status on Facebook again a couple of days ago. I put that I was back in a relationship. I received some nice comments and a few texts about whether or not it was a new guy. I explained that Jeremy and I were giving it another chance and everyone was very pleased (well, except a male friend of mine who wanted to give us a shot and another girlfriend who was already trying to set me up with a friend of hers). 

However, I have felt a little weird since making that status change. I suppose it is because it doesn't really feel like it's completely true. Yes, Jeremy and I are dating again and things are going well. But to claim that we are in a relationship still feels a little soon. We both made it clear that we will have to take things "one day at a time" and try not to overanalyze or set expectations this time around. 

I hate "one day at a time". Not much romance or excitement there. But, it is certainly logical and we have both decided in our stupid logical heads that it's the best way to handle things for now. 

Besides, we do love each other. I have faith that in the end, that will be enough. I just thought love was supposed to be a little more… crazy, impulsive, passionate, spontaneous and irrational. Perhaps I need to stick with Law & Order and lay off the chick flicks. 

I was out the other night with this male friend of mine. Let's call him… Mike. Mike is one of the nicest guys I've ever met. He has pretty bad taste in women - tends to attract the crazy ones - but is full of good intention and I think with just a little more patience and positive attitude, he will do just fine in meeting a great woman one day. For a little while, he thought that woman might be me. I'm not sure if he still feels that way, but he respects me enough not to push the issue now that I'm dating Jeremy again. 

An interesting subject was brought up while we were hanging out that made me decide that it's probably time to write a blog about it. Children. Mike wants them. I don't. Always a pretty quick in and out when discussing the possibility of a relationship. 

You may remember in a not too distant post I was talking about meeting the man of my dreams. I mentioned that if Mr. Right walked into my life and wanted kids, it would be something that I would consider. When Jeremy and I started talking again, he said he was very surprised by that comment and thought I completely loathed children. I actually took a bit of offense to this as I have never, ever used that word to describe the idea of being a mother. I have always said the same thing over and over and over. I find it incredibly interesting what people hear. 

I thought I would say it again - maybe in the written word, my words will be better translated and understood. 

Never in my life have I actually felt the desire to have children. There have been times when I thought I might want to one day - maybe even counted on it. I figured that as I grew up, all of my friends would turn out to be right and I would end up wanting children. I have talked about having kids before, but never from the place of "I want them". I only explored what it felt like to imagine myself as a mother. Every single time, I would gravitate back to my original position of "yeah… I just don't want them." This may change. But it never has. So, I can't guarantee that it ever will.  

There are lots of reasons behind how I feel and they have changed many times over the year. Regardless of my reasons at any given time, the answer reamins the same. Nope. Not for me. 

They say now that I've turned 30, that old biological clock will start ticking away and everything will change. Well, maybe. I'm sort of waiting to see if that's true. I'm not necessarily fighting against it, but I know that at this point in my life, there is still absolutely no desire to have children. 

As my logical brain has pretty much cursed my romantic, crazy, insanely passionate and spontaneous love life wishes, is has done the same for the idea of having a family. In my mind, it's just not the logical decision. 

Disclaimer: I have many friends who have children. I have a beautiful nephew. I think that there is absolutely nothing wrong about two people deciding to have a child together. I may judge many things, but I am not judgmental about the reasons that people choose to have children. I feel this is important to say as my opinions can sometimes appear that I feel the opposite of this. I assure you, these are simply my feelings about my choices and that's it. 

With that said, here are my thoughts. 

I think the world is insanely overpopulated. 

I think the concept of having our names live on through our children is outdated and ego driven. So is the idea that the child has to be of my own blood. Weird analogy… but I am completely 100% passionately against the breeding of animals for sale. I have no idea why someone would rather spend $1,200 on a dog because of it's reputation and papers instead of spending less than $100 to adopt and save a dog that is otherwise going to be put down or die on the streets. I think if more people walked through an orphanage before starting a family, there is a chance that they might have second thoughts. 

Ever wonder why it is so difficult to adopt a child? Because there is no bigger privilege and responsibility in the world than raising children. Adoption services take this idea very seriously and therefore, do not make it easy for the average person to adopt. I wish more people took this process more serious when thinking about having their own children. As Keanu Reeves says in one of his more profound moments in movie history, you need a license to buy a dog, to drive a car and even to catch a fish. But any asshole off the street can become a parent. 

There is nowhere in the world I would rather live than the United States. Even with the mess we are in today. With that said, I pretty much disagree with every major decision our government makes. We have these two extreme sides that are blasting each other's opinions all the time and try to set up laws and policies that meet somewhere in the middle. While we do better than a lot of countries, I still think it's a joke. 

I barely understand what the hell we are thinking half the time and can't imagine trying to explain it to another person. The tension in this country is so thick at times that I really don't think I'd be surprised if there was some sort of apocalyptic type occurrence that left us all at square one. I'm not sure I want to be raising a little one with all of this madness going on around us. 

I have very progressive and non-conforming beliefs on medicine and health care. Once again, if someone chooses to take an aspirin because their head is hurting, that is their own decision. However, if my child has a fever and they want me to dump a bunch of cold medicine down it's throat or crush up some baby aspirin and feed it to him, I'm not going to want to do that. I don't even believe in the way our hospitals handle childbirth. I feel very strongly against all of this, however, in this kind of society, I would be considered unfit or abusive if I didn't feed my baby medicine every time they sneezed. 

Now, if all I have ever wanted my entire life was to have a baby, then I would make it a priority to find a father that shares my beliefs, live in a community that supports the way I would want to raise my child and, without a doubt, I would adopt. 

I don't take birth control. Once again, I don't take any pills unless somebody convinces me that I'll probably be hospitalized or die without them. (Hospitalization just means more medicine. No bueno). I am not having a foreign object inserted into my body that messes with my hormones and while I might be able to find a doctor to perform a surgery to keep me from having children, I don't believe in messing around with my body like that and, plus, there is that chance that I could change my mind about having kids in the future. Unlikely… but always possible. 

So, I'm left with condoms. I know every time I have sex that I am taking a risk and might get pregnant. I guess I leave a lot of it up to the Universe. I take all the necessary precautions I can based on my beliefs and have faith that things will turn out as they should. Abortion used to be an option for me when I was younger, but again - if it's an unnatural process, I'm just not down with it anymore. And abortion to me is unnatural. 

As almost every mother has told me, having a baby is a lot like I describe what I think being in love should look like; crazy, impulsive, passionate, spontaneous and irrational. I wonder if I did get pregnant… would everything I mentioned above just go right out the window? Would I just love my child with every ounce of my being and let everything else work it's way out? Isn't that what most parents end up doing when they realize that having all the answers is unrealistic? 

I guess these are things I'll never know unless I'm looking them right in the face. 

So, although not the most exciting thing in the world, perhaps a love based on logic isn't all that bad. Maybe one day, I'll change my mind about this. Most likely though, I'll keep my head on, make decisions that are good for the world and be with a man who simply loves me for who I am, without all the expectations. 

However, if things do change, and I decide to move to Hollywood to chase the newly single Ryan Reynolds, marry him and have fifteen of his babies, you are all free to tell me "I told you so."


Friday, December 10, 2010

Vanity Is Not Just a Nightclub In Vegas - Part Two

"So, tell me something interesting about yourself. Something that you don't normally tell people that you've just met." 

For years after the fact, I didn't dare tell anyone that I used to be a stripper. I only worked at the club for about three and a half months, but it was all the time I needed to realize that there are stereotypes for a reason. 

One of the worst things I ever did to my dad besides actually becoming a stripper was telling him that I had become a stripper. He wanted to throw me out of the house, but our family doesn't really handle things that way. So, after a lot of arguing and uncomfortable silences, we decided to implement more of a Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy in regards to my stripping. In retrospect, I don't think any of us knew how to handle things. I had never done anything that crazy before. And I was so attached to "being right" about the fact that they should have helped me pay for school that I stuck with my plan, even after the first night where I realized I was in way over my head. 

I worked a four hour shift Thursday through Monday. I started at 8pm and finished about midnight. Some days, I would open up Subway, work until about 3 or 4pm, head over to TCBY for a few hours and get them through the busy hours at night and then dart over to the club to dance until midnight. It made for an interesting summer and I rarely found myself at home except to sleep for a few hours and then start it all back up again. 

In Washington, at least when I was dancing, there was a three foot law in effect. What this meant was that if a dancer was topless or completely nude, a patron couldn't be within three feet of them. So, stage dancing was anything goes and lap dances were clothed. It was also a non-alcoholic club which was why I was able to dance there at 18 years old. With both of these rules in place, it seemed as if things couldn't get too out of control. 

And actually, it was pretty easy to keep things under control. The guys who worked security were no joke and the club didn't have a reputation of being overly seedy. In fact, it was known for being a fairly popular and fun place to go if you wanted to chill out and look at naked girls. I've been to a few of the strip clubs in Las Vegas and found that the vibe is completely different than what I experienced in the club I danced at. 

However, no matter how "nice" things can sound, it was a dark place with no windows where women took their clothes off for money. A place like that doesn't come without it's own problems. 

I did my best to keep to myself. Making friends with the other girls was not high on my priority list. I remember only one girl that I used to actually get along with and she had drama written all over her. However, it's nice to have at least one person to partner up with so we became friendly and watched each other's back. She was crazy. I don't remember her name, only her piercings in very uncomfortable places and the fact that she had moved from Utah in search for a life that wasn't so rigid. I guess she found it. 

I remember a lot of the other girls, too. I would see them in the locker room before and after my shift. Most of them were really mean and a few I didn't dare make eye contact with. One in particular would go into the bathroom before her shift and I would hear her opening cans as quietly as possible. Afterwards, I would use the restroom and find an entire six pack of Budweiser cans smashed up and stuffed into the trash can that was supposed to be reserved for feminine items. I heard a few of the girls partaking in cocaine in the bathroom as well. 

I can recall thinking, "How sad that these girls have to be so wasted in order to do what they are doing?" But then… was it sad that I didn't have to be? 

Again, to me it was harmless. On stage, I didn't really see faces. I just got into the music and pretended like I was dancing for my boyfriend or was by myself in my room. My biggest challenge was the lap dancing. Well, not the lap dances themselves but soliciting for the dances. I hated walking around asking guys if I could give them a twenty dollar dance. I would usually try to find a younger, nice looking guy and then spend as much of my shift as possible just talking to him and having a good laugh. I hated hitting on the older men. And I avoided the dark corners of the club where the "no touch" rule was being severely broken. 

I remember for a few days, this one guy kept coming in. He and I hit it off and talked about sports a lot. We laughed and joked and he bought a dance or two each time. It was cool - I felt like I had a "regular". A few nights went by and I didn't see him. The following week, he came in with a group of friends. I immediately went up to him to say hello and he acted like he had never seen me before in his life. This was when I really started to see how worthless I appeared to these men. I mean, who cares about my intentions and the fact that I was legitimately trying to make money for school. I was a stripper. I didn't matter. 

One time, this man came in and stopped me as I walked by. "You're new", he stated. I said yes and asked if he wanted a dance. He said yes. So, I danced for him. Afterwards, he threw twenty bucks at me and said "Eh, hopefully you get better." That twenty dollars was all I made the entire night as I sat in the corner feeling sick. 

Another night, a group of ten or fifteen guys from my school came in. I was horrified. I was already on stage when they walked in the door so there was no hiding from them. One of the guys was someone I considered to be a close friend. I approached him when I was done on stage and jokingly asked if he wanted a dance. He said yes. It was uncomfortable and awkward. He held his breath the entire time. Afterwards, we never hung out again. 

This was how the money worked. I was basically a contract employee. I had to get my own business license and everything. I would pay the "house" a rental fee of seventy dollars per night. The rest of the money I kept. Many of the nights, I would barely make enough to pay the house. A few times, I got requested for bachelor parties and made enough money to think it was worth it. 

In the end, I worked at the club for just over three months and only put about $4,500 in the bank. I watched some girls make over half that in a weekend. I wasn't a very good saleswoman. Plus, the dark corners were where most of the money was made. I saw a lot of girls meet customers down the street after their shift as well. I suppose I could've made a lot more money if I was willing to "get out of my comfort zone". Which, I wasn't. 

When I moved to California, I swore to myself that I would never tell anyone what I did. I would never bring it up with the people that already knew and I would never, ever do anything like that for the rest of my life. It's been about twelve and a half years. I've done some crazy things since then, but my days of working in a strip club ended when I left for college. And I didn't talk about it for a very long time. I was embarrassed, ashamed and felt like less of a person whenever someone reminded me of what I had done. 

It's different now. For those of you who read my blogs regularly, you know that there isn't much I'm not willing to discuss. The more I talk, the more I see that I'm not alone. This helps with the painful memories. 

I don't think less of strippers. I think there are enough out there doing it for the same reasons I was to know that not all of them are up to no good. Unfortunately, I've met many who are wrapped up in the world of drugs and prostitution and stripping is just their marquee. It's unfortunate that some women think this is the only way they can get what they want out of life. Then again, I've met strippers who really enjoy what they are doing and take it very seriously. Not to mention, they make enough money to support their family and live a modest life outside of those black walls. 

In Las Vegas, if you are good enough as a stripper, you could even land a respectable job working for one of the topless shows on the strip. It's a strange industry and one that I will never truly understand, even after living it for a short period of time. 

If you've already scrolled this blog for the pictures, I'm sorry to disappoint - ha!! 

I do consider my time as "Vanity" to be a life lived very, very long ago. And again, while it is not something I am proud to say I've done, I have gotten to the point in my life where I am happy to have an interesting story to tell when someone asks me that question. The way I see it, what we've done makes us who we are. There really isn't much to be ashamed about - just life lessons to be learned. 

In closing, though… there is something I would like to say that I have never said before in regards to this choice I made so many years ago… 

I'm sorry, Daddy. This was a very immature way of making my point and I hope that you have forgiven me for my very poor judgment. All I ever wanted to do was make you and Mom proud. I have not always taken you guys on a fun ride and yet you have always gotten back in line. I love you both for supporting me at times when my righteousness clouded my good intentions. For the rest of my life, the choices I make will be ones that I can't wait to tell you about, instead of those that I am trying to keep hidden in a closet. 

Because as I've discovered, those kind of choices make pretty good stories as well.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Vanity Is Not Just a Nightclub In Vegas - Part One

"So, tell me something interesting about yourself. Something that you don't normally tell people that you've just met." 

I've been on enough dates to have gotten this question more than once. 

I have a few answers actually. Which one I gave usually depended on whether or not I was comfortable with the person I was with and if I wanted to see them again. If not, I usually came up with something silly like "I am a spelling bee champion. Two years, actually - 5th and 7th grade. In fact, in 7th grade, I was the alternate and someone got sick. So, I stepped in and won the whole thing. Picture in the paper and everything." 

This is completely true. My mom still has the framed article to prove it. 

If I like the person, I give them the "fun" answer. The one that will engage them and keep them interested. 

"When I was 18 years old, I took a third job as a fully nude stripper." 

Yeah… that's a good one, isn't it? 

This one is true too, which is why it makes it so fun to tell. It's not that I'm proud of it, necessarily. It's just that…. it's interesting. Not exactly something you hear every day. 

The high school I went to was a four year school - 9th through 12th grade. Each year, there was a project that was due which was specific to the grade you were in - i.e. a Freshman Project, Sophomore Project, Junior Project and Senior Project. In retrospect, these projects were my favorite part of high school. We were given a lot of freedom for each subject and actually got to study things we were interested in. 

For our freshman year, we were supposed to design and put together a scrapbook that belonged to a famous person in history. I had to do a bit of lobbying, but I finally convinced my teacher to let me do a scrapbook on the late Brandon Lee, son of Bruce Lee. It was quite amazing, if I do say so myself. It really captured the short, beautiful life he led and how his tragic death led to awareness on movie sets and the increased safety of stunts and weapons. It received one of the highest grades in the class. 

Sophomore year's project was a little more complicated. We had to prepare an entire magazine based on a time period in history. I chose the Renaissance of Italy because of my passion for art and my interest in how modern art has continued to progress based on major movements such as that one. It wasn't as impressive as it could have been. I relied a little too much on current events and recent pop culture and it ended up landing me a A- on the project. What can I say? I'm a perfectionist. 

During my Junior year, we were assigned a project that involved hours of research and contemplation. We were supposed to pick a subject that was controversial, look into both sides of the argument, write a report reflecting multiple opinions and, finally, make a presentation in front of our class that included our own opinion, based on what we had learned. Once again, I had to fight a bit in order to move forward with my project. The subject I chose was the legalization of prostitution. 

My position was that it should be legalized based on the fact that it's the oldest profession known to women, it's fairly easy to monitor and tax, it's one of those laws that will continue to be broken no matter how much we spend in trying to stop it and by legalizing, we can massively reduce minor prostitution as well as increase the awareness of health risks and help to keep STD spreading to a minimum. I received an A and an "atta boy" from my teacher. 

Our Senior Year project was no joke. We basically had free reign to do whatever we wanted, as long as there was a minimum of 30 hours of work put into it, a mentor assigned so we could be held accountable, a paper written on what we were up to and a presentation of some sort to inform everyone of what we had learned/created/etc. 

I decided I wanted to put on a fashion show. I can't remember where I got the idea, but it was this project that changed my whole life. 

When I was little, I wanted to be a dance choreographer. Paula Abdul was MY American Idol at the time. I used to get all the neighborhood girls together and we'd put on dances in our front yards or "perform" at barbecues and such. I even entered a talent show once with my friend, Melissa, and put on a dance to Phil Collins' "Another Day in Paradise." Um, we did NOT win. 

As I started to develop what I wanted my fashion show to look like, my old choreography "skills" came back into play and I decided to incorporate more than your typical fashion show strut of walking down the runway, turning, and walking back. I wanted to have some fun with it. 

My theme was "My How The Times Have Changed." I decided to take my audience on a journey through time, using fashion. There were five different eras that I focused on: Victorian, the 50s, the 60s "Flapper" look, the 70s and finally, the 90s (no one wants to be reminded of the 80s, do we?) I had specific music chosen for each era and three or four models that would be showing off the clothing. 

At that time, I was working at Subway in Bonney Lake, Washington and my boss, Lori, became my mentor. I researched costume shops and found once in Seattle that had real vintage clothing that I could use for each era. So, one morning, Lori and I drove down there and I picked out clothes, accessories, the whole thing. I think I remember rental costs being around $400. Lori ponied the money for me as I was planning on making that back and then some with the fashion show itself. I was going to charge $5 at the door and donate all of my proceeds to my school's Special Olympics program. 

The outfits were amazing. Absolutely perfect. 

Three days a week, I held rehearsals at my house. No fashion show comes along without some drama with the models - somebody got pregnant, another got sick and yet another just quit showing up. I was actually juggling models all the way to one week out of the performance. I ended up asking an old friend that I hadn't spoken to in years to help me out as well as one of the school's most popular cheerleaders. Luckily, by that time, my show was getting so much buzz that they both jumped on the project and helped me pull everything together. 

I held my show on a Saturday during winter break. I haven't a clue why I went with this date. In retrospect, it would have made more sense to do it on a Saturday where school had just been in the day before. Instead, I gave everyone a full week of goofing off to forget about my show. 

On top of that, the morning of the show, I woke up to about half a foot of snow. By the time the show actually began, this was closer to two feet. 

I stressed, I panicked, I was hauling clothes back and forth from my friend's Toyota Tercel to the school's auditorium. However, set up went pretty smoothly. I had friends helping me left and right. They were doing makeup, costume checks, hair, lights, music run throughs, ticket booth set up, you name it. I had so much help and support that there was no way I could fail. The models were having fun - we ran through the show at least five or six times with one big dress rehearsal just an hour before doors opened. 

This is how the show was designed. I was standing at the podium, dressed beautifully in a black evening gown, hair done up as if I was heading to Prom afterwards. I would give a brief introduction about the time frame that they were going to see and a little background into the history of the fashion back then. Basically, this was to be the presentation part of my Senior Project. Then, the girls would come out and perform a strut type dance to a song that I chose to represent that particular time in history. After they were finished, I stepped back up to the podium and started the next set. 

After I introduced the fifth and final set - the 90s - I hopped backstage, did a quick change of clothes myself and became one of the models. The 90s set was my big grand finale where all of the models - including the two boys I had helping me out as well - would strut around to that crazy song, Barbie Girl and we would pose together at the end for a big round of applause. 

Sounds pretty cool, huh? 

Actually… it was. 

$5 at the door plus a Special Olympics donation bucket
were closely monitored by Megan
My backstage "posse" in charge
of hair, makeup, tickets and wardrobe
It's the 90s. Boys get eyeliner too.
Keelia was the queen of the Good Hair Day
Lori was the perfect mentor

Not the best photos but the dresses
for the Victorian era were amazing

The flapper dresses were so much fun
to pick out

I know it's a bit obvious, but the
70s set was done to I Will Survive
It doesn't get more 90s than bare midriffs and vinyl pants

I had a bigger turnout than I expected - my family was there, many schoolmates I didn't plan on, teachers, even my ex-boyfriend drove over 35 miles to see it. I made enough money to pay back Lori for the costumes and the Special Olympics team was able to buy all new basketball uniforms for their upcoming season. I was a success. To top it all off, during our Senior Assembly later that June, I received an award for Best Senior Project. 

So, when a representative from the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising came to my school towards the end of the year for recruiting, everyone immediately thought of me. I sat through the presentation and by the end, my head was already in San Francisco. I was going to be a fashion show coordinator. I had found my calling. No more community college and then University to study journalism. I was going to California to live the big life! I applied, interviewed and was accepted. 

That was when I found out how much it was going to cost. Somehow, I didn't think my hours at Subway were going to cut it. I started applying for scholarships, grants and began paperwork for financial aid. I actually did get enough in scholarships and grants to cover about 90% of the first year (it was a two year program). However, I still needed the money for my second year as well as some starting cash for an apartment and living expenses. 

The summer after my Junior year of high school, my friend crashed her car with me in the back seat and my other friend up front. Distracted, she let the car drift onto the soft shoulder and then tried to overcompensate her mistake by jerking the wheel to the right. She lost control of the car and we did a nose dive into the grassy median between the four lane freeway. The car flipped end over end and landed upside down just feet away from oncoming traffic. Luckily we were all okay. Seat belts, people, seat belts. Like… all the time. I did end up in the hospital with a very minor concussion and had six months of chiropractic care to fix up some whiplash. 

My point of this story is that as I was putting together all of my eggs in order to make this move to California, my settlement check of $4,000 came in. My moving expenses and first three months of rent were covered. Just $16,000 more to go to get that second year paid. 

I went back and forth with financial aid services however, ultimately I was denied because my parents made too much money. Unfortunately, they weren't giving me any of it. This caused me to be… frustrated. I openly admit that, especially at that time, I was what some people would call a "spoiled brat". Just shy of foot stomping, I threw a bit of a fit that my parents weren't helping me out in my newfound dream of becoming a fashion show coordinator. I mean, I was going to California! I was going to live the life of a star! Couldn't they see how important it was to me?

Why were they denying me my DESTINY?!?!

I had already picked up a second job working at TCBY three or four days a week. But, in an effort to retaliate and cause a bit of a stir, I waited until my parents were out of town on a summer vacation, put on my skimpiest dress and had a friend drive me to a gentleman's club a few cities over. The sleazy manager brought me in his office for an interview, was actually nicer than I expected, gave my body a once over glance and hired me to work four nights a week. As he walked me out, he asked if I had chosen a stage name that he could put on the schedule. 

Why yes, I have. My name is Vanity.