Saturday, April 30, 2011

Another Brick In The Wall... Part Three

When I decided to leave California and come to Las Vegas, it was not because I actually wanted to live here. My family was here and having a support system was very important to me at the time. After all, I had just spent eight years seeing my family very little and trying to do all of my growing up as fast as possible. Part of me was relieved to be feeling a little on the dependent side. I guess you could say that I needed my mommy and daddy again. 

My plan, however, was to come out here, get back on my feet financially, spend some time with my family and then make my next move. Chicago was on my mind... but I wasn’t sure exactly where I would end up. I even considered moving back to Colorado. 

That was almost seven years ago. What can I say? I dig this city. I challenge someone to show me another city in the states that has this kind of energy. It’s not for everyone, this I know... but it’s definitely for me. 

Another nice part about coming to Las Vegas all those years ago was that I already had a couple of friends out here. At the time, they were just friends of friends, but it was nice to know anyone at all. In fact, I remember meeting Erin for lunch one day at McMullan’s Irish Pub which was the bar that would eventually become one of my favorite places to hang out in Vegas. 

I knew Erin through a couple of friends I had in Long Beach. I had only met her once or twice, but she was so sweet and had the greatest sense of humor. She was easy to be around and even easier to talk to. I was even more thrilled when I realized she was a package deal - she and her brother, Dan, were basically inseparable and the two of them became some of my favorite people in the world. 



A few months after moving to Las Vegas, Dan and Erin asked if I would be interested in renting a house with them. I hadn’t yet decided if I wanted to stay in Las Vegas, but after eight years on my own in California, living with Mom and Dad again became a little more crowded than I had imagined. So, I jumped at the chance to get out and get my own little spot. Even if it was just a room in someone else’s house. 
Moving in with Dan and Erin turned out to be one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. We were good roomies. We were respectful of each other’s space, we were great company for each other and I even adored their three cats. The house was very nice and in a good part of town. I settled in quite nicely and we made it a lovely little home. 


The following few years, however, became quite tumultuous for me. I was very involved in that leadership program and in my attempt to save the world, I was constantly changing jobs, getting in and out of relationships and bouncing from house to house trying to find some source of stability. 

I did end up moving back in with Dan and Erin for a little while, but they had decided to move to California to pursue careers in voice-acting. We still stay in touch very regularly to this day and I am very happy to have a spot on my wall for both of them as well as Erin’s super cool boyfriend, Brian. 


Deciding where I was going to live next was when I made one of the worst decisions in my life. 

I was back working at Chili’s and was dating another server. He had actually been staying with me at Dan and Erin’s for a while so we decided maybe we would just get a place together. Two other servers at work thought it would be a great idea for the four of us to get a house together. Now, I have always considered myself to have a pretty good head on my shoulders. However, even I have “what the fuck?!” moments every now and then. This was one of those moments. 

The four of us (three boys and me) found a fabulous house on the southeast side of town. My boyfriend and I got the master bedroom, the other boys each had their own room and there were still two rooms leftover. We turned the downstairs into a beer pong studio and just like that, I was living in a frat house. I’m still not sure how I ever thought this move would be in my best interest. 

However, I have discovered time and time again why things happen the way they do. Retrospect can be pretty enlightening. 

I broke up with my boyfriend very shortly after we moved into the house and so he moved out. The other two boys and I decided to rent out the room downstairs so we wouldn’t have to increase our share of rent. 

During a pool day, I asked some of my roommate’s friends if they knew of anyone that might be interested in renting a room. As it turned out, they did. They gave me her number, we made plans to meet and a few days later, she rented the room. Life is so funny... I don’t remember the names of my roommate’s friends nor did I ever see them again. It was like the Universe put them in front of me that afternoon by the pool for one specific reason. 

Whitney. 


I liked her the minute I opened the door. Not only was she completely adorable and friendly, she had a unique spirit and intriguing energy. She was intelligent and an absolute pleasure to talk to. I think she felt the click with me instantly as well. 

I do feel bad for having brought her in to such a ridiculous environment, though. Both boys were remarkably immature and inconsiderate to us as roommates. The parties were endless, the mess was intolerable and every once in a while, some of our personal items would just... disappear. I had a major falling out with one of the guys and eventually couldn’t handle being there. It was at this time that I moved back home with mom and dad for the third time. 

Have I mentioned how much I love my apartment? 

I hated leaving Whitney in that house with those idiots. But, she was a trooper and made it work until she just couldn’t anymore and finally got out of the house herself. Except for an overall lack of sleep, we actually got out of the situation relatively unscathed. 

She and I made good efforts to stay connected and even got together occasionally to shoot the intellectual shit. I think one of the things I like so much about Whitney is that we can get together and discuss all the drama going on in each other’s lives for hours on end, yet never find any drama between us to worry about. It just seems like we... get each other. We are on a level where we seem to understand where the other one is at all times - and in the moments where we aren’t sure, we are really good at giving the space that is required. 

I’ve never once been annoyed with, angry at or frustrated with Whitney. At times, I choose not to share space with her for the sole reason that I can’t bullshit in her company. So, when I don’t feel like being open or vulnerable, I just wait. Because inauthentic behavior doesn’t seem to work with us. 

She started dating my friend Justin shortly after he and I stopped seeing each other. We were trying to have a friendship but I was very annoyed with, angry at and frustrated with him. At that time, I didn’t see a relationship of any kind for me and Justin. So, I stopped talking to him. Unfortunately, this meant that I didn’t see or talk to Whitney anymore either. 

Luckily, time apart was good for me and Justin and eventually, we found our way back to each other. When he and Whitney broke up, I found myself hanging out with both of them again, individually. As I discussed in one of my earlier posts, we have all gotten to the point where we can be together and enjoy each other’s company. This is a good thing as they both mean a tremendous amount to me. 

The relationship I have with Whitney has grown into something very meaningful. She is also a writer but much more technical and advanced than me. Therefore, she is actively engaged in every word I type. When I do start putting this into some sort of book form, she is going to have a very important role in helping me build my story. This makes for a unique friendship that I just don’t have with anyone else. 

We also do a mean karaoke duet to Sweet Dreams by the Eurythmics. Just saying.. 


We have recently started having writing dates (like today) where we sit across from each other with our laptops open, our headphones on and we just start typing. Our collective creative energy helps me focus. Plus, it’s just nice to set aside time to commit to our passion. It’s neat to have someone to share something like this with. She’s sitting right across from me, typing away, and has no idea how grateful I am to have her in my life. My wall is lucky to have her. 



She reminds me that it’s okay to sulk. In fact, sometimes it’s necessary. Because unless we remember what it feels like to be sad, it’s more difficult to embrace the times that we feel genuinely happy. 




She challenges me without being challenging and I always part with her feeling more satisfied than I did when I showed up. We don’t fight, we don’t poke and we don’t try and hide our emotions. We just... are. 

It makes me wonder why I can’t have this kind of relationship with everyone. Then again, if I did, I guess it wouldn’t make our relationship so special. 

Just before I started writing today, she and I were catching up on what was currently going on in our lives. I told her that I have had a really nice time writing this particular series of “friend blogs” because it is a good reminder of how many solid people I have in my life. Breakups have that uncanny way of making me feel lonely all the time. However, as I told Whitney today, I feel the most lonely when I’m making a very conscious effort to be alone. 

Taking the time this week to work on my wall and reflect on the good people I’ve brought into my life has been great for my head and my heart. I choose to do a lot of things on my own - it’s just my way - but I hope that I can continue to find ways to share my gratitude with those in my life that mean the most to me. 

To all of my friends: your kindness and compassion does not go unnoticed. Every relationship I have is different from the next and it makes my bouquet of friends absolutely brilliant. Thank you for being on this journey with me. I do not take our friendship lightly. 

I’m going to need a lot more frames...

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Another Brick In The Wall... Part Two

It worked. Yesterday, I printed out some photographs of Nancy, Jeremy, Landon and Matt, framed them and hung them in my hallway. I smiled every time I left and returned to the house. I am eager to continue working on this project and started thinking about other people I couldn’t wait to see on my wall. 

Even though I’ve spent a decent portion of our friendship mad at him, it pretty much goes without saying that Justin and his wife Stephanie have a spot. I’ve known Justin almost as long as I’ve lived in Las Vegas and could probably write an entire book on the ups and downs of our relationship alone. The comment that Landon left on my last post made me think of the trying times I’ve been through with Justin over the years - and how to this day, should I need anything, I know I could call him. And if he needed anything, I would do whatever I could to help. 


Besides, whenever he pisses me off, it’s usually because he’s said something that lands with me. After I think about it for a while, most of the time I can see where he is coming from. Justin gives feedback from a place of love, but sometimes uses a semi-truck for delivery. 

Stephanie is simply one of the most likable people on the planet. It’s always tricky meeting the new love of the person you used to love... but in this case, Justin did very well. When she’s not being absolutely adorable and kind, she’s coming at me with a very unbiased and introspective look on whatever issue happens to be crawling up me that day. Admittedly, I do not take enough advantage of our relationship - something I plan on changing as we continue getting to know one another. 

I was recently at their house for a barbecue and in a moment to ourselves, Justin asked me about my new job. Well, it’s Justin... what he actually said was “Did you get it by hook or by crook?” I was unfamiliar with this saying. What he was asking was if I got hooked up by someone or if I stole the job fair and square. 

I only let myself be offended by this one for about fifteen seconds. 

Because the truth is, I did hooked up by a friend. However, the hook up was given to me by him because he knew I deserved it. Fair. And. Square. So, I guess I hooked it by being a crook? Hmm.. perhaps I’ll stick to my own analogies... 

This is Beau. 


I can’t remember exactly when I met Beau, but it was during our serving time together at Chili’s. He had moved to Las Vegas from Idaho so I started referring to him as Beau Potato. In fact, he’s still in my phone that way. 

We got along right from the beginning. Beau is very much a “guy”. Not too complex, rarely emotional and likes to talk about sports. This is a very easy relationship for me to have. He also has a very dry sense of humor that only offends me when it’s directed at me. Which, sometimes it is. I find that Beau doesn’t discriminate when it comes to making a funny. I can respect that. 

Beau entered the management program at Chili’s before I did. In the middle of his training, Chili’s decided to close something like 40 stores across the country, four of them here in Las Vegas, and offer all of the current management trainees and recently promoted managers severance packages or the opportunity to go back to their hourly positions. Beau decided to go back to serving and wait it out. It was a good move on his part because rather quickly, a management position opened up in Kingman, Arizona. If anyone has ever been to Kingman, you can probably understand why there wasn’t a line of people waiting to take the job. 

Beau was all about it though. He hated serving and figured that signing on for a year in Arizona wouldn’t be too bad. He would be able to finish his training, get some management experience, and be back in Las Vegas in time for the next Ryder Cup. So, off he went. 

I think he had only been gone a couple of months when Cory and I broke up. I was devastated and wanted to get out of town for the weekend. I sent some feelers out to see where I should go and Beau invited me out to Kingman. Short drive, good friend. I figured, why not? 

So, I packed a couple of things and drove out there. It was the first time I had seen the Hoover Dam bridge project in person. Crazy stuff!! 





I remember driving out there thinking, I should probably have called up one of my girlfriends and done this whole post-break up thing with them. Then I could cry, talk about my feelings and maybe get a pedicure or something. As it turned out, going out to Kingman was the best thing I could’ve done. 

For one thing, it’s Kingman. Just being there from out of town made me feel important. 

Second of all, there was a bowling alley, a book store, a movie theatre and a bar with karaoke. What more could I ask for? 

Third, there was Diego, Beau’s baby Great Dane who did a fantastic job of keeping me company while Beau was at work. 


All in all, it was a great weekend. I hung out, did some reading, laughed about stupid shit with Beau and drove home feeling much better about myself then I had on my way out. 

Beau is not the kind of friend that I call, text or Facebook all the time. But, ever since that weekend in Arizona, I knew that should I ever need anything, I could reach out to him and he would take me seriously. 

While Beau was in Arizona, he met someone on an online dating site. She lived here in Las Vegas (I don’t think he was even looking in Kingman because... well, I think you get it). At the time, he had pretty much reached the end of his rope with Chili’s and found a job as a manager at Roadrunner, which is a local chain of bars and restaurants here in Las Vegas. I actually have frequented the one he got a job at because it’s a Broncos bar. I met Mark Jackson there one Sunday! (old school Broncos Wide Receiver from back in the Three Amigos days). 

I saw Beau just a handful of times when he moved back to Las Vegas and only met his new, super cute girlfriend once. But again.. sometimes, you just have that friend that is low maintenance and always there. There has always been something quite comforting about our relationship for this reason. 

When my money ran low and I wasn’t a writing superstar yet, I knew it was time for me to go back to work. I did fill out some online applications to try and get into a big casino on the strip but my ten year work and residential history makes me look like a flake. And there was no way in hell I was going back to Chili’s. 

As I was dreading completing yet another three hour long application, I sent a text to Beau. He immediately got an interview scheduled with one of Roadrunner’s affiliates where he thought I could make good money as a bartender. When that didn’t work out, he hired me at his restaurant, no questions asked. 

I went in and filled out an application so he could send me for a drug test and complete my HR paperwork. I went the next day and took the test (and passed!) and was on the schedule two days later. 

So, yes... I guess you could say that I definitely got hooked up. But, I like to think that the real reason I was able to land a job so quickly is because of the relationship between me and Beau and his knowledge of my work ethic. Despite the photo above, Beau actually takes his job very seriously and I know he wouldn’t be doing me a favor if he didn’t know what he was going to get out of it. 

And here I am. Back to work. Serving, bartending and making the best of it. It feels a little different this time around. When I was at Chili’s, I didn’t know what else I wanted to do. I just remember looking at the 40 and 50 year old servers there and praying to whatever was out there that that wouldn’t be me one day. 

Now, I have a job to make some money to pay my bills; one that doesn’t require me to work more than 30 hours a week so I can focus on the things that really make me happy; one that is in a casual environment where I can have a little fun with an old friend; and one that has a Broncos flag flying above the POS system. Brilliant. 

I don’t know what is going to become of this writing thing... I don’t know if my blogs are good enough to put into a book. But I know I’m good enough to write a book. So, my plan for now is to keep adding content to this blog up until I turn 31 and then see what happens from there. I guess maybe it’s because I’m “in it”, but as far as wanting to do something substantial for my 30th year, all I can really see that I’ve done is document the stuff that has been going on in my life for many years. I’m not even sure what I’ve learned yet. I’m still hoping that it will come to me in a dream or vision... hell I’d take a positive message in a fortune cookie at this point. 

In the meantime, back to the grind. 

However, thanks to my Beau Potato, it’s a bit of a lesser grind than I expected. 


Welcome to the wall.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Another Brick In The Wall... Part One

I’ve lived in my apartment on the northwest side of town for almost a year and a half now. I actually consider this to be quite an accomplishment given how unstable my home life has been since moving to Las Vegas. It’s the first place I’ve really felt comfortable calling “my home.” 

I get my decorating flair from my mother. She has a talent for making any house look like a home. When they first moved to Las Vegas from Washington State, they took over as apartment managers for this dumpy little building in Naked City, directly behind the Stratosphere. My mom has told me before that when they first pulled up after their 20+ hour drive, all of their belongings and dogs in tow, they took one look at where they would be living and my mom suggested to my dad that they just keep driving. 

However, after only a few months, my mom took that little one bedroom hole in the wall with it’s low ceilings and even lower square footage and made it into their own little sanctuary. The walls were covered with family photos and little pieces of art that my mom either made or picked up somewhere. As you approached the building, possibly intimidated by the drug dealers, drug users and prostitutes that were lined up and down the street, you could step into that little two room living space and actually feel comfortable. Quite a talent, if you ask me. 

They have since moved twice and every house just gets cozier and cozier. I don’t know how she does it... but every time I walk into my parents’ home, I am safe and sound. I love that feeling. 

I’ve moved seven times since I first showed up in Las Vegas in October of 2005. Each time I moved, I got rid of more of my things. So, by the time I finally had a place all to my very own, I had very little to fill it with. I took advantage of this at the time and used my first few months to paint and hang some pictures that I had left. Other than my bedroom set and some random dishes, my apartment sat painted but empty for many months. 

This was useful last February when my friend, Travis, moved in with me for a while. The living room basically just became his bedroom so I didn’t really worry about how empty it was. Travis stayed with me for about six or seven months before he moved in with his girlfriend, leaving me, once again, wondering how I was going to fill my space. 



I had started to collect a few things even while he was staying with me, but hadn’t really put anything together that could be considered a “living area”. After he moved out, I decided to get serious about making my house a home. 

I rearranged my bedroom to make it more accommodating and cozy. I picked up a cheap pub table and put it in my dining space so I actually had somewhere to sit and enjoy a cup of coffee. 

As apartment managers, Mom and Dad are always coming across household items that people abandon. Someone had left a hideous looking but fairly new couch behind that I simply fixed with a nice faux-suede couch cover and suddenly, I had furniture. 

Travis’s girlfriend was kind enough to give me an old entertainment stand to give the television that Travis had purchased for me while he was living there a place to rest. I set up my drawing table in the corner of the living room, hung a few more things on the walls and before I knew it, I was walking into my own little sanctuary. 

Between all of my new house things and Bailey peeking her head around the corner when I walk in, I really feel, for the first time since living here, that I am “home”. It’s quite nice. 

There are still two unfinished projects in my house, however. The large wall in my bedroom next to my bed is still blank. I never hung pictures because I am still planning on painting it but haven’t gotten around to it. All of the other painting sort of burned me out I think... 

The second is getting to work on what I’ve been calling my “friends and family wall”. 

My apartment is on the second story. However, it’s misleading because my door is on ground level. My poor brother, whether we were getting along at the time or not, has helped me move almost every single time I changed residences, even when I lived in California. It has gotten to the point where he has cut his packing time in half, knowing exactly how all of my things fit the most efficiently in my dad’s truck. 

When he pulled up to my new place in December of 2009, he made a comment like “at least it’s on the ground floor” just as I was opening my door to reveal a set of carpeted stairs that went straight up to the second floor. He sighed. Here we go again. 

This particular hallway has always been kind of “cold” to me. I like that I have my own little staircase in my apartment, but without anything hanging on the walls, it just looks like any other random staircase in any other random apartment building. I wanted to make it my own. 

So, I decided that it would be nice if I started going through my old pictures of friends and family and getting frames for them. I would take my time and just start hanging the photos that made me smile the most. Pretty soon, every time I walked into my house, it would be like all of my friends and family were there to greet me. How perfect would that be? 

I had this idea towards the end of last year. Maybe around Thanksgiving I think... since then, can you guess how many pictures I’ve hung? 

One. I’ve hung one up. I put together a nice little collage of my brother, sister-in-law and nephew with family pictures they got done around Christmas time. I hung it proudly at the top of the stairs. And it did what I thought it would; every time I look at it when I’m either coming home or leaving, it makes me smile. 



I have some good pictures of Mom and Dad, but it’s been sheer laziness that has prevented me from collaging them together and hanging them as well. 

It’s when I start thinking of what friends I’m going to hang that I sort of get stuck. 

I have had lots of friends over the years. Unfortunately, I don’t consider most of them to be all that close. It seems like I meet people, we hang out a lot, I even get pretty close with some of them, circumstances change and I don’t seem them anymore. I know that most friendships are like that... but for some reason, reflecting on all of my relationships when I come across photographs of the “good times” puts me in more of melancholy and morose kind of mood. I certainly don’t want to have those kinds of emotions when I come home. 


So, I thought I’d start with the easy ones, like my friend Nancy of course. Especially since she has moved away from Vegas to start another new chapter of her life in Boston with her husband. Yes, definitely Nancy, that’s easy. 


Jeremy too, for sure. I love these pictures of us in Hawaii. As stated previously, Jeremy and I have far too logical of a relationship to ever let drama get in the way. 




Matt gets hung. He was one of the first people I really got to know in Las Vegas and our on again, off again relationship has never interfered with the fact that we simply just get along. I don’t see him much now that he found that whole “love” thing, and this is good. His woman is lucky to have all of his attention. Well, all but what he gives to Maggie, his Shepard. 

As soon as I remember to get a good, recent picture of Travis, he’ll get a spot too. 

There are three other people that have just made their way onto the wall. They are actually who this and the next two posts are about. Consider everything above just a lengthy introduction. 

After Eric and I broke up in early 2005, I stayed with Nancy and our other friend, Mary for a few weeks before getting my own place. I think I’ve mentioned that before.... what I haven’t mentioned is that in the few months before I moved to Las Vegas, I was spending a lot of time with a new friend in my life. 

His name is Landon. We hit it off right away as we both had a very similar sense of humor. He worked at the Hyatt as well so we got to see each other every day for a few minutes at a time. At first, it started out with friendliness and jokes... but one day, after a barbecue at Nancy and Mary’s house (after I had gotten my own place), the two of us ended up back at my house in bed together. And in bed the whole following day. 

After that, it was a little hard to keep us away from each other. We went all over Los Angeles and Long Beach, checking out the sites, laughing, joking, being silly. Some nights he would stay with me and some nights I would stay with him. This was during the time where my bank account was reacting as if someone had just poured a whole bottle of Drano in it. I knew that I was going to have to make a change soon. 

We never really called ourselves “boyfriend” and “girlfriend”. We always talked about the different things we wanted to do in life and they never really included each other. While I didn’t consider him to be the same kind of “anger partner” as I did Eric, we both certainly held grudges against the world and bonded in our own frustration of how things were in our lives. 

I made the decision to move to Las Vegas one afternoon. Just like that. The next day, I went into work and quit. When I told Landon, he didn’t say anything at first, as if he wasn’t sure what his next move should be. And then he quickly regained his composure and wished me the best. Within a few weeks, I was gone. 

We maintained a friendship for a while after I moved. He even came out to Las Vegas once or twice to visit. I went back to California to visit as well but the more we did this, the more awkward it felt. 

The worst part came when I went through that Leadership program and tried to convince Landon to attend. I knew that it had worked wonders for my views on responsibility and general outlook on the world and I thought maybe he could find some answers he was looking for. Unfortunately, like so many of my other friends who I talked to during the time I was involved in this program, my actions were not taken how I intended and I received my very first “fuck you” from a loved one in a long, nasty email that I got from Landon after many conversations about that program. I felt that not only was our friendship over, but perhaps it wasn’t really that close to begin with. 

Years went by. During this time, I was always kept up to date with what he was up to through Nancy. I knew he moved to Florida to be closer to his dad and took a job with the Hyatt in Key West. Shortly afterwards, he met the girl of his dreams. It was then that I started getting some “pokes” of communication from him. He started sending me emails to reconnect. He friend requested me on Facebook. If I didn’t respond to his email, he would wait a while and then write again, always polite, always happy, always updating me with how wonderful things were. 

Recently, he married this woman. They moved to Washington State where he ended his career in hospitality and began one as a police officer. They have their first child on the way. 

In the past few months, I started responding to his emails with bits of information. We became friends on Facebook and he started getting my blogs. He sent well wishes to my family on the holidays. My mom has always loved Landon and was thrilled to hear that we were communicating again. 

Last week, I posted a “poor me” type of status update on Facebook in the vulnerable and pathetic moments between too much wine and head on pillow. The next day, Landon called me. 

Just hearing his voice brought back so many strange memories. I was overcome with emotion but, in the typical Tina fashion, I spoke clearly and as confident as possible and while he could hear I was not in a great mood, I doubt he could tell that I was lying on my couch in the fetal position with tears streaming down my cheeks. 

The truth is, I am so happy for him. I have met few men in my life that hold a place in my heart where Landon lives. I think back to what he and I could have been if I hadn’t been so stubborn and self-absorbed. I wonder why I never took our relationship seriously and why I considered our friendship to be so disposable. I wondered why he kept trying to contact me after being ignored time and time again. 

I wondered why he called me, out of the blue, to remind me that he is still my friend. 

On the wall he goes. 

I wonder when I’ll learn...


Tuesday, April 19, 2011

"...And As We Enter The Twelfth And Final Round, Logic Is Clearly The Frontrunner"



It’s been just over two weeks since I last posted anything. I kept thinking about it... but it didn’t feel right. I had this overwhelming feeling of being lost amongst gray clouds. The strange part about it was that I knew the way out, but chose to stay in that feeling. There was something oddly comforting about it... something... familiar. 



For a variety of reasons that we are still working out ourselves, Steven and I broke up. That damn Facebook status change button has gotten the best of me again... 

A good friend of mine said to me “You broke up? But I thought this one was The One!” To which I softly replied, “So did I. I think they are all The One.” 

A few of our mutual friends suggested that we might have spent too much time together... maybe rushed things. I used to buy into this reason for relationship mayhem a lot more when I was younger. These days, its a bit of a frustrating theory. After all, if I plan to spend the rest of my life with someone, shouldn’t I be able to go two months with the person without overdosing on our time together? 

As with all of my recent breakups, with the exception of a few uncomfortable email exchanges, we have found a very amicable place to hold our relationship. Neither one of us wants to be without the other one. We get along too well not to be friends... I’m just afraid we are on different pages when it comes to what we want out of a relationship. I have, without a doubt, let my head make the call on this one. My heart isn’t sold yet, as Steven is quite easy to love, but unfortunately she’s always been second in command. 

I wonder how much my writing plays into all of this. As I’ve mentioned numerous times, it can’t be easy being written about all the time... especially when the content is less than favorable. The same mutual friend mentioned to me that my post-Hawaii blog really made Steven look like an asshole. I sat in silence for a long time, trying to shake my simple response of “Well... in that moment, he was an asshole.” 

Ah... Righteous Tina.. I knew you hadn’t traveled too far... 

Because, let’s face it. She was also right and I knew that it was going to come off that way. But if I write with the idea of needing to protect someone’s feelings, suddenly what I’m writing isn’t completely authentic. And that goes against all the reasons I started doing this to begin with. I mean, look at what I put my family through when I first started this blog. And I love them more than anything! 

However, I keep reminding myself that Steven knew what he was getting into. We talked about it many, many, many times. He didn’t like that post-Hawaii blog either, but he also understood why I felt the need to write it. 

So, what was the problem then? 

Simply put, there was something about it that just didn’t “feel” right. I’m not sure if I can explain it any better than that. I can point out specific things that didn’t work for me or situations in which I could see our differences, but it doesn’t really matter. I imagine that when I do find my perfect relationship, I will still see those differences and point out those specific moments of “what the hell was that?” There was something else that just felt... off. For someone that has been in more relationships than I care to count, this feeling is not foreign to me. 

This is when I start to worry. Is my head ever going to approve of the person my heart chooses? If I ignore what my head is saying and go with my heart, will I eventually leave her and come crawling back to him, in a mess of emotions and pain as he comforts me with a “there, there” and an “I told you so”? 

Notice how my head is masculine and my heart is feminine? Logic and Love... the most aggravating couple in the Universe. 

Logic and Love both adored Cory. But after awhile, Love came to me saying that she felt like she was doing all the work. She couldn’t find a connection with his heart and feared that she would always feel unfulfilled. Logic wasn’t happy with the decision, but decided he didn’t want Love crying in his ear all the time and let it go. 

Logic loved Jeremy. He still does. In fact, Logic thinks that Jeremy is the cat’s freaking meow. But Love was confused. She felt something strong at first... but realized after a while that it was more Logic’s influence over her own natural feelings. Logic was very unhappy with the way Love felt, but wasn’t so blind to see that she was right. 

Love was all about Steven. Like I said, he’s a lovable man. It was Love that insisted we spend so much time together, connect with each other as much as possible and learn as much as we could about one another. Logic was into it too in the beginning. He noticed those little things here and there... but wasn’t about to burst Love’s bubble. It was nice to see her so happy for once! 

Then, Steven did a few things that Logic found unacceptable. Love stepped in and pleaded with him... asked him to just give it some time and explained that they were still learning about each other. Logic agreed but stayed very aware of the situation. He couldn’t relax. Now, he was seeing all kinds of things that he didn’t like. But damn that Love and her puppy dog eyes... he gave it some more time. 

And then, one night, Love slipped. She said to Logic, “There’s something that doesn’t feel quite right...” and that was it. Logic jumped on it like a bunch of dogs on a raw t-bone. Before she even knew what was happening, Logic had taken Love and put her behind him, protecting her from getting any more attached and ended the relationship. 

Love was devastated. She tried to take back her concerns and asked Logic to reconsider. But he explained to her that they had agreed on some non-negotiables when determining the kind of relationship they wanted. If they went back on them now, all of their efforts over the years would have been wasted. If they budge, then they have to ask themselves why they didn’t just stay with Ryan, my high school sweetheart, or Eric... or even Marc, Mr. “I Am Dead Inside, Will You Still Love Me,” for that matter... whew... THAT would’ve been a disaster... 

Just for the record, they are still discussing this matter... but like usual, Logic is winning. 

I’m not so naive to think at thirty years old, if I haven’t found someone now, I never will. Of course not. I just wonder at thirty years old, after fifteen years of breakups and heartache, will things swing in the other direction any time soon? Will Love and Logic ever be able to agree completely? 

Like always, only time will tell. 

In the meantime, I’ve quickly settled back into what I know best... taking care of me. I am working again as a server and bartender, I’ve just completed an indoor cycling certification course so I can teach spin classes at local gyms, I’m down three pounds and my home projects are actually getting done. I’m grateful for Bailey, my cat, who while remarkably annoying as she jumps on everything in the house, wants to talk all the time and falls asleep quite comfortably while laying on my face... completely loves me and keeps my apartment from feeling so cold and empty. 

As far as Love and Logic, don’t worry about them. They may be fighting now but they are in it for the long haul and will keep working things out until everything is fine. 

Or until the next time they disagree I suppose. 

Sigh.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

It's Been Fun Putting It On, But Now It's Time To Take It Off

143 

I can't remember exactly when we came up with this… or if it was something that my brother made up on his own. Maybe we picked it up somewhere else and I simply can't recall… I just remember that during the time that my brother was going through the leadership program that I had gone through, we were saying "I love you" a lot more than we ever did before. Our secret way of saying this was to tell or write each other "143". I (1) love (4) you (3) 

Sweet, isn't it? We haven't expressed it to each other in a while, but every so often someone in the family will bowl a 143 and we will all share a cute moment of "Awwww!!!". I suppose this is the only mediocre bowling score I can accept without feeling too bad about my game. 

It's been a while since I weighed myself. In fact, I specifically stopped weighing myself in an effort to work on my self image. Historically, I've become quite obsessed with what that damn scale says to me. So much so, that I found myself weighing in two or three times a day and analyzing everything I'm doing in between these weigh in moments. One pound in either direction would either ruin my day or put a smile on my face until the next time I stepped on. My emotions would swing so drastically from side to side that I decided to just let my clothes do the talking and give the numbers a break. 

Well, now I'm down to one pair of jeans. Not that I own…. that fit me. And they are those stretchy skinny jeans so I'm not really sure that even counts. I have seven pairs of expensive jeans hanging in my closet and for the past three weeks, I've been washing the same pair over and over again so that I have something to wear every time I go out. I decided to change things up the other night and went to put on another pair of jeans that claimed cruelly to be the same size as the ones I've been wearing. If I had been able to button them up, I would have had to wear an oversized sweatshirt in order to hide my fluffy muffin top. 

I know that I've been gaining weight. I've spent more time drinking beer and putting in songs for karaoke than I have counting the calories that I'm burning on the treadmill. My arms and back have slowly lost the definition that they had just a few months ago as my weight lifting workouts have been tossed to the side, replaced with hour long cardiovascular sessions to burn off as many Pabst Blue Ribbons as possible. I've even started doing something that I told myself I would never do: I've started to wear my yoga pants out in public… and not because I just came from yoga class. 

It's been beautiful and quite warm the last few days here in Vegas. On Friday, Steven and I decided to hit the pool in my apartment complex for a few hours. I grabbed three or four magazines, we packed up some beer and munchies and went to enjoy the sunshine. 

We laid out on our chairs, turned on some Pandora and I dove into one of my Sport Illustrated magazines, trying to catch up with everything that had been going on in the sports world that week (actually, I was a few weeks late… that magazine is very difficult to keep up with!). Having forgotten his book at home, Steven picked up one of the other publications I had brought to the pool: Shape Magazine. I had to laugh a little at how we must've looked; him reading about beauty tips and weight loss secrets and me engrossed over C.J. Wilson's young pitching career and Derrick Rose's feelings on the LeBron James fiasco. It's always fun to be on the other side of the stereotype. 

Suddenly, Steven asked if I had read a particular article called "Are Friends Making You Fat?". It talked about how difficult it can be to maintain a diet when being out socially. It mentioned the challenges of asking for a club soda when everyone else around you is enjoying the latest and greatest microbrew. Or when your friend orders a huge platter of nachos and insists you have some because you are "looking too skinny lately." It was a pretty good read about how we let outside forces influence what we know is best for ourselves. 

Steven was really inspired by the article. He has also been concerned about his weight gain over the last six months while he has been unemployed. Like me, he had a job that required a lot of moving around, lifting and sweating. Therefore, he didn't need to worry so much about his diet or the amount of beer he drank. He is a thin guy by nature so just having regular physical activity on a daily basis was enough to keep him in good shape. We both learned the hard way how much we had been taking our jobs for granted - perhaps in both the physical and financial sense. 

"We should quit drinking beer for two weeks. And exercise every day." He was very excited about this. He figured with the amount of beer he had currently been consuming combined with the physical activity he wasn't doing, two weeks of a no beer/daily workout would improve his body quite a bit. I couldn't argue with him. Like I said, he's a thin man anyway so with just a little attention to detail and I'm sure he'd be right back in the kind of physical shape he had grown accustomed to over the years. I liked his plan. 

I told him sure, I could get on board. And then I started thinking about my week… well geez, my bowling partner Bob always buys me a couple beers on Wednesday nights… and they are just Michelob Ultras so not many calories there. I should still be okay to drink those. Oh, and what about Friday nights now that we are bowling in tournaments and I have a chance to have a drink or two with my brother. Yeah, I don't really want to give that up. And then gosh, some of those karaoke songs are just so much easier when I have a buzz going… plus how can I turn down $1 cocktails on ladies night? 

"How many exceptions are you going to make?" he asked me. Hmm… there's a brick… okay, fine - I can drink water at karaoke and maybe I just won't bowl in the Friday night tournaments to resist the temptation. But I'm not giving up my beers on Wednesday. There's another brick… 

"Okay, fine. So at karaoke, when you tell me you want a beer, I'll just tell you no." And, the rest of the wall goes up. 

With a righteous and independent tone, I replied, "Um, no… if I want a beer, I'm having a beer." 

I knew the minute I said it that it came from the Defensive Coordinator on my sideline. I wanted to take it back the minute the words left my mouth but the stubborn part of me said, "well, the play has already been called. Too late to change it now." 

Steven gave me the smile he gives when he's been offended or becomes defensive himself and said, "Then I'm not going to do this with you. There's no point in setting goals if you are just going to have a beer whenever you want anyway." 

Ugh… I hate when I let someone other than the Head Coach call the plays. I mean, there's a reason he's still just the Defensive Coordinator, right? 

We dropped it… but later on that day, Steven made his own declaration that he was going to quit drinking beer for 30 days. He said that he didn't have any desire to quit drinking completely, but that he really wanted to get in shape and knew that this sacrifice would be a good start. Of course, I supported him. And I was already thinking myself of what I was going to do to focus on my own health and well being. 

I recently signed up for an indoor cycling workshop that would teach me some basics on how to teach an indoor cycling (otherwise known as spin) class. This is on my resolution list and when a new friend of mine told me he was taking the class and sent me the information, I jumped on it. Unfortunately, I haven't been attending Spin Classes regularly since early February. Luckily, because I have been hitting so much cardio lately, my stamina is still very good. However, with the class taking place in just over two weeks, I suddenly had all sorts of incentive to get back on the bike and really get working again on my technique. 

So, yesterday morning, I woke up, got my things together and went to the gym. I was still thinking about the conversation Steven and I had the day before and decided that it might be time to finally weigh myself and set some goals of my own. 

I walked into the locker room and got all my gear out. I put in my headphones, locked my locker and looked over at the scale. I took a deep breath. I told myself to just accept whatever it said, own it, and know that I had made a commitment to do something about it. I reminded myself not to get upset or angry with myself. After all, it's not like I had been trying really hard over the last few months to stay in shape and then not getting results. I had been having a lot of fun without worrying about the consequences. Then I pulled out one of my old tricks from my leadership training: it's not about right and wrong or good and bad; it's about whether or not something is working. And if it's not working, avoid the emotional response. Take responsibility, own it, and shift. 

I put my shoulders back, held my head up and walked over to the scale. One more deep breath and… step. There it was. 

143 

Last year, when I wrote the blog about battling with my weight for most of my adult life, I weighed 120 pounds. That's 23 pounds in about seven months. Ouch. 

I kept my word to myself though. I stepped off the scale, kept my head up and fought back tears… reminding myself that I've been down this road before and have used my bread crumbs wisely. I can get back to where I've been. Now, I'm not sold that I want to go all the way back down to 120. After all, my karaoke name is T&A and at that weight, I had lost most of my T and my A wasn't far behind (no pun intended). I think I am most comfortable when I am hanging around in between 125 and 130. Still a bit of a feat having broken the 140 mark. 

I left the locker room and hopped on a bike. I focused hard on my workout and put in a really good hour of sweat equity. When I was driving home, I thought again about the conversation that Steven and I had and realized why I had gotten so angry and guarded when we talked about sacrificing beer for our better well being. I knew then that he was definitely on to something. I mean, isn't that why I put the Rules in place to begin with? Didn't I want different results in my life? 

On the other hand, of the many things I learned from Jeremy, one thing that is always at the forefront of my mind is how much he despises rules in general. We used to talk about how making rules as a way of punishing ourselves only leaves us with a void that we, eventually, feel like we need to fill. This is not inconsistent with my feelings of how important choice is. By simply making better choices using the power of responsibility without the negative association of "rules", we will not only provide ourselves with the results that we want, but we will feel more fulfilled and content in general. 

It is self love and self worth that propel us through our darker times. I saw it with my brother. I see it with many others around me. I see it with myself too… but that other voice can be so loud, can't it? 

It's easy to tell ourselves that we will get up and start fresh the next day. We've made bad choices, we haven't loved our bodies or our being and we weren't the best person we could be. We go to sleep at night telling ourselves that we will get up and try again tomorrow. But what happens when the tomorrows run out? Will we be able to look back and be okay with what we've made of our lives? 

I guess what I'm trying to say is that I, too, am changing the way I've been treating my body and I am making better choices. Not just to reach the kind of healthy weight I want to be at, but to reach the kind of healthy mind set that creates true happiness. Instead of making the kinds of rules that I made for myself before, I simply remember what the scale said to me the other morning. I remind myself of that every time I make a choice in regards to food, drink, activity and life in general. 

I don't look at it as the scale telling me that I weigh 23 pounds heavier than before. I acknowledge what it was REALLY saying to me this time… 

I love you.