A Love Letter to the Passing Year

Dear 2015,

The last year of my twenties. I mourned you more than I should have. I thought, nothing really happened to me this year. Blah blah blah.

But then I realized that I was wrong. A lot has happened.

First, I graduated from college. I never thought in a million years that would happen. One of my former professors hugged me during the ceremony and exclaimed, “Holy shit, you graduated!” Hey, you and I are both surprised, buddy. But it freaking happened. FINALLY. I think about all the times I struggled in school, with math and trying to complete the perfect essay. I constantly dreamed about reaching the finish line. This year, I did it. It took eleven years, blood, sweat, tears and the unwavering support of my loved ones but I DID IT. I can’t wait to receive my diploma in the mail and hang it on the wall.

My boyfriend and I moved in with each other. We moved into the third place we looked at and made it our home. We adopted our fur baby, Hova, in July- who fortunately likes me more than she likes Steve (sorry, baby). Our house filled with crazy art and we have the most obnoxious neighbor living next door but hey, it’s our place. Our home. I’m happy to being living with someone I can have random dance parties with while cooking dinner or brushing my teeth. I am lucky.

I helped my mom bury my grandmother. I made friends (hi, Ashley! His Idris! Hi Annikki!) and I lost friends. I quit a job that gave me no satifiscation. I acted in a play (which was the hardest thing I’ve done this year. I give the Hollywood elite so much more credit now). I saw my little sister get married. I started running. I learned to like whiskey. I went to Burning Man, crossing off yet another item off of my bucket list.

I keep on thinking about next year. I wonder if I’ll accomplish as much. I turn 30; will no longer be a twenty-something. I remember sitting on my bedroom floor an hour before my 29th birthday party sobbing, crying about getting older. I have no idea what 2016 hold and honestly, I’m terrified. But I also have faith. I read that your 30s are the best decade of your life. That is something that I’m hoping to be true. I will make it true. I will be braver, more loyal; make smarter decisions and love more ferociously.

2015- you taught me a lot. And I wouldn’t forget these lessons. I promise. Thanks for everything. I have loved you dearly.
Andrea

My Favorite Tunes, Films, Books and Shows of 2015

Every publication on the planet puts out a top so-and-so list at the end of the year. I love these lists. I add these movies, shows and books to my winter to-do list, with hopes of getting everything watched and read before flowers start blooming and the daylight savings arrives.

2015 was filled with a bunch of visual goodies- I have to admit that I haven’t read as much as I wanted to this year (that’s going to change in 2016) but I did watch plenty. Here is my own list of favorites, although I have to admit that I only watch and read what I like (no more Marvel superhero movies for me).

My favorite films of the year (and yes, I am that person who says, “films”) are*:

Tom Hardy in “Mad Max: Fury Road”

  1. Mad Max: Fury Road – Tom Hardy. Charlize Theron. The Doof Rider. Mad Max was my favorite movie of the year because of the physical and special effects, the strong female characters and the soundtrack. Okay… and Tom Hardy. Let’s be real.
  2. DOPE– Steve and I watched the movie after listening to a review on NPR. I expected this movie to be like a Tyler Perry flick but it was so much better. The characters were hilarious. I loved how they’re obsessed with 90s rap and are in a punk band.
  3. Sicario– Sicario is one of those movies that you’ll watch once and never see again… Not because it’s bad but because the subject matter- a drug war on the US/Mexican border- is so gripping and violent (I feel the same way for No Country For Old Men).
  4. Trainwreck– Some moments in the opening scene mimicked my life in New York City. As I watched, I texted my old roommate, telling her that Amy Schumer picked my brain when she wrote the script (we both have had the same experience in Long Island).
  5. Magic Mike XXL– I usually don’t give movies a standing ovation at the cinema but man, I love love love this movie. It was so fun and the guys… Their dance movies. Ginuwine’s “Pony.” Hello.
  6. Ex Machina– I never thought I’d fall in love with a ginger again but Domhnall Glesson is adorable. This is just something about him. He was great in Star Wars and I’m so excited to see what happens to him next. (But I hated the ending of the movie.)
  7. Man Up– I never considered Simon Pegg to be a sexy romantic lead but in Man Up, he is. The movie is fun and charming, perfect in you’re in need of a solid chick flick.

*This list is not finalized as I haven’t seen Brooklyn, the Hateful Eight nor Creed yet (and I heard that they’re all fantastic). I also haven’t seen End of the Tour yet, a film that is receiving a ton of Oscar buzz.

There was so much good music to fall in love with in 2015. I listened to a lot of pop this year and was impressed with different artists and styles. I loved… Daniel John’s “Aerial Love.” “Hello” by Adele. “Omen” by Disclosure and Sam Smith. Amy Lee’s cover of “Going to California.” (Please a new Evanescence album next year.) Jack U and Missy Elliot’s remix to “Take U There.” “Burning House” by Cam. “Yoga” by Janelle Monae. Lil Dicky’s “$ave Dat Money.” “FourFive Seconds” by Rihanna, Kanye West and Sir Paul McCartney. And my all time favorite of the year, “Music to Watch Boys To” by Lana Del Rey….

There are too many great songs to list…

"Somewhere Inside" by Lisa and Laura Ling

“Somewhere Inside” by Lisa and Laura Ling

I’m particular about books, more than I am about movies. I want to read something engaging- the kid in me still likes reading past midnight, underneath my covers with a flashlight. But I’m willing to read almost anything**. I started reading Shonda Rhimes’ new book, “Year of Yes.” The Amazon reviews were great but 1/3 into it, I had to shelf it. I just couldn’t finish it. I never liked her shows to begin with so why did I think I’d like her book? Nevertheless, I did read a handful of great reads this year, which included:

  1. Bastards: A Memoir” by Mary Anna King. As an adopted child, this book tore at my heartstrings. Anna’s younger siblings are placed for adoption throughout various points in her life. She writes about meeting her four younger sisters in her 20s and wanting a better childhood for them and herself. Yes, this sounds depressing but it’s a wonderful read.
  2. Somewhere Inside: One Sister’s Captivity in North Korea and the Other’s Fight to Bring Her Home” by Lisa and Laura Ling. I’ve been following Lisa Ling’s career for a while. I loved her work with Vanguard and I’m addicted to her show on CNN. She co-wrote this book with her younger sister, Laura, who was imprisoned in North Korea for several months. The book is incredibly personal and inspiring. It’s the kind of writing that I want to do- in-depth journalism with lots of emotion.
  3. My Year with Eleanor: A Memoir” by Noelle Hancock. (Wow, I read a lot of memoirs this year.) I just quit Artown and I didn’t want to spend my summer watching TV waiting for the fall semester to start. So, I picked up this book, looking for inspiration. The author just left her position at an online magazine and spent her year doing things that scared her: skydiving, performing stand-up comedy, confronting her ex-boyfriend. It was an easy and comforting read that I wish that I didn’t give away- I’d read it again.
  4. 20 Pounds in 90 days” by “Chloe Black” (not her real name). I’m bias- I never been thanked in a book’s credits before. My friend, “Chloe,” has spent the last part of the year writing this great read. She is my go-to friend when I need career and exercise advice. Look out for her mentoring book and blog next year.

** My future reading list. I will definitely need to buy a bigger bookshelf.

The macabre beauty of "Penny Dreadful"

The macabre beauty of “Penny Dreadful”

TV has been my best friend this year. I watched a ton of it. But there is too much good television out there. We are still in the middle of the TV’s Golden Age and there are so many new seasons, new series, reboots (here’s look at you, X Files). Today’s television is like being at Burning Man- it’s overstimulating. You see a little bit of one thing before moving on to the next- there is simply too much to experience. Most of the time, I end up Wikipedia-ing episode synopsis so I can catch up (or learn how the show ended like what I did with Mad Men). When I do sit down and watch episodes in their entirety, it’s a rare moment when I let myself get engulfed with the story. My favorite TV shows of 2015 are***:

  1. Mr. Robot (USA)- Everything about this show is amazing. The story line. The acting. The crazy cinematography. After I finished the season, I subscribed to Code Academy. I’m learning how to hack and becoming a member of F Society.
  2. Master of None (Netflix)- I loved Aziz Anasari on Parks and Recreation (he and Donna made the best team- #squadgoals). His new show was wonderfully hilarious and like Amy Schumer’s Trainwreck, it introduced relationships and dating in NYC in a very realistic way. I can’t wait for season two.
  3. iZombie (The CW)- I never planned to get an iPhone. I was quite happy with my Nokia. One of the few reasons I caved was so I could FaceTime my BFF, Cece, when iZombie came on. Liv is the horror version of Veronica Mars (who I still aspire to be) and the men in her life (Rahul Kohli and Robert Buckley) are… well, hot. We sit and swoon.
  4. Penny Dreadful (Showtime)- Penny Dreadful is smartly written, expanding on the stories of characters from classic horror lore. Dracula. Frankenstein and his bride. The werewolf. Dorian Gray. Eva Green is stunning (as is Josh Hartnett). The dialogue is word porn for the ears and the soundtrack is breathtaking- it’s one of the reasons why I picked up the violin this year.
  5. Black-ish (ABC)- This show makes me laugh so hard. I can relate to every single character but Bow is my homegirl. We’re both of mixed ethnicities and were raised by moms who love their healing rose quartz crystals.
  6. Fear the Walking Dead (AMC)- I don’t like The Walking Dead (please don’t hate me). I tried to get through the first season and I was bored. But I loved the spin-off series. I loved its gradually climb and its pacing. Plus, the show was more about the people than the brain-sucking zombies. No scary creatures for me, thank you.
  7. Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt (Netflix)- This is the best comedy of the year all because of Titus Andromedon and peeno noir.

***I’m still catching up with Jane the Virgin (The CW), the Americans (FX) and the Knick (Cinemax). After that, I’ll be watching the Leftovers (HBO), Jessica Jones (Netflix), UnReal (Lifetime) and this season of Fargo (FX).

What were your favorites of 2015, dear reader?

 

 

Being Conscious 

A few weeks ago, I stepped on my boyfriend’s Ray-Bans, crushing them. I instantly felt terrible- I somehow, deep inside, knew that he always rested them down on the floor next to his side of the bed but I still didn’t look where I stepped. Oops. (Sorry, baby.)

I’ve been thinking about 2015 over the weekend, especially as I started to draft my last blog post for the year. A lot has happened and I began to think about those happenings as random occurrences. Stuff- both good and bad- just happens. Call it fate. Let the cards fall down where they may. Sure, destiny does play its part, making its way through our life but our choices do, too. I’m been thinking about the choices I have made this year, the ones that have lead me to the moment I’m at right now, lying in my bed, next to Steve with the broken frames- and I realized that a lot these choices have been unconscious ones.

In the film, “Elizabethtown,” Kristen Dunst and Orlando Bloom spend the night talking on the phone. Dunst’s character, Claire, tells Bloom that she feels like she has been asleep for most of her life. I feel that way, too. I’ve been slowly drifting, letting the wind guide my decision process without careful thought. I don’t make as rash of decisions as I used to when I was in my early twenties but there are still times where I should have looked before I leaped. Some may call that a rush but I’m starting to see that as being stupid and careless.

I never took in the thought of what being conscious actually meant. After a Google search, I saw that being conscious means 1) being alert to details, 2) making careful, intelligent, and deliberate decisions, and 3) being in the moment. Oh boy, I am definitely a floater and I need to be shaken awake. For the longest time, I thought that being a free spirit is the best option for a person to be- and I wanted to be that. I didn’t need to remember the details from the day before so I just threw those details away. I could be a flake. I was comfortable in absolutely every situation I was in. I lived in my own bubble.

I don’t want to be asleep to the world anymore.

I watched a lot of classic “Star Trek” episodes this year, with Captain Kirk and Mr. Spock. Kirk, despite being ridiculously handsome and charming, was reckless. Spock was the one making the most logical decisions, foreseeing the future with every consequence in mind. Spock didn’t riddle himself with distractions. He thought with proper reason.

We should be more like Spock. I will be more like Spock.

Yes, I know that I broke my boyfriend’s glasses accidentally. But next time, I am looking where I step and will be putting the pair on the nightstand.

RIP Beautiful Amanda…

May you rest with peace and comfort, beautiful girl

May you rest with peace and comfort, beautiful girl

Last week, my friend, Amanda, committed suicide. She was kind and insanely smart, funny and open. I met Amanda when I was apartment hunting in New York. We bonded over our struggles with depression and food and our equally-matched adoration for Brooklyn. Amanda introduced me to Selena Gomez and the Scene– I remember one night we spent hours dancing to their music before she walked me to the subway. It was a freezing night in February. It just started to snow. We were both wearing little dresses with thin tights but we laughed and talked about guys before bidding each other adieu.

I have to admit that I haven’t talked to Amanda since I moved back west, except for the occasional birthday wish on Facebook. I’m really sorry that I didn’t keep in touch with her… I know what it is like to feel alone all the time and how severe anxiety eats at your soul and can ruin many aspects of your life. Depression lies and torments. Anxiety steals and cheats. I’m so sorry that a woman like Amanda had to experience this terror…

I know now that Amanda’s painful struggle is finally over and she may finally find the peace she sought with such effort in life. Rest in peace, beautiful girl.

— 

This time of year can be especially rough. If you are experiencing suicidal thoughts, I encourage you to call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255. Hang in there, dear reader. All my love to you.

What Is Making Me Happy This Week

Earlier in the week, I was laid off. My employer finally realized his financial errors and decided to shut down his company. I still haven’t received paychecks, though. I don’t know if I will ever seen the money but it did feel good to drop a wage claim in the mail to the Nevada Labor Commission. I’m hoping that justice will be served soon.

In the meantime I am studying for my last final, job hunting and enjoying decorating my home for Christmas. Only 13 more days until Christmas, y’all…

Each week, my favorite NPR podcast, Pop Culture Happy Hour ends their program with the question, “What is making me happy this week?” The podcast’s commentators then share the best parts of their lives from Sunday ’til Saturday. As I’m trying to live a more positive life and focus more on my own happiness, I started asking myself this question, with hopes that I can happiness everywhere in my world.

Kicking the Bucket

Nom… A bucket of fried chicken… I love chicken.

At my graduation ceremony this past weekend, our guest speaker recommended that we get rid of our bucket lists. She insisted that they were limiting and that we can dream beyond them. I’ve had a bucket list for a while, my 30 Before 30 list, where I listed thirty different things that I wanted to accomplish before March 5, 2016.  I never found that list limiting- my list has only pushed me. I’ve accomplished quite a lot: I graduated. Went to Burning Man. Moved to New York City. I did things most people only talk about doing.

I wrote my 30 Before 30 back in 2012 and filled it with things that were important to me at the time. Although it would be cool to walk across coals, it’s little things like that which are no longer important to me. As the upcoming year approaches, I think about New Year’s resolutions and my 30th birthday. I don’t want to put a ton of pressure on 2016 but I heard a rumor that one’s 30s is the best time of their life (does it go down hill from there?) and I want 2016 to be incredible. But I know that to make it so, I have to put in the work. I need to make it great. My biggest wish for the new year is that I’m happy and successful in my own terms. Plus, there is a lot of things I want to achieve…

In 2016, I will (well… want to)…

  • Get a kick-ass advertising job (hopefully with great insurance, a 401k option and flexible PTO)
  • Go paintballing for my birthday with friends
  • Skydive
  • Get a matching tattoo with Mom
  • Learn a song on the violin and perform by memory
  • Get driver’s license
  • Get a motorcycle license
  • Run in the Reno-Tahoe Odyssey
  • Buy a MacBook
  • Volunteer more/ Mentor
  • Host more dinner parties
  • Wear more tulle
  • Check out Seattle

I think this list is totally do-able.

Acts of Kindness: Things You Can Do When The World Seems Blue

  • Treat yourself to a delicious dinner. Ignore your diet. Order a fancy cocktail, too, and don’t forget dessert. When your bill arrives, write a silly, happy note to your server and tip a little more than you usually give.
  • Post a nice note on every one of your friends’ Facebook walls.
  • Say thank you to everyone. Your partner, your barista, the guy that bags your groceries, the bus driver, your cat…
  • Be kind to yourself. Start with your eyes. Stop reading. Close your browser and shut off your computer. Depending what part of the world you’re living in, wrap yourself up in something warm and take a walk outside. Find the quirks in neighborhood. Or look at Christmas lights.
  • Bake cookies for your neighbors (even if you’re like me and think they’re a bit too loud most nights).
  • Go to the thrift store and buy inexpensive winter ware. Leave them in areas occupied by the homeless.
  • Buy an extra box of tampons the next time you’re out shopping. Leave them in the ladies’ room of your workplace for anyone to take (thanks for the idea).
  • Just be nice. There’s trauma and tragedy in the world. People are being killed because of mere hate. People hate themselves and drown in their insecurities. Kids are going to bed hungry. Adults are wondering how they’re going to pay their bills. There are too many animals in shelters. There are too many lonely people searching for a friend or a simple smile. You can Google lists upon lists of random acts of kindness but what it comes down to is just being kind. Sure, you can go out of your way to do something extra special for someone but if you are consciously kind and respectful, going about your day with the best intentions and some positively in your heart, you can make world a whole lot better.

What is Making Me Happy This Week

It has happened. Finally. I, Andrea Lynn Tyrell, tossed the Nokia and am now a proud owner of an iPhone.

Oh, and I graduate tomorrow.

Each week, my favorite NPR podcast, Pop Culture Happy Hour ends their program with the question, “What is making me happy this week?” The podcast’s commentators then share the best parts of their lives from Sunday ’til Saturday. As I’m trying to live a more positive life and focus more on my own happiness, I started asking myself this question, with hopes that I can happiness everywhere in my world.

The Struggle is Real

My co-worker, Dago, comes in every morning with a smile on his face. He works hard, putting in at least two hours of overtime every day and additional hours during the weekend. He recently became an American citizen, moving to Nevada from Cuba a few years ago with his wife and three children. Dago explained to me how he believes in the American Dream and is desperately trying to achieve it. He is struggling, though. We are both in the same position, working but not getting paid. His oldest child is seventeen and only a US resident. Dago wants to see his son become a citizen before he turns eighteen but the citizenship process is $750 per person in the state and it’s a cost Dago can’t afford. Despite having an electrical engineering degree from a university in Cuba and being fluent in four languages, Dago had a difficult time finding work and the US and has worked in construction since arriving in order to support his family. But he still comes in smiling, every day.

Julie, a friend I had since high school, cannot get pregnant. When she got married, she was excited to be a stay-at-home mom and raise a big family. But after eight years of trying, Julie is still without a child. She is now trying in-vitro fertilization but she is terrified of miscarrying. During a lengthy Facebook chat, we talked about our future children- their names, the musical instruments they’ll be forced to take lessons in, special holidays and big birthdays to share with them. Julie is afraid but she is still hopeful and knows that she’ll soon have a baby. She’s going to be a great mom.

During these dark times when I struggle the most, I remind myself of two things- 1) everyone struggles with something. I am not the only one in pain. I feel alone but I’m not alone. 2) Positivity- it’s all about that. Remember to be kind and upbeat. I hate it when people say things could be worse but it’s true. I’m alive and kicking. I can smile, too. I can be hopeful.

The struggle is real but it won’t last forever. Hang in there, dear reader.