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“How are you?”


I know you’re not fine.

On our first date, my partner and I talked for hours about things couples usually don’t discuss when they first meet: religion, politics, what we don’t like about ourselves. He told me his insecurities about his physical appearance while I explained to him how I never feel good enough. It was that level of honesty that connected us to each other instantly; one of the many qualities we both share and fell in love with. Since our first date, I have been thinking about the amount of honesty and openness I use in daily communication.

In the span of 24 hours, I was asked “How are you” eight times (I counted this past Monday). Most days, I usually smile and say that I’m “good” or “okay” even though sometimes I’m not (Monday was one of those days). We all do it. We’re feeling like utter crap but we don’t reveal our truths when we’re asked. We don’t want the attention on us. We don’t want to look like “drama kings/queens.” We don’t want to have to explain our problems to people who might not understand.

“How are you” lost its meaning. It has become an official unofficial rhetorical question.

But what would happen if we were honest and responded with how we really felt?

During that special date, I was asked what is the one quality that I liked the most about myself. I thought hard, thinking about the things I was good at and enjoyed doing. A few months earlier, I was having cocktails with a friend at a bar and I asked her how she was holding up. She broke down into tears, explaining that she was depressed and she didn’t know what to do about it. So, I comforted her and was grateful that she was honest with me… I told Stephen that I was a good friend. I’m happy to be the person people feel comfortable opening up to.

It’s that level of vulnerability. I think that is missing from every day conversations. Sure, superficial conversation has its place but I want to learn. I want to know. I want to share. I want people to know that I’m truly interested in their well-being and that I’m listening.

In this year, the year that I seek out more meaning in my life, I want the BIG talk. Small talk is now and forever out. When we share, we bond. We get closer. We understand better. Our worlds open up. For me, it helps me get out of my head. I remind myself that we all have problems, great and small, worries and aren’t living in these perfect little bubbles.

So, when I ask, how are you, don’t hide your response. I want to hear it. The truth. And I want to be asked the same. This doesn’t mean that I’m not going to explain to a stranger how painful my menstrual cramps are or try to have a conversation while in the public bathroom (although I have been doing that lately- sorry to those who I’ve spoken to while sitting on the pot). When I ask, I simply want to know how you are doing.

Now dear reader… How are you?


A Gentleman’s (and Lady’s) Guide to the Holidays

I have blogs that I read religiously. From Krystal Bick’s online look book, This Time Tomorrow, to Nerve.com’s sexual musings, I spend most nights on my laptop, eating up the author’s words. MakeItMAD is one of those blogs I’m always hungry for. It is manned by the thoughtful and talented, Max Dubsinky. I highly recommend MakeItMAD to everyone, including his lists on how to be a gentleman. The man knows his stuff, especially on how to grateful and charming during the holiday season. I posted his list of a gentleman’s guide to the holidays below, adding my thoughts to the mix (because you and I both know that kissing under the mistletoe is a holiday must)…

I’m finding it harder to be a gentleman today.  Every time I hold the door open, I’m afraid she doesn’t know the gentleman still exists.  I could throw my jacket in the mud for a woman, and I don’t think it would ever make her day.  Now the holidays are fast approaching, and I’m wondering if today’s woman needs or even wants an arm to hold going down those icy stairs in her heels.  Are we still kissing under mistletoe? And when is it appropriate to wear an ugly Christmas sweater? Never, that’s when. We can do all our Christmas shopping from home so we’re certainly not helping any old ladies carry their bags to the car anymore.  Are we attending candlelight church services out of habit or out of guilt? And “It’s A Wonderful Life” will forever be a classic, but if I have to choose between that and watching John McClane trapped at the top of a skyscraper on Christmas Eve killing terrorists, well, I’m locked and loaded.

… Here’s your guide to the holidays.

        • Welcome to the digital age.  Avoid the over-crowded malls and shopping centers this year, and loosen up the gridlock by keeping your car in the garage.  There’s enough snow and teenagers texting and driving on the road today to cause a seven-car-pile-up at every major intersection.  A gentleman can get all his shopping done in just a few clicks at Amazon, Target and Best Buy without losing a moment of sleep. (Andrea’s note: Although I agree with Max, I stress to everyone the importance of shopping local. Purchasing locally-made goodies from local shops helps create jobs and lets your money stay in your community. If your town is lacking that buy local movement, check out Esty.com, where vendors sell their handmade good for reasonable prices.)
        • Spike the eggnog.  Leave the punch to the kids. (Andrea’s note: I’ve never been a fan of the nog. Instead, I drink a hot toddy- whiskey or brandy mixed with hot water- or put some peppermint Schnapps into a cup of hot chocolate.)
        • Telling anyone under the age of nine that Santa Clause doesn’t exist is never a gentlemanly thing to do.  Leave this world-wrecking task up to those fourth grade punk-asses on the back of the bus.
        • A kiss on the cheek beneath mistletoe in the doorway is always appropriate.

          Go for that kiss!

          Go for that kiss!

        • Holding mistletoe over your head at the office holiday party is not only entirely inappropriate, it’s also borderline desperate, and the only thing you’ll be getting under your tree this year is a restraining order.  ‘Tis the season.
        • Kissing your boss’s wife on the cheek when the mistletoe is across the room is frowned upon.  Kissing the wives of your brothers, fathers, or friends is never appropriate no matter what time of the year it is, or where the mistletoe is located.
        • It’s still protocol to kiss for luck at midnight.  So sweep the single woman next to you off her feet on New Years Eve. Kiss her at midnight whether she’s your best friend or a perfect stranger. (Andrea’s note: I am a firm supporter of this, all you single men and women out there. I know of relationships that stemmed out of a simple New Year’s kiss. Those types of kisses are magically and one-in-a-million).
        • A gentleman never expects to receive.
        • Give.  Give extravagantly.
        • Buy a Christmas gift for the person in your life who you believe would least expect a present from you.  Someone recently did this for me, and the gesture was simple: a pack of fine-point black pens, which no writer should ever be without.  I was elated.  I lose pens faster than a seven-year-old loses teeth.  The gift made my day.  I never expected it.  And I look forward to passing that feeling on to someone else.
        • Unless it’s for Starbucks, gift cards are old news.  It’s time to get personal, again. (Andrea’s note: Starbucks or coffee, in general. Support your local coffee houses and tea shops.)
        • Hand-write the messages on your annual Christmas cards this year. (Andrea’s note: I’m a big fan of Christmas cards. I wish that I could buy all my friends gifts but if I did so, I’d grow broke. Christmas cards make up for that. It’s a treat to receive in the mail and inside each card, I can let everyone know how much they mean to me.)
        • At least one of the following holiday movies should be on every gentleman’s Netflix list: “Elf,” “Gremlins,” “Scrooged” and/or “Die Hard” because nothing says Merry Christmas like Yippie-Ki-Ya Mother Fu—. (Andrea’s note: Add “Love Actually” to that list. The movie is good anytime of the year but it is always playing in my DVD player during December.)
Hello, nurse!

Yes, guys- scarves are a plus. Hello, nurse!

      • Professional fashion consultant and close friend of mine, Jason Walker says, “Men need to take more risks with accessories this holiday season: scarves and hats are in, and rings are not just for married men anymore.” (Andrea’s note: Winter is my favorite time of year simply for this reason. Men, you look amazing in heavy trench coats and a pair of lace-up dress boots. Add a scarf this the mix- and now you know why I’m desperate to move back to New York City- the men there wear terrific pieces in the wintertime. I know that I’m not the only girl who feels this way.)
      • I miss the days of Christmas Carols.  The only Fa-la-la-la-la-ing we seem to be doing these days is in the bedroom.  Don’t be afraid to take those Christmas songs back to the streets with your close friends or family.
      • A gentleman stands up for what he believes.  Ditch the Happy Holidays.  Wish someone a Merry Christmas.
      • Socks are never a bad gift.  Give those with a pair of TOMS  (an organization which donates a pair of shoes to children in third world countries with every pair purchased).
      • Even if you don’t believe in that little eight-pound guy in the manger who saved all mankind, a gentleman should consider a Christmas Eve church service because you might just find the true meaning of Christmas has been inside you all along.   Did you know they have electric guitars in church now?
      • A gentleman (and a lady) starts his/her own traditions.
      • My father often writes letters to us, or his grandson, Jack, recapping the year full of painfully hilarious truths that have us laughing well into the night.  Over the last three years I hear my status within those letters hasn’t been updated: “Your Uncle Max is still in Hollywood, broke, and starving, but he remains a gentleman about it.”

Merry Christmas. (Stay warm, dear reader.)

You can read more of Max Dubinsky’s work at MakeItMAD.

This and That

I’m the president of the Procrastinator Club (okay, not really!).

I’m loving life and the stuff I’m doing (most of the time). Work at the newspaper is going great. I’m busy developing a start-up and am trying to focus in on school. My relationship with my boyfriend, Nathan, is better than ever. Most days, I wake up and I go go go- biking to work and to interviews, back home to change and bike out to grab dinner and drinks with friends or a snuggle session with Nate. Most days, after running around all over town and spending a good chunk of time in front of my work computer, by the time I get home I’m exhausted and don’t feel like blogging. I do beat myself up about my lack of personal writing- that I’m the president of the Procrastinator Club- but then I’m reminded to be kind to myself. As much as I want to be Superwoman and get everything on my to-do done, there is no way that I can get it all done. I’m doing my best and I do deserve a break sometime.

Even though I haven’t posted in a while, I still think about 20Something topics all the time- things I think people would like to read about, things that are relevant. From the recent government shutdown that has affected my friends in the AmeriCorps, to sexual psyche questions I had after watching “Don Jon,” my brain is buzzing with things to write about. Often times I’m riding my bike and something pops into my head. I drift over, pull a pen out my purse and write down whatever in my head (I don’t recommend doing this as I once almost got ran over by a truck).

The following are the things I’ve been thinking about the last couple weeks. I might develop them into longer posts (or I just may not, depending on time and my schedule). ‘Til then…

Halloween is coming up. I feel weird writing this (maybe I lost my party gene) but I want to stay home and hand out candy this year. Maybe set a booby trap for the neighborhood kids. I know that Halloween is that one time of the year girls across our fine nation get to dress provocatively (thank you, “Mean Girls!”). But lately, I’ve been thinking about how society shames women when they dress quote-unquote slutty.

Are these women really "sluts?"

Are these women really “sluts?”

Why? When I got out clubbing, I wear a short dress with low-heeled shoes (so I can get my groove-thang on without falling). I love to dance and get pretty sweaty when I do (hence the small amount of clothing). Why am I labeled a “tramp” then when I decide to wear a little dress, rather than something heavy that will soak up my sweat?

When I was living in NYC, I participated in the Slut Walk (an event Reno will eventually host- hopefully). I walked in the Walk, wearing shorts and a thin tank top. During the walk, I talked with a woman about why mainstream television shows blood and violence instead of breasts. I don’t understand it. Why doesn’t our society accept something natural and beautiful as a pair of breasts on primetime television? Is the naked body more horrifying than a dead one?

I just came back from having dinner with friends at a downtown establishment. As much as I’m happy to go out and be social, I don’t know if I’m exactly “friends” with these people. I haven’t seen a few of them in years and neither of us were close before. Perhaps that was why I was in such as hurry to leave. I don’t remember what I have in common with those people anymore. Is it my social anxiety that’s kicking it? Or maybe we aren’t in each other’s lives for a reason….

My boyfriend refers to me as the “social butterfly” but I know myself as the “Vine Street Recluse.” Truth be told- I’m fine being alone and I think tonight, I rather have spent this time alone. Why it is so awkward to spend time with people, especially people haven’t seen in years?

My university is asking its students whether or not they want to pay a semesterly fee to the construction of a new gym facility on campus. I understand that such things like a new gym would help bring students in- thus, bringing in money- but universities are foremost places to learn. Why don’t we spend more money on academics? I’m starting to think that students nowadays are being fooled- or perhaps they’re dumber than they appear. Would you want to go to a college that has stellar academic programs or have a decent gymnasium facility? (I can’t wait to read the results of this survey.)

I’m embarrassedly obsessed with new Fall Out Boy album- just thought the world should know how amazing it is (especially Patrick Stump’s vocals).

Tell me dear reader- what has been on your mind lately? I hope you’re well and are loving your life as much as I’m loving mine. Now, if you can excuse me- I’m off to meet a friend for a nightcap. Or four.

Let’s Talk about Mental Heath

Hi. My name is Andrea and I have borderline personality disorder. (All together now… “Hi, Andrea.”) My disease is characterized mainly by the extreme spectrum of emotions that I experience every day- when I’m happy, I’m really happy. When I’m sad, I’m really sad. With these severe highs and lows, I am particularly sensitive emotionally. A stranger can shoot me a mean glance for whatever reason on a Tuesday and I’ll be depressed the rest of the week because it. I go through periods of intense loneliness and feel rejected when someone doesn’t return a text message or cancels plans. Because of my lack of emotion regulation, I often come to extreme conclusions and I have a pretty negative opinion of myself (even though deep down, I know that I’m attractive, smart and a decent human being). Also, because of my lack of emotion regulation, I have a hard time expressing feelings. On the days I have an especially hard time at work or school, I want to hole up in my room, not wanting to talk to anyone. This silence can last for days as I usually spend that time sleeping. When I don’t have any responsibilities, I can spend about 22 hours of one particular day sleeping.

I don’t know why I’ve been blessed with borderline personality disorder (BPD). Some medical professionals claim that BPD is genetic while others say it is situational, often caused by lack of care as an infant. I don’t know anything about my life prior to my adoption when I was a toddler. However, I have done some research. Even though I have never been formally diagnosed with these disorders, I believe that I suffered from attachment disorder and selective mutism as a child, which developed into social anxiety as I’ve gotten older (there is a recent and interesting CNN special that stated 79% of adopted children, adopted domestically or abroad at any age, suffered or will suffer from some form of mental illness).

the Depression Monster (by Toby Allen)

the Depression Monster (by Tony Allen)

My illness has affected everyone in my life: my family, my friends, roommates, every single relationship I’ve been in. I don’t know how my parents managed to handle me growing up, raising me and my other sisters to become functioning, productive members of society. It has been a long, bumpy road and even though I do get depressed and down, I do like to believe that I have a good handle on things. I stay balanced with moderate excercise, I reach out for help when I need it and I’m considering the one-step-further option of taking anti-anxiety medication. Most days, I feel great.

In our society, we are told that being sad is a bad thing.  Of course, we don’t like to see the people that we care about feeling blue so we tell them to suck it up and stop crying; to get out of bed and move on; to see the sunshine through the rain clouds. Look, I know that talking about depression is, well, depressing but depression shouldn’t be something that we gloss over with a simple phrase. Often times, those small words hurt, not help. I understand that these words don’t intentionally support the cruelness associated with joke but they’re still painful. Mental illness, in whatever form, is not something to make fun of. It’s something to take seriously. People shouldn’t be ashamed to tell the people that they love that they or that they have a psychotic disorder or battled through anorexia. They should be welcomed with open arms and be encouraged to seek out proper help and share their story. We listen and sympathize with those who have cancer or a fever- mental illness is just as common as a cold. So, let’s talk about it and figure out how we can help people we care about.

According to the Associated Press, Aaron Alexis, the shooter in last Monday’s incident in Washington D.C. suffered from mental health issues- post traumatic stress disorder and paranoia with claims of hearing voices. If we have learned anything from these last several shootings across the United States and about the mental health conditions these people faced, we need to start addressing such diseases and conditions, making things like schizophrenia and depression less taboo, and caring properly for those who unfortunately suffer with such illnesses. Instead of focusing on gun control, can’t we focus on getting the funding to support mental health research and treatment? Let’s morph the stigma into awareness.

the Anxiety monster (by Tony Allen)

the Anxiety Monster (by Tony Allen)

I shared my story. I know that this one account won’t make everyone feel better about discussing mental health. But I do hope it inspires to change beliefs- your beliefs, the ones of your friends, the ones who make decisions that affect our country. Beliefs become thoughts that become actions. Those actions become habits and habits make up our life. The so-called “shame” of mental health must be erased.


For more of Tony Allen’s work, visit zestydoesthings.tumblr.com

These Things Do Happen

This week has been filled with disappointments- plans for a weekend with some college friends up in Tahoe was aborted when no one called me back to confirm. A trip to Los Angeles is officially canceled due to a friend’s timing issues. My dear boyfriend made the decision for both of us to only see each other less often, once a week. Okay, I’m being a bitch. I do know that these things happen- sometimes, they happen more often than not.

I started dating when I was twenty-three. I knew I was late in the game but I was convinced that the first man I met on OkCupid was the going to be the love of my life. Yup, I was wrong about that one. After that particular gentleman, I thought maybe Prince Charming would be the second guy I went out with. Wrong. I kept this train of thought, finding my ain true love, with the next slew of guys I dated those couple of months. Then, it hit me. I don’t know why I didn’t think about this before but the thought hit me one day while out getting coffee on Bedford Avenue. I was putting too much pressure on myself, expecting something perfect and with those expectations, I would only see disappointments. I took a step back and realized that dating should be fun and carefree. I made the mental change and afterward, went out with a bunch of cool guys and had some incredible times- made a really good friend and plenty of memories and eventually found myself in a serious relationship.

Expectations are all around us, ambushing us from every corner. From the expectations our parents place on us right when we emerge from the womb to the those expectation we twentysomethings are hearing from the world right now (the “what are you going to do with your life”/“when are you going to finish school”/”you and so-and-so are so cute- when are you going to get married?’’ types of questions), we have all this pressure placed on top of our shoulders. Pressure is never a bad thing- it’s the pressure I put on myself that makes me the best writer I can possibly be. But there are times where we just need to take the world of our shoulders and remember to breathe. Pressure builds up expectations (or in my case, a personal fantasy land) which can lead to disappointment.

I don’t know about you, dear reader, but I’m going to try to relax and let things be as they are. Call it living in the true moment, if you will. We can only hope for the best- if we don’t get the best, we can always take a different route to strive for it again or just brush it aside and follow a new path.

Gumby and Sheryl Sandberg

When I young, I was obsessed with Gumby. I watched his show on Nickelodeon religiously, admiring his and his friends’ adventures in their clay wonderland. I also had a bendable Gumby action figure who lost his life when my dog became a member of the family. In college, I watched old “Saturday Night Live” episodes with Eddie Murphy as Gumby- “I’m Gumby, damnit!” I’ve always wished that I could be flexible like that green creature; that I could shape myself into anything- an airplane, a puddle, a tire swing.

But let’s get real. I’m not Gumby.

I really wish I was, though.

I’ve been doing a lot lately. A LOT. Between my two jobs, I work 55 to 60 hours a week. That doesn’t include my freelancing gigs.  Volunteering has always been important to be and I set time aside each week to do something for my community. Plus, I’m studying for school for the Spanish class I’m hoping to get into this fall. I don’t have a lot of free time- which is fine. I enjoy being busy. I’m enjoying my work and my life. But something is definitely missing. I’ve never been good at planning, scheduling and sticking to the different aspects in my life. I know that some things are more important that others- my career for one thing. I don’t want to write for the city paper for the rest of my life. I’d like my own office somewhere in the NYC Conde Nast building one day. I bust my “balls” to make that dream come true.

With my recent work responsibilities, I know I have put a lot of stuff on the back burner. Friendships are the first thing that come to mind. I know I haven’t been the greatest friend to my own nor the best girlfriend to my guy. I see my boyfriend about once a week now (sometimes, I get too busy/tired and we just text for a few minutes before I move on to the next thing). A good friend of mine sent me a text yesterday about me working too much and bailing out on every opportunity to hang out. I know that employment safety triumphs friendship/family/love on the Maslow’s Hierarchy but I’m wondering if my recent actions with the amount of hours I’ve been working are really at all worth it. Are they? Relationships verses works… What to chose? As Sheryl Sandberg once put it, I’m leaning into my ambitions. But does that mean to take one step back out of another portions of my life?

As much as I wish there were 60 hours in a day or that I could find a way to substitute a workout for sleep, I know that those things will never happen. I think about my parents who managed to work full-time jobs and take care of me and my sisters. I have no idea how they did it (and in regards to my dad and stepmom, I still don’t know how they do all they do ad find time to take my youngest sister to Disneyland). A 40 hour + shift, plus their children and their education and after school activities and dinner on the table at five on the dot- AND the relationship with their spouses. Whoa! However do you get a moment of time to breathe?

I don’t know how I’m doing it right now. I know that I’m doing a lot of things wrong but that’s life. I’m making mistakes but I’m learning from them. I know with more practice (or if I wake up as a Claymation character), my weighted scale of life will be perfectly balanced.

But now, I’m just going to relax in front of the television for a brief moment, looking for old “Gumby” episodes on Netflix.

Love Actually

Life is funny. Two months, ago I lost my job and my boyfriend on the same day. Last week, I was handed a dream job writing for a local newspaper and I got back together with the man I thought I lost forever- all on the same day. I know better than anyone that life works in weird ways. One minute, you’re on top of the world with money and success and an active social life. The next, you’re all alone, broke and on the verge of being homeless. A day later, you sell your sad story to ‘TODAY’ and you’re now an instant millionaire, on the cover of “Forbes.” Ah, the beauty of life!

I’m a firm believer in those little life sayings, the quote clichés that you read on your Starbucks cup. Obviously, the person being quoted knew what the hell they were talking about or their words wouldn’t be printed on cups distributed all over the world. I read such quote from Arthur Rubinstein a little while ago and I can’t get it out of my head…

“I have found that if you love life, life will love you back.”

Me and the boyfriend being cute

Me and the boyfriend being cute

I thought about that quote for a long time and took a hard look at my life and all the things that were making me unhappy: my job (or lack of one), my doubts of being a decent friend and girlfriend, not finishing up school, the ten pounds that magically appeared on my waistline. I wasn’t loving life. I wasn’t living life. I was complaining. Granted, I am the queen of cranky and I do love a good bitch session but enough was enough. I was wasting time and making excuses- too exhausted to this. Don’t have enough cash to do that. Too many of my early afternoons and nights were spent on the couch, watching Netflix, eating brownie batter. I dug up old to-do list and my 30 Before 30 goal sheet. I haven’t accomplished any of them.

Time to stop dreaming. Let’s start planning and doing. I created a spreadsheet of all the advertising agencies, public relations offices and printed publications in town and emailed them my writing samples and a bad-ass cover letter. I got a ton of interviews and a slew of job offers. I researched different national magazines I’ve always wanted to write for and just sent in a pitch to a travel magazine based in San Francisco. I signed up for a class in the fall and (FINALLY) started paying back my student loans. I budgeted my first paycheck and used it for art supplies (been painting a lot lately) and new living room décor. I’m volunteering at fun non-profits and made a point to accept most invitations from friends for dinner and other girlie dates. I wake up at five in the morning to run and get some planks and burpees in before I start my work day. After seeing the mistakes I made in my relationship and admitting to myself that I have some personality quirks that I need to work on, I went to my ex and we talked about giving our relationship a second chance- I’m thankful that he agreed for another go-around.

I’m getting back on track. I’m finally realizing that you have to work for your happiness. It just doesn’t come to you. Yeah, I’m still happy being lazy on the sofa and I do realize that I won’t be this happy all the time but that’s cool. Love, in all its great forms, takes work. Living a good life takes work. And I’m determined to work to make my life sensational. I’m putting lots of love in and am getting lots of love back. I love these working progresses and I’m loving my life. I hope, you dear reader, have the courage and self-knowledge to work hard for the life you always wanted to live and love. You do deserve it (and thank you for reading).

Being Human

“Where do I belong? Where do I fit? Who are my people? Where do my loyalties lie? We all choose our tribe. It’s that need to belong. To live within boundaries. ‘Cause it’s scary on the outside; on the fringes. Some labels are forced on us.  They mark us, set us apart ’til we’re like ghosts, just drifting through other people’s lives. But only if we let the labels hold. You can piss your whole life away trying out who you might be. It’s when you’ve worked out who you are that you can really start to live…”

It may be a silly television show about make-believe characters (a ghost, a werewolf and a vampire) but I have learned a lot about people and about life from “Being Human,” a SyFy Channel series (I highly recommend the show- check your local listings for airdates). I don’t know about you, dear reader, but I’ve felt like an outsider most of my life, venturing among different groups looking for my own special place. I can identify with Aiden’s, Sally’s and Josh’s plights- them trying to find their place in the world as they deal with their own set of unique problems. Granted, I’m not a demon (even though I still hang on to my high school fantasy of being a vampire slayer) but lately, I have been struggling with my placement in this life, trying to figure out exactly who I am – am I a devoted ex-girlfriend? A unconcerned daughter? A friend who really doesn’t have friends? A journalist who can’t find work? A lazy dreamer? Who really am I supposed to be? Someone loving and sweet? Someone great and powerful? Someone who is just… human, plain and simple?

I realize that the descriptions that I mentioned above as the labels that I put on myself. Yes, not all the labels stuck on me are negative- I do have a lot of good ones. But it’s those labels that we focus on that, in the end, don’t mean anything. And in the end, I’m Andrea. I’m just Andrea. And that’s enough to pay attention to.

And if anything else, I’m just going to focus on the sexy bloodsucker on my TV screen.

Shine Bright like a Diamond

On Thursday, I went to my first AA meeting. Yes, I have a drinking problem but yes, I’m fixing it (and I will eventually get better). It took some drama to see this problem hanging out with the plethora of other things running around in my head- Monday morning, I broke up with my boyfriend. Monday afternoon, I lost my job. Although it was the day from hell, all the negative experience brought clarity. I have an issue with alcohol. I don’t sleep and eat enough, like a normal person should. I have problems with verbal communication and emotion regulation. My depression is affecting every aspect of my life- I’m letting it take over my life. Well, not anymore.  Tuesday, I spent the day energizing and exercising in the sunshine, getting some much need physical activity and Vitamin D. Wednesday, I met with a therapist and made an appointment to get prescribed anxiety medication.

Making big decisions like this is tough. No one likes changes of this magnitude. Telling my friends that I had an alcohol problem was hard. I’m the girl who enjoys her cocktail and the monthly downtown wine walks. I was afraid of the pressure to “try this” or “take of sip of that.” But everyone I told has been amazingly supportive. They encouraged my courage and for that, I’m incredibly grateful. Last night, I went out to my favorite bar with a couple of friends and they ordered me Shirley Temples along with their tequila shots and pints of beer. Nothing felt out of place or forced. It made me feel like I can conquer all this negativity and still be me- just a better, happier version.

I’m writing this entry, listening to Rihanna’s “Diamonds.” Every time I listen to this song, I get something new out of it.  “Find light in the beautiful sea/ I chose to be happy.”t made me feel like I can conquer all these negativity and still be me- just a better, happier version. I know that happiness is a choice, but most days, at least for me, it’s a difficult choice to make. I wish that choosing happiness and glee was like deciding what outfit you’re going to wear in the morning. I’m sure after I clear the demons out of my head and the chunks of concrete out of my heart, I’ll be able to flick on my happiness switch permanently with a snap of my fingers.

Diamonds sparkle even when surrounded by darkness. That’s something that I need to remember. Even though I’m missing my ex-boyfriend like crazy and I need to hunker down and start job hunting, I know that I’m doing the right thing, finally building a good mental foundation- one that supports my attitude and my emotions, that will help with making and keeping relationships and work. I know that this will take a long time to heal and get better. I only hope that I’ll be patient with the results I’m seeking and that I remember to be kind to myself. But I am determined to get better and I know it will happen.

Today is the first day of the rest of my life.

Let’s Talk About Sex (Part 2)

Raise your hand if you’re a virgin. Raise your hand if you’re not a virgin.

My boyfriend and I were thinking of setting our friends together: his BFF, a cute and polite guy who hasn’t had a girlfriend in a couple of years, let alone been on a date, paired up with one of my lady friends- a gorgeous and fun woman who just happens to be a virgin. When I spoke about the last detail, my boyfriend was shocked and decided it wasn’t a good idea for them to be set up. Why, I asked. Because she never had sex before, he replied. I grew quiet and the clockwork in my head started spinning.

I know that we don’t live in the 1950s, where girls who give it up are considered “hussies” and “dirty whores.” But when did keeping your virginity become a negative issue? Especially keeping your virginity into the latter part of your twenties? After talking about it with some co-workers and asking a random male his thoughts about the subject at a bar during happy hour, I feel like the virginity table has turned. These women (and men) who choose not to have sex for whatever reason (religion, not finding their ideal partner, asexuality, etc) are being looked down as if something was wrong with them. It’s the stereotype of “virginity” that gets me. Is it really considered prudish if you are one? Why does everyone have to think you’re a Mormon waiting for marriage or a nun in the convent if you refuse to get naked with somebody? It’s a fact that sex is a big part of our modern American culture. It’s on people’s minds all the time but do we have to be that hungry for sex?

I’m starting to wonder if sex is THAT important in a relationship. Does it need to exist in order for a relationship (any sort of relationship, from a couple out on their third date to a lifelong marriage) to thrive and survive? There are definitely times I feel like not doing anything physical but I do it any way to please my partner. But if I was to stop having sex all together with my boyfriend, would either one of us get to the point of sexual frustration where we would break up (this would be an interesting social experiment to try; however, I really do like my guy and I do enjoy our sexual trysts). What if we never had sex to begin with; me just telling my boyfriend when we first met that I’ve had sex before, loved having sex but wasn’t interested in having it for a while? What would have happened if I told him that I’m a twenty-seven year old virgin and I wanted to stay one? What about in a marriage? Can one last without any physical intimacy? Can you just have a decades -long marriage or relationship that only filled with kisses and back rubs?

Whatever, whatever, whatever. You shouldn’t be concerned about what other people think. It’s neither good or bad if you’re a virgin or not- it’s up to you, and ONLY YOU, to decide.