The Arena

It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.Teddy Roosevelt

I have always been a big believer in the idea that creative inspiration does not flow in a continuous pattern. I feel that there are periods of time when my brain is itching to churn out new ideas and thoughts. It honestly has not been that way for the past couple months, mainly because my brain has been full of concepts and thoughts for school work. I find that when I’m stressed I often hit a creative brick wall. I am sorry for my lack of posts, but I truly do not want to waste anyone’s time writing things I don’t believe in. However, this morning, my brain said we need to write this out, and that’s where today’s post starts.

I have finally had a moment to begin climbing the great wall of Writer’s Block, as I am now in my last month of Graduate school. It’s hard to believe that almost 2 years ago, I made the decision to go back to school for my Master’s, knowing that I would be doing so while working full time. I was not even prepared for how difficult working full time and going to school would be, and I can say that I’ve gained a new sense of respect for working parents who go back to school. We have a dog, and at times it has felt overwhelming to me.

Since my brain has now had some time to take a breath, it’s been doing some thinking. The reason I referenced the Teddy Roosevelt quote is because my Dad always used to say this quote to me when I was in high school. He’d usually reference this right after an upsetting volleyball game, or band competition. While he wouldn’t quote the entire thing, he’d always say, “The credit belongs to the man in the arena”. I always thought this was a sports reference, in that the arena referenced a court or field. Now, as I’ve grown older, I’ve begun realizing: what if the arena doesn’t reference a specific area? What if life is the arena?

I think what Roosevelt (and my Dad) were getting at it here is that whether we know it, we’re always in the arena. Every night that I’ve stayed up late submitting homework, or chose to stay in to complete a project, I have fought within the arena. I’ve fought the pre conception that I wasn’t driven enough to complete an online based program. I think that ultimately I was fighting myself on this. As I’ve discovered, these programs and degrees aren’t to make employers or professors believe in you; they’re to make you believe in yourself.

When I cross the stage next month in my funny looking cap and gown, I’ll essentially leave the arena I’ve been fighting in for two years. But I’ve also realized is that anytime we leave one arena, we walk into another one. After leaving the Graduate School arena, I’ll enter another one with even more unknown than the previous. But as Roosevelt points out, “The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena” meaning that the real champions of these arenas are those who never stop fighting, and accept the fact that they will face disappointments and losses along the way.

My hope for myself and anyone who is fighting in an arena of their own is that we use the arena to propel our desires instead of inhibit them. I hope that we can all realize that the arena isn’t there to stop us, it’s to determine who will fight hard enough to climb out. And when we climb out, we’ll climb into a new arena, but we’ll take with us the knowledge we previously gained. So the arenas will get tougher, but so will we. My advice is to be the man (or woman) in the arena, and never stop fighting, and let us never be among those who never entered the arena at all.

Resolutions, Big News, and as always, Dogs

I am the worst, I am aware guys. Here I come with my big announcement about promising to post way more, and then I fall off the map for forever. If you’re imagining my short and stout self, please know that i’m begging for forgiveness. I’m so sorry! I hope other bloggers have run into this, but i fell into a bit of a dry writer’s spell. Ignore the obvious sexual connotation there please. Ya dirty birds.

So, let me start from the beginning. I have always been a big believer in not writing if you have nothing to write about. I know people say that you should write everyday, but I really don’t think that fits every writer. Really, every brain is different, and if its like mine it goes about 90 MPH. If you’re like me, major life events puts a huge stop on your creativity. And that’s exactly what happened. I was going through some stuff, and honestly I had nothing to write about. When I’m not emotionally intact, I don’t feel like I write great content. Honestly, it would be really fragmented, horribly spelled, garbage. And no one wants that hot mess on their feed. Consider that my apology, and now I’ll tell you why.

Honestly, the past month or so I just wasn’t very happy. Things at work had gotten really bad, and it was starting to come over into my personal life. I know people say that you should keep work and personal life separate, but its really hard to just be in a good mood after you’ve had an awful day. I felt like I wasn’t enjoying what I was doing anymore, and that the negativity from work was just making me miserable. I stayed in this mental pit for a couple weeks, before coming to the conclusion it was time to look for a new job. As a new graduate, I immediately thought, “what if I can’t find another job?!” So i started looking, and for a while heard nothing back. This only dug the mental pit deeper, and without the encouragement from the lady and family, I would’ve stopped looking altogether. But, as I’ve discovered the universe always has a plan. Out of the blue, I got a call from an incredible company in Charleston that I had looked at before. They had an opening, and wanted to interview me! Sometimes, the universe may take a metaphorical dump on you (not sure how that might be literal-sorry for the plethora of awful metaphors) I went through the interview and low and behold they gave your girl the job! Not only was this an incredible opportunity, but it made me excited to go to work again, and that was huge.

I think that negativity can truly do so much to destroy a person’s life. It was only when i started my new job did I realize that you do ultimately have the power to change bad things in your life. So it’s time for me to impart some wisdom on your angelic souls, because sharing is caring:

If you do not like something in your life, you are allowed to change it. You don’t need to explain or validate why you’re changing it.

So my biggest resolution was to start a new job and adventure which I’ve done. The lady and I have also decided we are going to stop cramming ourselves full of junk and eating better. And honestly, i feel loads better! I am not a fan of dieting but I am a fan of making healthy changes. I’m sure I’ll be talking about that soon.

And no, I didn’t cut out wine. Because I love wine. Next!

To make up for my perpetually grumpy leave of absence I’ve attached some pictures from the holidays. It involves the dog looking very cute, and me looking more or less presentable. Story of my life.

-C

Dennis didn't really understand what fetching is, but I sure do now.

Dennis didn’t really understand what fetching is, but I sure do now.

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First Christmas. He got more gifts than I did. Is this what having children is like??

Go Pats!

Go Pats!

The Bitch That is Writer’s Block

This post is about the current clog that seems to be overcoming my brain. I’m not sure if its due to stress at work, or just the holidays in general, but lately I’ve felt like I can’t write a good post. I call this bitch, The Writer’s Block.

The Writer’s Block is the little devil that sits on my shoulder. It leers at me when I stare at my screen:

“ooooohhhhh, don’t have anything to write about? Better keep your day job”

This is the point when i usually flick the writer’s block off my shoulder, which only garners strange looks when people realize that I am indeed flicking and swearing at something that’s not there. I’m a little weird. Anyways, back to the story:

The writer’s block seems to appear when I feel run down. Because of  on going issues at work, it’s felt like lately I’ve become a zombie. I get up, go to work, come home, go to sleep. Rinse and repeat! I then plop myself down at my computer and tell myself- I am going to write something epic!

Then i usually search cats on youtube, and well you probably know how that goes.

I don’t think it works like that though, at least not for me. If it works for anyone else, then consider yourself lucky. People say that you’re supposed to write everyday, but some days there’s just nothing there. I write when I have something to say, and some days there’s just nothing. But when I write, I’m usually writing  because there’s something I need to work through in my brain. Basically, my mind is full of wine, cats, and worries about being an adult, so there’s a lot weird stuff in there. Sometimes, writing is the only way I can say what I really need to say. Sometimes it’s epic, and sometimes it’s shit. I don’t think creativity is just a switch that can be turned on and off. I think it’s something that you come to on your own schedule.

My point about writing and the ugly writer’s block devil is that the fat little bastard wants you to fail. He wants you to not write, and be miserable about it. Sometimes I have to think of my brain as a giant drain. When I get run down and tired and cranky (or i run out of wine) the drain gets clogged. I think this weekend I’ll be spending some time relaxing and trying to Drano my brain.

The online comic, The Oatmeal has a great piece about writing and creativity. My favorite quote from this is:

“Art is not born in a vacuum”

Our minds just aren’t conveyor belts that can continually crank out awesome content. Sometimes you get clogged up (take that as you will). Either way, tell the writer’s block devil to fuck off, and get yourself a glass of wine.

Unless you’re underage- get a glass of soda (your day will come, you poor souls)

-C

Paint Expectations (like Great Expectations…get it?)

This is a story about deciding what you want, and getting it.

Just kidding, this is a story about getting piss ass drunk, getting a wild idea, following through, and having a great outcome.

I know kids, it’s the feel good story of 20 friggin’ 14!

Most people associate “wild” ideas with getting tattoos, or getting married, or getting a car. What was my wild idea?

Re-painting the cabinets! I know, I hope you were all sitting down when you read that. It all started one Friday night, when the lady and I had a main entree of wine and a side of actual food, and of course were watching HGTV.

“You know what?!” I stuttered, reaching for the now sippy cup my wine was in (I had previously lost my privileges for drinking wine out of glass objects). I couldn’t tell if the lady couldn’t stop staring at my red stained teeth, or was just waiting for the synapses in my brain to piece together my next sentence.

“We should re- do the cabinets!” I declared ….and cue gesturing grandly, knocking over everything on the coffee table. I also lost the right to drink on the couch that night.

It wasn’t a horrible idea, in fact it was something I had always meant to do, but in the war of renovation, you have to pick your battles.

Previously, the cabinets were standard white, and stained with cooking disasters from the previous residents. I’ll put that hot mess here:

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Here are my steps for successfully re-painting your cabinets:

1. Decide what color you actually want to paint them. I suggest doing this sober, as our drunken color ideas were probably not too solid. In the end, we decided to do an off white on the top, and a gray on bottom. I know, crazy right?

2. Go to Lowes, and try to resist the urge to not gauge your eyes out with a paint stirrer when you see that there are indeed one MILLION shades of white, and two BILLION shades of gray. Insert Fifty Shades of Gray joke here. Actually, more like Fifty Shades of WHAT THE FRIGGITY FRACK IS THE DIFFERENCE?!

3. After successfully leaving your eyeballs in tact, laugh at all the ridiculous names of the paint samples. Seriously, the white we chose was called Quail Egg.

I know, just let that sink in. I would love to know what poor Lowes Employee had to crawl their ass up a tree to see what color a Quail Egg is?!

4. Sit for a week pondering about how in the actual hell you are going to paint the entire kitchen. Doubt yourself. Doubt your existence.

5. Finally, come to your senses and wait till your one day Father-in-Law visits, and just so happens to be a cabinet maker. Make sad eyes. Conveniently have to go to work so that girlfriend and father can bond, and paint cabinets.

6. Come home and obsess over beautiful cabinets.

I know, I know, I totally opted out of that one. But would they really have been that beautiful if I had helped? Probably not. The reason this has taken so long to post (other than the fact I’ve been too busy drooling over cabinets) is that we also go a kitchen full of brand new appliances!! And a big reveal wouldn’t be the same without them. So here it is!!

 

My two favorite things: coffee and non leaking fridges.

My two favorite things: coffee and non leaking fridges.

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After having to listen to a dishwasher that sounds like cannon fire every time it runs, this is a dream come true. If anyone needs me, I’ll be drinking wine and staring at the kitchen.

I’m still drinking it out of a sippy cup.

-C

If anyone is interested in learning more about kitchen painting, drinking a ton of wine, or both, please feel free to comment!

We are the people our parents warned us about.

We are the people our parents warned us about. – Jimmy Buffett 

Have you ever had a week that made you question every choice you’ve ever made? It has been one hell of a week here, and I think i may be on the verge of going nuts. This is the kind of stuff they don’t prepare you for in college. Sure, I had to take Religion 300, but not introduction to changing your air filter?? I’ve spent the week listening to my sister complain about finals, and watching numerous posts about finals week.

I never thought I’d say this, but I’d do anything to go back to that! I know it’s crazy, but no one tells you just how hard a 9-5 really will be after college. You don’t get to nap between classes anymore, or just skip because you don’t feel like going. The real world doesn’t work that way, and …

Oh my God. I just quoted my Dad. Without even realizing it.

The truth is that growing up is tough stuff. Being an adult is even tougher. I know I’m probably supposed to have a gem of wisdom about this, but I really don’t today. I apologize if this isn’t the most uplifting post, but I try to keep it real.

Some days are just shitty. Some weeks are just shitty.

It’s been one of those weeks. So just know that if you’re in the same boat I am today, I’ll be raising my bottle (i mean glass) of wine to you.

Cheers to Adulthood!

-C

Learning to be Lost; Learning to be Okay with It.

For you to understand the my complex about growing up and turning out alright, you have to understand where I came from.

I grew up with two doctors for parents. My childhood was a mixture of on call schedules, looking at x-rays at the dinner table, and learning every medical term known to man. To put this in a clear perspective, my “birds and the bees” talk was comprised of a powerpoint, complete with diagrams and quiz after. I lived with two incredibly brilliant people, and I realized this from an early age. I listened to their stories of struggling to pay for medical school, of working three jobs, and of joining the Navy. Even at a young age, I understood that sacrifice was a necessary part of fulfilling your dreams. For some kids, two doctors as parents would have pretty much sealed the deal for a third MD in the house. But not me. If anything, it made me go the other way. I had no clue what I wanted to be, but I sure knew it wasn’t being a Doctor.

In a way, I think they were even prouder of me for that. But of course, this begged the question:

What am I going to be?

To be quite honest, I still don’t know. I’m 24.

To be fair, I grew up with two people who knew they would be doctors from age 12. I know, freaks. Meanwhile, I can barely pick something to watch on Netflix. I grew up with this idea that one day, you’d wake up, and you’d just know.

Well, I didn’t. And that scared me. A lot.

I went to college, and tried to major in International Business. I still count on my toes, so trying to tackle economics was not really my chosen path. But I realized that I loved the foreign language aspect of the major, especially Spanish. The fact that the human brain is intelligent to learn and understand another language is still incredible to me. So I majored in Spanish, and had absolutely no clue what I was going to do with it. But I learned how to speak Spanish, and I traveled through Europe.I never realized this, but my parents never did that. I realized that I was headed down a path very different from my parents, and this scared the hell out of me.

I graduated college, and babysat for a summer while figuring out what the hell I was supposed to do. And then, I applied for a random job in technical support that got me an interview and later a job offer. All the time I kept thinking, “Is this what I’m supposed to be doing?”

A year later, I’m still at said job and now pursuing a Masters in Information Technology. Coming from someone who could barely use Facebook, I would say I have come a long way since college. But I still get scared, in fcat I get scared all the time. I still wonder if I’m on the right path, and if what I’m doing is worthwhile. The voices in my head often remind that at this point my parents were doctors.

Well I’ve got news for you, neuroses, and anyone reading this.

You are not your parents.

You are you. A gloriously arranged compilation of cells, skin and organs. Your thoughts and feelings are yours alone.

You are dramatic, and brave, and scared all at the same time.

The only path that is right for you is the one you decide to take.

You just have to learn to put one foot in front of the other.

It’s incredible that as children we are taught to walk one step at a time, and we apply this mantra as we grow older. Our steps may be bigger, and longer and farther, but they are still steps.

It’s okay to not know if you’re going down the right path, but it’s not okay to stop walking.

-C

The Turkey-pacolypse: Thanksgiving 2014

Hello campers,

I’m sorry for the amount of time it took for me to write this all, but I just woke up from my wine and leftover food coma that I’ve been in for the week. I hope everyone’s Thanksgivings were great! In case you were interested, this is how my first Thanksgiving away from home went:

Actually, everything turned out awesome! Surprising, because usually everything I touch breaks or bursts into flames, but thankfully I have found a lady who is pretty much Martha Freaking Stewart. We started prepping everything the Monday before Thanksgiving, and we found this to be incredibly helpful. As I found, you will have way more things to do on the actual Thanksgiving day, so anything you can prep before hand helps. Here’s what we prepped in advance:

Place settings- I was informed that Chinet and China were not the same thing.

Place settings- I was informed that Chinet and China were not the same thing.

Finally got to use my Fancy place mats!

Finally got to use my Fancy place mats!

 

We also decided to put the food out onto the bar of our kitchen, because our kitchen is tiny, and there was no way we are all going to get in there to stuff our faces. We used a chalkboard runner, which is AWESOME because you get to draw and write all over it! It made for a really easy and creative way to display all the food. Doesn’t hurt that it was also 10 bucks!

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Because wine is important, and should always be clearly marked

Because wine is important, and should always be clearly marked

My AMAZING sangria!

My AMAZING sangria!

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The chalkboard paper ended up working great, and was ridiculously easy to do. For anyone who isn’t very crafty (me) it is an easy way to spice up the table!

Yeah, yeah, yeah….but how did the turkey look?

Well, after about five hours of worrying and googling everything turkey related, I would say it turned out pretty awesome. The reason is probably because I had nothing to do with the turkey, except making it dance on the counter top. The lady was not impressed. But here it is!

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I’m not a turkey expert, but that’s a good looking turkey!

 

To say the least, after a combination of turkey, sangria, and everything else, I was in a catatonic state to say the least. But the day itself was relaxing and full of time to think about what the holiday is really about. It’s about having someone that loves you enough not to kill you for dressing up the turkey. It’s for the Dad who doesn’t mind 40,000 phone calls about what on earth giblets are, or if there are illegal substances smuggled into a sketchy bag inside of the turkey (no worries, they weren’t!). I think that it’s so easy to get wrapped up in work and school, that it’s important to have a day to relax and enjoy each other’s company. I’m so happy I got to spend Thanksgiving with the person I love, and that we’ll have many more to celebrate.

 

What I'm really thankful for (PS, the lady is on the right, if you can't tell!)

What I’m really thankful for (PS, the lady is on the right, if you can’t tell!)

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Also thankful for this.

I hope you enjoyed this post, and had a great holiday! On the next episode of The Hot Mess Express…..

THE KITCHEN REDEMPTION, or the kitchen cabinets get re painted.

Stay tuned. It could get ugly.

-C