Cuffing Season: 2017 Edition.

I’ve always been fascinated by the concept of cuffing season.  Mostly because it’s forsaken me the past few years. When the air gets brisk, my mind entertains thoughts of holidays with bae and getting dumped after New Year’s (definitely before February 14th). Yet nothing happens. My DMs stay dry, my legs stay cold, and I go on “dates” with the same five friends year round. It’s actually been pretty awesome – I’m living my best life right now. So, as you would expect, when cuffing season did find me, I wasn’t ready. If bullets are cupid’s arrows, then Neo is my spirit animal.

It all started about a month ago (as it apparently does every year). I’m minding my own business, hair long, skin flourishing, smile on “Bam!” when this guy tries to pull me at the car dealership. I forgot myself and gave him my number (I must have been in a good mood.) Two things happened that day. He tried (and failed) to disrupt my plans to do “nothing” that evening , and I found out I wouldn’t have been allowed to sit with him at the bar if I did decide to go out. Womp womp.

What proceeded were weeks of me being an asshole. I didn’t want to outright tell him I didn’t see it going anywhere, but I also felt in my soul that I was happier single. He eventually got wise and moved on before it got too late in cuffing season. I wanted to be sad, but ultimately it was better for both of us.

So again, I’m minding my own business, flying to new states and shit, just loving life. I barely step my toes off the plane before the guy handing me the keys to my car rental asks for my number. Let’s just say it was awkward when I dropped the car off a week later and he was right there.

“I was sitting on the plane right behind you!” said the next guy. This is literally how huffy dude got when he tried to make small talk and I made it clear I had never seen him before. The flight was a redeye. He still asked if I had a boyfriend. I lied. My brother was picking me up from the airport, but I was absolutely going to pretend that bro was bae if the dude even looked like he might follow me from baggage claim.

I am actually considering wearing a wedding ring now, like, “Yep, that’s why I have two last names! Dang…”

I say all this to say, I’m done. I’m not impressed. Unless some miracle of manliness wanders into my life before October 31st, cuffing season can miss me with the bull. In fact, I’ll be happy as shit. I’ll go into hibernation like Mother Earth intended and says watch every single movie the Hallmark channel created for me this year (just kidding, I’ll watch more Golden Girls).

Image result for gif guy at airport

Hallmark Channel, you disappoint me.

Dear Hallmark Channel,

I am dismayed at your lack of creativity, lack of innovation, lack of pizzazz. You continually disappoint me with your antics. I don’t ask for much. You’d be better than Lifetime if you found as many unique ways to fall in love as Lifetime does to drive a woman to mental instability. I’d actually adore it if you played old detective shows on repeat – this used to be your niche. Now you think you’re Netflix and you’re out here trying to create your own content.

It’s garbage. Not even hot garbage. The kind of garbage you see in New York. It’s so pervasive you can’t even pay mind to it anymore. I hate turning on the channel. Let me explain why.

Today I was having a conversation with my mother. For some reason, she relentlessly watches the Hallmark Channel and Hallmark Channel Movies and Mysteries. I guess it’s because she finds it meditative like staring at a blank wall. She mentioned that the Hallmark Channel was holding her over, but the really good programming was coming in November. I was instantly inundated with images of angry white women at Christmastime. The women are bitter workaholics and thus hate the rare and beautiful white Christmases. But no, my mother told me, there’s a movie about a woman who does ice sculptures as her side job that’s worth watching. I laughed and told her we’d already seen that movie. The one with the redhead who was a chef, but did ice sculptures for fun. It had enough variation from the angry workaholic woman to be watchable, but still with enough of the whole “that man is my friend and now he’s more than a friend but I’m timing my emotional breakdown so that it sabotages the entire relationship just as it’s getting going.”

What shocked me is that my mom confidently told me that this was not the ice sculpture movie she was talking about. This was a new ice sculpture movie. Well, I’ll be damned. At that moment, I knew you’d sunk to a new low, Hallmark Channel. You’ve repeatedly cast the same five B-level actors, repurposed the same exact plot, and played fucking holiday movies all year long, but two ice sculpture movies is something I can’t forgive. The last time I saw an actual ice sculpture was at all a ball for bougie black people. This isn’t an everyday Christmas thing. Jesus wasn’t laid in the manger next to an ice sculpture. What is the meaning of this? What execs approved this? I need their address so I can send them a new script I wrote for Lacey Chabert about yet a girl who works at a vegan bakery. See, now it’s different.

Where is your pride, Hallmark Channel? Where is your talent? Where are the women of color? Do you mean to tell me that only former Full House cast members want to star in your shows? I would just love to see Priyanka Chopra in a Hallmark Channel mystery. You could even reuse an entire plot starring her. I might let it slide.

Or better yet, just go back to the good stuff. When I went to L.A. last weekend I was up at 12 AM PDT (3 AM EDT) and noticed a delightful middle of the night line-up: Murder, She Wrote followed by Diagnosis Murder. And oh my stars, they were on the Hallmark Channel. It was past my bedtime so I went to sleep and decided to try again in the AM, so naturally, I was pissed to find that the classics had been replaced with fucking Aurora Teagarden mysteries. She will never be Jessica Fletcher. Why is she here? Why has the queen been relegated the hours of the dead?

I want you to fix this and fix this now. I can take no more. I need mystery, I need love, but I also need a world free of this insanity. I’ll give you 65 days to respond. That should allow you enough time to air all 12 of your new Christmas movies that we didn’t ask for.

Thank you and have an enlightened day.

 

P.S. It turns out the new movie is about ice skating. It’s a thin line between love and hate, and you’re all over it.

Tell me what’s a positive person.

Sometimes people tell me I’m a positive person and it lowkey pisses me off. It’s not exactly what they say, it’s more what they mean. They just say, “you’re a positive person,” but what they’re really saying is, “you’re one of those annoying glass-half-full people who wakes up with sunshine up their ass and I hate you because you don’t realize life sucks.”

But oh, ho, ho, my friend, I do in fact realize life sucks. It’s a great big pile of shit and then you die, but what good is wallowing in it? I’ve decided that the wisest, most productive thing to do with my time here on Earth is to make the most of it. This is precisely why I wake up like sunshine’s coming out my ass: because I chose to.

Heard of the Serenity Prayer? It goes something like this, “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.” It took me about eight years to realize that there’s a whole bunch of shit that I can change. Hate your job? Get a new one! Tired of being around negative people? Dump ’em! Want to see the world? Buy that ticket!

Once you decide what’s important to you, you just go for it. I decided being happy was the most important thing to me, so that’s what I work at. Every single day. It’s that simple.

Simple. Not easy.

It’s not easy to buckle down and do the things that will make you into your best self, but you do it anyways. You work your ass off to be what people consider a positive person. After you prioritize, you plan. You carve out time to do the things that matter. You find polite ways to tell the things you hate to “fuck off.” And then when bad things find you anyways, you get mindful. You talk to a friend. You talk to a specialist. You literally meditate. You learn how to reframe your situations. You learn how to change your reactions. You look for the lesson in everything. When you fall you dust yourself off and lie to yourself that it’s going to be okay until you believe that it’s going to be okay, and then it is. You read books about positive stuff. And then you read for fun. And then you read more books about positive stuff because you forgot all the positive stuff you just read. You seek out things that bring you joy. You laugh as much as possible. You laugh at yourself as much as possible.

At least that’s what I do. Because if I don’t do those things – every single day – I’ll go back to being a person that I don’t want to be. A person who is miserable all the time and doesn’t appreciate the opportunity she has to make the one life she was given a great one. I guess you can call me a positive person, but if I am, you should get like me, and stop hatin’.

“How can you not be romantic about baseball?”

My first love’s name was Carlos.

I was six years old, smitten by both his smile and his baseball skills. Carlos was Carlos Baerga, the Cleveland Indians’ second baseman.

During the summer of 1996, he was traded away from the Tribe. I still remember the night of the trade: the news broke while my family was watching the Summer Olympics on TV. In between events, a local newscaster appeared on the screen to tell us that Carlos was headed to the New York Mets. Later that night, I cried in my room as the reality of the trade set in. My favorite player had been taken away from my favorite team. I was devastated.

That was one of the first signs that I was developing an emotional connection to baseball and to the Indians. Despite the countless heart-wrenching, stress-inducing moments that Clevelanders like myself have been subjected to, the connection has only gotten stronger in the over twenty years that have passed since the trade.

Ironically, baseball first piqued my interest for a completely non-emotional reason: the box scores in the local paper. After every game, the final score and player stats were printed in neat little columns and rows in the newspaper. On most summer days, every team in the league would play and the box scores took up an entire page of the sports section. I was—and still am—a nerd who’s oddly fascinated by collections of names and statistics. My dad, recognizing that nerdiness in me, introduced me to the box scores and the significance that each stat held. As a result, I cared about pouring over the Indians’ through-the-roof batting averages, trying to sound out Paul Assenmacher’s last name, and learning what “RBI” meant well before I even realized who Carlos Baerga was.

Once I started looking beyond the box scores, though, I quickly got swept up in the excitement of actually watching the Indians play baseball night in and night out. It didn’t hurt that the rest of the Cleveland sporting landscape was pretty bleak: the Cavs, for instance, went from playing decent basketball to being barely watchable by the end of the 90s. The Browns, thanks to Art Modell and the infamous move to Baltimore, were literally non-existent. On the other hand, the Indians were were taking the city by storm and were especially easy to root for as a little kid. Their lineup was packed with fantastic hitters who knew how good they were, as well as fielders who made bare-handed plays look easy.

On top of that, those 90s teams played like there was always, always a chance to win. Take my very first visit to Jacobs Field: the Indians found themselves losing to the Blue Jays, 8-0, within the first few innings. Our group was seated in the last row of one of the nosebleed sections. It was a sunny afternoon sometime early in the summer, but the wind in the upper deck made it feel like we were watching baseball in the middle of January. We went home early.

A few hours later, my neighbors came running over to our house to share the final score: the Indians won, 9-8.

Since then, Tribe fans have witnessed a number of similarly shocking comebacks: it’s impossible to forget events like the 2001 extra-innings win that came after erasing a 12-run deficit, Rajai Davis’s game-tying home run in Game 7 of last year’s World Series, and the late dramatics it took to extend our historic winning streak to 22 straight games last month. Those comebacks always brought me immense amounts of joy; more significantly, they helped instill a sense of optimism in me that I’ve tried to bring to all aspects of my life as I’ve gotten older…as corny as that sounds.

Then there are games like this week’s: after being chosen by the vast majority of sportscasters and reporters across the country as the favorite to win the World Series, the Indians—who had been leading the best-of-five series, 2-0—lost three straight games to the Yankees and were eliminated from this year’s playoffs. I was at the ballpark for the third of those losses; after the final out was recorded, a wave of disappointment and frustration hit me as I trudged away with 35,000 other bummed-out fans.

Then, within only a few minutes of the final out being recorded, I overheard a 40-something fan earnestly say to his friend, “Well, there’s always next year, right?”

That right there: when you’re rooting for the Indians, even with the agony that accompanies the end of something great, there’s always the sense of hope that the next batter, the next inning, the next game, the next season brings. It’s so cliche, but it’s also so Cleveland, so true in a sport like baseball, and exactly why there’s always going to be a spot in my heart for the Tribe.

10 Reasons Shopping is the Worst (Especially When You’re an Adult)

I’ve read posts about how terrible shopping is, but this one is different. I didn’t know that I could hate shopping this much, it just happened. I feel betrayed. Shopping was supposed to be fun. It was supposed to be that thing you do with your friends to be happy. Now it’s the actual worst.

This is my take on why shopping became the bane of my existence after what I became what can loosely be considered an adult.

  1. Price tags are a liar. What is that you say? It’s only $16? Sorry my dear Watson, but $16.99 is actually closer to $17. Big difference. Oh, and don’t forget to add tax.
  2. Prices actually hurt my feelings. I feel like there are enough Nordstrom’s and Saks Fifths in my vicinity that I should be able to shop there, but for some reason, these places continue to shun me.
  3. It’s a great (translation: depressing) way to compare yourself to others. Shopping is fun with friends, right? Wrong. You’ll rethink that when you can’t budget for Chick-fil-A, but your friend is walking with a brand new Michael Kors bag.
  4. Dressing rooms are a bitch. Trying on clothes is a necessary evil to prevent another evil called returns. However, they don’t make it easy. It’s like the dressing room is telling you, “these clothes won’t change how ugly you look.” Also, “you look like a dirty crook so we pay people to count your clothes.”
  5. Other people are the worst. Since most people also hate shopping, shopping centers are a cesspool for anger and violence. The shoppers hate you, the salespeople hate you, and the teenagers really hate you now that you instituted a curfew because of that last brawl.
  6. Time is money. So really you’re paying twice. Oh, I’ll just spend 5 minutes here, my ass.
  7. There’s more than one way to shop. Sometimes you’re just looking for some pants. Sometimes a fifty-year-old married man is looking to get in your pants.
  8. Those little kiosks begging you to “just try it.” I know this is how you make a living, Martha, but I don’t have time for you to put lotion on my hands and pitch your $60 product.
  9. Disappointment reigns supreme. You’re lured to the mall for some healing or gratification – maybe I’ll feel better if I buy this one thing – and you’re left with nothing but crap you don’t need, an empty wallet, despair, and broken dreams.
  10. I have to actually pay for things. Which, clearly, is the absolute worst!

I dedicate this post to my friend, Jon, for whom positivity is never enough and negativity is never-ending amusement.

Simon says do you.

The other day I was explaining yoga to someone who’s never tried it and described it as “Simon says.” Someone tells you what to do and you do it.

It was true, but there’s also a lot more to it. Yoga instructors are like mentors rather than generals. They’re not gonna yell at you or kick you out the group if you don’t do what they say. Actually, straying from the path is encouraged. “Make it your own,” they say.

In my last yoga practice, I laid my mat next to this chick who did whatever the heck she wanted. I caught her doing push-ups during a twist, headstands during low pigeon, and a whole bunch of other randomness. We were rarely in sync.

So I asked myself, does this bother me? Well yes and no. Yes, it bothered me that she was disturbing my flow with her peripheral out of sync-ness. It’s easy to focus on your breath when everybody else is breathing at the same pace. It’s hard to focus on stillness when the person next to you is pumping their arms up and down.

Also, I couldn’t rely on her for quick reinforcement – am I doing Warrior 1 or Warrior 2? I guess I’m ok, no thanks to you, Marsha!

But I ultimately decided to stop being a hater and accept her for what she was. Inspirational! A yoga practice is just that, practice. And we’re not the same so we don’t need to practice the same. If you can do a handstand, why limit yourself to downward facing dog to appease me? Be big, be bold, be you.

Yoga taught me to take up space and get in touch with my body. So I want to be more like my yoga neighbor. I hear what the instructor is saying, and there will be many times where you’ll catch me following along, but more and more, you’ll catch me doing my own thing simply because it feels right.

Mistake, regret, lesson. Repeat.

Today while enjoying my favorite pastime – bookstore prowling – I noticed a clutch with the phrase “If I had to live my life again, I’d make the same mistakes, only sooner.” I only hesitated a moment it before another book caught my eye and I moved on. But the phrase stuck with me.

I don’t have regrets. I believe in regrets and have had regrets, but I don’t hold onto them. It turns out the initial feeling of despair after a terrible situation eventually fades – in some cases, entirely – and leaves you with just a lesson. Today’s lesson: go with your gut.

My instinct has never lied to me. It tells me when I need to pack a jacket before I even know it’s gonna rain, and when that person I’ve let into my life is only temporary. On great days I follow my instincts on “the journey of more success,” but about half of the time, I challenge my gut reaction with logic. Sometimes I’m outside getting soaked to the bone thinking, “Damn, I should’ve brought that coat when I thought about it.” Hence, the regrets.

Still, there’s always something to be gained from a sad situation, whether that be enlightenment or appreciation. From getting burnt, I learned caution. From getting let down by friends and family, I learned to lean on myself for happiness. From dating nice guys, I learned to go with my gut.

Nice guys, it turns out, are just that, nice guys. That doesn’t mean every nice guy is the guy for you or that the attractive ones should be locked down immediately. There are still pre-requisites to giving a nice guy the time of day, just like there are for giving an asshole or an ugly guy the time of day. One of those pre-requisites is that he’s actually a guy you’re attracted to. Does your gut say he’s friend material or boyfriend material? My mistake has been hoping that my gut reaction is wrong or that my feelings can change. The consequence has been leading somebody on and ultimately wasting both our time. My bad.

That’s just one mistake of many that I plan to make in this life. Instead of feeling down about them, though, I get charged up. Every time I make a mistake and learn from it, I upgrade my life. Next time I’m going to be better and do better. Thanks to my mistakes, I’m the dopest version of myself that I’ve ever been.

Happy birthday, grandma.

Can’t nobody tell me anything about my grandma. I didn’t have the fortune of knowing her as long as others, but I did live with her more than half my life and I think that counts for something. No, I didn’t see all the sides of her, the ways she clashed and crashed with others, but I suspect those pieces are part of what made her who she was. A headstrong, defiant woman who took nothing less than what she deserved. A woman who loved so hard it hurt, but also loved honestly.

When my grandmother passed I was terrified to speak at her funeral. I felt like I had so much to say, yet none of which I could articulate or felt comfortable sharing. I’m in a different place now, so this, right now, is almost like writing her eulogy.

My grandma had a big old bed and the biggest room I’ve ever seen. Her bed was a giant king made of two separate twin XL mattresses. I spent a lot of time on the right mattress enjoying her company. I remember eating ridiculous amounts of crawfish and spilling ink on my first attempt at calligraphy. I remember watching the early morning soap operas and talking to her about my greatest fear. Time has made a mess of my memory, but I would guess that we had this talk when I was between 10 and 14 years old – before things started to change.

I asked her if she feared death and she said, “No.” There was nothing she could do about death, so why fear it? I flipped that answer over in my mind, trying to understand, but shuddering every time the night got too quiet and empty. I couldn’t accept it then and doubted it would get easier with time, so I asked her how long she’d felt that way. She told me she’d always been cool with death. I resented her answer, knowing that I was already further away from reconciling myself with death than she had ever been. But that was her way. Never saying what you wanted to hear, simply what she felt.

I hope my grandma knows I considered her my best friend. I just remember her always being there, even when she wasn’t all the way there. She took me on my first plane ride. She helped me get into a better school system. She scolded me when I didn’t come straight home from school. She picked me up when I got sick. She let me practice driving to Maroon 5. And then I started to lose her.

She didn’t show up simply because she couldn’t. Her mind was preoccupied with lack – my grandfather’s passing, then unnecessary light or noise or some other thing she couldn’t control. Eventually, when she talked about death, she talked about it like a friend that scorned her. Why didn’t it come for her?

Sometimes she was as cool as an ocean. And other times she cried dry tears. I couldn’t console her or help her take care of herself. In fact, I, too, was preoccupied. I was moving on to college, trying to figure out my life like I thought everybody else already had. So, my mother took up the battle. I’m in awe of both women. My grandmother had to be cleaned, fed, monitored, and re-cleaned. Keeping her mind engaged was just too much of a battle – forces inside her had greater resources at their disposal. When my grandma and I talked it was about seeing me graduate, and then wondering why she felt so confused. My only relief is that she never forgot me.

My brother says the day she saw me walk across the stage at my college graduation, she had more clarity than she had had in some time. She’d always valued a good education and how far it could take you, so much so that her doctorate was in Education and she became a superintendent. I’d like to think I made her proud by crossing that stage at 19 with highest honors. I’d also like to think she held on for me, but that I didn’t make her wait too long – I completed my college career in three years and she passed the fall after I received my degree.

Though my grandmother had wandered away from me, she wasn’t entirely gone until that day. She’d recently checked into the hospital, but she had been in and out of the hospital several times at that point. I thought she was headed home that day. I guess in a way she was.

My grandmother left a lot in shambles, but who can blame her. The last years of her life were in shambles, too, and I take care not to forget that. In fact, two years after her death I took up the fight to end Alzheimer’s, partly because I refuse to forget, and partly because I need to make a difference. I don’t want anyone else to live through dementia, as a sufferer, caregiver, or family member. I fight for a day when you can transition on this Earth more you than you’ve ever been.

I’m starting to pick up the pieces my grandmother left behind. I naturally inherited her height and perhaps some of her intelligence, but some of my favorite parts of my personality, I borrowed from her, too. My grandmother had giant mirrors everywhere: around her bed, next to her bed, at the front door. Today my mom teases me for my vanity, but I prefer to think that my grandmother and I just learned to be deeply in love with ourselves.

My grandmother went after what she wanted: degrees, a family with two kids, a big house. She didn’t settle for anything that didn’t make her happy. It sounds selfish, but it allowed her to enrich the lives of so many others. Those in the school districts she led, her family, me. Today I pursue my own happiness so I’m a stronger, better person when I need to be there for others.

My grandmother deeply valued education and I chased after high marks like they were a lifeline. After my Bachelor’s Degree, I didn’t continue my formal education in the way she had, but I found another path to continue learning and help others learn from me.

At least once a week you can find me wearing a necklace my grandfather bought her. It’s a small rectangle with her name on one side and a date on the other. If I lost it, I’d probably sob for days because it’s one of the few physical things of hers I’ve refused to let go of. I’ve had it cleaned and repaired, and I’ve actively decided whether I should wear it depending on where I was headed.

But if I happened to lose it at least I’d still have “Europa” by Gato Barbieri, Victor from “The Young and the Restless,” Richard Gere’s face, a small body with big feet, a hunger to surpass everyone’s expectations, and more blessings I can count thanks to everything she’s done for me.

 

 

If you feel moved to help me honor my grandmother, please make a donation to the Walk to End Alzheimer’s at http://act.alz.org/site/TR?px=8714535&fr_id=10673&pg=personal. I walk for the 5th time less than a week from today.