Summer 2019 Bucket List

Thursday, May 23, 2019

I'm not one for Bucket Lists.  Or checklists.  Or anything that tells me what to do, generally.  I'm stubborn that way. I scoff at plans; life should be embraced and what the universe throws at me I lovingly accept.  It's nice in theory, but if I'm not putting myself out there to experience new things I'm going to experience a whole lot of days on the couch watching The Golden Girls (not a bad option either).

With my 2019 mantra of "Be Brave," I've concocted this silly bucket list I'm hoping to accomplish by summer's end...which is arbitrary in itself because when does summer really end?  Labor Day Weekend? September 23rd? That's a rambling blog post for another day.

2019 Summer Bucket List:
1. Karaoke for the first time ever!
2. Go horseback riding/take lessons.
3. Go on a hike that involves the use of a water bladder because I fell in love with that thing in Utah.
4. Swim in the ocean.
5. Visit a state I have not been to and check off another one on my 50 States list.
6. Go to a live concert (already have this one planned with Kristen & Bryan!).
7. Throw a barbecue/party - I'm always so anxious about having people over, but I've moved into a great place for parties so I need to just do it!
8. Watch fireworks! (My favorite, but I've seemed to miss them the past few years).
9. Road trip somewhere.
10. Go fishing.

What are you hoping to accomplish this summer? Any summer must-dos I missed?

I Thought Internet Dating Was Weird Until I Realized I Met All of My Friends on Instagram

Monday, May 20, 2019

Raphaela and Mike sat across from me, all of us downing our various versions of a "healthy" salad. Mine included a side of fries. Before dinner, I conquered the Goodwill Outlet for the very first time with their help.

Just a little over a year ago, another thrifter from Pittsburgh introduced me on Instagram to Raphaela who was soon moving to the city.  We chatted a few times before officially meeting at a local thrifters gathering. From there, Raphaela dragged Mike to my 30th birthday party and I effectively forced them to be my friends.  The two of them became the first "dinner" guests I hosted in my new apartment - I made a frozen pizza with a side of potato chips.  Without Instagram, our paths never would have crossed.

As I slathered a cucumber in Eat 'n Park's Homemade Ranch dressing, Raphaela asked me if I was sure there was enough dressing on my plate.  Mike started to interrogate the motives of the guy I'd gone on a few dates with.  I was dissecting the guy I met online with the friends I met online.


It started as a joke.  Within the space of an hour I downloaded and made profiles on Coffee Meets Bagel, Bumble, and Tinder.  I screenshot the bare chested lads on horseback and sent them to my Reseller Water Cooler girls for a laugh.  Three hours later, I closed every single profile and deleted the apps feeling utterly defeated by the sheer volume and intensity I found.

Internet dating felt too complicated.  Based on a picture and a couple lines (if provided) summing up a person, I was supposed to judge them and determine whether or not I wanted to talk to them.  From there, if matched, "talking" meant texting through an app.  How do you get a sense of someone's personality from a text message?  Can there be a spark through a text message? How do you share parts of yourself with someone you never met in person?  Most importantly, how do you know this person isn't a serial killer?

It wasn't going to happen for me, I told myself.  This internet dating game was for youngsters and I was far too old to be dodging dudes looking for hookups. Was it really possible to meet my person through my phone? Obviously, dating online works out for people or it wouldn't be around. I just wasn't sure I could be that open.

Texting Kristen for the 4 millionth time in a day, I placed my phone on my desk and leaned my head back into my chair feeling grateful for our friendship.  I tell her everything, nothing is off limits...and I met her through Instagram.  I saw her and Bryan at PoshFest 2018 after having followed them on Instagram and thinking they were funny, I approached them.  And it worked out. They could have been awful rotten people with fake photos and captions, but I wouldn't know for sure if I didn't give it a chance.  I shot up out of my chair and realized everything I was afraid of doing...I was kind of already sort of doing.

I've already met my people and they all entered my life through an app on my phone.  They supported me through the craziest 6 months of my life. I became friends with them not because of how great their pictures looked or how carefully crafted their captions were, but because I was willing to lean in and trust. If I wasn't open to starting friendships with these people through text, my reselling business wouldn't be as strong as it is because I would have missed out on some really great advice. I wouldn't be a apart of a podcast.

So I tried again with an open mind.  I chose Bumble and matched with a few guys and, after a few back and forths, agreed to a date with one of them.  In our Reseller Water Cooler group chat, I sent my location in the event I wound up missing.  They sent back X Rated advice in return.

As I got out of the car, I checked my phone.  Lindsay, an Internet pal I will meet for the first time in October, text me and wished me good luck. I told her I was nervous.  I rounded the corner and opened the door to the restaurant and unleashed Single Jen unto the Internet Dating World.

Buckle up, Internet Friends.

April Reads

Monday, May 13, 2019

I joined a book club! And our first suggestion was beyond SAD, but truly profound.  We chose to read When Breath Becomes Air which was a nice combination for my first book club read.  The other two ladies in my book club are physicians and I'm an English major so it was the perfect combo.

For my new year's resolution, I'm supposed to read at least one book a week.  In April...I fell of the wagon.  But it was because I was embracing other areas of my life - getting into a new workout routine, moving into my new apartment, launching a podcast, and generally getting my life back on track.  I don't regret one missed page I didn't read.

When Breath Becomes Air
Paul Kalanithi

Crazy Rich Asians
Kevin Kwan

Changes: Turning & Facing the Strange

Thursday, May 9, 2019

At the same moment the keys to my new apartment were placed in my hand, he landed in Puerto Rico on a flight I was originally intended to be on with him.  Instead, here I was thousands of miles away from those sandy beaches, nervously finding my way to my new door, placing the key in the lock, and ushering in the start of my new life.

The topic of change is polarizing.  Can people truly change? How can they not? And what exactly does it take to change, if at all possible?

What we could most certainly agree is that life changes are inevitable and they are rarely the type we're prepared for.  I wasn't prepared to uproot and restart my life over three months ago.  I couldn't imagine finding a new place to live, new goals to set, and a new future that no longer included the partner I was certain would be there.

I've been through so much worse before, but this plot twist threw me under.  I focused in on the death of my old life. I screamed and I cried and I begged the universe to put things back into place.  But that's not how it works.  What the universe did in response to my ravings was to grab me by the cheeks like a frustrated mother and turn my head to what had always been in my life: amazing friends, supportive family, and passions I stifled for far too long.

My life looks so different than it did at the start of 2019.  I once thought I was too introverted to spend so much of my energy on social interaction, but here I am meeting up with friends I usually saw once every few months multiple times a week.  I'm writing again.  I'm dancing while I clean.  I enjoy cooking meals, something that nearly drove me to tears months ago. I'm reading with intention instead of attempting to escape. I'm a PODCASTER!! I'm conversing with strangers on the street in polite conversation.

When I woke up this morning, I stared at the ceiling and thought with excitement all of the things I wanted to accomplish today.  Then, it hit me - I was excited to get out of bed. I can't believe I'm so fortunate enough to find myself here.  Happy with the ordinary.

I didn't want this change to happen.  I wanted my life to follow a certain trajectory.  It's not, though.  It's following something so much more beautiful, as long as I am willing to embrace it and all of the other unexpected changes certain to follow.

Songs I Listened To Post-Breakup

Monday, May 6, 2019

When we were going through the ups and downs that inevitably happen due to a breakup, I couldn't listen to music anymore.  The one place I used to find refuge felt like a minefield, ready to remind me of what I no longer had. Every song change threatened to throw me into a depression or a fit of tears.  My heart couldn't take it.

I listened to Podcasts.  Spoken word seemed to be a safe place and specifically I delved into factual based and true crime podcasts.

I forced myself to leave the house, spent hours at my friend's house working out, talking, and cooking meals (well, she cooked and I watched). One Saturday, my parents were out of the house and I decided with no choices left to me, I really needed to look to the future. So what's a girl with a brand new apartment left to do? Go to Home Goods of course.  On the way there, I shuffled some of my favorite songs and slowly...I came back to music.

The following are the songs I immediately latched onto and listened to repeatedly, sometimes for hours at a time. (All song titles are linked to their corresponding YouTube videos).

Vivir Mi Vida - Marc Anthony
This was the song that brought me back. My ex is Puerto Rican and after three and a half years, I incorporated so much of his Hispanic culture into my life.  It's still taking me time, but just because he's left my life doesn't mean I have to let go of my love for this culture.  This song is so uplifting.  I really suggest listening and if you don't know Spanish, look up the translation!

Addicted - Simple Plan
Funny how 2003 Jen would get a kick of how aptly this applies to 2019 Jen's life.

We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together - Taylor Swift
Taylor just gets it.

The Suffering - Coheed and Cambria
Every day of the breakup has felt like a seesaw.  Some days, I'm convinced there is hope and that we will find our ways back to each other.  Other days, I know that no matter what I did nothing could have changed the ending.

Go to Hell - Go Radio
This is a great sing-along at the top of your lungs in the car song.

Somebody Else Will - Mickey Guyton
Ultimately, the truth.  Currently struggling to believe it, but my therapist says repetition helps change your thoughts.

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