Proud Auntie

If the saying is true, that pets make great baby practice, then I appear to be “put me in, coach” ready – on most days.

On most days, I take care to cuddle, feed, and water my pets. They have toys and space. They are loved and looked after. But on other days, I’m pretty much flunking out: like the Monday I had to take the puppy to the vet because I gave him an ear infection from bathing his face too well, but not drying it enough; or the Saturday I had to confirm the death of our clown fish’s anemone and cringe as Mark netted him out to be unceremoniously tossed into the trash; or the Sunday I wept as Mark boxed our baby bunny for burial, somewhere pretty I implored. Mama had a rough week.

I’m rapidly learning that being a parent is really hard. There are highs and lows; challenges and joys; triumphs and tantrums. I’m just holding onto some promised hope that practice really does in fact make perfect. This is what everyone says, after all.

Fresh out of the practice zone is my best friend of 27 years, Jennifer. She recently had a human baby boy. He’s a soft-skinned babe whose fist is always fuzzy in the photos she sends me so I get the sense that he’s already enjoying life. I watch the videos she sends and stalk photos she posts. I still can’t believe that she made a person and that, from as far as I can see, she’s good at being his mom.

Female best friends have this longing to be very similar. We coordinate outfits; do the same diets; share makeup; borrow shoes; get matching tattoos; order the same cocktails; and even pose the same way in pics – better sides observed, of course. In my usual longing to bear a striking resemblance to my best gal, I started to think how special it’d be if I had a little human, too. She’s at a place I’m yet to be. But as far as I know, you can’t just borrow babies to match your bestie and overnight shipping does not apply here. I needed a new plan. Then I realized that it’s kind of great that she’s charting this new territory first. It’s like she’s voyaging to this dark, mysterious, likely exciting, but potentially scary and absolutely life-changing land and all I have to do is sit back and wait for her to give me the map, inviting me to follow.

Awaiting this treasure map of giggles and baby burps, I resolve to condition my parental skills – you know, put someone else first; exert an unbelievable amount of patience; be bursting with an inexplicable fierceness of love that no one else quite understands; etcetera; etcetera. I recall that back when I was wearing braces and writing poetry, my mama once joked that my twenty-something aged cousin and her new husband were getting a pet in an effort to thwart baby blues. Even then, I thought it was a smart idea; everyone knows that dogs are man’s best friend, but I’ve encountered some real asshole-ish children over the years. Plus, actual little humans still sort of bewilder me – despite my years of education studies and babysitting like a boss – so the decision was clear: a furry fix was precisely what I needed. Consider it a four-legged bridge to a more selfless future.

So, ten days before Jennifer went into labor, I distracted that strange inner “I wanna be a mommy” desire with a dog. But not just any dog, an unbelievably adorable 2.6-pound designer dog that we named London. No bull shit, he looks so much like a teddy bear that his breed is actually called Teddy Bear. Go ahead, squeal with delight – I did. Cuddly sound effects aside though, getting London was a must. I  couldn’t be completely shut out from this mom experience – my FOMO (fear of missing out) pretty much dictated that. Besides, a puppy is the only cuteness contender that even begins to rival baby beauty. Bonus facts: I can dress him up, too. Football jerseys? Ugly Christmas sweater? Preppy button-up? Rain boots? You betcha.

One week and three days down the calendar, on October 30, 2014 to be exact, baby Dylan (Jennifer’s human) graced the planet with his endearing existence. And it was just as I suspected; the new mama peered back from the mystical motherland to reveal that this whole baby thing is downright awesome. In fact, she insists that it’s even better than we’d ever expected.

It’s still wild to realize that our conversations no longer revolve around what to wear or how some dude tried to pick us up. Now, our reality is consumed with furry puppy and bouncing baby pictures and our conversations are almost always interrupted with baby noises or barking. We can’t help it, we just go on and on about our little boys.


Despite our boys’ very different genetics, we’re discovering that raising them brings about very similar experiences and emotions. For instance, we’re both totally capable of functioning with one arm. In fact, most of this blog was written with one thumb because my little babe was napping on the other one. Pardon any typos associated with being his pillow. Now ssshhh, the baby is sleeping. We’ve both learned to time our outings with inclusion of all the “ooohs” and “aaaaahs” people slow us down with. Even the grumpiest of people have been brought to a smile in their presence – it’s like watching Christina Ricci’s character, Wednesday, from the Addams Family movie when she tries to smile with all the happy little blonde girls; beyond awkward yet hilarious. Suffice it to say, all the coos and awes have made us more patient women. Additionally, we’ve both admitted to being devilishly happy if our boy whines when we leave him. We think it means he needs us, and apparently we need that. Is that twisted? Good thing I’ve got more time to practice. We also spend quite a bit of time reconciling fears and phobias about how others interact with our boys. I’m constantly freaked out by how often total strangers want my dog to lick them. I imagine this sort of heebeegeebee to be similar to how some moms feel when strangers touch their pregnant bellies, or living offspring for that matter. “Look with your eyes, not your hands!” Huh, I do sound like a parent.

I’ve got to pump the brakes here; the delete button has been called off the bench. You see, I had this whole long list of more similarities, but let’s be honest, raising a human is a game changer. I can prep all I want; I can brush the dog’s teeth, give the bunny lettuce, talk to the fish so that they recognize me, blah, blah, blah, but when and if I actually do bring a human into this world I am going to be a collision of fear, gratitude, happiness, and pride – and that’s only what I can anticipate. Truthfully, I bet there will be a whole bunch of curveballs coming my way. Not to worry though, I’ll catch them with one arm while the baby rests in the other. Mom skills.

Baby Dylan will be 6 months this week. He just started eating solids and naps every couple of hours with the aid of my sleep machine gift. I didn’t realize it until right now, but he’s my best friend’s new best friend. He is bringing her newfound happiness she never knew existed. She is his entire world. They make a great pair.  And I have to admit, seeing her as a mother is certainly one of the coolest things I’ve seen her do – well besides that wet t-shirt contest freshman year, that was crazy cool. I won’t even be bashful about it; she was my party hero. But now, she’s my mama hero. At least Dylan scored an adventurous one!

I am a proud Auntie. I have been so humbled by my bestie turned mommy. Even Jennifer is committed to her new role as an “aunt.” She obliges my puppy stories and kindly asks how he is. It’s very thoughtful. I am obsessed with my puppy, but I am so looking forward to the day I can give her the sense of pride that only comes from seeing your best friend over the moon in love with a little human of her own. Until then, I’m going to go walk the dog – he’s potty trained now and that makes me damn proud.

Change Your Seat / Change Your Life

I rarely sit in the window seat aboard any airliner. I don’t like the way the flight attendant leans over hoping you’ll help her do her job; as a highly hydrated individual, I feel positively trapped; and I rarely bother to look out the window so what’s the point. Don’t put this baby in the corner.

In fact, beyond the age of six, I can recall only three total times I’ve wound up in a window seat.

Two Years Ago:

Two years ago, this very week to be exact, I departed to a place farther than I’d ever traveled before. The UAE. Since my boss was a loyal American Airlines passenger, I’d have to become one also. Talk about a long journey to start from scratch.

When you fly alone you have a lot of time to just look around and think. I remember how oodles of unpleasantries flooded my mind as the boarding process persisted two minutes past the scheduled departure time: I had virtually no status here despite actually having some mileage with this alliance – it was very clear to see that American must have hit it out of the park with business travelers, let’s say oh, three decades ago, because every single dude in a crusty suit boarded before me. I knew I’d have to pee, but I was stuck between the window and a thankfully thin, but very sleepy looking woman who, believe it or not, had even less status than I; and they didn’t serve champagne, Dos Equis, or any other kind of suitable adult beverage for those of us who aren’t red necks.

All right, rant over. It was time to put some major patience powers into place because after an obscene amount of time, I’d be landing in a place that was sure to be a culture shock and that fact both intimidated and intrigued me.

So, I let this tinsel jet and two other One World birds take me to and from the sandy and stupidly opulent Middle Eastern city of Abu Dhabi – where, as fate would have it, my life was forever changed.  I’ll pause for your laughter or scoff, and I’ll even admit to reading that last line dramatically while proofreading. I’m completely aware how storybook “fate” and “forever” sound, but I’m no bullshitter either, everything truly did change.

It was there, over six hundred days ago, in a smoky bar with an eager, yet talented expat cover band, I met the man who would, at another place in another time and in a whole separate blog of its own, make me second guess every romantic decision I’d made to date, ultimately coming to the realization, with fear and excitement, that what was meant to be for me was still to come (spoiler alert: it’s another window seat).

Sounds flowery huh? And it is; in fact, my days are now filled with said flowers, real talk, laughter, understanding, dancing, affection, and a yearning I’ve never experienced in all my years of chasing where I am now. Yet, the most baffling part of it all is that I discovered all of this while away in some land where gender equality is non-existent and people smoke indoors like it’s 1940. I guess sometimes taking a few steps back really can move you forward in the right direction.

One-Year Ago:

I was sky-bound to a place strikingly different from the sheik and Ferrari-filled streets of the UAE. This time, I was flying to a land below sea level where flavors of creole and gumbo, sounds of trumpet-led bands, and the joys of to-go alcoholic beverages, bare breasts, and blinking beads shun the modesty of the East, all while contributing to the culture and celebration known as Mardi Gras. High-five, Thomas Jefferson.

It had been during one of our real talks that we shared our bucket lists with one another. He wants to take the kids and I on a safari one day, which is perfect because I want to ride an elephant again. We both wanted to party on a yacht somewhere picturesque, attend Fashion Week in NYC, and check out Mardi Gras.

In all honesty, hype aside, Mardi Grad isn’t that spectacular. It’s crowded, dirty, and smelly. For me, it was the company I kept that made the rolled ankle on a pile of deserted beads over hundred-year-old cobblestone worth it. We just laughed and danced and took a million pictures we’ll never even share because they seem to belong in that private memory bank. You know, the ones that are just for you and him.

Perhaps it’s to preserve how special it was. The moment I watched him dance without a care in the world. That smile, that rolling shoulder motion. It was like everything else around me fell silent and slightly transparent, because he was all I could see. Or the moment I caught him smirking at me as I chatted up total strangers because I wanted us to make new friends with people we’d never see again. He just let me be my butterfly self, and even though there were hundreds of loud people all around us it somehow felt like we were the only ones at Mardi Gras. Simply put, they’re the moments you can’t recreate even if you tried.


I’m once again going to give the “I’m a Western girl, in a Middle Eastern world” thing a go. Mark has business to tend to, but being as dedicated to nostalgia as I am, he’s invited me along for the ride.

Not to brag, but we have a pretty impressive list of both similarities and contrasts, which I think contribute to our compatibility as a couple. One of which is that he’s a window seat guy and I’m an aisle girl. It really is the simple stuff, guys. So I’m standing there in the aisle, tucking my belongings into the overhead compartment, when this ever-thoughtful man of mine offers to switch with me because our business class seats faced towards the economy class and he figured I wouldn’t be real keen on being gawked at by Arab men eating cheap airplane food on plastic trays. Yes, my hair is visible and blonde and my body is curvy, now lower your gaze, sir.

Looking around, I knew right away that they’d still be able to see me in the window seat, but when your man is chivalrous it’s best to accept his kindness. Plus, as my mind smartly shifted to my last few window seat experiences I was quickly reasoning how unwicked this seat must actually be. I mean, occasionally sitting there has kind of worked out wonderfully for me. Besides, I don’t feel so trapped in between him and a view. And there won’t be anything awkward about crawling over him to use the restroom. In fact, I think I’ll drink more water now.

Honestly, and in total hindsight of it all, it’s crazy how different things can look when your perspective changes. Now, I can gaze out this double pane window overlooking the middle of anywhere and know that I’m exactly where I’m meant to be. Or I can neglect to look out the window at all and just see him. Either way, the view is nice.

Before lying back to let sleep help dissipate this 14-hour journey, I begin to wonder where my annual contract with the window seat will take me next year? If it’s with him, I’ll go anywhere.

Dear John: The better letter the man of your world needs to receive

Historically, Dear John letters have been bad news. For the recipient that is. With one opening salutation, women were given the passive power to announce, without any chance of rebuttal from the man, that she was done and it was over. Talk about hand-delivered heartbreak. Or freehand freedom. Potato, potata.

I couldn’t have been more than seven-years-old when I first learned of such a tactic. I doubt it was even appropriate for me to be watching this particular television program, but what can I say, pop culture had a heavy hand in raising me. Now, I can’t recall the exact program I was watching, but I do know that a woman left the letter in an envelope on the fireplace mantle and departed with several suitcases. And when the man returned sometime later, he removed his cowboy hat with great sorrow as he gripped the letter between his fingertips. I had questioned how he knew it was for him as the envelope had been marked Dear John, but his name was Matt.

My parents vaguely explained that this was her way of telling him she didn’t love him anymore. I remember feeling so sad for that cowboy. What had he done to deserve this?

Nowadays, people dump your ass via text message or by simply changing their relationship status on Facebook to single, only to receive 43 likes all at your humiliating expense. It’s still a passively cruel world.

So what about the great boyfriends? What sort of letters do they receive? Somewhere over a Midwestern sky, Denver bound, I started pondering this optimistic outlook. Whilst in a champagne cloud, my gaze fell upon my sleeping boyfriend’s face and I knew right then what this “John” and all the great “Johns” deserve to hear:

Dear John,
I love you. What, you’ve already heard that seventeen times today so now it seems impersonal, or even tired? That’s the thing about that three worded phrase. It has this awe-inspiring way of being everything you ever needed to hear at one moment, and then just some words the next. I understand that. So how about accepting one of these three worded phases instead? You’re so special. You are great. You deserve happiness. You’re my friend. I support you. You are hot. Let’s make babies. I trust you. Hold my heart. I am yours.

You see, when I simply say that I love you, my dearest John, all of those phrases are what I actually mean. Now do you see how much easier it is to just sum it all up to “I love you”? And you thought I couldn’t keep a long story short.

But because this letter is long overdue, and there really is so much more to say than these three worded phrases permit, allow me to continue.

I believe in you. I believe in who you are and what you’re living for. I believe you’ll do what you say and say what you mean. You are a good man and you have my support to pursue your dreams and enjoy this life.

I am happy to be apart of your life. After all, you’re the man my heart’s been searching for. I want to be your friend. I want to be the one your smile falls on. I think you’re smart and I know you’ll succeed.

I have faith in our future together. Quite frankly, tomorrow just wouldn’t be the same without you. You’re my favorite person to spend time with and talk to. You’re damn funny, and keeping up with your wit makes me happy.

I recognize that you work hard to provide a comfortable lifestyle for us. These efforts and dedication do not go unnoticed, and are very much appreciated. I am proud of your professional accomplishments. It’s with immense gratitude that I say Thank You and Go Get ‘Em, Babe!

That being said, if your work world took a financial hit of any kind for any reason, I’d gladly serve tables or clean houses or drive a taxi, paint my own nails and shop at Walmart if that meant helping take care of us. What I’m saying here is that my love for you is completely impervious to the economy. I have your back, as you have mine.

I know you have my heart, too. I can sense that it’s always on your mind. You wonder how it feels and make great strides to keep it full and safe. You never intend to hurt me. You’re a man, you will make mistakes, but I know you hold my heart in a safe and adored place.

Speaking of hearts, I love the chest that holds yours. You are extremely good-looking. The attraction I feel towards you is powerful, and borderline perverted. I have a yearning for you that even my lingually-inclined tongue can’t articulate. To put it mildly, I want to be near you or on you as often as possible.

This attraction is smothered with friendship. You’re my bro and I’m your best gal. We can depend on each other and feel fortunate just be hanging out and to have found a connection so real. I won’t ever undervalue your friendship, great boyfriend.

Last, but never least, I love you.

Love always,
Your smitten and adoring girlfriend who wishes you’d wake up so we can share some sharp banter and cold champagne

It’s no surprise to those who know me, but my “John” is actually a good man named Mark. On the rare occasion I’m not ogling over him, I will catch him watching me, looking and loving through all my layers. And I will let him stare even though I feel self-conscious, because it feels good to be under his gaze, and I trust him. I trust him with my heavy heart and eclectic emotions.

I am meant to experience this world and all its love with Mark. And he with me, I do believe. I’d ask you to wish us luck, but we don’t need that; we have love and our love has a letter filled with sincere three worded phrases, plus all the other words “I love you, dearest John” really mean.

The Fall

Since I spent my high school days as a student government kid, I’m currently cramming in extra hours post work and during daily life to help plan and promote my 10-year high school reunion.  It’s crazy it’s been 10 years already.  Amidst flipping the pages of my senior yearbook and accepting that I live a very different live than the one I had planned for myself when my whole life was this school and these pages, I randomly and suddenly remember a scene from the WB’s hit show Dawson’s Creek.   This particular scene is more vivid than others and doesn’t even include any of the leading stars.  Here’s how I remember it:

Dawson’s dad discovers that his wife, the love of his life, has been hiking her pencil skirt up for a co-worker.  He tells her, while standing on a bridge, probably near the creek, that he remembers falling in love with her.  I remember how inspired, and heartbroken, it made me feel.

He then proceeds to tell her, and with an impressive amount of strength considering the situation, that he just fell out of love with her – and not a single thing about it is empowering.

When this episode aired, my parents had already divorced and my boyfriend was a dick.  This scene has resonated with and bewildered me ever since.

How in the world can someone pinpoint the exact moment his or her heart quit yearning for another?  And why did they let is stop?  I’m not questioning the ability to fall out of love; I am just genuinely awe-struck by the fact that someone can recognize the exact moment.  The only firm recollection I have of truly “falling out of love” with something I absolutely dug are things like: Taco Bell after having eaten it twice daily throughout freshman year at ASU, or MySpace once I was introduced to Facebook, or pineapple mind erasers after four too many mornings of not really recalling the night prior.  I don’t need any of those things ever again.  But loving a person, I will always want that.

I’m a Libra – I’m said to be in love with love.  I have had several boyfriends.  And like my four-times-married great grandmother was once quoted, “I loved them all for their differences.”  I’ve just always been guilty of allowing a love affair to slowly wither away, similar to the way I keep dead, welted bouquets of flowers on my table for days longer than I should – I keep them, although scentless and completely color deprived, simply because I love having flowers in my home.

Some people pray for clarity.  Those are the patient ones.  Others are impulsive and say precisely how they feel when they feel it, and act decidedly so.  Me, the Libra, is somewhere balancing in the middle searching for inspiration as if it were a dim fishing boat in the middle of a dark, raging sea.  The boat just keeps floating forward because it’s hopeful that there’s calm just over that wave.  But what if the boat is going the wrong way? A Libra might wonder if the journey is wrong, but the destination, that being love, will always be right.  A Libra leans into love, even if she falls.

Layered Love

I am the 6th grandchild to Nonna Constance “Connie” Alford and Grandpa Russell “Bud” Alford.  I wrote this for Nonna’s 75th birthday, and in honor of their unwavering love for one another.  Image

The definition of love is quite simple: an intense or deep affection, a romantic or sexual attachment to another person.  It is both a noun and a verb.  The word itself is readily used to describe something or someone we take pleasure in.  Perhaps its most incredible quality is its ability to challenge, and often conquer, its counterpart hate.  Love is just that powerful.

The complexities of love are that it’s a choice and a commitment.   It takes time, requires respect, commands communication, and trust had better come standard.  I’m of the belief that love is a gift.  Not everyone will be fortunate enough to experience it – some people lose it, some just never find it.  But Grandma Connie and Grandpa Bud are two people who not only found it, but they fostered it, put faith into it, and continue to have it today.

Although I have witnessed but half of the 58-years my Grandpa and Grandma have been loving each other, simplicities and complexities alike, I can discern that their love, rather their true love, has defied the odds and stood the test of time.

It was recently explained to me that a person changes every ten years or so.  Typically, their values stay intact with what they’ve always believed, but as a person they grow and evolve differently with each passing year.  Since then I have wondered how couples manage to stay together for decades – what have they accomplished that other couples simply can’t, or won’t?  How do we ensure that when we change, we welcome this growth, but that we change with our partner?  Now I can’t pretend to know the details of the work my Grandpa and Grandma have obviously dedicated to their love life, but I do commend them for all their efforts and commitment to one another.  It’s the kind of love that the romantic in me looks-on with admiration and expectation for my own future.  It’s also the kind of love that the small logical part of my heart recognizes as a layered love.

Allow me to reveal their wonderful layers.

In 2008, sometime in between Grandma’s 71st birthday and Great Grandpa Babe’s 95th, Nonna and I sat side-by-side in Northern Italy.  Beyond our tour bus’s oversized windows laid enchanting, picturesque hills of Tuscany.  I’m not sure if it was the romanticism this land evoked, the love letters and poetry our tour guide was regularly passing me, the wine we undoubtedly enjoyed with our lunch, or perhaps a combination of the three, but Nonna got to talking about life and love, and I happily hung on every single word.  She smiled, and even giggled that grandma-giggle as she told me about her and Grandpa’s unexpected first date.  Apparently Grandma accepted a date with some other lucky lad who was pining for her love, but he was too nervous to come to the door to meet her mom and dad so his friend, my brave and handsome Grandpa, went to the door for him. It was here on this amazing trip that I learned fate really does have a little something to do with true love.

Fate is the layer that brought them together, and it’s certainly the layer that pulls at your heartstrings in a “they were meant to be” sort of way.  But Grandma and Grandpa’s true love is filled with fun and consumed with chemistry, too.

Chemistry is often described as passion, a deep desire, a spark.  Boil it down and you’ll find that chemistry is rooted in and outwardly professed with affection.  Affection is the most conspicuous expression of love.  It’s important to show our partner that we love him or her; we should hold him and touch him and never think twice about being as close as we can.

As a child my cousin Ashley and I would play dress-up in Grandma’s long, silky nightgowns.  It never dawned on my innocent mind that these fabulous “dresses” were her lingerie; I only cared that we looked like beautiful ladies who could rule the world.  As an adult, I consider that lace and silk-stuffed drawer the spark that a couple works to keep ignited.  And I see that Grandma has been Grandpa’s world all this time.

When I close my eyes to think fondly of my Grandparents, I see smiles and I hear laughter.  Now I’ve never done anything for 58-years, but I got to believe that if he’s still having fun goosing her booty, and she’s still laughing about it – well then, they’ve got that vital thing called chemistry.

An affinity to one another is essential, especially after years upon years of matrimony, but a layered love like this is also about an emotional connection, a special bond, a friendship.  This is the part of love that keeps couples strong when the fate seems distant and the chemistry is out of reach.

I wholeheartedly believe that my grandparents are each other’s best friends.  They travel together, play games together, have made houses homes together, and have spent a lifetime raising one big ole family, together.  They made four children, who made 10 children, who have made 15 children so far.  I said it before, and I’ll say it again, love is a powerful thing.

Now, Grandpa set the bar pretty high, and Grandma is pretty wonderful, but may we all strive to have a layered love like theirs.

Here’s to fate, to chemistry, to friendship and to family; and if I ever get to meet the man who chickened out on his date with Nonna, I’ll give him a grateful hug and wow him with the greatest love story there’s ever been.

I’ve Allied with Mr. Big?

Although I gravitate towards expressing my happy, hopeful, sometimes sad, always honest, ‘Just Jamie’ heart with written words, I know I’m no Carrie Bradshaw.  I can’t run in heels; I seldom squeal; and if it were me, I don’t think I would have let Aiden go so easily.  But, I also never in a million Manolo Blahnik’s thought I had anything in common with Big….

Truth be told, this whole “Shacking Up” business is full of surprises.

Rewind your Bradshaw-mind to Sex and the City – The Movie part 2.  Now, recall when Big so casually offended Carrie with the concept of scheduling their days apart from one another.  He thought that her single-gal place might be a nice retreat for her now-and-again.  I can so candidly recall the feeling in my gut that that Not-Aiden man made me feel.  After all their years of sleeping together, breaking up, then reuniting only to argue about the scent of his cigars in her bed and her peeled oranges in his, calling it quits again, all the etcetera in between I’ll spare us right now, and even an alter-ditching, they finally cut through the bull shit, and committed to love and marriage – with each other.  So I just couldn’t understand how he could ever ask her for more time apart??

Until now.

Spring has sprung, and I am boxing, bubble wrapping and good willing my life up.  Emphasis on “up,” as in up, up and away.  The packing started out really strong.  I was moving quickly, making decisions in a snap, unlike my Libra-self, and moving forward with my life.  But as the “forward” more quickly approaches, I am taking note of the things I am choosing to pack very last: one wine glass, waters, face wash and a toothbrush, the slouchy couch I retreat to when I’m on SMILFy-overload, my great grandmother’s table where nearly all my blog ideas came to fruition, and my queen size bed that, even on my loneliest nights, really only fits a diagonal me.  And I just keep thinking about how I wish it could all stay – just the stuff, not me.

I want to shack up with my boyfriend, and make a life, and share our days, and make memories.  But I also don’t see the harm in having a little place for a little me-time every now and then.  After all, this is where I write; this is where I miss him; this is where I laugh out loud all by myself because my book is funny; this is where I overfeed my girlfriends because I have little concept of modifying recipes; this is where I finally conquered my fear of the dark (most nights); this is where I do all the chores because I know no one else will; this is where I learned how to be comfortable in complete silence.  This place is where I made peace with being all by myself.  This place is Just Jamie.

And so here I offer unsolicited, honest advice to all my single ladies out there: live alone, even just once.  You owe it to yourself, and your future partner.

Independence and Love are righteous and courageous things.  I am thankful that I have been afforded both.  And now, it’s my sincerest hope that I can find the balance to continue enjoying both of these empowering blessings, together.  I mean I have worked too hard and lost too much sleep to roll over and lose my independence, but I also revel in my girlfriend experiences and welcome a dandy future.  So here I go: one couch, under one roof.

But yah, you bet your ass, if this was a movie, and I had Big’s bankroll, the ink on a new lease would already be dry.

The Single Girl is Getting Domesticated

Come spring, life is getting more dandy with Andy. That’s right, we have decided to take the next big step: we are going to co-habitat; move in together; shack up; share a roof. Either way you say it, at the end of day, what’s mine is his, and vice verse. I don’t mean to brag, but he says that “what we have is special, and this is just the next big step for us moving forward.” I could have melted.

In preparation for this life-changing leap, I am spending a little more time in my little, humble abode, that mind you, is just rock throwing distance from the stereo vibrations of Scottsdale’s finest clubs (I will always miss this proximity). I figure I need to spend some time here in my lonesome. Enjoy the silence and solitude, if you get my drift. Remember, I am accepting 3 new roomies into my life. I’ve also decided to host some girly gatherings. I think Andy thinks this sort of odd, but I consider it normal, and mandatory for that matter. I mean if all goes well, if I get all that I’ve been wishing for since I asked my Daddy when I could get married and was totally disappointed that he said I had to wait until I was 22 (guess I missed that boat), this will be the very last time I ever live alone. Com-plete-ly A-lone.

This realization gets me thinking about how coveted seclusion truly is. After all, I did just escape to my place to “clean.” And I will in fact clean, but there’s something blissful about the fact that all this mess is just mine; there’s no one trailing behind me to make a messy mockery of all my elbow grease. Besides, when you’re all by yourself, in your own “mess” of a life, cleaning can be quite entertaining: because in between dusting, folding and Good Willing, I am responding to Facebook posts, pouring a little more wine, admiring photos hung on my walls (I’ve lived a good life thus far), and sliding around on my spick-and-span, slick tile in my loud, knee-high Christmas socks; which I swear will make it into the holiday storage bin next wash. Amidst all this fun, Andy calls to see what I’m up to, and I’m literally panting when I answer the phone. This is because I’m doing what only truly single, alone girls can do when they “clean.” You see, “cleaning” is code for drinking and dancing while I do some cleaning. It really is one of life’s greatest joys.

I have loved and appreciated living by myself; the personal growth I’ve experienced is indescribable, even for my jabber jaw, but why not go out with a bang?! Why not party until the very end?! So I’ve decided to move forward with my girly gathering idea and have my former roommates, Jennifer & Shannon, over for a night of wine, apps, and girl talk. I think Andy is mainly curious what the “girl talk” entails, and if I’ll bring over leftovers. But if I know my college roomies and I, we will devour every last drop, and crumb. Speaking of last drops, I’ve decided to assess my bona-fide bachelorette pad’s refrigerator to properly welcome my guests. I swing the door open…. and there isn’t much to look at. It is sparse, and seriously lacking some basic comforts I’ve grown accustomed to sleeping the better part of my ZZZZs at Andy’s. For instance, my fridge’s shelves have the following items: 3 bottles of water; 1 bottle of wine, that I have already broken into because I am rationing my precious water; applesauce because it comes up as easily as it goes down; tuna fish because my physique is an ongoing obsession, and I make a mean tuna melt; Skinny Girl margarita mix because that stuff is delicious; pickles because I entered this world addicted to them; more condiments than I’ve ever had entrees; and lest not forget the oversized bottle of Grey Goose on the counter patiently awaiting the diet cranberry on the top shelf.

Don’t get me wrong; I used to shop and shelf nutritional things like eggs, yogurt and fresh fruit, but when a single girl’s little place morphs into a crash pad for when she wanders home from those stereo bumps I previously mentioned, the grocery store is just a waste of time, bc spoiled food is a waste of money. And that my friends, is a frugal mentality at its finest. Besides, Andy being the best Daddy, second to my Daddy, of course, always keeps a stocked fridge, and always makes sure we eat well. So although my stomach is a little vocal at the moment, I am kind of digging drinking my dinner tonight. I deem it a final farewell to the single, live alone me.
Thanks for everything Self; you were a great roomie.

For more tales from my even dandier shacked up & SMILFy life, please read my new blog all about my adventures in being a bonus mama:
Oh and in case it’s gone over your head, this means I am a stepmom in training. SMILF is like MILF, but better because I am younger, and cooler. And we throw the ‘y’ on at the end to make it a term of endearment. Bam. Super SMILFy.

Happiness is the New Black

I recently flew on Southwest flight #1006. Destination: Baltimore, MD. Then onwards to our nation’s capital. Biz trip.

Upon cozying into my exit row seat, courtesy of my business select fare, I pick up the Spirit magazine to kill some time, and more importantly, avoid glares from men whose legs are longer than mine. Sorry suckers – you get what you pay for (in my lucky case, I get what my company pays for).

The Spirit cover, featuring a glad girl with a bouquet of bright balloons, prompts me to immediately flip to an article called Perk Up!, written by Taffy Brodesser-Akner. The article features various fascinating theories about happiness: how to measure it and what it really means. It reminds me of the several blog notes I’ve been collecting and how much my Happiness has evolved in only one years time. I recommend you google it – I feel confident that it’ll inform you. Who knows, it may even inspire you. It inspired me to write this:

“Everybody knows that the sweetest thing you’ll ever see, is a happy girl.” Well at least that’s what Martina McBride’s lovely lungs proclaim in her song Happy Girl.
There’s no debating that Happiness is highly sought out. Walt Disney makes a killing off that fact. And our fore fathers gave us the right to pursue it, so why not wrangle what’s rightfully ours?

Many of us spend money, attend therapy, read self-help books, write encouraging notes on our mirrors (OK, maybe that’s just me), pray, toast cocktails, write and even dance our way into Happiness’ embrace. That’s all well and fine, I’m no expert after all, but I do know this much: the biggest mistake one can make is to wait for Happiness to waltz through the door all wonderful and sparkly. Trust me.

Here is my tango with Happiness:

On New Years Day 2010 I laid in a dark Vegas hotel room, all by myself, and begged and pleaded for Happiness. I just needed it to find me, and fix me. I wept as I imagined all the people beyond my chosen confinement laughing, hugging and making new years resolutions – those happy assholes. I reasoned that everyone else in the world was forging ahead with aspirations like: claiming the corner office, losing weight, getting back into the gym, planning an amazing vacation, mastering a new meal, getting pregnant, learning an instrument or a new language, falling in love….the list goes on-and-on. And I found everything about them and their wishful/ambitious thinking ridiculous, if not a little insulting.

All I wanted was to be happy; yet my resolution seemed more far-fetched than all of theirs combined. I was miserable beyond description. I had no appetite for life, much less food. The hotel phone rang and I picked it up only to deliberately, and passionately, hang it up. Texts buzzed and I ignored them. My facebook app taunted me with well wishes and I despised it. I sobbed in the bed diagonally. I sobbed face-down. I sobbed sitting up. I even watched myself sobbing in the mirror (like I’ve said before, I must be a masochist). I quit sobbing only long enough to gain the strength to sob some more. Not even the allure of Sin City could make me smile a real Jamie-smile, because even when I tried to fake it, I could taste my failure. (Just in case this depression is news to you, here’s a little backstory to my misery: another failed relationship, lack of career, zero zest for life and at 25 years of age, I had just moved back into my mother’s home. You’d have a break-down too. And if not, you’re a stronger human than I, and I kindly ask you to have mercy on my formally sad soul.)

I’m not exactly sure when it happened, but somewhere in between my sob-fest and self-pity party for one, I had a rude, but very significant awakening: the ball was back in my court – just waiting, patiently, for my next play. I realized that I am the dictator of my emotion. It was Just Jamie now. So my tears, smiles, and everything in-between were all up to me. This realization was both terrifying, and liberating.

So I bravely decided right then and there, in what’s arguably the happiest place on earth, for adults that is (so why the hell did I just hang up on my mama’s loving, “Get up, go out and get fresh air, come hang out, I bet you’ll find fun in no time! I love you,” plea), that this year had to be different. No trivial resolutions, no preposterous ones either. I wanted, and desperately needed, only one thing: you guessed it, Happiness. This was the shortest list I’d ever created, surely it was possible.

I won’t lie to you and say that I popped right up out of bed, threw open those perfectly thick curtains and began my pursuit immediately. In all honesty, 2010 was an emotional roller coaster. But it was also a year of grand self-discovery. I made decisions and surrounded myself with people and things that bettered me as a person, healed my heart, enhanced my positive qualities and made me excited to be me.

I didn’t even check Happiness off my list until sometime in December. I had to be sure it wouldn’t slip through my fingertips. I also wanted to make certain that I continued to strive for it’s presence every single day. And to that end, I’d like to share that Happiness tops my list for 2011 too. This year I’ll focus on maintaining it and seeking more of it – some girls just want it all.

I should also add that later in the year I penciled-in another resolution on my record-short list. Nothing dumb, nothing unrealistic: Get a great job. I’m happy to say that I’m typing this from 30,000 feet because I successfully checked that off my list last summer. However, I recognize that I could have easily erased that resolution if I hadn’t diligently focused on Happiness every single day. It’s amazing to me how life seems to fall perfectly into place when I’m the best me. For 2011, I have boldly sharpied-in a career goal: be a better asset to my company.

I have learned, and accepted, that Happiness is a choice. It is a conscious effort. And it isn’t always easy either. Somedays it’s there the moment I open my brown eyes. Other days it’s something I literally add to my To-Do List. But it’s always right there, waiting for me to acknowledge it, and wrap myself in all it’s splendor.

One thing’s for sure: like a little black dress, Happiness will never go out of style – it’s better than black.

My Happiness Holler-Back List: These wonderful people ignited, contributed to and even fostered my happiness when I briefly misplaced it.

-Bobby Royal. The best damn server at Zipps. She embodies a sense of realism I think I’ll always admire. She coined the term “Just Jamie.” She spoke me straight on several down days. And she has one of the most genuine laughs I’ve ever heard.

-April Alford. The greatest mama a girl could have. She endured numerous late night texts of sadness and always responded with something positive.

-Sara Amsberry. An inspiring spirit, a dear girlfriend. She made it her personal mission to keep me busy, make me smile and help me put the pieces of me together again for 6 solid months (my Happiness was not built over night). She taught me to be kinder to strangers and welcome new friendships. I can honestly say that I’m a much cooler,calmer, more positive Jamie because of her. She’s also one of the most fun people I know.

-Jennifer White. My soulmate and bestie for 23 years and counting. We don’t speak everyday, but I feel her love all the time.

-You. My readers. Writing has been my therapy, your support has been my salvation. I sincerely hope that you are treating 2011 well and that you create Happiness in your life on a daily basis.

Sent from my iPad



A Scottsdale inspired piece written from the perspective of girls I party with, but don’t know much else about.  Scottsdale Fact: the girls who play here are always beautiful, and usually bitchy. 

My mind is racing, but my body is gliding.  It’s important to me to look thin.  I just need to stand up straight, take my time, cross the floor, and then I can breathe just as soon as I round the corner into the ladies room.  I look good in this top.  No, I look great!  I have to.  I mean I haven’t eaten in four days.  The handful of peanuts and the bag of donuts definitely don’t count because I puked them up.  I should chew another piece of gum; this stuff is so delicious.  I think I’m hungry.  I know for certain that I’m drunk.  Please don’t trip.  Although I am sick of these damn tasteless vodka sodas, I’d hate to be wearing it.  Eeeek!  Those guys are looking at me!  They have girls with them, yet they’re checking me out.  I knew that medium was a wise choice.  It’s snug, but it shows me off.  Guys like that.  Right?

“Ahhh,” I exhale aloud as I enter the dimly lit ladies room.  I cannot believe how exhausting it is to suck in all night.  On a more positive note, I can’t believe how well I’m doing it considering how much I’ve been drinking.  I laugh with my reflection for a moment.  We look thin and happy.  This makes us smile.

The bathroom door swings open interrupting my retreat.  In walks an amazingly thin blonde, and out goes my ever-wavering confidence.  We survey one another and share half-hearted smiles.  I pretend to rifle through my clutch, when really, all my focus has shifted to her.  I peek at her as she studies her reflection with familiar scrutiny.  Her floral romper lays flat on her skin, yet she doesn’t look satisfied.  I could never pull off that pattern.  I turn my drunken haze to my own reflection.  It appears tired, disappointed, and enormous.  To me, she looks like Christmas in June, sunny and amazing.  Even I wouldn’t pick me.   Why must I always be the fattest woman in the room?

“Excuse me, my soap is all out.  Ugh don’t you just hate that?” she glances at me, careful not to drip water on my clutch as her frail arm nears the dispenser, and smiles.

Her bones are beckoning me to push them like buttons, “Oh, no problem.  Yah, that’s always so gross.   I mean what if someone needed to wash up to eat or something,” I say relaxing more with each syllable.

“Eeew yah, or what if someone was sick or something,” she says with a curled up nose as she sticks her index finger down her throat and makes a gagging noise followed by a giggle.  “I mean, it just happens sometimes, ya know?” she says with a matter of fact type of tone as she checks her smile in the mirror.

“Absolutely!” I say with newfound esteem, suddenly feeling proud of my bare belly and plunging neckline.  Searching for my lip-gloss I imagine our reflections high-fiving and smile.  I suddenly feel so at ease.  “I am so wasted right now.   If I don’t get out of here soon, one of these toilets will for sure be my new friend.  I mean I haven’t eaten in days, so I’m just getting so smashed!  Well, I’m sure you understand,” I say with a greater emphasis on you than I had intended.

I am expecting her laughter to chime in, or for her to agree in some way, but she is silent.  All I can hear is the bars music pounding on the door, as if it were pleading for her return.  I lift my face to meet her heavy stare.  Her eyes narrow as she looks me up and down.  She grins, turning her attention to herself as she applies lip plumper.

“I hear they have a bacon avocado cheeseburger that’s just ridiculous!”  She tilts her head and poses in the mirror, “Mmm but I think I’m craving the nacho platter.  I’m not really that hungry, but my boyfriend enjoys treating me to dinner, so…maybe I’ll just get both, and kind of nibble.  Although, I definitely want to save room for their brownie dessert!  Have you had it?” she asks without making eye contact and proceeds without waiting for a response.  “And I think I’m done drinking beer for the night, I look like I’m pregnant!” she laughs and pats her remarkably flat stomach, her eyes never leaving her own reflection.

I feel like I’m under a spell.  I can’t stop staring at her reflection.  Every part of her body is taunting me.  She unexpectedly turns for the door, yet my eyes remain fixated where her reflection had been effectively torturing me.  With one swift pull of the handle, the music swallows me.   I turn to watch her go, when she suddenly stops and gracefully twirls to face me.

“Cute top,” she spoke the way your superficially sweet Barbie doll would and looked me square in the eyes.  “I almost bought it myself, but it was too loose around my ribs.  Oh and in my arms.  I was kind of down about it, but now I see that it must have been made for a bigger body type.”

She smirked like she was waiting for me to thank her, adjusted her romper and looked through me as if I were her personal mirror, and then sashayed away to eat a cheeseburger.