What If I Run Away to Mexico?

I could, you know. I could do it. I could quit my job to go teach English in Mexico City, or get my MBA from Ibero. I wouldn’t be fluent, but I could learn enough Spanish to get by if I studied really hard for a few months. Or I could keep my lame job, and just work from home…in another country.

Or I could stay. And keep working at the job I’m slowly starting to hate and will only grow to hate more. Maybe I could find a different job here, one I’m a little better at, and I’ll just continue to be mediocre and boring and I’ll marry someone boring (probably someone my dad actually likes) and have a nice, tastefully boring wedding and I’ll have kids when I’m 30 and I’ll retire peacefully when those boring kids are in college.

If I go, I might miss some things. But I’ll miss those things if I stay. My grandparents will grow old while I’m gone, but they grow old every day and I’m only a couple of hours away now. I’ll be back before they get too old, I’ll tell myself. I might miss my youngest brother B as he grows up, but he grows up every day without me. He’s 10, and about the enter the awkward phase I’m probably better off missing anyway. I’ll miss my friends, but I miss them anyway. When I tell them I’m leaving, they’ll say “But I’ll never see you!” and I’ll want to say You never see me anyway but I’ll try to bite my tongue the best I can. Because the ones that will say that will be the ones that never try to see me now, and I’m barely an hour away. I’ll still see them once or twice a year when I come home, and that’s about as often as I see them now. Nothing will change. They won’t be jealous of my lifestyle because they couldn’t imagine ever leaving. They might even think I’m crazy or fucking stupid for “disrupting my career.” And all of that is fine, because I think that’s how things are supposed to work. They’ll buy house and get married, and I’ll keep traveling. I will continue to disrupt my career until I’m doing what I love.

But I think I might actually go. I won’t love every second of it, but I would regret not going a lot more than I’ll regret going. If I stay, I’ll regret every second of that boring life.

I want and need good stories to tell. A writer needs to live to have something to write about. Staying in a Midwestern suburb my entire life isn’t going to give me enough to write about.

So what if I really go to Mexico?

As crazy as it sounds

Note of minor importance: I think I wrote this back in February/March and I’m just now posting. Oops!

You keep trying to ask me why. Why I’m still here, why I love you, why…. idk what exactly the rest of that question is, but it’s something to that effect.

At risk of sounding cliché: you make me laugh, I’m way too comfortable around you, and it’s all so easy, still.

But it’s also about the things you’re not: you’re not jealous, or bitter, or untrusting/untrustworthy. I’ve dated those people and none of them are fun.

It’s even simpler than that, though: you get things done, I don’t have to nag. If I need you to do something, you do it. I mentioned before that you’re not a child, you can take care of yourself. You laughed and said my standards must not be that high, but you haven’t met my exes.

Most of all… you actually want me to tell you what I think. You don’t ask out of obligation, you actually want to know. You want to know what I want. My desires matter! You change things or do things because of me! Because you want me to be happy, I guess? That never happens! You know I hate the smell of smoke so you switched to e-cigs. I noticed. I didn’t think it had anything to do with me, but I noticed. I noticed awhile ago, I just didn’t think it was because of me. I almost cried when I found out that was why.

You come across as an asshole. Sometimes you’re actually an asshole. You are shockingly blunt and way too honest at times, but that same characteristic makes you insanely genuine. Nothing you do or say is because you think it’s what I want to hear. All of it is only the truth (for better or worse).

Yet behind all the dickish comments and brutal truths, you care more than anyone else I’ve ever been with.

I don’t mean to compare you to anyone else. I think I’m just trying to say that based on my experience, I didn’t think anyone like you actually existed. The little things mean a lot.

You had this way of catching me off-guard early on. I’d run errands with you and have more fun than I would have ever thought possible in that situation. You’d make some off-hand comment that was EXACTLY what I needed at the time. When I was starting my ‘experiment with hedonism’ and actually trying to be selfish, you made some comment like “just do you. do what you want and fuck everyone else.” I swear to god I almost fell in love with you right then.  Oddly/fittingly enough I think I even wrote this the day I met you: Experimenting with Hedonism.

It all sounds ridiculous, maybe. But I’ve never had anyone change their behavior – no matter how simple of a change it is – just to make me that little ounce happier. I’ve never had someone who would go out of their way – no matter how tiny the inconvenience – just to make something happen for me. I’ve rarely had someone follow through on any/all of their plans or promises. Sometimes people remember I don’t like olives- but they never remember I don’t like olives, pickles, mustard, spinach, and jalapeños. You remember things that I say. I’m always amazed by that.

Each thing by itself isn’t much I suppose. But all of it together? That’s just crazy.

 

Trying to Network as an Introvert

“It’s not about what you know, it’s about who you know” says the salesman father to his straight-A-student and introverted daughter.

I used to think I was outgoing, once upon a time. Then I went to a summer camp in Chicago with no one I knew and realized I am not that person.

I hate networking. It all seems fake and I’m terrible at small talk. I’ve only successfully networked once. I don’t even really remember how we met, but he ended up recommending me for a job before we ever met in person. Let’s call him Joe. Very nice guy, and probably the closest thing to a mentor that I have.

Joe and I get together every time I’m back at my Alma Mater. He understands some of the painful parts of my job that I hate. He knows a lot of people in the industry and in the business world in general. Any time I mention any potential company I might want to work for, he seems to know someone who works/has worked there. I picked a good person to network with.

Joe works for the university, and because he works with students trying to find a job, he encounters a lot of people like me. Young professionals, out there in the world trying to figure it out. So occasionally I get emails where he tries to connect me with these people – people with their first real job, in my general metro area. Which seems great, right? So I reach out to the first few all “hey let’s get coffee!” and got nothing back. So I stopped trying to reach out.

I just recently received a LinkedIn message from one of these people Joe suggested (months ago) I connect with. Which is sort of great, right? Even if it’s months later, she’s still trying to connect. But between the phone tag I’m playing with her right now, all I can think about is: wtf am I going to say to this person?

I know what to say to random recruiters when they call. I know what to say to people who are asking me for help finding a job. I know what to say to lots of other strangers that I have to interact with.  I have scripts for a lot of situations. I have answers ready to the questions I expect them to ask. But this is a new thing for me. And I haven’t had to put my fake bubbly face on in awhile. Then again, do I have to? I’m not trying to impress this person like I’m interviewing for a job. She’s just a person that’s nice to know, right? But still: wtf do I say to this person? What do we talk about?

Hopefully she’s outgoing and extroverted and good at small talk and this will all be okay. It’s all about who you know.

Coach’s Update

Those of you who read this blog regularly may know that I’m a volunteer youth soccer coach. Those of you who really know what’s up may know about the team I coached this past season. For those of who you stumbled upon this accidentally you can read this or I can just say I was asked to coach soccer for a group of girls who came from complicated situations and I was scared about coaching them because I felt like I lacked the necessary experience.

However, as with all things so far where I’ve been nervous about my leap of faith; it all turned out ok. Probably as well as it could have gone, in fact.

These girls were… heartbreaking, overwhelming and absolutely astounding all at once and on so many levels. There were days where I felt like I was coaching a prison team or something more drastic: the general hardness about some of the girls, their utter excitement just because they were outside, and the “I can’t be partners with her because we don’t get along” conversations I had at least once a week. Yet at other times it amazed me how normal they were. They were excited about the team t-shirts and they were worried about messing up their hair just like your average high school girl.

They tested my patience and forced me to get creative, to adjust on the fly. Every week I felt only partially prepared. I felt like I wasn’t getting anywhere or making any kind of a difference. The coordinators of the whole thing showed up unexpectedly at one of the practices and complimented me on my clarity when explaining what we were doing, on how I gradually made a drill harder without having to switch gears too often, which worked especially well for this group. And these are serious, professional coaches who were giving the compliment. They coach all the local premier leagues and they actually make money doing this! It was surprising and exactly the reassurance I needed.

The final week, there was a tournament with all the teams. There were only 4 teams total and 4 games in the tournament, so the winners of the first two games played each other for the “championship” and the “second-place” team in each game played each other in a “consolation” game. A local high school marching band came out; so there was a parade before the tournament, there was food. The band played and the dancers danced between some of the games. The different groups took turns chanting their team names. My team was consistently the loudest.

It was our turn to play our first game. Everything about this tournament was a simplified version of soccer. The field was small, the halves were short, and the referees were the coaches. There were kick-ins instead of throw-ins and there were no goal kicks or corner kicks. It was like they knew we spent the last 6 weeks focusing on the fundamentals and didn’t have time to cover any of the actual rules of soccer. It was like watching high school girls play kindergarten soccer.

I didn’t have high expectations, but maybe I should have. We won our first game 3-0.

The consolation game was only ten minutes, and then it was our turn again for the championship game against the coordinator’s team. They also won their first game by the same shutout score, 3-0. Before the final game there was more chanting, more competition between the teams.  Some of my girls were now trying to coach for me, telling me who would start the next game and what their “plan” was. Some of the other girls were nervous – they hadn’t really competed with this kind of “pressure” before.

We won. We beat the coordinator’s team. Again, by a shut out.

I don’t think I’ve ever been more proud of a team. The girls got a World Cup replica trophy to keep in their hall/housing unit. Everyone got medals. The chanting continued for several more minutes, some playful taunting added in. They were ecstatic and I wanted to cry.

Now that it’s over, it seems silly how scared I was. All I can think about is finding the next step, the next small leap, the next thing that scares me. One of these days I’ll take the big leap and finally move out of this state. Until then – small leaps of faith.

Consistency, not Commitment.

it’s great seeing your name on my screen

One fucking text, and I fall apart all over.

Long story short, I needed someone to go with me to this thing, sort of last minute. So I’m texting all my usual people in the area, then I start texting boys I haven’t talked to in months just on a long shot, hoping they’re free. Boys that I liked, it just didn’t work out or whatever. Then I decide to text Remy, assuming he won’t answer me. He decides to respond, though. He can’t go, but ends his rejection with:

it’s great seeing your name on my screen.

Well then maybe you shouldn’t have disappeared, asshat!

Unfortunately, sometimes I still miss him. Remy and I weren’t technically dating, we only saw each other for a few months… but he was this magical, fleeting, shooting star and I just wish I had him around to bounce ideas off of every once in awhile.

What is it with these shooting stars? The boys that can still tug at me like no one else after months, years even, are the ones who weren’t around very long. Everything with them heated up quickly – the star burned hot and bright – and then before I knew it they were gone. Before I could even make a wish, they had disappeared.


Back in middle or high school, I used to tell people who were desperate for a boyfriend that if they stopped looking, good things would find them. Back then I think I was starting to realize the concept of: “maybe don’t be so desperate and boys will find you more attractive,” or, “confidence is sexy – act like you don’t give a fuck!”

Maybe it’s time I take my own advice. Not that I was desperately trying before, but I’ve decided I’m done with the internet dating thing.

I want to meet someone in a coffee shop one day, or accidentally run into someone when I’m out exploring my city. As a writer, I have this need for a good ‘how we met’ story. Something – anything – other than, “well, we both swiped right….”

I want a shooting star, but they’re all afraid of commitment. I get that, because I am too. Yet the ones ready to commit, the steady North Stars, can draw me in and keep me there for months before I realize what’s happened. I end up following along, heading in the same direction towards something I don’t even want. I fall into a rhythm and I don’t even realize I’m unhappy until I realize I’ve been unhappy for awhile.

What I need isn’t commitment. I don’t need to get married or move in with anyone. I just want… consistency. I want a more consistent shooting star. Someone to hang out with, that likes some of the same things I do. Someone who is crazy about me and can make me giggle like a child.

Maybe I need to shoot for the moon instead of another star. Ever-changing yet constant. The biggest, the brightest. Or even the sun – I spend enough time in darkness, I need someone who can bring me out of it. Someone who brings out the poet, the writer in me – but without the disappearing act.

But I’m no astronomer nor astronaut, and I’m done becoming undone over one silly text. The sun can come find me for all I care.

Sometimes, Life Isn’t Fair.

Once upon a time I was drunk and feeling defeated about my current situation, so I wrote a letter. I almost even posted it, or sent it, or something – but I guess I was sober enough to realize it might have been a bad idea. Just to give you an idea…

Dear Fuckface,

I gave you the best four years of my life. Four years of college and I stayed faithful to you. I was surrounded by boys in their prime who hadn’t yet let themselves go, by boys willing to shower me with compliments and free drinks. Boys who would’ve maybe even given me more than that. Boys who would’ve given up so much for me, for my dreams, for my bullshit whims. Given up things the way I did for you.

I fucking hated leaving my friends behind every goddamn weekend to come see you when all you did was sit there with your roommate and play video games. Great, that’s exactly what I wanted to miss the big game or the party for, to watch you play some stupid fucking game.

And ever since he broke up with me, that’s all I would think about when I thought about that relationship – the fact that he took the best four years of my life. Like he was some sort of thief, he took them from me without warning. I could get over the fact that he would choose his smoking habit over me if there was ever an ultimatum; the fact that I was essentially worth nothing to him. Because those are his issues, and not mine. He has to live with that for the rest of his life. The relationships I had been in since then have been enough to boost my self esteem and get over that. It’s the wasted time I couldn’t get over.

But now that I’ve been an adult for a full year now (yes, I know how ridiculous that sounds), I think maybe I was wrong.

I think I have yet to see my best four years. Even this past year, I’ve crammed enough blackouts into one summer that I’m not upset about missing out on those in college. I’ve done a lot of things I never thought I’d ever get to do. Basically – the rest of my 20s could be like college, except with more money to burn and less Thirsty Thursdays. Or I could use my twenties to build an incredible career for myself. Or I could travel to places that would be impossible once (if) I have kids. The possibilities are only limited by my meager income and student loan debt but otherwise completely limitless!

So, he didn’t take my best four years. He got my stressed-out, broke-ass, freshmen-fifteen years instead. I got some of his worst years, too. We saw each other at our worst, and now someone else will get to see me at my best. Without him weighing me down I feel like I can do anything.

Despite this new revelation, it still doesn’t seem fair to me that I missed out on a lot of things in college because of him. But, as my father would say:

Life.

Fearless.

I’ve only known this guy for a couple weeks. We met online. We’ve played bar trivia a few times, I’ve met his dog. I went with him to run errands last weekend. I give him shit about his busted bracket (who the hell picks Northern Iowa to play in the National Championship game?).

Friday afternoon, he texts me and asks if I want to come with him to a wedding reception the next day. It’s two friends from his hometown that got married, so I would be meeting his parents. Probably staying at their house. It’s about an hour away, and he says the wedding is super casual; he’s just wearing his “regular clothes”.

I had no plans for the weekend. I need to go shopping, but that requires money. I need to clean my apartment, but I know I won’t. I could go see my mom, but I do that almost every other weekend.

I’d seen this guy seven out of the previous 11 days. Neither one of us knows many people in town, and we both like drinking and he’s just easy to be around.

But still – I’ve known this guy for less than two weeks, and I’m supposed to meet his parents? I haven’t even begun to think about what I want from him, but I guess what better way to think about it than to see what his parents are like. So I say sure, I’ll go. Why the hell not. In true hedonist fashion, I just say “fuck it! free booze? hell yeah!”

Whether it was the wanderlusty adventurer or devil-may-care hedonist, I’m glad that part of me was making the decisions. I explored a new city! I drank, which made the introverted part of me more relaxed. We had amazing pizza in this tiny little restaurant in his hometown. We went to a bar that only serves canned beer, and I almost kicked his ass in pool. His parents are even really, really awesome. Luckily, they didn’t ask how we met at first. Then they finally did, and I was hoping he would answer so I didn’t have to, but he was in another room. So after a pause I said, “well, online actually…” and his mom just says “Oh that’s not so bad, I met his dad in a bar! And he was too shy, so I had to pick him up.” We played drinking games on the Wii, and it turns out I’m a lot better at Wii golf than I am at real golf.

So no, I didn’t go skydiving or finally decide to move across the country. But this small leap, this extra ounce of ‘fuck it’, this spontaneous decision… means I can only move up from here. I still don’t know what I want from this guy, I still don’t know what the fuck I’m doing on a daily basis, but each step like this is getting me back to the fearless girl I used to be; the fearless person I want to be.