Labor Day NAHS Shenanigans

Oh man, this past Labor Day weekend was the freaking best. You know that feeling you get when you and some of your best friends are about to get the fun on? Not every friend or group, but a particular group of friends that you know are going to make you laugh so hard, you may pee a little. Just a little.

Don’t lie. This is exactly how you feel about having fun with a certain group of friends.

That was 100% Labor Day weekend 2014. Some of my girls from NAHS (or Nof Atanta, as we like to call it…the Atanta came about because our soccer sweats were all misspelled, I kid you not. The Nof is just cause we ghetto) came down for the holiday weekend and we really packed it in. I of course planned the itinerary because I’m a major control freak  I knew what they wanted to do, which was mainly to chill out.

Crazily enough, this is now the 3rd Labor Day weekend I’ve spent with NAHS ladies in a row. Lindsey’s bachelorette party in Folly Beach, then Jessica’s bachelorette party in Charleston, and now this one in St. Pete. We apparently like getting married and drinking on the beach. Shocking. Unfortunately, there were no hijinks with a certain lingerie gift shower that involved a full body fishnet stocking or blindfolded “kiss the stud” game like at a certain person’s bachelorette (and NO, those picture will NEVER see the light of day. EVER), or poop talk for an entire weekend at another certain person’s bachelorette.

God, I love these girls. I’ve known them since I was 15, and they seriously rock my world. After an extended absence in each others’ lives, we can always come back to each other without grudges, without envy, and support each other through the good times and bad. I’ve seen these ladies come into their own, and I’m so proud. Fighting for who they want to become, securing lives that make them happy, but continuing to want progress and improvement in themselves. So admirable.

And they are funny as all hell.

We used to spend evenings at Starbucks on West Paces people watching, and getting drunk together after “borrowing” mini bottles from the Buckhead Ritz Carlton (don’t ask). We danced on bars. We spent many an hour talking about partners, extremely bad life choices, and crying over all the things we did wrong after college. We also spent a lot of time supporting each other through bad relationships, career changes, getting married, and making babies.

These are my ride or die chicks.

This past weekend, we spent a lot of time in the sun, paddleboarding, drinking, and especially laughing. It was one of my most favorite weekends I’ve ever had. Saturday, we spent the day at Indian Rocks Beach, and loved how we had no men folk to entertain because they can’t sit still for more than 30 minutes at a time. That night, we hit up my favs, 400 Beach and The Canopy. We took a million pictures that came out looking like we were club kids again, mainly because I still don’t really know how to work my fancy camera.

Sunday, we paddleboarded for 2 hours in Ft. Desoto (which of course made my back hurt so bad I was practically in tears on the way back), and took tons of pictures. At some point, there is extremely shallow water, and it’s just a delightful spot to sit and relax. It was hot as hell that day, so we parked it for a few, and made fun of how white Jessica is compared to me. Being ethnic is fun. After that, we went to Madeira Beach for a hot second and ate snacks like we hadn’t eaten in DAYS. After 2 hours in the sun and working out, we stuffed our faces with homemade pimento cheese dip and chicken salad, courtesy of our resident chef, Lindsey. It was awesome.

Early evening, we met up with Jessica’s sister Nancy and her man Miguel at our favorite brewery, 3 Daughters. We sat out the rainstorm, and took a bunch of ridiculous pictures because we’re just like that.

That night, we had taco night at home and had the MOST FUN EVER playing Heads Up. It was also the MOST FRUSTRATING EVER because Jessica is the absolute worst. I’m dead serious. The Worst. Take for instance this exchange:

The card says “C3PO”. I have to make Jessica guess what I’m acting out, with words as long as they don’t rhyme. (Disclaimer: I did get confused and thought I was supposed to do R2D2, but it really didn’t matter because the response was so crazy ludicrous…sigh.) 

I start moving my robot arms and say, “BEEP BOOP BOOP BEEP.”

Jessica’s response: “POLISH!”

Her response was Polish. Fucking Polish. TO A ROBOT MAKING THE NOISE BEEP BOOP BOOP BEEP.

At this point, we all fall to the floor in hysterics. No joke, we literally all fell onto the floor, tears streaming down our faces, because of that response. We couldn’t even finish the round before the timer went off, we were laughing so hard.

She is the WORST at that game. Just an FYI. (love you girl)

After that, we played a little Michael Jackson Wii and Just Dance, and talked until 2 AM. Just like high school.

Monday, we fed our inner fat kids and went to Urban Brew and BBQ (which was DELISH), and justlikethat, the weekend was over. I can’t believe it went by so fast. It’s so unfair.

Ladies, I heart your asses. Don’t ever change.

♥, VB

Strong Man is Mine

A few weekends ago, Timmy had a major moment. I’m writing about it because HE STILL HASN’T CONTRIBUTED TO THIS BLOG AT ALL. But I’m not bitter or anything…

Timmy has been doing Brazilian Jiu Jitsu for a few months now and I’m super proud of him. He’s had a challenging time in Lake Mary by himself, and I’ve been pushing him as much as I can to strike out and meet people, gain a hobby, do something in order to get out of the house more. It’s hard, yes, making friends as an adult, but it beats sitting at home doing nothing. So he signed himself up at a local gym, and he’s been loving it.

What grown men get out of wrestling with other grown men, I’ll never understand, but hey, to each his/her own, right?

Obviously, as a former state champion-caliber wrestler, he’s definitely a little more advanced than novice. He claims that he doesn’t know what he’s doing, but after watching him a few Saturdays ago, I can honestly say he’s a big fat liar. Or he just needs to work on his confidence. Because dude knows some moves.

The Copa Grappling Tournament started at 9 AM in, shudder, of all places, Lakeland. The place we don’t even stop for gas on the way to each other’s cities because we hate it so much. The town that is associated with so many bad relationship memories, we’d rather pretend like it didn’t exist. Yea, that place. So we both drove to meet in the middle for his inaugural tournament debut.

He was freaking out a little in the days prior because he’d only been doing this sport for about 2 months, and not even that consistently since he kept destroying his feet on the gym mats. If you’ve ever seen Timmy’s feet before, you know they’re already a little raunch-worthy, but man, after jiu jitsu, GAH-ROSS. So clearly, he was nervous, but since he’s an athlete at heart, I knew he would be incredible the day of.

If you’ve ever been an athlete, you know the mindset. The zone. The ability to focus in on the goal at hand and get it done. Timmy’s like that. Once he finds something he can lock onto, he’s unreal. The problem has always been finding that thing to lock onto in the first place. I’m hoping he goes far with this sport.

We were in a high school gym on a Saturday from 9 AM until 5 PM. Of course the bleachers destroyed my back, but good lord, that is a freaking long ass time to wait. I wasn’t bored, which was nice, since they had matches going non-stop. I’d never really gotten a chance to go to wrestling meets in high school because their season always coincided with basketball season. I got a little taste of what it must be like for parents whose children do this type of thing. Lots of waiting involved. Lots of it.

Side note: I’ve never seen so many bare feet in one location in my life. I was fighting my gag reflex pretty much the entire day. Feet, everywhere. UGH.

Copa Grappling Tournament

Copa Grappling Tournament

Anyways, so we waited until almost 4:30 pm for Timmy’s level (novice) and weight class to go up. He had two other guys in his level and class. One was an entire foot taller than him. That match he dominated 9-0.

The second match, Timmy won by submitting the guy with a move he had no idea he was doing. I also had no idea what he was doing and I’m pretty sure I stopped breathing for both matches.

He won first place in his first ever grappling tournament. It was pretty damn sexy to watch.

He also COMPLETELY tore up his feet in the first match, so much so that he bled on the mat and had to wrap his feet up. Big gaping wounds. Be glad I’m not sharing any photos because BARF! I later had to apply liquid skin on him, the material from hell that I remember so well from my ballet days. THAT’S HOW MUCH I LOVE THIS MAN.

You can see the videos of his two matches here and here. I have no idea what he’s doing other than trying to win. I’m trying not to pass out.

It was awesome. Timmy, you’re my strong man for life.

♥, VB

Setting of the Sun

Last weekend, I was driving back to St. Pete from Orlando after spending a lovely time with Timmy. Our situation is still working quite nicely, and after a break from living together (which was SUPER needed), we are now missing each other enough to want to live together again. Which is such a great feeling. Absence and heart and fondness…that saying is so true.

As I was making the almost two-hour trek home, I realized that I had enough time to make it to the Gulf Coast to see the sun set. I don’t always get that chance since the beach is about 20-30 minutes away, which is of course totally doable normally. But I’m usually too tired to get out of the house again once I’m through that front door. And with work being as completely crazy as it has been right before school starts, I haven’t the energy to think about plans beyond my normal work hours.

As I sat on Indian Rocks beach, I fell a little bit more in love with this town I’m calling home. This place seriously rocks my socks off.

Warning: super overload of sunset pictures to commence, thanks to Timmy’s amazing gift that keep on giving–my super duper camera.

i was able to catch a little playing of strangers in the water

i was able to catch a little playing of strangers in the water

an accidental shot which I love

an accidental shot which I love

♥, VB

Frustrated Ramblings

I’ve been a little stressed lately. Not because of my life or work or family or friends or Timmy. None of that has been weighing me down, which I can delight in since that’s really the first time I can say that in a long, long time.

No, the things that have been stressing me out have been beyond my control, in the outside world, in the heads and words of the people that share the surface of the earth with me. People I’d really rather just go somewhere else. Away. Because they just suck.

I’ve always been a rather compassionate person, and the older I get, the more I feel. Feel for others like me, but also completely unlike me, and I think that’s a pretty snazzy quality to have. To be able to feel sympathy and empathy, to understand that I’m so small, that I’m just one of millions and billions, that my emotions are what make me different and special and help me to feel connected.

Maybe it’s because I battled depression for many years, and after trying an antidepressant that left me completely numb and absent and disconnected from life, it’s like those emotional abilities have been doubled or quadrupled in the last few years. It’s overwhelming sometimes to 100% understand the sufferings of others, to know that there are injustices in this world that I can do very little about. Yet I’m glad that I can feel these things, that I’m compassionate enough and dedicated enough to the work that I do so I can make any little type of difference I can.

It’s frustrating to see some injustices finally get attention now, things that common sense tells you have been going on forever, but that people have been content to ignore because it’s easier that way sometimes. Things like gender inequality, sexual assault, sexism, racism, bias, etc. blah, blah, blah. Things that mattered a lot to all of us when we were kids. Things that fired us up when we were still innocent enough to see injustice crystal clear.

What happened to people? When did people enjoy ignorance more than knowledge? When did people forget that suffering is awful? When did people become okay with not helping each other out, even when they would absolutely want someone to help them in their time of need? When did people forget what common sense meant?

How did people forget to feel?

At 31 and with chronic back pain that is totally not getting any better, I think about my future as a mother a lot. Clearly time is ticking away, à la My Cousin Vinny style. Pregnancy will be a harsh thing to put my back through in order to feel a love that’s pretty much indescribable. And Lord knows that Timmy would be an awesome dad.

But do I want to have children? Do I want to prepare a child to live in a world where people don’t care if they are hurting? Where people will dismiss their common sense in order to ignore emotions? A world that will allow anyone to be hurt, sexually, emotionally, physically, and then blame that same person for the pain they received?

The more I read the news, the more nauseated I become. Parents being arrested for allowing their children to become independent beings. Because kids who learn to fear the world and learn no common sense, real-world skills totally grow up to be well-functioning adults who don’t make the world more difficult for the rest of us, right?

People up in arms about sick patients being transferred to their city, patients who are citizens of this country, patients who deserve the best care they can get. Even though these outraged people were taught many, many years ago the basics of biology and disease transmission. People who couldn’t have cared less when the same disease was killing Africans because who cares about black people on another continent, right?

People of all races, genders, ethnicities, and education levels being abused, raped, assaulted, and no one truly getting that the fault lies with their attackers, not the attacked. Because who cares about people being violated as long as it’s not you, right?

I am but am still not used to the fact that the work I do, trying to help people get healthy, to lead healthy lives, mentally, physically, sexually, is so fought against by the very people I’m trying to help. The idea of learning how to prevent bad things is common sense, yet people focus on the tiny details that aren’t based in reality. These same people who forgot science as it was taught to us when we were 10 years old. The same people who hate that life is hard yet continue to make decisions and create environments where the default choices are the bad, unhealthy ones.

I understand that I chose a challenging field. Sex education is not something that everyone accepts as a normal part of understanding life. But it is, and if people listened to that common sense voice SCREAMING in their heads, they’d get that what I’m trying to do is help people NOT sleep with people they don’t like because they think that’s what self-esteem is.

I’m helping people NOT get pregnant when they don’t want to be or can’t afford it or don’t have the necessary skills to help a child grow up responsibly. I’m helping people NOT get sick by transmitting or being infected with dangerous, life-altering diseases that can rob them of a future child or even their life. I’m helping people build intimacy within relationships, I’m helping people gain control of their sexuality and have pride in their sexual decisions. I’m helping people understand that love is NOT violence or violation or harm. I’m helping people. Period.

I have found my calling, I know I am fulfilling my life’s purpose, and that makes me very fortunate. I’m so thankful to be on the path I’m on, and only wish that everyone could feel this way. I also recognize those people in my life who have found their niche and are truly rocking their shit out. My friends who are actors, musicians, activists, writers, motivators, educators, healers — you all inspire me. If you are on your path, I support you. I’m proud of you.

I understand that many people haven’t found their calling in life, their true passion, and are therefore miserable little trolls who want to make life harder for everyone else. It’s true, people who are sad and angry want to make others sad and angry in order to feel less alone. But is it really that hard to want to lift people up? It takes less energy to be a beacon of hope than a Debbie Downer.

For those that aren’t on your path, the energy you expend judging others, hindering progress and education, preventing solutions, we all get that you’ve forgotten what human decency looks and feels like. The world would be better served if you searched for your happy. You would clearly be better served if you found your happy.

Happy people don’t lash out, they don’t wish hurt and harm on others, they don’t idly stand by while others suffer. When you forget basic life lessons, how to treat others, how to practice self-control when you feel negative, how not to judge, you make life harder for yourself. You create the exact type of world that you criticize and insult.

And you frustrate me to no end. Because I can’t fix you. I can’t make you learn. I can’t make you listen nor can I make you open your eyes and your heart. I can’t make you want to care.

Which means that I have to do double the good work in order to balance out your negativity. Which creates resentment within me that I’d rather not have in my life. Which makes me pity you because you aren’t experiencing the full, glorious human range of emotions.

So I beg of my rock star friends: Keep doing you. Because when you do you, you increase the happy on earth. You make me proud and you keep my hopes up that there are other good people in the world.

And so ends my frustrated ramblings. Don’t worry, I’ll be back with more fun times and weekend shenanigans.

I am, after all, dating Timmy. :)

♥, VB

 

Freedom on the Lake

Obviously, the 4th of July was a few weekends back, but the further along we move into summer, the faster the time is slipping away from me. Honestly, what the hell is going on??

Bare with me while I catch you up on a super fun weekend spent laughing with friends, family, and my love at Lake Martin in Alabama. It was pretty much a perfect weekend. We flew into Atlanta Friday night and spent a few wonderful hours catching up with my parents. We then drove 2 hours to the lake the next morning, and parked our asses there until it was time to head back home. The wonderful Crosswy family welcomed us to their amazing lake house, and treated us to some boat time, amazing food, and the most relaxing time.

They are also the family that won the BOTE stand up paddleboard grand prize at our birthday party, so they also invited us to take that beauty out on the lake for a spin. That did not suck and only made my craving to have my own paddleboard increase exponentially.

We spent an amazing day with family, including Timmy’s mom and stepdad, whom we hadn’t seen in MONTHS, so that was a biiiig treat! Abigail’s stepdad made the most incredible potato salad that I kept sneaking bites of through the weekend and I don’t feel shame about that at all. When a potato salad is good, it’s the freaking best.

Let’s not forget our group’s attempt at a redneck-themed Fourth of July weekend. It’s quite clear that Timmy won the game there, but I feel like I got the best shopping experience when I was complimented by a Floridian woman who clearly didn’t realize that my purchases were a joke. Go FL.

Finally, after 100 attempts to take that lovely family photo above as the sun set and not being able to get the flash working, I decided to try a bunch of different settings in the game room on our last night. They aren’t fantastic, but god damn I love this camera!

I love little weekends like that, a quick getaway, filled with love, laughter, and delicious food. Thank you to the Crosswy family again for the hospitality, we adore y’all. And in case you were wondering, I’m keeping all my America gear. As Timmy’s life partner, I’ll probably need it again in the near future thanks to his hijinks.

♥, VB