My Stalker Ex

My ex who ruined my life has decided we’re friends again.

Okay, that was a touch dramatic.  My life is nowhere near ruined; it’s pretty great and I guess I have him (in part) to thank for that.

He did give me a ton of baggage – insecurity and trust issues – I’m working through. He did keep me in California a year longer than I probably should have stayed. He was a BIG reason why I finally left.

Also dramatic because he didn’t really decide we’re friends, but after two years of being apart and six months of zero communication, we’re apparently now acquaintances. As in, he is an acquaintance who is following me on Twitter and wants to connect with me on LinkedIn. He’s still blocked on Facebook, but he’s being a total social media creeper. I kind of wonder why, but I don’t want to give him any mind. He’s not worth it. He’s simply a reminder of a few things.

1. Everything happens for a reason. Without being interested in him, I might have left California a year earlier. Where would my life have led me then? There’s no such thing as what might have been and I think I’m in a great place right now (even though it took a lot of ups and downs to feel that way) and am glad that the timing worked out as it did.

2. I can overcome. I’ve been having some anxiety issues lately, but looking back on stressful times, thinking about how, in the midst of it, maybe I thought it was terrible, but I got through it and am better off for it, shows me that I can still do that and I don’t need to be such a nutcase…things will work out!

Wishing and Hoping

I thought I was tired at about 9:15 last night, so I went to bed and turned off the light, but my brain would not STFU. 

Within the first hour, I had to get up to check when my passport expired – July 2012, leaving it 50/50 as to whether I should renew now or later – and I decided to add a cute guy I met almost a month ago as a friend on Facebook, wrote him a cute message from my phone, then decided not to add him.

Mostly, it was my knack for trying to plot every second of my life that got the better of me.  It had me moving to Minnesota, deciding I hate the weather and taking it out on the Scandanavian-bred boyfriend there.  Then it had me knocked up by/in an open relationship with my fallback guy and realizing that it surprisingly worked.  Then it had me meeting and falling for a local boy and then resenting him because his close family ties keep us here.

Um, brain?  STFU!

This was all despite my aha moment I had yesterday.  It was the last day of my FFF vacation in Arizona’s beautiful White Mountains.  Before my sis, her fiance and I took off back to the desert, we went for a family walk.

Do you ever have one of those moments where you look around and think, “wow, this is my life” … good or bad?  Or one of those moments – again, good or bad – when you’re like, “how did I get here?”

Growing up in the Phoenix area and vacaying three hours northeast of there isn’t much of a stretch, but then I started thinking of it from my mom’s perspective. 

Did she plan for a holiday weekend with her hubby and daughters in Show Low?  When she was my age, my parents were married, but having trouble conceiving.  Did she imagine she’d be living in Arizona when she was a freshman in college in Ohio and had just met a guy from Pittsburgh? 

I’m guessing not, but my mom has a wonderful joie de vivre.  She loves where she ended up, but she didn’t plot and plan every second of her life to get there.  The way the story goes, the move to Arizona from the midwest was such a random, spur-of-the-moment decision.

So this is what people mean when they’re all, “live in the moment, man.”  I don’t think I can dream as big as my life is going to end up, so why am I worrying about the details of it?  How can I possibly try to control it and contain it?

This planning thing is not really working out for me.  So tell me WHY it’s keeping me up at night?!

I blame the five-, ten-, fifteen-year plans they made us do in school. Goals are good.  I love goals and think it’s important to teach kids that they have to pursue the goals instead of just thinking they’ll happen, but giving kids the idea that they can plot, plan and predict every moment of their life is just a little boring! 

I uploaded some of the FFF pics to Facebook last night and ended up going through some of my older ones.  I realized that a lot of the great periods of my life, the great memories, kind of happened unexpectedly.  They were things I jumped into without thinking about it too much.

The unexpected is unexpectedly worth it.  Dream big took on a whole new meaning for me yesterday. 

And in the end, I watched four episodes of The Office on Hulu before I could fall asleep.

Mayim Bialik

Reverb11’s April prompt was so short, I scanned the email and thought I missed it!  It’s April, spring is in the air, and they want to know:

What’s blossoming?

Friendships!  I went to happy hour last night with a Meetup group (one I’ve been out with a handful of times) and as awkward as the concept is and as random as the group is, I found myself looking around and thinking, “these are the women I would have picked.” 

A desire for a ripple effect.  For Winter Wonderland Warriors, I wanted to volunteer.  For the Spring Fever Challenge, I am going to volunteer four times.  First of all, it’s addicting.  Second of all, it’s a hell of a lot better way to spend my time than watching Jersey Shore.

My new approach to dating.  This is continuously changing and detouring and rerouting, but always blossoming!

Self love. My strength and my desire to be 100% ME.  I thought I grew into myself in my early-20s, but I’m amazed how much more like myself I become every day.

“And the day came when the risk to remain tight in the bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.” – Anais Nin, via Bicoastally

I would like it to be known that I spelled Mayim’s name right on the first try without looking it up.  Where was this brain power when I was studying things of actual consequence?!

The Last Three Years

My first post-college big girl job was great.  Glamourous, fun, paid well.  It was a sexy job to talk about, but three years ago today I walked away from it.

Why?  If people ask, I usually give a delightfully vague, “my boss was a jerk.”  Or, in a more professional setting (like when I was asked during interviews), it was, “it wasn’t a good corporate culture fit.”  Sometimes I even blamed the fact that it was a small, struggling company that was always handing out salary cuts, which was true, but not the real reason.

I left because for a year and a half of the two and a half years I was there, my boss – “the jerk” – was sexually harassing me.  Well, it felt like sexual harassment AND it felt like an affair.  There were so many layers to it and none of them was black or white.  I wasn’t innocent, but it was inappropriate.  I was young (just a babe at 22), completely green in the business world and he was my boss and the president of the company, in fact.

It started with him taking me to lunch then playful emails then flirting, sexual flirting and the looks then the touching.  It stopped there, we never had sex, but the looking and touching was enough to make me feel awful, but powerless with nowhere to go.

I learned a lot from that job.  I learned that using looks and my sexuality is the way to get ahead.  I believed for a long time that I got the job because he had a crush on me when I was an intern and that all subsequent jobs will be given to me for similar reasons.  I still don’t completely UNbelieve that. I learned that a tight ass keeps the boss happy and you want to keep the boss happy.  I learned that flirting is the most important work skill to have.

Finally, after a year and a half of being upset with myself about it, of sitting in my car for 10 minutes before going into the office and facing eight hours with this man who I was allowing to trample my spirit daily, I learned something better.

I learned that I’m stronger than I thought.  That if I want something to change, I can change it.  That I can choose the type of person I am. As cheesy as it is, I drew a lot of strength from Rascal Flatts’ Stand and Carrie Underwood’s Wasted.

I thought every day would be the day I quit and finally they announced salary cuts (again).  I saw that open door and ran through it.  It gave me a good cover story with them, friends and family and future employers (although, it still didn’t make very much sense that I turned down a job and some kind of salary for absolutely nothing).  I knew the real reason and my boss did too. 

I spent the summer unemployed, building a relationship with a new interest, reading Twilight (for shame), running, hanging out by the pool, writing, painting my nails (honestly, that’s when I picked up my nail polish habit and I don’t think my tips have been uncolored for more than a day since). 

I spent the last three years becoming the kind of person who I want to be.  The kind of person who works hard, stands up for herself and what is right. 

I sometimes wonder what it would be like if I stayed, well, if the situation was different and I had stayed.  High-powered marketing exec at just 26 years old?  Maybe, but I’m happy for all the lessons I’ve learned in the last three years and although I wouldn’t have picked this to be part of the story of how I got here, I’m happy with my life as it is now.

Who needs a tiara? Give me a Roth IRA.

Finding this clip was supposed to make me feel better, but I remembered it differently.  I thought she straight out googled “finance,” but she didn’t, so it didn’t.

I work in finance and sometimes I wonder how the hell that happened. Scratch that.  I work in the finance industry and I was hired because knowledge of the industry was not a key requirement.  My bosses actually find it slightly humorous, and I like to think charming, that the TV by my desk – meant to keep guests in the office informed about the markets – is more often tuned to The Today Show and Oprah.

It’s mostly frustrating to me personally tonight because of the “rollover 401(k) to Roth IRA” cloud that has been looming over my head for years!  I’ve got step one crossed off my list, but don’t know where to go from here. 

21-year-old Emjaye never really expected to be here, but 26-year-old Emjaye is glad she is. 

At 21, I talked vaguely with my dad about finance as I started my first real job, opened those damn 401(k)s and began supporting myself.  At 21, there was a big hullabaloo about transferring investment accounts into my name, but I haven’t done much with them (besides, fortunately, watch them grow). 

At 21, I thought by 26 I’d have found someone to know about finances in the way I’ve always relied on my dad to know about finances.  When I say finances, though, I mean the bigger stuff.  Day-to-day, I feel confident about budgeting and spending and saving. 

Luckily, I never got myself into huge debt expecting some prince to come along and get me out of it.  I just expected some prince to come along and help me plan a comfortable life and retirement (like my prince of a dad has with my mom).

At 26, I know it’s up to me.  And just like at work, I’ll get there.  Neither is going to be about step one, now step two anymore.  I work better when I know WHY I’m doing step one and HOW it helps me at step two, so I’m engaging myself.

I might have a little talk with Pops this weekend, but those talks usually just remind me that I’m quite capable and knowledgeable if I just give myself a break.  And that I don’t need a prince and his castle and his piles of money.  I just need a man who will treat me like a princess – maybe even one who is a little turned on by my financial savvy!

Dear Mini-Me

Reverb 10, Day 21 Future Self.
Imagine yourself five years from now. What advice would you give your current self for the year ahead?

Are you ready girl?  It’s going to be a big year.

Pursue everything you want with reckless abandon and continue to amaze yourself.

Put yourself out there – in romantic and platonic relationships, career-wise and with anything that makes you a little uncomfortable.  You can handle it.

Write, write, write.

Take care of yourself.  Working out makes you feel good physically and emotionally.

Floss and take your vitamins.  I know you hate this ritual, but we both know it’s best to keep it up.

Take it easy on the alcohol, chocolate chip cookies and french fries.  You feel and look better without this crap in your system.  And while we’re on it, you don’t need all those chemicals packaged nicely in a can labeled Diet Coke either.  Your ass, skin and digestive system will thank you if you focus on the good stuff this year.

Appreciate and take care of your family.  Be supportive and flexible when it comes to your sister’s wedding.   

I know you want to have a serious boyfriend to take to her wedding.  This may or may not happen (don’t want to ruin the surprise!) but you’ll have a great time either way surrounded by loved ones.  And if you followed my earlier advice, you’ll look fabulous!

Don’t waste more than one date on a bad prospect.  If he’s not the man who is sitting here with you in five years, move on.  He really is an amazing man (and sexy!) and he’s out there making his way to you. It’s never going to happen if you have someone else parked in your boyfriend spot. 

You’re abstaining right now and you should keep that up for as long as you want to.  When you decide you’re ready again, use condoms, girl.  I don’t care how pretty his face is, you don’t know where his shame shame has been.

Another reckless behavior you need to ktfo:  texting while driving.

Don’t forget to take some down time to rejuvenate your spirit.  Life only gets crazier as you get older.  Be selfish while you can.

PLEASE contribute to your retirement fund!

Oh, and 26 is not old and neither is 27.  They’re great ages and lady, you are like a fine wine.

Feel Your Feelings

Reverb 10, Day 19 Healing. What healed you this year? Was it sudden, or a drip-by-drip evolution? How would you like to be healed in 2011?

I’ve had a charmed life and no one likes the poor, little rich girl being all “woe is me” about her so-called hardships, but I learned my favorite lesson about emotions back in college when my roommate, another poor, little rich girl, was going through her parents’ divorce.  Her counselor told her that it was okay to feel her feelings. 

Why do women have to be reminded that it’s okay for them to have feelings, feel them, express them, work through them?  Whatever the reason, when I feel like my feelings aren’t valid or that my life has been too sheltered for me to be distressed, I just remind myself it’s okay to feel my feelings. 

I worked through some heartache and relationship and work baggage this year and I was healed in the little moments.  I found comfort in the rhythm of my runs.  I found comfort in slow rituals and taking time for myself.  I created and validated a ritual of staying in bed with my feelings if I wanted to, knowing it would heal whatever I was going through and the next day I’d get up, mental health a little more intact. 

I was healed by confronting some of the shadowy lurkers of my past and by just closing the door and walking away from others.  I got over some things in my past by jumping into new things, which is a good band-aid, but perhaps in 2011, I will work on actually healing them. 

I feel like I’m in a good place right now, but everyone has their days and everyone has things from the past that pop up and pinch them right in that spot that makes it hurt all over again.  When those days come up, I know that it’s okay to feel my feelings and work through them however is right for me.

Ch-ch-ch-changes and Capable

Reverb 10, Day 1 One Word.
Encapsulate the year 2010 in one word. Explain why you’re choosing that word. Now, imagine it’s one year from today, what would you like the word to be that captures 2011 for you?

Changes
2010 was a year of changes.  To get the full story, we have to go back to 2009. 

In 2009, I made the decision to move from my college town in California, where I had been living for 7 years, back to Arizona.  I imagined, upon moving, I would live in Scottsdale, work in marketing, reconnect with my high school friends, spend time with my family and start dating, eventually finding a handsome, successful boyfriend.  There was a dog, there was awesome hair and a super hot Pilates body, even though I don’t practice Pilates.

You would think THAT would be the year of change, but 2009 all but laughed in my face.  2010 was a lot of the same.  I was still stuck in the “temporary”  job I got when I moved, at which I felt underappreciated and suffocated.  I went through a back and forth relationship with a man who didn’t deserve me for a lot of the year.  My big, ugly apartment was cold and then hot, and always lonely and sad.

My changes started in May with a break up hair cut (hello, awesome hair).  Then in August, the other changes began to materialize.  I got a new job.  In marketing.  In Scottsdale.  I moved to Scottsdale.  It’s not everything I imagined it would be and more, but the change started to shake my life up in a good way.

Before starting my new job, I visited my California friends and realized it’s not about location, it’s about relationships and I’m glad to still have a strong one with them despite the distance.  I have struggled with the relationships with my friends in Arizona, but lately, we are reconnecting as the new people we’ve become.  I’ve become closer to some and have been able to admit that there are some that I just don’t need in my life.  My relationship with my family has its highs and lows, but adjusting to the change of being an adult child living close by has been fun.  I come from good people.

Not everything has come together as planned.  My handsome, successful boyfriend still eludes me, but the love lessons I’ve learned this year have changed my attitudes and behaviors in wonderful ways. 

It’s been a year of growing pains, because changes aren’t always easy, but for the most part, I’m genuinely happy in a way that I haven’t been in a long time and that’s the best change I could have asked for.

Capable
I’ve been que sera, sera about life, but that attitude leaves what ifs and oh wells.  Welcoming change and accepting happiness in my life needed to come first.  Now that I’m there and I’ve had some successes, I see that I’m an active participant in my life and truly capable. 

Thinking and talking about my goals is great, but working toward and achieving them is so much better.  In 2011, I’m going after everything with wild abandon.  Because I can.  I don’t want 2011 to be comfortable and complacent, I want it to be challenging, because even when it’s challenging, maybe more so when it’s challenging, I’m capable.

At the end of 2011, I want to say that it was a year in which I was capable of creating my own change. 

Lush

I had my first drink when I was 19, old compared to most, and I didn’t like it or drink much until I actually turned 21.  In the last 5 years I’ve had my share of “never again” nights followed by a period during which I would claim to be “drying out.” 

I’ve been trying to dry out for the past few weeks because of a weekend of “never agains” timed closely to a realization that I don’t have the healthiest relationship with alcohol.

A few weeks ago I offhandedly told a new friend my “family secret.”  My mom drinks a lot.  My sister too really.  I usually laugh it off, but it’s something that’s bothered me for a while.  But those are their stories to tell and this is about me.  The point is that after I told him that, I started noticing how I behave around alcohol and I wasn’t very happy with myself (showing up to my 10K hungover/drunk would be a shining example of that). 

A recent stroll down memory lane in the form of Facebook pictures, makes it look like I’m rarely without a drink (sometimes two!) in hand.  Granted, the cameras usually come out during get-togethers and get-togethers with 20-somethings almost always involve alcohol, but it wouldn’t be horrible if sometimes I just paused.

Sometimes I drink when I’m upset.  I drink when I’m nervous.  I often drink when I’m feeling shy or uncomfortable…good, old social lubricant.  I drink because it’s cool and expected.  I don’t drink daily, but lately when I do drink, it’s becoming too much.  I’m pretty small so often it affects me more than I expect it to.  I wake up the next day with patchy memories and I hate that. 

I’m not sure what makes an alcoholic and growing up bothered by my mom and sister’s issues, I never expected that I would even consider using that term for myself, but I just want to be honest.  And I’m kind of hoping that if I admit that I might have a problem, my family might look more closely at themselves as well.

We Aren’t What We Do or What We Did, or Are We?

No one wants to be THAT guy.  You know, the former high school quarterback always talking about his glory days on the field, even though now he’s in middle management, drives his kids’ carpool and has a beer gut.  Or THAT girl who won’t shut up about her college party days and how HAWT she and her sorority sisters were, even though that’s so not cute for a woman pushing 30 who goes on a string of bad first dates  and then home to her cat (although, if she’s discussing her sorority days on said dates, that may be the reason).

I’ve been there.  After leaving an awesome job for a crappy one (long story), when people would ask me what I did, I wouldn’t even take a breath between “So, that’s where I am for now.  ButItotallyusedtohaveasuperawesome-glamourousjobthatwaswaycooler.”  Who cares?  Everytime I heard myself say it, I was turned off. 

It was like I was saying that I wasn’t worthwhile anymore and I knew better.  Finally, I realized that if, in essence, I was embarrassed to tell people what I did, then I needed to do something about it and I did.

I guess my point is that I really dislike the question, “so, what do you do?” particularly the social norm that says that you’re supposed to answer back with your profession.  People aren’t in love with their jobs, that’s why it’s called work and that’s why they have to pay you to show up, so why would they want to talk about it?  I’d rather talk about my nail polish honestly.  If we ever meet on a plane or in a coffee house or in jail, ask me about that.  Or ask me why I’m in jail, that story is obviously going to give you much bigger bang for your buck.

My other point is that there’s no black line that I came upon and stepped over to get here.  This blog is a gray line.  I am totally still the supercoolblogthat-Ihadbefore.  If given the choice, I would have kept blogging at the old digs, but I have an intense desire to write whatever the fuck I feel like, so I’m starting overish.