What is This Feeling So Sudden and New…?

I have spent the last week or so preparing Halloween costumes for both myself and my boyfriend. This has included trips to multiple Halloween and costume shops, scoping out consignment stores, scrubbing the blue and red dyes from the surfaced of my bath tub, and practice runs on make up. Tonight is the Halloween party that we have preparing for, and it made me realize something: 2016 is finally drawing to a close.

This year has been one constant battle to not lose my cool. I have been in a position that I am was unhappy with since February (but I can’t delve into that too much). Ultimately this year has been a test for myself both personally and professionally, and I feel that I have grown so much.

I spent so much of this year unhappy. There were so many tears shed and breakdowns experienced. My boyfriend kept me above water through it all, and I am so grateful for him. Recently, I hit rock bottom. I was so depressed and couldn’t stop crying. That feeling of anguish just kept itself lumped in my chest day after day, and it was unbearable. Then all of a sudden…it was gone. That hopeless feeling was replaced with drive and optimism. Things that used to make my mood nosedive don’t affect me anymore. Things are finally looking up. It’s not as if I’m discounting the importance and severity of things, but they can’t be worse than before. I just feel so much better about my present situation. Instead of letting things consume me, I’m taking control and pushing upwards. Life is too short to feel awful.

Nearly a month ago, there was the threat of Hurricane Matthew. My mother had purchased tickets for my boyfriend and me to see my favorite musical RENT back home. Home is a little over two-hundred miles away from here. They were hit by the storm before we were thus allowing for clean up while my city was hit next. As the storm loomed closer, a mandatory curfew was placed on the citizens in my county. The storm was supposed to bring about crazy wind, rain, and power outages. The reality became clearer that I was not going to be able to go home for that Saturday’s matinee.

My boyfriend and I prepared to hunker down in my apartment. We taped my windows and dismantled/stored my computer before settling in with tea, “Glee”, and coloring. We went to bed just as the storm arrived. I was nervous that I was going to wake up to a lack of power and a tree on my car. The next morning, I woke up and realized that my fan was still spinning. We had power! It didn’t even so much as bounce during the night as my appliances’ clocks were still set appropriately. The rain had turned into a drizzle and the winds had subsided. With a cup of coffee in hand, we turned on the news just to find that the curfew would potentially be lifted by 2:00pm. I couldn’t believe it. I had been looking forward to seeing RENT the moment that the tour was announced. I needed to see it.

The curfew was lifted. We were on the road by 6:00pm.

RENT has been a part of my life since I was fourteen years old. It changed my life the moment that I saw it. It felt so surreal when I found myself sitting the theatre for the Saturday matinee of the 20th anniversary tour. I cried the moment the first note was played [and admittedly lost it during the reprise of “I’ll Cover You” (as always)]. That performance made me feel joy, stripped me away to expose the vulnerability, and ultimately lead to me feeling hopeful but most importantly: whole.

RENT healed me. The broken pieces were brought back together, and I finally felt like myself again. It turned me around and set me straight just as I knew it would. I am so grateful that everything somehow worked out, and I was able to drive home for that performance. I haven’t felt this good in so long.

“There is no future, there is no past
Thank god this moment’s not the last.
There’s only us, there’s only this
Forget regret or life is yours to miss
No other road, no other way
No day but today!”

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There’s A Storm A-Brewin’

This week, I will hit the next milestone in my life. I, Allison Emily, will face my first hurricane on my own…

…and I am scared shitless.

As of this posting, Hurricane Matthew is still skirting up the coast of Florida, but it continues to shift west more. I’m lucky enough to be inland. We won’t take a direct hit, but there is still going to be quite a bit of wind and rain. The various meteorologists say that it will be like that of a tropical storm but now my county is under a hurricane warning. The last time I faced a hurricane was in 2005 when I was 14 years old. I still lived with my parents in their sturdy (albeit pre-Andrew) home with metal hurricane shutters, a garage for storing vehicles and patio furnishings, and what seemed to be the natural sense of how to stock up for a storm. Whatever we needed was there. We were left without power for a week following hurricane Wilma, but it wasn’t an issue due to a cold front which followed and that it seemed that my parents knew what they were doing. We had a battery powered radio, a grill upon which they would heat canned food and water for coffee, and an electric lantern for when I was scared of the dark at night.

Today I spent the majority of my day watching the news reports and preparing my team for the incoming storm. The majority of my team is made up of those who moved down here only recently from the north and mid-west as well as those who were still single digit ages when the last storm hit this area. I ensured they had a comprehensive list of food, water, home, and medical supplies as well as how to hunker down, pack to leave, and what to expect in the various counties in the cone. In a sense, I had stepped into the role that my parents played over a decade ago.

Despite preparing yesterday, I decided to venture out after work to pick up a few last minute items. I wasn’t looking to pick up much; perhaps a little more food, water, a portable phone charger, tape, and an electric lantern like the one which brought me comfort during hurricane Wilma. As expected, the water supply was stripped bare (though I did find some sparkling water on sale which does make for a good supply supplement). I was able to find some non-perishables, tape, and portable phone charger despite the few choices. My attempt to find one of those popular patterned coloring books was a lost cause, but that was to be expected at a Target. As I made my way over to the flashlights, I expected there to not be much if it were to follow the precedence already set. All I was set on was that electric lantern. I checked the flashlights, but all that was left was a clip-on book light. I then checked the camping supplies. There wasn’t a lantern to be found. That’s when my nerves kicked into over drive.

Perhaps I’m immature or over-dramatic, but there are two things I’m nervous about with this storm: shattered windows and losing power. I feel that the shattered windows is a reasonable concern. I’ve never lived in this apartment (or any apartment) during a hurricane, though I’d like to think that hurricanes were considered during the 2007 construction of this complex. Even so, I bought tape for reinforcement and to hold any shattered glass. The dark is a whole other topic. I’m scared of the dark no matter the day (or night) of the year. I fall asleep with a nightlight and immediately turn the lights on in the morning should I wake up while the sun is still asleep. I only have one standard purple flashlight and power outages are a real possibility. I really wish I had thought of that lantern sooner.

The weather is not supposed to start deteriorating until tomorrow evening. I am not scheduled to be off of work until 8:30 tomorrow evening. My workplace has not announced closure at this time. I’m lucky enough that I do not live very far, but the winds are supposed to be intense. I worry about getting home safely as well as finding a safe place to park my car in the event that a tree should fall (which will be nearly impossible). I worry about my team getting home safely as not all of them live as close as I do. I won’t be able to relax until my boyfriend and I are hunkered down as safely as possible.

Ironically enough, we were supposed to drive home to my parents’ house this weekend. I really wish I was there right about now.

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I Found that Love was More than Just Holding Hands

I’m scared.

Actually “petrified” might be a better word.

My last relationship made me afraid to love again. I know that sounds absolutely silly and melodramatic, but it seems absolutely valid after finally coming to terms with the fact that my last relationship was emotionally trying. Love is supposed to break down walls and whatnot, but that “love” merely created reinforced barriers.

My current boyfriend recently said those words, and I wasn’t able to say them back. Hearing them wasn’t the scary part. Actually, I’ve known it for a while. His love is warm and comforting because there are no expectations. I know that he loves me for who I am despite my faults (of which there are many). When I didn’t say “I love you” in response, he wasn’t mad or hurt. He has never blamed me or gotten angry because he has the most incredible patience. Ultimately, I think he knows how I feel.

So after describing this wonderful guy with incredible patience and care, what could I possibly be afraid of?

Rejection.

I’m speaking of long-term rejection. The rejection that comes after manipulating your lover’s heart for nearly two years. The rejection that comes after months of building trust and camaraderie. In other words, I’m afraid of a repeat of that last relationship.

He isn’t that guy though. He’s nothing like that guy. He’s loving, caring, considerate, generous, straightforward, open, honest, and he loves me. He’s my guy who loves and takes care of me like no other. It’s an amazing, incredible feeling, and I know that I am so very lucky. I feel like I’m talking myself in a circle. When I was entering this relationship, I told myself that it would be worth all risks because why live life if you’re not willing to take a risk now and then? So with that logic, I can not help but wonder why it is so dang difficult to open up now. Maybe it is more difficult to open up one’s heart in this way.

I am ridiculous.
*deep sigh*

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Life Soundtrack: 2015

I realize that I have generally posted these annual Life Soundtracks significantly earlier in the previous years, but 2015 definitely required some deeper thought. There were plenty of bumps in the last year that needed reflection and just the right songs to be selected to describe the events.

Up and Out (It’s Been Real): “I Was Here” by Beyoncé
Another Jump??: “Chasing Pavements” by Adele
Internally We All Fall Apart: “This Is How It Goes” by Billy Talent
The End (This Time It’s for Real): “By the Grace of God” by Katy Perry
Following The End: “Fuck it All” a Let it Go parody
What Now?: “Let it Be” by The Beatles

“I Was Here” by Beyoncé
Perhaps this song will feel silly to those who know where I work, but I still feel it’s appropriate. I spent some of the most changing two and a half years at the same place. I made some incredible friends and memories at the same place. There was plenty of laughter shared and tears shed. I saw myself grow leaps and bounds both personally and professionally. It was hard to leave, but I knew that I wasn’t going too far. Even if the actual place ended up changing after a while, I knew that I could always find that home again within the memories made.

“Chasing Pavements” by Adele
After just a few short months, I had the opportunity to move once again within my job. This time it was to a farther location. After spending three years in the same area, this was my opportunity to truly put my name out there. Moving to this new location meant introducing myself and my skills to a new crowd of people, culture, and venue. The opportunities were endless, but this meant really leaving the familiar. All of those people who I had forged working relationships with over the last few years would no longer be the people I saw on a constant daily basis. There were no guarantees with this move either. I took the risk though and took the unknown path in the fork in the road. It was scary to say yes to, but it was a decision that I would never change.

“This Is How It Goes” by Billy Talent
To say things went “sour” in my relationship would be an understatement. The red flags were there from the start, but the internet is not the place to air all of your dirty laundry. Things were starting to go from bad to worse. I cried all of the time. I felt small and trapped within myself. Every decision was wrong. Every behavior was wrong. Every thought was wrong. I found myself wanting to stay at home instead of visiting him despite us living in the same apartment complex because I felt less lonely by myself than in his presence. The worst part was feeling like I couldn’t confide in my friends and family because I didn’t want them thinking poorly of him or myself.

“By the Grace of God” by Katy Perry
The ex and I had broken up for the first time in October 2014. I always had this voice nagging voice in the back of my head that said we wouldn’t actually be able to overcome everything. We were just too different. There was finally an event where his jealousy consumed him and he decided to ignore me for a few days. I tried talking to him. I repeated his words for clarification and he would confirm that was what he meant.
“So you’re saying that you know blatantly ignoring me hurts me to the core which is why you’re doing it?” Yes. “You are going out of your way to hurt me?” Yes.

I couldn’t take it.

I was sitting on my sofa when that final text message came through. “We should just end this.” After a solid week of reliving what I had endured since January 2014, I felt the strangest feeling: relief. I was relieved. I was no longer sad or stressed. I felt this sense of freedom and relief. I was finally free from his insecure, demeaning, controlling, jealous ways. I cried once more though this time they were tears of joy.

“Fuck it All” a Let it Go parody
All joking aside, this is the most accurate description of the aftermath of the break up. This ridiculousness continued into the following year. There was so much unprecedented pleading, persuading, and bargaining that it was just obnoxious. It would continue despite me asking for it to stop. I had never felt so much rage as I did in those moments. Finally I stumbled back upon this video and realized that it summed up everything I was feeling in regards to that relationship and break up*. Fuck. It. All.
*Just a humorous side note: we saw Frozen on our first date. How appropriate.

“Let it Be” by The Beatles
The end of the year left me feeling a bit lost in nearly every sense of the word. As much as I don’t like to define myself by a relationship, I would be lying if I said it didn’t affect me. The last year especially had left me feeling like I no longer knew who I was or who I could be. Going into the new year not only meant having to get to know myself again but to discover who I was at all. I realized that I no longer knew who I was. The new year provided a fresh start to find myself. I had to let myself accept who I am because I no longer had someone else saying that wasn’t who I could be. That realization was both exciting and scary because what if I didn’t actually like who I was? But, as I like to say, that’s a whole other post.

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I Still Think Love is Only True in Fairy Tales

Sometimes I try to think back to who I was before heartbreak.

I used to have the most interesting ideals of what I thought love was or was supposed to be. I always imagined having some sort of high school sweetheart my junior or senior year where the guy would ask me out to the dance and we would end up in some sort of sweet high school affair that only Hollywood could dream up. I imagined how college could potentially bring about The One in some sort of chance meeting in the Student Union or when I was doing laundry and happened to be one quarter short but he had brought twenty-five cents too many.

To summarize, I never had that guy who would kiss me between classes. I went to the dance with my girlfriends every year. My first slow dance was when I was teaching my best friend how to dance yet I was learning at the same time. Apparently that dance lesson wasn’t the best because he canceled as my date two days before prom. I can’t help but laugh as I write out all of that.

Eventually I found love, and it was everything that a first love could be. It definitely started with that Teen Hollywood Romance plot line. However that guy who I met at the beach when I was eighteen was not The One.

A few guys have come and gone since then. Before heartbreak, my views on love were innocent. Love was what I read about in books, and books could be written from personal experiences so who was to say that it couldn’t happen to me? It’s interesting. I’ve had those chance ideal romantic encounters along the way, but they were never with guys that actually turned into anything. In fact, they were nothing more than one-shot stories in the collection that we call life.

Ultimately I don’t think my views on love have changed, per se. Instead the soft romantic glowing filter has been replaced with the much harsher light of reality. Pain is inevitable and hurt is unavoidable, but it all passes in the end. Love is possible, and I know I’ll find it but it hasn’t been found on the timetable that Hollywood and the library provided. Unfortunately the heartbreaks have brought about a hurdle that I didn’t think of in the more innocent times: fear. What’s scarier than opening yourself up to someone is realizing that you actually want to open yourself up to someone. My last relationship caused me to go into this self-preservation mode because I had to protect myself more often than not. I could feel the changes along the way. The walls around my heart became strong and reinforced because I knew what weakness lead to. Now there’s someone who genuinely wants to come in, and I’m so scared.

I’d like to think that The One will bring me back to that girl who existed before such heartbreak. I’ll let you know if he ever arrives.

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Lush Review: Rosy Cheeks

I, Allison Emily, am a fair-skinned girl with a ridiculous amount of red undertones to my skin. I burn easily and people always think that I’m blushing when in reality it takes a lot to embarrass me. My skin is a pain with oil, zits, and dryness without actually being enough of one to fall into a specific category other than overall sensitive.

Over the weekend, my sister and I wandered into the Lush at Dadeland Mall to search for a fun mask to have a sister wine and facial night. Apparently they had just gotten two masks in that morning. I picked one so appropriately named “Rosy Cheeks”.Rosy Cheeks

Rosy Cheeks is a very simple mask that is primarily made up of calamine powder, rose clay, and rose oil, and it has a nice light rose scent that’s not overpowering. The best part about the Lush fresh facials is that they have to be kept in the refrigerator so they’re nice and cool on your face. The instructions say to let it sit for ten to fifteen minutes, but I like to let it stay on until it dries. This allows for you to have a glass of wine in the meanwhile (we opted for bubbly pink moscato). Once dry, wipe it off with a damp washcloth and follow up with a light moisturizer. The result is skin that is calmed with the reds toned down.

I would highly recommend this mask. It left my skin feeling fresh and calm. The mask never dried out, tightened, or inflamed my skin even as the clay dried. As of this posting, Rosy Cheeks is only available in stores, and a 2.1 ounce tub runs $12.95.

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And So the Soufflé Falls

Sometimes I miss the passion I had for food. From the time I first taught myself to bake around the age of eleven until around the age of 21, I had this incredible passion for baking. I would bake so many delicious things from cupcakes to cookies to tarts. I’d make food for my friends and cakes for birthdays. I’d write down recipe ideas from random inspirations (ex. different alcoholic drinks, life milestones, etc) and then actually experiment with them. My ultimate intentions were to study in New York City, study for a bit overseas in Paris, and then eventually move back to the USA to open a bakery/tea house of sorts. I had my whole bakery planned out from what would be served to how it would look. It all made sense and what my heart was set on.

So what happened?

One day I woke up and the passion was gone. I don’t know where it went. All of a sudden, my dream bubble with the bakery/tea house popped. Nothing replaced that passion, but the fire for the baking passion was gone. I still enjoy baking, but not to the point that I want to make it my life’s journey. Even as I sit back and mourn the loss, I don’t feel any desire to revive it (the argument if the lack of desire to revive a passion makes one question it was ever truly a passion is a whole other post). I felt like I had a set path when I had all of the dreams to become a professional baker. Nearly four years have come and gone and yet I still feel lost. I have yet to find another path to go down, but the baking one is no longer to be seen.

I need to get back on track. Nothing’s going to make sense until then.

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