31 March 2010

Wednesday Wisdom: Did You Know?

Hey Peeps -

I find out so much cool, random, sometimes-useful, sometimes-only-at-cocktail-parties information and it seems like such a shame to keep all that wisdom to myself. So, I'm starting a weekly post oh-so-creatively called "Wednesday Wisdom." Let me know if y'all like it or if you come across something that should be shared.

*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*

*  Grapes can help reduce the appearance of wrinkles?

* That you can use toothpaste to remove scratches from DVDs and CDs?
* That a cup of spinach in your smoothie gives you some fantastic nutritional benefits, and you can't even taste the spinach?  I swear it.  You cannot taste the spinach.

* That bride kidnapping is a very real and scary problem?  Not just in Kyrgyzstan but in most Caucasus countries?

* That root beer isn't really root beer?  Turns out, sarsaparilla is thought to be a carcinogenic, so artifical flavors are used instead.

* A jelly doughnut or, better yet, a glazed doughnut, is healthier than a bagel and cream cheese?

30 March 2010

A Time for Everything...

....including a time for some drool-worthy eye-candy.....

This just may be the world's second most handsome man (after My Love, naturally)....

28 March 2010

Romantic Advice

I will be the first to admit, I am lucky in love.  

Yes, our relationship certainly has had its challenges - a 6,000 mile long-distance relationship, third-world internet, etc. etc - but we are incredibly lucky and incredibly dedicated to each other and our relationship.  And truthfully, if we have lasted this long in an extreme long-distance relationship, we are both confident we will last the years as well as we've lasted the distance.  

So, naturally, whenever anyone wants to see me smile, they ask, "How's he doing?" and I'm more than happy to talk about My Love and us and our plans.  

But every so often, it switches from a casual chat to a heart-to-heart conversation.  That conversation almost inevitably follows the same path: "Oh, I don't know how you do it.  I could never be in a long-distance relationship."  At which point, I laugh and confess that until I found myself in a long-distance relationship, I always thought they were bullshit....but now, now I know better - with the right man and the right love, it is totally worth it.  And then I hear at least one, if not both of these questions:

"How did you get so lucky in love?" and "How did you know you were meant to be together?"

And then one or both of those questions is usually followed up with a somewhat wistful, "I wish I could be that lucky in love."

At which point, the conversation veers off into me giving romantic advice.  To those already in love and to those looking for love.

I don't mind giving advice.  But when it comes to finding love, all I can say is be happy alone, then find someone else to be happy with.

I am a very, very, very adamant believer that you must first love yourself and be able to be happy by yourself and with yourself before you can truly be open to loving another and the happiness they can bring you.  If you aren't there yet, at best, you will find someone to pass time with.  If you are happy and love yourself, then yes, love will find you.  

I also truly do not believe in hunting for love.  I think love comes along when you are busy living your own life and least expect it.  

That's it.  That's the extent of my romantic advice.  It's not much, but it's true.  


25 March 2010

The Second Best Way to Wake Up


If I can't be woken up with a kiss from My Love, a trans-continental text is the second best way to wake up:

"Good morning love, you look beautiful today."

I am so loved.  And I am so in love.

24 March 2010

Daydream Randoms

*  Remember how mystified I was by all the holes in my socks last week?  Since then, 3 more pairs of socks and a pair of tights have been bitten by the mysterious sock muncher.  Seriously?!  Either there's a sock monster in my closet or I really do wear socks more often than I realize.  

*  I'm happy about warmer weather and not needing tights.  But not so happy about all the blisters that come along until my tender feet get used to being in shoes sans tights/socks.

*  My Love and I have had a lot of heart-to-hearts lately, daydreaming and planning for our future.  In one breath, it is exciting.  In another, it is a bit scary, in a roller coaster riding good way.  It feels good, and exciting, and strangely enough, completely calming.  

*  I miss my family.  

*  I do so much better with just about anything if there's music playing in the background.  

*  I miss summer nights from when I was a kid.  Barefoot on cooling grass, chasing lightening bugs, scratching 979697987 mosquito bites, and scheming ways to convince Dad that Mom and I really, really, really needed soft serve ice cream from the Dairy King.

*  I really should be buying stock in band-aids, hydrogen peroxide, and antibiotic cream given how often I need to buy replacements.  I probably single-handedly keep these companies in business.  And, ironically, I am less accident-prone than I was growing up.

*  Give me 30 seconds, and I can turn almost any negative into a positive. 
"Oh, I wish today were Friday afternoon instead of Wednesday afternoon.
"Well, at least we're closer to Friday afternoon than Monday morning..."

*  Apparently, I cannot eat chocolate anymore.  I am still trying to determine whether it is chocolate candy, chocolate, candy, or just sugar that I can no longer tolerate.  I had a 3 Musketeers bar last week, and an hour and a half later, I had some serious shakes.  The kind you get when you have way too much caffeine.  Today, I treated myself to some M&Ms, and 20 minutes later, caffeine-overload-type shakes, again.  In fact, I was so pasty pale that several colleagues asked if I was okay.

*  No sugar?  No chocolate?  I don't like the sounds of this at all.

*  Then again, the sun is out.  I can sense its brightness over the tops of all the cubicles blocking my view of windows.  Tonight, I've plans for a quick Skype session with My Love and dinner with an old friend I haven't seen in way too long.  And truthfully, that's enough.  It's a beautiful day.  I'm alive and loved and happy.  Nothing else matters. 


*  But I'm still annoyed by this new chocolate/candy/sugar issue...

23 March 2010

Sliding Doors

There's a reason I've been so quiet and lackluster lately when posting....

Don't take that as a complaint.  I'm certainly not complaining.  But it is the truth: my life these days is very routine, and truthfully, not interesting to anyone but me (and somedays, barely even to me).  It is a comforting, if slightly monotonous, routine.  

And any variations from that routine are welcomed.  But those are treasured moments with friends.  These days, in addition to being boring, I'm being selfish:  I'm keeping all those treasured moments to myself.  

Like a pebble in my pocket, I keep replaying those moments in my mind and they never fail to make me smile.  But just like that pebble in my pocket, I feel as if some of the magic goes out of those moments when I spend too much time trying to explain why those moments were magical to others.  

As I've mentioned before, and I'm sure I'll mention again, there's enough changes coming soon when My Love FINALLY comes home.  So, until then, I am okay with being quiet and finding pleasure in routine.  But it does make for a quiet blog...

22 March 2010

Spring

Spring is finally here!

Hard to believe just a few weeks ago, I was standing in thigh-high snow and suffering the boredom of being snowed in, alone, for a week. And this weekend?  Hot enough I had to dig out my fan to combat the heat radiating from a radiator that has been turned off.  (Note to maintenance: when it hits 65+ it is time to turn off the building heat, especially if you have an outdoor maintenance project creating so much dust that you tell residents to keep their windows shut.)


It was goregous this weekend.  So naturally, I spent alllllll weekend outside.  No joke.  All day Saturday and all day Sunday, I was outside, soaking up the sun.

I think cats are furballs of death.  I am deathly allergic and thus do not consider them to be cute, ever, even in pictures.  That said, I must have been a cat in a previous life.  Because when the sun comes out, even in the smallest ray, all I want to do is lay down and soak up the sun.  And soaking up the sun always makes me sleepy. 

But like any born and raised Midwesterner, I know what it is like to go weeks on end without ever seeing the sun.  And as all Midwesterners are wont to do, anytime there's the tiniest sliver of sun, we have to soak it up.  So I did. 

Mmm.  It was wonderful and relaxing.

But now, it's Monday.  And rainy. 

"Back to the daily grind, KtMac," the world seems to be saying.  So back to the daily grind I go.

17 March 2010

Slainte Randoms

*  In acknowledgement of St. Paddy's Day, slainte is a toast to your health.  Slainte!

*  I worked in an Irish pub in high school and college.  I liked working St. Paddy's Day better than I liked celebrating.  It's much more amusing to watch people get wasted on green beer and cheap jello shots because in the morning, I remember all the stories, I don't have a hangover, and I usually had pretty decent tips. 

*  I am Scotch, Irish, and Polish.  A lethal combination.  It means I'm stubborn as hell, I have a temper, and I have a mouth to tell you about it.  Fortunately, the three sides rarely combine.

*  I have found a four leaf clover.  It has since been lost to the recesses of my parents' attic or basement.  I like to think finding the four leaf clover brings me more luck than holding onto the clover. 

*  I hate socks.  Seriously, I only wear them if I absolutely must.  Which is usually after the third time someone tells me to go put socks on my ice cold toes.  So then, why is it every time I pulled on socks last week (for work or workouts), I would find a hole in a sock?  My collection has been seriously thinned out this week....


*  I bought black boots, finally, online.  Fingers crossed, they fit and I love them.  I will make my poor, worn-out, beloved brown boots last as long as they can until I can find the perfect replacement for those as well.

*  Everyone needs to have "their" place to go when they need an escape, a celebration, or just a good night with a good friend.  I'm lucky enough that my place happens to be right around the corner, has great food, absolutely phenomenal wine, and bartenders who think nothing of only charging me for the first of the many, many glasses of wine I drink each visit.  

*  As I recapped my last visit to "my" place, where happy hour with a friend led to being kicked out an half hour after closing,  My Love told me, "it apparently really rocks being a stunning woman who can get whatever she wants out of me.....*men.... Freudian slip?"

*  And we both knew I couldn't argue with him.  There's nothing he wouldn't do for me, and vice versa.  But see, smiles, and laughter, and joy, and being nice always pays off in the end.  (Well that, and the common knowledge that you're going to tip what the bill really should have totaled instead of tipping what the bill really rang up to.)

*  $38 in the grocery store for apples, peaches, bananas, cheese, oranges, bread, milk, and flowers?  For one person?  No wonder people eat so much junk food -- you get much more for less!


*  And yes, I am wearing green today.  Slainte!

15 March 2010

Aware.

I have been extremely sensitive in the last week or so.  


I would call it emotional, but I don't like how when a woman calls herself emotional, the first thing anyone thinks of is a hot, whiny, bitchy, crying, PMS mess.  

I think you can be emotional without the mess. 

In that you're sensitive to your thoughts and your feelings and your body and those around you. 

Really sensitive.  Really aware.  

I like that.  Aware.  That's better. 

I've been extremely aware in the last week or so.  

Aware, and looking closely at myself with awe and wonder.

With the soft whispery promise of spring hanging in the air, even with all the grey, rainy days we've had lately, I feel like I'm slowly waking up to myself.  

Instead of just operating on autopilot, I'm feeling every emotion very intensely and carefully considering each daydream and random thought. 

I have been sentimental lately.  I have been wearing two bangles that were my Mama's when she was young, along with a bracelet she bought me just because.  And when I wear these bracelets, I can't help but wonder what my Mama thought when she was the one wearing these bangles and what she saw and how she felt.  We see the world fairly similiarly now, but would that be the case if I reached back to when she was exactly my age too?

I have also been wearing an old favorite button-down of My Love's lately.  Partly because I can convince myself that with a pair of leggings and boots, it is fashionable (but still comfy).  Mostly because when I saw it in the drawer, it made me miss My Love and not miss My Love all at once.  I can't really explain that.  Either it makes sense, or it doesn't.  And even if it no longer smells like him, it still feels like him. 

This spring is another spring of anticipating transitions. 

Remember how you felt your last semester of high school?  Or of college?  How you wanted everything to hurry up already so you could move on?  And how, at the exact same moment, you wanted everything to slow down so you could savor those precious moments of being on top of the world and knowing that life as you know it would soon be changing (hopefully for the much better) soon? 

The last time I had a spring of transition, it was not pretty.  I was a hot KtMac melty mess of emotions.  It was bittersweet falling in love with My Love and knowing that we were sticking to our stubborn (and thankfully very short-lived) plan of breaking up when he left for the Peace Corps.

This time around?

Life is sweet. 

Of course I want time to hurry the hell up already.  So My Love can come home and we can finally start living our lives together, instead of on Skype.

But at the same time, I know there will be enough exciting changes coming with the return of My Love, so I'm okay with the slowing down of time. 

Time to dream.  Time to gossip.  Time to shop.  Time to have all those long, late night phone calls.  Time to be lazy when I want to and busy when I want to be.  Time to spend hours with friends.  Time to spend hours by myself. 

Because this spring?  I am getting to know me more. 

I am asking myself the hard questions about how I really feel about life.  What I want from life.  Where I want to go in life.  How I want my daily life to look.  How I want to be seen by others.  How I feel about money.  And work.  And careers.   And how I plan to keep moving forward.  What other dreams and goals I have for my life.  Big and small.  What relationships count, and which ones shouldn't.  Just how I see our future with My Love and all the adventures and ups and downs to come.

And as I discover myself in new ways, I'm watching other loved ones go through their own pre-transitions.  My middle bro is starting to realize in just two short years, he will graduate college and need a job to pay the bills.  And he's working hard to ensure that he's in a good spot to land a sweet gig instead of a "would you like fries with that" gig.

My youngest bro is graduating high school this spring.  We all know the mess of emotions he is and will be for the next year.  It also means my parents are going to become empty nesters this fall.

And, as they readjust to the idea of being alone together for the first time in 26 years, they are rediscovering each other and their hobbies and dreams for the future.

My grandma, as much as it breaks my heart to admit, is slowly transitioning to the winter of her life.  Moments with her, as exhausting and worrisome as they can be sometimes, are infinitely more precious. 

So I find myself treasuring all these moments lately.  Laughter with friends.  Texts from bros.  "Shopping" with Mama.  Asking Dad's advice.  Dreaming of the future with My Love. 

And of course, this awareness extends beyond just emotions and dreams to the practical.  Aware of the need to spend more money to invest in quality to ultimately spend less.  Aware of my changing body, the newly rediscovered muscles, and the way I nurish and treat it.  Aware of my preferred causes and schools of thought.  Aware of which songs and musicians will always stay on my ipod.  Aware of my need for fresh air and exercise, even if it is raining and I need to tuck my hearing aid away in a safe, dry spot before heading out. 

Aware of being aware, I suppose. 

Aware that life really is sweet. 

12 March 2010

Friday, I'm in Love.


Some weeks, it just seems like Friday will never get here.  Just like this week.  But then, like magic!  Friday always comes again.  And with that, the huge sigh of relief you didn't realize you were holding all week.  Then you fall a little bit more in love with Friday.  And Saturday.  And Sunday.  And all the freedom and laziness and fun the weekend inevitably brings.

Have a great weekend peeps!

11 March 2010

Thursday Randoms

*  Safety first, kiddos, safety first!  It only costs a couple of bucks to pick up a reflective armband, but it is priceless if it keeps you safe while jogging during twilight hours. There's been too many hit and runs around these parts lately.


*  Someday I will remember that a sugar high always leads to a serious sugar coma.  But I won't learn that this summer.  Too much yumminess to deal with.  (Yes, I made up a word.  Deal with it.)

*  My Mama is my best worst influence.  We spent an hour and a half on the phone the other night, "shopping" by looking at the same websites.

*  But I'm still hunting for new boots that I love in the price range I like that are still in my size and not sold out.  The perfect pair is out there!  I know it!

*  I did have to buy myself a new suit for work the other day.  My very last work-appropriate black skirt was wayyyyyyyy too big.  The new suit?  Three full sizes down from when I first started losing weight!  Yay KtMac!

*  Bueaurcacy baffles me.

*  It takes a lot of courage to look someone in the eye and say, "this is what I need from you to be happy."  But I did it.  Regardless of whether I get what I need or not, at least I had the guts to ask.

*  Three weeks without caffeine now.  I'm doing surprisingly well.  I don't crave it, but I miss it.  I didn't realize how much I used that as my "treat" and my "break" during the long work days.  Oh well.  Caffeine addiction conqured.  Next step: start easing my dependency on over-processed foods. (More on that another time.)

08 March 2010

Forget Me Not

Last week, I overheard a conversation between two coworkers:

"KtMac looks all happy today."

"KtMac is ALWAYS happy."

It was a fantastic compliment, and it made me so very happy to hear.  And since then, I keep coming back to that conversation.  Because, the truth of it is, that's exactly how I want to be remembered.

I want to be remembered for my smile.  And my h*a*p*p*i*n*e*s*s.  And my absolute love of life.  And for trying to bring joy and cheer and happiness to others.

When I was younger, (oh, like I'm so old and worldly-wise at the ripe, old age of 25, but still...) the things I wanted to be remembered for were much more accomplishment-driven and grandiose and idealistic:  I was going to change the world.  I was going to be the one who saved children from starvation in Africa.  I was going to find and ensure lasting Mid East Peace.  I was going to discover the cure for cancer.  I was going to be a millionaire by 25 (ha, couldn't be farther, even if I tried).  And in my spare time, I was going to write the next New York Times Bestseller.  In other words, the world was going to know the name KtMac and say, "See that girl?  She makes this world a better place."

Now?  Now I know better.

My goals are still lofty and accomplishment-driven, but they are also more humble, realistic, and down-to-earth.  And I couldn't be happier about that fact.

However, in order to be happy, I have to put myself first.  I have to please myself first, loved ones second, and everyone else last.  And, as an oldest child, as a female, as a child brought up with Catholic guilt, I still feel guilty when I put myself first.

I've had to work hard on accepting the fact that I need to make myself happy before I can make others happy.  That's not easy. 

Sure, part of making myself happy is doing what I want when I want.  Am I really craving peanut butter cookies for the third day in a row?  Sure, go ahead and bake some and enjoy.  Do I want that perfect little dress that shows off my new pretty little figure?  If the bills are paid, have fun shopping.  And trust me, I do have little indulgences and small pleasures every day. 

But part of making myself happy is reassessing friendships and relationships and deciding whether it will make me happier to try to strengthen ailing relationships or to just let them go.  And the truth is, since I read that Dear Emotional Creature letter I previously posted, I have been thinking about that long and hard. 

And the truth is, no matter how much it may hurt to let some carefully cultivated friendships go, sometimes it's neccessary for my own well-being.  I can't remain friends with people who leave me feeling drained after every encounter, even if it makes them happy.  I can't remain friends with people who always take and take and take and never offer anything in return.  So, as hard as it is to ignore that inbred Catholic sense of guilt, I've given myself permission to be okay, if not even happy, about saying goodbye to exhausting relationships.  And with that simple, known-only-to-myself goodbye, I feel freer, and happier. 

Of course, I keep the door open.  If, somewhere down the road, we all find ourselves in a different place and a different frame of mind, I'm almost always willing to pick up that friendship again.  So I don't burn bridges. 

But I feel happier for having a close, tightly-knit set of friends I can count on, in good times and bad, rather than a large circle of acquiantances.  And I now know the truth:

When I make myself happy, I'm so much closer to the things I really want to be remembered for:

My smile.  And my h*a*p*p*i*n*e*s*s.  And my absolute love of life.  And for trying to bring joy and cheer and happiness to others. 

07 March 2010

Radio Silence

Hello?

Anyone still out there?

If you are, I'd like to welcome back regularly scheduled KtMac programming.

I apologize for the relative radio silence lately.  

I was crazybusybarelyhadtimetobreathebusy at work.  And just a wee, teeny, tiny bit stressed when not at work.

And so, things like this blog and reading for pleasure and painting my nails pretty rainbow colors fell to the wayside.

But work has slowed down a bit, *knock on wood* to crazybusy rather than crazybusybarelyhadtimetobreathebusy.  Which is good.  I need busy -- it keeps me occupied and out of mischief.

And I finally got some of the news I'd been waiting to hear about.  

Even if it wasn't quite what I wanted to hear, I'm okay with it.  Surprisingly, really okay with it.  

And while I'm still waiting on some more news, I'm okay with whatever that holds. 

Because I got the best news:

My Love will be home, finally, in July!  

And I can't wait!!

So now, now that I'm not stressed, and I'm not so crazybusybarelyhadtimetobreathebusy at work, I'm back!

05 March 2010

Gold Stars

Remember how excited we were as kids when we'd earned a gold star?

Methinks we need more gold stars, even as adults. So, this week's gold stars go to:

*  Tiger for being a fabulous dinner date the other night.

*  My client for the most random, hiliarous, wildly inappropriate, and yes, embarassing gift this week.

*  The sweet guy who geniunely smiled and said, "Boy, we haven't seen you in a while.  How've you been?" when I stopped by after not stopping by his desk in almost a month.

*  My Love for telling me just how proud he is of my accomplishments.  I know he is, but it is nice to hear.

*  Cheap sushi and even cheaper beer happy hour.  Hasn't happened yet, but I'm pre-emptively awarding it the gold star.

*  My awesome cousin (who's really more like a big sister) for coming down from Boston last weekend to be my "date" to a work function.  The best part of the weekend was just catching up on all our gossip.

*  You, for reading this silly little blog.  :-)

04 March 2010

Oh, March...

Oh, March, you are tied with Novemeber for my least favorite month of the year. 

I dislike Novemeber because it is cold, and rainy, and means my favorite October is over.   I loathe you, March, because you are cold, and rainy, and a *w*a*i*t*i*n*g* month.

Waiting for the dreary, grey, cold, never-ending winter to end.


Waiting for the first whisper of a promise of sunshine and blue skies. 


Waiting for fields of flowers.

Waiting for the world to stop holding its breath.

Waiting for the grumpies, and the pessimism, and the bad moods that seem to be rampant to end. 

Waiting for warm, gentle breezes and long, lazy, never-ending afternoons, and the magic both hold.

Waiting for the seductive whisper that delayed dreams can be chased once again. 

Waiting for flowers to bloom and the trees to go green and birds to sing sweet lullabies on my way to work. 

Waiting for butterflies to dance again. 

Waiting to wake up and realize that big ole' world of possibilities and 'what ifs' and wishes and magic I dreamt while I slept the long winter away are finally starting to happen. 

Waiting for the puffy white clouds in blue skies that always bring out the best of my daydreams. 

Waiting for the silent "okay" the earth gives every spring....."okay, time to stop dreaming and start living once again."

So March is a dream month.  A surreal month shrouded in shades of grey and tantalizing hopes of color.  I dream it away while *w*a*i*t*i*n*g.



02 March 2010

Mental Vacations: Places I've Been

Every so often, you just need to take a moment out of your busy, crazy, hectic life and just daydream.
I am a daydreamer.  I often catch myself wandering down random thought paths.  Sometimes, I catch myself daydreaming at the most inopportune times.  But even then, the daydreams always brings a smile to my face. 

During the day, I usually daydream about places.  I very strongly tie feelings and emotions and memories and people to concrete moments in specific places.  And much more so when there's a song attached to that moment.  But I always keep in mind specific pictures of those places I've been that invoke whatever feelings or memories or smiles I need at that particular moment to center myself and take a break from the wonderfully crazy thing called life:

In Tokyo.  The biggest, most awesome, most spontaneous vacation
I've taken to date.  After all, I booked my ticket a mere six hours
after first being invited...

In Tokyo.  The night where "I! LOVE! LIFE!" was repeated often.
I loved that night.  And I love life!

In D.C. the first time I knew I would move here someday.

In D.C. the first day I truly felt hope after a particularly tough time.

In D.C. because rainbows are always special.
But double rainbows are doubly special.

In Michigan.  And so happy to be home, where I belong,
 even if just for a weekend.

In Michigan.  And deliriously thrilled with the magic of a summer afternoon
with nothing to do, nowhere to be, and pretty places to explore.  
All with my best friend by my side.

In Michigan. In a place that still feels like "our" secret spot.  It's fun
to believe there are still secret spots that only you know about. 

In Chicago.  And falling head over heels for My Love 
for the very first time.

In San Diego.  And thrilled to be reminded what the sun looks
like after an especially long, cold, grey winter.

In Colorado.  So proud of myself for climbing that mountain, 
in so many ways.

In Aspen.  And flush with the pride
and excitement that comes with being 
adventurous enough to try something new
for the first time in a big way.

In Albania.  Falling in love with the quiet everyday beauty of love.

In Dubrovnik.  Amazed that a couple of Midwestern kids could be
exploring such beautiful, far-off, exotic locales. 

In Croatia.  Calm and serene and secure.  Both with where life
and love were taking me. 

The Dalmatian Coast.  Because it perfectly captures the dream-like,
surreal feeling of that entire vacation.

 
The Dalmatian Coast.  Because I would be happy
to live in a place where I could see this view every.
single. day.

In Albania.  Breathless, from the cold, from the quietly majestic
beauty, from falling in love with My Love all over again, from
the elevation, from the thrill of possibility.

In Albania.  Because exploring cool, ancient castles was always a 
dream of mine.  And this one delivered.