Thursday, January 30, 2014

On Best Friendship: Just Being


Best friends don't need elaborate plans. They are like family. They can just be.

They sit on the couch and talk work, marriage, and record players.

They're honest about the obstacles of moving to a new state and starting a new job after "It's exciting" and "It's going well" have been on repeat for others who are spared the truth about how it can be things other than exciting and fun. (Spoiler alert: It can be stressful and lonely and frustrating and cause for arguments with your husband.)

They chat in the bathroom while one does her make-up.

They navigate a downtown area neither of them knows.

They talk late into the night even though their eyes are getting smaller and smaller.

They hug goodbye. And then hug again. And then hug one more time.

They get lost in just being together and neglect their phones (which means no photos!).

Occasionally, they do have elaborate plans, like seeing a friend in the national tour of "I Love Lucy: Live on Stage" (Yay, Jayme Lake!) and having an amazing dinner at Gaylord Opryland Hotel (where best friend has the hook-up -- her husband).


Dear Ace,

It feels so good to have "chosen family" just a few hours away. Tennessee now feels more like home. Thank you for the records (which I love!) and letting me crash for the night. I so needed that time just being with you. And thank you for drinking a Tennessee Tea with me. :) Let's catch another weekend together soon, and next time it will be for more than 22 hours. I love you guys.

Love,
Elle

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Nailed It




A good manicure makes me feel so put together, but my wallet and frugal soul forbid my presence at the nail salon with few exceptions. Fortunately, I have a steady hand and can do a pretty decent polish job at home. I've tried so many nail polish brands and types but am loyal to my go-to bottles. Most of those bottles are Sally Hansen, specifically the Insta-Dri polishes.

When I got Sally Hansen's Complete Salon Manicure polish, I was a little skeptical. It promises a lot of things! Speedy application, streak-free, and even color coverage. And by "complete," Sally means that this one bottle functions as a base coat, strengthener, growth treatment, color, top coat, chip resistant layer, and gel shine finish. Well, I put Miss Hansen to the test. Last week was an important one at work, and I had weekend plans in Nashville, so a nice mani sounded like a good idea.

Here are my thoughts:

+ Sally continues her winning streak. I love this stuff. It doesn't live up to all its promises, but it's pretty darn good!
+ The brush is perfectly shaped and makes it really easy to get a nice line along the cuticle. This brush gives the product bonus points.
+ I love the color "Pat on the Black." It's a deep color that doesn't look flat on my skin (like black does). I can't wait to try the others.
+ I can't say after ten days whether or not it truly possesses the strengthening and growth powers as advertised. Only time will tell.
+ Two coats did the trick, but I had to apply a slightly thicker (for lack of a better word) second coat in order to get the color perfectly even.
+ It didn't give a gel shine finish, but here's my biggest tip for painting your own nails: Always, always, always apply a clear top coat and then reapply it five days later to keep the mani looking fresh. (I always use Sally Hansen's Diamond Strength.) (The photo of my nails above is Day 7 of that manicure!)

A few more favorite bottles for my arsenal! And my nails looked nice when for my weekend trip and when I accepted my new job at work! (More on that soon!)

* I received these products complimentary from Influenster for testing purposes.

Friday, January 17, 2014

To Dad


How happy I am to be your daughter! My plan was to pick a favorite memory of ours to share briefly today, but here I am in front of my laptop, and I'm finding it hard to pick just one. The interesting thing about looking back on the memories I have with you is that there is always a life lesson in it.

When you helped me learn my lines for my first lead role as Hoagy in "Pete's Dragon," I learned just how invested in my success you would forever be. When you took me on my first driving lesson the summer before eighth grade, I learned that you were trusting (brave? optimistic? crazy? Kidding! Maybe...) and willing to let me grow up. When you held my hand in silence on the drive home from the hospital in college, I learned just how special our bond is. When you encouraged me to pump up the volume of 50 Cent's "In Da Club" and started raisin' the roof, I learned that parents of teenagers and college students could still make their kids giggle like toddlers. And when you talk with me on the phone for two hours at a time, I learn more about you as a friend.

I love you, Dad. Happy birthday!

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

It's All Good

This may seem strange, but I've been thinking about this photo I posted on Instagram two months ago:

"For those who have been fooled into thinking I have beautiful Pocahontas hair, let this frizzy, wavy mess serve as my confession. #hairproblems #cottonheadedninnymuggins"

Let me explain. I posted that photo early one morning before flat-ironing my hair, as I do two or three times a week. I'm often told I have great hair, but it's only after I whip it into shape. I get so frustrated sometimes, because I wish my air-dried, natural hair looked smooth and professional enough for work. Do you know how much time I would save in a year if I could let my hair air dry? Anyway, my "wild woman hair" was tempting my it's-too-early-for-this-crap sarcasm, and I posted that.

But people said nice things. Really nice things. And the photo was "liked" far more than most of my Instagram photos. It reminded me that a) The grass is always greener... and b) Everyone knows that feeling. You know, the feeling that other people have it easier, even though we know that it's all relative and we all have different priorities and wants.

The pipes broke in two buildings at work last week, and it was hectic. The dining rooms were shut down, a few residents were moved to unaffected apartments, and repair people and emergency contractors swarmed the community. Those long exhausting days made keeping up with school a challenge, and I didn’t sleep much. Then, I made the mistake of turning to my favorite blogs for some light reading but was greeted with stories about self-doubt and accountability and why marriage is hard but worth it (which seems to be a very popular blog topic lately). All of them were genuine, good reads, but I thought, Hot damn. Everyone thinks everyone else’s life, job, marriage, education, and household are easier than her own.

So hey. I’m going to say this, because clearly, so many of us (including me) need to hear this: IT’S ALL GOOD. What is easy for one person may feel out of reach to another. I'm going to stop sitting around secretly comparing my life to others and pining for their seemingly easier lives. The grass will always be greener on the other side if I keep pissing all over my own grass, right? ;)

It's all good, people! Okay. That is all.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Read: The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

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"Despite the tumor-shrinking medical miracle that has bought her a few years, Hazel has never been anything but terminal, her final chapter inscribed upon diagnosis. But when a gorgeous plot twist named Augustus Waters suddenly appears at Cancer Kid Support Group, Hazel's story is about to be completely rewritten."

How many times must one read that the rest of the country's bookish folk have "cried all the tears" over The Fault in Our Stars before she caves in and reads it? Almost two years, but I'm glad I finally read it! All I knew was that it was a young adult novel about some teenagers who have cancer. And that a vast majority of the female population proclaimed it is "one of my favorite books ever." Here are the reasons why I finally picked up the book while on a Christmas shopping trip at Target:

1.) Many people whom I consider intelligent and witty absolutely loved the book.

2.) I wanted to read fiction before starting school again (which is today!).

3.) When a book stars kids with cancer, I know it involves death. That fact makes me resistant (because it's sad) yet morbidly curious (to find out how well the characters deal with it).

4.) They say you can't judge a book by its cover, but it doesn't hurt if the cover makes a person want to pick it up and read the inside sleeves.

Okay, so my thoughts. Here we go.

It's a great book. It is mostly about people with a little bit of story tied in -- if that makes sense. Yes, there is a storyline that propels the characters, but most of the action takes place in words between Hazel and Augustus and then in thought between the page and the reader. The book is written conversationally, and I loved that. I think Green does stellar work in presenting teenagers who have more substance than angst and moodiness and sex. Of course, anyone facing terminal cancer gains a wider, more mature perspective. It is refreshing to read a more honest portrayal of teenagers as individuals and how complex they are. Hazel and Augustus are mature and witty. I expected that one of them would symbolize the need to live life with abandon and humor. I was right.

Much like Hazel does in the story, I'm tempted to hunt down the author (in this case, Green) and beg for more answers. I don't want to spoil the story, but because of how important both main characters are, The End isn't the end. What happens after The End? I like that the story is honest and awkward. (It doesn't blatantly use illness and struggle to provide the moral of the story.) And so, I really want to know the rest of the story.


For personal reasons, I feel a closeness (not an interest) to stories of young people who are taken too soon, but surprisingly, I did not sob or even cry with this book. Rather, I felt comforted by some of the uncomfortable moments, with Hazel knowing she's terminal. I remember being young and feeling lost, because no amount of consolation could bring someone back from the grave. I learned that unfortunate situations not only involved tears but humor and pure silence too. And I saw that in Hazel and Augustus. As I read, my brow furrowed with thoughts of "Yes, that is exactly what it's like to be left behind," but I didn't cry. However, that's just me. The rest of the world started crying on page 1!

The Fault in Our Stars is a very well-written piece of young adult literature. I highly recommend it if the synopsis genuinely interests you. I think it falls among the likes of heart-wrenchers like My Sister's Keeper, The Memory Keeper's Daughter, and The Time Traveler's Wife (one of my absolute favorites) -- all books that I loved, so it makes sense that I really enjoyed this one.

** I really hope Hollywood doesn't butcher the story the way that it did the film version of My Sister's Keeper.

"The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars,
But in ourselves, that we are underlings."
Julius Caesar by William Shakespeare

Have you read The Fault in Our Stars? What did you think?

Thursday, January 2, 2014

2013 in Review: Blog Edition

2013 can be summed up in one word: Change. Oh, so many changes! My first nephew was born. It is an exciting time for the whole family, because he is the first grandchild. I love that little boy more than he knows. S and I moved to another state. It was a welcomed change, especially considering the reason behind it. I'm really proud of my husband's professional accomplishments, as well as my own. Overall, it was an excellent year, and with my goal for 2014, I think this year will be even better!

Here are my 2013 blog post highlights:

We took our first "just because" trip to Leavenworth, WA. Gorgeous town!


I met my nephew three weeks after he was born.


We moved to Knoxville, TN, for my husband's new job.


I worked really hard, put myself out there, and landed the job I wanted.


We made an unexpected move within Knoxville. (The only unwelcomed change but worth it.)


We've had fun exploring our new city.


I celebrated an early Christmas with my family in San Diego.


One of my most popular posts (if not the most popular) was "I'm Okay with That." I guess we all need a reminder that beauty looks and feels different to everyone. Don't feel pressured to change in order to fit a mold. Change only because it makes you feel more comfortable, healthy, and confident!

2014 is going to be great! I'm enjoying it already. :)

#LindsayDoesSanDiego (Well, Did.)

This post is over two weeks in the making, and by "in the making," I mean that I have been making mental notes to write this post. (Adds "self-starter" to résumé.) My family pitched in and flew me out to San Diego for an early family Christmas. I had to fly back solo again, because S was traveling for work, but next year we plan to all be together again! If you follow me on Instagram, you got the play-by-play of my whole trip. (You can see all of my 2013 San Diego photos under hash tag #LindsayDoesSanDiego.)



It was a short trip. In order to devote as much time as possible to my immediate family, my parents hosted an "open house" of sorts, so I could still connect with relatives and some close friends, some of whom I hadn't seen in years. Such a nice night! I love, love, love the people in my life. I am reminded of that every time I'm surrounded by them.



It goes without saying that I developed a minor slight severe addiction to my nephew. Sweet Jesus, he is the cutest living thing on the planet, and I just couldn't get enough of him! I mean, come on. Look at him! My sister was very gracious about my clingy-ness to her child. ;) It was incredible to see who he is now. Babies are so much more active and aware at seven months than they are at three weeks, obviously. Baby Mac is a smiley one with a sweet disposition. He is very verbal and has mastered the wave (which he's been practicing since birth!). We love him so much and are under his spell, for sure!



During the weekend trip, my family spent an afternoon at Seaport Village, did our annual gift exchange (and included S via FaceTime), had a slumber party at my sister and BIL's house, watched home videos, and embarked on a failed picnic (which was fun anyway).


Leaving doesn't get any easier. When I moved to NYC after college, my parents drove me to the airport to catch my red eye flight. As I inched my way to the front of the line at the security check point, I looked back at them and waved, probably two or three times. Once I got through security, I turned around one more time, and they were waving and blowing kisses to me. I felt a pit in my stomach as I waved one last time before I walked to my gate and left them behind in San Diego. It was an exciting time, but there was a tinge of sadness to have to leave them.

I still get a hint of that feeling every time I have to say farewell. Despite that, these trips are always so fulfilling. And next year it will be so nice for S come with me so the whole family can be together!

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

2014: Enjoy

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Happy New Year!

It's become really popular to forgo resolutions and choose a more all-encompassing word to guide motivation and hopes for a new year. That sounds like a good idea to me! I was doing really well with last year's "5 Things I Hope to Gain," but I didn't gain all of them. (I'm still intimidated by my sewing machine, and exercise took nose-dive the second half of the year. Oops.) Since my goals of career, school, and health are on-going, I decided to jump on the Word Wagon and take a more holistic approach to bettering my life in 2014.

ENJOY. That's it. I just want to enjoy. Everything. Initially, I thought Joy would be a good word, but that falls along the lines of "looking for joy in every day" and "finding joy in unexpected places." I want to make a habit of simply experiencing the joy, not searching for it. And really, I mean it in the most unfluffy way possible. This is not about rose-colored glasses and Pottery Barn catalog perfection. The best way I can think to abandon any stress, self-doubt, or disappointment is to enjoy things.

Enjoy this house instead of getting wrapped up in my hatred of vacuuming stairs. Enjoy a Jack & Coke instead of hesitating because the other women at the party are sipping wine. (Flashback to last night!) Enjoy my job instead of wishing our morning meeting would start at 9:00 a.m. and not 8:30 a.m. Enjoy a rather leisure, "selfish" adult life instead of wondering if my maternal instincts are wasted on me. Enjoy! Enjoy! Enjoy!

So if you see me in 2014 and ask how life is going, my answer will be, "I'm enjoying it!" Cheers to 2014, y'all!