An Open Letter To Everyone. Re: My Biological Clock

Dear Everyone ever to make jokes about women of a certain age and their biological clocks,

Last night I had a dream. I was back in Denver on a shuttle coming back from DIA with my ex. And our daughter. We weren’t back together, nothing about our relationship had changed…except we had this beautiful daughter. We were coming back from a trip to KC to have all my family celebrate her first birthday. Not much happened in the dream aside from the three of us riding in the shuttle but everything about it was incredibly vivid, especially the feeling that this little girl was my whole world. I woke up at 4a.m. and the dream was so realistic it took me a minute to remember that I wasn’t still living in Denver. And I don’t have a child. And lately I’ve been spending a lot of time thinking that’s something I’d really like to have.

As you can imagine, this was a hard way to start the day. I felt out of sorts through most of the morning and when I finally told my (mother of one and soon-to-be two) coworker who is the same age as me why I was so off today she laughed and said, “Oh your clock’s just tickin’ away, isn’t it?! Poor girl!” One of my male coworkers must have overheard us talking because he threw in his two scents as well, “You know, this is why a lot of guys date younger women. You gals in your 30’s are totally on the baby track. Like, what’s the rush?”

Okay, y’all. Two fuck you’s needing to be given there.

I know some people will read the previous paragraph and not find anything wrong with what my coworkers had to say and call me overly sensitive and ask if I’m PMS-ing. To that I say, ‘So what. I’m allowed to be sensitive.’ and, ‘No. I am perfectly level headed (and level horomoned).’ Here’s what upsets me about people being all non-nonchalant with their ‘ticking clock’ metaphors and their ‘what’s the rush’ pondering- for some of us, e.g. women, there is a ticking clock. Not all of us humans are afforded the benefit of being filled with sperm that can fertilize an egg until nearly the day you die (or even after death if you buy into Stephanie Meyer’s preposterous take on sparkling vampires). For women, our time to naturally conceive a child is finite. (And yes, I’ll probably be emphasizing naturally a lot because as well as realizing I would, in fact, like to have a child, I’d also like to have one naturally. No judgement to those that do, but I don’t want to be a woman in her 60’s going through IVF. No thanks!) Yes, there are some women out there popping out kids into their late 40’s/early 50’s (one woman even conceiving naturally at 59- with the help of estrogen. Oh, and let’s not forget about the woman who gave birth at 70 after IVF. Like I said earlier, nothing about this topic sounds great to me.) but, for most women, fertility begins to decline more rapidly after the age of 35 (or so Psychology of Human Sexuality 201 and about four hours of internet research and my OBGYN tell me). So excuse me, coworkers and other glib asshats of the world, but how can a single woman in her 30’s who might be interested in naturally conceiving a child NOT be on a one track mind at times?

Now look, I know there are plenty of guys out there in my position; single and getting to the age where they feel like they may need to start considering their options on having kids. And, I know there are a lot of married people in relationships who have to consider alternative methods for having a family. And people in same sex relationships who have just as much, if not more, as I do to think about when it comes to this subject. But, here’s the thing- I’m not speaking for them. This is my open letter, so I will gripe from my point of view only. The point of view of a single women in her 30’s who pretty much always imagined kids would eventually be a part of her life, but weren’t really something she needed to put a lot of thought into because haha, oh man, I’m totally still in my 20’s and I will meet someone I want to start a family with eventually and it’ll be no big deal!

But, suddenly I’m not in my 20’s anymore. I’m  getting closer and closer to the rapidly declining fertility age and have little to no patience for people who make jokes out of my biological clock. Those jokes aren’t quite as funny to a person who has to sit down and have serious discussions with herself that includes topics like, ‘What if I don’t meet the person I want to start a family with until I’m in my 50s? Or later? Or never?’ and ‘If I don’t meet anyone by a certain age, should I try to have a child on my own?’ And other fun gems like, ‘What if my doctor is right and I have a difficult time conceiving naturally? Is that a disappointment I want to put myself through? Would I want to try hormones or IVF?‘ (Yes, as if I didn’t already have enough fun things to consider when broaching the topic of possibly having children.) This isn’t like debating whether or not to buy the super cute but maybe overpriced weekender bag I’ve been coveting online or whether I should just go ahead and let myself eat one more cookie. These things aren’t decisions that can be laughed off later like oh silly me buying bags online again! No. These are serious, potentially life altering decisions I have to sit down and start making in the next few years. And maybe a few years doesn’t seem so long in the grand scheme of things, but for someone who just felt like they were in their 20’s and now, oh shit, it’s like eight years later already, a few years to figure all of these things out in is not a lot of time at all. It is like a clock ticking away, it’s quiet, but it’s there lingering in the background. It’s there and it’s a little stressful and scary and overwhelming. So do a girl a favor and don’t belittle that clock with your flippant remarks.

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Eat, Drink, Love

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My worst fear about traveling abroad solo was being stuck in an airport where I don’t speak the language and not knowing how in hell I am going to get where I’m trying to go, so imagine my joy when I’m stuck in Charles de Gaulle (CDG) airport without cell service and absolutely no idea how I am going to get home after having my flight back to the US canceled. JOY. Just pure joy. But, more on that later…

Dear readers, how can I even begin to write about my trip abroad? I was gone for only two weeks and came back with over 60 pages written in a journal about it – about what I did, what I saw, what I ate and drank, what I felt. There’s just more than I could fit about all of it in even ten posts, much less one, so I will try and capture what I can about the whole experience in a few highlights. I know this won’t come close to doing my time abroad justice, but almost nothing I can say, even what was written in my journal, can do what I experienced justice.

If you’ve read past posts, you know how much I have been craving something. Something I still can’t quite put into words, but something like change, excitement, adventure. Just something that made life worth anticipating. Two weeks in the UK and Paris pretty much covered everything I had been craving. The night before I was set to take off, I was this cluster of nerves. Aside from flying and road tripping to places in the US, I’d never traveled anywhere by myself and doing so internationally kind of terrified me. All the security and customs and plane transfers can really put a person off leaving the country, that’s for sure. But the next day came and the nerves morphed into excitement as I made it from KC to Philly and was on my way to London. I smartly booked an overnight flight. I figured I would sleep all night and wake up refreshed and ready to begin my great adventure! And I, of course, figured this all wrong. The seats were comfy enough, and the wine mixed with a quarter of a muscle relaxer (I’m a baby and can’t handle more than that if I hope to function the next day) was in my system just waiting to knock me out…but that damn excitement was too much for my body to handle. That and the free movies US Airways was offering. How can a person sleep when London awaits them and Marky Mark is on their tiny personal screen entertaining them in a crime drama? Needless to say, I did not arrive in London refreshed, but still, I was ready to go and thus the adventure began…

Traveling.

Here’s a tip – when traveling and feeling uncertain of what to do and where to go, follow people. 90% of the time you will get to where you need to be. I made it through airports and train stations and metros all by following signs, but mostly people. Getting off a plane and not sure of what to do next? Follow the people who get off before you and you will find yourself at customs! Using the tube to go to the National Gallery in Trafalgar Square and not sure how to get there from the Charing Cross tube station? Scope out some touristy looking folks (trust me, you will find some) and follow them out the exit because chances are, they are going for that main attraction as well.

I must have spent HOURS planning and researching how to get to and from destinations and how to navigate the airports I’d be in, the train stations I’d be departing from, etc, and I can tell you, most of that research was all for naught. I’m not saying it wasn’t handy to have as back up, but the main thing that got me from point A to point B day after day was just following other travelers.

Arriving at Heathrow, after customs (which was a breeze there) I immediately caught a bus to Brighton. And that bus immediately broke down. OMG, I thought to myself, is this a sign of misadventures to come?! Not really. If anything, it was my first glimpse into how truly friendly English people are. I often boast about the kindness of Midwesterners, but we really have nothing on these Brits. The bus driver could probably see the fear in my eyes and see my thoughts on being stranded at Heathrow with no clue how to make it down to the coast brewing in my head because he immediately made sure I knew exactly where to go and what to do so I could make it down to the beach side town in one piece. He even gave me a pair of gloves because it was darn right nippy and In a moment of brilliance packed nothing resembling chilly Spring weather appropriate attire. Which leads me to another tip…

Packing.

Do it. And then take out about half of what you have packed. Trust me on this one. Maybe this won’t apply to guys as much as us ladies, but I literally could have packed two outfits instead of about eight and been totally fine, because the first thing I did when I got to Brighton? Shopped. I know, I know, how very typical, but I do have a bit of an excuse since I was in desperate need of a jacket, or at least a sweater or two, so I wouldn’t be uncomfortably cold while out and about for hours at a time. I shopped in every place I went too. Brighton, London, Brentwood, Camden, Paris, Sancerre…I mean it. Every. Single. Place. And by the time I put my backpack on my back and made the trip to CDG I was ruing the day I decided to pack as many clothes as I did (especially since I didn’t wear nearly half of them!). But, fashion can be painful, right? Totally worth it when I get to say “Oh, this old thing? I got it in Paris.” when someone compliments my new LBD.

Shopping in Brighton was fun and a great way to see the main part of the city. It was a chilly Tuesday afternoon, but it was still bustling. I made my purchases so my warmth for the rest of the trip would be assured, but I had an even bigger worry looming over me. Meal time. Yes, the dreaded solo meal. Now, I’ve had dinner alone before. Once. And only because I was waiting for my phone to get fixed and a Chilis just happened to be next to the Verizon store. But, when you are vacationing solo, eating solo is bound to happen. I was well prepared though, I brought my Kindle and my journal with me everywhere just in case I needed the distraction. I found a quaint looking pub called Fishbowl and decided to just dive right in. And as it turns out, eating alone? Not too bad. When you’re absolutely starving and just want to grub down, you don’t have to worry about not being rude to a dining partner and making conversation instead of tearing into a piping hot plate of fish and chips. Also, the thing about being in restaurants, cafes, pubs, etc, is everyone else is so busy doing their own thing, no one is paying you over there sitting alone any mind (unless they are attempting to make eyes at you and want you to no longer be eating, drinking, etc, alone. More on those adventures later.).

After this first meal much of my vacation centered around what I was going to eat and drink that day (of course, when is my life not centered around that?). I didn’t really give myself a budget for while I was away. My thoughts were, I was making myself stay everywhere rather cheaply, instead of more luxuriously, and in return I was allowed to spend what I wanted every day (within reason. Obviously I didn’t come back with that 750 Euro black leather jacket…). Much of that is because while I was in France and the UK I really wanted to be able to eat and drink to my heart’s content. I wanted to be able to spend hours at a sidewalk cafe drinking $9 glasses of wine (a price I would RARELY ever pay here at home) and just soak in the atmosphere and feel all sorts of romantic feelings towards the cities I was in. And that is precisely what I did. Although I spent hours upon hours of the days sightseeing and on the go, I always carved out at least a few hours for meals and wine (lots and lots of wine).

Calories Don’t Count Abroad.

But, Thalia – what about all that hard work you did at the gym prior to this trip. Aren’t you worried about re-gaining those pounds you spent hours and hours working off? NO.

Okay, so of course I was! It was really hard losing the 11 pounds that I did, and it sucks gaining any of it back, but between quitting my job and turning 30 and moving, I had already put a few back on due to stress. It sucks gaining weight because of stress, but regaining weight because you’re in fuckin’ France?! Not too terrible. If anyone, including myself, comments on my slightly rounder face, how cool is it that I get to say, “Oh yeah, well it’s because I found this restaurant in Paris that serves this amazing cheese course and this to die for chocolate mousse desert…”

Don’t get me wrong, it’s not as if I was sitting around eating and drinking wine like a gluttonous Roman emperor. Most days I enjoyed one small meal and one larger meal, and yes, okay, most days I did do up the wine more like said fat emperor, but I also walked. And walked. And walked. Never in my life have I walked SO MUCH. I almost wished I would have thought to get a pedometer, but I easily covered about 50 miles in my two week trip. All that wine was necessary to cure my aching feet and make them feel walkable and ready for the next day’s adventures. On my third day in London I walked a little over ten miles covering Trafalgar Square, Picadilly, Oxford Circus, Hyde Park, the Albert and Victoria Museum and back and let’s just say by the end of the day I was nearly crawling I was so tired (the fact that it was raining like mad probably didn’t make the stroll seem much easier either). But, it was worth it. Sure, it’s easy to grab a bus or take the tube from stop to stop, both are very easy to navigate once you get the hang of them, but you get to see so much while you’re out getting somewhat lost on the bizarrely laid out streets that it makes every blister and achy ankles worth it.

Victim of Fashion.

I’m somewhat of a snob. I freely admit it. No way was I going to go to London and Paris, where the women just reek of effortless style, and be walking around in tennis shoes. Would I have been smarter to do so? Yes, 100%. Would I have looked totally American and touristy and felt tre un-chic? Yes, 200% so. I just couldn’t bring myself to do it! Even though I would have rethought my clothing options, I wouldn’t have chose my footwear any differently. What I would have told my eager to walk everywhere self is this: bring a lot of super cushion-y shoe inserts, drink insane amounts of water, and take Advil, or something along those lines, every morning and every night and your feet will be forever grateful and your style snobbery will remain unharmed by being able to wear simple and chic tan flats everywhere. But, back to the actual trip…

I’m not sure why I ever ended up loving Brighton so much. I read an article in a magazine about it once, saw pictures of the city and was sold. It was a place I have always wanted to go. So starting my trip out there was a no brainer. Aside from the shopping being awesome, my hotel was directly across from the boardwalk, above a really fun bar, next to a casino, and within walking distance of like 20 restaurants. I was in heaven. I was only in Brighton for two days, but could have stayed for ten. There is never a lack of things to do since many young Brits use the city as a mini holiday party location. The bar below our hotel was packed until at least 2am every night (and mind you, this was on a Wednesday and Thursday) and good grief do people in that city know how to throw a few back. But, despite all this revelry, I think the thing I enjoyed most about the city was the time I spent away from the hotels and bars and boardwalk and in the actual city where people lived. I was obsessed with the colorful row homes and how everyone seemed to keep their trash out in the front yards, yet the whole city still smelled great. How was this possible?! I walked around neighborhoods for two hours trying to figure that out. I also spent a decent amount of time at a coffee shop near one of the universities people watching. The way kids (okay, well not kid-kids, but people younger than me) dress in the UK was of constant fascination to me. Hell, not even just kids, people my age as well. One would think, knowing how picky I can be about how men dress, that I would be rather put off by the trendiness of English boys. Well, one would be wrong…

Men.

So many men, so little time. That seemed to be the motto of my trip. While anticipating my trip I had imagined that I would be head over heels for French men. That I would swoon over their accents and the general debonair-ness, and don’t get me wrong, I did encounter more than a few beautiful French men, but it turns out I had been imagining the men I’d be swooning over all wrong.

You know that little thing I have for Tom Hardy? Well, turns out his being British may play a bigger role in that than I had originally thought because good lord do I have a thing for British boys. I still can’t even lock down what it is that I loved so much, maybe the way they dressed, or how almost every guy I encountered smelled of sandalwood-y deliciousness, or maybe it was just their friendly and good natured personalities. Whatever it was, I seriously caught myself falling in love like every ten minutes. Y’all, I even found myself crushing on a man I talked with at a pub who was wearing jorts. JORTS Y’ALL. Trendy ones, but nevertheless, jean shorts. It defies all logic and reason, but all I know is, if (when) I move to London, I will fall for a boy and be all loved up in about five minutes flat.

Now, I feel I should give French men their props too. Most I encountered were very lovely and almost more of what I typically call my type. Whereas English boys were definitely more laid back and shy to approach a girl, the Frenchies are very assertive. I quickly realized if you make eye contact with almost any French guy not with a woman (and a few times even with women) for more than a minute they would come and chat you up. They are quick to lay on some game, and lay it on thick. I am fairly certain every French man who approached me was quick to say how beautiful my voice was and would note something about my outfit. Ummm, okay. We all know this is a line because hello! French women have some of the sexiest voices and styles known to mankind!! Regardless, I can’t say that I didn’t enjoy all the male related sightseeing I did while I was there, even if those Brit boys have now spoiled me for life.

London had more going for it than just men though. As I said earlier, I found the Brits to be some of the nicest people I have ever met. The city is crazy fast paced and people are definitely in that go, go, go mentality, but they still manage to have this politeness to them. On my last day in London I didn’t really have anything planned so I decided to walk to the Tower of London and just go get lost in a nearby neighborhood. It was a Sunday, and in both cities I went to, many things are closed on Sundays, so once I was away from the tourist attractions the city was quiet. I spent a good hour walking around the Aldgate neighborhood before deciding to find a tube station and make my way back to the Waterloo area for some dinner. Maybe two minutes after I pulled out my map to see where the nearest station was, a woman walking by me stopped and asked if I’d like any help. I can hardly imagine someone in my own neighborhood doing that much less in a giant city with a very obvious looking tourist! Not only did she point me to the tube, she gave me dining recommendations for the night since so many places were closed for the day. Something similar happened in Brighton and Brentwood, all just random strangers who saw another random stranger who might need a little help. I think that and the bawdy and charming English sense of humor were the two things that sold me the most on knowing I could full well live in that city for the rest of my life. (Okay, and the men. I can lie, it was the men that did it for me too.)

Now, after being stunned by the English friendliness, I was honestly dreading the French rudeness. I’ve been to Paris once before. I was 16, I was lost, I was freaking out, and not one person there was kind about helping some teenage kids find their way back to their tour group. This was the experience I was dreading reliving. And as soon as I got off the Eurostar and successfully got the tube I needed to the Republique area I was once again totally lost and freaking out. If the streets in London were confusing, Paris was ten times so. I had my google map directions, they seemed simple enough – only three different streets and less than a mile from the station, but after 20 mins I was no closer to my hotel and about to call it a day and just sleep out on the sidewalk. I was terrified to stop someone and ask for directions since I speak no French and feared being laughed at in a stereotypical French laugh and mocked relentlessly for being a dumb American. Well, after another five minutes of walking and my bag on the verge of breaking my back, I decided I had no choice. I had to bite the bullet. And thank god I did, otherwise I may have never known how nice (most) French people are! The woman I asked in no way made me feel like an asshat for asking her in English where the fuck I was and where I was supposed to be going. Same with the people who worked at my hotel and the cafes and museums, pretty much everywhere (except CDG. More later.). As long as you approach the situation with good humor and politeness, you will most likely be met with the same in return.

French Tips.

A few things that make your interactions with the French a little smoother: Always start the conversation with ‘bonjour.’ It seems that this is customary and I found it refreshing. So many times I can think of people here in the US starting their interactions with other people by saying what they want or need and the simple act of greeting a person is overlooked. Also, add a ‘merci’ in there as well. Even if you don’t speak a lick of French, have those two words ready to go and your interaction will be infinitely more pleasant. I found that while I was in restaurants many people did speak some English, but if they didn’t, pointing at items on a menu was totally acceptable, as long as you had a good smile to go along with your pointing. Although I’ve heard French people do not customarily smile at each other while having business transactions, I found that a smile still seemed to go a long way when overcoming the language barrier.

Another good thing to note when you are in a cafe or anywhere with waiters, is that most always, that is the person’s profession. It’s not just a job between jobs or something they do on the side, it is their work and it is taken very seriously. I’d assume most Americans are used to the overly friendly ‘how y’all doing today, I’m Candy and I’m gonna take real good care of you, can I get you water/chicken tenders/a heaping load of fake smiles so I can get a fat tip from you at the end of this?!’ Of course, there is nothing wrong with this, just don’t mistake a French waiter’s all muss, no fuss businesslike demeanor for rudeness. They are there to do their jobs, and truthfully they do them quite well. At most meals I had multiple courses, and my courses were never brought out on top of each other. Although the waiter never seemed to be hovering around, they always seemed to know when to take one course away and when to bring another. My food was always hot and freshly cooked, so you could tell it hadn’t been sitting under a heat lamp. A good waiter notices when you are nearing the end of a course and only then puts in the next order to the cook so it will be fresh and ready to go when you are. Though they never stopped by for idle chit chat, every waiter I had there, even just for a glass of wine or a cappuccino, was attentive. It made it very hard for me not to leave the customary (to us) 20% tip I’m so used to leaving. In both the UK and France, tip was already included in the bill, so it is not necessarily expected. It never hurts to throw down an extra euro or two, but like I said, most people aren’t waiters there for the tips. It’s all very strange, but in the end, I greatly enjoyed every part of the dining experience in Paris, because it is just that, an experience. No waiter ever rushes your food or your bill out to you just so they can refill the table with another patron, instead you are welcomed to sit for hours on end, even if it is just one glass of wine, so it can be savored.

My very favorite meal of the whole trip was at Restaurant Astier, and I will recommend it thirty times over for any person planning a trip to Paris. It is probably the nicest restaurant I’ve ever been to, and by far the most I’ve ever spent for a meal on myself, but it was worth every penny. Not only were they kind enough to find me a table for one with no reservations, the owner of the restaurant ended up taking my order and stopping by to talk with me about the food and different wines several times. I felt so freakin fancy! Most restaurants in Paris have prix fixe menus, and this was no exception. Only, in this menu, before the desert course you have the option of having a cheese course. And what a cheese course it is. A huge platter of ten or 12 cheeses is placed in front of you and you are welcome to take as much or as little as you want. And if there isn’t enough of the kind you like? They will bring you more! It is possible I have never had a smile on my face so large as when that cheese tray was placed in front of me. It was heaven. (In fact, it was so large I still can’t quite fathom why one of the three French gentlemen sitting next to me took such a shine to me. Yes, he could have been my French silver fox – like offered to buy my dinner and everything {I politely refused, but settled for him ordering me another glass of wine} – but I was just so wrapped up in my cheese I had no attention to spare on silver foxes!)

Speaking of glasses of wine…

Wine. Glorious Wine.

I love wine. Okay, well before this trip I had great affection for wine. I enjoyed drinking it, but knew nothing about it other than that. Now? Now I love wine. Especially, and most surprising to me as I really used to not enjoy it, white wine. Getting to spend a day in wine country was just so beyond romantic to me. I don’t know that I’ve ever seen more beautiful country side than in the Loire Valley. I visited two vineyards, had a delightful meal, walked around a charming town filled with cobblestone streets and 18th century buildings, and drank the most delicious wines (so delicious that I carried two bottles all the way through CDG while trying to get home. More later.). I learned a ton about wine, nothing I’ll bore you with here, but needless to say I now have a huge affinity for French wines and have already seen how this can become a problem because what costs only six euros there is more like $40 here! Even if the trip out to the countryside hadn’t involved wine I still would have been in love with the valley. I firmly believe that once I get moved to London and find my lovely London lad, we will definitely be buying a summer home in Sancerre. (I know, terrible sounding plan I’ve set up for myself, right?) But, despite the beauty of wine country and the leisurely strolls down Saint Germain Blvd and the newfound love of foie gras, my time in Paris was quick to pass.

As the end started to near for my adventures abroad I became truly sad that I had to return to the US. Not sad like ‘oh I hate my country, this place is so much better, yada yada’, just sad. Sad that I had such a confusion of feelings about returning “home” because I didn’t really feel like I had a home. Before I took off for this trip, I packed up all my belongings in Denver and stuck them in a storage unit in Kansas City. I was excited to be moving and starting over fresh and all that jazz, but I was also so incredibly sad that this was the first time I was flying back from a trip, and wasn’t flying back to Denver. I wasn’t going to be able to call up my friends for a brunch and tell them all about these British boys and French wines. I was going to have to deal with that weird feeling that comes with not quite being settled in a new place, and that just sounded so much less appealing than how I’d been living for these last two weeks. I have some savings I thought to myself, I could just keep going… I could stay here, or I could try out Barcelona or Belgium. I should just keep going… This thought lingered in my head all the way til the night before my flight back home was due. As I began packing my bag, still somewhat looking at train tickets to Spain, I decided that I was ready to leave this fantasy world behind and start the long, and probably not always easy, journey of starting my life over in Kansas City. Sure, it would not be as romantic as my life the past few weeks, but it would be real. And then I woke up in the morning to an email saying my flight back to the US had been canceled…

Misadventures in Traveling.

I’ve never had a flight canceled before! I can’t use my cell phone. It’s 1am back home! WHAT THE FUCK DO I DO?!? I was frantic. I was trying to hold it together on the outside, but inside I was absolutely frantic. I had no idea what to do in this situation. US Airways had an 800 number to call to get a flight rescheduled, but what good does that do you when your phone instantly lost service (despite Verizon’s assurances that it wouldn’t) the second you landed on foreign ground? For lack of a better idea, I did what I was planning to do before the dreaded email popped up in my phone, and started my journey to the airport.

The train ride should have been simple enough. In terms of making it home, getting to CDG was the least of my worries because everyone assured me all you had to do was take the tube to Chatlet station, then catch the train to CDG. Easy peasy! Unless of course the train you are supposed to get on is having issues and will only take you to Gare du Nord before turning right back around to the Chatlet station. What the fuck? Now what? After about 20 minutes of trying to figure out why every single train was going to Gare du Nord and ONLY Gare du Nord I finally tracked down some fellow Americans and asked if they knew what was up. We put our collective French reading skills together and ascertained that we needed to catch another train once this one took us to Gare du Nord, and from there we should be on track to CDG. Again, sounds easy peasy. Except when I get to the Nord station the train is not on the platform it’s supposed to be on. WHAT THE FUCK?! Now what? I find an information agent and she does not speak a lick of English, but eventually a young French girl comes by and helps translates enough to get me to another platform…across the station and two flights up. Lord ohmighty is my bag killin me at this point. Damnit if I hadn’t of had my own packing advice beforehand! Eventually though, I make it to the train I need, and of course, since it’s only running from this station, it’s jam packed and I’m forced to stand, with my bag on my back, for the whole 35 minute commute. I very nearly bust out one of the bottles of wine I am schlepping back and drink it out of frustration and back pains, but I manage to hold myself off since it is only 9am…and because I don’t have a wine opener.

Almost two hours after beginning what should have been a 45 minute commute, I finally make it to CDG. CDG is now my least favorite airport in the whole world. To me, there is no rhyme or reason to it. No signs telling you how to get to specific airline counters, so I end up walking around the first terminal for about ten minutes before I find the US Airways counter. The line for the canceled flight is already over 100 people deep. A woman working for US once again gives me the 800 number I can call instead of standing in line and I once again am so thrilled by my lack of cell device. Instead, I stand in line and wait. And wait. And wait. And this is the first time I truly hate that I’ve traveled here alone. At this point I’ve been up for nearly six hours and have yet to have anything to eat or drink and can’t dip out of the line for a snack, or I will lose my place. One can only imagine how hangry (yes, hungry and angry) I was by the time I made it to the customer service counter…

And here begins my first encounter with that stereotypical French rudeness. I get that the US workers had been dealing with people trying to get home for hours at this point, but in no way does that give you the right to be flat out rude to me while on the phone with another airline. I may not speak French, buddy, but I do speak the internationally known body language and am fully aware that you are calling me dumb because I am totally clueless as to how to get home. This is the point where frantic turns into all out despair and I come VERY close to crying. I worry I will not make it home anytime today. I worry that I won’t be able to pick up the keys to my new place or go to the xx concert the next night because I will still be in the process of traveling home. This person “helping” me clearly cares less if I make it home today, tomorrow, or never, and not sure how much longer I can keep the franticness on the inside. I keep telling myself I have handled this whole trip on my own and I can handle this as well, but I’m getting less assured of that as the minutes tick by and Mr. French Asshat is chatting away with whoever on the other line, perhaps talking about going out later in their matching berets, who knows. But alas, he finally decides to act like a decent human being and do his job and gets me on a flight to Detroit. But not before telling me I’ll be lucky if I make it to that flight in time. ASSHAT.

I rush two terminals over and pray to baby Jesus that I make it on this flight. Checking in and dropping off my bag is time consuming but nowhere near as painful as the two different security/clearance lines I have to make it through. I rue the day you were created, CDG airport! The praying must have worked though because I make it to my gate with all of three minutes to spare and, miracle of all miracles, there is no one sitting in between me and the man on the other end of the row!

Once again, my nerves are so shot I can’t sleep and before I actually make it all the way back to Kansas City and into a bed, I have been awake for more than 35 hours. I get only a few hours of sleep that night and am exhausted and it is raining and miserable out, so I have no idea how I will make it through moving my stuff out of storage and into my new place. But then I think back on the day before. My worst fear was being stuck in a foreign airport and having no idea how I was getting out of it, and I made it through that exact situation without totally losing my cool. If I can make it through that surely I can make it through hauling heavy boxes in the muggy rain and up slick stairs. And make it I do.

I’m almost totally unpacked in my new place, still adjusting to living alone again and being in a new city and not around the comfort of my friends and my mom. It varies between feeling like a struggle and feeling exciting from hour to hour, but the one thing that is getting me through are all the pictures and memories of this amazing experience I am so happy I pushed myself to take.
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Time

“The trouble is, you think you have time.” Jack Kornfield

I am a procrastinator. Not just on work or chores or my diet, on life. On the big things. This is mainly because I am scared. I worry that being proactive and going out and getting shit done will mean change, and change? Change is scary. Right now I am comfortable. I have a job that allows me to slowly whittle my way out of debt (and amass closets full of clothes, shoes, and toiletries. Seriously. I may have a toiletries addiction.). I have my little apartment filled with my little things, making me feel all cozy and safe. I have friends and coworkers who might notice if I don’t pop up after a few days, thus ensuring my body will never slowly decompose if I choke on a piece of sesame chicken alone in said apartment. Change means possibly not having a job that allows my toiletries addiction to flourish, packing up and moving all the things that fill my home, and possibly being somewhere new where my life isn’t like Cheers and no one knows my name. SCARY.

But what is worse, being scared or being comfortable?

For the last few years I’ve had this word ‘comfort’ festering around in my brain. Riding the bus down the same block every day to go to work where I do the same things every day…comfort. I see it on every street sign that passes by, it haunts me. Comfort is not what I dreamed of when I was a little girl. I dreamed of adventures and excitement and driving across the country, stopping in small, sleepy towns working as a bartender or at a diner, getting to know the locals and all their stories and finding pieces of myself along the way (okay, maybe I didn’t dream of being a barmaid when I was little, that part was added on later, probably sometime after watching My Blueberry Nights). But when I was little it was easy to have these dreams. I had no bills, no responsibilities. All I had was time to dream.

Well, time is no one’s friend. It is not infinite and it does not stop for us to figure out when it is right for change. I’ve often thought maybe it takes a certain kind of person to get out there and make these changes, to do wild things, and maybe I am just not that type. I’m too Type A. I plan too much. I think too much. I’m too responsible. But then I realize, bullshit. Any person can be the kind of person they want to be, and if that is the type of person who leaves comfort behind for an adventure that is crazy and new, then all it takes a certain kind of balls and the knowledge that time is fleeting. The knowledge that procrastination is not on your side because you may not always have as much time as you think you do.

A Case of the PRB.

As I sit here at my desk, on my last allotted break for the day, too tired to even make my way to the break room, or even outside for a short stroll due to the late night fire scare in my building last night (yes, apparently grown adults still burn shit in their kitchens and have to get the fire department involved…and then drink with their neighbors and whoop it up over all the excitement {yes, I’m looking at you neighbor directly below me} thus keeping others around them up until all hours, throat burning from the lingering smoke and smell of melted Tupperware.), I find myself having a bad case of PRB. No, not PBR. I’m not drinking a skunky case of Pabst Blue Ribbon (although, at this point in the day, even that is starting to sound better than another 100 minutes of work.). What I’ve got is PRB. Today I’m afflicted with a case of the Places I’d Rather Be. It’s clear to anyone who has seen me today that I’m suffering from the PRB. Even people who don’t really know me can tell by my restless leg shaking, constant sighs, and the glazed over look in my eye, all the classic signs of PRB. So here, dear readers, are the Places I’d Rather Be:

1. At a spa.

Not just any spa though. A spa that boasts miracle fat and cellulite reductions through intensive treatments of hot stone and deep tissue massages given by Daniel Craig look a likes and serves meals consisting of the world’s creamiest macaroni and cheese that is not only delicious, but is guaranteed to trim at least two inches off your waist (three if you add bacon to it).

2. A beach.

The beach from the movie The Beach with Leonardo DiCaprio is what I’m picturing (but not actually with Leo there. Sorry, love, I’m not 13 anymore and you’re just not my type. But please, if your friend Tom Hardy is available, feel free to send him over… with a bottomless pina coloda. And tanning oil that prevents all forms of skin cancer while giving the perfect golden glow.).

3. At a cafe in Paris.

With delicious glass of cabernet, Steve Martin’s “An Object of Beauty,” and a warm, fresh, delicious baguette (that, again, would take at least two inches of my waistline if I promise to eat all of it. With herbed goat cheese.)

4. In a magical world.

And in this magical world, when you force yourself to be brave and put yourself out there for a guy, the guy has the decency to respond to you in an acceptable period of time (i.e; not a day later).

5. In an even magical-er world.

Where guys stop acting so laid back about everything and thus never forcing you to have to be brave and put yourself out there. Yes, this is most certainly a PRB.

What Will I Be When I Grow Up?

To provide an update to my last blog to my thousands (or two) readers…                    
Most of my friends whom I brought the ‘is this or is this not a date’ conundrum to informed me that last Friday night would indeed be a date. I remained steadfast in my opinion that it would not be. Well readers, you are about to see something very rarely conceded by me…I was wrong. They were right. I shan’t go into the gory details, but, even if the night started off in Friendshipville, it was clear to even boneheaded me that by night’s end, we had relocated to Date City. Date City is not where I’m looking to permanently relocate to with this particular person, but that’s not to say I didn’t have a good enough time. The drinks and conversation were all nice and light and free flowing. We sampled beers and wines and discussed common places we loved from our college town and our favorite movies and sports teams. It was all fun enough. Until I was hit with this question…


“So, if you aren’t in love with your job, what is it you are in love with? What is it you really want to do?”


Whoa, buddy. What happened to the nice and light?! Needless to say, I was stumped. I had no clear answer. After hemming and hawing for a few minutes, I came up with this gem in reply;


“I guess I just want to do something that makes a difference.”


Well, slap me with the cliché award of the year! Who doesn’t want to make a difference? Who wants to work their life away only to be forgotten because absolutely nothing they did made any difference? Likely no one. While it is true; I really do want to make some sort of difference, make my mark on the world, I seem to have done little to accomplish this in my six years in the real, professional, working world. I could attribute this to laziness or being bogged down by The Man and needing to focus all making-a-difference-in-the-world time on working-9-to-5-to-keep-the-bills-paid, I think it mainly boils down to this…I have career ADD. How can I get started on making a difference if I can’t figure out what the fuck I want to make a difference doing?


I think I was about four when I had my first big career dream: Movie star.                         
I know, I know, what girl doesn’t grow up wanting to be a movie star? But, my movie stardom goals went a little deeper than the typical ‘I want to be beautiful and famous’. I wanted to act. Like really act. I wanted to be in dramas and invoke tears from movie goers and win awards and thank my mother for passing on her acting talents. I wanted to go to Julliard and get my start in indie films then do major blockbusters then renew my street cred by doing gritty indie flicks again (yes, I had a very vivid imagination at four). I would make a difference by donating boat loads of cash to inner city school’s arts programs. Girls of all ages would look up to me for trading on my skills and not just my looks, for defying Hollywood’s ridiculous standards of beauty (Botox? I pity the OnabotulinumtoxinA-fool!).


This dream stayed alive and well for quite sometime. It was fueled by acting classes, dance classes, singing in the school choir, anything to let my inner superstar shine. But slowly it morphed, as ideas are prone to do. First it was to be a Broadway star, singing and dancing my heart away every night. I imagined the opening nights, the matinees, the standing O’s. I imagined music teachers bringing their kids in to see my shows and them being inspired to pursue their own musical dreams. Eventually this dream too shifted. While I loved the idea of being in New York and living out all my Broadway visions, I began having other New York dreams. More specifically the “Live from New York!” variety dreams. Yes, I wanted to be on Saturday Night Live.  


For literally as long as I can remember I have watched SNL. When I was younger I used to spend Saturday nights with my mom, eating spaghetti, drinking RC Cola out of an awesome Disney themed thermos, and laughing at topical jokes that were probably far over my head. But, regardless of my comprehension, I knew that every week the actors on this show got to be all sorts of different characters. Is this not an actor’s dream?! And then, in my teens, as I began writing more in school, Tina Fey came along and became the first female head writer of the show, proving to all the Jerry Lewis’s of the world that yes, there are women comedians and they are funny! It was 1999, right as I was getting to the point in high school where all any adult can ask you is ‘What are you gonna do with your life?’ and my only reply was ‘make people laugh.’ What would be better than living in New York and doing it every week?! 


Well, it was also right around this time that I was told I’d better get a back up plan. The odds of ending up in Hollywood and being a movie star are slim to none. Then odds grow even less in your favor when you switch coasts and set your sights on Broadway or becoming a comedy writer/actor. ‘You may have these goals, and you may go and pursue them, but be prepared for a life of rejection and waiting tables’ is what one of our school counselors hit me with. I was deflated. How could dreams so long lasting and wonderful be so hard to achieve?! Surely it could not have been true. News flash: It was. I did the research. My goals were nearly impossible. I was almost 17 and had no clear path in life, aside from a lifetime of servitude at Dean and Deluca, if I was lucky (yes, I base my New York food service jobs off of the show Felicity).

At that point, the career ADD really set in. I was a peer counselor in high school, hey, why not be a child psychologist? Wait, I also wrote for the school paper and literary journal, why not be a journalist? But hey, I was also a teacher’s assistant, and I come from a long line of teachers! Surely teaching must be the way to go! Then, in college, it only got worse. My major jumped from Psychology to Spanish to Art History to Social Work to Creative Writing to English Literature, and unfortunately for me, the English Lit degree is what I left with (no hate for the Lit coming from me. I only say unfortunately, because, let’s be honest here, an English degree {without a teaching certificate attached to it} is about as worthless as a Philosophy degree. Sure, employers may love that you have a strong grasp of our language and its history, but where’s the Business Degree they specifically required in the employment ad?).

So no here I am, 29, nearing my 5th year at a job that has nothing to do with any of the six majors I pursued in college (how is that even statistically possible??? Surely with all my flip flopping you’d think I would have ended up at least finding something even slightly related to any of the things I studied.). It’s a great job, and I do mean great, and in this economy I know am blessed to have it (and it’s benefits. Thank you, baby Jesus, for benefits.). I can give no reason to say any differently…except this one pesky thing…I’m not making a difference. My work here will not be work that kids for years to come can look at it and say ‘Wow! This has inspired me!’. Not even my own (at this point, imaginary) children will understand, much less strive to follow, what I do. And even allowing myself to be less grandiose about it, my work here won’t even make a difference on a one on one level. Had I continued pursuing Psychology or Social Work and worked in those fields, there’s always the possibility your work is overlooked, as mine is, but there is a greater possibility that there will be at least that one person whose life changes for the better because of the work you’ve done on their behalf. Even with my writing/lit degree, writing a book can do that for any number of people (because I can say with absolute certainty that there are books I’ve read that have impacted me and will stay with me forever).

Maybe this goal of making some sort of impact on the world is inherently selfish. Shouldn’t a passion be followed merely for the joy of it? We’re constantly told to do what you love and you will love what you do. And who knows, maybe that is how your mark is left on the world, people looking to you and saying ‘Wow, she truly just loves what she does. The money, the accolades, the reward for all the effort really just doesn’t matter, she just loves it.’ and you are an inspiration for others to follow suit. Maybe this is just the bigger picture I have yet to fully see. Either way, that is still my only answer to what I really want to do. I want to make a difference.

But, the question remains, how?






(Editor’s note: If you made it through this whole blog, wow…you are a trooper. When I first started writing this I had no idea I’d get so wordy! I imagine if I had pulled my thoughts together quick enough and given this answer to Mr. Friday Date he’d have quickly hauled ass out of Date City and retreated back to Friendshipville…)