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a beginning, a middle and an end.

25 Nov

i have been putting off this post for weeks.

instead, i’ve been rightly filling my time chasing the mouse-maybe-rat (thanks for nothing, 120 year old house), consuming oaked white wines and nourishing my deeply committed relationship with cheese.

and while i’d like to think of myself as almost a seasoned professional in my procrastination abilities, the time has come to face the inevitable. to walk the metaphorical plank, so to speak, to put my head on the guillotine whilst violently screaming: “vive la france!”

no? too far? anyway, point is – i need to wrap this shit up. and well, kittens, it’s been a real ride, hasn’t it?

like most things i do, you may recall that i was wildly unprepared to write this blog linked to my rando move to india.  in the beginning, i knew that i didn’t want to write about, like, all the creepy-ass goats i was seeing on the street and so on, highlighting 24/7 how completely different life was in calcutta. i mean – it’s a scooch implied that life is different in india – it’s f*&king india.

so i quickly realized that the best way to your wonderfully weird little hearts was by telling you some of my best secrets, trash talking the laundry list of jerks i’ve known in my 28 years and enlightening you on exactly how two bone fide crazy newlyweds make it through their first year of marriage -while 12,952 km apart.

and so it was: one long, swear-word encrusted (bedazzled, really) teenage telephone conversation – that sometimes referred to india.

but by the middle of it all, finally finding my voice simply wasn’t enough – it had turned out that randomly moving to india wasn’t so easy afterall. work became difficult, the thrill of living in the country of dust-turned-mud-turned-dust-again and spice had quickly worn off. basically, it blew. hardcore.

and frankly it was you, kind readers, who came to the rescue in so many ways. your mostly-insane comments, your revelations of devotion to this humble teenaged telephone conversation of a blog, your personal messages and – in some cases – your packages filled with booty (pirate, not ass – here and here too!) helped me get over my self-imposed exile.

(and let’s be honest here, the americans filled in the rest of the blanks with their exceptional taste in imported wine, unwavering devotion to western tv shows and propensity for hosting mexcian-themed murder mysteries. ole indeed, bitches.)

then just as quickly as i began this craziness, got over the fact that india – yes, all 1.2 billion of it – was a jerk, things were over. because for the many oh-so-complicated reasons, i left my work early for the homeland where the nachos are free range and the sewers are closed.

but doing as i have done leaves you different. even now – and probs for a while to come –  i am struggling to figure out what it all meant. working to convince myself that it’s ok to let this experience change me – even if it’s maybe not for the best.

this has been our journey together. and this is where it ends – for now.

listen, you don’t realize it, but you owe me. i’ve rarely preached to you about crap like “politics” and the “economic crisis” etc and so on. i’ve kept it to the interesting stuff  – like how i ditched my now husband while dressed like a pirate-hooker . the truly important discussions, ya know?

so now, you must listen to me as i take my moment to preach atop the metaphorical soapbox.

whoever, wherever and whatever you are – i am telling you that we are all able to do almost anything we want in this life. the path that is defined for us – whatever that path looks like in your world – isn’t always the way we have to play it.

it’s totes ok to take b.f.r’s (big f&*king risks) because not only do they give you mad street cred (“well when i was living in calcutta…” = kind of bad ass) but they are often the ones that are the most worthwhile. remember i told you once that nothing worth fighting for is ever easy? well it’s true.

i leave you with this: sometimes when it’s a bajillion degrees celcius during a 2 hour black out and you’ve just frantically stepped in a sewer that reaches your almost-knee-cap, whilst skinning your arm trying to protect your face from the garbage which you will surely fall into because of the whole leg-in-sewer thang, you enjoy a good old fashioned motivational quote.

this is the one that i repeated to myself that night, covered in shit, while being laughed at by probably 50 + indians:  “at any given moment you have the power to say ‘this is not how the story is going to end’.” and that’s a fact.

fact.

thank you, everyone. for everything.

xo al

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i’m so happy for you.

29 Aug

so the last week or so has seen me taking a break from india.  not an official break mind you, although i’ve been close a few times.  this small moment away is really for your sake because you’re about to get a shit-storm of indian updates when the husband gets here in just five days. five days bitches!

for now, we move on to other things.

i grew up – let’s be honest here – in a bit of a showy suburban community. and because i’m a product of my environment, i am always  keen to learn tidbits of gossip about the individuals who speckled my youth.

i recently heard, by somewhat shady means, that this uppity chick i grew up with got engaged. so, as you do,  i laughed to myself and thought “wow, wonder what her fo’ shiz tacky 2 bajillion dollar engagement ring looks like.  what is she, a kardashian? pfffft.”

my awesome insult aside,  i quickly forgot about her and moved on to more important things. things like chardonnay.

but a few days later the i noticed that she popped back into my head – despite me screaming “get out, out, out” in lady macbeth styles.  clearly, the fact that she – of all people – had found someone to actually marry her was causing subconscious distress.

setting the scene for a scooch, this girl was the holier-than-thou kind: she was loaded, pretty and smart. if she’d been a genuinely nice person, accepting her winning-the-lottery-of-life wouldn’t have been so bad. but she wasn’t – she was a total bitch.

yet, everyone, including me, still held her up as their own personal benchmark of coolness. as it often goes with the ones we love to hate.

i knew her for almost 15 years. so this got me thinking, could she really have changed so much that i actually believed that she could be humble and selfless enough to be someone’s wife?

now that was a thinker.

so last night as i listened to a little marvin gaye and got to pondering this whole idea of character changes – one of my exes popped into my mind.

this guy was quite possibly the living, breathing anti-christ. a liar and a cheater in the most flamboyantly creative of ways, i am convinced he is probably the worst person i have ever met to date.

but dudes, about six months ago, someone actually married this guy!

i mean, we were together a while, so i saw first hand what a terrible human being he was. (and yes, i realize this opens up a series of questions about me, but not now – jeez!)  how much could the anti-christ ex really have changed in the five or six years since we split up that he went from being a potential maniac to someone’s life partner?

come on now.

i frequently and  fully own the fact that i’ve been a real cough, see-you-next-tuesday, cough to certain individuals. these select people, when they learned that i got married through the suburban network of secrets and lies, probably wondered “who the hell would marry her? no seriously, who?”

and the truth is, i can’t blame them.

the moment i met the husband something clicked: i just wanted to be more than i was. i saw how good he was to his friends to his family to everyone he ever met and i knew i needed to unlock that part of my heart that was better – more than it was bitchy.

and thus began my real self. the real improved one, anyway.

so as much as i’d like to accept that the pretentious super skank and the psycho ex are still the same awful people they used to be, i have to give them the benefit of the doubt.

maybe now they’re tricked out versions of their former selves, more empathetic, grounded and sane, because of the love of a good man or woman. maybe because of this, they will make wonderful spouses.

and if that is so, then i am really-and-truly happy for them. well…89.54% happy, 10.46% insult-hurling.

so here’s to love. all consuming, life-changing, personality changing love. i hope these jokers have found it.

 

your secret identities.

11 Aug

you know, blogging is kinda weird.

basically being a blogger means you push your heart and soul out into a public forum, only to be found, analyzed and probably severely mocked by your worst enemies. ok, and maybe a few others too.

(um, so more importantly, in my version of these events my enemies are smoking menthol cigarettes out of those cruella de ville cigarette holder thingys, drinking amaretto sours and wearing fur hats. what? i’m pretty sure this is the truth.)

i am perpetually curious, so i’m always wondering who is actually reading this crazy never-ending teenage telephone conversation. but because i can never truly know, i often just tell myself that other than maximus and the diabolical dog (he can totally read), not a lot of other people really care about these goings-on.

but it seems i was a scooch wrong. i mean, lord knows i’m no oprah, but it’s been nice to learn as of late that i do have a pack of friends along for this ride. having you reveal yourselves, kind readers, has been a treat.

but more than just your identities, it’s a pleasure to know that despite my ridiculous stories, endless swear words and habit of accusing 1.2 billion people of asshole-dom, you keep coming back for more.

(by the way – totally ask yourself what this says about you. god, you’re so weird.)

i’m officially 120 days in now, and while it may not seem like it, this post is all just to say thanks. thanks to those of you who i now know are with me, and thanks to those of you who have yet to show yourselves.

in closing, because they inspired this post by revealing their kind readership, and because i did spend their june wedding day mostly moping for lack of not-being-there-ness, i should say congrats to the fav family brother and sister-in-law. you are loved.

happy to be able to share this with you - what a beautiful couple!

 

the arrival of an infamous box.

10 Aug

the favorite family is so-called for many reasons: some of them do things like make the babe who calls me auntie al and create perfectly perfect wedding dresses.  others teach me the value of appropriately timed ‘friends’ quotes for almost any social situation – a skill i take seriously.

but more than anything, the favorite family is favorite because when they’re around i know that, no matter what happens, i will never be alone. it’s kinda like a never-ending hug.

so you can understand my excitement when i learned that they were sending a box – a box of love, if you will – all the way to india! (lord knows i love to stock-pile me some love – and chardonnay – for the crappiest of days here.)

but after successfully leaving canada the box-o-love went POOF and disappeared.

panic ensued.  hair was frantically pulled out. a few tears were shed. dramatic scenes took place with postal workers named wendy. (man, poor wendy)

but then something strange happened. just as curiously as the box vanished, today it showed at my apartment! sure, it was mostly bottomless and looked as if a ferret had rifled through the contents seeking out tiny top hats for an all-ferret production of ‘chicago’, but it was here – and that was all that mattered.

wowsers! the fav fam certainly delivered on their promise of love in a box.

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so tonight i spent the whole evening casually rearranging my new tokens and singing along to adele. it was beyond stellar.

i can almost 100% guarantee that thanks to the love box, this weekend i will be dancing around my apartment  wearing a canada t-shirt and an eye-sleep-cover thing whilst drinking chilled chardy and licking what was a bag of chocolate chips and is now just one giant chip. thank you heat.

so with that mental picture in mind, consider your mission accomplished fav fam. xo

nothing that you are.

3 Aug

when i was about 13 i wrote a letter to my 30-year-old self that went something like this:

dear 30 year old al,

hey, how’s the future? well all’s good here i’m just kicking it in 1996 at my best friend trish’s* house and we’re totes planning what our lives are going to be like. she wants to be a dinosaur expert and marry ray* and live in australia.

as for me, i want to be an advertising executive, marry greg mcdaniels* and live in a 4 bedroom house with a terrier named irish.

so self, i hope that no matter where you are that you will find this letter one day and it will help you stay true to what you once really wanted.

love, al

*names have been changed to protect the guilty. and also because it’s fun to make up fake names for real a-hole people and talk about them  publicly. hey, just saying.

although i don’t have the letter in front of me, i give you a money-back guarantee that this is almost exactly what it contained – save a few details about being best friends for life with trish and wearing our broken heart be/fri  and st/ends necklaces to the grave. classic stuff.

bff 4 life. not.

so fast forward just 5 short years later my lost 18 year-old-self wrote yet another letter to future al.

this time it was an attempt to capture myself at 18 – because apparently i going through some kind of crisis like the plot of the 1991 movie “hook” where figured i’d grow up, become a yuppie jerk and forget how important it is to follow your dreams. or something.

i found this second letter shortly before leaving for india as i was rifling around looking for my travel neck pillow. i opened the letter, laughed hysterically, cried a little (both ironically and seriously) at how ridiculous i was and then 3-pointered it back into the box.

(i then watched the diabolical dog do a jaunty tap dance routine to “i got rhythm” for about 12 minutes. but that’s a whole other post.)

anyway, what made me think of these letters is our only-human propensity to sometimes be  so “in it” we can’t see “past it”.

ok sure, in my examples i was just a stupid angsty kid, but the phenomenon itself can be applied to about a bajillion (real number) things in this life: break ups, jobs, friendships, family, and yes, even moves around the world to countries comprised mostly of mud and spice.

something sneaky happens when we are blindly passionate, scared or committed – our rational thinking takes an indefinite caribbean vacay and we’re left romping around lost in the cold with no snowsuit having to pee.

basically, we lose our ability to see what really matters through all the other crap.

and really, the only way to find our way home, so to speak, is to surround ourselves with honest and hilarious people.  sometimes we all just need to be told to buck up, get our shit together and focus on the big goal. all in a way that doesn’t make us want to put our heads in the oven.

as evidenced by the above anecdotes, i could have probably used a few of those good people in my life over the years. but now, as i quietly and carefully “approach 30” (it’s not real if it’s in air quotes), i have several wonderful people helping me stay focused on what really matters.

and more than this, i’ve learned how to be one of these voices-of-sanity for others. most days, that is.

i didn’t become an advertising executive (do they even exist) and i didn’t marry greg mcdaniels, (he was always kind of a douche anyway) and i will never punish a dog with the name “irish”. so i guess, in the end, i am nothing like the person my younger self had so desperately hoped i would be.

but then again, what did she know?

girls just wanna have fun.

27 Jul

no joke, i am totally listening to ms. cyndi lauper whilst i compose this piece of literary genius. i kid, i kid.  we all know that nothing i write is genius.

anyway, i wanted to pop on and say “hey ya’ll” because it’s been almost a week since i’ve posted anything.

actually, now that i think about it, you’re all kind of bastards.

this is the longest i’ve gone without posting and not-a-one of you  has inquired as to where i’ve been.  what, do you have something better to do with your time? do you really?

hey mother, i’m talking to you. for shame.

bitterness aside, my silence is not stemming from a lack of interesting content. (because clearly i can pull interesting content out of my ass if i really wanted to.)

no, what’s been going on is much more exciting – i got a life!

not that sitting around drinking wine and listening to dirty southern rock is not fun, because lord knows it’s among my top 3 fav activities (behind making fun of strangers and having in depth socio-economic discussions with my diabolical dog), but it’s nice to actually be out of my apartment with real-life friends at real-life places.   like a real-life person!

and while i can’t fill you in on all the deets right now, mainly because i’m casually trying to post this while making every effort to hide what i’m doing from my overly inquisitive co-workers, i have so much to tell you.

so stay tuned, kitties.

and for now i leave you with this kicky movie poster the 80’s sjp and helen hunt classic ‘girls just wanna have fun’. god, i just love her arabesque in this picture.

that's all they really want bitches!

“..when the working day is done oh girls, they wanna have fun. girls just wanna have fun!”

the ones we try to forget.

13 Jun

this post has nothing to do with india,  so if india is all you care about well here is your update and feel free to move along:

i worked this weekend (balls) and then went with the americans on saturday night to eat pizza, drink imported chardonnay and watch saved! (god shouldn’t be taken seriously anyway, right?) on sunday i didn’t exit my apartment. and, um, frankly i only left my air-conditioned mecca of a bedroom to feed myself and pee – because i found a baby cockroach in my ensuite.

end scene.

so i feel like i’ve talked a lot about things that have happened over the years that were a little bit funny and a little bit failure.  but there is a column (c), a third party in the trilogy of awkwardness, a tiny footnote if you will, that i have not mentioned thusfar in our relationship.

oh hello, regret.

the idea of regret has been on my mind lately – as often happens when you have too much time and only bastard reptiles to talk to. in recognizing my need to bring it up, i have been carefully thinking about how to handle the topic with ya’ll – because i made an idiotic promise to be honest.

well the honest truth is that i lied.

simply put, as much as i know you’d get a kick out of my most cringe-worthy situations, i can’t unlock the these moments of deep regret for you with unabashed honesty. it’s like…archeology.  the details of my regrets are hidden away one on top of the other, each one changing the last, interwoven with 27 years of secrets and untruths. over time, i’ve even tried to systematically forget them. (and failed, of course.)

i will remain mum on the details, but i will say that my most heinous regret-inducing situations are thematic.  they all come together around one thing: a lack of compassion.

i know this will wildly shock you, but i am a little bit selfish. so while others may regret things like not following their dreams,  i’ve always been perfectly perfect at demanding better for myself.  it’s when it has come to demanding better for others that i have historically taken the back exit and slipped out unnoticed.

in other words: i sucked.

i’ve given friends their marching orders in terrible ways, i’ve disregarded love, i’ve said horrible things to wonderful people, i’ve not stood up when i knew something was wrong, i’ve let jealously lead to cruelty and i’ve been untrustworthy. a lot. and these are just the things i can remember.

and while im not – admittedly – upset with the outcome of most of these situations (for reals, i’ve had some totally shit friends who needed to go), the path to get there was all too often devoid of basic compassion. it’s this that i regret more than anything.

but you know, life is tricky, tricky, tricky and somehow it always finds a way to come back around with the good and the bad. or as some may choose to put it: karma’s a bitch.

about six years ago there was a a fairly life-altering, earth-shattering, mind-blowing (and other hyperbole hyphened words) incident that shook everything i thought to be right and true to the core. sadly, it involved some of the people closest to me, and was so devastating that i’m not sure i will ever be over it.

it changed me. full stop.

listen, i’m not saying i deserved said injustice, but i choose to think that i had a lesson to learn – and karma decided that this was how i would learn it.

i realized is that whether it’s the worst experience of your life or just some minor infraction – it feels completely hideous to be denied basic human compassion. just by way of all being people, we each have the capability to anticipate the feelings of others, but often do not have the kindness to apply it. if you think about it, witholding compassion is really a betrayal of the highest form.

so this is what i learned from my personal implosion: sure, kick the bitches and the losers to the curb, say what you think and don’t back down – but do it in a way that applies the golden rule. be kind, be empathetic, be compassionate.

while i have been taking my own advice for a few years now, i  still f*&k up from time to time when it comes to being compassionate.  so the regrets, sure, they still trickle through.

and i guess i’m ok with this – because i’d be really bad at attempting perfection:  i fall down too much in public.

and that’s a story for another day, kittens.

i googled 'compassion' out of desperation for a picture, and this is the first hit. enjoy.

how she is really doing.

6 Jun

so while i am living in self-imposed exile in this godforsaken country of dust and spice, life is continuing on quite vibrantly back home.  and though i’m mostly ok with the fact that people’s lives are moving on without me, there are days when my heart breaks a little bit.

mainly when i see things like this:

sienna elizabeth caroline - born may 18th, 2011

bootsy anne (with mom + dad!) - born march 13, 2011

the adorable babies in my life are just one of the many oh-so-sneaky things tugging at my heartstrings  from home. and while logic implies that these babes will never remember the 1 year absence of their auntie al,  i still miss them.

and sitting around missing the babies turns into missing my dog, which turns into missing readily-available toilet paper, sour cream, freedom from jc and nachos.  and then it’s all over.

so when bootsy’s mom asked my husband (who i also miss, calm down people) this weekend: “how is al really doing? because her blog only tells us hilarious stories and not really how she is feeling.” (i may have added the ‘hilarious’ in there for emphasis…although let me be straight with ya’ll: i am hilarious) – i could only think that maybe a few more of you were wondering about this.

and so i answer you that how i am really doing is ok. alright. fine. so-so. medium-rare.

are there days when the pictures of your daughters and sons make me both smile and sniffle? why yes.  but do i still understand why i’ve exiled myself here and why i have to stay in said exile? yes.  and does that sometimes suck? affirmative.

so like many other things in our crazy lives, how i am really doing is complicated.

which is why i choose to write about a mélange (you like that word?) of things on this blog: a bit of life in india, some friends and family and a buttload of stuff from my past that makes me so uncomfortable the only solution is to share it publicly.

and it’s this freedom to unload (usually pointless) shit on you, my kind readers, which is truly getting me through the complicated-ness of being so far from home. so thanks – and make sure to tell your friends about me – because i’m hilarious.

the moments that shock you.

4 Jun

as we have previously established, i wasn’t a fan of being a teenager. not only was i an emotionally fragile baby bird 95% of the time, but ‘life’s big realizations’ hit me a lot harder than most because i grew up in a verifiable bubble.

for example, the day i realized that people were actually having sex in my high school i was standing in a kitchen eating fried eggs and listening to a classmate talk about how her and her long-term boyfriend  had ‘done it’. a lot.

i remember thinking the following: i just turned 14 and that seems too young to be having sex. they’re only 14 too so how in the bejeezus have they been dating for so long? and f*&k, does this mean i need to find a boyfriend and have sex now to be cool?  (don’t worry mom and dad, the latter never happened. obviously.)

this day brought me from playing barbies to listening to my idiot friends talk about bjs.  and i was completely not ready for that – being as vanilla as i was.

further example: when i was 16 i had a brief flirtation with more-substantial popularity. so there i was,  was sitting in a study room with 3 bitches who were much cooler than i listening to them talk about making out. (at this point i still had no real first hand understanding of what that meant, to contextualize.)

bitch #1: “you know i really like zach*. i really like him a lot. i think i might  even love him.”  

bitch #2: “that’s so awesome.”

bitch #1: “we made out last night for hours. in fact, we made out so much  that my face started to hurt.”

bitch #3: “i know exactly what you mean.”

bitch #1: “have you ever made out so much that you get that white stuff in the corner of your lips?”

bitch #2: “oh yah. totally.”

bitch #1: “yah, we made out so much that i got that.”

bitch #2 (turning towards me): “you know all the guys like your boobs. they say you have the perfect amount – a handful.”

me: “WHAT?”

*name changed to protect the bitch. not that she’ll read this anyway – that bitch.

pretty much.

this whole exchange produced a couple terrifying realizations.first was that you could actually make out so intensely that you would produce some sick white subtance on your face. (frankly, to this day, this concept alarms and seriously disgusts me.)

second was that guys actually noticed what i looked like, and worse, that they were f*&king talking about it.

with this shocking new information in tow my typical 16-year old body images issues went into full-blown overdrive.

for the next several years i struggled with my ‘i’ll always be just a little bit fat’ self – trying to wear the right clothes and unsuccessfully lose weight to fit in with the bitches and the guys who liked to hold girls’ boobs in their hands…apparently?

but today after 12 years, fantastic friends, a promising career and a ballin’ husband who can literally kick asses – i don’t give a care about body image hang ups. actually, i’ve gone the other way: some would say i’m arguably too pleased with myself.

and now – as  life so ironically goes  – without even trying i am losing weight like crazy here in india.

while i’m eating enough, drinking enough and taking my vitamins, the combination and frequency of meals is doing a number on my drive-through curves without any effort on my part.

(somewhere in the sands of time my 16 year old self is literally punching a kitten out of anger.)

what’s shocking about this situation is that for the first time i am realizing that not only am i ok with my body, but i actively don’t want it to change. i love who i’ve become – i’m effing hilarious and my shape is a part of that. what a strange and wonderful thing to realize after so many years of wishing i was thinner and prettier.

so there you have it – and before i keep talking and this turns into a jenny craig commercial – i’m off to buy some indian-style sour cream and onion chips and oreos and sit on my (slightly less fat) ass.

sent with love.

31 May

there is a running joke in the team goodtimes family about hannah’s ability (or inability) to wrap packages for the mail.  to put it bluntly, upon arrival most of her packages look like a carefully-crafted letter bombs. awkward for everyone really.

since sending things to each other is almost a pre-requisite of being in our trio, hannah’s handicap (i use that in the most pc way possible, of course) has yielded many hilarious moments over the last 5 years.

however, i regret to tell you that i have never had the foresight to photo-document these incidents. this being the case, i sadly have no contrast for the package i happily received this past friday from hannah.

it looks like an adult sent it.

i hope you will take my word for it when i say that, in comparison to her previous works of ‘art’, this looks like an adult wrapped it and not a sugar-crazed toddler. even better than her wrapping job was the fact that it was chock-full of useful things for life here – like gator-gear (duh) and bug spray!

candy (my coworkers love!), itch-stick (i love!) and jello (for jello shots - everyone loves!)

to take blog notes?

attacked the ants, but they've only multiplied. bastards.

happy 1st wedding anniversary hannah + pete! thanks for the picture!

thanks hannah!

so thanks dear friend for abstaining from your typical mail bombing ways to make certain your love-filled package would clear indian customs!

things your mom and i have learned.

18 May

a note from al: i’ve had this post ready to go since may 11th – the original bean due date – and  i’m excited to say that i can now officially post it!

sweet one, you just have no idea how long we’ve all been waiting for you! it has been months – years even.  and some of us, i won’t say which ones, have been waiting a lifetime.

so after all this anticipation i’m sure you can see why today is just the best day.

while i can’t be there in person to welcome you, this doesn’t mean i don’t love you.  cause man, do i love you.

in my lingering absence i have spent hour after hour during these last few weeks thinking about how i could celebrate your arrival home – while i’m 12,000 kilometers away from home.

and then it hit me.

i’d be the robin to your batman! the watson to your holmes! i’d give you all the best things your mom and i have learned together from 27 1/2 + 28 1/2 years on this earth.

lesson 1: never ride alone.

steph + al horsing around

life is better with more than one: your troubles are easier and your joys are greater. (also…your pinot grigio is always colder. but this is a convo 19 years hence. 18 1/2 if you’re lucky.) build strong and enduring friendships – cause partner – the ride will get bumpy and you’ll want someone there who loves you to guide you home. giddy up.

lesson 2:  just go with the flow.

steph + al getting creative.

sometimes things don’t always work out how you planned. from bad haircuts (me) to broken noses (your mom) , you just gotta work with what you’re given.  embrace the unexpected early on babe, and you’ll always ride fast and high.

lesson 3: do your own thing, chicken wing.

steph + al looking smokin'

from this day forward people will tell you who to be – mostly with your best interests at heart of course! but if your mom and i have learned anything, it’s this: make your decisions for you and no one else. you may end up dressed to the nines in a room full of threes, but at least you will have worn what you wanted.

lesson 4: think not always of thyself but of others.

steph + al caring, sharing and daring.

it pains me to report that you will have bad days – very bad days. but always remember that  out in the mists there is someone having a worse day than you.  be compassionate, be kind and be sympathetic to those around you.  nothing feels as good as spreading the love.

lesson 5: love the ones you’re with.

wait...three? we're missing two.

while family comes in different shapes and forms, it is without a doubt the most important thing in life. embrace these (sometimes crazy) people – cause while family members can be the hardest to love – they will always love you the hardest.

so you see baby dearest, while i simply can’t be there shower you and your amazing parents with love,  i hope that for now you will accept these perfectly proven pearls via your ma and i as sort of a ‘hey! you’re here and i love you!’ thing. cause, let me say it again, man i love you.

welcome home,  sweet sienna. xo

pardon the interruption.

10 May

today i woke up feeling a little digestively challenged. all i will say is that i made some unfortunate vegetable choices last night and now i am off sick from work. of course, feel free to insert your own creative imagery here.

so as i sit quietly in my air conditioned mecca, i thought now would be the right opportunity to interrupt our regularly scheduled programming with some goodtimes.  team goodtimes, to be exact.

i’ve mentioned lidia and hannah a few times now since starting this confounded blog, and since i promised to share my stories of friendship and friendship fail-dom, i thought team goodtimes was the perfect place to start.

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i met lidia and hannah in 2006 when i shipped myself off to (the developing country known as) france for my last six months of university. hannah was  loud, obnoxious, incredibly american and lived across the hall from me in our dorm.  lidia, on the other hand, was quiet(er) but had a wonderfuly quirky sense of humor.

i immediately adored lidia – but as for  hannah – not so much.

listen, i’m the first to admit that i can be a judgemental bitch. but hannah was really outgoing you guys, and that freaked me out. as enthusiastic as hannah was (is), i was (am) equally as stubborn when i decide something is not for me.

yet despite weeks of suffering through my prickly demeanour, hannah broke me down with her obvious sense of loyalty, compassion and kindness. sure, she was over-the-top about everything, but that meant the girl knew how to have fun. and i liked it.

so with our mutual love for lidia in tow, team goodtimes was born.

i asked hannah last night how the name team goodtimes came about because i guess the french wine had eroded my memory. this is what she said: “al you gave us the name. you said we should be called team goodtimes because…we always have goodtimes.”

and while obvious, i guess it gets the point across.  we’re fun girls.

sometimes it's exhausting being so fun.

friendship is tricky and sometimes (many times) i don’t always get it right.  but, what’s beautiful about this is that my many failures have brought me to the point where i know a good thing when i see it. and folks – team goodtimes is just that.

over 5 years has gone by since our first days together – and while we are all on different continents – my dear team goodtimes girls still find time each day in their busy schedules to warm my heart.

i guess that’s just part of our deal. and i love them for it.

onion tartlet.

27 Apr
well chickens, there are times in your life when you feel like this:

feeling ready to party.

 and then, unfortunately for all, there are these times:

feeling (and looking) not so awesome.

sidenote: if you read the comments to this blog, you know that bra-head al is a little infamous around the team goodtimes family. in addition to being a stellar .jpg, bra-head al is a computer print-out popsicle-stick puppet that lives with hannah in florida. it usually makes an appearance in conjunction with one or 40 bottles of tequilla. ugh, sadly that’s not even my bra – just so you have the full effect.

anyway…

so weirdly enough today was a little of column a and a little of column b: feeling both like party dress al and like bra-on-head al. the good goes first.

starting early this morning i spent all day in the field experiencing microfinance in action for the first time ever.  what this meant is that i went to observe field officers collecting repayment from the clients at their homes or businesses well as visiting the microfinance institution’s branches.

at the risk of overdoing it (“the hills are alive with the sound of music…”), there really is no way to make anyone understand how amazing today was. and frankly i’m too lazy to try and you’re likely too lazy to read it, so let’s just call it mostly even for now.

ugh, on second thought since i can literally see my dad’s head exploding at my lack of detail, let me at least say the following. today i truly saw the depth of life here – the colors, smells and noises that define the people.  they were curious, warm, smart and really funny – which was wonderfully endearing.

today made my choice to come here seem that much more validated and i hope this is only the beginning.

but then…shit got sour.  “it’s like there’s rock bottom, then 50 feet of crap, and then me.” – well said, rachel greene. (although i’m maybe not at the below crap level quite yet…)

i’ve been feeling kind of funky the last 48 hours – and no, not jesus funky – as a weirdness creeped up on me. (and a further no, i’m not talking about juan carlo, although i should be because that bastard is one creepy creeper.) i’m talking about a round of homesickness.

this affliction many a traveller faces materialized today when mr. s called to say that because of the elections in west bengal tomorrow, i won’t be able to get my gas connection (read: cooking fuel) until thursday.  added onto this is the fact that both my bathrooms (read: toilets) are now not working – so i have no way to do my duties. doodies. doodles.

the alternative.

at home, people would care if i didn’t have access to a toilet 24/7 – here, not so much.

in the words of phoebe, perhaps this is : “part of, you know, the whole them-not-liking-you extravaganza!” really, is it possible they’ve figured me out already?

so i’m not sure where all this leaves things for today: feeling good or…not.

regardless, i do know this: my tv still works and i have 2 hours of syndicated “friends” episodes to look forward to each day before work. their lovable hijinks are always there to help me sort out all these complicated emotions.

and thank goodness, because seriously how else would i deal?

this is hannah’s fault.

7 Apr

the best way to start anything, is by clearly and concisely laying the blame for future failures on anyone but yourself.

so with that in mind, this blog is all hannah’s fault.

hannah – or 1/3 of team goodtimes as many friends and family know her – is my insanely insane yet perfectly perfect floridian friend, who has been an avid blogger for over 4 years.

team goodtimes @ gators game 2006

to put it in context, the girl blogged her way through her year-long wedding planning, and, now married, runs a “life blog” in tandum with her wedding blog. i could barely even think about a year long wedding planning process, let alone blogging about one.  this paragraph is making me tired, moving on.

(btw, you can find hannah’s inspiring blog here, at gator tales.)

so when i told hannah i was moving to india, her initial response was (and i quote) “i’m coming to visit, and now you have to start a blog.” bollox, i said quietly to myself.

but after weeks of thinking about it in the shower, while i watched re-runs of csi, and whilst i carefully applied polish to my toes – i thought that a blog might work. specifically, for the following reasons:

  1. the less update emails i have to send the better: there is nothing worse than getting a 45 page update email from someone living, what seems to be, a much more exotic life than you.  i literally want to punch those people.
  2. pictures are fun: my gut is telling me i will get lots of hilarious, moving, inspiring, and ridiculous pictures during my time in india.  i want to share the best of the best with you.
  3. spreading the word: outside of the fact that india is an amazing professional opportunity, i am going to be doing work that i think is worth sharing.  poverty is something we are all responsible for fixing, both at home and away.

frankly, this is an experiment.  i want to see if you will enjoy my musings and if i will enjoy musing to you.  more than anything, i am curious to see if any of this will help me process the next year as a newlywed living abroad – alone.

and hey – if this blog comes crashing down in a ball of flames – remember – this is hannah’s fault.

@ hannah's gator wedding, may 2010