Top Five

Remember back in junior high when you had a "top five?" Meaning, the five guys that you think are the cutest or those that you want to be your boyfriend?

(Side note: There was a period of my life when Brittany and I claimed that Jesus was No. 1 on our top five. True story. What does that even mean?!)

In any case, the top five still exists. Remember the Friends episode where they all have a "freebie list" — meaning people they can sleep with without anyone getting upset:

Chandler: Well, we have a deal where we each get to pick five different celebrities that we can sleep with, and the other one can't get mad.
Ross: Ah, the heart of every healthy relationship: Honesty, respect, and sex with celebrities.
Monica: So, Chandler... who's on your list?
Chandler: Uh, Kim Basinger, Cindy Crawford, Halle Berry, Yasmine Bleeth, and, ah, Jessica Rabbit.
Rachel: Now, you do realize that she's a cartoon... and way out of your league?
Chandler: I know, I know, I just always wondered if I could get her eyes to pop out of her head.
Rachel: Oh, I don't know. I guess... Chris O'Donnel, John F. Kennedy, Jr., Daniel Day Lewis, Sting, and Parker Stevenson.
Ross: Spiderman?
Rachel: Hardy Boy.
Chandler: Peter Parker.
Ross: Thank you.

My friends and I frequently update our lists and as I was watching Duets tonight (I told you ... bad TV addiction), I found it time to update mine because there are TWO new additions.

It goes like this:

1. Ryan Gosling
2. Ryan Reynolds
3. Robin Thicke (NEW ADDITION!)
4. Channing Tatum/Eric Dane (NEW ADDITIONS!)
5. Bradley Cooper

Who's on your top five?

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Champs, Champs, Champs!

To know me is to know that

The relevance of that fact has little to do with anything I plan to write about, but I just got done watching Real Housewives of Orange County  last night, and I couldn't help it. I love Heather a little bit more each time she says, "A round of champs, please!"

Speaking of RHOOC...that show is so ridiculously ridiculous that it makes it good. I mean, not like Friday Night Lights or Breaking Bad good. But good enough that every Tuesday, I find myself looking forward to my DVR.

(Another thing you should know about me? Like, it's sick. You know when parents tell children TV rots the brain? I will not that be that parent. I just won't. I'll also add a disclaimer that I watch A LOT of crap TV but my excuse is that I think a lot during the day and I need crap that I can tune out to. Or blog about.)

So anyway, last night was the grand finale of RHOOC, a continuation of last week's "name changing party" at Heather & Terry's. By the way, who has a "name changing party"? Isn't that called a wedding?

Anyway, all that's really worth commenting on about this hot mess of women is that it really makes me appreciate the friends I have. I'm all about quality over quantity. And these "ladies" have neither.
I mean, the way these women talk to each other is APPALLING. I say that knowing that I can (and have) have a knock-drown, drag-out, speaking-out-of-anger-or-too-much-wine-consumption fight with any of my best friends. But the difference is that we don't let those moments define our friendship.

My core group of friends come from all stages of my life, from elementary school to high school to college. I met my very best friend, Brittany, when we were in 6th grade and I met another, Ashley, in college. You'd never know I had been friends with either one for more or less time. I know and love them for who they are and what they've been through and the women they've become, and I know they feel the same way about me. That gets to my point of quality over quantity. I don't really care that I only have a few friends in my surrounding area, because they are the best friends I could ever ask for.

I think it's interesting sometimes to think about the people in your life and why they're in it. One thing I love about all my friends is that we became friends at stages in life when it's easy to turn your head. When you're in elementary school, you want to be friends with the pretty girls. In high school, you want to be popular. In college, you get more of a choice on where and how you want to fit in, but you want to fit in all the same. But the girl you meet in 5th grade may not be the cutest and the girl you connect with in high school English may be considered a "nerd." Or the pretty girl you think you want to be friends with turns out to be an asshole.

The point is, I think that when you become friends with people during those most vulnerable stages of life, those are the most honest friendships. To meet someone as a 10 year old and continue to be friends as you go through awkward phases like puberty, or tough situations like a first breakup or a parent's divorce, and as you each figure out who you love and what you're good at — is powerful. You're friends whether one of you is rich or poor, skinny or fat, pretty or ugly — not because of it. You learn to really love and appreciate someone for who they are — not what they have. You love them because of certain things — and in spite of certain things. You learn someone's true colors at a very early stage and I think that makes the most honest, raw and real friendships.

I don't have time to get any deeper than that on a Thursday morning, but the point is, I have amazing friends. They're just the best and I'm so lucky to have them. Fear not, this is is not the last you'll hear of my friends. (They have all the really good dirt on me, anyway, and my best and worst moments were shared with them.)
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Giddy Up

Things got so crazy, in fact, that I saved that draft about 2010 sometime around January 2011, and then didn't come back here until June 2012.

I have no excuses except that I'm lazy and ... well, that's about it.

In any case, since I "started" this blog back in 2010, I've been saying that I'd publish it (read, let my friends/family know it existed, thus giving people the opportunity to come by and read my most personal thoughts and feelings, thus opening myself up to criticisms and humiliation, thus realizing my worst fear, which is that I actually suck at writing and should not be doing this as a profession).

I've also been saying I want to write a book. I'll write when I get home from work, I tell myself each day. I'll write in my journal before I go to bed. 

But then I get home from work and it's 6:30pm and I want to work out. (Read: I have to work out, lest my husband wants to hear my latest diatribe of self-loathing.) Then I get home from the gym, we eat dinner, relax a bit and before I know it, it's 10:30pm and I'm too tired to write anything. Then I lay in bed and think about how I don't want to go to work the next day, and decide I'll quit the corporate world and freelance for a living. Then the alarm clock goes off and I decide I'll go back to work after all, but not before declaring that I'll start writing when I have babies and can be a stay-at-home mom and stay-at-home writer.

See what's happening here? I finally did.

One of my best friends' dad literally asks me every time I see him if I've started writing my book yet. And I never have a solid excuse to give him.

Because that's what it ultimately comes down to - excuses. I've always said that I want to write a memoir but then I think, "Who cares about me?" And then my friends reassure me that I have some of the craziest, funniest stories ever and those alone will make people care about me (I have great friends). It doesn't matter that I'm not yet 30 - age doesn't define experiences and I've had some of those, ranging from amazing to downright shitty.

I just got done listening to one of my favorite authors, Jen Lancaster, read her new book "Jeneration X" on audio as I drove back to Iowa for the hundredth time this year (more on that another time). A fellow Chicagoan, she writes memoirs and just started to move into fiction. Bitch is hilarious. (She calls herself a bitch, so that's why I just did. I'm a follower, OK?) What's more, she has great stories. And those that aren't as great of stories, she still makes entertaining. Ultimately, I think she's awesome and can only hope to be as successful as she is one day.

So I went to her website, thinking I wanted to reach out to Jen and get some words of wisdom. "How can I be great like you?" I wanted to ask. Here's what I found:

"I love hearing from you!  I read and enjoy all your emails but with my current commitments, I'm sorry I can't personally respond to each one. 

As I read your notes, I notice a lot of the same questions, so following please find answers to your FAQs. 

Do you have advice for someone who hopes to be a writer?

If you want to be a writer, write. There's no secret formula or hidden cheat. Just write.  Write all the time, not because you have to, but because your world simply won't make sense if you don't. Take classes, join writing groups, do everything possible to hone your skills, READ, READ, READ, and don't worry about the business end of things. I get so many notes from people all panicked about the state of publishing and finding agents and formatting proposals when they've yet to get their words on paper. Becoming published has nothing to do with number of Twitter followers or website hits or networking and everything to do with turning out the best possible work you can. (P.S. If you go around saying you'd love to write but you can't find the time, then you're not ready to be a writer.)  (P.P.S. READ. Writers are readers, period.)"

It was that second to last line that hit me: "If you go around saying you'd love to write but you can't find the time, then you're not ready to be a writer."

How's that for a reality check?

So here I am. I immediately came to my blog, despite the huge long to-do list I have at work today, and wanted to get these words down.

If I've learned anything it's that tomorrow isn't guaranteed. What am I waiting for? The truth is, I'm scared. I want to be funny and witty and smart and successful and I want people to think I'm great. I think I'm probably trying too hard and I'm being naive to think that everyone will feel that way about me. But you know what? If I continue to be honest with myself, I know that I'm a great writer. I don't need my boss or a client or even a fan, friend or foe to tell me otherwise. I need to stop thinking and just write.

I have stories. I make mistakes. I have a hilarious group of friends and a dysfunctional yet amazing family. I have a husband and a dog. I work with great people. All of these things add to up stories to tell, which is all I want to do, whether they're hilarious or downright depressing. 

So, welcome to my awakening. Today is the day I stop making excuses. Today is the day I start REALLY pursuing my dream of being a writer and a damn good one, too. I hope you're all ready to join me for the ride.

Giddy up.

PS - Please don't read anything I wrote before this post. There's a reason I didn't publish it.

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Welcome to 2011

At this point, my so-called blog is becoming laughable. Give me a break -- I've been busy and in this post, you'll see why. It's a new year and that means a new, at least a version of me that makes time to blog.

Anyway, it's 2011 - how the hell did that happen? 2010 was an intense year, and so many exciting things happened. I thought I'd take a moment (or 60) to go through the year and all it's goodness.

Let's start with December 31, 2009: My older sister got married! It was the best way to start off 2010. We were surrounded by friends, family and tons of love. Jessica was cool, calm, collected and the most beautiful I've ever seen her. I've never seen her, or my new brother, Klint, so happy. Oh, and I didn't sob my way through my speech, so that is always a plus :)

In February, most notably, I started a new job. While I loved working at CareerBuilder and felt like it was a great start to my career, I felt that my career path there had run its course. I accepted a position as an editor at a company called Imagination Publishing. It's a fantastic company, with great people and clients. So far, I'm really enjoying it. It's been one of the most challenging jobs I've ever had, but I'd rather be challenged every day than not. And I'm still freelancing for CareerBuilder, which has been great as well! Thank you CareerBuilder, for helping fund my upcoming wedding.

March was a month of celebration. It started with one of my best friends' bachelorette parties, which we had here in Chicago over St. Patrick's weekend. Friday night we went for dinner downtown, and hit up Howl at the Moon, a great piano bar. We were a little crazy on Friday night, but not enough to hold us on down for Saturday. We started the day with Bloody Mary's and mimosas at my place while Mandy opened some gifts. We had a party bus come pick us up, where we spent a few hours drinking and driving around the city, before stopping off to bar hop for the rest of the day.

Later that month, I made the trip to Minneapolis to stand up in Chelsie's wedding, one of my closest friends from college. She and her husband Jon got married in such a beautiful church and threw one heck of party at a venue called Spill the Wine. It was the first of many wonderful weddings I was privileged to be a part of last year. AND, Chels is doing me the honor of singing at my own nuptials in a few months. She and Jon are currently living in Columbia and traveling the world and having a blast!

In April, we made the trip to Kansas City for Mandy's wedding to Dr. Scott Solomon. I was another bridesmaid for another beautiful bride :) The weekend was a whirlwind, but so much fun. Especially when Sara's drunken husband was walking around in his underwear and dress socks, and I thought it would be funny to give him a little push. He didn't find that nearly as funny as me, and gave me a deserving shove back, causing ME to fall over, start crying and cool down by walking to get pizza down the street. Pizza makes everything better.

One of my favorite parts of 2010 was all of the weddings. Sure, at times it was stressful and exhausting, but at the end of the day, I was happy to do everything for them and so honored to be a part of it. Mandy is doing me the honor of standing next to me in May, and I can't wait!

In May, we got a break from weddings and did something to celebrate ourselves. Bryan is obsessed with Boston and I'd never been before, so we decided to celebrate our INNversary (one year until our wedding) by taking a trip there for Memorial Day weekend. We did some sight seeing and stopped off at the original Cheers bar:

Bryan took me to my first Red Sox game:

We met up with my best friend's boyfriend, Russ, who lives in New York. Then we ended up a weird bar where there was a group of people dancing without shirts on and we decided it was time to go home. Bryan and I spent the next day doing more sightseeing and on Sunday, we took the ferry out to Martha's vineyard. We rented bikes and spent the day riding through the town, out to the beach, etc. It was amazing. I also got my first sunburn of the season and it HURT! Before we came home, we had a seafood dinner outside and I tried lobster for the first time. Bad idea..I used to be a cheap date, but now - sorry, B. 

June began what would be the busiest summer ever. I'm being serious about that. In fact, I quite literally can't remember entire weekends because I don't know where I was or what I was doing, but more often than not, I was at a wedding, a bachelorette party, traveling somewhere and/or drinking. Many times all of the above.

Things got really crazy...
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