Why I am a Terrible Birthday-Haver

February in Michigan is arguably the gloomiest, most depressing month available to the human race.  It’s a stream of days without sun, a mix between harsh snowstorms and wet, icy rains.  It’s cold in your bone marrow.  Then there will be a day full of sun and the temperature will sky-rocket to 35 degrees and everyone hugs and rejoices in the end of winter and we go running outside in our tank tops, and then the next day we wake up to schools being closed due to a fresh foot of brown snow.  Brown snow, people.  It exists.

But February is my birth month, and if you know me, you know how much I love my birthday.  Sometimes I even get too excited to enjoy it.

For example, last year:

Three of my work friends had won hundreds of dollars to spend at our gorgeous establishment that I’m honored to work at.  They also won rooms at the JW Marriott hotel in Grand Rapids.  These friends invited little old me to dine with them on behalf of my birthday and invited me to stay with them at the hotel.  We are talking concierge floor with free drinks, food, killer views.  I mean, come on.  

You can read the full post here (ooooh, someone learned how to add links…and yes, I’m aware that that should be basic computer knowledge), but I ended up getting so excited that I made myself sick and had to leave dinner early, missing out on savory bottles of wine and even better company.  

A couple years before that, when I still lived in Jackson, I woke up to my roommate and dear friend, Betsy (she is an incredible photographer, find her webpage here) who had made me breakfast and mimosas.  It was the perfect birthday morning.  After that I did a little dog-walking (yes, it was one of my many professions there) and went home to take a nap.  Again, Betsy woke me up to remind me we had dinner plans before our night on the town.  I was still a little goofy from the mimosas, but managed to pull myself together to go to dinner.  

I again was so excited for my birthday night that the wine flowed a little to smoothly.  We left dinner and crossed the street to a sports bar to play some pool.  At one point I stood up from my stool, the wine went straight to my head as the blood drained from it, and I fell face first, smashing my head into the side of the pool table.  Thankfully, I had two wonderful gentlemanly friends carry my home, tuck me into bed and set a bag of frozen peas on my head.  It was 9pm.

Birthdays man, I love them a little too much.

This year, however, I did everything I could to remain calm.  I went to class, got a manicure, pedicure (thank you, Ryan), and then relaxed as I gussied up for the evening.  (I love any excuse to get fancy).  Ryan and I had dinner plans to eat at one of our favorite seafood spots downtown, but as the afternoon led to evening, February took hold once again and transformed a partly cloudy morning into a disastrous snowstorm of an evening.  Ryan got stuck in stand still traffic.  

I called the restaurant to see if they could push back our reservation a half hour.  The lady on the other line informed me, “We are hoping to close early, so just get here whenever you can.”  No pressure.

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Good news, people.  I didn’t smash my head on anything, I was able to eat my entire meal, and I only broke one glass.

I was nervous about turning 27, because if you’ve been following this at all, you know that I’m not at the same place in my life as most of my 27-year-old friends, and there are still some times when I’m hard on myself about it.  But the fact of the matter is that, if my life had gone the way my mind sometimes wishes, I would have missed out on so many of the best things that life has brought me to. 

I know I’m being vague and wishy-washy, but I hope that when you start thinking about the shoulda-woulda-couldas in your life, you also remember that every single thing happens for reasons we will never understand.  The things you think are terrible in your life right now could ultimately lead you to happiness you never thought existed.  Just wait, and then thank me later.

To Birthdays, because they’re secretly just another day,

Cheers! 

….

Also, nine days….that’s it….just nine more days…..

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I’ll take you with me in spirit.

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Why I’m a Crazy Dog Lady For Life

Today is the day where we all take a look at ourselves and realize that we all have some serious sucking up to do.  Generally, Valentine’s Day is dedicated to those who are blissfully in love and have totally forgotten that they are so, and therefore, need a special day to remind themselves that they are, in fact, in a relationship, and they should probably do the annual nice thing for their significant other.

I like it because sometimes we need that reminder to do nice things for our loved ones, but I also despise it, because at the same time we totally should not need it at all.

My Valentine’s Day gift for Ryan was making him breakfast before he scurried off to class.  I do this for him every so often, but today was different because on behalf of Valentine’s Day I went out and bought an onion and spicy sausage to put in our scrambled eggs.  Love you babe, now don’t even think of breathing near me. 

Valentine’s Day for me, however, has a little more meaning, aside from the goopy lovey crap.  Today is my dog’s birthday.

Even writing it seems so stupid, because he is, in fact, a dog.  So let me tell you quickly and lovingly the story of Cooper.

I chose to “foster” Cooper on a random May morning when I still lived out West.  I frequently scoured Petfinder.com to weep over all the dogs who needed homes and then sulk with a glass (bottle) of wine because I was not at a time in my life where owning a dog was a good idea. The night before I met Cooper, I stumbled on a page featuring a litter of freaking-adorable-I-can’t-stop-squeaking puppies.  They were at a shelter two hours away.  Knowing I would never make that drive, I e-mailed the contact for more information.  I sent this late in the evening and she responded very quickly with “I’m actually fostering them in Wilson.  Feel free to stop by any time to see them.” 

Wilson was a ten minute drive.

Obviously, I went to see them the next morning with my roommate and his girlfriend and we took two puppies home with us to our apartment that was not at all pet friendly.  We snuck around for two weeks with our four month old puppies, but if you know anything about four month old Labrador mixes, you know that they are not at all easy to sneak around.  Nor are they easy in any other way.  Cute, eff yes.  Easy? Ha!

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My roommate and I would pass each other on the stairs at 3am, each holding a whiny puppy that needed to relieve himself.  There was one time when Cooper was so whiny during the night, and I was positive it was just because he wanted to cuddle with me and not be in his crate (since I had just let him out) when all of a sudden I heard an enormous fart with squishy spatters of poop smacking every single square inch of his crate. 

Our landlord eventually found out about our puppies and I had to stay with a friend for two weeks until our lease was up, meanwhile searching for the impossible – a pet friendly apartment.  When I did magically end up in one, Cooper formed a habit of destroying books and newspapers, digging through the trash, and if I were gone, he’d pee in the house. 

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He got hit by a car when he took off toward who knows what, leaving me to pay a $500 vet bill for what was maybe a sprained toe.  

He also had three more butt explosions, entirely destroying two separate crates.

I was so quickly in love with this dog, and he grew so attached to me that he formed separation anxiety, where, to this day, if I do not lock him in my room with all of my Hannah-smelling stuff whenever I leave, he will 100% take a crap in the house.

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(Let’s be real, I so don’t mind…and seeing as how I take him wherever I can, I must have a bit of this separation anxiety as well)

When I first decided to keep him, I had sincere hopes that he would hinder me from always going out at night, maybe slow down my party mode.  He did, but only a little.  I tried to use him as a tool to change myself immediately, when what I really had to do was make that decision myself, and it would not at all be immediate.  I put a big job on such a little dog.

I wasn’t immediately successful, but he loved me despite me hating myself. 

Like I said, he loves me to the point where he takes a crap in the house every single time I leave, because he misses me so much.  My boyfriend doesn’t even do that for me.

His furry, intrusive, obsessive love has had a profound impact on me.  Because despite his crazy bowels and his incessant habit to lick anything and everything, he is the best at cuddling, he doesn’t impose his beliefs or his unwanted criticism or advice, he is gentle beyond words (with dogs and babies, it’s the kind of cuteness you want to die from), and he lives to love.  Not many of us can say that.

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So happy 3rd birthday, my sweet little canine.  I’ll be that crazy dog lady any day for you.

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We all know who I’m raising my glass to today,

To the Coop dog

Cheers!

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How to fight Seasonal Depression – Run away!

January and I had no bitter farewells for each other this year.  Instead, we shook hands amicably and I cruised into February with a super cheesy smile.  I have reasons:

  1. Although we are not out of this ever-looming cloud we call winter, we are a step closer.  

  2. February is short.  And the minute it’s over, I will be flying to hot and sunny Costa Rica with my man and some of his family.  Can’t wait to get him in a bikini. Ow ow!

  3. In just a couple short weeks I will be celebrating my 27th year of life.  26 sounded mature, but still young and spry.  27?  It starts to hurt my feelings a little bit.  Not to worry, I will more than happily celebrate it with hefty amounts of food and enough wine to….well, let’s just say I’ll be enjoying plenty of it.

20140206-103438.jpg I love wine.

The thing with February, however, is that nearly every year I’ve lived in Michigan, once February rolls in, so does that creepy thing we call Seasonal Depression (dun dun dun!).  My bones ache to be outside, but then when I go outside, I shiver and die from the bitter cold and lack of sun.  I start to care less about puppies and babies and more about why this or that person is such a jerk.  Then my soul is so sad that it creeps out my eyes and I cry and cry about nothing in particular.

I know not all of you can relate, but I also know that plenty of you can.  You know how I know?  Because I’m surrounded by you every day.  I see you, sulking bitterly, on the verge of an uncalled for meltdown.  I also feel your pain.  

We crave sunshine to warm our faces and pack our bodies full of Vitamin C.  It’s so imperative to our happiness to be able to be outside and not freeze.  Which is why I booked my one-way ticket to Costa Rica and will never return!

Okay, it was a two-way ticket to spend nine (yes, NINE) days there, and I was super shaky and anxious at the thought of taking that many days off work.  I second-guessed the shit of it.

I still do, sometimes.  Like the other day, when I brought my car in to get new brake pads, and instead they told me that my car was in desperate need of new brakes entirely, along with a new bushing (wtf is that?) and an alignment.  Totaling a laughable approximation of $1,000.  This is two weeks after I put $300 into that sucker.  My screechy and grindy brakes rolled out of that place ASAP.  I went home and stuck my head in a 4-foot snow bank while I questioned whether or not to cancel my trip.  This car really hates my guts sometimes.

Listen people, I’m going on this trip.  I am leaving this country.  End of story.  Also, I put myself on a spending freeze, so that’s how things are going.  Sometimes, you just do what you gotta do,

Do you ever feel like you’re playing a game with life and it’s totally kicking your ass?  I kind of feel like that right now, as I do most times when we are this deep into the winter season.  

Thankfully, I’ve had the help of my loved ones to remind me that I have a car (albeit an unreliable one), I have the means to take a trip, I have a warm home to keep me from dying of hypothermia, and the list could go on and on.  

So even now, as I take breaks to look up and out the window to glare at the gloomy clouds laughing at my sadness, I have to remind myself of blessings.  Even though I had to wear two extra layers today for my walk from school to work (holy first world problems, right?) I can be happy that I had a gift card to Starbucks, which allows me to sit warmly inside and blog before my trek.  

I must say, the really crappy things that happen to you in life will be the things that build your character in ways you couldn’t imagine.

Let’s stick this out together, k?

To the sun beyond the clouds,

Cheers!