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Here’s what you (the reader) and me (the author) know about me (the narcissist) after 4+ years of ingesting eatingatme content:

  1. I’m consistently inconsistent.
  2. I’m often unsettled but work diligently to live a positive life.
  3. I over think. Some may say I over share. (Fuck you, haters.)
  4. My potty mouth’s a passion. So’s my sarcasm.
  5. I’m originally from Buffalo, New York.

1 + 2 + 3 + 4 = 5, at least in my case. I confirmed this last weekend.

I flew to Buffalo to surprise my sister, Kristen, for her 40th birthday finale (she, her hubby, and their two kids live in Las Vegas but were back home for a visit). I was raised in Buffalo alongside Kris and her brother, Robbie, who, 36 years later, I still refer to proudly as my siblings. Kris’ loved ones orchestrated a celebratory week that culminated in a Sunday Funday around the city on a party bus. I popped out behind balloons; there were laughs; some tears of joy sprung (mostly from me). There were renditions of Alanis Morrisette’s “Uninvited” and some Barbra Streisand song. There were many drinks.

This – plus copious amounts of hang time with my elementary school bestie, Kate; my extended family; and other longtime friends – occasionally evoked feelings of hiraeth, or a homesickness for that which is no longer (see Regina O’Callaghan’s post on this very topic, executed beautifully). I left Buffalo for college at age 18 and only returned for visits that were very much dictated by my mother’s scheduling. I rarely had an opportunity to enjoy the geography I knew as my birthplace and cradle. I always felt like an outsider and never thought it possible to reclaim my identity as a kid from the Nickel City.

Half way through the visit I decided that drudgery – a behavior that is VERY Buffalo – was no longer acceptable. Buffalo is my home and I want connection, dammit. I experienced love in that city. I danced professionally there. Hell, I learned to read and write in Buffalo. Now, my mother and grandparents are laid to rest there. This all means something very deep to me.

There’s a renaissance occurring in Buffalo; the excitement is palpable. Driving through Canalside and the Elmwood Village with Kris, Rob, our friends and family, and witnessing happiness and a love for life was electric. Eating fucking fantastic Cajun food at Toutant and revisiting my favorite hot dog joint, Ted’s, collided the new and eerily familiar brilliantly. Hanging with Kate and her husband, Jack (my Grade 5 crush), while their daughter, Emma, sang for us…this built a new structure for my hometown around my heart and headspace. I left feeling slightly more settled and invigorated. I also exercised my sarcasm muscle adequately and learned a few new profanities to share with you in later posts.

Hey. It’s Buffalo. It’s what we do.

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Passion Play

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I consider myself lucky.

I’ve been in love five times in my life. Punched in the gut, sweet Jesus is-this-for-real, gasping for air agape-eros-philia heaven. Vastly different journeys. Thankful for each.

I’ve experienced intense professional satisfaction. Goals achieved that prompted my inner outside voice to yell “I DID THIS!” Work that served others while filling me up. Bold action that made me proud and changed me for the better.

And then there have been the moments that rendered me standing still at attention. The drill sergeant of opportunity screaming “TAKE THIS IN! Not everyone gets this chance, you hear me?” My favorite in recent history is from this past Christmas Eve eve. I floated on ancient hallowed snowy ground in Fengersfors, Sweden, observing the silent flicker of lantern light among the gravestones of the church’s adjoining cemetery. While tears rolled down my cheeks, I praised God, my mother, and each person who made it possible for me to be in that hour.

It’s now the eve of my 41st birthday, and I’m sitting exactly opposite of where I was precisely six months ago. Sweating in hot urban Vista, California, drinking bourbon, and crying hallelujah that my MacBook’s made it another day. Lots of uncertainty rubbing my shoulders but I still feel exaltation akin to what bubbled up in all the aforementioned scenarios.

This is what unconventional reinvention yields. Common vernacular might define this as “adulting” but I find that term ridiculous. It discredits the thought and labor behind getting it done; everyone inevitably becomes an adult with the passing of time. Reinvention – responsibility – takes dedication and sweat.

Tonight I’m present to what it means to walk, run, twerk in my shoes. I get the value of the almighty dollar and the freedom it provides; I’m also clear that it’s the last thing that should define you. I give a one-finger salute to the common, safe, and mundane; I’m striking balance between that which I love and what brings home the pasture raised organic pork. I’m in love with my life; find whatever work I do fulfilling; bloom from amazing opportunities.

As a result, eatingatme has also matured, and in the coming months I look forward to sharing my passion play with you. Collaborations with writers that inspire. Conversations with intriguing individuals who’ve run wild with renaissance and created magic. The launch of a legacy project that’s been 12+ years in the making.

THIS is the eatingatme 2.0 that’s providing satiation. Thank you, thank you, thank you to Regina O’Callaghan, Kimberly Jones, and Lori Krause for the partnership, vision, and fearlessness it’ll take to make our projects happen.

THIS is the outcome of declaring better for myself one year ago. This is what it means to learn from your history in order to live, not just exist.

Show Up

I liken the past two months to an episode of Sons of Anarchy: needless drama that predictably results in lack of communication, followed quickly by betrayal and senseless death. You know, Shakespeare.

However, my excerpt is absent of insanely delicious bikers covered in tats and the stench of cigarettes. Bummer.

And no one’s died. And it hasn’t been that dramatic. Just super fucking irritating.

Welcome to searching for and securing full-time employment at the age of 40 during 2016’s election season when you’re over-qualified but yet slightly out of the game for too long. (Starry-eyed “entrepreneurs” take note!) But let’s be real; welcome to me putting my life back together.

I’ve interviewed; interviewed a second time; waited; sent follow-up responses; waited some more; been told I’m over-qualified or that the offer letter is on its way (bullshit) or that they’re not going to hire for that position after all (discovered third-hand after waiting for three weeks for some kind of response) or I wasn’t the right fit. You get the idea.

In the meantime, I’ve worked retail, secured some spectacular writing projects, Marie Kondo’d the shit outta my life, and planned a trip to Maui in October. Six of one, half a dozen of the other.

I say with certainty that this scenario would have put me in a bottle or on pills a year ago. Today? Go fuck yourself; I’ve got this.

I’m not an island; my friends and family have been my rocks and ass-savers BIG TIME. There’s no way I could’ve done this without them. And there’s a confidence to be appreciated in asking for help; get over yourself so that one day you may blissfully pay it forward.

And know that it’s absolutely acceptable to look out for number one as long as your feet are grounded and your heart’s loving.

Just don’t be an asshole. Show up. The rest will work itself out.

That’s what I’m telling myself. Pretty sure Jesus advised that.

Skål!

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February marks four years of play on eatingatme. This fact didn’t register until generic congratulatory messages via LinkedIn forced my hand to pay it some mind.

“Happy anniversary, you hot mess.” This is what I read every time I received a new ping.

Prior to my stint in Sweden, I viewed eatingatme as yet another ill-defined project I created or participated in as an attempt to establish identity and foster self-worth. Translation: it gave me something to say I was up to because I must always be big and impressive and on par with all of the fancy people.

Truthfully, since the heyday of Red Letter Days Events, I’d been anything but big and impressive. eatingatme reflected that; it didn’t take a rocket tinkerer to recognize that the thread of this blog had often been challenging to follow. It’s served primarily as a mirror for my life’s consistent inconsistency and a mixing board for sounding off. eatingatme’s been valuable to me, and the handful of loving readers who’ve stuck with me, but it hasn’t attracted a large attentive audience. Why would it?

I was about to call curtain on the whole thing, but then Åstorp happened. In the cold calm, this hot mess found her identity, renewed strength, and a bit of lagom (Swedes don’t really have groove, unless they’re AnnaKarin). I had something engaging to express.

And now, this, partly unnerving, all exciting: I’m temporarily in San Diego, the place where I slowly lost my game, but this time the player’s a pro. I’m in the midst of an unconventional reinvention and I’m using every ounce of my energy to stay focused on my priorities determined in Sverige. The luxury of quasi anonymity and partial solitude solidified a new perspective on life by making critical distinctions apparent.

  • I’m a writer, regardless of what I do to earn an income, where I live, or how this rates among the cool kids. It’s my most authentic craft. It’s how I breathe.
  • eatingatme is all good, whether plain and simple or big and impressive. It’s where I share my curiosities and escapades. It’s where I wander and wonder. It’s where I’m me.
  • eatingatme is also a place to engage in generous conversation that provides positive impact for others. It’s a place to satiate the soul through communication on whatever is eating at all of us. The ways this can play out are infinite, just like life. The way it can grow in reach is limitless and I’m jazzed about this process.

Today, eatingatme is something I choose to celebrate. For better or worse, richer or poorer, clearly defined or abstractly chaotic, it’s been my online home for four years.

That’s pretty fucking fancy to me.

From A Starbucks In Orange County As I Plan My Week

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I write to give authenticity, kindness, and fairness a fighting chance in my snarky, opinionated, judgmental world.

I keep starring and asking questions because I want to understand as opposed to make cavalier assumptions that don’t promote progress.

I’ve let go of those who show no interest in me and/or don’t have the guts to have a conversation. I don’t travel one-way streets.

I continue to see the value of not overwatering reality in alcohol, food, whatever. The buoyancy that comes from that is temporary and messy.

Get to the ocean as much as possible.

I Love Sverige (Reporting From Sin City And Sun Diego)

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The United States of America. The heat of southern California, the blinding lights of Las Vegas, that particular hustle and bustle found from sea to shining sea…

I’m on the other side of stoic Sweden’s salvation. I’m absorbing what just happened.

I know three months anywhere isn’t a lifetime; I’m clear that immersing myself in another country doesn’t make me special. However, the impact from my experience is HUGE.

I’m proud of myself. I can’t tell you how long it’s been since I could say that.

That feeling ignites intellectual curiosity. It creates a craving to fill every moment with progress, expansion, love, good. It’s food for the soul.

Since returning home, I haven’t known what I’ve been up to until I’ve been in the midst of it; I’ve been playing full out in the present, acknowledging my senses and appreciating the gifts I’ve been given. But the dust is settling and I’ve launched an exploration of what’s next, armed with some vital intelligence accumulated since November. My confidence in my ability to build my future is unshakeable; I’m kicking ass.

Sverige resoled my combat boots. And that’s just the beginning of the story…

(And yes, there’ll be a post about Swedish food soon.)

I Love Sverige (Upon Leaving)

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I’m just about to head to Helsingborg to take a train to Copenhagen. I leave for the U.S. today.

My thoughts and emotions are flying chaotically but now isn’t the time to craft a lengthy post about that. However, I don’t want to leave Sweden without saying the following:

Thank you for saving me. I’m obsessively grateful.

#swedensavesmysoul #apapeerosphilia #eatingatme