family

Dear 2015 Me

Dear January 3, 2015 Me,

You turn 33 this year. That’s weird to say, since I’m only 31 now, but I am talking to one-year-in-the-future me, after all.

This is weird. I don’t know if I should tell you what I hope life is like in a year, or if I should remind you what it’s like right now. Maybe I’ll do both.

I’m in the midst of a challenge Jeff Goins is putting on – 500 words, every day, for the entire month of January. It’s only January 3, and I’m wondering how I’m going to manage throwing together a grand total of, at the minimum, 15,500 words. I had to use Google to find a prompt today. I took, “When you look back at your blog on January 2, 2015, what would you like to see?” from The Daily Post on WordPress and morphed it into today’s topic.

Yeah. Before editing, as of right now I’m at 135 words. Here we go.

Friday, January 3, 2014: you’re fat. I’m fat. I weigh, at my last weigh-in, 234.4 pounds. I have a belly – I’ve never had a belly before. I feel it in my ankles, in my back, in my lungs. My face looks like the Marshmallow Man in Ghostbusters – wide, fleshy, and white. My underarms are constantly eating my shirts and staining them because I sweat a lot.

I keep saying “you” instead of “I”. I’m correcting them for clarity’s sake. This letter is awkward to write. I hope I like it in a year.

My current celebrity crush is Zachary Levi – whom I saw last month in First Date on Broadway when I visited Caitlin. Maybe Alex O’Loughlin, too, but that could be because I’m watching Hawaii 5-0 right now. I watched a marathon of The Game a couple weeks ago and had a short-lived crush on Jay Ellis. Then I read that he preferred women in stilettos.

Nope. Moving on.

I’m sitting in my apartment, on my bed. I moved in here on October 11. That weekend was rough. Maybe you remember that, maybe not. Two weekends later Mad got married. October was a stressful month, to say the least. I’m still trying to dig my way out of the little bit of credit card debt I accrued, which sucks, because I had no credit card debt for a while. Life has calmed down a lot, finally, and right now it feels good to have less on my plate; I’m sure I’ll be bored again soon, though.

I was in a “relationship”. Oh, yeah – that one. Thankfully, I officially moved on in June of 2013. It was a beautiful epiphany: I was sitting at a red light after work, talking to a guy on the phone, and realized I was flirting. The pang of guilt I usually felt when entertaining thoughts of dating someone other than X never materialized. I was over him. I was free. I was relieved.

X never read this blog. You’ve stopped being bitter about the nevers, right? I know I need to let go of the frustration, but I’m having trouble. Please tell me I’m not harping on the nevers anymore. It’s so not worth it.

I’m hoping to start dating again soon. Thanks to my weight socking my self-confidence in the gut, I shouldn’t get involved just yet. BUT. Within a year, I hope my love life isn’t a joke. Please say it’s not. It’s kind of pathetic. Laughably bad.

Maybe I’ll finally be dating some hot CrossFitter. Hel-LO.

(You’d better be in CrossFit. You’d better not be this fat.)

I want to go to Taiwan to visit. And Hawaii to see Marianne. I have to stop thinking about travel because every time I start thinking of all the places I want to go, it makes me panic that I’ll never be able to. Has that feeling gone away yet? Am I traveling more? That hot CrossFitting boyfriend you have better love travel.

In a year, especially now that I have a really good idea of which direction I want my career to go, I’d better be making more money. I don’t want to live paycheck to paycheck anymore.

Do I still live in Dallas? I’m torn right now. It’s great being so close to Mad and so many good friends, plus Mom and Dad (and Sawyer) right down the road. It sucks being surrounded by people you love, but not loving the city where you live. Are you in Colorado?

Holy cow, do you still get the, “Oh, you want to move to Colorado because they legalized pot!” question? I’m sick of it. I want to move to Colorado because mountains. Outside. Snow! Healthy lifestyle. Living in a vacation state. Nature! Cool weather!

Have you figured that out yet? The west coast or just west. Something. Maybe you met someone from Vancouver. A CrossFitter from Vancouver! If only God took requests like a DJ. I’d like living in Canada. All the jokes about how nice Canadians are make me want to live there.

I’m hoping for several big life changes in 2014. If you didn’t get them all done, you’ve got your work cut out for you. Get to it.

If I did have a very good 2014… what’s in store for 2015?

All done,
January 3, 2014 Me

(894)

A Fort Worth wedding

On October 26, 2013, my sister got married. Planning her wedding, with all the details and countless To Do lists, was stressful, fun, frustrating (at times), expensive (though, compared to most weddings, the budget was modest), and the stuff nightmares were made of (literally, because all of us had wedding-related dreams).

Thankfully, we had help. A lot of it. Presenting, in alphabetical order, the people and places that made it all possible.

Allison Davis Photography

http://www.allisondavisphotography.com/

(For whatever reason, these pictures are not showing up in this post as crystal-clear as they should be, and that’s my computer’s fault. I can assure you that all of Allison’s photos are absolutely flawless. Just check out her blog!)

(c) Allison Davis Photography

First look.

Engagements blog post:
http://www.allisondavisphotography.com/blog/2013/04/23/maddie-steve-dallas-engagement-portraits/

Bridal portraits blog post:
http://www.allisondavisphotography.com/blog/2013/11/01/maddy-dallas-bridal-portrait-photographer/

Wedding blog post:
http://www.allisondavisphotography.com/blog/2013/11/25/maddy-steven-wedding-at-marty-leonard-chapel/

Allison Davis Photography

A shot from the piano/organ balcony inside the chapel.

There’s no question – if you’re getting married, Allison needs to be your photographer. See her Google+ page for my review. My family fell in love with her, and before the day was over, we were ready to adopt her into our clan.

shooting Mom and Mad

The great thing about this is you can see Mom and Mad mugging for Allison, and Tasha (mentioned later in this post) in the back right of the frame.

 

Bridal Boutique

http://bridalboutiquelew.reachlocal.net/

Mad found her wedding dress here, and Mom found her Mother of the Bride dress here. We fell in love with Mad’s consultant, Candice, and the boutique was great from the first round in the dressing room to final alterations.

Lewisville, Texas Bridal Boutique

Bridal Boutique - Candice

Carolyn

One of my Mom’s former room mothers and a good friend, Carolyn, took Mad’s decorations and ran with them. If you ever need an event decorated, and you’re in Texas, she’s your woman. She is selfless, generous, and can calm a first-time-Mother-of-the-Bride-to-be with ease. Just ask my mom.

Decadent Designs

http://www.etsy.com/shop/decadentdesigns

I placed a rush order with Decadent Designs for items for the bachelorette party and reception entry table. Lynsey was helpful and gracious, even when I placed the order, which usually takes 1-2 weeks plus shipping time, 9 days before the event. Of course, I managed to order one item in the wrong color, but it was all a hit.

Box and cards from Decadent Designs

bags and tags from Decadent Designs

Bags and tags from Decadent Designs, personalized wine glasses from Pickles N’ Vodka (see below).

 

Hobby Lobby

The number of times Carolyn and/or my mother were in Hobby Lobby is a bit ridiculous. It was our crafty-wedding-go-to store.

 

Jennifer Boyd Designs

http://www.etsy.com/shop/JenniferBoydDesigns
http://www.facebook.com/JenniferBoydDesigns

Jen is a great friend of mine and makes incredible wreaths. She made a custom Aggie wreath for Carolyn as a thank you for all her help.

Jennifer Boyd Designs

This wasn’t Carolyn’s wreath, but one for some mutual friends. It’s about 2 feet in diameter and at least 6 inches thick. Jen don’t joke around.

 

Kris

“Hey, Kris – I want a sign for my sister’s bachelorette in two days. Wanna help?”
“Sure!”

Within hours, I had a .psd file in my inbox. She even modified it to my specifications – here I am, asking for her help, and then getting bossy. But Kris went above and beyond. You need graphic design or multimedia design, then you need Kris.

Kris's framed sign

Marty Leonard Chapel

http://www.lenapopehome.org/marty-leonard-chapel/

The people at Marty Leonard Chapel were kind, helpful, and patient. The venue is elegant, uncluttered, intimate, and timeless. We loved it.

Marty Leonard Chapel outside

Marty Leonard Chapel inside

Melanie

Mel and I scoured Musicnotes for Mad’s ceremony music. Mel played the Forrest Gump Suite for the wedding party processional, Elvis Presley’s “Can’t Help Falling In Love” for Mad’s processional (the arrangement moves me to tears every single time), and The Wonderful World of Harry Potter for the recessional. Having a member of the family play such personal music for Mad’s wedding was moving and perfect.

Mel also catered the bachelorette party. I know. Woman’s talented.

yay Mel!

mini cupcakes

Allison Davis Photography

The piano in Marty Leonard Chapel is upstairs over the front door. Here, you can see Mel and her husband, Mikey, watching the wedding.

 

Party Time Rentals

Another go-to place for Mom and Carolyn – Party Time Rentals. They bent over backward for this wedding, and we will always be grateful for it.

 

Pickles ‘N Vodka

http://www.facebook.com/PicklesnVodka

Bri does graphic design, calligraphy, and artsy-craftsy stuff that just blows my mind. She made personalized wine glasses for Mad’s bachelorette party.

plain wineglasses made sparkly

Tasha

A family friend who recorded the wedding and created Mad and Steven’s wedding video.

recording the ceremony

Here’s Tasha in action.

(Thanks to my mom and Uncle Paul for some of these pictures.)

Facing mortality

January 8, 2013. At 10:30am, a message popped up in my Facebook inbox. One of the guys I’d gone to the Dominican Republic with in the summer of 2005 had suddenly and tragically passed away. It was shocking, and it took a couple days for me to process his death.

January 11, 2013. I got the news that Pop Pop, my mom’s father, had passed away at roughly 5pm. After shutting the door to my office, I folded over in my chair and cried big tears that hurt as I tried to stifle them.

When I left the office. I alternated between fine and tearful. As I pulled out of the parking lot, a thought, as clear as if it were spoken to me, came into my mind: “Pay attention to the sounds.”

Note

It was an odd moment. I typed the note to myself in my phone, and then I paid attention. I turned off my music and rolled down my window. I listened to the sounds of the traffic, the wind in the trees, the hum of my car’s engine. When the ambient noise quieted, I tried to hear the more muted sounds. I don’t listen enough, I realized.

I watched the red light in front of me. The world felt emptier. Pop Pop was gone. Our link to that generation, at least in my family, was gone. All the stories and memories of life before my time, before my parents’ time, were now lost.

The clouds moved overhead, as they always did. Life continued on, as normal, for everyone around me. The world didn’t stop spinning when my friend died, and it didn’t stop spinning when Pop Pop died, either.

The light turned green.

A week later we drove north to Indiana for the funeral. Pop Pop was cremated, as Grandmom had been, so we didn’t have to rush to have a service. My sister, her fiance, my friend Chris and I stayed in a hotel. I felt stressed, like if I cracked or made a mistake, everything would go wrong.

Before the service, as I was getting ready, I stood in the hotel room, fixated on my suitcase. My thoughts were simple, but I was having a hard time processing them. Chris was on the other side of the room, going through his things, and mentioned that my former boss wished me well.

“Oh. I need to thank her. And I need to thank Della. I can’t forget -”

“Mandy, you don’t need to do anything.” He said it gently, and I halted, staring hard at my suitcase. I heard him walk over to me, and I threw my hands up, gave in, and broke down. I sobbed as he held me.

Visitation felt like it lasted forever. Finally, Chris sat to my left, Mom on my right, Mad next to her, then Steven at the end. Dad gave the eulogy. I struggled to pay attention, so I closed my eyes and bowed my head as tears rolled down my cheeks. I kept it together.

The service ended, and we stood. Then, without warning, I couldn’t stop the flood of emotion, and I sobbed again. Mom and Dad hugged me, and as I quieted, I turned and hugged Chris. My parents went to talk to relatives and friends milling around, and Steven went to the restroom. Chris, Mad and I sat on the pew.

Mad and I looked at each other. I realized she was crumbling. With a look of sudden, sad realization on her face, Mad said, “We have no more grandparents.” Her emotions forced the words out just before she lost her composure. To my relief, Dad was suddenly at her side, and he comforted her.

Later, after leaving the funeral home, then spending a few hours at my aunt and uncle’s house visiting with family, we were back at the hotel. I was emotionally lighter, but exhausted. Chris held me as I fell asleep, and twice he asked if I was okay. Apparently, as I was drifting to sleep, my body was jerking and twitching.

This past Friday, I went to see a counselor for the first time. Over the course of an hour and fifteen minutes, I spilled my thoughts on my life as it is now. She wanted to know my goal. Why was I in therapy? What did I want to achieve?

“I hold everything in. I haven’t been talking to anyone, really, about how I’m feeling. When I do talk about it, I can feel myself reacting physically to all the anxiety. My eye twitches, my stomach is a mess, my heart will start racing and pounding out of my chest.”

“Those are definitely signs of anxiety,” Nancy said. “So what’s your goal?”

“I need to get it out, I guess. I can’t hold it all in.”

The only time in those 75 minutes that I lost my composure and started to cry was when I talked about Pop Pop’s death. I stammered and fought the tears.

“He fought for so long. He was miserable! We were so grateful that he let go. I miss him, I do, but it’s more… he’s gone. That generation is gone. Life is going too fast. I’m only 30, but I feel like I’m losing time. There’s just not enough.”

Since returning from Taiwan, I’ve been handling a lot of stress. It’s only been recently that I’ve been able to put a finger on the underlying thread of it all: I feel mortal. I feel as though I am running short on time, and that everything I want to do will take more time than what I have left, no matter if it’s 40 years or 100.

“We have no more grandparents.” When Mad said it, it didn’t affect me. Now, I think about it often. One generation’s length away from fighting life out on my own.

It’s a scary thing, to think that there’s not enough time. I have anxiety about it. I have to stop it from invading my life and taking away my joy. That’s the goal.

I need to live.

People Matter

Check Sevenly out. It’s a great organization. (http://www.sevenly.org)

thank goodness

Mapquest

I collect maps dot WordPress dot com. Mandy travels. That’s this blog!

I haven’t written in months. Currently I’m not collecting maps, and I’m not traveling, save for the driving I do around Texas.

Scary spinning wind!

North Texas. I’m currently living under all that red. That night was a special occasion: it was the first time I’ve ever heard a tornado siren. Outwardly I kept my cool. Inwardly, I was cowardly.

It’s kind of been nine months of a pity party, if I’m being completely honest. I don’t know what to do with myself, with my career, with the next several decades I have left.

Dog friendly, not horse friendly

Texas. It’s hard to see, but that sign has a person riding a horse with a red circle-slash over it. That means No riding horses in this park. Yeehaw!

Then, one day last week, while perusing my feed on Facebook, I came across a blog with a not-for-the-fainthearted-or-children title, full of self-help without the floofy sugarcoated baby talk. She cusses. It makes me laugh.

Monday the 13th, she posted “Fill In The Blank: I’m Not a ‘Real’ ____”, and I laughed, nodded along, and got back to work. In the back of my mind, though, it sat, and I thought about it. I read it again later. I found myself wondering what my Real ____ was.

Bigness

Texas. 15,000 people can fit in this building. It’s not a community college or a sporting arena: it’s a church. Welcome to the South, where churches are larger than most towns.

Yesterday I was late to work and in a slight panic because I couldn’t find my ring. Thin, gold, unremarkable… but I bought it, and it has sentimental meaning behind it; it’s my ring. I bought it. I wear it when I want to feel like I’m in control – I can take care of myself. It’s my Me ring.

thank goodness

The room was set to be vacuumed fifteen minutes after I found it. Can you see it?

I was explaining to my coworker the significance of the ring, and I figured it out… I think. I figured out my Real ____. I’m not the Real Me. Kind of. I’m not the me I want to be. Nicole Antoinette (ALLB’s author) asks this: ““What are the top three things that I believe make someone a real ____?”

bam! take that, bag!

I read self-help blogs and, instead of seeing an expensive therapist, I go punch things.

What are my three things?

  1. The Real Me is an athlete. She regularly participates in endurance events and grins when she feels the muscles in her arms from doing perfect-form chest-to-deck pushups.
  2. The Real Me has a full passport. My current one expires January 1, 2015. I need to hit up a bunch of little countries all in a row or something.
  3. The Real Me doesn’t live paycheck to paycheck. She has a savings account, and she saves! She has money for a rainy day! She has money to hit up a bunch of little countries and fill her passport!

None of these are surprises, I know. The title of this post could be “Mandy says stuff I already know”, or “Duh”. But this is my new map: my map to me. It’ll have to do until I get back to the passport business and blog about Mandy traveling and collecting road maps, instead of psychological maps.

beep beep

You know who probably doesn’t need a map? This limo’s driver. He parks at the end of my friends’ street. I wonder what his life is like.

I’m working hard on the athletic thing. I go to boxing/therapy twice a week and try to get a jog or two in the other days. I have a 10K on June 9th –

– but wait, Mandy! I thought you were signed up for a half marathon! Well… I am. Yeah. But I’m “downgrading” to a 10K. If you’re going to judge, I’ll meet you out there June 9th and you can jog next to me and tell me all about your feelings. –

– and I want to get back into triathlons.

I have more athletic shoes than heels

Post run. I’m wearing toe socks. The saleslady told me they would make me run faster. Lies. Or maybe she just said they were comfortable. I dunno.

Later this year, after my sister gets married, I’ll hopefully be taking a trip with a friend of mine. The wanderlust monster has me in its clutches. And as far as the financial stability goes… well. Buy me dinner and I’ll tell you all about it.

those things are disgusting

My dream is to put all this space to good use. An athlete would have a bike or a canoe in here. Sweaty boxing wraps and my workout bag don’t really fill it up.

In the meantime, I’m happy. Great friends have taken me in give me a bed and a place to shower. I love being within walking distance* of my sister; especially after my grandfather’s passing, my priorities have changed, and my family and close friends are more important than ever.

It’s an interesting time, and I’m struggling with being impatient. I want to know how everything’s going to turn out. Until I know, I have my map. Mandy travels – to realness and emotional stability! Huzzah!

 

*6.5 miles. Walking distance for an athlete.

I will not drink my own pee.

My Saturday, September 1, 2012, was 37 hours long. My brain and forehead wrinkle a bit when I consider that time didn’t really exist in its “normal” format when I was in the air; at any given moment when I was flying, I couldn’t have told you what time it was. The speed of the plane, the rotation of the planet, the time zones, the direction of the plane – they all interacted in such a way where time didn’t matter.

I landed in Dallas, made my way to baggage claim, and found my family holding signs with my name on them. Seeing them was great, and being back really exciting. Again, though, with the wrinkles: it didn’t feel real. Why was I at the airport? Did I really just get back from two years in Taiwan?

Apparently I was in Taiwan, ’cause here’s Flat Mandy owning the mountains of Taipei from the world’s second tallest building.

My first night in Dallas, I lay in bed and counted to myself in Mandarin. I knew some Chinese, so I must’ve really been there, right? I could mentally scoot through Hsinchu, turning down familiar streets and lanes, passing other scooters.

Still, though. It doesn’t feel real. None of it feels real.

You know what else doesn’t seem real? Typhoons that come back for seconds. Really, Tembin?

I email friends in Taiwan. That feels real. I giggle at memories and past conversations and stalk Facebook pages. I see that my old room is for rent. The description is a little generous, but I loved it there. Save for the 35C temperature during the summer, that small room was my place of solace for a good while.

Three days ago I drove for the first time in a while. My sister sat shotgun, and I drove with the wild abandon of a sloth.

Of course, soon enough, I was back to my former excellent driving standards. Oops.

Then, two days ago, I ran an errand, driving for an hour within the city limits of Dallas. I merged onto 183 and was immediately caught in a parking lot; finally, fifteen minutes later, I slowly rolled past a pickup truck, an SUV, and two cars that had gotten in a bumper fight. Considering the truck was a mess and was facing the wrong directio, and the SUV was crumpled entirely into the front seat, I was amazed that everyone seemed fine.

Ambulances, with their sirens blaring and their lights flashing, can make me cry. It’s a weird reaction, I know. When I passed the wreck, I started getting emotional. I choked up. Then I realized there was no ambulance in sight, nor were there any emergency lights or sirens. I swallowed my emotions and wondered what my problem was.

I think now, at 8:41am, after being wide awake for four hours, I might have a clue. Looking over this rambling post, and finally thinking a little clearer than I have in the previous few days, it makes a little more sense.

What always makes sense? A gigantic dog sleeping on top of you, and a second, far smaller dog sleeping on the couch by your feet.

From my lost time on the flights, to feeling like the past two years never happened, to seeing a major wreck and not knowing how to react: I feel a bit lost. Not in a Xanax kind of way, and not even in an anxious kind of way, but I feel directionless.

Time for an analogy so I don’t get a worried call from my parents:

Bear Grylls supposedly got dropped in the middle of nowhere so he could make his way back to safety: no map, no GPS, nothing but his wits and cameramen. Well, I’m Bear Grylls. I’m not scared, and I’m pretty excited about figuring out where to go. Right now, though, I’m still in the dramatic opening scene where I look to the sky, the camera (obnoxiously) spinning around me. The viewer is saying, “What will she do?”

Take Bear Grylls, add a little reverse culture shock, and you have me. It’s going to be an interesting journey. Who knows just how blog-worthy it’s going to be… the fate of this site is, as of right now, unknown. I’ll figure that out later, though. Right now, it’s time for me to look heavenward and keep moving forward.

Now, at 2:04am, it’s time for bed. Does Bear Grylls suffer from jet lag, too?