My Awesomely Random Life (and Everything in Between)

Archive for the ‘Humor’ Category

Colorado-versary: Celebrating Six Incredible Years

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Damn, Colorado. Time sure does fly when you’re having fun.

It was at about exactly this time six years ago when I crossed the state line, my little VW Bug packed to the brim with everything I owned (give or take a few discarded cups of coffee and empty Twizzler wrappers).

I remember having a conversation with my sister two nights prior while watching The Office. I randomly looked over at her [with a mouth full of Doritos, probably) and said, “You know what? I think I’m gonna move to Colorado.” There was no defining “Ah-ha!” or moment of clarity that led me to the decision of literally packing up my life and starting fresh in a state clear across the country. It was just me, Michael Scott and some stale potato chip product. If that’s not inspiring as fuck, I don’t know what is.

As I stepped out of my car, my legs stiff and my eyes heavy from driving over 22 hours, these questions–and so many more–were running through my head on the repeat.

I was terrified.

But I was also incredibly happy. Like, eating a giant ice cream cone on a sunny Saturday afternoon in a park full of puppies, happy.

Taking in that first sight of majestic Rocky Mountain goodness in front of me, I felt like I was home.

When I decided a little over six years ago to take a giant leap of faith and make the big move, I really had no idea what was in store for me. I did something so very unWendi-like and jumped without looking. I stuck a giant middle finger up to any kind of plan, any premeditated form of action. I felt, and I did. I didn’t have a job lined up, I knew just a handful of people and wasn’t even sure if I would like living in the Mile High City. All I really knew for sure was that if I didn’t try, if I didn’t take this chance now, I might never get the opportunity to do so again. I also knew that if I fell back on that fear of things not working out, if I chose instead to remain forever in my comfort zone, there would be some serious regret-age going on.

And if there is one thing I have learned in my 30 years thus far, it’s that regret is no friend of mine.

So I jumped.

Shit, I jumped hard.

And that by far has probably been one of the greatest decisions I have ever made to date.

For six years I have been lucky enough to call Denver my home.

For six years, I have been able to call the mountains my playground, my weekend escape. I’ve seen some of the most beautiful sunrises and sunsets imaginable, I’ve hiked some of the most challenging and breath-taking trails, explored the urban jungle that is downtown Denver and tasted some of the best food (And beer! Yes, I am now a beer fan! Well, getting there anyway) that I’ve ever had.

Professionally I’ve had some very challenging and rewarding opportunities that have really helped to shape not only me as a social media/writer/boss chic, but also have served as a reminder that I’m damn good at what I do, that I love what I do, and to never, ever never stop pursuing that dream of mine no matter what obstacles may get in my way. I’ve worked with some strong-willed and big-hearted people, have helped to inspire some incredibly talented and motivated students, and have learned and grown from each and every one of them.

Personally, I’ve broken out of this silly shell I’ve been hiding behind. Moving somewhere new by yourself kind of forces you to put your badass self out there and meet people, no matter how you end up doing that. I’ve met some incredible new friends, have reconnected with old ones and have made too many memories to count.

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The late-night conversations, the too-close-to-call softball games, the good first dates and the ones you wish you could Ctrl Alt Delete. The summer baseball games at Coors Field and Packer games at Badgers, the bike rides, snowball fights and Harry Potter movie-marathons. The pool parties, happy hours, road trips and barbeques.

The smiles.

The hugs.

The uncontrollable laughter.

These past six years have made my heart so incredibly full, nearly as full as my ever-shrinking apartment—the number of books I’ve accumulated since I’ve been here is embarrassing, guys. I cannot wait to see what happens in the next 2, 5, 10 or 15 years to come.

I’ve come a long way since making the decision to start this grand adventure—over 8,000 miles and an immeasurable amount of self-growth, courage, spontaneity and a ‘You only get one life so you better damn make it the best possible life there is’ mentality. If I can take just one thing away from this is that it’s never to late to make a change, to face that fear or worry and do the damn thing! You’ll never know the amazingness that awaits you on the other side if you never try.

Cheers to six years, y’all!

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But I’m a Fixer

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Every since I was a young girl, I’ve loved figuring out the answers to problems. Jigsaw and crossword puzzles were my jam, and don’t even get me started on my slight obsession with McGyver. To this day you cannot convince me that a toothpick, some gum and a bottle of DW-40 won’t solve any crisis.

As a writer, as a forever learner, doer and out-of-the-box thinker, I’ve gotten really good at looking at an issue, at an obstacle or problem in many different angles, analyzing and coming up with a plan of execution. Or multiple plans. Brainstorming, researching and making an action plan is kind of my MO.

If my best friend is having relationship or family issues, I will sit with him/her and figure out a way to get them past this, no matter how many bottles of PBR/wine we have to sacrifice along the way. If a coworker is struggling to find their footing at work, I will help them come up with a plan to tackle their responsibilities like the boss I know they are. If my mom is still texting in hieroglyphics, I will…..yeah, sorry mom. I think that one’s a lost cause.

I like having answers, I like knowing that anything can be solved. And I hate, hate, hate seeing the ones I love and care about in any sort of pain.

I’m a fixer, that’s kinda what I do.

But sometimes life throws you a curve ball of a problem, one that you don’t have the answer for.

Someone really close to me, someone who I love with all of my everything, my inspiration, the person I look up to, my baby sister is going through something right now that is incredibly hard. She’s been fighting Endometriosis, a condition that affects more than 6.3 million women in the US alone, yet it is still one of the most misunderstood and complicated diseases to diagnose, treat and cure. While she has always handled this like the champ she is despite the challenges, she recently hit a bit of a rough patch.  If you know my sister, you already know that she is one of the strongest and most resilient people I have ever met, someone who exudes bravery and determination through every pore. For all of these reasons and more, I am certain, without a doubt, 110% positive that she will kick Endo’s ass.

In an conversation I had with her last night, I asked if there was anything I could do to help? Her heartbreaking reply: “There isn’t. There isn’t anything anyone can do. I don’t what’s going on, and Wendi, I’m scared.”

As a problem solver, as a fixer, and most importantly as her big sister, sitting on the sidelines and not having an answer or a plan to give? A way to make her feel better? A part of me, a very big part, thinks that I’m letting her down in some way. For all of our lives, I’ve been the one protecting her, showing her the ropes, of what to do and not to do. I so badly want to help, to tell her everything is going to be okay, to take all of this pain and confusion and stress away.

I’m a fixer, but this, unlike that jigsaw or crossword puzzle sitting on my coffee table, I can’t fix. I don’t know the solution, the answer, a way to make it all go away.

And that absolutely kills me.

But if I have learned anything in my 31 years – besides finally, FINALLY figuring out how to fold a fitted sheet – it’s that being there for someone, just being there, can make all the difference in the world. I’ve been through some trying times myself, I think we all have at one point or another, and the one thing that helped get me through, the one thing that kept my hope motor running, my fire to fight ignited, it was the endless support and encouragement from those who I loved and cared about most. A shoulder to cry on, an ear to listen, an endless supply of bear hugs and a partner to share that pizza and bottles of PBR/wine with.

These are the things, the little blessings that make you stronger, give you a reason to keep fighting and the reassurance that things are going to be okay.

Sometimes you won’t have all of the answers, but that doesn’t mean you can’t be a part of the solution.

Reaching out, being there for someone who needs you the most, that in and of itself is the greatest gift you could ever give.

Something even some toothpicks, gum and a bottle of DW-40 couldn’t replicate.

To my kickass, amazing and beautiful baby sis, you are a fighter. You are strong. You can and you will get through this.

You have so many people who love you, who are there for you, who believe in you.

We will get through this.

Together.

But first, let me ask the moms

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My name’s Wendi, and I am a strong, independent and intelligent 31 year-old woman. I know how to change my own oil, can bake the shit out of some chocolate-chip cookies and even have my own 401K.

Impressive, I know.

I’d like to think that I’m somewhat of a fully-functioning adult, most of the time, however there’s one thing that I still find myself doing pretty much on the regular, one thing that I probably will never stop doing no matter how old I get, or how much fully-functioning adult experience I put behind me…

…and that’s going to the moms for advice.

I’m extremely lucky in that my mom and I have always had the strongest of relationships. She has always been my rock, my inspiration, the person I would go to first whenever I had a problem or a big decision to make. From first-day-of-school outfits and major hair transformations (thank GOD you talked me off of that perm ledge) to college choices and major job opportunities, my mom has been there with me through it all. She has been the voice of reason, of wisdom when I needed it the most.

It wasn’t until recently that I realized how much I still rely on me madre for things.

The past week alone I’ve called/texted her in a sweaty panic, asking her what she thinks I should do about:

  • My leaky kitchen faucet (Broken valve thingy – technical term)
  • That sore throat/cough/swollen ankle/weird rash on my neck thing (Whatever you do, DO NOT WebMD it!)
  • Boys (You can’t live with them, can’t live without them)
  • And general adulting (Yogurt that’s three days past its expiration is still safe to eat, right? Huh, coconut oil works on that? So about that fitted sheet sitch…)

I may be a 31 year-old strong, independent and intelligent woman, but I still very much appreciate advice from the moms. And I don’t think I will ever stop appreciating it.

Mom, if you’re reading this, thank you! A million times thank you! If I grow up to be half of the incredible woman you are, I would consider myself lucky.

*And I will call you later. My stomach is seriously turning cartwheels and I think it may have been because of that yogurt.

Disconnect to Reconnect

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One of the struggles of the digital age is constantly feeling like you need to create, to be ‘on’ 24/7, to be connected in a tangle of internets, interwebs, networks and sites.  That if you’re not tweeting and Instagramming and writing another article, another post, another piece, you’re losing out on precious time or views or likes or followers or whatever metric it is that you want to call “success.” I mean, hell, Harper Lee didn’t publish a second book for DECADES.

That’s how starved we are for constant content.

But the thing is, when you’re so busy making stuff, you can sometimes forget how to live your own life. You know, offline. Remember that place? It’s the one where none of those numbers and hearts and stars matter.

Believe me, I know how tough it is. My day-to-day life is filled with notifications and posts and tweets and thinking critically about how to maximize all of the stuff that does not and cannot exist offline. And don’t get me wrong. I LOVE my job! And sure, there are ways to sign off and let a computer do its thang, but even then, I have to keep one eye on it because an algorithm cannot make a critical judgment call.

It’s the nature of the social media beast.

Trust me when I say that to work in social is to never not be working. And at my last job, I spent the bulk of my time writing nearly all day long, every. single. day. There was no overarching editorial schedule, just that I knew I had to write something. That freedom was both amazing and terrifying. And I was chasing numbers and page views, and though I was rather good at making those numbers happen, eventually, I burned out. You always burn out eventually. You run out of things to talk about. You run out of ways to write the same story for the 20th time.

So you find ways to recharge.

You close your laptop. (Dear God, I hope you do this regardless! It’s good for your health and your sanity.) You meet up with friends. You swipe a few times on Bumble or Tinder or whatever the latest hot dating app is, and maybe you go on a date. Or five dates. You go for a run, for a hike. You grab a coffee, you talk to the barista and see how their day’s going, you buy yourself flowers at the farmer’s market you swear you’re going to visit more regularly. You live your one, singular, unrepeatable life.

Disconnect to reconnect.

I wear a bracelet with that reminder everyday to drive home how important it is to step away from the digital screens and i-phones, the apps and the websites. And I will be the first to admit how hard that can be sometimes. But the truth of the matter is, these things will still be there tomorrow. And the next day. And three weeks, three months from now.

That dinner with your family, that road trip with your best friends, that night spent camping under the stars or midnight laughs shared sitting on the kitchen floor over a pint of ice cream? Those moments only happen once. Promise me you won’t get too caught up trying to “connect” that you completely miss out on what it is you’re trying to connect to or with.

Fear? What Fear?

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We have to continually be jumping off cliffs and developing our wings on the way down. – Kurt Vonnegut.

Fear. It’s a funny thing, guys. It’s also a very necessary thing. If you go back in history, fear was what enabled the cavemen to identify a dangerous situation. It’s what heightens your senses, pumps adrenaline into your system, and it helps you survive whatever it is that’s scaring you. But life isn’t that difficult anymore — there are fewer stakes raised, and we live in a pretty safe, comfortable environment – relatively speaking.

Because of that, our fears are the things we now manifest inside ourselves. The things we let fester, the dreams we never pursue, the chances we don’t take, the places we never move to, the people we don’t admit to loving, the jobs we never apply for. There are so many things to be afraid of, but most of these things reside inside our own head.

Because what if we fail? What if we never recover? What if, what if, what if?

But what if we don’t?

What if we do the scariest thing of all — what if we actually get everything we ever wanted?

One of my track coaches used to always say that “you should get uncomfortable, because being uncomfortable is where you begin to see changes.” And it’s true — not just in the biological sense that your body responds to harder work by adapting and becoming stronger, but because your mind becomes stronger, too. You begin to withstand the scary things, the things you never thought you were capable of. And in this, you become more resilient.

Because being scared is fucking uncomfortable.

Being afraid is supposed to be fucking uncomfortable — it lights that metaphorical fire under your ass in order to tell you to work towards being more comfortable. But there are two ways you can do this: either retreating, and avoiding the scary thing in the first place, or working through it to the other side. Riding out the uncomfortable and the scary until you’re stronger and things aren’t as scary anymore. Fight or flight. Do or die.

And of course, in order to really understand how to withstand the scary things life throws at us, you have to get to the bottom of why you think it’s scary. Why it gets under you skin, why it terrifies you, why it dregs up memories of all the other times you faced scary things and didn’t come out stronger on the other side. There’s a whole host of reasons, really, and each will vary from person to person, but I think one of the things that connects this fear we all experience isn’t all that unique.

We’re most afraid of being happy. Of having a good life.

Not that we don’t want to — oh, of course we do. But we wonder if we deserve a good life, if we ought to have one, and so this doubt creeps in and we’re left second-guessing ourselves when we have to stand up to the thing that is in the way of our happiness. Of whatever it is we want. After all, what would happen if we wound up getting everything we wanted? What if it all got taken away?

But that is a risk with everything you do. So you might as well face the scary parts head on, because chances are, the outcome you want least might happen anyway. Whether or not you tried.

And if you don’t try, the what if — the magical, fantastical, best-case-scenario — will never happen at all.

Do the things that scare you.

Get uncomfortable.

Stand your ground.

Speak up, and go after the things you want. Apply for the job, tell the person you’re crushing on that you like them, take the risk.

And if you do wind up with everything you ever wanted, it’s because you did that work. You put in the effort, you found the grit within yourself, you realized that the scariest things in this world can sometimes be the most wonderful.

We’re scared of change, is all. But change is good for us. Change is how we learn. There’s nothing more fulfilling than that.

Adulting 101 (From Someone Who is Still Trying to Figure it All Out)

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I’d like to think I’ve got this whole adulting thing down pat, guys.

Really.

But the truth is, I am absolutely, 100% without a doubt still trying to figure it all out.

And I’m realizing, more and more, that that is okay.

Really.

I don’t mean in the way of managing to keep myself alive, or to do basic “adult” type things. I do them, in some way or form, every day. And I don’t mean that I don’t know how to be mature, because I do (ish. I know how to be mature-ish). I think there will always be people who are older — and maybe even more successful — who are less mature, and the level of maturity needed for every adult situation, I’ve found, varies from case to case.

But as I’ve been an adulting adult (which, I admit, is not very long in comparison to other adulting adults) I’ve realized that a lot of things vary from case to case.

I go to the gym most days a week and I eat a lot vegetables because it makes my body feel better, and it keeps me from getting sick, and as much as I hate to admit it, it’s a slightly better alternative to living solely off of ice cream and gummy bears. I try to balance work life with outside-work life, the fun things with the not-so-fun-but-I-really-need-to-clean-my-apartment-and-do-my-laundry-and-buy-groceries things. Variation is the spice of life, right? Or something to that effect.

And I have learned that it is not hard to love someone — you kind of just do it, and let yourself let go and give in — but it is harder, strangely enough, to open yourself up to being loved back, and to rely on the person who loves you, and harder still to find that your love is not reciprocated and you should move on. But it happens, and the only way to do any of these things is to just do it, which is not very helpful advice, or very comforting when you’re sitting around wondering if and when someone will love you in the first place.

But part of being an adult is just keeping on with your own life anyway, even and especially if this thing does not seem to be going right.

And you have to keep on with your life even if and when it is going right, too. The rest of your world does not magically fall into place just because you find someone who cares about you. You still have to deal with the other shit, too.

And speaking of all of that stuff, there is no one and magical way to be a competent adult. You can set up auto-bill-pay and learn how to do your taxes and buy a house and all of that all you want, and there are still things that will fall through the cracks. You will forget which bill gets deducted on which day and log into your account and freak out about the lack of money and think you’ve been scammed until you remember otherwise. There are days that I forget to mail something until five days after I said I would, and have to hope it all works out OK, and sometimes it doesn’t, and I figure it out from there.  But I got there eventually and sometimes that is what matters: crossing off your to-do list as you go, as long as you finally do it. That is, in a lot of ways, adulthood. Adulthood feels less “having it together” than you think it will.

Sometimes adulthood feels like you don’t have it together at all, but you’re trying, and that is what matters.

I love going to work every day, to a job I love, but believe me when I tell you that it wasn’t always that way. But even when I hated a gig, or I felt like that wasn’t the right path for me, or I didn’t know what the hell I wanted to do with my life, I woke up every day and I went, thinking that I could find some time to get myself out of the situation I didn’t want to be in any more. And it eventually worked. Sometimes forcing yourself to do the thing you hate is the most adult decision there is. (But sometimes, the adult decision is deciding you’ve had enough and drawing a line. I admit I’ve done that, too. I don’t know. There’s no good road map.)

By the time they were each my age, my mother was trying to raise two little rugrats, my father working 80 hours a week at a job he hated just to provide for his family.  They had to deal with a lot more and worse than I did, and there are a lot of days when my problems feel insignificant to those of my peers. The adult world our generation is navigating now is filled with a host of new problems we’ve never seen before, some serious and some trivial, and some we make for ourselves because humans are very, very good at fucking up our own lives. But I have also realized that part of being an adult is sitting down and saying that if I got myself into any one mess, I can at the very least try to get myself out of it, and if I cannot do it alone, sometimes the most adult thing to do is to ask for help. And if there is help to be found, I am very, very lucky for it.

And though I have a lot of years of figuring out adulthood left, I have realized that, for the most part, there will likely not ever be a moment at which I finally feel like I am an adult.

There is no magic age, no set routine, no milestone that will make it all “real” for me. I am childish and selfish and impulsive at times, but so are a lot of people, all with varying degrees of success and maturity to their names. And while we’ve all likely had great role models and idols to model what successful adulthood looks like, we’re mostly just figuring it out as we go, and hoping we don’t make too much of a mess of it all. Sometimes we do. Sometimes it’s inevitable. But then we try to fix it, and then we move on, and it’s ok.

Adulthood is not getting married and cooking dinner every night and having kids and remembering to file your taxes early. You might do some or all of these things in your lifetime, sure, but the milestones are changing these days, and so are we. Adulthood is, I think, in a lot of ways, just waking up every day and trying. And none of us really know how to do that, but we do it anyway. We try. That is the most life can ask of us — and it will ask that of you every single day. It will demand you try. So you do, and you try again and again and fail maybe but succeed the next time and try some more, and then look back at it all and call it adulthood.

Whether or not you thought you “knew” how to do it in the moment, but you tried anyway.

Confessions of a Booknerd

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My name is Wendi, and I am probably most definitely absolutely 110% the biggest booknerd you will ever meet.

*And damn proud of it, my friends!

When it comes to reading, I’m Tom Hanks at Denny’s right after he got off that island with Wilson. I’ll read almost anything and everything–mysteries, serious literary fiction, fluffy chic-lit fiction, biographies, memoirs, and of course one of my favorite genres, young adult fiction. I’d like to think of myself as a flexible, curious reader, always looking to learn something, feel something and discover something new.

That being said however, I do have a few quirky reading habits that I just can’t seem to shake.

And I know I’m not the only one—Joey, I’m looking at you buddy.

These eccentricities just go to show that reading is such an intensely personal activity; no one person does it the same way.

Here are just a few of the things I find myself doing when I’m knee-deep in a good page-turner.

  1. Before I actually dive into a good book, I always read the very first sentence and the very last.

When I shared this little quirk of mine with the librarian who I work with, she was a teensy bit horrified. What about the potential for spoilers? I get what’s she putting down, I do. But for me, reading the last sentence gives me just a hint of what’s to come, and piques my interest to find out how it fits in with the beginning of the book. I’m very careful to read only the very last sentence, and I try to avoid looking elsewhere on the page. There’s something suspenseful and thrilling about peeking ahead—but only just a little bit.

And you thought reading wasn’t badass.

The one time I can remember this backfiring on me is with the J.D. Salinger short story, “A Perfect Day for Bananafish.” If you’ve read the story, you understand.

  1. I hate folding down the page corners of a book.

Hate it! I will try to McGyver a bookmark out of just about anything before taking the drastic step to dog-ear a page; old receipts, a penny, a bobbi pin, even a butter knife (don’t ask).

  1. I also hate it when books get reinvented, new and flashy covers.

Some are more heartbreaking than others, like when the Harry Potter series was updated. The new covers seemed so strange and foreign to me; it was almost like it was a completely different book. The first edition I own or read will always be the best. No special new editions for this girl.

  1. I will go out of my way to get the hard cover versions of a book, even if I already own it in paperback or on my Nook.

There is just something about a hard cover; it’s hard binding, it’s strength, it’s durability. Just thinking about one gets me all flushed. Some Many Most think I’m crazy-sauce for buying a book if I already have it. But it’s kind of the same thing as buying that second pair of identical jeans that you’ve already got hanging in your closet, right? Which reminds me, I need to buy more jeans. As you can imagine, I am beginning to accumulate a lot of books. A lot of books.

  1. And finally, I love when books have a price sticker on the back of the cover that you can peel off.

My favorite local bookstore when I was a kid had those types of labels, and I loved bringing home a new book and peeling off the sticker. This childhood ritual has manifested itself in other areas of my life — I also love peeling the plastic protective sheet off of electronic devices and the labels off of water bottles. And don’t even get me started on those little stickers that come on your apples or bananas! I know, I don’t really get it either.

But we all have our little quirks, don’t we?

Question of the day: Do you have any unique quirks, reading or otherwise?

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