Thursday, December 30, 2010

Friendship is thicker than blood
That depends
Depends on trust
Depends on true devotion
Depends on love
Depends on not denying emotion
It's gonna be
A happy new year
- RENT <3

There is only one more day left in 2010, and although it’s been quite the rollercoaster, I’m a little sad to see it go…
2010 (pronounced twenty ten…) was a good year. Not in a flashy, “go all kinds of warm exotic place” kind of year, but a quiet “lots of self discovery and realizing what’s really important and where to go next” kind of good.
Let’s do a bit of a Year in Review, shall we?

What else is there, honestly? Eight years in the making, that step of transition can FINALLY get checked off the to-do list!

I went to the dark side of AT&T and tried to see if I could be an Iphone user…being a firm believer of once you go mac you never go back (well, I did go back… I’m a crackberry girl at heart and could write an entry just about that…. But I still love my AT&Ters!)
February in Gray…. What is there to say? My braces were off, and some good times went down. I have a feeling people at Styxx will always remember my name.
…and then the snow began to melt, and we got our act together, but here’s to the nights we don’t entirely remember with people we’ll never forget!

March and I never used to get along really. It was the drudgiest (new word!) time of the year to be in Maine, the snow turns to mud, the sun rarely comes out, and the anticipation of spring is just agonizing. Then I realized March is high time for conferences, and opportunities to LEAVE! Two years ago I hit Miami, NYC, and DC in March, and although that was a bit much, it made the month fly by and was far less torturous.
This March, was a bit of a pinnacle for me. Enter way too many cheerleaders, a huge hotel on the river, and a couple sunny days on Capitol Hill, something had changed within me. I didn’t see it coming, but I got bit by that bug and realized I was in the right place at the right time, and meant to do what I’m doing, to whatever level I can take. We’re in a time of change, and I’m smack in the middle of it!

Still feeling the energy from the week of hill visits and being in our nation’s capitol (and really getting a taste of what that means) I had the opportunity to see my favorite president in person, talking to our very own community. Realizing, we’re not just talking anymore- we ARE a part of the change that’s happening before our very eyes. We were hooked.
Also, the end of one chapter, the beginning of another…

May is near and dear to my heart. Being a May baby, I don’t need to completely rehash the fabulous things that happened in May, but this year was a pretty powerful May. Having ended the job with HRTW that I had known for the previous 3 years I began my interim months of not knowing where my life was headed, and a series of opportunities that would guide me to figure it out.. .and to remember who I was in the mean time. I kicked off May in Denver, CO which was an amazing experience, getting to work with other people who really “get” the ideas of youth empowerment, and spending time with an amazing family I would ultimately end up working with in the coming years! I also got to hear the stories of powerful youth leaders who made me grateful all over again for everything I have and am able to do, and see the Columbine memorial, which I meant to blog about but the whole experience was just so intense I wasn’t able to find the right words.

The following weekend, was a Next Step Family Weekend, which was one of those times where it felt everything was perfectly placed to be cathartic in just the right way (like previous trips to NY, and many things involving camp…) I can’t accurately sum it up now, but here’s an excerpt from the journal entry I wrote after the weekend, during which my family climbed “the tower,” for those who are unfamiliar, let me once again refer you to this video:

For a long time I have been dealing with this inner struggle that there are sort of two aspects to my life/identity. There is the forever cheerful, ever optimistic, musical theater, forward moving little girl known as Princess Peanut, who grew up at camp and was continuing to show people the importance of "defying gravity" and how no matter what hand you are dealt, you CAN achieve your dreams. For the past three years, that side has made an occasional appearance, but I have felt like she has been frequently been overpowered by a new, jaded, still passionate, but determined due to bitterness, discontent person.
I've been worried that I had been losing where I came from and who I really am deep inside. I know she is still there.
Long story short, I have been slowly weeding the negativity from my life, being active in finding happiness and really reassessing what is important in my life. When I knew we were going to camp for the weekend, I realized at the same time that I had to climb the wall again. I started to back out when I saw it, and realized how high it was, but this was my chance, to remind the world, and myself, that I still had it.
When I got to camp, other people started to arrive. Including most of the key players who had supported me in climbing in my 98 venture. The day we were going to do it, even the videographer who recorded that interview made a cameo (who is completely gorgeous and I plan on connecting with for other professional goals) but it was so just....fateful. I knew this was all meant to play out.
So when we got to the tower, I watched a lot of people go, and knew I couldn't turn back. I got set up and realized how freaking vertical and high it was, but I had come so far from 1998, and I had my baby sister and my dad supporting me at the same time.

This time was so different. As I climbed up there, I wasn't scared. I was determined. Every time I moved up, it was for someone else who had hurt me, or thought I couldn't succeed or who had kept me down with their negativity. I thought "this is for YOU. That little girl, who thought nothing could keep her from reaching her dreams. Guess what? She is STILL HERE!"

After that, my sister came up, and my dad, and we shared an amazing moment (we called my mom from the top...yay technology), as our entire family had defied gravity. A metaphor for what we truly have done, and continue to do in our lives every day. And, I had the contentment of knowing. The Princess is still around. The dreams may have changed, but I still have the capability to reach them.

Shortly after that, I was going to turn 25, which could be an epic blog entry in itself. I had my first surprise party ever, complete with so many people from my past and present who had been there along the way. It was a little weird having my worlds collide, but it was fantastic, and I have completely embraced being “a quarter of a century.”
And finally, May ended with what I consider to be the best Memorial Day weekend ever (and I’m partial to them because my birthday usually falls on it). My entire family was together by the pool, and it was a simple week of sun, food, drinks, and celebrating. The perfect way to ring in the summer of 2010, with whatever it had in store.

I’m slowly losing motivation in writing this, and I might as well admit it, cause it will show. But it’s exhausting reliving a year, that was already exhausting once. The summer was interesting, and when I look back on it, you know, as tough as it was, I don’t remember it negatively. I remember being poolside with my family, driving with my windows down, beach trips, and the freedom and anticipation of where my life would be when it all ended . I took summer one day at a time…and it felt good.

September was a month of getting acclimated once again to living at home, unpacking boxes, and mending fences with my cat who had been convinced I had left her to fend for herself with the dog owners. I made a point of reconnecting with my friends and scheduling things like dinner and coffee dates so we could just convince ourselves we both still had “social lives.” It worked. And I re-established Starbucks as my “third place” (well second really, since I work from home, and all over the place.
September also held a unique opportunity that I found out about last minute via twitter, and I dipped my toe into another political pool when I saw Lady Gaga speak about the repeal Don’t Ask Don’t Tell.

I had big plans for October- but the universe had other ideas for me. Another blip on the radar I suppose. I got knocked down, got better and got back up, with a bit of a new appreciation for when my health is good, and how lucky I am since that is the case most of the time. Although the not feeling good part was pretty crappy, it was a little bit nice to be able to lay in bed and just not worry about anything, and truly “rest up.” I wish our society permitted that more often without the inevitable guilt factor…

Another bright thing that happened in October, was getting my best friend back from the wonderful place we call the West Coast. Every time we're together I'm reminded my we're best friends, and although we've both grown up a bit, and added a few members to the family, it still feels like we were just eating pizza, and listening to Mariah Carey like it's 2003. I'm so blessed to have her back and just a text message away.

And we’re back in the game with a (if I do say so myself) kick butt conference in Houston, TX and connecting with some wonderful people I will get to work with in 2011. Then came Thanksgiving and the beginning of festive, family, fun for the holidays.

(just a little football viewing)

….Here we are in DECEMBER.

Wow… what a year huh? Since winter drags on for so many months, I like to make the most of when it’s still fun, and all the hype before Christmas…. So enter our trip to NYC. Without having an event to go, or be in this year, I decided to just make it happen for FUN (iiii know). Tickets to Elf the musical, third row to In the Heights and a room on the upper east side later, we had a trip! The tree, the shopping, the freezing cold, it was definitely an experience. I did learn that we do it best when we stay right in the heart of Times Square and it saves on commuting, and late nights, but all in all it was a great time. We also saw Love, Loss and What I Wore which was the perfect girls’ night out show to be followed by seasonal pumpkin flavored Pinkberry. And Vnyl has so been added to our must hit dinner locales, next time we’re in town!

Christmas held more tradition of hours of card games, the traditional Christmas eve shindig and a morning of opening too many presents. A cozy perfect last holiday of 2010.

So here we are. 2010 is done in a matter of a day and a few hours. It’s silly to say, where has it gone… because I just spent 3 pages telling you. I guess the better question is where will 2011 take me? I’ve said previously, I’m not a fan of resolutions, and I’m not. I’m not going to shop less, or exercise more, I’m going to continue to do what makes me happy in moderation.

Last year, I said I would do strive to do a few things

As for the goals- well. License? CHECK!!! GRE’s…. in the process, but I do have more of a direction. Passport still to do….but I will.
This year I think will be ultimately about taking the next steps, whatever that may be. It’s actually kind of perfect, as Mais and I wrote a theme song about doing just that, and I think I need to remind myself of that as I move forward.
I’m also going to remind myself of one my “resolutions” from last year and work on staying positive. As I wrote after my trip to Albuquerque, I want to keep that sense of excitement that used to come with every trip I take, and the energy with every presentation I give. If I can keep both of those things in mind and take it one day at a time, I think it can be another good year.

There is plenty to look forward to:
Oregon, DC, VEGAS, Kansas, Maisy graduates (ok, let’s not get ahead of ourselves….)
So, with a bit of a knot in my stomach I thank 2010 for all it has taught me, and brought my way, and say cheers to 2011.

A new year, with so much in front of me!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Time to Give thanks.... for what?

I write a lot about how blessed I am, and I do not take anything in my life for granted. I KNOW how lucky I am. BUT. I’d also be lying if I didn’t say that like a lot of people, when the air turns cold, and the holiday lights start twinkling, I have days where I get in a weird space of saying “what am I thankful for?”

It is hard sometimes, to look at my life, and say, sheesh, I expected to be farther than this. To watch my friends stop coming home, or having time for me because they have to do two thanksgiving with their significant others’ family too, or they don’t live here anymore and it’s just too expensive to come home. Granted, I have a lot going on in my life, but when it all slows down, it’s just me and Muffy, at my parents’ house attempting to listen to all the Christmas music that reminds me of the good old ASTP days, or the times I listened to certain CD’s 24/7 so I could stop crying at school long enough to write that on last paper between me and coming home to everyone I loved.
The holidays = memories, and let’s face it. Even when you’re home… you can’t go home again.

I’m not writing this to get people to feel bad, or pick up the phone to call and squeeze me in when you’re home (but hey, if you have time…. ) I’m just putting it out there, because I feel like being honest, and I think it hits a lot of people, but we’re forced to gag down a cup of cheer and trudge through the malls even when we’re just not feeling it. You’re not alone…

On that note, I took most of the day to spend time by myself, and knowing our tried and true, unoriginal tradition of going around the table and sharing, pondering the question, “What AM I thankful for?”

Here’s what I came up with:

Being alive- I’m a bit of a miracle. I don’t think anyone thought that at 25, I’d be here, let along be doing what I’m doing (and be quite so fabulous doing it). I don’t walk around on a daily basis going, “Um, don’t mess with me, I’m a miracle you know!” But it is something that helps me feel empowered when I think about it. Clearly I was kept around to do something big… so let’s keep at it.

My family. We have a crazy unique dynamic, and don’t you dare get in the middle of a game of cards, but I cannot deny I have the best, strongest, safet
y net/fan base any girl could ever ask for. From my first dance recital (that I only made it to the rehearsal apparently?) to college graduation, and flying all over the country, they are there, and/or telling all their friends. I’d be nowhere without them.

My job and the opportunities I have had from it- Sure it’s a tough world to be thrown into, but getting to go all over the country and get a sense of national wisdom (and I continue to learn) has inspired me, and given me a sense of what else IS out there- as well as the people who push me to get it. I now feel like I can back up my argument that “Yea, I am bigger than this.”

Camp- Not just for the time spent on the stage of Lincoln Center with Julia and Kristin but for shaping who I am, and REMINDING ME who I am, even now, when I hit that place of, I just can’t do it any more, I’m just me.

The little things that get me through the day- Being able to drive, and blast music in my car that I bought myself. My Starbucks crew that makes me smile and provides the perfect latte, the bartenders in the twin cities that know just how I take my margarita, seeing the sunset over the cow fields on the way home (even though I curse them at the same time), my friends who text me just to say they thought of me. Ke$ha, Britney, Taylor, and all those others that pump me up when I’m not feeling hot. My kitty who makes sure that I don’t have to sleep alone (even though she is a rebel and always wants to snuggle when it’s time to get up)

And ultimately- although I already mentioned family, this one deserves it’s own, final bullet:

Lots of people have siblings, but even strangers have pointed out that we have something special. Everything I gripe about when I’m in that place of slump seems irrelevant when I think of going through it with Maisy, from shopping for jugs of water during a Maine wilderness power failure to eating Sushi near Lincoln Center in NYC, we’re pretty unstoppable when we’re together and anything becomes a memorable adventure. We have reached the point where we can exchange personal jokes without even uttering a word, and just making eye contact. We say the things at the same time. We’ll start singing the same song at the same time without even having heard it recently. She may be an outdoor cowgirl and I try to avoid walking in grass, but I have so much respect for everything she has achieved and how hard she works. She is the Timone to my Pumbaa, the Glinda to my Elphaba, the Beavis to my Butthead (I shall not go on). Recently, with her college application process, and watching her crank out essays and fill out applications, I have actually been inspired to start busting my own ass on this whole GRE process and really thinking seriously about the whole grad school thing. Her courage and fresh excitement for the whole “college thing” has made me realize that I need to not fear my own future. With 2011 fast approaching, who knows where things could go!
So after figuring all of this out, and coming to terms with where I’m at, and seeing once again how clearly lucky I am, I can now finish my tea, go to sleep happy and blessed, and wake up tomorrow to watch the parade in the city I will be in in approximately 2 weeks, eat too much, laugh too much, lose money at cards and finally, officially ring in the holiday season, for whatever it is, as Mal version 2010 as she will only exist for a few more weeks!
Let’s do this.

Sunday, November 07, 2010

My life is ridiculous?

Thursday, November 04, 2010

As I sat in the hospital, early on in my admission two weeks ago, I was talking to one of my friends, who referenced something, as we discussed my situation.
She said that she “got it,” as she was one of the rare breed known as a “CSHN diva.” I have met a few, and perhaps I will start a sorority. Wouldn’t that be fun? Just call me Elle Woods (Legally Blonde 2 is my inspiration for life…)
They are people who are consumers of “the system,” know the drill and still maintain their proper level of fabulosity. Granted, it is not easy to do.
Here are some tips…
Perhaps this should just grow into a book…. It is a bit lengthy. Being fabulous is not easy remember.

(Of course, let me offer a disclaimer that this is not actually sage health advice, just a witty blog- please listen to your doctors before me)

CSHN Diva’s guide to being in the hospital:

1. Be polite.

First and foremost. As my fellow diva, and good friend Kristin Chenoweth explains, part of being a diva is being nice. This can be difficult when you feel terrible, and would like to be anywhere but inpatient, but believe it or not, people do have your best interests at heart, and are just doing their jobs. As miserable as I can be, I always try to make light of the obnoxious questions that get asked hundreds of times. Keeping your sense of humor surprises people and let’s them know you’re on board with what they’re trying to do, which is ultimately get you better. I also believe in thanking everybody, from the people who clean your room to the people who draw your blood (even if it takes them 6 tries after you ask them “are you good at what you do”) Little things make a big difference, and I even learned this stay that people were arguing over who got to be my night nurse (and here I was worried about being the high maintenance bitch people avoided)

2. It’s ok to speak up:
I have been doing this whole “hospital patient” thing longer than most of my doctors have been practicing. I know my body, and I know my symptoms. Basically when I go into the ER, I know what I need, and I know what needs to be done. I know what tests are a waste of time and money, and what could possibly mean something else. Trust your gut. Don’t be afraid to mention something that you think might be up, or refuse something that you know is irrelevant (again… if your doctor really insists, it might be worth it… I’m not giving medical advice here) you can make your ER process, or hospital stay a lot more productive if you are able to guide people through what has or has not worked for you, and reminding them that you have things to do and people to see can actually have an impact versus laying around waiting for them to make the next move. Things in the ER tend to move about as fast as a granny marathon...

3. Wardrobe:
This comes directly from a texting conversation early on, between divas.
A:“Tell me you are wearing adorable pj’s and not one of those horrible hospital gowns”
M: “Clearly.”

Not only does this prevent a major fashion faux pas, but it is a crucial step in maintaining one’s dignity and showing people who is in charge of your body. Nothing says “I don’t care” like a not properly sized sheet with sleeves and no back. Please. Nobody wants to see that, and I guarantee it is not going to help if you get chilly. Conveniently for me (or not so) I had been dressed for flying, so was already equipped with velour sweats and a t-shirt, and in my blind rage of packing, brought more sweats, and t-shirts from various conferences and musicals. It may not be a fashion show, but at least an opportunity to show people that you are still you. Fuzzy socks and sweatshirts are a must as well, you never know when they might be out of "footie slippers" or warm blankets... and hospital temperatures and fevers can be very unpredictable (much like airplanes)

4. Hygiene:
Be the girl that smells good. Trust me, it surprises people, and again shows you respect yourself. I am a huge believer in feeling good has a lot to do with looking good (or at least smelling good).
Although it can be a huge ordeal, do not go more than 3 day with at least some sort of sponge bath (or shower if possible). It might seem like a huge process, but I guarantee it will make you feel better, if only for a little while. Being sick is no excuse to get dread locks either. If you are seriously in a bad way, might I suggest braids as an elegant easy style that is perfect for miserable writhing in bed without too much damage and tangling.

Another rule I stand by all the time, whether it be on an airplane or just in winter weather. Moisturize, moisturize, moisturize. Hospital air is just as atrocious as airplane air, and thus is torture for most skin. Bring your own lotion and apply frequently. Those little hospital slipper socks are fabulous to slip on after liberally moisturizing your feet (bonus if you talk someone into giving you an inpatient pedicure too) and letting it soak in while you lie about.

5. Room service it is not.
Oh the food. Granted, let me preface this with just how disenchanting it is to go from truffle mac and cheese and Marriott breakfast menus to a hospital menu that now says “room service.”

I just about cried when I saw the universe was mocking me so (and the fact that I knew my colleagues were going to be having sushi and receptions all week while I had orange sherbet and grilled cheese….)
One thing I have realized when I’m sick, is that my appetite is as up and down as my temperature. I either want nothing at all, or get one craving for something that won’t go away until I have it (usually something that is not on the “room service” menu). On one horrible hospital experience, my fellow diva and I actually ordered Chinese takeout and had it delivered directly to my room.
Other than that, I know the people that will visit that understand what I’m dealing with and offer to bring me lattes, or Thai food when I’m absolutely craving it. Don’t be afraid to ask what for you want. People will want you to “eat and get your strength back.” If you don’t have someone to go fetch your dietary requests, don’t be afraid to special order from the “room service” menu. For example… hospital scrambled eggs are far better with cheese though it’s not listed there. Always ask. The worst thing that can happen is they say no, you don’t eat and end up losing a couple pounds. Could be worse, right?

6. Connectivity is a right not a privilege
One of my trademarks is that I can be having blood drawn, or an IV in one arm, and the other will always have my blackberry.
Within the first five minutes of being admitted (and stabilized, obviously if I’m not feeling well I don’t care…) I know what the wifi availability is, or where I have to go to get it (I used to have to go to a crowded library with a username and password on public computer…tragic).
True divas cannot just go off the grid without some sort of update to let people know what’s going on (more on this soon) or to at least keep up with the celebrity gossip or what is going on in the outside world so they don’t feel completely hidden away, a la Repunzel sans her prince charming. Sometimes things simply must be done. I have e-mailed papers from the nurse’s station when I was in college, and most recently virtually streamed the day of speakers I was missing in DC then participated virtually in a strategic planning meeting via texting as well.
Granted, I’m a bit of a work-a-holic and have been resting since then, but true divas know when it’s important to have a presence, and when the statement to make is to be missed.

7. Have secrets:
This is sort of a newer thing I realized more this time, as my mother and I were having disputes of who was telling what information. Now that social media is a huge deal (take it or leave it, it’s there) it’s different than when I had a few select people I would keep informed of my health and the different stages of being sick (hey guys I’m in the ER, I’ll keep you posted, vs. “Ok, not looking good, probably going to have surgery, good thoughts please.” )
But now…when I post an “update” it goes to 600 people. Or if someone in my family posts an update it goes to another several hundred (who may or may not also be seeing mine). To me… information about my health is an earned privilege. I don’t believe in divulging my entire cyber-audience with details of what my blood count was or what my fever was.

I see it as the equivalent of a first date. You don’t go on a first date and say, “Hi, I’m Mal, I’m a little high maintenance and there is a chance I could go into the hospital with a severe infection, want to share an appetizer?” Brutal to say, sometimes the scary truth is a good way to push people away. Not everyone can handle it. Usually after the initial blast that things are not well and there has been a change of plans, I slowly get it narrowed down to the VIP’s who want to be in it for the long haul, and continue to keep them posted (these are usually the people I know will be dropping by with frequent lattes and new issues of magazines, knowing just what I need without me asking).
Otherwise my updates are vague and minimally dramatic (except when I become terribly bored and depressed and the walls are closing in). I find this is the best way, for several reasons, one of which, I have seen what people do when they do not have all the facts. One time I was in the hospital, I had told one of my friends that I had an infection, only to find out that it got turned into that I had AIDS. As much as I love RENT…. That is not the case. The less information that is out there, the less that can be misconstrued, and the less hysteria there is among my 600 “friends,” and the more I can actually rest and do my “get better thing.” This is only my process of course (and as my fellow diva Paris says, “Every heiress has to stay somewhat mysterious… if you don’t have secrets, make people think you do.” Being an open book is not cute). Some of you may love drama, in which case make things sound as scary as possible, but be prepared to diffuse a lot of rumor bombs and deal with people who treat you like creepy, catchy glass after.

8. Be selfish:
This may sound like it’s counteracting #1 (be polite) but you can do both! What I mean by this is- Let yourself be sick. Take the time to heal, and properly recover in style. If you don’t want people to visit you, it’s ok to say that. People usually feel like they don’t know what to do when you’re in the hospital, so if it means waiting for you to be out and taking you for coffee when you’ve got nothing to do, tell them that. If you don’t feel up to entertaining people in your hospital room and would rather watch “What Not to Wear” through half opened unshadowed eyelids, SAY THAT.
Use your silly little nurse call bell if you need help with something, that’s what it’s there for. You’re not being annoying… you’re SICK.

This also applies to when you are home, but still not feeling up to par. If you try to throw yourself back into your fantastic life at the pace you had before without actually letting your body recover, you will crash and burn, and that is not fabulous. Rest, sleep in, drink tea, watch lots of reality television, take hot showers and sleep after. Email all the people you answer to, and explain you are still recovering so you can skip things, guilt free.
You’ll know when you are ready to start taking things on again because you will begin getting bored. Divas can only be down for so long and friend and family online sales only last for so many weeks…
Give yourself the proper pampering, get a good night’s sleep, and perhaps a new NARS lipgloss (or three) and begin getting back into the swing of things. Before you know it, you will be back on a plane, overcommitted, wishing for a real vacation.

And best of luck. Just know, CSHN divas, you are not alone, and all the other sisters support you in your quest for staying well and being fabulous.

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Post hospital Update:

So here I am, about two weeks later, on my road back to fabulous, which is not actually as easy as it sounds.

Surely, it has been a bit enjoyable when I am feeling fairly decent to lounge in bed with my cat, watching the entire series of Cashmere Mafia on Netflix instant view (why, oh why do they cancel every show I end up loving!?!? What ever happened!?!?) but it has simply grown old feeling dizzy and nauseous and not being able to flit around as I had gotten accustomed to doing as I was on such a roll being a work-a-holic. And I think the hardest part is that it gets lonely.
There is a big misconception that once one is out of the hospital that everything is “better,” and I’m simply up and about again. Quite contrary. Most people still would’ve been inpatient for the duration of their IV antibiotics, but because we are good at what we do, they let me go home, it’s not because I’m “better.” So the novelty wears off for most people.Plus, not only did I miss my epic week in DC, but I missed Halloween, which is literally the first time in my entire life that this has happened. Never mind the fact I don't even remember the last time I went so long without leaving the house.

Finally, yesterday, I put real clothes on for the first time in 2 weeks, and broke out of the house to vote (gah, more on that when I have regained some emotional strength) and celebrate Red Cup day, showing my Starbucks crew that I am indeed still alive...
Thus, before I launch into the part 2 of this blog, which will be posted soon, I’d like to give shout outs to the people who stuck with me even though my reports didn’t change beyond I feel crappy, and “I’m sick of being miserable.”
Allie (who the following blog is mostly dedicated to)
Shannon- for fighting over who’s sicker, everyone I work with/for for making sure I actually could rest without feeling guilty for the first time like… ever.
Ashleigh- for encouraging my shopaholic and being my on call Sephora consultant.
My parents of course- for listening to me walk around the house groaning and whining for no particular reason without once telling me to shut up and get over it (and for giving me my big girl bed back)
Maisy- for sharing in my stir crazy madness and eating too much candy with me, while watching Halloweentown and Hocus Pocus every time it was on.

J.B. (not Justin Bieber)- for being my on the scene reporter of restoring sanity, and reminding me what I need to hurry up and get back to ☺
Taylor Swift for providing a soundtrack for my week of ultimate diva self pity fest ….

And now here is to another progressive week of rest and "getting better," so that I can be back to what I do, and take off for Houston next week! Stay tuned for the follow up blog from my epic hospital stay....

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

I made it to October! Video Blog!!!
Check it out! :)

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

If You Don't Like It- GO HOME.

Before I get into this entry, let me give a disclaimer. I (clearly) do not have any affiliation with the military. I'm not even a fan of war. What I do know, is that for people who are involved in military services, it is so important to them, and I have endless respect for the people who go and fight for our rights and our country. It is with all of that love and respect, no matter your political views, that I write this entry.

Yesterday, I had the rare opportunity and privilege to go see the fabulous Lady Gaga speak at a rally. Politically, I must say my rally days have been pretty minimal, but not nonexistent. I went to the University of Maine at Farmington and was the "token straight girl" among
my friends, which I later just proudly adopted as straight ally. During the No on 1 days, the FIRST time around, I briefly attended a rally, made the front page of the paper, and joked that my activism days were over.
Little did I know.

Since then, things have been mostly healthcare related, and there was Obama fest which was very rally-esque, and was such a rush and a huge shot in the arm to why I do what I do, and that I am actually sort of adopting the title of "activist" even though I was so opposed to it early on.

So, Sunday night, I read on twitter by the Gaga herself, that she was going to be in Portland the following day to speak about the repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell. Why Portland? that's random....
It is and it isn't. Our lovely Senators are two of the "moderate Republicans" who are often ones that not so much need to be swayed, but are the ones that could ultimately make a difference in a vote (which, frankly- I think is pretty cool) It is the same reason that Obama came, during the high times of the health reform voting. I think at this rate, they may this up, since it means Maine is finally getting some media love! I'm ok with it.
Since my mom is awesome (and a bit of an old hippie herself) she agreed that we could go to the rally.
And. It was. Amazing. Not just because of the appearance of Lady Gaga, who gave an incredible speech, but because of the entire vibe and atmosphere of so many people just striving for that unreachable, Prime Rib we call Equality. Journey played, we laughed, we sang together, we made friends, we talked about Glee. Just in meeting the people surrounding me in that crowd, and thinking of so many people I love that this could affect it just really hit me hard.

Before Gaga spoke, there were other people who had previously served in the military and were discharged because of their sexuality. It just seems so ridiculous to me. As Lady Gaga said, "Doesn't it seem like we're sending the wrong person home? We're sending home the one who does NOTHING wrong, and keeping the person who has hate in their heart instead of commitment and courage like there is supposed to be." And she has a completely valid point.
But as I thought about it. It's always that way. When a child is teased in school for whatever reason, the reaction of the guidance counselor is, "send them to a private school." WHY? Why does the innocent have to leave the environment!?!?!!? Why can't we have consequences for the people with the hate. Why can't we just build tolerance or even ACCEPTANCE?
It seems backwards to me, and I would support the new law Lady Gaga proposed called, "If you don't like it, Go Home." If you're the person who is distracted by what someone does in their private life, and THAT takes away from your ability to serve your country, then maybe that is the person who should step down.
As I'm watching the debate....(on whether to debate...) in another window, I am so proud of our Senator Susan Collins who got up and spoke on these exact points, and saying how much money is wasted on training and replacing these perfectly capable soldiers that are discharged, and that it is not about certain traits you have pertaining to your personal life but can you do the job. We are focusing on the wrong things, once again.

And as for Lady Gaga, well, yes, she has been a controversial artist to some people, but the fact that she took the time to come and speak about something so important, I think is awesome. Who is to say why someone is passionate about a cause. People listen to celebrities. Be as nonconformist as you want, but it's true, so why can't we let those people carry our causes if they so choose? We complain when people are famous and have endless amount of financial resources and do nothing with it.... and then.... we complain when they do? Come on people...
Gaga wasn't even there as Lady Gaga yesterday, she was there as a US citizen, and a person who believes in a cause? So why not? It wasn't just about her, it was about all of those people who fought, who care, and who just want the right and opportunity to take whatever life path they choose.

So yes, I'll say it again, yesterday, standing in that sunshine, singing journey and cheering til my voice was gone, I was proud to be a holder of Maine values. And I will continue to fight for the prime rib that is equality- ALL TYPES OF EQUALITY.
Because... I am tired, of getting by on chicken nuggets and Boca burgers.

Here is a video I took of the day, and also a video of her entire speech, so you can form your own opinions! Love it or hate it, it was pretty cool to be there!

Thursday, September 16, 2010


As I said in my last post, Fall never fails to make me nostalgic. For 16 years of our lives we are victims of the "Back to school" hysteria, with whatever emotions that may bring for you- then.... bam. It's done.
I'm over the stress it used to cause me, but now it's just sort of this void of all the things that used to happen at this time of year. The little things that you take for granted, just the small things that get you through the day during the first few months of classes but when they're gone, it's so different.
And yet, as I read through older fall entries, it feels like it just yesterday.

So to bask in my moment of Fall Nostalgia, and then to send it on it's way and get stuff done in the present. I present a list (cause I love lists....)

Things I miss about college:
  • * Being able to walk to Dunkin' Donuts (usually in my pj's) or the "Latte Landing" (I'm still not over the fact they never had lattes) to do work when I just couldn't be in my room anymore. Heck being able to walk anywhere. the bar, peoples' apartments. Having the whole town at our fingertips and not spending a cent on gas (not that I drove... but I digress)

  • * MEAL POINTS! Scan a card = all you can eat! Caesar Wrap day anybody? Or our late night ventures for curly fries in the snack bar... all with just the swipe of an ID. Delish.
  • * Breaks! Pounding the pavement, nose to the grindstone working so hard to get everything done so you can leave for a few days and see everyone you miss from "home" and then not wanting to go back.... and remembering why I actually are ok with going back when you get there.
    And of course finals week was one of those things that I think actually prepares you for the real world. Grant reviews, presentations, conferences.... there's always that crunch time where you just get a double latte and play "finals week" and I get a satisfying little reminder I still have it in me!

  • * Witty "Beaver Pride" Tshirts. Enough said.

  • * My writers :)
And I think one of the best- every single person I cared about and how we would sit around talking about how much we hated every part of it, and how- here we are almost four years later talking about what we miss, while completely recognizing, we're not the same people we were back then. And you just can't go back. But it's fun to remember.

Here's to the class of 2007, and those I've reconnected with in my new "grown up life!"


Monday, September 06, 2010

"This is a song about weddings....and LL Bean..."
-Joshua Radin

Anyone who knows me well, knows that the end of summer is not something I like to talk about. Or think about, or acknowledge, let alone celebrate. I just quietly switch from shorts to jeans, wear hoodies a little more often, and try to keep my tan as long as possible- all the while acting like nothing really was changing.

For a long time, the end of summer was unspoken because it meant I had to go back to school, which was hard. I had to leave the people that supported me and made me truly feel happy, and go back to a town where I forced myself to fit in, had few people I could really trust, and spent cold nights alone. Granted, the semesters got better and better, but only recently have I reached the pointwhere the smell of a fall evening doesn't give me a tough knot in my stomach.
but here I am. holding my head high as we wave out Summer 2010. I am learning to embrace Memorial Day, and Labor Day, as more than just fake holidays where people don't work, but as the seasonal bookends to that time of year when my heart is happiest.
Memorial Day 2010 was a pretty fantastic kick off, as we had our entire family together, and I got to ring in being 25, and this Labor Day weekend, has been a quieter sort of fantastic as well.

Friday night was spent at a birthday party for one of my "faux little sisters" who used to live next door to us. We're not really related, but I remember the days both she and her sister were born, so may as well be right? There were 12 or so little girls from ages 6-8 and they made pizzas, and played games outside, and watched the birthday girl open presents. I sort of just drifted about in a cloud of nostalgia, realizing I don't even know what the "cool toys" are any more. (Does anybody understand the
zhu zhu pet hype??? ....anybody? I thought we were still on Webkinz!) At the end of the night the "grown ups" had a glass of wine, and I just completely caved as Gracie ran over to show me her newest color of nail polish, and the body glitter one of her friends had given her. I asked to see it, and rolled the scented body glitter all over my shoulders, just as I would've done for a dance in 7th grade. Then to end the night we all picked a pack of silly bands and went on our way. All in all a successful Friday night. And a conclusion that body glitter should probably make a comeback (although- it really only grows up into "dry oil shimmer spray" but please, all girls love to sparkle)
Saturday was the star of the weekend though
We were a little worried for awhile with the impending "hurricane Earl," and like any good over reacting Mainers, my family was stocked up on water, canned goods, and was ready to batten down the hatches. I predicted, that much like every other big weather event we get our hopes up for, it would be anticlimactic, and if anything happened, it would rain enough to ruin our plans, and that would be that.
And although I had secretly prepared myself for a quiet rainy day of putting away a months' worth of laundry and staying in bed to watch my weekend dose of Reality TV, I was quickly excited to see that Saturday morning proved to be absolutely perfect! Sunny, with just the lightest breeze (ok maybe it was a little windy) and the sister and I were off to the madness of the outlets on Labor Day weekend, and to see a free concert of: JOSHUA RADIN!!!!!!!!

Joshua Radin is sort of an unknown name to most. He sneaks in places like the movie Post Grad's soundtrack, or the soundtrack on Grey's Anatomy. Just little places, enough to stomp on your heart, and make you cry tears of joy and hopelessness all at the same time. But for me, I knew more of him.
I first discovered JR the summer after I graduated college, before my life had really taken off, and there were some remnants of the past just hanging on by a summer thread.

It was this song.

I began to find more and more of his stuff, and he took up most of my "sleepy time" playlist. Literally, every night, his voice would calm my ridiculous, overanalytical mind, a
nd I'd drift off. He was with me when I spent the early nights alone in the giant house in Auburn, when I was searching for purpose in Gray, and he always makes an appearance on my ipod when I need to crash on a plane before getting to Who Knows Where.
One of his more upbeat songs, that I'll end with, has also been made into an alarm that frequently wakes me up when I need to wake up on the right side of the bed...

So Maisy and I met up with some friends for lunch at Sam's, snagged some amazing deals at the Abercrombie outlet (don't hate) had a round of pregaming at Starbucks with the necessary girl talk, and finally parked our camp chairs on the LL Bean lawn to wait for the show to begin.

It was a very chill vibe, and with the exception of a few obnoxious teeny bopper girls shrieking, the group was well behaved and downright quiet and peaceful. I sort of couldn't believe we had such an opportunity for free! We sat there under the stars, and listened to him sing, and tell stories about every song (most of which were about ex-girlfriends.... and yet... who would leave THAT!?!?!?!... although- he's a musician, and probably either overemotional, or apathetic...or a Sagittarius.... but I digress) and it was just so perfect. I was reminded of the power of live music, and how there is something about the thump of bass that you can just feel deep in your heart and it makes you feel alive. ....and why I tend to have a thing for musicians....
He sang a few favorites, including Closer, but nothing too emo, and he was actually so freaking funny, he didn't really give us a chance to get into a slump, which was good too. He did some new stuff too, which had never been performed live before, and his new album comes out on October 12 so that went on the Ical.

It was over way too soon, and Mais and I hit Starbucks one more time and wandered the town to unwind before heading back home, and admitting to ourselves that summer really was over. But with that performance, and seeing the man live who has seen me through so much without even knowing it (ew that sounds cheesy right?) It just felt good. It was a good night.

The rest of the weekend was spent doing more shopping, relaxing, and clocking in a few more hours at the pool before it's covered with snow again. It was pretty perfect.

So there you have it. Mal v. 2010, is ready to bid this amazing summer farewell, and ring in the fall.

I'll let Mr. Radin kick it off for us, cause well... I couldn't say it better myself.

Happy Labor Day.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Apparently my blog celebrated it's 5th birthday back in June of this year! Usually I have found nothing good comes from reading stuff from the past, but since this blog is for public viewing I actually found myself laughing, more than resorting to the feelings of PTSD. So yay, happy birthday Bloggy, may you continue to join me in my growth and professional evolution, and silly ramblings on the interwebz!

Beyond that, there isn't too much to update. I'm feeling really good overall. Last week, I got to spend some time in Boston, which was nice. I didn't realize how much I missed cities, but my heart just swelled when it remembered what it felt like to be there. I was there for two days of block grant reviews, which is a lot of work, and meant that before we went, I had to read 2 125+ documents about how federal money is going to be spent on activities and programs for the Maternal Child Health populations (some background info- maybe some day people will understand what I actually do: So I was there as a staff member to answer questions about Maine's grant and talk about all the work I'm doing with our YAC and all that good stuff. then the next day I was a secondary reviewer for Connecticut's, which was a great experience, and the education was definitely worth all the reading. It actually made my brain realize it is still functioning and maybe could handle school again in the near future.

That was the work part of it, but obviously- since Boston is one of those places where I sort of have more friends than in the state in which I actually reside, I made sure to make the most of my evenings as well. When we first got there, my mother realized she had forgotten her clothes for the Maine grant day..... and said, "Well I guess I'll just have to buy something!" I GUESS SO.
One rainy adventure later, we had attacked Marshall's and she had an outfit and I had an amazingly discounted Juicy Couture hoodie. All was well with the world. Except for that we were soaked to the bone because the entire time we were there it was a norEaster. Finally,after we gave up on hailing a cab, which apparently is not as simple as it is in NYC? We took the T back to our hotel and hung our clothes to dry while I tried to transform from drowned sewer rat to dinner at the Millennium Hotel fabulous.
I prevailed, and met up with one of my Creative Writing BFA sisters who I have not seen since 2007 when we graduated. We instantly fell back in love, and enjoyed a night of truffle mac and cheese, cucumber tinis, and flirting with a waiter who was a fan of Jersey Shore, and had a useless degree just like us! It was so re-energizing and reminded me how good it is to have girlfriends. It was straight out of Sex & the City wonderful.

After the actual grant review day, which went really well after I finally dried out, I spent the afternoon just lounging in the hotel, being in rainy day mode, and overanalyzing everything in my life. Too bad that doesn't pay, right?Then we went down to the lobby bar for a quick dinner, and I waited for my love Shannon to get there. Which, eventually, she did, and we had a hugely conspicuous reunion since we haven't seen each other since the Miami adventure of 2009. Once again we laughed way too hard, talked about how old we had become, and officially began the countdown to VEGAS.

That's right....
I got invited by Family Ties of Nevada (who I presented for virtually, last winter, because weather in DC ruined my flight to Reno) to present at their transition conference in LAS VEGAS BABY.
Safe to say I'm a little excited.

Of course, there's quite a bit of stuff to look forward to before then, including a potential trip back to my city of NYC, because a) ELF is coming to Broadway (yes, THAT Elf....), b) my entire family has reached consensus that it's been too long, and c) I feel like I have been cheating on it with DC, but luckily my cities are not fans of monogamy, so I'm pretty sure NY won't hold it against me.

So there you have it. Life is good, I'm refusing to think about that thing called fall right now, and enjoying the last few days of my favorite season.
Tonight I get to see even more writers that I graduated with and have not seen in way too long! It should be an interesting night! There will be pictures. Watch out Portland, UMF writers comin' at ya!


Sunday, August 15, 2010

"Ruin is the Road to Transformation"

I always put off writing these…

I don’t know if it’s because it just seems more and more overwhelming with the amount of time that goes by, or that sometimes things just don’t seem deep or inspiring enough to commit to clicking the “publish” button. Either way, I hereby pledge to stop making excuses and just write when I feel the urge (I still write… just not here!) If it bores you… don’t read it! Simple enough.

Judging by the old saying, “teach what you know,” I guess it really isn’t much of a surprise that I work in the field of transition.

I have totally accepted and embraced the fact that we’re all in an ongoing state of transition. Like learning, I like to say, “When you’ve stopped transitioning…you’re dead”

To jump right into it- I moved again. For various reasons that come with living on grant employment, the last few months were really tough. Really tough. A sort of tough that I have not felt since college. It was sickeningly familiar, which made it even worse. I knew, and kept

telling myself it would get better, but there were definitely days when it felt like it wouldn’t. I started to get in a slump where I felt lonely, trapped, and just in one of those, “Why am I even doing this?” modes, when the frustrating experiences, including trying to advocate for my own health needs on top of advocating on behalf of everyone else, just seemed to outweigh the empowering, energizing moments.

Then someone said something to me that was one of the biggest a-ha moments I have had in a long time. It was one I had come to before, but for some reason I needed it in another context for it to finally take. “It’s better to be [one of those people you complain about] a small town Maine girl, who got married at 18, has never left the state and content at the local bar then to know there’s so much more out there and believe you are destined for it, but not do anything to get it, and just sit watching life go by.”

After being initially knocked off guard that my pity party had been so drastically interrup

ted, I realized it was true. Sure, I’ve had a lot of opportunities come my way, but to keep moving forward I can’t just sit refreshing my inbox, waiting for things to fall in my lap.

Finally, when things had gotten about as bad as they were going to, I realized it was time to take charge and start building back up again. I knew I needed to move back home, and I’m lucky I was able to. I swallowed my pride, and left a town I had never grown attached to as hard as I tried, and after yet another U-Haul rental, some pizza and beer for the people who helped, and a lot of organizing and packing/unpacking, I get to spend the last month of summer 2010 with my family, and sleep with my kitty again.

Beyond all of this however, my work life didn’t stop. One thing about this work is that even when the funding stops, the work doesn’t. And somehow- we have to just keep going. As I waited for the giant 8 ball that was my professional life to tell me what I would be doing in the coming months, I attended a two-day meeting in DC.

The meeting itself was an interesting experience, but beyond that,

the trip was yet another turning point for me (yea… I know- let’s rename this blog “Mal’s turning points in DC” shall we?) Not only was it the first time I flew home by myself (fantastic might I add) but also I somehow ended up in a pseudo suite, with a king sized bed, and a balcony overlooking the Potomac River.

So there I am, standing on my balcony, with the summer breeze tickling my face, thinking how my life could not be anymore ironic if it tried. I had just used a credit card to buy a magazine for my flight home to small town Maine, and here I am, not knowing where my life is even going to be in the next month, and I’m on a hotel balcony in DC. My only conclusion was that,if that was rock bottom, then damn. I’m a lucky girl. Stuck between rock bottom, and “I have


And I know that I am lucky, but it does keep coming back to me in different forms. Another thing I have realized is that while I may not have the same group of best friends who I can immediately meet up with at Applebee’s in a pinch I have some amazing people in my support network, and a wealth of knowledge and experience that you can’t even really pay for. Not many people have stayed up talking about Broadway shows with someone who was on tour with Miss Britney Spears herself. My Iphone is a treasure trove of not only connections, but also amazing people who serve as friends, safety nets and an undying support system. It’s pretty crazy to even think about. Want some connections on Broadway- check. Need help looking into programs at Harvard or Yale? Check. A place to stay in L/A. Check. Of course it’s weird to

think that if I were home on a Friday night in Boston or DC I wouldn’t have to be alone as often as I am, like in the place that I actually live, but for now it works, and I have people to see wherever I end up in this crazy country of ours!

As the living situation falls into place for now, until I decide where I want to be for more than eight months, my professional life is slowly settling into an exciting rhythm of energy as well! I am now a proud employee of the NEW Got Transition National Center [for Healthcare Transition]. We have an incredible team, who truly share in the vision of involving young people, and changing the system for the better.

I’m really excited for a new beginning, and with that I have also made a vow to myself, to not take anything for granted. 25 is too young to be jaded and to start being “over” traveling all the amazing places I get to go. Recently I was in Albuquerque, and was so taken aback by the view as we flew over the mountains I remembered how I used to feel every time we took off, whether it was just the one-hour flight to DCA, or all the way to LAX, and that is how I want to look at everything I do. Yea, it’s hard. But it’s also fun and exciting and I’m damn lucky to be doing it! If we, as the “young leaders” are already getting tired of this game, then we really are in trouble.

So that’s where I’m at right now. I’ve fallen; I’ve gotten up, brushed myself off and showed a good number of people, that I’m not going anywhere any time soon. I was told once that my professional mantra aligns with the energy I bring to the sometimes monotone vibe of what we do, and does indeed make me the “cheerleader” whether there are several thousand others or not. So to this next chapter of my life, both home and professional, all I have to say is, “BRING IT!”