B.A.E. of the Week: Elizabeth C.

You all are thirsting for a new B.A.E. of the Week, I can tell. Don’t worry, I’m not running low on incredibly huge catches (I mean that figuratively, not literally), but I’ve been holding back because the BAE posts need to be proportionate to other posts…and in case you haven’t noticed, I’m on a summer schedule with Generation grannY. That being said, my boyfriend (still weird to say) and I decided to start commuting together most mornings since we work five minutes apart, which means I’m forced to get up an hour earlier than usual to get him to the office late on time. It also means I have an hour to focus on writing each morning. Get excited! I’m the kind of person who woke up at 4 a.m. in college to write a paper due at 9:30 a.m. instead of staying up all night working on it (grannies generally can’t stay up past midnight), so this arrangement is ideal!

Now onto your B.A.E. of the Week. It’s a good one.

<<If you already know what B.A.E. of the Week is, you may skip this introduction and head straight to Elizabeth C.’s profile.>>

WHAT IS B.A.E. OF THE WEEK?

B.A.E.Bachelorettes are Everywhere. Single ladies, you are not alone.

Urban Dictionary definition: Bae– A Danish word for poop. Also used by people on the internet who think it means baby, sweetie etc.

For purposes on Generation grannY, “bae” means the second half of the above definition.

Every few weeks, I will profile a single lady who is a catch. This is not so that guys can come girlfriend shopping on Generation grannY. I promise– the purpose is not to market these women. They are not easy. They are not desperate. Odds are, they will not have even wanted to be featured as the B.A.E. of the Week, but I will have coerced them with promises of alcohol, chocolate, and 10% of any money I ever make with my writing.

The real purpose of the “Bachelorettes are Everywhere” series is to help remind any single sisters reading my blog that you are not alone. You are normal, but in a good way. Nay, you are awesome, and I’ll prove it to you by showing you all of these other awesome females who haven’t found the right guy yet.

B.A.E. of the Week: Elizabeth C.

Liz Crot

Name:  Elizabeth C.

Nickname(s): Liz, E Beth, E Crizzle

Age: 27

What institute of higher learning did/do you attend? James Madison University

What is your current occupation? Aspiring actress/TV personality/blogger

What is your ultimate career goal? Interested in fashion, feminism, writing and on camera work…but ultimately I’d like to live like the female James Bond.

What is something you’ve done in life thus far that you’re proud of? Moving to NYC with $1000 and no job and surviving debt, rejection, heartbreak, multiple crappy jobs and lice. Did you know that I got lice in NY? Still smiling, y’all.

[Editor’s Note: Liz is the least pageanty pageant person I know, so of COURSE she’s not going to bring it up, but I feel compelled to tell you that she was Miss Virginia 2011 and a semi-finalist at Miss America. NBD.]

What do you like to do outside of work? Thrift store shopping, skateboarding, going to the beach, hiking, listening to old music on records, walking around health food stores and looking at hippy stuff.

Who was your elementary school crush? Will Keune, whose family moved away on a boat and I was devastated.

Did he like you back? No, he liked this girl, Katie. She was a brat.

Do you believe in love at first sight? I do believe in instant connections and I’m a very open person and like to get to know people quickly… why waste time? But love? I don’t know about all that. Love is more about commitment; it’s a choice.

Do you feel ready to get married if you found the right one? The short answer: hell no. The long answer: I would like to be more secure in my career ambitions before I bring someone else into the mix. Luckily I think my biological clock is broken.

What is the most embarrassing thing you’ve done in the last week? I spilled an entire drink on my skirt at a club and had to stand in the bathroom in my undies under a hand dryer.

What is the second most embarrassing thing you’ve done in the last week? I went on a date and was running late so I took a cab. When we pulled up to the restaurant I realized I didn’t have my wallet. I asked the cab driver if I could Venmo him the $. He said no. So I had to run in and explain the situation to my date. The guy was a complete gentleman and went out to pay the cab, but I got turned around and told him the cab was in a different place, and that it was a yellow cab (it was green). I guess it was forgivable because he wants to take me out again!

What’s one weird thing you do sometimes? When I brush my teeth I get water and toothpaste and spit everywhere, like, the mirror doesn’t stand a chance. ALSO I’m awful at celebrity spotting- I told Mike Myers he looked like Mike Myers.

[Editor’s Note: The scene in Bring it On when Kirsten Dunst brushes her teeth flirtatiously makes me mad every time. It is simply not possible to look cute while brushing your teeth. HOLLYWOOD LIES.]

Do you try and catch the bouquet at weddings or usually hide from it? Girl.

[Editor’s Note: LOLOLOLOLOLOL]

Are you more like Cinderella or Belle? Definitely not Cinderella- mice scare the crap out of me. I’d say Belle, because she saves the prince instead of vice versa.

What’s your favorite unhealthy food? Nachos. Hands down. Or any kind of cake, cookies, icing.

What’s your least favorite kind of workout? Any kind that involves a gym. I have realized that I only work out if I’m active on the daily; I have to trick myself.

Go-to drink: Rye whisky on the rocks.

Ryan Gosling or Chris Hemsworth? Um, they’re both blond and that reminds me of my little brother.

 Chelsea Handler or Kristin Wiig? I’ve been told that I remind people of both of those ladies (thanks!). Love that Chelsea has no filter and Kristen is just so awkward and funny.

[Editor’s Note: Cop out. You didn’t choose.]

Favorite physical feature on yourself: I like things on myself I don’t have to maintain. I don’t have to dye my hair and I like that, and when I gain weight my butt gets bigger proportionately. Hay!

One reason you love being single: Being able to explore the world more freely. There are SO MANY PEOPLE, and a lot of cute guys too ;-). My type is definitely a lovable dork who’s good at skating or some other outdoor activity and is more artistic than athletic. Also, I’m in way better shape when I’m single. Oh, and I never feel guilty about time spent on me. Oops, I think that’s more than one reason.

B.A.E.s of the Week are required to give me their BFF(s)’s phone number so that I can ask the following questions:

Describe Liz in three words: Sassy, strong, sweet

Why you think Liz shouldn’t be single: Elizabeth shouldn’t be single because she knows how to have a good time and keep the mood up!

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Tell Me Everything

I wonder what it’d be like to be a private person. I have no desire to share intimate details of my life with the entire world on social media or this blog, but when it comes to my friends, nothing is off limits. Last week, I asked a girl how her roommate/close friend felt about a certain dating situation, and she said, “I don’t really know. She’s a pretty private person.”

…Help me understand.

How can you be “close friends” with someone if you don’t tell them about sometimes trying to look at your own Facebook profile as though you’re a stranger, or admit that you haven’t showered in three full days? If you are close friends with someone, shouldn’t they know the details of your boyfriend’s chest hair and that you ate both Chipotle and Five Guys for lunch? What is friendship if not discussing that weird dream you had about Victoria Grayson or a graphic account of your visit to the doctor?

In my little world, “privacy” and “friendship” don’t belong in the same sentence. All of my close girlfriends have seen me sans-clothing so many times that they don’t even seem to notice anymore when I strip down to change in the middle of a serious conversation. Most continue eye contact. And at this point, they think something is severely wrong if 72 hours have passed and I haven’t told them a dramatic story about a simple visit to the grocery store or about the cougars of Virginia Beach attacking my obliviously friendly boyfriend. I get concerned phone calls if I answer a text with one word, plus I sense disappointment when I say “hello” without following it with “ugh I have SO much to tell you.”

I like it this way.

best friends

Not saying that people who keep their waxing experiences to themselves are lonely or shallow, but I’ve found that when there are no boundaries, friendships become more authentic. The more I share, the more my friends share, and the more we can read each other’s minds to understand how to uplift the other person. Even if what we talk about is ridiculous and seemingly meaningless, those exchanges keep the door wide open for deeply serious conversations. If we can discuss the pros and cons of thong underwear, then there are no walls keeping us from discussing our greatest fears, genuine emotions about difficulties in life, and experiences during which we fall short and feel guilt. Topics that would normally be bottled up out of fear of what another person might think are more easily brought to the surface by someone who knows what the combination of sushi and tequila does to your body.

Talking through how to handle hurt, getting advice about poor decisions, and simply venting about something that is bothering us is healthy. It lightens the load and decompresses our souls. Having a trusted source that you know will never judge is a priceless gift. For me, I have about 30 of those trusted sources, so my soul generally feels incredibly supported. That support is how I got (and get) through losing my mother, how I deal with remnants of negativity from my past, and handle the feeling of failure that periodically pops up in the mind of any mid-twenty-year-old (except Taylor Swift and Emma Watson). Although nearly all 30 of my trusted sources also share with me about their lives, I never feel overwhelmed. I only feel joy that we can mutually absorb one another’s pain, embarrassment, concerns, and successes.

Speaking of successes, being unconditionally close with someone isn’t simply all silliness mixed with seriousness. It also means getting to unapologetically share triumphs and excitement. I LOVE that my girlfriends know that I won’t think they’re being stuck up or self-absorbed when they accomplish something awesome or are overjoyed by an event. Your boss told you that your input was incredibly valuable in the meeting this morning? You’re the smartest, best employee ever! A guy at a bar told you that you’re the most gorgeous girl he’s ever seen? DUH! It’s because you are! You ran three miles after work? Whatttt you are so inspirational! It’s never a fake reaction…I sincerely feel joy when my friends are proud of themselves or tell me about a situation that made them feel special. I love knowing that they feel comfortable telling me about those things instead of buying into the whole concept that we should remain humble all the time. Their happiness makes me happy! Plus, I know that I can tell them when I’m excited about an essay I wrote or that I finally taught myself how to french braid!

tina fey amy poehler

Quality always beats quantity, but a high quantity of high quality friends certainly makes life feel incredibly full and satisfying—at least in my experience. I am so grateful that I was born with no shame and a desire to be close with other people. And I urge anyone who might be a little more reserved in their friendships to really let their friends in. Not Facebook friends…this isn’t about oversharing in statuses or being vulgar in public, rather it means choosing to develop an unequivocal closeness to specifically designated people in your life. Or if you’re me, with the random girl at a party that seems cool and nice. (To read exactly how I feel about oversharing on social media, I bring you way back to my first blog, Shannon’s NYC.)

Knowing that so many of my insanely supportive friends read my blog on the reg and even challenge me to write more often out of love and encouragement of my future, I’ll end by saying thanks to you! I hope our weird level of openness encourages other readers of this post. You’re my favorite part of life. Love you long time!

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Filed under Reflection, Relationships

Toasters are like Marriage (From What I Hear)

My general life mentor (do people still have those besides me?) has given me a lot of advice and tokens of wisdom since we’ve met. She is a sassy, gorgeous, tiny woman from Mississippi who weighs 107 lbs soaking wet, has the cutest southern accent in existence, and is the most spiritually balanced person I have ever met in my entire life. Plus she’s hilarious. When I tell her how amazing she looks, she says things like, “Oh, honey, powder and paint make a girl what she ain’t!” And when I bring my laundry to her house since I’m too busy to do laundry at my own house, she says “I’m going to have [my 18 year old son] fold your delicates because he needs to learn sooner than later how to be a man!” If I am not just like her in 30 years, something has gone terribly wrong.

One of her metaphors I’ve been thinking a lot about lately is that life is much like a toaster. You heard me. A toaster.

brave little toaster

If you’re a milennial and this poster doesn’t give you lots of good feels, I need to have a chat with your parents.

Toasters are made of metal (at least the toaster in this metaphor). If a toaster is made with impure or unrefined metal, the end result is still a toaster. It won’t look as nice, and odds are it won’t work as well, but the metal still creates a product. Even so, no one wants a shabby product. We all want a great toaster, right? Come on, this is the future of our bread we’re talking about! Bread is the fourth best thing in life (following wine, cheese, and guacamole). And if you’re one of those people who “doesn’t like bread,” let me go ahead and call you out because we all know you’re lying and just don’t want to admit that you’re on a diet.

From what my mentor told me, toasters are a lot like relationships. I’ve challenged this claim in my mind and decided upon its truth because a good significant other will most definitely feed you, keep you warm, and pop up out of nowhere. Her point, however, was to say that just like toasters, the quality of a relationship– particularly a marriage– is dependent on the input. If you try to create a marriage using “metal” contaminated with hurtful behavior during the years of dating, bad habits in how you communicate, and baggage in tow from before you ever met, then that marriage will not be as shiny, pure, and high functioning as a union with uncontaminated matter.

You have a lot of baggage? You’ve made a lot of mistakes in your past that weren’t with your future spouse in mind? You treated someone poorly in a dating relationship and want to change? Have no fear! Before your reach the output stage and end up with a bad toaster marriage, you have the “throughput” stage. (For those of you thinking “Systems Theory,” yes, that has Input–>Throughput–>Output–>Outcome, but this is a little different. Just stick with the toaster thing and we’ll be good to go. SCIENCE.) Throughput is the process of building the toaster. You may not have the greatest metal to work with, but you can figure out how to make a super efficient toaster that makes up for the fact that the metal kind of stinks. So you work on it. You mold things a little differently here and there, you try a couple different ways of adjusting the handle, and you figure out the inconveniences you simply have to accept won’t ever be perfect, but for which you can develop patience. You can still completely enjoy the toaster, but it might be a tad more sensitive and take a little extra work and finesse to give you what you want.

The output is whatever you created during the throughput with the input. Ultimately, your toaster is made up of both the fundamental metal, and also how carefully you molded and made the most of said metal. I love this metaphor because even thought it’s pretty much common sense, it’s something that we often forget. We create all sort of impurities in our relationships through unloving behavior, selfishness, “taking breaks,” manipulation, creating a cycle of building up and tearing down trust, etc., etc. Because we are attached to that person, we might decide that we want to work through those things and build a marriage out of that dirty metal. We commit that metal to be the input into a final product, and those scars will always be somewhat visible, even if we manage to make the most of them by adjusting behavior in the throughput.

Due to human nature, most of us will end up having to create great toasters with less than ideal metal, and that’s okay. It’s not the greatest option– and hopefully those of us without a ring on it can strive to enter the purest input possible when we meet the right person– but if it happens, we can still end up with a wonderful little toaster if we give it the attention it deserves (throughput). The biggest issue is if those behavioral patterns don’t change. What if the metal is severely contaminated and the throughput is neglected? The toaster would be so frustrating and dysfunctional. No thanks.

alex mac

This just felt right to insert here.

From the perspective of someone not yet married, I’ve thought a lot about this metaphor ever since my mentor explained it to me a year and a half ago in a singsongy southern drawl. I can’t control what I’ve already done that will make the metal of my future marriage less than entirely pure, but I can control each moment forward and think about what my current decisions will mean for my future toaster. Reflecting on this metaphor has allowed my current relationship to be built on habits that will make our future shinier, not more difficult. All of our decisions since meeting have been with the other person in mind, so we haven’t really added any impurities to the metal (other than what we brought in from our pasts). It’s been an easy, steady road so far, and kept about as clean as it can be thanks to both of us openly and honestly discussing what this metaphor looks like in action. Plus we’re lucky enough to lean on the amazing help of mutual friends who steer our decisions in the right direction if either of us teeter towards doing something that would potentially harm the other without realizing. Good friends and great mentors are the best!

I bring up my relationship because I’m so happy I can’t shut up to say that no matter what stage of toaster production you’re in, there’s something to be done about being in a super happy, longterm relationship. If you’re completely single like I usually am, you can think about bringing the best possible metal to the table for whoever your future spouse might be, and make decisions accordingly. If you’re doing something the person you end up with probably won’t like hearing about, think about not doing it. Perhaps you’re in a relationship like I am that you hope to be in for a good long while. In that case, you can work with that person to create great habits and not get unhealthily attached, rather spend time shaping the throughput and evaluating if it is going to create a toaster you’ll want to use forever. If it’s right, it should come together rather easily. Then there are the married people, whether last weekend or married for 30, 40, 50 years…you can always melt your toaster and work on the throughput to create a better toaster if the habits you worked on need to be adjusted. Then you can come up with an even better output/final product!

This post may be a little rambly and hard to follow, but I hope that it ultimately makes you think about your current romantic state and strive for the best! Worst case scenario, it’ll motivate you to whip up some cinnamon sugar toast. In that case, I’ll still consider this a successfully inspirational blog post.

cinnamon sugar toast

The amount of this treat that I put into my body in 2003 is both impressive and alarming.

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Oh, Hi, I Was Born Today

It’s my birthday!! I’m 21! Woo hoo!

Kidding. I’m that weird, unspecial age that means nothing except that I’m officially in my late twenties: 27. Aren’t I supposed to feel really adulty by now? Should I not still love Taylor Swift? Should I eat breakfast? Should I understand the stock market? Should I not have crushes on 19-year-olds in my friends’ wedding parties?  I’M NOT READY TO BE HERE. Daddddd help.

If I learned one thing from my big sister in my sorority (Phi Mu- LIOB <3), it’s that you should have no shame in celebrating your birthday and making sure that everybody else does, too. I used to pretend to be coy and slipped the fact that it was my birthday into conversations, then acted surprised when people cared. My big, however, would tell people at least a week or two ahead of time that she was excited about her upcoming day of birth. She’d give daily reminders the week of her birthday, and on the day itself, she would look at you with bright eyes until you realized that she didn’t hear a word you said because you had not yet said Happy Birthday. It was an inspiring display of confidence. Since then, I’ve decided to let my enthusiasm out of its cage and own up to the fact that I get really excited on my birthday. I love love, and birthdays are such a great opportunity to soak up all of the love from family and friends! And soak it in, I do.

Silliness and narcissism aside, I woke up this morning feeling incredibly lucky. As I fell asleep last night, I kept thinking about how grateful I am to have lived 27 years. So many people don’t get to experience this many years on earth, much less this many years with an extraordinary family, unconditional and lasting friendships, comfortable surroundings, and a healthy body. Each year of my life has presented me with challenges ranging from heartbreak to death, monumental experiences ranging from becoming Miss New York to working in leper colonies in India, and lessons to improve my character, relationships, and wellbeing. The fact that God decided to let me get this far and live a life full of adventure, passion, and development is a gift I try to remember on a daily basis…but it’s sure easier to zone in on His blessings on my birthday!

Today, I got to wake up knowing that I live three minutes from my favorite people on earth who happen to be my family, happy to go to a job that lets me live in an amazing apartment on the beach, feeling special and cared for by my [super hot, intelligent, and fun-loving] boyfriend (waitwhat), looking forward to dinner with amazingly bright-spirited and giving friends, and passionate about writing, horseback riding, singing, and loving other people. That’s a pretty spectacular way to wake up.

Each year, my heart is more full to the point that I fear it may explode by age 30. But if that means my life continues to be bombarded by love and growth, it’s a risk I’m willing to take.

So thanks to all who have already made today special, and cheers to 27!!

(This is me cheersing you with a birthday crown and a martini in hand…as it should/always will be.)

birthday

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Trust Your Instincts: My Life as Shark Bait

I was born in sunny San Diego, had a brief stay in Newport, Rhode Island during the very formative year of age three, quickly retreated back to heaven on earth San Diego with my family until I was seven, then journeyed across the country in our trusty silver suburban to settle in Virginia Beach, VA. During our seven day cross-country voyage with no entertainment beyond a Game Boy (Donkey Kong champ right here) and the thriving imaginations of my brother and I paired with a foot long pencil, one deer hide drawstring sack, and some glitter, I stared out the window at the great expanse of passing land. Green land. Dusty land. Mountainy land. Candy land. So much land.

When my parents could no longer take my incessant singing of The 50 States Song (leading to my now-adult party trick of saying all of the states in alphabetical order in one breath), we got out of the car to ride mules down the Grand Canyon (which was terrifying fun!), eat dinner at a restaurant I can only believe was located deep in the heart of Texas (based on the photo evidence below), and crawl through Mammoth Cave. These adventures were neat and the land was pretty, but my little seven-year-old brain thought it was basically an expansive theme park. Anything between the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans was just a verse out of Old McDonald Had a Farm or a real-life version of pictures in my second grade geography book. People don’t live here, obviously. How would they go to the beach?

Indians

Since I was essentially birthed straight into the ocean and only lived in beach towns until college, one would imagine that I am like a fish. You probably think I use Cover Girl foundation to hide my neck gills, that I grow retractable flippers, and I sport a coconut bra beneath all of my clothing in case of a quick-change…and you are correct. In all seriousness (the coconut bra part is real, though), I did learn to swim at the ripe old age of three because my older brother didn’t need floaties anymore so WHY IN THE WORLD DO I NEED TO WEAR THEM MOM, and in adulthood I cannot function in a city without sand, hence my recent move back to Virginia Beach. Being a beach girl is cute and fun and like, totally chill brah, but there is one more glaring similarity to a fish that we need to talk about.

I am literal shark bait.

My fear of sharks started at a young age, most likely because my brother wanted the deep end of my grandmother’s pool to himself, so he told me that when the sun casts a shadow over the drain, sharks start trying to break through the little holes. This made perfect sense to me. At 3:30pm, when the angle of the sun started bringing that shadow closer and closer to the drain, I hung out on the steps in the shallow end and prayed that today would not be the day that the sharks succeed.

On day trips to the beach, I’d bound into the ocean– the place where sharks live before they migrate to my grandmother’s drain each afternoon. Usually the waves and my boogie board were enough to distract me from what lurked beneath. I trained myself to be a good little beach kid, laughing instead of crying when a wave tumbled me ashore to the point of near death by drowning and/or a broken neck, and swimming further out than anyone else just to prove a point. By the way, swimming is literally the only time in my life I’ve ever felt a competitive edge flair from within. Not the kind of swimming with a cap and good form, but the kind that says If you need a human tugboat from Cuba to Florida, I’m your girl. 

Over time, my fear of sharks has unfortunately expanded beyond the deep end of the pool. [For the record, I still have to actively steady my breath in swimming pools with a shadow over the drain. I wish I was kidding.] Boogie boards and proof of buoyancy are no longer enough to distract my mind at the beach. Death-by-shark has almost become an obsession. I’ve YouTubed every available video of shark attacks online and even expanded my search to killer whales because, I mean, they’re also a threat. Morbidity knows no bounds. With my ample knowledge of how vulnerable humans are in the water, wading past knee-deep is a real mental struggle. And did you know that a considerable amount of shark attacks happen in knee-deep water? Help.

My last venture into deep water was in Puerto Rico in 2012. Five friends and I swam 30 minutes away from shore around a bank-cave-thing that jutted out of the coastline in order to explore a little opening in the cave with a natural skylight in the rocks. What possessed me to go into a dark cave in the ocean, I do not know, but there is a 100% chance that Jaws was taking a nap 30 feet beneath me. I lived to tell the tale, though, and planned on ending my open water swimming on that high note. I knew it was a simple game of statistics, and I only had so many chances left before I was dunzo.

Let this next part be a lesson for all that it is important to trust your instincts (and statistics):

I’ve always sensed that aqua-luck is not on my side, from that first life-altering day I found out about sharks headbutting their way through the drain in my grandmother’s pool. I should have stopped while I was ahead, as was the plan following my cave swim. A few months after Puerto Rico, however, my family went on a Christmas Caribbean cruise that included an excursion to swim with dolphins. As Brittany S. Pierce wisely explained on Glee, dolphins are just gay sharks, but I decided to ignore that fact and take the plunge. My little brother, 8 years old at the time, and I debarked on the island of Cozumel and made our way to the area of the beach with netted off sections for dolphin swimmers. It was “open water,” but the nets made me feel a little bit better. These dolphins swim with humans every day. What could possibly go wrong?

LOL.

I’m just going to cut to the chase here. The dolphin bit me. I made it through two impressive tricks as though I was a trainer at Sea World pre-Blackfish, but then, during the grand finale of the excursion, I was targeted. I was targeted like the lone cherry Jolly Rancher. Like the open bar at a wedding. Like the cookie with the most perfect golden-brown color. That gay shark saw my little foot and said to himself, This foot is more special than the thousands of feet I’ve seen on a daily basis in the last five years. This foot is a real prize. And he took it.

In case you’re wondering if my right foot is now made of Barbie-inspired plastic due to the attack– No. It’s not. I managed to escape with nothing but pretty epic teeth marks in a perfect circle around the center of my foot and a damaged psyche.

I should have seen the dolphin thing coming. My instincts told me that large sea creatures and I are not meant to be friends. I knew in my heart that I was born into the life of a human shark magnet, but I chose to test the waters…quite literally. The proof is in the pudding: If a domesticated dolphin will bite me, my luck in open water has clearly run out. Mosasaurus will probably make a surprise return from extinction and swallow me whole should I ever again venture past a shoreline drop off. Which might actually be a better way to go than being torn into pieces by a bull shark, come to think of it. But my point of all this is simply to say that if you visit me in Virginia Beach this summer, I won’t be going in the water unless surrounded by a shield of sacrificial humans on every side of my body. And please, everybody, trust your instincts.

shark in virginia beach

NOPE. Nope. Nope. Nope.

P.S.- If you happen to see the picture of the dolphin kissing my cheek as the banner across the top of this blog (it’s a rotating picture…sorry if you got a boring one of champagne glasses or something), you should know that that photo was taken AFTER the a-hole bit me. I am brave. I am an amazing actress. And I am dedicated to a good photo op.

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Filed under Humor, Opinions

Look Up

I could give you great excuses about why I’ve been terrible about posting lately, like how I had to train someone in my old job, have goodbye drinks every night, go to a bachelorette party, move to a new city, start a new job, make new friends, and still shower at least once a week but I’ll take full responsibility for slacking. After all, I have still found time to watch The Bachelorette, read Paper Towns, and browse the frozen food aisle for a solid 20 minutes to choose which Healthy Choice Café Steamer I wanted for dinner on Sunday night. These three things alone are proof that I need to reevaluate my priorities. Also, they are proof that even the busiest person has time to text you if he/she really wanted to. #datingadvice  …But more on that another time.

If you’re skimming right now, that first paragraph serves no real purpose in this blogpost, so you can skip it completely.

Let’s talk about something far less polarizing than texting manners, like police brutality or Caitlyn Jenner. If those subjects don’t bring people together in a kumbaya circle, I don’t know what does. For some unidentifiable reason, though, I am not inspired to unify mankind by addressing either one of those hot topics, so I’ll resort to good old fashioned granny-therapy. This time, we’ll dive into human potential and perhaps figure out why we only use 10% of our brains. Or 5-7%, from what I observe when driving.

Maybe the first paragraph does serve a purpose in that it exemplifies how easy it is for our brains to turn to mush. I love when everything comes together.

Rolling right along… The other night, as I laughed in the face of danger by talking on my cell phone while sitting in the hot tub, my friend and I discussed how easily we partake in mindless activities instead of contributing intricate and lasting art, inventions, discoveries, or humanitarian efforts to the world. Humans are capable of insanely incredible things. Think about the Sistine Chapel or the Parthenon. Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony or The Great Gatsby. (I’m really upset that I feel the need to clarify, but I’m talking about the book, not the movie, you guys.) Apollo 11 or the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer initiative. Chai tea lattes or Taylor Swift’s 1989 (just kidding, just kidding…kind of). Why is it, then, that most of us settle for careers without purpose and nights of mindless television shows or unstimulating social events? Why aren’t we cultivating our minds and prioritizing long term passions and projects? Is the age of immediate entertainment and satisfaction slowly erasing creative efforts that are only accomplished through meticulous dedication over long periods of time?

Sure, technological advances don’t seem to be lacking. Lots of brains in this world have zoned in on ways to computerize basically anything. These inventions and projects are not to be overlooked or devalued– they are certainly proof that brilliance still exists on this earth. As much as technology is the modern shining star of human capabilities, however, it is simultaneously the most significant obstacle for our generation to reach its highest potential in other areas of development. When everything is computerized and presented in convenient formats that do the work for us, why would we challenge our minds? Why read a map? Why learn how to play an instrument? Why call to make a reservation? Why learn equations? Why read when you could watch Netflix? Why write original content on a blank page when you could scroll through Facebook? Why go to the opera when you have YouTube? Why even look up?

You might be thinking, “What does making a reservation or reading a map have to do with expanding our minds?” First of all, because most people in the United States don’t have maps like in the Asian countries and such as. miss-south-carolina-2007-teen-pageant Also, because simple things like making a reservation over the phone or figuring out how to get somewhere force you to interact with the world. The smallest indulgence in the world around us allows our minds to grow and our memories to stick. When your mind is truly engaged and aware, original thoughts, questions, and observations will inevitably arise. With those revelations or curiosities comes deliberate action to find truth and/or create an answer. And in finding truth and creating answers come unique, inspiring, and downright remarkable contributions to society.

Motivation is the key, and to be motivated, you have to engage. Engage in the intricacies of music. Engage in the physical capabilities of your body. Engage in challenging conversations with someone who has a different perspective. Engage in the physics of our complicated universe. Engage in imaginative stories and magical “what ifs.” Let it all sink in, then find a way to interact with it all. Dedicate yourself to the power we all have to accomplish something extraordinary. It could be a book, a piece of fine art, a song, a new calculus theory, a business, a volunteer effort, a running club– anything! Not everything has to be as classically profound as the human achievements in history books. I think about the people who started The Color Run or J.K Rowling’s imagination to create Harry Potter or Kayla Itsines’ growing fitness empire (which must be insanely impressive since even I’ve heard of her, and I do not follow trendy fitness routines or gurus). None of these accomplishments happened overnight, rather these people had ideas and spent hours upon hours prioritizing and refining them. Saying “no” to nights of binging on House of Cards. Saying “no” to Happy Hours or movie nights. Sacrificing momentary entertainment for consistent dedication to a greater goal. This is not to say we can’t ever let loose, but it seems as though “me time” and partaking in activities that don’t challenge our minds have become the norm instead of well-earned treats.

Clearly I fall into the trap of daily distractions, as evidenced by my lack of writing recently. But I don’t want to wake up in 30 years and wonder where the time went. I want to fill it with deliberate effort– to live intentionally, slowly, and with purpose. To give my dreams and ideas direct attention and legs to stand on. If we all lived with the desire to expand the notion of possible, I can only imagine the exciting energy that would be displayed in art, science, and even relationships all around us. No one would ever want to look down. look up

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B.A.E. of the Week: Katie B.

Alright, good job, everyone. You’ve now read THREE whole real blog posts since the last B.A.E. of the Week, so I will reward you with a hot, sassy, flexible talented, successful, and philanthropic bae. You’re welcome.

<<If you already know what B.A.E. of the Week is, you may skip this introduction and head straight to Katie B.’s profile.>>

WHAT IS B.A.E. OF THE WEEK?

B.A.E.= Bachelorettes are Everywhere. Single ladies, you are not alone.

Urban Dictionary definition: Bae– A Danish word for poop. Also used by people on the internet who think it means baby, sweetie etc.

For purposes on Generation grannY, “bae” means the second half of the above definition.

Every few weeks, I will profile a single lady who is a catch. This is not so that guys can come girlfriend shopping on Generation grannY. I promise– the purpose is not to market these women. They are not easy. They are not desperate. Odds are, they will not have even wanted to be featured as the B.A.E. of the Week, but I will have coerced them with promises of alcohol, chocolate, and 10% of any money I ever make with my writing.

The real purpose of the “Bachelorettes are Everywhere” series is to help remind any single sisters reading my blog that you are not alone. You are normal, but in a good way. Nay, you are awesome, and I’ll prove it to you by showing you all of these other awesome females who haven’t found the right guy yet.

B.A.E. of the Week: Katie B.

Katie B. 2

Name: Katie B.

Nickname(s): KB, Nugget

Age: 26

What institute of higher learning did/do you attend? I’m a graduate of Fordham University with a double major in Dance and Communications/Media Studies. I recently started back at Fordham part-time to pursue my MBA. #GoodbyeSocialLife.

What is your current occupation? I currently do marketing & events for the Swiss, luxury watch company Vacheron Constantin. I’ve been with the company for 4 years and can honestly say that I love what I do. It’s creative, strategic, and challenging. We also have a partnership with New York City Ballet and being a former dancer, I’m afforded the opportunity to keep dance in my life in a different, non-traditional way!

What is your ultimate career goal?  I hope to be Director of Marketing for a fashion, luxury goods, or beauty brand.

What is something you’ve done in life thus far that you’re proud of? Having competed in the Miss America Organization for 10 years, I have to say, having the opportunity to be Miss Manhattan was pretty cool! New York City is the greatest city on Earth. It’s the epicenter of arts & culture, fashion, & finance, and there is an undeniable, addictive energy. During my year as Miss Manhattan, I met so many wonderful people, attended numerous events, and did some phenomenal work with GMHC (the world’s leading HIV/AIDS organization) that ultimately help pave the way for me to become the youngest board member in the organization’s history.

What do you like to do outside of work? I’m a Flybarre/Flywheel junkie. They both are such phenomenal workouts and I always leave energized. I enjoy seeing shows, going to the ballet, scowling sample sales, trying out different dive bars, wearing black on black on black, brunching (yes, it’s a verb) on the weekend, volunteering with GMHC, drinking green juice, walking & exploring different parts of the city, and binge watching netflixs when the temperature dips below what is humanly acceptable. The dichotomy of dirty streets and sequins makes me fall in love with NYC again and again and again.

[Editor’s note: That last sentence, though. Shivers.]

Who was your elementary school crush? Brian Betley.

Did he like you back? Haha no. I tried way too hard.

Do you believe in love at first sight? No. I believe in “like” or “lust” at first sight, but true love takes time. To really love someone, you have to connect with them; find out about their personality, interests, qualities, quirks, & flaws. You need to see whether he makes you laugh, how he kisses you, and ultimately, spend time together.

Do you feel ready to get married if you found the right one? Yes, I think so.

What is the most embarrassing thing you’ve done in the last week? My little brother recently played a show at the Trocadero in Philadelphia. While waiting in line to go inside I noticed a very attractive, tall guy in front of me. I turned to my mom and said, “I wonder what year this guy graduated, I’ll have to have Jimmy introduce me.” My mom turned around and said, “He graduates in May… with your brother.” I was mortified. Cue Mrs. Robinson.

[Editor’s note: I held on to this gem of a profile for so long before publishing that “last week” is really more like “last month”…my bad. Also, Katie– you rob that cradle. No shame.]

What is the second most embarrassing thing you’ve done in the last week? So after Jimmy’s show, a bunch of kids came back to our home for the “after-party.” The event planner in me started bringing down chips, popcorn, pizza, etc. The next day Jimmy told me that a few kids were confused as to who I was. “Do you have an older sister or a really young Mom?” was the question frequently asked. I DIED. My ego is still recovering.

[Editor’s Note: #milfintraining]

What’s one weird thing you do sometimes? I’m the “to-do” list queen. I make lists on top of lists on top of lists. I like the satisfaction of crossing things off that I’ve completed.

Do you try and catch the bouquet at weddings or usually hide from it? Catch it. I’m super competitive.

Are you more like Mindy Kaling or Beyonce? Hands down Beyonce. Anyone who has been out with me on a Saturday night knows that I rarely pass up an opportunity to whip my hair back and forth.

[Editor’s Note: ^^ Fact.]

What’s your favorite unhealthy food?  Peanut butter. I’ve been told it’s a “good fat”, but to quote my mother, aka Big Red, “there is no good kind of fat for a girl who is single.” Big Red wins at life.

[Editor’s Note: Mothers are put on this earth to spit truth.]

What’s your least favorite kind of workout? Running. I wish I was one of those people that pops in their headphones and runs multiple miles like it’s nothing. I run for a few minutes and then start looking at my watch, loosing patience, & struggling for breathe. My mind quickly starts to wonder: “Am I running too slow? Is my form wrong? Am I Pheobe from FRIENDS?” #AngerJogger

Go-to drink: I’m a beer gal. My two go-to’s are pilners & pale ales.

Brad Pitt or Bradley Cooper? Bradley Cooper

Zach Galifianakis or Will Ferrell? Will Ferrell

Favorite physical feature on yourself: Eyes. I have absolutely no poker face, like zero, so whatever I’m feeling can be seen all over my face and usually radiates from my eyes. They are also green, which is different/cool. I also have a love/hate relationship with my butt. I struggle daily with wishing I was a size 0 & not minding that I fill out a pair of jeans. Guess I just gotta find a guy that is “all bout that bass.”

One reason you love being single: I really enjoy meeting new people. I’m at the point in my life where I want to find people that I connect with and have a natural, organic conversation with that extends past the superficial “how was your day” type questions. I’m very open and dating/meeting new people challenges me to step outside my box, put myself out there, try new things, and take a chance. The more dates I go on, the more it becomes apparent as to what I want from a partner.

B.A.E.s of the Week are required to give me their BFF(s)’s phone number so that I can ask the following questions:

Describe Katie in three words:

BFF #1: Feisty, loyal, dedicated

BFF #2: Dynamic, compassionate, beautiful

Why you think Katie shouldn’t be single: 

BFF #1: Because some man out there is missing out on one of the most amazing, genuine, big-hearted and multi-talented women I know….and a girl’s gotta eat! So she deserves a man to wine and dine her.

BFF #2: Katie should not be single because she is not only beautiful on the outside, but she is just as beautiful on the inside. She is kind loving and loyal. Katie deserves to have someone in her life that makes her happy and his priority! Katie does so much for others that she deserves a guy who will do this for her. :-)

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Life’s A Beach

This world can overwhelm us from every direction. We get overwhelmed by responsibilities, our work load, and relationships. By human conflict as we see it first hand, on the news, or on social media. By family. By the needs of our friends. By money, or lack thereof. By unexpected change. By the frailty of life. By the number of choices on the menu at The Cheesecake Factory.

Life can be a lot to handle. Before we know it, we’re drowning in stress, confusion, panic, and fear. How can there possibly be decades left of this dysfunctional circus? Is there an end in sight? I remember once sitting on an airplane, thinking if I have 65 more years left to live, how in the world will I entertain my mind for that long? In that moment, I was overwhelmed by boredom (and the stench of my deodorant-averse seatmate). But there have been other times that I ask myself a different strain of that same question. How can I possibly handle 65 more years of making sure I have enough money? How can I put up with 65 more years of seeing people fight on the news? Of never knowing another soul as well as I know my own? Of missing my mom? Of struggling with the choice between fish tacos and filet mignon sliders? It honestly seems like a long, turbulent road.

Those buckets of negativity momentarily pour onto my head and overwhelm me, covering me from head to toe, but are quickly put to shame by the roaring ocean of something else. Something that completely immerses me. Something that takes the word “overwhelm” to a whole new level. As cheesy as it sounds, that something else is love.

Nothing hits me quite as hard as love. It reminds me of sitting on beach chair just out of reach of the waves. Most waves roll about five feet from your toes before retreating back into the sea. Close, but nothing to worry about. Every once in a while, a wave touches your toes, and you think Whoa, that was a big one! Maybe that’s money. Or death. Or betrayal. And then, with no warning, that one huge wave crashes ashore and absolutely puts the other waves to shame. It plows through your chair and knocks over your Bud Light Lime sitting in the sand. Your feet sink into quicksand puddles and your towel sops up 15 pounds of water. Your butt gets wet through the flimsy, drooping fabric. Once that wave hits, all those other waves that touched your toes seem like puny little teasers.

That big wave is love.waves crashing ashore

Sometimes I think that the negatives of life are overwhelming, but those feelings are minuscule compared to the rush I feel when overwhelmed by love. Last weekend, I traveled to NYC to take part in a walk to raise money for bladder cancer research. As most of you know, my mother passed away from bladder cancer in 2012. A few hours before I boarded the bus to the Big Apple, I received an unexpected and perfect job offer that would allow me to move back to Virginia Beach, be close to family, and support myself in a little oasis of a one bedroom apartment right on the water. I was beyond excited. I was not excited, however, to tell my current employer. My boss has become something of a BFF/cool uncle/fun cousin in my life, so the excitement about the move started turning into dread of telling him that I’m leaving. Fear began washing to shore. A wave of uncertainty lapped at my feet. As the negativity threatened to reach my chair, I pulled up my email while the bus pulled out of Union Station. Lo and behold, up popped a new email from my boss. In it, he commended my coworker and me for how we handled a tough situation in the office that morning, and closed by wishing me the best during the walk in NYC, saying he “only wishes he had met my mother so he could tell her what a fine person she raised.” There it was. The tsunami of love knocked me flat on my back. And nothing hits my heart harder than when someone suggests that I am a reflection of how extraordinary my mom was.

The tsunami materialized through my tear ducts, so I turned my head towards the bus window and began the Dramatic Silent Cry. Thank God it was pitch black on the bus and I didn’t have a seatmate. That would’ve been real awkward. I wasn’t crying because I was sad to say goodbye to such an awesome boss (which I am), but because I realized how lucky I am that the mutual love for friends and coworkers makes it so hard to say goodbye.

goodbye

Then, because of how emotions work, the love-tears expanded into more thoughts about cry-worthy love—about the dozens of people who donated money to our bladder cancer walking team in memory of my mother, about my friends and family awaiting me in New York for the walk, about my friends and family in Virginia Beach who are so excited to welcome me back, about the Starbucks barista that calls me by name every morning, and about the girl in the line at Target who let me go first because I only had one item. How could I possibly hold it together with all of that love swirling about?

I know, I know. I’m an emotional disaster. You must be new to Generation grannY if this comes as a surprise.

All of this is to say that the moments you feel overwhelmed by sadness, bitterness, boredom, fear, annoyance, or anger absolutely pale in comparison to what you’ll feel if you contemplate the amount of love in this world. We’re so easily distracted by the negatives in life, thanks to the news, articles on Facebook, and our natural inclination as humans to be slightly depressing. Just like waves rolling to the shore, however, those little negative ripples barely reaching your feet are never as impressive or worthy of your attention as that big wave. You can will the Big Kahuna to crash ashore by actively recognizing the love in your life, or sometimes—as was the case on my bus ride—it’ll hit you when you least expect it, overwhelming you with the most important thing in life. And boy is it refreshing.

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Take Control

Yesterday, I got angry. Really, really angry.

I bet you’re wondering why.

I wish I had a good answer for you, but I don’t. To set the scene, I was 10 minutes into my cardio routine on the elliptical, listening to the Ellie Goulding station on Pandora and staring at my sweaty self in the mirror, wondering if my face was that red from the workout or if the gym lighting was bringing out a lingering sunburn from falling asleep in the hammock last Saturday. All was well and fine. I’d had the best mojo (moh۰ho) pork of my life at lunch. No work emergency had sent me running for cover beneath my desk. A good friend who I thought had forgotten about my existence texted while I was changing in the locker room. Even the annoying man who usually talks loudly in Spanish on his cell phone in our small office gym was nowhere to be seen. So how come, at minute 10, did I start sprouting green hands and feeling veins bulge from my forehead?

incredible-hulk gif

Save during third trimesters or extended periods of severe exhaustion, no one should feel rage bubble up from within out of nowhere. Ideally, the kind of anger that makes you incapable of drawing steady breaths should come as a very rare occurrence with extremely valid reasoning. [Acceptable triggers: Someone shoots your dog. The Uber driver never shows up. Your friends forget your birthday. The a-hole directly ahead of you at Chipotle orders 12 different meals off of a cell phone screen. Skateboarders.] People who are too easily angered are just exhausting to be around, plus they’re scary…like I was yesterday (internally).

Although I am not prone to regular fits of rage (us winos like to keep our heart rates impressively low with the help of Helen Keplinger and Robert Mondavi), I went from 0 to 60 yesterday in a matter of seconds. I had completed just over a mile on the elliptical with the incline at 10 and resistance at 9, which is generally the point when I mentally decide whether it is going to be a good workout day or a bad workout day (I was already starting to lean towards “bad”) when, all of a sudden, my Pandora station cut off in the middle of my favorite dubstep song (more on my workout music preferences another time). Like tumbling out of the East Australian Current and popping into the empty, quiet Coral Sea [Duuuuuuude. Mr. Turtle is my father.], I found myself abruptly thrust into an unmotivating white room, listening only to the loud screech of my under-oiled cardio machine.

exit buddy gif

The discombobulation rapidly turned to fury when I realized that my new phone case makes it impossible to easily mess with the volume buttons. Continuing to move my legs, I restart my lime green iPhone in hopes that Pandora will get its act together. Meanwhile, all I hear is “Screech…The Oklahoma City…screech…Thunder head coach…screech…was fired yesterday…screech.” I want to punch the TV and also yell at whoever ordered this piece of crap machine. The phone comes back on, but Pandora is loading like dial up internet from the 90s. I give up and get off the machine, heart pounding and fists curled. Right when my feet hit the ground, Pandora pops back on. Of course. I stand there for a few seconds, glaring into the ground, and remind myself that the bridesmaid dress I’m wearing in June won’t fit unless I lose six pounds. I climb back aboard the elliptical. It’s too late to press “Resume.” Ugh.

One minute back into the workout, I realize that Lorde is playing through my earbuds. I hate Lorde. Skip. An advertisement for a bridal shop blasts into my skull. If one more person gets engaged, I swear. The screech of the machine becomes audible through the commercial. Smoke begins billowing out of my ears. My face turns red because of neither fatigue or sunburn. I think of all the reasons I hate people on Facebook. I silently imagine telling off my ex. I wish death upon Kylie Jenner. I never want to speak to another human who isn’t my dad ever again.

Still weakly able to objectively assess the irrationality of my mental state, the little cherubim in white robes who lives inside of my left shoulder begged me to take control of the situation. Moved and impressed by his drowned-out plea, I bounded off of the screechy elliptical without bothering to wipe down the handles (no one was in the room to judge me) and jumped onto a treadmill. The screeching stopped. Natasha Bedingfield started to sing. My arms looked nice in the mirror. I felt the cheribum pry off the clamps around my heart. I ran the final 10 minutes of my workout at a pace .7 mph faster than normal, as if I was running away from whatever just happened in the last 20 minutes. Finally, 30 minutes after I started, the cardio portion of my workout was complete. It wasn’t pretty, but I’d made it.

Oddly enough, I felt proud. Proud because getting off of that maddening elliptical to finish up on the healthy-sounding treadmill meant that, amidst illogical fury, I was able to step back, change my course of action, and continue moving forward. That’s really all we can ask of ourselves in life. Sometimes, negative emotions and circumstances just happen. They creep up on us for no good reason, like fire ants on an innocent-looking stone bench. All of a sudden, we are consumed, unable to grasp rational thoughts. We can either let those emotions and surroundings get the best of us, giving the fire ants the chance to bite us to death (why did I choose this simile?), or we can step back and find the nearest body of water to drown the little suckers.

The important thing is not that you live a life void of mistakes which lead you to unhappy situations or that you never feel anything irrational, but rather that you learn to assess the problem and make things better. Don’t keep doing what you’re doing if it makes you miserable, anxious, or angry. Sometimes the solution is really tough to see through the mental storm clouds, but part of personal development is learning to change your course in order to see the light. Changing the course might feel uncomfortable or even risky (my feet have bad arches, so I’m not supposed to run on treadmills/streets very often), but reaching clarity, levelheadedness, and peace is worth the risk. So whether it’s regulating your emotions, upheaving daily habits, cutting the cord of a relationship, or veering onto a new career path, take control of the direction you’re headed and keep on moving towards the end goal– whatever that might mean for you.

u turn gif

This round of psychotherapy brought to you by EasyStrider 400 and Ravenswood Winery.

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Hey, You! Be Proud.

Weather, without a doubt, affects my mood. This weekend was full of sunshine, and so was my soul. I wasn’t feeling great on Saturday, but even sickness couldn’t stop me from feeling the joy of falling asleep in my roommate’s hammock while reading Lena Dunham’s book (cue controversy) and staring at a squirrel eating a nut for 15 minutes straight. The sun must have healed my sickness—it is a burning ball of happiness and vitamin D, after all—because the next morning I woke up feeling like Princess Anna on Coronation Day. I went straight to the gym after springing out of bed, followed by a long afternoon of horseback riding and meeting a handsome but evil prince named Hans. It was glorious.

coronation day gif

With my newfound sense of optimism and the windows rolled down, Sam Hunt blasting on my drive to the barn where I ride [horses not cowboys], I began thinking about when I was Miss New York. Usually, when I think about being Miss New York, I view it as a very neat experience, but feel a slight twinge of embarrassment. I didn’t do anything outstanding to become Miss New York. I was not chosen based on my stage presence or killer interview or looks. I was not chosen at all. I was the default, handed the opportunity of a lifetime on a platter because I happened to be in the right place at the right time during the year that Miss America judges [finally] chose an edgy, game-changing New Yorker to become Miss America 2013. I often feel like I’m presenting myself to be something I’m not when I talk about my time as Miss New York, as though I accomplished some great feat by landing that title. People assume that a panel of distinguished judges picked me out of an incredibly good-looking, smart, and talented pool of contestants. But that’s not what happened. The closest I came to winning a state pageant was finishing in 4th place at Miss Virginia. In New York, I was 7th. I won talent almost every time I competed, which was great, but that was about it. (CLICK HERE for more on how I became Miss New York.)

In Pageant World, I was never the impressive or pretty one. (This will not come as a shock to anyone who has ever seen what I look like first thing in the morning or after a bottle and a half of red wine.) I’ve read comments on super awesome anonymous message boards saying I look like a horse or that people “just don’t get my appeal.” Honestly, that’s fair. People inevitably look like their pets, and I owned a horse growing up. I happen to think horses are really beautiful/adorable, though, so that comment didn’t really have the negative effect its author was going for. Beeeeeeeep. Please try again. All of this is just to say that I tend to dumb down the fact that I was Miss New York, along with other experiences or accomplishments in my life, because I think of myself as that person with a lot of potential who has never actually amounted to anything more than 4th, 7th, or 1,000th best.

Now do you see why I needed sunshine in my life so badly? The wambulance was too busy taking care of people who didn’t land any of the Lilly Pulitzer collection at Target to come pick me up.

sunshine

For some reason (sun), I was able to see Miss New York, this blog, my singing, heck—even my dating appeal—in a different light when driving to the barn yesterday, all the while trying to forget that I am a target for cops since my license plate tags have been expired since October. (Dad, I’m sorry for failing as an adult. It only took me being pulled over twice to order new ones. But I got out of the second ticket by showing the cop my first ticket! Little victories.) When I became Miss New York, I felt proud because A.) I had placed high enough among a group of women that included two future Miss Americas, a future Miss Connecticut, a future Miss International, a former Miss America’s Outstanding Teen, and–still possibly–additional Miss New Yorks, to even have the opportunity to take over the crown; and B.) I knew that my mom had gone to Heaven four months earlier and pulled strings to make it happen. She believed in me. And she wasn’t alone. So many people came out of the woodwork to say that they had always believed I would become a state titleholder someday. Random pageant moms. Facebook stalkers who said flattering words about “following my journey,” but who I still refused to friend (thank you and sorry). My cousins. The star of my high school football team who I kissed once during Thanksgiving break from college. A group of socially underdeveloped men who I once spoke to as a panelist for a dating seminar (the things I get roped into…). Sorority sisters a few years older than me. My puppy-eyed ex-boyfriend. It was a motley crew, but by golly, they had always believed in me!

Once I became Miss New York, many others boarded the Shannon train, as well. The little girls at school assemblies who said they wanted to be me when they grow up (may they never read this blog). My Business Manager who booked outrageously high profile and high-paying appearances by making people believe I was the second coming of Idina Menzel (Deana, you’re an angel on earth and a marketing genius). The fine people of Manhattan who baked delicious, assorted cheesecakes that I judged to raise money for AIDS research (I did this appearance for free, obviously, because why wouldn’t I). None of these people cared how I became Miss New York. All they cared about was that I had the sparkly goods to prove it, plus that I made them feel special, inspired, or—in my Business Manager’s case—like a licensed therapist making a real difference in the life of a somewhat emotional, at times scatterbrained, princess.

Memories of all of the love I felt, and still feel, from the people who saw me as the #1 Miss New York came flooding back to me on that breezy drive to ride horses in a class full of 11-year-olds. I became consumed by excitement to see what other curveballs and successes life will throw at my face or lay at my feet. I felt inspired to write for Generation grannY despite only being the 400,000th most popular blogger in the U.S., because to my dad and about six other people, I am the #1 most popular blogger in the U.S.  I felt motivated to go to the gym because even though my body will never look like Peta Murgatroyd’s, my future husband (identification still pending) and possibly my sleazy neighbor think I am Aphrodite cloaked in modern apparel. I felt focused on my future, where I might become Mindy Kaling’s best friend and write a book that becomes a movie of my life and then get famous enough to turn into a popstar who eventually morphs into the new Oprah, or perhaps where I write an e-book that a few hundred people read and their lives, hearts, and abs are better for it. And where maybe I’ll get some bar gigs to sing songs that put strangers in a great mood after a long day at work.

The moral of the story is to make sure that I am exposed to warm weather every 4-6 weeks. Also, that finding pride in your life is all about the lens through which you choose to view it. Especially for twenty or thirty-somethings, it’s easy to choose the self-deprecating “what will/have I actually ever accomplish(ed)” lens, but get your butt outside, feel the warmth on your face, and think: You are alive. You are like no one else. If you have shown love to even one other human being, then you have already done something to be proud of. Your inherent uniqueness combined with your experiences and accomplishments makes you extraordinary. Pair that with some hard work and positive lenses, and your future will hold even more to smile about on sunny afternoon drives. Maybe even on sleety, dark, winter afternoon drives, too. (That might be overshooting.)

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