one year

Auntie Bea

Dear Auntie Bea,

A year is a long time and yet, it hasn’t felt like any time has passed at all. I miss you. It’s that simple. But your presence in my life is ever-lasting.

I think of you often, in that proverbial ‘I miss her so much’ kind of way, but in other ways too. Blowing up the air mattress because “I don’t want to spoil the punchline, but…Mac popped the air mattress;” ordering chicken parm at a restaurant because you’d laugh and say you expected nothing less; whiskey because it was your go-to drink, ice on the side, so you didn’t get stiffed; going to a movie because it was our thing, right before Thanksgiving; and Thanksgiving and Christmas because holidays don’t feel real without you sitting in your chair;  watching ‘The Good Wife’ because you loved that show; playing board games because you were competitive and funny and always up for a good time; eating at Bea Bea’s pancake diner because it was our nickname for you; lounging on the beach, any beach, and thinking of the Cape; sitting in a library because you were once banned from one for complaining about the wifi during read-aloud time; feeling cold because you’d yell at us to shut the door and throw on multiple blankets; attending the Women’s March because you were one of the strongest women I’ve ever known; hearing ‘Happy Birthday’ sung out loud because no one did it as beautifully terrible as you; eating ice cream with joy; flipping the bird at poor driving; calling someone ‘fresh’; acting fresh; being brave, confident, and happy; and in so many more ways, every single day.

A lot has changed over the year since you’ve been gone. You’ve probably seen it all, so I won’t get into it. But here’s the thing. A few years ago, you said how important it was for us to laugh and cherish the good times because this was how you wanted to be remembered. I never anticipated the day that we’d have to say goodbye, and I still can’t believe it’s already been a year, but you were right. We remember the good times. They were great times and they are cherished. You are cherished and loved and missed.

So thank you for being with me then. And thank you for staying with me now.

Love,

Caitlin

living without fear

Also known as, living with anxiety, but not allowing it to stall my life. For the past few years, I’ve been trying to, not so much overcome my anxiety, but live with it. I started this with my weight loss journey, choosing to focus on positivity and self-love over insecurity and shame. It’s a battle every day. The most recent and most obvious example was my moving to LA from Boston four months ago.

I miss my people. I woke up the other night thinking what have I done?! What am I doing? Chasing a dream, taking a risk, exploring the world. I don’t know how long I’ll be here, but I’m glad I’m doing it, ups and downs, joy and sadness, triumphs and failures included.

What I’ve learned in general in my quest to “live without fear,” especially recently, is that such a credo doesn’t require saying ‘yes’ to everything. There’s power in saying ‘no.’ While it is important to do things that scare you and make you uncomfortable, and that compromise is a very important part of living with other people (not in a roommate-way, but in an other human beings exist in the world-way), you also don’t have to do things that make you miserable. Sometimes staying in and watching your favorite show on Netflix is self-healing, but other times it’s overkill and you have to get up off your ass, take a shower, and go outside.

Carrie Fisher’s death made me think a lot about mortality. It’s strange to be mourning someone I didn’t really know. I’m also coming up on a year since my cat died and still grieving my beloved aunt. I’m living far away from my loved ones. I eat at least two out of three meals a day alone. I come home alone. I workout alone. I do a lot of exploring alone. Loneliness has always scared me and while it’s hard, it’s not necessarily the worst thing to experience. It’s making me take care of myself, be independent, and learn a lot about the world and my place in it. Life is fragile, fast-moving, and can change or end at any moment. This is startling, but it’s also inspiring.

I’m scared a lot of the time, whether it be concerning my future, career, money, family and friends, and all the little and big things that compose a person’s life, but I’ve stopped letting that fear prevent me from trying, in any capacity that I choose. Spoiler alert: I fail a lot. Sometimes it’s easier to go to bed early and hide under the covers. But when I do face scary people and things, I try to always maintain eye contact. Because people so rarely make eye contact anymore.

The world is big and we, individually, are small. That feels like relief.

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Time

They say time heals all wounds, which is sad because it advances on the human capacity to move forward. Right now, I’m okay, getting through, because even as my own world has shifted, life as a whole does not stop. It’s an old cliche. Death means pain, but it’s a product of love, which makes living worth it. Funny, in that it’s not funny at all, how we so easily forget our own mortality until it’s forced upon us.

The weekend was a weird one and I can’t say that I’m sad it’s over. I took a good amount of time for myself to reboot. The weather isn’t helping my mood, considering it’s April 4th and snowing. On the bright side, I do seem to have a fowl problem. On the way to the gym on Saturday, I had to stop thanks to a flock of geese crossing the road and on the way home, I had to make another stop for some turkeys. Strange, but I had to laugh.

On Saturday, I had to run inside on the treadmill thanks to a rainy day. As it turns out, if I had waited until later that afternoon, I could have run outside as the sun flashed itself, but it was still a good workout. On the treadmill, I have trouble with boredom (who doesn’t?!) so I decided on an interval program that followed the pyramid method. I started at 6 minutes of walking at a slight incline, then ran for 6 minutes at a slower pace. As I went to 5-4-3-2-1 minutes, I increased my incline for walking and speed for running. It was effective! To finish, I used the Tabata interval method by sprinting for 20 seconds and recovering for 10 seconds over 4 minutes. By the end, I was tired and looking like a sweaty mess. No matter how hard I work, nothing affects me quite like running. To finish the workout, I went through a plank-heavy core workout.

Sunday was the official start of the week for my workouts, which meant it was biceps and shoulders day. Last week, I performed each exercise for 8 reps and 6 sets, which is long and exhaustive. Even though the end result is the same, I found the 12 reps and 4 sets that I did yesterday to be friendlier. I did six exercises for each body part, including core, before fitting in some quality cardio time on the elliptical.

Though I spent an unfortunate amount of time being lazy and procrastinating, I did get some writing done, something in which I’ve been slacking. The unfortunate thing about writer’s block is that it’s exacerbated by not keeping up the habit, so I’ve pretty much been screwed. Here’s to making time for it, just as I do every day for exercise.

Healing occurs through living and experiencing, and so, I’m trying.

At the very least, there will be baseball today. (Picture found somewhere online probably).

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Go Sox! (Picture taken by me…)

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For Bandit

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Dear Bandit,

Thank you for letting me be your crazy cat lady. It’s because of this that I now have hundreds of pictures to look at when I miss you. Right now, I feel as though my heart has been ripped out of my chest, but I think it physically happening could not hurt as much as this does. My heart feels empty and my gut full of sorrow. I keep expecting to see your head pop up from the bed when I walk in the room or peep around the corner when you sneak out from the basement.

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When we first got you those fourteen years ago, I was a skeptical cat owner. I didn’t want a pet or the grief that ultimately came with losing it. I had just lost two grandparents and the pain was fresh and I wondered why we had to bring that risk into our lives again. Though you were never one to shy away from a bite or a raised paw, you purred your way into our hearts with your snuggles and soft fur and strange antics. Now that I’ve lost you, and I cannot fathom that I am typing these words or writing this post, I know that all of this pain I feel now was worth even just a second of our time with you.

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Mortality suppresses itself behind the routine of everyday living before unveiling itself under the worst of circumstances, grief, the most blinding and genuine emotion one can feel. You were our everyday, our routine, one of us, and that’s why it hurts so much now. You no longer come down from a long day’s nap to swat us out of our seats and watch TV with us. You don’t bound up the stairs for bedtime in order to secure your spot or down the stairs to greet us when we walk through the door to come home. Home does not feel as safe and as warm and as happy without you.

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In the mornings when I’m still lying in bed, I still wait for the meow of protest willing me out of bed and to pat you, or the crunching of friskies as you grab a snack before returning to your nap. I want to shine your mouse laser at the wall and see you jump, swing a string above your head and laugh when you pretend not to care then jump for it like you can’t help yourself. I want to sit on the couch with you as you look out the window or lie with you at my feet as I go to bed at night. I just want you back.

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In time, we will find solace in our fourteen years of memories. I may be able to look at these pictures, reminisce about your life, and say your name without bursting into tears. Sunday was the hardest day of my life because I had to do one of the hardest things I ever will. I know it was best for you, ultimately, because we didn’t want you to suffer. But holding you in my arms and whispering how much I loved you as you went peacefully from this world will haunt me as much as comfort me in your memory. Coming home without you was like never coming home at all.

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We die hundreds of deaths every time someone we love passes away, friend, family, pet, or all. I did what I needed to, for you, because for me, you were my sound board and my comfort, my softness in a hard world, and I will never forget that. I felt safe and loved when I could press my forehead against yours and you wouldn’t even bite me in disgust.

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All of these words are not enough to convey how much I love you, how much I miss you, and how grateful I am to have had you. There is a hole in my heart and an empty space in my bed. I hope there is a laundry basket filled with warm blankets and freshly laundered clothes waiting for you.

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Sweet Bandit, goodbye for now.

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Love,

Your Family

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Sometimes, You Just Need Whipped Cream

I shared this note last night on Facebook, but I wanted to extend the sentiment on my blog:

The beautiful thing about people like David Bowie and Alan Rickman is that they lived as their authentic selves. Creativity sparks ideas, inspiration, and movement. Such endeavors appeal to our humanity. It’s why we love them. It’s why we mourn. At the end of the day, we are all human. We all suffer, struggle, and fail, but these passionate types, these people, they, we, we all triumph, shine, and overcome. In death, we love and we grieve, but we also remember that they have lived, with us and for us, and that is a remarkable thing.

So when they say, “Let’s Dance,” we respond, “Always.”

A bit on the less serious side: Exciting news! According to Facebook, I joined the social media world 10 years ago from this very day. I don’t know how to feel about this. Old, for one. I was in high school 10 years ago. From my calculations, I would have been 16, so a sophomore? Yikes. A lot has changed in the past 10 years and I’m not ashamed to say, the majority of that has been for the good. If we’re being real though, that’s not so much a milestone for me as it is for Facebook. Good for you, book of faces.

On a list of other random happenings in my life, I’m beginning to suspect that I’m just into hot chocolate for the whipped cream on top. I’m not even sorry. Yes, the chocolatey, warm goodness makes the melty whipped cream taste that much better, but when I’ve had my share of the cream and it’s just the hot chocolate left, I’m all, eh.

My morning started with a quick, repeating meal before my Spin class. Peanut butter and jelly on an English Muffin. Wrong cannot be done with this combination. Warm, toasty, peanutty, and sweet.

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For my workout, it included the aforementioned Spin class, which was killer thanks to a ton of sprints and hill climbing. It’s butt-kicking, but works up a great sweat! I finished with a brief core workout before heading home to get my inner- Yogi on.

I’ll also take you back to last night’s dinner of chicken drumsticks, brown spinach rice, roasted Brussels sprouts, and a big salad.

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Now onto the work, work, work that needs to be done. It’s Friday though, so Happy Weekend-having to you all!

Part Five: I Think I Look Really Cool in a Backwards Hat

I love love love the sun and yesterday I spent the day at the beach, including starting my morning off with some Yoga by the water. It was harder than I imagined and I almost fell over a bunch of times, but I’m glad I went. A good rainstorm once in awhile can have the same effect, which has been especially beneficial to my garden today. When I first started typing this up, I was sipping on a cup of coffee and listening to the rain and all feels well. I had to run off to work so I am now finishing several hours later and getting ready to head out for a kickboxing class.

Now onto part five. These recaps are flying by as fast as the trip itself!

Our fifth day was a touristy one. We bought tickets to the Hop-On Hop-Off bus tour that I’ve done in a few places, as well as a few times in LA, including New York, London, and Oxford. It’s a great way to see cities, to get around, and to distinguish what you want to do more of and what you’re fine with just passing by.

It was about 95 and the sun was blaring, but thanks to no humidity and the cool breeze, we had no trouble sitting on the top deck. This time, we knew to slather on the sunblock and I wore my new hat to protect my scalp.

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I didn’t take a ton of pictures because I was nervous the bus would lurch and I would drop my phone, but I can walk you through the tour. We started in Hollywood, once again bypassing other tourists stopping to take pictures of the stars every few seconds until we could get onto the bus. The ride took us to Sunset Boulevard, Melrose Ave, Beverly Hills, and The Grove, where we got off for lunch.

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We walked around the Farmer’s Market then all the stores at The Grove while we waited to get a little hungrier and decide what we wanted to eat. It was a sandwich kind of day, so I went with a ham and cheese with lettuce, tomato, and mustard on a croissant. It was quite tasty and after finishing with a scoop of sweetness from an ice cream shoppe, we headed out to meet our bus.

The entire ride of this particular section was two hours long, so we stayed on, taking in the views and the clear, picture-perfect day until we made it to Beverly Hills again. Here, we hopped off and hopped onto another bus that would take us through Santa Monica, Brentwood, and Westwood.

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There is no live tour guide, but you can opt to listen to a pre-recorded taping that offers quite a lot of information. It’s particularly nice to take tours like this in big cities where walking everywhere is not particularly easy because you can see a lot more than you would otherwise. It was amazing to stop in front of the beach again and take in the view, though it made me want to run down and dive into the water.

Once we made it to Westwood, we jumped off in order to make a stop at a place called Diddy Riese where they sell delicious cookies and ice cream on the cheap. I mentioned that we indulged our sweet teeth quite a lot on this trip and didn’t hesitate to navigate our way to the store. It was so good!

We didn’t have much time to explore the area though it seemed like a nice, fun college town reminiscent of Boston because we had to catch the last bus to Beverly Hills! As we pulled into Beverly Hills and were stopped at a traffic light, Molly spotted Kerry Washington. Neither of us watch Scandal but she’s recognizable enough for us to brag about it and get street cred for the sighting. Just as we were about to wave, she turned around, but it’s probably for the best not to look like crazed tourists.

Back in Beverly Hills and waiting to get onto our bus back to Hollywood, we spotted a helicopter flying above us, which led us to think something crazy cool was happening, but nothing ever came to fruition.

It was cool to be driving through the area as it darkened until I got hit in the eye by a tree branch and I decided to wear my sunglasses for protection. It was actually funnier than it sounds though it could have done some damage.

Deciding to get a bite to eat for dinner before heading back to our hotel, Molly and I stopped into Mel’s Drive-In for a little Breakfast for Dinner. I chose French toast and Molly had pancakes that were pretty good.

Another fun day was had!

To end, I would just like to pay tribute to Robin Williams who passed away a year ago today. I remember exactly where I was when I found out, on vacation with my family in New Hampshire, and that sadness and shock lingers.

Forgive people their humanness, you never know the pain that is in their hearts, even when their smile is so bright.

Joan Rivers and the Importance of the Bitter Comedian

This Thoughtful Thursday is very sad. With someone like Joan Rivers, you’re always surprised to hear old how she actually is. That kind of person, the Hollywood fixture, seems like he or she will live on forever. Death strikes me as particularly harsh when it happens so suddenly. Anyone who is of good health and mobility, who goes from the norm to death, takes the air right out of you.

It doesn’t feel right.

Many will remember Joan Rivers as the cranky old woman with the plastic face who made fun of celebrities. Sometimes I think she took a sort of pride in this, though I did not know her nor could I speak for her, but I think it was one of those things where she said, “Well, they’ll talk about it and then they’ll remember me for it.

And we are.

I’ve also never understood how people become so upset or defensive when she made fun of celebrities. Sure, sometimes she was way harsher than she should have been. Sometimes she was crass and offensive. I’m not sure how that’s different from other celebrities of her nature. Celebrities are put so high up on a pedestal, and okay yes I am guilty of this as well, but in reality, we should be making fun of them as much as we are making fun of ourselves for being so obsessed with this culture. No one should have as much power and wealth for doing what they do. Our culture being as it is, and again I do perpetuate that so I say this with a smile, celebrities do, but that doesn’t mean we can’t point out how ridiculous this is.

The biggest thing for me and so many about Joan Rivers was that she was the first true female comedian. Many point out that she had a bitter edge to her, causing her to make the jokes she did in the manner she presented it. Of course she did. In all great female comedians, and in male as well, there is a bitter tendency to them. This could in part be due to the fact that they are struggling through a male-dominated business, always needing to defend themselves as funny.

Not funny for women, but funny in general.

Chelsea Handler has too been called a bitch and a crank, but it forms a more interesting personality. We remember her for that. There’s also an intelligent purpose behind it, knowing that in order to succeed and to do her job well, she will be loud-mouthed and she will put the celebrities on blast when they do stupid things or take themselves too seriously. Celebrity culture is fun, but it’s absurd.

We see this from Tina Fey and Lena Dunham. Their shows are quirky and hilarious, but always with a touch of bitterness, as though as to say, “Eff off, just laugh.” Even in shows like Parks and Recreation, where the humor can be softened and sweet, though still hilarious and wonderful because Amy Poehler is a goddess, there is still that bitter undertone emanating from Leslie Knope as she too struggles in a male-dominated field. She, and Amy as her pen, are saying, “Enough already, I’m here, I’m successful, and that’s okay!” Julia Louis-Dreyfus certainly held her own on Seinfeld and in so many other excellent shows. (Sidenote: I want to watch Veep!) But Elaine, surrounded by men who are her friends, is the voice that’s saying women are funny too and she is hell on wheels if anyone tries to dispute that.

I’ve been told that my humor borders on the bitter and to that I say, thank you. Because that means in some way, I have something in common with these hilarious icons who are a fixture in our culture. Whenever I watch The Emmys- except for this year because my television was broken!- I don’t care who wins Best Actress in a Comedy because I love them all (though Amy deserves a win), but I love watching to see what antics the nominees are getting up to when their names are called. Even this year, when announced as a presenter- the only moment I saw- Amy asked to be introduced as “Beyonce,” clever, funny, and slightly bitter because who isn’t bitter that they aren’t Beyonce? Maybe Oprah…

I am not saying that females base their humor off of being pissed off by men or whoever stands against them. But there is something to this bitterness and their success. Miss Congeniality is one of my all-time favorite movies. Sandra Bullock is a gem, not afraid to fall face first and look anything like glamorous. Gracie Lou Freebush is a bitter woman trying to navigate through the FBI with her majority of male co-workers and she does it with a rough exterior and an attitude that will tell it like it is. In The Heat, both Sandra’s and Melissa McCarthy’s characters are pissed off at the world for whatever reason, are told that they have too strong a personality or too much gruffness, but they don’t care, they just are.

That’s funny, male or female. We’re just starting to see it represented in women more and more.

That is the epitome of what Joan Rivers was about.

Yes, she was acerbic and borderline, okay downright, rude. She wasn’t afraid to tell someone if they looked like a turd in a dress because they did look like a turd in a dress. The woman had a crutch on her shoulder, was bitter as hell, but I’ve realized all the great comedians do. That’s what makes them want to make the world laugh. Because at the end of the day, with all the ridiculousness of this world, the stupidity of people, and those moments in everyone’s life when irony bites you in the ass, you have to laugh. Laugh, laugh, laugh or else we’d cry. And that’s just sad.

I’m still laughing Ms. Rivers, though I might be crying a bit now too.

RIP