We only talk about death

We only talk about death.
I suppose that’s fitting because We died, too.
A long, drawn out, public, and painful death.
A love that caught fire and burned everyone in its path.
Before turning to ash.
Ashes to ashes.
Dust to dust.
Till death do us part.
We didn’t have kids.
We didn’t stay friends.
We don’t live in the same town.
The only thing left to discuss is death.
The true trump card.
You called me when her mother died.
I emailed you when your uncle passed.
Short pleasantries and then getting right to the point.
I know what happened, and I’m sorry.
On some level, I still don’t know what happened but
I am sorry.
Nearly a decade together.
Eating, sleeping, breathing, talking.
And now Nothing.
Sometimes I have morbid thoughts.
I wonder whose death would be significant enough to contact you about.
Would you come to the wake?
Would we speak to each other?
I saw you and you saw me.
But I was with him, and you were with her.
And it was just easier to pretend we were strangers.
I wonder if anyone saw the fleeting panic on both of our faces.
I flashed back to the day after our engagement.
It was at the funeral of his mom.
His mom.
People tried to smile, act happy for us, say congratulations.
But it was a funeral.
And our marriage began with a cloud of black hanging over it.
Of course, I couldn’t see it then.
All I saw were rainbows and unicorns.
Young. Happy. Stupid.
I thought I knew everything and had life figured out.
I knew nothing.
But I would soon learn.
The nothingness would become my life.
If there had been a funeral for our marriage, what would the eulogy have said?
They seemed like such a good match on paper.
They were young when they met, and people grow apart.
She was a whore. He didn’t deserve this.
All of the above.
Or maybe someone would have stood up and said
I saw it coming.
The way you see someone with a terminal illness clawing and fighting to hold on.
There’s always a last push of life.
You let yourself believe,
Maybe it will be OK.
Maybe they’ll beat this.
But deep down you know.
And everyone knows.
You’re just dying a slow death.

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How to Travel to ANY Destination!

“The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.”
– St. Augustine

We have a dry erase board at work that we use to ask each other different questions every month. A few months ago the question was, “If you could go anywhere in the world, where would you go?” It’s an innocent enough question, but it actually really bothered me. And it bothered me because of one word: if.

As I literally found myself writing a public service announcement response about how attainable travel really is, I thought better of it and decided to write here instead. So let me just state the obvious: Traveling to your favorite destination IS possible! 

The problem with the word “if” is that it qualifies travel as this mysterious thing that only happens to really rich/lucky people and is something that is never going to happen to you. Don’t accept that. You get one fucking life. ONE. You CAN be a person who travels to a place they read about in a magazine, or saw in a movie, or heard about through a friend. Like anything in life, you have to make travel a priority and you have to come up with a plan. Here’s what you do:

Step 1: Pick the destination in your mind. That’s all you have to do for step one. Just know where you want to go.

Step 2: Do some research. Figure out the cost of flights, hotels, rental car, and any activities you might do there. You’re just ball-parking at this point—no need to get exact.

Step 3: Get real about your money.  Now that you know how much the trip could potentially cost, look at your finances. Do you have that much money in your bank account? If yes, awesome! If not, time to analyze. Excluding bills, what are you spending your money on? Look for items that you could curtail, like that $5 Frapp you buy each morning. Expenses that don’t seem like very much in the moment add up over time. A $5 coffee each morning = $35 a week, $150 a month, or $1825 a year! That’s like an entire trip right there! Maybe you have an online shopping habit, or maybe you go to the movies each weekend. Whatever it is, ask yourself, “Is this more important than traveling?” If it is, I have no time for you — goodbye. If it’s not, read on!

Step 4: Setup a savings account JUST FOR TRAVEL.  Did you gasp at this idea? I know, me too when I thought of it originally (note: I did not invent this idea). When my partner Dan and I were first getting into travel and doing these same steps, we knew we had to do something different than saving money in our bank accounts. If we saw money in there, we were going to spend it. So I had the idea of us physically withdrawing money every paycheck and putting it in a “travel jar.” Beside this being a really dumb idea if we had been robbed, it was also foolish because it meant the money we were saving was not gaining any interest. So instead we looked for a savings account with a high interest rate. We landed with an online bank and a 1% interest rate. I highly suggest using a different bank than the one you keep the rest of your money in so that you are not easily tempted to use it. What you want to do is pretend this account doesn’t exist or that you don’t have permission to access it. I love my bank for this reason because I don’t have an ATM card…BUT if shit hits the fan, I can do an online transfer to my other bank in a couple days.

Another tip is to open a credit card that earns travel points. There are lots out there that help you earn miles, or will even forgive travel related expenses.

Step 5: Start saving money. Some people will interpret this sentence as, “DEPRIVE YOURSELF OF EVERYTHING.” But that’s not what I’m suggesting. What I’m suggesting is little improvements here and there. Think back to step 3 and how much you’re spending on non-essentials and decide on a number that is doable for you. I don’t care if you can only afford to save $9 a paycheck–do it. Go to your HR department, give them that magical number and setup a direct deposit. You will be shocked at how quickly this money adds up!

Step 6: Get obsessed with savings. You’ve got your travel savings account, you’re making regular deposits, and now it’s time to get obsessed with saving money. How exactly do you do this? Challenge yourself to make deposits whenever possible and then be really proud of yourself when you do!

Let’s pretend you were thinking of going out to dinner. After booze and food, your meal might have cost you $25-$50. Let’s also pretend your plans fell through and now you’re making dinner at home. Take the $25-50 you would have spent on that meal and deposit it!  Here’s another scenario:  you just got a raise at work. Guess what? You survived on the amount you were making before. Time to invest the difference. Calculate your increase per paycheck, go back to HR, and change the amount you are depositing into your travel account. Again, I don’t care if you’re only make .38c more per paycheck — deposit it!

Step 7: Get prepared to actually use some of your time off. I can’t tell you how many people I know who lose PTO by the end of the year because they didn’t take enough days off. What the actual fuck is wrong with these people!? They’re PAID vacation days. They are one of the perks of your employment! If you are one of these people, first of all, I feel sorry for you. Secondly, what are you worried about? That the office is going to fall apart without you? That your boss will deny your request? If you have a good boss, they will understand the importance of taking time off. It’s not just some cush benefit; we receive time off to RESET so that we can come back and continue to do our jobs well. We are not doing ourselves or our organization any favors by being overworked, super grumps. So use it!

Step 8: Be flexible on the timing of your trip. Did you know timing can greatly affect how much your trip costs? A recent study said that the best time to book domestic flights is 54 days out; the booking window for international flights varies greatly.  Even the day of week you fly on matters. I highly recommend using Google Flights to try different days and months.

Another factor is that every destination has a peak tourist season.You can save yourself a lot of money and avoid big crowds by booking off-season. For example, Italy’s peak season is May-August. Dan and I have visited twice: once in April and once in late May/early June. The trip we took off season saved us upwards of $500 per person!

But let’s be honest — sometimes you are choosing a location because of the season. For example, you might be booking a trip to a Caribbean island to escape winter. In that case, understand there’s not much you can do and get used to the idea of paying a premium.

Step 9. Keep your eyes peeled for deals. There are tons of travel websites out there that offer vacation packages. They often come up suddenly and disappear just as quickly. But if you can find one, bundling your airfare and lodging will save you so much money! I personally swear by Travelzoo. They release a weekly email called The Top 20, which features the best deals they’ve come across from each week. I’ve booked at least three vacations through them. Remember how I said we found an off-season deal to Italy? That was through Travelzoo: 7 nights, airfare, hotels, and rental car for a total of $699 per person. Literally less than the price of one airplane ticket to Italy. You can also try the vacation bundle options at Priceline, Kayak, and Travelocity (or a million other sites).

Step 10. Make a more concrete budget. In step 2, you researched ballpark prices of airfare, lodging, car rental and activities. Now it’s time to get exact prices. You should have an idea of when you want to travel, so start plugging in some dates and times to get costs. Try different websites, different days of the week, and different months. Think about the activities you want to do while you’re there and get some prices. When you’ve collected all the pieces, make a budget that includes:

  • Anything you need to buy for your trip. For example, do you need a passport?
  • Transportation to/from the airport
  • Airfare
  • Lodging
  • Car rental or public transportation at the destination
  • Activities (entrance fees, tickets, etc)
  • Food and drink

After making this budget, you might find you still don’t have enough money. And that can discouraging, but it’s part of the process. Keep saving! When you finally do have enough to take this trip, you will appreciate it so much more.

Step 11. Pull the trigger! When you’ve finally saved enough money to get to the destination of your dreams, pat yourself on the back! You set a goal for yourself and you did it! Tell work you’re finally going to take a freakin’ vacation. Then book that trip and have an amazing time!

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”
– Mark Twain

Me, Too.

Obviously me, too.

I don’t know a woman who hasn’t been sexually harassed or assaulted or both. The stories are all a little different, but the gist of them are all the same. We didn’t want or welcome what happened to us, but it happened anyway. And now we live with it, bottling it up, or putting it in the backs of our minds, or quietly sharing with our closest friends and begging them for their secrecy in return.

What is hard for me is thinking about which experience was the worst. And then I feel ill knowing there have been so many for me and every other woman out there.

There was the time that I was 23, a year out of college, at my first “real job.” When I wasn’t planning special events, I enjoyed taking my lunch in the kitchen and doing the crossword puzzle with my coworkers. I tried to get as many people involved to both have the best shot at completing it and to make others feels included. One day as I read the next clue aloud, I felt a pair of hands on my shoulders. I turned to see Fred the maintenance man rubbing my shoulders and grinning as he peered over me to see the clue. Paralyzed, I just sat there not knowing what to do. I looked at some of my other coworkers to see if anyone else was having the same reaction that I was, which was “What is happening? Why is this man touching me?” No one reacted at all and instead they all shouted possible answers to the clue. After what felt like an eternity, Fred stopped touching me and walked away.

Over the next few days, I observed him doing the same thing to other women—and always the same type of women—the young ones. “That’s just how Fred is,” one my female colleagues told me. “Don’t worry, he’s harmless.”

Soon I started eating less in the kitchen and taking my lunch at my desk. If I did eat in the kitchen, I would be sure to face the entrance so that I couldn’t be surprised attacked again. And if I saw Fred approaching, I would pretend I needed to get something and would stand up. But it didn’t always work. There were half a dozen more times he touched me like this and countless times he did it to my coworkers. Believing what others had told me about him being harmless, I didn’t say anything to Fred, or to anyone about how I felt. I just took it.

It continued beyond the kitchen. My office was on the second floor and I had to walk down a big staircase to the first floor get supplies, go to lunch, or leave for the day. Often, Fred would be standing at the bottom of those stairs, talking to the administrative assistant, another creepy man named Jim. When they would see me start my descent, they would both stop talking and watch me walk down the tall staircase, their eyes looking me up and down the entire time. Sometimes they offered their unsolicited opinion on what I was wearing.

“That sweatshirt you had on yesterday,” Jim said, “It made you look…” (blows up his cheeks and stretches his arms out).

“Yes,” Fred agreed. “This is a much more attractive on you.”

I would just smile uncomfortably and say ,“Thank you.” Yes, I would thank them for simultaneously insulting me and sexually harassing me. So young. So naïve.

For years, the role of Human Resources at this organization was done by the person who was also the CFO. As you can probably imagine, this created lots of conflicts of interest when deciding on things like what benefit package to offer employees – the cheapest one to save the organization the most money, or the more expensive one that is better for employees? Eventually they wised up and split the roles, hiring someone to head up HR.

This person immediately noticed Fred’s behavior and launched an investigation. I remember her interviewing me and asking if Fred ever made me uncomfortable. “Sure,” I told her. “But everyone told me he is harmless, so I’m sure I’m just overreacting.”

“You’re not overreacting, Amy,” She told me.

I was finally validated.

Fred was put on a leave of absence while they did the investigation. They decided not to fire him, for what reason I don’t know—maybe it was because none of us ever told him, “Stop.” But when he returned, he wouldn’t speak to me or to any of the other young women. A few months later, I left for another job. To this day, nine years later, he still works there.

Then there was also the time that I was 16, drunk at a party, and called an older guy I worked with at Record Town for a ride home. His name was Bob and he was 21, and was a senior in college.  I had been warned about Bob, and about a guy named Jeremy, who was seven years my senior. Both warnings I did not heed. Hearing “Stay away from them,” made me think they were just misunderstood and that I should give them a chance. I learned much later that they were creepy guys who preyed on young girls. I had just been dumped by my first real boyfriend who I had dated for most of the school year, and I was heartbroken.  So being flirted with by not one, but two older guys made me feel awesome.

Bob and Jeremy made it known that they were both “interested” in me and a weird competition between them developed. At the time, I had convinced myself that I was “old for my age.” But now when I imagine a 23 year old man and a 21 year old man vying for the attention of an inexperienced 16 year old girl, I get nauseous.

I don’t remember how or why, but eventually Bob won me over. He gave me his number and told me to call him anytime. We also chatted on AIM (yeah, that’s how long ago this was). He knew I was going to a party that night and told me to call him if I needed a ride.

I got very drunk at the party. For one, I was very new to drinking. For another, instead of starting off with something like light beer, we drank vodka because that was readily available in someone’s home liquor cabinet.  So pretty soon after arriving to the party, and getting shitfaced, all I wanted to do was go home and sleep. I called Bob for a ride. He drove over immediately.

I don’t remember much of what happened next. He drove me somewhere that wasn’t home. He parked the car. We started making out. I remember saying to him at least twice, “We just can’t have sex, OK?” I had only done it one other time with my ex-boyfriend and I was petrified of getting pregnant. “Of course,” he told me.

The next thing I remember was that he was on top of me, straining not to hit his head on the roof of the car, and then he was inside of me. No conversation like, “Is this OK?” or “Do you want to do this?” No condom. He just did it. I liked him so much. I didn’t know what to do or say, so I didn’t say anything. I just let it happen.

He didn’t drive me home after. He drove me back to the party. I can’t remember if I asked him to do that, or if he didn’t want to face the possibility of running into my parents so late at night. He kissed me goodbye and said he would call me the next day.

When I went back into the party, a few people asked me where I had gone. “Owww, Amy just had a booty call!” one of them said. I fake smiled. I told no one what happened. I fell asleep on the living room floor.

In the morning, I was up with the sun, totally hungover and feeling terrible for multiple reasons. One of the first things I did was I made an appointment to get emergency contraception.  Thank God I was smart enough to be proactive. I remember being afraid of what I should say if they asked me questions like, “How old was your partner?” because I knew he could get in trouble. Even after what happened, I wanted to protect him. But no one asked me that. They told me how to take the EC and warned me I might feel sick to my stomach. Too late.

Bob did call me the next day. In fact, he sort of thought we were an item after that. I remember him picking me up a few days later at my house, acting like what had happened was totally normal. And again, I went with it because I didn’t want to lose this older, cool guy. As he drove me to see his college, he blared Papa Roach’s “Last Resort.” To this day, I can’t hear that song and not think of what happened to me.

I don’t really remember what caused Bob and I to fizzle out – I’m guessing it became abundantly clear that I was never going to have sex with him again –  but thankfully we did fizzle very soon after the incident. I started to see Jeremy shortly after. His response when I told him I had sex with Bob was disappointment.

“He got to you first.” Jeremy said to me. He had lost the competition. This was the kind of guy he was. So naturally, I proceeded to date him for the next four years.

Even to this day I have a hard time writing “rape.”  I thought for so long rape looked like a stranger ripping your clothes off and forcing you to have sex at knife-point. But this wasn’t that. I knew Bob and it was my fault for getting drunk, for not stopping him, for only telling him “I can’t have sex” two times instead of however many times it would take for him to get it (if at all).  I viewed what had happened as an, “Oops! Shouldn’t do that again.” I see now that I was an underage, intoxicated girl–not woman, not “old for her age,” but a child — who was incapable of giving consent. In more cases than not, that’s what rape really looks like.

 

 

10 Things I Love About Target

If you’re living in Vermont then you likely heard the BIG news today – no, it’s not about Ben and Jerry’s, or pot, or skiing. Are you ready…TARGET IS COMING TO VT! YAAAAAAAAAY!

That’s right, the only state in the country without a Target store is finalllly getting one. It’s been, oh I don’t know, 500 years since we’ve been asking?  Target will be going in at the University Mall sometime in 2018. It’s not going to be a large Target – I guess they are trying a new smaller model for more rural communities like ours – but hey, a Target is a Target, right? No more having to take the expensive ferry to Plattsburgh, NY to shop in one, or drive all the way to New Hampshire. Now you can take that gas and ferry money AND BUY MORE THINGS AT TARGET!

So in honor of this exciting news, here are 10 things that I love about Target.

1. Those big, red concrete balls out front. I don’t know why, but as soon as we park, I start RUNNING to those balls like I’m metal to a magnet. Weeeeee!

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2. There is almost always a Starbucks inside. Why, yes, I would love to pump myself full of caffeine to become even more excited about this shopping experience.

3. Their Carts. I’m normally a person who HATES pushing a cart. I always end up with that one that has a wonky wheel, or makes a super embarrassing high pitched squeal.  But the carts at Target…oh MAN. They are next level. They literally glide. It’s MAGIC.

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4. The store is clean, bright and well organized. Yesss to not having to shop in a complete dump just because you’re getting good deals. Wally World, I’m looking at you.

5. They have super cute home décor stuff. Unexpected, right? I’ve purchased everything from candles, to shower curtains, to an outdoor couch from Target. And none of it looked like it came from a department store.

6. It allows me to be efficient. I can pick up a new bra, cat food, stationery and a car battery, all in one swoop! Without Target, I’d have to go to four different stores to get all of those items.

7. Their cartwheel rewards program is baller good and saves you lots of money. I follow a couple couponing sites and they are always sharing the amazing deals you can get at Target. I can’t wait to sign up for Cartwheel and try myself!

8. That bargin section at the beginning of the store with seasonal items you didn’t even know you needed. The joy a $1 pack of pencils brings to my life cannot be understated. This section starts your shopping experience off right!
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9. Their employees are so friendly and helpful. Wow, people who don’t look like they want to kill themselves AND actually know where things are in the store? Unheard of.

10. Their branding. That cute dog Spot, the iconic bullseye (so simple, yet so effective) and their entertaining commercials make me want to go to Target always.

2016: My Year in Review

Sometimes I can be hard on myself. I tend to get to the end of a year and think, “I didn’t do this” or “I never got around to that.” This year, as I sifted through the 1,300 photos on my iPhone, I realized I actually had a really phenomenal year and that’s worth celebrating!

1. I met Hillary fucking Clinton. Sorry, Dan, that had to be number 1.

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2. I read 20 books.

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3. We spent my birthday at a relaxing Spa.

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4. We went “across” with my Mom. CAPPA.

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5. We flew over the Atlantic Ocean for the first time.

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6. We visited Europe…twice…!

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7. I learned some Italian.

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8. I ran 2 miles, two days a week, for most weeks.

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9. I wrote more here on my blog.

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10. I danced on stage with Morris Day and the Time.

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11. We saw Pearl Jam, The Dixie Chicks, Brandi Carlile, and Rev Run in concert.

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12. We spent a week on Martha’s Vineyard and celebrated Dan’s 37th birthday.

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13. We went to the Warren Fourth of July Parade for the first time and Dan won $75 worth of cheese.

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14. We hiked, walked and ran with Sadie more this year.

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15. We kayaked and fished.

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16. We saw 4 Lake Monsters games.

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17. I won 99 $1.00 bills at Breakwaters.

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18. I also won a year of flea prevention medicine for Sade, ha.

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19. I spent a lot of time with family.

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20. I baked countless breads, cookies and pastries.

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21. We gave our greenhouse a makeover.

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22. We installed new basement windows.

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23. I cuddled (a lot) with Brody and Sadie.sadie-brody-cuddling
24. We spent some QT with friends.

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25. We played on a softball team and donned jeggings.softball
26. We ran a 5K and had to eat a pint of Ben & Jerry’s in the middle of it (and yes I realize how counter productive this was to #8)

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27. I became very close to the cat next door, Lily.

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28. I got to see one of my best friends have a baby (note: not *literally* see) and become an honorary Auntie.

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29. We visited Portland, ME.

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30. We went to Hampton Beach.

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31. We had awesome foliage and went on a leaf-peeing adventure to the NEK.

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32. I got *really* into nail art.

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33. I developed a new-found appreciation for both my dad and Sherlock Holmes.

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34. We made teacup bird feeders and became bird watchers.

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35. We got lots of snow in December and I continued trying to learn how to snowboard.

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36. I got to honor a close friend and coworker with a goofy video.

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37. I became a Nasty Woman – ok, let’s be honest: I always was one, but finally got the t-shirt to prove it.img_9507

38. I organized a drive for period products for a domestic violence organization.period-products-drive
39. I rekindled an important friendship.

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40. And…I finally hit that mother f-ing jackpot on Candy Crush.

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What a year!

The Bubble Bursts. Trump Wins.

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Two weeks ago, we were in London on another one of our cheap travel adventures. We had booked the deal weeks before Brexit and were pretty happy that the timing worked out in our favor. But besides a cheap (er) pound, we weren’t sure what to expect over there. Would Brexit be all that was talked about? Would the pubs be crowded with people drinking away their sorrows? It was hard to know what would happen.

One night, I got accidentally hangry and we ran into the first restaurant we could find. It was busy and the only table available was a shared one in the back of the restaurant. I grumbled, but we accepted. Towards the end of the meal, our British table-mates chatted us and asked where we were from. We had joked before the trip that we would lie and tell people we were from Canada in order to avoid talking about the presidential election. But we found ourselves nonetheless confessing “Vermont.” Instantly the conversation turned to the topic we had hoped to avoid.

“You aren’t from TRUMPLAND, are you?” our British friends laughed.

“No, definitely not!” we replied.

“What a joke your country is right now!” and we agreed.

It went on like this for a little bit—them sharing they had seen Trump say  X offensive thing, us laughing nervously while trying to make it clear we weren’t supporters. Finally Dan was able to pivot to their current crisis.

“Yeah, so what about Brexit? What a disaster that was, huh?”

It was like the music in the room stopped. Instantly their moods changed. Their faces grew stern. “Actually, no. We think it’s great. We think it’s just what this country needs,” they told us. Open mouth, insert foot.

Trump winning yesterday is that interaction all over again, but on a massive scale. I had naively assumed the majority of Americans didn’t support him, that there was no way he could win, and that if he did, I wouldn’t personally know anyone who was happy about his victory. But it turns out, I do know Trump supporters:

-My friend from college who outed herself the day after the election. She said she was offended by the news because there are plenty non-white, non-males who supported him, including herself.  She is not only a college educated female, but half Mexican.

-My best friend’s parents. They are hardworking, good people, who own a local business and are constantly donating food or gift cards from their restaurant to non-profits, schools, and youth sports teams. They even recently held a Calcutta fundraiser for one of their former employee’s grandsons who is sick with leukemia.

-My aunt, who is one of the people I love and respect most in the world. She is smart, reasonable, and is another example of a big-hearted person who constantly goes out of her way for others.

I struggle to understand their decision—to understand how I can like these people when they voted for the exact opposite of everything I believe in. It hurts. It’s hard not to take their choices personally.

But if I play the devil’s advocate for a minute, voting is just as personal a decision as say abortion, the issue I work every day to protect. If these people, these good humans, could find something appealing about Trump, it shouldn’t surprise me that 59 million other Americans could, too. Do I think that all 59 million are the same caliber of decency as my friends and family? No. In a lot of ways, this race, this candidate, granted permission to the racists, sexists, xenophobes, and homophobes to come crawling out of the closets and spew hatred. And I believe that a big chunk of his voters love that renewed hatred and are thriving on it now. But I also have to believe that there are people in this country who are aching for change and for one personal reason or another, truly believed Trump is going to bring that change.

I’ll be the first to admit that I live in a sheltered, unique bubble. I work with nearly all women who share the same belief system. I love a man who has the same political leanings. And I live in a state where the majority of people overwhelming voted for the same candidate that I did. To say my bubble burst on Wednesday morning would be an understatement.

I was devastated. I was in disbelief. I had supported Hillary since the Obama primary. I bought her bumper sticker, tshirts, shared her social media posts, and even forced my way through a crowd to meet and shake her hand at a rally. I endured as a minority in my own state of Vermont through Feel The Bern, staying strong to my convictions and saying, “I’m still with her.” By Election Day, I was confident she was going to win and convinced I’d spend the night celebrating our first female president. I wore my pink Hillary shirt, took selfies, smiled all day, and even bought a giant tub of party mix to figuratively and deliciously mark the occasion. [I know now that was what jinxed it. #thanksobama]

The day after [so yesterday-wow, that seems like a long time ago-] was like mourning a death. Our office felt like a funeral home. We hugged, we cried, we supported each other, we went through the stages of grief. Everyone wore black. It was more of the same when I got home, plus frantically reading and watching everything we could get our hands on to understand how this happened.

I don’t know what else to do. I see people just like me protesting across the country and I just—can’t. I’m tired. I’m defeated. Most of all, I think if the roles were reversed, I’d be calling the protesting side “sore losers.” And because Hillary has been nothing but the epitome of class about this whole outcome, I personally don’t think protesting is the right move.

I’m trying instead to be there for my coworkers and friends. To ask how they are doing or give a hug. I’m trying to do one nice thing a day for someone. I’m trying to take care of myself. Mostly, I’m trying to understand the “other side.” I’m trying to put myself in their shoes. And let me tell you – so far it feels like squeezing my size 10 into a pair of 5’s. Uncomfortable. Before you get all, “Wow, that’s so noble of you, Amy,” let me just make one thing clear: for every one of these good moments, I still have two that involve screaming at the TV or throwing my phone. I still cry. I still worry about nuclear war, about my organization folding, about women’s rights going out the window, about me losing my job, about the KKK, about the rights of my LGBTQAI friends, about the safety of my non-white friends, etc. etc. etc. I’m not over this. I don’t know that I will ever be over this. But I am trying to understand it, and maybe if we all do more of that, we won’t ever be here again.

Thoughts while going for a walk in the woods and being female

Who will be in the woods?

Is it too dark/too early/too late to be taking this walk?

Is it a bad idea to be wearing these headphones?

Does someone know I’m out here?

Is that parked car suspicious?

Are those two guys sitting inside that car suspicious?

What would I do if they got out and started chasing me?

Would I scream?

Would I run?

Would I be able to run fast enough without my inhaler?

Would they say I was asking for it because I’m wearing these black yoga pants and this cut off sweatshirt?

Would I try to talk them out of it?

Would I lie and say I had my period?

Would I lie and say I had AIDS, like I saw in a movie once?

Would they believe me?

Would they have a gun?

Would my dog even understand if I was in trouble?

Would she attack them?

Would she run home and get help, like Lassie?

Would I fight tooth and nail?

Would I succumb and let it happen?

Would I survive?

What would I tell my friends and family?

Would they question why I was on this walk?

Would they scold me for going alone?

Would they say I should have carried that pepper spray with me?

Would they say I should have known this could happen?

What was that noise?

Is someone behind me?

Should I take out these headphones?

Should I walk faster?

Am I almost out of the woods?

That Time I Danced with Morris Day and The Time AND COMPLETELY EMBARRASSED MYSELF

“Do you wanna go up stage and dance?” Dan asked me.

“YEAHHHHHH!,” I shouted back instantly over the loud music, not thinking for a second what that actually meant.

“OK, wait here,” the large, muscular security guard said to me, as he corralled me towards the others.

It was a beautiful Friday night at the Waterfront and let’s just say your girl had been taking advantage of the open bar. Taking advantage of all the offerings, really. Dan’s company parties are known for being epic and include a concert with bands you’re shocked are in tiny Vermont. Coming from the non-profit world where we can’t even afford an extra roll of toilet paper, it’s part shocking, part exhilarating to see how the other half lives.

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We spent the first part of the party mingling, rocking our “flashback” outfits, and seeing what other crazy things people had on. My favorite was this dude who was just straight up dressed like The Ultimate Warrior for no reason other than it’s the Ultimate Warrior and you don’t need a reason. We saw a woman dressed as Riff Raff, complete with braids and a tin foil mouth grill. We saw people wearing afro wigs and sequins. We saw men in mesh shirts, and some men with no shirts at all.  We saw women in rainbow tutus and ponytails on the sides of their heads. These people took their parties seriously and for the first time in my costume career I almost felt under-dressed.IMG_7681

In retrospect, maybe I shouldn’t have started the night off with a Heady Topper, an 8%, 16 ounce beer known to knock lightweights like me on my ass. But what the hell. It was Friday night. I probably had 1/4 of a can left when I hopped in line to get one last free beer before open bar closed.

“Are you out of Heady Topper?” I asked the bartender.

“Yeah, sorry,”he replied.

“That’s OK. I’ll take a Corona, please.”

He looked at me like I had two heads.

“Do you want ONE…or do you want TWO?” he asked.

Unsure if this was a trick question or not, I hesitantly replied, “Two?”

“Smart girl,” he said as he handed over my two Coronas.

And then I was the girl at the party with three beers.

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Morris Day and The Time (MDATT) were about to get started, so I took my three beers and what was left of my dignity, and followed Dan up to stage right. For those of you unfamiliar with MDATT, he was Prince’s band competition in the movie Purple Rain…and for those of you unfamiliar with Purple Rain, just turn on VH1 because they’ve played it about 1674 times since Prince died in April. MDATT are a really fun funk/soul band, who are full of attitude, style and extremely talented musicians. They keep it old school in all the best ways with synchronized dance moves and attire.IMG_7697

Morris himself was rocking a diamond rhinestone mauve suit, a gigantic diamond ring, and at least 3 million carat diamond watches ON BOTH WRISTS. He was everything my 3rd grade, bedazzle enthusiast’s heart could ever hope for and I couldn’t look away. I also couldn’t really feel my face.

So anyway, there we were–Dan with his N/A beer, me with my collection of empty cans and my buzz, and Morris with his diamonds–when Dan asked if I wanted to go up on stage and dance. And I stupidly agreed.

As I was being ushered by the security guard to the other dancers, I saw Dan stay behind.

“Wait, wait,” I said shouting to Dan over the loud music. “Aren’t YOU coming, too?”

He also looked at me like I had two heads.

“Haha, no way, babe,” Dan laughed and smiled. “Just you ladies.”

What the hell had just happened?! It was as if Dan and the security guard had made some sort secret agreement when I was being blinded by Morris’ bling. I instantly regretted my decision and considered bolting.

“Hiii! Are you Dan’s girlfriend?” some of the other girls asked me. “It’s so nice to meet you!!” They shook my hand and introduced themselves as they danced in place.

Fuck. They’re all so nice. I can’t leave now,  I thought to myself.

“So anyone know what we’re doing?”I asked the rainbow tutus girls, trying all at once to both play it cool and desperately obtain information.

“I’m not really sure!” one of them smiled back at me, no fear whatsoever in her voice.

There’s still time to run, my brain said.

“I think they just want us to dance!” one of the other girls cheerfully replied.

She was trying to make me feel better, and I really appreciated that, but instead she inadvertently set off a chain of questions I knew I couldn’t ask aloud: How will I know when to go on stage? Is there a certain dance I’m supposed to do? Is there a certain move I should absolutely NOT do? Where am I supposed to stand? Will we all be spread out or assigned a spot? Are we dancing for just one song? Are we dancing for SEVERAL songs? Oh my god, what if we’re dancing up there for the rest of the night?! WHY aren’t the other girls nervous? WHY DID I AGREE TO DO THIS?

“Ok, ladies, follow me,” the guard said as he began to lead us backstage.

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FUCCCCCCK.

Just as I was about to have a panic attack, I instead starting feeling all of the positive effects my friend Alcohol is known for. You know, Alcohol, right? He’s the one who tells you that dancing on stage in front of 2,000 of your boyfriend’s coworkers is a GREAT idea. He tells you that you are A FABULOUS DANCER.  He points out that YOU LOVE TO DANCE.  And he reminds you that YOU TOOK ZUMBA CLASSES FOR 3 YEARS so OBVIOUSLY you are MORE THAN PREPARED FOR THIS MOMENT, and quite possibly, YOU SHOULD HAVE AUDITIONED FOR AMERICA’S GOT TALENT BY NOW.

Well shucks, Alcohol. I don’t know about that last one. But you’re right! I’m going to relax and have fun with this.

So that’s the mindset I had as I drunkenly went on stage with a dozen other girls to be MDATT’s back up dancers.

A band member I will refer to as Jamie Foxx casually ushered us to our various places on stage, as he danced and spun around. And before you say I’m just a white girl being racist, let me assure you, this guy is so much the splitting image of Jamie Foxx that I almost asked him if he was going to sit at the piano and cover a few tunes from Ray. But there wasn’t any time for questions because I was there to dance and act like I knew what I was doing.

Everything was going great (read: completely mediocre) and I was actually enjoying myself. I waved to Dan, I smiled for the cameras, and I shook, shook,  shookmy salt shaker (whatever the hell that means).


Just when I thought the song was over and I was congratulating myself for not completely embarrassing myself, I COMPLETELY EMBARRASSED MYSELF BY HUGGING MORRIS FUCKING DAY. 

You know how certain songs sound like they are about to end…? The last note of whatever instrument is dragging on…and people in the audience have started to clap…and the singer has his hands in the air like he’s waiting for that one final note to indicate, this song is over…yeah, all that was happening.

Morris had turned around to face the band and was standing directly in front of me. And like a cast member at the finale of a Saturday Night Live episode, I was overcome with emotion and the weight of our performance. See also: drunk. So I stretched my arms out to him, cocked my head to the side and conveyed through gestures, Heeyyy, did we all just kill it up here or WHAT?!

The look on his face can only be described as absolute terror.

Turns out the song wasn’t over! It was just one of those songs with a weird dip like November Rain. I had completely screwed up his routine.

Immediately Jamie Foxx came over to pull me off Morris and put me in my rightful place, with a look on his face that said Nobody touches Morris Day and all of his diamonds. I was mortified.

But that wasn’t even the worst part! Because the song wasn’t over, I HAD TO KEEP DANCING and act like nothing had happened. So I stayed up there, fake smiling, my face beet red, doing the 4 Zumba moves I could remember over and over again, acting as if hugging Morris had all been part of the plan.

**Hugs**

8 Things America Could Learn From Italy

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Venice, Italy, romance capital of the world ❤

We just spent 10 amazing, romantic and unforgettable days in northern Italy. It was the first of many new experiences for the two of us – first time traveling across the Atlantic
ocean, first time in Europe, first time driving in another country, etc. We drove a total of 1400 kilometers, visited 14 towns/cities, walked an average of 9 miles per day, and consumed enough gelato to fill a Baskin Robbins.

When we weren’t stuffing our faces with ice cream, biscotti, wine, spaghetti, pesto, bread, cheese and cured meats, we were observing the culture and the world around us. Turns out there’s a lot we could learn from Italy.

  1. Affordable food and wine—ok, so the wine prices were actually more like highway robbery and I was the bad guy. Restaurants had house wine for $1-2 Euro/glass! At one restaurant, the half bottle of wine I ordered cost the same amount as a liter of bottled water – a whopping $3.50 Euros, not that I would ever drink a half bottle of wine by myself…
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    Drinkin’ at lunch

    Breakfast was our cheapest meal of the day. We would get two cappuccinos and two cornetti (croissants), and consume them at the counter. Stuffed with chocolate, nutella, or fruit, the cornetti were just out of the oven and were buttery and delicious. We’d hardly talk to each other as we savored each bite and washed them down with delicious, foamy cappuccinos. Then we’d laugh uncontrollably when we’d get the bill: $5 Euro total. We’d be lucky if we got change from a twenty if this was what we ordered back home.

    Cappuccini & Cornetti

    Cappuccini & Cornetti

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    One of the many storefronts that lured is in! Florence, Italy

    Dan was excited to be surrounded by meats.

    Dan was excited to be surrounded by meats.

    Lunch usually meant we were out exploring (read: walking) and our  meal would be on the go. Sometimes we’d sit down for lunch, but often we’d be draw to whatever tantalizing creation was in a storefront window: Freshly baked panini with slices of mozzarella and pancetta…pizza or focaccia topped with olives and prosciutto…cured meats and cheeses hanging from the ceiling…It all came to less than $10 Euro per person and included a drink.

    Dinner was the one time of the day where we spent more money on food…but mostly because Italians believe in eating 72 courses. See #2 & 3 for more deets on that!

    Eating and drinking like this makes you realize how unnecessarily expensive stuff is in America! We visited a local grocery store and purchased giant jugs of sparkling water (frizzanti) only to learn they were .25c. Twenty five cents. But then again, why should water cost more than that?

  1. Paying restaurant workers a livable wage instead of tips. When I was a server ten years ago, I earned $3.65 per hour. Everyone in the industry told me it was normal because I’d make it up in tips. They failed to mention and I was too naïve to think about what would happen on those days I didn’t make it up in tips…the days when the restaurant was dead, when you got cut early, when after you paid out the bussers and dishwashers you were walking home with $20 in your pocket. Those were scary days and I was just a single person—I couldn’t imagine living off from that and having a family to support. But Italy gets it. Their tips are rolled into the price of your dining experience and in fact, it’s considered taboo to leave more than a 5% tip. We learned about tipping the hard way during our first dinner in Montecatini Terme, our home base city for the first half of our trip. We went took the funicular, this old, red railcar, up to the top of Montecatini Alto and stumbled upon the most adorable B&B that served dinner.
    Funicular In Montecatini Terme to Alto

    Funicular In Montecatini Terme to Alto

    We were overcome by the charm of the restaurant, the glass jars of biscotti that decorated the tables and the smells and sights of everyone eating around us. So we did the full on “Italian meal” – antipasti, primi and secondi courses, complete with wine. Our bill came to $84 Euros (again, think of us laughing uncontrollably over the ridiculously low price). We read that if you had exceptional service, you could leave a Euro or two. So we left $90 Euro and walked out. A moment later, the owner of the restaurant came running outside, our six euros in hand, telling us, “You forgot your change!” We couldn’t believe it. “Welp, I guess the guidebook was right!” we thought. From then on, we didn’t try to tip again.

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    Dinner night one at restaurant Casa Di Gala Di Simona Barsonti

  1. Taking your sweet-ass time to eat a meal with someone you love. If you picture sitting down for a quick bite to eat in Florence or Venice, and being on your merry way, you better go to another country. Italians consider dining an experience, an experience you better have adequate time for. They want you to relax, enjoy delicious food and wine, digest, enjoy more delicious food and wine, talk to your sweetheart, look around, enjoy even more delicious food and wine, do even more talking. It was common for dinner for last 2-3 hours.
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    Antipasti.

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    Mussels, prawn and scallops and pasta. Can still taste it.

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    “Seafood salad” is a little different in Italy, ha! Cinque, Terre, Italy.

    Often when we were eating dinner, we’d notice empty tables around us reserved for a few hours later.  We’d witness the restaurant turn away patron after patron, saying they were fully booked.  The go-go-go, make-as-much-money-as-you-can Americans in us couldn’t believe they weren’t seating people at those tables. Surely they could sneak a table in before the reservation? But that was the point – they don’t want to sneak people it, they don’t want to rush and they don’t want their customers to feel rushed.  This concept took some getting used to. We found ourselves wanting the service to be faster and to just get our bill already so we could move on to the next thing. But by the end of the trip, I think we both realized how nice it was to slow down, actually taste your food and really enjoy the company of the person you were with. I wish we could this more back here in the states.

  2. Frequent reststops–with real food–on the Highway (Autostrada).

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    Grabbing a cornetti on the highway!


    When we landed in Milan after an 8-hour red-eye flight, our adrenaline was pumping and we were eager to pick up our rental car. It took us about an hour on the Autostrada to realize just how hungry we were. Because we had no idea what types of restaurants were around us, we decided to pull into the next rest stop for some snacks, our expectations low. We were shocked to open the door of The Autogrill and find a full coffee bar, a sandwich counter, pizza, every beverage imaginable, candy, souvenirs, wine, beer, DVDs, CDs, etc.”Oh my god,” we said simultaneously as we migrated toward the sandwich counter. “Look at all of this foooood!”We ordered two prosciutto and mozzarella sandwiches and went to a nearby table to consume them. They were so fresh and real that the bread was still warm and our faces were dusted in flour. We said nothing to each other as we devoured our first Italian food, occasionally  getting out an “Mmmm,” or a “Wow.” It was a religious experience. But we still weren’t convinced that all reststops in Italy were like this. Maybe we had just stumbled upon a large one? Maybe this was just a fluke?Not only were all reststops just like the first (some even larger than the first), but they were frequent on the highway, popping up about every 30-50 KM. Each came complete with a restaurant, as well as gas & diesel. I thought back to our pathetic attempts at rest stops here in Vermont. There are maybe 3 the entire length of I-89 and the only food they offer is junk from a vending machine and a few ounces of free coffee. And if you have to pee, you better do it while you have the chance or risk having to hold your urine for another 1-2 hours. Once again, Italy set quite the example to take after.

  3. Color coordinated driving signs. If you’re still reading this, you’re likely wondering why I’m now talking about driving signs and asking when I’ll get back to describing the food. Hold tight, partner. One of the most helpful things we discovered as first-time drivers in a country that spoke a different language was that the Autostrada signs were green and routes were blue. If at any point we got turned around, all we’d have to do was look for a green sign to get us back on the highway. This can be helpful when say, you’re approaching your 50th rotary in a 10 KM stretch. To avoid a National Lampoon’s European Vacation moment, Dan just followed the green signs to get us to the Autostrada. We probably went through 100+ rotaries on our trip and only messed up on two. As the Navigator, I was pretty proud of that stat! BTW, another helpful driving tip is to download Google Maps and use their “Offline maps” section. You select the region you want and can then get turn by turn directions without using data on your phone.

    We pretended this was our car. Florence, Italy

    We pretended this was our car. Florence, Italy

  4. Paying $1 for clean bathrooms. I dreaded the first time I had to pee in a public place in Italy, like the train station or a city center, thinking about how dirty and disgusting they would be. I was also pretty annoyed to learn I had to pay $.50 to $1.00 to use what I thought would be a gross “water closet”. IMG_6461IMG_6460But I was pleasantly surprised to learn that the places that charged did so because they had staff on hand cleaning the stalls non-stop. As a result, I experienced some of the cleanest public bathrooms ever in Italy. I thought back to all of the nasty Starbucks bathrooms I’d used over the years, or urine soaked stalls at bars and restaurants. After a few days in Italy, I was happy to pay for a clean experience And speaking of bathrooms…many faucets there were operated by a foot lever – um, genius! Why don’t we do that?!
  5. Literally the freshest food you can imagine. Vermont really prides itself on sourcing local food whenever possible and supporting area farmers and their families in the process. Italy on the other hand, fresh and local is all they know and do. The basil in your pesto was picked and ground that day, the bread on your table was baked that morning and the prawn on your plate was caught that afternoon. Everything is fresh and it changes the way your food tastes. Eating simple things like a tomato salad, I’d think, “This is the best tomato I’ve ever had!”And it probably was. Lack of processed foods has to also be a contributing factor to why no one was overweight there. That and walking everywhere. Italy also proved that you don’t need to create elaborate, complicated meals. Meals with a few fresh ingredients were some of our favorites. We’re going to try to bring that concept back home.
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    Fresh off the boat seafood. Venice, Italy

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    The most amazing pesto we ever had/will ever have in our lives. Cinque Terre, Italy.

    8. Displaying love and affection, even for acquaintances. It’s well known that Italy is considered the romance capital of Europe. After spending an evening in a gondola on the Grand Canal in Venice, I can vouch for that. But what I didn’t know is just how affectionate Italians are to their friends and even acquaintances. Every meeting I observed came with an embrace, kiss on the cheek and huge smiles. One of my favorite memories of the whole trip didn’t even involve us. We were walking around Venice, stuffing our faces with fill-in-the-blank-snack-cause-it-had-been-two-hours-since-our-last-meal-and-we-were-fucking-starrrving, when I saw a woman with two young children approach an older man with a cane. I watched their interaction, trying to figure out how they knew each other. It felt like they were not family, but maybe neighbors, or someone she knew several years prior. The woman and the man hugged, and made chit chat. Then the woman introduced the man to her children, and this is where the man began to beam. He bent down to each of the young children, cupped their faces in his hands, kissed them, and told their mother what I can only assume was something like ‘they are so beautiful.’ He kept talking to the children, smiling and laughing, hugging their mom in the process. It was all so beautiful and so genuine.

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    Gondola Ride. Venice, Italy

  6. Romance explosion! Tuscany, Italy.

    Romance explosion! Tuscany, Italy.

Italians know what matters in life: It’s not work, it’s not expensive clothes and cars (though Milan could have fooled us), it’s people and the relationships you create that matter the most. And if you can find a few good friends to break bread with, a family to laugh and share memories with, and a partner to love and go on lots of adventures with, well then that’s… bellissimo.

10 Signs You Might Be An Adult

It’s recently dawned on me that I am now an adult. I’m not sure when exactly this happened.

For the longest time, after every birthday I would think to myself, “Sure, I’m __ age, but I still feel like I’m 21.” And what a terrible age to name by the way. What does it even feel like to be 21? Continuously hung over? Like you have no fucking clue what you are doing or who you are?

Nope, I don’t feel 21 anymore. I am 32 and I feel every bit 32. It’s neither bad nor good. It just is. 

How did I know I’ve grown up? I guess it was the culmination of a lot of little signs along the way. If you are suffering from any of the following like me, I’m sorry to say, you too may be an adult.

10 Signs you might be an adult

10 Signs You Might Be An Adult:

  1.  If you have noticed more than a few gray hairs, are turning to box dye to cover your roots each month, and/or if your boyfriend has started to call you his “Silver Fox” because “They aren’t GRAY, baby, they are SILVER and they are so cool!”…you might be an adult.
  2. If you file your tax return and get a refund, and you gleefully spend that money buying new, energy efficient, double glazed, noise reducing…windows…you might be an adult.
  3. If you file your tax return and don’t get a refund…you might be a [rich] adult.
  4. If you find yourself calling college students “kids,” or if you recently received an email from your college saying they are deactivating your student email address because you graduated TEN YEARS ago and you are in serious denial…you might be an adult.
  5. If you remember a time when Facebook was only for people with a .edu email address or if you remember a time when Facebook didn’t exist…you might be an adult.
  6. If you hate all current music, call it “crap,” and take pity on the current generation for not knowing what good music sounds like…you might be an adult.
  7. If you watch an award show, or flip through a magazine, and cannot name even 25% of the celebrities, or worse, you think you know a celebrity’s name but you really have backwards (Tatum Channing)…you might be an adult.
  8. If you go to a high school basketball game and wonder why there are twelve year olds running around on the court, or see someone behind the wheel you are certain just escaped from a nearby daycare and stole a car…you might be an adult.
  9. If you unknowingly start sentences with the phrase,”Back in my day…” or “Damn kids, get off my lawn!”…you might be an adult.
  10. If you creepily watch the neighborhood teenage girls toss a softball back and forth in the road, bite your nails and pray they don’t hit your car, remember the time you shattered your aunt and uncle’s window playing softball, and then at the last minute decide, “You know what, my car is probably in their way. I’ll move it for them.”…you might be an adult.

Are you also suffering from Adult-itis? What are some of the symptoms you are experiencing? Leave them in the comments below.