Thursday, March 26, 2009

Reflecting back on my "Rules"

Of all the posts I have written, one of my favorite posts is what I have learned from my past relationships. I have all of these "rules" that I follow from past experiences. Yes! I actually practice what I preach.

Let's reflect. Number one is about not living in the same city as your parents or your partner's parents. Check. Not only do I not live in the same city as my lovely mum and dad. I live 500 miles away. I love them, though. As for him - you have to cross a state line, so we're all clear.

Number two is about not dating someone who has been married before. As far as I know, I have followed my own advice these days. But I have to admit that I have a different feeling about that rule. I think it's ok to date someone who was married before if they didn't have kids with their ex and they have no contact with them. Like a starter marriage. That would be totally fine with me. Because it's practice for a "real" marriage.

Number three states not to date someone with kids. Again, as far as I know, I have followed this rule since writing that. Although, sometimes I do see children who look a lot like this guy I am dating.....

Am I putting my friends first? I guess so. That would be rule number four. I would say I do make an effort to stay in touch with them on a regular basis. I attempt to have those "girls nights out" with 'em. When one of them called me to talk about a huge dilemma and I was having lunch with my dude, I took the call and listened for 25 minutes.

I have to say of all the rules, I am the best at number five. I absolutely refuse to let a guy do anything "manly" for me. This means that when I bought a curtain rod and a curtain for my picture window, where all of Madison can see me as we speak, I had to figure out how to hang it myself. When I say that this was a very much needed fixture, I am not joking. Let's just say that it is very possible that every senior at the senior center across the street has seen me in the nude. Well, due to rule number five, I had this rod and this curtain in the box for about four weeks, until I decided that I didn't feel like learning how to mount it. So I returned it. So now every resident of my condo building, every senior citizen, every UW student, and every person going to the farmer's market or any place on my street, for that matter has probably seen me in my birthday suit. Oh well. I'm not modest. So, let's just say I am following that rule.

We can check off number six. Since publishing that post, I am pretty sure I work harder.

Ditto with number seven. I am sticking to my age.

And with number eight - what can I say? I think this is the first birthday I have celebrated since my senior year of college where I didn't feel like I had to do anything special. Because I get to do special things that I love doing almost every week.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

If You Had Told Me a Year Ago

If you got a quarter for every time I said, "If you told me a year ago that I ...." you would be wealthy. That is, if you put the quarters into your checking account and didn't invest it.

About once a day, I meet someone who asks me how I ended up in Madison. I usually say something along the lines of : I loved it as an adult, always thought of moving here, have family and family history here, etc. I have different variations of the story. Some of my close friends knew I was trying to get here. But I couldn't quite figure out how I was going to do it.

So when I look at my photos on facebook, I am still baffled that I have pictures from the farmer's market and I am standing by the capitol in front of the square in a different lifetime. Now I live two blocks from where I was standing. I never would have believed that I would be living so close to where that photo was taken.

The reason I thought of writing about this is because I made the "If you told me a year ago" comment to my boyfriend on Saturday. (Yes, I finally changed his name. And truthfully, he has been around before this blog. And he doesn't read the blog. But he texts a hell of a lot. And he doesn't twitter. But he has a blog.) He says to me, "God, you say that about everything." And he's right. Because I do. And I was commenting on the fact that we were in Mineral Point - this historical town about 50 miles from Madison, walking past these neat art studios, when I was dying to go into a little toy store. And the truth is if you had told me a year ago that something from above called me into a toy store, I would have told you I would rather go to the dentist. But so much has changed since then. This was no ordinary toy store. This shop was owned by a local woman who also owns a B&B in town. These are no Little Tykes toys. They are more unique than that. I also found this set of wooden play food that you can Velcro together and then chop with a fake wooden knife and cutting board. I always loved that toy. I was too old when I discovered it. So I bought it for my nephew and brought it to him a few hours later.

It's the nephew that lead me to become stimulated by that store. Living so close to him, which, if you told me a year ago that I would, I wouldn't have believed you, I tend to miss him after a few days. He gets excited to see me. When I pulled up in my car he had spotted me, greeted me, and came outside before I got in the house. He gave me a "Oooohh" and a "Wooowwww" when I gave him the toy. He also saw me out when I left a few hours later. He literally walked me to the door.

It's just funny to me that on the eve of my 29th birthday (this will probably be my 1st of many 29th birthdays, by the way), I am finally living where I have wanted to live. When I go running outside in the mornings, not a day goes by when I don't say to myself that I am in such a good place. I have the lake a few blocks from me. I can see the sunrise. Everything is so close to me. I can be at my sister's in a moment's notice. You never run out of things to do. The restaurants are excellent. I can walk to a lot of places. Runners have the right of way. So do bikers. There are a million dog parks. I always have an independent film, art exhibit, happy hour, farmer's market breakfast I can go to. I love my work. I love my friends - old and new. My dog has a ton of friends. I can walk home from the bars at two in the AM, and not worry about drunk drivers. There are zillions of locally owned coffee shops to choose from. I can work all day and still have time to give my dog the exercise she needs, get my running in, and have a social calendar because that is how easy it is to live here. I do not take this lifestyle for granted. I am grateful every day. It's a fabulous life. And you better believe that when I am running in the mornings and I think about how my parents lived down the street from where I live, I think to myself, "If my parents told me that I would be living down the road from where they used to live...."

Monday, March 23, 2009

Everyone Needs a Girls Night Out

After a series of "more mature" and sophisticated weekends (you know - a sit down dinner, a photography exhibit, maybe a night of netflix), I decided I was long overdue for a wild night out.

I don't think that it is ironic that the closest dog park is the one that is less than a ten minute walk from my house, which has "Beer Friday." About a dozen or so people and their furry friends congregate post-work over some beers and chatter. (And may I include these dogs are extremely naughty? Yes they are all poorly behaved. So my dog fits right in.) Last Friday, I was still feeling the affects of Thursday evening, so while I brought a few beers, I did not consume them. This past Friday, I was able to partake in the TGIF beer drinking. I stayed at the park so long that I am worried my dog may have gotten even thinner and I had to make a pit stop en route to my house at another dog owner's house - who I really only knew as "Simon's Owner" (This, I have never had to do before.)

I know I mention those "girls nights out" that we gals like. After sitting at a bar for some time, I was ready to go dancing. The bars with the dancing are limited near my house. I am too old for a lot of them. There is one that is ok but I was instructed upon my arrival in Madison to "never go there." Of course, I went there my first night out in Madison, when my girlfriends and I were looking for a place to go dancing. And we had a blast. Well, at least I had a blast. I was newly single and feeling free to do whatever I wanted. You know, dance with all sorts of guys. Sandwiches and stuff. Nobody cares. It was, like, a totally liberating experience. Because I like to dance. And most of those people on the dance floor are drunk and you can let loose.

I was slightly embarrassed that I went to that place. But I wanted to dance, so I went back there. I get very inspired by music. That is part of why I love my running so much. Some songs just make you move. I think that is why real religious people don't listen to music. If you turn on the music while you have a baby in the room, watch how they naturally move to it. (I can't believe I just wrote that!) And it's not uncommon for people to gyrate and tap their feet, or whatever.

So, anyways - first the music was a bunch of stuff I hear all day long on the radio. But then, the good dance music comes on (ok, what I call good - you probably wouldn't.) And I am working very hard to do every move they have in the video. Now you try mimicking Beyonce and her dancers and see how hot you look! I mean, I am doing high kicks and everything. But then, this 80s song comes on. And my college girls - they know how I am for the 80s music. Totally obsessed. An 80s song on a dance floor is a dream. And I dig 80s aerobics. And this music video is a bunch of women doing 80s aerobics (in thongs.) So, let's just say I spent the remainder of the evening bouncing around the dance floor doing 80s aerobics. And I was drenched in sweat. And got home at about 2:30 AM.

Due to an incident that occurred in October, I can no longer enjoy that macaroni & cheese pizza I was so loving. It is by no means the fault of the restaurant. It was just the last thing I ate before hugging my toilet. So, when my pals wanted to go there for a slice, I refused. We walked through the 24 hour grocery across from me and people selected their snacks.

And by 8:30 AM, my legs were so sore from all the 80s aerobics dancing. And I run six days a week. So I guess I gave myself a good workout. I think I will attempt this again this weekend. This goes out to all my Woo-Town peeps. I was so wishing you were all there with me.


Friday, March 20, 2009


I am at my sister and brother-in-law's house quite often. Running this morning, I was thinking about all of our conversation topics and what it must sound like to an observer. Here are the conversations and inside jokes that are always being recycled:

What Penelope Trunk is up to and her blog
Andy Bowl (Don't know him or how he spells his name)
Tim from the Co-Op
Rocco (the guy or the cat??)
Mexican Restaurants
Gabe (23)
Sensible haircuts
Living in a "Clown House" - you figure that one out
Analyzing and diagnosing family problems
The farmers market
Our parents
Becoming estranged with family members (not ours)
Digestive systems
Issues in general

Tuesday, March 17, 2009


Because of my laissez-faire friends, nobody ever expresses any fear to me in "dying alone." Or the "I'm never going to find the right person" panic. And then there is the "I am going to be too old to have kids" scare.

The movement I am in puts so much emphasis on establishing yourself professionally. Everywhere I look, people are marrying in their upper 30s. Which of course will contribute to a successful marriage. (Remember, ladies - don't marry your first boyfriend?)

I don't have a problem that I am 28 and unmarried. Regardless of whom I would have married, I am so convinced that I would be divorced by now. I am still analyzing myself, so it wouldn't have made sense for me to get married. When you grow and change, your partner has to do that with you. And that wouldn't have worked for me because I change my mind too much.

When people used to ask me if I was planning on marrying my exes, this was crossing a line with me. I know, I know. I have probably asked you all about your sexual history, and every dirty detail of your life. But I don't ask that. For some reason, I just don't. It's one of my "hang-ups." (I have a lot of those). I am very skeptical of marriage. I have actually had clients in my car who are my parents age, who have been married, tell me that they have never been in love. The other day, I said to Mr. Right Now (I think I better change his name at some point)

"You know, we don't have any role models for a healthy relationship."

Now, he is so used to me analyzing everything, and playing psychologist, like all of my friends are.

"You mean I don't? Are you talking about you and me now?"

"No, no. I mean most of our generation. So many of us had lousy role models. Or our parents got divorced. So, we don't know how to have a normal, healthy relationship."

He agreed. Where do we find the "model" married couple?

So, I finally found a couple I aspire to be like. But he has to be on board with me on this.

Am I scared to be unmarried and turning 29 next week? Not at all. I have been saying since I was 24 that I am just not ready to settle yet. And until I don't feel like going out and having "girls" nights, and feeling an occasional hangover which is an excuse to eat nasty, greasy food, and looking forward to coming to a condo that is mine where the only mammal that greets me has four legs, then I will still be single. This is 100% my choice.

I remember when one person told me that my sister, who was 32 at the time needed to "hurry up and start trying to have a baby." Yes, one person told me that. Just one. And I was surprised that someone in this lifetime, of my generation would make such a comment. My sister was establishing herself in a private practice that she had just joined. She has just sold her first condo. She was just moving into her first house. And we all know that women reproduce well into their 40s these days. I know, it's not always easy. But they do. And when my middle sister told me yesterday that I better "hurry up" if I wanted to get going on the kid factor (still unsure), I played the, "I'm only 28!" (Meanwhile, last week, while my father told me I wasn't cutting my broccoli the right way, I was "almost 30.") I know, I know, a person can't judge my sis for "starting to try right away," but my middle sis can tell me just that. It's ok, though. My sisters can tell me whatever they want. I love them.

This brings me to an entirely different topic altogether. So, while I have moved 500 miles away from my parents, and 1,000 miles from my middle sis, the big sis and I are now best friends, (as we are with the middle), and I feel like we are all back together again. You move 500 miles away from your parents, and they come to visit. Suddenly, you are having "family dinner" every night, doing errands together, and regressing into your childhood. Mom is slaving over us and Dad is trying to spoil us. And we just let it happen.

I am enjoying the "me" time while I can. To be able to meet a bunch of girlfriends for a quick drink(ssss) (Remember - it's Wisconsin), and dinner on a moment's notice, or do whatever I want on a Sunday is awesome. It's slightly selfish, but I know I am not going to put myself first forever. In fact, I would have to say I don't put myself first that often now, but I am my own priority.

In these next three weeks, my sisters are making milestones, while I am just happy to be getting in my weekly mileage. (Running, that is).

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Everyone Needs Good Therapy

I'm not embarrassed to say I have worked hard on myself. You know how they say that the "apple doesn't fall far from the tree?" I think this apple has. For example, when I "say it like it is," that's certainly not something my parents taught me to do. And I am serious when I tell you that the only reason I am conscious that I am straightforward is because people tell me frequently enough. I don't even really know I do it. This is just one example of what 8 (or 9?) therapists have done for me. They have made me confident.

I can certainly say that almost every single one of my friends has been in therapy. Sorry, friends, if I am exploiting you on here. And the only reason I am comfortable exploiting you on here is because we will almost all agree that this is just something our generation does. We aren't ashamed. You know - go to yoga, get your hair cut, go to therapy, get a drink at happy hour. It's just part of our day.

And if you have never gone to see a shrink, it is just another thing that I recommend. (I seem to be making a lot of recommendations on here). Hmmm.... It appears that most baby boomers didn't get the benefits of what I have had until they were adults. It also seems that a lot of them are still hesitant to go. And the hardest part is making the phone call. Everyone will tell you that.
Now, I am pretty sure that most people have accused me of being an armchair psychologist. I have also been accused of regurgitating information that my sister, the psychologist tells me. I have been doing analysis since I was a child. Yes, I run things past my sister. I also run things past my other sister, the social worker. But I have always been confident in my interpretive work. Even since I was a kid.

One of my pet peeves is when people tell me that they stopped going because their shrink "told them they didn't need to go any more." And then they start telling me how they are estranged from their sister, and they are cheating on their girlfriend, and they drink every night, and they tried cocaine and they liked it, and I am going, "What kind of therapist thinks this person is ok?" (I know, I have a lot of hang-ups) But, really? What professional sends this client back into the world of no therapy? This isn't just one person I am talking about, either. MULTIPLE people have told me this. So here is my theory - you stopped opening up to them, and were no longer inviting them in. And then they told you what you wanted to hear. Most people want to hear that their lives are totally normal. But we know that we all have our bag of problems. Some are trash bags and some are lunchbags.

I have thought many times of posting my feelings on therapy. But what made me finally do it is realizing that I know too many people out there who need it, and aren't going. When I tell you I am always analyzing, I am. I think too much. I hear that a lot. But it amazes me how many people don't think at all.

So, here are some questions I ask myself, to make sure I am ok:

1. Is my relationship with my parents ok, or is it unhealthy?

2. Do I agree with their parenting?

3. Where is my role model for a healthy relationship?

4. Is my relationship healthy?

5. When I am with friends, do I let them talk about themselves, and their issues, (so I can tell them that they need a therapist....)

6. What do I need to do today to feel like I accomplished something by the day's end?

And the list goes on. And these questions are always in my head. They are complex, too. The meanings vary. But, I urge everyone to go to therapy at some point, if you haven't already.

In order to enjoy it, it is really important that you connect with your therapist. I prefer a man. A lot of my women peers do. And vice versa for my male friends. They like women. DON'T stay in a therapist's office if there is sexual tension or if they get too personal, such as suggesting to get together with you or your family outside of their professional office, I think that's probably unethical. I am fine going to counselors who are not PhDs. That's no big deal. You can usually go to their website to see that they are valid. I would prefer not to go to a shrink who went to some made up online counseling thing. Also make sure their profile doesn't say they are a PhD, and then in parenthesis "Candidate." To me, that's false advertising.

If you go to someone, and realize there is no connection there, move on to the next one. You can therapy hop. Don't waste your time. And why should they?

Oh, and my favorite line? "I don't need to go." C'mon! Everyone needs it. Since I am an "armchair psychologist," my friends all asked me in a group setting if they should currently be in therapy. I told them each of them "yes", and then followed up with a diagnosis. I even recommended various therapists in the area.

Boy, was I excited to learn I have mainstream health insurance again!

Sunday, March 8, 2009

A Definition of My Generation

For those of you who are so impressed with my opinions and activities, you probably aren't part of my generation. I have defined the hipster scene in Madison, but to take it one step further, I think it is time to define my generation in a stereo-type so that you will no longer be so blown away by a lot of my beliefs. Some of you are giving me way too much credit.

Don't you know that our generation is the anti-globalization, liberal, Obama voting, pro-choice, New York Times reading, sustainable cooking, red wine drinking, farmers market going, NPR listening and world traveling era? This makes me no different than my peers. Sorry friends. I know some of you like to think we are different.

I know that Madison always appealed to me because that's pretty much all we have around the down town area. Liberals. Non-chain shoppers. Pretend intellects. People who actually put under "interests" on facebook that they love listening to NPR. I used to avoid this. Until, I started to twitter, and I realized that if you put that you are sipping coffee and listening to NPR, you may spark a good conversation which leads to a nice networking meeting. I now fall victim to this.

Madison believes in almost everything I believe in. Driving to the grocery today, three cars in a row had either the "Coexist," "Sustainable Organic," and/or the "Co-op" stickers on them. Visiting here, I used to say to myself, "This is why I need to live here. People who follow my religion." Now, it's like, "Preaching to the choir, people."

If you are living in a different kind of town, or even an urban area that is slightly "behind" this movement, I can understand why you think that I am a founder who is leading the way. But between attending a liberal arts college and living in this progressive city, I am simply a dime a dozen.

Stop patting me on the back and realize that this is the generation of the late 20s and early 30s. Right? We all love updating our facebook status to let all of our 567 closest friends know that we cooked an awesome organic, sustainable, gluten-free, vegan meal. On the same note, we love to update our status to let all of our friends know that we biked through the arboretum, or are traveling back from Mumbai.

Unfortunately, we aren't as special as we think we are. But I think we are a pretty awesome generation. And I wouldn't want it to be any different. Because even pretend intellects are interesting to talk with.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Janie Was Not in Madison - Mission Accomplished

I successfully took a vacation. I have never been so far away from reality before. No newspapers, no tvs, no phone, computer, not even a clock or watch in site. If you haven't done this before, I highly recommend it.

If you read my last post, then you know I left town at a semi crucial time. My brother-in-law and sister, who live four miles from me, are expecting their baby any day. My job was to potentially care for their son while they went to the hospital. Not only did I leave them 1200 miles away, I was unreachable. I planned to not have my phone, and I accomplished this. Once a day, I would wonder out loud, "I wonder if they had the baby yet?" As I said before, when you go away, and escape from real life, it is still there upon your return. It is important to justify this, and be selfless once in a while. I knew that if my sister delivered, I have a lifetime ahead with the baby.

Before you die, you must go on a vacation where there are no clocks in site. All you have to do is look at where the sun is in the sky. I have no idea how much sleep I got. It is very possible that I went to bed before ten and awoke before six some days. Eat when you're hungry. Sleep when you are tired. This is the life. Let nature play its role.

The other thing I don't quite understand is when people don't go native on a vacation. I was in a very rustic, remote island, near the northeastern tip of the Yucatan Peninsula. A ferry whisks you away to the island, and there are no cars on the island. I am an anti- Cancun/Puerto Vallarta/Sandals Resorts/Club Med/5 star hotels-in-exotic-places kind of person. If I am going to India, I am going native. No fancy resorts for me. I think this is the only way to do it.

The first two nights there, we stayed in a cabana style bungalow with a thatch roof, two story ceiling, and composting toilets (ugh....) right on the ocean. It was paradise. Each bungalow seemed to be occupied by a couple. This place (the island, itself), appears to be a melting pot of Europeans, Canadians, possibly some South Americans, and really very few Americans. Everyone kept to themselves, so it was very quiet. When I think of it now, all I hear, even as we all dined together on the deck, is the ocean. This "resort" was one of the farthest from the town, where the down town square is situated with the restaurants and shops, about .60 miles.

We moved to another "resort" for the remainder of our stay on the island. This was more of a hotel style, where the rooms are formed around a "Melrose Place" style courtyard with a pool, also on the ocean. Our balcony had a hammock, and, of course, overlooked the ocean. Closer to the town, there were more people, but again, we kept to ourselves.

I think this is one of the few times where I made no effort to make friends. I had little interest in talking to anyone. The whole, "Oh, we're from the United States, too!" or "I once visited France, 800 miles from where you live...." was totally unnecessary to me. It is more fun to people watch and make up stories in your head.

The running there was the easiest I have had on a beach. I have run on the beach in Mexico before, and it was much more difficult, but here, the sand was really padded down. Because I also like running a lot more than I used to, I really enjoyed it. Besides the heat, they were easy and peaceful runs. There were very few other runners there. The locals are mostly thick.

One other recommendation I will make is to only bring a carry on bag. I swear, I don't care if I go to Ireland for a month, I am not checking any luggage. If you have never done this, please try it. With my traveler's back pack, I was able to fit everything I needed, and not even use it all. It makes traveling so much simpler.

Now I am back to real life. Although, I am not going to lie - I was bummed to see very little snow on the ground as I was landing, as I was hoping to go cross country skiing this weekend.