Girl Scouts (cookies!)

This might surprise some of you, but I once was a Girl Scout.

Or maybe it surprises none of you, I don’t know. But, I was.

Like most things throughout my youth, it had little to do with the pledge, any kind of honor, anything related to “scout”… and had everything to do with social time.

So I guess you could say the “girl” part did apply.

I can’t even remember the pledge (OK, “promise,” technically), so I had to look it up:

On my honor, I will try: To serve God and my country, To help people at all times, And to live by the Girl Scout Law.

For some reason, we all screamed the last line, too, when we recited the promise. I have no idea why. Not because we meant what we were saying, I can tell you that.

I do remember my troop number — #769! I think I remember this because we once decorated white ball caps with neon puffy paint for an outing and I wrote my troop number on mine. You gotta love the ’90s.

I also remember that hat because at said outing, some old hag got annoyed with how my group of friends was acting in line for an activity or ride ( Side note: We were at a lock-in at COSI (Center of Science and Industry), a science museum and research center in Columbus, Ohio), and I remember her narrowing her eyes and saying “Troop #769, OK, I’ll remember that.” I don’t remember what we were doing that was so offensive.

Absolutely nothing came of it. I guess we were a rowdy group, because I also remember my mom, who was chaperoning, and another chaperone getting shushed during lights out. Girl Scouts (TM!) need to chillll, man.

Anyway, let’s get to the good stuff. And by that I mean, THE COOKIES. (Also, camp. Camp was the fucking best!)

Hello, gorgeous.

Y’all, this week has not been kind to my waistline. Not that I’m one for dieting, but even my undisciplined ass knows that no good really comes of having 4 boxes of these bad boys in your house. And on top of that, we got a delivery of a bunch of cheese at work today. And on top of THAT, we got free cream cheese and bagels delivered on Monday.

So my week has been something like — come into work, coffee, bagel with cream cheese…. all the stuff that happens in between…. go home, make a balanced dinner (thanks, Hello Fresh!)… GORGE ON COOKIES AND CHEESE.

It’s been awhile since I even purchased Girl Scout cookies. It tickles me to death that they are mostly the same as they were back in the day. I mean, if it ain’t broke, right?!

I absolutely sucked at Girl Scout cookie sales. All sales. I had no drive. I remember my mom getting on my case on a lazy Sunday afternoon, imploring me to walk the streets of my little town and knock on doors to see if people wanted to buy cookies.

My reaction was basically:

I did always make a few sales. I mean, they kind of sell themselves. Relatives would buy a few boxes, and I think I asked a few people at church. But I just didn’t care. I cared about what we were ordering and when I would get to eat them. But sales? BORING.

Which translated to me feeling left out and shitty when the girls who actually gave a fuck would get awarded with prizes, and I would just stand there, wishing I really would have buckled down so I could get one of these sweet ass T-shirts:

Man oh man oh MAN did I want one of those shirts! The year that those came out… it was the only time I felt truly sorry I hadn’t done more.

Which brings me to how I ended up with cookies this year. One of my best friends is getting married. Her childhood best friend is the maid of honor, and I’m performing the ceremony (!), so naturally, there have been a few girlie gatherings to discuss wedding-related things. So I’ve gotten to know this woman a bit, and she has the most DELIGHTFUL daughter. She just turned 6 or 7, but she’s like a mini adult. So quick, so sassy, so fun.

And she’s a Girl Scout. It’s her first year selling cookies. At a recent Sunday brunch get-together — as we were working on a wedding-related craft and I was trying not to make it super obvious to this impressionable young lass that I was terribly hungover — I told her I would buy some cookies from her.

And no, I didn’t tell her any of what I’ve told you in this blog, so don’t worry. I’m sure she’ll do much better than I did.

I wonder what they give you when you make a lot of sales now… an iPhone?

Anyway, I’ll bet she gets the top prize. I’m glad I could do my part, for the youth.

As for me, sometime in middle school I think I quit the Girl Scouts. I don’t remember it being some dramatic thing — I just sort of phased it out of my life similar to piano lessons and most sports (when you get to high school, it’s kind of uncool to keep playing if you really suck, at least that’s how I felt).

I wonder if I can find one of those T-shirts at Goodwill….

Reading Recap

I am very excited to report that I met my 2019 reading goal of 50 books! Actually, I exceeded it, coming in on Dec. 30 with #52. Woohoo!

I rarely set goals, and I even more rarely achieve them! (The key is just not setting them.) Last year, I only made it to 45 books, which was still pretty awesome considering I’d probably read 5 or so books the year before that (no idea).

I’d like to highlight a few of my favs from this past year, in no particular order:

• “Becoming,” by Michelle Obama

Duh. I love the Obamas. But what I really treasured about this book were the tearful moments where I got to re-live what I felt in 2008 when President Obama was elected. Given the state of things today, I had forgotten what that even feels like… it was nice to remember, and to remind myself that thankfully I got to go through that in my lifetime, no matter what’s coming.

I’m still trying to get through Barack’s book, “Dreams From My Father,” and by “get through” I mean it’s been sitting on my nightstand for a year. It’s not grabbing me the same way, but hopefully I’ll get to finishing it… eventually.

• “Shrill: Notes From a Loud Woman,” by Lindy West

Oh. My. God. I loved this book. I am what you would call a loud woman. My boss is constantly asking me to “talk softer.”

An excerpt: “The ‘perfect body’ is a lie. I believed in it for a long time, and I let it shape my life, and shrink it – my real life, populated by my real body. Don’t let fiction tell you what to do. In the omnidirectional orgy gardens of Vlaxnoid, no one cares about your arm flab.”

PREACH.

Possibly even more exciting than the book itself is Aidy Bryant starring in the Hulu series. GIVE ME MORE SHRILL. I am literally counting down the days to the release of Season 2 on Jan. 24.

• “Daisy Jones and the Six,” by Taylor Jenkins Reid

One of the most anticipated books of the year. I devoured this book. It was gut-wrenching. I’d never read anything quite like it. I definitely researched if this band was real, because this book was real. A friend and I have a theory on who this could potentially be based on. I also think I’m a fan of Taylor Jenkins Reid because I really enjoyed “The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo” as well.

• “Where the Crawdads Sing,” by Delia Owens

One of my favorites of all time. I waited until almost the end of the year to read it, and I both couldn’t get through it fast enough and never wanted it to end. Beautiful.

• “The Immortalists,” by Chloe Benjamin

Another beautiful, at times heartbreaking story. “If you knew the date of your death, how would you live your life?” And the writer lives in Madison, Wisconsin!

•Red, White and Royal Blue,” by Casey McQuiston

HOT. DAMN. This book! It was #52, so a bit of a bonus read, and in addition to painting a picture of a White House less traveled in 2016 (as in, a woman DID get elected), it is hot, hot, hot.

I’ve decided I’m not going to set a reading goal in 2020. I’m going to take a breather and just track what I do read, and see where I end up. I had last week off, and I definitely chose binging Season 2 of “YOU” over reading anything. My Christmas tree is still up. I regret nothing.

Girl, Interrupting

I’ve had this post percolating in my head for weeks. That’s in no small part due to the fact that it requires me to examine something about myself that is less than ideal. Yes, that’s more or less the purpose of this blog, but that doesn’t mean it’s fun!

The thing is, well… I’m an interruptor.

“Yeah, we’ve met Alyssa”- you, probably

I know! I’m sorry. Am I going to interrupt you next time we hang out? Probably. But… I’m sorry! And I’m trying to become more aware.

I’m sure I’ve been doing this my whole life, but the first person to really call me out on it was actually a psychologist I had in 2012/13. He was nice about it, and just sort of casually asked me, “Do you realize that you…. do this a lot?”

I had not realized. And he is no longer my psychologist.

OK — that’s not because of what he said, hahaha. It’s because I switched work offices (proximity for lunch-hour appointments is key) and insurance and all that. But still.

You know I love to blame some of my shit on my crazy family, and this is no exception. I don’t know how people hang out with us as a group because, frankly, we’re pretty terrible. My mom takes interrupting to another level because she not only interrupts you — she brings up something that is completely unrelated to what’s even being discussed, making it abundantly clear she was not listening to you AT ALL. It’s super fun.

I’m sure I do THAT too, from time to time, being someone who’s always in my own damn head, but more often than not, I know I just get really, really excited about what’s being discussed, and I want to get my thoughts out. I’m afraid I’m going to forget some witty comment or related story, and so I just need to say it!

Except… I don’t. I really don’t. I’m trying to learn that. I’ve been doing a bit of research into it, actually, looking for helpful tips, since my bad habits are so ingrained by this point.

Surprisingly (?), there are actually a lot of articles out there that address this. Some are aptly named things like “10 Tips to Help You Stop Interrupting,” but I tend to gravitate toward the ones with titles like “How to Stop Being An Interrupting Asshole” and “How to Stop Babbling and Shut the Hell Up.” I mean I think we’re there; let’s not sugarcoat things.

These are actually all real articles, and the latter has some tips I’m going to share here:

  1. Practice saying nothing. This will be harder than it sounds. Join in on group conversations and do nothing but listen with your mouth shut. Take mental notes on what others are saying and not what you want to say. Respond to questions directed at you with one sentence answers, then go back to listening. Let the silence come and see what happens.

I guess we’re not fucking around, huh? Chinese water torture, here we go! Everyone will probably think I’m in a “mood” if I try this, but then again, maybe they’ll just be relieved I’ve shut up for 5 seconds.

2. Eventually, you can graduate to the “stoplight rule.” You’re in the green speaking for about 20 seconds, in the yellow speaking for 40 seconds, and should be stopping no matter what at the red, which is 60 seconds of nonstop chatter.

OK, first of all, how do I know when I’ve graduated? Is one of you going to hand me my diploma and say, “Good job! We’d actually like to hear from you now”? And all this math…. I don’t like math.

3. You can be in the green and yellow as much as you need as long as you don’t break the “50/50 rule,” which basically just says you should be listening as just as much as you speak—if not more.

OK, now THIS, I can get behind. This makes sense. No one should really be dominating the conversation at any given time unless they’re telling a story, right?

4. Turn conversations into a game. If you can’t walk away from a talk with at least three mental notes about what they said, you lose. No [insert treat here] for you!

OK, this is a good one, because I am notorious for forgetting details about things I discuss with my friends. That’s largely attributable to the fact that we’re often drinking when we hang out, but still. It might not hurt to make it a point to come away with some key takeaways, and that likely will lead to more listening and less talking.

5. Ask for help. If you let someone you trust know that you’re trying to be better, they can help stop you before you even start.

I’ve actually asked Luke to do this. But nicely. Not yelling “CUT!” like a deranged movie director (which he didn’t literally do but kind of.. one time. It did not go over well). Because as my partner, Luke has to put up with this the most. It’s a double whammy for him too because he’s super polite and not one to interrupt or assert himself into a convo, so sometimes when I’m around, it’s like he doesn’t get to talk at all. And everyone likes him better.

I have a lot of issues, OK?

The article author concludes with this:

It’ll take some time to break your bad habits, so stay vigilant.

I will, but also, please be patient with me. This is really hard to break. But I care. I’m acknowledging it. I want to get better.

But if I actually do improve and then you ask me why I’m being so quiet or what’s wrong, I will go OFF.

I Came, I Saw, I Felt the Burn

If you read my last post, you know in early September I embarked on a 6-week program at Burn Boot Camp.

I ended up kind of loving it! But sadly, it is uber expensive — like the price of 2 regular gym memberships combined expensive — and I just can’t afford it right now. Which is a really sad reason to stop going!

I have some options. They offer a 10-class pass for a flat fee, which is still A LOT, but possibly doable. I’m sitting tight (literally) for now, but I may revisit this later in the year if I get lucky and Santa bestows me some extra cash (oh shit — how naughty have I been???).

Also, they have a free class on Saturday mornings, so I can hit that up now and then. And I don’t plan to just give up my new routine entirely. I actually got up early this morning to do a little mini-burn from an app on my phone. Getting up early, while it SUCKED at first, was kind of my favorite part once I got going, because I had all this extra time in the morning, so I was never rushing to work and I felt a bit more energized throughout the day… until about 3 p.m. (now) when I could really go for a nap.

I know largely giving up drinking during the week helped as well, and I’m trying to keep up with that, although the last 2 weeks have been an utter failure as I just had so much going on and a lot of work stress, and so I fell back into some habits there.

Another MAJOR roadblock the last couple of weeks was that my workout partner hurt her back in class and was down for the count. It was SO much harder to get up and get there when she wasn’t going to be there. I did go a couple different times during the day since I had the flexibility, and I met some nice people, but… it just wasn’t the same. She is on the mend though and actually did get a membership, so I’m sure she’ll be texting me to haul ass out of bed some upcoming Saturday. What are friends for?!

I’m also going to be starting a deep water aerobics class in a couple weeks. Yasssss, bring on the old ladies! I have a couple friends joining though, so that should be fun.

So do I feel different? Yes, well, I did at least, when I was in the thick of it. It’s alarming how quickly once you fall off, you FALL OFF, but considering the fact that I got up early today, I am making an effort to not completely derail this train.

As far as I can tell, I lost one single pound, but that wasn’t the point. I did feel better and more confident, just knowing I was doing this for myself. So I want to hold onto that, even though the holidays are approaching….

I actually signed up to do a 2-mile dog walk on Thanksgiving because I’m dog sitting. Ask me to do a 5K, and I’m almost offended, but when I saw the DOG was involved in this walk thing, I was all about it. I signed both myself and my mom and her dog up, so that should be fun.

Um…. so that’s all I got for now. Thanks for reading!

Feel the Burn- Day 1

I’ve been awake since about 3:30 a.m. this morning.

My alarm was set for 4:10, but a thunderstorm awoke me a bit before that. I tried to go back to sleep, but between the storm, my cat sensing I was awake (and therefore could feed him if I would just get my ass out of bed) and beginning his morning game of booping my nose and knocking things over, and a healthy dose of anxiety over a new routine, I basically just squeezed my eyes shut in denial until the alarm went off.

Today I began a 6-week unlimited class trial at Burn Boot Camp in Monona. It’s a flat fee for unlimited 45-minute boot camp class workouts. It’s nice because you can pick from a number of different time slots, and it’s really just 45 minutes and you’re done.

However — since my friend Emily convinced me to do this, and we want to do it together, we have to go to the 5 a.m. class in order to go together at least some days so she has time to get to work. (Unlike me, who rolls into the office 5-10 min late on the reg after 8, she is a physical therapist with patients and gets going at like 7 a.m. or something crazy.)

It wasn’t so bad, really. Today. When I was awake anyway. We’ll see as the weeks go on. But I did enjoy coming home after and having allllll this time to get ready for work, versus my normal rush. Plus, time to stretch, have coffee and a banana and watch the morning news. I could get used to that, I think.

That hair, tho.

The class itself was a little chaotic. It was super crowded, being the first day, and so it was hard to hear or see what we were supposed to be doing at our stations, so I just kind of winged it. I’m REALLY out of shape. Other than swimming laps every now and then, I haven’t been doing SHIT for awhile now. I get winded walking a mile. It’s kind of sad. So while it’d be great to shed some pounds and tone up a bit, my goal here really is just to feel better. To be able to walk and bike and hike and do things without feeling like a tub of lard.

With that, I’m also giving up drinking during the week. It sort of goes hand in hand with the workouts because in order to get a good night’s sleep and be able to get up so early, alcohol is not my friend.

But, I’m still me. I’m not suddenly becoming this workout crazed, non drinking, bedtime at 8 p.m. person. It’s only for 6 weeks! (I keep telling myself.)

The changes I am making are doable, and they are things I can continue after this initial period. Maybe not getting up at 4 a.m., but the whole regular workout routine, earlier to bed earlier to rise, cutting back on alcohol thing.

And, as always, I can make my own rules. While yesterday was a Monday, it was also a holiday, so I thought about drinking. We went to a friend’s house for tacos, and they had REALLY good margs, and I really kind of wanted to try one, but I had driven and I figured, you gotta start somewhere. On the way home, I told myself if I wanted to wind down with a glass of wine, that was OK. It was still the weekend, technically. But, I really didn’t want to, because I knew I wouldn’t sleep as well and I didn’t want to feel any remnants of alcohol at 5 a.m. trying to work out for the first time in way too long.

So, we’ll see how this goes, but I’m optimistic! I feel good today!

I’m sure I’ll be asleep in 3 hours and unable to walk tomorrow, but right now I feel GREAT!

Too Alyssa to function

Oh man, I am STRUGGLING, y’all.

I don’t think it’s the best time in my cycle, tbh, but still. I tried to go to bed at a decent time last night, but I still woke up feeling tired, wanting nothing more than to just keep sleeping. Instead, it’s MONDAY, so I had to go to WORK, of course, and it’s all just a CHORE. I spent my lunch hour in a sweater under a towel I keep in my office because the AC is freezing and I just wanted to read this trashy book I started yesterday. I also have plans to hang with friends after work, and I totally don’t feel like it (sorry, FRIENDS). I’m sure I’ll enjoy it once I force myself to do it, but I am just feeling like a crabby ‘ol hermit.

It was a good weekend. Good weather, friends, festivals in town, some pool time. But …. I did fall off my bike.

Yes, I was drinking (Why does everyone ask that IMMEDIATELY, I mean, duh!). It was a pretty pathetic scene, actually. Every other street in town is torn to shit right now. Literally. You’ll go to turn on a road you’ve been turning on all summer and suddenly NOPE, JUST KIDDING, ASSHOLE, THAT SHIT IS GONE. FIND AN ALTERNATE ROUTE. Winter and construction — welcome to the Midwest.

The road I fell on has been torn up for months, so it wasn’t a sneak attack by any means. Some friends and I were traveling between festivals, and we’d had a few. As we approached the construction zone, I got off my bike, figuring we’d park them and walk the rest of the way. But we decided to keep going on that road, at least the sidewalk, and park a little closer.

Oh sure, I thought, getting back on my bike — the sidewalk! No problemo —

I totally veered too far to the edge and ended up sliding down a dirt incline into the torn up, dusty ass street — or what’s left of it right now. I landed on my left side. A pathetically thin metal wire, that I GUESS is supposed to help protect you from doing such a thing — but spoiler alert, it doesn’t! — caught on my ear a bit and scraped it up. And I tore up my left elbow. But otherwise, I was fine.

Except I totally wasn’t.

I burst into tears like a 3-year-old that dropped their ice cream cone.

Everyone in the neighborhood.

Behind me, as I fell — because it totally happened in slow motion, yet I was powerless to stop it — I heard Luke utter a very foreboding, very resigned, “ohhhhhh shit.”

Because he knew. He knew this was not going to be good.

And his reaction just set me off more.

The thing is, I am a total baby when it comes to a lot of things, biking included. I’m not really sure why. It’s just one of those things that hasn’t quite come together for me. As a child, my mom’s method for trying to get me to learn was taking me to the school near our house, out in back where there was a grassy hill, and pushing me down it.

It didn’t work out.

I didn’t even want to learn how to ride a bike until my younger brother learned while we were in daycare, and well, I guess that was just too much for me to handle. So I taught myself. But, I’m shaky. I kind of suck at it. My balance is bad. My confidence is worse. I hate the traffic. I hate being too far off the ground, so my bike is set slightly lower than it should be.

Madison is a major bike city. There are bike paths everywhere. There are designated bike lanes on most streets.

Still, I struggle. I did OK for a few years, but last summer, I fell one evening (Yes… I was drinking), and it really set me back, mentally. This summer has been slow going, and then this happened. So who knows.

So anyway, I’m crying. I went into the bar I fell in front of to clean up. My friend Emily came in to help. While trying to sooth me and clean me up, she also was like “OK, but why did you yell at Luke, this isn’t his fault.”

Sigh. I know. But I hate disappointing him. And I know he really wishes I was more comfortable on a bike. That I wanted to bike everywhere, all the time.

But… I don’t. I’m sorry! I’m a fish. Put me in the water, put me on a boat, we’re in business. Maybe I’m secretly a mermaid.

So anyway, when I fell, and I heard his reaction, I just kind of lost it.

I tend to do that. I tend to take a moment that really has no bearing in whatever’s bothering me and use it as an opportunity to UNLOAD. Super mature, I know. Super fair. And what was bothering me was that right before this happened we were talking about bike falls, and I’d mentioned that my fall last summer had set me back, like months.

And he mumbled, but not so that I couldn’t hear, “more like years.”

And it PISSED ME OFF. And then I FELL. It’s all kind of a blur, but I do distinctly remember yelling, “I’m 36 — I don’t need this!”

I’m not totally sure what I even meant, but I think it had something to do with lying in the dusty street. Cuz who the fuck needs that? Not me.

As I related this to Emily, she said, “Well, you can talk to him about that tomorrow, when you’re sober.”

Ya know, like ADULTS do. And then she said no one ever accused me of being athletic so maybe his expectations are somewhat unrealistic.

So anyway, once the dust settled — ha! — I apologized for lashing out and said I’d heard his shitty ( and might I add, inaccurate ) comment, and we laughed about how clumsy I am. And then at some point he said I was just “too Alyssa to function.”

Which made me laugh. JFC, I am too Alyssa to function, you guys. Help! At one point yesterday, I got up from the couch, smacked my knee into one of the ottomans, lifting it up a smidge just so it could come back down onto my foot.

I’M A MESS.

“Too Alyssa to function..” he repeated as I retreated to the bathroom to hide from this latest humiliation. He later told me I just needed to work on my Balance. To that, I say:

Thanks for the advice.

Just kidding, babe, love ya! I’ll see you on the bike path in 3 years.

Cruisin’

I have a confession to make.

On Saturday, July 13, 2019, at the age of 36, I used cruise control in my car for the first time.

I know. Look, the whole basis for this blog is that I’m a reluctant adult. And when it comes to using cruise control I was just…. very reluctant. I’m a baby/wuss about trying a lot of new things. Cruise control was no exception. I just didn’t trust it. I didn’t know exactly how to do it. I tried it once, and didn’t quite do it right, and that freaked me out. I also thought, well what if I have to stop suddenly? I just felt like I didn’t have as much control over things if I used it, and I am ALL ABOUT CONTROL.

But for some reason I can’t even explain, as I was leaving town to drive up to Door County last weekend, a 3-hour+ drive, I just decided to try it.

OH.MY.GOD. What have I have been doing with my road trip life?! For the love of god, WHY didn’t I do this sooner??? I have taken so many road trips, most recently all the way to Memphis and back, where this would have been realllllllly convenient. It is LIFE CHANGING.

I had the best drive of my life. I set it to 76 or so in a 70 (shhh whatever) and as cars passed me I was pretty much like:

Go around fuckers, I’m living my best life!

The only drawback is when traffic gets heavy and you have to stop using it temporarily. THAT sucks. I just want to use it ALL THE TIME, now.

Luke also drove up to Door County, separately. Not because we can’t agree on music, but because he had to leave earlier since I was staying up there a couple of extra days for work. I couldn’t wait to tell him. He has been hounding me for years to use it and I’m just like, leave me alone, I’m fine. NO, I wasn’t fine! I wasn’t fine. I was living a basic af life. WTF.

I especially enjoyed going through Rosendale, Wisconsin. Where I grew up, in little ol’ Peninsula, Ohio, between Akron and Cleveland, the cops were bad because they were BORED. So you could actually get pulled over there for going more than like 2 over the speed limit. It actually happened to a friend of mine, although maybe he was going 10 over. By the golf course. BOLD MOVE.

Anyway, Rosendale actually sells T-shirts that say “Rosendale… Just the ticket!” because it’s no joke. And the whole time you’re on this stretch of road before you get back to a more main highway, the speed limit is 55, and you MUST OBEY. This was much more enjoyable once I was able to set my cruise control and not have to check my speed every 5 seconds. Oh, so relaxing!

It was also particularly enjoyable once I got up to Door County, which is a peninsula dotted with adorable little towns and wineries, with the occasional view of Lake Michigan. I rolled the windows down, popped that cruise on, and enjoyed the shit out of it.

And speaking of, I think I’ve made a pretty decent playlist this summer… and I am going to share it with you. A couple of the songs are throwbacks due to some recent concert or memory that sparked me wanting to listen to a certain song again, but most of them are fairly new. ENJOY!

I can’t wait to go on another road trip now!!!!