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My Year in Instagram

Many social networks of late trend towards aspirational. Meaning that what one’s life appears to be on Pinterest/Instagram tends to be more indicative of the person one would like to be than in reality. I would like to think I am a bit more balanced, but based on the fact that this past year was one of my most challenging (read:absolutelyunbearablyterrible) I would hope what was represented to my social networks was slightly more favorable than reality. Hence, I have decided to pull the highlights of 2012 + early 2013 in the form of a top 10 list. Introducing, 2012 via Instagram.

1. This wasn’t in the past year, but an adult trip to Disney World and the purchase of the pictured Minnie ears was one of the best decisions of my life. Sometimes acting 12 is the only way to survive early adulthood. (Late adulthood?? How old am I??!!? Slightly ambiguous…)

2. Of equal importance= my acquisition of retro paper mustache straws. Plus these sweet picnic cups. Picnics make me feel warm and happy. 
3. Oh W Vieques, let me count the ways… I love you, I love you, and I don’t care who knows it! You are so beautiful and mellow and fabulous. 2012 was the year I nearly moved to Puerto Rico. Can’t wait to be back. 
4. 2nd Avenue Deli came to to 1st Ave and thus made my life. Nothing better than a sweet tender ball and an overbearing elderly woman aggressively serving multiple courses of gluttony. 
5. Yeah this happened. On a beautiful summer day I met an idol, Ina Garten, The Barefoot Contessa, Wife to Jeffery, owner of my dream life. Was glorious.
6. The adoption of a new signature cocktail is always an exciting time. A time of change and progress. A time to be enjoyed with a Hendricks martinis with a twist. So sweet and refreshing, I don’t know if I’ll ever change it up again!
7. I have wanted tea cups, I have searched for tea cups, I have pinned tea cups. I guess it was only natural to purchase tea cups. It counts as a tea party even if you only drink champagne out of them right?
8. Once I saw something on Pinterest and it was a sock bun. It took me a few weeks to digest what this meant. This was my first attempt at creating one and apparently exciting enough for me to Instagram and now blog about. This is totally going viral. 
9. Dessert terrariums oh how I love you. Sand, seashells, weird plants, and trinkets. So many wonderful things to adore. 
10. This one time when I bought hydrangeas and these cabbage flowers and I accidently dropped a starfish in the center made me feel super crafty. So crafty I needed to immediately photograph it. I am awesome. 
So lets just pretend this is all that happened last year. Good year 2012, good year. Watch out 2013…

*** Okay I had to add an 11. My life before nail art is essentially irrelevant.

Won’t you be my valentine?

It started as a dream really. Just a few college kids with a love for a good themed party.  Our first Valentine’s Day celebration was in 2007 and the tradition has continued, somewhat sporadically, into the present day. Valentine’s Day might be the ultimate date night for most American couples, however for me it symbolizes much more than that. Valentine’s Day epitomizes life essentials including champagne, crafts involving doilies, candy, heart shaped baked goods, the color pink, and themed cocktails. For the past several years I have had the great pleasure of celebrating this fabulous holiday with the best of friends and each year it gets better with age.
Beyond the joy of hosting a themed party, I really enjoy any holiday that celebrates love in a tangible way. When we are children, each child brings a valentine for all of the other classmates. Some might find that this cheapens the sentiment or find the practice insulting, but I think it is a) adorable and b) valuable. What better a lesson that to teach others to appreciate all of their peers? Yes we should share the love 365, but I am all for crafting and affection with glitter is simply more meaningful. 🙂  I just hope that by the time I have children it is not entirely politically incorrect to send valentines. Cross that bridge when I get there.
In sum, I hope to never have to resign myself to pre-fixe dinners and a sense of obligation. I hope that for  each following year I will continue to recognize how lucky I am to have such wonderful people in my life in a festive way. And there had better be jello shots. J

Courtship, shmortship.

Everyone’s been sharing, posting, tweeting, and talking about this article in the New York Times speaking to the end of courtship. I don’t know if this is such colossal news, but I found it to be quite depressing nonetheless. I enjoyed it like one might enjoy watching a train wreck or perhaps how individuals used to view men being mauled by lions as entertainment.  Read here or check out my brief synopsis below.
The article essentially outlines modern dating. Today, couples meet via the web, meet up in larger groups, and primarily communicate via text. It discussed how traditional “courtship” no longer takes place. Meaning men do not court women by taking them out to dinner or even drinks for that matter.  One of the reasons this could be the case, the article surmises is based on the decline of men’s careers as women become more financially successful. Meh- none of this really shocks or bothers me. What really gets my goat is the negative association surrounding men in general in the present day.
Dating is one of my all time favorite topics, however I realized of late that as much as I relish the details of each of my girlfriends’ new flames and first dates, it seems that ultimately more time is spent on the let down, the realization he isn’t “the one”,  provides. I will admit there are many times when my girlfriends, acquaintances, and even I (shockingly) over invest in casual dating scenarios and ultimately believe it to have the potential to be more than it ever could. Women tend to be dreamers, however what I have come to realize is there is a good chunk of time when men truly are just jerks. 
They say what they think you want to hear, they lie, they tell you every thought from every crevice of their mind, you hold them, you comfort them, advise them, apparently pay for their dinner, only to be told you are expecting too much from them or alternatively never hear from them again.  And there you are just thinking you were getting to know someone, utterly confused about what your expectations ever were to begin with. So anyway boo hoo, courtship is dead and seemingly all age appropriate men are truly either gay, married, or crazy. Despite all of this, I don’t know if I fully believe that.
Not to get all self help book, but I think maybe courtship or love for that matter is just rare and not dead after all. Maybe it’s that all of this nonsense and confusion just makes it clearer when true love is knocking on your door. Or maybe it just makes it easier to determine when you should call your friends and buy a big plot of land in the country and start a commune. I can go either way on this. But I will say this. Men. Be clear and stop blaming everything on women. You dudes love talking about your feelings way more than any female I know and it’s confusing. Women. Let’s try to stop making something out of nothing and try to be a little more realistic with our expectations. And let’s all make a concerted effort to be nicer to each other.

Real resolution.

Well 2013, the holidays are over and I’ve had some time to reflect. One of the many traits I shared with my mom is our love for the holidays. She was the true spirit of any family gathering. She was always the first to raise a glass, prematurely present a gift, or send a card for any occasion large or small.  This was one of the most amazing things about her, she pretty much continually was thinking of ways to give to other people. I have boxes of notes she’d send me throughout college, Valentines, St. Patty’s day cards, Christmas, New Years, President’s Day, Happy Monday. Whatever the occasion, the woman knew how to celebrate.
So this holiday, as were the past two, was bitter sweet. A major guest/host was missing. There was a giant hole from which joy once emanated. I missed her in her red dress, which housed a favored pocket made sock puppet named Delmore. I missed her forcing our entire family, even those less verbose than herself, to give thanks for what gifts we had been given over the year. I missed her company in the kitchen, guiding me on what to chop or plate.
I missed her prodding me for information on my social life, my dating life, and gossip amongst my friends, as we would prepare the holiday meal. I missed her telling me she had cut back on the holiday menu, only to discover one dish out of twenty had been eliminated. (And then most likely added back on at the last minute in a faux panic). So for the third year I felt sad again this holiday season, versus the joy I used to feel over Christmases past. At the promise of a gingerbread house, flurry of wrapping paper, and the potential for carols. I was left in a state of confusion, uncertainty, and although much reflection and honoring was dedicated to my mom, a feeling of enormous loss. 
The only thing I know is that she is in a place where there is only the best champagne and foie gras all day long. Where she can listen to all of her favorite songs and be surrounded only by those that make her laugh.  I also know if she were here she would tell me to stop wallowing. She would most likely tell me to live my life and find my passion and dedicate myself to it fully. I hope that in the year to come I can follow her wise words even without her here to reinforce them. I hope that I can continue to represent all of the values she instilled. And I hope I can celebrate the joys of life with the vigor she once did.   Once again this one is for you woman, wishing you the best of everything there is and missing you every second. I love you always and forever. 

New Year, New Me

Every year, like most of the universe, I go about the resolution making process. I plot, diagram, meditate, and map out how I am going to get in shape, be nicer, more successful, and better in every way.
This year I am taking a different approach. By default, 2013 will be better than 2012. So I have that going for me.  Point for Marissa.  Beyond that, I am keeping it simple. I have one resolution and it is to go with my gut. The fact of the matter is I am pretty much always aware when I am doing something I shouldn’t; yet I continue to do it.
I know that ultimately one (or 4) of the 5 times I go to happy hour a week, I should probably go to the gym. Yet I continually choose happy hour and stay there until “I’ve done something wrong” feeling goes away, most often by continuing to indulge in the something wrong.
So that is it, henceforth I shall trust my gut, which will hopefully get smaller with said trust. The desired outcome is that I will say yes to productive activities and say no to excessive happy hours, overconsumption, men that are anything less than wonderful. As my mom used to say to me as a wee lass “Make good choices.” It’s as simple as that. Come on 2013. Meet me halfway? 

Storm musings.

Dear Sofa-
We have been through a lot these past couple of weeks.  With the hurricane and a snowstorm I have spent a lot of time with you, even more than the past. Reading, working, watching critically acclaimed films such as Magic Mike.
You comfort me. You support me. Sometimes I want to just spend the whole day and night snuggling with you. My cat adores you. You are machine washable.
Could this be?
Love?
Marissa

Time

This is a long one, but it could never be long enough. It literally unbelievable to me that it’s been six months since I’ve lost my mom and over 2 years since she was diagnosed with Cancer. To say the recent past has been a hazy mess of a journey is the understatement of a century. It has felt like seconds, while also like an eternity. I feel like I haven’t spoken to her in years and simultaneously like I just hung up the phone with her a few seconds ago. I honestly don’t know what to feel most of the time other than cheated out of every second she isn’t here. But on the other hand I have to be fair and realize how lucky I am to have had her for as long as I did. I have thousands of memories of her that I relish daily.
I’ll never forget the time she thoughtfully told me it might be best if I revealed my personality slowly to my new colleagues once starting a new job. This statement was followed up with a lot of encouragement about my individuality and how everyone loves me, eventually. It was actually good advice that nobody else could give but a mom. Another time I received a call at work. Of course, it was my mom, as she is the subject of this post and also the only person that called me at work. She informed me she had picked out the name of my first child. It was Maclovin’.  I informed her she couldn’t steal a name from the movie Superbad for my unborn child.  We moved on.
I also used to love when I would call her at school and she was typically busy- since she was at work- so she would put me on the phone with her students while she gathered paperwork or answered other calls that came in while we were chatting. I knew all about little Harry, her triplets, Emily, and other little cherubs.  Some of her “regulars” needed daily medication, but many just wanted to talk. I totally get why.
My mom was also one to burst out into song at any given time. She was many things, but a strong singer she was not. My favorite tunes were from her camp days. There was one that went something like ”Chikum M sweet, hambone an fine.” I can almost hear her now singing in a key of her own and ending the tune with a little holler. She also had a quirky take on the pronunciation of certain words like karaoke (Kah-ray-oh-kay) and gigalo (Gigg-alo).  The discussion around Gigalos is a whole other story. 
Pronunciation aside, she was an excellent fake conversationalist. She could carry on a hypothetical scenario (one of my favorite activities) with me for impressive lengths of time. We once carried on a pretend interview with Oprah for our co-written novel for about an hour. We also drove from Cape Cod to Ithaca New York managing to surf the radio and listen exclusively to Pearl Jam’s remake of “Last Kiss” for the entirety of the ride. We could stretch things out.
I loved how she would invite herself to anything shamelessly.  Random Bar Mitzvah or wedding?  She was on that list faster than any other. She would have invited herself to any of my parties, if she weren’t the first person on my guest list already. I loved that she proposed a toast for every occasion and expected all to contribute. I loved that she preferred her food burnt, especially popcorn. I also loved that she stole Splenda from any single location that offered it. I found one in a purse pocket last night and felt the urge to both smile and cry. It was just so her. Splenda everywhere just in case she needed to sweeten something on the run.
In sum, I miss every thing about her. I know that had none of this ever happened we would argue and I would take her for granted, just like one does with the most precious people and things in life, unwilling to accept they could ever be gone. She was always the first to tell me. Life isn’t fair.  I just have to imagine that she is somewhere doing something great at some fabulous party she managed to sneak into. Or maybe just singing to her own tune with stolen Splenda. Wherever she is, those that are with her are lucky. Love you always woman. 

Ode to fall

Oh fall, how I love you so. I love your crisp air, and your autumnal glow. I love your crunchy leaves and the need for big sweaters. Pumpkin patches, apples, and red wine. What could be better? Not much I tell you, not much at all. It’s why I’m oh so happy to finally greet the fall.  
Not much makes me want to write poetry, but fall you make me want to write sonnets. I want to read them to you in candlelight. I want to take you on a horse drawn carriage rides. I want to take you on picnics, walks along the beach.  You make me believe in love, fall.
I love the way you make the air smell a little less like garbage and somehow… a little more like bacon. I love the feeling of change and the availability of miscellaneous gourds and miniature cornhusks. I love your haunted houses and your pumpkin lattes.  I love the presence of boots and black nail polish.  I love puffy vests and cashmere.
Basically fall, I love every single thing about you and will be relishing every second of you until it is time to transition into my next favorite season; Santacon. But until the season of Santa, I toast you fall. I raise my pumpkin ale in your honor and thank you for your perfection.
All my love,
Marissa

Break Up

The other day I decided to perform some routine browser history cleanup. I looked in horror as I saw a repeat website on the list that caused a serious flush. Like a woman who has caught her husband red handed with an unsavory computer habit I shut the laptop in a fury. Then I decided I must take action.
Dear Seamless Web-
It has come to my attention that my love for you is inappropriate.  This thing we have feels so good, but I know in my heart it is wrong. And pardon the cliché but it really isn’t you- it’s me. You were there for me these past few months in a way for which I can never thank you enough. Whenever I logged in, jonesing for a noodle or Pho you were there with a plethora of options.  You were efficient, fast, and consistent.
I am the one with the problem. I relied on you too heavily, called on you too often. A girl only needs so many noodles and I, have had more than my share. I wish I could just see you on occasion; it might hurt a little less. But, I don’t trust myself around you so I think this is goodbye. Maybe not for long, maybe not forever, but for now I bid you adieu.
And Seamless web. You’ll be just fine.  I was a steady source of income for you, but I am no fool. I know others call on you maybe just as frequently. And they most likely feel the same warm feelings as I.  You will continue to grow with more restaurants, app enhancements and whatever the future might hold. And I will be cheering you on every step of the way. And I am sure, one cold winter’s eve I will be back.
Until then with love,
Marissa

Things I learned on vacation

1. Apparently I have been pigeon toed my whole life and nobody told me- thanks Dad.
2. It is also seemingly far too common for 60-year-old men to date women less than half their age. If one more person thought my Dad and I were a couple I was going to rent the Goodyear blimp to announce this was in fact not the case.
3.  After 28 years of effort and pain- it is abundantly clear, I do not tan.
4. Wild horses are pretty neat, but mini horses are still the cutest.
5.  I will never be on island time. This lifestyle works if I am ever running late, but me waiting for anything, especially a cocktail is not the prettiest site.
6. If anyone recommends you got to a place called the Cash and Carry- I would advise against this plan.  Our mission was wine; this establishment offers a can of Goya Black beans, a slot machine, and the stench of desperation.
7. If you ever need a bug repellent stronger than Deet, bring me. I think an inch of my skin is uneaten, my Dad, unscathed.  I am available for sunsets, jungle tours, and beach combing missions.
8. Keeping that in mind, nature is amazing and inspiring and infinite, but my one true love will always be A/C.
9. All that said, the people of Vieques seem pretty happy. If you haven’t heard from me in a while I may have purchased the shell truck for sale on the side of the road. I may or may not have left my resume with its owner and I am clearly qualified.