VLOG: Wherein My Shirt is Badass

 

LINKS YOU SHOULD CARE ABOUT:

Helene InBetween’s ETSY Shop! Shirts for the Texas/Friday Night Lights lover in your life!

My friend Lolly and I launched our Instagram shop! Check it out here! I’ll be posting this weekend!

This post from “The Florkens” spoke to my soul this week.

Blog of the week: A Beautiful Exchange. Hayley is a fan-freaking-tasic writer. I adore her.

What I’m Learning from My Long Distance Relationship

This title by no means hails me as an expert at relationships or anything love or relationship related. When I first started talking to Kyle I was convinced nothing would come of it because for as long as I can remember people have told me “distance doesn’t work”. I was told two people couldn’t possible maintain a relationship from 2,093 miles away: it’s too hard, it’s too draining, it’s too impersonal!

And now I’m going to spend Christmas with him and his family in Tahoe. SUCK IT all you nay-sayers.

It’s been extremely uplifting to see some new faces around here who can relate to the “long distance struggle”, and who comment offering their pieces of wisdom. No matter how big or small these pieces of advice may be, they prove this type of relationship can work as long as both parties involved are willing to do the work.

Now, as I mentioned, I am no expert, but I’m starting to realize there are some key elements to making a long distance relationship work. You can file this under: “no shit, Sherlock”.

ONE: YOU HAVE TO COMMUNICATE

(THIS MEANS FEELINGS, TOO ASHTEN…WAIT WHAT?)

I was a communications major so you’d think this would be a no-brainer for me. To an extent, yes I am really good at communicating, in that I can carry on a conversation via phone or text message or carrier pigeon. I can go on and on about my day, or the weather or even how bad the USC Trojans AND the Seattle Seahawks are playing this season (WHY DO YOU HATE ME, FOOTBALL?!) But, my long distance relationship has taught me that communicating your feelings is the absolute most important element in building a successful relationship. Without it, your significant other (or anyone for that matter) won’t get to know you and what makes you tick. I’ve learned to say “I had a bad day and this is what I need” or “I miss you”, without being afraid. It makes all the difference.

TWO: YOU HAVE TO BE CREATIVE

Can’t cook dinner for your significant other? Send them a pizza. Can’t go to the movies together? Plan a “movie date” and watch a movie together on Netflix (make sure you hit “play” at the same time or it doesn’t have the same effect). Send letters, like in the mail. I’ve learned that distance isn’t an excuse for not making your significant other feel special. (And pizza delivery is SUPER easy to coordinate, guys.) Strapped for ideas? I’ve found lots of fun, creative ideas on Pinterest.

THREE: HAVE SOMETHING TO LOOK FORWARD TO

Planning trips a few months out, watching a show together every week; having something to look forward to is essential. It’s not always easy to plan trips because money might be tight, or work might get in the way, but try to find something you and your LDR can look forward to, together. Kyle and I have Christmas planned and a few trips in early 2015 to look forward to. And start a countdown. There’s an app for that. I’ve learned that without little things to look forward to, distance can seem monotonous and never-ending.

FOUR: YES, I LOVE TECHNOLOGY

Kyle and I (try to) have a weekly FaceTime date, which basically gets me through the rest of the week. I LOVE FACETIME. (I don’t think he’s that much of a fan) I didn’t think there would be a huge difference in seeing Kyle’s face vs. talking to him on the phone but? IT MAKES ALL THE DIFFERENCE IN THE WORLD. Technology is a lifesaver in an LDR. I don’t know how the pioneers did long distance without it. Or anything for  that matter.

FIVE: BE APPRECIATIVE

 Luckily, Kyle and I have the same love language, but I’ve learned that we express it differently. I’ve also learned that I need A LOT of verbal affirmation and A LOT of reassurance. (I’m terribly insecure it seems) Kyle does a great job of telling me how he feels about me, and that does more for my confidence in the relationship than I can tell you. I’ve also learned he likes to hear that he is appreciated, so I’ve learned to find ways to show and tell him that I care.

Got any pointers for me? Leave a comment and let me know! There will likely be a “part 2″ of this “learning from long distance” thing.

I Guess We’re Doing This! (Or: Future Plans)

Last week was effing depressing. I think I should share a happier story, what do you say?

When Kyle came to visit in September I took him out to dinner to celebrate his birthday: I even let him choose the restaurant (from a very organized spreadsheet of options I sent him a month prior to his arrival in Atlanta). He chose hamburgers, which made me like him just a little bit more because, well, I’VE NEVER MET A BURGER I DIDN’T LIKE.

I would say we sat there, gazing into each other’s eyes all romantical and shit but: 1) that’s not our style and 2) WE WERE STUFFING OUR FACES WITH HAMBURGERS. I like that about us: even though our time together is always limited we aren’t overly gushy in public and we never sit on the same side of the booth at a restaurant. Long distance reminds me that we’re building a friendship in addition to a relationship: it’s hard, but sometimes it’s the best of both worlds.

I was deep into my BBQ bacon cheeseburger when Kyle nervously took a sip (read: gulp) of his beer and said:

“Hey, I don’t know what your plans are for Christmas, but I was wondering if you would like to spend it in Tahoe with my family and me.”

Mouth full of beef, bacon and cheese I stared at him, searching his face for the punchline.  The nervous look on his face and his eyes darting back and forth as he waited for my answer told me there was no punchline to be found. Homeboy was serious; serious about me going to his hometown for Christmas. To meet his family. To meet his childhood friends. To be in the house he grew up in. These are the things future plans are made of, and I suddenly felt myself start to get nervous.

I live and love to plan but when it comes to relationships I have always been very guarded about the future. I wish I could say this was more about “living in the moment” and less about feeling that most relationships are temporary but sadly, the later is true. Every guy I’ve dated has made it clear that our relationship wasn’t serious enough to make plans past a night out at the bar or a group outing to the movies. I never voiced my desires to take a weekend trip together or attend a wedding together because I convinced myself that, in relationships, future plans were forbidden. I became so guarded on this topic that the mere mention of future plans made me automatically say “if we make it that long….”

Now, here I was, BBQ sauce dripping down my chin, across from a man who wants to make future plans with me; a man who is slowly building me into his future. BBQ sauce dripping down my face only added to the sexiness of that moment.

My initial instinct was to say “maybe, if we make it that long”, but the look on his face, the nervousness in his eyes told me he needed reassurance; needed me to step up and stop being scared of the future.

And then I realized: this is what relationships are about. It’s not about banking on temporary, but giving in to the future. It’s about that nervous feeling in my stomach when I realize I want to make future plans, no matter how big or small they might be. It’s about knowing there’s a risk of this coming crashing down, but taking that risk because not taking it would be even more terrifying.

So, I wiped my face, swallowed the bite of burger (read: my fears) and said:

“I would love to spend Christmas in Tahoe with you and your family! Thank you for asking me.”

The flights are booked. The plans have been made. So, I guess we’re doing this. Christmas and the future, that is.

I have now Googled “Things to do in Lake Tahoe” and created a spreadsheet of all the things I want to do when we’re there. He has opened a door he cannot close. Poor guy.

I need to lose 10 pounds.

Warner: Celebrity and Casuality

When Warner goes to the vet, I liken it to a celebrity doing a guest appearance. He glides (read: yanks me) into the waiting room and everyone freaks out:

“Hi there Warner! Nice to see you!”

“Oh! Warner’s here! Hey buddy!”

“There’s the handsome boy!”

I stand in the background, letting them dote on my guy, now knowing how it must feel to be a celebrity spouse who quietly stands in the background while Warner hops up and puts his two front paws on the front desk for a few more pats from the receptionist.

The receptionist looks up at me and smiles like she’s just seen the pages of her People Magazine come to life.

“He really is the most handsome boy,” she says.

“Oh, I know.”

Your move, Channing Tatum.

You’d think after all the visits we’ve done to the vet’s office this year one party would get tired of seeing the other: like living in Los Angeles, where people think we always dine with the stars. Not so. The routine is the same every time we walk the red carpet to the vet’s office. (note: they don’t have red carpet, but I’ve filled out a suggestion card. Fingers crossed.) Warner eats up the attention, and I wish he was showing as much interest in food as he does adoration from his female fans.

It only gets worse when Doctor Wonderful and his assistant come in to see us.

“Warner! Looking good, buddy! Have you gained weight?!”

“Come here, handsome! Give me a kiss!”

And to think! Warner doesn’t even have his own Instagram!

On Monday, our little celebrity meet-and-greet turned into a 24 hour ordeal. Doctor Wonderful and his staff decided they love Warner so much they wanted to keep him for awhile, and who am I to rob the public of their favorite celebrity?

Ok, I’m being dramatic again. Warner has a kidney infection and he had to stay overnight at the vet to get fluids and antibiotics as we try to flush it out of his system.

But doesn’t the “keeping him because he’s a celebrity” thing sound so much better? I think so.

Yesterday, at 6pm, my little A-list celebrity returned home full of fluids and antibiotics. He was welcomed back with big hugs and lots of couch time as both Tessa and I doted on him like we hadn’t seen him in a week.

You move Lebron James and the entire city of Cleveland.

Having Warner home is both good and bad. It’s good because I’ve learned sleeping in my bed without him does not make for a good night’s rest. It’s also good because he’s gained 4 pounds of water weight and when it comes to him, heavier is the new skinny. Werk.

The bad? Warner developed edema during his overnight stay with Doctor Wonderful. Edema, for those who don’t know, is basically a fancy term for swelling. In order to flush out the kidney infection, Doctor Wonderful had to give Warner a certain amount of fluids, which his kidneys should be able to process without a problem. Of course, that didn’t happen so the fluids are in a “holding pattern” under his chin in a little fluid sack until his kidneys can process them. The little sack should go away in a few days but for the time being, Warner looks like Eddie Murphy in the Nutty Professor.

Edema isn’t good because Warner’s kidneys should be able to handle the amount of fluids he was given, which means his kidneys are in worse shape than we hoped. Fortunately, the protein levels that need to drop are still dropping: quite dramatically now thanks to the antibiotics. This gives us hope that Warner can still fight off this infection and get back on track. Unfortunately, if he gets another kidney infection there won’t be much the doctor can do, especially if he can’t take the amount of fluids necessary to flush it out.

For now, Warner is home, he’s being hand-fed boiled chicken and we’re taking it one day at a time.

Selfishly? I’m taking a little satisfaction in the fact that I could get him to eat when Doctor Wonderful couldn’t.

Maybe Warner is a celebrity to everyone else, but to him? I’m the celebrity. Why? Because I have the chicken. And the comfortable bed. And the house he loves so much.

**Thank you all for your prayers and kind comments on my post yesterday. We aren’t out of the woods yet, nor are we in the clear but the constant support of my friends and this community has been a tremendous source of comfort. Having the ability to write about my feelings on Warner’s disease has helped process a lot of my decisions about his future and I’m grateful you all hang around and read them, even when I’m a miserable troll like I was yesterday.**

Ashten and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Week

unnamedI’ve debated showing up here this week, mostly because things aren’t good and when things aren’t good I have a tendency to go inside myself and hide from everyone until I can figure things out. Ironically, I figure most of my shit out by writing about it, and I guess that’s why I’m here today. Hi. How are you? I’m doing shitty, thanks for asking. Say hello to ya motha for me.

Let me tell you a story about the terrible, horrible, no good, very bad week that is currently causing me to desire a nice, quiet hole in the ground to move all my shit into and reside in until this godawful year of 2014 is over.

Is this post basically going to be me bitching? YES. Do I realize that things could be worse? Yes. But this is my week and I get to complain because this is my blog and I am the queen of everything the light touches. FREEDOM.

Last Monday, Warner and I went to the vet because Warner wasn’t eating. Tests were ran, big kisses were given and $300 later, we were told to come back again on Tuesday and have more tests done.

So, back on Tuesday we went where more tests were ran and $200 later, we were told to come back again next week for more tests.

And Warner still wasn’t eating. ARE WE OUT OF THE WOODS YET?

After the Tuesday appointment we were in limbo until the results came back, which means I spent my mornings and evenings hand-feeling Warner pieces of boiled chicken while making airplane sounds like he was my picky toddler and I was his overbearing mother. Slowly, Warner would eat a few bites but nothing worth writing a blog post about. So we waited.

My future children are #blessed.

Doctor Wonderful is a good man. Have I said that yet this week? Because he is. He’s a wizard when it comes to diagnostics and when he speaks he is patient and kind, which I appreciate because our last vet would start most appointments by telling me the sky was falling. Anyway, as we were leaving his office on Tuesday (after 4 awkward handshakes), I asked him if he was hopeful, because I’m not going to lie: I’m starting to lose hope. And sanity. And all my Christmas money.

“When it comes to Warner, I’m definitely hopeful,” he said. I’m going to forget about the fact that he’s not hopeful about me, which I interpret as “not hopeful about my sanity.”

I actually might be considering marrying him if it means I get free vet care for Warner because let me tell you: $500 at the vet in one week has to be some kind of record for an unmarried woman with the world’s cutest dog.

Then, Warner ran out of his medication, so I asked Doctor Wonderful’s assistant to please call in a refill, since the pharmacy wouldn’t accept a refill without Doctor Wonderful’s authorization.

“No problem,” she said. So, I gave her the prescription number, the pharmacy’s phone number, the time I could pick it up later that day and all my trust/confidence. Since Warner’s medication is “special” it’s hard to get, so the pharmacy needs ample time to prepare it….so normally I try to call it in early in the morning so it can be picked up by the time I’m off work.  Usually, the pharmacy calls to let me know when my prescription is ready to be picked up but when 6pm rolled around and I still hadn’t received a call, I got nervous, so I called them.

Doctor Wonderful’s assistant forgot to call in the prescription refill. SHE JUST FORGOT. WARNER NEEDS THAT MEDICATION AND IT WAS TOO LATE TO DO ANYTHING ABOUT IT.

Now, it’s too late for me to pick up an emergency supply and Warner will go an entire day without the medication he needs in order to regulate is condition.

I called Doctor Wonderful’s office the next morning and basically yelled “HI YOU FORGOT TO REFILL WARNER’S PRESCRIPTION YESTERDAY AND NOW HE’S GONE AN ENTIRE DAY WITHOUT IT. I’M NOT TRYING TO BE A BITCH BUT I REALLY NEED THIS DONE ASAP SO MY DOG DOESN’T DIE. HOW WOULD THIS WORK IF I FORGOT TO PAY MY BILL, HUH? Also, please don’t tell Doctor Wonderful that I’m speaking this way. I’m frustrated but I still love him.”

Maybe this is what he meant when he didn’t say he wasn’t hopeful about my sanity and I just read into it too much?

When I arrived at the pharmacy, I was told they couldn’t fill all of Warner’s prescription because “they didn’t have enough in stock”, and “was it ok if there was less?”

“Do I have a choice at this point?” I asked as I was charged the full amount for his meds, despite asking for a discount and getting huffy in the drive-thru line.

And we’re still waiting.

As you know if you read this blog, waiting is not my strong suit. Neither is leaving Warner when he’s sick. So naturally, I had to wait for test results and leave Warner over the weekend to house/dog sit, which is something I’ve started doing on the side to off-set some of the costs I’ve incurred with Warner’s healthcare this year. I spent the weekend making a financial plan and watching my new favorite show, “Living Alaska” on HGTV. While I have zero desire to move to Alaska, because hi below zero temps are not my jam, I have decided it’s my new life goal to live in a cabin. A cabin, which I have to save for, hence the financial planning. I was so set on the fact that when went back to the vet on Monday we would run one test, would make a game plan and I would get my cabin.

I left the house I was watching on Sunday afternoon and my car wouldn’t start. There it sat, dead in the driveway and I didn’t know if it was my starter or my battery. I finally got it started, only to realize that most auto-repair shops are closed on Sundays, so I frantically called 10 places before finding one that was open only to find out my battery was dead and I needed a new one. Another unexpected cost.

Goodbye cabin.

Yesterday my waiting game was over. Warner and I rolled up into Doctor Wonderful’s office where we were told Warner likely has a kidney infection and needs to be hospitalized. As in, I had to leave him. And pay for hospital bills. It’s now Tuesday and Warner is still in the hospital, still on meds and hooked up to an IV so he gets fluids and I’m told he’s been given a special comforter to help him sleep soundly.

They think he will be there until tomorrow. The cost for him to be in the hospital is outrageous. Bye cabin, bye Christmas money, bye sanity.

Pity party of one. Name on the reservation? Ashten. IS 2014 OVER YET????

So yeah, I’m doing shitty. But please, say hello to ya motha for me.

Are We Out of the Woods Yet?

Processed with VSCOcam with m5 presetNo, YOU’VE listened to Taylor Swift’s new song so many times you decided to name your blog post after it.

Princess Taylor released a pretty basic song yesterday and I cannot get over it. For some reason her songs always get released when I’m dealing with some sort of personal crisis that can only be summed up by her lyrics about the tumultuous relationships she has with celebrities I can only dream of dating. In the past, I’ve used Taylor’s songs to get over ex boyfriends, unrequited loves and to get ready for a night of partying with my friends like we were 22. I thought I outgrew her music, and then she released “Out of the Woods” and I’m over here losing my shit.

This song is different. This song reminds me of Warner and the epic battle we’ve been fighting for most of 2014.

It’s been eight months since Warner’s diagnosis with Protein Losing Nephropathy and I cannot begin to count the number of times I’ve asked myself “are we out of the woods yet? Are we out of the woods yet? Are we in the clear yet? Are we in the clear yet?” We’ve fallen apart, we’ve come back together, we’ve ridden a roller coaster of emotions, all the while asking “are we out of the woods yet? Are we out of the woods yet? Are we in the clear yet? Are we in the clear yet?”

With the help of Doctor Wonderful, we’ve begun to see the forest for the trees: small moments of success when we are two paper airplanes flying high as Warner’s weight went up, his protein levels slowly got better and he became the dog I used to know. We celebrated, we ate rawhide bones and we kept choosing joy as life seemed to be getting better each month.

Then, two days ago, Warner wasn’t hungry. He didn’t even want the chicken I use to give him his pills. I stayed up most of the night, watching him breathe: hoping we weren’t backsliding as we’ve done so many times before.

And I remember thinking: “are we out of the woods yet? Are we out of the woods yet? Are we in the clear yet? Are we in the clear yet?”

On Monday, we went to see Doctor Wonderful for our monthly check-up and blood tests. Warner hugged and kissed him like he was seeing a dear old friend. I swear, he’s the only dog who likes going to the vet, and they treat him like a VIP which I find to be enabling but who am I to fight someone spoiling him? I’ve basically made it my job in life. Despite not eating for 2 days, we were thrilled to hear Warner is up another 5 pounds since our last visit: a total of 20 pounds since we started seeing Doctor Wonderful.

And I remember thinking “are we out of the woods yet? Are we out of the woods yet? Are we in the clear yet? Are we in the clear yet?”

Yesterday, the blood work came back and wouldn’t you know my sweet, spoiled pup has a kidney infection, caused by some bacteria that has likely been hiding out since he left the boarding facility in July. Today, we are back in Doctor Wonderful’s office for a urine culture, more hugs, kisses and VIP treatment. We will also probably get some fluids, antibiotics and spend the next few days monitoring progress through food intake and energy levels.

He did eat some boiled chicken last night, and I slept.

And I remember thinking “are we out of the woods yet? Are we out of the woods yet? Are we in the clear yet? Are we in the clear yet?”

The truth is: we aren’t out of the woods. We aren’t in the clear. We never will be. We have to live with it, all the time.

Yesterday, I complained to a lot of people about how emotionally draining 2014 has been and how tired I am of complaining about it all. Someone people gave me fake sympathy, some people tried to fix it and some people barely acknowledged my feelings which really pissed me off. But Tessa gave me the best advice a best friend could: “yes your year has been shitty, and yes your situation sucks. But think: you’re so blessed to have the ability to provide for Warner and his medical care by any means necessary. You’ve been given time, resources and a doctor who is fighting for you. You never asked for this and neither did Warner but the two of you are bravely going through it together and you’re lucky to have each other.”

Sometimes the trees look like monsters. They’re tall and they cast a menacing shadow over my good intentions. Sometimes I feel like I have to slam on the breaks to avoid another head-on collision with another bad situation, another set-back, another expensive medical bill. I have to remind myself: the monsters are just trees. We’re not out of the woods, we’re not in the clear, but we get better at navigating where we’re going next and hopefully that means no more kidney infections and eating more than boiled chicken.

I may not have dated Harry Styles, but I’m picking up what you’re throwing down, Taylor. High five.

Sidenote: it took me listening to “Out of the Woods” 50 times to get this post right. 50 TIMES ON REPEAT. THIS GOT TO BE A RECORD FOR A TAYLOR SWIFT FAN OVER 25.

Use Protection

just a photoIt was just a photo of my friend Jess, our friend Riannon’s grandmother and me at Riannon’s wedding.  Jess and I were in our bridesmaids dresses, which were completely tasteful, and even though they were strapless and the photo was a selfie, you could see that we were wearing clothes. When I got home from the wedding, I threw it up on Facebook, along with the fifty-something photos I took that day. I tagged everyone and thought nothing of it. That’s what you do after a fun weekend with friends, right? Throw some photos up, tag the participants and let the “likes” roll in?

This isn’t where the story ends, and you all know it.

My photo was shared by someone I didn’t know, on a (very public) Facebook page. This someone was making remarks about how Jess and I looked. A friend of someone tagged in the photo, they decided to brag about how Jess and I would be their wives. Us: two women they don’t know, who were not dressed scandalously, who were not looking for that kind of attention.

This is not to say I don’t have a sense of humor. I am the first to admit that LEO is my future husband (beard or no beard) and I am the first to laugh at awkward moments of flattery but as I looked more at this particular Facebook page, I realized this was less flattery and more freaky: we were not the only girls this had happened to. In fact, the page was full of odd photos or girls and other things. Because, when weird things happen to me THEY ARE REALLY, REALLY WEIRD.

That “uh oh” feeling started in my stomach.

I could very easily be blowing this out of proportion; I’ve been known to do that a time or two. But, that feeling in my stomach told me this wasn’t some innocent moment of flattery I was misunderstanding. There was something a little more creepy, perhaps a little more sinister at work here, and I didn’t know if I could let it go.

I asked myself: “was it the fact that the photo was shared? Or was it the comments made about the photo that bothered me?”

My answer? BOTH. I am a blogger. I have made it my hobby to share my life online. I realize that with the title of “blogger” comes sharing my life with an entire Internet I can’t always see. I’ve talked about my depression, anxiety and grief quite openly, and I know that comes with a price. It’s true that when I blog I ask for public scrutiny, for other people’s opinions and even to be looked at by eyes I don’t necessarily want on me because that’s all part of the job description. But, I am also a person: a person who still values a little bit of privacy and who, believe it or not, doesn’t share everything on the Internet.

I went through all the necessary Facebook channels. I wrote asking for this photo to be taken down. I was polite, professional and even a little understanding because the last thing anyone wants to do is make a scary Facebook person mad. I mean, they do have the ability to wipe your existence off the face of the Internet. I even emailed the person who had taken my photo; politely asking them to take it down and respect my privacy.

The response? “It’s important to me that this photo stays up.”

Chills down the back of my neck. I mean, what kind of world am I in that allows some person to TAKE my photo and then REFUSE to take it down after I’ve asked nicely?!

Side note: Kyle FREAKED THE EFF OUT, grabbed my phone, searched the profile and yelled “NO ONE TALKS ABOUT MY GIRLFRIEND AND HER FRIENDS LIKE THIS!”

(And I got all weak in the knees because, MY KNIGHT IN SHINING SWEATPANTS WANTED TO SAVE US FROM THE INTERNET.)

After deleting the photo from my page, reconfiguring my privacy settings (again) and making sure this person could never contact me again, I stood back (read: watched my boyfriend fight for my honor) and thought about protection.

Which has nothing to do with how good this guy looks when he’s defending my honor.

kyle on the compIn today’s society it’s normal to put your entire life on the internet. Hell, some bloggers make SIX FIGURES (read this article and lets cry together)!

People post shit on Facebook that I wouldn’t even tell my parents.

People live tweet things I just don’t want to know about. (like your feelings on the VMAs. Sorry, I’m too old for that now.)

I follow a girl on Instagram who often posts photos of herself in her underwear and bra with “pregnancy updates”. I want to cover her with a blanket.

It’s so normal do share our lives on the Internet, that when we find out someone doesn’t have a Facebook WE ARE SHOCKED. It’s strange when someone doesn’t post a lot on Facebook or Instagram and if you want to be a successful blogger you are encouraged to tweet your little heart out.

But what about protection? What happens when one of our photos gets stolen or our words copied without permission? What happens when someone steals your password or leaves a mean comment or steals your identity? We don’t often think of that when we hit “publish” on a post filled with personal thoughts and photos. The Internet is a scary place, mostly because it moves SO FAST and scary because it’s so big that it’s nearly impossible to control what happens to your shit after you put it out there.

And I never thought about this, until it happened to me.

It’s a feeling of violation, of transparency and instant worry. As I combed through my Facebook, I realized how much of my life is online, even after I took a lot down in order to start my blog. There are photos of my friends, my dog, photos that could easily be taken and used without my permission. I have a Facebook page for my blog that has my photos and links to my blog. If a person really wanted to do some damage to my life, they could.

As I scrambled to cover my internet footprint to protect myself after my little photo incident, and Kyle contacted a high school friend who happens to work at Facebook, I realized that while blogging and social media are fun, in a society that’s dependent on our phones, our social lifelines, anyone can intrude and make those memories we thought were innocent and fun and turn them into something malicious. I’m learning that even though I share a majority of my life with you, I still need to use protection because there are a lot of internet transmitted diseases out there, and they’re very contagious. I’m learning that delicate balance of sharing my life and protecting some of the details while still being able to share on social media. I’ve been able to form some great connections and relationships because of the internet, but I suppose I’m realizing that all comes with a price. And now? I will be protecting myself.

But LEO, if you’re reading this: I like piña coladas, long walks on the beach and yes I will marry you.

Ain’t No Party Like a Lederhosen Party

helen festhalle sign

Hey, guess what? I got off my ass this weekend and actually did something worth writing about/taking pictures of! If you make it through this post, you get a cookie!

I didn’t have my first real drink of alcohol until I was a senior in high school. One of my friends bought a handle of Smirnoff vodka and I took four shots in the backseat of her car, and I was hammered. I walked into a high school dance, a little sideways, avoiding anyone who looked like an authority figure, but telling all my friends I was drunk.

I never said I was an intelligent high school student.

When I turned 21, I stopped taking shots in the backs of cars and started taking shots with attractive boys in bars. Through my “experiments” in partying I learned what kind of booze I liked and didn’t like, and somehow I got really good at curing hangovers. I have never really been a beer fan, even though I will partake every once in awhile, I will definitely choose champagne, white wine or a mojito over beer any day. It’s taken me years to come to this conclusion, and many years of enduring mocking when I nurse a beer like a baby/refill someone else’s glass with my beer because I’m bored with it.

I also make my partner drink all the beer when I play beer pong, which is why I am the reigning champ of beer pong: I never get drunk, therefore always make clutch shots.

Naturally, the most logical thing for me to do was to attend Oktoberfest: the largest celebration of beer known to man.

Turns out, a mere 90 minutes from Atlanta is the longest running Oktoberfest celebration in the United States. You’d think a short 90 minute drive wouldn’t be such a drastic difference from the city, but you’d be wrong. As soon as Tessa and I drove out of Atlanta it was like driving into a whole other world: a world where Target and Starbucks don’t exist on every corner and boiled peanuts are sold on the side of the road.

Need to get out of limbo? Head to the mountains. Trust me on this.

outside farm standThe trees were starting to turn fall shades of orange and yellow, and we only paused once to buy a quart of boiled peanuts and some homemade jam from a man I couldn’t understand very well, but who was so welcoming and friendly that I couldn’t help but want to stay and chat with him for awhile. Turns out, his stand was one of the oldest in North Georgia and all the jam was made by his daughter. He lived in an apartment upstairs and spent his days waiting for tourists heading up the highway to stop and try his goods.

jams Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset I found myself wrapped up in the simplicity of it all: just a small, cash-run jam and boiled peanut, an owner who seemed so content to sit and chat with tourists, no rush to be anywhere, no cell phone to answer, just taking life day by day and enjoying it as it came.

small cash business sign

We made our way up to Helen, Georgia, which is a small German town that reminds me of this small town called Solvang, California that I used to go to every year. We made our way through the streets of Helen to the main Festhalle, which I was sure was going to be filled with cute, drunk and available men for me to throw in Tessa’s general direction. Because that’s what Oktoberfest is, right? Cute, available men drinking beer with their frat brothers, dancing along to the sounds of yodeling, am I right?!

Wrong.

ashten and tessaTurns out, everyone in the main Festhalle was 50 and older, cared about how the beer tasted and was dancing to “Cotton Eyed Joe” like it was 1999. $10 to get in, and not an available, attractive man for Tessa in sight. And the lederhosen, my god the lederhosen. I saw more older man white thigh than I ever wanted to see in one room.

 

Time to start drinking. And eating.

brats and beetI tried to be adventurous and try the “Oktoberfest” beer because that’s what you do at Oktoberfest: drink beer, wear flannel and throw your best friend at any available man that crosses your path.

tessa with beer

She’s single.

Note: do not drink the festival’s signature beer, which is a dark beer, when you don’t drink beer or dark beer. It will taste like a butt. Not that I would know what a butt tastes like.

The festhalle was along the Chattahoochee River, and we snuck outside to enjoy the fall colors and the river, which wasn’t as full the last time we visited Helen. Being from Southern California, I’ve learned that being near any body of water relaxes me. I’m not sure what it is about the water, but I suddenly felt more at ease, and my crazy week started to slowly slip away.

These are random thoughts: we’re leaving cohesive blog post-ville and entering the realm of my crazy brain, which is never good. I’m not even making sense anymore.

fall leaves chatahoochie riverAnd look more photos of me drinking gross beer!

ashten and beer 2

Things I learned from Oktoberfest:

1. Bring a big group of people and get a hotel room. That’s the plan for next year.

2. Save your $10 entry fee at the festhalle and drink at the bars along the river with all the young, attractive people.

3. I still don’t like beer.

4. Pina coladas are German for “beer is gross” and are also served at Oktoberfest.

5. People still make out on street corners and have sex in cars at beer festivals, even when they’re…ahem…significantly over the age of 22. ( I know, because I saw both at Oktoberfest)

pina coladaI suck at these types of blog posts.

You don’t get a cookie for making it to the end. Sorry I lied.

ashten and tessa 2

Cure for the Common Limbo

Yesterday, I lamented about being in traffic and in limbo; two things I hate almost as much as I hate tomatoes on my hamburgers. Thanks for baring with me as I bitched about that: turns out nothing annoys me more than a non-existent left-hand turn lane and other people being in charge of my life. And tomatoes.

On my way home this week, while sitting in traffic (again), I’ve tried to muddle my way through the fog in my brain and find some inspiration. I’ve realized there was none to be found, simply because my routine is basically the same everyday: wake up at 5am, go to the gym, go to the office, sit in traffic on my way home, talk to Kyle, walk Warner, watch Parks and Recreation and go to bed. (At 9:30 but who’s really keeping track of that?)

You try being creative with a bland, boring, adult routine like that.

I’ve decided I can’t just wait for inspiration to find me: I have to seek it out, like I’m Harry Potter and it’s the golden snitch and we’re playing Quiddich.

God, I’m such a nerd.

How can I expect to be a lifestyle blogger when my lifestyle blows? How can I be relatable if I don’t give myself any stimulation?

Sidebar: if you want to talk about Parks and Recreation I’m your girl: obsessed doesn’t even begin to describe how I feel about that show.

I’ve made it my mission this week to change up my routine, for the sake of my boring ass blog and my boring ass life. Here are some of the things I’ve added to make life a little more interesting. If you’re in limbo, maybe these will help you, too.

HOW TO GET OUT OF LIMBO WHEN YOUR LIFE SUCKS

ONE: QUIET TIME

An hour before my “bedtime”, I go upstairs to my room, put both my phones on silent and open a book. HOLY SHIT, A BOOK YOU GUYS. Honestly, I’m amazed I can still read because it’s been FOR.EV.ER since I’ve picked up a book for leisure reading. Right now I’m really enjoying Blog, Inc.: Blogging for Passion, Profit, and to Create Community and without a phone to bug me or a TV to distract me, I find I’m getting a lot more out of it. I’m also engaging in the content by highlighting parts I like and taking notes in the margins. It helps break up the monotony of all the screens I stare at during the day.

TWO: GRATITUDE JOURNAL

I used to do this every night and then….I stopped. And now I’m adding it back because I need a little more gratitude in my life. I bought a notebook (similar: Studio Oh! Compact Deconstructed Journal, Hope Anchors the Soul) and every night after I read my book, I take a few minutes to write down a few things I’m thankful for and a few thoughts from my day. I’ve found that this helps me see more of the good in each day, and keeps me accountable for adding more joy to my day.

THREE: TAKING TIME TO GET READY EVERYDAY

I’ve been combing my closet to really pick out cute outfits to wear each day. I take my time to make myself FEEL good before I walk out of the door to the office. When I look good, I feel good and putting an outfit together helps me feel a little more creative. Also? I am OBSESSED with GroopDealz lately. Seriously. It’s so inexpensive and it’s great quality. I’m going to review some of the stuff I’ve bought on their site. #allthefallthings

FOUR: I’M GOING BACK TO CHURCH

Fun fact: I’ve been on a plane EVERY SINGLE MONTH this year so far. This makes me very tired on weekends and therefore makes me want to do nothing other than sit on my couch in my sweats all weekend. But I’m breaking myself out of that habit and going back to church. Sometimes, inspiration comes from listening to a sermon that I can apply to my life. I’ve always felt inspired when I leave church, and I’ve always felt more at peace when I start my week with a good sermon so I’m giving it another go.

FIVE: PODCASTS/TED Talks

I recently discovered the wonderful world of Podcasts, and yes I know “welcome to 2014, Ashten.” I downloaded a Podcast app on my phone and I try to listen to either one Podcast or one TED Talk while I’m on the stairmaster at the gym. Hearing someone else speak on a topic I’m interested in usually inspires me to write. EXCISING MY BODY AND MY MIND, YO.

SIX: ENJOYING THE OUTDOORS

That’s right, the girl who is one with her couch actually went outside to enjoy the weather now that it’s not effing sweltering. Last weekend, Warner and I took a walk around one of our favorite parks and this weekend, Tessa and I will be venturing up to North Georgia for Oktoberfest. I mean, if I have nothing to blog about after attending Oktoberfest I should quit blogging forever.

How do you get out of limbo? Any more tips would be greatly appreciated.

Oh, and?

Chris Pratt’s abs. Now I’m done.