Monday, January 17, 2011

31 by 32

Inspired by my lovely friend Catherine, I've decided to set 31 goals for myself to accomplish by my next birthday - January 11, 2012. Some are abstract, others are quite clear. With the exception of one, I've given myself no less than a monthly timeline on most. I'll dedicate around the 11th of each month to "check in" and see where I'm at.

1) Make at least one MAJOR change in my life.

2) Visit one of my five remaining states - Alaska, Arkansas, Mississipi, North Dakota, or Oklahoma.

3) Get something published.

4) Do 31 non-girl pushups in a row.

5) Change someone's life for the better (other than my own).

6) Work my way through the entire "Take Off In Italian" CD set I bought in 2003.

7) Digitize my CD collection.

8) Visit one or more family members apart from Christmas.

9) Take advantage of a crazy spontaneous opportunity.

10) Attempt another recipe out of "Mastering the Art of French Cooking"

11) See six different local bands live.

12) Read and review one non-fiction & one fiction book a month.

13) Contact an elected official, at some level, once a month about an issue that is important to me.

14) See and review at least one film per month.

15) Try one new recipe a month.

16) Try a new locally-owned restaurant each month.

17) Go to an art show or gallery once a month.

18) Dedicate one blog post a month to promoting a local business.

19) Dedicate one blog post a month to promoting a local non-profit.

20) Leave the county I live in at least once per month.

21) Write one album and one concert review a month.

22) Applaud bipartisan efforts in my social media forums at least four times.

23) Attend games of at least four different sports.

24) Go to at least four theatre performances.

25) Go vegetarian for 31 days.

26) Go for 31 days without consuming any soda.

27) Bike to / from work every single day for 31 days.

28) Go for one full week without consuming any alcohol.

29) Go for one full week without consuming any processed foods.

30) Have one week where I only consume foods made with locally-sourced ingredients.

31) Spend one-on-one time with a friend at least once a week.

girl on film: screen vs stage rabbits

Yesterday I was ├╝ber-productive all afternoon while camped out at Alterra Prospect. I decided I would reward myself by catching a movie. In my recent trips to the cinema, I've seen like 1,000 previews for Rabbit Hole so I got it in my head that I'd go check it out. Plus, I've really enjoyed John Cameron Mitchell's two other films, so it would be worth a shot.

I had thought it was playing just around the corner at the Oriental, so was a little bummed I had to trek up in the cold to the Downer, but it's always nice to take myself out, so why not.  I made it to the theater in just the nick of time, already convinced I'd missed some of the start. Previews were still rolling, so I settled in.

To be honest, this one just didn't do it for me. And the main reason? It happens every once in awhile, but sometimes it's just too obvious that a film was adapted from a play. I actually felt the same way about Closer a few years ago, even though many people really loved that it just didn't make the jump from stage to screen for me, and it made it about 10x better than Rabbit Hole did.

I suppose what made it more noticeable was that some scenes seemed really cinematic, but then the next one you'd get into these really intimate ones where you could just sense the theatricality overpowering the celluloid. Then it just seemed awkward. Also, like a play, it was a very "scene" based film, if that makes sense. The director did make an effort to transition with some lovely, simple cinematography, but it didn't have the right effect for me.

The performances were strong, but again, more for the stage than the screen.

The one takeaway I did get though was that I'd very much like to see this on stage. I can't even imagine how intense it would be live. The relationships between characters are so complex and some of the scenes would just have me squirming I'm sure. On screen, not so much.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

meghan's munchies: saturday shut-in yummies

So I used to do this blog series called "Monday Munchies" and it kinda got me in the local food blogger scene. But then I started focusing on other things, and it was abandoned. My kitchen isn't fully abandoned though, and while I haven't recently undertaken any monumental tasks, sometimes I do make things that are just darn tasty.

Yesterday morning was one such occasion. I had decided that I was going to have an alarm free Saturday, and then do nothing but get my apartment in order until the Packers game. I was hungry, however, and since there's no breakfast delivery, decided to scrape together something.

I had local eggs and butter and some veggies from the new Glorioso's, plus other odds & ends...there's a start...

Luckily, my something turned out to be delicious. And simple.

Tomato & Arugula Omelette (for one)
2 eggs
splash of milk
1 tsp local, Amish butter available at Milwaukee County Winter Farmer's Market (to grease pan)
1/4 cup diced tomato
1/4 cup chopped arugula
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tbsp Pleasant Ridge Reserve cheese

Scramble eggs & milk in a bowl. Add mixture to greased frying pan on medium heat. Wait until bottom is firm, add veggies and cheese. Cook another minute or two. Flip omelette. Wait until it's cooked through. Eat.

On the side I had toast made from Natural Ovens multigrain, topped with the aforementioned Amish butter and Heizenrader Estates Honey (my brother's girlfriend's mom has an apiary in their backyard in Tacoma, Washington).


Oh, and for lunch I dug some kale out of the freezer and enjoyed in over some pasta after sauteeing in butter and garlic.

AND I got my apartment in presentable order.

THEN the Packers handily won.

Saturday was a pretty good day.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

My 500th Post: 30 Great Things About 30

It's fairly appropriate that this is my 500th post here at ye olde blog. It's also fairly appropriate that the title of my favorite album of Year 30 was "This Is Happening." Because 30 for me, was the year I, for the most part, finally learned to go with the flow and stop freaking out about what others would think, preferring just to remove myself from the drama.

After most of my crazy exploits, bizarre injuries, missed trains to Freiburg...I pretty much just shrugged and thought "well, that happened."

On a more somber note, perhaps it was easier to remove myself from drama in a year that was bookended by massive tragedies (Haitian Earthquake - 1/12/10 & Tuscon Terrorism - 1/8/11). Perhaps my contempt at Wisconsin's beyond broken political environment replaced any energy I'd have previously focused on petty personal issues. Or maybe I really am getting older and wiser.

At any rate, looking back, 30 was surely my most memorable year since 23, and that's saying a lot.

Although many of these are coded (my mother reads this blog), here are 30 things that I don't want to forget about Year 30 (in no particular order):

1. Running my first 5k and first half marathon within 10 months, thanks to the encouragement of awesome running buddies like Becky, Tony and Jason and of course the Daily Mile crew. Special thanks to my "top three motivators" - Anne, Amy, and Augie. All in all I logged over 1,000 miles of fitness activities - and that counts barely a fraction of my bike commutes!

2. Memorable nights out abroad with random Germans and Brits. Counting up conquering the
Allied and Axis powers.

3. Rediscovering my love for film with continued involvement with Milwaukee Film, dipping my toe further into the local film community, and becoming a semi-regular at the UWM Union Theatre.

4. Connecting through both family and social media to wonderful hosts while I traveled solo in Belgium and Germany - thanks Bernie, Kyle, and Bridgit!

5. Witnessing four great couples commit to each other -- congrats Jane & Ralf, Beth & Fred, Jessica & Ben, and Jackie & Mike.
I vote to balance out people who dress their children like this.
6. Exercising my right to vote in each election and making efforts to write or call my representatives on issues that matter to me.

7.  Santa Cycle Rampage and Aftermath.
8. Visiting my hometown of Portland twice and really, really liking it. Especially the running, the beer, the transit, the music, the donuts, and the random evenings. Oh and the whole family and lifelong friends thing too.

9. Jason losing a bet. It makes for a good story for those who are privileged to know.

10. Extending my "Cool Auntie" love to Joey D., Joey S., Oliver S., and A.J. Q.

Good friends take nerdy pictures with you.
 11. Maintaining my priceless existing friendships, becoming closer with people that once were just acquaintances, and making new wonderful friends.

12. Scaling back my involvement in organizations when my heart wasn't with them and learning to relax a bit more. 

13. Breathtaking hikes both at home (Devil's Lake) and abroad (the Calvert in Malmedy, The Black Forest, Philosophersweg in Heidelberg)
Wren & I not smelling like ass.
14. The smoking ban. Rediscovering loveable dive bars.

15. Realizing how much I truly love being #carfree and the different advantages of the bike/walk/bus mix.

16. Raising over $1500 for the performing arts (I still can't thank AJ Bombers enough for letting me fundraise there). Then biking 75 freaking miles (not on this bike, but my photos are limited).

17. Reading more and utilizing the stellar Milwaukee Public Library system.

18. Having my music snobbery parlay itself into a blogging opportunity. Feeling proud of Milwaukee's music scene for both national touring acts and #mkemusic and the accessibility of movers and shakers in the local scene via social media.

19. Getting hooked into the #fitmke and #mkefoodies communities via twitter - and making some wonderful IRL friends because of it.

I'm in the blue floaty thing

20. Appearing in public in a swim suit - a two piece for that matter!
One of the photos I used for online, unsuccessfully.
21. Getting asked out by someone I didn't meet at a bar or through a set up or dating service. Giving online dating a legitimate shot and realizing it wasn't for me.

Watch out boys, she'll chew you up.

22. Being secure in my singleness. More than that - ROCKING my singleness.

23. Meeting and exceeding my fitness goals of doing at least one paid community event a month.
24. Getting through another crazy year at work, including handling the floodpocolypse of 2010.

All hotels should have lovely floral arrangements.
25. Reopening "Hotel Meghan" and hosting Ryan, Kat, the whole Lepene Family (a child was in my apartment!), and Ellen as they came through town.

26. Indulging my fashion fetishes and buying nicer clothes for my new bod.
Reentering the Meat Zone.
27. Remaining aware of what I put in my mouth, and making concerted efforts to stay local and natural or organicReintroducing red meat to my diet after 15 years.

28. Watching several of my talented friends reinvent themselves or relaunch themselves career-wise. Special props to the talented Ellen Winters for booking more jazz gigs and hitting the studio, to the gourmet guru and Globaco Queen Jackie Valent Lucca for delighting Milwaukee's tastebuds with her food cart the Fast Foodie, and my dear friend Maribeth for embracing the opportunity to become an incredible teacher in the near future.

29. Having both parents visit me in Milwaukee and spending a whole day in the Seattle-area hanging out with my awesome grandma.

30. Strengthening my relationship with Kathleen, my best friend, to new levels and watching her, in the face of fear, begin to share her unbelievable (but true!) life story with the greater world. I could not be more proud.

    The night I turned 30, Wren took me to Bryant's and basically played the role of "30 coach" assuring me this would be the most amazing decade. She hasn't been wrong so far. I look forward to what 31 brings on.

    Wednesday, January 12, 2011

    Can I Have a Clone Please?

    I'm really trying to be a better blogger in 2011, but let me tell you, being a single lady is tough sometimes. I didn't get home until 8 p.m. after going to the gym and running errands afterward. I then had to do laundry and put away my previous load of laundry AND my suitcase from Portland (I got back December 28).

    Fortunately the holidays and my birthday are over, so hopefully I will have a little Meghan-time to catch up. I have so much follow up on emails to do, but I need to sleep and finish the 47 overdue books from the library. (I'm also trying to be a better reader in 2011).

    Do you "do it all"? What are your tricks for a balanced life AND a clean domicile?

    Tuesday, January 11, 2011


    I have to reflect on Year 30 yet, but I couldn't have spent a last better 3 hours of my first day as 31. I had the privilege of enjoying a meal with three wonderful friends (and running into a bonus friend!) and talking to my best friend, grandma, brother, and parents all on the phone. I laughed, giggled, snickered. I can only hope 31 to be as silly, absurd, and random as 30.

    Monday, January 10, 2011

    girl on film: "fighting" back overcriticizing

    Continuing my quest to get back in my old habit of catching the "buzz" movies, I went with my friend Mark to see The Fighter tonight.

    Now keep in mind that the two of us generally go see the most messed up movies possible together. The last one we caught was 127 Hours and that was almost too tame.

    It's a true story, so I guess there's no spoilers, but although this movie had all the elements to be really dark -- crazy family, drug addiction, infamous freakouters David O. Russell AND Christian Bale -- it was surprisingly feel good and triumphant.

    There's nothing wrong with that every once in awhile, but I don't know, the grit, was just missing. Just because you have crack, prison, and bloodsport doesn't mean you have grit.

    Oh don't get me wrong, despite wanting more grit, I was cheering and feeling good. I wanted to clap for both of the main characters when they had separately triumphant moments. I'm not a cold-hearted human being.

    And if we're talking true stories, a crackhead overcoming an addiction, I'm sorry, but it's a lot more inspiring to me than a King shaking his speech impediment (good movie too, don't get me wrong).

    I just prefer when achieving these goals results in complete self-annihilation (hence Black Swan being my front runner still).

    Bale's performance makes the film really worth seeing. His physical transformation is so incredible, you completely forget that he's a Hollywood hunk. His portrayal as an addict, well, although I've never known any crackheads, he did a perfect job of capturing exactly what I described last week:
    The misconception about junkies is that they're constantly zombies, ready to eat your brains or steal your wallet. However, in moments of clarity, you still can converse with the friends you knew before the drugs. You have to shift through the haze, the fog, and find them in there, but their light is there -- the connection between the two of you.
    Unfortunately a couple technical issues with the film really caused me to lose my focus and make it hard to get behind it 100%. These had to do with keeping track of the timeline. Apparently this was a 7 year period, but Bale's son in the film DID NOT AGE. So I was extremely thrown off when the movie started in 1993, but then there was a website advertisement on the mat in the big fight scene. However, researching that later, it happened in 2000, so plausible (although I'm fairly sure in 2000 people were still listing "http://" in front of their web promos). There was also a Greek Chorus of sorts of whacked out sisters to provide comic relief during the film, but one looked about 10 years older than the mother.

    I know I'm probably weird for letting things like this derail movies for me, but I really think it's the line between good and great. Continuity issues are just sloppy. Uh oh, now David O. Russell is going to come scream at me.

    Have you seen The Fighter? What did you think? Am I being overly critical? What's your film of the year so far?

    Sunday, January 9, 2011

    girl on film: i don't hate all rock docs!

    I caught a lot of flak last fall when I posted a scathing review of Who Is Harry Nilsson? (And Why Is Everybody Talking About Him).

    While I still stand by it, it did sting when people I respected actually questioned my ability to opine on music or film after that post. Harsh.

    Rock docs and I took a little break, but on Friday I had the unexpected opportunity to head out to The Times Cinema (new resolution: go there more!) with Larissa and Jason to catch The Agony and The Ecstasy of Phil Spector.

    Perhaps it's because I love dark movies (Black Swan is likely my movie of the year (list coming after I catch up this month on 2010 releases)), but THIS was a rock documentary I enjoyed. Why? Well, I can only compare watching Phil Spector narrate his own history to Hannibal Lector chatting with Clarice Starling (and I just realized that their names rhyme...weird).

    The narrative structure of film was stripped, providing a stark contrast to the "wall of sound" pieces that provided the soundtrack during disturbing footage of Spector's murder trial. Also, instead of having a bunch of talking heads discuss the cultural and musical impact of his work, the critique was printed in subtitles over the footage.

    The filmmakers did a fantastically creepy job of letting the music move the story forward and leave the audience to make their own conclusions about Spector's guilt or innocence (the movie starts off with "He Hit Me (But It Felt Like a Kiss)"). Like Lector, Spector is an intriguing multi-faceted subject. The man's a convicted murderer, but he was bitingly amusing and you get drawn into his tirades and reminiscences. You also get a clear picture of his misanthropy and deep paranoia.

    I was also happy to learn that according to music criticism I'm supposed to be unsettled by Tina Turner's "River Deep Mountain High." That song just has never sat right with me.

    Overall, the film is a fascinating treatment of a controversial subject that keeps the viewer engaged for its entire run. Even knowing the outcome, I did not find myself bored or with a wandering mind at all.

    Spector tunes were an integral part of my childhood, so maybe on some level my subsconscious just enjoyed this more based on the soundtrack. Or maybe I've just got a penchant for evil geniuses.

    At any rate, if you're in Milwaukee, it's at the Times all week. The folks over at Radio Milwaukee are presenting a "musically noteworthy" film series this year so I'm excited to see more. Next up is Lemmy, which I missed during the Milwaukee Film Festival, so I'll have to catch it there.

    What's your favorite "rock doc"? Will you be checking out this series at The Times?

    Friday, January 7, 2011

    listomania: top 10 concerts of 2010

    Once again a year where I saw a LOT of great shows. I don't even remember them all. 2011 should be interesting as I'm not allowed to pay to see bands I've already seen (local bands excepted). 

    Honorable Mentions:
    Concert that would have been #2-3 if that dude hadn't fallen on us: Hold Steady, Riverside, December

    Seriously. Bummer. They were rocking all the hits!!

    Concert I was Most Surprised I Loved: Muse, Bradley Center, October

    I was mildly interested and went as a concert buddy to my friend Kristen. Came away a definite fan.

    Most Disappointing Concert: Free Energy, Turner Hall, April

    LOVED the album, but was really turned off by the live show. The good thing is it was part of the Daytrotter Tour, and I got introduced to the AMAZING Delta Spirit this way (even though I had to leave mid-set thanks to the unfortunate closing of Hegarty's).

    Most Sad I Slept Through Half of It: Dirty Projectors, The Pabst, Milwaukee, September

    Was totally amazing. Really wish I hadn't passed out after Bloody Mary Festing and Tomato Romping. Glad I made the last 45 minutes after sleeping through my nap alarm. Definitely one where I wish I'd had a concert buddy.

    Best Concert that turned from Suck to Awesome Midway: Girls with Dum Dum Girls, The Pabst, Milwaukee, April (even if the AV Club Milwaukee Disagrees)

    Best New Festival: Verge - hopefully it won't monsoon in 2011

    Without further honorable mentions, here's my Top 10:

    10.  Avett Brothers with Low Anthem, Riverside, Milwaukee, March

    Probably would have made it higher up the list if my back injury incurred after a bike vs. ice fall that day hadn't prevented me from making it to the Low Anthem. Also, I went solo, having bought my ticket when it was scheduled at Turner, but had to awkwardly squeeze into the Riverside single seats. The Avetts made up for it with an incredible show though. Wow.

    9. LCD Soundsystem with Hot Chip, The Rave, Milwaukee, October

    This show should be in the upper half of my "of the year" list. Not just LCD, but HOT CHIP too?!? Too bad the venue had to fuck this up in every way possible. I'd really been trying to give them a second chance in 2010 after taking an over two year hiatus from seeing shows there. But when we missed half of Hot Chip while they dug will call tickets out of SHOEBOXES, left early because we knew it would take an hour to get out (FIRE HAZARD), and brushed the CIGARETTE SMOKE out of our airspace (this was October - post smoking ban), the venue pretty much ruined this for me. I was also a bit disappointed with how long it took for the Milwaukee audience to get into it. C'mon! Who doesn't do call and response to "Yr City's a Sucker." My city is a sucker :( Good thing I had wonderful company and danced my butt off.

    8. Flaming Lips, The Riverside, Milwaukee, April

    Uh, Flaming Lips. Enough said.

    7. Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings with The Heavy, The Pabst, Milwaukee, May

    I want to be Sharon Jones, so this was a no-brainer. You can always expect a killer show from her. The great surprise here (besides actually getting asked out as a result of this show), was The Heavy. They super kick-ass'd and it was excellent to catch them again at Summerfest in July. A huge thanks to Wren who was my last minute date to the show. After about 5 minutes she realized she'd made the right decision.

    6. Movits! with Fresh Cut Collective, Stonefly, Milwaukee, January

    Do you ever have those concerts that you go to on a total whim and they turn out being freaking awesome? This was that. We'd caught a pretty forgettable Jay Farrar/Ben Gibbard show and were persuaded to make it up to Riverwest. Well worth it, I got to finally catch some Milwaukee hip hop and then dance dance dance to Swedish insanity.

    5. Scissor Sisters, The Rave, Milwaukee, September

    More dancing. And band that made me most wish I was a gay man. Damn, Jake Shears is HAWT.

    4. Dr. Dog with Growlers, Turner Hall, Milwaukee, February

    Hippie goodness. Growlers were another surprise killer opening act of the year. They had a dude in a coonskin hat who just sat on the ground and played a tambourine or something. And Dr. Dog always brings it.

    3. Lady Gaga, Bradley Center, Milwaukee, September

    Look what I got to wear! Of course this show is in the top three. Also, Lady Gaga is fucking amazing and I love her. Count me in as a little monster.

    2. Pavement with No Age, Pabst Theater, Milwaukee, September

    Uh, Pavement. Kinda like when I saw The Pixies reunion. All is right with the world. Enough said. Related: Megan B. and I may one day create a shrine to Stephen Malkmus.

    Also, No Age is brilliant as well.

    1. LCD Soundsystem, Roseland Theater, Portland, OR, May

    Went with my best friend in the universe. We ended up in incredible balcony seats. I had my own dance party while Kat clapped for me. Then I ended up in a dance party with these two awesome flamboyant dudes who actually did the interlaced finger jump up and down screaming like a little girl before the encore. Portland's audience was TOTALLY into it. I also may have lost 20 pounds in sweat. A perfect show.

    Thursday, January 6, 2011

    DIVING into 31!

    Isn't Scaffidi's amazing? Don't you want to go there and to its divey brethren? Also, I will be dressed seasonally appropriate on Saturday.

    I'm desperately fighting off my superbug, with hopes to be able to handle super fun party time that will usher in the fact that I'm REALLY in my 30s now!

    Unless Scott Walker repeals the smoking ban tomorrow, we'll be all clear not to stink while drinking really cheap beer!

    Yes, my birthday party is open to the public, but if you're a random stalker, please don't come. BUT if you're a fun person who would like to plan an awesome Milwaukee night out sometime -- here's a good roadmap.

    Tentative Agenda is as follows:

    6:30 PM-7:45 PM: Buffalo-style dinner at Points East Pub
    8 PM-8:45 PM: Y-Not II
    9:15 PM-9:45 PM: Roman Coin
    10 PM-10:30 PM: Scaffidi's (yeah, I was shocked they have a website too!)
    10:45 PM-11:15 PM: Circa
    11:30 PM-midnight: Bruno's/Listwan's (bigger shocker)
    12 AM-12:45 AM : Jamo's
    1 AM-close: Wolski's (don't watch that flash video if you've actually been drinking)

    I also made this handy-dandy map!

    View DIVING into 31 in a larger map

    See you Saturday!

    Wednesday, January 5, 2011

    january sniffles

    The flurry of activity lately has landed me with my first set of sniffles and sore throat of 2011. If anyone is looking for a business idea, delivering homemade soup and hot teafor single people would be a handy one.

    What are your favorite cold remedies?

    Tuesday, January 4, 2011

    listomania: top 5 covers of 2010

    Apologies that this article isn't linked beyond the first couple entries. It will be when my computer has more memory and isn't running like me in November 2009 (read:snail's pace).

    Without a doubt, my favorite cover album of the past year (and possibly of all time) was The Bird and the Bee's brilliant Interpreting the Masters, Vol. 1: A Tribute to Daryl Hall and John Oates

    I picked one for the top five, so as not to overwhelm. There were plenty of other great covers (you can Google 'em) and here they are:

    5. Juniper Tar covering "Via Chicago" on the excellent compilation Wisco: A Tribute to Wilco

    4. Robert Plant covering Low's "Monkey"

    3. The Bird & The Bee covering Hall & Oates' "Rich Girl"

    2. Cee-Lo Green covering Band of Horses' "No One's Gonna Love You"

    1. Bon Iver covering Peter Gabriel's "Come Talk to Me"

    Monday, January 3, 2011

    blogspiration: congratulations kat, or how to be friends with a junkie

    Proving you don't have to use substances to have a ridiculous amount of fun. (Although neither of us is really over our cheese addiction).

    This morning I groggily complained about having to crawl out of bed on a Monday.

    Only halfway through the day did I realize that it was January 3rd, the day I'm annually reminded how lucky I am that my best friend, Kathleen, is still crawling out of bed herself.

    Today is her fourth anniversary of sobriety. I have written about her before and truly I could not be more proud of her. She is my biggest cheerleader, my spiritual guide, and my court jester. I love her more than anyone else on the planet (since Jon Hamm took out that restraining order on me -- kidding!) and I'm so glad that she is on the path to health and happiness.

    It's funny that many of my Midwestern friends view Portland as this utopia. True, there isn't the segregation, the extreme poverty, or the horrible winters (sarcasm) that Milwaukee has, but Oregon has its own set of social ills. Drug abuse is a HUGE one. Drugs are seemingly divided down socioeconomic lines, and if you live in Portland and haven't been acquainted with someone who is a junkie or tweaker, you're probably blissfully unaware of your surroundings.

    That's why I am so proud of Kathleen for blogging all day today about her journey through addiction. I have sobbed tears of sadness and of joy reading these posts that make A Million Little Pieces seem like Eat, Pray, Love (read: disingenuous, oversimplified).

    She is brutally honest:
    I've heard so many times, "You have to WANT recovery!" and that's bullshit. I wanted to get high, planned to get high, and was very pleased that my tolerance would be lower. Since I was going to leave in better condition, I could go out to bars again with my friends and escape into a whirlwind social life where I still felt alone, but not after I drank enough.

    She is admirably unashamed:
    Please understand- I'm not writing any of this so that you feel any kind of pity for me. When people find out my past, they often say, "Heroin? That was stupid." I'm hoping that you'll see what kind of pain drives someone to take such a heavy painkiller.
    She is spiritually wise and simultaneously adorable:
    And who says animals don't go to "heaven"? There were animals in eden, right? There will be animals in paradise- mark my words!
    And stay tuned to her story, because she is beyond triumphant.

    I want to evangelize her gospel, because I feel more people need to be prepared to support the addicts in their lives. And trust me, you know one. (Could even be the same person as your gay "confirmed bachelor" cousin...who knows!)

    Addiction happens in Milwaukee too, but the reaction of people here is different then the West Coast - perhaps because people keep these things "behind closed doors." I also think it's because people tend to associate really bad addictions with poverty. Or they just *wish* they stuck on those lines. Maybe it's just because this is a city of functioning alcoholics that drugs get overlooked, but I digress.

    One problem with our DARE-focused society is that we stigmatize users so much, that when we inevitably encounter them, we don't know how to react.

    When Kat confessed her relapse to me, I was fucking angry. But she was my best friend and I was going to stay on her to get help. No matter what. While it was hard leaving her to deal with recovery alone, it was possibly a blessing for me to not have to watch her go through all that. Also, it was only within a week's vacation that I found out how bad it was, walked through the recovery gameplan with her, and got on a plane to go back to my life. I got the periodic check in, putting my faith in the universe that it would all work out.

    Thank God it did.

    Isn't it funny how the universe works though? Because it was damn convenient that I had a recovering addict on speed dial (ooh, bad pun...unintended) when a couple of years later I went through witnessing the entire spiral of addiction -- from watching a dear friend who "liked to party" become the friend who never showed up to our movie date because he was in detox after his friends left him for dead on a curb after an OD.

    About two years ago this Milwaukee friend was struggling with heroin and other addictions and the reaction of most of our mutual friends was to choose one of two routes 1) just ignore it or 2) just drop him completely.

    Neither of those sounded like a fair shake for me. I knew his behavior wasn't him, it was his drug cocktail du jour. The misconception about junkies is that they're constantly zombies, ready to eat your brains or steal your wallet. However, in moments of clarity, you still can converse with the friends you knew before the drugs. You have to shift through the haze, the fog, and find them in there, but their light is there -- the connection between the two of you. I could still see this in my friend, event though I often wanted to punch him in the face to get him back to reality. With Kathleen's help, I was able to maintain my friendship with this person and she gave me the best advice. I made no secret when I hung out with him about my distain for his addiction, but unlike others I *acknowledged* that he had one (even when he didn't). I'd make sure to ask him what he was on each time we hung out ("I just want to be prepared if you're going to pass out on me (heroin) or run around like a flipping idiot (coke)"). I offered him the opportunity to talk to Kathleen. (He never did, but they finally met in person this summer). Finally, with the support of his family, he did get help. I'm very pleased that this person is now clean for almost 18 months.

    There's no way I could have had the strength to handle this if it weren't for Kathleen. No way.

    Something else I learned for Kat though is to not take someone's drug-free streak for granted. I make sure to ask him how "that" is doing each time we hang out and to tell him how proud I am of him. I can't imagine overcoming something like that (losing weight was hard enough!) -- it's really damn impressive to suppress a psychological and physiological dependency. For Kathleen to have done this for FOUR YEARS, she's like an ultra-marathoner.

    When Kat and I were 18, she decided to get an elaborate, multicolored tattoo. My fear of needles prevented me from desiring one, but I sat through the several hour ordeal with her, cracking jokes and holding her hand, because that's what best friends do. The process was painful, but the result was a beautiful work of art. When were were 26, and she was resolved to finally go to detox/rehab, I took her a final bottle of wine, a pint of ice cream, and watched TV while she went and shot up (something my fear of needles had always kept off the table), then I hugged her until I couldn't any longer, because that's what best friends do. The process was painful, but four years later, the result is a beautiful work of art, a living example of God's love, and my best friend, who still struggles, but whose warmth envelopes all who are privileged to know her.

    I love you Kat. Congratulations.

    Sunday, January 2, 2011

    rolling out the resolutions: finance and fitness

    New Year's Resolutions are not the "be all end all" for me, but I certainly do make them.

    This year, thanks to my love of Google Docs, I've created an accountability spreadsheet so I can keep better track of my personal progress. I don't beat myself up over failure, and allow myself plenty of re-dos. I have several categories as well, so maybe I'll suck at financial (as always), but rock at fitness/health.

    There are definitely two types of resolutions: Restrictions and Accomplishments. I include both. I try to shy away from restrictions as those certainly get you to resent the resolution sooner.

    While my resolutions are a work in progress (and my birthday is January 11, so I can add a whole new set then!) are the ones I feel comfortable sharing with the blogosphere in two of my categories. Please feel free to share your feedback!

    • No purchasing concert tickets to bands I've already seen, no matter how awesome they are. (If you'd like to give me a Decemeberists ticket I'll be in your debt forever).
    • No more than one paid fitness event per month.
    • Refrain from using credit cards, except on travel and technology.
    • Pay off one credit card this year.
    • Put 1/2 of what's left at end of pay period toward CCs.
    • Don't make any life-changing decisions without a way to finance them.
    • Run a 10k in under an hour
    • Have a #streak of some sort each month
    • Run two half marathons
    • Maintain current weight
    • Go to Yoga once per week
    • Swim once per week
    • Take one hike a month
    • Do a minimum of 10 pushups and 10 situps each day
    • For every glass of alcohol consumed, consume one glass of water
    What are your resolutions for finances and fitness?

    Saturday, January 1, 2011

    Hello 2011!

    Hard to stick to blogging resolutions when your roadrunner is out and you have to type on your iPhone. But I wanted to wish everyone a safe, healthy, and happy new year.

    The past 24 hours have been nothing short of bizarre. Our group experienced a very traumatic event last night, which is affecting each of us in different ways. (I will write more about that when I have a keyboard). My reaction to the event has been "carpe diem." I am opening myself up to new challenges and opportunities this year and eschewing sticking with the status quo. Essentially, if I fell off a balcony tomorrow---would I be regretting that I didn't spend more time with a friend because I had to go to a networking event? Would I be sad I didn't travel to meet up with family because I was blowing money on another music festival? Would I be kicking myself for not having a great adventure because I had to get up early?

    In 2010 I made huge leaps in "finding myself," now I need to focus on making sure I "find" the wonderful people who are already in my life and stay open to connecting with the incredible ones I've yet to meet.

    mcarnold's shared items