Tag: Andy (Page 2 of 8)

A birthday poem

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A conversation about this mountain I’m we’re on

This is going to sound cliché, but hear me out, because I think I’m putting a fresh spin on it.

(skeptical) Okay…

(takes a deep breath) Pursuing a career as a writer feels like climbing a mountain. Everyone says that, but it’s true.

When I was at the bottom, I pointed to the mountain and told people, “I’m going to climb that.” And of course, everyone was supportive — like, “Yeah, go for it! That’ll be awesome!” But probably a lot of them never thought I would really do it, or they didn’t fully realize what was involved.

(In fairness, I probably didn’t fully realize what was involved either.)

So then I started climbing, and people were like, “Oh shit, she wasn’t kidding.” They weren’t sure what to think, but they cheered anyway.

Now I’m like halfway up, and they’re still standing down there, wanting to support me, but they’re also looking up at me, then looking at the top of the mountain and thinking, “That’s a long way left to go. She’s never gonna make it.” They’re beginning to doubt, and I can’t blame them, because sometimes it feels that way to me too.

But of course, I’m not gonna stop, because I made it this far, and I know I can go the rest of the way, it’s just a matter of patience and perseverance.

(nodding) Sure, that all sounds about right.

Good. Because that’s significant to me. Realizing that it looks unlikely to some people, even ones who love me. But that doesn’t mean anything. I’m still climbing. And after I get to the top of this mountain, there will be another one, and another, and another. Because I’m a climber.

Uh huh.

But there’s more!

Oh. (confused) Okay…

See, there’s another part that of the metaphor that usually doesn’t get talked about.

You never signed up for this. And yet, you’re going up the mountain too. Because I’m pulling you with me, you know? You’re like on a sled that’s tied around my waist, so you’re stuck on the climb, but there’s nothing you can do to get us up any faster.* That’s gotta be so frustrating.

Yep. (happy to have his perspective included) It’s cold. It’s kind of boring. And I can’t feel my toes!

(laughing) Well, it’s no cakewalk for me either.

*Note: This applies to my parents too.

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Fixing my swing (Self-awareness part 2)

Regardless of Cesar Millan, the point of my previous post was that reflecting on Riley’s behavior has caused me to reflect on my own. I am becoming more aware of my body language, my attitude, my tone of voice. I still have a long way to go (as does Riley) but I think this heightened mindfulness can only be a good thing.

Case in point:

On Sunday, Andy arranged for us to play 9 holes of golf with a mutual friend. I prefer not to go out in hot, humid weather, but that day was borderline. (High of 85, mostly cloudy.) Andy encouraged me to chance it. I grumbled and warned him that he might regret it.

As soon as I said that, I thought, “Why am I being so negative? What does that accomplish?”

Andy called me out on it too, saying, “Yes, it might suck. But it also might not. Don’t let a defeatist attitude be the deciding factor.”

So I took a deep breath, relaxed my facial muscles, and told myself to be optimistic.

Despite a decent warmup at the driving range, my first couple holes weren’t great. My current goal is double bogey (par + 2 strokes) for every hole, but I was scoring double par (par x 2 strokes) instead. Normally that would frustrate me, and thus things would continue to get worse. This time, I took a deep breath, relaxed my shoulders, and told myself to shake it off. “What you just did has no impact on what you do next,” I reminded myself. “Each hole — each swing, even — is a blank slate.”

With that mindset, I was able to improve steadily over the next four holes.

At that point, we had been playing for 2 hours. All I had eaten was a granola bar and some Gatorade. My energy was waning, and as I stepped up to tee off at hole 7, I could tell my drive was going to be bad. When I took my practice swing, there was no strength in my arms. I had run out of juice.

Knowing that, I swung anyway.

It was my worst drive of the day, no question. The ball got no distance, no loft. It only went 2/3 of the way to the green, and this was a puny par 3. I immediately turned to Andy and our friend and whined, “I’m tired.”

Before Andy could even roll his eyes, I caught myself. I was acknowledging a reality, yes, but I was also offering it as an excuse. The former was fine; the latter was pointless.

Another deep breath. Another relaxation of my body. Another reminder: “Be optimistic. Each swing is a new opportunity.”

I salvaged hole 7, and I did fine on 8 and 9. Was it my best game ever? No. But did I manage to play okay and enjoy myself under less than ideal conditions? Yes.

Later, Andy compared it to being a baseball player. When a guy plays 160+ games a year, statistically he’s just not going to have his best stuff every time. A top-notch player knows that, but he doesn’t let it become an excuse. He doesn’t turn to his team and whine, “Sorry, guys, I’m tired. Don’t expect too much from me.” They’re depending on him. So he has to look within himself and ask, What can I accomplish anyway?

To do that, he has to be self-aware.

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Hipster Hills

This past weekend, we celebrated Andy’s birthday by finally doing something we’ve been talking about for years: renting a pet-friendly cabin and taking Riley on vacation with us.

This was our “Honeybee Hideaway,” complete with (fake) well and (real) hot tub.

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We spent several hours hiking in Hocking Hills, which was shaded and lovely.

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We also got to do a little shopping — mostly crafts and antiques — as well as some nature-watching.

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Truth be told, we had fun, but it wasn’t exactly a relaxing weekend. See, Riley is a high-energy, anxious pup to begin with, and then you put him in a car. Add in several hours of winding, bumpy country roads, and you have the perfect recipe for a panting, whiny mess. For his sanity (and ours) we probably will not be repeating this experiment, but it was worth doing once.

Note: The hipster look of these photos was brought to you by this set of Photoshop actions that mimic Instagram. A very neat find that I had way too much fun playing with last night…

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The controversial story behind my boyfriend’s book

New House 5: How A Dorm Becomes A HomeA couple weeks ago when I posted the new cover image for my Facebook page, several of you asked about Andy’s book, saying you had no idea he was a writer. Well, that’s because he isn’t one, according to him.

“Yeah, I wrote a book, but I’m not a writer.”

Paradox? Allow me to explain.

“Yeah, I wrote a book…”

I met Andy as a freshman in college. He was a sophomore, and the Resident Assistant for my floor. (Don’t worry, we didn’t date until a couple years later.) Andy was a great RA — in fact, he inspired me to become one myself. And lucky me, I got to take over the exact same floor that I had lived on and that he had been in charge of. A floor called NEW HOUSE 5.

Yes, that’s the name of his book, and it’s about my freshman year floor.

Now, this is where it gets messy. Because the “characters” in the story are based on real people. (Yes, I’m in it.) But that doesn’t mean that everything in the book is true. (Having lived through it myself, I can assure you it’s not.) Problem is, the lines between fiction and reality can be blurry, and there was enough truth to upset people. Andy lost some things as a result.

First, he lost friendships. There are a couple people who haven’t spoken to him since the book came out, and several more whose opinions of him and relationships with him were changed forever. I think that was the hardest part for Andy. He’d wanted to do something special — to honor the great experiences that he’d had as our RA, and to paint an accurate picture of college life for other students, RAs, and parents to enjoy — but not everyone appreciated how he went about it, or the secrets he divulged.

Second, he lost his job. Andy was supposed to be the Community Advisor for New House (an RA for the RAs — i.e., my boss) but when the book came out, Student Life panicked and fired him. They had gotten some complaints, I think, and were probably worried about confidentiality, lawsuits, and the like.

(This, of course, AFTER the school had put out multiple press releases celebrating his accomplishment.)

The tizzy didn’t end there. Most students were oblivious to the book, and remain so to this day, but that didn’t appease the administrators. Supposedly all the deans were required to read the book and vote on whether or not to expel Andy from the university. Outside of that debate, NEW HOUSE 5 became taboo. One secretary even confessed to Andy that she loved his book, but she’d had to read it in secret, hiding it inside a different cover so she wouldn’t get in trouble.

Now, all of this happened within the span of a few days, and the Dean of Student Affairs was traveling during that time. As soon as she returned and learned of his firing, she apologized to Andy and reinstated him as CA at a different dorm. I suspect that she realized what the years have proven to be true: that the book would not ruin anyone’s life, and that almost no one would recognize the characters in the book unless they already knew the real people.

(Furthermore, Andy had discussed the book with the floor ahead of time and had support to publish it. He also took some steps to protect people by changing names, mixing identifying traits/actions, and creating new characters. I think any legal battle would have been murky, although I’m glad it didn’t come to that.)

Hard to believe that was 7 years ago. Whatever splash the book made has long died down, but occasionally we still feel a ripple or two. Like at our friends’ wedding this past weekend, when the best man referenced the book in his speech. Can you say awkward?

(Funny, but awkward.)

The book’s contract expired in January, and rather than renew with the publisher (who was offering less attractive terms than before) Andy decided to make use of the new tools that have cropped up. With my help and Stephanie’s awesome design skills, NEW HOUSE 5 now has a great new cover and is available in digital form — as well as print — from all the usual places (Amazon, Barnes & Noble, etc.).

“…but I’m not a writer.

Andy’s goal was never fame or fortune. He didn’t want an agent. His book was not meant to be a work of literary genius, or the first in a long career.

Don’t get me wrong, he’s a very creative and talented guy. (Especially on guitar. And Draw Something.) But business and baseball are what he loves, not books.

Andy is more than content to leave the publishing scene to me. To which I say, “Thanks! I think…”

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