Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Nice little Wednesday.

Woke up to this little DM today.


Tuesday, April 15, 2014

5 Ways To Tackle Tax Day Like a Motherf#^%er

Today I continued my long-standing tradition of filing my taxes on the last possible day. Hi-5, Adulthood! 

Three years ago, my procrastination even got me on the news - Jason DeRusha showed up to my barren Uptown apartment (I was preparing to move up north to a tiny cabin on the lake and had already sold off most of my possessions...more on that story at 5!), noticed that the fly to my skirt was down (I was wearing leggings underneath, thank god, proving once again that leggings are the answer to everything), and then asked me some questions about why I was so lazy and when was I going to take my role as a responsible tax-paying American citizen seriously for once, huh?! (just kidding. He didn't ask me those things. My dad did). 

It's not that I dread it. I don't. The past few years have made taxes more complicated (1099's and expenses from published books and a move from Wisconsin to Minnesota and back again did not make things simple), but I use Turbo Tax, which usually makes filing a no-brainer. This year was a bit more complicated in that I had to meet with an expert to help me navigate the rules of a charity project I produced this year, but I still waited to file. 

Why? Because I like making a day of it. I like feeling like April 14 is a special day on the calendar, reserved just for the act of doing taxes. I practically look forward to it. 

Here's how: 

1) Much like waiting to sleep with someone, the longer you wait, the more special it feels when you finally do it. 
Maaaaybe not. 
BUT: Reserving a special day just for taxes can make the task feel more special. Instead of trying to pack it into a day already filled with to-dos and obligatory tasks, I simply clear my calendar on April 14th and make sure it's the only thing I have to get done that day (I'm lucky in that I work from home and can do taxes whenever I want to. I don't know if I would feel the same if I had to do my taxes on the weekend). Then, when I done with them earlier than expected? I get the rest of the day for fun stuff. Double positive reinforcement. 

2) Keep everything you need for taxes in a designated, brightly-colored, ultra-pretty place
In past years, I started to realize that my least-favorite part of taxes was trying to gather everything - W2's, receipts of expenses, 1099s, donation receipts, etc. Half of it was still online and half of it was in a pile at the bottom of my desk drawer. Being someone who is as anti-clutter as I am, this didn't make sense. So I found a super pretty box and designated that as my keep-all for everything tax-related. Anything that might even be remotely needed during tax time goes into that box. This year I'm going to actually organize a system within that box to organize everything that goes into it when it goes into it. 

3) Make it easy on yourself, pal 
This is pretty much my defining factor for everything. I use Turbo Tax because it's freaking easy, and it's easier every next year that I use it. A lot of my freelance/art friends use Fox Tax in Minneapolis, and I've heard nothing but gushing appreciation for the way they make taxes both easy and cool. I've yet to use tax houses like H.R. Block, but I have friends who do and they each tell me they will never, ever go back to doing their own taxes again. Like most things, you have to make a decision: Do you want them done fast, cheap, or easy? Rarely are you going to get all three, so decide which two are the most important. Sometimes, with stuff like taxes, its's totally okay - and smart - to Treat Yo' Self to a service or person who actually likes taxes and will be happy to do them for you. 

4) Feng Shui the shit out of Tax Day 
I light a pretty scented green candle, clear my desk, put on some rad music, and think awesome thoughts about how awesome money is: It can produce more art! It can take you on trips around the world! It can change lives through charity! It can brighten your friend's day with awesome gifts! I also put myself in the mindset that doing taxes gives me a chance to review everything I've accomplished, money-wise and life-wise, in the past year. In 2013, I published two books, produced a calendar for charity, and started a lifestyle blog. I lived in Wisconsin for a full year. I got out of the copywriting business and started serving at a local brewpub, which made everything - work life, writing life, finance life - easier and much, much happier. 

At the risk of sounding super cheesy, Tax Day is like everything in that it's all about how you approach it. If you approach it as a soul-sucking, totally sucktown task, guess what - candy-filled rainbows and hot guys from Firefly aren't going to suddenly show up and prove you wrong. But if you're determined to make it at least a little fun, chances are, you'll surprise yourself with how easy that is. 

5) Make it a Holidaaaaaay! (Celebraaaate!)
What happens on holidays? You get good things, like candy, or a day off from work. That's why Tax Day is my special, personal holiday - I clear my calendar from other usual work stuff, and I give myself permission for something special during (professionally-made latte of my choice - within treatment guidelines, of course) and after (still undecided on what it will be for this year...probably this or this

And then fucking celebrate. You're done with your fucking taxes! Another year, in the books. You've done your job as a US citizen, and have contributed to our continued success as one of the best countries in the world. You're a responsible, hard-working adult who is a merit to our society, even it's only for the simple reason that you're not - according to the IRS, if not your mother-in-law - a common street bum. Be proud of yourself! Give yourself a pat on the back. You did it, my friend. 


(Even if it was at the last minute, we all did it) 

Monday, April 14, 2014

Messages from the street.

The gangs in this neighborhood are out of control.

- Erica of beenthinking: "Forever my favorite graffiti in LA. #runyoncanyon

My favorite piece of graffiti that I saw while in LA was “FUCK YOUR JUICE CLEANSE”, scrawled on a building near the Beverly Center. 
LA, you’re sneaking right into my heart. LIKE A VEGAN-HATING, JUICE-CLEANSE-ESCHEWING BANDIT!

Friday, April 11, 2014

A shot of vinegar, chased by some #realtalk. (The Candida Diaries, Week 11)

So it seems that the further I get in my candida overgrowth treatment, the more complicated life gets. 

Coming back from LA and getting back on the treatment front was tougher than I had anticipated. Around the end of January, I read this interview with Shaun White where he was talking about training or something and he noted that it was like going no-carb, being really good about being no-carb, and then you have a carb. The discipline gets weaker after that point, because you've subconsciously given yourself permission to not be so disciplined anymore. 

I seriously think about that parallel all the time

When I came back, I had every intention of hitting it hard again - going totally full-blown early stage of treatment to get my body back on track. But about two days after coming back, I embarked on a nanny/housesitting gig for a week. One of the things I'm learning is that it's so much easier for me to stick to my treatment when I'm in my own environment, when I have control over what's in front of me (and what's not). Taking care of a kid who only eats things like Totino's Pizza Rolls, macaroni and cheese, chicken nuggets, and Dairy Queen Blizzards? Straight up TORTURE. If I had been rocking my hardline treatment for weeks, I think I might've been able to stay strong and resist, but coming off of California and still trying to get the sugar and other shiz out of my system? Lots of Fails. 

Sometimes I wish that these Candida Diaries could be missives of inspiration...of, "This is so hard, but so worth it, and I'm here to tell you all about how I conquered daily struggles and YOU CAN TOO!" It is so hard, and it is worth it, but sometimes I don't do such a great job of conquering the daily struggles. And sometimes I'm tempted to gloss over stuff so you guys will think that I'm totally doing awesome with this thing, but the truth is? It's a fucking struggle every damn day. It's gotten easier, I will admit - instead of always wanting to break my treatment because I just want the things I could have before but now shouldn't have, my motivation is now wanting to get back to the clean lines because of the way it makes me feel. The battle, these days, is mostly with continuing to make good choices on weak days or when faced with upheavals to my routine and carefully organized environments. 

The hard part, ironically, is when the fails don't affect me in the way that I predict they will. Not getting physically sick after The California Indulgences is likely a sign that my body/gut has healed a bit since starting my treatment. Which is both awesome and not awesome, because I know my jerk self is going to try to use that against me when I'm tempted to have something I know I shouldn't. Also, I didn't gain a single pound while in California. When I got back, I decided to step on the scale just to get an idea of where I was at and the damage I had done, fully expecting that the number would be higher than when I left. Nope. And that stuff is great in a certain respect, but totally dangerous for my "I can do whatever I WANT!" sabotaging tendencies. 

But now that I'm home and will be home for another two weeks (I have a lot of travel planned in the next couple months, something I'm excited about but also slightly dreading in terms of my treatment), I'm committed to hitting my treatment with full force again. I miss the way it makes me feel, when I'm totally on the level and only filling my body with things that are great for it. I'm trying to not put emphasis on the fact that it's going to be summer soon and sticking to my treatment will help me get more in shape for it...because when I embark on that type of thinking I tend to get consumed by it and then I start to measure my progress by the way I look on the outside instead of how I feel on the inside, and that's bullshit for me right now. 

Coupl'a new things:

Based on the advice of a couple of different sources, I've started to do a shot of raw apple cider vinegar (I initially was advised to add a shot of it to a cup of hot water and drink it which was AWFUL, until my friend Stacy saved me by suggesting that I just down the shot and then chase it with water) every morning before breakfast. Candida and raw apple cider vinegar haaaaate each other - the vinegar is one thing that actually kills off candida yeast overgrowth, making it one of the best things you can add to your candida overgrowth treatment. I'm only doing this in the morning before breakfast, though...since the vinegar actually kills yeast overgrowth, it causes a die-off reaction, and too much die-off all at once can make you feel literally sick. 

This photo makes it look like taking apple cider vinegar is a lot prettier than it actually is.
Let me say this: I can already tell that the vinegar is making me feel better. My insides feel...cleaner, when I do it (probably because I'm ingesting FREAKING VINEGAR). However...if you don't have to take it, fucking don't. It is seriously an exercise in steely will and determination every morning to down that shot. It makes my eyes pop out in ways that whiskey never could, and I literally cannot get that water chaser down fast enough. 

I've also added vitamins and supplements. My whole adult life I've tried to add vitamins into my regular routine, but it's always been one more thing for me to remember, which means that I would maybe take those vitamins once a month. But since I'm now actively killing off overgrowth with the apple cider vinegar, I need that extra boost of vitamins C, D, calcium, and magnesium to help me still feel a'ight in the midst of die-off. There are more vitamins and supplements that I will be exploring in the future, but for now, I figured that it's best to keep the number of daily vitamins small so that I can actually be successful at taking them every day. 

The best part of Week 11? Thanks to my delight with Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf and their coconut almond milk usage, I started making my own homemade version. I combine coconut milk and almond milk (I like the unsweetened Silk brand for both) with a couple shots of decaf espresso and a bit of hot water, and BOOM. Perfectly dreamy way to start my morning.

 This morning's latte was so good I had to take a photo of it:

My latte joy is back, team!  

I am delighted. Also, I love this photo because it makes it look like the coffee cup is a part of my face. 

So that's the jam this week. Rocking the probiotics (always), shots of apple cider vinegar, a daily dose of vitamins, and rounding it out with a little candida-friendly latte joy. 

See you cats next week! 

Tuesday, April 08, 2014

Please Allow Me to Introduce My New Favorite Thing

what are you doing in Father’s office all the time?
[JO kicks her steel-toed boots onto the desk]
JO: writin smut
wanna read it
MEG: …yes

MEG: all right
we’re off to the play with Laurie
JO: don’t wait up
AMY: can I come too?
JO: don’t be ridiculous
AMY [whispering]: I’m going to burn what you love and marry your boyfriend
JO: what
AMY: have such a fun time
at the play

[MEG runs into the room]
MEG: I’m getting married!
BETH: Congratulations!
AMY: Congratulations!
[JO is idly poking at the ashes in the fireplace]
MEG: Jo, did you hear me? Mr. Brooke proposed to me and I accepted him!
[JO draws a dick in the ashes]
JO: I heard you

JO: has anyone seen my manuscript
MEG: no
BETH: no
AMY: no
saw a fire that looked an awful lot like your manuscript though

lw1[The girls are ice skating on the pond]
AMY: i’m tired
i’m tired and this sucks
winter sucks
take me home
[Amy falls through the ice]
JO: sorry
cant hear you
JO: let me know if you see my manuscript down there


A handful of years ago two of my favorite friends, Juan Antonio Del Rosario and Cristina Cordova, convinced me to get on a bike and ride for a part in a movie they was making. Deep down I knew that Juan Antonia was asking me to do this specifically because he knew how much I hated riding bikes in the city (it was like, a thing for me at the time. Back then I was known for my hatred of two things: The Hold Steady and city cyclists), but despite my feeble protests, I was totally, totally game. We were about a year out from wrapping up the cultish second season of Chasing Windmills (seriously, watching The Overture again is like strapping on the flux capacitor and going back to a simpler time when I still wore nail polish, smoked, and used terms like "Man Ban") and enough time had passed to make me nostalgic for the flurry of scripts and the rush to different locations and the "Annnnnd AGAIN!" x 1000 directing style of Juan Antonio. Being able to be a part of the film with my former Chasing Windmills kind of felt like the tying of a bow, you know?

It's been about five years since then, and the film The System finally premiered April 6th at the Mpls/St. Paul International Film Festival. I doubt that my part made it in (and even if it did, you wouldn't recognize me, anyway - I'm wearing a hoodie, sunglasses, and riding a bike), but I'm pretty damn excited about it. Just getting to be in the same creative company of all the fantastically funny, creative, whip-smart people who were a part of Chasing Windmills and The System made my Minneapolis life. It's pretty sweet to have a web video series - and now, a movie - that I can point to and remember it by.

Monday, April 07, 2014

Act of Writing

Sometimes I have to remember that writing is a process. I get wrapped up in the idea of being done, of being finished - or at least close to finished - with a book, and I lose sight of the fact that the whole fun of writing a book is the actually writing of it. Of savoring the process, delighting in every new favorite turn of phrase, of figuring out to how to set the scene exactly so. Of having fun with it. 

This book is a monumental one. If you count in all the stops and starts, I’ve literally been “working” on it for the past four years. It amasses ten years of material, and like with Holiday Chick, every single sentence feels crucial. Which is probably why I haven’t technically finished the first draft yet…it feels like that ten years worth of material is already a first draft, and, after spending the last 3 years editing the final stages of two books, it’s hard for me to go back to that infant stage in book writing where it’s necessary to give oneself permission to write crap as long as one is writing. I have to continually talk myself out of going back to the beginning to edit and fine-tune, especially right now, when I’ve spent the last three days stuck on how to begin Chapter 10. Outlines, I’m finding, are easy…it’s figuring out how to jump from one slick stone to the other that feels so difficult. 

But I have a goal, and it’s this: By the time spring finally comes to the hinterlands, I want to be immersed in the writing. I want to be back in that place where, no matter where I’m at or what I’m doing, I’m eager to get back in front of my laptop and craft more sentences, better scenes. I want to feel filled up, again, with words, with chapters, with creating. This book may take another three years until it’s finally, finally finished - and I may give up again and write a shorter, easier, more fun book before that even happens - but for now, I want to suspend my impatient desire to just get another book out there and instead concentrate - enjoy, revel in - the process. The actual act of writing again.

Saturday, April 05, 2014

The Candida Diaries: Week 8, 9, and 10

Week 8 went so much better.

Like, sooooooo much better.

Even with having to miss out on Pi Day:

And having to miss out on St. Patrick's Day (beer! I miss you. I hope you're doing okay? Take care, old friend)

It was just totally smooth. I think I finally hit that mark where, even when faced with the desire or temptation to cheat on my treatment, the desire to keep feeling good trumps it.

And when that desire is feeling weak, I've been hitting up the coconut oil like a motha:

The good feelings carried into the trip to LA on week 9. My wonderful hosts for the first part of the week, Erica and Chris, were so great about stocking their fridge with things I could eat, and Erica even modified dinners on Thursday and Friday so I didn't stray from my diet.

I was also super delighted to find that Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf now uses coconut almond milk! COCONUT ALMOND MILK IN PROFESSIONAL LATTES, YOU GUYS.

It was as if God had listened to what was in my heart, and answered it.

Please copy Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf, other coffee shops. Please. Soy milk is just as gross as regular milk, and I can't say that hemp is much better. But a combination of Coconut and Almond milk? It's sweet without a ton of added sugar, it's creamy without the lactose, and it foams beautifully.

The early part of week 10...didn't go as hot. I had a few non-treatment related cheats, like going to In & Out Burger with Erica after a long, late walk, a couple glasses of white wine at the dinner party Erica threw on Friday eve, and a beer or two with my little brother. Overall, I'm proud of myself for sticking to my treatment the majority of the time, and only slipping for special occasions. Luckily, those slips didn't make me feel like crap the way they have in the past, which either means that my body is healing or it means that I was just so happy being in LA that I didn't notice.

Coming home was actually much easier (in treatment terms...not in mood terms) than I had anticipated. After telling myself to just bite the bullet, I hopped on the scale when I got home and discovered that I hadn't gained any weight, not even with the In & Out Burger and other food-related splurges in LA. I was happy to get back to my old routine, though. The one thing about treatments of this caliber is that they are largely successful when you can stick to a routine, so I was happy to get back to it.

Next week: Vitamins and a thing called shot-gunning Apple Cider Vinegar.

Yep. Just as gross as it sounds, my friends.

Friday, April 04, 2014

Back To the Sun (Part 3)

So, first of all, I'm moving to the West Coast. 

"You look beautiful and glowing in all the pics you're posing on FB. Seriously!" Katy had texted on the fourth day of my trip. 

"Thanks!! Having the BEST time," I texted back. "I seriously don't want to come back."
"Don't. I'll pack up your stuff and mail it to you!" 

Grinning, I closed out of my text messages and slid my phone back into my pocket. 

I have no idea what kind of animal this is, but it seemed like it was cuddly enough.
It had happened on the third day. I woke up to a chilly, cloudy morning in LA. Nose cold, bundled up in blankets on the air mattress in Erica and Chris' guest room, I felt happier than I had in a long time. I'm living out here, things are falling into place, and I'm happy. The thought came swimming up to the surface. I had been unsure, the first couple days I had been here. But that was a glimpse. By now you guys know me enough to know that these things just happen to me from time to time, and even when I've fought it in the past, it's never been wrong. This one, though, was welcome. It reminded me of all the other times when I've been afraid to make a leap, to go after what I wanted...I felt like I needed to have everything planned out first, perfectly settled and secure. I hate the phrase "Have faith" (it sounds so...passive. Kind of like how destiny is for losers..."Just a stupid excuse to wait for things to happen instead of making them happen." Blair Waldorf lays down the truth)...but. Sometimes, it's true that this girl's gotta get some. 

That feeling, that sense that I was moving in the right direction, carried out throughout the rest of the day. Erica and I met up with my baby brother Dan, and we just simply had the best day ever. 

Please enjoy this heartwarming scene of a mother elephant trapped in a tar pit while her baby and mate look on helplessly!
While hanging out with the two of them, I told them about how the first straw had come a few weeks before. Walking the three blocks from my place to the brewpub, I suddenly realized that I was done. I feel like I've been pretty damn patient these past few winters...I don't complain about the cold, I don't complain about the snow. But this last brutal winter beat it out of me, and I am fucking DONE. I've endured northern winters for the majority of my 35 years, and you know what I've learned from that? FUCK the four seasons. Why do I put myself through this? For what? Probably the most frustrating and futile thing we do in life is spending time and energy being mad at the weather. The only control we have over it is to choose a climate whose main type of weather we prefer over all others. And you know how people in Arizona live in November? In a state of TOTAL AND COMPLETE TEMPERATE COMFORT. It's like a totally different world, where people actually enjoy months like November, January, and March, instead of scowling and burrowing deeper under their pile of blankets. And so I'm over it. I'm taking those months back. I've got maybe one more winter left in me, and then I'm never going to miss snow again. 

Going to LA... it was kind of a test. By going there for a week, I wanted to cement whether I really wanted to move, or if I was merely tired of the cold and missing Erica and Daniel. Maybe I just needed a break? Maybe a week away would have me returning refreshed and excited for life in the Northwoods again. Did I really want to pack up my life and move, start all over again? This past year and a half, I had been working on building a life for myself in the Northwoods. I love the place I live in, I love the things I'm doing - The Dapper Dozen, Girl from the Northwoods, Tipsy Trivia - and I love the friends I've made. 

Yet the more time I spent away from the Northwoods, the more I began to see that those things are just not enough to keep me there. And it struck me how already crabby I was, at the thought of going home. 

"Yeah, Mom told me that she thinks that once your lease is up, you'll be out of there," my brother Daniel shared at dinner with Erica and Chris the next night, as we sat and talked about future plans. I nodded. Earlier that day, Erica, Chris, and I had hiked up the trail by the Griffith Observatory. 

Observe, at the Observatory!
Really love these two. 
Initially overwhelmed by the mass of people congregating at the Observatory on a Saturday afternoon, I tried to think about what I would want to gain from living here, if I did. Erica, Chris, and I hiked further up the winding trail of the park, and I realized that I missed being in the center of things. I miss that feeling of being in a place where anything could happen. I don't like knocking my past or present experiences to support my desire for a future one, works into that whole midlife crisis thing I talked about in Part 2. It's complicated. I still love the Northwoods, I'm grateful for the home it has become, and I love the things I'm doing here, but having that newfound sense of time being of the essence...I'm done fucking around. 

This is the face of total elation that comes from a water girl being right next to the sea.
For so long, my dream has been to be closer to the sea, to the mountains. The idea of living in Washington has taken on an almost mythical quality ("Then I shalt!"). It's the place that first comes to mind when I think of what I need to do and see to round out this life with grace. I don't have many regrets in my life. Maybe a few. One of them is this: If I could strap on my flux capacitor, I would shoot myself back to when I was 21 and tell myself to just fucking do it - move to Washington or Vancouver like I wanted to, that waitressing is the easiest job in the world and I could figure it all out when I got there. It's probably why I was a such a fan of Daniel following his dream of going into film by moving to LA after he graduated from college. "You can always move back," I remember telling him. Maybe it's time I took my own advice, yeah? 

I probably won't move to LA, though. I might. I don't know yet. I'm exploring ideas right now - the idea of living and working at the crossroads of writing and comedy and movie making is pretty freaking exciting - so if the right opportunity comes along, if it feels like the place I need to be...then yeah. I totally will. Most likely, though, I'll settle somewhere further up the coast. I'm planning an extended road trip next spring, where I'll explore Vancouver, Washington, Oregon, and California to see where it is that I might most want to live. 

Wherever I end up, I do know that I want it to only be a day trip or a short flight away from these guys:

And I'm not going right away. I've got a lease agreement until November 2015, and I like to keep my agreements. And there are still some things I want to accomplish in the meantime - we've got another Dapper Dozen calendar coming out, and I haven't done half of the things I've been dreaming about for Girl from the Northwoods. I fully plan on completely enjoying my time here, while I have it. 

(Even thought I was admittedly suuuuuper crabby about going back to Wisconsin...)

Yet instead of feeling like my life is wasting away here, the way I felt when I live in the Northwoods years ago, I feel like every day is simply bringing me closer to where I am meant to be. And it's been pretty rad, to have that to look forward it. It actually makes me enjoy being here more. Happy to take it all in, before I say goodbye. 

Dan's pretty excited about all of this, too. 

Seriously, that face. 

Thursday, April 03, 2014

Let's just start a thing where I post a video once a week and just write all my inner dialogue about it on here.

I can't even handle this video today. Like, I think I had to be 35 and see it afresh for me to appreciate just how artsy and dryly funny and perfectly staged and totally weird it is.

I would like to say that my favorite thing about it is all the close-ups on Levar Burton's facial expressions (ACTING! He is an ACT-TOR!) but my really favorite thing is the dancing. All of the dancing! You should try to dance with Cameo when he dances, because obviously a guy in a red jock cup - which distracts from EVERYTHING, by the way - knows how to break down the moves that bring all the boys and girls (and super kool DJ's) to the park just so they can hear him say that he don't need no romance, no romance, no romance for him, ma(ma). Also, I want to believe that if I'd been an adult during these times (instead of a dorky and highly impressionable 3rd grader) I'd have a super cool geometric haircut like the lady Cameo disses and dismisses in the park, but I think we all know that I wouldn't have had the guts for it. That's the kind of haircut that follows you for the rest of your life, friends. That lady went on to be a judge, I bet, or maybe a super successful internet marketer, and everyone who knew her back then probably still passes around a photo of her from that video at least once a year to all her coworkers and new family members and just-friended friends on Facebook. And she's probably like, "No, guuuuyyyssss! That was the styyyle back then! It was coooool! I was in a ROCK VIDEO because of it!" and everyone else is like, "OMG LOOK AT YOUR WEIRO HAIR THAT EVEN CAMEO DIDN'T WANT THAT NEAR HIS RED PLASTIC JOCK CUP, LADY."

Also, that crop top/sports jacket ensemble on that one Bobbie Brown lookalike.

The 80s, you guys.


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