Always Check the Laundry Room for Ferrets

With every failed dating saga I feel like I'm closer to giving up and becoming "that crazy dog lady next door." Last weekend I did a professional photoshoot with my one true love. While three engagement photoshoots swirled around me, I was lost in a euphoric state staring at my dog like this:

As much as I'd like to think a dog-centered lifestyle could work, unfortunately I'm all too aware that much like my princess pup, I'm a little needy. I also lack situational awareness and can barely make it through a trip to the DMV without losing my sh*t. So I press on in search of someone who can save me from myself. It's a labor of love for, well, love. 

But man, it's rough out there. The singles of the world are not-so-delicately tiptoeing through a hot mess minefield riddled with creepazoids, mistaken identities and ferrets. Yes, ferrets.

So today I've set out to detail some words of advice for those of you wading through the madness with me. Let my dating screw ups and these vintage Becky memes remind you that you're not alone. And dating is hard.


Pizza Stone Toe Happens

Look at the life picture I've painted in 2017 and you'll see me falling in love, traveling across the globe and playing with lots of puppies. There were many bright spots, but I'd like to go on record along with the rest of America and say that overall this year was pretty much a little bitch. (Sorry mom.) Plus I've had to endure most of 2017 with only nine toenails. And if that isn't a metaphor for life, I don't know what is.

Social media me, sending chill vibes in 2017.
The real me, telling 2017 to lay off.
"You seem oddly... calm," my best friend, Suzie, says as she sits next to me less than two weeks after my latest breakup. As I prattle on and on about the man of the minute I found on some dating app, she remains skeptical. But obviously, I'M FINE. I mean, look at the evidence: I'm going on dates! Booking flights right and left! Taking up new hobbies! Unstoppable, I tell you!

A few days later, the simple task of reheating a piece of pizza confirms that I am not, in fact, fine. Apparently the sure-fire indicator I'm experiencing life trauma is to gauge my behavior in the kitchen. (cc: The Great Chocolate Chip Cookie Meltdown of 2013.)

"Place directly on oven rack OR ON PIZZA STONE." Danger ahead.
I cleverly decide to use a pizza stone for this task because A) I'm a new woman post-breakup who makes even dull tasks exciting, B) The reheating instructions told me to, and C) I had a pizza stone when I moved into my apartment two years ago and wonder if it still exists. Answer: it does! And in its original packaging no less! This becomes a problem when I lift the disintegrating box to about chest height and the pizza stone falls out the bottom, plummeting to the ground... by way of my toe.


Something > Nothing

A funny thing happens when you broadcast your life-altering decisions to the world: some people actually listen. One of the coolest things about the past year of my life (other than the fact that I can finally make happy hour) is that I've somehow become a source of wisdom/inspiration for a few people. I'm flattered and humbled, but also at a loss for what to say when people ask how they can shift their lives in a positive direction. It forces me to retrace my steps and ask myself: How DID I get here?

The simple answer is that it can't be defined by a single moment. Quitting my job may have seemed like a very assertive, final action that put everything on track, but in actuality it was one action that was flanked on either side by other actions -- some big, some small -- that were just as important as the birthday card/resignation letter saga.
The before... I pursued new relationships; I moved to a new part of town; I gave my boss an ultimatum that if things didn't change, I was going to find something new.
The after... I traveled to new parts of the country; I sat in my kitchen and applied to new jobs; I went to awkward networking events and met more new people.


Hello from the Other Side...

Well kids, I survived. For those of you who have more important things to do than track my employment status, I quit my job last fall with zero plans for next steps. I had lots of adjectives thrown at me during my three-month funemployment journey: brave, risky, exciting, irresponsible. It was all of those things, but more than anything... IT WAS WORTH IT.

Comin' atcha, life. 
My generation gets a bad rap for being lazy, self-entitled brats. Perhaps that's true of the well-coiffed hippie I saw selling "magical rocks" outside a bookstore in Portland, but in general I'd like to raise a hand on behalf of Millennials and say that we're dedicated, loyal, hard-working folks who just want to find our place in the world. We quite frankly don't have time to be wastes of space since we're expected to have three years of experience the day after graduation just to be eligible for an entry-level position. This means once we get a job, we're pretty serious about keeping it. I mean, we all own rescue dogs and they need to eat.

Yes, we are busy sending Biden/Obama memes to the group text, watching viral videos of pandas playing in the snow, drooling over Chrissy Tiegen's latest Snapchat recipe and stalking an ex's new flame on Instagram. But do you know the main reason some of us run into poles with our heads glued to screens? Because we're trying to figure out how email works in the latest iOS update, proofing the 29th revision of that document that just won't die and responding to our boss' 2am texts. I watch Mad Men today and despite the alcoholism, mental instability and sexism, find myself thinking: "Wow! Those were the days!" If Don Draper went to Hawaii, he was untouchable: no Internet, no email, no cell phones. Meanwhile, during my get-over-your-breakup-vacation I found myself pacing across a pool deck in Santorini trying to find a Wifi signal.

This is a problem that plagues all of working America. The difference for Millennials is that 24/7 accessibility is the only norm we've ever known. It hit me as I sat fielding emails in the ER with an IV shoved into my arm at 6am on a Wednesday: perhaps this isn't a good norm to accept. Perhaps it's time to try something different.

"Quitting" has a bad connotation in most circumstances. For a long time I thought quitting was the equivalent of failure. But ultimately I realized that sometimes quitting is the bravest and best thing you can do. I'm not right about everything, but I was right about that. The three months I spent in limbo were some of the most important moments of my life. Not because I did anything revolutionary, but because I re-discovered how to place value in the things that make me happy.


Breaking My Political Silence

Growing up, Election Day was like Christmas for my family. We'd gather around the TV with a blank map of the U.S. and color each state red or blue as the "politi-guys" (a term I still use as a grown adult) projected the winner of the Presidential election. The recount of 2000 -- oh man. Big times in our household.

Hanging chad, anyone?
But those were happier times. Times when I never would have dreamed up an election cycle like this one. I've watched the light go out that I once saw in my father's eyes at the prospect of selecting a new Commander in Chief. I've glazed over the politically charged posts and articles that have been cluttering every corner of the Internet with he said/she said. America is tired; so very tired.

I voted today, but with a different outlook than any other time I've fulfilled my civic right.


A Birthday Card and a Resignation Letter Walk into a CEO's Office...

Life is a series of decisions; hard decisions, easy decisions, good decisions, bad decisions. I have trouble deciding what toppings I want on my pizza, so making the big, life altering kinds of decisions is something I try to avoid. But sometimes, those decisions refuse to be ignored. Such was the case a few weeks ago when I turned my future into one big question mark.

It's 7:30am on a Wednesday in late August. I'm at my desk ready to dry heave, completely panicked, because... it's happening. I'm going to step down from my job without a clue what I'm going to do next. (Pause for "Are you crazy?!" mental shouting.)

Here's the deal. My job is amazing and so are the people that I work with. I've learned invaluable skills, traveled the country, and crafted messages for a massive brand. I've progressed further in my career than I could have ever dreamed in such a short amount of time, but that hasn't come without sacrifices. A lof of them. (And also some scars. Literally.) I know this big, scary decision will make me whole again, and I've been making excuses to put it off long enough.

Which brings us back to my mic drop moment.

I have a great amount of respect for my (now former) company's CEO, and I don't want to disappoint him. With my better judgment fogged by the weight of emotions I'm trying to wrangle, I walk into his office with what I deem to be a peace offering... in the form of a greeting card. My opening line:

"I have some good news and some bad news. The good news is, I have your birthday card. The bad news is, I also have my letter of resignation." 


I'm More of an Indoors Girl

"What do you do for a living?"

This is a simple, normal question that every adult hears on a regular basis. I just don't have a simple, normal answer. My usual avoidance strategy is to play the vague card: "I work in advertising," and hope we can leave it at that. But we rarely do.

"Oh really? What does that entail?"

This is where things get hairy. Although I work in advertising, my responsibilities can't be summed up in "I'm like Don Draper without the drinking problem." Three years ago, I started down a logical path as a copywriter, but I've been all over the place since then. Today, my title says "Associate Creative Director," but it doesn't say that I'm also producer, director, casting director, make-up artist, shrink, chef, hair stylist and den mother. These are all responsibilities that fall under my umbrella as the creative director of several online video series that my agency creates for ... wait for it ... the NRA. Yes, that NRA.

The up side here is that my work stories are far more entertaining than anything my accountant friends have to share, and I can bewitch 95 percent of men by dissecting the pros and cons of a Glock vs. a Sig Sauer.