Wednesday, September 23, 2015

...I'm Still Here...

I think it's been well over a year since I have updated this thing! Yeesh!

It seems that the only time I really feel like keeping up or even mentioning anything in my blog anymore is when something is bugging me. I should probably re-name this whole thing "Flike Complains" because more often than not, that's what it seems like I am doing. But in all fairness, don't most people use social media to complain? (I know...I'm pulling at strings here).

I'll start off this entry with a touch of good news - that simply being that I have been working non-stop, which is great, especially in the film Industry, especially in Pittsburgh. I worked on five films last year and a docu-reality show. (I guess you could technically say that I worked on seven films, seeing as how the reality show was only one aspect of the whole project). This year started with a bang as I wrapped out on one film, only to begin work on two television series. I'm pretty lucky.

Because I went a full year NOT working (about two years ago), I must say that I'm pretty proud to be attached to multiple projects. Projects that were a real joy to work on (some more than others). So now it's time to shamelessly mention what I've had a very small hand in the past year or so.

I was lucky to be an Intern Coordinator and Associate Producer for the Starz program The Chair. Although it was incredibly stressful, it was a learning experience. Yeah. A learning experience...It aired last year on Starz and, cover your eyes if you missed it, Shane Dawson won. The concept was simple, and when I met with Chris Moore who asked me to be a part of the project, I couldn't help but be intrigued. My part on the entirety of the series was so small in comparison to those displayed on camera, and those who are still promoting and guiding the still hopeful return of the show. During the making of the two films and the doc-series, I was never out of my car. Save for my many late nights scheduling and stressing. I can't lie. I didn't watch the show, but I did watch the films. I think they both exhibited some of the many talented actors in this beautiful city of Pittsburgh. If you'd like to check out the final films, look no further than Netflix. Not Cool and Hollidaysburg can be streamed there.

Immediately following The Chair, I went back to the Casting office. I've been working at my old stomping grounds ever since. It's been nice to have a "home" office, a reliable work schedule and time with one of my favorite bosses. It's also been great sliding from one project to the next. After working for Starz, I started on a Will Smith film that was set to start production late spring. The story was a bit convoluted but really interesting and I couldn't wait to see the final product, however, the studio pulled out and alas, the film is still in that awkward "I need funders" phase. This was OK as a Jake Gyllenhaal film fell on our laps and had us working for months. 

Southpaw, which was released this summer, took every ounce of my focus. The film, which went through re-writes like teens go through pumpkin spice lattes, required so much attention. Donna and I spent many nights tirelessly reading emails, scouting real boxers, scheduling and rescheduling auditions/callbacks...the work was hard. Usually casting lasts about a month on a film. Maybe a month and a half if the character list is large. For Southpaw, Donna and I worked four. We worked through nearly all phases of the film. It wasn't until the very last day of principle photography that we wrapped up. Luckily we were able to cast some of our favorite actors and watch them light up the screen at the premier. There's nothing quite like watching a film with people you know and love making the story come to life. It's a blessing to watch these actors perform. You can purchase the film on DVD and BluRay on October 16th. 


On the heels of Southpaw, Donna was contacted about a dark action film coming to Pittsburgh. I was beyond excited to hear that she was hired as the Casting Director. The film, which had us working in tandem with Southpaw, centered it's story around a witch hunter. We heard rumors of the film a year before, but due to the unexpected death of Hollywood heavy hitter, Paul Walker, the films star was involved in a film on Hiatus (F&F 7). Once the dust settled and F&F wrapped, Vin was able to start production on The Last Witch Hunter. The movie had us pulling our hair out at times, with difficult characters to find and a multitude of creative hills to climb, however, we happily completed the movie with pride as many of our favorite actors were chosen to bring the dark characters to life. You can catch the film on October 23rd, when it is released. 

As things slowed down with Witch Hunter, Donna was approached about a film that hit close to home. Concussion tells the story of Dr. Bennet Omalu. A forensic pathologist who inadvertently discovered the brain disorder CTE while performing an autopsy on former NFL Steeler and star center, Mike Webster. Peter Landesman, who directed the film, shared with us his overall vision for the final product and Donna and I had chills. The film, which is based on facts surrounding the discovering of CTE, is a force that the NFL is most likely not ready to handle. If you go to the theater to see any movie this year (aside from Star Wars, because I KNOW people are dying to see it), check out Concussion. You will be utterly shocked at the power the NFL has and disgusted by the organization's pathetic attempts to cover up a condition that is factually lethal. The film, which stars Will Smith, also features the incredible talents of our local community of actors. I know I speak for Donna when I say that the film was an absolute joy to work on. The power of this film resonates with me, and I am most proud to have my small name attached to such a wonderful movie. You can see this film on December 25th (Christmas Day), when it is released. 

Just as we thought we would have some time off to enjoy the upcoming Pittsburgh winter (yes, I said ENJOY - at least I love the winters here), another film came knocking on Donna's door. This time, a quirky holiday film with a lovable cast. Love, The Coopers, a film about a modern family coming together one last time for the Christmas holiday, was set to shoot before Christmas and go into the following year. Donna, the incredibly talented woman she is, had to say yes. We started working on it immediately and were simply floored when the final "Hollywood" cast was presented. Diane Keaton, John Goodman, Marisa Tomei, Alan Arkin, Amanda Seyfried, the list continues. We couldn't wait to get started. Upon first meeting director Jessie Nelson (who was simply a blast to work with), we knew we were in for a delight. Although the casting seemed to last forever (mostly because we worked over two major holidays), we had a blast finding comedic talents to pull of the hilariously scripted characters. The movie highlights the reality of todays "family" system. It deals with divorce, crumbling family structures, sibling rivalries and the exhausting and somewhat comical journey to find love. It's a simple film with a large cast. Check it out this holiday. It's set to come out on November 13th. 

Love, The Coopers brought Donna and I to work well into 2015, so of course, as it wrapped up, we expected to have a few weeks off (yay!), however, two television shows found their way to Pittsburgh, and who of course would both productions reach out to, but Donna. Being a hard worker is her strongest trait, so of course, Donna said yes to both shows. She frantically called me on a snowy February evening and said "Just tell me we can handle both of them. Say we can manage them. I had to say yes." I laughed. OF COURSE we could handle both shows. We'd taken on way more than that before, and with Donna's 25+ years of experience and my young and hungry work ethic, I KNEW we could do it. So, we got started. 

Cinemax was prepping their well known, small town vibe show, Banshee. Going in to season 4, Donna and I felt lucky that she was approached to be a part of their fourth and what would turn out to be (surprising to us) final season. This show pushed us to extremes. We cast characters that we never thought we'd ever have the opportunity of casting. All the while working with incredibly talented show runners and writers. We both felt blessed to be a part of such a crazy ride and I have to say that we really look at this season as a trophy in our minds. We hit a lot of challenges and overcame many of them. We are proud of the actors we cast in this last run and can't wait to watch them light up the TV screen. The show really pushes boundaries and is full of violence and sex. If that deters you in any way, then let me say this - the creators of this show and the crew that has worked so tirelessly for four years making this happen are some of the nicest, most respectful people we have ever worked with. If we weren't being invited to a charity event, we were being reminded of ways to donate our time and money to others. These hard workers really found time to give back, and that speaks volumes in this industry. 

If you are a fan of the hit show, you are in for a real treat with this final season! It will air sometime in 2016. Here is a great article written by the show's co-creator and producer, Jonathan Tropper:

The other show we were given the opportunity to work on, and are just now wrapping up on, is the not yet aired, new drama, Outsiders. Outsiders, which was green lit for a pilot season will air on WGN in 2016. The show is unlike any other drama on TV now and has been an utter joy to work on. We have worked with 7 incredibly talented directors, all of which have resumes so impressive it seems like a dream that they shared their time with Donna and I. The show has allowed us to have a real voice when it comes to casting, as a majority of the roles came from our office. We have met so many talented actors while working on this piece, that we continue to keep our fingers crossed it will return for a season 2. If you are someone who enjoys a little mystery mixed with revenge and old world charm, you should check this show out. The writers and producers and show runners are some incredibly talented people who continue to spread their talents each and every day! Here is a little teaser:

So there you have it. The past year in a nutshell. Maybe now Donna and I will have a few weeks off - who knows! Either way, I'm proud and LUCKY  to have worked on so many exciting films/series and I can't wait to see what comes next! 

Saturday, March 1, 2014

It's Just a Fact...

I am a child of divorce. Sadly I am not a minority. The majority, or so it seems today, are those just like me; products of divorced parents. This is heartbreaking for many reasons, the most obvious being that there is always this great separation, dividing parents and siblings. There is this constant struggle to pick a side or not pick a side. To understand why your parents aren't happy together and to know, often times in great detail, why they aren't together. It is a lot of pressure on us kids. It makes us feel like we have to go against our natural instincts of loving our parents, and in turn, side with one over the other. 

It's not necessarily an issue in all cases of divorce, and to be honest, it eventually subsides the older you get. This is because you evolve, and grow into a functioning adult yourself where you can realistically evaluate the truth about relationships. You begin to understand that sometimes people just don't fit with each other, that sometimes people simply fall out of love, and that sometimes the changes people make in their lives don't always match with their partners. You get to a point of clarity where you can maybe see why your own parents didn't really work out, and you can see how one thing or another affected one or both of them. I guess it's just that simple saying "Everyone grows up," that sums it up. Over time, every child of divorce can maturely and objectively view their own situations and come to some sort of conclusion. It's an overwhelming experience. At least, for me, it was. 

On Wednesday I lost someone extremely important to me. My Pap Pap. Pap Pap was my mom's dad, my biological grandfather, and my best friend and biggest supporter. He was a constant light in my life. A mentor through the tough times, a laugh through the good ones. He cried when he saw me in my first prom dress, and also when he walked my sister down the aisle at her wedding. He was in the front row at every chorus concert, band concert, awards day, football game, musical, play, graduation, etc. You name it, he was there. Pap Pap was never quick to judge and always gave people the benefit of the doubt. He spent time volunteering at the hospital when my sister did. They would leave each other notes on the bulletin board in the office. He watched movies I worked on, asked questions about my duties, and listened when I talked for hours about filmmaking. He painted my bedroom bright yellow and came over every morning at ten to seven to pick my sister and I up for school. "As long as I can drive, you two will never walk to school," he would say. 

Pap Pap was the guy you wanted in your corner. He was funny, caring, outgoing, friendly and sincere. He genuinely loved conversation and loved listening to others. He could make you forget about your problems simply by telling a joke, and he always managed to draw a tear with his heartfelt letters that came through the mail, or hidden in coat pockets, or placed obviously on a gift, a chair, a mirror or anywhere else you may be looking. He made it a goal to tell you he loved you every second he could. Not a visit went by without him saying "I love ya like a pig loves slop!" followed with "I mean it."

Pap Pap always said that. "I mean it"

The thing is, he never had to. I knew he meant it. I always knew he meant it. Not because he would always tell me he loved me, but because he always showed me. And I don't mean that he spent lots of money on my sister and I, but that he spent a lot of time with us. He invested his days, months, and years taking care of us, talking to us, interacting with us, teaching us, and just generally being there for us. 

We knew he loved us because his actions shouted it. His many letters, words, and gifts were wonderful, but it was in all of the quiet moments where his real love shined through. In his hugs and kisses on the forehead. In his late night visits to the ER when my sis and I managed to get hurt or really sick. It was in the rides to school and the trips to visit perspective universities. In all the hours he babysat along with grandma while mom was going back to school. In the winter mornings when he would shovel our walks and carry our recycling to the curb. His love was in every thing he did for us. 

I remember working on a play at Wash High. It was a simple story, and we put it on in the basement, on a very small stage, with a very small auditorium. When mom and grandma came, Pap Pap wasn't feeling well. He decided to stay home. My sister and I were working behind the scenes. We really didn't have large roles in the making of the production, but we managed to talk about it nearly every day after school at grandma and Pap Paps. When mom and grandma came on the first night, my sis and I felt really good. It was nice to have family in the audience. On the second night, as I was clearing props from the stage in-between acts, I saw Pap Pap. He was alone. He never told us he was coming. When the show was over, he was beaming. He said it was wonderful and that he was very very proud of us. He didn't even care that he was alone. He didn't even care that we weren't in the play. He didn't even care how dumb the story was (which believe me, it was pretty dramatic). All he cared about was making my sister and I feel good about ourselves. And he did. He really did. 

Love is a simple thing, really. It is something that radiates in moments that aren't necessarily magical. It's something that takes the mundane and somehow manages to make it spectacular. Although growing up has changed my views on a lot of things, such as politics, bills, work, family, etc. it has not changed my views on love. When you love someone, you show them. When you love someone, truly love someone, you do anything and everything in your power to show them. Even if that means you make sacrifices along the way. 

Pap Pap was my dad. Not biologically of course, but in every other way. He was there for me in ways that my real dad never was or ever will be. It may be a hard pill to swallow, but it is, and always will be, the truth of the situation. That's not a bad thing. It's just how the cards fell. 

Like I said above; I am a child of divorce. At a young age I knew and understood what "single" parents meant. I knew what child support was, and what our financial situation was. I knew the concept of dating before I could spell it. I witnessed an upset mom and an upset dad. I saw a big family structure and a small family structure. I learned that the "he said, she said" game continues into your thirties, forties and fifties. Sadly, in all of this, what I learned the most was simply that the child of a divorce never really wins. They are forever in quicksand. If you sympathize with one parent, the other thinks you've been brainwashed. If you try to see the perspectives of the other parent, then the other one thinks you're being unreasonable. Suddenly, a failing relationship becomes the main worry of the child and sooner than later the kid is expected to pick a side, any side. To play as a tiny pawn in a chess game that continues forever. 

The truth is though, eventually the child becomes an adult and suddenly things aren't so fuzzy. Suddenly things start to become clear, and in the clarity is understanding. It's not a result of time spent with this parent or that one. It's the result of turning into a grown up, and taking things at face value for what they really are. It's a factual realization. 

What's mine? 

Well, to put it simply, my mom and dad were a bad match. They never would have made it. No therapy could have gotten them through things. They were mismatched puzzle pieces, trying to make it work and it didn't. It takes two people to end a relationship. And no one is ever flawless or perfect. Not my mom. Not my dad. It's not a sad conclusion to come to, just a realistic one. I'm not upset that my parents didn't work out. I never was. 

The hard part of this realization is that no matter what conclusion I come to, in my right to come to one, I will always know that the love of one parent far surpassed that of the other. Because, as I mentioned with my stories of Pap Pap, love is displayed not in the birthday cards through the mail, but through the hours and time put in and given to those who are loved. Sadly, when it comes to divorce, both parents have to suddenly put forth a much greater effort than when they were married. And although it's hard on the mom and dad to "make it work" those who it is most difficult on are the kids. It's easy to say that one parent is to blame for this or that, but as I said before, eventually the child grows up and neither parent can blame the other for lack of a relationship. 

My dad moved to another state. The great sacrifice of staying in a town where he'd have to live with his mother and struggle to find a job but getting to see his kids, versus moving to keep his job was never made. Dad chose his job. It's easy of course to say that it was a practical move, but again, love isn't in dollar signs. It's in time spent with those you care for. Maybe my mom went on welfare, but she was around, and that made the difference. I'd have taken a poor dad, with no money for toys or trips, over a rich one. Because in my life I've learned that riches don't come from money, but from the love and support of friends and family. After all, when we leave this world, we won't be judged on our bank accounts. 

It is a fact that my dad wasn't around as much as my mom. The "he said, she said" game tells me that my mom kept my dad from me. If I believe that then I am picking one parent over the other, and it goes the same if I don't believe it. Well, to put it simply, I don't give a damn who is "right." At the end of the day one parent wasn't around. And over the years, as time went by and my sister and I turned into women, that parent still wasn't around. And in all of this, my sister and I get treated like it is 100% our fault. Like we blacklisted our dad because we were brainwashed by our mom. How does that make any sense? We are women of intelligence, compassion and sympathy. We simply gave up, because you get to a certain point in your life when you realize that the days, months, and years missed add up to a lifetime of awkwardness and a mis-connection so strong that you actually feel uncomfortable around your own flesh and blood. And yet, through all of the years, of growing up asking ourselves what was so wrong with us that our own dad didn't care, we still, somehow, get treated like the lack of a relationship is everyone else's fault but his. 

It takes two people to have a baby. A man and a woman. My mom and dad made my sister and I. They decided as a married couple to have children. Neither my sister or I were present for this decision. We didn't ask for it. Yet we somehow feel responsible. How is that at all fair???

I shouldn't have to reach out to my dad. He should reach out to me. And I shouldn't have to fill him in on years worth of back story. A dad is someone who makes themselves present in your life without you having to ask. Someone who spends their time with you. Someone who actively participates in your life. Knows your friends. Knows your hobbies. Knows your favorite TV Show. A dad is someone who brags about your achievements, and cries as you turn into the beautiful person you will be for the rest of your life. I have none of these moments with my dad. I have some happy memories of outings to movies and to the local hot dog shop. A small handful of times where things weren't that awkward. It's sad, but you know what?

It's not my fault. 

It's not my sisters fault. 

It's not my moms fault. 

When you love someone, you find a way to show them. You write them letters. You move close to them. You call daily. You have inside jokes and vacations together. You ask them questions and involve yourself in their daily activities. When you love someone, no one, not one single person, keeps you away. When you love someone, you are present, you are there, you are unwavering.

When you love someone your needs and wants suddenly fall to the wayside. You want so badly for those you care about to succeed and to be happy, so you suddenly put your own feelings aside to help them shine. Being with my fiance, whom I've been with for over four years now, I can say without a doubt that I would sacrifice my wants for him. If losing all of my belongings, my flat screen TV, my DVD's, my clothes and trinkets, my toys and cosmetics meant that John could afford to make a movie, to fund and create his masterpiece, I would sell it all tomorrow. It may sound silly, and totally unrealistic, but I would do anything for him. Not because I want glory or praise, but because I love John and his happiness means more to me than any junk out there. It means more than mine. And if I only have the shirt on my back, and the love from his heart, I would consider myself the richest girl in the world. 

This willingness to sacrifice was a lesson taught to me by my mom and grandparents. I watched and still watch, daily the sacrifices that they made and make. My car, which gets me to and from work every single day is my mom's only vehicle. She selflessly gave it to me to drive, while my grandma and her share my grandma's car. Selfless. My Pap Pap, who was asked to try out and play for the Steelers, turned the opportunity down because it meant that he could be fired from his job, and he had an obligation to his family. A dream of his since he was a kid, and he turned it down for the ones he loved. My mom never dated after my parents split. She knew it would be hard on my sister and I, and although she was only 27, she kept a promise that it would only be the three of us. Sacrifice. 

Being a parent means sacrificing for your kids. It means being there through thick and thin and taking care of your loved ones. It means upholding the promise you made to those kids when you decided to conceive them. The promise of security and love and dependability. It doesn't mean saying "I love you" or telling people that you "love" your children. It means showing it, and quite frankly, my dad just never did that. 

The last ten years have not been easy. Dana (my sister) and I have been emotionally ripped to shreds. As we watched the man who stepped in and stepped up slowly wither, we had to deal with the constant unsettling relationship with our biological dad. He has called us immature, ignorant, selfish, and a barrage of many other things not entirely suitable for this post. When my sister decided to try and mend things, to try and have a somewhat decent relationship (an action I neither hated or loved), she was greeted with loving and open arms. For a brief time we attempted to mend things. A few Facebook updates here and there. Maybe a random visit once a year. However, as it always happens, a wrench gets thrown into the situation and we are again reminded that a "normal" relationship will never, ever, be possible.

So, out of pure and total disappointment due to recent events, I say this to my father:

The bottom line from me is this: I stopped truly caring a long time ago. Where you were absent, Pap Pap shined. He was and will always be, in my heart, my real dad. He was there. He was involved. He cared and maintained a relationship. No matter how sad this sounds, or even cruel, it is a true fact. You can not deny that. No one can deny that. Anyone can be a father, but it takes a real man to be a dad. 

It will always be the truth. It will never change. Nearly 30 years have passed, and you still don't even know the basics about Dana and I. You never cared to learn them. And whether or not you told the world how much you loved us or how much you "cared" you simply forgot to show the most important people: Dana and I. 

I wrote this because I am and will forever be a momma's girl. I suppose I do "side" with her in the end. After all, I am pretty much exactly like her, and I'm sure this is why you and I have never really had a relationship, even when we attempted to have one. I remind you too much of her maybe. I don't know. I don't really care. It's not really important. What is important to me is Dana. 

When I read the message that you sent her, basically saying that she only sees you as "DNA" and that she should watch what she says online and that she isn't very "mature" I can't help but be so immensely disgusted that I just want to share your mean words with the entire world so everyone can read how insensitive you are. You may not realize that she is a real person, but she is. You have truly scarred her enough for one lifetime and I am utterly tired of your escapades at doing so. She remembers you and mom being together, and maybe you are really just that stupid, but to her, she will always feel abandoned by you. Once again though, you only see this from your own selfish perspective and refuse to admit that as a father, you should be protecting your kids, not putting them in therapy. 

If you are that offended by Dana and I calling Pap Pap our dad, then perhaps you should have been a better one. And you could always start by not attacking her during such a difficult time. Regardless of how you felt about Pap Pap or us calling him dad, now is not the time to play the martyr. YOU are the only one to blame for your situation. No one else. And if you still honestly think that you have no responsibility in the lack of a loving relationship with your daughters, than you are a fool. Three failed marriages, and three daughters you know absolutely nothing about, and yet you still put blame on everyone but yourself. 

If you want to call someone immature, rude or out of line, fire those comments right here, at me. You and mom were over before I even knew where my hands were. Your lack of a presence in my life was always a blessing in my eyes, but you leave Dana alone. She is the most caring, intelligent and kind-hearted person I know, and she certainly doesn't need to feel bad for mourning over the loss of our real dad, a man you only wish you could be like. I've never seen such a cowardice move before. Taking a tragedy and using it for your own self pity. How dare you. How dare you. Disgusting. 

And just so you know, never ever come between me and my sisters. You can say anything you want to me. You can phone me and call me every terrible name in the book, but don't you dare do that to Dana or Leigh Ann. Just because you are embarrassed and ashamed of yourself, that doesn't mean you have the right to hurt Dana. For once, just once, be a real man and face the reality you have been running from for the past thirty years. You are a mess, and you need to get help. For the love of God, you took a very serious time for us and turned it into a sympathy party for yourself. How can you call yourself a dad? What dad does that to their kids. 



Wednesday, November 20, 2013

10 Things You Are Doing RIGHT

So, it has been some time since I have updated. Due, in part, to my freelance lifestyle and the fact that I just got engaged. Originally I had planned on posting all about the proposal and the wonderfulness that is my fiance, but John has yet to post the video he made for the event, so I've decided to just wait on that. Instead, I am going to talk about something that has really been getting to me. I realize that it is easy to blog about annoyances and I apologize for doing so, but I just needed to get this one off my chest. I think it's fairly comprehensive, so I'll just get going...

Lately I have been seeing nothing but articles and blog posts about an array of things people are doing wrong. Perhaps the article says something to the effect of "What you SHOULDN'T do..." or "Why THIS is annoying..." or "Please STOP doing this..." with many numbers listing all of the idiotic, annoying or "rude" things people do too often. Facebook is blowing up with links to Buzzfeed articles or blog posts centered around the opinions of what seem to be incredibly cynical people. I am sorry, but when you actually take time to list the problems with how people display their personal joys or feelings, then there is something sort of sad about that.

Today, which sort of broke the camels back, I saw several posts on my Facebook feed about the five most annoying things about engagement posts on social media, more specifically Facebook. I just HAD to read the five taboos of declaring your engagement, especially since I am recently engaged. As I read the list, I couldn't help but laugh. Now, don't get me wrong. Every single person has the right to vent or moan about whatever they want, (which is precisely why I am writing this entry today). I just couldn't believe what I was reading. Have we really become so cynical and negative as a society that we actually find it ANNOYING and GROSS when people declare their love for their significant others? I mean can we, for five minutes, take a step back and realize how absurd it is to basically rip apart another person for their own personal joys and achievements? Get real. Your article isn't really informative or funny. It is actually just a reflection of your cynicism and negativity towards something you are lacking in your own life. Otherwise, why would you care so much?

I know it seems silly to let random articles get to me. It is just upsetting that now-a-days cynicism is so common. I will admit that it has it's place, but why does something happy have to be gross or annoying? I understand that there are people asking, "and why does everything have to be fluffy and great?" but things are bleak enough today. Why get on people who are spreading good news? It gets old constantly defending things. I mean, am I the only one who feels this way? Why is it that if you are happily married or engaged or employed or single that anytime you go on and on about your happiness there automatically has to be some article or blog post about how annoying it is? I've ultimately decided that this last article I read honestly just made me happy to be able to explain myself in regards to doing EVERYTHING on the "Don't Do This" list. Because I did. I did not one or two of the things, but ALL of them. So to the article, I give these points:

I can't wait to change my name to Mrs. John Finnell. I have spent far more time with John's dad than I have with my own. That isn't to say I don't care about the Haughts, it just simply means I am proud and excited to become a Finnell. The Finnell family is a wonderful family. They are caring, funny, down-to-Earth, and ultimately good people. I truly look forward to having their name.There is nothing about that statement either, that makes me any less individual or proud of who I am. It just simply means I'm proud and excited for what I will become. And if for any reason I feel a sudden change of heart, I can keep my last name, as many women do. Being excited about taking a name does not mean I suddenly lose my identity. My identity isn't wrapped up in my name. It is wrapped up in my personality.   

I also said YES!!! (which is not meant to seem surprising or shocking. It's to sound exciting, which it is and was for me when I fucking said it). 

I too, can not wait to marry my best friend. Guess what, I have several best friends. Doesn't everybody? And for the record, if my best girlfriend got offended by me saying I can't wait to marry my best friend, then she was never really a best friend in the first place. Luckily for me, the amazing women I surround myself with know the importance of a marriage based on friendship, so they accept and appreciate that I am marrying my best friend. And as far the girl BFF who has been there longer, and through more stuff with you than the fiance, I HIGHLY doubt she would be offended by you calling your boyfriend/fiance your best friend. If she has really been there for you through everything, she knows exactly why he has become your best friend, and chances are, she considers him a best friend too.  

He did, literally, put a ring on it. Sometimes the phrase isn't meant to resemble a Beyonce song. If it is a  reference to Beyonce, who the heck cares? She is a cool ass chick, and I'm sure everyone has participated in some obnoxiously over-used musical phrase. Didn't we all say we were "bringing sexy back" or use the good 'ol line "Bye Bye Bye" from N*Sync to say goodbye to an ex? Everyone is guilty of this one, in one way or the other. 

Finally, I'd like to add that four years ago John and I met at a party and now, we are engaged. Sooooooo lucky. I know it's annoying when you see people who ACTUALLY find happiness at a sloppy party, but it truly does happen. And why should I have to relay all of the messy details? I mean, yes there was drinking (usually is at a party) and yes we were both drinking (people usually do at a party) and we ended up with each other the next morning (sorry, but we didn't sleep with each other). Sometimes people actually connect and spend the entire night falling for each other. Hate to sound mushy folks, but that's what happened in my case. Soooooooo yeah…corny and mushy I will stay.

I'm not going over these points to show outrage at this article, just to prove that like anything, there are two sides to every point. After reading the post I really just laughed. Mostly because it seems trivial. I can't imagine why these five things would annoy or bother anyone to the point of criticizing them. Then again, what would life be if there was no opposition. Anywhoo...

This "You're Doing It Wrong" article, (as I'm calling them), is the one that finally just had me past my limit. Maybe it is because I am engaged and proudly did most, if not all, of the things on the list. I think, however, that it's simply the final nail in a coffin. I can't seem to understand the importance of sitting back attacking other peoples happiness. So, in response to all of these overly cynical articles, I present my own list. A list of commonly misinterpreted things that normally go on "You're Doing It Wrong" lists. A list of, in my opinion, things people are ACTUALLY doing RIGHT:

The 10 Things You Are Doing RIGHT (in my opinion)

10. Pictures of Your Kids Rock. Keep Posting Them!

Yay! Aunt Mimi and Andy.
If there is one thing I hate, it's when I hear people say "I'm so tired of seeing pictures of your damn kids. Like, if I wanted to see your kids all the time, I'd be their babysitter. UGH" Lets take a step back and realize two things. 1. You are a liar. You obviously looked at the pictures voluntarily. Facebook doesn't force that stuff down your throat. You had to CLICK on the pictures to really see them. Otherwise you just scrolled past them, which if you are complaining about having to scroll past them on your feed, you have another complaint entirely, and 2. You can not tell me that kids don't make the day a little brighter, especially when you are only seeing them through a picture. A picture that has no sounds or obligations. Kids are great. Even if you hate them, you can't deny their ability to be honest little monsters good for a laugh. Get over yourself.

And you know you enjoy seeing what your friends or family created. Don't deny it.

9. That's What You Made For Dinner? Please Show Pictures!

First meal I made John. 
So let me get this right. It is annoying when people post pictures of delicious food, but it's not annoying to watch Paula Dean on the food network slab butter on everything including her own sons? This. This makes no sense to me. Food is awesome. Pictures are awesome. Food Pictures are awesome. What is the big deal people? If you slaved over a meal for three hours and you want to show me, I am all about that shit. And if you want to share a recipe, by all means, do! Anyone who says they don't enjoy food pics has to be fibbing. At least a little. Unless of course you are terrified of food. If that's the case though, I doubt you have the strength to even scroll your mouse on your computer. 

Please, if you bake an awesome Thanksgiving dinner, post pics to Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. I will throw a thumbs up on that immediately.

8. Your Cat Wears Sweaters and Your Dog Takes Naps? Let Me See!

Our little peanut on our bed :)
I am guilty entirely of posting obscene amounts of dog pictures not only to my Instagram but to my Facebook. I also have one of the most adorable dogs ever created by God, so I feel like it is my personal obligation to share his majesty with everyone. Sorry, not sorry. Because of this, I too, enjoy others pretty pooches or crazy kitties. Pets, like kids, add so much joy and kindness to a world that is so bitter at times. I am thankful to have these little silent friends around and I am always delighted to see their pictures. Everywhere. Literally. Post that shit all night and day. I will totally follow your dogs instagram account. Of course I will watch your cats videos. That ish is the besttttt. Even Ebenezer Scrooge went soft for mice. (In the Jim Henson rendition of course).

7. You HATE Obama? Tell Me Why!

Alright. I LOVE Obama. However, I love that people get so heated about his presidency. I think it's the most annoying thing since Roseanne sang the National Anthem. I can, however, appreciate that people actually TALK about politics now-a-days. No longer have issues been left to right wing or left wing adults sitting around the marble bar in their business attire after their long work days at the capital. Politics are now a media debate. More so than ever. And I say, to that, keep it coming! If anything, the debates keep me interested in current affairs and/or laughing. PLUS, it never hurts to make new friends via Facebook statuses (or lose old ones).

I'm also not opposed to anyone praising Obama. That always warrants a few good debates as well. Hell, post a few Fred Armisan as Obama youtube videos as well. Just get a good back and forth going...

6. You Just Listened to Kesha on Spotify?!? Me TOO!!

Ok, I do not in fact, use Spotify. However, I enjoy that sometimes I can see what my friends are listening to. Creepy? Um, no. I just enjoy building my musical library (and maybe creeping on you at the same time). One article I read mentioned that Spotify was just another way for hipster yuppies to share their "underground" music with each other. If that's not the biggest contradiction, then I know nothing. Hipster Yuppie? They're two different things. Share underground music? It wouldn't be underground anymore....ya know, it's just not worth explaining. You wouldn't get it anyways.

I love that when I've had a bad day, I can see that my bff was listening to Backstreet Boys and suddenly I am reminded that life isn't all that bad. It could be worse. I could be a Backstreet Boy.

So Keep those playlists going! I have Spotify to thank for my 12 hour drive down to Georgia being Disney themed. It was great singing those classics!

5. It's November. Time For Christmas Music. 

I am a fan of all things holiday. YUP, I LOVE Valentines Day. I even enjoy Presidents Day. This means that I am all about getting those Christmas decorations up and that Nat "King" Cole album spinning ASAP. There is no bigger thorn in my side then when someone says "Ugh, they are already showing Christmas commercials. The mall already has Christmas decorations up. It's not even Thanksgiving yet!!!! UGHSHGHADFJAK!!" Ok. First of all, calm the fuck down. If you base your life off of the mall and the advertisements, then yes, you'll be annoyed. Those are ADVERTISERS. They have to get their products sold. They have to eat up every second they can of a holiday. Hence why "Back To School" ads start running at the end of July. And why are you at the mall? It's not 1995.

Oh PPG. How pretty you are in November :)
Second of all, Thanksgiving is a holiday that takes place in the cold month of November. Snowflakes and twinkle lights do not mean Christmas. And why...why oh why, is it such a big deal that there are decorations up? They are pretty! If you want to look at shitty, leafless trees without lights be my guest, but I for one am thankful that the normally filthy buildings and neighborhoods have somehow become a little more pleasing to the eye. And as far as Christmas music is concerned, it is jolly. And whenever they start writing catchy "Turkey Day" songs I will listen to your argument. Until then I'm going to decorate my Christmas Tree while watching Home Alone and listening to Hanson's Snowed In. All at once.  Specifically before Thanksgiving. In an ugly X-Mas sweater. Wearing a hot chocolate mustache.

4. You're In A Relationship? Lets See Some Pics!!!

We are in LOVEEEEE
For a long time I was in a complicated relationship with my best friend Kady. Obviously it was a big deal because it was on Facebook. Then I met John and had a real boyfriend. Kady and I ended our Facebook love affair so John and I could "make it official." I agree that the whole "It's not official until it's on Facebook" thing is bogus. Since when does a social network profile dictate what's serious and what's not? However, with that being said, I love the copious amounts of Facebook love shared between two lovebirds. I would much rather see someone declare their pleasant thoughts on their significant other, than read status updates that do nothing but bitch about anything and everything. I'm not saying that you should only confess your love via Facebook, but I think it's nice to read that people are in love. Maybe that's not "cool" or maybe it's cheesy but I don't really care. I also enjoy the pictures. Post LOTS of them. Nothing makes me happier than seeing people happy with each other, especially in a time where respect for relationships and the sanctity of marriage are rare. Personally I am proud to be in a successful committed relationship. It hasn't cost me anything. I am still 100% Missy and in the end get to spend my life with a great man. Why not share and celebrate that with my family and friends? If it really bothers anyone, delete me! But just know that I, Missy, enjoy the pictures and status updates! Let love reign! In all forms!

3. You Work Out? Thirty Pounds? You Lost Thirty Pounds?!?!

I read a rant once on Facebook about how obnoxious it is when people brag about their weight loss and "new" fitness routines. The rant ironically enough came from a rail thin beauty queen. It was hilarious to me. Why be so upset about someone getting in shape? Maybe it makes me terrible for being able to accept hate bashing towards the fitness junkies when it is coming from a man or woman whom are not "healthy" but why would you, as someone who also works out and enjoys physical fitness, be so irritated when someone else starts to enjoy it? I embrace the newly fit people of the world. I embrace them like a fat kid embraces the s'more. If I could go to all of the races, gyms, and personal trainer sessions in the world, holding up banners of encouragement, I totally would. It takes a lot of work to put down the candy bar and pick up the carrot. I know that 90% of the time I do not have that kind of willpower.

I choose to stand behind all of those people biking, running, swimming, etc. If not to be a cheerleader, than to live vicariously through them! Get down with your bad selves, you fitness vixens. Whether you lose 1 lb or 200.

2. Please Shove Your Religion Down My Throat.

Knock Knock.

Who's There?

Oh no! It's the Mormons.

Shhhh. Maybe if we're quiet they won't know we're here.

Ok. I'm not a big fan of people who tell me where, how and who to worship. It gets old constantly hearing about the Bible and how every single word in it must be the law because Jesus wrote it himself with a sharpie on three hole punched paper. But to say that religion consists only of these fanatical types is just a little presumptuous for me. Also, religious fanatics aren't all bad. After all, could you have pictured Top Gun without Tom Cruise?

I have to admit, aside from the occasional over-the-top circus type performance of some religious freaks, I genuinely enjoy my more religious friends and their Facebook posts. I consider myself someone who has deep faith and belief in a higher being. Although my views on organized religion can be somewhat, dare I say, cynical, I find comfort knowing that there are people who find true happiness and strength from their religion. After all, that is what it is there for. To guide and help people. As John and I search for a church, not just for the wedding but for us to go through our pre-marital counseling and to grow in, we are both thankful towards parishioners and vestry members who are welcoming and friendly. It seems like people have become so obsessed with separating church from state these days that the bigger picture has somehow gotten lost.

To this I say, please continue to share your religion with the world. If you feel compelled to leave a biblical verse on your page or on mine for that matter, have at it. Religion and all of it's people are very interesting and I enjoy learning the differences and meeting the people involved. If someone has nothing but politics and science to throw out at you, simply laugh and remind them that at the end of the day, all three go hand in hand.

1. Is That A Picture of Yourself? Wait. YOU Took That?! Wow. Are You A Professional Photographer?

Everybody stop what you are doing. Apparently, this is big fucking news, if you take a picture of yourself you are self-centered and clearly the biggest egotistical asshole this side of the globe. You didn't know? Oh well let me tellllllll you...

According to a post I read about what constitutes a good Instagram account and a bad one, the biggest, or I should say one of the biggest, taboos was the "selfie." According to this "You're Doing It Wrong" article (and nearly every single meme website ever), the selfie is over done, unflattering, and annoying. It's even worse when you "duck" face or throw in a "gang" sign. (Apparently the peace sign is a gang sign these days). Who knew that feeling good about yourself could be so ugly?

I didn't. This is why nearly every single one of my Facebook profile pics is a selfie. And pretty much why every single one after this will also be. I think if you roll out of bed, and your hair is crushing it and your makeup is smeared in just the right way, you should document that shit. Take a picture of yourself on your cracked iPhone. In fact, take twenty pictures of yourself. Then, go into afterlight or picstich or Instagram or whatever editor you have ready to go, and throw a hot filter on that pic. Then post that thing to Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Reddit, the Church Bulletin, the City Paper and even craigslist. Spread that picture of confidence far and wide. Be proud of your cuteness. Why shouldn't you be? What is so vain about thinking you look good?

Nothing. Absolutely nothing.

If you are looking and feeling good, you have no reason to hide that. If you are an asshole, people already know that. A selfie isn't going to change anything. At least it shouldn't.

I could seriously go on all day. There are so many things that get pissed on, that are actually not the end of the world situations. If you find yourself holding back a status update or going back and forth about whether or not to post that last selfie, stop over analyzing. What makes this world so wonderful is that people are INDIVIDUALS. No one should make you feel stupid for being blissfully happy and wanting to spread that joy until your cheeks freeze, stretched from one ear lobe to the next. If you're excited about good news, share it. If you've taken a million pictures of your pride and joy, show them off. Life is too short to worry about what other people find gross or annoying.

Ok, I think my point is clear. I hope that my readers know how important it is to be who you are everyday. If that means you need to write negative articles about how obnoxious people are who are happy, than fine. I'll just be that girl countering your bullshit. Because that's what I think it is. Bullshit. (The good kind of bullshit though. That kind that warrants a response :) ).

Until next time!

Monday, August 19, 2013

Reunited and it Feels So Good...

So it has been a little while since I have posted anything. Whoops. I suppose my lack of an entry is due to several reasons, all of which are just not interesting enough to discuss. So, I will move on to more intriguing and blog worthy topics…

It has been an incredibly short summer. I feel like it was just the beginning of June yesterday and now here we are in August and already discussing plans for the fall! Where does the time go people?! I have to say that when you are focusing a lot of your energy on personal projects and "around the house" chores, time just slips through your fingers. At least that is what I am assuming happened to me this summer. I had an entire laundry list of fun things to accomplish over the course of the past three months. Nothing super incredible or exotic, just simple, local joys and events. I've never been to a drive-in or golfed on a real course, eaten at a fantastic sushi joint or even just explored the mattress factory. All of these activities and more were on my summer list and sadly, as the summer comes to a close, I have not done any of them! Yeesh.

Although I managed to miss out on a lot of my summer plans, I did get to enjoy some time with old friends for a beautiful wedding. It was just last fall that my friend Asa messaged me to say that he was getting married in the summer of 2013 and that he wanted our old group to reunite for his big day. Asa had taken off fairly quickly after graduation, to France. He went off the grid for a long while, so hearing from him was both a wonderful surprise and a welcomed sentiment. It was just good to know how he was doing and I think I speak for all of us when I say that it was exciting planning our mini reunion. Everything became more real when the cabin was booked and the RSVP's went in to Asa and Chesna. Being such a sentimental person, I couldn't wait to see everyone. If I've learned anything from working on films, it has been that genuine people are hard to come by and there are many moments where I am wishing that the people I respect and love the most were closer in distance to me. Not only because I miss being around truly interesting and caring friends, but because our lives have gone in so many wonderful directions that it is fascinating sharing our personal stories.

Once the weekend finally arrived, I couldn't wait. Our cabin was beautiful and the lake, just out back of the house, was also pretty great. We really lucked out and ended up staying in the swankiest cabin south of Pittsburgh.

The Cabin was a landmark, and the Captain that once owned
 it was buried on the property. Too bad we couldn't find him!
The lake was so calm that the sky was
just a mirror image on the water. 

The wedding day was rainy and overcast but the sun
came out later. It was still a good day to visit the lake. 
Keith and Karie had a little canoe ride before
we had to leave for the wedding. 

Chesna and Asa, married by Chesna's grandfather.
So lovely, especially with the mountains behind them. 

The wedding was simply perfect and I'm very happy that I got to be there for Asa's happiest day. The two shared a meaningful ceremony (which they put together and created themselves) and a very low key, warm reception. There was so much love going around. It was impossible to not be happy! Even though a few of our friends couldn't make it, the day was nice. We got to catch up on all of the fun and not fun things since our last time together. World travels, weddings, job promotions. I can't pinpoint when we all grew up, but somewhere along there we did. Like so many other moments, time flew and before we knew it, the reception had slowly calmed down. Like old farts, we decided to head back to the cabin, where no matter how hard I tried, we went to bed early.

Aside from being super nostalgic, I am an utter sucker when it comes to the night. Another random and unimportant fact about me. I have, as Robert Downey Jr. said in Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, the neon light disease. I enjoy sitting awake in the wee hours of the morning, while everyone else (in my mind) is sleeping. There is a certain sense of calm in those few hours. I love sitting up and thinking all of my thoughts without any distractions. It's a time to exert energy mentally while relaxing physically. I guess that's a little weird, but I've always enjoyed the fun of the night and all that comes with it. I desperately tried to get everyone to stay awake with me, but like I normally do (just ask John) I lost the battle. As I laid in my room that night (at about midnight-SO early, haha) I just couldn't stop counting my blessings. I don't mean that in a sappy way. I thought to myself that I'm very lucky for how things turned out. For how we all found each other when we did. For how lucky we all were for sharing our experiences in college and how lucky we are for still maintaining relationships. It may seem cheesy, but I'm proud to have this old group of friends in my life. They are great people and no matter where we go, or how long it is before we see each other again, I know deep down they will always be there. Pretty great to know that.

When I got home from the trip, I found myself stuck in nostalgia again and leafing through boxes of old memories and notebooks full of letters unsent and cards still tucked safely in their envelopes. It made me laugh and before I knew it, I had my bits and pieces spilled all over the place. I'll admit, as I have before, it's not uncommon for me to go through my boxes of old memories. I suppose that when I have free moments, minutes of time that I don't find myself stressing over work or the minuscule things that clog the pipes of life, I will sometimes go to my old things and remember funny little "nothings." Those rare and forgotten memories that, at the time, meant nothing, but in retrospect, mean the world. I have all of these notes and old voicemails piled on hard drives. These funny little inside jokes scratched on hideous notebooks that are falling apart at the seams. Pictures I've forgotten about and movie stubs to shows like I Am Legend and our Point Park Screening. I have a slew of unsent letters, sealed in envelopes. I can't even remember what they say. Christmas cards that never got mailed. Birthday cards from designers and wristbands from concerts. It's crazy how much stuff I kept from college. Nothing that takes up copious amounts of space or anything, just little odds and ends of things that I felt, at the time, were important to keep.

I think one of the funniest things I came across was a will written by my friend Justin. It detailed everything he was going to leave to me if he kicked the can during finals. You can tell we are best friends because he left me his car, Demon. Oh the little things in life. I also found a paycheck from the movie I Am Number IV. I could kick myself for somehow forgetting to cash the sucker for over $500. The parking ticket I found also had me in stitches. Mostly because it took me a full year of paying $45 tickets repeatedly before I got my parking permit for 1709. I still think, however, the unsent letters are pretty hilarious. If anyone knows the first thing about me, it's that I write letters in times of happiness, anger, confusion, etc. I mean, obviously I enjoy writing, but I enjoy it so much more when I am expressing my feelings. I found so many unsent letters. Letters to family, friends and crushes. Letters I intended to give out at graduation. Letters I wrote during my P3 experience. Letters with inside jokes scribbled on them. I decided to not open the sealed envelopes. I'm sure the contents are hilarious, but maybe I'll save them for a rainy day or eventually put stamps on them and get them out the door. Either way, I'm happy to have stumbled upon this stuff. Mostly because it made me realize how much I miss all of my old friends, and how important it is to see them whenever I can. I suppose it's all stuff I've said before but I don't mind saying it again.

There are some people who look back at high school and think that it was the absolute best time of their lives. Other people focus on their careers and how wonderful their working relationships are. Some people rely so heavily on their significant others, that to them, the moments spent together are the best they'll ever have. For me, I look back to college and I see a myriad of awesome moments suspended in time. Meeting every new friend, learning all that I could about film. Falling in love. Falling out of love. College was, to me, such an important aspect of who I have become today. Not just for all that I learned, but for all of the amazing people I got to meet. I'm very thankful to have been surrounded by such wonderful people. I'm very thankful to still have those people in my life. I think, regardless of time or distance, that our bonds will always be strong. At least I hope they will be. Not everyone is as fortunate as we are, so we should certainly celebrate our luck.

All in all, the wedding weekend was amazing, and it just reiterated to me that I need to see my friends more often. It's awesome to be around the old group of cine kids. If not to reminisce than to just follow up with each others current projects, life moments and personal victories. I've decided that we need a reunion at least once a year, and regardless of where we are, we should be able to make that work. Even if it is for a short weekend. Or a day.

I just want to keep making memories for my memory box.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

A Little Beach Birthday...

I had thought of writing about the controversy that is Abercrombie and Fitch, but since that news is old and I really don't feel the need to go on about my feelings regarding the views on size vs. sexy, I decided to instead dote on my beau. He threw me a fantastic birthday, and I just can't gush enough about him. Yes. This is going to be "one of those" entries. So you can stop now if you get queasy with BDOA (Blog Displays of Affection).

Mom, myself and Dana on the boardwalk in OC, Maryland. Too much fun.
Growing up with a single mom, who spent the first few single years on welfare and food stamps, meant that my sister and I had to sacrifice certain wants. Nothing overwhelmingly difficult to give up. Maybe one less barbie a month, or fewer outings to restaurants and movies. We never truly felt neglected or like we were missing out on things though. We always had tons of fun. Maybe we spent our time building forts in the living room or making our Christmas tree decorations out of old garbage bag boxes and toilet paper rolls, but I'd never trade those memories for all the money in the world. They were priceless moments. Regardless of our tight budget growing up, with the support of our amazing grandparents, my sis and I were not blind to the fun of vacations. Pappap and grandma really made our trips to Maryland every other year possible. I know that they really put forth most of the money, my mom helped when she could. My sister and I just kept them entertained by being excited about all the little "free" things. Like the complimentary cups in the hotel room or the indoor pool. We learned from a young age that the small things always mean more, and for us, they really did (still do).
The sand made me nervous when I was little.
Because of the many years my little family and I vacationed in Maryland, it holds an extra special place in my heart. There were times we couldn't make it down and years that we were growing too old and too busy for such a time commitment, but the six years we did make it down to the beach, are still vivd memories that play out as old home movies in my mind. We never stayed in the poshest hotel or ate at the most expensive restaurants, but we enjoyed each other's company while playing in the ocean and walking up and down the boardwalk. Since John and I have been together, he has heard about all of the  fun Ocean City brought us as kids. He had to sit through the home movies and look through the pictures of us sun bathing or building sandcastles on the shore. Like any boyfriend has to, I would imagine.

For my birthday this year, my adorable boyfriend decided that I needed a relaxing getaway. He planned a nice little weekend in Maryland for me as a total surprise and I can't say enough about how wonderful the trip was. I suppose I'll start at the beginning…

The past couple of weeks have been unrelenting. A lot of stress has been placed on my shoulders. Not just from the lack of work in Pittsburgh, but from last minute grievances and upsetting revelations. It's no fun reading something vague but I'd like to leave it at that. I will say though that it gets very tiring when you feel like you have to always be the optimistic one. For me, I was started to feel trampled on. I was getting down about canceled plans or lingering gossip. I know John was noticing this. I felt bad complaining to him about everything, but over time it started to get really old having to constantly deal with the piles of things that were building up. John, who is always optimistic, will probably laugh at that! He is so good at being there for me, and I know he feels the same way when I am on the constantly pessimistic side of things, but he never falters and is always there for me, picking up the whiny pieces. After finding out that something I had been looking forward to since the beginning of the year was slowly falling apart, I was pretty much at the end of my rope. I think this is when John decided I needed to escape Pittsburgh for a little bit, even if it was just three days.

John figured that it was time for me to see the two people I miss the absolute most, and that he has to hear me go on about on a daily basis. My first college buddy, Kady, and my utterly fantastic better half, Justin. These are two of the bestest friends a girl could ever ask for. They both got me through some of the worst situations and experiences I have ever had to face, and I'm really the luckiest girl in the world to have them in my life.

Kady and I at the PPU Alumni weekend in 2011.
Kady and I met BEFORE college started back in 2005. I don't suppose any of my readers would remember, or should I say admit to, having a Xanga. One of the first "blog" sites, Xanga was a way to publicly discuss topics, pretty much just like Blogger. Well, there used to be "groups" on Xanga. Groups for all sorts of people. I found a group for Point Park University, and although it is so far from anything I would normally do, I decided to message a couple of the people in the group in hopes of seeing some familiar faces on registration day. Kady was also thinking the same thing. I can't remember now if she messaged me first or vice versa, but we ended up talking on the phone and finding out that we were a floor apart in the dorms. Move in day came and I met Kady face to face. We have been best friends ever since. From sleeping in the student lounge to getting our pants pulled down publicly on the corner of Boulevard of the Allies and Wood Street. When our roommates moved off campus, Kady and I stuck it out on campus. She took me in when my boyfriend broke up with me. She refrained from judgment when I dated this guy or that guy. She made me peach schnapps pancakes and rode the bus with me to get groceries (even when it took the scary route). She has always been there for me and there isn't a day that goes by that I don't wish we lived closer to each other!

Justin and I at the Point. 
Justin and I met my Sophomore year at Point Park. He was introduced to my roommate and I through a mutual friend. Although Justin and I are on opposite ends of the spectrum when it comes to wild vs. passive, we somehow hit it off instantly. A smoker, drinker, and all around un-filtered guy, Justin was and is far more abrasive than I am. I think this is why I love him so much! He would call me just to talk about little debbie cakes or to vent about boring classes. We would cross the Smithfield bridge in the dead of winter to eat at the Melting Pot, where he worked. Justin decided to come to Point Park when I was going into my Junior year. After losing his father, which was undoubtedly the most awful start to college, Justin and I became even closer. There was never a topic too taboo for him, and I never felt like I had to be a certain person when we were together. He always loved my conservative ways and loved me even more when I loosened up my senior year. We got a lot of flack from time to time. It never really affected us though. We never fight, we never hate on each other, and we never judge each other. Justin also got me through my senior year at Point Park. If he wasn't consoling me after my bad breakup, he was taking me out to cheer me up. I also wish Justin and I lived closer!

I think it's important to say that Kady and Justin are truly my best friends. Time is of no matter when it comes to the three of us. We pick up right where we left off when we get together, and it feels wonderful to know that they will always be there, and that I will always be there for them. I'm a very lucky girl!

Justin was tied down to a wedding the weekend of my Birthday, so sadly John couldn't get the timing right on that one, but we'll figure out a visit soon :) John was, however, able to plan something with Kady. Since she lives in Baltimore now it was perfect for John, seeing as how he wanted to take me to my favorite place, Ocean City. The two schemed together and worked everything out. When I woke up Friday, the day before my birthday, John was busy packing up our little pup's things. I asked what was up and he said that Scrabble was going to be staying with my mom and to pack a bag for a two day trip. I was excited and got ready. When we went to pack up the car, I noticed that the car had grown! John rented this huge SUV for the trip and I was super excited! We took off for some lunch before the long drive ahead of us. (A drive that John had me make, with no clue where we were headed).

This is amazing. TRY IT!
The birthday weekend started out with a little visit to the Carson Street Deli where I got my favorite sandwich in the 'Burgh. The Schnikelheimer. It is so tasty! When John asked me a few weeks prior to our trip what I wanted for my birthday, literally all I could think of was this sandwich. Since we have been on a strict diet for the past several months, with no eating out or indulging in our favorite foods, the idea of eating such a big scrumptious treat was exciting! (It really is the simple things!). This deli lunch is a croissant with egg salad, ham and cheese. It sounds pretty basic, but trust me, it's awesome! As you can tell by the picture! John loaded us up with sandwiches, chips and pickles :) Then we hit the road for Baltimore! (Which I had no idea about!). John let me drive because he knows I LOVE driving (that's not sarcasm, I really do love to drive). He guided me the entire time as we talked about music, movies, books, etc. Lots of laughter and excitement! It was a great drive!

John kept asking me if I had any idea where we were going. I truly didn't. As the road signs kept saying "Maryland" I started to get a little curious and by the time the Baltimore exit was upon us I guessed that we were going to Ocean City. John just smiled, not saying a word. I started to get so excited about seeing the Ocean that I just spurted out all of the things we would get to do at the beach. He laughed and had me take that Baltimore exit.

I was confused because I had never driven through Baltimore to get to Ocean City. Then it hit me that we were going to visit Kady and I was excited! We drove through the inner harbor and then through Little Italy when we finally reached Kady's cute apartment. It was so good to see her! It had been a couple years at least, since we had seen each other last! We took a quick tour of her place and then headed downtown to pick up her good friend Geoff and get some dinner. We had some tasty food at a place called Mother's and then headed for some drinks at a little bar called The Pub Dog.
Geoff and Kady at the Pub Dog playing shuffleboard. 
There was awesome fruit infused beer there (we had blueberry) and also a shuffleboard table upstairs. The four of us played a few rounds, had some beers and headed out for more late night adventures. We stopped for some hookah before heading to Geoff's where we enjoyed some wine and a nice view of Baltimore from his rooftop deck. It was so much fun catching up with my dear old friend and meeting one of her new friends. It really was like no time had passed since we last hung out. We were instantly reminiscing about old times and gushing about our current lives and opinions on things! It was a much needed visit! Before we knew it, time had flown by and it was two in the morning. John said we had a little drive ahead of us, so we said our goodbyes and took to the road again. Because I am awful with directions, I decided to drive. This proved a stupid solution since there was still three hours of driving to go. Needless to say, by four I was tired of being on the road and started to get cranky. Poor John kept trying to convince me that we were almost there, but I was getting so restless from the night drive, that I wasn't hearing it from him. Although the drive was long, we finally made it to our final destination. I was honestly too tired to even fully appreciate where we were, so we decided to just hit the sack and wake up early for a day packed with fun activities.

The lobby was super cute and very cozy. 

John booked us a room at this absolutely adorable Inn. Even though I had been to OC, MD many times before, I had never stayed there. It was such a sweet little hotel. Very cozy and welcoming. When we pulled up to the Atlantic Inn the night before, I was not impressed. Probably because I am the worst person in the world when I am tired. No. I AM the worst person in the world when I am tired! But waking up in the hotel the next morning, I was so excited! We didn't have an ocean front room, but we could see the bay and the boardwalk. It was pretty lovely. There was a nice little deck at the end of the hall where John and I could sit and enjoy the view. There were loads of rocking chairs and space. It was a nice place to relax! Even though it ended up raining that day, we still got to enjoy the beach and walk up and down the boardwalk. It was so much fun showing John all of the little places we used to visit when I was a kid. The best part of the walk was stopping in at Trimpers Rides. As a little girl my sister and I would often ride the carousel, the whip, the little boats, the mini ferris wheel, etc. I wasn't surprised to still see them there. Looking just as they did when I was little. It had been about ten years since I had seen all of those rides and my heart was so warm being there at that moment that all I could do was hug John for coming up with such a sweet birthday gift.

The Carousel at Trimpers is just a beautiful as it was when I was a kid.

Dana and I road these little boats when we were just tiny tots.

No boardwalk is complete without Zoltar! 

Funnel Cake fries from The Dough Roller
The day was full of shopping and exploring. We of course spent some time in the sand, burying our feet and dipping our toes in the water. We stopped at one of my favorite boardwalk pizza joints, The Dough Roller, for a slice and some funnel cake fries. We got some salt water taffy and went through the Ripley's Believe It or Not. It was a fun filled day! As the day progressed, and the rain continued to fall, John and I headed back to our room to get ready for dinner. We planned on eating at a place I once went to as a kid, The Marina Deck. The last experience I had there was actually a terrible one. The service was so bad that my family walked out without paying the bill. I remember though, having had the best chicken sandwich ever there. I thought it would be fun to go back and see if anything had changed. The added bonus that the restaurant was right on the water, aided to my excitement. When John and I got there, however, it was clear to see that the restaurant had only declined over the years. How funny it was to walk out of the restaurant a second time!
They had live music and great food. I'll definitely go back.
We spent the night galavanting from one place to the next looking for a decent place to enjoy a nice romantic dinner. Our second attempt at finding the best place to eat failed again, as we ended up in the middle of nowhere due to poor google maps directions. The third attempt had us believing that we found a place, but once we were seated and saw the menu, we decided that nothing suited us, so again, we walked out. It wasn't until our fourth and final attempt that we found a nice spot for crab cakes and beer. The Taphouse on 45th was where we planted ourselves. By then, it was pitch black outside and you could just barely tell that the restaurant was seated directly on the bay. It didn't really matter though. I was so happy to be there with John. To be enjoying a nice getaway with him. I still don't know how I  got so lucky to have him in my life.

It was rainy, but so beautiful. I love a rainy day at the beach.

The next morning, as we woke up to check out of the hotel and get some breakfast in our tummies, I truly did not want to leave. I laid there with John begging to stay. If only we could have. We decided to sit on the deck for a little while. John enjoying his coffee and I my chocolate milk (very old tradition to eat doughnuts and drink chocolate milk for breakfast, PapPap used to do this every vacation), we watched the waves roll in. We decided to make for Assateague Island before heading back to Pittsburgh.  It was a beautiful day to visit the national park. We even got to see some of the wild horses that roam the Island. We found a few shells and played in the water a little, but time was flying and soon it was time to head home.

The drive back was just as much fun as the drive down. There were so many moments I would just look at John and smile. I can't imagine how hard it must have been for him to keep the trip quiet. How much money he spent on the rental car and room and dinners and everything. Not to mention all of the planning he made with Kady and his attempts with Justin. I just lucked out beyond words when I met him back in 2009. He only told my mom that we were visiting Kady. He wanted me to be able to tell them about my surprise. He is pretty much the best and I just can't gush about him enough!

When we got back, there were loads of things that fell on our plates. John's car breaking down, a parking ticket from nowhere, both of us getting sick, Scrabble getting sick, losing work, getting work, etc. The hectic surprises were just reminders that we need to vacation more frequently! Even though things were awful the first couple of nights back, John and I managed to get through everything. We decided to just lock our door, lay in bed with our little pup, and shut out the world for a few days! It was the most unconventional, yet perfect end to an amazing birthday weekend! I truly had the best 26th birthday a girl could ask for, thanks to my wonderful boyfriend.