Give Me Bliss

Ignorance is bliss.

I totally understand this phrase because I am unfortunately the opposite of ignorant.

I’m not saying that I know everything; I am aware of the fact that I know very little in the grand scheme of worldly things, but I am keenly aware that my desire for constant learning and knowledge makes up my being, and thus, at times, I feel overly aware.

I don’t want to be, though. I want to float through my life and be ignorant.

Let’s examine that word a bit. It has such a negative connotation, doesn’t it? But think about when you watch the news and you start to become aware of all the crap that is going on in the world. Don’t you sort of wish you could be ignorant of all that? Go back to before you read that story and excuse yourself the overthinking and pain by stating that you don’t know anything about it anyway? Let someone else figure that situation out.

Like a kid. Kids are happy because they don’t know anything. Their days are comprised of learning how to spell or swing a bat or play make believe.

I think about where I’m at in my life and I’m either living in the past, or living in the future. The things that perplex me now, I want to go back and change so that I don’t know anything about them. I want to slap myself for my curiosity. Or, I think of myself in the future and convince myself it will be better if I can only get through the difficult-present.

I’ve been trying to be my future-self for ten years.

There’s something wrong with that. And the person that I want to be, she doesn’t exist. The way I feel now, the things I do, the habits I’ve made – they will be with me ten years from now. People don’t change, not dramatically at least. Not to the point where I’ll be blissfully ignorant of all that ails me at present.

This is a lot of rambling and mumbo jumbo. I’m doing exactly what I don’t want to do, overthinking my current life situations and falling into existential crisis. And being incredibly vague in the process :).

At what age do you finally accept yourself for who you are?

Bye, AIM

You know back in the day when America Online was real big? And by “back in the day”, I’m talking 2000… which insanely enough was almost 18 years ago! (Stahp it!)

Anyway, “You’ve Got Mail” became so popular that they even got Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan to star in a movie about the thrill of getting a single message in your inbox and the anticipation of that little alert when you signed on to your AOL home. I remember it, and it was awesome.

In 2000, I was 14. My email address was nuzzie26@aol.com, and the most common exchange in my emails and chatroom conversations was the basic three-letter question: a/s/l?

It’s funny thinking about that, because just today I stumbled on an article that talked about the end of AIM (AOL Instant Messenger). It’s been years since I used AIM, but as soon as I heard it was ending, a sudden nostalgia enveloped me. AIM was how I communicated with my friends on school nights when my parents limited my phone time so that I’d “study”. AIM was where I wrote whatever lyrics were in my head in the “about me” section (lots of Hoobastank and Matchbox and Weezer at the time), or how I stalked my crush (if you left their browser window open, you could totally see when they signed on and off). AIM was the first way the Internet let you sort of define who you were to the virtual world. AIM was the best…

And when I was 14, it was just AIM. There was no Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram… nada. And it was sorta… nice. There wasn’t a constant flow of information, and when you left home, you could also leave the ever-going stream of media. You didn’t know where people stood politically, you didn’t have to see couple fights (why do people do that online??), and you weren’t barraged with everyone’s varying opinions. My flip phone didn’t alert me the moment my starred friend posted a new update, or when someone sent me a dog-filtered snap.

I miss that little silver flip phone.

Life is so much more complicated now, and I feel utterly exhausted by my everyday tasks. Is life one big circle of sleeping, working, making dinner, and cleaning? After reading that AIM article today, I drifted off into a daydream, remembering what it was like when the only things I had to concern myself with were getting my homework done on time or working hard at swim practice or seeing my boyfriend’s handle sign in on AIM (it was a really witty handle, too).

Alas, this is adulting, and it has its good bits.

But sometimes, it’s fun to simply sit and remember the small things that used to make you really happy. Remember all those times when you received a thrill from a single email… “you’ve got mail”. Being conditioned like one of Pavlov’s dogs to do a stomach somersault after hearing that ping that he signed online. Remember being so moved and exhilarated by a song and finding yourself in the dreamy and genius lyrics. Remember ditching practice with your friends and driving to Yutan just because, or sneaking out at night to meet that cute guy from English class in the woods behind your house. Sitting under the stars until curfew. Piling into someone’s car and enjoying the warm summer Omaha air at a downtown CWS game (Rosenblatt style). Taking a sip of a Zima and feeling buzzed and invincible (yeah, I said Zima. Don’t knock it, it’s making a comeback.) Staying up all night and sleeping all day because the only agenda items on the weekend were re-watching Clueless for the 84th time or versing your boyfriend in Dance, Dance, Revolution!

My day was full of busy. But in my mind, I escaped to the past – and I feel rejuvenated.

So, I moved…

I’m sitting in a restaurant just a mere four miles from the Atlantic Ocean. People seem happier in this place. Perhaps it is the result of the always-shining sun, the fresh seafood, the way the ocean makes you feel like you don’t have a care in the world – I’m not sure. But everyone seems to be smiling, living in their sunny-present, enjoying what life is offering.

I’ve envisioned living in a place like this for such a long time. The ability to go to the beach whenever I want, giving away all my winter coats, a permanent tint on my skin; all these things spell out “happy” in my brain.

Sometimes it is difficult to embrace so much change at once. Right now, I’m going through a lot of change. I’m living in a totally different part of the country, in an opposite climate and culture, sans all the people I care about, doing my own thing… and as a mom of three, I haven’t done my “own thing” in a while.

What this time affords me is the opportunity to work on myself. I’m starting a new job that I can completely devote myself to, I have time to delve into my interests… reading, writing, learning the guitar, very amateur boogie-boarding, etc. This is the ultimate “me” time.

While there is so much I miss back “home”, I can’t help but feel the blessing in this opportunity; this chance that I’m getting to “find” myself, to slow my pace, and to enjoy simply living.

I’m so thankful for this opportunity.

Survivor Season 34: Game Changers! Pre-Show Predictions

Game Changers is actually. going. to. happen.

Well, it has happened. Filming ended a while ago, ballots are waiting in the box with the name of the winner, and Jeff Probst has successfully filmed 34 seasons of Survivor.

But in a mere three weeks, we are actually. going. to. watch. Game Changers!

I AM SO EXCITED!

Can you think of a better, more enthusiastic, brilliant, and manipulative blend of past players to return? My anticipation is through the roof, so to speak. The mix of strategy, social game, and pure genius is blowing my mind. Nice job, CBS!

Is it even possible to make a winner prediction this season? With all the factors that you have to account for and the numerous returning winners, predicting any outcome is daunting… but, I’m going to try.

I’m geeking out right now. I’m combining two of my favorite things: Survivor, and Ranking Things. My pre-show prediction list is in order of least likely to win, to most likely to win. All opinions are my own, and of course, I welcome any discourse on the topics presented.

Survivor Season 34 Pre-Show Predictions

*I do not read spoilers. This ranking is not a prediction of boot order.

20. Brad Culpepper (Survivor: Blood vs Water)BRAD-CULPEPPER.jpg

I have nothing against good ol’ Brad Culpepper. But a lot of people from his season sure did. Google this guy, and the first thing that pops up is the most memorable quote about him, “F*** you, Brad Culpepper”. He didn’t make it very far in Blood vs. Water, and there’s a reason for that. He’s not strategic, he allows his ego to overshadow his efforts, and socially, he has a difficult time fostering relationships. I’ll be surprised if he makes the merge.

19. Ozzy Lusth (Survivor: Cook Islands, Survivor: Micronesia, Survivor: South Pacific)

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This is a perfect meme for Ozzy because he has NO STRATEGY. Seriously, why is this guy coming back for a fourth time? His only way of even making the merge is hooking up with a strong girl and riding her coat tails to the end. If he couldn’t win the first three times he played, I doubt he can win the fourth.

18. Debbie Wanner (Survivor: Kaoh Rong)

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I’m sad to rank Debbie so low. But, in turn, I can’t see Debbie winning this game. While she is highly entertaining for the audience, she is playing against a cast that will have no patience for her shenanigans. If she made it to the end, I don’t see a jury validating her chaotic game play. Of course, she could change her strategy (like she changes jobs), but I wouldn’t bet on her.

17. Jeff Varner (Survivor: The Australian Outback, Survivor: Cambodia)

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I love Jeff Varner. I love that he ripped the sleeves off of his shirt, and then still wore the sleeves. I love the comeback he made from Australia and the four entertaining episodes he gave us in Cambodia. The problem is, he only gave us 4 episodes. He was out early and he struggled. He’s entertaining, but in a field of super-strategizers, I don’t think he’ll stick out.

16. Troyzan Robertson (Survivor: One World)

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I’m happy that Troyzan is getting a second chance to play. He was severely overshadowed in One World by Kim (probably the best of ALL time), and he was consistently on the outs due to the all-girls alliance. That being said, his social game was poor. So, while I am rooting for him, I am ranking him low based on prior gameplay.

15. Hali Ford (Survivor: Worlds Apart)

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I’ve watched almost every season of Survivor twice. When the cast announcement was made, I had a difficult time remembering Hali. And, to be cast in a “Game Changer” season? It is a bit mystifying. That being said, Hali could fly under the radar with all the other “larger” threats. She’s not dumb, she’s a sweet girl… she has a shot.

14. Andrea Boehlke (Survivor: Redemption Island, Survivor: Caramoan)

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This is exactly my reaction to Andrea being cast on another season of Survivor. I just don’t get it… I guess she has a fair shot to win simply based on the fact that this will be her third time playing. You would think her strategy would be more evolved. I dunno – I got nothing here.

13. Sarah Lacina (Survivor: Cagayan)

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I quite like Sarah and think she played a solid game. Unfortunately, she was Tony-ed. But, she’s likable, she’s smart, and she is physically able to tackle the game and win challenges. I would imagine she does better this go ’round.

12. Tai Trang (Survivor: Kaoh Rong)

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The only reason I am putting Tai this high on my list is because he is super likable and willing to make big moves. Aside from that, he is unable to keep a secret, he switches sides basically every Tribal, and his is way too emotional to play a solid, strategic game. (But maybe he’ll make another chicken super popular?)

11. Caleb Reynolds (Survivor: Kaoh Rong)

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Caleb… he’s come so far since his debut on Big Brother. It’s a universal sentiment that he was much preferred on Survivor, and it is no surprise that he is back after his untimely exit from Kaoh Rong. I like Caleb, I’m rooting for Caleb. Beast Mode!

10. Ciera Eastin (Survivor: Blood vs. Water, Survivor: Cambodia)

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Ciera has proven to be a tough and witty competitor. She has plenty of experience to draw from, and she clearly will not hesitate to backstab and lie ( Jeff loves to remind us how she voted her mom out). Awe, everything I love in a Survivor.

9. Sierra Dawn Thomas (Survivor: Worlds Apart)

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It’s risky placing Sierra this high in the rankings, but I think she is the one person that could slip through to the end. Do I see her as a “Game Changer”? No. But, she’s strong, social, and should have virtually no target on her back.

8. Malcolm Freberg (Survivor: Philippines, Survivor: Caramoan)

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Malcolm is a legitimate Survivor player who could easily win this game. While he is a threat, there are several other larger threats that he could use at ‘meat shields’. While Malcolm’s game play in Caramoan wasn’t strategically sound, he proved in the Philippines that he is capable of using his brain and going far.

7. Zeke Smith (Survivor: Millennials vs. Gen X)

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Zeke has the distinct advantage of being the new kid on the block; the other players haven’t had years to mull over his strategy. In addition, he didn’t go terribly far in S33, making the target on his back significantly smaller. Zeke is all about playing based on logic and strategy, which will appeal to this jury.

6. Michaela Bradshaw (Survivor: Millennials vs. Gen X)

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Michaela left way too soon last season. I am SO HAPPY she was cast back, and not at all surprised. Michaela is super smart, and her mind is a huge threat to the rest of the Castaways. If she can mask her strategic prowess, she could go all the way; and I’m rooting for her!

5. JT Thomas (Survivor: Tocantins, Survivor: Heroes vs. Villains)

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Ignore his gameplay in S20, the poor guy has the lasting legacy of getting schooled by Russell Hantz (but who hasn’t been schooled by RH?). JT played an amazing game in Tocantins. He was SO likable, the other players confessed to wanting to lose just so JT could win. JT may be the only player in this cast that can win based on an excellent social game. I’m rooting for Tocantins-JT.

4. Sandra Diaz-Twine (Survivor: Pearl Islands, Survivor: Heroes vs. Villains)

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The Queen! She’s played twice. She’s won twice. If she gets to the end, I have no doubt she’ll be crowned with a third victory. She is one of my most anticipated returnees; can she do it again?

3. Aubry Bracco (Survivor: Kaoh Rong)

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There is no question in my mind that Aubry should have won Kaoh Rong. She played an excellent game based on strategy, but she also held her own in the competitions. I would love to see her win this powerhouse season and prove that she belongs in a list of the greats.

2. Cirie Fields (Survivor: Panama, Survivor: Micronesia, Survivor: Heroes vs. Villains)

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Cirie has orchestrated some of the best moves in Survivor history. She has gotten so close to the end, but hasn’t been able to execute and win. If she can avoid the inevitable target that will be on her in the beginning, she could outsmart her way to the end.

1.Tony Vlachos (Survivor: Cagayan)

Never will I ever vote against Tony Vlachos.

Survivor: Game Changers premiers on March 8th on CBS!

Until next time,

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Future Short

So, I was watching my children play today. They are content, unconcerned, and present. They are happy. And I started to think about how envious I am of their carefree ability to simply be. Kids are happy because they live in the now; unlike adults who always seem preoccupied with past and future events.

I am very future-oriented. I notice that I spend a lot of time looking forward to what is going to happen rather than enjoying where I am at… I know that a lot of people do this, but after a while it becomes concerning. This future-focused mentality lends itself to being in a state of unhappy… or maybe a better adjective is restless. I’m always restless.

Lately, though, I am worried about the future. I’m not sure if I’m going to like where it is taking me. I am not sure I want to leave where I am at. While my present isn’t perfect, there are a few things I have come to appreciate and to love. And there is a sense of nostalgia emerging as I think about moving on from what has become to dear to me.

There are about a thousand songs over this subject, so I know that plenty of people have felt what I am feeling right now. Change is necessary… change is good, but change isn’t always easy.

So, my resolution (and I am a bit late) is to take full advantage of where I am at right now. To live in the moment, to embrace where my life has brought me, and to mentally detach from worrying about what uncontrollable events are going to happen.

Just About a Poem

I came across the following poem today:

 

Looking up at the stars, I know quite well

That, for all they care, I can go to hell,

But on earth indifference is the least

We have to dread from man or beast.

 

How should we like it were stars to burn

With a passion for us we could not return?

If equal affection cannot be,

Let the more loving one be me.

 

Admirer as I think I am

Of stars that do not give a damn,

I cannot, now I see them, say

I missed one terribly all day.

 

Were all stars to disappear or die,

I should learn to look at an empty sky

And feel its total dark sublime,

Though this might take me a little time.

-W. H. Auden

 

What I love about poetry is the various ways that the author’s words can be interpreted. In my opinion, Auden is talking about caring too much for someone or something and dealing with the fall out of those specific emotions.

I particularly find this interesting because I feel that over the past few years, I have become intensely apathetic to many situations. I haven’t been like this my whole life, and oftentimes in the past I allowed my heart to guide my attitude. However, people and relationships with those people can prove tiring and sometimes simply not caring seems like the best path. Is it worth it to become invested in someone or something that you can’t control? Probably not.

I live by the thought that you can only trust yourself. While this is comforting in some aspects, it is also depressing and isolating. Do we only have ourselves? Is there no other being in the world that has our back? Our best interest?

Ha! And that is why I like Auden’s poem. While the sky may be void of stars and the darkness is overwhelming, with time you will learn to only trust yourself and care not about irrelevance, or ultimately, other people’s opinions.

 

Until next time,

Erica

Changes

I’ve often wondered if life is a series of choices that we make, or if life is a predetermined track and we are all on autopilot; gliding through experiences only believing that the choices we make are indeed ours. While the former seems preferred, I find the thought of the latter comforting. Mostly because if you mess up, you can blame it on whoever set you on that track in the first place and then all responsibility is lifted off your shoulders.

But that doesn’t sound realistic.

I’ve been reading an interesting book called The Compound Effect which explains that small, daily choices and changes you make can have a profound impact on your life. Noticeable changes won’t occur that day, not in 10 days, not even in 10 months. Sometimes, you don’t see the changes until years have passed; but by that time, the change is significant and life altering.

I really like the book; it is insightful and motivating and gives one a sense of self-control and the power to do anything that they want. However, I find it somewhat unrealistic. Mainly because I don’t believe people can change who they are. You are always going to want what you want regardless if it is good or bad for you. Regardless if it is the right or the wrong choice.

But that begs the question of whether we have choice or whether “everything happens for a reason”. Because if everything happens for a reason, then even poor choices have a reason.

Does that make any sense?

I recently watched a TED talk that examines the impact that body language has on your brain. Standing up straight in a victorious stance for a couple of minutes every morning should supposedly send confident chemical messages to the brain and reduce cortisol which causes stress. This could be a breakthrough in the business world; imagine if managers required their employees to do this before meetings and other serious dealings? Would employees contribute more? Would they be more confident; soaring with a rush of testosterone? Would production and enagement rise and the disengaged worker disappear? If the study holds true, why am I not walking into work each morning observing my colleagues in power stances?

Because the results of this study are irrelevant. I can go a week of power-stancing, maybe even a month, but at the end of the day I am still going to be me and will revert back to what I know and what is comfortable.

Really, none of this matters. It is all life, and life is going to keep going regardless of what I think and feel. Regardless if my actions are the result of choice or the result of my predetermined path.

However, it is always fun to wonder.

Until next time,

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Cigarillos

I’m sitting outside on the porch swing enjoying the spoils of a hot summer day while burnt ashes of my sweet-tasting cigarillo float to the ground.

I have a bottle of Pellegrino that I’m pairing with a sweet riesling, two unread musty-smelling books, and pen and paper.

I feel like I have all the tools I need to achieve my goals and my dreams.

I do consider the books and the cigarillo and the wine all instruments for success. I also have my thoughts and my experiences and my determination at my disposal.

My favorite thing to do most any night is think and observe and then write about my thoughts and observations. However, lately I feel like I can’t truly write about everything I am thinking and feeling and experiencing.

Writing is best when one’s happenings are the motivator. I feel lost in the fact that I’m not going to be able to experience everything that I want to in my life. And I will say that this lost feeling is new to me; I’ve only felt like this recently.

How do you convince your head to master your heart? How can you tell right from wrong when you’re so emotionally invested in something that isn’t exactly the right thing for you?

I know I’m not the first person to feel this way. I’m not the first person to want something that I can’t have, to regret, to feel like I’m missing out. These feelings are human in nature. But that fact doesn’t facilitate being emotionally lost in an unrealistic realm.

At this point I’m just rambling. The wind continues to stifle my cigarillo and I’ve burnt my thumb on the lighter countless times in an attempt to re-ignite. But I’m craving the sweetness and am persistent about smoking this cigar to the end.

Right now, this just seems like the right thing to do.

Sun Memories

The sun is shining as I lay here.

I close my eyes and the blacks of the lids are transformed into purples and oranges and yellows, swirling and dancing in my eyes; their movement energized by the sun.

Aromas and music are often the first evokers of memory. But for me, the sun’s warmth on my bare skin also reminds me of times past.

Summers on the Atlantic coast, spring breaks on the Caribbean Sea. Knee deep in the Aegean. Trips to Sorrento and Capri and Positano; peering down through eighty feet of Mediterranean to the bottom of the Sea, crystal clear.

Experiencing different cultures, speaking new languages, allowing all that is foreign to permeate my mind and forever change my outlook on life.

Embracing the newness that is guided by the heat of the sun.

My younger self – no cares in the world. In love with the idea of life. Aspiring to do everything and nothing at all.

So much changes as you get older. Idealism turns into cynicism and the world ceases to be everything that you thought it could be.

Mistakes aren’t as easily forgiven. A lie can be detrimental. There is no excuse for doing the wrong thing. Carefree sunbathing comes with its own array of having to care and take responsibility.

But today, I’m seventeen again. I’m watching the colors dance while my eyes are closed and I’m reminiscing with myself over all the brilliant moments of the past.

And I’m thankful for every experience that has led me to today.

Writer’s Bloc(k)

If I’ve learned anything, it’s that when inspiration hits… you have to write about it- because it seldom hits.

My last month has been chalk full of revelations, ideas, caffeine, realizations, insomnia, thinking, pondering, over-thinking, and the likes.

I realize that most of the adjectives I just listed are indeed synonyms, but I love words so much that I want to use them all.

Here’s the thing, creativity does not exist without experience. I can’t write a novel if I don’t have something that truly moves me…

I think the best authors out there are men and women who have deeply felt something.

I do not think that age is pertinent, or the amount you have traveled, or your educational background; I think any ol’ schmuck can write something brilliant if it comes from the heart.

And here is the struggle- because matters of the heart can be exhausting. I like to imagine that I can live an ideal life without being emotional about anything. It is so much easier to shy away from feelings and simply act out of logic.

But the best authors- they write interesting people. They write about characters that you can empathize with, characters that you can’t get out of your head; characters that you feel like you really know at the end of the story.

And if you’re unwilling to put yourself out there and let go of your guard, you really can’t get to know people. And if you don’t know people, how will you understand them enough to write about them?

Writing a novel has been on my bucket list since before I could even read novels. When I was little I would write story after story- the ideas and the inspiration were constant; and I miss that so much.

Now I  justify my permanent writer’s block with excuses of being too young, too inexperienced, too naive. In all reality, my inability to be inspired, based on the notion that emotions are weak and to be avoided, is my own fault.

So- enough gibberish; the inspiration is hitting and I won’t be sleeping any time soon… this must be the time to write.

Until next time,

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