Thursday, September 20, 2012

Blissfully Busy

Hi friends! 

Before I get into the next “grown-up” topic that I want to talk about I’m going to give you a quick recap of last weekend because I talked about a lot of stuff that I had going on in the last post and I have some other random updates I want to talk about.

Here we go!

My grandmother’s service was beautiful.  The preacher (I have no idea what the Methodists call him, I’m sorry) gave everyone who wanted to speak an opportunity to do so.  It was wonderful to hear to many memories be shared about someone who means so much to all of us.  I am happy that in the end, she was remembered not for her painful last few years, but for the graceful woman she was in the first 80 years of her life. 

One more time: Seriously, much love and thanks to all of you who supported me and my family this last week.  You guys are so fracking amazing.

The Fancy Pants Party this last weekend was fabulous!  You all looked so very dreamy :-) My camera died a while ago and my cell phone decided to start taking really crappy pictures, so I only got a few very blurry, poorly lit pictures of everyone, but believe me when I say that I would've done each and every one of you (not at the same time! that's just gross).  Special thanks to that boy I like for making me feel ultra beautiful that night and yesterday when he sent me this picture he took when I wasn't paying attention (or when I was pretending not to pay attention, I can't remember):

And more special thanks to B for buying me a kick-ass cigar to go with my fancy duds.  I do like to puff on a fiiine cigar from time to time. (Just pretend you didn’t see this line, Mom)

With everyone looking so flashy, it was hard for me to decide who to take home at the end of the night, but I think I made the right decision ;-)

We’ve gotta do it again sometime soon. 

Saturday night I went out with my wild girls and we went absolutely loco (in the best possible way). 

But we started the night out at the Diamond Jo Casino’s dance club.  This is a club where they don’t allow the dueling pianos people to swear or play any music with swear words – isn’t part of the appeal of dueling pianos the bawdiness that can crop up??  On the weekends it’s the retro-themed Club 84. They do things like the electric slide and the hustle but very little bumpin and grindin (not to say the hustle and electric slide aren’t fun, it’s just not my idea of a fun night out).  It’s like their trying to be the Disney World of area nightclubs.

It’s all so family-friendly it makes me want to puke. 

They’re trying to be edgy but still appeal to the little 80-year old ladies who play the slot machines all day long.  I’m sorry, but you’re in a casino and trying to be a nightclub - let’s up the sex appeal, k?  As Amanda and Chris and I sat in a booth (trying to drink until it was fun) I took a picture and tweeted the following:

Having too much PG-rated fun at Club84 @DiamondJoDBQ #hustle #electricslide #isittimetorageyet -- Annie Jay (@TheGrowUpPlan)

Apparently the Diamond Jo doesn’t understand sarcasm because they retweeted it to their followers.  OOPS!

But seriously, Diamond Jo, as far as local casinos go (yes there are two of them), you’ve got a lot going for you.  Your club could be awesome (it’s a beautiful space) but you keep trying to appeal to EVERYONE.  Why not try to appeal to just the under 50 crowd and say to hell with being granny-friendly? Put a little more seediness into your establishment and maybe I won’t groan every time someone tells me that we have to go there for a bachelorette party, or to meet up with some friend from out of town who thinks it’s going to be the bee’s knees.  

I go out to let loose, not to stay buttoned up, if you’re joint doesn’t let me be free, I’ll find somewhere else to go.  But maybe that's just me.

I’m starting an insanity exercise program in just a little over a week.  I’m absolutely terrified, but also really looking forward to it.  The only thing I’m seriously not looking forward to is that they make you take a picture in little short shorts and a sports bra your first day.  Um… please god no?  Also – I’m going to have to run a mile.  I haven’t done that in at least two years.  Please, send me positive energy on Saturday September 29 so that I don’t keel over from a heart attack.

Did you all have a lovely weekend?  Big plans coming up for the next weekend?  Let me know what’s going on, I’d love to join you!

Annie Jay

Friday, September 14, 2012

Sometimes Life Just Has To Go On

This has been quite a week of emotions for me.  So this blog has three different mostly-unrelated topics.


As I said in my previous blog, my beloved grandmother passed away on Tuesday.  I’m still reeling from the loss of her and from the shock I felt at the extreme feelings I had about her passing.  Yes, it’s stupid that I was surprised to feel so strongly about losing her - of course I should be extremely sad, this woman meant the world to me – but I had convinced myself that - thanks to dementia - the woman who was my grandmother was already gone.

When I would visit her in the nursing home I would grin and bear it when I heard her talk about visiting with people who had long-since passed on, or who never existed, or the times when she would just simply not recognize me (either due to her eyesight problems or the dementia).  There were times when I would visit her and my strength would fail and I would cry as I held her hand and tried to play along with whatever adventure she described.

The truth is I had just been pretending to deal with the loss while I actually pushed it to the side.  It wasn’t until I got the message from my dad on Tuesday that she had taken a turn for the worse and I looked through the scrapbook she made me (gods if only I had told her how much that book means to me…) that I realized how much it actually hurt to finally lose her.  The biggest comfort to me is that her family surrounded her when she passed and that those of us who couldn’t be with her in person were thinking about her as she took her last breaths.

One of the sweetest comments I saw was my mom’s best friend who said that my grandma is now looking down on us with seeing eyes (because grandma’s eyesight has been near-blindness for years now) and thinking of her love for us.  I find peace in thinking of this.  I’m not sure where I stand on God, but I know she believed in Him, so I like to imagine that she is in Heaven now, smiling down on us with that grace that always seemed to fill her – even in the end.

The love that my friends, family, readers and coworkers have shown to me over the last few days has been amazing.  I’m sure this all would have been much harder without the cards, hugs and kind words.  We say goodbye to her this weekend.  I’ll be a pallbearer for her as I was for my grandpa three years ago.  Please send me strength and positive energy as I say goodbye to the woman who always made me feel like the most important person in the world.

Disclaimer: If you are a person who is interested in being in a relationship with me or has ever been in a relationship with me, you might just want to skip this next part.  - XO

A few weeks ago I started seeing a boy that I dated when I was 20 years old.  Back then we were young and impulsive and the relationship ended as many young romances end – with tears shed and melodramatic heartbreak songs played on repeat in car stereos.  But when I saw him on a dating site a few weeks ago I thought; “Ok, I’ve grown up, I am sure he has too.”  And gods was I right.

The man I met for a drink three weeks ago was exactly the same in appearance as the boy I knew 7 years ago (albeit with a scattering of random gray hairs), but his beautiful blue eyes were filled with more stories, more lessons than I had ever seen in them.  We went on a few amazing (read as: super fucking amazing) dates and were talking every day.

Naturally, by last weekend I was terrified.

I didn’t realize just how much of a commitment-phobe I had become until I started to think about the possibility of actually getting involved in a relationship again.  In the last two years since I ended my three-year relationship with my first “real” love, I have only gotten myself involved in relationships with men that I knew I wouldn’t want a future with.

Then, about a month ago I was out with Francesca and her boyfriend when he snapped some sense into me.  “Ann, I don’t understand why you always go after these guys that you have no future with.” He said to me.  I tried to tell him that I wanted to be with them for a while, just to experience them – that I didn’t need them to be “relationship material” because I just wanted to know about their lives and their experiences.

Because he is a good friend, he told me I was being an idiot. 

He told me that I was missing out on so much.  He reminded me of what it means to be in a relationship.  He reminded me that I was running away from getting to know someone on that intimate level that can only come with a commitment and a partnership.  (Only, we were out drinking so there were many more curse words and broken sentences, but the sentiment was the same.)

Slowly, the idea of seeking a more intimate connection with someone again began to take hold of me, and that happened to be when this boy walked back into my life.  Now, I’m coming to terms with the idea of being involved in a relationship again. 

But I’m still terrified.

My greatest fear is that I’ll become the person I was in my previous relationship – willing to give up a piece of (or all of) myself in order to please someone who was unwilling to do the same for me (and I was unwilling to ask him to).  Hopefully the love I’ve developed for myself over the last two years will prevent me from becoming that person again but I don’t trust myself when it comes to love.

It’s funny, because I’m always the person advising my friends in love to “dive in head first!” or “just go for it! the pain will be worth the experience!”.  When it comes to my own relationship needs though, apparently I’ve been running blindly away from love for so long I forgot what running feels like.

Time for me to be brave and just give it a try – hopefully the pain will be worth the experience – or maybe the pain won’t come.  Either way, I’ve gotta dive in and test the waters.  Wish me luck!


And now – for something a little more light-hearted:

Tonight is the Fancy Pants Party!

A week ago Thursday, my boy B said to me “Now that the weather’s not so hot we need to have a night where we all go out dressed to the 9’s again.”  So we made it happen. 

It’s happening at my apartment in just a few short hours!

I briefly thought about canceling the party because it didn’t quite seem right to have a fancy party the night before my grandmother’s wake, but life must go on and for the life of me, I need this.

I can’t wait to see all of you dressed to the nines.  I’ll see you Fancy Pantses tonight!

Much love,
Annie Jay

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Never Underestimate Your Love

Hug your family members, friends.

I lost my last surviving grandmother today.

She was diagnosed with senile dementia several years ago and her condition has been declining ever since.

It's so so so strange to feel simultaneously grateful that someone's suffering has ended and to also feel the stabbing pain of grief that likes to sneak up on you when you realize that they are gone.

I knew this day was coming.  Weeks ago I was mad at God (or whoever makes the decisions around here...) for not easing her pain.  I told my mother that God had forgotten my grandmother and that I felt like an awful person for wishing that her suffering could just end once and for all.  I even feel terrible for writing this now.  But it was based out of love for her.

Even though I knew this day was coming... I'm still so broken up.  I can't believe how surprised I actually feel to feel as much pain I feel at the loss of her.  Grief is just so... so weird.

Thankfully, she was surrounded by her family as she took her last breaths.

Grandma Mary and little Annie: Circa 1988
If you read my Facebook post today, you know that shortly after my high school graduation Grandma gave me a scrap book commemorating the last 18 years of my life.  I was, despite my angtsy teenage apathy, blown away.

This scrap book contained pictures I had never seen and mementos from my life that I would have never imagined she would have kept.  She kept playbills from all of my junior high and high school plays, brochures from music performances, newspaper clippings... thinking about all of these things now I can barely keep typing I'm getting so choked up.

She was of course, a great mother and grandmother but she was also a teacher, an avid gardener, a great cook, a pristine housekeeper, and a talented seamstress.  She posessed this graceful strength that is seldom seen in people in my generation.  She knew how to work hard and also loved to enjoy the simple things life had to offer.

She taught me so much, made me feel so special and also (though it never seemed so great at the time) taught me how to behave.

So hug your family, my friends.  Hug them, kiss them, tell them you love them and don't forget to keep reminders of them so you will always remember the times you shared.

<3 Annie Jay

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

I Got 99 Problems and They All Itches

No, that’s not a typo. 

Nor is that an exaggeration.

I didn’t die this weekend (surprisingly) but I did get eaten by mosquitoes.  Why did I count the bites?  Because they are so bad that I had to buy cream to put on them to stop the insane itching.  So the first thing I did yesterday was go to the drugstore and look for something to ease my pain.

I thought calamine lotion was going to do the trick – but then I got sidetracked by this box.

After 10 minutes of reading every anti-itch cream on the shelf, I
opted for the one with the picture of the mosquito on it.
Marketing ploys at their best.  Of course I bought it.  Did it work?  You bet your ass it did.

Anyway… you didn’t come to this blog looking for horror stories about me being eaten alive by mosquitoes.  You were looking for stories of the debauchery that took place at my motorcycle rally/camping party.

Because consumption of alcohol was the only activity high on the list of activities, I naturally took notes on my cell phone.  Reading through them made me laugh until I spit water all over my desk, so I’m just going to give you a few bullet points and random pictures.

The arena as seen from our campsite.  In case you didn't know,
the music was HOT.  As was the weather.
  • The highlight of my Friday night experience was using the portapotty.  It was amazing.  I was the first person to use the one I went in.  It still smelled like sanitizer and was practically gleaming with cleanliness.
  • On Saturday afternoon I almost gave up on the camping trip and went home.  Then the band started playing Journey and I thought “Alright, that’s pretty cool.”  Then I got apple pie shots.  Then the band started playing Rush and I decided the party was definitely on for the night.
We didn't bring a motorcycle with us but we did bring this old International
so we had some cred.  My bright orange Kia hatchback looked
awfully out of place with all the trucks, bike and RVs.
  • One of my friends kept disappearing on us and wandering off to make friends.  By the end of Saturday night everyone was his best friend.  It became like a game of “Where’s Waldo?”  One moment we’d see him standing with a group of people, engaged in animated conversation and the next we’d see him dancing by the stage with a different group of people.
  • I decided that if I ever write a book I’m going to call it Stories My Mother Would Never Want Me to Tell.
Since we're River People, when the weather got toasty and our hangovers
kicked in we headed to the river to get back our faith in the world.
  • They had a stripper pole.  In a corn crib.  Let me say that again – they had a stripper pole in a corn crib.  Yes, we danced on it – all of us, the boys and the girls.  Waldo got a concussion trying to turn himself upside down.
  • Our group imposed a Facebook embargo for the weekend.  And we all failed.  One of the best quotes was from Amanda at 10pm on Saturday, to me: “What are you doing on your cell phone?!? Are you on Facebook? You’d better be texting your ex-boyfriend!” This is probably the only time you will ever hear a girl telling another girl this is acceptable.
    Because who wouldn't want a rifle lamp? This bar had five of them and they were all for sale. Because the only thing bikers like more than motorcycles are firearm-themed antiques.
  • When I asked a metal boy who was walking around wrapped in a blanket why he was wrapped in a blanket at a party he responded “Because, Mama, I need someone to cuddle with me.  You want to cuddle with me, Mama?”  To which I politely responded “Oh, no thank you.”  After sitting by our fire talking to Amanda and me, this dude and his brother slept on the ground by our fire.  They asked us if this was ok, and we told them this was ok since our two boys (who were just our friends but we didn't need to tell them that) were already asleep inside the tent.
  • I saw precisely 7 pairs of assless chaps in one bar.

So I’m alive.  However, I did give up the ghost on Sunday and went home before Skid Row.  I know. I suck.  But a gnat infestation in all of our food and beverage coolers, temperatures over 90 degrees, and lack of shade prompted me to just go home and relax for a full day of vacation in the comfort of my home.

I was really hoping that the fedora would send the wrong vibe to the guys at this event.  Apparently it was exactly the right vibe - the "Yes I'll go for a drunken ride with you and definitely sleep in a field with you" vibe.
All in all it was beautiful – though I am sorry I missed out on getting to ride a motorcycle for the first time in my life.  Some drunk country boys offered to take me on one Saturday night but for some reason that just didn’t seem like a good idea…

Hope you had a fab Labor Day!