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Guest Blog: Fairytales and Fantasies

“Had I known then what I know now, I would have played less fantasy games like mermaids and house, and played more Monopoly and pushed myself to learn Sudoku.”



Fairytales and Fantasies

By Brooke (currently) Tarkington (en route to) Stamper

It’s funny how, as little girls, we have already mapped out every detail of our lives. From the flowers and dress at our weddings, to the names of our future children, to the type of house and career we will have. It never crosses our mind that these things just might not pan out for us.


I grew up believing I knew how every last detail of how my life would end up. I would daydream about the name of the man I would one day call my husband. I was obsessed at a very young age with every detail of the fairytale life I was bound for. Had I known then what I know now, I would have played less fantasy games like mermaids and house, and played more Monopoly and pushed myself to learn Sudoku.


After my fairytale wedding at age 26, my future children’s names picked out, house hunting, and making enough money to consider ourselves comfortable, I found that the tides can change very quickly.


I am a 28-year-old woman facing divorce and moving back in with my parents. It seems that in all of my careful planning, I forgot one thing: quality. The obsession with my fairytale blinded me to truth. The idea of being an adult, a wife, a mother, a partner shielded my eyes from the reality that I was living. I have a mediocre job, making just above poverty, which I seem to be addicted to. I am currently packing up my one bedroom apartment to move back into my parents’ “very large but with the least amount of privacy” home. I face the stigma attached to a 28-year-old divorcee, and even worse, the pain attached to it. I don’t want to use this as an open forum to bash my soon-to-be ex-husband, but I don’t think I could have picked a person less like me. Goals, mannerisms, ideas, abilities, functionality, family, intelligence — some of the most important things were overlooked in order to appease my appetite for the perfect life. The crazy thing is: I knew this. I KNEW when I married him that I was settling in order to achieve my fairytale. I thought that once I married him, eventually, we would live happily ever after. I mean, I’m a good person. I try to live honestly and kindly and genuinely. I deserved the happily ever after.


So, after years of adulthood, I am resorting back to childlike tendencies. Living with my parents, while they pay the mortgage and the utility bills, coming home to see my mom has cooked dinner, finding less and less of the world I was creating for myself. I should mention that I know that I am blessed to have parents who have taken me back in with open arms and have been a driving force in my emotional recovery. It seems that even when you’ve finally figured out how to be an adult, you realize how unequipped you are to deal with the realities of it.


Fantasies and fairytales are fabrications.


One day, in the future, when I have my own children, they are going to be able to read fairytales and fantasize about their future lives, but with mommy’s realism as a grounding force…….wait a second……”One day, in the future, when I have my own children…..”


It seems that I will never learn my lesson.


Dreaming of the future awakens and excites the soul. I know now to dream differently. I am not dreaming of a name or face of a man to share my life with. I am dreaming of attributes and qualities that complement my own. I am not fantasizing about the perfect career that makes me financially gainful. I am looking for one that makes my soul happy. I have seen the outcome of dreaming realistically, and it is more fulfilling than the fairytale I was pretending to live.


Dreaming like a grown-up is much different than dreaming like a child.


I prefer the grown-up dreams.



Photo by Raymond Brown via Flickr.

Guest Blog: Aftershocks

We toasted to things like ‘doing regrettable things because you might later regret that you didn’t.’… And at the climax of all this mirth, suddenly my pocket vibrates. It’s her.”

I’m really excited to share our latest guest blog with you. I like that adulthood is about processing — thinking about people and events and what they mean for our continued evolution of self.  This guest blogger shares some perspective on life after a break-up in a really thoughtful and nuanced way, filled with imagery of dark bars and lascivious innuendos woven into an expert narrative on self-exploration and evaluation.  When I first read his piece, I kept thinking about it many times during the day because I found it so interesting and compelling. Our guest blogger is actually a professional writer in Arizona, and thus has given me a pseudonym of “The Vernacular Assassin” to preserve his professional ethos.  This is his first foray into blogging, and I hope he will continue sending us guest posts because, my goodness, this boy can write! 


By The Vernacular Assassin

It was about two weeks before the end when my breakup sensors started going off. She was picking fights about little things.  My foot was spending more time in my mouth than in my shoes.  Bedroom moments had become tainted with exasperation from interminable arguments. Spooning had virtually ceased.  After protracted exit negotiations on a recent Sunday morning, we indulged a final time in that one thing we had no disagreements about, and I gathered the last of my belongings. “There are two books of yours in my nightstand,” she said.

“No, I already took them,” I replied.


“Yesterday morning.”

 “Yesterday morning? Why did you think you had to take them without mentioning it? I wasn’t going to hold them hostage!” she said.

“I know, but I could smell the smoke in the breeze,” I told her.

Driving away, that familiar feeling of “what now?” struck me. I thought about how I dealt with the last breakup, which was a soul-shaking 9.5. My id, suddenly unrestrained, was unleashed like a tsunami: two full months of happy hours that ran until 2 AM, long nights with dreary postmodern novels (“a screaming came across the sky”), hundreds of chicken wings, dubious hookups with tattoo-covered women, making a drunken ass of myself in public on the regular.  But this breakup was a 4.5, tops—and hadn’t I grown up a bit? Yes, it’s a new day—this time would be different.

When I got home, I cleaned the house and did laundry. I reached out to friends I had been blowing off. I frenetically texted old flames and hookups. I went to the gym.  And in my perspiration it hit me: I might be a grown-up now, but forget this, I need to get drunk.

I can’t explain why breaking up sends me into a self-destructive rampage, but I’m not the only man who does it. However, this time I knew it was a choice, and that made it fun. On Monday morning I didn’t feel guilty about the hijinks of the night before—and after work it was “three hours of sleep be damned, let’s go to Mill and shoot some Jameson!” We toasted to things like “doing regrettable things because you might later regret that you didn’t,” and of course, that already tired-out meme of “winning.” I acted a fool in front of random women and laughed at myself heartily. And at the climax of all this mirth, suddenly my pocket vibrates. It’s her.

“I hope I’m not bothering or interrupting you.  I’m just used to talking with you around this time, so I just wanted to see how you’re doing.” Over the sounds of laughing women, breaking glasses, and Irish folk songs, I sheepishly tell her that everything’s fine—but that I don’t have time to talk. “Well I’m really happy we’re still friends,” she replies. After we say goodnight, I feel wistful and order another double. Hearing her voice was the best moment of the night.

Later, I let my friend drag me to a strip club, and as we walked in I was reminded of why I’d never gone back to one after my first time seven years ago.  I felt miles away, slouching numb and intoxicated in a chair, meta-analyzing the sociological undercurrents of the room, when a woman suddenly sits down on me and says, “This is courtesy of your friend.” She planted my hands on her waist—I gave a squeeze but something felt off. I noticed that her breasts were too large and her hair was blonde, not jet black. Her perfume wasn’t Mont Blanc. She didn’t have that tattoo I liked. Her movements were adept, but so unnatural and calculating, as if she were trying to arouse me at gunpoint.

I couldn’t ignore it—I missed her.    

What I realized under the black lights was still true in the light of day, but there’s nothing I can do but let go and let my feelings for her subside. My queasy stomach and piercing headache tell me that this really is a new day, and perhaps there are better ways to deal with this bit of heartache. So I go into work, clean-shaven and pressed. A younger me would have called in sick on a day like today—but that lingering taste of liquor, cigars and shame somehow invigorates me to keep on marching.

Photo via Jetalone on Flickr.

Adulthood is Change

It has been a while since I have updated. Lots of changes have happened to me as of late. I recently found myself single after a very long relationship. I won’t hash out the sad details here. It was just an unfortunate case of: he was not sure that he loved me, but wasn’t sure enough to let me go. Thus, a relationship that went on too long and ended too abruptly.

Adulthood is sometimes about heart break and loss. The goal is how to learn from each experience and grow stronger, brighter, and more whole.

So I find myself moving out of a home and a life that we had spent many happy years building. I pack my books, my wine collection, my picture frames, my clothes — but all I will take with me from this place is my unbreakable capacity to love.

In my upcoming blog posts, I will be experiencing adulthood as a single person. I am committed to living “a life less ordinary” and I intend to take lots of adventures and share all of my learning experiences with you. 

Cheers to new beginnings!


Guest Blog: Dying


by Mim (who blogs at www.saidsally.com)

I have not lived a life close to death. My grandfathers both died before I was 10. My grandmothers each passed away when I was in my 20s, both of them after prolonged and wasting illness. When each of them died, I looked at my parents and wondered: How does it feel when your mom dies? What does that grief look like? In both cases, my parents took their mothers’ deaths with cold stoicism that took me by surprise.

Because I expect something to happen when someone close dies. I expect an earthquake that everyone can feel. I expect boulders to push up from under the surface of the earth and create a monument that will stand forever to commemorate that My Loved One died.

I’m thinking about death because a coworker was killed last week, struck by a car on her walk to work. They say she didn’t suffer, and I hope that’s true.  She was a gentle soul who never – and I mean this truthfully, not in a we’re-saying-good-things-about-her-because-she’s-dead kind of way – never said a bad word about anyone, never got impatient, always made the best of what she had. At least while I was around.

The thing that hits me is, this grief business is all about US – these souls still hanging around in their bodies, feeling things, thinking things, eating things. Grief, I think, isn’t about the person who has “moved on.” It is, of course, about learning to live without someone who you took for granted was alive. (…)  read more

Lessons on Adulthood: November 22

Life is about learning lessons–that is how we keep growing and evolving. Lessons I learned this week involve friendship, relationships, and…shopping!

1) Friends come and go — even friends that you think are kindred spirits. But you see their faults, and you think, “But I am special. They would never do that to me.” And then it happens. A betrayal can be as small and unspoken as a silent phone, an unanswered call, or a secret. But the loss is heavy, the rift is wide. So you try to accept the change, set aside the bitterness, appreciate them for their moment in time, and move on. Call it a lesson learned.

2) Recently, I ventured to Sonoma for a weekend of wine and hibernating for a dear friend’s bachelorette party. One of the days we were there, we drove down Sonoma’s coast to an epic iPod soundtrack and then stopped at a little restaurant for dinner. We had to wait a few minutes for a table, so we stood outside on the patio deck looking at the ocean.

A couple, who appeared to be in their early 50s, was also waiting for a table. We chatted with them a bit about where we were from and why we were in Sonoma. They were vacationing for their 25th wedding anniversary.

“Do you have any advice for the bride-to-be?” I asked them, expecting some cheeky response.

The couple thought for a moment and the woman said: “When you get married, you have fights sometimes, you might disagree, you might even be attracted to another person, but on our wedding day, we made a vow to always choose each other. So, no matter how angry we may be when we go to bed, no matter how stressful life may get, we wake up every day and think ‘I choose you’ and we are happy.” (Note: it is not “I chose you”, it is “I choose you.”)

Then the husband spoke. He had a slight accent which he indicated was because he was born in Israel. He said, “Never hit below the belt. Because hitting below the belt leaves a hole of hurt so big that no amount of apologies can ever fill it. And you can never take the words back.”

Duly noted.

3) And on a lighter note….From Kaitlan, a reader in Arizona, “Adulthood is seeing a pair of boots you want, being able to buy them without devastating your budget, and walking away because it is the season to give.”

(Photo via AlyssaFilmmaker on Flickr.)

The Secret is in the Telling

The Secret is in the Telling

“Do you promise not to tell?” she asked me.
“Yes. I promise,” I said.

As a child, a secret was something innocent. A crush on a boy, a hidden treasure spot, or stealing a candy bar. But as I grew older, secrets became more serious. My friends stopped whispering in my ear about how they’d talked to their crush that day, or how they had broken their mom’s favorite lamp and blamed it on the dog. Instead, they whispered about other things: sexual encounters, pregnancy scares, depression, drinking, and drugs.

And then there were the secrets that they didn’t tell. The ones I always knew but was too afraid to talk to them about. The secrets that left rippled seams, tiny as a stitch — but not invisible.

These were the kind of secrets that involved excusing oneself right after eating an extra large container of ice cream, and then returning with pink vomit on your collar. Like a magnet, my eyes would fasten to the vomit: that imperfect stitch that unravels it all. But I dare not look at it for too long, so she doesn’t think I know. It’s a secret I have known for many years, but one that she glosses over with jokes about indigestion. A secret known but never told.

These were the kind of secrets involving a sadness so deep that you can’t speak it because you think no one could understand. “Please just come out and meet me for coffee?” I would ask. “I’m so sorry,” she would say into the receiver through muffled tears. “Not tonight. I’m not feeling well.” And the next night would be the same. And the night after that too. Until every day and night she was trapped in sadness, and the sadness gripped her so tightly that no one could get their arms in anywhere, even to hug her.

They were the kind of secrets that are held for so many years, buried and confused with guilt and childhood. The ones she can barely tell you because what he did to her over and over again was so horrible. The secret she held on to, through childhood, and into adulthood, until she was out of the house. Away from him.

They were also the kind of secrets about a relationship filled with mean words, name calling, belittling, constant hurt, and the sad realization that she doesn’t want to leave. “I know I deserve better,” she told me, carefully balancing the secrets above her head like the heaviest ceiling tiles. “But I love him.”

The kind of secrets that were strategically hidden above her skirt on her upper leg and were only revealed on accident when the blood soaked through her gray leggings. “I don’t do it all the time,” she said casually. “Just sometimes, when life gets to be too much and I need to feel something real. They really aren’t even that deep.”

Some of these secrets resolve themselves. A step-father was imprisoned thanks to brave girls. A girl realized she needed support to overcome her anxiety and agoraphobia. And, after a cut a little too deep, a smart doctor intervened.

But some secrets remained.

As a friend, how do you respond to secrets when you do find them out (however they are revealed to you )? How do you help a friend who is too deeply entrenched in their secret to realize that they are loved, they are strong, they are brave, and they deserve happiness? How do you help them realize that unless they are willing to become accountable for their own life, and unless they are willing to face their darkest secret and leave that secret behind, the secret will win?

And letting the secret win means trading your life for a life of pain.

“Promise you won’t tell?” she asked again.

“This isn’t an innocent secret anymore. You are an adult now, you choose your path. If you won’t change your situation, no one will do it for you. But if you choose to let the secret win, the secret will escalate and the ceiling will fall in. It always does. You will have chosen pain as you wait for that inevitable moment when the ceiling falls in, and even worse pain when the moment arrives. All I can do for you is be here to hold your hand.”

The secret is in the telling, but this life is yours to choose.

Wordless Wednesday – In Memoriam

This Not-So-Wordless Wednesday is in memoriam of Bluesy, my pint-sized blue-eyed Siamese kitty with a big meow and lots of unconditional love. She would wake me up every morning meowing for me and then spend 20 minutes snuggling. This week she died suddenly and tragically and far too soon. She was a very sweet friend to me for many years and I miss her so much.

Sometimes, adulthood is about tough decisions. In the span of one hour I found my cat paralyzed on my bathroom floor, took her to the emergency vet, and then my bf and I had to make the very tough decision to end her life. She had undetected heart disease (it shows no symptoms sometimes) and had a blood clot in her aorta which paralyzed her. She was also in great pain. We wished we had more time with her, but it was the best choice for her. She died in my bf’s arms with me patting her head and whispering to her in a secret language that can only be known to a girl and her dearest kitty friend.

Adulthood sometimes sucks…

Well, I have been remiss in updating my beloved blog.

The pressures of adulthood can sometimes be too heavy to carry. As much as like to celebrate adulthood, I am not quite ready to lift the heavy load of adulthood I have recently been carrying onto my dear readers. It is too much to explain at this moment, but I promise that I am committed to my adulthood manifesto, and I want this to be a holistic forum for discussion, celebration, and the heavy-lifting.

I’ll try. A little bit at a time. I will unload little tiny packages of my recent adulthood trauma, and I hope we can all find support in this forum for the weight we all carry.

Welcome to adulthood. (Ugh.)

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