Top Shelf

I would like to introduce everyone on my corner of the internet to my friend, Tucker.

My friends Emily, Tucker, & their son Atlas

Tucker is not shy in saying what he feels, which I find very refreshing. He is one half of a duo I have known quite a long time. I first met Tucker and his significant other, Emily, when she moved in to our college home rather unexpectedly. I had spent days alone in the house unpacking and was busy nursing a bowl of cereal in my pajamas when an entire, bright-eyed family walked into the living room. I sat there stunned, staring across the way at an awkwardly small tv screen, accutely aware of my bed head and how deranged I probably looked to my new housemate’s family. Fast forward about 10 years and all of us still keep in touch.

He often shares the most concise, no-nonsense pieces of advice he gleaned from his days in the military. Gems like: “Giving a shit is a choice.”

But Tucker holds the record for perhaps the nicest thing a guy friend has ever said to me when I was feeling down:

“Eva: you are a top shelf bottle of wine. Why are you putting yourself on the bottom shelf?”

Of course, there were some choice words after that that he used to elaborate (“All the douchebags are reaching for you on the bottom shelf! C’mon, dude!”), but I’m sure you get the gist of it. This is something I continuously ask myself when I find myself all too frequently baffled by other people’s behavior. There I am, sitting with my fancy label next to the bulbous jugs of Carlos Rossi sangria wondering why I’m apparently unloveable. Some people are there just for the cheap sangria, and I guess I’m just not your lady if that’s what you’re looking for. Case in point: there are some people in life that you’re better off without, but that’s a hard lesson to learn. Unless you fully isolate yourself from that outside world, I think one that it’s one we continuously learn.

Throughout the years, my friends have seen me through a lot of ups and downs–we’re talking forcibly putting cookies in my hands whilst I ugly cry, topping off my holiday coffee with a little more Baileys in the name of “pain management,” and even helping me clean my house when I’m feeling too down-in-the-dumps to function. Seriously. Please imagine my friends determinedly swiffering around me as I lie on the ground on the fetal position. If I hadn’t been so nonfunctional at the time, it would have been quite comical. But, it’s moments like these that make me so grateful to have a community of people that support me so unconditionally. They’ve seen me at my lowest, and even taken care of me when I was sick. They’re the kind of people you hope to have by your side in life.

Surround yourself with people that meet you on the top shelf and know you belong there, too.

You’ll know where to find me.

EVA ♥

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I Wanted to Write…

In my 30 years of life, I’ve recently learned a hard lesson. It’s one that I’m grateful for, but nonetheless, it was probably one of the hardest things I’ve had to learn to date. My mother recently told me to write about these things, but sometimes I find myself staring at the blinking  pulse of the typing cursor on my laptop for long periods of time before closing it.

Some things are too hard to write about. So I’ll write about words.

As a writer, it’s quite a challenge to wrap your mind around the concept that words can mean nothing– they can have little heft in the grand scheme of life. Trying to quantify your life with words, what other people say versus what their actions are is an exercise in futility. There’s, of course, the age old adage that words mean nothing unless they’re followed up with actions, and I find that to be entirely true. The last few years of my young life have forced me to explore the concept (and now knowledge) that there are individuals for which words are fundamentally just that: they’re words, and not much else. For someone who has a mild obsession with words, and the nuanced way in which we might use them, this is especially dangerous. Someone can be saying all the right things, but their treatment of you can speak the volumes that you chose not to hear.

There can be a fundamental unhealthiness in holding on to words. For someone who occasionally spends her days running entirely on coffee and high levels of anxiety this can be especially tricky. If you’re anything at all like me, dear readers, words can serve as a the mind’s equivalent to a stress ball. Turning them over and over in your head, worrying all the edges away, using them as a source of reassurance despite reality indicating something entirely different. Depending on who they’re from and how they’re delivered, you can let the words scar you immeasurably or be the reason you sleep soundly at night.  I’ve all too often found myself trying to rationalize a person’s behavior based on the words they give me. One of my favorite young poets, Sarah Kay definitively says that “it is hard to build a body out of words.” Anyone who has ever tried to bridge the gap of understanding between two people can easily relate to this. I’ve experienced both distance and silence from some of the people that I’ve wanted to feel close to, but trying to build a relationship or understand someone just from their words alone can lead to unending disappointment.

The safe thing about writing is that you can turn those things around for yourself. You can take control and tell the stories that you want. You can create any kind of reality you want to; it’s there, because it exists on paper. You give them a life of their own by writing them down and they can be a direct way of controlling your life’s narrative. I find a great comfort in that. Despite how other people might use them, I chose to fully own my own experiences through my words as well as my actions. The good and the bad. Maybe one day I’ll share more of the difficult things on here. As author Anne Lamott so wisely said:

“You own everything that happened to you. Tell your stories. If people wanted you to write warmly about them, they should have behaved better.”

 
Until next time,
EVA ♥

I Fell Asleep Next to a Burrito…

If I were to write a memoir (an inevitable goal of mine), I decided this past winter that the title would be I Fell Asleep Next to a Burrito and other stories I didn’t see coming…

Yes, I’m aware these are tacos. They are just open-faced burritos, really.

(Spoiler alert: The inspiration for this title stems from the fact that I actually fell asleep next to a half-eaten burrito once over the holidays. Of all the things to potentially wake up next to, this one isn’t half bad, but still not entirely encouraging. In my defense, I was very tired and also very hungry.)
 
Chapter Two would be something along the lines of “I just spilled tequila on my shoe. Because having a bottle of tequila at your desk is normal, right?”
When I first joked about this with friends I tried to backpedal a bit, saying that I would write two books: one full of utterly ridiculous stories and shenanigans (the “burrito” book) and another more introspective, thoughtful.
This was, of course, quickly shot down.
“No! No! It has to all be in I Fell Asleep Next to a Burrito! It’s what people would want to read.”
Ok… so admitting that sometimes my life is a mess is one thing, but flaunting it in print forever? I had mental pictures of my great-grandchildren looking horrified when being presented with it. At best, they would find it amusing and sort-of ridiculous. Maybe they might feel a weird sense of pride that great-grandmama was a total wacko? I tried to even imagine saying it with a straight face: “Yes, I’m a writer. I have one book in print at the moment: I Fell Asleep Next to a Burrito.
I’m sure that’s a Pulitzer prize winner right there.
If I’m seriously going to go forward with a book like this, there will of course also have to be a chapter entitled “Where did all these f***ing shoes come from?” And “It’s a phone, it’s not rocket science.” I’m sure some feminists out there will tear me up for perpetuating awful female/Millennial stereotypes, but hear me out. My book wouldn’t be some sort of girly answer to the dreaded Tucker Max sagas (anyone remember those horrible things?). Quite the contrary. I would like to empower women like myself to unabashedly be who they are–through the ups, the downs, all of it. Because, contrary to what might be popular belief, a 30-something woman living in California does have things to add to the world other than babies and the things she pins on Pinterest.
I recently spoke with a friend of mine who works in publishing, and, after having seen and worked with all manner of authors, she’s concluded that everyone simply writes what they themselves need to read. Have trouble making non-divisive conversation? Write about the art of small talk! Feeling isolated from your peers as they hit major life milestones (marriage, home ownership, children)? Write about what makes your life unique and valid, not despite all those things, but because of them.
Until next time, dear readers.
EVA ♥

How to Act Right at the Gym

Alright people. New year, new you, right?

Let Watch Me Juggle provide you with a few tips that I’ve gleaned from dogging the massive influx of people at my local 24 Hour Fitness to give you a few pointers as to how to behave when trying to get a workout in. Now, I’m by no means an expert here, but I do know how to generally behave around people and share space, and, based on my recent experiences, it seems like some of you could use a refresher course. So, without further ado, I give you:

HOW TO ACT RIGHT; the Gym edition

  • Do not bring a bag of french fries into the gym and proceed to walk around and eat them. Unless you want everyone to hate you.

  • Quit hogging the machines by spreading your stuff everywhere. Just because you put your water bottle next to that piece of equipment across the room does not mean that it is now magically yours.
  • Do not sit in front of the free weights and change your shoes, have snack time or nap time or any other personal time. You’re in the way. People want to pick those up and use them.

  •  Do not steal the yoga ball someone was using and set aside for two seconds. Furthermore, if you’re going to steal a yoga ball, actually use it. Don’t just sit on it in the corner and stare creepily at people.
  • Please don’t stand vaguely near a machine and then yell “I WAS USING THAT” when someone else starts actually using it. You were not using that, you were diddling around on your phone 10 feet away. You’re not a two-year-old; remember that sharing is caring.
  • The constant grunting is never necessary. Yes, we know those are heavy and you’re a man who’s lifting things, but…stop.
  • We all appreciate when you clean your sweat off of the bench. What is not productive, however, is leaving your soggy, sweaty paper towels next to the thing you just cleaned.
  • For the love of god, please wear swimwear and not underwear when using the pool. I know, it’s all just fabric, but sir, I don’t need to see you in your soggy Underarmour briefs when I’m trying to just live my life and do some TRX.
  • Learn how to count, then please use your counting skills when re-racking the weights.

You can do it, I have faith in you!

Good talk.

EVA♥

My emotional baggage is Prada.

Hello everyone,

I recently got into a really amusing exchange on Facebook. Let me give you an idea of how random my friends and I can be:
Good friend sends me a picture of bedazzled cement truck on Facebook, the back of which literally looks like a giant disco ball. (For some context, this friend really likes anything covered in sequins/disco balls, etc.) Eva responds…
Eva: Woah! I know what your next ride is going to be!!
Friend: ” Disco garbage truck – the most festive way to haul around all my emotional baggage”
Eva: I have my eye on a Prada purse to haul that stuff around.
Friend: “I’ve been trying to hold it in a purse but it became impractical. Seen in photo: actual size of baggage.”(sends picture of giant purse statue standing about 10 ft. tall)
*cue laughter*
This is it, folks. The dreaded emotional baggage blog. Everyone has it and no one likes to talk about it or acknowledge its existence. I was recently inspired by the lovely Anna Akana (who is so admirably candid about her life), and the humor with which she addressed her emotional baggage. 

It’s some heavy stuff, dear readers. And, let’s be honest, most everyone’s emotional baggage is terrifying, and not some thing anyone wants to share. You have your run-of-the-mill abandonment issues, substance abuse, body image issues, maybe some PTSD thrown in there. Maybe your baggage, like mine, has a tape player in it that keeps saying the same thing to you over and over again. But everyone has it.  Let me be clear: Everyone has it. You can dress it up in Prada all you like, maybe even pair it with your Louboutins, but it’s still there. If you say it’s not you’re a lying liar. I don’t mean to get sassy, but it’s true. And I think what makes it so hard for some of us is admitting that it’s even there. Living life will give you “emotional baggage.” If you don’t have it, you’re most likely not out there in the world living. The boss lady says that her baggage is not baggage at all. It’s served her well, in her own words. It has some dings and scratches, maybe a broken zipper, but it represents all of her life experiences that have made her who she is. You can deny that it’s there, or you can embrace it as a part of you and find power in that. Let it be, but don’t let it hold you back.
Thank you sticking with me, dear readers. Here’s to all of our baggage!
EVA ♥
 
 
 

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

Yes, the title is ironic.

No, I’m not a total grinch I swear, maybe just a little messed up, as he says. Hear me out, dear readers.

The holidays are hard. They are. Any grown adult who denies this is probably hiding from something in a giant pile of tinsel somewhere watching “The Christmas Prince” 18 days in a row. Maybe someone hurt you, maybe you’re missing all the people who can’t be with you this season, or maybe you don’t have a family to spend the holidays with.  Even if you have all your idealistic ducks in a row, maybe you’re just feeling the pressure to make the holidays special for everyone around you. A good friend of simply said the other day that the holidays are hard because “this is the time where you are supposed to be happy.” The whole damn commerce-driven world demands it of you. Wear the sparkles! Buy the people you love presents! Wish everyone “Happy Holidays,” it’s nice! SMILE!
When you work in a customer-facing field (to put it lightly) like I do, it’s imperative you screw that smile on tight every morning. I make holiday small talk with people, but often wonder what’s really going on with everyone else. Do they feel the same way about the holidays as I do? While we’re busy trading cookie recipes, did they lose someone or something they cared about? While we’re playing the “Most Wonderful Time of the Year” on repeat, who are we trying to convince?  We’re here covering things with Christmas lights and pretending that everything is merry and bright and whatnot. Everyone gets swept up in the holiday momentum, and it’s easy enough to blend in with the crowd. As much as the holidays are a reminder of the good things in life, like spending time with friends and family, giving to other people; the not-so-good things often loom on the other side. January is, of course, the magical time where everyone gets their sh**t in order, right? Almost no one I know enjoys January, but we’ll all cross that bridge when we come to it.
All ranting aside, the thing I’ve come to realize is that, no matter where you are in life, you have to A: take a deep breath, and then B: make the holidays your own. Don’t let other people’s expectations ruin what should be a nice time, regardless of your circumstances. Take the focus off of yourself and do something nice for the people you care about. Give yourself little projects, like decorating the house, baking something delicious, or volunteering. Aside from baking and the occasional festive cocktail, I’ve really been enjoying my tradition of making original and slightly inappropriate Christmas cards. (This one won the year for me. Current life status: Emily.) Plenty of people can relate to feeling like the holidays aren’t for them. Each year I make my cards on Shutterfly, I struggle with finding designs that don’t insist on making my last name a plural or forcing me to introduce a whole group of people. What am I supposed to do with this?!  “Happy holidays  from Eva, her shoes, her glass of Zinfandel, and this Christmas tree”? Well… that’s actually what I do, so that’s sort of a bad example.
I’ve reached the point in my life where the holidays have become a time where I get to celebrate the way that I want, if it’s laughing at myself or just hibernating with a glass of wine and my little Christmas tree. Don’t let anyone make you feel badly about how you…well, do you.
Hang in there, dear readers. Happy holidays.
EVA♥

Sometimes I Think About Things…

Hello everyone.

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Sometimes, I think about how I would like to leave everything behind and move somewhere new. I would leave my little apartment with my purple bathroom that I love so much and start completely over, in a field I know nothing about. Sometimes I think about what it would be like if I moved to Vegas.

“Hi, my name is Eva, I’m a well-educated 20-something woman who just wants to wear a glittery costume and get paid to dance around a club all evening.”

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Sometimes I feel as if I’m in a constant swirl of trying to make connections, of trying to impress strangers, to prove my mettle as a “professional” adult. Most people around me have five-year plans and long-term career goals. The more I try to blend in, the more apparent it becomes that I’m always going to be me—a little bit goofy, a little bit too enthusiastic, and a tad bit doe-eyed about life in general. Add in a dash of neuroses and you have me in a nutshell. Like most people, my life certainly didn’t pan out the way I planned it to, and I’m not entirely sure what to do about it. I felt the sudden compulsion to make changes in my life, the equivalent of sticking bandaids on things that seem to be much more deeply affected.  I wanted to be more blonde, I wanted to start lifting weights, and I wanted to get a tattoo (or two). Ultimately, I wanted to stop trying to impress people with my perceived “quality of life.” I know that I don’t want to be someone who only looks good on paper.  I can’t imagine a life where the standard “What do you do/Where do you live/Who are you married to?” questions ultimately define me as a person.

I recently read an article by Noelle Hancock entitled “I Wrote an Essay About Moving to an Island and Scooping Ice Cream. I Wasn’t Prepared for the Response.”  It was, as I’m sure you can guess, a follow-up to a lifestyle piece she had written for Cosmopolitan years earlier about quitting her $95k-a-year-job and moving to an island in the Caribbean with no plan. I have a sudden respect for the people who have the urge to do things like this. A simple job seems to be wildly refreshing at times. I can easily imagine myself in an environment where my only job is to smile, wear the ridiculous outfit, and occasionally wave a glowstick. Sometimes I feel incredibly guilty for thinking about things like this because the little voice in my head yells “Oh my god! You graduated from one of the top universities in California! You can’t dance around in a bikini for a living!!”

Part of the reason I started blogging was that it forced me to be accountable. I couldn’t just write something on scratch paper and throw it away later because I was too embarrassed to share it. There are still plenty of things in my life that I’m embarrassed to share, but I’d like to think there’s a bit a bravery behind each post I publish. Especially when I write something as brazen as admitting that I have dreams of being a go-go dancer from time to time. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve written quite a bit about how lucky I feel to work in a field I’m so passionate about. Seeing and cultivating art almost everyday is something not very many people get to do, and even on the hard days, I’m immensely grateful for it.

But something else tells me I would be the best glowstick-waver ever.

EVA♥

Flatlining

Hello all!

Occasionally, I do this thing I like to call “flatlining.” When you think about the origins of this term, it can be rather morbid, but it’s something I like to use flippantly. Most of the time, I flatline when I’m feeling under-stimulated, or underwhelmed. This kind of flatline usually takes place in front of some sort of screen…where I can feel my brain cells slowly disintegrating. You know that feeling…either too many hours spent in front of the tv, your work computer, or on your phone.

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Exhibit A: The flatline

 As someone who likes to continuously stay busy, I tend to have this exact reaction once my life slows down a bit. Everything comes to a complete stop. It might be worrisome behavior, but, at best, I’m sure it’s entertaining to observe. Add the fact that I live alone on top of this, and all my speaking abilities go out the window. Try not to ask me any questions (especially before coffee!), unless you need a ridiculous response that takes 10 minutes to formulate.

“Flatlining” isn’t always a bad thing. Sometimes, I schedule this kind of downtime for myself. If you move your incoherent self to a beach or poolside, suddenly it’s called a vacation. Add an omelette and a mimosa on a Sunday and you suddenly have brunch! You can go for a hike, or go shopping while flatlining too.  There are endless possibilities, but they’re all intended to give you a break.

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Nothing says “Please flatline here!” quite like an empty pool on a Sunday morning.

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This past week, I spent several mornings just laying by the pool. There, I quite literally do nothing aside from apply sunscreen, lay down, and chat with the boss lady. (Sunscreen is key here, everyone! I learned this the hard way. At one point, when I pulled my sunglasses down the bridge of my nose, I was left with a red racing stripe. Reapply!)Earlier last week, I spent some time in the salon where I also zoned out to the point where I almost fell asleep. Luckily my hairstylist likes to make me work for my hair, there’s enough standing up and sitting down to keep me occupied for a few hours. While it might seem rather boring for some people, it’s times like these that somehow make me feel more refreshed and ready for the week ahead. Seeing as I have a less than typical schedule nine months out of the year, my summer schedule tends to be the reverse of what is true for most people. I head into a standard 9-to-5 day in the office, while most people plan vacations and take some time off. While having a fluctuating schedule can be really refreshing, I sometimes tend to get too wrapped up in going about a standard routine and completely forget to make time for things that are intellectually and physically stimulating, or just plain old fun. Lately, I’ve turned into the person who comes home, has dinner, and unintentionally falls asleep sitting up at 9pm while watching the latest reality tv drivel. I like to say that the first step in changing a situation is simply acknowledging whatever it is that needs changing. Well, it’s almost halfway through the summer and I haven’t nearly started doing all the things I’ve wanted to do. Join a gym, go to a ballgame, try a new workout class, take more dance classes…the list goes on. None of these things are particularly daunting, but it certainly involves a little bit of initiative, and a whole lot less flatlining.

Baby steps!

EVA♥

Are Bloggers Narcissistic?

Hey all!

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Today, I wanted to write a little something about my thoughts on a topic obviously near and dear to my heart. The online blog world is something that I’ve been fascinated with for a good long while now- I started my blog after following countless others, immersing myself in the carefully curated world each portrayed. While I loved reading exceptionally professional blogs, it was the world of the “20-something” blogger that fascinated me the most. These were, understandably, the most relatable. I commiserated with their stories of dating disasters, nightlife adventures (or lack thereof), and the latest in style and beauty. With all these candid glimpses into other people’s lives saturating the internet, you sometimes wonder what the motivation behind it all is. Is it really about the writing and sharing life experiences, or are bloggers just narcissistic?

Sure, everything is always “I, I, I, Me, Me, I think, I did, I wore…” What else would one expect when reading something that’s purposely centered around another person’s life? A lot of people credit this phenomenon to the Millennial generation, because all of us are apparently hell-bent on oversharing our lives on some sort of social media. I’ve heard people joke that if you didn’t share about it on Facebook/Snapchat/Twitter/Instagram did it ever really happen? But, does everyone need to know about your new haircut? Where you went this weekend? What you think about that tube of lipstick? I wonder if any bloggers out there feel as if their readers are waiting with bated breath for them to post their latest goings-on, all while waiting for some sort of validation so they can continue doing what they’re doing. I would like to think that many, like me, wonder if anyone out there is even reading their little corner of the internet, and why? While I was thinking about these things earlier, I came across this article on Culture Witness. Writer Lea Singh suggests that, to avoid falling into that dreaded narcissistic headspace, bloggers should “approach writing posts like writing magazine articles or newspaper columns, because a blog is a self-published periodical, not a private space, and it should not be kept in the belief that is a mere record for ourselves or our friends and families.”

If this is the case, perhaps I’ve failed miserably here; I enjoy posting about my mundane life events and sharing my most random thoughts. But, like what drew me to blogs initially, it helps to connect, to know that you’re not entirely alone in your experiences. I admittedly try not to overshare, and spend quite a bit of time thinking about (overthinking?) what I write- there are plenty of things in my life that I don’t plan on posting all over the internet anytime soon. There certainly might be more than a fair share of bloggers that can be categorized as self-obsessed, but I also believe there are those who display integrity and share their personal experiences without pretense. I hope to categorize myself with the latter, despite the occasional selfie post.

Until next time!

EVA♥

Burnout: Real Thing or Real Life?

Hello all!

It’s time for deep thoughts with Watch Me Juggle! I bet you can’t guess what today’s post is going to be about.

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Gif: hahahamster.com

I’ve written about a few life things (for lack of a better term) here and there.  It was a recent discussion that I had with a friend of mine that got me thinking. While I embrace the fact that I have a less-than-traditional field of work (no 9-to-5 here), things can sometimes feel a bit overwhelming. They say the key to a successful and happy work life lies in finding something you love to do. I’m fortunate enough to say that I work for companies that I truly believe in, and with people who I consider family. The time I spend in the studio doesn’t ever feel like work. No two classes are ever the same- I get to be creative and I’m constantly learning new things.  I try to hold myself to a high standard, and want to continue to grow professionally, in all my jobs. But, as someone who is altogether too hard on themselves, every so often, that little voice in my head says that I’m not doing enough.

Talking to my friends who have all manner of jobs (tech, engineering, education) helps give me a bit of perspective. If you care about your job and work with integrity, you’re bound to feel like this at some point or another, no matter what field you find yourself in. You consistently push yourself and want to be better. I sometimes worry that what people refer to as “burnout,” is simply the reality for many people. This, to put it quite simply, makes me sad. It’s especially difficult to find balance when you care deeply about what you do. I’ll admit that I’m perhaps a bit lucky in this in that I, without the additional stressors of having a family or a mortgage, have the luxury of overthinking things like this. I hope that by acknowledging that things can get overwhelming sometimes, I’ll get better at balancing life, making room to decompress and do things just for me- like writing, traveling, and getting back to dance class! And that, as opposed to feeling like a hamster running in a wheel, I’ll feel more like this little guy, in his tiny swing:

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What about you, dear readers? Is “work/life” balance a tricky thing for you, as well?

EVA♥