2009 - Love, change and stupidity.

Thursday, December 31, 2009

Last year, only a few posts into my new blog, I posted the 2008 edition of "The things I know for sure. (I think.)" It remains one of my very, very favorites. This year, however, I'm going to switch things up a bit and really just want to sit and chat about 2009.

This was a lovely, life-changing year for me. It was also scary as hell.

Let's see... Where to begin? I finished up my graduate studies, as well as an internship providing therapy to the chronically mentally ill. My favorite line of my internship? When I had to tell a client, "You see, therapy isn't really about you convincing me you're the devil." I had my supervisor rolling with that one. So, after what felt like fourteen years, I received my Master's Degree in Psychology. {Perhaps even better, I did it next to a friend who stole my heart from the very first day of grad school, Jennifer Davila Beckwith - or as I like to call her, Beaver. She had me the moment she said to me in our first class, "I haven't even cracked this book once." Oh, Beaver, you're my girl. You've changed me in ways I can never wrap words around.}

The biggest, best and most challenging part of my year was packing my bags and moving to the desert. And all for love. just a small town girl in Las Vegas. It's almost comical and if you had told me a couple of years ago a move to Vegas would be in my future, I would have died laughing. In fact, on one of my last - and least favorite - trips here in 2006, I swore I would never come back. I think that's the thing I love most about life, you just never know what the universe has in store for you.

Moving away from my family and from my rainy, beautiful home has been, hands down, one of the hardest decisions I've ever made. There are days that the ache for my loved ones is palpable. However, what I can tell you I know for sure is that I have never been happier. Living with the person you love (a first for both my boyfriend and me) is really hard and takes, at least in my opinion, a tremendous amount of work and compromise. And, let's be honest, some days we'd both just rather watch 30 Rock, but we keep working on it and we keep growing. Oh, and we keep laughing. All the time. The decision to move here and live with Jenner has resulted in getting to have a slumber party every day with the person who makes me laugh the most, my best friend.

I think, overall, this year can be summed up in three words: Love, change and stupidity. Deciding to move away and start a new, neon life in what has to be the craziest city on the planet has probably been the dumbest move in the history of my life. The dumbest and the best, that is. I still get, "You moved to Vegas?!" all the time. Even my closest friends and family have had to start defending this choice to people (big shout out to my biggest supporter and bff, Carina). You know what, though? It's these brave, stupid choices we make - whether we're chasing love, or a dream, or simply ourselves - that change us into the people we want to be. I feel like, on the last day 0f 2009, I'm a lot closer to being that person.

Oh, and I'm really excited to say that big things are in store for 2010. I am on the brink of a career upgrade (one that I'm positively giddy about) and I see a whole lotta travel and writing, volunteer work and love on the horizon. Big dreams for the future, dreams I can't wait to share, but I've got a NYE (and a hell of a dress) to get ready for and I know you do too.

Thank you, thank you for being a part of my life this year. I can't tell you what this has meant to me. I wish you the happiest, healthiest and most hopeful of New Year's. Xoxo!

image via

A Photo Homage to the Holidays.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

I'm newly back in Vegas and even though I'm really happy to be home (and especially with a very handsome feller), I already miss my family... Homesick heartache aside, however, I had a wonderful holiday and so hope that you all did as well. I've posted some photos from my trip home and can't wait to check out all your blogs and see your holiday pics soon.

Honestly, and yeah I know I'm biased, could the children in my family be ANY cuter?

This year might have been one of my favorite holidays to date. There is just something so special about celebrating with children. They eat up every single second and just roll around in the magic and the love of it all. My favorite moment of my trip home was when my brother-in-law Michael was reading Santa's note to Max and Jude on Christmas morning. In it, Santa thanked them for leaving out cookies and mentioned that Rudolph especially enjoyed the candy cane one. Max's eyes got big and wide and he excitedly yelled, "Dad, Rudolph is real!"

Those seven days were perfect... There was so much love and so much laughter, I almost didn't want it to ever end. I am my nephew Jude's very best friend and he runs to me screaming, "Attie, Attie, Attie!" and melts me. There were boardgames for days and one incredible family talent show where I killed it with my performance of C + C Music Factory's "Everybody Dance Now." I think the fam is still laughing about that one. There were at least a hundred rounds of Rock Band, several dips in the hot tub, talks with my mama and catching up with old friends.

And then, before any of us were ready, it was time to go home. It's these moments, however, no matter how infrequent or how few, that make our lives.

Peace, love and joy to all. Xoxo!

PS) Be sure to check out my nephew Jude saying, "Bye, bye, Attie." Seventeen seconds that break my heart...

A Year in Blogging.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Hello, dear friends!

Earlier in the week, I had my one year blogiversary. (Hooray!)

On December 22nd, 2008 I started writing my blog, just a small town girl. Initially, the blog was born in the hopes of distracting myself from the cabin fever I was experiencing after being snowed in with my family for over a week. It all started with this post, but what began as an activity to keep me from going straight up bananas turned into so much more. In a matter of just a few days, I was hooked. In fact, I was in love with blogging.

Maybe I should share here that I have always fancied myself a bit of a writer. (A little fact I have not always been comfortable expressing.) Words are one of the great loves of my life and this blog has given me the opportunity and the freedom to express myself in ways I couldn't before. Now, trust me, as someone who had been in graduate school since the beginning of time (or at least since Brad and Jennifer were together), writing for fun was not an option for a very, very long time. just a small town girl gave me the space to indulge in writing solely for the sake and for the love of it... not for a grade, not for a paper, but just because.

So, here we are. A little over a year later and, oh, what a year it has been. just a small town girl has been here to document it all. From being hung over on hope, to struggling with whether or not to blog about my boyfriend, to writing about what I would tell my younger self (my very favorite post, fyi), to the art of being down in the dumps. From my penchant for fish faces to the great love of my parents to Death Cab for Cutie. Then, somewhere along the way, a few of you magically started reading what I really only wrote for myself and my mother. So, with a new audience (of around eleven), I introduced myself and blogged on. The death of the beloved Dorothy Zbornak. My decision to move to Las Vegas. The journey of my own love story. My love affair with Mexico. Shaking my booty to choreographed dances from the eighth grade. I wrote about it all.

Then I finished graduate school, packed my bags and moved to Vegas. I felt more hopeful and excited than I ever had before, but I also felt more scared. Through it all, I blogged. I fell in love with my new life and learned some crazy lessons in my new city. From the passing of MJ to writing a letter to Jon Gosselin to my pounding puppy clock, I blogged. I blogged about the Biggie Smalls to my Puff Daddy and the hurt I thought I would never get over. The words kept coming. My favorite place in Vegas (and my second favorite place). My facebook fantasy status updates. The trip that changed my life. The old lady version of myself. I wrote and I wrote, but no post meant more to me than this one.

One year and 143 posts later, I am still just as excited to sit down and blog as I was that first day. It may sound incredibly cheesy, and for that I'm sorry, but taking the time to write has changed my life. Yes, there are a few changes I want to make in the next year to le blog, but more than anything, just a small town girl feels like a home away from home, a little space in the world where I can truly be myself. Even if no one ever reads a single word I've written here, the act of writing brings me comfort, but the fact that I have become a part of a larger community of bloggers is nothing short of amazing.

So, thank you. Thank you for taking the time to come to my little blog and read a little or a lot and thank you for making me feel, more than anything else, less alone in the world.

Happy blogging to you!

... And so this is Christmas.
{War is over, if you want it.}

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry, merry Christmas. May this new year be filled with peace.

Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Today, Christmas Eve, has always been my very favorite day of the year. Even now, it just feels magical. Here's wishing you and yours the most magical and happy of days.

Not believe in Santa Claus! You might as well not believe in fairies. You might get your papa to hire men to watch in all the chimneys on Christmas eve to catch Santa Claus, but even if you did not see Santa Claus coming down, what would that prove? Nobody sees Santa Claus, but that is no sign that there is no Santa Claus. The most real things in the world are those that neither children nor men can see. Did you ever see fairies dancing on the lawn? Of course not, but that’s no proof that they are not there. Nobody can conceive or imagine all the wonders there are unseen and unseeable in the world.

- Frances P. Church, 1897

Love actually... is.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Almost a year ago, I posted this scene from the movie Love Actually on my blog, but back then only my mother read just a small town girl. So, today, I'm posting it again. If for no better reason than because sometimes, on days just like today, we need to be reminded that love actually is... all around.

The day I tweeted about Chris Brown.

Monday, December 14, 2009

I was perusing the internet earlier today and read that Chris Brown is angry with the music industry for not doing more to promote his album. Of course he is. I mean, what an injustice. There are people starving all across the globe, children dying of AIDS..., but none of that can compare to an entitled, privileged millionaire kid who beat up his girlfriend one night, pissed off everybody who loved his music and now has an album that nobody wants. That, my friends, THAT is truly sad.

(long silence)

I'm assuming you all noted the sarcasm here, right? Okay, great. Just checking. Let me be the first to say that I loved Chris Brown. His song "Forever?" One of my favorites and used to be the ringtone when my boyfriend called. I watched him on Oprah and listened to him talk about the violence in his home growing up. I felt for him. I think we all did. He seemed like such a good kid.

We all know what happened next... Like you, I'm sure, I didn't believe it. I didn't want to believe it.

Now this is not a post about hating Chris Brown. I don't know him and don't know what kind of person he is. If anything, Chris Brown is a victim of domestic violence. Violence is systemic. It is a learned behavior that is often passed down in families. Chris was likely acting out what he saw growing up. Does that make it okay? Everybody now, "Hell, no."

Today I read that Mr. Brown has been tweeting about his anger at his lackluster album sales. This is what he said... "I'm tired of this sh*t. Major stores r blackballing my CD... What the f--- do I gotta do?" Hmmm... What do you gotta do, Chris? Let's think about this for a second. First of all, I think all of the proceeds of this latest album should have gone to a charity focused on eradicating violence against women. Yeah, I said it. All of them. Second, I think I speak for most of us when I say we don't want to see pictures of you jet-skiing and laughing the same week you beat the sh*t out of your girlfriend. Let's see... What else? Well, since you asked, Chris... Most of us are tired of hearing you whine about how Oprah should have been nicer to you and how the industry can kiss your a**. These are just a few of my ideas about things you can do. Public relations according to me.

So earlier in the day, I got angry and tweeted this... "Dear Chris Brown, Stop whining. We're not buying your album because you beat women... and because you're an a**hole." Yeah, Mom, I said it. I didn't think it was a particularly controversial tweet. It turns out, I thought wrong. Within a minute, and no I am not exaggerating, I got bombarded with replies from strangers. Here are a few of the responses I received:

- "No... You're the asshole."
- "He beat 1 woman!!! Not women."
- "Rihanna beat him first."
- "WOW! He doesn't beat women, just Rihanna's dumb ass."
- "He beat one woman, b*tch."

My apologies. He beat one woman. I've never heard that used to praise someone before, but, um, okay.

To be honest, I was stunned by these responses and a little hurt, but - hey - I'm all for freedom of speech. It just makes me so sad - and angry - to think that in this day and age we tolerate this kind of dialogue about women and make excuses to defend perpetrators and abusers. Luckily, we can make a very powerful statement with our checkbooks. So, Chris Brown, this is why I will not be purchasing your album. I really hope you get the help you so need.

I think I'll end this post by quoting a text I wrote to my best friend Carina, "Word to the wise... Never tweet that Chris Brown is an a**hole. Unless, of course, you like being called a dumb b*tch." Just a little warning for my readers.

She is me.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Of all the people in all the world, I am most like my sister. She is my closest friend and the one person I think of as my companion through this life. There is no Kathleen without Monica, no Monica without Kathleen.

When we were little, we had the option of having our own rooms, but we decided to share. Why? Because we've always liked being together that much.

What else? In elementary school, she pushed a boy named Bubba down on the bus when he was mean to me. She made forts for my friends and me (just ask Carina). She taught me to scrunch my hair while blowing it dry with a diffuser and hanging upside down. (It was the eighties, folks.) She let me borrow even her best clothes. Sure, she convinced me that I once ate a slug when I was younger (even though I didn't), but I'll let that one slide. When we dropped her off at college, I cried the whole drive home. (It was an eight hour drive.) I was with her in the delivery room for the birth of both her babies and I've never been more proud of anyone.

Out of all the gifts our parents ever gave us, the biggest blessing was each other. They gave us a sister, a best friend and a biggest fan. We may not be twins in the traditional sense, but we may as well be. When she hurts, I hurt. When I hurt, she hurts. If there is such a thing as an other half, as a soul mate, she is mine.

So, Monica, this one... this one is for you. I don't tell you often enough because I assume you must already know, but the world is better (especially my world) simply because you are in it. I miss you terribly and I love you always. Oh, and I'd still opt to share that room with you, staying up all night swapping stories and secrets until we're little old ladies.

here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life; which grows
higher than the soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that's keeping the stars apart

i carry your heart (i carry it in my heart)

- e.e. cummings

The Girl Effect.

Monday, December 7, 2009

My good friend (and one of the two amazing nannies to my beloved nephews) Laura introduced The Girl Effect to me via facebook. The Girl Effect is an organization and a movement devoted to helping adolescent girls in developing countries and, in turn, changing the world.

As much as I would love to blog more about my love of pop stars and puppies, the dresses I'm eyeing for New Year's Eve and the fact that both the best and worst part of my day today was taking myself out to eat at Applebees (yeah, I'm embarrassed), not today.

Let's not forget we have a world to save.

I urge you to check out their website and learn more.

Thank you, Britney.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Thank you for putting down the cheetos, the booze and the clippers. (I would add the prescription meds, but I think the fact that you are now taking them - under a doc's orders, thank you very much - is a very, very good thing. Mental health, like hair, looks really good on you. It turns out, so does motherhood.)

If you can find your way back to happiness, I can't help but think there's hope for us all.