Monday, March 26, 2012

709, baby!

I checked my Equifax credit score this morning and was pleasantly surprised by that gem. My score has gone up five points in two months. And that's with that ridiculous apartment debt still listed as in collections. I called and closed my most recent line of credit today (opened August, 2008), so my newest credit line will be 5 1/2 years old next month. As soon as the collections nonsense is removed from my report, the only thing knocking me down will be that I don't have a mortgage.

I put in a solid 6.5 hours at work today. Shucking boxes, climbing ladders, filling shelves, doing pull list, and helping customers. I served a bottle of sparkling to some people shopping for a wedding. (The dad was a huge jerk. Tried to get the manager to open several other bottles for them to try, free of charge. When it didn't work on her, he tried to get me to do it. Was super rude about everything. Cool, bro.) Gave the new girl a little wine education. Worked on cigars. Ran around like a chicken with my head cut off and wished I had worn a t-shirt and jeans rather than my work clothes.

This week is going to be ridiculous.

In other news, I got a bunch (2.5 lbs) of fresh, wild-caught salmon at the grocery store today. I've never cooked salmon in my life. I'm thinking I might make Salmon Piccata with one of the filets, but I don't know about the other one. If you have any ideas, feel free to toss 'em my way!


Sunday, March 25, 2012

Crazy work schedule approaching.

I will try to give some substantial updates as much as possible, but I might be MIA for most of the next two weeks. We have two visits from the owners coming up, and I'm working 6 of 7 days next week (with plenty of overtime, when I'm only scheduled part-time normally).

Try not to miss me too much!!


Saturday, March 24, 2012

Huge thank you.

I woke up this morning to an email from a dear friend. Olga was the first real friend I made when I moved down to Arizona. She is a fellow math nerd, and we spent hours at the library studying for Calc-III tests and doing homework together.

She had a lot of non-judgmental insight on my life-dilemma that was absolutely priceless. It gave me a lot to mull over and seconded a few thoughts I've already had, but haven't voiced. Bottom line, it absolutely made my day. So Olga, thank you.

I also had a spectacular day at work today. I left work yesterday a little discouraged. On weekends, I have a ratio I need to attain. The average is a 4.0. My worst day was a 4, and best day was a 17.25... until yesterday. I left with a 3.42 and was pretty down about it. Especially being on the bar for the first time after the class I just went through, I felt like it sent all the wrong signals. Well today turned that around! My ending ratio was a 14.5. No complaints here! I more than made up for yesterday's numbers, and that's my second best day ever!

Overall, no complaints from me about today. I get to wake up early in the morning and go grocery shopping so I can make beef stew. Tomorrow is bound to be another great day, if beef stew is involved!


Friday, March 23, 2012

Well, shit. I'm fat.

What's a proper quarter-life crisis if you don't let yourself go, right?

I'm doing a 10-week weight loss challenge with some lady friends. It started this week, so I ran down to Bed, Bath, & Beyond (one of my favorite stores ever!) after work tonight to pick up a scale.

According to my BMI, I'm overweight. According to my body fat percentage (and the American Council on Exercise), I'm obese.

I guess the good news is that I'm down more than 7 lbs. since the new year. The bad news is that I'm still a fat cow. Perhaps I'll use this opportunity to cross off that goal of exercising 60 minutes every day for a month.

I was absolutely horrified to see that I'm almost 40-lbs. heavier than I was at this same time last year. Ugh.

I suppose I'll kick this off by getting enough sleep tonight (or going to bed early, anyway!), finishing off my liter of water, and maybe doing some HIIT tomorrow. I'm thawing some stew meat so I can make beef barley stew tomorrow. I got blackberries at the grocery store yesterday, so I think I might have some with my greek yogurt in the morning.

Here's to getting skinny again. I'm heading to bed before 11:30. Maybe I'll dream my svelte bod back.

Brianna, in art

I was going through old work-related stuff today and was reminded of how much I love so many of the paintings I've modeled for throughout the years. If there is a censored version of a nude painting available, that's the one I've posted here. If not, it's art. Don't get your panties in a bunch.

These are just two of the artists I've worked for, because their art is the easiest to find. This work is 2009 - 2011.

 by Steve Rude

Tropical Brianna, by Steve Rude

Yoga Pose, by Steve Rude

Ivory Figure, by Robert Lemler

by Robert Lemler

Red Haired Model by Robert Lemler
Side note: This was one of my favorite poses. I actually fell asleep while modeling. Hard at work!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

365 Questions: 204 - 215

204. What do you wish you had done differently?  Not a whole lot. I make it a policy not to regret anything in life - only to learn from my mistakes. I wouldn't be the same person without those same experiences, for the better or for the worse. 

205. What is your greatest strength and your greatest weakness?  My greatest weakness is also my greatest strength - my big heart. I am a huge people-pleaser and there's nothing I dislike more than disappointing someone. So I have a really hard time saying no, in pretty much all applications. That's the downside. The upside is that I am a wonderful listener, because I genuinely care about people. I love nothing more than making someone smile, or helping them in some way. And there's almost nothing I'm not willing to do for those I love. 

206. When was the last time you lied?  What did you lie about?  Honestly, I don't know. I try my hardest to always tell the truth, because dishonesty is one of the most deplorable qualities to me. 

207. What made you smile this week? I smile every day! But the most notable thing yesterday was being given a $200 case of wine, for free. And from this morning, it would have to be G crawling in bed and snuggling up to me. I'm a sucker for snuggles. 

208. What do you do with the majority of your money?  Spend it on tuition. Gross. 

209. What motivates you to be your best?  Nothing, sadly. Or perhaps I just haven't figured out what it is that motivates me. Because I'm certainly not being my best. 

210. When was the last time you lost your temper?  About what?  That's another one I can't remember the answer to. I rarely get upset or angry. And when I do, it's the silent ice-queen type, not the raging temper type. Certainly the last time I lost my temper would have had something to do with Kyle, because he's really the only reason I ever rage. 

211. What will you never give up on?  My dreams. I am the only one I can count on to actualize my dreams. I will one day own a home in Austria. 

212. When you look into the past, what do you miss the most?  I miss a lot of the close friendships I had - not the people necessarily, but the feelings associated with the good times. 

213. How would you describe the past year of your life in one sentence?  I saw the world and experienced a whirlwind of emotions.  

214. What is the most spontaneous thing you’ve ever done?  Last summer, I up and bought a ticket to Europe the day before I left. I've decided one afternoon to take a roadtrip and ended up in California by evening - on more than one occasion. I'm generally pretty spontaneous but I don't often do things that are noteworthy. 

215. What makes you uncomfortable?  Disappointing others. Sometimes new situations. Pervy men. 

Monday, March 19, 2012

How did you know?

I know at the beginning of this month I said I was having a small crisis. I don't know what I'm doing with my life.

Well, no surprise, I haven't figured it out in the last 19 days. In fact, instead of deciding to take a break and head to the east coast for a bit, now I'm thinking of leaving the continent. Yikes.

I've been thinking a lot more about what I want to do in life. What I enjoy doing. My passions. I've tossed around the idea of going to culinary school. I've thought about taking anthropology classes and perhaps getting a degree in culinary anthropology. (All of this without having actually updated my food blog in over a month.) I've thought about being a Bikram instructor. I've thought about cutting my calorie intake to 200 per day, somehow growing 3 more inches, and trying to break into the bigger modeling scene. I've thought about being a high school math teacher, or history teacher. Perhaps staying with my current company and being a wine manager. Doing medical research. Being a sommelier. Becoming more confident in my language skills and being a translator.

I've contemplated nearly-unrealistic things. Being a signed country artist. Opera (now that I'm a mezzo, I don't have to worry about being labeled a high-drama soprano!). Being a vintner. Writing a cookbook.

I've thought about interim jobs. Being a tour guide in whatever European city I choose to live in. Offering my editing services to various organizations - everything from Total Wine (their Guide to Wine could certainly use some help) to the city of Florence and their tourism division (all their English language publications are awful). Taking some time to travel around the US and getting modeling jobs where ever I can. Being a tour guide at Auschwitz, since their guides mostly suck. Or being a tour guide at any number of other places in Europe, where English-speaking guides are a hot commodity.

I'm going to be 24 in a few short months. Most people, if they have gone the college route, are long gone by my age. Instead, I'm finishing up year 7 right now and still have absolutely no clue what I want to pursue.

Am I supposed to be waiting for some ah-ha! moment? Did you all just "know" what you wanted to do? Surely I'm not the only one who feels so lost.

Dad included a note in the box my parents sent last week. It said something along the lines of how I need to email him an update on school, because "inquiring minds need to know." I've avoided it because I don't know what to say. What? - "Oh hi, Dad. I've decided I have wasted my money for the last seven years so I'm just going to drop out of school and try to figure out life on my own. Oh, and I'm thinking of moving to Europe. Don't worry that to get an apartment in Germany, the up-front cost is usually 4000-5000 Euros; I'll be fine?" Somehow I don't see that going over well.

My life is one big facepalm right now.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Two more goals down!!

Sorry it's been a while. I've been super swamped with school, helping my best friends move, and my CouchSurfer! Yep, that's right. I hosted a CouchSurfer for the last week. Jordan was in town for a job fair and professional conference that ended this morning, so we went out last night with G for some Arizona brews.

The boys with the SanTan sampler. We ended up there since I have been to Four Peaks a number of times, and SanTan is a lot closer to G's house. And since I gave him a ride, I didn't feel like driving back up to Tempe. We closed down the bar there, went and had some tacos at Dos Gringos, and headed home. It was a nice, relaxing way to wind down the last week together.

Anyway. Hosted Jordan and I also finished my puzzle early last week, so I'm up to 20 goals crossed off now. Two in a week isn't bad!

Kris and Dave leave Saturday morning, so I've spent most of my free time helping them pack, and spending as much time as I can get with them before they leave. I had planned on going up there for the latter half of Spring Break, but I apparently didn't put my vacation request in on time at work, so the schedule was made up before I let them know I'd be gone. Boo.

I got an hour and a half of modeling work in last Thursday and earned more than my entire last paycheck. Yesterday, I had a shoot out at White Tank Mountain regional park. It's SO beautiful out there! And on our way back into town, I saw two deer running across the road - a first for me in the 3+ years I've lived here. That was pretty cool.

Sorry I'm all over the place tonight. I have a headache, Mom just got out of the hospital this afternoon after emergency surgery earlier this week, and Prince Charming and I decided to go our separate ways this afternoon. It was an amicable break, but still makes me a little sad. He accepted a position that is going to put him out of town / across the country for the next ten weeks. Things have been off between us since the wedding and now with the prospect of long-distance, we just decided to call it quits.

And I was chatting with Irene yesterday morning... We're tossing around the possibility of being roommates in Hamburg next year. She's thinking of moving out there next fall, and I certainly don't have anything holding me here right now. We'll see as things progress, but I'm definitely considering it.

My head hurts, so I'm outta here. I'll leave you with a picture from last week. G and I went out to lunch at Ra. The food was delish, and this picture makes me laugh every time.

Sayonara, beeches!

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Today rocked!

Today didn't start out so awesome. It wasn't bad - just not noteworthy. Meh.

Kris asked me if Kyle would be willing to help them start packing/moving stuff tomorrow. He initially agreed, so I let Kris and Dave know we would be over for dinner / to help tomorrow evening. An hour or so later, he responded that he forgot he was going to be busy catching other men's balls (around his face, mostly) for hours tomorrow night. And I always feel shitty saying "oh hey, totally count on this!" and then recounting it later. So I got mad about it. Whatever.

While I was sitting there pouting, I missed the yoga class I had intended to go to. Then I was on the phone and realized the next one started in 15 minutes, so I missed that one, too. I ended up going to the last class of the night, and I think I found my new favorite teacher... which leads me to my huge news.

Step dancing ruined my hips/knees/ankles in a big way. Sitting on my knees is usually a chore because it hurts my ankles. And not being told to turn out from the hip makes my flexibility all whack. Long story short, it means sometimes I'm crap at some of the yoga poses. Like this one.

In all my yoga days, I've never been able to do toe stand. UNTIL TODAY. I was only able to go down on one side (my foot tends to slip so I couldn't make it happen on both sides), but I did it.

I also rocked at Eagle, Standing Head-to-Knee, and Triangle. And Cobra. And Rabbit. And, and, and...

I was so pleased with my practice tonight, it made my entire day.

If you have the chance to take a class with Audrey (or Reba, who is my second favorite) at BYT, definitely do it.


Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Big changes!

Yesterday I announced some big changes to a friend of mine. It was the first time I'd voiced that specific change to anyone else, and then I got thinking about what I'm doing with my life, which led me to a lot more big changes.

So. Here goes.

The first week of May will be my last semester as a full-time undergrad - at least in the foreseeable future. I'm tired of school, so I'm taking a break. I will continue to take classes part-time that interest me (probably a language class and a history course this fall), so I don't have to start repaying my student loans right away while I'm figuring out my life. But school is not for me. At least not right now. And so I'm quitting.

March 21st, I will be on a plane to Boston. My best friends are moving to Vermont, and I'm helping them with that transition. They've also been asking me to make a permanent move out there, or at least a long-term temporary move, so this will be a trial run of sorts. See how I like things. As an added bonus, Ryan is about ten minutes away (at Dartmouth in NH), so I think we're getting together on the 24th/25th.

If that trip goes well, I plan on moving out to Vermont the last week of May or first week of June. I will be a lot closer to the energy markets I'm in for work, and a lot closer to the east coast modeling scene. Since I have not yet enrolled at ASU for the fall (and don't plan on it), I may stay out there indefinitely. Perhaps take a few courses in VT/NH. Do whatever strikes me.

And I'm going to stop worrying. I have modeling work Thursday that, for two hours, is going to pay more than my last paycheck (for two weeks worth of work). I'm going to model more. Maybe quit my part-time job.

I'm just going to do me. And in two weeks, I'm going to be doing it here.

Monday, March 5, 2012

365 questions: 196 - 203

196. What’s the biggest lie you once believed was true?  Love is all you need. 

197. In your lifetime, what have you done that hurt someone else?  Well I've been in a long-term relationship before. Over the course of those four years, I know he expressed hurt a few times. I have occasionally been thoughtless. I have been dishonest with my parents and with others. I got a restraining order against a family member in high school, which was very damaging. 

198. What’s the best part of growing older?  I would say the best part is probably also simultaneously the worst part - more responsibility. 

199. What’s been on your mind most lately?  The future. More specifically, the immediate future. Next semester. What in the world I'm doing with my life, and where I'm going. 

200. What do you think is worth waiting for?  Love / Mr. Right. 

201. What chances do you wish you had taken?  I wish I had bungee jumped off the Europe Bridge last summer. I was too much of a weenie to do it, though. 

202. Where else would you like to live?  Why?  Austria! It is my favorite place in the whole wide world. The people, the scenery, the town (Innsbruck), the food... there isn't a thing I don't love about it. It's like coming home every time I'm there. 

203. What motivates you to go to work each day?  A paycheck when you have a hefty tuition bill and tens of thousands in student loans is a pretty good motivator. 

I feel so lost.

It's like a mid-life crisis, but worse. It's a throw-my-hands-up-in-the-air-and-give-up moment.

I don't know what I want to do with my life. I thought Math was the way to go. Finally, something that interested me and that I could potentially enjoy pursuing a degree in. Nope. I was wrong. I'm in the middle of my second semester, and I've lost all ambition. To the point where registration has already opened for next semester and not only have I not registered, but I'm not sure that I want to. At least not full-time.

I'm sick of school. I'm sick of being taught things that don't have a practical application. I'm sick of university politics. I'm sick of being told I need to hurry up and finish. I'm sick of feeling like I'm a huge disappointment because I'm finishing up seven years of school and don't have a degree. I'm sick of the implications that I will hate whatever job I choose if I'm not making six figures right out of the gate, because I can't possibly be happy with less than that.

I want to work on my business, and see where it takes me. I want to model for a while - enough to pay the bills - and see what I think. I want to do whatever the fuck I want to do, and not feel like I have to conform to anyone else's idea of what I should or should not be doing.

I don't know what I want to do with my life, but I know it's not getting more in debt (when I already have about $80K in student loans under my belt; thanks) while I'm not enjoying myself. Shit.

I think my grandma was right. The reason it's taken me so damn long to finish school is because I don't know that I even want to be there. I have stayed because I was told I need to. Because I knew I should. Because that's what society tells you to do if you want to be successful. Not because I want to.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

One year down: An update on my 101!

Well it hasn't been quite a year yet, but March 7th falls in the middle of the week, so I wanted to update a few days early.

I have completed the following 18 goals so far:

  • Take a non-required class just for fun. 
  • Pay my credit card down to $0. 
  • Buy a desk.
  • Buy myself flowers.
  • Upgrade my camera
  • Buy new glasses
  • Make a new close friend.
  • Take three roadtrips
  • Get a new stamp in my passport!
  • Drink 64-oz. of water in one day
  • Complete a five-day juice cleanse
  • Give up soda for 30 days
  • Write my name in the sand
  • Go out dancing
  • Make a list of 101 things that make me happy
  • Couchsurf
  • Complete my testing for the bone marrow registry
  • Don't log into facebook for 14 days

And I have made progress on the following 17 goals:
  • Use at least $100 in coupons (22% complete)
  • Go to five theater productions (20% complete)
  • See 10 old but new-to-me movies (20% complete)
  • Visit 15 US states (20% complete)
  • Cook 50 new recipes (30% complete)
  • Yelp five new restaurants (20% complete)
  • Try 10 new kinds of tea (40% complete)
  • Complete a 1000-piece puzzle
  • Read 100 books (10% complete)
  • Visit 10 museums (40% complete)
  • Write a letter to myself
  • Complete a 365-day photo challenge
  • Answer all 365 thought-provoking questions (50+% complete)
  • Donate 1MIL grains of rice (32% complete)
  • Make 10 trips to the recycler (70% complete)
  •  Get rid of 30 items from my closet (20% complete)
  • Achieve my goal weight
 35 goals have been attempted in some capacity. Of the ones that I've made progress on but not yet completed, I'm a little behind. So overall, I'm definitely behind. However, all that said, I'm still happy with the progress I've made. I feel like I will still be able to more than make up for my procrastination so far.

I'm going to attempt to update monthly on changes in my progress. Maybe that will help me be a little more accountable.


Friday, March 2, 2012

Reflecting on a failed relationship

This was something I had initially written back in January, and then forgot about. Oops!


I came across a blog entry today. A photographer and Marine wife in St. Louis completed a photo project last month depicting a grieving widow. I'm fairly confident this was a creative project she embarked on, though that's not specifically mentioned. 

It came on the same day that I had been talking to one of my recently-single lady friends about breakups in general, the grieving process, and getting back to "normal." On my favorite forum, there's a group of us "single ladies," so you might notice the language of the last sentence isn't specifically addressed to one person.

Anyway, I've been doing a lot of reflecting today. On everything - but mostly the good and the lessons. And I wanted to share it with you.

This is my comment to Rachel earlier:
Just know this is all a part of the normal grieving process. Don't beat yourself up over being upset, or thinking about him, or wishing he would call. 
I was so heart-broken after my breakup that I slept on the couch for days, because I couldn't bring myself to sleep in the bed that we had shared. I screamed. I cried. I went to a counselor. I turned assignments for school into a way to talk about my breakup. (My final for one of my classes was seriously a 14-page paper on our relationship.) I read books on how to save a failing marriage, or how to improve a relationship. I journaled. I blogged. 
I also baked a lot more. I traveled more. I spent time with friends that I never would have, had we been together. I spent money on whatever I wanted, without having to fear a negative reaction if he didn't feel it was a wise purchase. 
There is no right or wrong way to heal. Do whatever it is you need to do to come to terms with things, as long as that doesn't involve seeing him (for right now). Do embarrassing things. Do empowering things. Chop all your hair off. Go skydiving. Write him nasty letters, and don't send them. Read It's Called a Breakup Because it's Broken
Breakups suck. You'll have good days and bad days, and we'll be there for all of them.

 During the relationship:

  • I learned how to communicate so much better. Sure, I might have placed in State for debate in high school, but I had no idea how to communicate in a healthy way in a relationship. 
  • I learned the importance of expressing love often. When Kyle was deployed, I realized that I had previously taken a lot of things for granted. Our communication style changed in a lot of ways, and this was one of them. We were both more affectionate and verbally appreciative of the other. 
  • I learned about myself. What I could and couldn't put up with in a relationship. I learned what I was able to live with, even if I wasn't particularly fond of [the habit, behavior, whatever]. 
  • I learned to pick my battles. Buying sex toys for other women? Worth bringing up. He left his clothes on the living room floor, or turned down the A/C to 64 degrees and then left the house all day? Not a big deal in the long run. 

After the break-up:
  • I spent more time in the kitchen. In the final months of us living together, we fought so much about how he didn't feel I ever really cooked dinner. (Though he certainly asked for plenty of my recipes after he moved out!) The strife surrounding cooking in general led me to not really want to spend time slaving away over the stove. Having that strife behind me has definitely allowed me to experiment a lot more, and now I have my wonderful food blog! (And he's the guy behind the nickname that prompted my blog title.)
  • I traveled more often. I spent time in California with my friends and grandparents for the first time since I/we moved down here. We had talked a few times about going out to meet my grandparents, but in over two and a half years, we hadn't made it happen. I was free now to up and leave whenever I wanted, and I did so on several occasions. I also traveled to Europe this summer. We had chatted about travel often, but never made it past a day-trip to Sedona, a few days in DC, and a Marine Corps-funded weekend conference in Nashville. 
  • I met some new, amazing people! One of my best friends this past year is a woman I probably never would have met if Kyle and I had stayed together even one more day. The day after I ended things, he came to collect all his crap from the garage. I had previously put us on the guest list for a VIP event at my favorite wine bar that same night. I ended up going alone, and met the most wonderful couple while I was standing in line waiting for food. We sat together, chatted all night, and they have truly been lifesavers for me in the short time I've known them. They opened their home when I was displaced in April. They introduced me to a new source of income. And they have been loving and supportive in more ways than I can count. I can't express how thankful I am to have them in my life - something that probably would not be the case if timing had been different. 
  • I learned that it wasn't so bad after-all. In the moment, I focused on the arguments. Sometimes I'd make a point to note the really good times. If we had a good day, or if he was being extra sweet, I'd let him know I appreciated it. But more often than not, the bad times set the tone for our communication. Then initially after the break-up, I had these ridiculous manic "but things were so amazing! Look at what a good time we had!" moments, swinging back down to "what a douchebag. I hate his guts and can't believe we dated past a year." Now, I'm able to look back and see that there were certainly negatives. But there were really sweet moments, too. And not just vacations, or dates, or what-have-you. We shared a car, and he arranged his work schedule so he could pick me up from school and take me to work. He would always bring me a snack of some kind, or dinner to eat at work. I remember one time we had been fighting, and he was apparently doing his best to give me the silent treatment. He still made me a pb&j sandwich. 

I've learned a lot from dating since Kyle, too - some things that make me realize I deserve so much more than I had, some things that made me appreciate little things he did, and some things that have made me realize I wasn't totally innocent either. 


All in all, I'm glad I've had the last nearly-a-year to move forward. I still would hesitate to say that we're friends, but we get along much better than we did in the last few months of our relationship. We still are able to communicate so well. We have better communication than I've had with anyone I've dated in the last year. 

I guess all that was to say that I can finally admit I don't regret our relationship. I wouldn't take it back. If I had to go back five years, I would still make the same decision. It helped shape me into who I am today. I learned so much about myself, about how to interact in future relationships, and about... life, really. I experienced so many new things because of him, and I value the time we spent together. 

So when you're heartbroken and mourning a love lost, realize that not only will you pull through, not only will you be stronger in the end, but you will be able to look back and glean lessons. Maybe not right away. Maybe not even a year later. But some day you will be able to look back fondly and recognize that you wouldn't be who you are today without those particular experiences - for better or for worse.