Friday, November 7, 2014

Anna Inc., Since 2014

As you know, the current stage of my illustrious career involves a position at a tech start-up. I have learned a lot, and there are both aspects I really enjoy as well as challenges I would rather not encounter. Being so close to the founding of a company prompted me to consider what the focus of my hypothetical business would be. I recorded the results of my brainstorming, obviously trusting that if you hijack one of these gems, you will pay me royalties.

Restaurant, obviously. I hesitate to share them on a public forum, though, because every time I speak of filling holes in the Charlottesville food spectrum, they get filled. Sports bar on the downtown mall - Citizens*. Bakery serving beer with ESPN - Paradox Pastry. Mediterranean overpriced, medium plates style - Parallel 38. What's left? I have a couple ideas: Everything but Dinner, serving bread, appetizers and desserts, Anna's Abbey, because America needs more abbeys and it is alliteration, or All My Favorite Things, where I have baked goods, ice cream, chocolate, beer, wine, burgers, sports, pizza.

Pimp my religious head garb (originally pimp my yamaka)
I have to credit a Bar mitzvah I attended when I was fifteen for this idea. Indeed, the entrepreneurial wheels were turning at a young age. As I listened to the Rabbi* welcome the boy into manhood in a language I could not understand, I decided the ceremony needed a bit more flare, starting with the yamaka. There lies an untapped fashion market. There is obviously the solemn yamaka to be worn on the holiest of occasions, but then there are the athletic, extravagant, casual yamakas. Support your city's sports team with a logo on your yamaka. Show your chic sense of fashion with a houndstooth or burberry yamaka. Keep your head a little warmer with a flannel yamaka. It does not end there. I will also pimp turbans and berqas. Eventually, this will lead to peace in the Middle East because all will realize that while there are religious differences, everyone wants a banging headpiece. Then I win the Nobel piece prize. You're welcome world.

I have no foundation here; I just want to stop losing my socks to the laundry cycle. Someone solve this problem.

Because finding friends as an adult is hard. Arguably more difficult - and annoying - than finding a date.* And this is coming from a highly extroverted, involved person. You have to set expectations, avoid coming on too strong, contain your outrageous sense of humor until you know they can handle it. When do you exchange numbers? What is the natural follow up if you do hang out? Do you text them that you had a good time, plan for the next hang sesh, or play it cool? Though this would not answer all these questions, it would ease the pain of meeting like-minded people also seeking friendship.

The Ultimate Fantasy League
Why limit the fun to one season? Challenge your friends year round. Imagine it: Your roster could include Marshawn Lynch, Miguel Cabrera, Sidney Crosby and Lebron James*. It gets real in December when you have hockey, football and basketball in full force. Kiss productivity goodbye. Scoring system to be determined.

CEO strategy #37. Take someone's successful idea and copy it. 1800flowers. Why should females be the only people receiving mail-order gifts en masse? Further, what if the woman would prefer a six pack of IPAs and some tasty spiced almonds to flowers and chocolate? Enter... 1800brewski. The service that delivers everything from the ultimate microbrew package to the Nascar package containing Bud Light, PBR and Miller High Life. Send to your loved one for Father's Day, Valentine's Day, or just because you know they are in desperate need of hoppy comfort. Pair the beer with a fine cut of meat, savory nuts or indulgent chocolate - because some people still want the chocolate. I'm sure there are logistical differences between shipping alcohol and flowers, but if they can have a beer of the month club, this sort of service has to be feasible. Not a beer connoisseur? 1800wineluv* and 1800coktail are on the horizon.

Boom. Make it rain.

* I realize this was a no-brainer.
* This is different then apps like Friendster because it matches you with some cool mathematical formula.
* In my case, finding a date is harder.
* Of course my rosters going to include Lebron.
* I wanted to make 1800redwine, but I could not think of a seven letter phrasing for white wine. Ugh.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Dear Grandma, You Are a Great Namesake

Foreword: Like many in my family, my grandma is strong-willed and does not suffer from a lack of confidence. This may inflate her ego a bit, but I am willing to do that, because heck, it's the truth.

I have been grasping fruitlessly at inspiration lately. A lot of ideas are bopping around, but nothing has structural significance. Today, as I was reading old blog posts, indulging in my own wit and rhetoric, it struck. Years ago, I wrote a tribute to my grandfather and alluded to a future post portraying my grandmother. I have yet to write that. After all, how do I package twenty six years experiencing her greatness into one post and hope to do her any justice? As I reminisced about my Grandpa's death, though, I think I got some valuable material. So here goes.

I did not cry when Grandpa died. Maybe a tear or two, but nothing substantial. Of course I was sad, but I was young, and his death had been expected for some time. He was no longer in pain, and I was able to miss a couple days of school. Plus, besides the usual Thanksgiving feast that year, family friends baked some very yummy condolence treats. I vividly remember eating approximately half a Texas sheet cake, acknowledging that at the very least, Texas had made one valuable contribution to society.

The night of his calling hours, I dressed in black, stood in line, kissed him, and returned to my seat next to Lydia. Even then, the sadness seemed distant. Then Grandma said her last goodbye. She bent over the casket, shakily hugged him and wept as she kissed him one last time. Seeing her raw emotion evoked my own. She had just lost the person she loved most in the world, her teenage sweetheart. They had grown up together, experienced war, the birth of children and the loss of a child together. They had moved homes and jobs, built a strong family and laughed with them. Now he was gone. Even at the age of twelve, I had a small sense of the incredible pain and loneliness she must have felt, and I cried for her.

What most exemplifies Grandma's character, though, is the months following Grandpa's death. Nothing changed. We still had dinner every Sunday and the occasional grandchildren sleepover. She laughed, danced, and made absolutely ridiculous jokes at the expense of those who were not as witty as she*. She still gave the same feisty response to a politician she did not approve of or a ref who made a bad call. She still tightly embraced each of us when we left and told us to be safe and how much she loved us. I know she hurt, and once in a while, you could hear it in her fading voice or see it in a glimmering gaze, but that never affected how she selflessly cared for everyone around her. She was a rock.

And she still is. My aunts continue to call her multiple times a week, and my dad continues to visit her almost daily. She claims it is because he needs his afternoon nap, but I know it is because of his love and respect for her.

Gram's is always one of my first stops on a visit home. I'm sure to have a hungry stomach, because I know she will offer me some sort of goodie. We will talk about my job, and she will tell me I should move back home. I will defend myself by saying I am able to have so many different experiences and do good, but a part of me wants nothing more than to stay within the safety of her couch forever. She will tell me how my generation doesn't appreciate anything, doesn't know what it is like to come from nothing, to have to scrounge to support your family and find unity in destitution. I will staunchly defend my generation, saying that we are not all lazy, entitled souls who expect everything handed to us. Yet, I know she speaks some truth*.

They don't make them like you anymore, Grandma. My life and the lives of your four children, seventeen grandchildren, and eighteen* great grandchildren, would be so much less beautiful without you as their foundation. You have done the name Anna proud.

*Sometimes this was because they were merely children, but they were not exempt.
*Even in saying this, I will still staunchly defend my generation the next time I see her.
*Maybe, who knows? Is Annie pregnant again?

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

26 Thoughts and One to Grow On

First, some things you may not know about me

1) I am seriously weary of people who do not appreciate Seinfeld's humor.

2) I know six programming languages. I don't know how to use them, but I know they exist.

3) I am extremely possessive of my desserts.

4) I use only my index finger when typing with my left hand. This was news to me when I discovered it three months ago. I do not know if this has always been the case, but I can't seem to change it.

5) Ice cream burps are my fave, followed closely by doughnut and guacamole burps. If you have never had a delicious burp, I pity you. It's a non-caloric treat.

6) I had no front tooth for four years. And rocked that look every minute.

Things I ponder

7) Is the speed limit really being enforced by aircraft?

8) How much money do grocery stores lose from people mislabeling their produce during self checkout? Is it worth the money they save in staffing?

9) At what level of static does the average American change the radio station?

10) Why does every oil change turn into a $300 excursion?

11) Is it socially acceptable to pluck one's eyebrows at an ATM? Those mirrors have the most incredible lighting.

12) How many malicious workers shake carbonated beverages before stocking them and get silent satisfaction knowing they exploded all over someone?

Pet Peeves

13) Excessive hash-tagging. If you can't make your point in six hash-tags, it's not worth making.

14) Anyone who says they know what it is like to be a Cleveland fan because they have one mediocre team. O, I'm sorry, Detroit, the Lions are terrible? I seem to remember the Pistons and Tigers winning championships in the past ten years. Your sports history is not as tragic. Don't take that from us.

15) People who say they love summer then complain about the heat.

16) Business emails beginning with, "I just wanted to reach out." Obviously. That is implied by you sending me an email. Tell me something I don't know like, "I had no desire to reach out, but my boss is going to throw a fit if I do not."

Random thoughts:

17) This is post number 69. Well, kind of. There are a couple drafts included in the count, but I am not deleting them so this can be 69.

18) I am getting my car inspected today. It expired last September.

19) Chipotle. I just think about Chipotle a lot.

20) Occasionally I remember it is not a dream; Lebron has returned and, realistically, Cleveland could win a championship in my lifetime. Then I smile. Then the Browns lose.

21) I think my neck is generally sore from balancing and supporting my big head.

22) One should always buy hoodies two sizes too large. They are not meant to be flattering. They are meant to be comfortable.

Things I spend too much time pondering

23) Cider vs IPA: Crisp, light, refreshing vs hoppy, heavy, and rich. Both so good once they hit your lips. Bahhh. Give me both.

24) How much money does the Smoked BBQ truck man make? And why did Zocalo stop having dance parties?

25) Hypothetical hubby - professional country star vs tennis player: Rugged, strong, American vs suave, smooth, sensational. And both so good once they hit your lips*. Bahhh. Give me both. And Mark Wahlberg.

26) Could I make a living being a socialite?

Finally, one to grow on.

*In my head

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

The Boys of Fall

Tonight is the first evening with Internet in my new apartment. Yes, I moved over a month ago, but apparently a modem requires a router to receive WiFi, and apparently an extender is not the same as a router. Ahh, technicalities. It seemed appropriate I stop by since I have been absent the past few weeks. I missed you, and returning feels like a nice, big hug. The fall air is creeping through my window, country music is playing softly, and I am feeling nostalgic. Perhaps it is because I heard Kenny Chesney's Boys of Fall this afternoon, but I cannot help but be whisked back to Friday nights in a small town.

For as long as I can remember, high school football was as much a part of life as church or Sunday dinners. My father was a coach, and fall evenings were spent calculating computer points*, dissecting the classic wing-t offense or bemoaning the fact that Catholic schools did not have to pull talent from within their district. We went to every game, and when my grandpa became too sick to make it inside the stadium, I sat with him and my grandma to watch from their car. They had priority seating because my father led the effort to build a new stadium.

The Hilltoppers were good. We won state in '94. My sisters' boyfriend, now husband and Chardon's head coach, led us to a state berth in '98, where we were beat with a hook and ladder. My heart still sinks slightly envisioning the play. I watched the cute football players and pretty girls who seemed so mature and imagined what it was like to be that old.

In my head, each season began the same way. The sky was a billowing gray with hints of sun, and the invigorating fall air penetrated your core with hopes of victory. The stands filled with fans in jerseys; the infamous superfans carried the ever-classy blow horns. The student section assembled, led by mascots in ridiculous attire. Some were there to watch and some were there to socialize, but all of Topper land was there.

Every team was undefeated, and last year meant nothing. The players lined up behind the fence and clapped their ritualistic beat, one that is engrained in my memory. Excitement and anticipation mounted as they rushed the field and tore through the tarp for the first time. This was when the Hilltoppers collected on months of hard work. From kickoff until the clock struck zero, the only play that mattered was the next.

The season was always an emotional roller coaster. The eight minute drives, the quarterback on the keeper, the missed block and subsequent sack. The interceptions, fumble recoveries and touchdowns. You were lost in the moment, but in a different way than collegiate or pro, because these were your childhood play dates, the sons of your closest friend or your grandson. They were your study hall buddies, the class clowns or fellow nerds, your boyfriend. And you wanted them to win.

But why? Why did people travel hours to see a game and weather rain, sleet and snow? Why did people come long after their children had graduated? Why did you get butterflies when it was 3rd and long and we were down by 6?

High school football represents something. It is pure. It can be a sign of strength and normalcy after tragedy. There is a comfort in knowing that amidst outside turmoil, the game is constant. A touchdown is always six points, a false start is always a five yard loss, and despite possibly questionable refs, the scoreboard never lies. The boys play with an innocent and unadulterated passion. They are not yet tainted by the world around them, but, rather, are maturing before your eyes. Most of all, it represents a community and family that is able to put their differences aside for a season and stand behind one group of young men.

I was very close with many on the football team. Time has increased the distance between us, but with a simple song, I hear the stadium chants, feel the nervous excitement and smell the musty post-game locker room. Though I cannot say for certain, I believe with each new autumn, they smell the crisp air and are taken back, if only momentarily, to a time when they were the boys of fall.

*The mathematical basis of making the playoffs determined by the caliber of team you played, but also the caliber of teams they played.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

To Jules and Jerms - Congrats!

My least favorite part of having three older sisters is the four mothers during adolescent years. My favorite part of having three older sisters is after getting over myself and realizing they are right 96.3% of the time, I have four role models.

I look up to each of them for different reasons, but since my life situation is most similar to Julie's, I have looked to her especially in navigating (or not navigating) the ubiquitous world of dating.

Being single is difficult sometimes.* Aside from a natural desire for the intimacy and support found with another, one has to deal with single members of the opposite sex. There is also the occasional ignoramus* who asks, "Why is a sweet, smart girl like you still single?" as if being with someone validates you and a decent looking, well-adjusted woman should surely be in a relationship at this point. I think the question is supposed to be flattering, but a word to everyone - it is not. Really? How am I supposed to respond to that?

When I am particularly craving a relationship similar to the marriages of Gail and Lydia, I think about Julie. I go back to a conversation we had in which she openly discussed a difficult breakup she had been through in her early twenties. Those around her told her that someone better would come along, and at a certain point, in something close to her words, "she had to let that idea go and embrace that someone may or may not come. And she would be happy either way."

It is very easy to stake a portion of your self worth in relationships. Julie did not. She used that time to travel and develop her career. She cultivated so many close friendships, evidenced by the nearly 450 likes on the engagement announcement, an unheard of number outside the world of celebrities. She started life in a new country, maintaining her values through hardships. And years later, in a manner she likely would not have outlined, someone did come along.

I am thrilled for Julie and Jeromy. To Jeromy, you are a wonderful man and bring a lot to the veritable Thanksgiving feast that is the Navatsyk table. Welcome. To Julie, I am glad there is a man in your life to share in your laughter and love. Though I do not always acknowledge it and at times resist it, your consistent encouragement and guidance have helped me define myself. Thank you for setting such a strong example for your little sis.

*I recognize being in a relationship is also difficult sometimes. And other times, they are both easy. For instance, it is super easy to book myself vacations on a whim when single.

*Perhaps ignoramus is a bit harsh, but I really do not like the question.

Monday, July 28, 2014

The Crossfit Total

I know. Two posts in one week; this is unheard of and verging on indulgent. I was considering going to see "Wish I was Here" this evening and fantasizing about Zach Braff - though not really, his thighs are smaller than mine, but I love his quirky personality - but decided it was just too pretty a night to waste in a theater. Given the nature of my previous post, this entry had to be light. I began considering those aspects of life that make me most happy and realized that for all my musings and rantings, I had yet to write about Crossfit.

This is not without reason. After all, with little exception, every article takes one of two stances - Crossfit causes obscure and unnecessary injuries or it revolutionizes your fitness. So what do I have to say? Both. And then, naturally, something more.

I have been injured since joining Crossfit. My callouses broke and the Neosporin stung. I got a rash from excessive thigh chaffage, and rope climbs occasionally give me questionable burns. Every time I do double-unders, I fear kegel exercises will not suffice in containing all within my bladder.* That's not an injury, but it is a nuisance and makes me want to curse at the guy telling me to do faster double-unders. He has no idea.

Honestly, my body has responded extremely well to the programming. The nagging injuries I had in my knee and ankle have dissipated. Even had they not, I would not blame Crossfit. I would blame aging, old fashioned bad luck and my tendency to push myself beyond my limits.

I also claim in a most uncultly manner that Crossfit has revolutionized my fitness. My previous background was nearly fifteen years of tennis, and I have always craved the rush of competition. I was on the court or in the weight room at least five times a week, often more. My coaches, family and a handful of weight room stalkers can attest to my tenacity and dedication. When tennis ended, I maintained my gym routine with similar vigor, but I was not making gains.

Tonight, we recorded the Crossfit Total, your combined max back squat, deadlift and shoulder press. My total was 490 pounds. We performed this same routine in October 2012, and my total was 379. The scoreboard does not lie, mis amigos. I am markedly stronger**, and my speed, agility and stamina have improved as well.

More relevant than either of these is how the gym facilitates continual improvement. It fosters a casually unpretentious and driven community, no matter your skill level. When I first entered, the mechanics of Olympic lifting were completely foreign, and my kettle bell swing was as coordinated as Peyton Manning's dance moves.

It challenges me to leave my comfort zone and learn new movements, attack my lifts and actually talk to the other members.*** The coaches' enthusiasm to instruct and depth of knowledge motivate me to move with increased efficiency and safety. Their consistent support spurs me to work harder and with purpose. Rather than blaring my headphones as I enter, I look forward to authentic conversation with those whose friendship extends beyond the gym.

Fitness was such a huge part of my development growing up; it does not surprise me that it remains so. I am grateful to have happened upon a gym with such a solid core. Now if only Zach Braff would join and get thicker thighs, we could make that fantasy a reality.

* I definitely just scared some people who have never experienced double-unders and gave credence to the stance that Crossfitters are crazy. But I thought it was funny.
** Fear not, I do not look like a muscular lug and still look good in a little blue dress.
*** They probably wish they could get me to shut up now.

Friday, July 25, 2014

On Being Lonely

It's a funny thing, loneliness. I have experienced it on numerous stages at various levels since moving, but I was not anticipating this last bout. Indeed, I am very blessed to have such a strong community in Charlottesville and incredible support in family, but apparently that is not immunizing. It is a quiet loneliness, spurred by various factors, but those really do not matter. What matters is how one confronts it, so I will offer nuggets I have gathered from family, friends and personal exposure. It is certainly not fool proof, but perhaps someone will appreciate another's experience. Plus, that nagging voice compelling me to write will not shut up. Sometimes, I think writing gives the feeling an element of tangibility, for better or worse.

A) Acknowledge the feeling, but do not indulge it. One is entitled to emotions, and they are not crazy. Give them their time, but no more. Perhaps you need a good cry, an IPA, an extravagant sundae or a really long chatsky with a friend. Have that. Then continue.

2) Seek comfort in the right places. There are a lot of easy, immediate sources, but they are also fleeting and unfulfilling. Be cognizant of your motives.

Thirdly) Adjust expectations. Your closest friend has a boyfriend and spends time cultivating that relationship. The job comes with different challenges than you expected. The people you left behind go on living their lives without you. That is natural, and if your stability hinges on these outside factors, you will inevitably be disappointed.

Cuatro) Be thankful. I am grateful for the kindness of others and the strong relationships formed when you allow yourself to be open, and even more so for a family so strong, I still miss them so much.

E) Look at yourself, and be completely honest. At the end of the day, you are only in control of your attitude and actions. Decide what you need to do, and do it intently. For me, answers have ranged from forming new bonds and breaking old ones, to physical outlets to cutting unhealthy habits or thought patterns. Most recently, the answer has been, "be content to go on quietly." Honestly, this is the hardest answer yet because I am an active person, but trusting God to work has been a neat challenge. Slightly annoying, but neat.

6) Then... Get outside yourself, and gain perspective. When I first moved to Charlottesville and in one of our many conversations, my mother told me to volunteer. That was not what selfish post-grad Anna wanted to hear. I wanted pity, but instead I got practical advice.* Incidentally, I started volunteering and have been working with a group of high school girls the past four years, facilitating their growth into young women. Seeing their lives offers a humbling perspective to the blessings in my own life.

It is so easy to be consumed with ourselves and forget that we are not the only ones facing struggles. We begin to compare ourselves to others, the most dangerous and fruitless of slopes. The one lesson that has resounded especially during the past couple months is that everyone has difficulties*; those can be used to help others face them down the road.

Finally) Decide to be happy; smile when you would rather not. Sometimes, life's just hard, for no real reason at all, but in the illustrious words of Jimmy Doogan, "The hard is what makes it great." Yep, I just quoted Remember the Titans and A League of Their Own in one sentence. Dad would be proud.

I hope this does not sound soap boxy. If it did, though, you probably would not have made it to this point. I have a sense this bout is drawing to a close, but for now, thanks for listening.

*Written with the caveat that I do not always follow my own advice.
*I love you, Mom.
*Of course, not everyone blabs about them on the Internet.