Thursday, January 28, 2016

Single in Cville: a Survivor's Guide

It was my first week at a new job in a new city. I was fresh out of college and excited to explore the world of early adulthood. In my first attempt to make friends, I joined a few coworkers for lunch. Brian sat across from me. He was engaged and excited for his upcoming wedding. Adrienne sat beside him. She was a fellow 2010 grad and had gotten married earlier that summer. I chuckled to myself and looked to the guy on my right, Adam. "Are you married, too?" I asked, half joking, for surely not all had already made the biggest commitment of their life. We were in our early twenties, after all. A time for revelry and adventure, for late nights and ridiculous stories. I heard tales of my older sister galavanting through Chicago, and I assumed this behavior was consistent throughout the country.

"No," he answered. "I'm engaged."*

Where was I? I was not in Chicago, friends. I was in Charlottesville, the city where 50% of the population is married, 30% is in a relationship, 15% is off limits because they recently dated your best friend, and 15% is a special breed of idiot in pastel shorts and applique belts who feel compelled to tell you the asinine subject in which they're getting their Ph.D. or casually mention their father's yacht within 30 seconds of meeting you. That's right - the dating population of Charlottesville is -10%.

Let me be clear: this is not about dating. I have been on roughly five dates, and one of them probably doesn't count - Sam Bradford told me he liked my hat. I also went to what I thought was an interview that may have been a date or an invitation to join a cult. I'm not sure - the man implied at one point he was Jesus. And then I saw him every day on my walk to work and awkwardly looked in the other direction or talked to my invisible friend, Joe, to avoid eye contact.

For those ladies who came here hoping to learn how to score a date in a town where the male/female ratio works against you, though, here it is: sit at a bar by yourself and stare off into space. I have run field tests, and while the quality cannot be guaranteed, the conversion to a drink offer is 92%.

Now: I do know about being single.

Not because I "have really high standards" or "just want to enjoy my freedom" - which, frankly, I don't believe when a girl tells me. I think secretly we all want a man to sweep us off our feet - preferably, a man who is beautiful, intelligent, kind, and has a six pack, good sense of humor and enough money to support our shoe fetish but not enough to make us seem like gold diggers. The reason for solitude doesn't matter; what matters is the depths of knowledge gleaned from a nearly six year foray in the Charlottesville singles scene. When included in my memoirs, this chapter shall be segmented: the annoying, the bad, the good, and the truth. Some of it's universal, some particular, some of it's silly, and some hard to share. As always though, it's honest.

The Annoying

Lame excuses. "I'm not ready for a relationship," "I don't want to ruin the friendship," "My phone's dead so I can't get your number," "Work's really hectic right now," "I have a girlfriend." Okay, maybe the last one isn't lame - just annoying. Really, a simple, "I'm just not that into you" will do.

O, beautiful man at the gym who is not wearing a wedding ring, why did you casually mention your wife four months after I adjusted my workout routine so I could admire your chiseled body? Men, at least wear a rubber wedding ring to the gym. It helps me keep my imaginary world in check.

That time I was on Tinder for 16 hours and deleted the app because I knew 70% of the men and the others looked liked they enjoyed either Drake or David Allen Coe just a little bit too much.

Shoot. Gotta change my gym schedule for a couple weeks.

OSweetJesusWhyAreYouHere. Because it's Wednesday night, I have a huge zit and am apparently revisiting puberty, my boss is annoying me, and while I want to vent to a close friend over some vino, the small town devils want to send a gentle reminder that though you are not into me, you are taking this broad who I assume you met through some random medium for social hookups out for dinner and drinks. And then probably dating her. And then probably marrying her.

Guy: Why are you still single?
My head: Why is the expectation in this town that a female needs to be in a relationship at age 27?
Me: Because my husband hasn't come along yet.
...Guy walks away because I mentioned the H word.

Well hello, sir. You seem well adjusted. You are single and straight. You have not yet dated anyone in this town. Ooo, you're moving across the country next week? Cool.

Being a twenty-first wheel.

The Bad

The loneliness. It's just the worst.

The voices. Screaming that you are not worthy. That no man will ever see you the way your dad sees your mom. I wish it were not the case, but there were periods where, though I knew they were lies, those voices prevailed.

The mistakes. My biggest mistake was not forcing my boss to eat at the same bar as the New England Patriots when we saw the team at Dulles airport. Ahh what could have been. Other mistakes - seeking comfort in the wrong places, disappointing others, making my world loud so I didn’t have to deal with the quiet.

The Good

Different relationships. I have had space to build strong friendships with people across the spectrum of social circles. I will carry those with me, and that is more valuable than a series of broken relationships.

Not running into an ex who reminds me of a relationship that ended with me throwing a ten pound ash tray at his head.

Untainted memories. I have been to twenty countries. I have seen the Eiffel Tower, admired Machu Pichu, roadtripped through Eastern Europe, skydived over the Remarkables, dined at true Brazilian and Argentinian steakhouses. Looking back, I see the wonderful people who were beside me: my sister and brother, my cousins, my closest friends. I hope the future Mr. Navatsyk enjoys traveling, because I would love to build memories with him. However, I am glad I have shared moments thus far with people I know will be in my life forever.

Revelry and adventure, late nights and ridiculous stories. Although let's be honest, I think I would still have ridiculous stories if I was dating someone.

OMyGoodnessFancySeeingYouHere. Because it's Saturday night, I look hot and am feeling flirtatious, and I came to one of the three bars in this town. Actually, I already went to the other two, but you weren't there, so by default, I knew you were here, but I'm going to act like it was a totally casual and unplanned run-in. God, I'm smooth.

Freedom to do what I want. Sure, that means I can dance with whoever I would like on a Saturday night, but that's not important, because I much prefer to dance by myself. It means I can choose to train for a marathon, travel, work two jobs, spend my entire winter studying, pursue grad school and a more fulfilling career, and all of those decisions are much simpler because I am the only one truly affected.

Truths (According to Anna)

Tell the voices to go to Hell. Literally. Because that's where they're from. Tell them again and again and again, and they will come less and less and less.

If it's not him, it's something else. And if God closes the door to something pretty cool, than how great is what He has in store?

You can stay at the party. But you can also leave.

Being a third wheel is a skill. You have to constantly be focused, switching gears from sports to fashion to music to humor to gossip. Couples can tackle double dates 2 on 2, but you must be versatile, agile, like a double-teamed Lebron driving to the hoop. Let me tell you, my slam dunk percentage is quite high.

Smile. The world's too small for enemies, and they're not worth your mental space.

Putting yourself out there isn't so bad. I once left work to go to a guy's apartment the day before he left town to confess my feelings in a totally cool and casual way. He told me his ex-girlfriend wanted him back. I was humiliated for a second, but when you have lived with the nickname Nips Navs, you bounce back pretty quickly.
The last time I was rejected, my gesture was much less robust, but my philosophy remains: if someone is taking up space in your mind and you can't seem to turn the switch off, then do something. Chances are, he's not that into you, because otherwise he would have read your completely obvious signals and done something, but at least the switch will be off.

It's okay to not be okay. It's not okay to ignore that.

Relax. Acknowledge your desires, but enjoy the crap out of being single. Because relationships are hard, too.

If you're under 30, please don't talk about your biological clock. Maybe, don't ever talk about your biological clock. It sounds like you're involved in some type of robotic procreation.

Guys are great. They are supportive, kind, and gracious. They will laugh with you, comfort you, and push you. But it's still nice to complain about them.

The ultimate truth

Define yourself. I heard a sermon once about the disciple John. Throughout his gospel, John refers to himself as the one who Jesus loved. This was not a claim of arrogance, but an act of finding his identity in Jesus' love. We choose to define ourselves in many ways - careers, past hurts, significant others, family, money, our own strength. The list goes on, but none are ultimately fulfilling. Some may be fulfilling for awhile, but they will fade. They will disappoint. The most valuable truth I have learned the past six years is how to define myself. I am not Anna, the daughter of two wonderful parents, the aspiring ruler of the world, or the oversharing blogger. I am Anna, the one who Jesus loved.

I'm not sure what the next six years will hold. People have mentioned that business school is a viable place to meet guys, but I'm skeptical. The last b-school guy I talked to about dating used opportunity cost to make his decision on the matter. Plus, I would rather leave the experience with a baller job. At least I know there are fewer pastel shorts in the Midwest. Until then, if you would like to knock on my door and confess your feelings, my shoe size is 6.5, and I have been eyeing a pair of Jimmy Choos.

*I find it important to note here that Adrienne and Adam became two of my closest friends at RKG, and I deeply respect and enjoy both of them. I also think their spouses are lovely.

Monday, January 11, 2016

2016: Anna's Next Steps Toward World Domination

It's that time of year again. The gyms are full, Nicotene sales are up, the Browns off season has begun, the tennis elite take to the courts to begin the grand slam tour. And everyone is wondering, "What will Anna do this year that will take her one step closer to world domination?" I only have three years until age 30, the target year for my reign to begin.

Let's not get ahead of ourselves, though. We must first reflect briefly on 2015. I had one goal, to run with purpose in every step, and with the exception of one face plant into the pavement, I would say I did. A year ago, I was studying vehemently for the GMAT, working on my posture, and figuring out how to continue being single - apparently even after eight years, there is still much to learn. Today, I have been admitted to grad school, am sitting with generally acceptable posture, and while I still have things to learn about the single life - such as why arguing sports with married men at a bar is not an efficient way to get a date - I am looking forward to taking advantage of my time alone by traveling. Even the face plant was inadvertently purposeful as it spared me from a dental cleaning, extending my streak to over five years.

As always, onward and upward. And fret not - getting a job is not one of my goals.

It is best to begin a list with something you have already accomplished. I finally cleaned my coffee mug. This particular mug has traveled with me from job to job for approximately four years, never actually seeing a dishwasher. Over this time, it has incurred much irremovable residue, despite quarterly scrubbing efforts. This week, I used said mug for a cup of hot chocolate with marshmallows. The chemical reaction of cocoa, sugar and two year old coffee stains somehow resulted in a spotless mug. The beauty of science.

Walk up my apartment stairs rather than take the elevator. 1) It's exercise. 2) It may curb my propensity to forget items in my apartment. 3) There are 69 steps. How cool is that? In a sixth grade boy kind of way, obviously...

Develop a new way to remember names. My current method goes something like this:
"Hi, my name is Matt."
My head: "You look like a John. I knew a John in high school. He sat next to me in Spanish class. Ooo, Spanish class. I once got a detention for throwing a pencil to Bobby right after Senora told us, 'no throwing in the classroom.' Dumb move, Anna."
Next time I see Matt: "Hey John... err Bobby... err Senora... how ya doing?" Matt looks at me funny.

Find a new use for truffle oil - the overpriced ingredient of the 21st century. I'm thinking truffled chocolate truffles.

A couple years ago I tried to make the proverbial she a prude, to little avail. This year, I will attempt to switch the focus of innuendos from she to he, doing my part to help promote gender equality.

Start a fashion trend. If high waisted shorts and crop tops can sweep the nation, surely, anything is possible. Over the years, clothing has exposed more random patches of skin. This year, I will introduce the elbowless clothing line. Sure, when a broad is wearing a tank top, you may see the elbow as simply another joint, but a turtleneck with exposed 'bows unveils the true sensual power of the funny bone. Either that or I will start a line of neon mouth guards and pacifiers - for all your oral fixation needs. Inspired by this guy from Boyz in the Hood:

Have a drink named after me. Directly or indirectly. A couple ideas: the toxic navatsyk - man, all these years, I never realized this rhymed; what a fearsome nickname - the dome, novocaine (both actual nicknames), the dolphin call (because I laugh like a dolphin), the clevelander (I shouldn't need to explain this one).

Get my head on a sign. If the starting point guard for Michigan State can have his head blown up, I can as well. Of all my goals, this is the one that will be most difficult to achieve, but I have some ideas.

Find the sweet spot on my Mac mouse pad, equivalent to the right click. It seems I can only tap it occasionally, and I have no idea how to do it consistently. That's what he said.

Finally, I will continue to draw inspiration from Paul - this year, from his letter to the Philipians. Paul writes from prison, that "Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus."

I love watching the tennis pros compete. Certainly, the bodies are beautiful, but more than that, the pursuit of victory is so clearly dependent on mindset. One point can completely shift momentum. You have to play each as it comes, neither dwelling on past failures, nor depending on past successes. You must be present, always. If you lose sight of the goal, it is easy to collapse under pressure. Win or lose, you do one thing: prepare for the next match.

After pouring my heart and soul into Charlottesville for six years, I am going to say goodbye. But at present, there is still time to build new relationships, strengthen current ones, take risks and capitalize on opportunities, and absorb every last bit of goodness. I can continue pouring my heart and soul into Charlottesville, because we are not done with each other yet, though the end is in sight. There is also time to prepare for a new adventure, neither dwelling on past failures nor depending on past successes, keeping my eye on the goal - Christ Jesus. And world domination.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Festivus with the Lunch Club

For years, I heard tales. Every Tuesday - Friday, unless in court, my father left around 11:50 to meet his cronies. The location and number varied; they bounced around from Chardon establishment to Chardon establishment, spending an hour talking sports and politics, bantering and reminiscing. I went the day before Thanksgiving last year, but the crowd was slim, so you can imagine my excitement when, due to my completely open schedule, I was able to join the annual Festivus luncheon at BLT (Bass Lake Tavern), one of the finest restaurants in town. Indeed, the experience was all I hoped it would be.

Dad and I entered; he introduced me to Bill. I had met Ed at yesterday's lunch (I was trying to enjoy as many of these as possible). Both heartily welcomed me, and we took our seats to wait for Dave and Joe. They soon joined, and it was not long before someone brought up Oberlin. My dad had attended one of the most liberal colleges in America, and the school recently made headlines because its students protested supposed cultural culinary appropriation. The Banh Mi was apparently not up to Vietnamese standards. I wonder if the protesting students realized that the "American" hamburger at most college cafeterias is not up to standards either. Dad had no defense for his alma mater.

We perused the menu. The reuben was on special, likely $14, and probably worth the extra $3 on such a special occasion. Dave pointed out it didn't have Thousand Island dressing, but a unique sauce. Still pretty good - just not Thousand Island. Bill ordered the vegetable soup and fruit, and the table turned their heads. He immediately defended his selection: he had indulged the day prior and had a McDonald's McMuffin that morning. We spared his man card.

Marc came late, but immediately made his presence known. He referenced the accusations against Bill Cosby, and my dad steered the conversation in another direction, protecting my ears. "She chose to come," Dave pointed out. Indeed, I was more than satisfied to be a fly on the wall, wherever the conversation led.

Regardless, we turned to other news. A skier had died at a Jackson Hole resort. Only good skiers die, because they take risks. This one, however, may have hit a tree stump rather than a tree, which could make the resort liable. This became a short legal discussion on whether the resort would be exonerated from the death or deemed negligent. I think that was the gist, at least. The table consisted of four attorneys and two Chardon business owners, so the chance of legal jargon was pretty high. Of course, the attorneys all dabbled in "clean" law. Estates, trusts, wills and such. Not the messy stuff.

We talked about the family businesses - an auto dealership, owned by Ed, and a funeral home, owned by Marc. Both advertised locally.
Ed told the story of his 88 year-old father. He asked Ed why he always saw commercials for the funeral home but never for the auto dealership. Ed responded, "Looks like both our demographics are working." We laughed.

In this crowd, you had to be able to laugh at yourself, too. Dad brought up his diet, which is akin to the federal budget. He was supposed to gain eight pounds, he only gained five, so he lost three pounds.

The table shared the same high school alma mater, Chardon High. Since everyone played sports - some, "legends in their own mind" - the glory days emerged. In particular, while Dad was the only person to have scored two points for the opposing team, Marc was the only person to have been kicked off the basketball team twice. Marc did play his senior year, though, and the team was twice as good as Bill's senior year. They won two games instead of one.

High school athletics remained an integral part of life, and we talked about Kareem Hunt, the Willoughby South phenom who was excelling at Toledo University. Dave asked if anyone would see Concussion. No one really said one way or the other, though we did discuss the feasibility of concussion proof helmets being created, manufactured and bought at a high school level. If they worked, then yes, people will buy them, but kids won't stop playing football. Then there were the varsity jackets. Back in the day, if you were at the mall, and you had a Chardon varsity jacket, and a Mentor guy had a varsity jacket, you knew you both played sports. Not now. Anyone could buy a varsity jacket, and stitch any activity on it - equestrian, for example. This just didn't seem right. Those jackets were a symbol. They were earned.

Politics entered conversation once. We were discussing Ed's New Years Eve gala, and someone asked if they should bring anything, including their wives. Only joking, of course, and when I told him I would include it in my blog*, he asked me to spell his name correctly. This is why there are no last names - I have no idea how to spell them. Apparently, a local 70s politician also insisted the papers spell his name correctly. He was running for every position in the county, but he was a Democrat, so he barely stood a chance, no matter how many places his name was on the ballot. He didn't win.

I didn't want to leave the conversation for a second, but I had to excuse myself to use the restroom. When I returned, Marc was telling the story of his father surviving World War II. After being shot in the knee and shoulder, he dove behind a pile of horse manure, which shielded him from the bullets fired. The beam from the building collapsed and narrowly missed him. At that point, he knew he would survive. The doctors wanted to amputate his leg, but that was out of the question - he didn't care if it was dangling. He still played football when he returned.

I did join the conversation a couple of times. Bill asked about Jim Lyons, one of Dad's college roommates, because he was an attorney in the area. I told the story of Jim learning to juggle in college. He was so excited, until Dad walked in, grabbed a shoe, a banana, and some other random object and started juggling. "If you can't juggle, you aren't an athlete," Dad stated, matter-of-factly.

We talked about family. Ed's daughter graduating college, Bill's son joining his practice, Joe's granddaughter on the professional tennis circuit, Dave's family cramming into his home for the holiday. And Dad bragged about me. I liked that he was so proud, although I was not immune to ridicule. Dave held that even if I had a scholarship to Michigan, at the end of the day, it was still Michigan. I didn't mind. It seemed a rite of passage into the lunch club.

I don't know where life will lead me, but if I am in a place where, even after forty-some years, high school cronies share lunch like they're back in the cafeteria - well, I'd like that very much.

* I hope my recording of the events does not ban me from future lunches.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

12 Days of B-School Apps

Last year, I wrote of the woes and annoyances of adulthood. As I sit at my parents' kitchen table, post niece and nephew Christmas tree sleepover, eating peanut butter and jelly, I couldn't complain if I wanted. Not even the Browns' sad excuse for a football team phases me. Right now, life is easy, and my biggest concern is what television series to binge watch, what book to read, and what holiday treat to eat. To be fair, these decisions can be quite hard.

... I really just wanted to share this picture. So much fun!

Over the years, I have addressed my illustrious career in terms of obedience, loneliness, confusion, trust. I have walked in faith, not knowing where the path was leading. As I plot the winter/spring of Anna, I think it only fitting to address gratitude. This year, instead of 12 Days of Adulthood, 12 days of B-School Apps will give a glimpse of how the Lord used a sometimes unorthodox path to lead me to graduate school. As always, it follows the tune.

12 months applying. Last year, I looked at my life, and I wasn't satisfied. I don't normally toss around cliche quotes*, but my favorite from Mark Zuckerburg is: "Am I doing the most important thing I could be doing?" It is easy to be satisfied with "I'm doing well," but this goes further. It demands more.
Of course, the answer to the most important thing is unique to everyone, and the entrant of significant others, marriages, children, other relationships often change that answer. I was in a unique position to pursue the most important problem I could be solving in my career. So I stopped looking at my life, and I looked to God.

11 days of fasting. We began fasting as a family earlier this year because my sister was awaiting a decision on a career opportunity. She asked for prayer, and Mother, the prayer champ she is, suggested fasting. God closed that particular door, but He used it to strengthen our family's relationship with one another and with Him - as well as open many other doors. Sometimes, I made it all the way to five o'clock on a Thursday, and sometimes, I had to eat at three so I didn't attack a coworker, but each time we fasted, one of our prayers was for a clear next step in my career.

10 months of managing. I have a huge amount of respect for the leadership of RKG, but when I sat in a team leader meeting, I looked around the table at people my own age, with similar experiences and similar backgrounds. I wanted different.

9 months of music. MusicToday, that is, but MusicToday didn't fit with the jingle. An interesting stint, and one that helped me define myself outside of RKG, build valuable relationships, and work with an empowering manager. Though brief, I grew more there than I would have elsewhere.

8 essays written. Each with an immense amount of help from my resident editor, Lydia. So, a shout out to my muse - who I wish I could take with me to remind me to be concise and avoid cliches.

7 fifty GMAT. The score I worked for, prayed for, and received.

6 city visits. Marked off my bucket list. I prayed for something to look forward to in the midst of this process, and God used my role as conference coordinator at VividCortex. I traveled to San Francisco, Boston, Portland, Prague, Budapest, Dubrovnik, absorbing culture, indulging in food, and experiencing nature in all its glory.

5 job transitions. Certainly not the path I would have chosen. But each position built a different skill set, showed me what I do and do not want in a job. Each position exposed me to different industries, forced me out of my comfort zone, and revealed my strengths and weaknesses.
At the beginning of the year, I dreaded the thought of another transition, especially because Charlottesville had become comfortable. Now, I am pumped to tackle another transition and apply the plethora of lessons I have learned thus far.

4 years of serving. I was never big on volunteering, but my time working with young women was amazing. Without fail, each time I doubted my time in Charlottesville, I received a text from a girl in my youth group, thanking me for my friendship. I learned so much from them, and the experience helped shape goals for my future.

3 doors closed. Well, one door was cracked. Harvard and Stanford rejected me, and Northwestern put me on their waitlist.

2 months of waiting. Absolute waiting. A point where I said, "God, I did this in faith, it is yours, I trust you with it."* During this time, God asked, "How much do you trust me?" My job at VividCortex ran its course, leaving me gainfully unemployed and not certain of my future.

And a full ride to Michigan. When I began the application process, I prayed for clarity. Yes, a part of me wanted the answer to be in Charlottesville. A part of me wanted to get accepted to Harvard or Stanford, so I could say I got into Harvard or Stanford. Part of me wants to stay on the waitlist at Northwestern to see if I get accepted. But I didn't pray for that. I prayed for clarity, and this is crystal clear. I am so grateful and excited.

Sidenote: Countless - Number of times I failed and disappointed throughout this process.

To some, this may simply be an account of hard work or good fortune, and indeed, I worked very hard and am fortunate. But this is so much more.

My favorite Christmas hymn is O Holy Night, and my favorite lyrics are, "A thrill of hope, a weary world rejoices." Last year, I was weary, and I will certainly be weary again. But the birth of Jesus, His absolute perfect life, and His death on the cross and resurrection offer hope. Looking to the cross, rather than our circumstances, gives us access to a God "who is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us." This is merely a small testament to that power.

Merry Christmas, all!

* Yes I do.
* /God, if I don't get into grad school, we are going to have some serious chats.
* A lot harder than I am currently working

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Killing Time

Kellogg releases their decisions today, which makes this the second longest eight hours of my life. The longest eight hours, for interested parties, was driving home from Chicago after celebrating an over the hill birthday until four in the morning, waking up to watch a marathon, and eating a loaded stack of pancakes. The interstate was infinitely more awfully boring than usual.

Kellogg doesn't tell you how the decision will be released, so I am spending the afternoon glued to my computer and phone. I get that there's a process, but I wish the decision would greet me in the morning so I could enjoy my day. Even better, I wish the decision came two days early. I think if I ever run admissions, I will do just that. Incidentally, should I ever get pregnant (don't worry, I will get a date first), I plan to tell my doctor to tell me a due date that is about two weeks late, so I am pleasantly surprised when the baby comes early. Waiting sucks.

Anyways, I have already browsed the interwebs, taken multiple Buzzfeed tests, and signed up for healthcare. Now, I come to you. My current train of thought is something like this: I haven't been rejected yet, so that's good. Be mentally prepared for rejection. Why wouldn't they want me? Maybe they are saving me for last because they loved me so much. Maybe I should have used a different three words to describe my leadership. This is in God's hands. I am sick to my stomach. What can I eat to distract myself? It's cool to be this invested in something. I say this to say, sorry if this is not the most eloquent of blog posts.

Regardless of the outcome this week, I have a lot of free time on my hands in the coming months. Currently, my routine is: wake up, have a cup of coffee in front of my Christmas tree, read a bit, watch SportsCenter, go to the gym, shower, take a nap, prepare dinner, do one productive thing, wind down with some Netflix. It's a seductive routine, and I cannot become captive to its ease. So, I am noodling on some alternative uses of my time.

1. Move to New Zealand - one of the Buzzfeed tests told me that country best fit my personality.
2. Discover a hidden talent. Maybe I am actually a gifted singer. Or really good at creating recipes. Or I am extremely double jointed and could be a backup dancer.
3. Speaking of backup dancers... Become a groupie. I have always had a thing for guys with instruments.
4. Write a book. Couple of working titles: "Life According to Anna", "Dome Diaries", "The Pursuit" - there's no book titled this, which surprises me - "How to Navigate the Career and Relationship World from the Perspective of Someone Who Currently Has Neither."
5. Become a whiskey connoisseur. This has the two-fold benefit of giving me street cred and mystique.
6. Focus on my blogging. Step it up a notch. Be an opinion columnist. I have a lot of opinions.
7. Create new slang. I like adding "arino" to the end of words. Bloggerino, cheersarino, etc. Maybe I can make it stick.
8. Make money. Nah.

In all seriousness, I know what I want to do. I wasn't able to do it at my last job, and that is why I left. Easy decision. As for the next step, today will help shed some light on which way the door is swinging.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

There Is No Fear in Love

I was seventeen and headed to college. Eager to decorate my new home, I crafted picture collages with inspirational quotes. I made one with my boyfriend; "There is no fear in love" was written in calligraphy in the center. I was really proud of the calligraphy, as well as the vulnerability the quote represented. My mother, however, saw it and gave me a similar warning to the one she gave when she discovered my ribcage read, "Pass boldly in the full glory of some passion."

"Anna," she cautioned, "sometimes fear is a good thing. And sometimes the answer is not to be bold, but to be still." Ahhh, my propensity to act meets maternal wisdom. Of course, she is right that both fear and stillness are, at times, the appropriate response. More on that later. But for now - love.

At the beginning of the year, I wrote about my desire for a husband (or at the very least, someone to buy me dinner and change my stupid light bulbs). I know, I know, twenty-seven year old men - run! I was upset, not about any guy in particular, but about my life. When I moved to Charlottesville, I came with the expectation that I would find a job I loved or a man I loved - because why else would God have called me to a random place?* It had been over five years, and neither of those had happened. I was tired and a bit confused.

But mostly, I was afraid. I was scared of what God would call me to do next. What if He wanted me to leave? What if He wanted to pluck me from my comfort zone yet again? What if I had to make another major life decision on my own?

The quote adorning my freshmen dorm is 1 John 4:18: "There is no fear in love," but in retrospect, my naive teenage self took it a bit out of context. The second half reads: "But perfect love drives out fear."

There's a lot to fear in this world. Just look at the Sunday paper, the Drudge report, or ESPN - whatever your news source. The future is uncertain and completely out of our control, and embracing that is terrifying. At the beginning of this year, I felt that terror. And then I remembered those so sweet words and their true meaning.

Perfect love is not of this world. I have yet to go on a date in 2015*, but I have felt the perfect love of God in a way that I had yet to experience in my twenty years as a Christian. That love has driven out the fear of an uncertain future. For that, I am extremely thankful.

*More on that later, too.
*Obviously, not because I couldn't get a date.

Friday, November 13, 2015

The Origin of the Dome Selfie

"If an atomic bomb hit, it would bounce off your forehead and propel into space," an ignorant sixth grade boy told me years ago. I think it was an insult/method of flirting, but I really did not understand why he would mock such a glorious feature, so I gave him a high pitched laugh and proceeded to the bus.

You see, I have a large forehead. Over time, my head has grown into its size, but as a child, I was 80% dome. Even now, when isolated from the rest of my bobblehead, it still makes a statement.

Adolescent boys will find any reason to poke fun at girls. My nickname in sixth grade was Turtlewax, because the boys wondered if I waxed my forehead to make it shine. Of course, the majority of these boys had a crush on me at some point, and their mockery never phased me.

Besides, for each hater of the dome, there was a lover. My sister's friend made it known that if I were to die, she planned to bronze my forehead. Another sister's roommate was immediately taken; I believe she was the first to put her hand on my forehead and remark on the "power of the dome." This became somewhat of a ritual, and many-a palm caressed my forehead to feel its emanating strength.

My parents also adored the dome. My mother accentuated it with big bows in my early years, and my father still tells me how much he loves the exposed forehead. It is a sign of my Polish roots, and incidentally, also a perceived sign of wisdom, which I like to remind everyone.

Granted, this brief history may beg more questions than it answers, but the dome is my birthright, and I have chosen to embrace it.

Why selfies? I put selfies in the category of Snapchat, engagement photos, and BuzzFeed articles. I get why society has them, but I don't think they really add much. Don't worry, all who consistently snap shots of your adorable selves with a ducky face - I am not judging you. After all, some of us document 20% of our thoughts for the world to read. (The world could not handle more than 20% of my thoughts.) Anyways, I don't like them - selfies, that is. Sarcasm, I like. And what better way to document my travels than a sarcastic spin on the selfie, while also paying homage to my heritage?

So last year, when Julie suggested we take a selfie in front of some London building - maybe the palace or castle - the dome selfie was born. Our year together has been wonderful, and I look forward to what the future holds. Stay tuned for posts on 5 tips to the perfect dome selfie, and follow me on SnapChat for real time updates.