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Climb Every Mountain, Or Really Just Any Mountain

My dad apparently thinks my exercise experience of late has been frantically lifting Doritos into my mouth (not wholly far off), because his latest email to me about our potential mountain climbing adventure reads:

“Climbing uphill is nothing like walking or running; it’s very hard physical labor.”

Thanks, Dad. As if it wasn’t already intimidating enough to have your 56-year-old father in better shape than you.

(This isn’t entirely inaccurate: last Christmas, we went on a 5-mile run together and I ended up shitting in the woods. SHITTING IN THE WOODS LIKE A BEAR. Yes, I had food poisoning, but it wasn’t the best intro to him that I’m a capable jogger, with a soft j).

I’d of course also venture to argue that much of last year, I ran 12-15 miles a week and took several yoga classes in addition. I also ran not just the 10k I set out to achieve, but a 15k as well (which was incentivized by chocolate at the end; a related but entirely more appealing conclusion from my run with Dad).

I can freaking train, dammit. And this bucket list was worth nothing if not to challenge myself.

I’ve traveled to Ecuador and road-tripped Thailand. I’ve saved money. I’ve learned Spanish, taken auto classes, learned to knit, read the classics, published a book, swum with sting rays, surfed in Hawaii, won major business, and volunteered weekly for six months.

If nothing else, I’ve proven to myself that I have willpower, which is something I didn’t realize until literally just now. Climbing a mountain will be, what, 8 hours out of my life? BRING IT, MOUNTAIN. I WILL SHIT IN YOUR WOODS LIKE THE CHAMPION I AM.

AND I WILL DO SO BEFORE I TURN 29.

Boring Adult Things

In Treatment

It should be no surprise to anyone who reads this blog that the last few months have been rough for me. Brandon’s informed me that I’ve literally been flinging myself around in my sleep, to the point of actually losing a ring in the middle of the night and stealing all the covers, waking up with spine issues and headaches. I’ve been in a pit; sick, depressed, angry – unable to sleep, and when able to, haunted by nightmares.

I’ve removed what remained of the tumor in my life and although the after-effects are still present, they are fewer. It’s amazing how much emotion-based poison flowing through your veins can destroy you, even as placebo.

So with that said, I hope that over the next few months of blog posts, you’ll see a happier and healthier Alexis.

I’m riding my bike to and from work, re-embracing the exercise I’d abandoned recently. I’ve completed 5 or so auto classes, so I’m comfortable crossing this piece of the puzzle off the list. I’ve embraced a new challenge in my career and find myself working on countless clients and facing new and exciting obstacles each day. I’m writing music and getting better at the guitar – and our work band may even play one of my originals soon. How surreal that will be…

We’ve cut the cable cord and tried to embrace some R&R where we can. We bought Alice a Thundershirt because that lil shit is a freaking ball of anxiety (not helped, I’m sure, by my own anxiety). I bought a Prius (and HIGHLY recommend Carvana for the experience). We adopted out a kitten. I began a charity venture. I’m seeing more friends. I’m drinking less wine.

It’s all surface changes but it’s seeping inside, and replacing the hatred and disgust is a slow, super-slow feeling of peace. And for all the decisions I’ve made this year, the one I am most grateful for is the decision to leave a past that was hurting me far in the distance, even though I love those I’ve left behind. We all must forge our own paths.

And with that said, onward and upward in this life adventure… 30 and beyond.

Boring Adult Things

Stock Piling

I know you’ve all been eagerly awaiting the news – nearing the edges of your seats, waiting for me to plunge more deeply into the stock market.

Good news, you can all relax: I have.

I have a diverse portfolio of about 10 stocks and several mutual funds, planning for my retirement like the responsible adult that I am. And although I don’t know if I’ll quite triple my savings by the time I hit 30, it has gone up by about 100% since I started the blog, so that’s nothing to sniff at.

In other news, Brandon noticed our credit card bill the other day and has put us on a strict regimen of eating all our meals at home. And I’m also not allowed to buy any more “luxury” items. Clearly, my fiscal responsibility ends at the 401k.

We’re also creating our first wills this month. Because nothing says “bucket list” like planning for your own demise. And nothing says “romance” like reminding each other you’re both going to die.

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So Come Pick Me Up

I’ve landed.

NYC continues to be my mistress. She’s heartless and only out for my money. She’s beautiful and alluring in a way I can’t explain. She is a phantom I think about often when I’m not around her, yet the reality is all too real.

I need to stay with strangers more often.

Convinced I should sacrifice comfort for money, I am staying in BedStuy (which I’m generously calling Williamsburg, when asked) with 1.5 gentlemen (one has never appeared at all) in their 20s (venture on 30s but again, being generous) in a disgusting apartment, on a mattress, on the floor.

The curses of age have apparently caught up with me somehow, as I am not only finding it more difficult to do a real handstand, but I awoke this morning feeling like I had had a heart attack. Turns out I just screwed up my back on this godforsaken mattress. Where the fuck did my youth go?

In any case, I can’t scoff at $50 per night accommodations, so I’ve made it work. And in the meantime, I’ve put my funds where they belong: the theater. 4 shows in 3 days, thankyouverymuch. Plus the obligatory stop in Sheepshead Bay for Bagel Boy; obviously.

I grabbed the last rush ticket to Something Rotten (fortunately, did not live up to the name) and saw Fun Home last night. Tonight, I said adieu to Hedwig, my lover, my soulmate. Taye Diggs forgot lines and caricaturized my lady, but I still felt the loss, the mourning of this beautiful and transcendent show. 

The connection you feel to this oddball, the raw humanity she exudes.

The brilliant comedy and tragedy blended together, like the star-crossed halves she references through Plato.

The sadness that permeates her hard shell; her transference of her own pain  onto the weak. The recovery, the healing in her relationship with Yitzhak.

The sheer beauty of Trask’s lyrics, the poetry he weaves wrapped in the creative and modern melodies.

There is nothing I don’t love about this show. It has nothing to do with transgendered people or GLBT rights. It has to do with the human condition, with the connected arteries of pain and love that make each of us faulted and real. It has to do with the art of being a person, because Hedwig lives in each of us.

And you’re shining like the brightest star

The transmission on the midnight radio.

And you’re spinning like a 45

Ballerina dancing to her rock n roll…

All the misfits, the losers…

The strange rock n rollers, and me…

Lift up your hands…

travel

Sleeping with Strangers

One more update before I close out today…

One might ask, “Gee, Alexis, you seem to have conflicting priorities, don’t you? You’re back and forth to NY like a freak of nature but then you’re complaining about money. How do you reconcile, you damn hypocrite?”

Well, douchebag, nobody’s perfect, but I will say that my upcoming trip has me sleeping with strangers. That’s right, I’m AirBnB-ing it back to my college days and crashing in an extra room in Brooklyn.

NY has never been cheaper or more terrifying than now. But hey, I gotta eat. So here’s hoping this guy isn’t a serial killer and that my mom doesn’t read this blog. Because my money is far better served on Broadway than on a hotel bed, anyway.

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What’s Left

Might be time for a little check-in on what’s actually left to do on this damn list. Amiright?

I started this thing about 2.5 years ago (OH GOD I’M OLD) and I’ve steadily made progress toward its finish line. Although knowing myself, I’m sure I’ll have some pre-40 game plan, but part of me hopes I’ll abandon the idea of bucket lists once I feel like I’ve satiated my desire to self-torture amid self-improvement.

For those keeping track, here’s where we stand: 19 down and 11 to go.

PHYSICAL AND MENTAL HEALTH

30. Climb a mountain.

I may do this with my dad in Colorado, although there is something humbling about the idea that Dad is probably in significantly better shape than me. Oh well, here’s hoping for a brewery tour at the end of all of that.

27. Get spiritual.

I’m not sure you can ever really “cross this off the list” but I do feel like I need to make some progress there. I am officially more comfortable with stating I’m not really a Christian (aside, I guess, from culturally), but whatever I am has yet TBD.

EDUCATION

23. Develop some knowledge about cars.

I’m doing great with this one – I started an auto club at work and we meet on Wednesdays. NO SHIT.

TRAVEL

20. See a Wonder of the World.

19. Take a cross-country road trip with Brandon.

Hoping to do this soon – maybe when we buy my next car, as my lease ends next month!

LIFE CHANGES

MONEY MATTERS

15. Invest in 5 diversified stocks.

I need to check, but I may actually have done this already. I know on an individual basis, I only invest in one, but my retirement is in mutual funds. I want to buy a BitCoin and invest in at least 3 other stocks, though, before 30.

14. Build retirement fund.

Making really solid progress here.

13. Own a second home.

I become less confident each day that this will happen before I turn 30.

EVOLVE MY RELATIONSHIPS

11. Go on a walk at least once a week with Brandon.

This is so easy and yet so challenging to make happen.

TEST MY LIMITS

6. Participate in a big cultural event like a music festival or Oktoberfest.

Can’t wait for this one!

2. Perform in a play or musical.

My company has its own band and we perform for an actual crowd this month. The Christmas party will be our next gig. I think I’m gonna count it.

PERSONAL SATISFACTION

1. Learn to be happy just as I am.

How silly; can anyone ever actually consider this task complete?

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Hedwig x 6

Different lyrics resonate with each new Hedwig. Last night…

I rose from off of the doctor’s slab

I lost a piece of my heart.

Now everyone gets to take a stab

They cut my up into parts.

I gave a piece to my mother

I gave a piece to my man.

I gave a piece to the rock star

He took the good stuff and ran.

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On My Own

I love, love, love traveling alone. Memorable, once-in-a-lifetime experiences are best shared with a travel partner, but if it’s a usual spot for me, I would just as soon go by myself. 

BUT WHY? Aren’t you lonely??

I enjoy the company of myself. I like eavesdropping on other conversations. I love the convenience of being a party of one at a restaurant – I rarely have to wait to get in at even the hippest places. They are happy to fill that one loner bar seat.

I can see shows all weekend and be obligated to no one. I can, as I did today, rush said shows and get the last remaining seat nobody else would want. I can walk when I want and can when I want and act like a stagedoor nerd if the mood strikes. And if it doesn’t? Fuck it, nobody but me cares anyway.

Traveling alone teaches you about yourself as well: the value of silence, the strength you have within, the navigational skills you do (or don’t) have. Be cheap where you want and spend a boatload when you’re feeling crazy. No one is there to weigh you down.

Places I’ve traveled to alone:

  • NYC x 30?
  • London
  • Madrid
  • Rome
  • Portland, OR
  • Seattle, WA
  • Pittsburgh and Aruba (although not sure if business counts)
  • Chicago
  • Birmingham, AL
  • Philadelphia
  • Miami

And I am just getting started!

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Money, Honey

I know I shouldn’t, but I’m having a mini panic attack about money. My car lease is about to end and we have a big, gaping hole of debt ahead of us that we need to pay off. I know you’re not supposed to talk publicly about money, but I’m nothing if not brutally honest on this blog, and my readers know I reveal warts and all. And even though we should be living more than comfortably, I’ve been feeling a little out of control of the whole “living within my means” thing lately.

Over the next year, the debt will even out and some major expenses will have been paid off. We’ll be able to put more money away and have a nice little retirement nest egg (something we’ve both been actively working toward – chipping away slowly at that item on the bucket list) securely in check. That’s one thing I’ve never let slide.

For now, I just need to focus on getting through one day at a time, staying well under budget, and stop trying to keep up with whatever Joneses are out there. Because honestly – they’re mostly in my mind.