My First Tinder Date

I’m pretty skeptical about any form of online/app dating. And that’s putting it gently. There’s only so many free hours in a day, and I usually choose to spend those hours investing in friendships and trying to get a solid community here in Minneapolis before I pair off again. It’s taken me almost a full two years to even feel like I have a solid group of friends up here, because believe it or not, Minneapolis is not an easy place to make friends. High school roots run deep, and it’s fairly common for people to ask me what high school I went to before they ask me about my alma mater (but seriously people, who wouldn’t lead with UW Madison AKA The Greatest Place On Earth?).

It’s not that Minnesotans aren’t nice. We all know they are. The problem is that Minnesotans are cliquey. They’ve run with the same crew since 1995. They’ve dated their significant other since 17. And if they aren’t already married, they will be soon. In all transparency, I’m probably just jealous. And since we’re all in the same boat of not having enough free hours in a day, I really can’t blame native Minnesotans for going to their default – their best friends that they know, love, and are comfortable with. New people, like myself, just simply aren’t on the radar.

So it’s no wonder that online dating has been suggested to me as a way to meet new people, and hopefully establish a connection that leads to an actual relationship – be it romantic or not. Like I said, I’m trying to find my community (read: squad), so it would seem that using technology could streamline this process a bit. I’ve been resistant for the better part of two years to this method…but something snapped in me Saturday. Maybe it’s the loneliness that sometimes accompanies the holidays. Maybe it’s nostalgia for seeing a whole year pass by without a significant other. Maybe it was the entire bag of chocolate covered pretzels that I ate. But I decided to download Tinder – knowing there were probably far better forms of dating apps…but hey, baby steps.

One of the first people I matched with turns out to be a former Badger. He’s from Edina (one of the schools that has the reputation for being THEE King of Cliquey), but I decide to give him the benefit of the doubt. UW probably made him a better person.

He’s been out watching football all day, and just happens to be at a bar a few blocks away. Conversation is friendly. He invites me to meet up. It’s very casual – just one Badger looking out for another Badger who wants to meet some new people. I enlist Courtney as my chaperon, because I’m not gonna be stupid and meet up with this dude alone. Nor am I going to risk looking stupid, when I walk up to his group of friends and say “Hi! I’m Melissa from Tinder!”

I meet up with…er… Dave. Let’s call him Dave. It’s a struggle to find him at the bar. After all, pictures are deceiving. Mine certainly are.

I find Dave with a few guys, and only one is in a Vikings jersey. And they are all over 6 foot. So I’m pleased. C is pleased. The beer is cold, and the music is loud, and all in all, this is starting to seem like an okay afternoon. Meeting new people, casual conversation, and then who knows?

Dave goes to buy me a beer, while C and I make friends with his wing men. We all joke about the nature of this meetup – being completely honest that this is a Tinder date, and I downloaded the app an hour ago. I’m a Tinder virgin, and Dave is about to be the standard for all of my Tinder encounters moving forward. Pressure on. His friends share stories about some of their Tinder fails. We laugh. It’s fun.

Do I look incoherent? No. Am I? Yes. And  I’m operating a grill. Case in point. #Badger

Dave comes back, sits next to me, and starts to apologize for being a bit drunk. He’s been out all day for the games. No harm, no foul, in my opinion. It’s isn’t even really a date – more like a meet up. I’m the one that crashed his party. And if he’s a true Badger, he should be able to have 34 beers and not even appear buzzed.

Then Dave forgot my name. And it became fairly obvious that Dave may in fact have had 34 beers…

He kept on getting up randomly and leaving me alone to talk to other people at the bar. It’s like he knew every single person there. I admire a social guy, and since my goal is to build a community, it’s cool to know that he has a solid group that maybe I could be a part of. But it’s like he forgot about my existence entirely. After all, he did come back and call me by the wrong name.

Between spurts of abandonment, Dave and I would engage in a little bit of friendly banter. Overall he seemed like a smart, social guy with a good sense of humor.

And then the racial and LGBT slurs came out.

I immediately snapped. It’s 2015, man. Get with the program. People just don’t talk that way anymore. And if they do, they are no friends of mine.

Dave apologized for his language, and started complimenting my good looks – in an attempt to remedy the situation. Cuz that always works, right?

I was mainly looking for an out…so I offered to go buy the next round. Cuz. Feminism. I’m a grown ass woman. In the amount of time that I was gone buying beer, Dave must have forgotten about my mission. Because he also returned with two beers. He then drank three to my one. Since he obviously needed more. 

Dave starts telling me about his career (quoting his salary…), and like most millennials, work is a daily struggle for him. He needs a paycheck, yet feels unfilled in the rat race. He recently switched jobs, and the work hours kill him. 70- hour-weeks is the norm.

Being somewhat sarcastic and somewhat serious, I ask him if that’s why he drinks so much. His tone completely changes. He grabs my shoulders, looks me in the eye and says “Wow. You get it. You are so attractive for saying that. Not even my mom understands that. You just became even more attractive.”

I don’t think I deserve any psychology awards for discovering that tough jobs drive people to drink…but I should probably get some kind of medal for being the first person to bluntly confront Dave about his apparent & neglected alcoholic tendencies…

Drunk Dave was handing me more red flags then I knew what to do with. And apparently my distaste was evident. He disappeared for an extended period of time – only to strike up a conversation with a girl at the bar. He didn’t seem to have intentions of coming back.

So C and I chatted with Dave’s friends. Who turned out to be pretty reasonable, level-headed, fun guys that live two blocks away from me and share a love of Pizza Luce.

So we got in an Uber, got some Za, and I still ended up back on my couch watching Grey’s Anatomy, which is what I had been doing in the first place before I got this crazy notion that Tinder could be worth a try.

At least it gave me some great material to write about.

I think I’ll go back to my notion that time is precious, and I’m not going to feel ashamed for spending my time how I want to spend it. And I’m just not sure that includes online dating or dating apps. Not this month at least.

And for the record, Dave has yet to contact me again. I’m not sure if the embarrassment is too real, or if he actually doesn’t remember the encounter. For his sake, I hope he doesn’t.

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France 44 Wine and Cheese Shop

There is this magical place just south of my apartment in Minneapolis called France 44. If I had to design my own personal heaven, it would probably mimic this shop. 20151024_123838If you enter to the right, you can find copious amounts of fine wines from every region across the globe, as well as select, rare, craft beers – the kind my brother covets, hunts, and trades for. (The world of hard-core craft beer seekers is scary. Surly Darkness Day anyone? I’ll save that for another blog post…)20151024_123911 20151024_124926Back to the cheese.


If you enter to the left of France 44, you’ll be greeted by the friendliest cheese-loving man that ever walked the planet. He knows the story of every block of cheese that sits below the wooden chopping block. “Well, this cheese was produced by the son of a cheese maker in southern France. The young boy grew up watching his father make cheese, and he wanted to produce his own. He named the cheese Challerhocker – which translates to Cellar Dweller. We can only assume the young boy spent many of his days in the cellar where his father stored his cheese, which inspired the name of the cheese, and the packaging itself. See the image of a young boy on the rhine. Here, have a sample.”

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Can I have 14 more? K, thanks. Also, marry me?

The cheese side of France 44 is an exquisite European-style deli where they sell an assortment of finely-crafted, artistic nine-grain crackers, tomato-vodka sauces, rigatoni noodles, and almond-butter spreads. The kind of items that Ina Garten would casually have on hand at her Chateau in Chamonix. In addition, they craft some of the most delectable sandwiches I have ever consumed – my favorite being the classic Prosciutto and Brie. This sandwich is an absolute testament to “less is more.” Layers upon layers of practically translucent prosciutto, a pungent but creamy brie spread, and a small drizzle of virgin olive oil across both side of the ciabatta loaf.

This sandwich is no joke. I dream about this sandwich on a fairly regular basis.

IMG_20150917_150345 (1) 20151024_131133

20151024_130147I’m rarely convinced to sway from my dream sandwich, despite dozens of other brilliantly blended cheese and meat combinations on their menu. But “Cheese Man” (as I call him) persuaded me on my last visit. He pointed to the Apple & Melted Cheddar sandwich – their much anticipated Fall special.”We only buy apples from one local orchard here in Minnesota. It’s the only place we will buy apples. So we buy what we need, and when the apples are gone, the sandwich is gone. And the people go crazy, and we simply have to tell them to come back next fall.” I felt a strong surge of competitiveness flow through my fingers. I WOULD eat that apple sandwich. I opted for the honey ham add-on. Completely worth it.

While I waited for my sandwich to be prepped, Cheese Man and I talked about the best fondues for New Year’s Eve parties and appropriate smoked sausage pairings. He knows a personal story for each and every tubular meat in his cooler. I can recall obscure details like the middle name of a client’s daughter and her softball team mascot. But I’d much rather know “useless” facts about the two brothers from upper state New York that quit being hockey players to make smoked meats (I honestly can’t remember if this was the exact story..but I do remember being blown away by the intricate details Cheese Man knew about every sausage-maker’s life. Like…does he personally know all these meat men? Is there a Cheese Man and Meat Man convention I can go to? Where do these people hang out?)

I regress.

20151024_125451It’s these subtle knowledge bombs that have solidified France 44 as more than just a deli – it’s an endearing and educational experience that I look forward to on a weekly basis. Bi-weekly if my wallet can afford it. Cuz it’s not just the sandwich….I always convince myself that I must support local farmers and buy the $26 block of gouda and a side of herb & salmon creme spread…

Everything there is an art. It’s deliberate. It’s authentic. There’s so much pride that resonates inside the four walls of that deli – and it’s evident in the stories they tell about each and every product that they sell. I wish I took as much pride as France 44 did in my…well…everything.

20151024_124947France 44 is more than just a food & beverage service stop to me. It’s a haven that reminds me that life’s greatest pleasures can be found in simple moments, if I would just take a couple minutes to listen.

I’ve found many gems like this exist in Minneapolis. But much like the Minnehaha Falls, many of my native Minnesota friends know nothing of these places. They live their whole lives in Edina, yet don’t know about France 44. To all my Minneapolis friends – I suggest you find a bike with a basket, maneuver around Lake Harriet, and indulge in picnic essentials from France 44, before the brutal winter officially commences. You’ll be pleased to know they also have a happy hour.

And if you find yourself as one of my lucky couch surfers, I guarantee I will bring you to France 44. You get the green olives, I’ll get the gouda. We won’t even need sandwiches after consuming all the complimentary cheese samples.

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Note to the reader: I was not paid to write this post. And I’m fairly certain Cheese Man is happily married. But that would have made for a good love story, no?

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My New Toy

Barbies, Razor Scooters, Pokemon Cards, Gameboys, Polly Pockets, Beanie Babies.

“Toys” was such a vast category when we were children. Nowadays, if I say I got a new toy, eyebrows raise. Adult toy means one of two things. I either got something for the bedroom, or a BMW. And we all know I didn’t get a BMW…

Sure, you could argue that this toy could easily be a bedroom item, I can assure you those were not my original intentions. Keepin’ things SFW on this blog…

Behold the Fujifilm Instax Mini 8 (God, it even sounds like a bedroom toy, huh…?).

20151021_073755This adorable little nugget showed up in my Urban Outfitters email newsletter, on sale for $80. I understand that to most this seems like absolute nonsense. But to me, it was 80 bucks for instant, physical timepieces to cherish and admire. To adorn the 20151021_073816walls of my apartment. To mimic Taylor Swift’s 1989 Album.  To write ironic hashtags in the white space and leave ominously in bathroom stalls. To have pictures the size of a credit cards, so when people ask to see my future Pomeranian Husky “Pocket,” I can pull out an actual photo. Pull out a picture of Pocket from my pocket!!! IT WAS TOO GOOD.

I emailed my trusted female work advisors, whom I consult before most online purchases.

“Please talk me off the ledge, or push me over. I can’t decide if this is a completely necessary impulse purchase that will result in years of joy or regret.”

Do it – $80 for priceless memories.” Thank you, LJ. You get me.

Then I did what every self-respecting internet shopper does. I oogled the item on UO’s site, then bought it for cheaper on Amazon. $72.45. Including the camera and two packages of film. Shipped to my door in 2 days. Sometimes I feel like such a internet floozy. Using my favorite websites for visual stimulation, product reviews, and captivating content. Then tossing these retailers to the side like a leather satchel and giving all my money to Amazon. But it’s not my fault that Amazon always has the best prices. Get it together, E-commerce.


Can we please not look at my nails…

Anticipating a trip to Madison for UW’s Homecoming, I ecstatically reached out to my friends to tell them about my new toy that would dramatically change our memory-making. Insert virtual eye-brow raising emoji. “GUYS. I GOT A POLAROID.”

^ oops

It’s too easy to just tell people I got a Polaroid. But working in marketing, it kills my soul a little bit. I’m part of the problem. It doesn’t make sense to tell people I got a Fujifilm. But everyone gets it when I tell them I got a Polaroid. Polaroid has just become the generic trademark for instant photo products. Take Kleenex. Chapstick. Cellophane. If there was a Maslow’s triangle for product life-cycle, those brands would have reached the self-actualization peak. For your brand to become the product – that’s marketing gold. And Polaroid did it. And it’s gonna take a long time for me to get comfortable saying “Ooohhh let’s take a Fujifilm!” But for the sake of this new amazing machinery, and in effort to be a natural brand ambassador (or get to paid for this post…), I will try.

The above also explains why Polaroid doesn’t return my phone calls. They don’t really20151021_074015 need my help. I’m giving it away for free.

So far this new toy has fit snugly in most of my purses, and provided a great photo staging opportunity at football games, girls nights, and capturing the souls of dogs. But it’s also given me a creative, fulfilling outlet that doesn’t involve the approval of others. It’s not a Snapchat story or an Instagram post for me to derive self-worth from based on views/likes. It’s a little treasure for just me. All mine. To appreciate it all by myself. And maybe you, if I’m generous enough to let you keep the one and only original copy.

I’ve actually already used my Fujifilm as an in-the-moment present. Trusted female work adviser #2 – LK – had a little going away breakfast this morning before her big move to Cali. What better sending off present than a wallet-sized memento of her favorite Minne team? I mean, yeah we ended up scanning it so everyone could have access to the gem…but…irrelevant.

All in all, this purchase has been completely worth it. 20151021_074050And fun. Sure, I’ll have to buy extra film for the rest of my life… but at least I just gave my mom an easy idea for a stocking-stuffer…(wink wink, nudge nudge).

With the Fujiflm, I feel even more like a professional photographer than I do on Instagram. I have to set the perfect photo stage. Judge lighting. Find the right background. I only get one shot after all! Kind of makes me feel like an artistic director… and it’s ALWAYS a conversation starter when people watch me pull this plastic bubble camera out of my bag. I basically reek of hipster. I’m already looking forward to purchasing those silver Ikea clothing lines and buying little baby clothes pins to make some Pinterest-worthy home decor.

Mini photos. Mini clothes pins. Mini 8. Everything’s just better in miniature form. Except coffee. That I prefer to come in a vat.

But then again…


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Lake Life

20150703_113836“Hey. You probably already have Fourth Of July plans…but would you want to come to our lake cabin this weekend…?”


Previous plans are irrelevant when the words “lake” and “cabin” are involved.

Whitney and Landon (Whindon) are my favorite married friends. They are also my only married friends. But don’t let that diminish the weight of their awesomeness.

Landon’s grandpa built this house in Land O’ Lakes, Wisconsin back in 1940 something… and the place has not been touched since. Whitney refers to it as “glorified camping.” But it’s on a lake, with a dock, and it’s free. So I could care less that the sink water smells like sulfur, and the wallpaper is peeling off, giving it this creepy dollhouse-vibe. At least the place has running water.

How much is that Doggie in the window?

How much is that Doggie in the window?

20150704_17580620150703_151419My only price for entry was a case of beer and some chips. Someone had already been assigned the meat and cheese, or I would have offered to get that, too. Can’t have a weekend in Wisconsin without 16 pounds of summer sausage and cheddar cheese.

I got into town around 8 on Thursday, and by 8:15, I was at the local watering hole, Black Oak Bar, with an Old
Fashioned sour in hand and an order of cheese curds and ranch on the way. By 10 PM, I knew the whole town.

I. Love. Wisconsin.

We woke up on Friday and did what we always do after a night out with Whindon: we used the breathalyzer. What was a gag gift, has proven to be the most comical and valuable tool in all party settings. Only one of us was sober enough to drive to get fishing bait. I’ll let you guess who.

So we fished (AKA watched Landon put leeches on the hook and cast the poles for us), while the girls laid around tanning and stopping Bella from jumping off the boat. I’ve seen few things as comical as a 15 pound dog growling at waves…

Doggie Life Vest!

Doggie Life Vest!

In typical Wisconsin fashion, we went out for Friday Fish Fry, then headed to the barely-there-airport lawn for 20150704_031341fireworks. Then back to the Black Oak Bar, where we said hi to all our best friends from the night before. Ya know, askin’ Brenda how the kids are and such.

The rest of the evening is a mix between hazy and crystal clear incriminating disaster. Maybe we will leave it at “you just had to be there…”.

The rest of the weekend was typical Lake Life activities. Tiniest Fourth of July parade I’ve ever seen. Being pelted by kiddies throwing tootsie rolls as hard as possible. Hangover burgers. More fishing. Lots of beer. Consuming all 16 pounds of cheese and summer sausage. Card playing. Selfie sticks. Shake & Takes. Making up dialogues between the glass ducks that decorate the living room window (decorations that Landon’s mother has forbid anyone from touching). Profane pictures and stories that I’ve purposefully left out. Some of these things being more typical than others…









Selfie Stick. For the WIN.


Dezzy is Whit’s little sister. And the closest thing I have to a spirit animal.


The infamous Shake and Take



Don’t be fooled. This little baby was hefty. We threw everything we caught back though. Apparently Whindon only believe in catch and release…a tactic that still doesn’t make sense to me. Maybe I am still too traumatized from deer hunting. I thought all “catches” ended in a kill…and a meal.



Thanks Whindon for an unmatched Fourth of July weekend and for exposing me to the glorious place known as Land O’ Lakes. I hope the Black Oak Bar will let us come back.


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I’m a Grown Ass Woman

Maybe it was the brutal winter finally ending. Maybe it was the increase in Vitamin D. Maybe it was Mercury finally leaving Retrograde (I don’t even know what that is, but the Internets were all about it last month). Maybe it was something about the one-year anniversary of breaking my face. I don’t really know what happened: but I woke up one day and realized I was an adult.

I don’t even know if #adulting is what I am doing. I’ve always had a strong will, but I’ve never been this proactive with execution. It’s like I’m on some personal growth tornado lately. If doing what I want, when I want to do it, is the definition of #adulting, then I think Adult Melissa is going to be okay.

I think the real catalyst was moving apartments. I was sick of living in the dungeon“Garden Level”, and a unit opened up on the 2nd floor. It didn’t have a renovated kitchen, but it had windows that let in sunlight, three massive storage closets, and a perfect wall to hang my bike. Sold.

10940580_10153434229346992_8063212977676706598_nIn the past, moving has always been made possible with the assistance of men. From freshman year on, I’ve always enlisted the help of (read: bribed) boyfriends, my friend’s boyfriends, my Dad, my brother – anyone with the mental and physical capacity to weasel a 7 foot couch through a 6 foot entry way. But I don’t think it is any coincidence that Adult Melissa and Single Melissa are co-existing – and so I found myself with limited males to ask for help. Instead, I asked Courtney. C has been my go-to girl for 5:45 AM spin classes, caffeine fixes, work lunches, happy hours, nightly trivias, free concerts – you name it. I knew she could handle lifting a dresser. So it was just me, C, 953 trips up two flights of stairs, and a case of beer. Five hours later, and that shit was on lock. No dude to carry the couch. No guy responsible for hanging the pictures. No boy bossing me around about “best moving practices”, as if it was in their DNA and not mine…Just me. And C. Cuz we are grown-ass women.

Consider this a PSA. Moves can be made without men. I’ll admit, I was skeptical. But it can be done.



20150628_064055Who run the world? Girls.

So here I was, in a gorgeous new apartment, with access to my old unit for another six days. Empty, vacant, and the closest thing I would have to a “Woman Cave” for easily the next five years. It was the perfect time & space to finally re-finish my coffee table.

20150620_111843This beast has been with me since college. I couldn’t let it go because of its brilliant design (Grand Central…you were good for something…). The top of the table raises – doubling as a dinner table. So you can shovel food from plate to mouth, withouts spills, while watching Netflix. This table has lived in four different apartments, and has benefited four different men in my life – who all offered to help me re-finish it someday. I got tired of wishing and waiting on Mr. #5 to come around, so I got up, rented a power sander at Ace Hardware, bought paint and sealer, and made a masterpiece. Complete with adorable, matching Anthropologie knobs. For four years, this coffee table’s appearance has plagued me. And in just five hours, I had a shiny new table that was all mine. And yes, I ordered Pad Thai and shoveled it into my mouth that night while watching Netflix. Cuz I’m a grown-ass woman, and that’s allowed. I am woman. Hear me roar.


Dexter vibes, anyone?



Brilliant, no?

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20150627_175525The next few days were filled with similar triumphal events. I went to the Farmer’s market and bought herbs for an indoor plant garden. Because I wanted fresh mint for summer Mojitos. And I picked up a hanging plant, because why not?

I ordered a new credit card so I could rack up better bonus miles for some serious 2016 travel plans (cough cough, Janelle, cough cough), and the first thing I purchased was a pontoon rental for my birthday. I’ve never driven a boat before, but hell. If I can use power20150621_083507 tools sans injury, I can surely figure out a pontoon.

Then I ordered new sheets from Pottery Barn, because they were on sale, and I wanted them. I wanted nice sheets, because I deserve nice sheets, dammit!

I tried a new coffee shop on the south side of town, and sat there for three hours, sipping on a honey latte and reading. Declining all social invites, because I really just wanted to read.

I bought a new car. I went to four dealerships in two days. I got my Mazda appraised. I researched the car I wanted, I weighed the options, I negotiated, and I made the informed, educated decision to lease a Honda CR-V.  Car payments will be less than thrilling, but I did it on my own. And I did it for me. Because I needed to. And I wanted to. And I could.

20150701_191032As if all the above wasn’t enough of a transformation…I finally decided to get my tattoo. Because I am evolving. I have evolved. Even from where I was six months ago. I worked with a designer, I went by myself, and I did it for me. Because I wanted it. And maybe in some weird way, I needed it. Because it is a declarationof me. Of who I am. Of who I am becoming. Of what I love. And I am finding a deep love for myself and my capabilities – far beyond what I thought was possible.


I’m learning to be unapologetic for who I am, and what I want. Maybe I’ll look back on this phase of my life and wonder what the hell I was thinking. But I’ll have no one to blame but myself. And that is weirdly empowering. All these choices are mine.

Disclaimer: even as a Grown Ass Woman, I still hope to find a Mr. #5 some day. Because I know how much I love giving love to someone. Being able to love & share with someone is part of who I am. And finding that will be a much needed missing puzzle piece. But for now, I am learning what it feels like to be my own biggest fan. To do what I want, when I want to do it. To confidently, and competently go about living my life fully. To be enough for myself. To have everything I need, right here, with me.

I’m okay with being my own #1 right now. And I am okay with showing myself all the love I need. And I think that is what #adulting is. I think that is what it means to be a Grown Ass Woman. You know how to love yourself above all.

I don’t know what came first: the chicken or the egg. Did I become a Grown Ass Woman, and then love myself? Or did I love myself, and then become a Grown Ass Woman? Don’t know. Don’t care. I just know that whatever stage of life this is…well…it feels damn good.

Cheers to 25! See ya on the pontoon!

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When You Live Next To a Pizza Place

wbgleason_1320770307_ScreenShot1158_1When you live next to a pizza place, your decision making process for meals becomes infinitely easier. I could put on shoes, walk to the grocery store, spend a minimal fortune on mislabeled organic produce, walk back, cook something, accumulate dirty dishes, and eat the leftovers for weeks because cooking for one is hard (especially with a mother that always cooked enough food to feed rural African villages. My portion judgment is a little skewed).

I could even do the above, but drive instead, cutting travel time in half.

Or. I could walk the 19 feet to the pizza place, most likely sans shoes (and bra) because they know me, and I ain’t trying to impress anyone anymore.

Screenshot_2015-06-10-10-21-39I’ll get my usual slice and side salad. With ranch. And extra ranch. And toss the box for easy cleanup. Dumped into a garbage can that is already filled to the brim with identical pizza boxes from everyone else in my building. It comforts me to know I am not alone. The struggle is real.

The Uplands: the presenting Sponsor of Pizza Luce in Uptown. Keeping your favorite, local pizza joint in business since 1999. And drunkenly entertaining (annoying?) your employees from midnight to 3 am.

I’ve formed a special bond with the Pizza Luce crew. Once I popped over for a beer before a party, stopped by for a slice after the party, and then appeared again with a friend an hour later so she could get her slice post-party. ThrIMG_20150301_021213ee times was enough to warrant questions from Mario. I can’t make this stuff up. His name really is Mario and he makes pizza. Mario now makes me swans out of tin foil to cover my ranch when I visit. There is some under-appreciated talent in this world. I tell ya.

I think an ultimate low (high?) point was using a Pizza Luce delivery driver for a ride home. What’s even worse – this was premeditated and planned. Ashley wanted pizza. I wanted to go home to my bed. So our brilliant solution was to order her a pizza, and then force politely ask the driver to give me a lift back to the motherland (approximately 9 blocks away). He said it wasn’t the weirdest request he has ever gotten, but it was up there. I hope Ashley tipped him well…

2408atg-w800h800z1-44881-all-i-care-about-is-pizzaAnd yes, I got a slice when the driver brought me back to Pizza Luce.

Sometimes I get really ambitious and pre-order a meatball sub for pick up, rather than do the by-the-slice approach. But even that takes some serious planning – and contradicts the ease of having Pizza as a neighbor. I want what I want, when I want it. And 99% of the time, that is pizza.

Basically all I care about is pizza, and like two people. Mario being one of them.

In my previous post, I talked a lot about my involvement in the yoga community in Madison. I think I’ve become an integral part of the pizza community here in Minneapolis. I’m not that upset about it. Maybe Pizza Luce will sponsor my pizza tattoo. Brand ambassador for life, yo!

story of my life. literally.

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Yoga, and Horses, and Baked Beans, Oh My!

1914226_485799904797914_1558731836_nHally Marlino played a pivotal role in my life while I lived in Madison. I first met Hally when I was working the front desk at Inner Fire Yoga, and she was teaching. Hally is a self-proclaimed “Blue Collar Yoga Teacher.” She loves beer & cheese. She radiates a gentle confidence, and has an undeniable aura of authenticity. And she is a regular writer for Yoganonymous – because she is a word wizard. I knew Hally was my kind of person right when I met her. When it comes to my criteria for idols – Hally hits every nail on the head.

I religiously attended her classes on Monday mornings. And every other class I could attend. I was also working for lululemon at the time, and Hally was conveniently a lululemon ambassador that year. Her weekly visits to the store were always a joy – as we’d spend longer than my manager appreciated talking about our love of yoga, bike riding, blogging, and stretchy pants.

11225352_969074289778212_7470546479656812136_nLeaving Madison was tough, because I felt like an integral part of the yoga community – one that included so many admirable teachers, now turned friends. I’ve done my best to stay in touch, whether attending a class when I am in town, or stalking via social media. Hally makes the stalking easy because of her active presence online – which is how I stumbled upon the most glorious event in the history of events. Coachella has nothing on this.

A day retreat in Mauston, WI. A trail ride on horses, followed by lake-side yoga, followed by beers and barbeque. It’s like Hally combined everything I love into one Super Day. I cleared my schedule and immediately signed up.

My trek from the cities was a bit longer than those of my comrades from Madison. But I watched the sunrise as I drove south east, drank a large hazelnut iced coffee, and listened to “The Best of the 90’s” on the radio.

I passed my favorite Wicheese foodsconsin landmark. The “CHEESE food” sign. The CHEESE sign – double the size of the Food sign below it. Signifying what I still love most about Wisconsin. Cheese is it’s own category, and it takes priority.

I pulled into Woodside Ranch just after 9 AM – where Hally’s husband and son were waiting with vegan breakfast cookies and cinnamon rolls. I expected nothing less.

First task was choosing a horse. My eyes were fixed on the tall stud, last in the row. His coloring looked like a peanut butter & vanilla parfait. I inquired about his manner. “Oh, Apache? He’s got some zip to him. You’ll have a good ride.”



And so Apache and I spent the next ten minutes bonding and taking #horseselfies. He didn’t seem to mind.


Not a cloud in the sky, 72 degrees. A day destined to be perfect from the start. With the exception of the flatulence contest that seemed to be taking place between Apache and his comrade Spitball.



20150606_111002After a serene ride through the woods, we laid out our yoga mats for a “Hally Special” as I like to call it. A completely blissful slow-flow vinyasa practice, with essential oils and aromatherapy. Hally had brought chilled spearmint & chamomile cloths, to lay across our foreheads while in savasana. Seriously Hally? Was there anything you didn’t think of?

And perfectly timed, waiting for us across the way, was a gourmet barbecue provided by Woodside Ranch. Burgers, Brats, Cucumber Salad, Macaroni Salad, Potato Salad, Baked beans – and complimentary beer. Some of us had ventured there with partners in crime, and others of us had ventured there solo, because of a mutual love for yoga, horses, and Hally. So the picnic table conversations were not just pleasant – they were real. And easy. And fascinating. It’s like I was right back at the Inner Fire yoga desk, being blessed by the presence of other like-minded individuals that honor the divine spark in everyone they meet. AKA Namaste.

Namaste Hally! And thank you for a day that lifted my spirits and scratched an adventure itch. It was a day of doing exactly what I wanted to do, when I wanted to do it. And I am so glad that simultaneously aligned with your dream day. I hope this is the beginning of an amazing event series that will grow and flourish beyond your wildest dreams.

If anyone is interested in participating in a Yoga + Horse day retreat, I think there may be a couple spots left for a July and August session. Check out all the details at


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The Day I Took My Ex’s Sweatshirt To Goodwill

Little known fact about me: I reserve my serious writing for Thought Catalog.

Whenever I write something serious or vulnerable (read: about love), I keep it safely inside a Google Doc folder, where it can’t see the light of day. But I usually submit it to Thought Catalog first. It’s therapeutic. It’s emotional release. It’s a diary – but better. I can share my words and deep feelings – without any consequences. Because shocker: I never get published. Thought Catalog probably gets 3,000 submissions an hour. So I can confidently submit my words without repercussion. And it does feel nice. But today – that game changed. I was published for the first time ever. And despite the content, I am damn excited. And damn proud. Nothing compares to the feeling of having my words read and appreciated. So cheers Internet! Enjoy seeing inside my soul!

For full article, click here: 

Thought Catalog

I had forgotten about your sweatshirt’s existence. I was looking for an extra set of sheets – inside a polka-dot canvas box, high on a corner shelf inside my closet. I don’t venture there often. My high school water polo parka lives there. The one that is conveniently Packers Green and Gold. I wore it to our first Packer game, and you ridiculed me for wearing “tampons” on my feet (I found out the hard way that Uggs are not waterproof…)

My suitcase lives back there. The new Michael Kors suitcase I bought for my first business trip to Europe. The last time I had been to Germany was with you. I was hundreds of miles away from that city, and yet I still found myself walking through Munich, reliving inside jokes. Like the fact that you can’t go to a karaoke bar in Germany without hearing Oasis Wonderwall.


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Winthrop, Washington

If you drive three hours northeast of Seattle, you will find yourself in the grand Northern Cascade region. Mountains have always fascinated me. Something about being so small and insignificant is strangely comforting. LIke the details of life are so irrelevant – who you are, or who you were before you succumbed to the will of the mountain. Because in those moments (and hopefully hours & days) that you are in the wilderness, you are at the grace of the snow-covered beasts. They will decide your short-term future. And you simply just have to be there and adapt to whatever they decide to throw at you.

DSCF9569Goals are simpler when you set out to climb a mountain. Take in air. Stay hydrated. Keep your limbs dry. Have KIND bars on hand. Get to the top. In fact – I’m not even sure getting to the top is always the goal. Just get somewhere. And get back in one piece.

Now – I know it sounds like I’m talking about some Everest excursion – but Maple Pass was my own kind of Everest. At least in October of last year. And it did not involve nearly the amount of prep work that Everest requires.The only prep work was an e-mail to my friend Andy. “Take me to this picture.”

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I had been in Seattle for work, and the pictures of Andy’s Cascade excursions had teased me long enough. We set out from Seattle with two Whole Foods breakfast burritos & some beef jerky. My hiking gear consisted of lululemon crops, a rain jacket, and some old Nike tennis shoes. There was only so much I could fit in a carry-on for business and leisure…

20141011_141308Before we hit the trails, we stopped at Mazama General Store – which was basically Little House on the Prairie meets Ina Garten. I picture my mother running a store like this. Pristine, organic, locally grown vegetables. Hand made gourmet cheese and gruyere baguettes. Apples the size of my knee. Specialty coffees with choice of soy or almond milk. And alpaca placemats available as souvenirs for a whopping $30. I guess when you are the only inhabitants for a 9 mile radius, you can charge whatever you want for alpaca placemats.

It was at Mazama General Store that we ran into Doctor Capp. Capp turned out to play a pivotal role in my Washington adventure. Capp is Andy’s local physician in Seattle – and it really threw them both for a loop to see each other in such alternative contexts. Capp and his wife are 5 foot 9 packages of solid muscle and steel. They just reek of physical fitness and mountaineering skills. They advised us to take on a smaller pass that day – seeing as Maple was reported with snow, sleet, and dismal views. Having no intention of hiking multiple days – Andy and I decided we’d already come that far. It would be worth it to wait an extra day. We’d do the smaller trail Capp suggested, and tackle the famous Maple Pass loop tomorrow.

Two hours later, utterly soaked, and cursing Capp for showing us a road to a piddly little lake (oh, and possibly getting us murdered by a solo hiker from VT in short jorts…), we made plans to refuge in Winthrop, Washington.


If you drive just one hour past the Cascades, you will find yourself in a western lookalike town.



DSCF9396Winthrop, Washington looks like it belongs in southern New Mexico – or more so, in Disney Land. The place seems totally unnatural. Like a Hollywood movie set, meant to depict the Wild West. As if a fake rattlesnakes should adorn the wooden plank sidewalks.

But there was an extra room available above the Mexican cantina/motel. It had hot, running water. And there was a beer nearby. We were sold.

I’ve never been much for clubs and seizure-inducing light shows. But put me on a barstool at the local dive bar, and I come alive. The people watching. The decor. Their stories. How did they get here. Why haven’t they left? What makes them tick? Could there be some secret essence here that I am meant to experience?


DSCF9400The reason they all came? Opening day of hunting season. How naive of me to think hunting was confined to to the Midwest… It seems I cannot escape the hunting life wherever I go (see previous post: 7 Misconceptions I Had About Hunting). Two older men gave us sound warning: “Ohh yahhh. Hunters be all over dees days. You bettah wear blaze orange tomorrooh if ya know what’s good for ya.”

I’m sorry….what? Are you serious right now?

Did these old men have a Sconnie accents, like they vividly do in my memory? Likely not. But my mind still plays tricks on me when I think back to the Twilight Zone that is Winthrop, Washington.

There would be no risking it – serious or not. Andy and I purchased two blaze orange skull caps from the Winthrop General Store. And I picked up a cotton sweatshirt that looked like something from a Billabong catalog.



The picture I was taking, while the above picture was taken. So. Metta.

DSCF9546We love your hats!” can probably still be heard echoing through the mountain ridges of Maple Pass – as Andy and I traversed the narrow trails like Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum in matching blaze orange beanies.

But. We did not get shot. Or mistaken for deer.

And who did we find also traversing the narrow trails? Doctor Capp and his wife. And dog. All three of them sprinting. Yes – you read that right. Apparently mountain running is a thing. You run up a mountain, and you run down it. Capp was headed the opposite direction as us – meaning he had already gained 2,000 feet in elevation, reached the 6650 foot peak, and was 3 miles away from finishing the 7.6 mile loop. In under 3 hours.

Some people.

Some people AND their dogs…

It took Andy and I a bit longer… and there was no sprinting involved.






DSCF9576We went from desert sand in Winthrop, to wet, cool forest at the base of the pass, to snowy tundra at the peak. And back again. In 7 hours. Between the sweat and lack of proper attire, I was once again soaked from head to toe.

Ya know that feeling after a day of skiing? It’s maybe 2 in the afternoon, and you know you need to get some fuel in you if you expect to do any more runs. And that bite of rubber, tire-like burger and non-melted Kraft Single from the rest lodge is the best damn food you have ever eaten in your whole life? Like the Food Gods themselves had blessed that burger with only heaven-sent ketchup and holy mayonnaise?

That is how I felt about the pasta carbonara we devoured back in Seattle that night. There is no sweeter ecstasy than the first meal after a return from the wilderness. After the mountains have allowed you to leave unscathed, looming in the rear view, reminding you that your small, simple existence is nothing compared to the grandeur they see and the roots they hold.

I might have left unscathed, but I left the Cascades a little taller. With a little more appreciation for being small in scale, but powerful in nature. Powerful by human nature, and powerful as a piece of the nature that surrounded me for those two days in Winthrop, Washington.

My picture of the picture that started it all. Full Circle.

My picture of the picture that started it all. Full Circle.

*all photo credit given to Andy Brawner:

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I Had To Go To Europe For Work

20141202_142324I recently had to go to Europe for work.

Now – let’s just get it out of the way and acknowledge how downright pretentious that sounds. It’s just oozing with jerk.

So if you will now allow to me to clear the air, I’d like to counter-act the jerk with some sincere and utter gratitude for said opportunity.

I am beyond grateful for this experience, for reasons that go so far beyond “OH EM GEE. BUSINESS TRIP TO EURO!!!”

Work has done nothing short of save me these last few months. For those of you who follow this blog – you know the kind of year I had. 2014 was less than stellar for me. It started with a move to a new city – ripping me away from everyone and everything I had formally known. Then there was an extremely painful breakup with the person I thought I would spend my life with. And then, to top it all off – I broke my face. Having my cheek and eye socket reconstructed with metal plates was definitely not how I envisioned spending my summer.

As I’ve mentioned in a lot of previous posts, healing from trauma is measured in months, not weeks. And at the risk of sounding overly dramatic – all of 2014 was traumatic for me. And coming back to a still-foreign Minneapolis after my accident was not an easy task. But I’m a big believer in the “fake it til you make it.”20141202_113854

So I poured myself into work when I returned. It was the perfect distraction from everything clouding my head (physically and metaphorically). It was the only thing that made me feel normal.

As Q4 approached, business picked up in general. It is just the nature of the beast. And everyone in our company felt it. But the intense workload and pressure did more than keep me busy. It gave me a sense of worth and purpose – in a time in my life when I frankly felt worthless and undesirable. Work tasks were tangible problems, that I could objectively solve. Rather than the subjective matters of my heart and soul.

My daily work decisions were about the only thing I could put confidence in. And I was glad to devote my brain to work – the motivation being immense gratitude for a company that provided me short-term disability during my entire recovery. That benefit was just something I signed the dotted line for – and it ended up saving me. You never think you will need such a thing, until the day you need it. And I was grateful to have an employer that provided this benefit. And I felt the need to give back to the company that had given so much to me.

The accident put a lot of things into perspective for me – and work was a huge part of it. My job, my capabilities, my brain, my circumstancece, my growth potential, my benefits – all of it seemed to be in a different light when I returned post-accident. And I knew I owed it to the company to give everything I could after how gracious, supportive, and understanding they had been throughout the whole recovery process and beyond.

Fast forward four months from w20141205_114638hen I had facial reconstruction. And I am sitting in a beautiful hotel in Munich.

20141205_181532My intent of this post is not to paint myself as some marketing goddess. My intent is not to brag, or boast, or build myself up. All I am saying is that while I was on a train this afternoon, drinking a Hefe Weizen and eating some Brie, I started to cry.

I can feel myself in the middle of a change. I am in a very static place right now. I can feel
my mind and my heart shifting, and it all hit me today – as if the Deutsche Bahn train itself had catapulted into my heart.

“An arrow can only be shot by pulling it backward. So when life is dragging you back with difficulties, it means that it’s going to launch you into something great.”

I read this quote 18 times a day when I first returned to Minneapolis. I was depressed for countless reasons, and I read that quote every day, convinced that I would some day believe it.

And it was on the train from Füssen today that I think I began to believe it.

This year has done a lot of molding. And it still is. But I can feel myself in this state of change. I can feel myself being molded. Static. Changing. Growing. Learning. And in some ways – coming to peace with 2014.IMG954296

So what is the point of this post? To share my heart. Because life was meant to be shared. And these moments are meant to teach us, right? And I find I learn best when I write. And I feel best when I share.

I am so grateful to be in a career field that allows me to travel and meet brilliant people from many cultures and pasts. I am incredibly grateful for a working mind – that allows me to communicate, network, engage, produce, and create the things I ultimately love. Which is relationships. Relationship building is the basis of my job, and the reason for this European trip. And it has been extremely rewarding to be in this field – both professionally and personally.


Doner. My long-lost European boyfriend.

I am grateful I took this job in Minneapolis one year ago. It set the stage for a lot of change in 2014, but it has helped teach me to love myself again. It has helped me feel like I bring value to the world. That I am capable of doing a lot of things. That I am capable of standing tall and strong – even when I am alone. That I am okay – just as I am, in this moment. This moment being alone in a hotel room in Bavaria. I am proud of myself in this moment. And I didn’t get to say that a lot in 2014.

Stay tuned for more on the EU travels. Like the time I was eating a stick of brie cheese. Gnawing on it like it was a hot dog. And crying. While sitting across from an Italian family. I gave the daughter a Hanuta cookie as peace offering for my strange behavior. Her parents wouldn’t let her take it. Sounds a little more comical than life changing now, doesn’t it? #crazyAmericans




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