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December 2009

NEW YEARS RESOLUTIONS...

ARE FOR PUSSIES.

OK. That's a lie, I don't even believe that, but it threw you off a bit didn't it?

Score.


But seriously, do you make New Years Resolutions? I don't. Well, that's actually a lie too now that I think about it. There are TWO resolutions back from my high school days that I still remember making and then completing.

See, I used to pick my nose in public A LOT. I am pretty sure that the larger your nose is, the more likely you are to collect stalagmite sized boogers in your nose cave. Seeing as my nose is freakishly large (Thanks Mom!), it has just always been my talent to collect, and then remove the massive boogers that live in my nose. Because of this unfortunate curse I used to pick with abandon. Sort of like a, "You'd do it too if you had this nose," sort of middle finger to the world.

Then I started high school. And suddenly I realized something had to change. If they didn't I was pretty sure I was going to get beat up or tossed in a locker, or something equally cliché. I had been openly picking my nose for quite a long time, enough time to have most all of the people in my life comment on it once, or twice, or lets be honest, probably like 700 times. So to scale back the public humiliation I made a resolution to cut that shit out. At least in public that is.

And I totally did it!

That year I cut back my public nose picking at LEAST 75%.

Impressive right?

You don't seem very impressed.



Another memorable resolution would be my sophomore year resolution to lose my virginity.

Yep. Sorry Dad. And Mom. And all relatives and close family friends who read this. HI EVERYONE! LOVE YOU! Feel free to skip this post and come back tomorrow!

But it's true. That year I joked with friends that my resolution was to lose my virginity. It was seriously lame and I was sick of toting it around with me all the time. It didn't fit in my purse any longer and always clashed with my outfit. And hot damn if four months later I didn’t just go ahead and check off that New Years Resolution! Not nearly as spectacular as I'd hoped though I should add. What with it being in a garage, on a couch, and lasting like 2 minutes and all. Oh well.

Be careful what you wish for kids!

This is all a very long winded and embarrassing way of saying that this year my New Years Resolution will be, well nothing.

They're lame.

And when I do make them they never come true.

Unless of course I make a resolution involving nose picking or my virginity.

And I obviously already have those two topics TOTALLY under control.

 

BEND

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Do you remember the movie All Dogs Go To Heaven? It was a total joke. Dogs, dying and heading up into the heavens? Flying around in the clouds with halos and shit? PLEASE. I am pretty sure even the Christians were offended by that one.

In reality I am pretty sure that when a dog dies it makes a quick pass over Rainbow Bridge and then receives a pass to enter into the REAL Dog Heaven, which is more commonly known as Bend, Oregon.



CHRISTMAS LESSONS

I really hope your Christmas/Hanukah/Kwanza/Boxing Day/WinterSolstice/You Have The Whole Weekend Off Anyway From Work So Why Don’t You Have Another Drink weekend was fantabulous. Mine was brought to you by twenty degree weather, amazing cocktails, reading, light snow, hot tub soaks, sleeping in, midday naps, walks with puppies, afternoon movies, and FOOD.

I went into this weekend terrified, filled with grief, and excited out of my mind.

I know, conflicted much?

****

In the end I learned a lot of odd things about myself as a result of being a total douche canoe and canceling Christmas with my family some 20 odd days before they were supposed to arrive on my doorstep. One of which being that I might not be as strong as I would like to believe.



When I lost my job last December everyone was so confident in me and my abilities. Hell, so was I at first. Over drinks a week or so into my job search friends joked about how I should be thrilled I was laid off in December because now I had a month long Christmas break, and by February I would be back in the workforce dreaming of those glorious days of unemployment.

We all clinked glasses to my sudden fortune.

When things seemed unlikely to get better any time soon the positivity regarding my ability to handle this life hurdle continued to pour in.

"You'll find something. I have faith in you."
"They would be idiots not to hire you."
"Think of the adventure! You can start a new career!"
"I'm proud of how mature you're being with this whole sudden change. I would be losing my mind."
“Think of all the free time. Cherish this.”


And in most respects I WAS being mature and strong, and I was wearing fucking rose colored glasses about the fact that one day I was headed on a very specific career path, and then all of a sudden I wasn't, and suddenly I was moving to a city I had never visited, to buy a house, and get a dog, and try to find a new job/career, and OMG I HAVE NO FRIENDS, and hello boyfriend, nice to live with you all of a sudden!

God, when I write it all out it really has been the longest mind fuck year, ever.



BUT, I have done it. And yes there have been some serious meltdowns, and confusion, and soul sucking disappointment, and days where I curse this whole roller coaster I went on unwillingly. But I also have these moments where I'm like,  “Look at me, finally finding a job, making new friends, buying a house, raising a puppy, pushing myself to try new scary things like roller derby, loving living with my boyfriend, and being a strong healthy ADULT! Gold Star!”

Yet as much as I want to pat myself on the back for handling what at times feels like a mess of epic proportions, I am also finding that I am so very fragile inside. A friend of mine remarked recently that she has never in her life known me to be so damn tearful. I cry constantly, I require propping up and excessive amounts of coddling, my feelings are hurt so very easily, and the confidence that I once carried around proudly slung over my shoulder like a sack of potatoes is now this tiny lump of coal I casually store in my back pocket.

I wanted so badly to continue to be this strong amazing adult woman through this year like everyone believes I am. The sort of woman who buys a home like it's no big deal, has people at her house for Thanksgiving without batting an eyelash, who invites her family for lengthy Christmas breaks, and the kind of woman who looks at life and all its struggles and fucking laughs in its face.

I did. I wanted to be her so much.

But, I don't think I am.

Just yet.


This year I messed up because I realized I wasn't that strong woman far too late in the game. I revealed to my family the reality of my weaknesses and my desire to be coddled and cared for too close to their visit. I cut them so very deeply because no one had time to process the things I was admitting, the reality that I didn't have the strength to be the center piece, and until I said it out loud they might not have even guessed I was struggling. For that I will always be so very sorry.

When it was all said and done and I was sitting in Bend, OR decompressing after the longest year of my life with Adam's family, two states away from my own family, I finally realized something.

No matter how sorry I may be for hurting them, I don't have to be sorry for being weak.

Not this year.


AN OLY-TASTIC CHRISTMAS

Adam, Oly and I would like to wish you and yours a MERRY CHRISTMAS! Or whatever it is you choose to celebrate this December.

Oly would come on over and wish you a holly jolly day herself, but she's too busy being in heaven. She's already told me she has no intention of ever coming home with us. She's going to live on this rug right in front of the fire for the rest of her days. 

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Oly has also alerted us to the fact that Christmas chew toys beat regular chew toys any day. They're festive, and tasty, and people keep giving them to her as distraction methods. And with all the new people around to meet this weekend, there are plenty of opportunities to deploy distraction techniques.

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Even better than the fire, and the special treats are the walks. Walks without leashes, walks near large bodies of water, walks that last for hours, and walks that include unbridled chasing of squirrels, bunnies, ducks, and discovery of elk poop.

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It's a doggy Christmas miracle.



OH DECEMBER. HOW I'VE FAILED YOU.

When I was little the month of December was something I counted down to, a month that I ached for, loved with my ENTIRE being because I felt it was completely and utterly magical in every sense of the word. And not simply because Santa was coming. I mean, he was cool and all while he lasted, but he was exposed as a fraud somewhere in the early days. Right around the time a trip to my mother's closet uncovered THE AMERICAN GIRL DOLL I ASKED SANTA TO GIVE ME FOR CHRISTMAS. Poof, there went that dream. After that little discovery, December very quickly became much more about magic all month long than the one day of Santa. 

Yet, as I’ve aged it seems my love affair with December is beginning to fray at the edges. This December will officially go down in the record books as one of the hardest, and least magical yet.

This will always be the December where I got caught up in all the wrong things. The year where the question of if I had enough decorations to make my home truly CHRISTMASY nearly drove me off the edge financially, and mentally. The year where I allowed my anxiety to swirl into a tangled mess and push away the people in this world who love me the deepest. It’s the December where in an effort to feel less GUILTY about all the people I’d hurt manifested into a spending spree of epic proportions far beyond my capabilities. Instead of dealing with my decision and my issues like someone who wears big girl pants I instead ran around like a crazy person and tried to single handedly pull us out of a recession. Whooo—hoooo high five for mindless guilt ridden spending!

How ever did I get so tremendously lost?  How could it be possible to wreck the holiday I cherish the most? Instead of being over the moon excited for this holiday weekend to start, a holiday I’ve grown to love for the way it transforms people, places and memories, instead I am wishing it away as fast as possible. We leave for Bend, OR tonight to spend Christmas with Adam's parents, and all I am doing is hoping I can wake up and it be 2010. Please let it be 2010 already. Is it 2010 yet? No? Damn.

It's all so terribly sad. And I can't begin to explain how terribly tired I am. 

As I swim around in all these confusing emotions, I wish you a December of my past. Hell maybe even a Hanukah (my Jewish brotherin, please explain to me why there are TWO ways to spell Hanukah. Sometimes you see it with a C, sometimes an H. I need help. Love your confused pagan friend, Ashley), Kwanzaa, Christmas or even Winter Solstice if it makes you merry. May it be filled with twinkle lights, food, inviting candle light, laughter, games, conversation, memories, joy, love, family and wonder. Or really, whatever a wonderful holiday means to YOU.

May we all be a little better to one another, and learn valuable lessons from our mistakes.

I know that’s my only Christmas wish this year.


WHO NEEDS A CHRISTMAS GIFT, WHEN YOU CAN HAVE A CHRISTMAS DATE?

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Wonderful date, wonderful gift, wonderful night.

But um, can we talk about how Bob and Betty share ONE little peck after being complete dicks to one another for most of the show and then suddenly they're singing songs about being in LOVE!  That right there is why little girls grow up wondering when they'll meet Prince Charming, and little boys grow up to be completely and utterly confused as to why their girlfriend isn't ok with being proposed to at Hooters.

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Mysterious instant love aside, I have a confession. STOP TWISTING MY ARM I'LL ADMIT IT!

I totally teared up at the end of the show as the snow began to fall from the ceiling onto the audience and the cast asked the theater to join them in singing 'White Christmas'. Suddenly it was snowing indoors, hundreds of people began to sing one of my favorite Christmas carols in perfect unison, and there were women dancing around in sparkling hoop skirts that looked like giant Santa hats. I'm fairly certain you'd get a little misty eyed too.

I'm a cynic, but I'm not heartless.


EVERYONE, I'D LIKE YOU TO MEET MY ALTER EGO

When I asked for help with derby names I had no idea I would end up with like 700 names to choose from! Turns out a few of you are SERIOUSLY talented in the derby name creation department. You should probably quit your jobs RIGHT NOW and go into a career in derby name consultation.

After receiving all the names last week I managed to widdle it down to a nice little group, and then ran them through the official roller derby name registry. Turns out some of my favorites already exist on the jerseys of other roller derby talent scattered throughout this country. Damn you all for picking them before me!

(shakes fist at the ceiling)

With my remaining list, and after much deliberation I decided the derby name to grace the back of my jersey from this moment forward will be,


Ash'n Burn


Many thank yous to Jen from Open Mouth, Insert Foot for suggesting my new roller derby name. I bow to your creativity.

So everyone, I now have a roller derby name (provided it doesn't suddenly get rejected or taken!). Since I managed to get that squared away I guess the next thing I'll do is keep working on the whole 'slamming my body into the opposing team at high speeds' thing before my first bout on February 14th (click here for tickets). Yes, you heard that right. The first time to catch me in fishnets, a deathly short skirt and skates is Valentines Day. Roses and chocolate is SO overrated. Nothing says, "I love you" like tickets to a roller derby bout people.

OlyCoffee


So Jen, as the winner of this little contest there is a bag of Oly Roller coffee headed your way! Lets just cross our fingers I can get it there before Christmas... 

Thank you again for everyone who suggested a name. You are all so amazingly creative. If it wasn't for your help my derby name would probably be something amazing like, "Oly's Owner."

Guess I'll have to leave that little gem for the next lucky derby girl.



I KNOW THIS IS PROBABLY GETTING OLD, BUT I CAN'T STOP

The Arctic temperatures have officially vacated the Northwest, but I felt it was my duty to share the last batch of images I gathered before the ice melted. I know this is getting a tad old what with all the pictures of frozen things, but what can I say, I'm originally from California. This is what happens when you grow up somewhere that the temperature never dips below 60 degrees. You morph into this person who is fascinated, and borderline obsessive when water freezes all over your world. But come on, even if you also live in a land where frozen water particles fall from the sky I bet you can see why I had to take this picture.

It's like all those childhood craft projects cutting out paper snowflakes come to life. They always told us tan Californian children that this is what a snowflake looked like, but only half had probably ever seen this sort of delicate natural artistry in real life. 

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After I'd discovered the tiny ice snowflakes I went about my day. While driving home I looked to my right as I always do and suddenly I played a little game with myself called, 'What about this picture isn't right?' And the answer was most definitely, 'Capital Lake'. Capital Lake, for all the non-Olympians is the lake sitting at the bottom of the Puget Sound where the Deschutes River meets the ocean, essentially. They culminate in the most picturesque location showcasing the Washington State Capital Building.

I am pretty sure that the sight of this entire lake freezing over was shocking for even the born and raised Olympians because the park was full of gape mouthed locals wielding cameras. We all wandered around in wonder to see this well loved landmark strikingly altered.

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And just in case you think my awe is misplaced, here is how thick the ice was on the water. I mean, this lake wasn't covered in ice, it was covered in ICE. There's a difference.

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The most amazing part wasn't the completely frozen lake, or even the fact that the sun was at its most perfect level between daylight and sunset, casting that warm glow on the world that basically screams TAKE PICTURES NOW, no. It was the deep violent cracks in the ice. Cracks that exposed just how thick the ice was, and how destructive this storm has been to our landscape. At one point the woman next to me gasped. When I asked her what was the matter she told me to listen. Sure enough those giant slabs of ice were cracking. It sounded as if the lake was moaning in pain. It was such a beautiful pain though.

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I loved these swirls I found carved into the ice. They made me imagine bubbles trying desperately to escape to the surface before the freeze, and being trapped halfway to the top.

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This is already a majestic sight, but there is something about the severity of ice that has the ability to increase the beauty of even the most familiar of sights tenfold.

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A PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT

You know that Staples commercial with the weird red 'Easy' button? Come on, you must know what I'm talking about. They're the commercials where people are having issues with their office supplies or something equally lame, and then suddenly someone hits the 'Easy' button and elves and unicorns pop out from under their desk to repair their oh-so-important business card troubles in seconds. 

That is pretty much what I hoped therapy was going to be like. A big fat red 'Easy' button. I tell you my issues, you hit the 'Easy' button, and TA-DA, all better! 

Nope.

Turns out it's more like one long drawn out game of Lets Identify Your Issues, & Then Make YOU Work On Them.

I would like a refund. Or at least an 'Easy' button.



I mean, ok, we've identified that I have anxiety, hell, even I knew that. But what you're telling me is that it's not the sort of anxiety where it's ok for me to just take an 'Easy' button pill each day? Great. So, mine is more like the kind where I have to WORK ON IT? Really? You sure there are no 'Easy' buttons involved? Oh, fun.

Also, I'm pretty sure I have serious issues with perfectionism. The sort of perfectionism that causes me to have nearly crippling social anxiety because I'm the kind of person who goes home and relives EVERY SINGLE WORD I SAID after an evening, and then berates myself if I think I might have said a single awkward sentence. That's not normal right? Ok. Glad we got that one out of the way. Now what? Can we hit the 'Easy' button yet? No? PLEASE!

Oh. Apparently we're going to work on that one too.

Sweet.

Oh wow, that's an amazing point you just made. The more I think about it, you are SO right. I really do have deep rooted issues pertaining to GUILT and REGRET. Wow, now that I look at it, realizing that nearly all my actions are somehow tied into feeling guilty, or trying not to feel guilty sort of makes me want to reach into my brain right now and give it a titty twister for being so lame.

Honestly, I'm glad you pointed that one out. I mean, you're dead on. Who wants to live their entire life under a shadow of guilt? Not this woman. Score one for you therapist lady! I assume this big messy part is where I finally get to cash in the 'Easy' button right? I mean HELLO, look at me diving into my issues! And I didn't even use the 'Easy' button on those other issues so high five!

Oh really, wrong again? Fuck. This isn't that much fun anymore. So what you're really saying after all this is these are all just opportunities to WORK ON IT. Awesome. I am pretty sure I am starting to sense a pattern here.

Really though, that was great fun.

See you next week!

(sigh)


I guess at the end of the day I'd like to think of this overarching anti 'Easy' button realization sort of like a public service announcement for all the other slightly unbalanced and lazy folks out there. Count this as your one and only 'Easy' button moment pertaining to wonderful world of therapy. Because lets face it, the minute you sit down in that terribly comfy couch and open your mouth, no matter how much you want to press the 'Easy' button over and over and over, all you've actually done is enter the world of 'working on it zone'.

And as it turns out, there's no turning back.   



I NEED HELP. I LACK ORIGINALITY.

So remember when I made this big deal about how I joined a roller derby team, but then I sort of never said much about it after that? Yeah me too. I'm betting a few of you even suspected I realized I hated roller derby after the second practice, but to avoid any public humiliation simply kept my mouth shut and instead rambled on about things like FROST.

Sorry to disappoint anyone who had money riding on me being a quitter. This little lady has been strapping wheels to my feet three days a week and learning things like the proper way to slam my body into moving human targets. FUN STUFF! Turns out I love roller derby. And even better, I don't totally suck super unbelievable ass at it. I only mildly suck. Go me!

I have realized a few things about myself over the course of the last month and a half at derby practice. One of them being that I will probably never ever ever ever again have skin on my right inside ankle bone. I am THIS close to buying stock in Johnson & Johnson because I am pretty sure I am single-handedly keeping them in business from all the band-aids, medical tape, and gauze I've been buying. At this point, all I'm trying to do is keep the gaping wound on my ankle from becoming infected with gangrene and then needing to amputate my entire foot. Because as kick ass as it would be to suddenly be this amazing one footed derby girl, I have a feeling I might lack coordination at high speeds. I'm just saying.

The other less disgusting thing I've learned about myself while at roller derby practice is that I am COMPLETELY AND UTTERLY UNORIGINAL. The time where I become an actual dues paying league member of the Oly Rollers is fast approaching. This means I am extremely close to needing a derby name. People keep asking me what my derby name is so they can register me as a full fledged bad ass derby girl, and I just sort of mumble something, stare off into space and start to drool hoping they'll be grossed out and leave me and my non-derby named self alone.

I think and think and think, and I just can't commit to anything people. I keep getting stuck on the idea that I will register this name, and for the rest of my derby career this name will be my identity. Talk about some pressure. 


So here's where I ask for your help. Because you're prettier than I am, and funnier, and smarter, and much more capable of seeing past this hurdle than I can. I am asking for derby names. Leave me a comment with whatever you got. It could be a play on my name, a play off someone famous (ex. Helen Killer), or completely and totally random.

Here's how we'll do this. Either come up with a new name and leave it in the comments (PLEASE SEND ME TONS!!!!!!) or let me know if you're loving one of the names already suggested to me below.

Penny Pincher *
Ash Bash *   (*suggested by Joy of The Cauliflower Lollipop)
Skate Scalper
Ashterburner
Olyminator
Ash-hole~
Ash'n'Burn~  (~suggested by Jen of Open Mouth, Insert Foot)
Ashley Thudd
Bashley, Crashly or Smashly
Penni Less

OlyCoffee

If I end up using the name you suggested then I am going to send you a bag of the fantabulous Oly Rollers, Roller Blend coffee. YEAH FOR GIVING AWAY MORE FREE STUFF! The tag line at the bottom of the bag says something about the coffee being a bed & breakfast blend made with Central American coffee, but I think it should say something like, "This blend will kick your ass, knock you out of bounds and then lap you twice. A coffee that will leave you crying for your momma."

So go! Comment away! And remember, you very well could suggest the name I will officially register as my derby name FOR THE REST OF MY LIFE. I mean when you think about it, this could be the start of a beautiful partnership between you and I.  


** UPDATE. You have until Friday December 18th to give me names. I'll mull over it this weekend and announce the winner on Sunday Dec 20th, and hopefully have your coffee in the mail by Monday the 21st. So HURRY!!!!!! **