I Got Your Resolution Right Here

img_7351Are you in need of a good, old-fashioned New Year’s Resolution? Are you in the market for some change? You need a kick in the hiney? A life re-charge? Well friend, look no more. Like the title says, I got your resolution right here. I’ve actually used some of these myself!

  1. Don’t use the word AMAZING at all. All year. Re-discover other adjectives!
  2. For every hour spent in front of a screen, read a book. You’ll be surprised.
  3. Visit every museum in your city. Do it! Art is out there, just waiting for you to look at it. And some of it is even free! You have 365 days to do it. That’s more than enough time.
  4. Look up more often. You never know…
  5. Sparkle more. Duh.
  6. Pledge to stop posting inspirational quotes and pictures on your Instagram feed. Your friends are too nice, so I’ll tell you. They’re annoying. They’re obvious. And, they’re usually misquoted which makes you look stupid. So Just post a picture of a flower that you took yourself. It will be more appreciated.  
  7. Stop being passive aggressive. I’m totally not saying that you are. I mean, I’m so sorry if you thought I was talking about you. But if you think that you might be, passive aggressive I mean, and it’s totally cool if you are, then try to maybe say what you mean. But you don’t have too. Whatever. We have all the time in the world to wait for you to spit it out.
  8. Call bullshit when you hear and see it. No explanation needed, but honestly, things won’t change if you just wait for other people to do all the hard shit.
  9. Walk more.
  10. Be nicer.
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Goodbye 2016, Hello Future

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Original artwork by Alicia K. Brooks 2016

I think I say this every year, but I absolutely cannot stand the end of the year. I guess I should clarify. What I can’t stand about the end of the year -every year- is the looking back. The nostalgia. The tendency for people to live in the past year and pat themselves on the back for being a part of it. Well, good on ya. But I’m bored now. I lived through all those pictures the first time. You can save it. Thanks.

Social media has made every day a year in review. There is Throw Back Thursday, and Flash-Back Friday. There are daily posts about what you looked like last year, or as a kid, or during the summer. Or last month. Instagram has lost its INSTA. It’s more of a “Live in the Past-agram”. I know YOU might be enamored of what you used to look like, but it’s rather annoying for the rest of us. It reeks of desperation to be looked at and liked. Living in the past just robs you of today.

December is the worst of it. Here come all of the pictures: Here is what I’ve  accomplished! What I’ve eaten! Who I’ve loved! Where we have traveled! Here is how long my hair is now! My kid has grown this much! While the temptation towards nostalgia is great, I’d rather look forward. Not back.

And this year it is even more important to look forward. 2016 was a shit show of the stickiest shit ever. Not just for me personally, but for the world. Brexit. Big Fat Baby Trump. Bill Cosby a confirmed rapist. Gun Violence. There is no need for me to recap all of the nastiness. We lived it. We know.

For me the end of the year is a time for regrouping and figuring out the next step. Where do I want to live? What do I want to get done? Who do I want to meet? What do I want to accomplish? After I figure out the questions, it’s time to sit down and get concrete answers. New Year’s resolutions usually don’t pan out because folks don’t consider the actual “doing” of said resolution. For instance, to state that you want to lose weight is fine, but you won’t get very far. Instead why not say you will work out for an hour, five days a week? Why not make concrete goals that are not easy to wiggle out of?

So… here’s to 2017! Let’s do it right! Let’s make it about standing up for those who cannot. Let’s make it about accomplishments and the road we take daily to make them happen. Let’s make 2017 the year we say, “Look at what I’ve DONE!“,  instead of “LOOK AT ME!

Zen Habits: Questions to Ask Yourself at Year’s End

four-seasonsThe end of the year is nigh. That means people the world over will be looking back and taking stock of what they managed to do and not do in the past year. In the past I have used this blog to reflect on what I’ve done, and look forward to the year to come. This year is no different, but a lot easier since I took stock of my life mid year. I knew I wasn’t happy where I was and waiting isn’t really my style. So I asked myself some important questions and took action. The result is that 2014 is going to be an exciting year for me.

Even if you are totally content with your life and happy with where you are (both physically and mentally), it won’t hurt to look at these questions and see where your life is out of balance. I answered most of these questions last year and it showed me quite vividly that I was unhappy. Sure it was my first year in America in almost seven years, but reverse culture shock isn’t to blame for everything. I quickly saw that Austin wasn’t good for me. Most (if not all) of my unhappiness stemmed from living in a place I found stifling to my independence and growth. Once I figured that out, the rest was fun and easy. I developed an escape plan that commences in three weeks. It’s not enough to know what the problems are, you have to be proactive in your own life in order to create change.

  1. Where in my life do I feel stuck?
  2. What am I most proud of in this last year?
  3. Am I passionate about my job, or career?
  4. What have I learned this year?
  5. What have I been an example of?
  6. How have I been open minded?
  7. What new experiences, people or places did I experience?
  8. How did I express myself creatively?
  9. What projects did I start? Did I complete them, or procrastinate?
  10. Did I get in my own way and make excuses?
  11. In what ways can I restructure my time?
  12. How have I been a good and supportive friend/lover?
  13. Have I been unfair to anyone?
  14. Who do I need to forgive in order to move forward?
  15. What (or who) do I need to let go of?
  16. What old habits am I ready to get rid of forever?
  17. What habits would I like to integrate into my life?
  18. Am I healthy in mind, body and spirit?
  19. What do my finances say about my life?
  20. Am I spending my free time in healthy and productive ways?

New Year’s EVOLUTION

tumblr_mfnvg2Ki8S1qbrdf3o1_500I was going to post Best Movies of 2012 list, but you don’t need that. No. You already know that Django Unchained is awesome, and hell I post so many movie lists that you should have plenty to watch. Instead I wanted to take this last day of 2012 and say “I resolve to do better. I will EVOLVE!”

That’s right. I am going to evolve this year. 2013 is the year I stop making “firm decisions” to do or not do stuff, and start becoming a truly badass human being. It’s going to be lot’s of hard work, but I know me. I can do it. Here are somethings I will be doing to help myself evolve into greatness. Feel free to copy me. I care not.

  • I will be better to my body. This means actually working out. Getting those muscles back into Zombie fighting strength. Because you never know when the Zombie Apocalypse will be upon us. And playing with the Wii only counts if you are 82 years old. Saying you worked out by playing on the Wii is like saying the dog farted when you did it. It’s just a distraction.
  • I will not “waste time”. This is tough. I am a smart enough woman to never be bored, but I do watch a lot of kitten videos on the youtube. So, as a way of bettering myself I will instead paint, or read, or write instead of playing SpellTower or Angry Birds. I’m keeping the kitten videos.
  • Bad ass people make things. I am going to buy less and make more. This goes for food, art, and whatever else I can manage.
  • I will engage more in the community. It’s tough being a vagabond. On the one hand you get to travel and see the world. It was a fear of mine to suddenly be 45 one day and realize that I lived in one place my whole life. How dull! But, the downside of being a vagabond is having to adjust to new places and people all the time. It’s not easy. But, while I am in Texas I might as well enjoy it. So, I am going to get a gym membership, maybe join a book-club or two or something like that. It can’t be all heat and hipsters here, right?
  • Make better choices. I say this to my kids at school constantly. It’s a good thing to remember. You ALWAYS have a choice. Is your girlfriend mean to you all the time? You have the choice to leave. Do you hate your job? Quit. Get a better job. Take action. I make pretty good choices these days, but there is always room for improvement. I can choose NOT to eat the last cookie.
  • I will stop rolling my eyes every time I see/hear Zooey Deschanel. It’s not really her fault that she is obnoxious. I blame her stylist. I will do my part by ignoring her, and pointing out that all of her “IT GIRL” qualities are circumstantial at best.
  • I will accept the fact that I am awesome when I am. And I am awesome a lot. I was dubbed “The Empress” of karaoke and I just blushed and turned shy. Screw that! I AM good! I am good at lots of things and I should be proud of that, rather than embarrassed. Little girls are taught to keep quiet. Women should be taught to be loud and proud.
  • I will stop saying “Seacrest out!” every time I leave a room. It’s time.

Happy 2013, every one. I hope you try your best and do awesome things this year well into March or April. Just remember, there is always room for improvement. Even for you. Espically for Zooey Deschanel.

I leave you with this awesome video. It has lot’s of dogs. Happy New Year! 

 

Thank God That’s Over

2010 sucked. I will not be sad to see this year fade into memory. Not to be a Debbie Downer, but I had me some bad luck in the past year. I won’t go into detail but I was beat up, beat down, broke up with, laughed at, visa denied, fucked with, lied to, depressed, dead cat… the list goes on and on. Like I said I won’t be sad to wave goodbye to 2010. It was basically my own personal BP oil spill. This is not to say there were not some positive things in the past year, but those positive things were the direct result of my perseverance and will. I discovered that I can play the Ukulele. I developed some friendships that will endure for sometime. I lost about 20 pounds. So… there is always a little light.

Which brings us to 2011. I am not one for making resolutions. When I do they tend to be things like “Sparkle More” and I am always successful. It’s hard not to be successful when your resolution is completely abstract. But without resolving to do so, I think 2011 is going to be a good year. It is going to be full of change and frustration like every year is, but I think it will be easier. After having such a hard time I am kind of immune to the Universe fucking with me. I have somehow managed to come out of it not only alive, but better for it. 2011 is a chance for me to leave all the shit behind and just move forward. I have a pretty great life here in Prague and the focus this year will be living it – in the NOW, not in the past. I have some goals for the up coming year, but mostly I just want to be happy. I survived a lot, the very least I can do is reward myself with kindness.

2011 will be dedicated to me and the things I am passionate about. That means singing and ukulele playing in public. And public is going to be more than just being bad ass at karaoke. I will go to some open mic nights and get a show someplace. I am very confident in my singing ability, so I just gotta get a little better with the ukulele. Then there is my other passion – writing. I will continue with this here blog, but I want to get back to fiction as well. It has been a while and I am a little rusty. But, that is what practice is for. And that’s it really. I want to spend time becoming an even better version of me. I mean I am already wicked cool, super cute and funny – but why stop there?

2011? Bring it. I will make you my bitch… in a friendly non threatening way.

Stiffen My Resolve

It’s 2009. This is not news to anyone with a heart beat, but it bears repeating at this time of year. Every December 31 folks like to take a moment to look back at the year that has past, reflect on the good and the bad and ultimately decide what they need to change in their own lives to make the new year a better one. We decide to spend less time at work and more time with family. We decide THIS is the year we are going to really hit the gym and get into shape. We are going to quit smoking or drinking and we are going to do abstract things like enjoy life more and learn new things. We vow to get out of debt, get organized and to become better citizens.

Me? I am feeling a little uninspired as of late. I don’t know if it is the new year, my birthday or the alignment of the stars. Maybe Venus is in retrograde or something. Maybe I am lacking in iron. Maybe I am suffering from seasonal affective disorder. Seriously.(SAD) Did you know that there was such a thing? I guess people get depressed and start eating mountains of potatoes, sleeping a lot and not going out because of the early darkness. Um, I thought that was just winter. But, I was wrong. It is a disorder called SAD. If Saturday Night Live invented a disorder – that’s what they would call it. Anyway. I have just been in a funk since New Years.

New Year was a blast this year, don’t get me wrong. For the first time since moving to Prague 3 years ago I didn’t spend New Years Eve in the mad mad center of Town. Instead, Claire and I stayed in the Ziz. We got all dolled up and went to the Blind Eye and partied til dawn. It was fun. I was happy to be with friends in the warmth and comfort of a bar, not on the streets playing target practice with the trams. New Years day was spent with the roomie on the couch in the living room watching Zombie movies – a fitting way to ring in the New Year while hung over. We had a good time giggling at the horrible dialog (“Jesus, Mary and Joseph!” Swig from flask) and the super cool “special guest” Zombies. Honestly – next time you watch DAY OF THE DEAD, play a little I Spy. We found CLOWN Zombie, PIZZA MAKER Zombie, BRIDE Zombie, MILITARY Zombie and many more. Seriously – hours of fun. Anyway, I had a great holiday season.

So, why then am I zipless? Why am I lacking in luster? Why is my proverbial blanket wet?

I have no answers. I mean, one reason could be the fact that it is -10 outside and I am not one who wants to freeze my ever expanding ass off. The snow is so much prettier from the comfort of my room. Another reason could be that i am poor. Wait…not poor. BROKE. So, going out is something to save all my Koruns for. Or maybe, just maybe it is perfectly normal to take a break from being on the go, in a good mood, super charged party girl all the time. I don’t want to resolve to be a better person, or a different person. I want to be me, and I want to be happy about that. So…

I resolve, in 2009, to play it cool. Act accordingly. Run. Skip. Jump. Spin. Make at least 14 things with my hands. Break something. Drink tea. Find a new place and go there. Color. Sparkle. Look up. Be pretty. Flirt. Dance with total abandon. Laugh as much as possible. Practice my bad ass Buffy kicks. Write post cards. Take my vitamins. Take my licks. Write something incredible. Go to the Zoo. Smile. Cry. Sing. And well, fuck it. Just be myself.

I am after all pretty effing cool.

Solitary Man

I know. I know. I have not written for a while, and for that I apologize. But in all honesty, I don’t have much to say. Seriously. Okay…here is a little recap for you.

New Year’s Eve. Well, to put it into words as best I can – it was crazy. Picture Times Square on New Year’s Eve. Got it? Okay. Now take away Dick Clarke and any and all police activity. Great. Now add about 1000 people and make over 80% of those folks drunk. Sweet! Now….give that same 80% of people semi professional fireworks and you will start to have an idea of what it looked like. It looked like Nam…Viet Nam.The air was thick with smoke and you could hear explosions everywhere. Everywhere! I can still hear the screaming… People would launch rockets in the air, into the crowd, where ever. Everywhere you walked you were stepping on broken bottles and glass. It was fucking cool.

Last weekend Davey, Dan and I went to Dresden so I could get my passport stamped and be here on a somewhat legal basis. It took just two and a half hours by train, and it was a gorgeous day. The sun was shining and well, it was real pretty. Yup. Unfortunately, we went with no map and no guidebook. So we saw a lot of cool shit…but I have no clue what we saw. It all looked super important, and I am pretty sure that we went into a church that was just rebuilt. You know that Dresden was all but completely destroyed during WW the sequel, so most of the town is all new – or newish. We ended up eating at the Hilton restaurant, where we dined on traditional German Texas Burgers and fries. I know – but it was fun anyway.

So that brings us to this weekend, and my birthday. The gang gathered together on Thursday night for a little Sex and the City viewing party. We watched disk 1 of season 5. Ginny Blair was all in a bunchy because we said she was Charlotte, and we drank wine, ate popcorn and wondered why Dan knew more about the show than any of the ladies present. It was fun. I’d say a good time was had by all.

So that’s it right now. I have about 15 hours of classes a week, which should be enough for me to pay rent and all. Summer told me yesterday that she has changed her mind (again) and decided to move home – in February. Cool. I can’t say that it doesn’t piss me off just a little, cause it does. I would have NEVER signed a year lease for such a huge place (that I was against getting in the first place) if I would have known that I would be left holding the bag just 2 months later. It just sucks is all. I should have found a place by myself and I wouldn’t have had all this bullshit to deal with now. Oh well. Hindsight is 20 20.

More later my fierce homies…until then…think of me fondly and send me cash.

Don’t look Back in Anger

Happy New Year – or as I have taken to saying…Happy BOND Year! Get it? No? Well, just think about it. What year is it going to be? 2007! Get it? 007? I think it’s pretty cute, but I am a little lame. Either way you say it – it is still the end of one year and the beginning of yet another. I usually try to sit down and look back at the year that is coming to a close and take stock of what has happened in the world and to me personally. I don’t think I will be able to do that this year. Too much has happened both in the world and in my life to take a good look back. There is just too much to consider. Take yesterday as one brief example: Sadam Hussein was executed Saturday morning. Jesus. What a golden age we live in! I don’t know. I know the man was a mass murdering, sadist, asshole, but do we still need to be hanging human beings from the gallows? I mean our American presidents, past and present, have been responsible for killing millions of people in the name of democracy. What happens to them? Well so far the worst to happen is they get made fun of on SNL, or Michael Moore bends them over and has his way with them. Hell, Clinton got more reamed for getting rimmed in the oval office than Bush will get for killing millions of Americans. I mean what fucking year is this? Oh right 2007. We just covered that. For a minute there I thought it was 1907.

As for me personally, January brings with it more than just the start of another year. January brings with it the most sacred of all days: my birthday. That’s right my dears, I will be turning the big 33 this year in Prague! Crazy. I am actually pretty excited about it. It is a far more symmetrical number than 32 and it yet one step further away from my 20’s. I would not choose to be in my twenties again for all of the pivo in Praha. I am beginning to think that being in your twenties is like a second adolescence. You know how when you were 12 – 16 you pretty much thought that you knew everything? I think that happens to you again in your early to mid twenties. You have been to college, you have been drunk, you have had sex, you voted in the presidential election all the while claiming that “it really makes no difference who you vote for but…” You have read all the “right” books, seen all of the “important films”, listened to music that is simply “amazing”, disregard anyone who thinks differently than you do while at the same time claim to be an individual, and pretty much think that you have this big blue planet wired.

Fuck. I hope, I really hope, that I was not that much of an idiot. But, I bet if you ask my mother or anyone else who had the rare privilege of knowing me back then, they will tell you I was. I must have been. I was a dilettante feminist who said things like, “My favorite film is Bergman’s “Persona” without feeling the least bit pretentious. I mean, jesus! Whose favorite film is really something like that? Nobody, that’s who. Shit…my favorite film is Grease! Or Star Wars! Always has been. Yeah, I adore the film Persona but I am not going to be the special kind of jackass who goes around saying that it’s my favorite film. Oh man! Who was I trying to impress? Why didn’t somebody slap me? But, in my own defense, I think we were all a bit like that at that age. You are struggling to find your own place in the world, and no one tells you won’t find it by being …twenty-four.

Which again is why I am glad to be turning 33.

I kind of rock now. I don’t have the constant need to defend my taste in music, or anything else for that matter. I like what I like and if you like something else, well good for you. I don’t feel like seeing a “mainstream movie” is beneath me. I thought Broke Back Mountain was beautiful, but I also enjoy watching Beer Fest every Friday with the fellas while getting tossed. I have good manners, and an even better work ethic. I am proud of both. I always send HANDWRITEN thank you cards and I am a hard and loyal worker. I am not scared to tell people my opinions – wait that was never a problem for me – I am able to take care of myself and I am able to love people in a way that I could never have fathomed when I was in my 20’s. People always say that with age comes wisdom. I don’t know about all of that, but I know that with age comes experience. And brother – I have had a lot of them. That’s what makes you who you are.

Heck just yesterday I saw that I have only a pittance of money left in my account so I decided to make soup. It’s cheap, it will last me a while, and at the same time provide me with a few hours of free entertainment. How very economical. I went to the store and got a bunch of potatoes and corn and just started throwing stuff into a pot until it tasted good. I put in onion, corn, potatoes, flour, milk, garlic, butter, sausage, pepper, chicken bouillon, water, some sort of dry soup mix whose label I couldn’t read and a whole lot of love. And you know what? It worked! I totally rocked that soup! I now have claim to the best Stone Soup in Praha. Thank you very much. Follow with a few gummi bears and I call that a well-balanced meal.

Today? Today I proved that no matter how many loads of laundry you have done in your life you can still manage to dye all of your clothes that certain shade of pink that is found soaked into wet clothes sitting, dejected and damp, at the bottom of the washing machine.

That’s me, full of wisdom and experience.

I have long way to go, baby.