Six years ago

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Last Tuesday my blog turned six years old, and I decided to mark the occasion with a post about all the shit that gets my goat. Some people celebrate anniversaries with flowers, I celebrate with hate lists. (By the way I’d like to add to that list: group texts that go past six messages and every fucking pothole in Cleveland.)

As much as I love a good bitch festt, I figured I should mark my blog’s anniversary with something a bit less… hateful. When I started this blog I was 19 and a college sophomore. A lot has changed since then, and with all change comes lessons learned. Some lessons were easier than others. Some I’m still struggling with. Here’s a short list of things I’ve learned in the past six years.

1. No matter how old you get, your mother will always know when you’re upset, tired, hungry or on your period.

2. You won’t get to talk to or see some of your friends as much as you used to. It’s a tough adjustment, and it requires work to maintain friendships as you get older, but the good ones stick around.

3. Ohio isn’t so bad.

4. Boys will continue to break your heart.

5. Some trends (crop tops, high-waisted anything, gladiator sandals) will never look good on you.

6. Swimsuit shopping still sucks.

7. No matter what anyone says–even your friends who swear “they’re just trying to help”–never change who you are just to please a man.

8. A well-placed “that’s what she said” never gets old.

9. It’s important to do what you love, even if the path to it is less than smooth.

10. Get as many tattoos as you want, but be smart about it.

11. The bad news: You’ll always struggle with your weight. The good news: You’re not alone.

12. Exercising will never be something you love–although you might come close to enjoying it once in a while–but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do it.

13. Keep writing.

14. Keep reading.

15. You’re just not meant to be a sorority girl, and that’s totally fine.

16. Your parents were right: Student debt is a nightmare. Silently thank them for forcing strongly encouraging you to pick the college that offered you the most financial aid, therefore graduating with debt-free.

17. Your brothers will continue to drive you crazy, but you’ll learn to get along with them more the older you get.

18. Some bands you never outgrow.

19. It’s okay to mess up. (Keep telling yourself this.)

20. Take care of yourself first.

13 things I can’t even handle

For a fleeting minute today, I considered going for a run outside. However, that feeling was quickly replaced with a need to put on sweatpants, pour a glass of wine and update my blog. After all, This Is Fact Not Fiction is six(!) years old today. This momentous occasion calls for a celebration–or at least a much-needed blog post.

Not only is today my little ole blog’s sixth anniversary, but it’s also the day I found my future blogging bff, Meg Lagos (Or is it Meg Lake? Please inform me.) I stumbled across Meg after her latest article for Elite Daily showed up on my Facebook news feed. After reading the article, Me, Myself And… Holy Crap, I’m Still Single, and nodding along the whole time, I quickly found her blog, and from there it was a hop, skip and a jump to major blog crushing. (I’m seriously impressed by any blogger whose content doesn’t depend on cute kids, boyfriend jeans or new cupcake recipes and is still able to write every day.) I immediately subscribed to her blog and followed her on Twitter and Instagram. At this point I’m probably two steps away from Lloyd Dobler-ing her and holding a boombox up outside her window. 

She recently posted a list titled “24 Things I Irrationally Hate.” Seeing as I also strongly dislike many things, I decided to make my own hate list. (That sounds terrible, doesn’t it?) I tend to get stuck in ruts where my brain freezes over and I can’t think of anything worth blogging about. It’s always nice to find a blogger you like and who can inspire you to stop playing Candy Crush and get behind your computer keyboard. So without further ado….

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13 Things I Can’t Even Handle

  1. People in the you-scan line at Giant Eagle who start scanning their items before I’ve finished bagging mine. #rude
  2. Picky eaters. Look, I get that people have food(s) they dislike–mushrooms, stay the fuck away with me–but people who refuse to  try new foods make me want to pull my eyeballs out, cook them in olive oil and feed them to said picky eaters.
  3. People who heckle opening bands. Hey asshole, every band was an opening band at one point. Stop being a dick.
  4. Dust bunnies. Thank goodness I live alone, because if anyone ever saw me crawling around on my hardwood floors scooping up bits of dust, they’d probably have me committed.
  5. Askew hangers. UGH I CAN’T EVEN. Seriously, why can’t hangers just hold your pants and hang perfectly still? You’re only job is to hang! It’s like they’re just mocking my OCD.
  6. Oxford commas. Real talk: Any guy on Ok Cupid who claims to love Oxford commas is a guy I will not be messaging.
  7. Emotionally stable, happy people in relationships who want to give their single friends dating advice because “they’re just trying to help.”
  8. Expensive workout clothes. Oh, you’re right Athleta, it makes total sense to charge $69 for workout tights–not even pants, mind you.
  9. “First ever.” Every time someone uses this phrase, a baby angel dies. Stop fucking doing it, you baby angel murderer.
  10. Drivers who don’t use their turn signals.
  11. 99 percent of CNN’s coverage these days.
  12. People who want to most outside of the invisible–BUT CLEARLY STATED–mosh zone.
  13. Cotton candy vodka.

Thanks for the inspiration, Meg. Remember: Blogging BFFs who hate together stay together. Okay, I’ll stop now.

‘Girls’ just need to grow up

HBO With The Cinema Society Host The New York Premiere Of HBO's "Girls"

I’ve been watching HBO’s Girls since it debuted in 2012. I’ve defended it against cries that it was “too white,” I’ve discussed Lena Dunham’s take on my generation with my best friend, and I’ve gladly proclaimed on several occasions that Marnie is my spirit animal.

But I’m a bit fed up with these girls–or should I say women, because that’s what they are: Three women (I’m not counting Shoshanna who’s still in college) who are stuck in this post-college abyss where money doesn’t matter, finding a job isn’t important and there’s plenty of time to take random road trips upstate and frolic around a cemetery with your creepy neighbor and your boyfriend’s crazy sister. Isn’t life great?

Look, I get it. I understand that Lena Dunham created Girls with her life experiences in mind, not mine. But even Lena Dunham had to grow up. I’m just wondering if the characters she created ever will. In past seasons, I laughed at their shenanigans, but now I find myself rolling my eyes–or worse–cringing whenever Hannah, Marnie (my beloved Marnie!) or Jessea do something that makes older people look at my generation and go, “See? You’re all entitled brats.” On the surface, there appears to be some “lesson” in each episode (Jessea is out of rehab; Marnie realizes she’s a stuck-up phony), but it’s all a facade: a lesson implies that something was learned by someone. Rarely do these women learn anything when a flaw in their character is revealed. Instead, they joke about it then cry/complain about it then ignore it. It was cute the first season, but three seasons in, it’s less cute and more annoying.

Hannah (played by Lena Dunham) turned 25 in a recent episode, making her my age. And yet, I look at Hannah’s life and see very few similarities to my own. Even the thing that made me fall in love with Girls in the first place–the friendship the four main characters shared–seems to have faded away. Do these women even like each other anymore? When they are together, they’re not even friends, but rather people talking at (and not listening to) each other. The women of Girls haven’t grown up, but they appear to have outgrown each other.

Maybe it’s not that the girls (because let’s face it, that’s how they act 99 percent of the time) of Girls haven’t grown up, but that I have. It took me a few years to get here–here being adulthood where I have a job I love, a home I own and bills to pay–but I’m here now. And it feels pretty great. Now when I watch Girls, I get a slight twinge that maybe I’m the one doing it wrong. Am I missing out on something by not living the twenty-something life portrayed by Hannah and Co.? Should I have remained “lost” a bit longer? But then I remember that I wasn’t ever really lost. Unlike GirlsI always knew what I wanted. Hannah, Marnie, Jessea and Shoshanna haven’t figured it out yet. I just hope they do–and soon.

New(ish) books and inspiring writing

Helllloooo, blogosphere! (Said like every band that says “Helllloooo, Cleveland!” whenever they come to my city.)

It’s been a while, but I’m back with an update on my Great Book Challenge and the second installment of  Writing Well. So make yourself a hot beverage and settle on in.

The Great Book Challengebook ecard

Yes, this is still going on. I can’t believe I haven’t updated since April. (I kind of suck at updates.) Since then, here’s what I’ve read:

  • Living History by Hillary Rodham Clinton
  • The Crack-Up by F. Scott Fitzgerald
  • Pride And Prejudice And Zombies by Seth Grahame-Smith
  • Grace by Grace Coddington
  • Empire Falls by Richard Russo
  • LZ-’75: The Lost Chronicles Of Led Zeppelin’s 1975 American Tour by Stephen Davis
  • Northanger Abbey, Lady Susan, The Watsons And Sandition by Jane Austen

I’m currently reading Abigail And John: Portrait Of A Marriage by Edith B. Gelles. So 13 books (almost 14) down, and 17 to go! Woohoo! Wanna keep up with my reading adventures? Follow me on Goodreads!

And now on to the second installment of this two-part post…

Writing Well
Ernest Hemmingway quote

In case you’re new to the show, Writing Well is a roundup of some amazing writing I’ve come across recently.

As we step outside to talk, I notice that one of her shoes is untied. As she bends down to tie it, she bumps into the wall and spills some of her wine. There’s something almost Chapelinesque in this display of anxious, antic energy. I get the sense that when Blanchett isn’t throwing herself into a role, she is literally hurling herself through life.
Golden Hour: Cate Blanchett Is Back by Jonathan Van Meter

The myth of the other girl is so destructive because it divides girls and turn them against each other. It causes girls to view their gender–and by extension, themselves–as inferior. It causes them to feel as if they constantly have to validate their existences, convince others that they aren’t the catty, superficial creature that others try to make them out to be. In a society that is already so dismissive of girls opinions beyond the superficial, the last thing they need is other girls treating them that way as well.
Taylor Swift, Solidarity and the Myth of “Other Girls” by Sabrina Nelson

Try to make the life decisions your 37-year-old self would want you to make, not the ones the seven-year-old you fantasized about. Want the marriage, knowing all that it will demand of you. Want the child, realizing that her needs will come first for the next 20 years. Choose the man who will take care of the laundry and change the baby’s diapers when you’ve got the flu, rather than the one who spent a month choreographing his proposal so that the video of it would go viral. Understand what you’re getting into and put your energy into planning your union, not planning your wedding. That’s the key to a happy marriage and a happy life.
Let’s Ban Weddings and, While We’re at It, Baby Showers Too by Valerie Alexander

Why is it that, when the victim is a man, we suddenly find the outrage that we couldn’t muster up before? Are we so astonished that what happens regularly to women could actually happen to a man too? Have we become so conditioned to accepting sexual assault as a thing-that-happens, that it takes finding a male victim to shock us to our senses?
In Defense Of Outrage: A Response by Jesse Richman

Don’t let anyone tell you that real men misbehave and real women forgive. Find someone who is prepared to be just as loving and devoted as you are.
Young Singles, Seth Adam Smith’s Marriage Advice Isn’t for You by Wayne Self

An 11-year-old discovering vinyl copies of Damaged or Walk Among Us in his cool parents’ collection or seeing his favorite Warped Tour guitarist rocking a Crimson Ghost tee are not bad things. Tagging said youth as being inferior because he didn’t get to see Misfits at CBGB back in the day most certainly is.
5 reason why punk is still very much alive by Jason Pettigrew

Somewhere there’s a dad doing the exact same thing for his daughters. Somewhere there’s a dad who put his foot down with his boss and refused to attend an “urgent staff meeting” so he could leave work early to attend his daughter’s dance recital. Somewhere there’s a single dad successfully getting his three sons ready for school. Somewhere there’s a stay at home dad crushing all of the cooking, cleaning, laundry for his family. Somewhere there’s a dad who would rather play catch in the backyard with his son instead of killing pixelated terrorists on his XBox.
I Have a Dream: That People Will View a Picture Like This and Not Think It’s a Big Deal by Doyin Richards

Strong female character

Sometimes a phone conversation with a friend is just that. And sometimes it makes you sit up, take notes (literally) and start writing your next blog post in your head.

A few days ago I was talking to my friend Chelsea about something women have been talking about ever since BFFs were invented: men. Specifically, my issue with the male as the hero in every love story. From Pride & Prejudice and Wuthering Heights to Bridget Jones’s Diary and Something Borrowed, the guy is always the one chasing the girl. And don’t even get me started on the movies: When Harry Met Sally10 Things I Hate About You, Pretty Woman, every film Molly Ringwald made in the ’80s.

This should be the part in the post where I swear off all these movies and books for not showcasing strong female characters who go after what–or who–they want. I’ll be the first to admit that Pride & Prejudice is one of my favorite books, and I’ve seen all the aforementioned movies dozens and dozens of times. I don’t think these female leads are weak. In fact, I think they’re pretty great. They play women I know, and they address something we might not always like to admit: Women like to be rescued. We like to be swept off our feet, and we’ll forget a man’s flaws as soon as he climbs our fire escape with a dozen roses clenched between his teeth. (Forget Disney movies. Richard Gere and Julia Roberts gave me unrealistic expectations about love.) Does this make us weak? I don’t think so. It makes us human. It’s human nature to want to be loved, to want a grand gesture, at least once in your life. It’s why I get a dreamy, goofy smile on my face whenever Mr. Darcy walks toward Elizabeth as the sun is rising. It’s why I go, “Oh, Harry” when Billy Crystal says to Meg Ryan, “When you realize you want to spend the rest of your life with somebody, you want the rest of your life to start as soon as possible.” How can anyone, regardless of sex, not turn into a pile of mush after hearing that?

But I want more. Maybe more is the wrong word. I want something different. I want a strong female character that goes after the guy first and gets him. And I don’t mean a female character that goes after the man, and then said man tells her she’s crazy or reading the wrong signals, only for that same guy to finally get his shit together in the last 15 minutes and realize, “Hey wait a minute! I do love her!” [Insert grand gesture. Roll credits.] 

I want the girl to be the one outside the guy’s window, holding a boom box up in the air. I want Elizabeth to swallow her pride and go after Mr. Darcy. I want Catherine to realize that, “Hey, maybe Heathcliff needs to work out his own issues before I let him sweep me away.” I want to read a wedding announcement in The New York Times about a woman who found the man she wanted to marry and didn’t stop chasing him until he became her husband.

Now back to that phone call with my friend…

Chelsea (said friend): “You’re like Ted!”
Me: “Who?”
Chelsea: “From How I Met Your Mother. Ted’s in love with his best friend, and he spends so long trying to get her.
Me: “You mean Robin?”
Chelsea: “Yeah!”
Me: “But they don’t end up together.”
Chelsea: “I know, but he still tried!”

I suppose I can feel a little better knowing that even the guy doesn’t always get the girl. But at least Ted tried. That’s half the battle, isn’t it?

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Writing Well

To all my fellow writers, readers and lovers of words: Have you ever read something and been so impressed/shocked/taken aback by how amazing that particular bit of writing is? Seeing as I go gaga for books, magazine, newspapers, blogs, etc., this happens to me quite often. So I figured, why not have a little posi time and share some of my favorite written bits that I’ve “recently” come across? (I say recently, because two of these I’ve had tucked away for a while.) I think I’ll make this a recurring blog post, because we could all use a little inspiration, am I right? Maybe I’ll call it “Wonderful Writing Wednesday.” Of course, today is Saturday so I’ll have to work on that title. For now, here’s “Writing Well.”

“And when you hear the uncomplicated but memorable music, you realize that the talent in this band isn’t about instrumental craft and years of playing scales; it’s about the shortest distance in emotion from band to audience.”
The Front Bottoms: Tiny Desk Concert – NPR

“Even then—before the flood of real estate money fills the green space and the two-lanes with concrete and freeways; before hell breaks loose and the Anglos and Mexicans start knifing one another; before he learns to love girls and Beat poetry and jazz and booze; before he ever paints or takes acting seriously — he’s already prone to ditching school to hit the beach, already dreaming of the day he finally slides himself behind the wheel of a car and mashes the gas.
          I’m going to get out of Dodge. I’m going to get out of here. I’m going to drive into the mountains, I’m going to drive to the desert, I’m going as far as I can and as fast as I can and as far away from here as I can.”
Esquire April 2013 cover story on Robert Redford

“The Pixies’ EP1 makes me want my Doc Martens, and art class, and Pump Up the Volume. It’s four songs of unbridled unapologetic nostalgia, wrapped up in a modernized package, like one of those instant cameras that are all the rage, and you know what? I’ll take it.”
The Pixies Aren’t the Same, but We’ll Take Them

 

There’s no “rest” in “vacation”

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I leave for vacation in five days. To most people vacation means R&R. Well, the Moseleys aren’t most people–at least when it comes to vacationing. We take it very seriously. And by we, I mean my mother who somehow, year after year, convinces all of us that vacations aren’t for sitting around and drinking margaritas. Oh no, they’re for cramming in as many sights, attractions and activities as possible. We will not stop until everything on the itinerary is completed.

Just call my mom Patty Griswold.

Just call my mom Patty Griswold.

The itinerary. All those white pages of single-spaced text. She spends months before we leave sitting at the end of our dining room table, surrounded by brochures, travel books and pages she tore out of magazines 10 years ago because hey, you never know when you’ll be planning a trip to  New Orleans and need to remember the name of that one tour that takes you through the cities old Catholic churches and along the way educates you on vampires and the Church’s desire to hide the truth about our blood-sucking brethren. (I wish I was making this up, but my family did indeed go on a vampire tour in New Orleans. Fortunately, I was stuck at school studying for my final exams.)

This upcoming vacation, at five days long, isn’t too long or too short. But don’t think my mother didn’t devote a page in the itinerary to each day. I keep telling people I’m going on the Bourbon Trail, but really, a Patty Moseley vacation is never just one thing. It’s never just Mount Rushmore. It’s Mount Rushmore, the Badlands, the Black Hills, Crazy Horse, Devil’s Tower, Wall Drug, Mall Of America, the Corn Palace and a quick trip to northern California to see our cousins. (That one was a month-long “vacation.”)

Because including our entire itinerary might crash WordPress, I’ll just give you the highlights:

  1. Corvette Museum
  2. Mammoth Cave
  3. Abraham Lincoln birthplace
  4. Abraham Lincoln museum
  5. Abraham Lincoln boyhood home
  6. Harrodsburg (first permanent English settlement west of Appalachian Mountains)
  7. Perryville Battlefield (if there’s time)
  8. Jim Beam distillery
  9. Barton 1792 Distillery
  10. My Old Kentucky Home (home of composer Stephen Foster)
  11. Basilica of St. Joseph Proto
  12. Civil War Museum
  13. Oscar Getz Museum
  14. Lincoln Homestead State Park
  15. Bataan War Memorial, Fort Harrod, Clark Monument and Lincoln Marriage Temple
  16. Buffalo Trace Distillery
  17. Daniel Boone’s grave
  18. Kentucky Horse Park
  19. Mary Todd Lincoln House
  20. Latrobe’s Pope Villa
  21. Kentucky Bourbon Barrel Ale
  22. Hunt Morgan House
  23. Henry Clay Estate
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My sister-in-law and I are the brave souls accompanying my mother on this vacation.

Are you exhausted yet?

Still, as much hell as we all like to give my dear mother, we appreciate the work she puts into planning our vacations, and we always enjoy them. (Even if her vacations often require a post-vacation vacation.) She keeps everyone in mind while planning as well. The Corvette Museum is on the list because my car-obsessed brother was originally supposed to go with us. The Kentucky Bourbon Barrel Ale was something she made room for after I mentioned I wanted to go. And the food? She never does us wrong in that department. She’s noted who has the best fried chicken, where we can buy bourbon balls, and made sure to fit in a meal at Ramsey’s for a meat and three.

Because of my mother, I got to see Mount Rushmore. I got to eat breakfast with the princesses at Disney World when I was seven and again when I was 23. I got to go on a three-hour horse ride through the hills of South Dakota. I went parasailing at Virginia Beach, visited Gettysburg and took a tour of the U.S. Capitol. I saw the Arch in St. Louis and Sears Tower in Chicago. And I’ve been to more museums, zoos, historical homes, battlefields and forts in the state of Ohio than most people my age.

I think I’ll keep her (and her itineraries) around.