That's a wrap on 2017...FINALLY

                2017 was a rough year. I’m not going to sit here and list all the reasons why because we all know why. Even if you only pay a little attention to the news, you know this country and other countries took major hits this year. There’s no need to rehash them all. There’s only one I want to comment on and it’s in a positive light.

                To the women of the #MeToo movement: Thank you. Thank you to the women who started it, the women bringing awareness to it, and the women taking part in it. To the women who are still speaking up every single day, you are braver than you realize. To the women who are still suffering in silence, we support you, we love you, and whenever you’re ready, we’ll be there for you. Being a woman in this world is not easy. Speaking up about a time when you felt violated, terrified, and useless is one of the hardest things you can do. I commend every single woman who has gone through it and I stand with you no matter what.

                I’m terrible at transitions so I’m going to keep going without one. Personally, 2017 wasn’t too bad. For the first time in 2-3 years, my family didn’t lose a loved one. I didn’t have to put on black clothes and say goodbye to someone and for that, I’m eternally grateful.

                This year I saw a decent amount of movies. Dunkirk, Beauty and the Beast, and Titanic (released in theaters again for the 20th anniversary) were my favorites.  I also went to three concerts this year. Ed Sheeran- Holy shit. The way this guy can command a stage with only a guitar is astonishing to watch. I’ve never seen anything like it and I can’t wait to see him again next September at the Linc.

                Harry Styles- Such an interesting concert going experience, I’ve already written about it if you want to check it out. His music is beautiful and interesting and his fans are also beautiful and interesting. He pushes people to act with kindness and love. Maybe I’ve softened in my old age but a part of me really thinks this world needs more of this and less hate and bitterness. What? But Veronica, you love bitterness, it fuels you! Yes, I know. I’m growing up. How weird.

                Niall Horan- Or as I call him “My Irish Love”. The lyrics on Niall’s first solo album made me feel connected to music more than I have in years. A few songs I highly recommend: Fire Away, Since We’re Alone, and Mirrors. Actually, no, listen to the whole album. It’s worth it, I swear. I saw Niall at The Fillmore and his opening act was another Irish fella, Gavin James. Both were lovely and a lot of fun to watch. I’m so glad I was able to take part in all three of these concerts because they were different in their music and in the experience itself.

                Twitter highlights (no one is going to care besides me about these but oh well): Rainbow Rowell, one of my favorite authors, favorited a tweet of mine (this is the second time, by the way). Noel Fielding, a hilarious and completely odd British comedian, replied to a tweet of mine. Jonathan Tucker, an actor I adore so much, favorited a tweet of mine. I’m twitter famous! No, not really. These people only liked and replied to my tweets because I mentioned them. I’ve had the same 88 followers on twitter (ahem, @valtimari, hint hint) for two years and I don’t even know 80 of them. Still, it makes me smile.

                I was promoted this year too. The reason this is a big deal is because I can begin my search for a house. Some place I can finally feel settled. One final thing happened this year, it actually took place in the car on my way to work this morning. I had a new book idea. I haven’t had one of those in I don’t know how long. Who knows if it’ll stick or if it’ll be any good but for the first time in a very long time, I was excited about the prospect of writing.

                I don’t really do New Year’s Resolutions. I think if you’re someone like me, who puts way too much pressure on themselves, resolutions are set up to make you feel like a failure if you don’t accomplish them. I never set anything in stone. However… I compiled a list of things that look an awful lot like resolutions. Oh well. They’re more like wishes. Yes, let’s go with that. They’re wishes for 2018.

1.       Buy a house

2.       Cut people more slack

3.       Don’t be so hard on myself

4.       Go to more concerts

5.       Go to more movies

6.       Go on vacation

7.       Write more

8.       Try not to lock myself away as much

9.       Let go of dumb shit

10.   Do everything I can do to make sure 2018 isn’t as much as a disaster as 2017

Merry Christmas! Happy Holidays! Happy New Year!

Love,
Veronica

Remember

            Inevitably, we all reach an age when the holiday season isn’t always the happiest occasion. Hearing this from me might be especially shocking because Christmas and the holiday season are my favorite parts of the year.

            Eventually, we start to lose people and Christmas songs bring tears to our eyes for different reasons. The first Christmas without someone you love is always the hardest. Sometimes it doesn’t get easier but sometimes enough time passes where the music reminds of you the good times again.

            I’ve experienced a fair amount of death in my life starting from the age of 13. Then I look at my parents and the amount of family and friends they’ve lost over the years. One after another, over and over again. Holidays are hard because it feels as if the sadness will consume you. You think to yourself, will I ever feel the kind of holiday cheer everyone else seems obsessed with?

            Here’s what I know from watching my family and my friends over the years having to deal with death and the holidays:

            Look to the children. Never in my life would I say children are the answer to any problem except this one. If you’re feeling sad, if you’re feeling lonely, if you’re depressed: go outside, go to a mall or to a Christmas Village and look at the smiles on all the kids’ faces. Look how incredibly thrilled they are with what’s happening. How excited, how unafraid, how free they are surrounded by holiday decorations and toys and Santa and snow. Their faces, their happiness, it’s contagious and you will be affected. Kids don’t know bitterness; kids don’t know the type of loneliness the rest of us can become accustomed to in life. All they know is how wonderful this time of year is to them. Trust me, they can remind you of what it feels like to be filled to the brink with joy.

            I’m twenty six years old and I still act as if I’m 7 when it comes to this time of year. I love snow. I love driving around the neighborhoods and looking at all the decorations. It’s my dream to one day go see the big Christmas tree in New York. I love shopping, wrapping, and giving gifts. Baking cookies with my mom is one of my favorite past times. Yes, I sometimes feel sad because I remember all the people I’ve lost, but luckily I still feel very childlike around this time of year and I can tap into those feelings and help pull myself out of any darkness.

            Never, ever forget all those we’ve lost around this time of year. Remember them fully, with love, and if you need to cry about it then by all means, let it out. All I’m suggesting is when you’re done, remind yourself as to why you used to love this time of year. Look at your kids, grandkids, nieces, nephews, friends’ kids, whoever and reconnect with the holiday spirit. When you’re pissed off you have to clean snow off your car, remember how happy you used to be when you were a kid and you had a snow day. When someone is rude to you in a store, remind yourself that maybe this time of year is especially hard for them and forgive them.

            This time of year is short, though it may not seem it sometimes, it is. And you never know if you and everyone you love will see this time of year again. So why not try to make it the best time of year for yourself and everyone around you?

            Be kind. Be childlike. Enjoy every second of the holiday season. And most importantly…

            If you’re having a hard time just do one thing: Remember.

            Remember those you’ve lost. Remember your past holidays with them. Remember how much you used to love it. Remember, you are not alone.

            Remember, this time of year is special, magical.

            Let the magic of it overwhelm you.

Have a great holiday season, everyone.

Love,

Veronica

River and Stress (not connected)

    Sorry, I haven’t written in a while. I’ve been swamped at work and I have a new kitten at home so things have been a bit hectic. Let’s talk about the kitten first. Her name is River Winchester (part Doctor Who/part Supernatural) and she’s a calico with a little bit of tabby on one side of her face. Never in my life did I see myself as a cat person. I love all animals and I’ve cat sit for people over the years and they’ve never bothered me. I just always assumed when I was on my own, I would buy a pug puppy and live happily ever after. However, when you realistically think about it, I’m not home nearly enough to train a puppy and it’s not fair to keep a puppy locked up in an apartment or in a cage for 8 hours a day. 

    Adopting a kitten wasn’t something I was planning. There’s a shelter called Lucky You Animal Rescue in Bensalem run by my friend Jackie’s Mom. (Facebook link: https://www.facebook.com/luckyyouanimalrescue/?fref=ts ) Jackie and I went to one of their events on Sunday to show support and see all the animals. It was towards the end of the event when we showed up. We walked over to the Lucky You booth and Debbie (Jackie’s Mom) plopped a black kitten in Jackie’s arms and a calico in mine. These kittens were barely 2 lbs and the calico (named Petunia then) was lying in my arms so cute and I don’t know what came over me but I fell in love with her. I gave her back and tried not to think about her but that was impossible. By Monday afternoon, I talked to my Mom and Dad and my friends about what they thought about me adopting a kitten and everyone seemed on board. I texted Jackie and told her I was in, I wanted Petunia. 

                                                                         Me and River

                                                                         Me and River

    It wasn’t until a week after having her that I realized there might have been a psychological thing behind my adopting River. I used to have one stuffed cat. My Grandmom gave her to me and I carried her around everywhere. I used to even put my dog’s collar and leash around the toy and drag her around with me. I lost her in nursery school and never saw her again. She was probably stolen by some grubby handed four year old who wasn’t taught about STEALING….moving on. My stuffed cat looked almost exactly like River. Coincidence? Yeah, probably but I like to think it was fate. 

   River Winchester is awesome. She’s such a good kitten and I love coming home at the end of the day and having her waiting at the door for me. She’s probably the best decision I’ve made in a really long time. 

    Switching gears now.

    There’s been a lot of drama surrounding my life lately. And if there’s one thing in this life I prefer to avoid, it’s drama. Drama with work, friends and people who are supposed to be my friends. I’ve mentioned before how most of my friends come to me when they’re having problems and I tend to take those problems on as my own. But this is drama I’ve been forced to participate in because it directly affects me. It mostly has to do with women in my life. Women equal drama and that’s a fact of life. That’s why the show, Facts of Life, only starred women (totally made that up but it fits). Now, I’ll stick up for other people any day of the week. I’d go to war for the people I love. But when it comes to ME having a confrontation I like to keep my head down to avoid it. I just want everyone to be okay. I don’t like seeing other people cry. I don’t like seeing people about to rip each other’s faces off. This type of drama sends me catapulting back into the hellish halls of my all girl high school. I can’t deal with it. I couldn’t deal with it then and I can’t deal now.

   My only reprieve has been coming home to River and just trying to leave all the other bullshit outside of my apartment. And yet, it creeps in. The hurt from my friends, the stress from different situations and the sadness all penetrate my brain. I would like to blame the kitten trying to eat my hair for my lack of sleep lately but the truth is, my mind won’t turn off. I have problems and conversations and fights running through my head over and over again.

    People are annoyed about my counting down to Christmas but I couldn’t care less. It’s the only thing pushing me through the crappy days. Thanksgiving (10 days away) and Christmas (38 days) and all the days in between are my favorite. I see my family more and people in general are just happier, friendlier and I try not to let anything spoil this time of year for me. 

    The world is in a state of disarray lately. My only hope is the holiday season will have a lot less turmoil and a lot more kindness.

Prayers for Paris.

Peace.

Why I Love the Fall/Winter Seasons

            Oh there are so many reasons to love the Fall/Winter seasons. Here are mine:

            MOVIES- People, let me stress the importance of film between the months of September to December. Studios specifically save their cream of the crop movies for this time of year because they want the Oscar nod. They want the nominations for Golden Globes, SAGs, Critic’s Choice, and the elusive Academy Award. The best of film comes out during these months. This year, I’m looking forward to the following movies (if you’re not a movie watcher, please leave. NO, I’m kidding, just scroll down to my other reasons…and also reevaluate your life):

            Legend- Tom Hardy (two actually, he plays twins!), Christopher Eccleston (the 9th Doctor!), Emily Browning and Chazz Palminteri.

            Release Date: October 2nd

            Plot: Identical twin gangsters Ronald and Reginald Kray terrorize London during the 1950s and 1960s.

            Secret in Their Eyes- Julia Roberts, Nicole Kidman, Chiwetel Ejiofor, and Joe Cole (John from Netflix’s Peaky Blinders (which I also suggest everyone watch)).

            Release Date: November 20th

            Plot: Rising FBI investigators Ray (Chiwetel Ejiofor) and Jess (Julia Roberts), along with their district-attorney supervisor, Claire (Nicole Kidman), are suddenly torn apart following the brutal murder of Jess' teenage daughter. Now, 13 years later, after obsessively searching for the elusive killer, Ray uncovers a new lead that he is certain can permanently resolve the case and bring long-desired closure to the team. But no one is prepared for the shocking and unspeakable secret that follows.

            Black Mass- Johnny Depp, Benedict Cumberbatch, Joel Edgerton (Warrior, SUCH a good movie, watch it), Dakota Johnson, Kevin Bacon (!), Adam Scott, Cory Stoll and a whole mess of other awesome people.

            Release Date: September 18th

            Plot: While his brother Bill (Benedict Cumberbatch) remains a powerful leader in the Massachusetts Senate, Irish hoodlum James "Whitey" Bulger (Johnny Depp) continues to pursue a life of crime in 1970s Boston. Approached by FBI agent John Connolly (Joel Edgerton), the lawman convinces Whitey to help the agency fight the Italian mob. As their unholy alliance spirals out of control, Bulger increases his power and evades capture to become one of the most dangerous gangsters in U.S. history.

            The Intern- Robert DeNiro, Anne Hathaway, Adam DeVine, and Rene Russo.

            Release Date: September 25th

            This one isn’t winning any Oscars but it’s going to be funny, I can feel it.

            Plot: Dissatisfied with retirement, a 70-year-old widower (Robert De Niro) takes an internship at an online fashion site and develops a special bond with his young and attractive boss (Anne Hathaway).

             The Martian- Matt Damon, Jessica Chastain (love this woman, look into her movies and watch them ALL), Kate Mara, Kristen Wiig, Jeff Daniels (one of my favorites), Michael Pena, Sean Bean, and Chiwetel Ejiofor.

            Release Date: October 2nd (sorry Matt Damon, I have to see Legend first)

            Plot: When astronauts blast off from the planet Mars, they leave behind Mark Watney (Matt Damon), presumed dead after a fierce storm. With only a meager amount of supplies, the stranded visitor must utilize his wits and spirit to find a way to survive on the hostile planet. Meanwhile, back on Earth, members of NASA and a team of international scientists work tirelessly to bring him home, while his crew mates hatch their own plan for a daring rescue mission.

           The Martian is based off a book which I plan on reading before I see the movie. Now, even though I’m not a HUGE Matt Damon fan, I think this movie looks brilliant and it has a bunch of other incredible actors in it.

            But LOOK at the lineup, folks! And this is only FIVE out of all the movies coming out this Fall. There’s going to more awesome ones to follow and I can’t wait. So yes, the number one reason I love Fall/Winter is for the movies.

            Second reason I love Fall/Winter: Hoodies! Hoodies, sweaters, hats, gloves, and scarfs. Bundle up in the comfiest clothes ever made. I get to bring out all my thousand hoodies and wear a new one every day. Hoodies have always brought me comfort. Usually oversized ones too.

            Next up: Hot chocolate and pumpkin muffins. Now, I don’t get all obsessed with the pumpkin extravaganza in the Fall like most people. I like my pumpkin muffin and my pumpkin pie on Thanksgiving and that’s about it. But the combination of a Dunkin Donuts hot chocolate and pumpkin muffin is my FAVORITE Fall/Winter breakfast.

            Fourth reason: HOLIDAYS!!! Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas, OH MY! Get pumped, ladies and gentleman because I am like a 12 year old on happiness steroids during this time of year. I love the fact that Christmas music starts playing four seconds after Thanksgiving ends. I love that Hallmark already has Christmas ornaments out. I love helping my Mom make Thanksgiving dinner. I love going to Halloween parties and eating ridiculous amount of Kit Kats (the BEST candy). I love the holidays and I think it’s sad and depressing when people my age or older have lost their love of the holidays and think of them as nothing but an annoyance or inconvenience. Holidays are for seeing your family members several times in a short span of time. Holidays are for smiling and happiness and being cheerful, and playing in the snow regardless of your age and taking walks around the neighborhood with your friends in the cold air. Holidays are amazing and everyone should try to find the joy in them, it’s worth it, I promise.

            Fifth reason: SNOW! I love it, I crave it, I wait for it all year. I know a lot of people who hate the snow. Hate everything about it. Despise it, in fact. They act as if it’s this HUGE inconvenience like it doesn’t come around every single year on the East Coast. I get it, sometimes it only snows one or two inches making it just annoying enough to commute to work. But we live in Philadelphia with about a million different ways of transportation: figure it out. And after you figure it out, stop. Stand there in the snow, close your eyes, and take a deep breath. Then open your eyes and look. It’s quiet and clean and pure and lovely. It’s magic. Snow is magic. Take your time this year and appreciate it, please.

            I’m sure I have a dozen more reasons but they’re all really just subsets of the reasons I’ve already stated. I love Fall/Winter and I hope you do too. Or at least, I hope we can all take the time out of our very busy lives and feel grateful and lucky for even experiencing another Fall/Winter season with our families.