How to make it in malibu (or maybe just in life)

I believe the most important thing in every single move involves unpacking the stereo first. (thx EK)

With this said, I’ve developed a bit of a ritual when moving that I always listen to Sara Bareilles’s first CD “Little Voice”. I started this my freshman year in college and since that time, every single move-in and move-out has involved Sara’s little voice. It serves as a reminder to me that an end means a new beginning and that moving forward occasionally means leaving things behind.

Leaving Kansas was difficult. I held it together for most of my goodbyes, feeling pulled in so many emotional directions that I felt drained of showing any real physical evidence of feeling on my face. But truthfully inside, I felt like I was in a constant catch 22. I couldn’t allow myself to feel sorry for my predicament, because it was something I was doing to myself. But at the same time, I couldn’t help but feel a certain level of heartbreak for the things I was leaving behind. 

Which is of course, natural.

A response I typically hate because it doesn’t really do anything to make a person feel more confident in their decision. It’s natural? Great. Thank you. What I need to hear is that it’s the right choice. Or the wrong one. I am not a tree. It’s natural for a plant to sprout leaves and then die. It’s natural for some snakes to eat their babies. It’s natural for a caterpillar to turn into a butterfly. Natural is whatever. It doesn’t speak on behalf of person’s emotional conscious in how they feel about the decisions they make. 

However. I am also aware that the answer I am looking for only comes in making my own decision by myself and then sticking with it regardless of how hard it is to get from point A to point B. 

So with that, I packed up my entire life and left, for the first time in 4.5 years, absolutely nothing in Kansas but memories and friends. And I drove 25 hours straight to the coast.

And so what have I learned thus far?

Well first of all, those memories and friends, work like a set of clothes or a giant security blanket. I’ve never felt so naked and vulnerable in my entire life. When you know no one, there’s absolutely no comfort zone to run to. You literally feel like you are constantly in a spotlight that never turns off. It’s not college. There aren’t thousands of other co-eds around the corner to find comfort in a mutual situation. It’s just you. So I guess, it’s really important you like yourself. Which fortunately, I think I’m alright and everything so I don’t mind hanging out with my own thoughts. 

It’s also really important you don’t lose your head.

There’s been a few times after the kids have gone to school and no one’s home where I start to feel myself panic a little. No one here knows me. Or really cares about me. What if I just fall into some slump and be a nanny the rest of my life? What if I fail? What does failing even mean in this particular situation? By all societal standards, it would seem I already have. I got a college degree in Journalism and now I am standing next to foreign women who barely speak english after school waiting for kids that aren’t even mine. What the HELL am I doing with my life.

But just before I pull out all my hair and collapse in a pathetic worthless heap of human being, I remember to breathe. Because here’s where liking yourself is so important.

Because I know what I am capable of.

Because I know I will make friends.

Because I know, at least in my world, I am not failing.

I know my path is different than most.. but it doesn’t make it the wrong one. 

Hey, some people spend their entire lives working toward the life I get to live immediately just by being a nanny. I live in a several million dollar home 5 minutes from the most perfect serene beach. I don’t have any real large financial responsibilities and I never, ever have to wear a pants suit (something I hope to call true for my entire life). My co-workers are a 7 and 10 year old who spend most of their time latched to my body like adoring, life-size leeches. The hardest thing I have had to do thus far is iron 150 dollar t-shirts during which I burned myself no shorter than 5 times.

I don’t necessarily call this failing. 

Once again though, before you go and think.. wow, Meg your life is awesome! Remember that I am doing this alone. And that REALLY sucks sometimes. As one of the most social people I know, this is probably my biggest challenge. Wanting to constantly share things with someone in person but knowing a phone call or a text is really my only connection to the outside world. 

And for the time being, it will have to suffice. 

So what’s it like honestly? 

Well, after a week, I thought it was time to share my thoughts on living in Malibu. (And so I guess… if you’re really sick of hearing about it.. now’s about the time you can turn on Modern Family and vicariously live through someone else’s life.)

Ok. So.

First of all, the neighborhood I live in is.. interesting. From what I can tell, there’s a very large distribution of wealth. For instance, there’s many houses on my street that could easily be in any neighborhood. Mid-size, older homes with no particular spark to them that would make them any different to the one next door. But then again, I ALSO live down the street from Matthew McConaughey and Pink, who have AWESOME sprawling mansions complete with security stands and guard dogs. And all of these houses can be found on the same street. As far as where I live in, while there’s no security guard, it is a VERY nice house. And the guard dogs are my best friends.

Anyway, regardless of size, ocean-front property is ocean-front property. And everyone here has to be doing at least ok financially. How else could they afford to live next to this? 

Have I seen any celebrities?

Yes. And no. The thing is, I’ve never been one to pour over People magazine looking to see what sweatpants Heidi Klum is wearing on her morning jaunt to the grocery store. I don’t watch a lot of movies and the only thing I like to watch on E! is Knocked Up. But only because it’s on like 4 times a day. And Malibu is full of pretty, beautiful people. Even their nannies are hot (or actually…. that’s just me. Tee hee.) And because I have no idea “who’s who” it’s possible I am seeing a good 50 celebrities a day, and I just don’t know who the hell they are. Because of this, I take the attitude that essentially every person I meet is famous and should be treated accordingly. I’ve never really been one to see the value in autographs. (Sweet, I have your signature!!!!… now what.) So I feel like just being in a potential celebrity presence should also do wonders for my appearance. My hair is prettier, my teeth are whiter, I walk on a path made of sunshine and kittens…

This happens right? 

I did meet Cindy Crawford on accident though. Which was kind of cool except that I didn’t know it was her until I got home. Like I said, I’m really bad at celebrity stalking.

The family I live with is originally from Austria. This makes life for me kind of like studying abroad. First of all, they don’t have a microwave, a fact that is absolutely rocking my world. How have they lived this long without this life-changing appliance’s presence in their life? I actually bought a microwave for my studio apartment just because I need to be near to something that ultimately exhibits American life at its finest. Plain and simple- we like to nuke things. and as fast as physically possible.

When I’m upstairs in their home, I cook things the Austrian way.

I warm water up on the stove.

I peel potatoes by hand.

I grate carrots like food processors haven’t been invented yet.

…But when I come downstairs to my place, I put every single thing in that microwave that I can… just because I can.

Because I am an American.

And that is what we do. 

On the other hand, it’s forced me to actually learn how to cook. I’m all of a sudden making awesome food. I don’t know where this is coming from but I think it’s because I know everyone in their family knows how to and I feel pressure to perform. I don’t want to be judged by a 7 year old boy on my lack of culinary skill and so therefore, I am learning to cook things outside of the world of Kraft macaroni and cheese. I actually don’t know if these kids have ever actually eaten Kraft mac and cheese. I made cookies the other day and you would have thought I was handing out crack… I  also don’t think sugar is very prevalent in this home. 

They also speak German. Sometimes in the middle of a conversation. It’s like my cue to know that I am done being talked to because I can no longer understand a single word they are saying. Like I’m at the nail salon again and everyone is speaking chinese and you think they are talking about your feet. Like that. Kind of uncomfortable. Anyway, maybe I’ll come out of this bilingual. Or at least like Maria. 

I guess mostly it’s enough to know that it still feels right that I am here. I’m not saying that I don’t have second thoughts. I do. But nothing has been enough to want to turn around and go back. 

Because here’s the thing about the other side of the fence. Yeah, the grass is greener, better looking, wealthier, maybe a little more well-known. (GERARD BUTLER… is my neighbor), but all of this unimportant in the grand scheme, because none of it is what’s really keeping me here.

So what is?  

It’s the thrill of something different. That each day I get to be here, I’m becoming more of the person I want to be. That I’m not tied down to anything or anyone and I feel like I’m breaking some kind of pattern. I don’t really know what to expect tomorrow. And that’s both exciting and scary. But ultimately, it’s that feeling of the unknown, that brought me where I am in the first place. And is what’s going to keep me here long-term. 

So, Yeah.

….I think I’m going to like it here. 🙂

M

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She’s just not that into you.

One of my favorite things about going to the gym isn’t the hot guys or the endorphins post-session or  stress relief.. this kind of stuff can be found elsewhere. 

No, my favorite thing about going to my gym is the locker room beforehand.

Especially if I go in the middle of the day. Because Dr. Phil or The Doctors or some other talk show is usually on and it’s the perfect time for me to converse with some rando-middle-aged-large-black-lady about her love life or lack there of.

I’m not kidding. I must have Oprah written on my forehead or something because as soon as I walk in, and Dr. Phil is helping some poor soul see that standing on the side of the highway wearing a monkey costume holding a WIFE WANTED sign is not going to get the desired effects, these women get on a metaphorical soap box and start sharing things with me that I never asked nor do I want to be shared.

Example:

Yesterday, Jennifer Hudson was on some show explaining Weight Watchers and eating what she wants and for once she wasn’t singing so even I was impressed and this lady next to me (we are the only two people in the locker room at this point so not acknowledging isn’t an option) starts up a little fireside chat.

Lady: “DAMN! She look good. I gotta get on that Weight Watchers.”

Me: “Yeah. She’s lost a lot of weight.”

Lady: “My man would never eat that veggie lasagna though. He needs some MEAT! (hearty laugh here.)”

Me: “Um, yeah. Neither would.. my man? ” 

Lady: “Men need some meat on their women! They need something to hold on to! (bigger, heartier laugh)”

Me: (basically putting my shorts on backwards because I am trying so fast to get out of there and so my brain isn’t focused on the conversation as much as my exit strategy) “Um..yeah… keep that booty girl!”

Lady: Silence. Stares at me.

Me: ( truly afraid of getting my ass kicked for saying the word “booty” and “girlll” in the same sentence…. And for accidentally calling this lady fat) “(awkward laugh) Ok bye!”

Memories, I tell you. Straight up memories.

Welcome to KCMO.

Anyway, on that note–

I haven’t done a Top Ten Tuesday in a while and I’m kind of afraid my liver and bank account aren’t going to survive this weekends activities, so I thought I’d do some entertaining while I still had time.

As I was saying, Dr. Phil and other talk show hosts and the like have made their lifework from offering guidance to poor single and unhappy souls in regards to their love life. And they’re making bank. It’s not even fair. Look at Dr. Phil. He’s balding. He has a potbelly. His face is goatee-esque. And yet, these poor people are going to HIM for advice. Society, I shake my head at you. You’re better than that. Anyway, I am going to offer up some free wisdom myself. I’m not getting paid for this. I’m just really nice. And I don’t have a goatee, a potbelly or a bald head. Take that as you will.

So today’s theme..

There’s a million self-help books for girls on it. There’s even a book by the title and an entire major motion picture. But the truth is, girls.. let’s be real. We are never going to get it. We’re always going to be making excuses and would rather believe some guy we met last weekend got hit by his aunts car on his way to his brothers bar mitzvah than entertain the idea that he just didn’t want to call us. Regardless of how many male friends, books, movies, social media outlets tell us otherwise.

It’s the truth. I’m sorry. You either get it or you don’t. So I could make another list begging you to see the point, or I could reach out to the occasionally equally desperate opposite gender in hopes that maybe I’ll have more luck in that regard. So, with that..

The Top Ten Ways to tell She’s probably not that into you

(but maybe she’ll change her mind next week.

Or after a few drinks. Or when her friend gets engaged.)

10. You’re her best friend

Let me clarify. There are plenty of girls who are in love with their best guy friend. PLENTY. Girls can’t typically separate best friend and future husband/father of my children unless they truly 100% aren’t into you. In which case, they will repeatedly tell you: “Oh Ted. I’m so thankful that you’re my BEST FRIEND. I’m so lucky to call you my BEST FRIEND. You’re the BEST FRIEND a girl could have.”

If a girl wants to be more, she won’t rub it in your face that’s all you are. She won’t do this because she personally doesn’t want to acknowledge that’s as far as the relationship goes. That’s like telling your boss you LOVE your position at work and you’re SO HAPPY right where you are when you really want a raise and a promotion. That’s idiotic. No one does that.

How do you get out of the friend zone you ask? Well you could force her to watch several rom-coms about friends becoming lovers. Plant the idea in her brain. Then go off the map (seriously go off the map. Maybe leave the country for a temporary job) and come back a few months later with a girl friend and a tan. Act distant. If she still doesn’t go for this.. take a hike. It’s not happening. But hey, it worked for Ryan Reynolds. It could work for you too!

9. She’s not laughing.

Kid, you aren’t funny. Your jokes suck. Come on.. you know that! But if she’s laughing at them.. she probably wants something. Her smiles definitely not going to insure long-term commitment but if you want to buy her a drink, now’s probably the time. And let’s hope (for your sake) you have more up your sleeve than your 9-5 one-liners.

8. She does what she says. 

I’m sure you’re thinking… And what the hell does that mean?

Let me give an example: Let’s say a woman SAYS “I’m not really looking to meet anyone right now” but at the same time, she’s smiling at you, making eye contact, touching your arm etc.

…. that woman is a liar!  BS she isn’t!  I mean, I’m speaking for the majority here as I am sure there are some women who do like being single, and just like to flirt to screw with you. But for most ladies out there, if she is making signals but still saying something completely different than those signals.. I say you got a chance here.

Still confused?

Another example:  How many times has a guy taken a girl home who is saying, “Tee hee. This is so unlike me. I never do this!” but still going home with him? Guys– Unless, she just had a major life crisis or something that’s completely altered her psyche in going home with people, she’s probably just saying what she thinks you want to hear. You have to pay attention not to what is said, but how it’s said.

…..No man is ever going to understand what I just wrote. Girls, you got me.

7. She’s on her phone the entire conversation. 

This is a hard one. My phone is an addition to my body. I am CONSTANTLY on my phone. It’s a disgusting addiction. But if I like a guy I am talking to and the conversation is going well, my phone might as well be in Africa. No one else exists. Justin Beiber could call me and– ok, if Bieber calls me you’re getting the boot— but if anyone else were to call me they’ll have to wait. Simple. If we like you, we’re paying attention to you. We’re making eye contact. We are not searching the room for our nearest girl friend or BEST FRIEND Ted, to save us. We like you. We’ll stare at you. Not at our hands, not at our drink, not at our phones.. just you. Simple.

Unless Bieber calls. 

6. She’s not watching football with you. Or going to your favorite violent war films. Or  playing your stupid xbox live. Or world of warcraft. or whatever it’s called.

Any girl who acts interested in any of the above is doing it (probably 90 percent of the time) because she likes you. She doesn’t like to sit hours on end and watch ESPN with you. She doesn’t understand fantasy football. She doesn’t get why you scream at the TV when you have no control over the outcome of the game. But she’ll do it….because you like it. And because she likes you. And if she’s not, then she probably has better things to do. Sorry. She’s just not that into you.

5. she’s literally running away from you. 

This isn’t us playing hard to get. This isn’t a game. If we’re literally keeping a 50 foot distance between you and us, it’s because we very literally do not want to talk to you. That doesn’t mean you can text. Or call at 2 AM. Think of it as a force field.. if that helps.

Furthermore, if her friends are ALSO running away from you its because they don’t want to have to be the one to tell you she couldn’t care less. And that she likes some other guy she’s getting tequila shots with at the bar.

Lo siento Jose. 

4. Three’s a crowd. 

The girl doesn’t want to be alone with you? That’s not good. I’m sorry. She’s not going to make you go through an obstacle course of her closest friends and family before you get to just be with her. I mean unless she’s super religious or in a cult. If a girl likes you, she’s not going to invite her best friend along for the date. That’s a security blanket in case things go wrong (which she is probably assuming they will if she’s inviting her along). 

ok how funny is this picture?

3. She’s like really busy. with work. and family. and painting her nails. 

Women kind of suck at being direct. Most women don’t want to hurt a guys feelings if they don’t want to go out with them. So she’ll make up excuse after excuse after excuse excuse after excuse after excuse excuse after excuse after excuse excuse after excuse after excuse excuse after excuse after excuse excuse after excuse after excuse excuse after excuse after excuse excuse after excuse after excuse until you start to feel like a stalker. Or until you actually become a stalker. Then the problems all on you. Wait.. how’d she do that!? 

2. She’s not responding. 

I feel as if this would be obvious. But apparently it seems to be a problem across the gender field as a whole. You’ve texted her. You’ve called her. You’ve facebooked her. She’s not responding. I know guys supposedly don’t make excuses for why girls aren’t getting back to them but I have to think that’s a little smarter (if not slightly delusional) than just aimless constant attempts at contact with no response. Hey wise guys.. um… she’s not going to get back to you. 

And the number one way to know She’s just not that into you?

Ha. Like I’d tell you. 

Listen, we’re still girls. And some of us are absolutely nuts. Who knows what’s ACTUALLY going on up in that brain? One minute she could be classifying you with rat poison and the next she could be begging you to come to her bedroom. I can’t speak on behalf of us all because that would be crazy of me. All I know is that while I can definitely confirm that first nine rules apply as a general rule there’s always going to be that one exception.

So number 10….you’ll have to decide for yourself. 

Good luck gentlemen.

God, I am SO ready for this weekend. 

M

Go Frost Yourselves: a reference guide to “The Road Not Taken”

Dear Friends,

There’s a lot of things I love in this life.

I love finding money in my pocket.

I love singing in my car.

I love warm laundry right out of the dryer (before having to fold it which I don’t love).

I love people who are really, really nerdy but in a charming way.

I love when I tell a joke and I don’t mess up the punchline before getting to the end.

I love flowers for no reason.

(which by the way NEVER happens to me, but I like to think at some point someone will send me a spontaneous floral arrangement and that day will be the day I can actually say I love getting flowers for no reason, and until then I’ll speak on it as more of an abstract idea as opposed to a literal act).

I love oatmeal for pretty much any meal.

I love quotes said by really smart or insightful people that are put on greeting cards and then mass produced and sold in moderately priced boutiques.

On behalf of one such greeting card, (that I bought this previous summer during a particularly (excuse me) SHITTY day), I have found a lot of profound strength through the message in times that I felt weak.

The card itself is pretty simple. It’s not some long descriptive tirade about seizing the moment and being yourself and dancing in the rain naked (though I do believe in all of these things).

It’s only two words.

It’s a constant reminder to me that at any point, at any time, at anywhere, you can make a new start. Obviously it’s kind of perfect for a new year. People like to start a new slate. Every Sunday the week starts over. Each new year you have another midnight to make a change. But if that’s the only times you attempt new beginnings, well..you’re sort of missing the point.

So what is the point exactly? Well…I think it’s that you have a conscious option every single second to do something new. Maybe not an extreme life change but definitely an opportunity to think differently and work toward a new beginning.

But a lot of people don’t. They get stuck in the same ol, same ol, 9-5 routine with no plan to take a step forward or make any changes. And if they are happy with that, GREAT! But most of the time, i have to think it’s not happiness at all, it’s just fear or worse, laziness.

I like to think I have always tried to not be one of those people. I like being spontaneous. Getting out of my comfort zone. Trying something new. But even this.. this is a little different. A tad bit.. bigger.

In 2 very short weeks, I will pack up life in Kansas City, Missouri and move to a place I’ve never been before, where I won’t know anyone, to live with people I’ve never met.

I am moving to Malibu, California.

Now before you go and think I have lost my mind (which in truth, might be something I can’t actually avoid), allow me to explain. As time has gone on, from graduation to here, it’s become increasingly clearer to me how temporary Kansas City needs to be for me. It was never a permanent transition, but instead a small building block in a bigger plan. I knew eventually, at some point, in the near future, I would have to leave. I didn’t see that as being so immediate, but you really can’t pick the choices you are given in life. Sometimes, you have to just say yes, close your eyes, jump off a cliff and hope that you somewhere between the air and the ground, you learn how to fly…or at the very least, fall with dignity.

So on a whim, I applied to be a live-in nanny for a family on the west coast. My dream has always been to move to California (specifically San Francisco) but as my lease reaches the end of it’s term and I begin to let go of the things that drew me to Kansas City in the first place, I realized that I was in a rare moment of opportunity to actually “begin anywhere“.

So here are the facts:

1. I am going to nanny (part-time) and live (full-time) for a family that lives in Malibu, California.

2. I’ll have my own place off of the people’s home which is right off of the beach.

……

3. I leave in 2 weeks.

I’ve never seen nannying as something I want to do for the rest of my life. And I’d like to take this time to reiterate that fact. But for me, it’s the best networking I have ever done. When you are in someone’s home, taking care of their most prized possessions, you already have developed a level of trust that no amount of happy hours or young professional events could ever attain. If you continue that relationship, and continue to be a valuable resource for this family, the trust turns into affection. Affection in that they WANT to help you, since you are helping them. Most parents understand after meeting me that babysitting their child is not my life’s ambition. I will do the best I can while I am there but I don’t plan on being there to watch the kids graduate from High School. That’s an understanded agreement. I’m temporary. But in a way, isn’t everything?

I recently was offered a part-time marketing position in Kansas City. And the thing is, yes, this is an opportunity. But I wouldn’t be moving to Malibu, if I didn’t think it was a bigger one. I don’t think it’s any mystery at this point that I want to write. It’s something I should do. Anytime you find your passion in this world, you should do everything in your power to be the best you can possibly be at it and make sure your life work at the very least, involves doing it. And to me, my connections and networks in Southern California will be far superior to anything that I could and have been able to find in Kansas City. And because of that, this is something I need to do FOR ME.

And that’s really hard.

For several reasons.

First of all, I’m happy in Kansas City. I have an amazing friend base. I love my apartment and I really like where I live. And I know this news will come as a surprise and upset a lot of people. I know I am putting an emotional burden on my parents and other people I love. I know that it’s a huge risk and that I might hate it. That I might fail and crash and burn and have to come running home like a pathetic, weeping, dignity-less waste of a human shell.

But if I don’t try? If don’t do something that truly scares me? Well to me that’s the bigger failure. I know what’s waiting for me in Kansas City. I know what’s expected. I know what my life will be like. And I know, if I have to come back, it and all the people that come with it, will still be here.

But to me.. it’s the moments where you aren’t really sure if you are falling or flying that I believe you truly live.

People talk about doing things that scare them.

Maybe they take a cooking class when they typically set their kitchen on fire when trying to prepare a meal.

Maybe they get up on that kareaoke stage and sing for a crowd of strangers even through their crippling stage fright.

Maybe they stand up to someone who has belittled and mocked them for years.

And yes, these are all good examples of doing something that frightens you. But I think to really scare yourself, you have to do something that you aren’t entirely sure of the outcome. You pray it will be for the best. You hope that it will take you somewhere. But truthfully? You don’t really know. And jumping into the unknown (by yourself no less)… is there anything scarier than that?

But there are benefits.

There are rewards.

Because the best part about doing something that really scares you is that when you don’t have anyone but yourself to turn to, its only then that you find out what you’re made of.

I love quotes said by really smart or insightful people that are then put on greeting cards and mass produced and sold in moderately priced boutiques.

But so do a lot of people.

They hang the cards in their house.

They mail one to a friend.

They read the words when they are feeling sad or dejected.

Each an inspiring monologue to get them on their feet. Beautiful. Whatever.

Here’s my question though. How many people actually read these words and DO what it says?

Yep, here I am “seizing the moment” on my couch with my bowl of cereal and season 4 of Desperate Housewives.

Here I am “being the light I want to see in the world” as I online shop the sale section at J. Crew.

Here I am “living as if this is all there is” at the same bar I go to every weekend with the same people I have hung out with since high school.

And hey, don’t let me rain on your average parade if that’s what you want out of life. There are people who never move from the town they are born in and live every day just as content as the day before. Go, them! But what I am saying is that if you want something more? If you have some kind of dream? What’s stopping you? Are you waiting for another beginning? Some stroke of movement at midnight? It’s not going to happen. Metaphorical new slate midnights are happening every second of every day. It’s your choice to actually act. It’s your choice to actually do what these “inspiring” quotes suggest. Sure, there’s risk and a chance of failure and the fear of the unknown but what great story doesn’t have those factors? There’s never going to be a “right” time.

There’s only now.

Which is why moving to Malibu is not only my shot at a new beginning but also (hopefully) a springboard to better things. It’s my chance to “begin anywhere”. And it’s terrifying. But it’s also exciting.

I believe that I have more to offer this world than being an above average (thank you) nanny to affluent families on the west-coast. But that’s my first move. And for me, as a writer, as a person, as someone who just wants to live as best they can.. It’s something I have to try.

And so with that, I hope I can maybe inspire something in all of you. You’re only stuck if you want to be. You can make a new start at anytime. You can begin anywhere.

Midnight begins now.

Tick-tock.

To taking the road less traveled..

m