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Oct 2012 04

by Laurelin

I remember that I used to go to his bar after we had broken up. I had always gone there, why should I change anything just because my life as I knew it was over? Besides, I was fine. I would do my hair differently, a different style, parted to another side. And I’d wear a little black dress because I was on my way to a fancy event that once he would have also been invited to. I was okay, and he would see that.

I wasn’t okay, I was drunk. Lines blurred and people stared, and when I fell backwards off my barstool he came running to help me up. I screamed that I didn’t need his help anymore, that I was fine. Our friends shook their heads and saw me home, and I knew that I was far from fine. That night would replay a couple of times a week; a different dress, the same sad looks. And always I would cry when I thought no one was looking, even though everyone was. He must have been horrified.

Three years later, I watch him walk drunk into my bar regularly. He has his head held high, but I can always tell that something is wrong.

After the scene unfolded for the first time, I leant over to one of our friends and said, “This is what it was like all those years ago when I used to go into his bar, isn’t it?” Our friend nodded his head, and I felt impossibly sad.

I would rather have nights of my own endless heartbreak than know I’m causing someone else to ache like that. I don’t know what’s happening, and I am powerless to stop any of it. I have my own problems and having front row seats to his makes me feel guilty for being annoyed, but I am.

“I just miss you,” he says, reaching for me. I turn away, just out of his reach and I want to cry, but I don’t. Not until I was telling someone else the story later did my eyes fill with tears. “You’re happy now,” he had slurred and I wanted so badly to shake him and tell him that I was anything but happy; I was still always being let down, the only constant in my life was our sad city bar scene. But he didn’t need to know that. If he thought I was happy and that made him sad, it wasn’t my place to let him know that I really did want to be rescued – just not by him anymore.

It’s raining outside today, and I can’t bring myself to get out of bed. I don’t feel like drinking, I don’t feel like talking, texting, writing, eating. I feel sad, alone, heartbroken. I have to be at the bar in one hour. As shitty as I feel I know, I’ll get up, I’ll add some color to my pale cheeks and I’ll fake a smile, and while some people will know, others won’t. I’ll be okay. Maybe he’ll call and maybe he won’t, and no matter which “he” it is, I shouldn’t answer the phone, because nothing is right.

I have to be at the bar in one hour, and the mere thought of lifting my face off this pillow is enough to make me turn to ashes.

[..]

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Sep 2012 20

by Laurelin

He looked just like he did on TV. Face, smooth and smiling, muscles pressing up against his huge T-shirt and his hat pulled down just enough so that I could still see his eyes. I had started to get up to refill my wine glass, but when I saw him I sunk back down, the air rushing from my lungs as though someone had just squeezed the life out of me. I could feel a flush traveling up my body and suddenly my face was burning, and I turned away so he wouldn’t see me.

I rarely meet celebrities. Like every other girl in the world I have dreamt what it would have been like to meet Leonardo DiCaprio, staying calm and collected so that he would shake my hand and look me in the eye. You imagine that if they could just meet you, you would be best friends, they might even fall in love with you, and everything would be right in the world. But that’s just in dreams. You will never meet Brad Pitt or Ben Affleck, and they will most certainly not fall in love with you. You are just you after all, a regular girl, who dates regular guys. You are common, and they are special.

He took his time walking around the room, signing autographs and taking pictures with everyone from old ladies to screaming teens to little kids. Still, I sat. I wonder what I’ll say when it’s my turn, would he remember me from a brief Twitter message I sent that he replied to? Will he think I’m crazy if I bring it up? He moves closer and as he approached I could finally stand and I shook my head, clearing the clouds. He is just a man after all.

I reached out my hand to find his and from somewhere in me comes a voice, and I said, “Hi, I’m Laurelin.” He smiled and inside I melted, but outside I must have seemed okay because he started asking me questions, then we laughed and he said that he did remember me from a year ago on Twitter. I made a snarky remark about his clothing and he thought I was funny. I sat back down in my seat and I watched him continue to sign autographs. I clutched the stem of my wine glass and I looked at our photo and I smiled. I’m taller than him.

When I looked up he was sitting next to me.

“Do you have a ticket for tonight?” he asked.

“Yes,” I stammered, fumbling around for it. He must want to sign it; he signed everyone else’s. I found it and he took it, smoothly scribbling something on the back and pressing it into my palm. I looked down and I see a phone number. My blood ran cold and hot at the same time, and I thought, “Say something clever…”

“Can I drunk dial you later?” I asked, smirking.

“Absolutely,” he said, and I die. The girls around me had their jaws on the floor, and as he left he smiled at me and waved. We started texting almost immediately, stopping only because the arena was growing dark and it was time for him to come out.

I think of how all summer I have had no one, nothing but an empty bed and a cat, and now, with the coming fall, the promise of something new. All of a sudden, out of the blue, the promise of something totally just… fun. I slid my phone into my pocket and headed to my seat to watch him. The place is packed, everyone screaming his name, and my phone buzzed one last time.

“Nice to meet you,” he said. “I would love to see you again.”

I felt sick. I went home that night alone, and I crawled in bed with someone else.

“How was tonight?” my real life non-celebrity boy asks. I buried my face in his neck and hugged as tight as I could.

“It was fine,” I said, “really fun.”

We fell asleep, and I knew I was right where I belonged.

[..]

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Sep 2012 06

by Laurelin

Disappointment is one of the worst feelings in the world. I vividly remember experiencing it as a little girl who so badly wanted a cat for her birthday; my parents had a huge wrapped gift on the table when I woke up, and as I tore through the paper I was so sure it must be something for my new cat. It was a birdcage, and as it took everything in me not to break down in tears. I forced a smile, and I named my first pet parakeet Buttercup.

Later on in high school I would pick out my favorite outfit just to have my crush be out sick that day. I would do something out of line at home and have my parents so upset that they weren’t even angry, just disappointed, and I wished with all my heart I could take it back but I never could.

As I get older I notice that a lot of the time the fierce optimism I associate with my bright demeanor has faded. When one always expects to be let down, it almost makes the inevitable disappointment more manageable. That guy you liked, it never would have worked out anyways. He would never like someone like you. Things would be too complicated, too messy and it’s probably better this way, even though inside I’m screaming because I want so badly for just one person to prove me wrong.

I remember the moment I realized my last relationship was over, the black cloud of disappointment just washed over me like a wave and I was shaken to the core with the realization that this was really it. I was back to being just me, not me and him. It was the day after his birthday, and we were supposed to meet for a drink at the bar we worked at. I wanted to see him so badly, our schedules were tough and we rarely had days off together. I waited…

Every time the door opened I looked, and it was never him. A lifetime spent watching the door, and he never came, my cell phone eventually glowed with a text that simply said, “I’m sorry.” I walked home and I watched the trains go by under the overpass and I knew it was over, this was the last time he would let me down.

We all have baggage. An expected crash and burn after so many before seems only right; but maybe, just maybe, this time things will be different. As someone new comes into your life, there’s that fine line between great expectations and where they’re going to fall. I can’t help but find myself waiting for a storm, holding my breath, forever waiting for disaster.

It’s exhausting and I wish for something different. Outside it starts to rain, and I quicken my pace as I head for the bar. I wonder if he’s there yet, and I wish for sun briefly before realizing I don’t even care. No matter how grey the sky becomes and how rarely the sun seems to shine, maybe I’ve been going about things all wrong. Maybe the key is just to learn to dance in the rain.

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Aug 2012 30

by The Wine Guy

Beer! Beeeeeer! Homer Simpson is not alone in drooling about beer. There are many days where I patiently count the minutes till work is done, and I can go home and have a nice cold brewski! Where wine is an elegant drink to be enjoyed and marveled at, and spirits are a challenging riddle or a philosophical question, beer is your girl or boy next door, available, accessible, and affordable! Beer has changed so much in my lifetime that it is rather hard to believe. When I turned twenty-one, if I wanted to buy an exotic beer I’d get a Heineken, and I’d be considered an elitist for doing so. If I was really lucky they might have Chimay, which was like buying a beer from outer space. Today our choices are enormous and growing daily. So the question is, why are you still drinking the same old crappy beer? What are you terrified of? Why do these crappy beers even still exist? Friends do not let friends drink Bud, Coors, or Miller! You want to buy American, be my guest, but choose from thousands of quality craft brews that kick ass!

I’m far from a beer expert; beer remains a wonderful hobby that I practice daily. While I do not have the passion for it that I do for wine and spirits, it occupies a special and wonderful place in my heart. So I am not going to give you a break down on the difference between a stout and a lager, there are plenty of beer geeks that can help you with that. Instead I am here once again to make a desperate and impassioned plea for you to stop drinking crap and start buying better beer. When you buy better beer it helps all of us. When a brewmaster decides to buy French chardonnay barrels and age their beer in them, and then you and I buy it, we send a message that says keep doing things like that. When he sees bud outselling his beer by a huge number he sees a message of hopelessness. Lets continue to encourage these wonderful brewmasters to take these risks and continue to push beer to higher and higher levels.

Take a chance on that odd label with the great description. Try a style you have never had before. I’m not a hophead. I do not think that more hops equates to better beers. Based on who buys hoppy beers, it would seem that I just missed the hop generation cut off. That said, there are hoppy beers that I enjoy immensely. When I am shopping for beer, I tell the expert that I do not like hoppy beers unless they are well balanced, but I remain open to suggestions, because someone passionate and knowledgeable about their craft is always worth listening to. When I hear the enthusiasm in the voice, and see the twinkle in their eyes, I feel that it is a risk worth taking. If they are wrong, then I am out ten bucks. Oh well. You might have spent your whole life avoiding pilsners, but there might be a twist on the style that you really enjoy. I encountered Chimay at a young age and enjoyed it, but I did not know that there were tons more Belgian beers and lots of other Belgian styles. The first time I had a Belgian sour it blew my mind! Have you had one? If the answer is no I have not, but yes I like sour things, then stop reading this, get in your car, and go buy a sour beer. If the answer is no I have not, but I do not enjoy sour things, then find a friend of yours that does, have them get it, and then try a sip of theirs.

The point is, that there is a huge world of beer out there and it is getting bigger daily. Spend a little more and get a bigger return on your investment. The reason that 750ml of beer might cost 15 bucks is because it was expensive to make. It was not some factory beer churned out by machines. Instead you are buying a hand-crafted beer that was monitored and cared for during the entire brewing process. You are going to an event, and you want to bring beer, do not buy a six-pack of blue moon, that you can get anywhere. Go into the shop and say to the person, I like blue moon, but I want to try something new. If you bring a New Zealand IPA to the party then you will have yourself a conversation piece. You can all talk about how different it is from the Sierra Nevada that five other people brought. You will be a hero! Bring a bourbon-aged stout, grab a Belgian IPA, take a high-end cider, do something different, we only live once! Your mission should be to go out there and find the best and most interesting beers available, not to play it safe and drink the same beer over and over and over ad nauseum!

This is the simplest of all my pleas. This is not a huge investment of your time or your money. This is a request that you take a small risk the next time you are purchasing a beer. That you engage your local beer expert in conversation let them get a sense of your taste, and let them broaden it for you. There will be a great reward for your endeavor; there are beers out there that you have not even dreamed of. There are beers out there that will stay in your thoughts long after you drank them. It is a new world of beer, whatever you like, there is a beer that is being made for you. Stop settling for less and start demanding more. You can buy corona next time, or better yet, never again. But I like light beers! Well that is great so buy a Belgian white, a German hefe, British pale ale, and start to experience just how awesome and varied light beers can be.

Soon I will be at work watching people buy the same old six packs, but some people will be asking me what they should try, and after a two minute conversation they will be going home with a fantastic beer while the other person…well sometimes you get what you deserve.

Dry Dock Brewing image: JackalAnon / ohaiworld

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The Wine Guy sells wine for a living, and lives to drink it. It’s his first and foremost passion. He avoids factory wines, loves to seek out bottles that are interesting and unique, and gets excited when he finds a grape he’s have never heard of.

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Aug 2012 23

by Laurelin

I am almost thirty. Thirty. Three- mother-fucking-zero. This age to me seems….crazy. Crazy like, “this could never happen to me” crazy. Think back. No matter what age you are, think back. When I was younger, I looked at thirty and I thought: married with children, steady job, steady paycheck, pets, house – I thought anything but what I have now. I thought that everything, EVERYTHING would be different.

The worst thing is that I watched it happen. I watched my best friends grow up. I saw every girl who was made fun of, every girl who was left behind, every girl who was too chubby, too silly, too crazy… I watched them all grow up, and eventually, I was left behind. I was always in their weddings and always, I was the one who never grew up. The girl voted “most likely to marry a frat boy” all four years of college was in the end, the one who no one wanted to marry.

And now, thirty. My friends have all been married for years, some with children, and all the while I feel so free and yet so alone…

I ran into an older man at a bar I frequent about a month ago.

“What do you do, “ he asked me, and I wondered if he really cared or if he was just hitting on me.

“Um…” I said, “Well, I went to school for archaeology, but I guess I’m a bartender… or a writer.”

“Well which is it?” he said.

“Honestly?” I replied, “Well, I like bartending. I love writing, and I love archaeology. I make money doing only one.”

“I loved playing the guitar,” he said, looking over at the cover band playing in the corner. “I never stuck with it, and I always wished I had. It just… got away from me, and now I feel it’s too late.” He looked so sad then, and I suddenly didn’t feel so old.

“You’re never too old to learn something,” I said. “Take Beck Weathers for example; the man learned to climb mountains when he was thirty years old- he wanted to make something of himself, and at thirty he changed the path of his whole life and he eventually climbed Everest—fucking Everest, the highest mountain in the world. And he started climbing at thirty,” I said, talking to the man but thinking about myself. The man looked at me with such wonder, and every time I see him now I am reminded of that, although every time I see him he is no closer to the guitar, and I am no closer to climbing anything besides into bed at night.

Looking at that, I am aware that things can seem so lost and yet, I am aware that I can still accomplish so much and that now, even at thirty, I shouldn’t be afraid to simply try.

I am almost thirty. I have always hated my body. Now, I am on week five of belonging to Rugged Crossfit, and I can honestly say that I am conscious of what goes into my body and what effort I put into making it look the way it does. I have always complained about the way I look, and I am suddenly acutely aware that if I want a change in my body I can only make it look the way I want through hard work. I am almost thirty, and I am sick of being unhappy with the way I look.

My heart for the past year has been selfishly locked away, kept only for someone who didn’t deserve it, and held only for someone who never knew me. I held onto something for a little while; something that for some reason festered in me like a disease, something that grew in me like mold until I could do nothing but crumble.

Now I look at that girl and I can’t help but laugh. She is so close but yet so far… if I reach my hand out, I can touch her; that scared girl still comparing herself to all those she left behind. If I reach my other hand out I see another girl; one who knows what she wants. One who is in control of her mind and her body. When I reach my other hand out I see a girl who is finally, finally… almost thirty.

[..]

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Aug 2012 09

by Laurelin

“Those guys, they just want to fuck you,” Jason had said, his finger jabbing into my shoulder again and again. I was so mad I could have broken it clean off.

“You don’t even know them,” I hissed back, making him even angrier. He scared me when he was angry, but he never hit me, although as the years went by I would come to find out that he would hit others that came after me. But even standing my ground he scared me; he had this power over me and for some strange reason, I couldn’t stand the thought of losing him. He kept me close, like a dog chained in a dirt yard on a run, allowed to run sometimes but ultimately, never allowed to leave the yard.

He made me feel like the luckiest girl in the world, and I remember thinking that I could die right there in his arms and be happy with everything I never did. But there was always the issue of my friends. While I was in college I became closer with all the men in the fraternity up the street, some even more so than my own sorority sisters. In the beginning of my relationship they were happy for me – I talked about Jason and I glowed, and they were shocked that someone had finally tamed me. Jason didn’t feel the same way about the guys I called my brothers. He knew how wild we all were, and he was convinced they all had ulterior motives.

“Those guys are NOT your friends, Laurelin. They want to have sex with you. Get it through your head, you are NOT spending anymore time with them,” he had said, and while I always fought back I eventually quieted, and instead of driving back home I always stayed with Jason. Soon my friends started calling, each call or text making Jason angry. They missed me, was I ever coming home? Why was I ignoring their calls? When could they meet Jason? But he wouldn’t meet them; a firm believer that guys and girls could never be just friends.

In the end, Jason didn’t last, thank god. When I finally broke away from him my friends were so glad, and I saw what it was like when a relationship takes over and a girl turns a blind eye to friendships in favor of a man. All these years later these boys are still my brothers, platonic, the best friends I have ever had through thick and thin, and Jason’s name hardly ever crosses my lips.

One of my closest friends in Boston is also a guy; he’s usually the first person I talk to in the morning and the last person I talk to at night before I fall asleep around 5 AM. We go to dinner, get drinks, go to movies, he thinks my last boyfriend was the dumbest guy on the face of the planet and when I was having trouble getting over it no one helped like he did:

“Laurelin, the kid is a loser. Do you really want people meeting your guys to be like, ‘Man, that chick is the coolest girl ever, but her boyfriend is a fucking tool.’ Stop crying, Jesus, pull it together.”

My friends and co-workers seem to think otherwise.

“You’re going to marry him,” they tease, and I think of Jason, his mouth set in a line, always so angry at the preposterous idea that not every guy just wants to bang me. I’ve quit trying to explain to everyone that sometimes, just sometimes…we really are just friends.

[..]

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