Tuesday, July 24, 2012

ac or bust.

Everything dies baby that's a fact
But maybe everything that dies someday comes back,
Put your makeup on fix your hair up pretty and
Meet me tonight in Atlantic City.

- Bruce Springsteen, "Atlantic City"

Having visited there now twice, sometimes I wonder if Springsteen was actually talking about Atlantic City when he wrote and sang the lyrics, "Everything dies baby, that's a fact."


The first time I went, I blamed my negative opinion of the city on the cold weather, shoddy accommodations and the 12 hour mini-van trip it took to get there. But when I returned last month to see Phish play three nights at Bader Field, I couldn't help but notice that even in the warm temperatures and from the windows of a boutique hotel where I had my own comfy bed, it still looks as though parts of Atlantic City have indeed died - streets full of litter, vacated businesses, boarded up storefronts.

One morning, my friends and I walked for hours through town just trying to find a restaurant where we could sit down and order something to eat (OK, maybe we could blame some of that walk on the fact that all had wet brain and couldn't make a decision).

Most everyone I was with could agree, the town could use some work.

But still, it was the beach with casinos and Phish, so even at the Jersey Shore it was still pretty great. Maybe Springsteen was right - and if indeed everything that dies someday comes back, I was more than willing to bring my spirit and energy to help the cause.

photo (2)photo (1)

I only wore makeup some of the time (sorry, Mom) and my hair wasn't always - or ever - very pretty, but things sure felt lively at the beachside bar.


And on the Boardwalk.


And especially at Bader Field.

Maybe I underestimated this place.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

good decisions.

I am a horrible decision maker.

Not so much in the sense that I frequently make bad choices, though I've certainly had my share of those. In fact, some of my worst decision making has played out on this blog for everyone to read. Eating beets . . .driving a stick shift through the ghetto . . .kissing a guy with a mustache, just to name a few.

What I really mean by "horrible decision maker," is that I have a difficult time making decisions. Always. About anything.

I blame it on being a Libra - we're indecisive by nature - but I'm starting to suspect that this could just be a Stephanie thing.

Writer Richard Bach said, "Some choices we live not only once but a thousand times over, remembering them for the rest of our lives."

Statements like these haunt me; that fear that every choice I make, regardless of how seemingly insignificant, could somehow come back to bite me in a negative way is debilitating. So much so, that even the simplest choices like what I'm going to order at a restaurant or what kind of car I should buy become a very big deal.

The few times I have allowed myself to go with the flow long enough to make decisions quickly and without a lot of thought, the outcome usually ends up costing me a lot of money and/or heartache.

I prefer to weigh my options, analyze the pros and cons, and really stew it over.

No surprise, then, that choosing a college to attend became an ordeal of epic proportions full of all the drama, tearful conversations and sleepless nights of an ABC after-school special. I treated this decision as if my selection might also cure cancer or bring about an end to world hunger.

When I finally did commit to the University of Georgia, the first school I'd really ever wanted to go to before I had ever even visited, I was instantly plagued with fear. Add typical freshman homesickness into the mix, and I spent the first semester of my college experience convinced that the challenges of being away from home for the first time were only happening to me because I'd made the wrong choice.

I was 18. I was an idiot.

Once I allowed myself to have fun and enjoy the awesomeness that is Athens, Georgia, I quickly realized that choosing to go to school there was one of the best decisions I ever made.

Not because I got a great education that prepared me for an exciting job and not because Athens is a beautifully charming town, though both of those things played a role. But mostly because it is here, surrounded by these beautiful, intelligent, hilarious women I call my friends that I became the person, the woman, that I wanted to be.

We had the college experience that I thought only happened in the movies - complete with ridiculous antics, bonding moments, and embarrassing stories that we will be telling for many years to come.

Like Bach said, there are some choices we make that we'll have to live with over and over throughout our lives. If that is true, then this is one choice I can I very much live with.

In May, I celebrated (read: agonized) the ten year anniversary of my graduation from the University of Georgia. My girlfriends and I decided to go back to Athens for the weekend for a reunion of sorts. Really, though, it was a celebration of all the questionable decisions we made after we made the very good decision to befriend one another.

On an otherwise quiet weekend, we blew into town like a hurricane, proving to ourselves and everyone else that in addition to holding down successful careers, maintaining healthy marriages and raising happy children, that we are also still very much capable of a good time.

And sure enough, there were more very important decisions we had to face.


When a couple of over-served college girls told us we were "soooo cute," and that they hoped to look as good as us when they were "our age," we decided as a group to be flattered by their remarks, even though I really wanted to say, "You could be so lucky to look this good in ten years."


Chocolate martinis at East West followed by dancing in (and on) the bar - both excellent decisions. The bartender may not think so -- making that martini is a huge pain-in-the-ass, but smile sweetly at him, tell him he's cute and he'll get over it.


Walking right into our sorority house and making ourselves at home when the back door opened on its own might not have been the best decision. But we didn't get arrested for trespassing, and it's a great story, so I'm glad we did.


Renting our own private room at Shokitini to sing karaoke was, for anyone listening to us shouting lyrics into the microphones, a bad decision. But Trish and I achieved the evening's high score with Tom Jones' "Sex Bomb," even though we're both tone def, so maybe it was a good decision after all.


A Bloody Mary brunch, dinner at Last Resort and a late night snack at The Grill - yes, yes, yesssssss.


I realize choosing UGA and loving my college experience is not necessarily indicative of sound decision making skills.

I mean, doesn't everyone love college and think their college town is better than everyone else's?

Probably, but unless they also went to Georgia, they would be horribly misguided and wrong.


Ten years removed, I don't suspect my days of making bad choices are completely behind me - I still cringe about outfits I wore last year and I still cry over stupid boys.

And much to the dismay and frustration of everyone who knows me, I'll probably always stew over the tiniest decisions, from what clothes to pack for a weekend trip to what flavor coffee creamer to buy.

Yet somewhere between Friday's impromptu Happy Hour, Saturday's shopping trip, and a Sunday visit with our team's newest addition and her mommy who unfortunately had to miss the weekend fun, it occurred to me that when it comes to the decisions that really matter -- the where, how and with whom I spend my time, my choices have been right on the money.


After all, these are my beautiful friends.


This is my glorious college town.


And that was one wild, super fun weekend.


All very good decisions, indeed.