jenmccarroll: (Default)
Not many people know about this, but I was engaged to be engaged or engaged for real once.

I had two engagement rings. The first set were matching rings with our names on them. We bought them and had them engraved at Hershey Park. He got down on one knee and proposed. It was so sweet. His aunt took wonderful photos that I treasured for years. I wore the ring at all times to the point where even years later my skin looks weird where the ring used to sit. I have extra freckles below and above that spot. While warmed with my body heat the ring reminded me of his warm kisses, and I'd blush as it slid against my other finger, the smooth metal hot and silky. I cherished that ring more than anything.

Of course, I had no idea where this relationship was going. Nobody really took it seriously. There was an age difference, we were both very young, and it was long distance. We met in an internet chat room, how lame is that? I started wanting a more traditional relationship along with a more traditional ring, the kind with diamonds. I felt like with a diamond ring we'd be taken more seriously and be respected as a couple.

On Christmas Day while I was staring into space he snuck up and jammed a gold ring with diamonds and emeralds on my finger.

"Ouch! What in the world are you --- oh wow!"

Of course, that ring didn't solve any problems. It just deluded me into thinking I was in a serious, grown-up relationship when I clearly wasn't. I wasn't ready to move to his town. I don't think I ever intended to move there. I wasn't ready to change my life at all. Nothing felt more wrong than that ring on my finger.

In contrast, I never felt I needed a ring to prove to the world my relationship with Greg was legit. Greg has always been very open with how he felt about me and where our relationship was headed. Plus, it was nice to not have to wear anything on my hands, especially as my fingers became swollen when I got fat.

There was a time I almost felt like I needed a ring to be taken seriously. I had this friend who constantly put down my relationship with Greg because I wasn't completely happy with him at the time. Plus she had just moved really quickly in her relationship and as her relationship milestones very quickly surpassed mine, I became to get anxious and looked at rings. I was never serious, however. I still believed I never needed a piece of paper to tell me I could be with Greg, nor did I need a rock on my finger for permission to give my heart away. I also didn't need my friend's approval to love who I loved.

My friend meant absolutely no harm, though. She just wants everyone to be as happy as they can be potentially, which is one of her best qualities. She later apologized to the two of us and congratulated us on making it work.

Sometime over the last year, with a complete lack of awareness, I lost any doubt in my mind that Greg was the one. When I try to identify what changed it is difficult. Maybe I matured like everyone says. Maybe I finally learned to love. Maybe it's the way between the two of us we've lost more than 100 lbs and are happier and healthier. Maybe it's the way we work to make our crappy apartment a home, or the way we make a point to make time for each other. I just feel so secure in what we have. It feels rock solid. We can and do talk about anything under the sun. I want to spend as much as my time with him as possible.

I keep looking at engagement rings. All of a sudden I want something as sparkly and as special as what I have with Greg to rest on my finger. I don't need the ring to prove anything to anyone or myself, but for the first time when I allow myself to dream about love, weddings, and a future, it feels right. It feels like what I am doing already. It feels really in tune with not only what I want, but what I already have.

When I look at rings now, I realize I want something completely different than the rings I had with someone else. However, when I think of all of this stuff sometimes I feel terribly afraid and vulnerable. I think the hardest thing to do is trust myself after failing in my previous engagement. Those old insecurities keep chasing me that I'll make this huge commitment and it will blow up in my face like it did before and I'll be humiliated. It's so sad when I won't let myself be happy. I've been with Greg for more than eight years. I think I made my choice long ago. I should be allowed to embrace it fully.
jenmccarroll: (Default)

I have become greatly involved in organizing my photos. I have finished my photobook and am ready to order it. I do kind of wish I could put one or two more photographs in it of Greg and I. We have two Polaroids of us posing with celebrities in New York a few years ago that would be pretty neat to add to my New York page.

Strengths Finder

I'm slowly, slowly recovering from being sick but sometimes I'm still really tired and other times really full of anxiety. It's weird that my body cannot tell the difference sometimes between the emotions I have. I'll get this fluttering of emotion and freak out because I don't know where its coming from. Is it panic or is it joy or am I just hungry or do I have gas? My body is like WTF I CANNOT EVEN WITH THIS.

Despite all of these issues, I've been getting decent grades in school. So there's that. Sometimes it only feels like my life is falling apart when really it's just neatly balanced the way I always wanted it and I'm constantly on the verge of tipping.

At church we've been doing in-depth analysis to find out who we are and what our strengths are. All of this self-analysis will eventually lead to deciding what our members should do within the church, but it is also helpful in other areas of life such as employment and relationships. I found out I'm a collector of information, obsessed with ideas, and energized by meeting new people. My talent is researching, basically. I could turn this into a strength and develop it, but the funny thing I learned last night was that talents can have negative associations as well. I may collect information, but I also have a tendency to hoard belongings. I may be awesome at finding problems and solving them, but could also lead to excessive analysis and anxiety if not directed effectively.

Anyway, Strengths Finder was very helpful for me and those at my church. I am pretty excited to develop what I already have instead of merely trying to fix my weaknesses.
jenmccarroll: (Default)
This month has been ... interesting to say the least. Between stomach bugs, high and low blood pressure woes, car trouble, and medication changes, I'm proud that I'm standing here today. (Or laying in bed posting. Whatever.)

While I was stuck in bed, unable to go to church, school, or work, I started drafting a photo book as a lark. This isn't the finished product, but I like what I see so far.

Click here to view this photo book larger

Photo books are the perfect gift for any occasion.

jenmccarroll: (Default)

Now I want to talk about my friend David Weaver.


I actually have two friends named David Weaver. The first one I met in college and we took Intro to Theater together. I dropped the class because it was boring. David and I stayed friends ever since. He can be seen taking photos from treetops or of awesome bands during shows.


That’s not the David Weaver I’m talking about.


The David Weaver I’m talking about I met a few years ago as part of the cast of Love From A Stranger. While David acts beautifully, the productions I’ve had the pleasure to witness that he’s been a part of is when he does the sound. I think he even has an Emmy for doing sound. He does something really neat for a living involving television and engineering that keeps him out all the time just so the rest of the world can watch TV. Yay David!


Now, most people that Greg meets during plays kind of go their separate ways after the production and besides Facebook friendship we don’t see them again. However, somehow David found my LiveJournal and we became really good friends from there. He and Greg like to go to lunch every once in a while, and we keep in touch by phone, email, texts, Twitter, and Facebook.


David is an incredibly supportive friend. He really listens when you tell him things and wants to know everything about you. He never forgets a face and makes anybody he comes in contact with feel warm and fuzzy. Like many of my favorite people, he loves long emails and big hugs. He can spin anything around to make it positive, and is incredibly sensitive and affectionate. I wish there were more people like David in the world because he’s very smiley and relaxed.


This weekend we went to go see Showboat, where David was doing the sound. I wish I had gotten a good picture of us together. Since I didn’t, I made this very realistic drawing:


While he was scurrying about setting up, he made sure to stop by our table several times for hugs and shooting the breeze. During the show whenever I heard an awesome sound gag, I’d look back at him with a big grin. We even spent some time together during intermission, but we were feeling super weary since it’s a long show after a long day. We said goodbye after the show and I just really wish we could have spent the whole evening together.

Love you David!!!!!

jenmccarroll: (Default)

I want to take this time to write about my best friend, Rochelle, who just had her birthday.


I met Rochelle almost twenty years ago on the first day of sixth grade. My best friends, Lorrie and Amanda, had just moved away a few weeks prior. It had been a long, lonely summer full of goodbyes. I started at a new school feeling completely lost.


I don’t remember what we said to each other that first day. I just know she was the only person not from my elementary school who talked to me that day. Almost nobody from my elementary school was in my classes, and all day I felt lonely. Then Rochelle turned around in her seat to talk to me and life felt worth it again, heh.


I loved her immediately.  Neither of us was great at learning to sew, so while the other kids had to watch a boring movie on human development, we gossiped in the other room while decorating our crappy cloth tote bags. It was in that room she told me all about her childhood, what it was like to be Rochelle, and we just discussed everything. It was lovely. It was the best afternoon I ever had at that school.


I spent much of my teen years on the phone with Rochelle. We talked several times a week on the phone. All my secrets. All our opinions on people, boys, music, all of it. I think she was the one person I never, ever lied to. And I lied a lot when I was young.


What really struck me about Rochelle was how much she cared about other people. She thought of others even when they never thought of her. Those who thought of her were also constantly on her mind and in her heart. Anybody else would be easily wounded, but she would hang in there and be strong and warm. She had a way about her that made you feel fiercely, fiercely loved and never, ever ashamed of who you are.


I’m crying now as I write this, heh. I really miss her. It’s hard to really make someone else feel loved when they live on the other side of the world.


When I moved away from my hometown in 1998, I tried really hard to stay in contact with Rochelle. I don’t know how it happened, but one day we just stopped calling each other. I felt like everyone from my hometown forgot me as I started a new school and tried to make new friends. A few years later we were in college together and saw each other every once in a while. For maybe a year or two, we were close again. Then she got married and had children and I, separately, went through a downward spiral for a couple of years where I contacted nobody.


At the zenith of my downward spiral, there Rochelle was. Her husband was deployed and she had adorable twin babies. She slowly brought me out of my shell, just before she moved away to Texas.


Oh thank God for Rochelle. My life would be a nightmare without her in it to crack me up, love me, and laugh with me. We spent the next few years calling each other on the phone every once in a while.


One day she called me up with the news.


South Korea.


It happened so fast. Strong Army wife she was now, she packed up all her things, husband and newborn in tow, high-tailed it to Maryland where we had a few weeks to say goodbye to her as a group.


Upon her leaving I tried to stay strong like she wanted me to. I even said, “See you later.” That’s the kind of wording used on deployments instead of goodbye. We say it with a smile. 


The minute she was gone, I dissolved into tears like a kicked puppy.


That was about two years ago. I hope to see her home by her next birthday.


For now though, all I can say is this:


Rochelle, you are the bomb diggity. Xoxox Thank you so much for being born! I miss and love you more than words.  You make the world around you glow, inside and outside, and I can’t wait for you to come home.

jenmccarroll: (Default)

I've been meaning to write more often and interact with my readers as well. I've been dealing with a blood pressure medication change that has left me completely wiped out.  This is in addition to other illness I have suffered in the last month.


Well I’m better now (or I will be … eventually) and I need to get my act together. I have a final 30 lbs to lose. I have two papers I need to finish by Thanksgiving. I have a couple parties this month as well. My apartment needs a complete overhaul in cleaning, and I need to take care of myself better.


November Goals


Get down to 170 lbs. I got really close in October before all of my health problems mixed with some pretty bad eating habits caused me to gain back a little bit of my weight.


Get back to induction eating. I feel better when I’m not ODing on sugar and dairy. I breathe better and feel less sluggish.


Walk 20 minutes to one hour each day. This is something that has always kept me on track. As much as I’d like to do it 60 minutes in a row, I know that I can break it up into smaller segments and still reap benefits. On the two days during the week that I have class I end up walking 20-30 minutes just from going back and forth to my car. I will resume walking on my fifteen minute breaks each day. On days I don’t have class, what is stopping me from walking around the parking lot for an hour before heading home? Then on weekends I can wake up and walk for an hour. I can totally do this!


Do 1 20 minute strength/flexibility exercise per day.  I have all of these ten minute abs or ten minute thighs tapes at home and on Xfinity on Demand just waiting for me to start them. I don’t need to kill myself to maintain bone density.


Do homework for two hours each night. I am really behind in my reading for school and I have two papers due in the next month that I’ve barely done research for. I have no excuse to lie around and do nothing with this kind of workload. However, most nights when I come home, all I feel like doing is eating and falling asleep. I’m hoping that taking care of myself in other ways will give me the energy to complete my assignments.


Declutter for 15 minutes a day. This is more than doable. Take five minutes to clear off surface areas that are cluttered, and ten minute to declutter. has a great routine for doing this.


I think that’s a good start. Now I know where I want to be, the question is how do I get there?

jenmccarroll: (Default)

This is my face.

This is also my face.

They are the same face, shot in the same moment in time in the same location by the same camera in the same photograph:

This is what I would look like in the mirror:

I used to feel really weird about how "uneven" my face was, however most people do not have perfect facial symmetry. If you think about it I have two very beautiful women who get to live on my face. I think I can live with that. :-)
jenmccarroll: (Default)
Something has cemented itself in my mind again that wasn't there for a long time.

I'm not sure why it's there or what started it.

Perhaps as I've lost a significant amount of weight and gained some confidence I feel I deserve good things. Perhaps I see my boyfriend's brother proposing to his girlfriend and buying them a house and am realizing how nice that is. Perhaps I see one of Greg's ex-loves is now engaged, that my ex-boyfriend has been married for three years, and all of my friends are married. Perhaps I find that Greg and I can share more and more dirty little secrets about ourselves to each other and still not leave. Perhaps I have a lot of faith in us and am no longer afraid to ask for what I want.

When Greg and I started dating in 2003, I was just coming off of a messy breakup. It was sad because I wasn't ready to let go of one dream and embrace a future with someone else. I was still coming down from the humiliation of blogging almost daily about how much I loved this person and what our future together might be like and how I could achieve that future. I vowed I would take things slow next time and make absolutely sure. Within a few week his parents were asking my intentions on marriage and I freaked out. This was supposed to be a summer fling, a rebound to get me back in the game. I refused to be serious. It was too risky.

Just over a year later I gave him the key to my apartment. Within four years we were living together. Still, I wasn't ready to consider a future together. I wanted an engagement ring, a wedding, and a house like everyone else, but even after several years together I just didn't see a future with this person being the person I was then.

At first, I thought it was him. So I asked him to do some work on himself. He did. Really, there wasn't that much that needed changing. Still, I was miserable. I realized that I was the person who needed to change in order to make myself happy. It all goes back to what our parents always tell us: you must love yourself in order to love others. I worked very hard on myself to change my loathing into loving. I went back to school. I began to workout more often. I tried to decorate our apartment. I went to therapy. I joined a church. I made some friends. As the confidence in myself grew so did the confidence and trust in my relationship with Greg. More and more I am becoming unafraid of committing and settling down. I want to shout it from the roof tops and share it with everyone I know.

I've become annoyingly wedding obsessed. Instead of looking up social policy and learning about social programs, I've been researching styles of engagement rings, wedding venues, and wedding dresses. Basically I want one of these while standing here and wearing this or something like it in blue. Let me tell you, internet, being wedding obsessed is boring. Greg and I don't even go to parties together, so I don't really know what has come over me.

It's not like we have the money for this. There are so many things we'd rather buy than dresses and jewelry. We want a cat, new car, new furniture, a house, my college education, a savings, and on and on. It does not seem responsible to go around dropping all this money on this little girl patriarchal fantasy of love when having a cat, new car, new furniture, a house, a college education, a savings, vacations ... all of these things would probably mean so much more.

For instance, this week we were going to get a cat, but getting my car repaired took priority. Both of those things clearly take priority over an engagement ring that would get caught on things and lose stones and basically be a big pain that I would take off every five minutes or leave somewhere or lose.

I don't know why my brain is fixating on the wedding thing or what my brain is trying to avoid by fixating on the wedding thing.

What have you been fixated on lately?
jenmccarroll: (Default)
I've never thought of Halloween as frightening or evil. I was always amused at how threatened Baptist churches were by it, and wondered sometimes if paranormal activity really existed or was the sole stretched imagination of people really looking for it.

Halloween for me was a theatrical thing. Put on a costume, play a part, and get candy if you remember your lines: Trick or treat. Jack-o-lanterns, ghosts, and even skeletons did not seem menacing. Their so-called wicked smiles seemed so innocent to me. Even scary movies did not phase me. Startle, yes. But frighten? No, indeed.

See? Too cute, like a tiger or a bear, and too inanimate to be menacing.

As little girl I may have been vulnerable to a variety of threats by nature of my age. Kidnapping, childhood diseases, accidents in automobiles or in the home, drowning, fire, suffocation, and pretty much anything else listed here. These never seemed like real threats to me since none of them actually happened to me personally or anyone I knew except the kidnapping and the girl escaped. It's common to feel a certain immunity to mortality as a young person. If children worried all the time about danger and dying they'd never be able to learn anything or try anything new.

The biggest threat, which still persists today, is the fear of rejection or abandonment. These are threats experienced early and often. The sinking feeling of your parents driving away while you stare out the window of your kindergarten class. The first time a child gets in a cranky mood and tells another child, "I don't like you, go away." The first time a little boy teases a little girl he likes and says, "Haha, you're ugly!" The first time someone pushes you off of the teeter totter and screams, "MINE!"

While most intentions of children who reject in this manner are innocent and it's just a part of growing up, in a sense it's the basis for someone to learn to care what others think of them. It makes you think you have to change your behavior or looks to stop the teasing, when often the person doing the teasing is just teasing for the sake of teasing. Boredom, boundary pushing, lashing out at anyone who would have asked to play at that moment, etc.

I'm not sure people can dress up as rejection, abandonment, or a bully for Halloween, though.

My biggest fear growing up that I faced daily was rejection, abandonment, or bullying. For a long time my parents' advice was ignore them. To paraphrase Barbara Parks's novel Skinnybones it's hard to ignore someone's knee in your mouth. This is when my mother gave me truly eye-opening advice to aid survival in life if not popularity. This is because my mother is awesome.

"Not everyone in the whole world is going to like you. You're not going to like everyone in the whole world all of the time. The world does not revolve around you. In fact, most people are not going to notice or remember you because there are just too many people in the world. Therefore you may as well be yourself and not care as much what everybody thinks because you cannot completely control that."

What helped cement this in my mind was how my parents could go around always embarrassing me, wearing the clothes they wore, listening to the music they listened to, and dancing the way they danced. In public. Where all my friends could see! Obviously they did not care what anyone thought of them. While I was cringing and hiding in my seat to avoid being seen, they were be-bopping around in the car to The Rolling Stones, pointing their fingers in the air and bobbing their heads in the dorkiest way possible, laughing hysterically as I shoved down in my seat in the truck as if that would make this any less embarrassing. This is apparently a universal thing.

However, soon I realized that the cars we were passing while they were boogeying down to Aerosmith or Rod Stewart were many, going at least 55 mph, and totally not noticing or caring that my parents were enjoying the radio in this bizarre manner. Plus, if they did see us, it was only for a second because soon we were gone!

This was a very big self-esteem builder and my gauge for whether someone was cool in high school. Phony, judgmental people had no place in my life. Silly, loving, free people did.

What my parents neglected to mention is what the real world is really like. For instance, there is a time and place for being yourself. To prepare me for the real world as an adult a few years later, my father took me aside and told me to keep my mouth shut, do what I'm told, and don't fall in love too fast or I would get hurt.

I suppose that was good advice too, but it completely changed my opinion of him and the world around me. I no longer knew what to think. Was I supposed to be myself or not? It seemed like the more I kept my mouth shut, did what I was told, and guarded my heart, the lonelier and sadder I felt.

Then came the internet. What I loved about the internet as a teenager is that for the first time I felt heard. This had both negative and positive connotations. The positive part is that I had a reader base who enjoyed what I had to say, which helped me meet people I otherwise would never have met. The negative connotation is that there were some things I maybe should not say, because anybody could hear them and take them out of context. Also, I never realized how permanent the internet was. Some things, like cyber-bullying, remain permanent because at anytime you can click a link to a page where someone has been cyber-bullied in the past and all of the hurtful words are still there, directed at that person.

So imagine how hurt I was when I read the following words directed at me on a cyber bullying and snark website I refuse to link:

"Now, stop acting like the internet is your soapbox because, honey, nobody is listening. And if they are, it's just like it used to be... they're listening, but only to laugh and wait and see what kind of word vomit spills from your mouth next."

And there it was.

There was my biggest fear realized, that nobody was listening. Nobody cared what I had to say, forever. People were laughing at me, forever. People thought I was a fool or a lol-cow.

Forever. It's there forever. Always.

This wasn't some anonymous jerk who was reading this from a list of things to say when you're in a flame war and want to pwn your opponent. This was someone I knew in real life if only for a second, and then I was supposedly gone. And she "remembered" me from high school. Oddly, what she remembered wasn't true. She told everyone all kinds of weird things about me such as that I had altercations with my classmates, that people thought I was a witch, that I was obnoxious on purpose, that I spoke in a fake accent.

It didn't matter to me or the person who was bullying me that others in that thread came to my defense, or that she was just saying these things to make herself look good.

It didn't matter that these things weren't true.

It didn't matter that I was active in church in high school, that I was nice to everyone, that I had a lot of friends who loved me and love me still, or that my "fake accent" was mostly due to being deaf as a child and years of speech therapy after I regained my hearing and partly due to the fact I have a very large vocabulary.

All it mattered is that it was believable and what I feared to be true. All that mattered was the fear that people didn't like me, the fear the people thought I was weird, the fear that I left that kind of lasting impression when I thought others were too focused on themselves to care what I did, hurt me for years.

For two or three years I didn't talk to any of my friends and hid in my apartment after what this person said to me on the internet. I eventually got therapy, and I eventually got my life back. I'm slowly learning that when people say harsh things, even if there is a bit of truth behind it, it reflects more on them as a person than to who their words are directed.

It's not jack-o-lanterns, ghosts, or goblins that scare me or the rest of the world.

All anyone wants is to be loved and accepted.

Reader, what is your biggest fear?


Oct. 22nd, 2011 02:06 am
jenmccarroll: (Default)
Kiss and Tell
Kiss and Tell is where I come to dish about my life, my opinions, and give you resources to inspire or impress others and yourself. I talk about the crazy things I learn, funny little stories, my inner most thoughts, as well entertaining discoveries. It will sometimes be inspiring, it will sometimes be funny, but will always be true.

I recently lost fifty pounds, decided I want to get married, and went back to school to get my graduate degree in Social Work. I'm usually in the process of reinventing myself, so I will probably talk about my ever-changing ideas on how life should be or what really gets on my nerves and needs to change. My nine-year relationship with Greg may also be explored, especially since as we plan to spend the rest of our lives together and raise a kitten. As for me, I am an office assistant, a student, a goofball, and an optimist.

Hi!. I'm Jen, fiance to Greg, college student, and future crazy cat lady. I love makeovers, decorating, collecting random facts, trivia, playing show and tell, camp movies, shopping, libraries, random singing, random dancing, snuggling, and loafing. Oh, and watching Glee.

Jen and Greg
Greg has been my partner in crime for nine years. I've known him since high school; he is my soulmate and best friend. He's an actor, a playwright, a poet and works in data entry. We spend most of our time laughing hysterically. We're thinking about getting married sometime this decade and adopting our first cat sometime in the next few weeks.


Hi!. I'm Jen, fiance to Greg, college student, and future crazy cat lady. I love makeovers, decorating, collecting random facts, trivia, playing show and tell, camp movies, shopping, libraries, random singing, random dancing, snuggling, and loafing. Oh, and watching Glee.

Greg has been my partner in crime for nine years. I've known him since high school; he is my soulmate and best friend. He's an actor, a playwright, a poet and works in data entry. We spend most of our time laughing hysterically. We're thinking about getting married sometime this decade and adopting our first cat sometime in the next few weeks.


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