I think life’s a rollercoaster. It’s a wild, inconsistent, exciting ride. You go up, you go down, you go fast, you go slow. You fall but then you climb back up again and get to the top.
Today, my birthday, I have taken note of my ride. I want to share who and what has made the 25 year journey so great.
- Middle School
- High School
Middle school was an absolute blast. Some of my fondest memories included sneaking out every weekend [sorry mom and dad] with my partner in crime and best friend, Carlye Tamaren. We would innocently sit at the computer station in our pajamas and instant message until my parents went to sleep. Immediately after, we would strip out of our pjs and venture outside into the black night, walk probably over 2 miles, and meet up with boys.
My favorite sneak out story? Carlye and I got back to my house around 4am and totally thought we were in the clear. But as I was about to tip toe upstairs, I saw a white note on the kitchen table.
“Manda, it’s cold outside! Hope you wore warm clothes and had a good night. By the way, you’re grounded.”
Something along those lines…..well at least my dad has a sense of humor! Ha ha.
Carlye Rae, I love you so much. You are one of the first people I think of when I envision childhood friend. It’s always the same when we reunite and I am so happy to still have you in my life.
Carlye leads me to my next major rollercoaster change, Tim Merritt.
It was freshman year, and my group of friends and I thought we were too cool for school. I wore leggings with wedges, huge earrings, frosty pink lipstick, pig tails, and god knows what else. Ew.
Anyways, I like to think all that superficial stuff and uncomfortable clothes/accessories paid off, because eventually I did finally get my high school prince charming.
Two years older than me, major swag, and a huge dimple on one side of his cheek was the one-and-only, Tim Merritt. To make a long story short, we dated between five and six years. Tim, you taught me what love [the most powerful thing I’ve ever experienced] looks, means, and feels like. I look back and see how much we learned from one another and how much we grew. You are such a wonderful person inside and out and I will always have a special place for you in my heart.
Devin Tellatin, I am missing you every day. You are one of a kind. So free and spontaneous with a great zest for life and adventure. You are beautiful inside and out. We had so many fun memories in high school together and you above anyone else, I know we have that special relationship where everything is the same when we reunite.
Lan Ho, I know we have grown apart over the years, but you always have a special place in my heart. We have so many amazing middle school and high school memories and really experienced being kids together. Teaching you to swim, being the only girls in high school to dress up for Halloween, decorating our shirts together, cheating in class together, always doing half-day lunches together, big pigout nights, crazy adventures in downtown St. Louis, and so much more. I’m really proud of the person that you have become. You have done a 180 from being voted most likely to skip class in highschool to being in grad school and killin it! I really miss you Lannypoo.
Macy Holtzman, it’s always a crazy good time with you. Remember back in the 6th grade days our fun consisted of prank phone calling and tping? Then in high school we progressed to talking too much in class and having to stay after school to clean our teacher’s office. I am so happy you moved to Chicago and now the real fun can begin.
Carly Bond and Dena Goldstein, I love that both of you guys are goofy and own it. I always have a smile around you, and you two girls are so real and genuine. Thank goodness you guys are in the Chi!
Beth Panke, we grew up together and you were my childhood sports buddy! From your dad yelling, “Hummmmm!” every time I pitched in our softball middle school league to running together to playing soccer together and to now living in Chicago together! Love our dinner and cafe dates! I am so happy to have bonded with the lovely Courtney Palmer through you. Missing you both!
Sammy, Chelsea, Carin, Emilie, Blaiiiiiir, love you girls! Sammy, I remember when I transferred schools in 4th grade and someone was giving me a tour and pointed you out saying, “And that’s the most popular girl in school!” We had some great times. Can’t forget #DPG! Blair, love you girl. We really connected senior year and you brought me into your group. Thank you for being so welcoming and always being so fun and goofy! I’m so excited for you and your Australia adventure!
Hannah Wallis, I ADORE you Han. I know we didn’t really become close until after school, but we just gel. You are one of those kinds of people that brings a smile to everyone’s face and you are so warm and comforting to be around. I seriously have a weird love for you.
Oh brother. Where to begin? Let’s start off with saying that I didn’t drink that much in high school. I was a good girl that followed the rules [besides sneaking out of course] and my mentality was I would rather have dessert over a glass of wine. Laaaaame.
Freshman year of college changed everything.
I met new friends, went to frat parties, and joined a sorority. I was instantly introduced to the “shots! shots! shots!” phenomena and my good girl drinking habits were instantly thrown down the drain.
College was a ton of fun, but I did not live in reality. I think I was stuck in la la land for four years, and I also think I was really confused with who I was and my individuality. But with that said, in between studying, class, takings shots at Roys, and inhaling late night pizza, I met some great people and had some awesome experiences.
Cristina Boehmer, girllllllll I love you. Every time I am with you, it’s an adventure. We could be doing the most mundane activity and you make it fun. You’re funny, smart, sassy, and cool. You are also an incredibly loyal and a genuine friend.
Meredith Meyers, you are a talk less and say more kind of a girl and I love that. You say it how it is and you do what you want. You really are all about the quality, and that makes me feel special that I made the cut 🙂
Jennifer Addy, you have a great positive energy! You can make friends with anyone and can transform a painfully boring story into the funniest thing in the world.
Barbara Sterling, you were my first best friend at IU. I was immediately attracted to your personality which was opposite to mine [Type A, planner, organized, you know what you want..] I love those traits in you and so many more. I’m so happy for you and the amazing life you have carved for yourself in San Francisco. I promise to be better with staying in touch.
Emily Rose, you are my curly girl Jewish soul sister. You are one of a kind and I miss you dearly. I know when we see eachother again [hopefully soon!] we will take off right where we left.
Allison Thiems, you just make me laugh! I always have an awesome time with you…from our crazy nights in Barcelona doing God knows what to our catch up sessions, it’s always memorable.
Logan Davis, love you man. You always bring the party and I can’t wait to celebrate NYE big with you and the crew!
Deltssssss, We’ve had some great times together ranging from IU to Barcelona and more. Miss you boys.
I feel really fortunate for the awesome new groups of friends I have met, as well as reuniting with childhood girlfriends.
Michelle, Lexi, Allison, Chelsea, Sparkman, and Niki, I have loved loved loved spending time with you girls. Vegas, dinners, going out together, Halloween, cabin weekend, you name it. It’s aways such a blast when we are together, and I feel so lucky that we are all so close. Crazy how we all clicked so fast.
Mich, thank you for being such a great friend and always being there for me. I love your daily texts, sweet messages, words of advice, and constant dedication to showing that you care. I also love how affectionate we are with one another showing the mooshi gooshiness of our friendship. In all honestly though, I don’t love that you like to wake up super early and act like a really cute puppy dog that I can’t ignore. I’m not a morning person, girlfriend. Woof. Lex, love that we can connect on a deep level. I immediately had a girl crush on you when we met. You are super cool and confident, but also so genuine, warm, and loyal. Al, I am so happy we have recently become close. You are such a supportive friend, and you are also secretly hilarious! Your true colors really shined cabin weekend. You are such a loyal and consistent individual. Chels, amazing personality. Charming and sweet, yet sassy and funny. You are also so sincere and genuine. Last but not least, you are one of the hottest girls in Chicago. I am equally obsessed with your roomies Rania and Shereen. You guys rock! Sparky, it’s crazy to think we weren’t close growing up. We bonded so quickly over dinner and talks, and I love that we can relate on so many levels. Thank you for being such a great friend, for your awesome laughs, and for always helping to plan and make life easier on me.
Niki, Dobs, Nancy, Amy, Z, Erica, and Cat, you girls are amazing. Tons of great memories in such a short time. Stuffing our faces with McDonalds and cussing out guys for thinking they wanted a bite [not our finest moments] IU visiting [Northwestern girls can’t drink!] Vegas, mooching off Bog’s tables, famiree, epic pigouts, and so much more. Love you guys to the moon and back!
Alise Leal, you are a ball of awesomeness. You always have such great energy and positivity, and we have so much fun together. You are sassy and spicy, always bringing the fire!
Amber Lil, my Ambs…oh all of the times we have had together. Realizing the crazy similarities that we have. Goofy partner in crime. Meowing in harmony. Sneaking into Kevin’s apartment [normal]. Running together. Froyo. You name it. I adore our close friendship, and I know we will be best friends forever.
Marissa D’Alba, we met on birthright on our way to Israel at the airport. I thought you were a cool always wear black biatch kind of a gal, and you thought I was an annoying too bubbly teddy bear in purse kind of a girl. Oh how far we have come…..
When we finally got the chance to talk and get to know one another, I instantly adored you. Likewise I hope or maybe it took you some more warming up? You are funny, smart, sassy, and sarcastic. You also are obsessed with lolli pops like me and you have a wicked RBF [rested bitch face] not like me.
Recently, however, I’ve learned so much more about you. We’ve become so much closer and I have realized that you are extremely loyal, consistent, and genuine. Thank you for attending all the events with me without me having to ask twice, thank you for making your office my office, thank you for doing a video with me, thank you for the delicious salad you made me one hungry day, thanks for the awesome dress borrow and so much more. I love the time that we spend together, the stories that we exchange, and the laughs that we share. #ICAN’T!
Jenny Johnson, my kindred spirit! I can’t believe we have known eachother for such a short period of time and become so close. I love that we can be really deep and talk about crazy life things that many people would not understand or would deem weird. Our conversations have so much substance and realness, which is something very meaningful to me. Since meeting you, my life has really changed. You have opened my eyes to a world of new things and passions I never knew I would like.
Spencer Mason, Spence we go way back. Holy crap, we’ve been close friends for 11 years!!!!! That blows my mind. Remember freshman year when you helped me open my locker? You were the older popular high school quarterback, and I was the giddiest girl in the world.
I love you Spence and truly look up to you. I’ve learned a lot from the amazing, genuine person that you are. You are so “real” and honest, and you have an awesome sincere and serious side, but you also make me laugh and feel so warm and happy. The little things that you do make big impacts on me and the fact that we are still in one another’s life and consistently in touch says a lot.
Bogdan Ivan, Bogs!!!!! Where to begin? Thank you for hosting Sunday night famiree, having a great attitude about being around obnoxious girls and being the designated picture taker, giving me guy tips, providing epic stories of you and your lady friends, hosting tables at da clubs, and so much more. In the past year, however, my appreciation for our friendship has really grown. You have done a 180 in realizing who and what matters and inching closer to your true potential. I am so proud of all the life changes you have recently made, and I am inspired by your dedication, creativity, and willingness to take risks. Friends and deep talks forever, Bogs.
Kevin Barber, Oh the great times I have had with you Kevs. Working together, g chatting together, laughing, brunching, drinking, guest blogging….you name it! You get me Kevs, which is a rarity and something I truly appreciate. I feel like I can be totally myself with you. Things I appreciate: your goofy phrases, your awesome advice, your uplifting sense of humor, your consistency and commitment to staying in touch, and so much more. I even love your mom Shar, who we have yet to meet! [Shar hope you are reading this and can’t wait for that date soon!]
This is super weird, but bear with me Kev. For some reason I instantly thought of this analogy. If I were an art project, you would be the super glue. You make me feel grounded and secure. You are also super. And of course we will always stick together 🙂
Ariel Bublick, Ariel, I truly appreciate you and value our friendship. You are incredibly patient and caring, and you make me feel so comfortable. You’re funny and witty, yet humble and kind. I love that teacher-esque quality of yours where you answer questions in a thoughtful manner, provide great advice, and never judge. Well maybe silently….as you say 🙂
The fact that we met on birthright in Israel makes our bond even stronger as we really did get to know eachother on so many levels. The day that you narrated from scratch what a blog would sound like from me was the day I knew I wanted to keep you in my life. I love that we can be goofy together, but also serious. The conversations flow and we can just talk about the most random things but turn it into something great. Missing you!
Zachary Sloan and Dickman, I love the Jew crew that we have formed, and I am excited to hang out more outside of the member of the tribe events 🙂
Hayley Fox, we had lunch recently and I was expecting kind of a small talk catch up kind of a deal. Within minutes though, we just connected. Great deep conversations that I never would expect from a surface meetup, but we instantly bonded. You are such a sweet, kind-hearted, and genuine girl, and I am so excited to continue our friendship and love for meditation!
Molly Moran, such a kind soul. You are so thoughtful, warm, and easy to speak to. I am so happy that we recently met and connected.
To all of the consultants and employees at Homescout, I have loved working with you! Thank you for writing blogs for me, putting up with my Wacky Wednesday videos, attending events, liking social media posts, sharing social media, and so much more. We really have formed such a great culture together, and I am excited for the road ahead! Michelle, love our happy hours and fun times we have had together. Great memories with you and David and the best kid movie dates ever. David Baldwin, I am missing you and your ability to understand what I say when no one else does! Jordan Wilson thanks for always being patient with me and being so helpful and Gerry McBreen thank you for being the kind, engaging, and warm person that you are. I love your daily song, “Amanda the light of my life.”
To all of my Graphic Design and Content Interns, thank you for your wonderful work and making my life so much easier!
I am very thankful for my wonderful mentor, Erin Wasson, with whom I truly look up to. Erin, you are one of the smartest and most creative individuals that I know, and you have so much awesome knowledge to share. I love your confidence, the way you provide your input in a nonabrasive manner, and your directness. You say something and I am instantly like, “Wow I need to write down that phrase and say it next time” or I’m like “damn she’s cool.” You’ve just got it going on and I’ve had such a great year and a half working with you. You’ve have helped me grow so much. Thank you!
Bus 319! Israelis, I miss all of you to pieces. I learned so much from you all, and your love and passion for Israel is amazing. I admire your mentality on life and your appreciation for all the small things. 2015 I want to be better with staying in touch. And for all of the Chicagoans on the trip, I think a Shabbat dinner is waiting! I’ve loved seeing more of you guys Aly, Felice, and Jacob! And for Amy and Coby, thank you so much for leading such a life-changing trip. You guys were great leaders and really made the experience.
Niki, The reason that you are at the bottom of this piece is because you are all of the above. Middle School, High School, College, After college.
We met in middle school in 6th grade. I was catty and mean to you , talking behind your back and saying you wore too much mascara to my possy. You in turn didn’t like me much either. Then a week later, I was in the bathroom asking you to do my eye makeup. The rest was history. We instantly became best friends. We bought “really cool” abercrombie jeans that we always wore, you taught me how to dance in front of the mirror, we worked out together, we read gossip girl in Barnes N Noble together taking turns reading the pages, we babysat your cousins, we passed notes in Spanish class, we spoke every night on the phone before going to bed. We did it all.
Then you transferred schools after 6th grade. Can you believe how close we remained? In order to stay in touch, we always had our Sunday long runs where we jogged and discussed all of our weekly problems, heartaches, etc. Sounds so trivial now huh?
In High School, you were at Burroughs and I was at Ladue. We had different crowds but it seems like we were always together. Parties, dinner, events, even prom and homecoming where one year I was your date [ex boyfriend phase] We went to field hockey camp together, we had family dinners, we cooked, you housesat, we had sleepovers, and so much more.
In college we remained best friends and stayed in touch. I was introduced to all of your best friends from Northwestern throughout those years and we all became a great, caring group. Honorary Mentions: Surprising you at NU for your bday and jumping out of a suitcase, Dillo Day, and senior year you visiting me at IU three times. It was always the same between us when we reunited.
After college we realized how much we appreciated and valued our friendship. We became one another’s number one support system and an unconditional loving best friendship truly blossomed. We now live together, and it has been the most amazing experience. Our friendship is honestly one of a kind. It’s so selfless and genuine, and it is filled with mutual intentions of wanting the best for one another. You have helped me through so many struggles and downs, picking me up when I am down. I don’t know what I would do without your understanding, consistent support and advice, and your dedication to being my rock. You are honestly one of the most important people in my life and I will forever and aways love you and be right by your side.
Konrad Salaber you have become a big brother to me. Living with you these past 6 months has been incredible. You have such a kind heart, you are hilarious and sarcastic, and you are patient and helpful. I truly see you as a big brother, which is something I have always wanted. I currently invaded your closet and am wearing your big sweatshirt right now. Sorry! Having you and Niki as roommates has been like living with family. It’s incredible to have such a loving and close support system. Also, thank you for always making bulk chicken and getting Niki and I Intelligentsia coffee on the weekends. You da best!
Kathy and fam, you guys are family too! I love spending time with you all and having our cocktail hours and chats. Missing you all!
Phlaum fam, love you all and your sweetness and beauty! Marlyse thank you for taking such wonderful care of Abby and I when we visited and for reaching out to Amy.
Appt fam, I have the fondest memories of growing up with you all. Stacee and Jason my heroes!
Mom and dad, you two are my saviors. The glue to my everything. My biggest fans and supporters. My biggest sources of unconditional love, care and affection. Beautiful vacations, financial stability [when needed!] non-judgmental listening ears, great words of advice, amazing meals, and I could literally write a novel of everything else.
Dad, I love all of the little things that you do. Like sending me comics every morning, saying Manda Rae in a certain voice, slipping me some extra cash in a note, always wearing your Mizzou shirts on game day, mouthing the words that you write [like me] the fact that you attended every singe one of my sporting events growing up, the way that you look at me with that warm smile in your eyes showing how much you love me and that I will always be your little girl.
You are also my teacher. You have taught me many fundamentals of life. You are my friend. You listen through my hardships and offer advice. You sip on martinis with me and attend my festive events, such as my 21st birthday party on the trolley! You are my hero.
Dad, I admire your personality and take it as the biggest compliment when mom says I am just like you. I don’t think I am as cool though. I wish! You are the life of the party dad. Everyone loves you and you can get along with anyone. You are so funny, smart, and witty, and you have the best sense of humor out of anyone I know. Even if mom and I sometimes don’t understand your jokes [it’s not you….it’s us!] You are also so caring, warm, and loving. I know how important family is to you and that we speak almost every day. I love you.
Mom, I feel mooshy gooshy when I write about you. You are my angel. The most loving, selfless, and caring person that I know. When I feel pain, you feel double. When I celebrate success, you rejoice. You are that warm and fuzzy blanket we all crave on a cold night. You just make me feel better when I need that TLC.
You are incredibly authentic and sincere and that is shown through the amazing friendships you have formed. You are a quality over quantity kind of person, so the things and people that you have in your life really matter and it’s mutual as they really love and care for you. I think I am very similar to you.
We both are deep thinkers and love the “realness” in life. I thank you for those qualities, because it has allowed me to form all of these beautiful relationships mentioned in this piece.
You are the most amazing cook I know, and you are the best cuddler. Thank you for all of those nights coming into my room to snuggle when I couldn’t sleep. Also, thank you for all of those kick butt workout classes you have given me even if I couldn’t get on rhythm.
If and when you cry, I shrivel up inside. I care that much about you that any pain inflicted upon you, I honestly feel as well. I think that is because of how strong of a relationship we have [I have an equally as strong relationship with you too dad!] and how connected we are. Thank you for being such a wonderful mom and showing me how to be selfless and truly love someone with all of your heart.
Kohns, you guys are a second family to me! Lauri you are my aunt mommy and I am forever grateful of our close relationship and Eddie I love you dearly and am also so grateful for our close bond. Casey I miss you dearly and love you so much. I look forward to reuniting and taking off where we left. Abby, where to start? You are my sister. My best friend. We are so incredibly close, and I appreciate you every single day. We can be goofy together, serious together, fighting one moment, and then hugging and laughing the next second. We grew up together, traveled together, spoke made up languages together, visited one another, partied together, and so much more. I am so proud of you and everything that you have accomplished. You have grown up to be an absolutely beautiful woman and you impress me each day with your intelligence and sincerity. You are my forever and always.
Cohens, what a fam! Esther I look up to you! You are my role model, and I think you are one of the coolest ladies around. Love you Pougs and your funny sense of humor, and sending my love to my sweet Noa and Ethan.
Danny, a wonderful and genuine uncle! Always so positive and uplifting.
Waltons, thank you for taking me in and treating me like a daughter when I first moved to Chicago. You all are so supportive, loving, and caring, and I am so happy I can see more of you now. That goes the same for the Millers!
Rubins, so kind-hearted and endearing. Love spending time with you all and seeing Marty and Josh all grown up. Crazy! So proud of you boys and your hockey.
Grandparents, I have the best grandparents in the world!!!! Thank you guys for your endless love, affection, and care. I love you guys so much, and I feel so grateful for your constant generosity and kindness. I know social media is not quite your specialty, but I promise I will help you soon!
There are so so many more people I would love to include as this is just the beginning. Thank you for making my 25 years so special. I love you!