December 2, 2010
Today’s Radvent prompt is about organization: Focus on one drawer, table, or surface today and spend 15 minutes making it pretty!
1. I am not going to follow this prompt for several reasons. (One, it just doesn’t blow my hair back, two; I spend my entire life keeping the space around me organized and three, this just isn’t the kind of journal where I take pictures of my desk and show them to you. And yes, I just said journal, because when I started writing online people did not write blogs, they kept online journals.) But I will use the idea of organization as a starting point.
2. I grew up extremely poor in a messy house. It wasn’t 8 PM on TLC-level messy, but my parents were both addicts, my mother was agoraphobic and we had pets. So it was messy. Our entire lives were messy. My father was in and out of jail, my sister was doing hard drugs before she could drive and I don’t think I have talked about this before, but I never graduated high school — my mother made me quit just after my sophomore year ended. Somehow the math works out that if you take a poor kid in a messy house and make her quit high school you will produce one tidy high-achiever who publishes actual, no-shit scientific papers while she’s still in college and then, in her mid-twenties, becomes an editor who corrects and compiles things all day every day. And is extremely good at Tetris. I am not one to brag (yes I am) but I am positive I can beat you at Tetris.
3. There is a part of me that thinks that everything that makes me who I am is a rebellious, tunnel-vision reaction to the awful standards, values and habits I grew up with (this same part then immediately thinks thank god I didn’t come from kind, career-focused, intellectually curious parents because who knows! what kind of asshole! I would be then), but the larger and more sensible part of me knows that many good kids come from good parents and then once in a while there is someone who just gets blisteringly lucky — I mean like surface of the sun lucky — and ends up beating the odds. Right now my father is in jail, my sister is a homeless addict and my mother does drugs and works in a slaughterhouse.
4. So those are the kinds of things I am talking about. When I talk about beating the odds.
December 1, 2010
Someone named meg started something called Radvent (RAD + ADVENT) this year and she’s publishing a writing prompt for herself and others each day of December. When I read about it I thought it was the best idea I had ever heard, and I am super-excited to take part. Here is the first prompt:
What were you doing five years ago today? As the holiday season began? Where were you? Who were you with? What did you want? What did you have?
1. I am pretty sure I have talked about this time before, but five years ago in August I moved to Canada and got married and my best friend died. By the beginning of September I was working as a nanny for a pair of three-year old twin boys which was hands down the shittiest job I have ever held. I mean, the kids were fine (except for being… three-year old twin boys), but the family had gobs of money, treated me like shit and routinely made me feel hopeless about myself and the world. They also had this massive kitchen with black granite counter tops which were impossible to keep clean. I am not kidding when I say I spent an hour each day either cleaning them or feeling crappy and disgruntled after they failed a surprise inspection. As the holiday season started I was full-on miserable at work which was made so, so, so much worse by the fact that instead of giving me a week’s pay as a holiday bonus, the mother of the family gave me a picture of the kids posing with the Santa Claus from the local mall. This was a particularly thoughtless gift because I had dragged the boys to the mall in heavy pre-holiday traffic at the mother’s insistence and we had waited almost an hour in line to see Santa and the mall was hot and full of children and my charges were acting like monsters (actually, it would be more correct to say that they were acting the way that I felt, for which I cannot blame them) and as much as the whole stupid thing annoyed me while I was experiencing it, getting a photograph of it instead of a large check annoyed me infinitely more.
2. So I was miserable at work and then my husband and I got an extremely handsome puppy named Walter. Walter was a very good puppy (and, as I mentioned, extremely handsome) except that he pissed on the motherfucking floor basically every day for a solid year. We were living in a very beige and very boring apartment on the seventh floor of a very beige and very boring apartment building and neither one of us could waver in focus for even ten minutes lest our extremely handsome dog partake in some casual, impromptu urinating just for the pleasure of it. Still, our first Christmas as a family was gorgeous. We both had the day off. Our apartment was flooded with dusty, late-afternoon sun. I came across an amazing Brady Bunch Christmas special that takes place when the kids are grown and have moved away from home on our tiny, rabbit-ears TV. We got the dog some festive tennis balls (to urinate on) and my new husband bought me a couch from Ikea, which he stored in the backseat of his sports car, unassembled, for more than a week. It was not a very large couch. I got my new husband socks, slippers, a wallet and a Swiss Army Knife, which all told were hints 17-20 of the marriage so far that I had actually married my father, although of course I didn’t realize that for years to come.
3. What I wanted, then, not for Christmas, but out of life, was to be happy, to feel productive and lucky and content. I desperately wanted to immigrate to Canada and get a real job; a job that used my brain and made me feel valuable, a job that would never, under any circumstances, involve scraping feces out of a brightly-colored pair of Finding Nemo swim trunks.
4. I didn’t get those things then, of course — immigrating took forever and I spent most of my time alternately terrified, apprehensive, miserable and confused — but I feel that way now, in spades, even though I live alone and have been single so long that my left ring finger is no longer marked by a strip of untanned white skin where my wedding ring used to be. I feel that way in spades. I am the very luckiest person I know. I am full of joy. I am finally where I want to be.
September 13, 2010
I made a list of things I would like to do. A lot of people on the internet have made lists like this, although mine is incredibly pedestrian compared to most of theirs. I am okay with that.
1. Become a Canadian citizen
2. Own an opera-length strand of pearls
3. Have a signature perfume
4. Maintain a flowering plant like a rose bush or a peony
5. Publish a short story, essay or article
6. Publish a book
7. Find the perfect pair of jeans
8. Find the perfect (wearable) pair of heels
9. Maintain a well-stocked bar
10. Have curly hair
11. Learn to drive stick (I’m cheating with this one, because I already can. But it was on my mental to-do list for such a long time before I did it so I feel like it counts.)
12. Wear makeup every day for a month
13. Go to Turkey
14. Launch [secret project]
15. Have a weekly column (I have one now, I would like another)
16. Have a regular once a week drinks-after-work group
17. Speak at a conference (I’ve done this, I want to do it again)
18. Give a keynote speech
19. Take voice lessons
20. Buy & wear a bikini that I love
21. Get five new different kinds of dishes (as many as I can of each kind, it doesn’t matter if it’s two or ten)
22. Find a way to eat raw fruits & vegetables without getting sick (right now I get really sick when I eat about 90% of the fruits and vegetables in the world. It makes me sad.)
23. Become the VP of something
24. Volunteer with a hospice organization
25. Launch a proper real-name professional website
September 12, 2010
1. Here is something wonderful: I walk to and from work every day. I live in a big, crowded city and I see, I don’t know, maybe 500 people each time I walk to or from work. Maybe more? (Maybe I should count one day, because I really have no idea.)
2. For a long time—and I sort of mean the first twenty-eight or so years of my life—when I saw people in passing I would immediately rank them: yes, I would like to be that person. No, I would not. Usually it fell about 50/50 yes and no; everything from a cute pair of shoes to a particularly well-composed outfit could make me vote yes. Anyone with spectacular hair was an automatic yes, as was anyone with a lanky, runway-ready figure.
3. Here is the wonderful thing: I realized this summer that I don’t want to be anyone else. I don’t want to be half of the people I see every morning, I don’t even want to be a single one of them. I don’t want to be you, even if you are gorgeous, even if those jeans make your ass look magnificent, even if you are famous and articulate and well-groomed. I am perfectly happy being myself.
4. I am not sure if everyone else is born feeling this way or you all had to come to the realization gradually, like I did, but it is an amazing feeling. I accept myself. Even though my ass looks terrible in these jeans, even though I’m single and portly and I cried all summer, even though I’m divorced! and my best friend is dead and my dog (my dog) suffers from anxiety.
5. I feel two ways about this revelation. One, I am absolutely delighted. Two, I am terrified that I am one Soy Boy brand not-dog away from becoming an insufferable hippie full to brim with love. And for that, I apologize. I have never been a fan of hippies. And neither have you.
September 6, 2010
1. I got mugged about six years ago, when I lived in China, and it was awful. I was beaten up, I was terrified, I was very nearly deported. At the time I lived alone in a big apartment with seven deadbolts on the door and I was so scared of dying or being assaulted again that I barely slept. I was sad and a little loopy most days and then I started to pretend that I was someone that I loved very much who needed to be taken care of. And it was true, of course, I love myself very much. I need to take care of myself. I just wished it had not taken me twenty years to realize that I should care for myself the same way I would care for someone else.
2. This summer felt a lot like that summer. All summer I have cried and cried; my hobbies included sobbing uncontrollably and weeping uselessly. It’s been a long, sad summer, and when I made plans to visit my aunt in the US her friend said, which niece is visiting? The one with the baby or the one who cries all the time? Usually August is the worst month of the year and this year I felt like I had three Augusts in a row. Or maybe twelve. I took care of myself, of course, which mostly meant lots of trips to the park with the dog and ice cream cones in the middle of the day and completely cutting off people who make me feel like shit when I talk to them. It’s September now, which helps, and I’ve just hired someone to repaint the soffit in my apartment, which I am sure will help as well.
(3. My apartment is long and narrow-ish and duct work, covered by a boxy soffit, runs along the ceiling from the front to the back. The previous occupants painted it a pale, Shamrock Shake green, I think because they wanted to see how long it would take me to either repaint it or kill myself.)
4. Since it is September and I am feeling better I am hoping to post more frequently to this page. I am all done crying, Internet! And as it turns out I have so much to say.
April 28, 2010
1. Confession: I don’t have an iron or an ironing board and in the rare event that I need something de-wrinkled I just take it to the dry cleaner.
2. That usually happens before business trips; on my last personal trip I brought three pairs of yoga pants and a sign that said no, seriously, fuck you.
3. Confession: I have been struggling lately, by which I mean, I feel as if everything has been a struggle. Work has been excruciating in a way that I won’t talk about on the internet. I’m unhappy and I keep thinking YOU ONLY GET ONE LIFE and then I punch myself in the face. Mostly because only giant douchebags walk around saying YOU ONLY GET ONE LIFE even if it is actually true.
3. Confession: I have been pretty much obsessed with buying a gigantic diamond ring for myself. I will probably buy a lab-made diamond or maybe something synthetic because I would prefer that this be a ridiculous purchase rather than a genuinely foolish one. But still. I cannot stop thinking about this. Crazy old lady with gigantic diamond ring YOUR TABLE IS READY.
January 10, 2010
1. So I recently bought this tote in grey from Lululemon and it is wonderful.
2. The tote came in a reusable shopping bag, which is a fine and reasonable thing, except that one side of the reusable bag was covered with earnest inspirational sayings (“BREATHE DEEPLY!”), which is also fine and reasonable except that most of the earnest inspirational sayings were 100% bullshit.
3. Ergo, “Do one thing a day that scares you.” Many things scare me, chief among them crossing a busy street with my eyes closed, eating food that I find on the sidewalk, going to bed with my front door unlocked and open, asking my ex-husband if gee wouldn’t he like to marry me all over again. Doing things that scare you is stupid. There is a reason they scare you.
4. On the other hand, I am tempted to do the Lululemon reusable shopping bag one better and simply obtain a full-grown, untrained puma, store him in my bathroom and spend every single day in full-blown terror! I mean, if you’re going to do it YOU SHOULD GO ALL THE WAY, right?
5. One of the other ridiculous bullshit sayings is so profoundly disturbing I don’t even want to write about it and yet. I kind of have to. The saying, in full, is “Children are the orgasm of life. Just like you did not know what an orgasm was before you had one, nature does not let know how great children are until you have them.”
7. I mean.
8. It’s not okay to have “children” and orgasm” in the same sentence unless you are discussing your post-partum sex life with your partner, your best friends or your gynecologist. Other than that it’s pretty much gross and/or creepy.
9. Further, it’s not like children are something that only happen behind closed doors. There are children everywhere and they are often wonderful and joyful and very frequently they wear adorable outfits. It seems obvious to me that kids are great. And it seems obvious to me that orgasms are something completely and totally different.
10. Although — if any of your orgasms have learned to ride a bike, fly a kite, or jump double-dutch, please let me know. I am always happy to stand corrected.
January 7, 2010
1. Last night I put this stuff on my face and it is amazing. It makes my skin feel like the dewy, unblemished skin of a Canadian Teen Pop Star and the first step of the two-step process smells exactly like Mr. Clean Orange Cleaner which is one my absolute favorite smells in the entire world.
2. It is also a total steal at $65 for two 2 oz bottles. Even though saying that kind of makes me want to punch myself in the mouth it is absolutely true. Unless you are already a dewy Canadian Teen Pop Star. Then all bets are off.
3. There is supposed to be a third thing here and I think the third thing is basically me paddling around in a vat of Mr. Clean Orange Cleaner smearing expensive crap on my face.
4. And my apologies.
January 6, 2010
1. So I’m going to Vegas next week and I need a new suitcase.
2. I need a new suitcase because when I left for the airport to take my last trip I discovered that the handle on my super-convenient rolling suitcase would not — well, it wouldn’t do whatever the opposite of retract was. It would not extend.
3. Do you know how useful a super-convenient rolling suitcase is if the handle will not extend? IT’S COMPLETELY USELESS. It took me about an hour to get that stupid, bulky, retracted-handle fucker across the airport.
4. Fortunately, I was pulled aside for an extensive search and screening before I was allowed to board the plane. It was during this time that I discovered that by laying my suitcase flat on its back, unzipping it and rifling around inside, I was then — and only then — able to pull the handle out and use my suitcase like a normal fucking suitcase.
5. I tried to streamline the process a little, of course. I thought that maybe I could just lay it flat on its back and pull the handle out, or maybe that I could just open the zipper and rifle a little, but I learned that I absolutely had to complete all the steps in that order: lay suitcase flat on back, open zipper fully, engage in at least thirty seconds of rifling and then, only then, could I pull the handle out.
6. I completed the process here in Toronto, on a layover in Phoenix and then again when we landed in California. And in front of our hotel after we got out of the cab. It was like traveling with a temperamental cat and I if I had a dime for every time I called that suitcase a stupid motherfucker I would be writing this entry from my own private island.
7. So I’m going to Vegas next weekend. And I need a new suitcase.
January 5, 2010
1. Every Wednesday I publish a pregnancy column where I talk about pregnancy and pregnant ladies and what pregnant ladies are wearing and let me just clarify right now: I am not pregnant right now, nor have I ever been.
2. I really like writing this column, though, I like finding really wonderful maternity pieces and newborn gear and also, I am moderately envious that there is an entire branch of fashion which promotes ladies sticking their tummies out and beaming. I have a tummy! I like to beam! But because my tummy isn’t made of PERSON it’s just not as cute.
3. When I had been writing the column for thirty or so weeks I heard from my older sister for the first time in a long time.
4. She was thirty weeks pregnant.
5. My initial reaction was sadness, because I hadn’t realized we were so far out of touch she could move across the country (she had) and gestate an entire person (she had) without my knowing.
6. That’s not a trend I want to encourage in my life. One of my goals for this year was to be warmer and I think when I say warmer I mean closer and when I say closer I mean kinder, more considerate, more involved.
7. I have said this 100 times already but honestly all I want to do with my adult life is to go back to the person I was when I was eighteen: full of hope, endlessly supportive, open, optimistic, inquisitive, unfailingly kind.