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Me Too

21 Feb

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A few months ago I sold my gold bookshelves on Craigslist.

The way it all worked out, I was home alone the night my buyer could pick them up. I did the things I know how to do instinctively.

I gave several people information about where I was, who I was meeting, and when to worry.

I turned on all the lights in my apartment.

I pulled out my mace and had it in my hands when I opened the door.

I was greeted by a woman, about my age, holding the exact same pink breast cancer foundation mace I have.

We looked at each other and our ready mace and laughed.

“Mace!”

“You have mace!”

“I have mace!”

Our relief was so palpable we hugged.

By the end of the transaction I’d helped this new sister strap the bookshelves on her car. Learned about her relationship with her grandma. Laughed again.

We were friends. We were safe.

I’ve thought about that moment a few times since. How I prepared myself for the worst-case scenario. How another woman felt the same way. How we live our lives prepared for the worst when it comes to our safety as women.

I haven’t written about the Me Too movement. I don’t write about a lot of political things here and then I wonder if I’m doing it all wrong.

A podcast I listened to shortly after the election quoted something along the lines of, thank goodness Anne Frank didn’t write about trees.

And while I know I am not even remotely at all ever in any way in the same situation as Anne Frank, I’ve wondered about what I write. Am I avoiding the important stuff? Am I only writing about trees?

And feel-good television?

And spring cleaning?

I think about this mainly when I imagine my future children. Young girls asking me about this particular moment in history.

What was it like when women started to speak their truths? How did it feel?

How does it feel to be a woman in this political climate in general?

The important questions.

And so.

I guess I’m here to begin in some small way.

To say Me Too.

Me Too in countless ways for countless reasons big and small.

Me Too like every woman I have ever met.

Me, me, me, Me Too.

Yay for me

25 Jan

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Inspired by a segment on this great podcast

Yay for me!  I cleaned out my medicine cabinet. That sort of crazy clean where you toss out everything that’s expired and realize, wow, medicine expires a lot quicker than I toss it out.

Yay for me! I wore my mouth guard last night.

Yay for me! I made a hearty Italian soup on Sunday to prep for the week which brought up bigger questions like am I only prepping to live and never really living? And yet I perservered through the existential crisis and prepped to live and live I shall, with hearty soup, every lunch this week.

Yay for me! I’m finally reading a book a friend gave me years ago and it’s really nice to slow down and enjoy what I already have.

Yay for me! I got rid of that blue hoodie I kind of hated.

Yay for me

One Project At A Time

19 Dec

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Today in TJ Maxx in between trying on Hawaiian print heels and convincing myself I don’t need a neon rainbow light, I maintained a conversation with a friend. I told her how I’ve become very crafty lately. I’m making pom poms and illustrating my words and putting photo albums together.

I mentioned the next projects I have in mind.

I’m about to become a BeJeweler!

Flower patches will adorn my jeans!

“I’ve told myself I will complete one project a month,” I said just as she spoke,

“Just remember, one project at a time.”

It was a subtle difference but it struck me hard.

I give myself Goals! and Deadlines! even for things that are supposed to be fun. Things like being creative.

It never occurs to me to let things happen naturally. To work on one project until it is complete and then move to the next. To breathe without deadlines. To do it as my life, as my pace allows.

There must be a structure! A plan!

Having fun was never so much fun!

We continued our conversation and our walk through TJ Maxx. I also dodged a 7 lipstick multipack purchase (but so cheap!) and white go-go boots (but so needed!). I did buy a pair of sunglasses because that is how I invest in myself and my future for the low, low price of $8.

The whole time, though, I kept thinking about my goals and my plans for next year. How I manage somehow to regulate every aspect of my life, every bit of pleasure and spontaneity. Every last inch of my creativity.

How I can ease up a little.

How I can go along with the natural pace of my life.

And so, in case you need these words today too:

Just remember, one project at a time

My Word For 2017

16 Dec

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On our wedding night, lightning struck our inn.

As we jumped over puddles in our formalwear, the inn’s manager told us just how intense the rain had been. He was sitting on a chair wearing galoshes and a waterproof coat. He recounted how the power had gone. How lightning had struck. Not just nearby. Not in the area.

Lightning struck our inn.

The next day as we looked in the newspaper and read the articles about it we laughed.

What did it mean?

If rain on your wedding day was good luck, what were flash floods and lightning bolts?

Well, we’re either the greatest relationship of all time or we’re going up in flames.

This year I got married. It makes sense that the word for the year was committed. I got engaged. I pledged to love someone in sickness and in health. We karaoked in front of our loved ones in torrential downpour. I put on birthstone wedding rings. There’s no going back now.

And yet, I committed to more than just Rob this year.

I committed to my work in libraries. In taking a job that I love, one where I can grow as a librarian and as a person. One I’m committed to.

This is no in-between phase, this is it, baby.

I bought the first couch of my life. A yellow thing that’s surprisingly easy to lift and surprisingly comfortable to sit on for being in the clearance warehouse at Living Spaces, La Mirada.

I committed to a kitchen table. That round one everyone has from Ikea?

To a new therapist. A new city. A new health insurance plan through an employer.

Because I have a single job right now! A job I love!

(Did I mention?)

(Did you know last year at this time I was working four different part-time jobs?)

Mainly I committed to a life.

I didn’t think it would take so long and then on the other hand I think, wow, OK I’m here. Am I here already?

I’m reaping the benefits from the long hard in-between phase. From the jobs I hated and the bad relationships I loved and the places I didn’t want to live and the versions of myself I didn’t want to keep.

I fought for this life. Therapy session by therapy session. I cried and I struggled and I sacrificed and I gained a bunch of weight because, listen, I don’t always cope in super healthy ways like meditation, and here I am.

In a life I’m committed to. A life I love.

I’m all in, baby.

Bring on the lightning.

 

PS: What was your word this year?

My words in 201620152014, 2013, and 2012.

We’re Getting A Cat And Other Updates

12 Nov

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Oh well.

Hi there.

Clears throat

Sorry, I’m just feeling a little self-conscious.

It’s been a while since I’ve stretched my blogging fingers. I’ve almost forgotten why I did it.

Do it?

I keep thinking that maybe I’ll have some great idea that I’ll need to write about and that will snap me back into it like a sugar snap pea!

And yet.

I’m sitting here on a Friday night at 7:33 PM. My laptop is at 10 percent so I’m writing at a weird angle so I can charge this baby.

Rob is watching the Celtics and cooking pasta in the other room and I’m reading three books at once. One is too emotionally draining and has to do with, oh I can’t even speak of it. Another is scary and so I keep taking breaks for the emotionally draining one. And one is due at the library. That one is the most neglected.

Is that me sticking it to the man? Neglecting the library book I actually should read?

Not playing by the RULES.

I turned 30. Remember that?

I actually spent the month before I turned 30 writing poetry about all I had learned in 30 years of life.

Excuse me while I find some of it.

OK I’m back.

You ready for this?

 

Buy the great big underwear

granny panties

waistless

size up

buy the great big underwear and start living the great big life

 

Hey that one was pretty good!

What about this:

 

Wash your face before you get tired

Wash your face before you get tired

Wash your face bef

 

And finally:

 

A poem about bangs

Don’t do it

 

DON’T TELL SYLVIA HER REPUTATION IS BEING THREATENED.

 

OK, ok, what else?

 

I’ve been really happy lately.

Let me rephrase that.

I’ve been content lately.

It’s different than happiness, or at least how I see it. Happiness is an inherently temporary condition, one I’ve been chasing for most of my life, refusing to recognize it as an impossible standard. Contentment, on the other hand, is more a feeling of enjoying the right now. It’s not flashy or even that exciting. But oh my Oprah, what a relief!

What a rare treat.

Let’s see.

Let’s see.

We’re going to get a cat.

That’s happening after Christmas.

A cat was part of the great, ongoing pre-marriage discussion of What We Want in Life and Can We Give it To Each Other.

Rob is just about the biggest animal person the world has ever produced and I have had a lot of bad experiences with animals and so a cat.

A cat is where we landed.

Listen, I’ve had a lot of bad experiences with men and I still got married so I do have some level of faith and belief and hope.

I have faith and I believe and I hope that I will learn to love a cat.

And now here we are.

I recently bought a fluffy cat makeup bag at Forever 21 that looks like what I imagine our fluffy cat (non makeup bag) will one day look like.

I then converted said bag into a purse because nothing can be easy, and then. And then! I realized I’ve become the mother who buys matching clothing for her and her kids without even being pregnant. I’m that cat mother! Heaven help us all.

Other things.

Otter things.

Do Unto Otters, have you read that children’s book?

Political turmoil. Women getting angry and making a difference.

Hey! We’re here, we’ve always been humans and we are powerful and we are FED UP HEAR US ROAR.

It’s a hard time. I want to record it. And I also want to live. I want to feel content and not always hurt and riled up and angry and confused.

I want to live.

I’m going to Hamilton this Tuesday.

That seems as good a place as any to end this thing.

I’m going to Hamilton this Tuesday and life is good and I want to live it.

I’m living it.

Life As Advertised

10 Oct

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This morning we walked to the library and then the farmers market. I was getting hungry so I told Rob to go on without me.

Save yourself!

Soon, I was in a movie theater getting their large popcorn/large drink combo. Rob discovered me, some time later, on a bench, smiling boldly. “Someone’s happy,” he said, before asking if he still needed to bring popcorn back from his showing of Blade Runner later in the day.

“No, but I still want pancakes.”

“Well, I knew that one.”

We got back home and made brunch together. I’m in charge of any and all baking tasks. This time: banana pancakes. He’s in charge of eggs and bacon and choosing out the good basil.

He put on Madonna Borderline because we had just watched Will and Grace and Borderline was a whole plotline.

I attempted to dance like Jack and settled for Will.

The pancakes were delicious. (Add pecans and chocolate chips. Top with fresh bananas.)

After, as we cleared the dishes, I read Helter Skelter out loud, our October book of choice.

We discovered that the person currently residing on the property where the Manson murders took place is none other than the creator of FULL HOUSE.

You didn’t see that coming, did you?

It was a beautiful morning, the sort where is life as advertised.

I don’t want my money back, thank you.

I’m perfectly satisfied.

And All Is Well

9 Oct

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Yesterday I took a bath for the first time in ages. I have a bathtub! It’s really small! I have a really small bathtub I used while listening to Joni and burning a churro candle!

Yesterday I took a bath for the first time in ages after going on a very long walk.

What a relief that was. To find a safe place I can walk at night. To lace up my shoes and burn through some podcasts. To start the mindfulness it takes to walk in circles without checking my phone, without texting or tweeting. Just being. Just walking. Just being grateful I’m walking.

Yesterday I took a bath for the first time in ages after going on a long walk and scheduling my next therapy appointment.

I have a therapist here now. That’s exciting.

It took some time, as these tasks do. A failed appointment or two. Online research. Health insurance hubaloo trubaloo.

But I have a therapist and I have a walking route and I have a bathtub

And all is well.

Life Is Just A Day At A Time

18 Sep

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Our first morning back in LA we woke up early, still on Bermuda time.

There was some reading, some watching of Bachelor in Paradise (for me).

Eventually we made it to our local bagel place for hash browns and bacon and eggs. Strawberry cream cheese and more Tapatio please.

Next was the library where we picked up our waiting books and then some. We stumbled on to a farmer’s market! On accident! We were not prepared!

Lemon basil, cherry tomatoes, squash, garlic.

Hands too full on the walk home.

There was more Bachelor in Paradise. A nap. Four dozen bran muffins to freeze.

A friend worried about getting engaged once asked me about commitment, knowing that I pore over decisions, that none come easily to me. She wanted to know how I felt being engaged.

Life is just a day at a time now as it was before, I said.

I’ve been obsessive about getting our apartment together.

I’ll be walking down the street listing off the things that need to get done. A mirror in the hallway, maybe? Four frames on that wall. No five!

It’s a weird turn of events, wanting my apartment to look perfect.

For over a decade, since leaving for college, I’ve lived in a variety of apartments, some that didn’t reflect me in any way. I never cared until now.

I think it goes back to an idea I have about the person I’m supposed to be in my future. In my future I keep my (quaint) (completely unique) (beach bungalow) home spotless. That quaint, completely unique beach bungalow I keep spotless (easily, flawlessly, while doing other things)? That home reflects me in every way. That home is beautiful, fun to be in, full of light and color and vintage lamps!

I am in my future now.

There’s no denying it. I’m turning 30 next month. I have real health insurance. I’ve made legal commitments to another human. I’m on the career path I’d like to keep climbing.

I’ve always been in my future, but it’s hitting me particularly hard right now.

And so I obsess.

The ironic thing about all of this, of course, is that the person I’m supposed to be in my future doesn’t obsess over unimportant things.

I keep trying to write. To get back into the game.

It’s so hard.

I don’t write about writing all that much, but I talk about it with friends all that much.

How writing is like running. How you have to keep lacing up those Asics and getting out the door even when you end up shuffling down the street with sweat pouring down your face, sure you’ll never improve.

You have to keep writing those sentences even when they’re stilted and blehing and why am I doing this.

You keep lacing up those sneakers.

You keep typing those awkward words.

 

Life is just a day at a time, now as it was before.

Leave Good Reviews

9 Jun

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Rob and I took our engagement pictures in a dive bar after eating mac and cheese, buffalo wings, a burger and garlic fries. I list it all out there because it’s one of the reasons I love Rob the most. We go to a restaurant and implicitly agree, yes, all of it.

Yes, all of it, is a good approach to life, I say. Or at least it’s the approach I’ve attempted.

It works sometimes, I say.

In order to reproduce our photobooth strip, I tried out the local copy shop. The man at the counter looked at me like I was insane and then told me he could “make a copy on paper.”

No, good sir. I want these to be photos?

He had no suggestions for how I should proceed and told me I probably shouldn’t.

It was a pretty discouraging conversation, honestly. I left thinking we were dumb for taking $4 engagement photos and also that that man deserved to live in Arizona during the summer!

(Only sort of.)

(Only briefly sort of.)

Next I tried CVS.

Yes, that CVS.

A worker instantly came to my aid. He experimented with different sizes. He printed off a bunch of attempts. “We’ll get there,” he said, over and over.

He gave me a nice discount because of the number of prints we ordered and because we weren’t using a full sheet. An experience that could have been very expensive and disheartening was positive and easy.

I decided to leave a review on Google. The first that this CVS had ever received.

Five stars. “Very helpful and patient with an unusual photo order.”

I’ve never left a Google review before.

I still have inside my soul a scathing takedown of a dentist in Calabasas who felt the need to argue his frightening political beliefs before fixing my tooth, but this man is old  and clearly unhappy and do I really want to end his career?

So no, I’ve never left a Google review.

Anne Lamott says in her brilliant Ted Talk: “Food–try to do a little better. You know what I mean.”

This was greeted with thunderous laughter by the crowd. Because it’s a truth. Because we seem to think we can do more than a little better? I know I do.

I think, oh no problem, this week I’ll revolutionize my food life. My writing life. My everything life.

When the reality is, life is in small steps. We try to do a little better.

We lurch forward, as Anne would say.

Leave good reviews.

That’s my lurch this week.

Leave good reviews because we live in an age where we check Yelp before we leave the house, where new businesses and CVS businesses and all businesses benefit from kind public words.

Leave good reviews because it’s free and it’s simple and because you can brighten someone else’s day and put kind words into the universe, so why shouldn’t you?

Leave good reviews.

You know what I mean.

The Lauren Graham Kitchen Timer Writing Method

25 May

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This is taken directly from Lauren Graham’s book Talking as Fast as I Can. My schedule has changed and I’m BACK, baby. I’m back working on my big writing projects. I need this as a reminder and a guide, always. Perhaps you do too.

The Kitchen Timer Writing Method

The principle of Kitchen Timer is that every writer deserves a definite and doable way of being and feeling successful every day.

To do this, we learn to judge ourselves on behavior rather than content. We set up a goal for ourselves as writers that is easy, measurable, free of anxiety, and above all, fall-proof, because everyone can sit, and an hour will always pass.

HERE’S HOW IT WORKS

1. Buy a kitchen timer, one that goes to 60 minutes. Or use a timer app. Or tell Siri to start a timer for 60 minutes.

2. We decide on Monday how many hours of writing we will do Tuesday. When in doubt or under pressure or self-attack, we choose fewer hours rather than more. A good, strong beginning is one hour a day, but a half hour is also good, or twenty minutes. Some of us make appointments in our calendar for these hours, as if they are lunch meetings or business calls.

3. The Kitchen Timer hour:

No phones. No texts. We silence ringers; we turn our phones facedown. It is our life; we are entitled to one hour without interruption, particularly from loved ones. We ask for their support. “I was on an hour” is something they learn to understand. But they won’t respect it unless we do first.

No music with words, unless it’s a language we don’t understand. Headphones with a white noise app can be helpful.

No internet, absolutely. We turn off our computer’s Wi-Fi.

No reading.

No pencil sharpening, desk tidying, organizing.

4. Immediately upon beginning the hour, we open two documents: our journal, and the project we are working on. If we don’t have a project we’re actively working on, we just open our journal.

5. An hour consists of TIME SPENT KEEPING OUR WRITING APPOINTMENT. That’s it. We don’t have to write at all, if we are happy to stare at the screen or the page. Nor do we have to write a single word on our current project; we may spend the entire hour writing in our journal. Anything we write in our journal is fine; ideas for future projects, complaints about loved ones, what we ate for dinner, even “i hate writing” typed four hundred times.

When we wish or if we wish, we pop over to the current project document and write for as long as we like. When we get tired or want a break, we pop back to the journal.

The point is, when disgust or fatigue with the current project arises, we don’t take a break by getting up from our desk. We take a break by returning to the comforting arms of our journal, until that in turn bores us. Then we are ready to write on our project again, and so on. We use our boredom in this way.

IT IS ALWAYS OKAY TO WRITE EXCLUSIVELY IN OUR JOURNAL. In practice it may rarely happen that we spend the full hour in our journal, but it’s fine, good, and right if it does. It is just as good a writing day as one spent entirely on our current project.

6. It is infinitely better to write fewer hours every day than many hours one day and none the next. If we have a crowded weekend, we choose a half or quarter hour as our time, put in that time, and go on with our day. We are always trying to minimize our resistance, and beginning an hour on Monday after two days off is a challenge.

7. When the hour is up, we stop, even if we’re in the middle of a sentence. If we have scheduled another hour, we give ourselves a break before beginning again–to read, eat, go on errands. We are not trying to create a cocoon we must stay in between hours (the old “i’sorry, I can’t see anyone or leave my hours–I’m on a deadline method). Rather, inside the hour is the inviolate time.

8. If we fail to make our hours for the day, we have scheduled too many. Four hours a day is an enormous amount of time spent in this manner, for example. If on Wednesday we planned to write two hours and didn’t make it, we schedule a shorter appointment for the next day. We don’t add an our to “make up” or “catch up.” we let the past go and move on.

9. When we have fulfilled our commitment, we make sure we credit ourselves for doings. We have satisfied our obligation to ourselves, and the rest of the day is ours to do with as we wish.

10. A word about content: This may seem to be all about form, but the knowledge that we have satisfied our commitment to ourselves, the freedom from anxiety and resistance, the stilling of that hectoring voice inside us that used to yell at us that we weren’t writing enough–all this opens us up creatively.