No… You’re not. You’re not ready. Stop. I see your face. You’re not ready. I’m not messing around.
Are. You. Ready?
Oh. Okay. Fine. You want my credentials:
Years 0 through 21: Unrequited Love
Years 21 to 31: White picket fence
Year 31.5: Divorce
Year 32: Rebound from Hell
Year 32.5: Rebound from Hell: Fully Reloaded
Year 33: 10 Dates in 10 Weeks
Year 33.5: (Elective?) Celibacy
Year 34: Well…but he’s so nice…
Year 35: (Elective?) Celibacy Reboot
Year 36: TBD
Where were we?
Do you think it’s looks? Do you think it’s money? Do you think it’s who you know?
I’m not the funniest, smartest, richest, or most beautiful person you’ll ever meet.
I’m not being modest. I’m being honest. If they paid me for cellulite and drunken snafus I wouldn’t even have to be writing this right now.
But look at Year 33.
See that? Ten dates in ten weeks. That’s not an exaggeration. That’s a thing I did. Me. A textbook introvert who would rather Tweet-watch a show with a group of strangers than have an actual conversation. I think MeetUp is a place where people go to avoid their families on not-real-holidays like Memorial Day. (Or at least that’s what I tell myself as I eat tortillas in front of the refrigerator wearing pajama pants held together by a safety pin that I may or may not have inherited from Laura Ingalls Wilder.)
And out of those ten dates? Eight of them asked for a second one.
During this phase of, er, prolific dating, my hair changed. My weight changed. I think my job even changed. None of that mattered. No one cares. People only care HOW YOU MAKE THEM FEEL.
Except a few.
A few people who really love you.
And why am I telling you all of this?
Because no one asked me for a third date those few people who really love you need to include YOU. I grew up feeling rejected (see: years 0-21), and now, I suppose, to prove a point, I can (kinda) get anyone to (sorta) like me anytime I want. And so can you.
I admit it, Chipmunks. I’m slipping. Between working full-time, embarking on a 130+ hour practicum project, writing a Masters thesis, and designing a new website (…stay tuned!), I’m starting to crack. I’m even getting other people to write posts for me.
On the upside, this post totally wrote itself.
1. You find yourself posting things like this to Facebook:
2. You Could Give the 3 Stooges a Run for Their Money
I have spilled not one, not two, not three, but FOUR dinners in the past few weeks. First, there were the freshly grilled veggie burgers that flew out of the container and down the stairs, making friends with all of my stinky workout shoes. Then there was the bag holding popcorn kernels that gave up on life just as I was about to dump its contents into a pot. And let’s not forget the tray of vegetables that took a detour from the grill to the house via the grass on Mother’s Day.
The crowning jewel was a tray of general Tso’s tofu, smothered in bright, red sauce, gleefully leaping from the confines of my plate and landing all over my gray living room carpet. I’m still finding sticky sauce in fun places, like underneath the dog’s bowls.
I would have recreated some of these moments for the photo op, but I promised Uncle Jesse I’d stop scaring him.
3. You Can’t Even Select the Right Address On Amazon
I’ve now sent a grand total of three packages to my parents’ house this month. Luckily nothing too embarrassing. Like ‘stache bleach.
Now that I think about it, I’ve also gone to the grocery store and walked away with everything but the one thing I really needed, lost or misplaced an umbrella, a phone charger, a water bottle top, a child, and even ordered a Redbox movie and tried to pick it up at the wrong location.
Oh, and I asked the woman at DSW Shoe Warehouse last weekend why my gift cards weren’t working.
4. You Mistake Someone for a Different Person…and They Look Nothing Alike
The other day my sister texted and said, “Come meet Joe and I at the pizza place!”
“Give me a few,” I replied. “I need to put on pants and stop crying over my nonexistent love life a really sh*tty Netflix movie.”
I greeted my sister and Joe fifteen minutes later, and after we chatted for a while, Joe said, “Oh, what’s your thesis about?”
I tried to cover up my confused expression. Hadn’t we just discussed this a few weeks ago over drinks in my sister’s yard when we first met? Was my project that boring? I bit my tongue and simply explained it again.
It wasn’t until the next day that my sister cleared up the confusion.
“Um… we had drinks with Chris in the yard. Wait. Wait. You thought Joe was Chris? They don’t even look alike!” she sputtered, breaking into hysterics.
“It was dark!” I tried to defend myself.
While she got her ab workout for the week, I realized, “Huh. That explains why only one of them had an accent.”
And the number one sign you’re losing it…
5. Halfway through writing this post, you realize you wrote a post with the same title six years ago.
I hope you’ll share some of your own ‘losing it’ stories so I don’t feel so alone.
Have you ever stumbled upon a Facebook post and thought, “I’m going to need a lot more information”?
This is precisely what happened to me (again) two weeks ago when I read an alarming update from my friend, Robin. Rather than fill you in on the details, I thought I’d let the wonderful woman herself handle the job!
Let’s all give a warm welcome to Robin (and her four-year-old son, who plays a…surprising…role in this tale)!
How does a day that started off normal end with a trip to the doctors, tweezers, and California Raisins?
Let’s start from the beginning…
Baby carrier in tow, I walk into my four year old’s classroom. He is peeing in the toilet, door wide open, a content look on his face – you do you, buddy! By the time I grab his bag, he has finished his business and I notice something on his ear.
In typical mom fashion, I lick my thumb and go to wipe his ear.
“Ow!” he winces.
Well, this can’t be good…
I lean in and take a closer look.
There is something IN HIS EAR.
Instant panic. Is it a bug? Is it poop (he was just in the bathroom)? Is it some other foreign object with which I am less familiar? I grab his hand and leave.
Sitting in the car I’m thinking, “What the actual f*ck is in your ear?” and I am not getting any straight answers. He is clearly exercising his right to plead the fifth. I call the pediatrician, who closes at 4:00, and hope they answer. They answer! I tear out of the parking lot, grilling this poor kid the whole way.
It took the entire drive to the office to get the full story. Apparently a little girl (who will not be named) was eating…wait for it….RAISINS at lunch and decided to put some in his ear. While listening I am wondering, Were you a willing participant in all this? Did she assault you? Should I tell the school? What the f*ck does a parent do in this situation? Also, note to this young lady with the raisins: not the way to make friends!
Once inside the office the panic begins to subside. Luckily we have an amazing pediatrician who was willing to see us right away and calmly removed said RAISIN from William’s ear…all while providing a teachable moment in a stern doctor voice.
The whole drive home, after the raisin extraction, I was thinking to myself what is the name of that cartoon…with the raisins who play instruments…they are in a band?…
Robin, I believe you’re referring to the Emmy Award-winning band, The California Raisins, who catapulted to popularity in the mid-1980s.
Now that things have settled down, I think you and your son can both enjoy (and hear) a trip down memory lane…
Any other surprising social media post-spottings out there?
A few weeks ago at work, I overheard someone say, “A.S.M.R.” Normally when I overhear things at work, I stare at my computer screen for a minute, open my Google doc titled, “New Ways to Avoid People,” and start furiously typing.
This time I hesitated for only a moment before popping up and walking two cubicles down.
“I’m so sorry I totally meant to didn’t mean to eavesdrop, but I heard you say ASMR and I just had to come over. I’m Jules, by the way because despite the fact that I’ve sat two desks away from you for a year I’ve been really busy with this whole Google doc thing. I’ve been listening to ASMR for ages and everything you’re hearing about it is TOTALLY true!”
Many years ago, a fellow blogger clued me into this newfangled phenomenon called Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response, or, ASMR. “Just watch this and keep an open mind,” she said. “I swear it’s not dirty.”
As I watched this pretty, whispering blonde woman, grateful I was in the privacy of my own home, I suddenly felt tingles on the sides of my scalp. It was so pleasant, in such a benign and innocent way, that I laughed out loud. It was similar to the feeling I used to get when my sister or a friend would brush and braid my hair. I’m pretty sure it’s exactly how a dog feels when you scratch behind his or her ears in that juuuust right spot.
I began a nightly ritual of falling asleep to these videos, my ex chiding me as I’d put on headphones. “Gonna listen to your whispers?” he’d tease. He was the only one who knew about this little routine, because, well, it was a little…weird.
As my work conversation proves, ASMR has exploded over the past six years. Some people theorize that the sound of a nurturing woman’s voice brings us back to early childhood. Many people, like me, use it as a sleep aid.
I know what we should do! We should get a tent, go to that place in upstate New York with the naked dancing, and just CUT. LOOSE.
I have this group of really great girlfriends who love to get together and enjoy a glass or ten of wine. Eventually, one friend or another says some variation of the above.
The alpha female of the group (*cough* my sister) then pulls out her phone and starts pointing around the table, “WHEN ARE YOU FREE. WHEN ARE YOU FREE. WHEN ARE YOU FREE. OKAY….DONE.”
In these moments, I turn into a spastic owl puppet, my head spinning a full 360-degrees. I’m suddenly the only person who can see in the dark, wondering when the light will shine again.
As my little bird noggin spins like a top, everyone around me screams, “OH MY GODDDDD. BARRY CAN WATCH THE DOG AND I’LL TELL MY BOSS TO GO SCRATCH AND I’LL GET THAT SALSA FROM WHOLE FOODS AND YAAAAAAASSSSSS OH MY GOD YAASSSSSSSS!!!!!”
My heart starts racing. Once again, I’m becoming:
Chief Long Memory.
Chief Long Memory, ironically, is the member of the tribe with the least amount of responsibility — no kids, no mortgage, no sick ferret. In these moments, she sighs heavily, straightens her understated though decidedly fabulous headdress and gently reminds everyone what happened last time we thought signing up for horseback riding lessons in Tijuana on Cinqo de Mayo was a flawless endeavor.
“Um, hey, guys, yeah, it’s me. I was just thinking, I don’t know, remember that time we all spent 48 hours scraping neon pink vomit off our bangs –bangs which we did not have when this adventure began– and we couldn’t find Claire for, like, six weeks? I mean I don’t want to compare this latest discussion to the decision to film SHARKNADO 6, but, you ladies aren’t giving me a lot to work with here.”
Take, for example, road cycling. For the past year, I’ve been trying to, er, broaden the group’s collective appreciation of what it means to ride very uncomfortable bikes very long distances in very inhospitable weather.
I figured my case rested on facts included in this post and this post. (The CliffsNotes version: a 60-mile race in frigid rain with two flat tires and one fall, and a 30-mile epic Arizona mountain climb in oppressive heat with no water.)
What I didn’t realize: the untapped potential in pointing out the hazards of simply dressing for these hellish excursions.
Janeen is the member of our tribe who’s usually gleefully responding, “ALL THE TIMES!!!” to my sister’s, “WHEN ARE YOU FREE.” Where others go right, Janeen goes left. Where others say “Hell no,” Janeen says, “I’ll bring bean dip.” Despite what you’ve heard me say so far, I wouldn’t have it any other way. Janeen makes my project manager heart go thud. Janeen makes things happen in a way I haven’t seen since Britney and Justin at the 2001 American Music Awards.
Lest you think Janeen’s an irresponsible wild child, she has every single one of her sh*ts together, working one of those smarty-pants jobs my bird brain can’t even understand, raising three children, and running a household in a lighthearted yet no nonsense way that would make Mary Poppins proud.
I mean, she even turns watermelons into sharks, paints like Bob Ross, and curls her hair before meeting us for lunch, for crying out loud.
This is precisely why I should have known that Janeen would serve as my ultimate ally in the Chief Long Memory campaign.
“Oh my god you’ll never guess what happened to me this morning,” she said the other day, tossing her purse down wearily and taking a seat at the dining room table. The tribe stared at her, sipping our wine. She looked…frazzled.
Janeen never looks frazzled.
“I was in the car, all ready for the bike ride,” she began, “but then I realized I had to get Kid #3 something to eat. Mom guilt blah blah. I went back inside…to TOTAL BATSH*T CHAOS.”
She drew a long breath and continued.
“Shoes everywhere. EVERYWHERE! I trip, almost break my neck, get to the kitchen and find an ENTIRE BAG of bagels devoured by the dogs. Then I screamed at Kid #2 about the shoes — it was not my finest hour.”
By now we were all nodding sympathetically and filling her glass to the brim.
“Then I decide to go upstairs to grab my arm warmers,” she says ominously.
“And now I’m late as hell, so I’m trying to hurl myself into them. I can’t get the damn things on, they’re so tight. I’m tugging and tugging and tugging. I finally get one halfway up my arm, and then as I’m giving it one final tug….
“I PUNCHED MYSELF IN THE FACE.
“I CHIPPED MY OWN TOOTH. I chipped. My own. Tooth!”
I managed to stop laughing long enough to ask, “Did you still ride?!”
Janeen answered with this photo:
On second thought, I may still have my work cut out for me in convincing this group to stay inside and do jigsaw puzzles with me.
What kinds of trouble are your friends stirring up?
“So the ultimate goal, really,” the instructor said, brushing back a curly red lock that had broken loose from her bun, “is to start seeing the whole world this way: a universe filled with divinely placed signs and symbols to help guide you.”
I shuffled a large, colorful deck of cards for the tenth time, glancing around the room at the handful of other students. There was the older woman who introduced herself as a teacher’s assistant, a gray-haired man with turquoise beads around his neck, and someone about my age, in her mid-to-late 30’s.
We sat in the brightly colored yoga studio barefooted, having all been instructed to remove our shoes and wash our hands as soon as we had arrived.
“When you first get your cards,” the instructor continued, “you’ll need to cleanse them. For today, you can wave them over one of these candles, but make sure to pause on each one.”
She then explained how to develop our own interpretations of the “oracle cards” in our hands – oversized decks depicting vivid images and words.
“They come in all kinds of themed decks,” she went on, adjusting her blue-framed glasses, “and you can mix them however you’re called to.”
We spent the next two hours learning about the importance of color, challenging our initial associations between words and images, and tapping into our “inner knowing.”
Fast forward a week later, and I found myself registering for this:
Yup. That’s right. Part two. I went back for more.
Before the end of the second class, I was accurately predicting which cards I’d turn over – from a deck I’d never seen before!
So what was I doing there? Did someone drug me? Threaten to steal my dog? Promise free tickets to see Darren Criss and Lea Michele?
Last summer, I started tugging on a thread that quickly unraveled, revealing a treasure trove of paths to explore. By “following my allurements,” as a favorite teacher of mine likes to say, my love of learning and reading returned with a bang, hidden in a pile of metaphysical books and podcasts.
Astrology? Reiki? Past lives? Numerology? Near death experiences? Crystals? Sound healing? Chakra balancing? Spirit animals? Astral projection? Telepathy?
BRING IT ON.
The more I’ve explored, the more I want to know. The humorist in me loves that this is all just another way of following the classic improv mantra, “Yes, and.” The humane educator in me loves that this is just another way to acknowledge we’re all connected. The chipmunk in me loves that this is just another way to guarantee I’ll find some nuts. The project manager in me loves that this isn’t woo-woo at all; as Carl Sagan put it, “science is not only compatible with spirituality; it is a profound source of spirituality.”
I’m finally finding words to articulate the strange things I’ve always experienced. And, the funny thing is, the more I’ve started opening up about this, the more I’ve found like-minded chipmunks everywhere. I mean seriously. Ya’ll were holding out.
Anyhoo. I’ll make sure to send postcards from down the rabbit hole.
Because…well, we’ll get to that. First let me explain what it is.
Basically, The Artist’s Way is a 12-week program whose goal is to unleash your creative kraken.
Each week, you read one of twelve chapters and follow the assignments and prompts, all the while committing to regular daily and weekly exercises. So when I say I’ve “read” it thrice, I mean I’ve DONE it thrice. (…That’s what she said.)
See that? Yeah, that was the result of one of the trademark assignments in The Artist’s Way, from one of my weekly “artist’s dates.” On these artist’s dates, you must go do something that delights you, and you cannot -I repeat, cannot- bring anyone with you.
That particular week, back in 2000, I thought taking photos of “typical New York City life” in black and white was absolutely essential. I was 18 years old, boldly hopping the train from suburban New Jersey and traveling one whole hour into Manhattan. I wore all black, feeling above on top of the whole world…until someone my age commented, “Where ya going? A funeral?”
I brushed it off (except for the part where I vividly remember that comment nearly two decades later), got the film developed, framed that shit, and thought, Here we go, I. Am. An. Artist.
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During my most recent attempt with The Artist’s Way, in my late 20s, I found out the book had become a trilogy.
Yeah. So. Thirty-six weeks of waking up at 5:30am every day to squeeze in 30 minutes of stream-of-consciousness journaling before driving an hour to my day job so I could still beat traffic.
Each and every time I read did The Artist’s Way, I found some of that magical “flow.” I experienced the synchronicity that Julia Cameron, the author, loves to talk about.
But I kept sweeping away what seemed like, on some level, a pesky mouse trying to cross the threshold into my just-fine-thank-you-very-much home. (And sorry to anyone with brooms, and to mice everywhere; I honor and respect you and don’t know what I’m allowed to use as metaphors anymore. But since I’m a) a woman, b) a person who has swept things, and c) vegan, I’m going to go ahead and assume I get a pass on that last one.)
Obviously, the book wasn’t the problem.
I’m 36 now. So that’s eighteen years and three attempts with The Artist’s Way, collectively adding up to, what? A little over a year of prioritizing my creativity? And I wonder why things stagnate?
Don’t listen to your [relative/friend/colleague/inner critic/cat], Chipmunks.
Being an artist is hard work.
And it’s every bit as valuable as whatever else is taking up your time.
Even if you still can’t seem to get anyone to buy your black and white photographs…
Have you read The Artist’s Way (or anything similar)? Did it help you?