Sunday, May 25, 2014

Why I Love Towel Day

Today, May 25, is Towel Day. For those of you who are not sufficiently dorktastic, Towel Day exists as a celebration of Douglas Adams, author of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.

I love the Guide. 


Anyone who knows me knows that my relationship with my father has been... I'm going to use the word complicated. He wanted boys and found himself in a house filled with women. It happens. He didn't quite know what to do. That happens as well. 


He also -- blessed be -- belonged to a sci-fi/ fantasy book club. I learned to read early (before the age of three), and the things I best loved to read were delivered to our house each month. Dragons and wizards and magic, oh my!

So. There was that. 

When I was twelve or thirteen, my sister and I had the idea of cooking dinner for my parents. I do not remember what was for dinner, to be honest. I remember that I took on dessert, and that I made cream puffs (I mostly remember this because I do. Not. Bake. Why I thought this was a great idea remains a mystery). I also remember that after dinner my dad said, "Let's go for a ride."

This was an infrequent occurance. My sister and I were excited.

I can't remember where we ended up. Danvers? Burlington? Somewhere in Massachussetts. Our culinary efforts were rewarded with a prize of our choosing.

There was a bookstore.

I picked The More Than Complete Hitchhiker's Guide. 


As I type this, my prize sits in my bookshelf. If I ever doubt my relationship with my dad -- and it is complicated -- I pull out my book and hold it in my hands and remember a night when, even though I don't bake, I made cream puffs, and, even though he didn't always know how, he told me he loves me.

Happy Towel Day, y'all.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Curb Appeal

Over the weekend, I spent some time at a friend's house, hanging out with her dog and, um, binge-watching Curb Appeal because hello, John Gidding. 

As I watched, I started wondering about how the homeowners felt if and when they watched their episodes... And I realized that the prospect of being on television would make me second guess wanting to be on a show like that, with or without the enticement of being about to a) have an amazing makeover for my non-existent house and b) hang out with the fabulous Mr Gidding. 

Why is that, you ask?

Because I don't think I look good enough to be seen.

Typing that makes me feel incredibly stupid, but I feel like I need to repeat it: I don't think I'm worthy of being seen.

And that pisses me off. It makes me angry because I do not hide. I don't fail to walk down the street. I don't skulk about in the shadows; more, I don't advocate anyone doing that. Every person on this planet is beautiful, and all forms of beauty should be celebrated. Each and every one.

As such, the realization that I would possibly refuse if offered a chance at something wonderful but that, should I accept it, would mean I had to be visible? Infuriates me and, to be honest, makes me feel a little ashamed of myself. Not because I think I should be ashamed of my appearance -- I'm not -- but because I don't subscribe to a standard of beauty that never has and never will include me and yet would be reluctant to offer myself up as a counterpoint to that standard.

I should confess that, on some level, this whole debate is ridiculous. I don't have a yard. Curb Appeal will never be coming by my apartment, alas.

On another level, though, it forces me to think about whether or not I have refused things in the past because I didn't think I was deserving. How many opportunities did I allow to pass me by based on a ridiculous idea that I had to somehow become worthy before I could take a chance?

How many times have you done this in your life? More importantly, when do you decide not to do it any more?

I'm deciding right now. Some day, I could have a yard. Some day, John Gidding might show up and want to re-design it and build me a deck and drink margaritas on it. 

And if that happens? I will say yes. Yes to opportunities. Yes to being deserving and adventurous and visible. Yes, starting right this minute. 

It's never too late.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Changing Lenses

The older I get, the less time I want to spend focusing on things that suck. I don't think of this as denial, exactly, but regard it as an unwillingness to devote time and energy to the negative things in my life. They're there, and I see them there, but I refuse to dwell on them. It's rather like tuning out during commercials while watching your favorite television show; the ads are still present, and on some level, you recognize them, but they're not why you've got your tv on.

My decision -- and it is an active, conscious one -- to change my focus from what makes me unhappy to what makes me happy came from the realization that I know many people who choose to live in the bitter barn. They're not fun to be around, those people. They find the world, their jobs, their lives wanting. They swim in a pool filled with angry. 

It is true that I sometimes find the world, my job, and my self to be less than perfect. I beat myself up sometimes. I can be depressed and anxious and sad.

But I am not angry. And I will never give in to bitterness.

So while I can choose, when I can choose, I will choose to see and live in joy and beauty. When some people choose to see only the dark, I will search the sky out for shooting stars and lightening bugs and the glow of the moon -- all of which I love, and none of which would be visible without the dark to make them shine.

Because that's what shitty situations are for, I think. To make the things that are amazing stand out. To provide contrast, and to let you make the choice: what will you see? Where will you put your attention?

What will you remember?

This is on my mind now because as this summer approaches, I find myself thinking about last summer. Last summer was ... Difficult. 

Difficult, but beautiful. While I struggled -- and I did struggle -- I also found myself surrounded by friends and family who wanted nothing but the best for me, and who helped me find the best for myself. So if I'm thinking about last summer, what is the lesson? Is the lesson the struggle? Or is the lesson the love?

I think it's both. 

It's both, but the struggle highlights the love and makes it more amazing... and I want to make sure that I'm giving the amazing the attention and effort it deserves. I want to do that with my memories of last summer but also as I go through every day.

Things are sometimes going to suck, but they will also be awesome. That's life. That's how it works. As long as I get to pick which one of those things gets my attention? I'm picking awesome. Awesome deserves my time. 

It deserves yours, too.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Mother's Day

My mother is my best friend and hands-down favorite person on the planet.

Having said that, I know that I'm not always easy to have as a daughter. I've caused my folks a tremendous amount of worry and stress over the last ten years or so -- probably more than an adult child should. Despite that, my parents continue to love and believe in me.

Even when -- actually, especially when -- I don't believe in myself. 

My mum is the nicest person I know. She's the most forgiving and the strongest and the best. She's funny and smart and self deprecating and cool.

She's the person I know I can talk to about anything. She's the person who will laugh with me, cry with me, and tell me that anyone who doesn't think I'm awesome is a moron (she may be wrong about that last bit, but I'm not going to argue with her).

My mom taught me to love books, and music, and that you can make your own adventures. She taught me the power of friendship and family. She has demonstrated time and again that if you do what's right, you'll never really fail. 

Every day, my mom shows me the kind of person I want to be. 

Happy Mother's Day to my mom. You're a rock star, and I love you to pieces. So there.

And now? Ten things I learned from my mom.

10. James Taylor can provide an appropriate soundtrack for practically any moment.

9. Learn to cook, and you'll never be hungry. 

8. You're never too old to learn to do something new.

7. It's not hard to be nice to people. 

6. Everything will work out. Have faith.

5. Road trips demand Barry Manilow music. This is not up for debate.

4. You'll always feel good about yourself if you have earrings and your nails are pretty.

3. A cup of tea will cure just about anything.

2. Always have tissues in your purse.

1. Never forget that you are loved.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014


I was recently unfriended on social media.

It happens.

The person who unfriended me (and remember when this wasn't even a word) and I haven't spoken in person in ... Well. Twenty years, I think. Maybe twenty-one. In the time since we last spoke, children were born who are now old enough to drink legally. Which, holy shit.

When we last spoke, we were not old enough to drink. 

None of this, of course, is the point. 

We were young. We grew up. We became the people we are. As it turns out, the people we became do not see eye to eye on a lot of issues. He became politically conservative. He has very specific religious beliefs. While I respect his choices, I do not share them, and I (who have only become more liberal and outspoken) have likely offended his sensibilities on more than one occasion.

So. Unfriended.

The interesting part of this particular story, though, is that twenty one years ago, he encouraged me not to be afraid to be who I am. He was one of the first people who saw all of the awkward and weird and said, "Honey, just embrace it. Be the spectacle you've been convinced you are -- if you feel like everyone's looking at you anyway, own what they see."

It had never occurred to me before that I could use painful self consciousness to my own advantage.

It has never left me since.

I understand why he unfriended me. As I said before, we're not the people we were. But who he was helped me to realize some of the best things about myself.

I wish I'd thanked him for that. I hope he's aware of my gratitude.