Last night, I found myself wandering around in Kohl’s after picking out a few new items for my wardrobe. Visions of the cute dress I had just tried on and the stomach dimples that it revealed were flashing in and out of my head. I am still pretty far from being able to shape my body to look great in a dress with good old-fashioned exercise, and I found myself standing next to the pantyhose. It’s then that the thought “maybe I should see if they sell Spanx here” popped into my head.
They did. They do.
I pawed through the racks until I found a few different kinds and fits of “shapewear.”
For the record, I haven’t subjected myself to this since they were just called girdles. I decided I would start slowly. From my pile of shapewear, I picked up the piece that was supposed to fit kind of like high-waisted bike shorts. Steeling myself, I put it on. And stopped at my knees.
“Wow. These are WAY small. But it’s the biggest size they have.” And then I thought, “Ohhh. They HAVE to be this tight. That’s where the shaping part comes in.”
5 minutes later, I was shoved in. They did actually fit. And then I thought, “What if I wear these to work and I have to go to the bathroom?” Then I decided to marvel at my new shape. Maybe it would be worth the added time to pull my pants up and down.
I didn’t like it. It was nothing like my normal shape, which, although I profess to loathe, is familiar to me. My hips were smooshed in, and I realized that although it’s not great, I do kind of know how to work with my body. I peeled the bike shorts off me and got dressed, taking the entire pile that I hadn’t tried on and putting them back on the rack.
After that, my first thought was, “I don’t want to have to wear a wetsuit under my clothes to feel good about myself.” Followed immediately by, “Maybe I should just look for some heels. They make me look more polished in clothes.”
I forgot to mention, all of this has been kicked off by a new job that I just got a few weeks ago. I like the job, I mean actually like it, maybe the first job I have ever liked. It’s in a corporatey-corporate environment, where it’s not uncommon for me to feel lost, bobbing in a sea of pantyhose and high heels and polyester dresses. I have a few passable outfits, but overall I feel pretty sloppy at work – so I have been trying to pick up a few pieces here and there to spruce up my saggy old wardrobe.
So. The heels.
There seems to be an entire section of stripper heels at Kohl’s. Nothing against strippers. Girls, you go on and do what you need to do. But what about me? What about the not-so-strippery among us? I’m relatively sure that strippers are a minority within the female population, and yet… the shoe section tells me something else entirely.
Usually, I just get overwhelmed after seeing the first few pairs of sky-high heels and leave. But I dug in. I really looked. And my conclusion is this: we are in a dark time for shoes. I did find a pair of black peep-toe platform shoes that I liked. I wore them around, feeling ridiculous with the withery tops of my disposable shoe liners sticking out. I looked at them from the front. I looked at them from the side. They were comfortable, but something was off. There was something holding me back. For some reason I couldn’t imagine myself wearing them to work. The silhouette was off.
They were stripper shoes, trying to masquerade as cute black peep-toe platforms.
I thought about this post all night last night. I thought about trying to make some statement about how this is jacked up, ask questions like, “why do we women feel the need to teeter around in 4-5″ shoes that look like they should be wrapped, upside down, around a pole?” Thought about how weird it is that we are trying to squeeze and shape ourselves and then elongate our lines with these damn ankle-breaker shoes.
But then I thought, “That’s not the point.” Everything doesn’t have to be molded until it means something, just because I want to write a poignant blog post about the state of… the state of what? Is fashion just fashion, and that’s it? Or does it reflect on who we are and what we value as a society? Clean and sleek, hide the lumps and smooth out the silhouette, put your best foot forward even if the shoe on it is making you wince.
And then I thought some more, until it hit me what is really at the heart of all of this. I have always looked at older women who seem to have a uniform. You know – polyester, elastic waist pants, floral shirts, sensible shoes that are a little odd-looking at the same time. And I have always wondered how it happens. Because that’s not the kind of look that just sneaks up on you. You do it all at once. One day you are putting together sassy outfits, and then you blink and you are driving a Rascal through Walmart with a taupe pocketbook that matches your taupe oxford comfort shoes. And I have always wondered what must be the breaking point. What puts you over the edge? What makes you think that maybe owning all ten colors of these pants is a fabulous idea?
I think it might just be strutting around in a pair of high heels in the shoe section, and when trying to figure out what’s not quite right about them, you realize, “These look too young.”
I think I’ll start with the “royal jade” and “fresh strawberry” pants and build form there.
“Most kind of stories save the best part for last.
Most stories have a hero who finds
you make your past your past”
When I was younger, one of the biggest struggles I faced was keeping my room clean. It just seemed like it took so much time and energy to put things back where they belonged, or to make sure that my dirty clothes made it to the hamper instead of the floor.
To be honest, I still struggle with this a little bit. As I have gotten older, I find that I like my environment to be clean and organized. I like knowing where things are. I like knowing that if I get up in the middle of the night I am not going to break myself walking around the bed.
I like to put things in order, clean, straighten, organize, sort, donate. Things don’t get lost as often. Things don’t get broken as often. And I, clumsy as I am, don’t trip, stub, twist, puncture, or crunch myself as much.
A couple of months ago, I received an email from an old colleague asking if I knew some special secret to life. I was kind of baffled at the question, but then I realized that I did, in fact, have a secret.
I clean my room, constantly.
By that I mean, I put my past back behind me where it belongs. I let it go. I start over again. If it’s out, it’s not where it belongs, and it’s right there for me to keep on stumbling over.
When I answered my friend’s e-mail, here is what I said: “The best choice I make on a continual basis is to leave the past behind me. Honestly, if I had to give anyone only one piece of advice, that would be it. Leave it. It’s over. It can’t be changed, ever. So I could look back and see all of my failed attempts and let that define my reality – or I can look forward and see a blank page… the rest of my life waiting to be written, and I hold the pen.”
Or: Clean your room, and then get to work.
It’s been just over three months since you died. I honestly thought I might get used to the fact that you were gone. Instead, you pop into my head almost every day. There is always something that makes me wish I could talk to you. Maybe it’s a crazy story I wish I could tell you, just to see that look on your face that says, “no way.” Or some personal victory that I know you would be proud of me for…like hitting my -100 pounds goal.
Some days I just want to take a walk with you and laugh until I feel like I might fall over.
I feel like I am finally out of the rut I was in when we started walking back in June. What I can’t tell you now is that the sheer force of your friendship levered me up to a place where I could get out. The walks in the rain, the jumping back from dead snake skins, the time you told me to call you when I wanted to eat Zingers, the constant stream of text messages back and forth, the sitting on your enormous couch and hearing you tell a story about me for the first time that you remembered for 14 years.
What I thought when we reconnected and started our walks last year was that I was going to be a good friend to you. I was going to be there for you, no matter what you needed. But you didn’t need anything from me. Instead, you gave and gave, and sometimes I actually feel a little bit guilty because of all of the problems you listened to of mine, all of the advice you gave me, all of the support and encouragement you gave me.
I can’t remember giving you anything.
Actually. I gave you something that was hard for me to give. I tried to act like you weren’t dying. When you first told me that you were sick, you said, “don’t cry for me. I have had one hell of a good life.” When you called to tell me what they found in your brain, I held the phone upside down and sobbed, open-mouthed and silent, while you gave me the details. I talked about it cooly, in terms of facts.
The last time we talked on the phone, when I was supposed to come visit you in the hospital, at the end of the call you just said, “Draker. Thank you.” I knew then that we wouldn’t talk again. I knew I wouldn’t see you the next day, or ever, after that.
I have a couple of pictures of you on my fridge, and sometimes when I walk by I feel weird for having them there. I printed them off your facebeook profile when we first started walking, and I actualy used to have them hanging on my cubicle wall at work as reminders. Reminders to pray for you, reminders of what your smile looked like, reminders that there existed on earth a staggering depth of strength inside of one human, reminders that whatever I was facing, I could do it.
Sometimes, I feel weird for having them there. But most of the time, when I walk by, I just say, “Hey, buddy. Miss you.”
Well, this is my third day of unemployment. The first day was a busy one involving three loads of laundry. Yesterday wasn’t as productive but I still kept myself occupied for most of the day. Today, I learned about lil bub the cat, and it was when I was watching a video of lil bub eat that I remembered that Radiohead’s album In Rainbows existed. In case you don’t know it, this album is absolutely perfect for cold weather. I am not sure why, and I’m not sure how, but it works well with shivering. And driving through snowy back roads. Trust me on this.
My life is pretty complex, even without a job.
Also worth noting: today I got pooped on by a bird while I was out for a walk in my new coat. Thanks, bird.
Right now, I am about to get to work in my studio, but not creating much: it’s in desperate need of a reorganize. When I set it up, I hadn’t used it yet, so I couldn’t anticipate how I would really need things to be arranged. What I need is to blow out a wall, but since I am not sure how my landlord would feel about that one, I am going to work on paring down and getting smart. And probably removing my red chair, as it takes up valuable space that could be storing craft supplies, fabric, or notions. But, I love this chair. When I sit in it, I see things like this:
The only problem is that my red chair belongs in this room, and it feels right in this room. I might actually move my computer out of this room. Or take the books off my bookshelf. Wow – my life has changed. I am actually contemplating getting rid of most of my books so that I can put fabric where those books are now.
I know you are eager to hear how this all works itself out. It’s probably the most important concern I have right now, too.
Edited: forgive me. how could I neglect to include the video of lil bub eating?
This fine Friday evening, enjoy a rare peek into my personal correspondence with my husband.
Mr. Thor: Maybe I will call you a bit later, babe. Got any fun plans for tonight, hun?
me: Nope…I’m a loser! Lol
Mr. Thor: Don’t feel sorry for yourself, you are AWESOME! What a cool chick you are! What are you doing right now? XOXOXOXOXOXOXOXOXOXOXOXOXOOXOXOXOXO
me: eating egg salad and pretzel sticks and texting anthony and checking facebook.
Mr. Thor: Awesome! Sounds nice and relaxing! I’ll give you a call later on, babe! XOXOXOXOXOXOXOXOXOXOXOXOXOXOXOXOXOXOXOXOXOXOXOXOXO
Yes, I came home and weighed out 99 grams of hard boiled eggs and 38 grams of mayonnaise and 28 grams of pretzels. And parked in front of my laptop.
And now …I am about to mix crystal light with a diet sierra mist, and then drink it all! with a straw!
Look out, world! Next thing you know I will be on the couch, reading!
Today, I had a really bad, terrible, razor-bladey and boiling blood rage kind of day. Not even a little bit good. Well, OK, there was a little bit. But mostly, the day just left me feeling alone, a bit incompetent, and almost like a loser at life. Gross feelings.
On top of all of the gross feelings, I got a little bit mad at my husband tonight, too. While we were on the phone, he said, “I still love you” and that made me mad, because “still” means “even though you can be a real shit sometimes.” And I can. And I was.
But tonight, he kept me on the phone until I was giggling instead of crying. He made me go outside and he steered me around the sky, naming stars and planets as I turned and bent my head back.
When we first started dating, it was February. He used to take me to his favorite star-gazing spot on a hill near a waterfall in the city. It was freezing and I had this giant, crazy, fake-fur lined camel colored coat. He would stand behind me and put his hands on the sleeves of my coat, rotating and baby-stepping around with me until he had me right where he could point up at a star and name it. He would put his head almost on my shoulder and look up with me. He pointed me toward planets, stars, nebulae, galaxies. There was a total lunar eclipse just a few weeks after we started dating, and we watched it at the same time, each of us holding a phone to our ear in our own houses, saying “wow” what felt like every couple of breaths.
Tonight, while we were on the phone, he navigated me toward what looked like a perfect equilateral triangle low in the western sky. He guessed, correctly, that two of the points were planets. Without my husband’s influence, I might have seen that triangle and said, “cool, those stars make a triangle.” Not, “wow…Saturn and Mars!”
And that’s what I owe my husband. He has enriched my life in many ways. He has opened up new horizons, new adventures, new possibilities. If I had not met this man, I might never have known I was looking at planets instead of stars.
I have spent the past couple of weeks researching two of my newer favorite bands – Railroad Earth and The Infamous Stringdusters. This morning, I am holed up in my office looking for new live shows online (listening to this one as I type this.). I have been scouring the internet for relevant articles. Looking up School of Dobro with Andy Hall and watching sample videos. Reading Chris Pandolfi’s website. E-mailing the guys from Railroad Earth just to tell them how rad their show was. Googling “railroad earth blog” in hopes that any of those guys keeps a blog I can read.
It’s funny, because I didn’t think I had this obsessive thing. Mr. Thor is a maniac when he gets interested in something. He will spend weeks telling me the minutiae of the lives and careers of the musicians in his favorite bands. Last night he didn’t believe that I had been researching so he gave me a band member quiz. Please! Amateur. Has he been on facebook looking through Andy Falco’s pictures yet? I didn’t think so.
I say the tables have turned because now it’s Mr. Thor coming into my office to invite me downstairs to have coffee with him this morning. Mr. Thor who is thinking, “my god, can you pull yourself away from your imaginary musical friends for two seconds to talk to me?” OK, maybe he’s not thinking anything that dramatic, because that’s my job. But I think it’s funny, now, to see myself absorbed in something that would normally be “his.”
So, what is it? What is it that makes the music not quite enough? Why do I need to read articles and look up live shows and photos and read blogs?Am I some kind of creepy stalker?
(that’s where we all laugh.)
I think, honestly, it’s a search for context. This stuff is so different for me. I am new, as of last September, to anything even related to or served with bluegrass. And I am amazed. And, suddenly, I find out that there are people who have already been here for YEARS. and it’s their passion. for some of them, it’s their livelihood. And how did they get there? Why don’t more people understand this music? There is an entire universe that I had never even brushed up against, and now I find that I want to live there.
So, maybe, I am looking for my bridge over. My doorway, the connection that tells me I am not so different from these people living in this other world, that I am welcome there as much as anywhere. Anything. Words on a screen that tell me how those guys got there, what moved them, what continues to move them.
Last night and this morning I got some words in an e-mail from a couple of guys in Railroad Earth, saying welcome aboard, hope to play for you again soon.
The door creaks open. 🙂
I got up just after 8 am this morning to get started on my chores for today. I have lots of things on my to-do list and I just woke up naturally at that time, so I went with it.
I worked for a few minutes in my office, and then went back to the bedroom just to give the still-sleeping Mr. Thor a quick hug before I left the second floor.
I crawled into bed, gave him a hug, he said something sweet like, “you’re the best.” Then he pointed his pointer finger out into the air and said, “JAMMIES.”
him, now poking my arm: “jammies, jammies, jammies, like jay leno. they like to jam. he likes to play the bass.”
me: “the real jay leno? how do you know that?”
him: “it’s just like rallyists. bum-bum-bum-ba-bum-bum-ba-bum-ba-ba-bum!”
him: “RALLYISTS. People who start rallies. bum-ba-buh-bum-ba-buh-BUM-BUM!”
him: “it’s like, even if I told you you wouldn’t know how to start a fire. it would still be a secret to you. like bum-ba-buh-bum-bah-buh-bum. bum-ba-buh-bum-bah-buh-BUM.”
him: “i got cold. i didn’t have enough… room to work with. don’t get too bored here, OK?”
me: “why would I be bored?”
me: “what’s so boring about asphalt?!”
him: “it’s all gone.”
me: “so we are at the end of the road?”
him: “yep. dead end. (holds up his fingers about 2 inches apart) I only have THIS much left. (moves his two held-up fingers over to my face and jams them into the side of my face) annnnd now it’s on your face.”
at this point I decided to stop engaging Mr. Thor, because, clearly, we were at the end of the road.
I decided to pop in and post a bit on my lunch break today. I wanted to write about that one time when I had a goal to update my blog every single day for a month – and I did that. And how, at the end of that month, I did not set a new goal, but simply “eased up” – which resulted in about 3 posts in as many months.
I was so happy during November. Here I was, doing what I wanted to do. Spending lots of time on my blog. Updating, interacting, feeling great about myself. Even daring to think about calling myself a writer!
Today, on the cusp of March, I could not remember the web address to my blog admin login panel.
Let me be a lesson to you. Don’t ease up on your goals, or you may find yourself starting from scratch in just a few short months!