Saturday, May 15, 2010

Eyes Wide Open

What is about visual stimulation that gets us so riled up as human beings?

What I mean by that is this - and here's where I'm gonna get pretty specific and hope you can follow my train of thought - why is it that the more we look at something the more we want it? The same doesn't always ring true of our other senses. The more I smell something, the more I want it? No. The more I taste it? Feel it? Hear it? No, no, no. But the more I look at something, the more I want it, and the harder it is for me to get it out of my mind.

AND I'M A WOMAN!!! We're not even the "visual" ones here. Guys are, or so the male/female differences myths go.

So, the reason I bring this up is threefold. One, I bought a dress today, a dress I probably could've not bought and been just as happy without. But a dress that I have been eyeing at Banana for weeks, both in the store and online. And yesterday, they changed their website, to have new "Summer Essentials" and my dress was featured as the dress of the season. And it looked gooooood. On the model, on the hanger, and in my mind's eye, on me. It's gorgeous. It just looked gorgeous.

Now don't get me wrong, I didn't go into debt for this dress or anything. I had a coupon as a matter of fact. But even still, as I was driving home from the mall thinking about my new dress, the words of an old friend's blog, where she recently posted about women, fashion and social consciousness and spirituality, came back to me. Why do we, as women, feel so tied to fashion? I know I definitely am. Nooooo doubt about it, I'm a fashion-holic, and I can't even apologize in good faith for it. But that's another post for another time. I digress.

I was thinking about this dress, on the way home today, and asked myself "what prompted me to wait, till my coupon became active, and buy THIS dress, in particular, when I could have bought countless other pretty dresses?" I can name a few. The grey Tracey Reese from Anthro. The pink Trina Turk from Macys. But I chose the brown and white safari print from Banana Republic. Why? And I realized that despite liking these other dresses, I'd been following this one online and in the store, watching it, stalking it, as it were. I'd seen it, a lot, and in seeing it, over and over again, looking at it, watching it, I wanted it more and more.

This dress was Bathsheba, and I, I am David hanging out on his roof on a Saturday night. Sad.

But the thought behind this post, about the nuances of vision and desire, goes beyond a dress. This principle has applied to other areas of my life. And I am sure that as any of my guy friend's can attest, the link between the visual and our desires is fitfully binding and probably uncooperative. I've had to train myself the hard way in other areas of my life, to just not look at certain things, because of the emotional response it creates in me. Unlike my guy friends, my response is strictly emotional. I would wager they also battle with the physical ramifications of what they see.

I've been struggling back and forth with the same crush for a while now. Sometimes I'm over it, and sometimes I'm not. Often, the times when I'm trying the hardest to just forget how I feel about this guy, are the times when I've had to train myself to just not look him in the eyes. I am almost afraid too, as if the second I do I'm gonna melt into a big helpless puddle, and he's gonna see right through me to my soul, and know exactly how I still feel. I'm afraid my words will fail me, I'll blabber and be incoherent, or maybe time itsef will stand still and I'll be trapped, feet locked in cement, and unable to run away. No matter what the irrational and inexplicable fear of looking him in the eye is, it's taken great courage and resolution and logic for me to get past it and just look my friend in the eyes. Sometimes I think it's better not to, eyes are, after all, the window to the soul.

Does any of that make sense? No. But then neither does the phrase "Sometimes we don't do the things we want to do, so that others won't know we want to do them". Ivy Walker said that in The Village (amazing love story, and probably my favorite M. Night Shamyalan film by the way). It's one of my favorite quotes, and sometimes exactly how I feel.

Anywho, I digress. So, the dress, the crush, and then this: The same friend who was blogging about women and our ties to fashion, was also blogging recently about her and her husband's struggles in waiting for adoption. It's been a long time, and I guess her maternal clock is ticking like a time bomb. Gee, I really don't know what that's like. In reference to her maternal clock and desires for chidren, she said:

"There have been seasons where it has been unbearable, particulary when I first started working at an elementary school, and was overwhelmed by the hilarious, energetic, adorable ways of the children. Sometimes when I had to walk across the playground during recess, I'd get choked up and have to look away, hoping not to actually trip over any of the litte ones I was trying not to look at."

Her authenticity and vulnerability in sharing her inability to even look at the kids is awe-inspiring. You should all read her blog, just because she's a distant friend who I once went to college with, who's fashion sense and general beauty I have always admired and she lives in Portland, which makes me hella jealous!! (Sidenote - Trinette's dream life = living in a beach house in Portland, OR with my amazingly wonderful, handsome, spiritually atune husband, our two adorable children and running my own vegan/gluten free catering bakery business. I'm just sayin's all.) Anyways, this friend, she may not even remember me, but I remember always being in awe of her, and now her willingness to share not being able to even look at the little rugrats she works with confirms that she's still a marvelously cool person.

Like me, and the dress I became obsessed with through viewing it repeatedly, and the on-again/off-again crush I can't even look in the eyes, she finds a tie between what we view and what we want. Or what we can't view because we want it so much. I'm not the only one who feels this way, I guess.

And just think, if this is a problem for us women, and we are genetically hard-wired to be less apt to respond to visual stimulation than our beleagured brothers, then imagine how hard it must be for them. Yikes! I don't drive down the street and have to avoid most billboards. The ads in the windows at Victorias Secret that scream out "Hello Bombshell", while offensive because of how they affect men I love and respect, don't really affect me all that much. I can watch shows like Weeds, or True Blood, because, while they put it all out there on display, that doesn't affect me the way, say watching The Notebook does. My poor, poor guy friends, who care to keep their hearts, eyes and minds pure - I applaud you all, and want to encourage you that in your visual battles, you are winning the respect and admiration of your friends and sisters! Keep up the good work.

And if you have any pointers I could benefit from, that would be great. Because let's face it. There are a lot of pretty dresses, beautiful big eyes, and adorable children out there. And though I can hide behind my Banana sunglasses, I can't hide from the world. They can't see in, but I can still see out. And therein, likes my problem. There's too much too see, too much I want, too much I can't have, and frankly, I don't want to go through this life with eyes wide shut.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Skinny B*tch

I'm on a diet. Aren't those the worst words in the English language, or any language really? How often do you think French women say "I'm on a diet"? Lucky ducks!

I'm not really on a diet, in that I hate dieting, and I don't "do" diets. I hate the thought that going "on a diet" makes it sound like there's this temporary factor to what you're doing, and that immediate results and drastic lifestyle changes are imminent.

I can't handle that.

But I bought a book, after watching two friends start to facebook about it, and being slightly intrigued. It's called Skinny B*tch. I figured it was going to tell me nothing I didn't already know. Having battled with Celiac's and feeling like I'm on the losing side of that battle, now for four years, I am well acquainted with exactly what I need to be doing to treat my body right. I've read the books about the Gluten/Casein & Brain connection, the Auto-Immune connection between what we eat, clean our houses with, use to wash our bodies off with and how we feel. As someone who's perpetually sore hips constantly remind her they need a good cracking, who feels like my head is a marble resting on an orange (my middle section) atop two toothpicks (my surprisingly muscular and lean legs), and who has actually has a journal for her food/mood connection I can honestly tell you that I KNOW that when I eat crap, I feel crappy, and when I eat good food, I feel energized, alert and positive. Believe me, there's not a lot that surprises me about food and diet and health these days.

It's just that I like food. And food that tastes good. A lot more than I should.

So, that being said, I am really not on a diet. I'm just making a renewed commitment to myself to get back to eating right. To cutting out fatty meats, well all meat really (for a bit, we'll see how it goes). To cutting out Gluten for sure, and dairy for sure. I think the hardest part of that will be my Pepper Jack cheese obsession, but whatevs.

This week was kind of the clincher, in making this decision. Monday night I had a raging snack attack and bought candy and treats for the movies. This AFTER Potbelly for dinner. Needless to say I had nightmares that night (the peppers from Potbelly always do this to me). Tuesday was the all American, down home Paula Deen fat-fest. And then there Wednesday's youth group Junk Food/High Fructose Corn Syrup extravaganza. But the nail in the coffin was Ikea. Curse you Ikea, how I love your Swedish meatballs & Lingonberry sauce!!! Ikea on Thursday.

You see, yesterday, M and I went to Ikea to pick up a bookcase for her, and we stopped for lunch. Of course you have to get Swedish meatballs, mashed potatoes and lingonberry sauce when you get there. But about 1/2 an hour after eating it, I thought I had ingested large doses of carbon monoxide. I was literally dead on my feet. Isn't food supposed to energize and power you? I felt like my lunch was laced with Roofies, I was so tired. All I wanted to do was come home and take a nap, and trust me, with M at Ikea, there's no getting home soon. But when we finally did make it back home, she too was feeling equally lethargic and naps were definitely in order. I'm blaming the Swedes and their cheap, modular furniture and sleep-inducing food.

In any case, her and I were talking about food, and diet, etc, after I bought the Skinny B*tch book with her at Target. I was telling her about a comment a good friend made the other day about trying to watch his "girlish figure" and how I just laugh because I think he's just fine the way he is. What does a guy like that know about women and our weight battles? Or being fat? But then after realizing that this friend, who is fit and athletic, is trying to watch what he eats, I, of all people should too. And it hit me, hard mind you, that as someone who often cooks for her friends, I am in control of what other people eat, and I should respect that, and their wishes a whole lot more. The whole week in reverse played out in my mind, from Wednesday night bringing snacks to youth group (Oreos, Chips Ahoy, Cheesy Puffcorn, Doritos, Cream Soda and Baby Moo Juice aka Milk), to the night before when I stuffed chicken breasts with bbq butter and wrapped them in bacon, before I used a whole jar of mayonaise in my potato salad. Ewww, can you hear it? It's the sound of my arteries clogging just thinking about it? Ew!!!

Yesterday, all day long, all I could think about was the disservice I had done to others and to myself, in my cooking and the snacks I bought, and I knew I had to turn over a new leaf. I dug right into Skinny B*tch like a bowl of Mint Chip ice cream and am halfway through it. It's a pretty good book, minus the language. But hey, sometimes I need a kick in the pants.

I don't want to jump on any bandwagons. I want to make a lasting change. But the nice thing is, I don't really think I'll be doing anything drastic with the changes I am implementing. Just being more moderate, more healthy, and respecting my body a whole lot more. They say habits take 14 days of regular, daily practice before they set in as routine. I can do it, I think. I'm on day 6 of walking/running. I'm on day one of gluten/dairy free, reduced meat, increased water, no pop, no candy, no ice cream, no joy (haha just kidding) eating. And I'm determined that with a little help from my friends, I too can someday be a Skinny B*tch. Well minus the B*tch part, because honestly, I can't wait to show my friends how much I love them by creating wonderful vegetable heavy, fat reduced meals for them and being their exercise accountability partner.

We'll all be pretty, you wait & see.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

A letter to the hateful little minx at the SLP Anthro:

Dear snotty little salesgirl with the bad Joan Jett hairdo:

I'm on to you missy. Oh, I'm on to you, and after yesterday, well it's war. Here's the thing, I'm not a hateful or vengeful person. But I've been in the retail and customer service industry long enough to know the reek of insincerity, and trust me honey, it's oozing from your pores. And lying to me? Really? What's your deal? Well whatever it is, game on sister. Game. On.

Here's what I don't understand: When I first came into your store a few months ago with a return from Arbor Lakes, I could tell you weren't happy about it. That's fine. "Oh, they must work on commission", I thought, because what else would cause you to be so rude to me on that occasion? But even still, it was just so out of character for your company to treat a customer like that.

Your attitude was palpable, the way you rolled those little double entendres off your tongue - "Are you absolutely SURE you don't want to look around for anything else today?" and "You really want to bring back this gorgeous bag? Really?". Yes, really sweetie. Do you question all your customers like that? Oh, and did you think I was too dumb to catch the fact that you were pissed I wasn't buying anything that day? You may think you're subtle, sweetheart, but trust me, there's nothing that sneaks by this keen intellect, especially not your clobbering, obvious insults. You're gonna have to try a lot harder than that.

Even so, I couldn't understand how a store that has such impeccable customer service and personalized attention could tolerate the kind of 'tude you were slinging around. I wondered if you were a manager, and thought that maybe your little air of superiority was because you got off on being in management at an Anthro store. Oooooh, good job college grad!! The way you stuck your bourgeoisie little nose in the air as you processed my return was almost laughable, if it wasn't so pathetic. Oh, and speaking of laughable, I got a call from Robert Pattinson last night... he says that Kristin Stewart wants her hair back. Poseur!

In any case, I quickly forgot about it and moved on, deciding to only shop at the Edina or Arbor Lakes store. There's no reason to keep subjecting myself to your trite little negativities when there are perfectly wonderful people like Molly and Jeanette and the chick with the really cool 1950's eyeliner & Barbie doll obsession at the other stores. But yesterday, yesterday brought me back into your realm, and just like oil meeting water, as soon as I saw you, and you saw me, and we locked eyes, I knew it was going to be epic.

Thankfully you knew better than to even try and fake niceties to me, and let that sweet African American girl who's always stuck in the dressing rooms help me. But when it came time to check out, and I wanted to find a necklace to match the Tracy Reese dress I've been eyeing for over a week, and you hemmed and hawed before handing the dress to me from behind the counter, I knew nothing had changed. What's your deal anyway? Why can't I take the dress that I'm buying, from behind the counter, and try and find a necklace for it? Do you make sure that ALL your customers aren't allowed to carry merchandise around the store, or is it just me? What do you think I'm gonna make a run for it when no one is looking and dash out the store, dress in hand, sensor attached, sirens blaring behind me??? Get a life moron, I just want a stinking necklace.

I was so ready to be done with you, but then I remembered I wanted to see if you had that adorable blue tunic in any other sizes or colors. So politely I asked if you would mind checking on that for me, and without even lifting a finger to check your computer, you just stared me down and said "No". Come on! I didn't realize you had every single piece of clothing in your store memorized with all their particular size and color details. How smart you must be! I can't believe you even made me ask you to please double check on that for me - you ought to be ashamed of yourself. If a customer is having to ask you to please double check on something, and can smell out your lies like the bad, rotting egg that you are, there is DEFINITELY something wrong. After consulting your computer, you stared back at me with your cold, dead, fish eyes and pronounced that no, that tunic comes only up to a size 10. Ok, I took you at your word, and we moved on.

Oh, by the way - I went online yesterday afternoon, as soon as I got home, and guess what? That tunic - It comes in another color and two more sizes. Did you even check online for me, or did you simply move the mouse around and type in a few random keys to make me think you were looking? Why would you not want to sell me something I want? And why the heck did you lie to me? I'm going back in there today, btw, and I'm going to ask you to order that tunic for me. In the size I want. In the color I want. Shipping free, on your store. Because that's how I roll, and you better get used to it.

But I digress. The rest of our time together yesterday, once you started ringing me up, was no better. As a matter of fact, your meager attempts at service were such a joke. I'm buying a dress and a necklace, for goodness sake - that's a decent sale, yet you still managed to get your snide little quips in there. "So, this is all you're buying?" Yep, that's it honey. "You tried on a lot of tops, didn't you want to buy any of those?" Well if I did, they'd be up here at the counter, in your grimy little clutches, and you'd be ringing them up, now wouldn't you?

Here's the deal - I don't know what I ever did to piss you off, or to get on your bad side. But I'm pretty sure your intense dislike of me has been a one-sided issue, up til now. But you can't treat customers this way. Heck, you can't treat people this way. You're rude. And snotty. And frankly sweetie, you don't have much to be snotty about. You're pretty average, working retail, with a bad 80's rock-chick haircut, which thankfully it looks like you're trying to grow out.

Get over yourself, and start treating people nicely. If you're unhappy in your life, in your job, whatever, get over it and make a change. But don't think that because you read a book on how to be a snob it makes you any good at it. I wrote that book honey. And you're getting a big, fat F! I almost feel sorry for you, because frankly, you're losing at a game you shouldn't even trying to be playing. And in the meantime, you're giving your store a bad reputation.

So, here's the deal - other than going back in, and ordering that tunic today, I'm gonna stay out of your way, and please, stay out of mine. You can have the SLP store, and leave me Arbor Lakes and Edina. Don't transfer, and I won't visit. But take my words to heart - I see right through you, and you're a sad little vixen with a bad haircut and a grimy greasy heart. You're the Grinch of Anthro. And I don't like you.

With all the niceties I could muster, and a whole lotta honesty,
Yours truly,


Monday, May 10, 2010

BABIES - Pretty much a good thing.

I'm pretty sure the Bot directed this movie, in her spare time. But I could be wrong. Either way, I want to go see it this week, and plan on reviewing it as soon as I do. I'm sure my reviews will be something along the lines of single word sentences, followed by multiple exclamation points, ala "CUTE!!!" and "ADORABLE!!!!!"

Either way, Babies - How can you not love them?

Sunday, May 09, 2010

Postscript to Hiding In Plain Sight. Subtitle: A Good Solution

I've decided. I'm gonna shake the blues that have me all twitterpated today, and choose to find joy in the good life that I have. Tonight I'm gonna find something good to do with my time that will send these needless and senseless blues packing away. I think it's 1.) time to start on Chlo-Bot's quilt, and 2.) maybe watch some old Bones episodes, and 3.) eat some spicy Thai or Chinese food for dinner. Woooo.... Bonus #4 - I found my journal, and haven't journaled any prayers for while, that would be a great end to the evening!! Four things that are bound to bring me joy. Four things that are a better solution than feeling sorry for myself or wondering if I'm really depressed or not.

And because I haven't in a long, long time, here's a few more things that remind me how greatly I'm loved, from the TLP.

1. Psalm 17:7 - "Show me the wonder of your great love, you who save by your right hand those who take refuge in you from their foes." I guess you could say it's the TLP theme verse

2. Amazing kids that I get to teach. How did I get to be so blessed as to lead them in truth and spend time just talking and teaching them every week? Truly, I don't deserve such an honor and a privelege.

3. Being told I'm anything but boring, from one of the most fun, spirited and lively women I know. Denice, I heart you.

4. Remembering that God is faithful to me, more than I ever could be faithful to seek Him out. Wow, grace is a beautiful thing.

(Oh, the TLP - or The Love Project for you newcomers to my blog. When did I stop writing down a new way I'm shown God's love for me daily? Silly wabbit - it's time to reinstate that in my life. )

The time I've been given here to do something with my life is too short for me to waste it feeling blue or sorry for myself. It's time to buck up buttercup, and to remember that there is much to look forward to and take joy in, in this life, even amongst all the crap that's out there competing for my attention too. Yeah, I can hide in plain sight, but what good is a lamp under a basket? Today, I hope that my life would be beautiful glowing candlelight, reflecting joy. This, I think, would be a good decision.

Hiding In Plain Sight

Someone asked me if I was depressed the other day. "So what if I am?", was my first response, my gut reaction. In talking about it with another friend yesterday, he told me that being asked that was nothing he wouldn't do also, and that if he was suspicious that I was he'd call me out on it. I'm afraid he's not the only one that would do so either. Urgh!

If I am depressed, I doubt anyone would ever really know it either. I feel like I hide in plain sight pretty well. I know the right answers, I smile and look pretty. I can fake it pretty darn well - hell, I've been doing it for years. "What would be your dead giveaway?", I want to ask these people who are so apt to call me out on my melancholia? But I don't, because I know deep down they only care. And also I know that it could lead into a conversation about my tells, and frankly, if I keep them, I keep a part of me that I'm refusing to surrender out of stubbornness. Sometimes I do hide a pretty wicked case of the blues. But knowing that I'm keeping this secret, I need to ask myself these questions - Is it right? Is it healthy? Is it good for me? No, and I know that. Does that reduce the temptation to do it anyways? Not always. Most days I'm lucky to be living vulnerably and authentically, and am kept from doing something that I could so easily get away with, hiding it all away. Most days I'm surrendered to that fact. Today I'm fighting it like a wild stallion being bridled.

I guess I'm just upset today, and I can't figure out why. Mother's Day does this to me. A few MD's back my mom and I got into a huge fight that ended a week later with her in a terribly bad situation and left me feeling guilty for years after. I walk on eggshells every single Mother's Day, and I straddle the line between being grateful for the mom's in my life that pour their love into me almost daily, and feeling sorry for myself because of the broken relationship my own mother and I have. How do I celebrate something that I don't experience with much joy or excitement?

Sometimes I just want a normal, happy, 1950's family. Other times I just want to be left alone. Sometimes I'm close to being depressed, yes. But I always count my blessings and know that my joy comes from God, who loves me like no earthly parent ever will. There is a fine line, a strict balance between the blues that want to overtake me and a heart of gratitude. No matter how my emotions feel one day to the next, I know I'll be ok.

Today, as I was driving home from our Mother's Day brunch, where I was blessed with the company of people who love me, I couldn't help but just want to listen to sad songs. First "Nobody Girl" by Ryan Adams came on, and it couldn't have been more appropriate.

Better off as a fool than the owner of that kind of heart,
They don't know you anyway
They don't know you and they don't watch you walk away
Just a nobody girl....
You say you follow you heart
Well honey, you're just being lost
You say you follow your gut
Well honey how much does it cost?
They don't know you anyway
They don't know you and they don't watch you walk away
Just a nobody girl.

But a few minutes later, this song came on. I think it fits much better, and at the end of the car ride, it's the one I'm going to walk away singing

In open fields of wildflowers

She breathes the air and flies away

She thanks her Jesus for the daisies and the roses

In no simple language

Someday she'll understand the meaning of it all

He's more than the laughter or the stars in the heaven

As close as a heartbeat or song on her lips

Someday she'll trust Him, learn how to see Him

Someday He'll call her and she will come running

And fall in His arms, the tears will fall down and she'll pray

"I want to fall in love with You."

Thursday, May 06, 2010

Bringing Sexy Back

Things I Think Are Hot:

- a stack of books by an unmade bed

- the smell of any sort of tobacco (well, not chewing)

- laughing so hard you can't stop, or you snort, or both

- guys who wear glasses

- sweat pants on a Saturday at home

- art museums

- rain soaked hair

- old black & white movies. Double points for anything Hitchcock.

- ordering a Manhattan

- community naps

- down comforters

- hats

- buttery, supple leather

- ummm, armpits?

- unexpected winks

- camping

- bedhead

- the smell of night blooming jasmine in the summer air

- Jimmy Stewart, Jack Shepherd, Sophia Loren, Conan O'Brien and Rachel Weisz

- dancing to your own beat

- Brittish accents

- eating with chopsticks. Double points if it's spicy Thai food.

- "You want the moon? I'll lasso the moon for you!"

- Good guys. Keep your bad boys, I don't want 'em.

- knowing you're at ease in your own skin, and just going with it.

- substantial eyebrows

- going out for breakfast

- sighs

- libraries

- baseball.