Tag Archives: self acceptance

Not a Rockstar Today

Things at which I have failed in the last 24 hours:

  1. Being height-weight proportionate, therefore
    1. Being able to fit into all those clothes I bought back when I’d lost a bunch of weight, or
    2. Being willing to buy new clothes, because by gosh, I will keep losing weight this time for realsies even though it hasn’t worked so well historically, so
    3. Dressing like I have any idea how fashion works, what looks good on me, or for that matter, what size I even am.
  2. Exercising or maintaining dietary habits that would bring me any closer to changing #1 (I can’t turn down free pizza. I’m pretty sure it’s in the Bible or the Constitution or something.)
  3. Using those sticky pore strip things. I don’t want to talk about it. It was a fiasco.
  4. Taking a shower, because I’m not leaving the house today, and for that matter,
  5. Leaving the house today.
  6. Not freaking out when we left the house yesterday, because we had to drive on the scary highways. On the plus side, I did not actually shut all the way down, though I may have blathered for a while to distract myself.
  7. Having enough money in the bank to:
    1. Make a down payment on a house, or
    2. Make a down payment on a car, or
    3. Make a down payment on a pony, or
    4. Survive for six months in case of layoff, or
    5. Survive for one month in case of layoff.
  8. Calling my college friend who wanted me to call her; see also:
    1. Calling my mother,
    2. Calling anyone who knows things about real estate,
    3. Calling anyone at all whom I was not literally being paid money to call.
  9. Writing a blog post.
  10. Walking the dogs. Fortunately, we have a backyard, so they can do their business there.
  11. Playing folk tunes I have successfully played before. Violin practice today was…screechy.
    1. Practicing for the full hour I’d set aside. My poor neighbors didn’t sign up for that.
  12. Working on bushwhacking the weeds that are slowly devouring the back yard. And the front yard. And the side yard. And the flower pots, fer cryin’ out loud. Stupid trees with their stupid helicopters.
  13. Dusting, vacuuming, or sweeping. Basically anything involving making the floor cleaner than it currently is.
    1. Ditto for the shelves.
    2. And the bathrooms.
    3. And the windows.
    4. And my desk.
  14. Writing book reviews of the last five-that’s-right-I-said-FIVE books I’ve read. In my defense, three of them are a series and I’m planning to review them all together.
    1. Finishing that other series I started, which Moon Man has finished but I got distracted.
  15. Having flawless skin, hair, nails, teeth, or indeed any other body part. I thought acne was supposed to just be a teenager thing. APPARENTLY NOT.

…and that’s just the last 24 hours, y’all. And just the first 15 things I thought of off the top of my head. I also failed at setting up my sewing machine or using it in any kind of way, or organizing the freezer despite things falling out when I open the door, or decluttering any part of this rummage sale we call a house. I have not been a rock star in the last 24 hours, so to speak; I’ve barely been a rock.

But you know what? That means nothing whatsoever about me as a human being. Yes, I could have made some more productive choices. Yes, I could have done some more productive things. But my decision not to do so–my failure to accomplish stuff–does not mean that I am personally a failure. To swipe a line from Zig Ziglar,

Failure is an event

 

Here’s the thing, gang: today is World Suicide Prevention Day, and I think that makes today an excellent day to be having this conversation. I have dealt with depression for as long as I can remember–some days with more grace and triumph than others–and one of the first things depression will tell you is that you are a failure.

But today, on a day when I’m feeling clear and sane, let me tell you a secret: Depression is a damn liar. It’ll tell you all sorts of things that aren’t true. It’ll pick up things you’ve heard from other people, jokes the jerks in school made, gossip that spilled over from the water cooler, snotty comments the tv commercial people make in an attempt to sell overpriced skin creams, and it’ll repeat them back to you. It will enumerate your shortcomings. It will compose entire epic sagas about the things you are not and may never be (I once cried for an hour because I was never going to be on MTV’s Real World. I don’t even want to be on that show–and I’m too old for it now anyway–but the fact that I wasn’t “one of the pretty people” was devastating to me that day). It will tell you just enough truth to make you think it’s all true, and then it will sucker punch you in the gut.

And one of its favorite lines is “you’re a failure”.

But now you’ve got a bit of ammunition to use against that one. I fail at things, you fail at things, we all fail at things. Nobody is perfect, as they say, and if they were they would be spectacularly boring. You are not meant to be perfect: you are meant to be flawed and bumpy and lumpy and have baggage, because that’s how we connect to each other–it’s like rock climbing, where you rely on the craggy bits and broken-off parts to make it to the top. If it were “perfect”ly smooth, you’d slide right the heck off.

Failing at things is ok, gang. You’re allowed to fail at things. You’re allowed to fail spectacularly sometimes, because that’s how the quickest learning gets accomplished. You’re allowed–heck, I’d argue that you’re required–to be imperfect.

So the next time the inner demons come nosing around, remind them that failure is an event–a thing that happens and is done, whereas you endure. Explain that you’ve got plenty of time left to sort out what went wrong and take a different approach tomorrow. Tell them to sod right off, because you’ve got gloriously fail-full living to do.

And if their voices get too loud, if you (or someone you love) find that you just can’t seem to shout them down, please also remember that you’ve got backup: you can always, always, always call the folks at the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. You can reach them at

1-800-273-TALK (8255)

and they have all the time in the world to listen, to care, and to help connect you with other folks who will also listen and care. You’re not failures, kids, you’re humans. And we love you for it.

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Filed under General Musings and Meanderings, Play Nicely

Antoinette

(or, How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Erosion of My Moral High Ground)

 

In retrospect, I suppose I should have seen this day coming when Moon Man bought me a computer.

We’d been together for…heck, I dunno, a year and change?…and I was moving out of my beloved hometown into the Awful Subdivision of Awfulness in the Awful Town of Awfulness where he lived (and where we still live to this day. Thanks, inertia!). He’d suggested that I should perhaps consider getting a new computer, because mine was becoming obsolete, but as I’d pointed out to him numerous times my computer was perfectly serviceable, thankyouverymuch, and there was simply no need to go running out to buy a newer-faster-shinier simply because it was newer-faster-shinier. And sure, mine had one of those tremendous monitors that required buttressing the table it sat on; and yes, the computer was a hand-me-down from a Czech linguist who was moving back to Prague, so the default language on it was Czech which I could not technically read so error messages were a fun puzzle; but Moon Man had installed a handy IM program for me so we could chat, and I knew how to access that thar interweb thingie, and I could create documents and type things and as long as I remembered more or less where various commands were in the English version of the dropdowns, I could do something like formatting it. I could italicize, y’all, thanks to the magic of keyboard shortcuts. What more did I need?

So I showed up at his house slightly before moving day–y’know, to get a sense of which of his decorations would simply have to go–and discovered that all unbeknownst to me, he’d slipped off and bought me a shiny new computer. Well, new-to-me, anyway, and it was in English, and had a flat monitor. And it was zippy! So very, very zippy. I was sold, and thanked him effusively, and relegated my old computer to the garage on move-in day and I’m reasonably sure it’s down there still. Maybe someday I’ll make it into art.

The problem, of course, is that this set a dangerous precedent. Without meaning to, I’d managed to teach Moon Man that yes, I would resist technological advancement (or as I call it, “yet another dang way to try to separate people from their money by setting up manufactured status markers”), but if he kept at it, sooner or later I’d cave, and probably end up admitting begrudgingly that he was right.

So a few years later, when smartphones were becoming allllll the rage, we ran ’round the racetrack again. He was 100% in favor of getting us smartphones, because our contract was up for renewal so it was Free Replacement Phone o’clock, and for a small charge we could upgrade to smartphones and just look how fancy they are! I pointed out that a phone is for making and receiving calls, and that is all I would like my phone to do, though the ability to send text messages was certainly a bonus. He countered by pointing out that smartphones could play games; I stared meaningfully at the closet full of board games until he caught my drift. He noted that smartphones could receive email and access the internet, and I reminded him of the computer he’d bought me against my wishes, by the way, and he eventually sighed and got himself a smartphone and I just replaced my old phone with a newer version of the exact same model I’d had before.

And because we were traveling a lot at the time for his old job, we spent a lot of time in the car with an outdated GPS and a shiny new smartphone with Google Maps right on it, and I realized that ok, maybe they weren’t completely a ploy of Satan to destroy us all, but I certainly didn’t feel any obligation to spend hundreds of dollars on what was effectively a road atlas wedged into a telephone.

And then he found one of those limited-time-only, We’re About to Roll Out the Next Generation of This Product So Please Help Us Get Rid of Our Surplus Stock, sales…where the smartphones which we both now have were going for a penny. One penny. One one-hundredth of a dollar. Even I couldn’t argue with that. So I caved again, and we got the phones, and now mine follows me around the house more dutifully than our dang dogs, who are supposed to follow me from room to room. I love that I can communicate with people using whatever media they like best. I love that I can read (and disregard, but still) my email from anywhere with coverage.

God help me, I love Temple Run.

So a little while later, he started extolling the virtues of the Kindle his parents had gotten him for…his birthday? Christmas? one of those gift-giving occasions. But this time I was not-I-repeat-NOT going to be swayed. Books are made of paper. They have a cover. They are bulky and awkward and if you read as much as I do, you get weird hand cramps from holding them and you have to be careful with them around water and…

…you see where this is headed, don’t you.

I blame Joe Hill, frankly. I had started following him on The Twitters, and he kept talking about this new novella he was releasing–and how it was only going to be available as an e-book. And I had recently read his NOS4A2 and loved it, and I wanted to read his new book, and I hate reading long documents on my computer screen in my office, and…well, I guess it was inevitable. So I happened to be thinking about e-readers, and without even realizing what I was doing I let slip to Moon Man that I was thinking about e-readers…

…and then it was my birthday…

…and that’s how Antoinette, my sexy little Kindle with the spiffy purple case, came into my life (yeah, I name inanimate objects). She’s only slightly larger than my wallet, but already has hundreds and hundreds of pages of books loaded into her. I can read her at the grocery store while I’m waiting in line. I can read her in the car when traffic gets scary and I need to look away while Moon Man plays Death Race with the other drivers.

Ain't she purty?

Ain’t she purty?

I can hold her in my right hand and read her, y’all. Pick up a book like you’re gonna read it. Notice how it’s probably automatically in your left hand, because you turn pages from right to left and it’s more convenient to hold it on your left side? When you’re reading an average of two to four hours a day, that hand gets tired. Especially when you read a lot of big thick books. But Antoinette? She’s perfectly happy in my right hand. Or lying flat on the table, which is just a joke if you’re reading a thick printed novel, unless you have a book bar or a clip or a cat who’s willing to nap at the top of the page and doesn’t mind being interrupted for a page turn every minute or so.

Shown here, lying flat and open roughly halfway through Hugh Howey's 500+ page "Wool" omnibus.

Shown here, lying flat and open roughly halfway through Hugh Howey’s 500+ page “Wool” omnibus. Look, Ma, no hands!

Now, before you panic, allow me to assure you that I am absolutely not even a little bit interested in considering the possibility of thinking about pondering the option of maybe under some rare circumstance getting rid of my paper books. BOOKS ARE MADE OF PAPER. If you ask someone to draw you a book, they don’t draw a thing that looks like an oversized smartphone, they draw a book. I love the feel of books, the smell of books, the texture of their paper, the option of having strong opinions about their fonts.

But I’m willing, because I am a strong and amazing human being, to admit that maybe–just maybe–Moon Man was right. Maybe I can also love e-readers.

‘Cause lord knows I do love Antoinette.

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Filed under General Musings and Meanderings, The Bibliophilic Buffalo

BBR: Ready Player One, by Ernest Cline

You guys. You guys. Stop reading this review and just go read this book instead. Seriously. Like, right this second.

…Are you still here? Why are you still here? I am not kidding. Go read this book.

This book. Goreaditnow.

This book. Goreaditnow.

Here’s the deal: I confess, I’d already read Ready Player Onea year or so ago when Moon Man heard about it and picked up a copy and devoured it. For the span of a few days, every conversation we had was either muffled by there being a book between his face and the outside world, or was entirely about the book and how fantastic it was and how much he was enjoying it and how I should really, really read it. So when I got around to it (I’d been a little reluctant because he and I have rather different tastes in books), I was…well, braced. When someone you love is foaming at the mouth about how much they love something, you don’t want to be the one that punches the heart out of their dreams, y’know?

So when he finished it, I put on my game face, squared my shoulders, and picked it up…and emerged three days later, gasping and panting and all full of emotions, with an arm sore from fist-pumping at the triumphant bits and a general sense of spiritual exhaustion from all the tense scenes. And I looked at him, and I said those three little words every spouse longs to hear:

“You were right”.

I guess I should tell you some things about what this book is actually about. Here’s the rundown: the OASIS is a giant online virtual reality universe where you are limited only by your imagination and dedication. The real world is bleak and impoverished, where people like our protagonist live in literal stacks of mobile homes–like the cheapest high-rise ever–with several families sharing a single double-wide. Most folks have taken to spending most of their time in the OASIS, which is free to access, and you can attend school there, have jobs there, and run and play and have relationships in between.

And the creator of the OASIS has died, and left behind a puzzle: somewhere, tucked away in one of the hundreds and hundreds of worlds that comprise the OASIS, he has hidden an Easter egg. Whoever finds the egg wins sole control/ownership of the OASIS–which is worth kaspillions of dollars, and basically means you’re President of Everything. Anyone can play, anyone can win…ready, player one?

Oh, by the way, since anyone can play and anyone can win, a giant evil corporation is trying to find the egg too, so that they can take over the OASIS and do evil corporate things to it, including charging an access fee and increasing advertising in-game. Y’know, evil corporation stuff.

So at its base level, Ready Player One is pretty much “protagonist versus evil empire for control of the entire world”, which is enough to pique my personal interest, but here’s where it gets really fun: remember when I said the OASIS is an online virtual universe? What this means is that in a lot of ways, it’s a game. A video game. Your avatar has hit points and gains experience points. You can be magical if you want to, or tech-y, or both. You can make yourself look and sound however you want. You can climb into your giant robot and fly off to visit a digitized version of the Louvre, stopping to meet your friend for a pickup game of Quidditch on the way.

It’s geek paradise, is what it is. Nerd-vana. With an Easter egg, which means there’s a huge puzzle sitting there, ripe for the solving. And the soulless corporate monsters want to take it away from us.

Now are you ready, player one?

So that’s what this book is about. It will make you laugh, it will make you … well, nahh, I didn’t cry, but I did make sad faces a couple of times. It will make you wistful. It will make you want to high-five all of your nerdy friends and feel good about being nerdy yourself, and it will make you want to buy an extra copy so you always have one to loan out. (I can neither confirm nor deny rumors that we have three copies, just in case more than one person wants to borrow a copy at a given time.)

And remember back at the beginning when I confessed to having read it once before, and having lost my mind that time and devoured it like I was being paid per word?

Yeah, this re-read took me about three days. It’s a 500-page book. You know a book is good when it can grab you by the soul not once but twice, making you ignore phone calls and stay up two hours past bedtime again.

Let’s put it this way: the bags under my eyes attest to the brilliance that is this book. So go read it. Seriously. Right now. If you don’t, I’m pretty sure we can’t be friends anymore.

Ready, player one?

And…go.

TL;DR: It’s protagonist versus evil corporation in the quest for a video game Easter egg that will give its finder complete control of the online virtual reality world that has more-or-less supplanted regular reality as the place where everyone lives and works and plays.

Rating: 9.75/10 muddy hoofprints. If you like David-and-Goliath stories, video games, 80s pop culture (the OASIS designer’s particular fandom), puzzles, quests, damning the man, comic book conventions (there aren’t any in the book, but Con attendees are pretty much the target demographic here), role-playing, LARPing, nerding out generally, or stories with a lot of action and adventure, this one’s for you. Buy several copies, because sooner or later someone you know will have a birthday.

 

…OH OH OH! I forgot the awesome-est part! As it turns out, the book itself contains an Easter egg!! I won’t tell you anything about that–you can hunt for it yourself, or find all sorts of spoiler-y information online–but dude there is an Easter egg in the book. The prize was snatched up a long time ago, but for the purpose of underscoring the awesomeness factor, do you know what the prize was? It was a rarkin’-farkin’ real live honest-to-goodness DeLorean, is what it was. You could win a DeLorean. Via an Easter egg, that you could find by reading a book about winning things by finding Easter eggs. SweetbabyJesus. /fans self

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Filed under The Bibliophilic Buffalo

Buffalo Tantrum: The “P” Word

Ok, look.

Some of you have probably seen this image floating around recently:

jennifer lawrence

 

If you’re reading that and wanting to give Jennifer Lawrence a high-five or a hug or a pony, let me note for the record that I’m right there with ya. I love Jennifer Lawrence. I loved her when she tripped at the Oscars, I love her when she makes slip-ups and goofy faces in interviews, and I love her when she is utterly flawed and utterly human and leaves the house anyway despite knowing that everything she does is going to be on the tabloid covers tomorrow.

And if you followed the link by clicking on that picture, let me note that I love Upworthy, their compulsion to put popups on every page notwithstanding. They have some great stuff there (some schlock, too, but that’s forgivable), and I spend more time than I care to admit sniffling over their videos and fist-pumping about their commentary on the World These Days.

But because I’m me, and because words are really important to me, I have to take a minute and have a minor tantrum about something that really stuck out to me in that Jennifer Lawrence quote–specifically, the part where she says that “we see this airbrushed perfect model”.

I know, I know, some of you are going to accuse me of splitting hairs in 3…2…1…but it seems to me that referring to the airbrushed version as “perfect” undermines her message just a touch. And lest you think I’m going after Ms. Lawrence here, please let me assure you that I’m not–I’m actually aiming this tantrum at society at large.

Here’s what happens: we tell ourselves, our kids, and each other that we should accept ourselves for how we are, regardless of how we look. We say that people should love themselves in whatever body they have. We say that people are a soul in a body, not a body with a soul. And then–without meaning any harm by it–we turn around and, sometimes in the same breath, refer to these art projects (what else would you call a sculpture, like a doll, or a painting done onscreen with airbrushes?) as “perfect”.

In other words, we say “no, no, sweetie, you’re fine. That over there is perfect, but you…you’ll do. I mean, I love you, and that’s what really matters”.

The last part of that sentiment is great, sure, but could we maybe try not accidentally drawing the unattainable parallel as we go?

This horrifies me in ways I can't put words to.

This horrifies me in ways I can’t put words to.

I think this is what’s screwing us up, folks. We’re spending all our time going ’round and ’round in circles, trying to convince ourselves and each other that we’re all good enough, pretty enough, etc, while simultaneously holding up artwork as the ideal. But here’s the thing: art is art. People are people. They periodically have some things in common, but it’s certainly not frequent enough to make art a reasonable aspiration for your appearance on a random Tuesday.

And for that matter, why do The Powers That Be get to pick the artwork we want to resemble? Just because their voice is the loudest? Because they bought the most airtime? If I decided to live my entire life by the rule that He Who Advertises To Me Most Aggressively Wins, then I’d fall to pieces almost immediately just because I’d never be able to decide whether Coke or Pepsi was the best. I’d be like that thought experiment where you strap a piece of buttered-side-up toast to the back of a cat and drop it, since in theory neither side will ever hit the ground (note: do not do this, bananahead).

So to heck with them, I say. This is my life and my body and my sense of aesthetics shall rule the day. They don’t get to tell me that blonde hair is more “perfect” than brown, they don’t get to tell me that French manicures are more “perfect” than the natural unpolished look that I’m rockin’, and they don’t get to tell me that the artwork on the front of magazines is more “perfect” than the artwork I resemble.

220px-Willendorf-Venus-1468

This one, thankyouverymuch. And I think she’s perfect.

And from here on out, I’m going to pay close attention to my language. I will try with all my might to avoid using the “p” word unless it’s in a clearly indicated statement of opinion (“Personally, I think this cheesecake is perfect”) or in reference to an objectively, scientifically measurable phenomenon (“That photograph is centered perfectly above the sofa”).

Human beings are not perfect, y’all. That’s all I’m saying. And the sooner we can strike that word from our vocabulary and decide collectively that the advertisers don’t get to buy our sense of aesthetics anymore, the sooner we can maybe start making some progress away from fat-shaming and skinny-slamming and people having surgery on their eyelids.

Now if you’ll pardon me, I’m going to go look at some more pictures of Jennifer Lawrence. That gal is not perfect, but she’s certainly aesthetically pleasing to my eye, and besides, she’s a hoot.

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Filed under Don't Make Me Come Down There, General Musings and Meanderings

I Kinda Rule: Holiday Edition

I have been working on this post since Sunday afternoon.

So far what has tended to happen is that I think for a few minutes about what I want to say and how I want to say it, then I stride purposefully toward my office so that I can sit down and start writing, and somewhere around the 10-steps-from-the-office-door mark 35 years of training leap up and bash me over the head with a giant mallet labeled “HUMILITY”. If that doesn’t slow my roll, it breaks out “SHAME”, and if all else fails, it falls back on “SELF-ABASEMENT” which, as trump cards go, is pretty much always effective.

Which is how I’ve come to spend three days not writing this post. In the meantime, I’ve done some laundry, cooked some food, had I don’t even know how many frivolous conversations with people, wrapped some presents, and watched some television. Heck, yesterday afternoon I took about a 20-minute nap. That is how hard I’ve been avoiding writing this post.

And that’s why it’s extra-important that I write it: because it’s about how I was actually kind of a rock star this weekend. And if anyone else I care about had been a rock star, I’d be all about bragging on ’em. I’d post about ’em on Facebook. I’d write blogs in their honor. I’d take and post pictures, and talk about them on the phone with my mother. But when I’m the one who broke out a little extra awesomeness? Somehow that’s taboo, and my internal filters clamp down like I’m about to share some state secret I don’t even have the clearance to know–let alone to share with the world.

And that’s not ok, when it comes right down to it. “Humility”, they say (where “they” = C. S. Lewis), “is not thinking less of yourself, but thinking of yourself less”…and I agree with that, but I’d hasten to point out that nowhere in there does it say anything about refusing to think of yourself at all. We are permitted to brag on anyone who does something awesome–and that includes ourselves. I am permitted to brag on anyone who does something awesome–and that includes myself.

I’ve written 363 words now and I’m still elbow-deep in caveat. To heck with this; I’m goin’ in.

This weekend was Moon Man’s Fancypants Holiday Office Shindig. and I looked like this:

Fancypants Holiday Office Shindig 2013

Some of you may recall the saga of The Dress from last week, when I came to grips with the idea that my nieces and nephews deserve to grow up with an Auntie BW who is confident enough to post a picture of the nice model wearing the dress she herself is planning to wear, even knowing full well that she and the model will look different in it.

And y’know what? I rocked that dress. Yes, the model and I looked different, which is probably just as well because it would be very confusing if everyone on earth looked alike. No, I did not have a team of hair- or makeup stylists. And yes, I totally had backup flats in my purse, because my Mama didn’t raise no fool. But it deserves to be said: I looked cute. I wore the heck outta that dress, and I will probably wear it again for future shindigs (there’s a charity dinner we attended for the first time last year, and I betcha we go again this year, and the dress would be perfectly appropriate for that event). Shee-yoot, I might wear that dress to the grocery store. I felt great, very confident, very stylish, very with-it, and it showed.

And–and and and–I got all the way through the fancypants shindig without throwing, dropping, or catapulting any food! I did not belch or sneeze on anyone, I used my napkin like a grownup lady, I picked the right fork on the first try, and I meandered graciously with a glass of wine and didn’t spill a single drop. I am a total rock star, kids, and don’t you (or I) forget it.

The face of a total rock star.

The face of a total rock star.

And then the next morning we came home and did the final preparations for the Buffalo Stampede Adopt-a-Family 2013 holiday party. We started this last year, this business of adopting a family through a local children’s charity and having everyone in our group (the “Buffalo Stampede”) either select one family member to buy for or just bring cash to donate to the grocery store gift card we commit to including. Then we pick a date and throw a party, and everyone brings their gifts to show off and wrap together while enjoying warm beverages and snacks and good, festive company.

It all sounds pretty straightforward, reduced to a few sentences like that, but the reality is that there’s a not-insignificant amount of coordination and work involved. For context, I started working on this in October. We had roughly 20 families participate in this year’s Stampede; so for the last 60 days or so, I’ve done Facebook postings, shopping, replied to emails/text messages/instant messages/Facebook messages/calls, fielded last-minute questions about sizes and/or color preferences and/or ages and/or preferred stores, and made sure each person in our assigned family had at least one designated Primary Shopper. I’ve counted cash. I’ve filed gift receipts. I’ve selected and gathered coordinating gift wrap, tissue paper, and gift tags, and picked up garment boxes and gift card holders.

And then there’s the party itself, which needed coordinating plates, bowls, and napkins (I may have gotten slightly OCD with it all). I made sure the snack spread included an actual entree (in this case, a big pot of chili) in case people needed a meal option. I had an entire table of arts’n’crafts supplies for the kiddos, including–wait for it–a planned project (superhero snow globes).

See? Snowglobes.

See? Snowglobes.

Hilariously, all the families with kiddos had to bow out of the party because of illness or other crises, so we grownups made the snow globes ourselves, and had a blast. Heck, I even made personalized party favors–and wrapped them individually in gift bags with (you had to know this was coming) coordinated gift bags, tissue paper, and a charming candy cane.

I made a  bunting, people. With inspirational quotes about generosity and taking care of your fellow humans.

See? Bunting. Pay no attention to the cat.

See? Bunting. Pay no attention to the cat.

And it paid off like mad–the turnout was pretty good at the party, the insane flu bug running rampant through our friends group notwithstanding. Our goal was to have at least one present per person in our 6-person adopted family and $75 to put toward a grocery store gift card, and at last count, the total haul was somewhere around 50-55 presents and $160 for the grocery card. Which, and let me be very clear on this point, is an awesome and amazing testament to how generous and loving the Stampede folks can be. I’m deeply honored to know these folks, and deeply proud to be counted among their friends.

The gifts for the family. That's pretty much the exact opposite of an empty stocking on Christmas morning.

The gifts for the family. That’s pretty much the exact opposite of an empty stocking on Christmas morning.

So y’know what, 35 years of training with your mallets and your inner demons? Out you go. If asked, I would say that What I Most Want to Accomplish With My Life is “make a positive difference in people’s lives”, and my unofficial answer is “…and look cute doing it”.

And that, objectively and honestly speaking, is exactly what I did this last weekend.

In other words, I kinda rule. And I deserve to celebrate that fact.

So this one’s for me. Congratulations, Self, on being a total rock star and an all-around swell gal, and double congratulations for doing so in a photogenic way. High-fives all ’round and a nice shot of victory whiskey for me. Attagirl. Et cetera.

Maybe I should make myself a medal.

P.S.–To everyone who participated in this year’s Stampede, Thank you. Without y’all, I’d just be a madwoman with a Facebook account and insufficient supervision. You are generous and incredible people, and … and I’m about to get sniffly again, so I’m stopping here. Love you hooligans.

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The Dress

So. Tomorrow is Moon Man’s Fancypants Office Holiday Shindig. Having survived the holiday office party last year (and even kinda enjoyed it! Tell no one.), I’m actually going into this one feeling fairly confident and prepared–I know the rules, know the layout, know more-or-less what to expect and how I’m meant to behave–and whether I’d ever officially admit this or not, I’m pretty jazzed about the thing. I mean, c’mon, I get to dress up and go to a fancy place to do fancy things with completely normal people who just happen to also be doing fancy things in a fancy place. How chic and cosmopolitan are we?!?

Besides, Moon Man was on the planning committee this year, so I get to know in advance what we’re having during the Wee Foods on Sticks hour and the Plated Dinner With Treacherous Sauces, and it all sounds terribly tasty. But I digress.

Since I knew the party was a-comin’ (’cause, y’know, it’s an annual thing. I can say with a high degree of confidence that there’ll be another party next year too), and since, regardless of any shenanigans my friends may be trying to encourage, I cannot actually attend this thing wearing either my pajamas or nothing but Chanel No. 5 and a smile, I started the dress pre-shopping process months ago. I spent ages poring over various sites, bookmarking favorites and doing price comparisons and reading reviews. And then about a month ago, It Was Time and the shopping started in earnest…at which point I discovered that the clothing industry is a fickle place (no, really?) and about 70% of the dresses I’d bookmarked were no longer available. So I set a budget, picked new dresses, and settled in to watch for sales….

During which time most of the remaining dresses I’d bookmarked vanished into the ether, to be replaced with the Season’s Hottest New Looks. At increased prices, because holidays = price gouging. Or maybe fancier, more expensive material. Whatevs.

So I panicked, picked a Dress of Last Resort (lovely, if not what I was dreaming of, but available in a nice flattering forest green color), checked the calendar, and waited for payday.

And on payday, I went to order the dress, and discovered that the forest green had sold out in my size. The remaining color options were an unsettling gold, a startling silver, and (heaven help me) baby pink. There are many colors I can successfully wear, which I find both aesthetically pleasing and complimentary to my skin tone. Unsettling gold, startling silver, and baby pink are not among those colors.

Of course, there was also funereal black, which is my usual go-to color, but this is a Cheerful and Festive Cocktail Event we’re talkin’ about here, and the dress was a floor-length slip dress with a lace overlay. Totally acceptable in a cheerful and festive color; but in black, it would’ve been a bit…much.

So I panicked again, and spent the better part of two days looking (and re-looking, and re-re-looking) at every single dress, pantsuit, skirt/top combo, slacks/top combo, and festive pajama set available on the interwebs, because I am an extra-curvy gal and they almost never carry my size in stores. Even the plus-size stores–my size sells out first, so shopping online is my best bet.

And glory of glories, joy of joys, happy Saturnalia and merry Christmas to all, I found a dress. A good dress. A dress I like. And–further proof that this season works miracles–it was on sale. I ran it past Moon Man and past my BFF for a quick “Am I crazy from excessive shopping, or is this actually as adorable as I think it is?” check, and got thumbs-up from both parties…and I bought the hell outta that dress. I pounced on it like…well, me, on a cake. Lion on a gazelle. Desperate panicked dressless woman on a dress that’s on sale. I gave them my credit card faster than I used to give out my phone number when I was still single.

And because that’s how I roll, I posted about this on Facebook as the story unfolded, and people laughed and “liked” my posts and demanded pictures of the dress, and I promised them that yes, yes, all in due time, my dears, your pictures shall be forthcoming.

And then the dress arrived, and I tried it on, and it fit, so I knew for sure this was what I’d be wearing…and I didn’t post any pictures.

I’ve been telling myself that this is because I wanted it to be a surprise, that I’d post pictures once I was actually all gussied up and wearing the dress. But the truth, if we’re gonna be real darned honest here for a second, is that I’ve been wanting to post pictures of it this whole time. It’s my Triumph dress. My I Snatched Victory From the Evil Clutches of Looming Defeat dress. My Have a Little Faith and All Will Be Well dress.

It’s not actually as cute as all that, but it’s kind of a big deal to me.

But I hadn’t posted any pictures of it because–back to the honesty part–I do not look like the model who is wearing the dress in the picture. We are not the same size. We do not have the same stylists (hers is a team of pros. Mine is…well, me). Nobody will be following me around at the Fancypants Office Holiday Shindig, airbrushing and Photoshopping me in realtime. 

/blinkblink

But y’know what? Screw that. I have nieces who deserve to have a confident Auntie BW. They deserve to see that I know that I don’t look like a supermodel but that I believe that that’s ok. They deserve to have someone show them that two people can wear the same dress, look radically different in it, and both still be drop-dead head-turning neck-snapping somebody-call-the-law gorgeous in it in completely different ways.

deserve to have that behavior modeled for me, and since neither the dogs nor the cats are volunteering and lord knows the media ain’t helping, I’ll just have to do it myself.

So without further ado, here, kids, is the dress:

patricia-dress-from-igigi

 

…and I promise to post pictures of myself in said dress once the Fancypants Party happens and pictures actually exist. Right now it’s hanging in my closet, where nobody is allowed to touch it, breathe on it, or look at it very hard.

Because while I’m all for modeling self-confidence and self-acceptance, I’m also all for not strolling into the party with a giant wrinkle across my butt. Especially not when it’s my Victory dress. My Delicious Gazelle on the Savanna dress. My Shut Up and Take My Money dress.

My Fancypants Dress for Fancy People dress.

The dress.

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The Sharpest Knife in the Knife Block

It’s Thanksgiving, and you know what that means: a Facebook feed full of people waxing poetic about friends and family and blessings and family and jobs and friends and food and friends and family. And don’t get me wrong–all that stuff is really nice, and I’m sure it’s all completely heartfelt and yes, I too am grateful for friends and family and blessings and jobs and stuff.

But you know what I’m most thankful for today?

Today I am most thankful for all those boneheaded, dumb-as-a-box-of-rocks, foolish, ill-conceived, badly planned, poorly thought out, ultra-doofus choices that I’ve made since I hit the age when I was legally allowed to make all those herpaderp decisions and have to clean them up myself. Because sure, they usually made things exceedingly complicated and awful at the time; but today, when there’s bread rising in the kitchen and an amazing hubby sorting CDs in the dining room and a couple of dogs and a couple of cats snoozing in various sunbeams and life generally has that rosy glow about it, today I realize how easy and comfortable and  lovely my life has become as a result of those dunderheaded moments, and I have to honor them.

There was the day at the daycare center when I said “Ok, I’ll trust that the director submitted all the paperwork correctly for this employee, and I’ll process payroll for her without double-checking, because why would the director lie?”. That’s when I learned what it feels like to lose a job you love, and what it feels like to take a Job of Last Resort at the Call Center of Doom…which is what enabled me to arrange my schedule so that I could go back and finish the college program I’d quit halfway through.

And speaking of the college program, there was that day during my sophomore year of college when I met a guy and fell sooooo in looooove and moved him into my apartment six weeks later even though he had no job, no job prospects, and no money with which to support himself; so eventually I quit school to take a full-time minimum-wage job at a daycare center to support him–er, us–and learned that I loved teaching and met some awesome families but didn’t have a degree so I couldn’t advance very far, and then I lost that job anyway (see previous) and, because such is the way of things, the guy eventually ran off with a 19-year-old voice major, but that’s pretty ok because…

While we were together, he started spending an alarming amount of time with a gal he worked with (he did have some jobs, just not consistently or frequently), including ditching Thanksgiving with my family to spend it with her, and after several months of my being increasingly sure that he was cheating on me with her and wanting her head on a platter, I met her…and her boyfriend, whom my guy had just forgotten to mention all this time. I lost the guy (see previous), but she and I became BFFs, and she was the maid of honor at my wedding…

To a guy I met after having dated a string of progressively…um…well, I mean, I’m sure most of them are very nice people and will make someone else blissfully happy. However, that person was really, really, really not ever gonna be me, ’cause ohsweetbabyjesus were some of those relationships disastrous. Hoo boy. So one day I sat down on the sofa, said “Ok, Lord, I am sick of this malarkey. You want me to be in a relationship? You find the person and send ’em at me, because obviously I am not so whippy at finding ’em myself”…and the next day I got an email from Moon Man, via a dating website we were both on.

And he’d made his share of dunderheaded choices too–marrying That Woman comes to mind, but without that choice he would’ve ended up Chicago and we probably would never have met, so while she’s not really the first person I think of when I name folks who are invited to Thanksgiving dinner, I’m nonetheless grateful for her, because she brought him back to Kansas. And she made him buy this house which I don’t necessarily love, but lord lord is it ever a far sight better than the roach-infested apartment where I was living when we met, and it’s nice and roomy for hosting parties and we even have a guest room, which makes me feel terribly swanky and grown-up.

So there it is: this Thanksgiving I’m most grateful for all those moments when I was not, in fact, the sharpest knife in the knife block. The brightest crayon in the box. The quickest brown fox in a room full of lazy dogs. Because when you think about it, those slow, dull, drab fox moments are the ones that dragged me inevitably toward a life that I’m actually really proud of. They’re the choices that got me to a place where I’m safe, happy, stable, sane, and (honestly) rather too well-fed. They brought me my dearest friends (Moon Man introduced me to about 150 of the people on my friends list), my lovable heathen critters, my home, my college degree, and my husband. And I wouldn’t change ’em for…

Yeah, no, that’s a lie. There are some that I’d totally undo if I had half a chance. ‘Cause seriously now, let’s not be hasty. But I’d keep most of ’em…

And I’d totally keep all of you. Happy Thanksgiving, ‘Tracters. I love you each, and I love you all. Even when you’re not being the shiniest jewel in the crown.

thanksgiving-charlie-brown-facebook-timeline-cover

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