Thursday, February 27, 2014

The Yellow Shirt

Some clothing comes with memories.

I don't mean bought it at the thrift store and it comes with other people's memories. I mean your own memories. You know, when an outfit reminds you of something (or someone) specific. I remember in 8th grade, when I went to see a movie with some girl friends, and one of them secretly told the boy she was "going out with" to meet us there. They sat in a different row on the other side of the theatre, so all efforts to spy on them proved fruitless. But I do remember after the movie, when she filled the rest of us in (with wide, horrified eyes), about just exactly how disgusting french kissing was.

She was wearing a pink shirt that day with a gold crown on it. She stuffed it in the back of the bottom drawer of her dresser and didn't touch it ever again.

Today I pulled on a yellow shirt I almost never wear anymore.

I could easily spend a couple hours browsing slowly through each item in my closet, and be able to remember important memories attached to a lot of it. The yellow shirt is one of them. I got it in college, because I liked the way it fit me, when I was finally starting to think about minor details like "actually fits me" when it came to buying clothing. (I was a baggy, slouchy chump for most years before that.) I liked the particular shade of pale-ish yellow because it made my olive-ish, half-Italian skin look optimally tan. I always liked the way I felt in this shirt. It reminded me of sun, and summer, and Arizona, home.

Once there was a boy, a boy-who-was-just-a-friend, but I had thought long and hard about somehow making him more-than-a-friend. You know when you're toeing that line, when there's been all that silent and sometimes not-so-silent buildup and tension and waffling and hinting and so on and so forth, and it all kind of comes to a head and you can just feel it. You can just feel it and know that something is about to overflow, someone is about to burst, and something is about to happen. And it's like the sun is out, and everything looks bright and brave, and you're feeling deliciously reckless and like you have nothing to lose in the entire world and everything to gain, and your heart is throbbing every other beat with a resounding "why" and "not," "why" and "not."

I wore the yellow shirt that day.

And today when I wore it, I remembered that day. And I remembered that boy. And it made me smile, because I had almost forgotten about that day and that boy entirely. But he seemed so, SO important then, which is the funny thing. It's funny how a few years can make important seem not-important, and Someone a not-someone. And emotions that feel like they're going to tear you apart in five directions if you don't get them off your chest can somehow, eventually, be nothing but an almost-forgotten yellow shirt in the back of a closet, and a passing smile, and a reminder that wounds do heal, scars do fade, hearts do change and it all just somehow tucks itself away, eventually.

So today the yellow shirt feels like hope.

Hope that the bigger memories and harder hurdles will also, eventually, find their way to the back of my closet, or out of my life altogether. And that my own words from a few years back will someday work themselves out to be true for the situations I really need them to be come.on.finally be true for: that one day, my hands won't be tied, and you will be just a scar, that i can run my thumbs over, and think, "this doesn't hurt me anymore."

Monday, February 24, 2014

A&A: Um, Selfie Lice?

Pssst. Check the bottom of the post for the T-shirt giveaway winners!

▲ Apparently, selfies are causing lice.
▲ Discovered that "dongle" is a real, technological word. Refusing to acknowledge its existence.
▲ Last month a random guy at church stopped me in the hall and said, "Good luck in your search for a man." Well then. ...what?
▲ I decided to make Facebook poking vogue again (or at all). Facebook immediately suggested I poke three of my ex-boyfriends, and one of their best friends. #facebookyouidiot #gohomeyouredrunk
▲ Last month I got a letter informing me I needed to attend traffic school because I committed a moving civil traffic offense "while under 18 years of age." I mean I know I look young, but... 
▲ ...turns out it's because the ticket said my birth date is 1/1/14. I guess speeding isn't ok, but traffic school for newborns is permissible.
▲ Fairly certain that the hold music on a business conference call last week was a bad elevator instrumental version of "It's Getting Hot in Here." #what
▲ That one time when my oven tried to fight me and that other time when I made an inappropriate typo in my notes for a Sunday School lesson at church.

▲ I painted a chair.
 My friend's mom admitted she stole "some clever words" from one of my Instagram posts to use in her online dating profile. I have officially won life!
▲ Did you keep diaries when you were little? Remember when I shared some of my embarrassing childhood entries? Someone made a blog out of their 1992 diary and it makes my entire LIFE happy. It's like we were the same dramatic child.
▲ There is such a thing as ski ballet. Click that....shhhh, trust me.
▲ Last week on an escalator, a young man behind me with down syndrome turned to his mom and said, "I'm good at vocabulary. And I'm patient today." I feel good about a life where you can celebrate things like vocabulary and patience and feel like you've succeeded.
▲ This news story about a guy who was fired for using a forklift on a candy machine. I mean, we've all been there. #hangry
▲ These photos of an empty San Francisco are pretty bomb. Truthfully, I felt half calmed and half unsettled. Another half of me was salivating over all those open parking meters and no cops around to enforce them...
▲ The photos in this story about an elderly Japanese woman being inseparable with the stray cat she rescued are just...I cannot...YOU MUST GO LOOK. OK here's a preview:

And about that giveaway...

If your name is Alicia H., Laura H. or Natalie W., winner winner chicken dinner! And by chicken dinner, I mean we get matching shirts. Check your inbox for an email in the next little bit!

Thursday, February 20, 2014

In the Midnight Hour

I am an incorrigible night owl.

For reasons unbeknownst to me, I somehow managed to handle 5am alarm clocks in high school. What the fetch...? What on earth possessed me to get up that early, a good hour and a half before I had to leave for school? Was it all that time I spent crimping my hair? And I'm talking full-on zig-zag crimping. Don't talk to me about the fact that no, I didn't go to high school in the 80s, but yes, I did crimp my hair obsessively. While we're at it please don't bring up the puka shell necklaces or various jewelry I crafted out of safety pins and guitar picks. (Note: I didn't even start playing the guitar until the very end of high school, but I guess a punk heart can't be denied at any age.) #imtotallyfullofit (Also, did you know puka was spelled like that? I thought it was pooka. The correct way looks like puke-ah.)

I digress.

What I'm getting at is, mornings aren't natural for me, motivated by crimping potential or not. (I now want "crimping potential" to be a for reals thing.) In my ideal world, we'd all wander into work around 10:30 or 11am after a leisurely morning of important things like lounging in bed, catching up on phone calls (but only with people who have earned the right to hear my phlegmy morning voice and retainer-induced speech impediment), actually eating breakfast, standing under the shower water in a trance for at least a quarter of an hour, staring blankly at the wall and pondering the universe while wrapped in a towel and avoiding putting pants I said, all the most important morning activities. After a few hours of work, there'd be a nap. And then more work. And then a break for evening activities. And a lot of meals and snacks worked in there.

And later, if you're me, you'd choose between a) mind-numbing bonding with Netflix, b) reading a book you'll finish in 2 days but still manage to hoard for 6 months until the library sends the collections agency after you, or c) doing more work as the hour pushes midnight. (Or, you write rambling blog posts and email your roommate, who is away on vacation, about the spider and the moth you saw in the house earlier. *cough*) (OK technically the moth was outside the window, but I really didn't appreciate the way he was looking at me.)

Because the truth is, my brain juices extremely well around the midnight hour.

I can't even tell you how many freelance writing assignments I've finished as the clock creeps past 1am. I swear I can accomplish as much writing in 30 minutes late at night as I can in 2 hours before the hour of 11:30am. But people keep rehiring me for more work, so my methods must be panning out well.

So yeah. I'm incurably nocturnal. Like a.....bat. Or a sloth? I'm actually not entirely sure I know which animals are nocturnal after all. But I feel good about bats, because come on....this dude's got crimping potential. (I just made that weird.)

I apologize that this post makes little sense. Welcome to my midnight hour.

Oh, go enter my giveaway so we can be twinners with great shirts. Giddyup!

Monday, February 17, 2014

Printkeg "Here Comes the Sun" T-Shirt Giveaway

Like my shirt? Good, you can have one.
Note: If you're a dude (or lady, whatever) and not into the feminine aspects of these fonts or lyrics, I'd be happy to substitute any Beatles lyrics of your choice!

In fact, three of you can have one! When Printkeg offered to let me design whatever shirt I wanted and give it away on my blog, it took me like a week to decide what to put on it. I settled on these words because they're from my favorite song, "Here Comes the Sun" by the Beatles. That song never fails to put some happy in my soul, so I figured the shirt might be able to accomplish the same!

Also, you know that I love that a simple gray v-neck T-shirt was amongst the dozens of design options when customizing the shirt. Yessss. I stuck to men's sizes (women's shirt sizes are usually too tight/short for my liking), and couldn't be happier with the loose, comfortable fit and v-neck that is a v-neck without plunging to my navel. Double yessss.

And...I get to give away three just like it! I get to choose three winners, and you can have it in whatever size works for you. Meaning....WE'LL BE TWINNERS. (Quadruplets?)

Enter via the widget below! Giveaway ends Monday, Feb. 24.

And thank you to Printkeg! Check out their other customizable goods, from posters to stickers to postcards to banners. In their own words, they're THE cheap online printing company. Woot!

UPDATE: If your name is Alicia H., Laura H. or Natalie W., winner winner chicken dinner! 

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Skittles, passports & honesty-vomit

I just ate too many skittles.

My mom sent me a birthday package, and it included all the goods for my favorite birthday cake: white cake mix (gluten free, thanks momsie!), pink frosting and....skittles. Except I didn't feel like making the whole cake tonight, but I did feel like eating the skittles. So I ate some of them. I'll buy more whenever I make that cake. Right now, my tummy wishes I hadn't just binged on skittles. But it happens.

I'm eating my feelings.

One thing I tried really hard to do in the last year or so is be more honest on my blog. But I realize my honesty only reaches so far, because there are still some things that are just....not for sharing on a blog. Or are they? I read some people's blogs like....this girl. And she is so honest, and her writing is so lovely. And then I wish I could be so honest like that. Because even if my blog has become considerably more vulnerable in the last year, I still hold a lot of it back. Some of it's to respect other people's privacy, but some of it is just because of plain ol' fear. Fear that it'll be a little too honest. Fear that it'll scare away potential fellas. Fear that potential employers will look at the blog and not see a professional writer, just an angsty girl with some words and a public platform. Well, maybe I am equal parts both, you know? Sometimes I'm as angsty as Harry Potter book 5, but that doesn't mean I'm not a hooverdam good writer with a killer ability to nail my writing gigs.

And speaking of writing gigs.

I've been mostly blissfully enjoying the last three months of contract employment with Ralph Lauren because it's meant I could run free from the exhaustion of job hunting, and also that I could axe all the freelance gigs I was doing just to pay rent and keep the writing assignments I actually enjoy. So that's been super nice and liberating. BUT. I looked at my calendar last week and realize it's officially the time that I told myself, at the beginning of the Ralph Lauren contract, that I would start keeping my eyes open for whatever's next. I've got a couple RL months to go, but I know full well (see: my life in 2013) how long it can take to get a bite when you're fishing for work. So I just want to make sure my tush is covered this time around, and that means....hello job boards, cover letters, resume updates...all the works. And part of me feels like I've had a good rest and I'm ready to hit it hard again, but other parts of me feel weighed down by the prospect. But, regardless of my feelings about it, it's a necessary task! I survived the move to California last year and I fully intend to survive 2014 as well. Game on.

In other really honest news, my little heart is a train wreck right now.

I rarely write anything THAT honest, but there it is. I wrote this post about how SURRENDER is the biggest feeling dominating my love life lately, and it still is. Surrender and a sour aftertaste of defeat. I know we've all got our specific challenges when it comes to relationships (single or married), and the last couple years of my dating life have just kicked me in the face repeatedly. And moving to California did exactly what I wanted in that arena: it gave me a fresh start, new options, a lot of dates, etc. But it quickly reminded me that having options also means being let down, and means letting other people down too. And I truly despise both scenarios. Hence the surrender. I just don't feel like fighting that particular fight anymore. I look back at past relationships, and I look forward at potential ones, and lately all I see is a big letdown, and all I feel is a big desire to just avoid it in the first place. Because sometimes ex-boyfriends get engaged. A lot of times, actually. And sometimes I figure out exactly what I want, get my hopes all sky high and ready to go, only to have the rug yanked out from under me and realize timing's a biotch again. You know that excited feeling when you meet someone new? It troubles me, but I can't even feel that lately. I meet new guys and I just feel...half numb, and half angry. I've never been the type to give up in advance because of potential negative outcomes, but it feels like that's all I can muster to do lately. And that makes me feel like I don't even recognize my own squishy beating lump in my chest. And it makes me feel like the joke is on me, every time I try harder. Surrender, indeed. My heart feels like a punching bag right now. Hence all that skittle eating.

But let me end on some good news: I applied for my first passport this week.

In all my wanderlust, I've yet to leave the country. And I'm determined to make it happen this year. So, I went and filled out all the paperwork and now I just wait for that sucker to arrive in the mail! I actually went to the county clerk's office on Valentine's Day, not realizing it would be packed with couples getting hitched on the holiday. I didn't resent their joy, it's not my style, but it did make me ponder the state of my own heart right now. (See large paragraph above.) And then I got my passport photo taken and I had the distinct thought, "Today I'm proposing to the world."

And I am. Dear world...I'd like it very much if we started seeing more of each other. xoxo

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Time to be 27

I woke up this morning and decided I was done being 26, so I turned 27.

I usually write something insightful and reflective on my birthday, but I realized I already write my important, vulnerable thoughts all the time now, so I don't need to let it all out on my birthday anymore. And I think that kind of progress says a lot about the strides I made in the last year, so there you go!

And now that I'm finally getting over the nasty flu I had for the last week (knock on wood), I'm determined to enjoy this day/week immensely :) Stay tuned for all reports. Or just follow my wandering adventures on Instagram @katilda_grams, where the party never stops.

Also, I woke up this morning to a decorated kitchen and a pair of cat leggings. My roommate wins a lot of prizes today. Happy day!

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Why we gotta be so mean?

Yes, that title is definitely a T.Swift reference.

Every time I've poked around on Facebook the last few days, I come across something that turns my tummy over. I follow several news outlets, and there's always some kind of ugly/violent/shocking story happening in the world. But, that's actually not what's causing the tummy turning: it's the way we treat each other. Today I thought, "Why is 80% of my news feed so hooverdam NEGATIVE?" I scroll through it, enjoy the good parts here and there, and feel frankly exhausted by the rest of it.

Sometimes I wonder if people were mean before the Internet, or if the Internet made them mean. It's probably a mixture of both. Spiteful hearts have probably always existed, and spiteful moments have always happened to otherwise kind people, but now there's a platform to fuel and display it. It's like we live in this Lord of the Flies virtual vacuum when we get our Internet goggles on.

We have a problem.

We mock. Oh, how we mock each other.
We scrutinize.
We nitpick.
We shame overweight people.
We shame thin people.
We shame women.
We shame men.
We shame women for shaming men who shame women who shame men who...what?
We shame people for being PEOPLE.
We make decisions about each other's worth/value/intelligence.
We get downright bossy.
We criticize each other's clothing.
We criticize each other's lack of clothing.
We question each other's beliefs/religion/integrity, like a) we know better, and b) it's any of our business.
We know best, right?

And on and on. (and on and on and on.) I look at that list and just came back to one conclusion: BULLY. We bully. We're a bunch of adults with a virtual playground and plenty of slides to push each other down and sand to throw.

I have my moments.

I definitely have my moments where I disagree with someone, or they post something that offends me and I want to write a snappy, scathing little comment. I'd be a self-righteous ninny if I didn't own up to that. And I've had my moments where I've hit publish. I've definitely done that. Other times, I pause and ask myself if I really feel like getting in a fight today....and I can usually hold my tongue. I'm trying to be better at doing more of the latter. Because let's be can't win. I think I can safely say that even the scathiest of scathy scathing replies (yeah, made up some words there) probably won't suddenly enlighten your opponent's mind and convert them to your way of thinking. Ima go with "that actually never happens."

So why do we do it?

Why do we yell? Why do we nitpick, shame, mock, scrutinize, see-list-above? What do we get from that? A sense of satisfaction? Victory? The awesome feeling of having squished another human being to a pulp? Really, what is it? I mean, why does a playground bully push a kid down a slide or throw sand in the first place? Are we trying to prove something? Win something? Be in charge? Get noticed? Make up for lack of love elsewhere in our lives? Right some cosmic wrong the universe has wrought upon us by lashing out at each other? Are we just...bored enough to serve each other up on platters to fill the time?

Coming from a blogger standpoint, it would be the most amazing, liberating feeling to be able to publish something heartfelt and sincere without worrying about the potential onslaught of vicious and spiteful comments. It hurts my heart when I've seen that happen to other bloggers I care about (see: a weekly, sometimes daily, occurrence), and it puts a sour taste in my mouth when I think about some of the terrible ugly that's graced my own inbox. Gross.

I say, let's not be like that anymore.

Let's nice. Let's zip our lips, bite our tongues, open our hearts, ask ourselves if it's really worth it, and not hit publish the next time we feel like hurting someone else...even when we think they totally deserve it.

It's just that...there's so much good/positive/delightful in the world, why not share that instead? Or if we're going to post the heavy stuff, let it be to raise awareness of starving populations, genocide and child prostitution...not petty opinions of each other's lives or ugly jokes at each other's expense.

Next time we're tempted to throw sand, let's pause and choose kindness instead, you know? What can it hurt?

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Dear Love, I surrender.

The one thing I rarely blog about is my dating life.

I try and be pretty transparent and vulnerable on the ol' blog, but that's one area I generally avoid publishing to the online world except in general terms, for many reasons, not least of which is that it includes other people's privacy as well. But it's something that's been on my mind a lot lately, so I've been pondering a way to blog about it without it seeming dramatic...emotional...what-have-you. You know.

And here's what I've got.

I remember a few years ago, bright-eyed and eagerly enjoying the adventures of single life, when I would meet people a few years older than me who said, "Dating is different when you're a little older." I'm turning 27 next week, and let's be real, I still hardly think that classifies me as "older," but I can say......I know exactly what those people meant.

It's different. It feels different. The challenges are different, the approach is different, priorities are different, thinking about merging two independent, complete lives together is a *totally* different ballgame than it used to be, and so on. I went through this frenzy in my early 20s where it really bothered me that I wasn't married. I didn't like the feeling of, heaven forbid, graduating from college without a husband. And then inching closer to 25 (and then past it) without a husband. *yikes*

So then I swung the other way. I finally started living my life....for me. I got happy being single. I started having my own adventures, pursuing my own plans, traveling my own travels and being my own me. I stopped waiting for my life to start and started living it. I didn't swear off dating, I just began forming an identity and self-worth that wasn't tied to a ring on my finger or an arm around my shoulders. And I liked myself a whole lot better for it.

But even with that growing independence, there was still a bit of frenzy to the dating portion of my life. A bit of temptation to fight for a boy's attention, to change just a bit (or a lot) to be noticed, to cover up my less desirable traits and magnify the appealing ones. Sometimes, even, a plan to not-focus-on-dating but secretly thinking because-that's-when-you-meet-the-one. Always an agenda.

What I still had in my head was a big fat SHOULD.

I should be interested in that music/movie/whatever, because so-and-so said he likes it.
I shouldn't be interested in that music/movie/whatever, even if it moves me, because wait-is-that-kosher/attractive/appealing?
I should go to that party, because I never know what opportunity I'll miss.
I shouldn't wear that outfit I really like, because what if he's not into that style?
I should like cooking more than I do, because boys like girls who can cook really well.
I should probably not hate grocery shopping then, right?
I shouldn't shy away from crowds of children like I do. It's not motherly, right?
I should say yes to every date, even if I'm not interested.
I shouldn't stay in on a Friday night, even if it makes me happy sometimes.
I shouldn't want to skip parties to chill at home or go to a movie instead.

Should, should, should. Shouldn't, shouldn't, shouldn't. Because that's what you're SUPPOSED to do, right? What I say is...I want to do what makes me happy. I want to pursue a life that makes me content and calm, whatever that means, and not feel like I'm violating some rule, timeline or plan that isn't my choice. I want to read this article about what doesn't suck about being alone, leave it open on my browser for a week, and keep coming back to it because it just really, really gets me right now. And I want that to be OK.

It's not that I'm against dating, relationships, marriage, etc. I don't want to let bitterness crust my heart or vow to leave love-and-all-its-nonsense in the dust. What I DO want to leave in the dust is the rat race of it all. The frenzy. The rabid hunger in my own eye to end the occasional bout of loneliness, and the target-on-my-back feeling when I feel like I can't give myself permission to just say no to all of it. Because sometimes love is pain. And sometimes it is joy. And when it is pain, I want to be allowed to say no sometimes. Because I can. Not because I should be saying keep at it, yes, carry on, fists in the air, keep marching, don't be a quitter, because-you-never-know-when-it'll-be-the-one.

Because the problem with the Don't Quit attitude is that it allows no room for something I'm realizing is really important: Surrender.

Surrender. It's the word I finally put today, to all of it. To the "I'm done" feeling pulling at my gut stronger and stronger with every little heart squish and man-I-had-my-hopes-up-and-got-rejected or I-had-to-hurt-someone-else-and-really-really-hated-it disappointment. Surrender. Not surrendering like giving up or throwing in the towel, it's surrendering like....letting go. Letting go of every should and shouldn't, every timeline, every agenda, every plan, every gut-wrenching hope of maybe-this-time but that's-ok-I-guess-there's-someone-better-out-there. I want to weather the inevitable storms with a grace that I no longer think comes from tying myself to the mast of the ship, for better or worse, and taking it right in the face, but a grace that comes from knowing when it's just-plain-OK to go below deck and ride through the swells with a dry head and a peaceful mooring in my belly. A kind of surrender and grace that almost look like one and the same emotion. 

What I want is a happy, calm life. A happy, calm life that sometimes skips a night out on the town, but other times goes to every party and doesn't feel obligated to come out of them with that-guy-got-my-number as my biggest gauge of success for the evening. A happy, calm life that sometimes goes months without dates, but other times smiles at the bearded fella on the subway because yeah-you-just-never-know. A happy, calm life that gives myself permission to do it my own way. A happy, calm life that allows me to know exactly what I want out of a relationship and be confident and empowered enough to say no to the ones that don't fit, birthdays rolling by or not. A happy, calm life that still believes in lightning striking and happenstance-love-on-street-corners, but also believes in slipping out the side doors of parties now and again because sometimes it's just easier to breathe out in the quiet street or back patio than it is with my back against the wall of a crowded room, hoping-and-hoping for just the right pair of eyes to meet mine. A happy, calm life in which romantic relationships are a welcome bonus that come naturally and easily, not the end-all-be-all primary game plan or frantic key to success.

So, I choose surrender. Because I can. And therefore I should.