Birthday Christmas lights.
I know… I promised some grade-A midlife crisis freakout scribbles. And I hate to disappoint (because even I was looking forward to reading it and making fun of myself). Unfortunately, I may have accidentally processed all of my irrational age-related fears in a boorishly healthy manner prior to my birthday… so this post might be a little heavy on the positive outlook and opportunities for growth front.
Again, my apologies.
Actually we can blame it on Adobe’s free version of photoshop for the iPhone. I’ve realized that there is nothing to worry about when embarking on a whole new decade when I can just demand that every photo taken of me ever be overlaid in Warm Vintage III:
See how healthy and lovely I look? That’s a woman who’s ready for all the enlightenment and body-acceptance falsely promised to accompany her 30s!
Those of you who’ve ridden the roller coaster of my last two weeks will know that I didn’t slide easily into this 11th hour zen perspective. Out of no where I started losing sleep, questioning the relevance of my existence, zoning out during movies while my own horror-flick montage of a life lived unfulfilled played in my head… and, worst of all, I was plagued with bizarre and taunting dreams… like the most recent in which I had to get to Napa Valley for my birthday but all of the freeways had been replaced with water slides and I was TOO BIG FOR THE FREEWAY WATER SLIDE.
No one deserves that. Well, I wasn’t about to let my 30th birthday break me. Birthdays can smell fear (or is that cats? babies?)… anyway, never let them see you sweat!
Luckily, with my good friends Warm Vintage III and a new pair of Gap True Straight (cough, stretch) jeans I feel both ready and optimistic about this next chapter. Maybe all this age-related wisdom is just the comfort that comes from being around the block long enough to know what you can change, what you can’t change, and what you can purchase in the event that all else fails.
I guess we’ll see how I feel about it next week.
For now, peace out 20s… it’s been real. College, foreign travels, a great job, the best friends, and my perfect match. So much to be thankful for, but so much more to look forward to.
Oh, DMV… you are such a sneaky mistress! Day two of two and I’m no closer to obtaining a drivers license with my new married last name and updated (non-disgruntled-teen) photo than I was 12 months ago when I should have taken care of it all in the first place…
I am willing to accept some responsibility for this. In fact, the ladies at the DMV were unbelievably nice… especially after the multiple rejections caused me to want to throw myself on the floor tantrum-style and poke my eyes out with their little accordion pens. But right now I’m too exhausted from two straight days of doing my hair and using advanced makeup techniques like primer and eyeliner to really care about my roll in all of this. I want a nap. And a drivers license.
This experience has led me to self-evaluate and ask some hard hitting questions… mainly, who are these super-human women that get up every morning and put in the time to look foxy and fabulous? Seriously… who are you?! How do you do what you do? Sometimes I tell myself that you just roll out of bed looking cookie-cutter cute… but that denies you props for your outstanding commitment to consistent glam. Other times I tell myself you’re all just freaks of nature, compensating for some weird sub-level issue, like scales or an extra belly-button… but then I catch my overt jealousy showing and it makes me feel ugly.
Alas, I fall into a different category of woman… the kind who prefers creature comforts that only a cozy bed and fluffy comforter can provide, like sleep. I like to spend my mornings sleeping. On days that I have a little extra time after I’m done sleeping, I like to sleep some more.
Two days in a row now I’ve sacrificed my mornings to the hair and makeup gods… with shocking success (if I say so myself… which I do, because no one can say otherwise and there certainly isn’t photographic evidence of my engineered beauty… thanks for nothing, DMV!). I just don’t have another day in me. I’m being completely honest when I say that I’ll be rescheduling my next appointment for a minimum of two weeks out in order to give myself time to recover and muster enough courage to do it all over again.
In the interest of time (that nap is calling my name), I’ll only ask once more… who are you super-human ladies and which one of you is coming over to teach me the treasures of your trade? I can pay you in the untold benefits that my unfortunate expertise of navigating the beast known as the Department of Motor Vehicles can provide. Trust me, this is a good deal.
It’s true. See above. Equal parts inspiring and obnoxious. Mostly inspiring… but, let’s face it, a little obnoxious when something that was once used to transport your produce from the central valley is sold back to you for $350.
Coming off a weekend spent at the Alameda Antiques Market, where we walked miles of stalls filled with handmade and reclaimed treasures, may have given us a false sense of confidence in our design skills. And selling a couple pieces to make room for new, improved, but non-existent replacement furniture may have been somewhat hasty.
As I sit in our considerably emptier living room, in what feels a bit more dormitory-drab than hipster-chic, I console myself with the knowledge that shock will soon turn into excitement over the possibilities that a new space represents. There are design blogs to review, opinions to be heard, and sales to be sniffed out and taken advantage of!
Until then, it helps to remember that there are people on this planet who can turn a few wooden crates into a drool-worthy cabinet and hutch.
Don’t worry, the full pre-mid-life crisis will be covered in a dedicated post to come shortly… in the meantime we can look at my current reading list and let it speak for itself:
Michael Pollen’s The Omnivore’s Dilemma… because I don’t feel as terrible about myself as I should for the truck-load of meat I consume on a daily basis coupled with my penchant for bargain shopping (read: the animals I’m eating probably aren’t coming from a long, leisured life lived on a beautiful midwestern pasture).
Place: about halfway through, a vast improvement on the first 30 pages which I had read, re-read, and re-re-read over the last two years. Impact: Shockingly (or perhaps not-so since I’m still in the active reading stage…), the reading of this book has coincided with a sharp decrease in my hyper-hankering for meat. Still a proud meat eater, but do I really need it at every meal? No. I don’t.
Amanda, meet vegetables: vegetables enjoy sun, water, and relaxing in the ‘patch with rows of their buddies. Vegetables, meet Amanda: Amanda hates the sun and has to set a calendar reminder to drink the minimum recommended amount of water daily. I’m sure you two will find something in common over the next 30 years.
Gary Vee’s Crush It… because I really should get off my duff and learn how to leverage social media to capitalize on my personal brand, right after I figure out what my personal brand is. You can see how this indulges my newfound and constant self-interrogation: ‘Who am I?’, ‘What is my purpose?’, ‘How can I connect with humanity on a deeper, more meaningful level?’… and ‘Oh my god, do I even like humanity!? What kind of jerk am I?’.
Place: halfway (yes, that’s a trend… reading two books simultaneously makes for consistently poor progress). Impact: I just spent the morning creating a Twitter account, @thedillydaily. Yes, a Twitter account. Despite feeling a little silly and completely out of place… no, that’s it, I’ve yet to find the upside necessary to finish this sentence. Will keep you posted.
Am bummed starting a Twitter account doesn’t make me a Twihard… but that probably speaks more to the gravity of my pre-mid-life crisis than either of the books I’m currently reading.
First, I know what you’re thinking… Amanda, were three fortune cookies really necessary? To that I say: a. rude, b. they wouldn’t give you three if you weren’t supposed to eat all of them… immediately… without sharing (duh), and c. I wouldn’t be publicizing the details of my gluttony unless there was a much bigger story here that had to be told.
With that out of the way, I can begin. This story, like all of the classics, unfolds cookie by scrumptiously crunchy cookie…
1. “Life is a series of choices. Today yours are good ones.” I can only imagine they’re referring to my choice of Chinese takeout for dinner… perhaps to my (ill-fated, according to my tummy) decision to eat all three fortune cookies in one sitting… or, maybe this is cookie #1’s sly way of suggesting that I make the ‘good choice’ today of taking cookie #2’s advice on what I should do tomorrow, something like:
2. “Do something unusual tomorrow.” Well, that goes without saying… I always do something particularly unusual on the last Wednesday in the 8th month of even calendar years… but, just for the sake of argument, what if I were on the fence about doing something unusual tomorrow? Or overwhelmed by the choice of exactly which unusual thing to do? Honestly, cookie #2, I really don’t see why I should take your advice (aside from the impressive fact that you’re clearly in cahoots with cookie #1, who so cleverly buttered me up by pre-praising my decision to do so). Perhaps:
3. “You will attend an unusual party and meet someone important.” My apologies, cookie #2! You were clearly a setup for cookie #3. I shouldn’t have gotten heated with you.
It’s all so clear… I’m going to make the good choice today to do something unusual tomorrow, specifically: attending an unusual party and meeting someone important! Cookie(s), you’re as brilliant as you are tasty.
Now, I think we can all agree that Tai Chi Chinese wins the award for most persuasive fortune cookies in the history of the world ever. But more importantly, I also think there’s a lesson in here for all of us. There is only one way to avoid spending your Tuesday night fretting over important people that you’re supposed to meet at upcoming mystery parties, and that to request four fortune cookies every time you order takeout. Always four.
As a consummate brightsider I can justify just about anything. Anything except unapologetic rudeness. This is the story of how I learned to tackle my brightsiding blind spot by twisting reality into an example of my noble character.
Earlier today I was jogging in my neighborhood when a giant Land Rover made a speedy left to cut me off in an intersection. It cut things so close (rude!) that I could see the driver’s (unapologetic) face. I got a little peeved, but was too busy huffing and puffing to stay irritated for long. I kept on trucking and forgot about it entirely. That is until fate intervened on my way home and I once again saw our friend the Land Rover.
I’ll set the scene for overly dramatic effect: I’m approaching a four-way intersection at high speed (read: snail’s pace) when I spot the Rover. He’s coming in from my right and it’s going to be a photo finish to the stop sign. Shockingly (read: not surprisingly), I’m narrowly beat by the Rover… no matter, I dart into the street anyway! Stupid? Definitely. Selfless? Absolutely. Cue brightsiding… I didn’t do this incredibly risky thing for the fleeting satisfaction of watching Mr. My-Time-Is-More-Valuable-Than-Yours’ heart momentarily stop as he slammed on his brakes; I did this to help him. Seriously-ish. Here’s what I mean…
…but first, a little math! This, our second encounter, occurred about 10 minutes after our first and in roughly the same spot. Now, if I had PB&J — crunchy, not smooth — on wheat for lunch, and I cut it on the diagonal (crucial), this tells us that the Rover had been roaming the streets looking for parking since he nearly ran me down the first time. That’s a lot of hunting time and I can be sympathetic to the suckage of an evening spent circling the same four city blocks for half an hour.
So, by running into the street like a complete idiot I gave ‘rove a second chance to do what he should have done in the first place (read: right of way, buddy!) — thereby righting the crap karma he had brought upon himself, freeing him up to find a spot, and allowing him to get home a little faster to what I can only imagine are his equally impatient wife, children, and a meal of gold plated mean-on-a-stick.
Hey, nobody says that brightsiding means I have to be nice.
My point is, I bet our little lesson-learner found parking on the very next block… and that he thanked me for it… after mentally applauding my spectacular running form… and complimenting my surprisingly fresh appearance given the difficulty of my course. Anyway, I’m pretty sure that’s exactly how it happened.
That, or perhaps I shouldn’t be allowed to run unsupervised.
…so stop it with the hemming and hawing. No, they will not live forever (with your wonky steam heaters, you’ll be lucky if they outlast your manicure), but having flowers in the apartment makes you happy. It brightens your space. And don’t give me the cost argument… you spend more on less.
While you’re at it, plant a couple. Living in a concrete jungle with zero backyard gardening space is no excuse. Look at how nice those $2 minis look over the kitchen sink! You love it.
Look, I know you’ve been burned before. It can be hard to trust yourself again after the trauma of repeatedly planting, neglecting, and tossing. Set yourself a calendar alert and get over it.
Don’t let the fear of failure trick you into thinking it’s just not something you really want… because you like flowers and damnit there will be flowers!
You’d think this would be easy, right? The tough part, at least for me, has always been identifying and vocalizing what I want. Turns out, while I was recently able to tackle that, there is another obstacle I didn’t account for along my path to goal-actualization greatness: finding the time to make it all happen.
When I was younger I learned that if I tempered my expectations of others and wanted for nothing, the smallest action or show of affection would make me feel spoiled rotten in the most glorious and indulgent way. This was a game I played as an only child because, as most of us do, I required more attention than any normal person should ever expect to illicit from another. It may have been artificial, but I’ve never been one to turn down an off-brand hostess cupcake.
While I actually think this crafty perspective benefited me overall — I would describe my default mood as somewhere between blissfully happy and new puppy — suspending all expectation of others had the negative side effect of severely stunting my development of personal preference. The fact that anything would make me happy, regardless of type, size, motive, or any other specification, rendered this completely unnecessary.
All of this to say, I never learned how to ask and demand a thoughtful response to questions as simple as ‘what do I want?’. That’s always been my tough-spot, my uphill battle, my soufflé.
But there’s an obstacle that I always overlook when launching full-throttle into a new project (after celebrating the major accomplishment of first identifying what I want, of course!). I have the nasty habit of calling things off as a complete failure at the first sign of falter. It’s the perfect manifestation of expecting perfection 100% of the time when a. that’s literally not possible, and b. ‘good enough’ can carry you through the tough spots if you’re willing to cut yourself some slack along your journey. It’s also a bad habit that I’m ready to drop like a… don’t make me finish that bad joke.
Yes, part of this 9 a.m. self psych-eval was prompted by the fact that I haven’t posted here in a couple weeks despite my recent goal to post every day. I started this morning trying to figure out why it had been so long, what I was going to do to get back on track, how I could possibly re-enter after such a visible failure on a freshly pressed goal. I spent thirty minutes spinning myself into the false realization that I’d have to move mountains to set things straight again. Besides, I just didn’t have the time to follow-through on daily posts. What a silly goal! What bull. Do you know what I did from 8:30 to 9 a.m. this morning? I’ll tell you. I fell down the internet rabbit hole until I looked up and realized that the only thing a leftovers recipe for lamb pitas, a google search for Mali Ston, Croatia, and an article on reducing the risk of autism in children had in common was that they prove I’ve got time. And possibly some sort of attention deficit disorder.
Now, an hour or so later, I’m getting ready to push ‘Publish’ on a post that puts me right back on track. Just like that. I’m back. I guess the trick to finding the time to honor your goals is realizing that what you’re really looking for isn’t time, it’s the courage to make yourself a priority.
Finding out last minute that you have to cancel your Thirsty Thursday plans for an off-site work meeting (especially when said TT plans include watching your good friend go to the highest bidder at auction… no, this isn’t a euphemism… it was for charity, sickos!) is never fun.
Thank goodness there are redeeming factors to mitigate the tragedy of such a situation, namely:
• unspoken citywide dress code that allows a maxi-dress and flats to pass as professional attire,
• workday flexibility that permits me to leave the office a half hour early and meander the mile to my meeting (thus avoiding Muni, like a gangster… a gangster who really appreciates nature and early 19th century architecture), and
• being rewarded at the end of it all with a destination like the one pictured above.
Today I learned that work ain’t so bad, even when displacing better-made plans, when you’re under a willow tree in the middle of downtown SF.