Last week, we went to the pet store to get some fish. Due to an unfortunate tank-cleaning mishap, we lost a couple of fish, and once the appropriate mourning period had passed, we decided to get some catfish.

The pet store lady was busy trying to talk a guy out of buying goldfish for his small tank, so we had some time to watch the fish. There was another woman there with her little boy, who could not have been more than two. He was very into any fish that had any red markings. He dug red fish. And he was not shy about telling me or Z about the cool red fish.

The clerk finally convinced the guy he wanted something smaller for his tank, and while he considered his options, she came over to ask us what we were looking for. We showed her the fish we were interested in, and she went off to get a net.

Z and Scott and I began discussing the vagaries of catfish, the need for algae pellets … and I noticed that there was a small hand resting next to my knee. The hand on the leg thing was a familiar sensation, so it took me a minute to realize that it’s actually been about six or seven years since I’ve had a child of the size that would allow for that.

I glanced down to see our little red-fish friend. I assumed that he just didn’t realize the lady he was touching wasn’t his mom, and I didn’t want to scare the little guy, so I smiled and said, “Hey, buddy …”

And he looked up, grabbed my hand, and pulled me back over to the farthest fish tank on the wall, to show me the super cool all-red fish contained within.

His mom was very apologetic. “He’s very friendly,” she said.

I told her it was fine. It was fine. He was a cute kid, and it’s been a long time since a tiny boy has pulled me over to show me something super cool!

***

So I’m letting my hair grow out to its natural color. Which is … I dunno, dark blonde or brown? It’s been forever since I saw it. BUT. It is also a whole lot of gray.

I got my first gray hair at 19. I always swore that when all of it went, I’d quit dying it. Just go natural. This year, I felt that it was finally gray enough to at least let it come in and see how I liked it. So far, so good; we’ll see how it progresses.

And I read this article in Time this week about the body positivity movement, and how it apparently has a gap–GenX women aren’t really represented in it. Although the author mentions that it sort of ramps back up when women are 70 or so? And I’m pretty sure that means there’s a portion of Boomer women being left out, too? One way or the other, though, my cohort is more or less being forgotten on the “love and accept yourself for who you are” train (we’re GenX; we’re used to it), apparently.

I have back and forth feelings on this. Like, does being 45 mean that I can’t look at a younger woman in a body positivity IG post and feel inspired? That seems stupid. On the other hand, aging and the body changes it brings is wack. But in other ways aging is kind of amazing, and I’d love to see a changing conversation around that. I know a lot of women who are afraid to get old. Turning 30, then 40, then 50 are times of mourning. I do it, too–staring down 45 was uncomfortable as hell; part of that was OH MY GOD I AM OLD. I HAVE EXACTLY NOTHING TOGETHER. (Part of it was I have not accomplished enough! I am a failure! But that is a different, if related, topic.).

But but but. I don’t think I want to be 25 again, or even 35. I’ve worked hard to get what little bit of together I am. The ways in which I like myself have quite a lot to do with how old I am–I’ve got a certain amount of perspective, and that comes from experience and, you know, therapy. :)

Anyway. I posted a photo of my graying hair on Facebook. I just said the gray was coming in–it didn’t actually occur to me to say I’m growing it out purposely. And people commented that I looked great even with gray hair, or that it was silver, not gray.

Look, I feel very lucky to be surrounded by women who reinforce how gorgeous I am, because we all need that. But I couldn’t help but consider how different the comments were when I posted, say, a selfie with a new dye job. I’m sure this was due in part to my not specifying that the gray hair is deliberate, but still: the assumption was that it’s not. That’s not a call-out, just an observation; I’m not entirely sure if this is a problem– maybe it’s a solution in progress. We’re at this point of women supporting and complimenting each other despite the aging or our not-perfect bodies; maybe now we’ll move to a new phase of … celebration of them? Good-natured and fond exasperation with them? I dunno.

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clap along if you feel like a room without a roof

So, I hate “Happy.” I mean, not really, but for a while it was everywhere and I felt like I was being ordered to be happy by every car ad, grocery store speaker, and minion in America, and if I want to be in a bad mood I’m going to be in a bad mood, Pharrell, goddammit. So my hating “Happy” has become a bit of an inside joke for the lovely husband, Z, and me.

Last night was the gifted class spaghetti dinner fundraiser. The kids all performed for us. Z warned me they were singing “Happy.” Numerous times. (This is the same kid who was worried I’d be upset at him for singing “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus” because I’d think he was saying I was an adulteress or something. Our conversation about that is actually how he learned the word ‘adulteress.’)

Z likes to find us in the audience, give us a wave, and then not look at us again during performances. “Happy” was the last song of the evening. The intro started, and he looked right at me, gave me the biggest cheesy grin, and this unsubtle, utterly obvious thumbs up.

I cackled. Like, I’m pretty sure people were looking at me.

Scott and I were together for 16 years before we had the boy, so we were a pretty solid unit before we added him to the mix. And every once in a while, like last night, it hits me just how well our little goofball fits in with us.

artistic friendship books?

So the other morning on NPR, I heard this story about Edgar Degas and Mary Cassatt, and their relationship.

Okay, about all I know of Degas are his ballet paintings, and I know even less about Cassatt (though guess whose work randomly showed up on my Tumblr today?), but now I know that they knew one another and influenced each other’s work. The part of the story above that caught my attention, though, was how there’s a new novel out about the two of them and their relationship, and the novel has them romantically involved–even though there’s no historical evidence to prove they ever were.

Which, whatever, historical fiction and you write what you write–just because there’s no historical record of Degas and Cassatt kissing doesn’t mean an author can’t or shouldn’t write that. But it got me thinking, and what I thought was, where’s the book about the two artists who get each other, who influence each other’s work, and who don’t fall in love or have sex?

I mean, I love my husband. But if you asked me (and my husband, actually) who the person is who just gets me, without my having to explain it, it’s Jason. There’s a reason we’re evil twins. And we do have this artistic relationship going on along with the friendship, and we have a ridiculous amount of shorthand, but we’ve both said that even if our orientations were compatible, we probably would not get together. We’re too high maintenance in too many of the same ways.

So where are those relationships in books? Sure, you can totally write Degas and Cassatt having a romantic relationship, but why not write it the other way? And I ask this partly because I’m thinking there’s a lack, but also because, you know, if they’re out there I’d like to know about them.

Why the Moody Blues’ “Greatest Hits” is a Dystopian Album

That would be this album. On cassette, even.

It was certainly high school, probably my junior year? When I was still desperately searching for music that would define me (you know, like you do … I was a weird kid).

I got this album and a copy of The Handmaid’s Tale at the same time. And my stereo had a cassette player that would flip the tape and play the whole thing pretty much on repeat. So that was my spring break, playing the Moody Blues over and over while reading about Offred and the Commander and Nick in my stuffy bedroom with the oscillating fan going.

“Nights In White Satin” always makes me think of Offred rubbing stolen butter into her skin. It also makes me feel nostalgic; it makes me remember Offred’s life before, even as it makes that life seem like the 70s, but it makes me remember it as mine, and makes me miss it.

I don’t think the Moody Blues are a particularly dark band, but anything that could make a 17 year old girl feel like the 33 year old protagonist of a dystopian novel–particularly this dystopian novel, which is all about the politics and attitudes towards women and their bodies–well, it’s not all candy floss pop, either.

And of course, if you look at “Your Wildest Dreams” with The Handmaid’s Tale in mind, it makes the song dark. I remember surfacing from the book–the brothel scene particularly–to the sound of “Tuesday Afternoon.” And “Isn’t Life Strange?” always made me angry–like I wanted to toss something at the guy just singing this dorky, twee song while the world was in ruins around me.

I lost the cassette sometime between that year and whatever year I took my undergrad dystopian fiction class, but it didn’t matter. I re-read Handmaid’s Tale” twice in undergrad, and both times the Moody Blues ran through my head as I read it.

ranting to (and about) my new pants

So I bought pants on my day off last week, and today I put on a pair of the new pants for work. Now, this particular pair, I had noticed in the store, had a patterned cloth on the inside for the pockets. I’d sort of glanced at it because I was more concerned with inseam length than interior-pocket-material, but today I took a good look.

The pattern is words. Affirmations, if you will.

You are gorgeous.

Um.

You are glamorous.

Yeah, see, I don’t aim for glamour in my everyday life. Mostly I aim for intimidating as hell and multitasking like a boss.

You are sexy.

Okay, how do you even know? For all you know, pants of mine, I could be wearing you to build a death ray. You could be the pants I chose to wear whilst exacting my bloody revenge on all who wronged me; the pants I chose to wear as I finally put my plan for total megalomaniacal world domination into motion. You could be the pants I chose to wear as I ascended to my ice throne, as I built my magical chocolate factory, as I wrote the music that would make grown people weep even as it rewired their brains to make them better minions. All of this is, admittedly, very sexy … but you don’t know. You’re pants.

You are stunning.

Annoying pants.

You are beautiful.

Annoying pants that I will most certainly not wear to build my death ray.

Way Late to the Party: Thoughts on the Divergent Trilogy

WARNING: I am linking in this entry to an article that totally spoils the end of the Divergent Trilogy by Veronica Roth, and then I go on to spoil the end of it (along with a major plot point in Flowers In the Attic, the Hunger Games books, The Girl of Fire and Thorns, A Song of Ice and Fire {aka Game of Thrones}, and Serenity ). But, good news! I found the button that creates a “read more,” so don’t click if you don’t want to know.

Continue reading “Way Late to the Party: Thoughts on the Divergent Trilogy”

In which I wax rhapsodic about Unfuck Your Habitat

So the reason I sort of fell off the blog over Christmas was that, about three days after I went on break[1], I got sick.  I got nobody else sick, so I figure it was allergies, but still.  Tired, sore throat, gunk galore out my nasal cavities … blech.  I managed to take the boy to the best-friend-in-law’s Peter Pan [2], finish up all the Christmas shopping, and survive the holidays[3]… but I was tired and living on Mucinex and Alka-Seltzer sinus.

I started feeling better the Saturday before I had to go back to work, though that gave me about four days.

Now, I had heard about Unfuck Your Habitat before, but I’d never really checked it out.  But earlier in the week, a friend had posted one of those “Things To Make Your Life Easier” memes on Facebook–you know, use nail polish on your keys so you know which is which, cord labels made out a bread ties–and once again, I saw vertical folding.  My dresser was a freaking disaster, I’d just gotten a bunch of new t-shirts and funky socks for Christmas, it was not looking promising … so I’d thought, why not?

By the time I was feeling up to doing anything, the post was lost in the mists of Facebook.  So I googled “vertical folding” and found an article from UFYH.  It took me about and hour and a half of unloading and refolding my clothes, but in the end …

Vertical folding--it's not just an annoying internet myth; it's real!
Vertical folding–it’s not just a recurring internet myth; it’s real!

I’m actually the most proud of my underwear drawer, which involved my making dividers out of comic backing boards, but I decided it was likely not a good idea to put photos of my underwear on the internet, even if my sock section looks freaking awesome.

A couple weeks (and two bouts of laundry) in, and I’m really just rolling everything more than folding it–my drawers are really shallow–but there’s nothing in my dresser that can’t be rolled.

So from there I went onto the UFYH website and started exploring, and discovered the joy of the 20/10 (20 minutes of cleaning, then a 10 minute break, then 20 more minutes of cleaning, and so on), and the following Monday I did our closet:

The closet, before.
The closet, before.

 

The closet, after.
The closet, after.

I then followed the Tumblr, got the app, started doing the “resets” (daily cleaning) and attempting to unfuck my morning (mixed results so far, because I sort of have two ‘mornings’; there’s the get the kid to school morning, then four hours later there’s get ready for work morning, so … I’ll figure out how to adapt it eventually), and then put the damn thing to the test …

Yesterday, I unfucked the filing.

I honestly thought it was one years’ worth … yeah, it was two.  Possibly two and a half.  All piled on the bookshelf next to my desk.  Three 20/10s before I was at this point:

The filing, halfway through.
The filing, halfway through.

Then a lunch break and another two, and …

The bookcase, after.
The bookcase, after.

Holy cats, I have a bookcase! (This made the unfucking of my car today decidedly anticlimactic.)

I like the whole ‘system,’ thus far.  I dig the swearing–it’s like cleaning a la Quentin Tarantino!–and the snarkiness of the blog, and I like feeling that it’s something I can maybe maintain (‘resetting’ the house sounds so much more do-able than ‘cleaning’ every damn day, and I think it’s making it easier on the husband, too).  I also like the 20/10s.  Because I sometimes feel overwhelmed and sort of defeated before I begin (like, when I look at the filing? Or the after-Xmas closet?), but this gives me a structure.

In the end, I’m hoping once the major unfucking is done, the resets will not take up a whole lot of time.  And when, inevitably in a house with an elementary-school-age child and a parent who works in a library, we all go down with the plague again and the house devolves into chaos and despair, I’ll have the 20/10s and the app and the blog to fall back on.

We shall see how well it works.  So far so good.

Oh, and yes, I am totally doing paperless billing now.


1  [back]College library day job; I get Winter Break.

2  [back]David costumed it–steampunk Peter Pan!  Hook and the pirates basically stole the show, though Peter and Tiger Lily were excellent as well.  The boy loved  it; it was a very late night for him, and he was desperately trying to stay awake through intermission, but he refused to fall asleep until he found out how it ended.

3 [back]I hate the holidays.  I just do.  I spent a lot of my life trying to deny it, and I always ended up feeling like utter hell once they were over.  When I finally admitted it (in a hysterical monologue in the car to my husband about eleven years ago) and gave up on trying to enjoy them … I started actually enjoying them a lot more.  I don’t try to Scrooge on anyone else’s enjoyment of them; I will not Grinch your holiday party.  I just want to peacefully hate getting out the decorations and ignore most of the specials on TV while debating whether a hockey stick or a cattle prod might be more effective in the damn store two days before Christmas.