Below is the result of the writing prompt “What are you looking at?” from a recent writers’ group meeting. My friend Kim decided to be brave and post hers. (Which by the way wasn’t that brave because it’s so good. You really need to read it.)
So I’m being brave and posting mine. I always intend to write fiction during our prompts, but almost never do. The event below never happened, but it’s also not exactly fiction.
“What are you looking at?” Dickie said.
“Nothing,” I answer, but we both know it’s not true.
“Liar,” he says.
“Fuck off!” I tell him and his eyes go big.
“I’m telling mom,” he says and we both laugh because that’s how it used to be. Except I never told my brother to fuck off. I don’t think. If I had I’d have gotten my mouth washed out with soap. That’s how it was back then. Mouth washed out with soap for bad language. The wooden spoon for… I honestly can’t remember for what. Lying. Defiance. Kicking in the bathroom door because I locked myself in when we were fighting. We did that. Kicked the door in. Twice.
(Side note: I tried washing Marley’s mouth out with soap once. But liquid soap doesn’t work quite as well as that bar.)
We fought a lot. We weren’t close.
But we are now. Or at least close-ish. We’re different. So different. I mean he voted for Trump. But I forgive him. Almost.
But we have each other’s backs.
“I’m looking at you,” I decide to tell him. “I’m glad you’re my brother.”
*My brother says he didn’t vote for Trump. But he also didn’t vote for Hillary. I forgive him. (Almost.)
Four festivals and three concerts are more shows that some people will see in a lifetime I realize, but those are not my people. God that sounded super assholey, didn’t it? That was not my intent. I’m super grateful to have gone to these shows. And I’ve got more on the way this year.
Hall & Oates with Tears for Fears (OMG!) Adam Ant (OMFG!) Green Day (Finally!) Thomas Rhett with Old Dominion & Walker Hayes (Cannot effing wait). And something called Retro Futura with Howard Jones, the English Beat and a bunch of other 80’s throwbacks. (Bought for a steal on Groupon – going with Dave and the kids. Should be a blast.)
So yes, it has been and will be a good year for music. Because live music more than anything is what makes me feel so alive. And young. (Seriously, so fucking young.)
And fun is great. Important, even. But I have goals this year that I have not achieved. I wanted to interview more artists like I did last year with Matthew Ramsey of Old Dominion and Matthew Nelson of Nelson. But I haven’t. Because that takes effort and I’ve been busy with a new(ish) job and life and just trying to keep all my balls in the air.
You know. Like everyone else.
I’ve only written seven blog posts all year. And maybe two newsletters (which you should totally sign up for because I obviously won’t overwhelm your inbox and you get a free book. Or rather bookette).
I did write this piece for my friend Jessica’s blog that I’m quite proud of, but only because she asked. And really. It was just a reworking of a piece I’d already written.
And my WIP – the sequel to Frosted Cowboy. LOFuckingL. I have an outline (ish). It’s actually a great story (at least that’s what everyone I’ve told the plot to says), even better than the first. And I’ve written some of it, obviously. But. But. What?
I’m just busy.
And so damn scared.
Because writing is so hard. And what if it’s terrible? (And like any first draft, it is so terrible.)
So, sure. I’ve had some goals. But I haven’t really had a plan. And A goal without a plan is just a wish. I read that on Pinterest. Or maybe it was Twitter. One of those very philosophical websites.
Saturday as I was cleaning that pile off my dining room table I came across an article I ripped out of Sunset Magazine by Anne Lamott called Time lost and found. And even though I was “so busy” and I’ve read it at least a dozen times before, I knew that this article about finding time to write was exactly what I needed and I sat down and read it again and it made me cry.
Because Anne Lamott knows the truth.
It’s so easy to make excuses. To be too busy to write. Busy job. Busy social life. Keeping all those balls in the air.
I’m not going to stop going to concerts or hiking with my husband or (god forbid) Happy Hour.
But what if I didn’t work through lunch every day. Or let one of those balls drop? (Or two? Or three? Or four?)
What if when I get up at 5AM (and I do, every single day) I actually write a blog post? Or contact a musician’s publicist? Or stopped being so scared to tackle my WIP?
Maybe in six month’s time – when the year is completely over, I’ll have done more than just have fun. More than just work. I’ll have created.
And my year will be one that was not half-lived.
*The quote “A goal without a dream is just a wish” is attributed to Antoine de Saint-Exupery (but you can find it on Pinterest).
Last Thursday I went to run a quick errand at Target and saw the 100.7 KHAY van in the parking lot and saw a station remote set up. I walked by and said hello and was asked if I wanted to try to win VIP tickets to the Oakheart Country Music Festival on Saturday.
“Oh, I already have tickets,” I said, “but I’ll take a swag bag, if that’s okay.” I chatted with the radio station people for a few minutes and then went into Target for my errand. (You’re dying to know what I had to buy at Target, aren’t you? Well, guess what – I’m not going to tell you, because it’s irrelevant to the story, and I’m trying to be more pithy with my words.)
What was I saying? Oh yeah. As I was paying for my purchase, I realized that they were giving away VIP tickets and I had GA – why not try to win? So I marched back to the tent and told them I did want to enter the contest. They told me the winner had to be present and they were drawing names in 20 minutes. It seemed I had a pretty good chance as there were only a couple of people lurking around, so I went into Target to kill time before the drawing and looked at all their cute summer clothes that I will not be buying due to my serious money diet and (baby) steps towards minimalization.
I came out and there were about five people milling about hoping to have their name pulled. A one in six chance at VIP tickets? Sweet! At precisely 2:30 a name was drawn and… it was not mine. Oh well. Then the guy from the radio station said he had a pair of GA tickets, did we want him to draw another name? Everyone said yes, so he pulled another name and I WON!
“You know what?” I said. “I already have GA tickets – I was just trying to get an upgrade. Pull someone else.”
He pulled the name of a woman who was so happy to win. “I tried to buy tickets, but they were sold out,” she told me. “Thank you so much,” she said, giving me a hug.
I went home feeling happier about my good deed than disappointed about not getting the upgrade. When I told the story three separate times to my three family members at home, every one of them said, “You should have taken the tickets and sold them.”
“What’s wrong with you?” I asked them. “It felt so good to see that woman so happy. I’m writing it in my happiness journal.”
On Saturday I sat down at my computer at two-thirty to print the tickets as my friend, Simmah was coming over at three o’clock to pick me up for the show.
I couldn’t find them.
My search for Oakheart resulted in 20 different emails telling me that tickets were on sale, Josh Turner, David Nail and Drake White were added to the line up, get your VIP tickets NOW, and tickets are almost sold out – hurry!, but no email with a link to my tickets.
I logged into Eventbrite, figuring I’d find my tickets there and saw my tickets for the Boots and Brews Country Music Festival in two weeks, but no Oakheart tickets.
I found the email to Simmah dated December 15th – did she want to go? Tickets, normally $50, were on sale that day only for half price. The line up hadn’t been announced (or even secured), but it seemed like a $25 gamble worth taking.
I did buy the tickets, didn’t I?
I searched my bank records to find that indeed I did. I looked up the company i purchased the tickets from online and tried to get in touch with their customer service department. I sent them an email. I called them. I even tried to contact their Customer Service Manager via in-mail on LinkedIn. But it’s a small company located in Georgia and it was now almost six o’clock eastern time. On a Saturday. No luck.
According to their FAQs (which were ridiculously hard to find, BTW) they mail their tickets via USPS. I didn’t remember getting tickets in the mail, but I purchased them six months ago. I don’t remember what I had for breakfast yesterday, so it’s possible. (Okay, I do actually remember what I had for breakfast yesterday -full fat plain Greek yogurt with fruit and granola- the same thing I have every morning, but you know what I’m saying!) There are only a few places I’d put something like that so I searched all those places. Nothing.
My book says the F word 42 times. I said it a lot more times than that in this frantic half hour period.
Simmah got to my house and I told her the news. She helped me look for the tickets. I did more email searches. And yes, I checked my spam folders. Still nothing.
Why did I give away the tickets I won to that stupid woman?! They only sold out five days before the show. She had a whole six months to buy them! I’m crossing that out of my happiness journal. I do something so nice and look what happens to me. There is no such thing as karma. Why do bad things always happen to me? Shit!
I was so mad at myself for waiting until the last minute to print the tickets and mostly for disappointing my friend. She said it was fine, things happen, we’re going to a bunch of concerts this year. After two hours of fruitless searching we decided to do what any rational person would do in this situation: sit in the backyard and drink wine.
“Why don’t you just go and see if your name is at will call,” Dave said, sticking his head out of the sliding glass door. “Then at least you can tell the company you did everything when you call them on Monday and demand your money back.”
I rolled my eyes. Husbands are so dumb. There is no way I’d be on a will call list, but we finished our glass of wine and decided to try. The festival was only 15 minutes away and we’d put some feelers out to see if anyone had extra tickets – maybe we’d get lucky.
And miraculously, we did.
My name was on the freaking list.
So I guess sometimes husbands are pretty smart. (But don’t tell him I said that!)
“I hate it when you’re right,” I texted him. “My name was on the list. We’re in.”
“I know shit about shit,” he texted back. He’s right. He does.
The music was great. I saw my niece. I ran into a good friend. Two different people bought us beer.
It was our lucky day.
“I listened to my husband and he was right,” I wrote in my happiness journal. (But seriously. Do not tell him I said that.)
Two weeks ago I cleaned out my closet. I was inspired by my friend Kim who told me that on April 1st she was going to participate in Project 333, which is a capsule wardrobe concept in which you choose thirty-three items for your wardrobe and can only wear those thirty-three items for the next three months.
The items include clothing, shoes, jewelry, accessories and outerwear. (Outerwear?! Really?!) They do not include underwear, pajamas, loungewear and workout wear. But, workout wear is only for working out and loungewear is only for lounging at home. So if you’re regularly sporting those Lululemons (or like me, those Costcolemons) for your Saturday errands or trips to the soccer field you have to count them too.
I know, it sounds terrible, right?
But still, I considered it. Would it be possible to wear just thirty-three items over the next three months? It shouldn’t be that difficult because I work remotely part of the time and only go into my office about three days a week. And the days I work from home I wear the same yoga pants, tank top and sloppy sweatshirt as if they’re a required uniform.
The philosophy behind Project 333 is to simplify your life. To make it easier, not harder. It’s not about suffering, but rather streamlining your decision-making process in the morning and saving time and money from not continually shopping. And we all know that we only wear about a third of our closet anyway. But my closet is grossly overstuffed and a third of it is way more than 33 items.
Also, since your choices are so limited, you choose the items that you love best and the items that fit now. Those jeans that haven’t fit since you lost ten pounds from the flu two years ago aren’t nagging at you every time you open your closet. Every time you get dressed you feel good in what you’re wearing.
I read the Nazi-like rules guidelines and decided to see how much I could eliminate from my closet. Rather than pull things from your closet you are supposed to take everything out and put your 33 items back in. I didn’t do that. (So I was already breaking the rules at step one.) But I did pull like I’ve never pulled before. I made four piles – one to donate; one of things that no longer fit, but I plan on fitting into again (someday); one to pack away to see if I needed something so badly I was willing to get it out of the attic (I’m guessing I’ll forget what’s up there); and one to put in Chandler’s closet (he’s away at college) so the items were out-of-sight, but still easily accessible.
I also got rid of all the crap that was shoved in the bottom of my closet.
5 (yes, five) gallon-sized Ziploc bags of old make-up, scrunchies, stale cough drops, and hotel shampoos (don’t ask).
6 pairs of shoes -in boxes- from the 90’s that I probably haven’t worn since then.
Various backpacks and gym bags.
A still-in-the-box off-brand Nerf gun in a Target bag presumably a gift for one of my kids when they were little.
The bottom of my closet was like a clown car – things kept tumbling out of it. I wasn’t sure it was going to end.
Then I rearranged my closet. My clothes have always been color-coded from light-to-dark (actually, the black clothes are on the left side and the white clothes are on the right side, so I guess technically it’s dark to light, but whatever), but work and casual clothes have always been mixed together. So I separated the work clothes from the not-work clothes. I left my dresses kind of a jumbled mess. I’m a dress girl (even though I don’t wear them nearly as often as I used to) and am a tad bit emotionally attached to them. Culling my dresses might require therapy. But they are on the far side of the closet – out of the way.
I put the hangers on backwards and have been flipping them the right way as I wear something. In three months I’ll reassess. If a hanger hasn’t been flipped the right way, that means I haven’t worn that article of clothing and don’t need it anymore. Or maybe don’t need it. We’ll see.
I didn’t get it down to 33 items. Not even close. But I could if I wanted to. Probably. Maybe. But still, my newly pared down closet is like a breath of fresh air. Every time I look inside I feel calm. Happy.
Less is more. I’m working toward being more with less. (Even if my less is more than thirty-three.)
“Look how white my legs are,” I said to Dave. I was getting dressed for a Jake Owen concert on the beach -the Coastal Country Jam- and I’d put shorts on for the first time this year. It felt like summer outside, but my legs are nowhere near summer ready.
“You’re going to a country show. You will definitely not be the whitest person there. That’s the last thing you have to worry about,” he told me.
My husband’s funny.
Usually when I go to the beach I put on board shorts and a tank top over a bikini (I don’t know why – it’s not like any part of me except my feet is going in the water), pull my dirty hair into a ponytail and throw on a hat. But this was a concert. I wanted to look cute. So even though it was at the beach I put on make-up and ran my dirty hair through a flat iron, hoping it would hold off the frizz the humid beach air likes to gift upon me for a little while. I was bringing a hat, but if I chose to put it on my bangs would be smashed and my hair would be under the hat for the rest of the day.
“Okay, look how old and jiggly my legs are,” I said.
“I’ve got to go outside and play with the dog,” he responded.
My husband is also smart.
I then had the following text exchange with my girlfriend:
I decided to go with the shorts. I definitely need more time at the gym (which is impossible right now because my plantar fasciitis is flaring up), but my legs are not going to get tan under leggings.
I put the leggings in my beach bag along with my favorite jacket from Costco and pushed aside the memory of Marley telling me I looked like a suburban mom going to the gym when I wore the same jacket/legging combo last week. It really shouldn’t matter what I wear to a concert on the beach. I’m 50 (alright, 51, whatever). Who cares? It’s not like I’m hanging out backstage with the band. It’s just… when I’m at a concert I feel young and free which is harder to do when you’re dressed like a suburban mom.
When I got to my girlfriend’s she was wearing leggings. And of course she looked cute. Not like a suburban mom at all. (Maybe because she isn’t one.) I decided to change into mine. Fuck it. Be comfortable. I reminded myself nobody cares what I’m wearing.
When we got to the beach it was actually kind of hot so we changed into our shorts in the car. As we walked into the show I saw a guy on his cellphone who looked exactly like Jake Owen. As we passed him, I mentioned it to Simmah. She said she didn’t see him. She’s the one who really loves Jake Owen, so if it was him she would have noticed. Plus that’s crazy – he wouldn’t be in the parking lot at his own show.
We’d picked up lunch on the way, but since there was no outside food or drink allowed, we sat outside the entrance to finish our sodas (or rather the Costco trailer trash margaritas we’d poured into our soda cups).
As we were sitting there the dude I saw on the phone walked onto the tour bus.
Do you understand what just happened? It was Jake Owen.
So, not only did I have a chance of getting a selfie with Jake Owen at his own concert in the parking lot, I had a chance to get a selfie with Jake Owen at his own concert in the parking lot before my hair frizzed and I started piling on the mom clothes and still looked cute. But I blew it. I suck.
We went into the show. There was a huge stage with an open pit to stand in with a designated area for beach chairs behind it. In the back there were vendors, a smaller covered stage, and a mechanical bull riding pen. We set down our chairs, settled in for the day. I felt a little sorry for Jake hiding on that tour bus all day. The weather was perfect. The people watching was prime, so I took in the fashion show. Perfect-bodied twenty-somethings in thong bikinis. Daisy Dukes and cowboy boots (yes, cowboy boots – on the beach). Cute little rompers. (Who wears a romper to a nine hour show when your only bathroom option is an outhouse?)
Then, I saw these shoes.
Did they know where they were going? A concert, yes, but we were on the beach! That was when I laughed at myself. Who cares what I was wearing? The weather was beautiful, the music was great, I was spending the day with one of my best friends and we had a day drinking margarita buzz. Everything was perfect.
Around 6:00 it started to cool down. We changed back into our leggings. (Yes, in the outhouses, which were plentiful and surprisingly not that gross.) I put on my mom jacket. I even traded my flip flops for tennis shoes because my foot was flaring up again. You know what? I didn’t care.
We headed over to the pit before Jake took the stage. (And really, when you’re smashed in with all those people nobody can see what you’re wearing anyway.) When Jake took the stage I sang along.
“Never gonna grow up (Whoa-oh) Never gonna slow down (Whoa-oh) We were shinin’ like lighters in the dark In the middle of a rock show (Whoa-oh)”
On the morning of New Year’s Eve while Dave was walking the dog and the kids were still sleeping, I curled up on my favorite chair with a blanket on my lap and a cup of coffee in my hand to reflect on the happy moments of 2016 (yes, there were happy moments) and read my Happiness Journal.
Inspired by Elizabeth Gilbert’s Happiness Jar, I would sit down at the end of each night and reflect on the little moment that made me happiest that day and write it down in my favorite calendar. Well, I aspired to, anyway. But can I confess something? I don’t think I ever once sat down at the end of the night to write my moment. I would try to capture it as it happened. This is my moment, I’d say to myself as Marley told a funny story at dinner or Chandler called unexpectedly and stayed on the phone longer than usual or I opened my front door to a full moon, shiny and bright at 5:15AM on my way to the gym. But after (another) night of falling asleep with while watching TV with Dave and Marley, I’d tumble into bed always, always, always taking the time to wash my face and 87% of the time brushing my teeth, but never having the energy to write my happy moment.
Many mornings I’d write my happy moment from the previous day (like this morning), and most mornings I’d write down two or three (or four) at a time. (What was your moment on Monday, Charlene? Think!)
And take the time before bed to reflect on that moment. Because even the shittiest of days (and years good riddance 2016) have wonderful moments. Some of them big, some of them quite small, but they should be recognized. Reflected on. Cherished.
Here are some of mine (big and small):
January 1st: I saw a father teaching his daughter how to ride her bike in the park.
February 8th: I held my book in my hands for the very first time.
February 22nd: The moonrise was amazing tonight. I called Rita to share it and she got in her car and drove to a high point to see it. That made me so happy.
March 23rd: My writers’ group always fills my soul with happiness. (BTW, we meet monthly and I wrote some variation of this every month.)
April 4th: Lunch with Dale and Mera. A hot waiter. An elixir with lavender, cucumber and mint. Happiness all around. So much love at that table.
April 15th: I watched the funniest commercial on YouTube. It sounds lame, but it gave me belly laughs. And belly laughs make me happy. (Want a belly laugh? You can watch it too.)
April 16th: Cheryl’s ballet boot camp class. So freaking hard. But if felt good to do something hard, even if I didn’t do it particularly well.
May 1st: Dancing in the pit at Stagecoach and feeling the energy of the music.
May 8th: Finding out Marley has Brown Eyed Girl on her “Feel Good” music mix and singing along with her. She knows the words better than I do!
May 10th: Hugging Chandler. He’s home!
June 5th: Having a margarita outside on a Sunday afternoon.
June 21st: Marley turned 16 today. Giving her a gift that she wanted but didn’t expect made me so happy. She knows that I listened.
July 11th: When we drove Chandler to the airport he said, “I’m glad everybody came.”
September 11th: Listening to Marley tell a story at dinner about the seniors vs. the sophomores. That girl is hilarious!
October 11th: I wore boots today! Fall is really (almost) here.
October 14th: I had to go to Ventura court for work and saw two couples getting photos taken for their weddings. They were dressed up and happy and in love. It felt so great to witness that.
November 8th: Voting for HRC made me so proud. (Remember, it’s my happiest moment of the day and not necessarily how the day turned out.) 😦
November 28th: Interviewing Matthew Ramsey on the phone and having a goal I set for myself be realized. (Matthew Ramsey is the lead singer of Old Dominion & interviewing them was a writing goal I set for myself. The interview was featured in an online magazine called Songwriter Universe and you can read the interview here. If you like.)
December 10th: Watching Marley give her speech and stand up for what she believes in at her march. Watching people rally around her. I’ve never been more proud.
Taking the time to reflect on the happy moments of my year filled me with such peace, such joy, such happiness. I noticed just as I did the year before, so many of my moments were repeated – listening to music, the feeling of accomplishment after a hard workout, laughing with Dave and Marley at dinner, talking to Chandler on the phone, spending time with friends.
And yes, most will agree that 2016 was sort of a sucktastic year. The entertainment world was robbed of beloved icons, there were too many terrorist attacks, and he-who-shall-not-be-named was elected president. And trust me when I tell you that I have taken plenty of time to wallow in the sadness of 2016.
But we can spend our time focusing on the sad times or the happy times. And while acknowledging the sad times is important and doing what we can to change them is necessary, I believe our well-being depends on reflecting on, acknowledging, cherishing the things that fill our hearts with happiness – both big and small.
Recently I set a December writing goal for myself. It’s a bit lofty and perhaps a more than a little bit unrealistic, but not impossible. (Because, you know, an offensive orange Cheeto is thisclose to holding holding the highest office in the land, so anything’s possible.)
I shared the goal with my writing group, one of my best friends, and my husband, but I am not ready to share it with you.
You’d think it’s silly. Or maybe you wouldn’t, but you’d definitely think it was lofty, more than a little bit unrealistic, and thisclose to impossible. When it happens I’ll tell you. Or if it doesn’t happen I’ll tell you then. (If I’m brave.)
Two weeks ago my friend Kim received a pitch for her blog. It wasn’t a good fit for her, but it was a perfect fit for me, especially if I want to achieve this goal I’ve set for myself.
“Does this interest you?” she asked me.
“Bleep yeah, it interests me!” I answered immediately. (Only I didn’t say bleep.)
I contacted the person who reached out to her and he was receptive to me writing the piece.
Coincidentally (or perhaps it’s serendipitously) two similar opportunities have been placed right in front of my face from different avenues, waving at me, as if they were saying, “Hello, here I am. Come and get me. All you have to do is ask.” And I know if I capitalize on these opportunities they will help me achieve my goal.
But I have to tell you something.
What if I get shot down? My goal isn’t reliant upon doing these two things, but they will help. A lot.
So if I don’t ask for these things (that theoretically should be easy to get) and then don’t reach my goal, I still fail, but not in a scary way. In an “I didn’t even try way,” because really, who am I to think that I am good enough to get that thing that I want.
It’s silly. Too lofty. Too unrealistic. Not thisclose to impossible. Impossible.
And then Saturday I went for a three mile run. Talk about thisclose to impossible. I haven’t run since May, except for around the building in boot camp where every step is torture and I curse my trainer’s name with every painful breath I take and I hate it so much and am so glad I stopped running.
But I’ve been eating and drinking too much lately (because food: yum! and drinking: fun!) and I didn’t have time to take a class at the gym and I needed to do something and as sucktastic as running is, it’s efficient. A three mile run is a lofty goal for a 51-year-old woman who hasn’t run in five months, perhaps even unrealistic. Thisclose to impossible.
Plus my phone was charged and the weather was perfect. The only excuse I had for not running is that I didn’t really want to because it’s so hard (except that I sort of did).
To keep myself motivated I set Spotify to my running mix and open my Runkeeper app so it would alert me of my time and mileage every five minutes.
Time: five minutes. Distance: zero-point-four-two-miles. Average pace eleven minutes, fifty-four seconds per mile. (Translation: damn, you’re slow)
Time: ten minutes. Distance: zero-point-eight-two-miles. Average pace: twelve minutes, eleven seconds per mile. (Translation: you might want to figure out another form of exercise, you really suck at this.)
That lady is mean to me, sure. But she keeps me going. Every five minutes I tell myself, just five minutes more.
At the 15 minute mark the mean Runkeeper lady tells me how poorly I’m doing (one-point-two miles at a twelve-minute-thirty-second pace) my phone shuts down. Shit. This is so hard. I’m at the steepest part of my run and two minutes away from reaching my turnaround point and I have no music. No mean lady. Only me. My legs. My feet. My heart. Everything I need. And so, I keep going.
I run to the turnaround spot, smack the light pole and head back. It is (both literally and figuratively) downhill all the way home.
When I hit a flat(ish) part I start to walk and fiddle with my phone to get my music and that mean Runkeeper lady back. Macklemore and Ryan Lewis cheer me on.
“Ey ey, ey Good to see you, c’mon let’s go Yeah, let’s go”
And I start to run again. When the song ends the music stop. Dammit! Stupid phone. But I don’t want to walk again so I run to the beat of my panting breath and my feet hitting the pavement. Huh step step step. Huh step step step. Huh step step step.
My mind begins to wander with the rhythm I’m creating. I think about how easy it would be to stop running because I don’t have my Runkeeper and my music. And I think about that goal I’ve set for myself and how the biggest obstacles in my way are the ones I’m creating for myself.
My goal my be lofty. Unrealistic. Thisclose to impossible.
But I’ve got everything I need. I just need to make proper use out of it.
Last Monday Dave and Marley went to the taping of American Ninja Warrior and weren’t going to be home until about 7:30 or so. I get home from work at approximately 6:20 and I was beyond-words-excited to be something I rarely am: alone in my own house.
I couldn’t wait. As I drove home I fantasized what I would do with my (approximately) one hour and ten minutes all by myself. First I would change into something more comfortable. Then I would put in my earbuds and turn on this station. I might pour myself a glass of wine, but maybe not. I didn’t really need it. And then… I would vacuum.
That’s right, you heard me. Vacuum. I’d been busy. My house was a disaster. Weekends have been crazy and during the week I make dinner as soon as I get home from work, then the three of us clean up (meaning Dave clears the table, Marley washes a pot – that’s right, just one – and you-know-who is stuck with the rest), and then I collapse on the couch and end up drooling ten minutes into whichever show we settle in to watch. You’re all jealous of my glamorous rockstar life, aren’t you?
So I know it sounds lame (hell, it is lame), but I was excited to be home alone, with a cheese-and-cracker dinner and time to clean. I wouldn’t have time to tackle the dining room table that was threatening to buckle under the weight of “that pile” (or rather those piles), but I’d stick my phone into my fanny pack, strap it on, sing along to my country music (poorly and at the top of my lungs) while vacuuming and dusting. Maybe I’d even have time to clean the stovetop. (It was pretty gross.)
Are you picturing me with a fanny pack strapped on, singing at the top of my lungs while I clean house and laughing out loud at the ridiculous image? Stop It! That’s not nice.
When I pulled into the driveway I reached into my purse and realized – oh no, no, no, no, NOOOOO! I did not have my house key.
I know, most people have their house key on the key ring with their car key. Of course they do. I do too. But my car is being worked on and I’m borrowing my mother’s car while she’s out of town and when I clip our extra key onto her key ring it hits my leg and bugs me so I just keep it separately in my purse. But I switched purses Monday morning (or rather switched purses Sunday and switched back in a hurry Monday morning – irrelevant I know, sorry) and forgot to put the key in my purse.
And so I did what any normal person would do in such a situation. I tried to break into my own house. Unfortunately there have been some break-ins in our neighborhood recently and our house is like a fortress. Sure I could break a window, but that seemed like a bad idea. (I did manage to maybe destroy a screen in my attempt to dislodge it. Shhh. Don’t tell Dave.)
I could have gone to my mother’s (I have a key to her house), but the 30 minute round trip didn’t seem worth it since I was only stranded for an hour.
I thought about which neighbor I could bug. I tried my friend Mary. I had just gifted her with some trendy vodka to thank her for a huge favor she had recently done for me and thought she might like to share, but she had the audacity not to be home. (Rude!)
I know a lot of people in my neighborhood and in my town, but who could I bug -at dinnertime- who wouldn’t mind me dropping in for an hour? I decided to reach out to Kim. (Lucky her!) She handed me a glass of wine the second I walked in the door, so you know I chose right. I totally interrupted her dinner hour, but she was gracious and her family didn’t seem to mind.
I ate chips and salsa while she made her family an easy dinner. Then we took our wine outside and talked about writing and kids and life. It made not being home alone more than okay.
When I got home Dave and Marley teased me. It’s okay. I earned it. Then Dave told me they were going back Saturday, this time to watch Team Ninja Warrior be taped. They’d be gone most of the day. Did I want to go with them? I thought about it. For about a second. Then I politely declined as visions of vacuums and fanny packs danced through my head.
“Just so you know, I’m not going to be available for anything remotely domestic or marital related for at least a week,” I said to Dave on the first day of August.
“And that makes this week different than any other week, how?” he snarked.
Yeah, and you thought I was the funny one. (I am.)
It was actually a lie, because I had no plans on Tuesday, so I did fulfill the domestic/marital duty of making dinner and was even nice enough to do the dishes, but that’s where I drew the line. His sassy comment meant he wasn’t getting lucky. (Plus it was Tuesday. What kind of married people get busy on a Tuesday after 22 years of sharing the same last name?)
But, I digress.
The first day of August, marked my first week of having anything at all to do this summer. Yes, that’s right, all summer long I’ve been a Facebook voyeur, watching my friends travel to marvelous places like Cancun, Barbados, Costa Rica, shit even “just” Oregon while I’ve been working all day, only to go home and lose brain cells watching the Bachelorette. (Don’t judge – and if you subscribed to my newsletter you’d know why.)
And as JoJo and Jordan start their new life together (or the next six months, which is about as long as I give them), I too have finally started my new life. Or, at least (less dramatically and more truthfully) I’ve finally started to have some fun this summer.
It’s gone a little something like this:
Monday, August 1st: Cards Against Humanity
My writing group got together and played the ever awesome Cards Against Humanity where tough choices like this had to be made.
There was a lot of laughing. And drinking. And even some crying (because we love each other that much). I got home at 1AM. (Yeah, this suburban mom’s has gone rockstar.)
Tuesday, August 2nd: Got My Ass Up After Five Hours of Sleep & Went to Work Like a Boss
Reverted to my boring suburban ways as noted above (i.e. watched season finale of The Bachelorette.)
Wednesday, August 3rd: Cetaphil Party at Cool Celebrity-Owned Restaurant
I was lucky enough to get invited to a party for awesome and influential bloggers thrown by Cetphil. And by invited I mean I was the awesome and influential Kim Tracy Prince’s plus one. The party was at Jessica Biel’s Aw Fudge on Melrose where everyone who works there looks like (and probably is) a model. (Seriously people, the servers are HOT!) The party was top notch. I learned all about Cetaphil (which, BTW, my kids’ pediatrician has always recommended for them), met some fantastic people including Whit Honea (he’s awesome – read his stuff) and Fab Mom Jill Simonian, and got a bitchen swag bag from Cetaphil that included these that literally saved my life (or at least my face) this week full of late nights.
Thursday, August 4th: #BlogHer16 Expo
I hooked up again with the awesome (and influential) Kim Tracy Prince where we met our friend Rina Baraz Nehdar at the #BlogHer16 Expo.
For those of you who don’t know, BlogHer a website that hosts the world’s largest conference for women bloggers and content creators. (And yes, men can go too. If they want.) This is serious business people. Some of the sponsors were Go Daddy, Herbalife, Staples, Go Rving and Best Buy; and this year’s keynote speakers included Sheryl Crow and Kim Kardashian West (I know, but seriously, if I had been able to shove a copy of Frosted Cowboy in her hand so I could snap a picture and post it on Instagram do not think for one second that I wouldn’t have done it) among many, many others. Thursday night, attendees were invited to a huge expo hall where companies wooed bloggers with their wares. We were given huge (and heavy) swag bags upon entry that included everything from Vagisil to vitamins to VELCRO to vibrators. (Okay, I might or might not have stood in line at a booth to get the vibrator.)
I got to meet many women IRL (including the Awesome Angela Amman pictured in the pink blouse in the top of this post) that I’d only known online and the complimentary wine was surprisingly tasty. My favorite item in my swag bag was this beautiful necklace from Saressa Designs supplied by a company called The Artisan Group who bring small craft items to celebrities. (So I guess that means I’m a celebrity now!)
Friday, August 5th: Old Dominion at The Ventura County Fair
I had to skip BlogHer (and Kim Kardashian) so I could see Old Dominion play at the Ventura County Fair with my friend Simmah. And if you are not familiar with them, do yourself a huge favor and listen to their album, Meat and Candy NOW. It’s so good! I entered to win a Meet and Greet pass on their website and the music gods were smiling on me because I won!
And even though this is by no means my first backstage rodeo, I was nervous and giddy and forgot to tell them how awesome they were at Stagecoach in my allotted 60 seconds with them, but I did tell them how much I loved their songwriting and in particular how the song Nowhere Fast gives me all the feels. (Like, seriously, it’s so good!) And then I told them they really suck at Twitter. (I told you, I was nervous. Plus, they really are very bad at Twitter.) They were awesome though, so nice. I’m pretty sure they all want me. (Don’t all hot country rockstars secretly pine away for 50-year-old suburban women who babble on non-stop for 60 seconds at a meet and greet?)
Saturday, August 6th: #BlogHer16 Convention
I got my tired ass out of bed much earlier than I wanted to attend the final day of the BlogHer convention with Rina and Kim. I’m talking a marathon thirteen hour day.
There was delicious food, engaging keynote speakers, informative workshops, and tons of schmoozing. The convention has such a fantastic energy. Highlights for me were the “The Pitch,” where five innovative women pitched their businesses in hopes of earning a $50,000 prize, hearing Lucy McBath of Mothers of the Movement tell her heartbreaking story, listening to Mayim Bialik talk about her website GrokNation and watching the pilot episode of the Amazon Prime show One Mississippi and the Q&A with the show’s star and creator Tig Notaro afterwards.
And then there was dancing. From 6-9 we took over the Conga Room at La Live and partied like rockstars. Or, like suburban moms in a club before it was even dark outside who were happy to be on a dance floor letting loose after a long weekend instead of at home cooking dinner for our families. (Which is kind of like being a rockstar, right?)
Sunday, August 7th: Warped Tour
Speaking of rockstars, I did not sleep all day Sunday like most people would after a week like I had. No, I got up like the baller that I am and took Marley to the Warped Tour in Pomona which 65 miles from my house and was about two degrees cooler than the surface of the sun. If you are unfamiliar with the Warped Tour you must not have a teenager who likes to listen to music where the word “singing” should be replaced with “screaming.” (Lucky you!)
So, yes, I am freaking Mother of the Year. And I looked like it too. After a week of looking totally cute for country rockstars and parties I put on the most suburban “Suburban Mom Running Errands” outfit I could find – a brightly colored tank top, baggy shorts, this cute baseball hat, and tennis shoes and stuck out like a sore thumb in a sea of black. (And no, you do not get a photo of that!)
The good news is, I have friends in high places and after a little bit of confusion (and maybe some begging) was able to score a wristband that gave me all access backstage where I was able to find a lovely couch under a tree at the commissary patio and sat there all afternoon reading my book. (Yes, I brought a book!)
Okay, maybe I’m not such a rockstar after all. But I don’t care. I ‘d earned the rest.
P.S. If you have read this entire post the real rockstar is YOU! It’s so freaking long. Thanks for sticking with me. You’re awesome!
As I was walking my dog yesterday I noticed three empty beer bottles and their cardboard carrying box in the gutter by the high school. I guess the litterbugs only had time to finish half the six pack before they were interrupted from their suburban hoodlum activity.
Upon seeing this garbage in the road I realized I was faced with three choices:
Ignore it and leave the trash in the road, an uncaring witness to the destruction of my neighborhood and my planet.
Pick up the bottles and carrying case and dispose of them in the trashcan at the park, which would be good for my neighborhood, but bad for the planet as glass bottles take approximately one million years to decompose.
Pick up the bottles and carrying case, bring them home and recycle the bottles, therefore being a good local and global citizen.) Plus the recycling center gives 5 cents a bottle – cha-ching!)
So even though Earth Day is over, because I am a good human, I chose option #3.
Now, I never leave the house without a couple of poop bags, but I did not have a garbage bag with me so I was forced to carry the bottles in the cardboard carrying case. Convenient, yes, but it does not, perhaps, reflect the classy image I try so hard to project.
Then a little further down the road I happened upon another empty beer bottle from a presumably different suburban hoodlum (as it was a different brand of beer), so I stuck that in the carrying case as well.
And then, thanks to Jen, who likes her caramel macchiatos venti-sized, I saw an empty Starbucks cup in the gutter a little further down. (I’m sure you make your mother proud with your inability to find a trash can, Jen.)
So, if you happened to drive by and tsk-tsk at the suburban mom walking down the street at 7AM with a brindle-colored dog carrying 4 empties (and a Starbucks cup!), get over your damn self, Judgy McJudgerson. I was saving the earth!