Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Ball of Confusion

Its so confusing sometimes. I feel like the world is falling apart in so many ways. Terrorism is on the rise all over the world and it makes life so scary. There are threats to peace and safety at every turn, it seems. Our President-Elect is an insane person who is not qualified to lead this country, and while I have largely tuned out from politics, I am still reading enough to know we are on a bad path as he fills his cabinet with loonies. The environment is in complete peril and a whole segment of the population doesn't even believe it, so how can we begin to consider fixing it? And people are so stressed out and mean and only in it for themselves. The level of entitlement people feel is out of control. Everything seems dark to me right now, like is becoming a world I won't even want to live in within the next several years. I feel despondent and full of dark grey space. I often want to just move to the middle of Montana where there is no crime and no traffic and no one there to even be part of my day-to-day existence.

And yet.

I have my daughter. She is a shining light in the world. She is smart, incredibly kind, loving, and thoughtful. When I think about her, I think about all the wonderful things I know she will accomplish. Right now she legit wants to be a rocket scientist, and she is capable of that. Sometimes I think she will be a lawyer, and sometimes I think she will be a doctor. And sometimes I think she will join the peace corps and help refugees. She has so much in her that is good and wise, especially for a 13-year old, and I can't wait to see what she does with all that goodness when she grows up.

But how do I reconcile those two things? How do I think the world is not even going to make it much longer, and even if it does, it's going to be a horrible, ugly, unpleasant place to live...while contemplating what my child is going to be and how she will contribute positively?

I think it comes from knowing that my kid is a bright sun in a dark world, and that her light will be strong enough to keep at least a teeny part of the world illuminated. It comes from faith in good triumphing over evil, even if the struggle between the two takes a long time. It comes from looking into her face and seeing innocence and wonder, and knowing that there are millions of other kids out there with the same innocence and wonder, and in turn, knowing that those children are the bright lights in their parents' hearts.

Somehow, I still find hope.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

I Am Angry

I was going to write a long screed on divorce and children from a logical and thoughtful perspective, but I just can't do that today. Maybe on another day, but not today.

Today I am angry. I am angry that one parent can go to court and sully the reputation of the other parent in order to deny him equal custody of their child. I am angry that a schedule that was working so well for the child is now disrupted because of the evilness and vindictiveness of one parent. I am angry that a mother would use her child as a weapon and a pawn. I am angry that one parent would withhold time with the child from the other parent as a punishment. I am angry that a good father is now being denied his due time with his daughter.

As a feminist, I never believed that the system was rigged against fathers. I honestly thought that when mothers got full custody, there were good reasons for it. It wasn't just that women were thought to be caregivers and men weren't - there had to be more to the story that we didn't know about. And now, I can honestly say that that's bullshit. This judge took everything the mother said at face value, no real evidence, no real proof, and took a child from her father. She even said, "you were married for 10 years, the wife would know best."

My heart is breaking for both the dad and the child. He is devastated and doesn't know how he is going to go on. He can't bear to think of seeing his child every other weekend when he had her for a week at a time and got to do homework with her, cook her dinner, put her to bed...all the things a dad wants to be able to do for his daughter. And she is going to miss out on spending all that time with this fun-loving guy who worships the ground his daughter walks on and would do anything for her. As a mom of a daughter (and a daughter of a father), I know just how important fathers are to their daughters. They are the first man we love, and if there is no first man around during your formative years...what do you learn? That men aren't there for you? That men desert you? That men don't care? WHY would any woman want her daughter to have that influence if they didn't have to? WHY would any woman deny her child the right to see her father when he has done nothing to deserve this?

Right now, I am just fucking angry and I have no outlet for my anger. It's so hard to believe that someone you once loved enough to stand up in front of your family and friends and declare that love for could do something so heinous and cruel. I can't help but wonder if the woman is happy. Is she pleased with herself? Does she feel successful? Is she high-fiving her dirtbag lawyer on the way they stole a child from her father today?

Today, I am angry. And I feel helpless that there is nothing I can do to help fix the situation. I am angry at myself for not being even more forceful that he use a serious lawyer on this. I am angry at myself for ever considering this woman a friend and for inviting her into my family and into my circle of friends and into my heart. I am just angry. And I feel like the anger will dissipate with time and just become deep-rooted sadness that will stay with me forever.

Thursday, June 30, 2016


I think one of the most important things you do as a parent is prepare them for life outside of your home. Real life. Life at work, with friends, with a future partner. Life when it's great and life when it's hard and dark and painful. You teach them their value so they accept no less than the best from their friends and lovers. You teach them respect so they treat others well and expect the same in return. You teach them sticktoittiveness so they learn perseverance and stamina and ability to work through the hard times to get back to the good times.

These are hard lessons to teach kids sometimes. It's so much easier to let them make their every decision in a way that makes them happy at the moment. They don't really understand the hard decisions most of the time, and they think you are being mean by not just letting them get what they want. Instant gratification is okay for tweens, but adults who can't see past the moment at hand are bad employees, selfish friends, and terrible husbands/wives. And the whole job of parenting, in my opinion, is raising solid, happy, productive adults...not overgrown children.

Recently, this has come to a head with one of TJK's friends. It's an ongoing issue and it has come up repeatedly over the years, but now it's becoming a real problem. TJK and her friend are in a 3 week camp together. There was talk of carpooling for drop off and pickup and of all the great aftercare classes offered in this camp.The girls were looking forward to it.

We are now on day four of camp. TJK's friend has not gone to aftercare once, despite her mom telling me that she was going to go every day for at least the first week to see which classes she wanted to take. TJK is disappointed, but she is fine. She has made other friends and is loving aftercare. I am annoyed that I have to do drop off and pick up every day instead of splitting it as I'd hoped, but I'll get over it. No biggie.

The bigger issue to me is the way this kid is allowed to do whatever she wants. She committed to this with my daughter, with me, with her mom - not to mention that her mom paid for it and isn't attending! - and she has been allowed to skip it every day because she feels like it. What lesson is this teaching your child?

A couple of years ago, the girls went to another camp together (again, we were supposed to carpool...). On day one, they walked to a park for lunch and there was a homeless man there, sitting on a park bench. Not for nothing, but this is not unheard of, and if you live in the greater NYC area, it's something you get used to seeing. The man didn't approach or talk to or interact with the kids at all - just sat on the bench. Well, this child was so freaked out on day one that she did not return to camp. At all. Her mother allowed her to bail because she was uncomfortable at a park with a group of 20 kids and several counselors and one homeless man. She allowed her to ditch camp completely, leaving TJK and me in a lurch.

Even this past weekend, we had plans to go away with girl and her mom (we are good friends with them, honestly, and I do love the mom). We bought tickets to an event, made hotel reservations, laid out our plan of attack for the drive and our time away. They did go with us, but at one point the mom said to me, "I was so afraid she was going to get up this morning and say she was too tired to go and we would have to cancel."


If TJK got up and said she was too tired, I would tell her to take a nap in the car because we have plans and money had already been spent. It would never occur to me that I should cancel or rearrange our plans because of what TJK wants or doesn't want at that moment. She is involved in the decision-making process, but once she commits, she is committed.

I get that it's easier to allow your kids to run the show, and that it's not fun when you have to say no and they get mad at you. It's hard to have the center of your universe angry with you and think you are mean and, even worse, not cool. But that's parenting. It's not easy.

I feel badly for TJK, who had these three weeks of camp planned out with her friend and now has to rearrange and reset her expectations. She asked me if she, too, could skip aftercare because her friend was skipping. I told her no. She committed to going and she is going to go. And she was not happy with me and I can live with that. I know that her being miserable today is teaching her something valuable: that you stand by what you say and you do what you said you were going to do. In a few years, I know these lessons will pay off. And I am afraid that her friend will be left expecting the world to curve to her will and not knowing how to cope when it refuses to.

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Another Impact of Divorce

Friends of mine are in the middle of what is shaping up to be an ugly divorce. It started off friendly enough, with weekly family dinners for the kids and cordial custody drop-offs, and has segued into hostility and anger. I feel badly for both of them, and for their kids. And for myself.

So for the sake of the story, let's call this couple Bob and Alice. Bob and I are very close, as are Bob and my husband and Bob's kids and my daughter. Alice and I were very close for a long time too, but since long before the divorce was set into play, she backed away. She stopped coming around, stopped communicating with me, stopped wanting to be part of any activities having to do with Bob. That strained our friendship in a big way (not seeing or communicating with someone can do that).

I recently met Bob's new love interest. Bob didn't want the divorce to begin with, but now that it is underway, he is happy to have some companionship again. He had been lonely for a long time in the marriage, and I think the attention is doing him some good. So in any case, we all got together - my little family, Bob and his kids, and the new love (let's call her Sandy) and her kids. I can't say I'm too fond of her, and I feel really badly for saying that because I know Bob is happy. But she just isn't someone I can see myself being close with. We went to a gastropub for dinner and she didn't understand any of the dishes on the menu - they were too complicated. She dressed wayyy down to go for brunch, like in workout pants and an over-sized t-shirt. And in case you think I am just being an elitist (which, yes, I kind of am), she also made racist comments, and so did her kids. I may be snobby in judging someone who doesn't know what Gruyere is, but I am just not a fan of someone who casually compares monkeys to black people.

So ok, whatever, he is dating someone I don't love. No biggie. But here's the issue. Bob is part of my life, and he is part of a lot of things I do on a regular basis. And now this woman is going to be part of those things, which then makes me not look forward to those things quite as much. I am wondering how I can uninvite him to these things in a way that won't hurt his feelings and I have not come up with a way quite yet.

The first test will be next weekend, when we have a whole weekend planned with them. No kids, thankfully; just the four of us. This is going to be a big test for me because I really hate to limit my ties with Bob but I just cannot with Sandy if she is the same this weekend as the last time I saw her. And then Bob will get his feelings hurt, and I know he is already going through a really hard time and I know he relies strongly on my opinions and this will crush him. But ugh. I am not a fan of this lady, nor am I good at keeping my big mouth shut.

(I just looked back at the menu because I was thinking that maybe it was exotic and I am being unfair, at least on that front, and really, it isn't a complicated menu at all. There are things like Blue Catfish Tacos and Pork Belly Mac & Cheese Fries on the menu...and I had a booze-infused snowball for dessert, so it was certainly not a foreign language like she claimed.)

After our get-together, I posted a photo of us all on my fb. Alice must have seen it and subsequently unfriended me because of it. Bob says I should not feel badly because we haven't talked in forever and of course I am going to meet and be friendly with his new girlfriend. But I still feel awful about it, because I truly did love Alice and this woman is no replacement for her. I feel like that is the trade I made - Alice for Sandy.

I want a trade-back.

Friday, May 20, 2016

NOODZ at Work

So here's a thing that happened at work today.

We had an employee leave the company a couple weeks back. She was overall a pretty bad employee and we weren't sad to see her go. Today, I had my team go and pack up her belongings so we could send them to her.

They gathered everything in boxes and then sorted it out (since some stuff, like half-eaten food or mugs with mold in them, were not things we would send). As they packed, they came across some photos and this is where things got crazy.

These were hardcore nudes.

Like, completely naked in the shower. Like, licking her own nipple for the camera. Like, a super close-up of her vag, spread open with her long fingernails. There were probably a dozen of this photos.

They were actual printed photos - I thought the kids just texted their noodz, but I was wrong! - and she brought them to work. She had them on her desk, under some other photos of her daughter. Walgreen's printed these out for her.

Also in her desk was a letter written to her ex-boyfriend. It was at least 8 pages long, and started with the sentence: "I'm typing this instead of hand-writing it because I am at work and I can pretend to work by typing." (God, am I sorry she longer works here!) In it, she talks about how often he cheated on her, made other women get abortions, got her to fight with other women, and beat her so that she would have to wear long sleeves in the summer to cover the bruises. She talks about how much she still loves him and always will, despite the fact that she isn't good enough for him. She was mailing this letter to him in prison, where she has gone to visit him and seen all the other women there visiting him as well.

I went from giggling at this deluded young girl's attempts at amateur porn to feeling so sad for her. I love women who love and celebrate their bodies and sexuality, and I don't think it's something to shame them for (however, I don't think you should be bringing proof of your self-adoration to work). But after seeing the letter and the photos in conjunction, I just felt sad. She is a damaged person, so lacking in self-esteem that she was begging her horrible ex to come back and trying to tempt him with erotic photos. This is not the kind of thing you expect to have to face at work, and I was glad that she was no longer an employee so I didn't have to address this with her.

So yeah, when you think of your evil HR Director, keep in mind the things she has to deal with. And the images she can't erase from her mind.

Monday, May 16, 2016

Friendship is Hard

It's hard sometimes to be friend with your child's friend's parents.

I get along really well with S. We have such a good time together and have really deep conversations that I don't have with many other of my close friends. She is open about her life - abuse in her childhood and it's impact on her life now, the failure of her marriage, and pretty much anything other topic. And she makes me more open and vulnerable, which is something I am not used to being.

But then there's her relationship with her daughter (whom I adore, it must be said).

I am close with my daughter. We spend a lot of time together, whether it's out and about or just hanging around the house, we are tied at the hip. And I love that, because I know in another year or two, that may all change as puberty and teen angst kick in full force. I'd have her around me all the time if I could because I really enjoy her company and she is a cool kid.

With that said...there's such a thing as too close. Or maybe its more that despite me adoring my daughter and wanting very much for her to be happy all the time, I have no intention of letting her run the show. I'm the mom, I'm the adult, I make the decisions. I hear her out and listen to her concerns, but ultimately she needs to follow direction from me and not the other way around. We are not equals and I don't acquiesce to her desires.

My friend does this. Her daughter runs the show all the time. We went on vacation with them about a month ago and all S wanted to do was look for shells. We were in shell heaven down in Captiva, and all S talked about for months was finding shells. The day arrives and we have plans to go shelling (well, for the rest of them to go shelling and for me to sit on the beach and safely bronze myself). S changes her mind and says she is going to take her daughter shopping for a dress. Keep in mind that our resort was alllll the way at the end of Captiva, so to get to the mainland, you had to drive through all of Captiva and then all of Sanibel and over the bridge back to Fort Meyers....about 45 minutes or so, just to get back to civilization, and then find a store to shop in. So S gave up her day of shelling to take M shopping instead of doing what she had been most looking forward to.

This past Saturday, we had the kids attend a gymnastics night so we could go out. The thing ran from 5-9pm, so when we picked up the kids it was barely 9pm. On a Saturday night. On our way to get them, we had been talking about them coming back to my house for cocktails - I had been dying to make a Cinnamon Toast Crunch, with Fireball and Rum Chata, and this seemed like a great opportunity to do it. Our girls are night owls so 9pm is no stretch for them to be out. We make plans and then drop them off at their house so they can get their own car to come over and let their dog out. Ten minutes later comes the text: M just wants to stay home so we are going to pass this time. So they didn't come over. S wanted to. The girls were having fun together. M just gets moody sometimes and wants to be alone (like she is at the point where instead of sitting together to read or whatever, M will tell her mom to leave the room and sit elsewhere so she can be alone! What?!) so S catered to her and they didn't come over, despite our plans.

I love S. She is among my best friends and someone I love spending time with. We can talk and talk for hours and it is never strained or weird. We can talk about politics and race and our childhoods and also about sex and parental gossip and fashion. But I am struggling so much with her blind acquiescence to her daughter. It impacts our friendship and it will also impact M - never being told no and never being made to do something you don't want to do is no way to learn about the real world.

Friday, May 13, 2016


I was an early adopter of Twitter. I had my account set up and was actively tweeting by March 2007, at a time when almost no one had even heard of Twitter and it was this inexplicable thing on the internet that people kind of refused to even try to understand.

And I loved it.

I had a group of followers who I loved. They were interesting. They came from different parts of the world and had different views from me. They were outspoken. They were funny. We were a tight-knit group and we felt like friends. We confided things in each other (this one had an abusive husband; that one was an addict) that we didn't tell anyone else.

And then it kind of fell apart for me. The busier it got, the more people who signed up and tweeted out ignorant bullshit, the less I wanted to be on there. Some people were fake. Some were so needy that it felt like a full time job. Some didn't follow me, but looked at my timeline every day and tweeted back at me in a harassing manner. It got old.

I use Twitter now in a very, very different way. The friends I had on Twitter I have now friended on Facebook - which I was never a fan of and still am not, but I use it every few days - and that's where I see them and talk to them and find out what's up in their lives. (They finally learned my real name instead of calling me True Jersey Girl, which was weird for a while but now it's all good.)The only time I open Twitter nowadays is when something is going on in the world - politically, usually, but also tv show finales or world events - to see what people are saying. I occasionally retweet, and much less occasionally I tweet myself. I am on and off in a matter of minutes. I don't converse with people and I don't feel like part of the Twitter family any more. And I am good with that.

Since I stopped using Twitter so much, I find myself to be so much more in the moment in my real life. I go out and enjoy things without thinking of what picture to take or what pithy comment I can tweet. And it really has enriched my life to remove Twitter from it.

What I see when I go on there now are not things I want in my life.

The trolling is out of control. I posted a picture a while back of a sign in a bar that said something about consent being sexy, or something like that. Men I had never tweeted with and whom I did not follow, nor did they follow me, started harassing me. Why? Who is sitting there looking for women to troll about consent? I don't have time for or interest in debating with idiots. It's not worth it to me. And the people who don't know me but feel the need to say things about me to their followers - so fucking stupid and childish and again, something I have no time for.

The bickering within my group of political "friends" is insane. We are all progressives, but yet the vitriol spit between Hillary supporters and Bernie supporters is out of control and I hate to see it. We used to fight together against Republicans trying to take away women's rights or fighting sensible gun control laws, and now it's all about fighting each other. It kills my soul a little bit each time I see it, and it exhausts me.

It bothers me a little to know that I am not a part of something I helped start. I was on Twitter when the service went down at least once a day (at least). I was there when there were about 500 people total, and I was friends with 300 of them. I was there before there were apps to get you fake followers, and, in fact, when the number of followers you had was not important because we all followed each other. I was there for Stripper Friday. I was there before hashtags, and before you could @ people. I used to tweet numerous times a day, and I think I was pretty good at it. I was funny, entertaining, sexy, and smart.

And Twitter lost me. Every time I think of tweeting, I choose not to. I'd rather text a friend than tweet into the ether. And every time I go on there, I get a headache. It's all noise. It's all people talking into the void and not hearing anyone else. It makes me long for the Twitter of 2007. But those days are gone, and so am I.

Tuesday, May 03, 2016

Updated Travel Plans - The Good and the Bad

I was looking back at an earlier post I did about our 2016 vacations and I said in it that I was not that excited for our planned trip to Toronto. The good news is that we redid that trip and decided to go to Vancouver instead. I am definitely psyched for that one, since I have never been. We will also take a side trip to Whistler, which sounds amazing to me. I haven't researched this trip much, but I'm hoping for slightly cooler summer days than you find in Jersey so we can spend our days outside, maybe hiking and just enjoying the great outdoors.

Hubby started looking at deals on cruises for November and at some point decided he didn't think it was the way to go. So I started looking into Budapest, since I am dying to go there. I got myself all excited - picked out a fantastic hotel and flights and had the whole trip together. Then hubby decided he wanted to do the cruise after all. The good is that it goes to Belize and Honduras, both places I have not been, and that we have upgraded to specialty dining and all booze is included. The bad is that it also goes to Cozumel and Costa Maya, Mexico - and I hate both of those ports. I've been to both of them twice and they really just aren't my thing. I'm trying to stay positive about it because I know I will just stay on the ship those days and drink in the sun, but I was so excited for Budapest.

I'm hoping for next year, we can go to Budapest and Cuba. Those are my do-or-die spots for 2017. Anything beyond that will be gravy. I don't think I can convince hubby to do the Exumas next year as well, since these are all pricey trips...but I'm going to give it a shot and have the best 2017 ever.

Today's Playlist

Here's what I am playing on repeat today:
  1. Don't Hurt Yourself - Beyonce f/ Jack White
  2. Jolene - White Stripes
  3. Stop Crying - Bobby Bare, Jr.
  4. Right Turn - Alice in Chains f/ Chris Cornell
  5. Nutshell - Aaron Lewis 
  6. Midlife Crisis - Faith No More
  7. Whenever We Wanted - John Mellencamp
  8. Emily - From First to Last
  9. Criminal - Fiona Apple
  10. I Want You So Hard - Pearl Jam
  11. A Deep Slow Panic - AFI
Mostly all old-school there, and several cover songs. The only new ones are Beyonce and Pearl Jam. I'm always obsessed with Pearl Jam, and I've always liked and admired Beyonce but with her Lemonade release, I'm really enjoying her.

This is a really strange mix of music, now that I look at it. A little sad and wistful, despite me not feeling that way at all. 

Friday, April 01, 2016


You know when you have limited information about someone but you feel like you can still form a full opinion on them? Like, maybe you see their twitter feed and they misspell every other word but think they are smart? And they act like know-it-alls but they really know nothing? So you read what they write and you totally get who this person is. You know she is a completely uneducated, trashy, judgmental moron who sees herself as above everyone else - even though she has a shitty job and no car and lives in a white-trash town and her ex-man is even trashier than she is.

So you have a pretty fully-formed opinion of this person, despite not knowing this person and not wanting to. Maybe you think to yourself, perhaps if we met I would feel differently, when I just have to hear her talk and not read her ignorance? Maybe she aren't so bad in real life.

And then, this person comes out as a Donald Trump supporter and it reinforces the fact that your judging skills are 100% on point and that everything you inferred about this person is 100% fact.

Monday, March 28, 2016

Dreaming of Vacationing....

All I can think about is vacation.

My first vacation of 2016 is only 2 weeks away and I could not be more ready. Work has been hellish, as I walk on eggshells waiting for a doomsday meeting with my boss (which, honestly, would not be completely unwelcome right now). I need a break. I need to relax. I need to detach from life as it is, and lull myself into a fluffy cloud of pretending that life is really frozen drinks, hot sun, sandy beaches, and more frozen drinks. Two weeks, two weeks, two weeks...

The shelling in Sanibel and Captiva is amazing.
We have three great vacations coming up this year and I am so looking forward to them. We have Sanibel Island/Captiva, which is more welcome because it should be fairly carefree. My only concerns there are that we are traveling with a friend of mine and her daughter, and we have never traveled with them before. She and I get along so well, and Hubby gets along really well with her as well. Our daughters have been friends since kindergarten and have been on-again, off-again at times, but seem to have a good time when they are together. Her daughter is not used to traveling; in fact, she has only gone on weekend trips to amusement parks and to visit family. My daughter is an avid traveler and her mind is as open as it gets to new experiences. I'm hoping once the girls get together and TJK can show her friend what travel is all about, it will spark something and get her friend into traveling as well.

Our other trips are a week in Toronto and just over a week in Portugal. I don't know why, but I am not overly excited for Toronto. I've been there before (it has been a long time though, so I'm sure much has changed), but I don't have a driving desire to go back. But, we will have a great time because we always do. We'll research and find off-the-beaten-path things to see and do, and it'll be a wonderful adventure. Plus, we are driving there and will add in a stop at Niagara Falls, which TJK has never seen. And we'll spend the night there in a room with a view of the Falls from our window, which should be pretty damn cool. 

Portugal, on the other hand....I could not be more excited. I have never been, but have been looking into all it has to offer. We will spend 4 days in Lisbon and then rent a car and head down the coast to the beautiful beaches and seaside villages of southern Portugal. We will spend a couple of nights in a variety of small towns along the way, even staying in a converted convent one night! From all I have seen, Portugal looks stunningly beautiful. I truly cannot wait. My mother is nervous for us to go; she is petrified of terrorism and thinks our airport is going to get blown up. I won't be scared out of seeing the world, though. There are nerves, of course, but nothing enough to hold me back. I always think of how we had plans to go to Egypt and decided "next year..." That was a terrible mistake, because then there were the uprisings and now it is too dangerous for Americans. Last year I really wanted Istanbul and Cappadocia, but thought it might be too dangerous. Now this year, it is even worse and had a tourist area in Istanbul hit by a suicide bomber not that long ago. I hate living in a world where there is so much to see and do and appreciate about other cultures, yet it is just not safe.

Here, piggy piggy piggy....

I had hoped we would do Istanbul next year, but it isn't looking so good due to the terrorism concerns above. So my plan for next year is one week in the Bahamas - maybe part of it at Atlantis because TJK would love that, but the rest in the Exumas where I can swim with pigs. This has become top-of-bucket-list for me and I want to do it SOON. I mean, really, can you imagine pulling up to an island and having pigs swim out to meet your boat? And then getting out into the water and swimming with them? I need this in my life.

The other trip on tap for 2017 is Cuba. I feel like it is a year too late for this trip, but I'm hoping it will still be old school Cuba and not 'Murrica Cuba. I don't want to see McDonald's. I don't want to see a sanitized version of this island that tourists see but the Cuban people don't live. I want to see as accurate a view of what Cuba truly is as possible before it changes due to open relations with the US. I want there to be no US money. I want to see how people really live. I wish there would be a little bit of wifi, but I can live without it if it means an authentic experience. And then, in five years time, we will go on a cruise with a stop in Cuba and we will eat at the Margaritaville and shop at the Diamonds International for tanzanite jewels.

And for our other trip(s) in 2017? Maybe Salt Lake City. I've been itching to go there and hike in those beautiful national parks that look like moon landscapes. Maybe Vancouver, as it would be cool there in the summer and they have lots of interesting breweries. Probably a cruise. We aren't doing one this year and Hubby is not happy about this fact. He wants to do one of those mega ships. I really couldn't care less, but would love to eventually hit Jamaica (because I have never been) and Grand Cayman (because we snorkeled in Stingray City a few years back and I'd love to give TJK the same experience as it was badass).

Two weeks....two weeks....two weeks......

Friday, March 04, 2016

Politics: You Love Trump Because Of What He Says, Not Despite It

Here's the short of it - Trump has so many supporters because he is saying exactly what they think. They don't support him despite the racism and sexism and all that - they love him because of it. They say they don't, because they would be embarrassed to admit it, but they do.

Because really, if I supported a candidate and believed is his or her positions on the issues, and then s/he made fun of a disabled person or pretended not to know who David Duke is or called women s/he didn't like fat and ugly...that would end my support. Immediately. Hard stop. Trump's supporters only love him more the more extreme he gets. They love it and they support it and it's what they want.

Americans are scared because life is hard. They feel like their power is slipping away, and who better to blame than the "other"? Donald Trump makes them feel like he is their big strong daddy who will send the bad guys away with just a stern look and snide comment. And Americans want to believe this. They do believe if life were that simple.

I have to admit, I do not know one person in real life who supports Donald Trump. No one I have actual live conversations with has any idea why anyone is supporting him. But numerous people I know (and a distant cousin or three) on Facebook are loud-mouthed supporters of his, and if you try to engage politically about him, they all-caps scream at you. I don't know if they learned to shout down their detractors rather than converse with them from Trump, or whether they are just birds of a feather. But they certainly have the lack of intelligent curiosity thing down pat.

What I feel about this election is simple. I'm sad that my country-people are so ignorant. And I'm scared that there are more of them than there are of us and President Trump is in our future.

Monday, February 15, 2016

Cold Weather Sucks

But badass is Daryl on Walking Dead? Finally he gets to kick some ass and I'm happy to see him being heroic rather than moping.
I am definitely not a hot weather person. If I were Mother Nature, every day in Jersey would be about 60-65 degrees and sunnyish - not too hot, not too cold. Perfect weather for jeans, a t-shirt, a cardigan or light jacket, and either boots or sandals depending on my mood. So don't think I'm a person who only wants 85 degree days and sun. I like it to be on the chilly side, and even a 40 degree day can make me smile because it means I can wear a cute coat and over the knee boots with a pretty Irish-knit sweater.

But Mother Nature has been messing with us for pretty much the whole winter. I mean, on Christmas Day it was in the 60's and then we had over 2 feet of snow during a recent blizzard, and it's been varying between warmish and coldish through most of the season. Totally inconsistent and wacky. However, now it is just downright cold.

Our thermostats are registering around zero and below, and then when you add the wind to  it, it's just a little too North Poley for me. Yesterday, I woke up to find that my house was an ice cube. I felt the radiators and there was heat coming out of them, and the boiler was working as well. WTF? I had someone from PSE&G come out to check things out and they basically told me that everything is working the way it should - it is just so friggin cold that the heat in the house just isn't enough to combat it. JFC.

So then, the bathroom situations happened. Our downstairs bathroom toilet froze - meaning that the water flushed down but then would not refill. Hubby took it apart and tried to fix it, but there was nothing he could do. Last night, I was frozen to the bone so I went to take a shower in the master bathroom. I start the water and then get undressed....and by then, the shower (it's a stall shower) was full and nearly overflowing. Hubby took a look at that as well and found that whatever was in the pipes (I guess just general pipe sludge, ew) had frozen. We tried to defrost it with boiling water to no avail. Finally, after a good hour, the water went down but by then I was hibernating under the covers and the shower had to wait until morning.

Long story short - winter sucks and it needs to be spring now.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

The Soundtrack of My Life

Music has always been a driving force in my life. Even now, if I hear a certain song it will bring me right back to that moment in time in my mind, no matter how long ago that moment might be, I feel like I have a running soundtrack to my life....and here it is:

The Beatles - Octopus' Garden:
The Beatles - Her Majesty
John Cougar - Pink Houses:
The Manhattans - Shining Star:
Van Halen - Jump:
Don Henley - Boys of Summer:
Grease 2 Soundtrack - Back to School:
Guns n' Roses - Patience:
John Cougar Mellencamp - Wild Nights
John Cougar Mellencamp - Last Chance
Pearl Jam - Even Flow:
Pearl Jam - Black:
Hole - Violet:
Van Halen - Why Can't This Be Love?
Husker Du - Could You Be The One?:
Soup Dragons - I'm Free:
Goo Goo Dolls - Two Days in February:
Fugazi - Margin Walker:
Four Seasons - Can't Take My Eyes Off You:
Destiny's Child - Lose My Breath:
White Stripes - Fell in Love With a Girl:
Hole - Beautiful Son:
John Mellencamp - Lonely Ol' Night
White Stripes - Seven Nation Army:
My Chemical Romance - Famous Last Words:
Lana Del Rey - basically all of Born To Die:
The Beatles - Her Majesty (again, for a different reason):
Miley Cyrus - Wrecking Ball:
Pearl Jam - Sirens:

I was going to write a little about each song and why it struck a chord with me at particular times in my life...but I decided not to do that. I truly don't need to write it out, because when I just look at the title of a song, it brings me to the pink houses we rented every summer down the shore, or dancing with friends at the Johnny Cougar concert, or my husband yelling at me to turn down the White Stripes and me turning it up even louder. A whole story on each isn't needed because when I hear the song, I see the whole picture in my mind. Music is such a wonderful thing!

(And, if you really need to see how wordy I can get with these memories, read this about the song Even Flow and how it changed the course of my life.)

Tuesday, February 02, 2016

Paralyzations Via Renovations

First: is paralyzation a word? Apparently not...but it is now!

There is so much that needs to be done in my house. I'm talking major renovations that are going to cost good money and lots of time. One is the outside of the house. I've got an old Tudor-style home, built in 1932. It's got brick, siding, wood shingles, and wood accents...and all are in need of replacement (well, I guess not the brick. Lucky me!). With that comes a new sliding glass door going out to the deck (or French doors, perhaps), a new front door, a new side door, and a new garage door. This is some costly stuff.

Then, I've got two bathrooms upstairs that are in need of replacement. The main hallway bathroom is huge and has a big jacuzzi tub...that does not drain, and therefore can't be used. All of the fixtures are black, so they collect dust like crazy. There's a pedestal sink, which I thought I would love because it looks so pretty...but it sucks. You can't put anything on it (like a brush or hairdryer or makeup while you're using them) and you can't store anything under it (like towels or medicine or whatever). It has bright makeup lights like you would see in a movie star's dressing room. Way too much for me. And the worst part is the wallpaper. It has three wallpapers, to be exact - the bottom is black with little while shield-shaped figures on it. The top is grey without much of anything special. And the middle - oh the middle. It has Trojan horses, in black, white and gold, traipsing around the room. HORRIBLE. The only thing I like about this bathroom is the beautiful chandelier I put in a few years back. Other than that, it is huge with so much potential and I hate nearly every square inch of it.

My master bathroom on the other hand is small, with only a stall shower (no tub). I could probably live with that if the tub in the other bathroom worked. But the worst part of the master bath is that it was last renovated in the 60's or 70's so it has that lovely avocado-green tile on the bottom half of the walls. I've painted the top half white and put some awesome artwork in there to try to cut the green...but honey,  it's GREEN. It needs to come down.

And my kitchen is another source of renovation fever. The wood cabinets were painted a number of years ago and I can live with them...but the floor is the ugliest brown linoleum and the countertops are wood-patterned formica. Horrendous. There is some charm in there, though - a brick archway between the kitchen and breakfast nook, wood beamed ceilings, built in cabinets in the nook. But still, the floors and counters and layout have to go. Again, I've decorated around it all and it's not terrible...but it's time for a reno.

Basically, I am overwhelmed by all of the construction that would have to be done. The big bathroom  and master bathroom have to be gutted...and my hope is to extend the master bath to the length of the house so I can have a bigger bathroom and add a second walk-in closet to the room. The kitchen is always a huge undertaking. And the outside of the house...ugh, we got one estimate at $30,000. And that's something that no one will even really notice!

Since I am overwhelmed by the idea of construction, I have turned my sights on my bedroom. It needs no construction. It's a big room with lots of potential. For some reason, when we moved in, I wanted faux paint on the green. I loved it for a long time but it has definitely outstayed it's welcome. I've been thinking a lot about what I want to do in there and now *that* is paralyzing me. Right now it is a mishmosh of styles. There is no cohesiveness to the room and it feels all over the place.

I was talking to my husband last night about redecorating the bedroom (which is going to mean new furniture, bedding, rug, curtains, shades, accessories...everything) and I told him how I was feeling overwhelmed because I didn't know where to start. I want the bedroom to be perfect - to capture our lifestyle and our family and our tastes, to represent who we are, and to give us a peaceful place to relax and sleep. And maybe a little romance in there, too!

As he always does, he talked me down from my ledge. He pointed out our living room, which is exactly what we want it to be. Elegant and rich, but super comfortable and lived in. TV front and center since that's our daily life, but held in a huge, hand painted armoire that doubles as a piece of art, really. He pointed out the dining room, which again is just what we wanted. Not fancy, a little farmhouse-y, beautifully comfortable for every day use, gorgeous colors with the perfect artwork. And he pointed out our office, which, yes, once again is exactly our vision. Dark and moody, deep wine-colored walls, dark wooden bookcases filled to the brim with well loved books. Very Moroccan, layered fabrics and pillows on a comfortable pull-out couch, beautiful desk with gorgeous accessories from our travels. The downstairs bathroom is so "us" too - because I took a chance and did something really edgy in an old house. I painted the bottom of the walls a really dark charcoal grey and the top part a metallic silver, put a punky chandelier in there, and then used pink accents in the dramatically punk art. It's one of my favorite rooms. And finally, TJK's room. A perfect room for a tween-going-on-25. A soft sky blue, with hand painted clouds and a blooming cherry blossom tree, gorgeous bedding, shelves for all of her trinkets and collectibles.

Basically, all of the rooms we have redecorated since moving in represent us well. The rooms that need to be redone - the master bedroom and bathroom, the main upstairs bathroom, the kitchen - are the ones we have not touched since moving in. Like the bedroom - the furniture is from our apartment. There's a room-dividing screen, also from our apartment. And there is a big comfy chair in there, which is from an old living room set from the apartment. Nothing in the bedroom was chosen for this bedroom. This made me take a breath and realize that when I decorate rooms in my house, I do it well. The bedroom is just the next on the be followed closely by the bathrooms and kitchen and outside...

Monday, February 01, 2016

George Michael Was Right: A Quick Remembrance of a Vodka Tour

When we were in Russia, we were so excited to taste some true Russian vodka. Well ok, I was really the one who was super excited and hubby sort of just came along, but it was all very exciting to me. We saw the palaces and churches by day, and the boozy fun side of St. Petersburg at night.

Throughout the trip, I had seen this couple who were hitting the same sights we were. They had that 50's rockabilly aesthetic, which is one that I really like looking at but have no interest in trying to pull off. I know I have my own style which I adhere to pretty closely, but the idea of dressing in that same rockabilly style every day is not attractive to me. However, it does fascinate me. All the cherry-print skirts and red and white bandannas and peep-toe shoes are pretty cute (on other people). And the pin curls in their hair...yesss. Again, not my personal style but definitely a stand out. Because they were dressed like this all the time, they definitely caught my eye. I found myself thinking that I'd like to meet them and maybe hang out for a drink because they must be pretty cool.
She was not nearly this cute, but this is how she dressed. Cherries for days.
When we got to the meeting point for our vodka tour (you can't just go out on your own in Russia - you need a very expensive visa to do so, and since we were only there a couple of days it made more sense to do tours), I saw the rockabilly couple waiting as well. They must have seen us around too, because they gave us a little head-nod of acknowledgment. As we boarded the boat (yes, it was a boat down the Neva River with vodka all the time, and it was amazing!), they chose to sit next to us. Perhaps they thought we were cool, as well? Well, duh.

The shots started flowing and we sang and yelled and chanted and also shopped and did some sightseeing and took a million pictures. We got to see another side of St. Petersberg - a really cool downtown side where young people were hanging out and drinking coffee at cafes, walking hand in hand down the Neva, and honestly, just being people. There is nothing like traveling and seeing foreign places to bring down your prejudices about other cultures and countries. We hit up a great chocolate shop, saw some amazing sculptures, and yelled and waved to anyone on a bridge as our boat sailed under it. We even learned to read some Russian, which I absolutely loved even whilst tipsy on the vodka.

And this rockabilly couple, the ones whose fashion choices led me to believe they were so awesome that we could be lifelong friends, were beyond annoying. They were loud and obnoxious and not in the fun way. They were crass and uncouth, and as Jersey as I can be, I am never those things. I am always respectful and thoughtful and conscious of my surroundings, especially when I travel. These losers made off-color jokes and were obnoxious and really quite uncivilized. They were every reason other countries hate Americans. Maybe their 1950's clothes really did represent where their evolution had stopped in terms of understanding the world around them. I hated them.

I couldn't wait to be away from them, and in fact, when we got off the boat to go shopping in Nevsky Prospekt, we made the decision to sit in someone else's seats for the rest of the boat ride so as not to sit by these people any longer. It might have caused a bit of unrest with our fellow travelers to switch like that, but it was worth it. Drunk on vodka or not, there was no way I was going to spend another minute talking to those circus animals without ending up in a Russian prison for assault.

Despite our initial opinion of them, we came to realize that George Michael was right. Sometimes the clothes do not make the man. The morals of the story are: 1) Sometimes people who look cool are really just the most uncool, 2) Americans really do need to check themselves when we go overseas so we aren't perpetuating the stereotypes of Ugly Americans, and 3) Russian vodka is really delicious and I want to go back and spend more time drinking it.

Friday, January 29, 2016

Pearl Jam Made Me Break Up With My Boyfriend

I have been a Pearl Jam fan for a long time. In fact, the very first time I heard them, I fell in love and became a diehard fan immediately. My passion for the band has never faded.

The first time I saw them live was in the summer of 1992 at Lollapalooza. I was a punky kid who had never really been to a punk show. I was sort of nervous to go to a show like Lollapalooza, which at that time was really alternative and really strange and really intimidating. In fact, one of my regrets in life is not going to Lollapalooza in 1991 when Nirvana was there. Kurt died before I ever got to see them, so my fear of the freaks at Lolla (before I realized I *was* one of the freaks) held me back and fills me with regret to this day. But I digress...

I went to Lolla '92 with my boyfriend at the time, my best friend, and her boyfriend. My one and only goal was to get close to the stage for Pearl Jam, and I had no idea what that meant in reality. I just knew I was getting close to Eddie Vedder. I remember that they were second on the bill (after Lush) so they came on at maybe 2 in the afternoon. As soon as Lush finished, we ran up to stake out our did every other kid in the place. I felt ok about the spot we landed - not as close as I had hoped, but I was used to seeing hair metal bands from the nosebleed seats in arenas so just being in the vicinity of the stage was good enough for me.

As we stood and waited for the band, I realized I felt at home with all of these weirdo alternative kids with their piercings and tattoos and crazy hair and makeup. I wasn't sure what had made me so nervous, and I suddenly got very comfortable. I was with my people. And then Pearl Jam came out.

They opened with Even Flow and with the very first note, the pit went crazy. Everyone rushed the stage and we ended up way closer than we started thanks to the surge of sweaty bodies plowing towards us. I swear, I felt like the moment just overtook me. I stopped caring about how I looked or if my friends were still near me; I just became part of the experience. Everyone in the pit jumped and danced and moshed and screamed as one.

I loved it. I loved the energy and the passion. I looked around for my boyfriend after a minute or so and caught his eye. He was wide-eyed and panicked. In a terrified voice, he yelled, "I'M GETTING OUT OF HERE!" and expected me to go with him. I didn't. I acknowledged him and then turned back to the band. My best friend left too, but her boyfriend and I stayed and were experiencing this awesomeness at the same time. We locked eyes and gave each other a mental high five. He was feeling the same thing I was. It was just an otherworldly feeling, one that I try to describe to my daughter but I just can't find the right words.

This moment in time changed my life. As I moshed and jumped and danced and got kicked in the head by crowdsurfers, I knew that this was where I was supposed to be, And I looked at who was not there with me - my boyfriend of 5 years. He was suddenly a world away from me. Now that I knew this feeling existed, I knew I couldn't go back to Saturday nights watching television at his house or going to dinner and a movie. I wanted to see every show for every band as often as possible. And I knew this was not a life he would want to lead. Suddenly, just from that one Pearl Jam show, I knew I would be breaking up with him and going it alone for a while.

I felt free.
And now, today, I am trying to get Pearl Jam tickets so I can take my daughter to see them and they sold out in like 1 minute. I did not get fan club tickets either. So now I'm going to have to overpay some dick at Stubhub who doesn't even like the band but just wants to make some money so I can see the band I have loved for nearly 25 years.

I miss the days when I'd go to the local record store on a Thursday night, stand on line to get a wristband, and come back on Saturday morning when tickets went on sale. I'd already have a place in line (the wristband gave you a number that was your place) and get to hang out with other crazy people who loved the band as much as I did (and I did this for so many bands, not just Pearl Jam). Now it's all scalpers just out to make money and true fans don't get to see the band.

Get off my lawn.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Finding My Joy After Not Becoming a Billionaire

I was hoping to win the Powerball's $1.5 billion last night and then I'd know exactly where my joy is: it's in my bank account. Alas, that dream did not come true, so now it's back to real life and time for that dream to rest for a bit.

When you think about winning that much money, you start thinking of all the things you would do if you could. You wouldn't have to work ever again, so your days and nights would be free to do whatever filled you with happiness. That idea gets the wheels turning on what you'd actually do with your time if you truly had free will to do what pleased you.

Here is where my mind went. Immediately, I set my travel plans. I'd plan for chunks of time in Africa, the Far East, Australia, the Galapagos Islands, Cuba, and Bora Bora, to start. Then I'd be off to Istanbul (terrorism be damned) and Morocco and Egypt, and then I'd take return trips to Spain and Italy and Croatia and Hawaii and Paris.

Then what? What else do I love? Beer. I'd perhaps open a gastropub, a casual one, in my current hometown. I'd hire people to run it well so we wouldn't fall victim to what so many other restaurants do. We'd brew a couple of our own beers (after hiring a Brewmaster), but mostly have craft beer from other breweries on tap. There would be lots of variety and lots of alternating taps. The food would be casual and hearty - classics with a twist, maybe.

I'd concentrate on working out, something I don't have time to do now as often as I'd like. I'd have a personal trainer and a chef who would cook healthy and delicious meals for picky ol' me. I'd work on making my body the healthiest it can be.

And I'd shop. Oh, would I shop. I think my first stop would be Chanel for a large quilted tote with the big interlocking C's on it. And then I'd order a beautiful Birkin bag. And then I'd shop for shoes and clothes and makeup until I dropped. And then I'd buy a Porsche Panamera.

Of course, I'd give some away. Some would go to family (my parents, of course) and friends. Some would go to charities I feel so strongly about (animal welfare. domestic violence survivors, veterans).

This morning, like everyone else in America, I woke up unable to do any of the things of which I had dreamed. It was back to the every day grind...which, I know, I know. I live a good life. I have a well-paying job and an amazing family and the ability to travel and drink good beer and eat good food and buy a nice bag every now and then. But does it all fulfill me? Does it fill me with happiness as life should? Most of it, yes. I can truly answer that with a yes. But when I think about work...

Work is such a mixed bag for me. The pay is good. I love my co-workers (mostly). I enjoy some of the work that I do, although it doesn't fill me with joy by any stretch. I occasionally feel like I make a difference. But I spend a good deal of time worrying about my job, wondering if it will still be here tomorrow. There is no peace in that, and I don't like living with a cloud over my shoulder.

And then I think...ok. So you didn't win the lottery. You aren't a bazillionaire. What would you do if you were laid off? What if you got a severance package and had the time to find something new? Would it be in HR? Would it be the same corporate grind, just at a new company? Or would it be a perfect chance to take a find what I loved and just go for it. Dedicate myself to it. Throw myself in, wholeheartedly. And where exactly would I be throwing myself...where does that passion lie?

I feel like I need to take some time to find answers to those questions so that my next life, post-this job, is one that makes me happy and doesn't just simply pay the bills.

Monday, January 11, 2016

I'm Planning to Win A Billion Dollars

So. I did not win $800 million in Saturday's Powerball drawing. Bummer. The good news is that no one won, so that sucker is now up over a BILLION DOLLARS. I have some of the money well spent already: firstly quitting my job, of course, and then on to the shopping. But the funny thing I realized as I thought about how I'd spend the money is that sure, I'd buy some new purses and shoes and all that stuff. And a Porsche. But the main thing my mind goes to is that with that much money, I could just travel the world forever and experience everything this earth has to offer.

That's when I realized that although I like "stuff" (as evidenced by my recent Konmari purge, which is still ongoing but has thus far resulted in my donating over 150 t-shirts...and I still have two drawers full that I'm keeping), I value experiences most of all. If you gave me a billion dollars (or even a thousand dollars), my first thought would be, "Where can we go?"

We are planning a trip to Captiva Island in the Spring with TJK's friend and her mom. As I looked at all the resort has to offer, I realized that this was a trip that would be full of experiences and not stuff. We can parasail. We can watch dolphins and manatees. We can watch one of the world's best sunsets from the deck of a yacht while sipping cocktails. The girls can take photography lessons, or mermaid-swimming lessons, or trudge through the muddy sand at the tide line for creatures who make their home there. With memories like those, do I really need a t-shirt to commemorate it? Does TJK need another stuffed animal? What more would we need, other than the photographic documentation of it all?

As I thought about all that money and what I'd do with it, my immediate answer was: this trip. At $132,000 per person, it's a trip I could only dream of being able to experience. And there are four amazing trips there to consider...all clocking in at over $100k per person. And what I love most about it is the experiences it would offer: flying on a private jet and staying in Four Seasons resorts would be experiences all their own, and hitting that many countries with that many sights to And yes, I'd shop my wallet dry in the markets of Istanbul and Marrakesh, but the things we'd see and experience would outweigh nearly anything we could buy.

So while I can't see myself ever being able to afford that kind of travel (unless the gods of the lottery see fit to bestow me with a gift of $1b...which would be more than lovely), I can look at my own travel experiences, no matter how small or big, with the same eye to enjoy the moments. Get into the lifestyle of the place I'm visiting. Eat good food. Dance. Swim, Take chances and capture the memories.

Thursday, January 07, 2016


There's something special about my family. I'm sure everyone's family is special in it's own way, but over the past few months/years, I have been appreciating my family more and more and I feel like I need to articulate it. I'm going to use yesterday as a perfect example.

During the day, I skyped with my cousin (let's call him Dblg). He's going through some stuff, and he comes to me for advice and a laugh. I adore the fact that we are more like brother and sister than cousins. We have a fantastic bond and we talk almost every day, and he comes up to visit me more often than he visits his mom. I also texted with my cousin Princsvspa. In my Monumental Closet Purge of 2016, I have come across some shoes I think she'd like so we talked for a while about shoes and makeup and fashion. Like girlfriends do. There was also a group text between three cousins, my husband, and me, which was full of laughs and memes and sarcasm (that's what we do best).

Yesterday evening, I got a text (a longgggg text) from an aunt of mine. She was pretty upset about something and texted me to vent about it. We texted back and forth for a good while, as I would do with my friends. This is the same aunt who I spent a good chunk of time gossiping with on Christmas Day. And finally, when I got home from work there was a package waiting, addressed to TJK from another aunt. TJK opened it, and inside was an autographed book that my aunt thought she would like. TJK called her immediately and it was really just a lovely moment and they had such a fun conversation on the phone. It all fills me with happiness.

For most people I know, their immediate family is their priority and beyond that, it's only holidays for the rest of the fam. Or, their friends outrank all family, all the time. For me, I feel so lucky to have these great people on my side. I mean, my one uncle calls me out of the blue, fairly often, just to say "Hey you, what's going on, I miss you and I love you!" How great does that feel? And I have another uncle who is a little cold and hard to know, but even he has warmed up recently. In a conversation with this uncle and some cousins, Dblg kept using the word "pussy" to refer to someone who was weak. I called him out on it an explained why (feminist shit, right there). This uncle looked me right in the face and said, "Wow, I never considered it that way. I never thought of the meaning of it. You've made me think." And for him to stop and consider what I was saying....this was a huge moment for him, and it meant something to me. He acknowledged me as a person, as an equal, and that made us closer.

Last July when we were in London, two aunts and an uncle were traveling through Scotland and England as well. We made a point to meet up at a pub near Trafalgar Square and spent several hours having drinks and talking and laughing. Then we helped them learn the Tube (took them to the kiosk to buy passes and read the map with them and walked them to their train), and that was an adventure. How awesome to have family members who I'd actually seek out in another country just so we could hang out and talk, the same as we do in the US.

I guess my point is that I feel really lucky to have these people in my life. I don't see them as a burden or an annoyance or as people I "have" to see over the holidays. I see them as friends - nearly every cousin and nearly every aunt and uncle. I feel truly lucky.

Wednesday, January 06, 2016

More Konmari

Since my last post, I have become just a little obsessed with the idea of tidying. For the record, I hate that word: tidying. It just sounds so weird and quaint, when really, it means tearing my house apart nearly to the beams, till it is in tornado form, and then trying to wrangle it all back into some form of organized home. There has to be a better word than tidying...but that's what Marie Kondo uses so that's what I'm using.

I have made it through about 75% of my clothes. It has taken DAYS, but it is feeling quite fulfilling. Not only is my closet breathing again, but I have also donated 25+ bags to charity. The idea I've tried to keep in mind as I go through my things is: What do I want to keep? I'm trying to not focus on the purged items as much as the kept items. I have taken the Konmari approach to heart, asking myself about each item, "Does it bring me joy?" and if it does, it stays. If not, it goes into a bag so it can bring joy to someone else.

As I have paired things down (by such a huge margin, you would not even believe), I've been trying to get them back into drawers and closets, at least temporarily. Konmari says that you go through every piece before you start storing, but that ain't working for me. I have SO much stuff - I can't just leave it on the floor for weeks till I have time to get through it all. So I started the folding process.

Ah yes, even folding is a specific process in Konmari. You don't do the old retail store folding method, with each shirt folded on top of the rest. When you do that, you can't see the shirts below and then they don't get worn and that's a waste. So you fold your shirts into little rectangular cubes and place them in your drawers so you can see each one.
Not my drawer, but this is representative of what my drawers are looking these days.
 The weirdest thing happened as I started watching YouTube videos of how to fold according to this method and then trying it myself. I was enjoying folding my clothes. I actually stayed up about an hour later than I planned to, just so I could fold some more. Part of the joy was in seeing the finished product (a wonderfully organized drawer of my tshirts, all showing their spines so I could easily choose), and part was just the folding itself. Please know that this has never happened to me. I have a huge closet and a large dresser with big, deep drawer, and yet I still keep my daily wear clothes on the chair in my bedroom because I hate folding clothes. But here I was, folding and enjoying.

I hope to finish off my clothes by the end of the week and tackle shoes this weekend. I've got a superbusy weekend coming up and my shoes are going to take some time (and tears, I am sure), so if I feel like I can't finish the shoes during the weekend I will do my bags. I feel like bags will be easier for me to make decisions on (Louis Vuitton? Sashay, you stay. Any fake bag I bought back in the day? Sashay away.).

Monday, January 04, 2016

Sparking Joy with Konmari Tidying

I have never been a neat person. I generally like "stuff" and don't mind it surrounding me. I enjoy the feeling of being enveloped by all the items I love - be they clothes or shoes or bags or photos or trinkets from my travels. But for some reason over the last month or so, I started feeling swallowed by what I have. When you have 300+ pairs of shoes, how exactly do you find the pair you are looking for?

I've tried organizing in the past, but it never seemed to work for me. I would box up all the summer shoes yet still have 150ish winter pairs, and where were they all going to go? I don't have space for that many shoes to be organized and visible in my closet. And the boxed summer shoes would end up being overlooked the next summer, when I'd buy new because I needed a pair of red wedge sandals and didn't have any...even though I really did. I just couldn't find them in the big overflowing boxes. I'm not a hoarder, but I certainly do love stuff.

I was reading In Style magazine and came across a page on cleaning out closets using the Konmari method. It referenced a little book called The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up and something about it struck me. The basic premise was to take out all of your belongings in each category (shoes, books, etc) and hold each one. Does it bring you joy? Yes? Then it stays. No? Then it goes. This made a lot of sense to me, when thinking of my wardrobe.

I mean, right now it's winter. That means that 90% of the time I am wearing boots. And I have about 30 pairs of boots. How many of those do I actually *wear* though? I consistently wear 2 pairs of black boots, one pair of camel boots, and one pair of brown boots. That's 4 pairs. Those boots make me happy - they are tall, good quality, fit well, comfortable, fashionable. The other 26 or so pairs? Well, I liked them when I bought them. These had fur around the top, which I thought was cute. Those had those punky buckles and unique army-green color I really liked. But the truth is that I never wore them. So why are they cluttering my closet and therefore my mind?

I bought the book and started to read. It's a little too new-agey for me, in reality. I don't think my socks have feelings and I don't think I have to thank my clothes for a job well done. So there has definitely been some eye-rolling on my part. But I am pushing past the weirdness and getting to the root of the book and how it can help me. So over the weekend, I emptied my closet.

You can't imagine the volume of clothes and shoes and bags and accessories I have...but I took out all the clothes (starting with the clothes is Marie Kondo's advice...get to your books and paperwork and photos later) and went through them piece by piece. Some of it was really easy - there are so many things I haven't worn in forever and those were easy to put in the Donate pile. Others were harder. I have some expensive designer clothes. I have been a multitude of sizes. It's hard to let go of that Emmanuel Ungaro jacket I've had for centuries but only worn a handful of times. It's hard to see that Dolce & Gabbana blouse go. But even as I made the decision to put them in the Donate pile, I felt a weight lifted off of me. Now I could see that other funky Ungaro blazer that was buried under the Things I Own But Never Wear. It got easier and easier as the day went on.

Some things that I never wear got to stay. My Aces & 8's NYC t-shirt stays: it's from an awesome time in my life and just looking at it truly does bring me joy. Plus, it says SHUT UP AND DRINK on the back in huge letters, and I still need that in my life. My Finisher t-shirt from my first 5k in Central Park stays as it represents an accomplishment for me as a complete non-runner - I trained and I worked hard and I did it, hills and all. So the shirt stays. But the sentimental keeps were few and far between.

I'm nowhere near done with this process. I have done most of my clothes and all of my makeup (there was a LOT of it...I discarded bags and bags of the stuff!) and I still have shoes and bags and coats to go through. And then comes the jewelry - I am overloaded with costume jewelry. It's my favorite, but I have so much that I can't make decisions about what to wear daily because I can't see it all or dig through it. And then will come the rest of the house - the kitchen and the bathrooms and the office, and TJK's room, which will be a challenge. So I have a long way to go to make the Konmari Method part of my every day life. But I have to admit that I'm pretty excited about how it's going so far and in the changes I feel in myself already. I really want to make this part of my life - I can see it saving me money as well, if I only buy the items that "bring me joy" and avoid the ones that don't.