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.