Monday, July 28

TCB

It has been a trying couple of weeks full of situations and events that required courage I couldn't derive from vodka, but I won't get into it. What I want to show you are some ways I pump myself up for my Adult Lady Business (not pictured: getting swole).



Some days you have to get challenging shit done, and on those days I like to begin with a little Annette Bening positivity. "I will sell this house today" has become a catchall mantra that pumps me up for everything from tests to cleaning to working out. Recommended Outfit: nude pumps, a silk slip, brown lipstick.



I have a habit of ~letting things go~ and ~losing it~ especially on the weekends, so when I need to get myself back together I like to invoke Meryl in this scene from the seminal classic She-Devil. "I'm taking back control of my life, Bob!" is especially helpful in getting me back to the gym. Recommended Outfit: pearls, matching pink lips and nails, pastels.



The original BOS WOMN, Kelis is my patron saint of Taking Care of Business. This powerhouse hit is the perfect psych up anthem for any serious business. I especially like it for job interviews, parties where I don't know anyone, and first days but it's really good for everything from working out to child care. Be bossy. Recommended Outfit: you know exactly what to wear.

Monday, July 7

Shiny Makeup~



A couple years ago, after the announcement of the rerelease of the Sailor Moon manga, I giddily hoped for a new adaptation of the series. On Saturday morning at 5 a.m. (oddly enough, the same time it used to air on the WB) that dream became a reality when Sailor Moon Crystal aired.
This is not a big deal for most people, but for a lot of 20 and 30 year old nerds, it feels huge. The series from the 90's and the manga translation we had access to were pretty fine for preteens, but the opportunity to read professional translations and to see the story animated in a series that's more faithful to its original materials feels right. Watching Sailor Moon Crystal, despite its faults (and there are some), feels like coming home.
I watched the new episode yesterday twice, once with an 11 year old girl (awesome!) and once with my husband. The animation style is a bit wonky, but I love the new theme song, and I love the overall tone of the show. It was sweet and whimsical and fun. More than anything else I really love that the new show feels like the manga. Sailor Moon was created by a woman with a female audience in mind, and the original animated series really forgot that. If you show an episode to someone unfamiliar with the series, they will undoubtedly comment on how much nudity/upskirt shots are in the show. I remember trying to explain this away as a kid and I couldn't. I wish I could time travel and say to my younger self, "Some gross male animators took this series out of the hands of its creator and adapted it in a way that allows other gross males to latch onto it. Bottom line: men are disgusting." Sailor Moon Crystal is delightfully, refreshingly, beautifully devoid of fanservice. That's not to say I think the show will overwhelmingly avoid sexuality (and let's not kid ourselves, there is a huge difference between a character's sexuality and an essentially non-consenting panty shot), I just think it will approach the matter the same way Naoko Takeuchi did: with the female gaze in mind. There are a million other things I will inevitably think and feel about this new series as it continues, but I'll stop myself there for now.
I wish I could explain why this show was so important to me as an 11 year old girl, or why it's stuck with me for the last 17 years, but I don't have a concrete answer. I first heard of Sailor Moon in grade school when my friends were watching it at the crack of dawn on Saturday mornings. Even for cartoons I wouldn't get up before 8 on a Saturday, so I missed out on the initial bandwagon. A couple years later Cartoon Network began running the series in the afternoon and I was smitten. I know I liked that the show was unlike anything else I'd seen before. It was animated, so it felt like it was for kids, but the subject matter was different. There was something about it that felt very adult to me, and I realize now that was probably because the show dealt with teenage girls who had teenage girl issues and relationships; to an 11 year old, boy probz is the epitome of maturity. Of course on top of crushes and friendships, the girls also fought monsters and saved the planet. Unlike other shows on TV, this was the only one where all of the main characters were girls and they were girls who actually did cool stuff.
I think that combination of things, the meeting of bad ass superhero stories and stories about teenage girls, is what made the series so valuable for me. Maybe that wasn't exactly it, maybe I just liked their outfits, but it was really special to me, and even through the years when some of the show has gotten a little immature and some of the fandom a little overwhelming (why is there so much merchandise???) Sailor Moon is just always going to be my favorite super hero. I'm really excited about what Sailor Moon Crystal might bring and I'm even more excited to be a part of a community of adult nerds who all have sparkly crystals with wings for hearts. 

Friday, June 27

How It Is

An old friend of mine passed away last week and I haven't known what to feel about it for a long time. There was a lot of numbness, so much so that it took walking into the church for her funeral to finally start crying. During the service there was a period where people could get up and talk about her, and sure as shit any time there was a lull, any moment where the pastor thought it might be time to move the service along, someone else would run up and say something. This continued on through the night at an open mic at everyone's favorite dive bar, the Hub, (decorated with Christmas lights, tissue paper, photos of Liz; there was art supplies everywhere and bubbles and feathery shit. She would have loved it.) and all night people would wander up and share an anecdote or their feelings. It took listening to all these people all night to figure out what I wanted to share about her, and it will take a couple hours of writing and editing to get this right, but here goes.
Liz was easily the most difficult friend I've ever had. If you could hear the dozens and dozens of stories about her that were shared, it wouldn't be hard to infer that she was complex. She had a lot of faces, a lot of ideas, a different way of being for her every changing whim. She was spontaneous and wild and strange and she was not easy. For me, she was not easy. As I have aged I have slowly become very type A. Things have a place, fun should be scheduled, outfits planned, etc. This did not make it easy to be friends with Liz. She would text me at 11 p.m. on a Thursday night and ask if I wanted to go dancing. She would decide to go tubing at 1 p.m. on a Saturday, so late that we wouldn't even get to the tubing place until 3 when the sun was gone and the water was cold. She managed to make a zine that included the work of all her friends and it was so beautiful and weird and terrible, and for whatever reason the second issue could not be made. When we actually managed to schedule a fun thing she would enjoy, like a costume party, she would show up late without dressing up, be surprised and say she didn't think it was really happening, have to leave to put on a costume and would come back even later looking great. Meanwhile, we've all been drinking and sweating off our costumes, thus making photos of the evening queerly lopsided in her favor.
Thinking of this now, it's pretty diabolical, but if you knew her you knew it was never on purpose. It was just how she was. Everything about her was flighty and flaky and ephemeral. I can do things on a lark, Liz lived her life on one. And if she invited you for a ride, you never wanted to miss it. It was annoying to me to begrudgingly agree to her wild hares, but I did it because they were fun, she was fun, and as difficult and irritating as it was for me to put off whatever I actually had scheduled for a day, she was so magnetic that it was worth it. At the funeral my friend Jon said that Liz made you do shit you didn't want to do, and that was her for me. I did a lot of things I didn't really want to do for Liz, but I'm glad I did. You always were.
One night, for some reason, I wandered late into the Hub pretty tired, feeling bloated, wearing a stained Totoro t-shirt, flip flops and glasses. She was there with another girl and they both looked great which made me feel even shittier. There was a band playing covers of the Talking Heads and the Pretenders, and Liz was really stoked and wanted to dance. God damn it all I did not want to dance, did not want to move my shitty body in front of everyone when no one else was dancing so they could all see the stain on my lame t-shirt or the smudges on my glasses while I sloppily shifted around next to a beautiful, effervescent Liz. I was very unhappy about the prospect of dancing, but I did not say this. I got up, took off my flip flops and danced bare foot in a bar with barely a drink in me just because Liz wanted me to. And I fucking hated it, but it was also pretty fun.
A few years ago she texted me and said she wanted to do teen things. She wanted to be a teenager again. She picked me up dressed like a mall goth and we cruised Wash and went to Big Cigs and bought cloves to smoke, and we went to Taco Bell and Discontent. We kicked hack in a parking garage. Around this time I was applying to graduate school, and I got an e-mail saying something was wrong with my application. I was suddenly very depressed because I couldn't take care of the issue right away and the incident completely snapped me out of reliving my teen years despite the fact that I could taste clove cigarettes all over my mouth and I was combing through a rack of tie dye in a head shop. As fun as so much of this day was, I also remember feeling really frustrated. Liz was trying to make her nostalgia tangible, asking me to come along with her for the experiment, and I couldn't. This cloud of responsibility was weighing over me, preventing me from going back. I felt very lost, and I feel very lost now. I got a call about a job interview the other day for a real, adult teaching job, and as exciting as that is I've also spent this week combing through nostalgia, trying to find the right story or the right memory to make sense of my feelings about Liz, about her passing. I don't really know where I'm at in time anymore. I've never felt older in my life than I do today, thinking about my friend who didn't even make it to 30, thinking about being a teenager with her and all the shit she made me do that I didn't want to do. I never played hack as a teenager, I hated it, but I pretended for her and it was fun. I don't know why I never played it before. There doesn't seem like there's going to be an opportunity for it anymore, which is weird to say, but it feels like that. The only person who could bring me back to a time in my life when the pinnacle of fun was literally just driving around is gone. I've felt my youth dwindling for a long time and yesterday I think it was buried. I know, I'm rolling my eyes too. Here's part of a poem.

From "How It Is" by Maxine Kumin

Dear friend, you have excited crowds
with your example. They swell
like wine bags, straining at your seams.   
I will be years gathering up our words,   
fishing out letters, snapshots, stains,
leaning my ribs against this durable cloth
to put on the dumb blue blazer of your death.

Monday, June 16

A Brief Inventory of My Grieving

I've been reading a lot of interesting and beautiful things centered around the death of a parent lately. I'm interested in death and the culture around it, and I think my interest has primarily grown out of mourning my mother for the last 7 years. It seems like a long time to mourn someone, but if you've visited a cemetery you know people put a lot of stock into grief. Some people continually decorate the graves of their family members, visiting often with balloons, single shot bottles of whiskey, the always appropriate bouquet of flowers... My husband's family visits their grandmother's grave every Christmas for a toast. My mother doesn't have a grave, though. Her cremains are in my dining room overlooking the dinner table and the living room. It's a good enough place for her for right now, but it's not her final resting place. She wanted to be scattered in the Gulf of Mexico and the Smoky Mountains, making her final wishes a bit of a trek and even a burden for my brother and I. It just hasn't happened yet, but I digress.
I know that part of reason my mourning has lasted so long is because she's not been appropriately laid to rest yet, but I also am starting to believe that grief is something that stays with you forever, like first love. I almost wrote "like first love, but sadder" but it's not. It's exactly like first love. You're sad about it, but you're also wiser. You've found a way to let go of the hardest parts and you recognize how you've grown from having lost. There are days you wish things were different, but most days you know you're both better off. You feel okay. But maybe that's just me.
Part of the grieving process both I and my brother resisted was keeping her things. This has also been something I've been reading about as of late - what it means to handle the belongings of someone you love who is gone. It's interesting to me that the items of the dead typically hold so much value to us even though they are utterly useless and often times merely clutter (this is the topic of many, many episodes of Clean House). This wasn't my thinking when I chose not to keep most of her belongings, however. Of course my brother and I chose some of her things to take with us, but the rest, for me, just didn't seem right. The things that were left barely seemed like her own things. I didn't recognize the clothes, the blankets, the shoes. She had an extensive collection of books at one point in her life, great stuff, Maya Angelou, the Madonna sex book, tons of Toni Morrison and Ellen Gilchrist, weird vampire books, books on world religion, literary erotica, lesbian fiction, but by the time she passed she had given them all to the thrift store; they wouldn't fit in her room at the house where she was living, where she had to live so that someone could care for her. It bums me out sometimes to think about how little she had and how little I kept, but the reverse may have been harder. I can imagine the day I finally decide to pare down and coming to that Madonna book. What do you even do with that thing? The Salvation Army won't take it.
Even now there are some things I keep that I don't need. Things I don't understand. I've written about her jewelry boxes and the ephemera they contain, but there's more. An ill-fitting, itchy pink sweater that I love to wear when I'm feeling gauzy and grey. A collection of ceramic forest animals that I loved when I was a child, but I realize now they must have meant something to her as they are completely not her taste. A red and peach satin blanket with embroidered cranes that she never let me use when I was young. I use it all the time now, and it shows, but I will probably use it forever. A small, plain black makeup bag that came with a purse she bought me. I never used the purse and so gave it to the thrift store, but I felt so bad that I kept the makeup bag. She bought me some underwear when I was a teenager and I still have them in my dresser, rarely getting worn but not taking up much space. A half empty bottle of perfume. Some crinkled up tubes of paint. In my attic in a large portfolio are some ct scans of her brain. I took the small ones and my brother took the large ones. I've always meant to do something with them, but I just look at them sometimes and try to decipher what's tumor and what's brain. I don't know what my brother does with his.
I've lost things a few things. The pendant with her name written in Hieroglyphics. A turquoise ring that slipped off my finger at Wrigley Field. I forget that these things existed until randomly I recall losing them and the loss feels so heavy, like I'm a kid again and she's telling me I can't wear something or have something in my room because I'll lose it. It feels like guilt.
A lot of these things feel like guilt, like I didn't say enough or do enough or keep enough, but I can never know. Just like I can't know if having kept more of her things around would make me feel better or make things harder or easier. I might have more questions, but I also might have more answers.
I don't think grief ever goes away, but I know it isn't always overwhelming. I know it turns into something else, something that's sad, but not terribly so. It feels like nostalgia, but not the kind you get for cartoons or your best friend across the street. It's nostalgia like when you're walking the dog and the light and the smell is just right and you feel like you're almost in a time that's gone but you're also not and you never can be. Like lost love, because it is, but it's okay.

Friday, June 13

30 B4 30



There's a thing where a person creates a number of goals to complete before their next birthday. The number of the goals to be completed is chosen for the age the person will be turning. For instance, I am turning 28 this year so my list of goals should be 28 items long. It's a neat idea but it's also totally insane. 28 things? You want me to do 28 things?
As usual I've decided to bend these rules, and I'm making a 30 Before 30 list 2 and a half years out. This allows me a better chance of actually completing the list and also provides me with the opportunity to include some loftier goals. Some of these I've already tackled (breakfast pizza, but it sucked, and kale chips, but some were burnt) and some I'm more excited about than others (lol squat 70lbs?? Who am I kidding?) but I think for 2.5 years the list isn't unreasonable and that's the bottom line. I'll come back to this in a few months and we'll see where I'm at. Maybe I'll finish The Odyssey this summer! (No I won't. It's been 7 years.)

1. Vacation Alone (Key West? San Louis Obispo?)
2. Figure Out Lipstick
3. Write an Amazing Resume
4. Run a 10k
5. Publish 2 Poems
6. Learn to Cook Kale Chips
7. Finish The Odyssey
8. Make a Good Breakfast Pizza
9. Bake a REAL Pie (Not Pumpkin; Homemade Crust!)
10. Have a Fenced Yard for the Dog and Cats
11. Make a Comfy Book Nook
12. Read the Toni Morrison Oeuvre
13. Go Fishing
14. Camp with Kiah
15. Get an Adult Job (At Least for a Minute)
16. Restart the Book Club
17. Go Swimming with Kiah Somewhere Cool
18. Make the house a Home
19. Grow a Shit Ton of Succulents
20. Canoe
21. Learn to Obsess Less
22. Journal More (WEEKLY)
23. Make Romance More of a Priority
24. Squat 70lbs LOL MAYBE? IS THIS CRAZY?
25. Take Some Kind of Exercise Class
26. Become a Morning Person (Talking 7 a.m. OKAY)
27. Learn to Be More Personally Body Positive
28. Give Less Shits About Other People’s Opinions of Me
29. Take the Dog to Dog School
30. Trick Family into Visiting Me & Kiah for a Major Holiday