Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Maybe I Should Move...

About a year and a half ago, a friend of mine from high school moved into the apartment next door to me. She was on the other side of a bad divorce and just getting out on her own again. She ended up only staying in the apt for about 10 months...and then she moved in with her new boyfriend.

Thanksgiving weekend, they got engaged.

When she moved out in June, another girl from my high school moved in. She had been living with her boyfriend but they decided to split. He was nice enough to help her move in and check in regularly.

She texted me last night that she got engaged over the weekend and is moving out in February.

I'm thinking maybe there's some magic spell on the apartment. Perhaps I need to pack up my stuff and move next door in the New Year...

Monday, December 21, 2009

All Growed Up

It’s funny how quickly time flies. It seems like just yesterday, I was playing afternoon nanny and weekend babysitter for several sweet-tempered little girls. I’d plan out crafts for us to do, I’d order pizza, I’d sing Bee Gees songs to them in the car on the way to piano practice. They were my surrogate little sisters. And despite the fact that they did things like pee in the water during bath time, turn the kitchen into a disaster that I had to clean, occasionally laugh when I tried to reprimand them, and later throw parties when I was in charge and their parents were out of town—they all turned out great.

These little girls—whose diapers I changed, tears I wiped, childhood stories I heard—all grew up. They went to school at USC, Notre Dame, Princeton, Stanford and Georgetown. These little girls who continually had spaghetti stains on their shirts and lumps in their ponytails have become educated fashionistas and successful career women.

These little girls all have boyfriends and husbands. One even has a baby.

And yesterday, I had all of them over to my house for holiday brunch. It’s funny now how they seem like the grown-ups and I’m still the 16-year old who’s trying to figure out her path. As they and their significant others sprawled around the nil space of my tiny apartment, I couldn’t help but think of how two of them are homeowners. They talked back and forth about recipes and I set off the smoke detector when the sugary topping of my French toast casserole bubbled over and burned up in the bottom of the oven. They played with the baby while I talked about my cats.

I can still see their toddler and elementary school faces when I look at them. Their laughs sound the same as they did in junior high and high school. But they are women now. All grown up, giving me advice.

It’s wonderful and strange all in the same. This must be what parenting feels like. Watching something grow and wondering if you had a hand in the way it turns out. I’d like to think maybe…just maybe…that my presence in their life had some tiny impact on who they are today. I know they had a huge impact on me.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Green Christmas Part Two

I know you’ve all been waiting on pins and pine needles to find out what I did about a Christmas tree, so I thought I’d follow up my last post with the answer and a few green ideas I’ve had over the last couple weeks.

After reading the articles Mike129 posted in my comments, I rethought my plans to buy an artificial tree. I wish I could say that I’m as green as Dingo, who keeps live trees year round, but I’m not at that level yet. Instead, I chose to hit up Target in Burbank—and was pleasantly surprised to discover that their trees this year are “certified green.” Apparently the farm they bought from has met a series of criteria, making them an eco-friendly establishment. Did it cross my mind that they could be green-fleecing the American public? Sure it did. But I’d like to think that maybe there was some good behind my purchase.

Maybe next year I’ll graduate to the live-tree level.

In the meantime, I thought I’d share some green ideas I had for gift wrapping:

1. Use recycled wrapping paper. Whether this means saving other sorts of paper (I get posters occasionally from stock photography houses that make great wrapping paper) or just using a roll that’s made from recycled other paper, this is a great and easy way to go.

2. Use raffia instead of ribbon. It’s biodegradable and still looks nice on packages.

3. Reuse boxes and containers instead of buying new ones. Before you throw your oatmeal canister or cereal box in the trash, consider how fun it would be to see someone open a gift wrapped in a Honey Nut Cheerios box.

4. If you do have to buy boxes, get the pre-decorated kind so you don’t have to wrap them. Target has some cute ones this year.

5. Make gift tags out of last year’s Christmas cards. If you’re like me, you don’t clean out your designated card/mail container all that often, so you have stuff from last year at the ready. As long as the sender didn’t write anything on the front cover, you can cut off that section and use it (as a whole or in pieces) to make cute holiday gift tags.

Happy wrapping, everyone!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

The Confidence Spectrum

More than once when I was dating in my twenties, guys pointed out to me that I was less than confident. The boss in particular, who was 7 years older, told me that my lack of self-confidence greatly detracted from my attractiveness. Of course at the time, I thought he was being a condescending prick.

But his point also gave me pause. How could he think I was attractive and a great catch when I didn’t truly, wholeheartedly believe that myself?

Dating a younger guy in my later twenties didn’t solve the problem either. He, too, commented on my self-deprecating comments and off-kilter view of my worth. I didn’t even fully realize that I was portraying myself in a negative light. Things would fly out of my mouth and I didn’t hear how they sounded.

Then during my crazy course of online dating, I started to see how unattractive it was when other people did this. I went out with several guys who were good-hearted, cute, nice guys, but they way they put themselves down or let their insecurities cause them to act awkwardly was just downright unappealing. It was a shame because they were probably great catches, but the attraction just wasn’t there on my end because they didn’t seem to value themselves. And I didn’t want to be with someone like that…even though I had been accused of being that way, myself.

Enter counseling: the great game changer. Sitting across from a neutral party, having him say, “Did you just hear yourself? Why would you say that about yourself?” is a powerful thing. Suddenly you realize that what YOU are saying about who you are is largely dictating the perception others have about you. Thus, reinforcing what you don’t want them to think.

Having this click for me (and continuing my therapy stint) changed the way I spoke and thought about myself. I realized that I had no reason not to be confident in who I was. Instead of questioning myself and focusing on my flaws, I tried to hone in on my great traits and take on challenges that would make my confidence grow.

When I met Mr. Wonderful, one of the things I loved best about him was that he was unapologetically himself. Did he have some nerdy tendencies? Yes. Was he a bit nervous and awkward? Sure, he nearly fumbled the dinner he made on our second date when placing it in the oven. Was he shy as heck? Totally. But these things didn’t slow him down a bit. I could tell that he knew—and accepted—who he was, and really didn’t care what I or anyone else thought. It was incredibly sexy.

I think women have a harder time than men when it comes to tapping into their true confidence. For some reason, we never think we’re pretty enough, smart enough, worldly enough, thin enough. It’s really terrible and I think it causes us to compromise what we want when it comes to dating. We don’t think we are worthy and deserving, so we never get what we really deserve.

I would love for everyone to think of 5 things about themselves today that are completely amazing and awesome. Focus on how attractive you are, and others’ perceptions will follow.

And listen to this for a great example of what NOT to do. Confidence is a spectrum and this guy is absolutely on the other extreme end. No wonder so many great gals are single!

Monday, December 14, 2009


Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the Pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds, and shall find, me unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.

Loved this poem. Really enjoyed the movie...despite the fact that most of the people I saw it with did not. If only we were all as inspired as Mandela.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Fleeting Fidelity

Although I’m sick and tired of seeing Tiger’s mug on the TV and Internet, over the last couple weeks, I’ve found myself engaging in (even initiating) conversations about marriage and infidelity just about every chance I get. Everyone I speak with seems to agree that cheating is wrong, yet the book I’m reading right now claims that 25% of men and 15% of women cheat on their spouses at some point during marriage.

And I want to know, why are people doing it?

I’m not claiming to be some pious individual who has never cheated. I’ve been the cheater, I’ve been the other woman and I’ve been cheated on. But I’ve never been married—these indiscretions all involved other single people—and I think that matters tremendously.

I cannot imagine vowing to be faithful to someone until death, and then tossing that promise out the window for a few kicks or an ego boost. Maybe I am na├»ve. But I would like to think I would try to address whatever was making me consider other men—solve the problem—or separate or divorce my husband before ever shacking up with someone else.

I know it’s tough to end relationships. I know that even in the worst dating situations, sometimes it’s hard to turn away from months and years of semi-comfort to go out and find something new and better. I know there are tons of emotions involved, and in a lot of marriages there are children, which complicate things even more.

But I just can’t help but think that the inability to walk away or the audacity to be unfaithful is a direct reflection of broken self esteem. If you’re miserable in your marriage, why not sever the tie and find the relationship you know you deserve? If your husband or wife doesn’t make you feel sexy or macho or whatever it is, why not figure out a way to fix that instead of seeking it out somewhere else? Why create a scenario wherein you, your spouse and your “friend” could all get deeply hurt?

It’s also astounding to me how forgiving people, particularly women, are when they’ve been cheated on. Again, I have to wonder if this is a self esteem issue. Why would we allow someone to come back to us after they’ve so drastically disregarded our feelings? I remember being in that bargaining phase though…I remember feeling sorry for my Evil Ex and having moments where I thought maybe if he got counseling we could work everything out. But how could I not always wonder whether he’d do it again? How could we really be a solid, trusting couple after that?

It could be human nature to jump from relationship to relationship. Maybe we really are not meant for monogamy. But I sort of think then we should just do away with marriage as well.

What do you all think about cheating? Is it a fact of life that should just be accepted? Or is it the abominable act some think it is?

A friend at work sent me a link to this segment series on NPR’s This American Life. It’s pretty fascinating. And quite sad. Definitely worth the listen if you have time.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Grandma and Grandpa Heth’s Rockin’ New Year’s Eve

The company I work for is forcing us to use 3 vacation days the week after Christmas so that they can close down and get people’s extra time off the books before the 1st. I was less than thrilled when I found out this news. As you may know, I’ve used quite a bit of vacation time over the last year and don’t really have any to spare…

But instead of lamenting my dwindling days-off supply, Mr. Wonderful and I decided to plan a trip up the California coast. We’ll be doing it Euro-style, staying in a different locale every night and trying to cram in as much sightseeing as we can each day.

We’ll hit Fresno first to visit his dad and check out the flip house. Then it’s off to Paso Robles for some wine tasting, followed by San Luis Obispo for some neighborhood investigation (we think eventually we’d like to move north of LA). Next will be Carmel with a visit to the Monterey Aquarium so I can talk to the otters in my cat lady voice, and on the way down to our final stop—Solvang—we may duck into Hearst Castle for a bit.

On Thanksgiving, I mentioned the possibility of Mr. W’s and my travels to my dad and I think we both had the great idea that it would be fun for he and my mom to meet us in Solvang. At the time, I didn’t realize we would be there on New Year’s Eve. But that’s how the roadtrip schedule worked out, and when I emailed my mom to see if they still wanted to meet up, she booked a room almost immediately.

Me, Mr. W, Mom and Dad on New Year’s Eve. It’s going to be a wild one.

When I informed Mr. W that the Hetherington Seniors were in fact joining us, he said, “They’re not staying in our room are they?” I’m not sure who that would be more traumatic for. But thankfully my mom has assured me they’ll request a room as far away from us as possible. So we can all sleep soundly in our footie pajamas in our separate bunk beds.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Horton Hears a Hoarder

Behind a mysterious door, in the darkest annals of a nice little house built on a hill lives a collection of treasures spanning 45 years. Prom dresses, Strawberry Shortcake dolls, old knick-knacks, wrapping paper, bar signs, furniture, maybe even a human skull or two. It’s all there—bushels of booty carefully tucked away by the pirates that are my parents.

On Thanksgiving night, my brother told my mom that he had watched the show “Hoarders” and that he thought of her 59 out of the 60 minutes it was on.

We often tease her about how we’re either going to burn down the house when she dies, or sell every single thing in it for a dollar, because with the amount of stuff she owns, that would make us millionaires.

But here’s the thing. As I was cleaning out closets this weekend, gathering stuff to give to the Goodwill (which I do very regularly), I became aware of my own hoarding tendencies.

I have a collection of gift bags and boxes that could choke a herd of elephants. I have a bunch of candles and candleholders that I don’t want to get rid of because maybe, someday I might use some of them again. Then there are the travel bags. And the craft supplies. All the other little things I hang onto just in case…

Mr. Wonderful suffers from some of the same thinking. The bottom drawer in his bathroom has enough medical and hygienic supplies in it that he could probably open a corner store. But he can’t get rid of it because he might need it one day!

In some ways, I think a bit of hoarding can be good because it may prevent us from just buying and throwing things away in a continuous cycle. It may be better for the environment for us to hoard a little because we can "shop" among our own things and not fill up the landfill with old stuff. But this could just be my crazy collector mentality seeping into more brain cells. And I certainly don’t think there’s any reason to save old newspapers under your couch (Mom).

Where do you all stand on this? Do you have secret stashes of stuff strewn about your houses?