Tuesday, March 30, 2010

The Suckness of Teenagehood

My sister IMed me today to tell me that my 15-year-old niece didn’t make the Yearbook staff. As her mother, my sister feels terrible that her child is hurting. As the aunt and former Yearbook editor (for the same high school) I’m annoyed that her talent got overlooked. But part of me thinks this has to be chalked up as part of the suckness of being a teenager.

I remember being a preteen and having all these grand notions about what high school would be like. I thought for sure I’d be popular, brilliant and outgoing—and of course have a boyfriend. I seem to recall even talking with friends, trying to predict what age we’d lose our virginity.

Flash forward to the actual 4-year era and I was a skinny, gawky, shy-ish but sarcastic girl who barely had a boyfriend for four months and was nowhere close to losing her virginity. My best friend and I tried out for cheerleading together when we were 15. She made it, I didn't. I was never going to be the girl I pictured years before.

In the finite realm of high school, every bit of rejection, criticism, insecurity is amplified. It all feels so huge.

I wish there was a way to make kids really understand how little high school matters. It gets built up as being "the best years of your life," but really, those are some of the hardest years. Sure, there are great memories. And lots of firsts. But there's awkwardness in your body. Uncertainty with your persona. Constant questioning. Continual competition. And in the grand scheme, I think it can be meaningless.

Or maybe it means a lot—maybe all the hardship is what chips away at you and helps sculpt you into the person you're meant to be. Maybe the thing to tell teens is that even their friends who seem to have everything are experiencing pain. Nobody gets to have it exactly the way they want it. And somewhere, someone is probably envying the way you did something or the way your life is going.

I wish I could flash forward into my niece's future and show her what an amazing, successful, happy individual she's going to be. Show her that everything is going to be okay. That today—and even this year—is just a tiny blip.

Every day is a chance for the blip to go in a new direction.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

In Recovery

It’s funny how the Universe works. Who knew that one of the best ways to come down from a stressful couple weeks would be a day of jury duty? Being trapped in a courthouse in downtown LA turned out to be the perfect opportunity for decompression.

Friday I had to report, and doing so enabled me to write a little, read a lot, people watch and have lunch somewhere new. It was pretty much exactly what I needed. And things just got better from there.

A nearly 7-mile solo run Friday night caused most of the rest of my stress to pour out my pores. And when Mr. Wonderful told me he had booked me an 80-minute aromatherapy massage on Saturday, I knew that everything was going to be okay.

Mr. W’s good friend from Canada has been in town the last couple weeks, and to put a nice cap on his trip, we took him (along with Dirty Painter and Southern Belle) down to the Gaslamp District of San Diego.

The boys planned to go to the Air and Space Museum, so I planned to continue my recovery from work and life stress by the hotel pool. An hour of reading magazines in the sun was followed by the most delicious massage I’ve ever had, a nap and then a night on the town with a scrumptious steak dinner.

My body and mind became so relaxed that they decided it would be okay to give me a post-stress cold. Just when ya think the Universe is on your side… Oh well, at least I’m feeling more relaxed and capable of combatting my sickness.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

When the Should Hits the Fan

Before I met Mr. Wonderful, I was committed to one priority in life: having fun. After coming out of a really twisted relationship, I was bent on nurturing myself and that meant doing whatever pleased me at any given time.

If I thought it would be fun, I would do it. If I thought it felt uncomfortable or like it required too much work, I would not. I didn’t have the strength in me to handle more work after the exhausting relationship I’d just escaped.

Sometime in the early months of W-dating life, my focus on fun was further confirmed when I took a “Strengthsfinder” test at work. As part of the process, I had to complete exercises to determine my top priorities. Guess what #1 was? Pleasure.

At the time, it seemed to me that everything important in my life could be gathered under that delightful umbrella. If creativity was a priority, it was because it gave me pleasure. If family was, it was because their presence pleased me. Travel, adventure, health? All priorities that involved doing things I loved.

Flash forward to the past few weeks…and pleasure seems to be eluding me like Puxatawny Phil on a shadow-casting day.

All I can think about lately is what I SHOULD be doing. Not what I WANT to be doing. Creativity feels like a should. I should finish travel scrapbooks. I should work on my own writing. I should read and post blog entries. Although normally I enjoy doing these things, right now they feel like burdens. Working out? Also a huge weight on my should-covered shoulders.

I’m missing the days where I just did whatever I felt like; whatever pleased me.

If I felt like writing, I did it. If I felt like going for a run, great, if not, no big deal. Now it’s like the world (or my calves) will crumble if I don’t.

Even going to see Mr. W felt like a task last week. It was just more commuting when I would have preferred to stay home in my jammies.

Is it ridiculously selfish to have pleasure as a priority? Was I kidding myself by even indulging that value and making it #1? And will I forever be mourning those days of freedom and joy?

If you can’t tell, I’m in a funk. And I don’t even have PMS…

Sunday, March 21, 2010

When Baby Meltdowns Grow Up

Come, join me for a moment as I reminisce about my dorky teenage years...

When I was in high school, I was co-editor-in-chief of my yearbook. Compared to real world work, this was not a challenging gig. But at the time, it felt like a pretty demanding post to hold. I had continual deadlines, stories to write, grammar to check, a staff to manage and an entire student body counting on me to produce something they would keep in their closets for decades to come. When you're 17, that's a lot of pressure.

And the thing I remember about those times is how I sort of got a high from the stress. I thrived on the pressure. I loved pulling late nights to meet deadlines. It made me feel important. It made me feel in control.

Flash forward 17 years, and you'll see a different girl. One who gets exhausted by stress. One who needs downtime on a daily basis if she's going to survive from one day to the next. One who occasionally has heart palpitations because There's Just Too Much To Do.

It was that kind of week last week. Work was a flood of requests—and the very worst kind. The kind that you think you've solved but they just keep coming back and sucking more mental energy from your already depleted little brain. Then there was the running schedule that had to be worked in somewhere. Training always gets my tension two-stepping. So much pressure knowing that you've got to work hours of run-time into your schedule... Add in Mr. W's out-of-town guests who wanted to spend time with the both of us (thus compelling me to commute back and forth between our two houses for most of the week) and you were left with a girl whose fuse was about as long as the hair on her freshly shaven legs.

Although I spent Friday night recuperating, there was still a meltdown on Saturday.

And I wonder how in the world it ever was that I tolerated—even invited—stress into my life.

I watch Dr. Oz quite a bit and he constantly talks about the ills of stress. It's so bad for your body—it encourages aging, disease, I believe even obesity (which might explain the little muffin top that never seems to go away...) If I keep having weeks like the last one, I'm going to hit 100 before I turn 40.

What do you all do to de-stress when you're feeling at your wit's end?

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Phrases Due for Retirement

Hi blog friends. I’ve been buried under heavy piles of work and way too many personal obligations lately. Sorry for not checking your posts much. I’m hoping to be reading and writing at more regular intervals very soon.

In the meantime, I wanted to throw out a quick post to shoot down some phrases I’ve been contemplating in my nil free time this week.

This all started when I overheard some dude at work say, “It’s all good” to someone on the phone. I immediately thought, “tardball.”

It seems to me that the following phrases just need to be suffocated and silenced forever. At least when it comes to middle-aged white guys. These sayings include:

“You go girl.”

“I’m just f&ckin' with ya.”

“What up, dawg?”

“What up, playah?”

“Get my drink on.”

“Get my [ANYTHING] on.”

High-fiving in public. (Note: I know this is not a phrase. Exceptions apply, including: sporting events, bar settings while sporting events are on TV, bar settings where a team game is being played.)

I know there are more, but instead of spending more time thinking of them, I’m just going to plan to punch someone in the mouth next time I hear him say one.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

What The? Week

When I woke up last Wednesday, the only thing I was concerned with was making sure I had my tickets to CATS in my purse. I left the house without my ipod or my mouthguard, so it would be a music-free day and a night of teeth-grinding at Mr. W's.

I was saddened to hear the news about Corey Haim. I had a mad crush on him in 5th and 6th grade after falling in love with Lucas and The Lost Boys.

Work was a slog. In fact, work has been a slog almost every day since the beginning of the yar. I didn't really leave my desk much throughout the day, except to attend two back-to-back meetings in the afternoon.

When I returned to my desk, I found my purse in its usual spot, but it was missing its beloved, very cute, turquoise blue wallet. I leapt up and announced the office robbery. A coworker of mine immediately checked her purse and discovered hers has been taken as well. Tell me people, what are the odds of getting your wallet stolen in an office building while everyone around is working? And how lucky was it that I left my ipod home in the morning?

Prior to our meeting, several of us noticed an out-of-place-looking man walking around, pointing at the ceiling as though he was there to do some sort of repair work. None of us approached him—not even when my boss saw him standing in my cubicle.

He somehow managed to get through a security door that wasn't working properly (very fishy) and when the guard stopped him on his way out, he said he'd been visiting someone in the building. The guard requested his ID and when he went to make a copy of it, the man took off. Probably with my cute turquoise wallet stuffed in his tighty whites. But he left his Florida driver's license. And according to the local police, it's a real ID. Moron...

I rushed to Hollywood as fast as I could after waiting for the cops to arrive, shoveled food in my mouth at Mr. W's and we sped to the Pantages to see Broadway's longest running musical. As the lights went down, the announcer came on and said, "We have a special guest here tonight to talk about the cat rescue organization, Fix Nation. Please welcome Mr. Corey Feldman!"

Now tell me, people, what are the odds of seeing Corey Feldman on the same day Corey Haim dies? Crazy, no?

Also crazy—the fact that CATS was the longest running musical. As you all know, I'm a cat lady. And I just could not get into this production to save my life. My favorite part was when Mr. W leaned over during 'Memory' and said, "I used to be able to play this on the trumpet when I was in jazz band as a kid." Thank you, Napoleon Dynamite.

The whole day was like a trip through bizarro world.

The next day, I had my performance review at work and found out that despite my leaving the country for 6 weeks, I was worthy of a raise and a promotion. Confucius say, "Everything in balance. Lose wallet, get raise."

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Not So Sure I Got What It Takes

This past weekend, I went to visit my friend, Beautiful A, in Texas. Beautiful A is everything you would expect a Texan girl to be. She’s lovely and polite, with a command of hospitality, home d├ęcor and lip gloss unlike that of anyone else I know. I’ve never seen her have a bad hair day. And her ability to accessorize is award-worthy.

My reason for visiting Beautiful A was to go meet her second baby girl. Her first, Miss M, is 3 ½ now, and Baby Nugget just turned 1 in December.

I suppose it shouldn’t have been a surprise that Beautiful A would handle motherhood with such grace, patience and vigor. Those are some of her long-time signature moves. But watching her in action—effortlessly holding a baby and diaper bag with one arm while pushing a stroller with the other; mysteriously absorbing yogurt spills into her stylish sundress; attending to her children with unwavering enthusiasm while I pooped out on the couch; whipping up star-shaped peanut butter sandwiches like it was second nature—all made me seriously question whether I have what it takes to ever tackle mommyhood.

Honestly folks, I was exhausted. And I wasn’t even doing anything! She was maneuvering through the days like she had three extra arms and mind-reading abilities, and I was lucky to get my underwear on right-side out.

I just don’t know whether I’m equipped to care for other humans. Which is funny because I’ve been a nanny (for twins), an aunt, and a babysitter many, many times over. But I can’t make babies with stuffy noses stop crying. I can’t drive a car with one knee while handing someone in the backseat a sippy cup. I can’t stay awake when I sit on the couch to watch Monsters Inc.

If only Beautiful A would start a Mommy Academy I could attend.

I would think if she read this, she would tell me that these sorts of skill sets develop over time. Than anyone can evolve to be a gorgeous, five-star nurturer/multi-tasker. I did make dinner, do laundry and clean up cat barf last night. Perhaps that's a start…

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Inspiration and Adoration

In my working life, I’ve met lots and lots of remarkable people. Artists, writers, innovators. I’ve watched them create show-stopping advertising pieces; seen them graduate from esteemed art institutes, attended their book signings.

This week, I got to go to a film festival and mini-red carpet event for a movie The Boss and his beautiful wife made. I would love to link to the movie trailer because it was frigging hysterical, but then his identity would be revealed and I’m not sure he wants the whole Internet (yes, the whole Internet reads this blog) to know who he is.

Anyway, it was such an inspiring, uplifting, proud night. He has been writing screenplays since I met him, and it was so cool to see one come to life on the big screen. It was awesome to see movie posters for his film in the theater’s hallways. Awesome to watch him and his bride answer questions on camera on the red carpet. It made me want to self-publish a book and hold a signing at a local Starbucks just so I could feel what it’s like to have something finished and presented to the public.

Also this week, another ex-coworker and real live author (she wrote this book and this book) gave me a blog award! I’ve been following her blog since she launched it and I highly recommend reading it if you’re looking for some positive juju and literary entertainment. She’s a hoot and a vibrant soul.

According to the rules of the award, I’m supposed to:

1. Put the logo on the blog within your post.

2. Pass the award on to 12 bloggers.
3. Link the nominees within your post.
4. Let the nominees know they have received the award by commenting on their blogs.
5. Share the love and link to the person from whom you received this award.

I decided to follow a couple of them…but I’m only going to pass the award on to one blogger. Not that I don’t love all the rest of you, but I think I’ve given most of you awards in the past, and this little lady hasn’t received any. She’s sort of new at this. But she’s an amazing writer and she makes my mouth water every time I read her posts. Here’s to you Miss Foodie!