Tuesday, December 25, 2012

25 DofC Day 25: Writing You a Merry Christmas

Day 25
"Spirit of Christmas" by Ray Charles AKA my dad's favorite Christmas song.



Right now, I'm sitting here with my mom watching ABC Family's original movie, "The 12 Dates of Christmas." It has Zack Morris in it, which is pretty much all I need in a movie.

She's half asleep and my dad's avoiding this movie entirely--he's decided to take a shower then watch an episode or two of "Pawn Stars" in the back room. And then probably add another three or four episodes after he realizes I have "Holiday in Handcuffs" waiting in the wings. Later, we'll watch "National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation" and he'll make some reference to which characters resemble our relatives most, and then I'll probably cry during the scene where Clark's watching old home movies in the attic while Ray Charles' "Spirit of Christmas" plays in the background.

But right now, I'm sitting here sort of bored.

So, I decided to blog. I really have no direction with this entry, but I think that's okay. It's kind of how I feel about the new year. No direction, just an unfocused desire to move forward and onward. I find myself saying, "We'll see" about a lot of things in my life. Job opportunities, guys, adopting a dog, whether or not I can successfully use this fancy new electronic wine opener my BFF, Ricky, gifted me. It's all uncertain, but, again I think that's okay.

I had a really nice Christmas. It's weird because I always get kind of depressed Christmas evening. It's this inexplicable cloud that hovers over me as the day ends and I can keep feeling the cloud deepen until I'm just sitting stone-faced thinking about the new year.

This year, like every other year since I can remember, I began to feel that way. So I started writing and surprisingly, things seemed better. I felt not so sad that the holidays were over.

What I'm trying to say is that writing brings me out of funks. It makes me feel better and stronger and powerful and more connected when I feel sad. Writing is what has brought me through so many things and because of it, I know whatever the new year has, I'll write through it.

Hope you guys will stick it out with me.

Merry Christmas, everyone. Thanks for reading :)


Sunday, December 23, 2012

25 DofC Day 23: Gangs, Dresses and Style Tips


So, remember when I was telling you guys about how I was styling a shoot? Probably not, because I announced it way long ago. But besides my issues with prematurely sharing news with people, I actually have the end product of the shoot today. Get excited!

My good friend, Christina, had been encouraging me to explore the world of styling. I was hesitant because being responsible for how other people look is sort of nerve-wracking. I mean, sure, I wear what I want and hope people think it’s cute, but ultimately I dress for myself, so who knows. Maybe I’m that weirdo who people just patronize with flattering comments?

But because she’s an amazing photographer and person, she presented me with an opportunity to try it out on a real-deal, styled photo shoot. With the help of her equally talented cousin, Nicky, makeup and hair were incredible. I still can’t believe how awesome it looked.

So, with an overabundance of options from Chloe (that girl has an already amazing wardrobe) and her boyfriend, Blake, I was able to piece together outfits that made sense to our 50s teen gang meets West Side Story meets Best Coast’s music video for “Our Deal” theme.

I’ll share a few photos from the shoot below to go with some of the tips I have for trying the trends, but please check out Photo Says Hello, which is Christina’s website. Not only is the entire shoot on there, but also other beautifully captured moments that she manages to somehow consistently photograph. She amazes me!

And, since you’re already on the Internet and clearly have good taste because you’re reading my blog and checking out Christina’s blog, go ahead and check out Nicky’s page, All I Need Is One Mic. I mean, just look at the makeup and hair on Chloe—you need Nicky’s help!


Mixing Prints 
AKA Chloe Wears A Red Circle Vine Print Dress Under A Plaid Button-Down

Photo Courtesy of Photo Says Hello

Mixing prints is tricky, but if you pull it off you end up looking so cool and interesting. And I really mean interesting in its intended definition, not the way you use it when you don’t know what else to say about something clearly awful.

Tips for Trying the Trend:

--Try mixing bolder prints with subtler ones. I like to think of one of the prints as almost a pseudo neutral. In Chloe’s case, the subtle print was the dress. The circle pattern is light and delicate and doesn’t compete too much with the plaid.

--Make sure there’s something that unites the pieces. For Chloe, the color red was what made this outfit look cohesive. The red of the dress was picked up in the red stripes of the plaid.

--Keep it simple. Which seems like weird advice considering I’m helping you go against years of lessons about matching your clothes, but seriously. Chloe only had on two pieces, which kept the outfit clean.


Menswear 
AKA Chloe Wears Button-Downs and Combat Boots

Photo Courtesy of Photo Says Hello

Personally, I’m a pretty girly dresser, but I love this trend. I think it’s adding the “spice” into the “sugar” that is femininity. You can really take it as far as you feel comfortable (think Diane Keaton wearing ties and bowler hats) or just infuse it in small doses. Which is what I did with Chloe.

Tips for Trying the Trend:

--Button-downs are an easy way to baby-step into menswear. I like tying them at the waist as a nod to years past and, well, because it’s cute. If you do tie at the waist, my advice would be to button the shirt either up to the collar or just one button below. With tied button-downs (especially plaid ones) it seems like you’re always one undone button too many away from looking like a western wear ad. We did unbutton a bit for Chloe, but because she was wearing a red dress underneath and not jeans, we avoided the country cliff. Unless that's the look you're going for (which is totally fine, you do you) be aware of the edge you may be line-dancing on with plaid and denim!

--Incorporate feminine pieces in unexpected places. Chloe wore two button-downs for this shoot—the chambray denim and the plaid. For the chambray one, I added sparkle at the collar with a twisted, mixed-metal necklace.

Photo Courtesy of Photo Says Hello
--Combat boots are always awesome. Okay, so maybe I didn’t say that as eloquently as I could have, but seriously. I love them with dresses because I think the mix of soft and tough is effortlessly cool and oddly beautiful. And with skinny jeans, they’re just plain badass. I made Chloe wear those boots pretty much all day. With everything.



Retro Twists 
AKA Everything Chloe Wore

Photo Courtesy of Photo Says Hello

 Okay, so this entire shoot could probably go under this trend, but I’ll focus on the black and white ensemble, and then simply, the red dress with pearls.

Tips For Trying the Trend:

--Beware of the costume. If you want to look retro and chic, you have to wink at the past with your clothing, not take a time machine to the 50s and buy your outfit. For Chloe, each outfit had something that whispered years gone by. The shape of the red dress with its ¾ length sleeves and full skirt, the black skinny pants that channeled Audrey Hepburn, and the boxy, ¾ length sleeve white, lace top that was cropped just enough to look slightly 60s. All pieces tiptoe along the decades without jumping off a cheesy cliff of cliché.

--Shop at thrift stores. I know it may be difficult to find clothing at thrift stores that fits or isn’t so literal, but accessory shopping at thrift stores for retro pieces is essential. Chloe’s layered pearl necklace with the beautiful jeweled clasp? Goodwill. The long, twisted gold chain? Local thrift store.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

25 DofC Day 20: Maybe This Christmas I'll Be Motivated

Day 20
"Maybe This Christmas" by Ron Sexsmith



It’s difficult to become truly motivated and inspired if you’re a cynical person. For me, especially in a stuffy, corporate setting, I sometimes find it impossible. I mean, I don’t want to watch a dated video where the women are wearing scrunchies and the men have mullets because all I’m taking away from the video is strictly era-related observations. And I can’t help but be wildly aware of the deliberate usage of power words when the motivational attempt is being made.

But today, in a motivational-type class at work, I found myself surprisingly, well, motivated. I know. It’s totally out of character for me to find inspiration in that environment, but I think I was hit with this information at exactly the right time. And by someone who I’ve never met, which in a weird way made me more receptive to it. But mostly, it was because of the undeniable amount of ideals and situations that rang true to my own life.

Like the fact that I give in too much because I’d rather not argue about it. Which then makes me feel victimized. Which then makes me complain and wallow in negativity. Or the fact I get overwhelmed because not only am I dealing with situations I’ve allowed other people to put me in, but I’m also dealing with other people’s issues in general.

And this overload causes me to retreat to total brain candy. i.e. watching Youtube videos on how to properly care for your candles.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m still watching those videos. I just felt, I don’t know, inspired to maybe read more. Or write more. Or at least Youtube something productive like how to play the ukulele.

So my Christmas gift to myself may very well be a backbone and a voice and 30 minutes of productivity each day.

It’s that or a wick-trimmer, which one candle-obsessed Youtuber says is essential in any candle care kit.

Tough decision, I know. (I mean, seriously. I kind of want that wick-trimmer. Scissors seem so barbaric after learning such a specific tool exists.)


Wednesday, December 19, 2012

25 DofC Days 13,14,15,16,17,18,19: The Raveonettes & Kashi Waffles & Christmas Spirit

Days 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19 (I KNOW.)

"The Christmas Song" by The Raveonettes


Sometimes living on your own means your dinners are fancy, organic meals you make yourself with locally grown vegetables—a meal you enjoy while listening to the humming of traffic and some kind of singer/songwriter music. It’s so trendy, you know? And you actually have time to finish that novel—the one that’s destined to launch you into celebrity while simultaneously gaining all this crazy respect from the literary community because they’re all like, “This girl is like a quirkier Jane Austen and we love her despite her self-indulgent rants and tendency to incessantly make pop cultural references!”

But, then there’s other times when dinner means weird shit like Kashi blueberry waffles paired with red wine—a meal you enjoy while watching Cake Boss’ “Next Great Baker” followed by an ABC Family “25 Days of Christmas” original movie.

 (I mean, things have to be balanced.)

Elvis, looking sort of intense for a Christmas album cover.
I realize the latter description sounds way sad and super depressing and like I’m listening to side two of “Elvis’ Christmas Album” (can we all please agree that side two of that record is oddly melancholy?)

But, I promise I’m surprisingly content. It’s not like “Blue Christmas” is playing sadly from my record player while I gaze out of a frosted windowpane, eating a Kashi waffle off a paper towel because plates are too much effort. (Okay, the Kashi waffle and paper towel thing has happened.)

It’s weird because typically, I wouldn’t be okay with this. At all. But so far I’ve managed to go even beyond my own set of expectations about solo living.

I do have to admit though, that Christmas doesn’t seem like Christmas. And I’m not sure if this is because I’ve moved out or if it’s because each year brings with it another layer of apathy for the season—but whatever the cause, I find myself completely unmoving about the holiday.

I even tried—really tried—to get into the spirit. I have a tree, I made Christmas cookies (which were shared with no one but my trashcan because they were disgusting) and I make a habit of putting Elvis on every day when I get home (side one only!)

It’s just not happening for me, though. I didn’t even put the first Christmas decoration on my desk at work. I’m like the weird house on the street that refuses to put up Christmas lights

I’m hoping this weekend will trigger the glimmer of excitement I usually have at least once during December. There are some pretty festive activities on the itinerary, so I hope the remainder of this week doesn’t completely destroy the weekend for me. Or better yet, I don’t let it.

(Okay, so you would think as much as I mentioned Elvis and his Christmas album in this post, I’d actually make today’s song one off that album. But, nope. I like to stay consistent with my illogical decision-making. Today I chose my favorite Christmas song ever, in a deliberate effort to inch me closer to the spirit. This song plus more ABC Family movies, and maybe I’ll get there.)

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Responding with Love


When I was young, I used to play this little game where I'd shut my eyes tight and imagine that when I opened them, everything around me would change. Like the flicker of my eyelid would trigger some alchemic reaction in my surroundings and suddenly I’d be in a wonderland of my design.

Yesterday, I had that same impulse. That if I shut my eyes to what was happening, I could just open wide and everything would be different. The world around me would be swept away and replaced with one I had dreamt of.

But despite the fact I tried to retreat from awareness, I couldn’t replace the images of what happened.

It’s difficult for me to watch the news because I find it mostly disturbing and deeply troubling. I can’t handle hearing about the suffering of others. Knots form in my stomach and sink so much that I can barely function.

I don’t think I’ll ever understand, or want to understand, how a person can rob someone of something they’ve worked hard to earn. How they can abuse animals that want nothing but to love you even when you don’t deserve it. Or how they can kill innocent people.

Innocent children, who had years of laughter and adventure and failed attempts at imaginative, eyelid-flicker traveling ahead of them. It’s not fair.

I’ve had to shut myself off again, after reading this article this morning. It’s inspiring in the saddest way possible. I just hope this teacher realizes how amazing she is. In the midst of fear and chaos, she was able to spread a message of love and compassion to these scared children. And I hope that her saying she loved them is louder than anything else they heard that day.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

25 DofC Days 10, 11, 12: Riding the Elevator with Strangers

Days 10, 11, 12
"Christmas Wrapping" by The Waitresses



If you’re like me, then your nightmare comes true when someone gets on the elevator with you. I don’t feel like I have such a social paralysis that I exhibit any external change in behavior, but internally I’m quickly coming up with some type of game plan to avoid conversation. Part of my avoidance could be attributed to the fact that I’m surrounded by people all day and their conversations that they have all day that I hear when I’m not on the phone all day with people having conversations I’d rather not have all day. So, I’m just fresh out of general pleasantries.

Writing this post. Pretty boring, right? I just wanted a pic on here.
But, me being me, I smile (closed mouth, no teeth because that’s too inviting) and whisper “hey” and then immediately start checking my email on my phone. Like I’m busy. When in reality I’m just deleting the millions of ads I get from Bath & Body Works. The dread comes when they, despite my obvious “busy lady” image I’m working pretty hard to emit, engage me in conversation.

And now I have to participate.  And it’s not even because these people live in my building, but because I have this insane inability to actually ever do what I want to do. And also because I try not to be a total bratty b to people who don’t deserve it. So for the ride up or down, I indulge them.

“Oh yeah, this weather, crazy huh?”

“Yep, Target is pretty awesome.”

“I can’t believe they’re mopping the lobby floors right now, either!”

“You passed out in the elevator and spilled your beer and everyone thought you let your dog pee in here? That’s crazy.”***

The only variable to this constant reaction I seem to have when the “door close” button doesn’t do its job, is if the person gets on with some type of animal. Then the phone’s away and I’m talking to the pet. And this, I’ve realized, is a wonderful ice breaker if you’d ever like to get to know me. I mean, I may never get past identifying you as the pet owner of that dog with the fluffy face, but I’ll be more likely to hold the “door open” button. Unless you’re a cute, witty guy—then I’ll be fantasizing about our quirky wedding where we use your dog as the ring bearer and everyone’s all like “Aww, the dog was how they met and it’s their ring bearer!” And even if I never know your name, your nickname will be one that’s indicative of a recognizable quality I found attractive in you. You know, more personal than”fluffy-faced dog owner.”

Anyways, Merry Christmas! (Had to tie the holiday theme into this post somehow. My transitions can’t always be graceful.)


***That last one really did happen. Only I didn’t respond to what this girl (who I can only describe as a Sweet Valley High/Mean Girl adult hybrid) told me, which I can only assume was an inside joke she thought I was a part of.  And who, by the way, I managed to get trapped on the elevator with three times in one night. Her and her friends (who I can only describe as Dane Cook/Ken doll hybrids) increased in inebriety each time I saw them, which was great, because one thing I love more than riding the elevator with strangers is riding the elevator with drunk strangers who think we’re BFFs.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

25 DofC Days 6,7,8,9: Hallmark Movies & The Shins


Day 9
"Wonderful Christmastime" by The Shins


So, I missed a few days. Let’s just all acknowledge that right now. In my defense, I’ve been busy learning how to illegally watch scripted series online, falling into the hypnotic trap that is Hallmark Christmas movies, and grocery shopping.

All have been exhausting and emotionally draining.

Especially grocery shopping. I spent at least 10 minutes trying to decide which butter I wanted. And then I had to make sure the eggs I bought came from free birds who roam at their leisure around the farm socializing. Or as the package states, “cage-free.” And then after that, I had to make a reference to that Portlandia skit about the chickens. (You should probably click that link if you want to be in on the joke.)

I mean, I don't want to be premature, but... Oscar nominee?
Right now, as I write this, I’m watching “A Bride for Christmas” on Hallmark. And yes, I actually recorded it specifically so I could watch it when I wanted. The title alone is a little off and made me conjure up images of someone ordering a bride off of Amazon.com or something. But in reality, it’s like a “How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days” knockoff. You know how at Walmart they have those fragrances that say, “If you like Tommy Girl, you’ll love Timmy’s Gal”? That’s kind of how this movie is.

But, doesn’t at all hinder me from watching it.

Later, I’m working on a holiday dress I’m determined to finish by Christmas. It’s from a Cynthia Rowley pattern and I picked out the prettiest emerald fabric ever. Even if it’s ill-fitting and the sleeves look a mess, I’m still wearing it and no one better say anything other than how cute I look.

So, I hope everyone else’s Sunday includes creativity and Hallmark movies, too. Today’s song is one I think of when I think of being busy around the holidays. Except for the obvious “Run Run Rudolph” that was featured in “Home Alone” when the gang is running chaotically through the airport. But I’ll save that for a day when it truly reflects the situation. It’s all very complicated, the song-choosing process, don’t try to understand.

AND I PROMISE TO TRY and continue the blogging every day thing, but don’t be mean if I flake out every once in a while. It’s Christmas so don’t be a jerk.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

25 DofC Day 5: List Making with She & Him

Day 5
"Christmas Wish" by She & Him


Figuring out what to write about tonight was difficult so I decided to make a list instead. It wasn't really that hard to talk myself into it because I'm really into list-making (I don't know, I just enjoy the satisfaction I get from bulleting bits of information in an easy-to-glance-at format--so what?) I have to admit that sometimes, like on days where I'm grocery list-making so furiously that I maybe write peanut butter twice without realizing it, I'll completely rewrite the list instead of simply crossing off the duplicate PB. Because I love it so much.

Yeah, that's how I chose to open this post. 

What I Want for Christmas

--Old Nancy Drew books (I've been trying to collect these but all I've managed to find is some weird Nancy Drew 80s series that was buried beneath Atkins' cookbooks at the Goodwill.)




--Moleskine journals. They're my favorite to carry in my purse.





--Prabal Gurung Cape from the Neiman Marcus for Target collection



--Disco Ballroom Skirt from Modcloth. This skirt is just begging to be worn on New Year's, right? Even if my New Year's plans don't go far beyond my couch and TV screen.


--A ukulele. And then lessons if you're offering. I mean, you should probably offer. It's Christmas.



Please feel free to forward this letter to Santa. And make it like a chain letter or something, so if he doesn't read till the end he's hexed for life.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

25 DofC Day 4: How To Be The Awkward Girl At The Party


Day 4
“Get Down for the Holidays” by Jenny O.



If you’re lucky enough to find yourself on the “invited” side of a Facebook holiday event, and you fall into the outgoing and socially normal part of the pie chart (there’s no actual pie chart), this post will help you calm down and take your extrovert attitude down a little. I mean, to some people your charming and easy-to-talk-to personality may be repulsive, so how about you stop being so gross about it?

These are some (of maybe a continued series?) helpful tricks and tips I’ve composed from intense dedication to understanding the social complicacies of awkward girls. And really, the dedication isn’t that impressive. I just mainly thought really hard about my own reactions and labeled that as “field work.” By following these suggestions, even girls who get photographed at nightclubs to help draw patrons will be sitting in a corner finishing a New York Times crossword puzzle on their phone while everyone else is playing beer pong. And I’m not sure if people even play beer pong at nightclubs, which should further my credibility in this area of advice. Impressed yet?

(Also, feel free to press play on today’s song. It’s a soft-spoken, quirky song—perfect company for this post and aspiring soft-spoken, awkward girls.)


What to Wear To A Holiday Costume Party
It’s always best to wear something boxy or round. Basically the key is to forget trying to accentuate your shape, but trying to achieve a literal geometric shape instead. Think an M & M candy. Snowman. Using a refrigerator box to dress up like a wrapped present. If it’s difficult for you to fit through the door, you’ve got the look. You’ll notice that you’ll get a lot more compliments than normal because people feel so uncomfortable that they have to say something, but they can’t be honest because that’s ridiculous, so it will most always be, “Oh, you look so cute.” Sometimes cute actually means cute, but sometimes it just means things are weird.

You See A Cute Guy Across the Room Under The Mistletoe
Immediately shut down and ignore him while still being wildly aware of his presence. If you are forced to talk to him, speak in a barely audible mouse voice and end the conversation quickly before he has time to realize you're not really mysterious, just incapable of speaking coherently for any long period of time. If all those romantic comedies you’ve spent your Saturday nights watching teach you anything, it’s that playing hard to get is always how the cute guy notices you, so it's totally fine you abruptly (or is it mysteriously?) stop speaking and act disinterested. Just remember, after a comical storyline about your idiosyncrasies, things will work themselves out and end with him at your doorstep in the snow with flowers. It may take a few years, but don’t give up hope on that guy you made eye contact and gave your number to via telepathic communication—he’s your date for New Year’s 2019!

And that should suffice for now. Let me know if you need more advice--I'm here for you.

Monday, December 3, 2012

25 DofC Day 3: Cardigans & Clumsiness & The Worst Xmas Ever


Day 3
"That Was The Worst Christmas Ever!" by Sufjan Stevens



Today, my cardigan got caught on the handrail in front of my office’s door and I felt like a frazzled cartoon character when I was dramatically yanked back just as I was reaching for the handle.  What’s worse is that when you have an awkward, clumsy moment like that, you have to acknowledge it otherwise you end up looking even more foolish. Like when you trip or fall, the rule is you have to laugh extra loud so everyone knows the joke IS NOT on you because you’re creating the joke (as proven by the maniacal, obnoxious laughter tensely leaving your mouth.) So today, I laughed, you know, to myself and said, “Well, geez!” to the bushes. My cardigan will not make a fool out of me.

(Here’s the thing,)

Some days I’ll have really great, witty, profound things to write about and other days I’ll start the post with an uninteresting anecdote about cardigan problems.

This is already the issue I see arising in blogging everyday. But hopefully you’ll stay with me, here. Whoever you are, darling readers.

Today’s song really reminds me of college and studying in the library and the awkward moments I’d seem to find myself in daily. (The first one that comes to mind is when the elevator door literally smashed my hand and this guy had to pry it off me.)

 Scents of coffee tangled with old books—that’s what this song is to me. It’s tights with converse sneakers, headphones and scarves, creating study mixes instead of actually studying, and of course, cardigans and clumsiness. 

Sunday, December 2, 2012

25 DofC Day 2: Learning How To Ice Skate With Ryan John Cusack Gosling


Day 2
“Just Like Christmas” by Low



I’d really like to learn how to ice skate this winter. My mom, in her attempts to be genuinely helpful, suggested that I take lessons at our local civic center.

Which would be totally fine if I was in grade school and okay with having a teenage instructor who’s getting paid in the form of community service hours. But considering I’m a teen-plus (thanks, Mindy Kaling for that phrase!) I of course choose to think in more practical, adult-like ways.

The rink of dreams.
I mean, the art of ice-skating should be taught by a cute, witty guy you met at a coffee shop and spontaneously decided to go ice-skating with. And because he’s cute and witty and non-creepy, you go with him and aren’t afraid he’s a sociopath who will kill you—you know, things stay light-hearted and fun.  And while you’re skating, you do that, “Oh, I’m gonna fall!” but you don’t because he catches you right before it happens and you guys laugh and laugh and somehow you look around and you’re in Central Park or something, which is weird because you were just in Florida. Oh, and today’s song is playing from the sky.

You look glamorous the entire time, even when you’re being awkward, and despite the inevitable misunderstanding some time during your “getting to know you” storyline (which involves some sort of road trip through wintery beauty), you guys eventually come back together.

My boyfriend. His glasses make him witty.
Probably at that very ice skating rink where you fell in love the day it teleported you to New York. And he’s holding a mitten or something and the skating rink is empty except for you guys, because that’s absolutely possible during the peak ice-skating season, and you’re holding the other mitten even though you’re not totally sure why, and the guy is a John Cusack circa “Say Anything” and Ryan Gosling wearing-quirky-eyeglasses, hybrid. 

And then there’s a boom box involved, of course. And from the boom box, the same song plays that played from the sky that first day. And over the sound of the song and the rain that is probably falling, Ryan John Cusack Gosling says, "Hey girl, this relationship is super weird and kind of impossible because, well, a lot of things just don't make sense, but I love you. Let's ice-skate to this song while the credits roll."

It’s a completely realistic moment that’s totally unique and your own, and not at all stolen from various scenes of “Serendipity,” “Say Anything,”  generic holiday Hallmark movies and Ryan Gosling memes.

And today’s song was there every step of the way. You see, that’s what I meant when I said I wanted to learn how to ice skate. 

Saturday, December 1, 2012

25 DofC Day 1: Valley Winter Songs & Panic Attacks


Day 1
“Valley Winter Song” by Fountains of Wayne



I’m welcoming December with mixed emotions. I have the tendency to neurotically over analyze things and dissect situations until I’m completely paralyzed by elaborate, nonexistent, thematically-influenced possibilities that are “worst case scenarios as seen on CSI.” And I don’t even watch “CSI.” But the first two minutes I seem to always catch after watching re-runs of “Big Bang Theory” have managed to perpetuate this dramatic assumption that young girls who live on their own get stalked and attacked and murdered.

What a fun way to start my “25 Days of Christmas” countdown, right? But this is what you’ll be getting from me. I mean, not necessarily just gloomy, awful posts about murder, but If I blog every day, I can’t not write about what I’m feeling. And lately, it’s kind of nervous. My natural, initial fear of living alone has been heightened by other weird happenings, but fortunately for me, my best friend is not at all over sensitive or dramatic and was able to combine efforts with my parents to calm me down.

It was collectively decided that I have to toughen up. I have to put creeps in their place and I can’t be scared of the world. And if all else fails, my dad will kick their ass.  (I mean, I’m still their only child.)

So now that it’s awkward, I wanted to share one of my favorite, most soothing holiday tunes with you. Let’s balance out the weird venting session the first half of this blog served as.

If you can forgive Fountains of Wayne for “Stacy’s Mom” and “Pretty Fly For A White Guy” then you can remain open minded.  I don’t use the word  “cozy” to describe songs very often, but when I do it’s because it’s genuinely how it makes me feel. Every time I hear this song, I see winter. It’s simple, sweet, and familiar. The melody is calming and somehow seems like home, and what’s more necessary during the holiday season than that?

So before we get too deep into the madness that is Christmas, let’s take a second to welcome December properly. For me, it’s not hiding beneath my covers like a scared little girl.

Hello, December.  

(Okay, alright, I may be writing this right now from beneath covers, but it’s only because it’s chilly in here and has nothing at all to do with fear!)

Thursday, November 22, 2012

I'm Thankful for Al Roker & Good Music

Oh, Al. You're my favorite.

One of my favorite things about Thanksgiving is watching Al Roker bumble around, frantically trying to dodge floats and giant balloons while Matt Lauer sits in some kind of VIP lounge. It’s not at all fair, yet Al is so entertaining and animated that it’s almost like watching an endearing cartoon character narrate the parade.

This year will be no different, I’m sure. And then afterward, I’ll watch the dog show and LOLz big time at all the dogs whose fur is so fluffy you can’t see their feet. I mean, it’s hilarious—they look like little roombas gliding across the floor.

All of this while my mother buzzes around in the kitchen and I stand outside of it like I’m still five years old, unsure of where to jump in at.

This Thanksgiving will be a quiet one for my family, which I’m appreciative of. I’m in the process of moving and working and trying not to be freaked out by creepy older men who have asked to help me move (I mean, come on old guys! Resist the urge to freak young women out) so to just be able to celebrate with my parents (and of course, at some point in the day, Tinkham) is nice.

To compliment the simple, quiet Thanksgiving I’ll be having, I’m yet again posting a Thanksgiving mix. I’ve posted this same mix for a few years, but it’s still my favorite and I hope it becomes your favorite, too.

Happy Thanksgiving, friends.

1. Great Pumpkin Waltz -- Vince Guaraldi Trio
2. Orange Colored Sky -- Nat King Cole
3. Sweet Potato Pie -- Ray Charles & James Taylor
4. Rock of Ages -- Ben Kweller
6. Young Pilgrims -- The Shins
7. Mushaboom -- Feist
8. Shine on Harvest Moon -- Betty Carter
9. Thanksgiving Theme -- Vince Guaraldi Trio
10. Stuffy Turkey -- Thelonious Monk


Thursday, November 1, 2012

The Tell-Tale Frog


Poe, impressed by my scary story.
It was all Hallow’s afternoon and despite the intentionally menacing way I started this sentence, it was actually not creepy out at all. The weather was pleasant, I was wearing a fun costume, and on my way to lunch with some of my favorite people. But don’t horrifying stories always start out semi-innocent?

Keep reading, if you dare.

As I open the door to the backseat of my vehicle, a lunatic frog maniacally lunges at me.

“Ahhh!” I scream, then jump back, because that’s what you do when frogs try to touch you. The frog, because it is a mentally deranged kind of frog, doesn’t jump out into the fresh air, but instead hops further into the car and under some cup holder compartment that’s impossible to see into.

Everyone decides that our hunger is enough to give us the courage to ride in what has become a mobile haunted house. There’s danger lurking somewhere in the shadows and you know it will jump out on your face and once this happens, you know you will crash the car and die.

This luckily doesn’t go down at lunch. The frog stays hidden. It is clearly just here to torture me.

So now I’m left alone to deal with the frog on my way home.  Once I get to my car later that afternoon, I fling open the door dramatically and stomp randomly around the vehicle.

But, it doesn’t come out. So I climb inside and shut the door, looking out the window pleadingly like people in horror movies who just entered some weirdo’s house and they know in their hearts life will never be the same for them.

Plagued with paranoia, the entire way home I think everything is the frog.

“OH MY GOD, WHAT THE FUCK WAS THAT? WAS THAT THE FROG FLYING THROUGH THE AIR TOWARD MY FACE?!”
No. It was the reflection of a leaf blowing past the window in my peripheral vision.

“WHAT’S THAT RUSTLING? THE FUCKING FROG AND ITS FROG LEGS READY TO JUMP ON MY FACE?!”
No. It was my purse strap gently grazing my coffee thermos.

“WHAT’S THAT ON MY LEG?? THE FUCKING FROG AND ITS FROG FEET STURDYING ITS FROG BODY FOR WHEN IT LEAPS INTO THE AIR AND JUMPS ON MY FACE?!”
No. It was a Starbucks straw wrapper that got caught on my tights.

In my lunacy, my senses have been heightened to superhero levels.

I think about relaxing—maybe listen to some music because riding in silence is making me crazy--but I just know it will only be for the worst. There’s nothing more ridiculous than when you see someone in horror movies acting carefree one second then screaming psychotically the next. I imagine it:

“La la la singing along to my favorite song, la la la, OH MY GOD THERE’S A FUCKING FROG ON MY FACE AHHH I’M SO GROSSED OUT AND I CAN’T PAY ATTENTION TO THE ROAD!! I KNEW I SHOULDN’T HAVE RELAXED! FROGS ARE SO WEIRD!”

But none of that happens. I make it home alive and feel confident the frog will die overnight. I do not feel guilty about this, since the frog has chosen this fate.

THE NEXT DAY (AKA, TODAY)

After work, my coworker Jennifer offers to see if she can get the frog out since there was no sight of it all day. She is not a baby like me. I assume this will just be a mission to find the frog’s remains and then lay them to rest in the office’s shrubbery.

Until…

“Oh, there he is! He’s a squirmy one,” I hear Jennifer say as she crawls half way into the backseat.

UH, WHAT?

It’s alive. And I catch a glimpse of its weird pale, gross, weak but still alive, zombie looking self for a second before it leaps under the passenger seat. I scream and start giggling like a kid who’s scared but then also sort of excited by the prospect of adventure. I run around to the passenger side with Jennifer and while she’s peering into the backseat, I look under the front.

And there it is, staring at me. At my face. Like he wants to jump on it. For a moment, I’m almost sad and just wish he would jump out and be free. But then he moves a little and it’s “death to the frog” again.

“Jennifer!” I yell and jump back because, again, that’s what you do when frogs try to touch you.

She runs to the front, but the frog has disappeared. This time, under the floorboard.

She can’t reach it at all and it looks like it seriously can't get out. So I turn to Jennifer and say goodbye and climb into my car. It is hopeless.

I didn’t want the frog to die from starvation because it was trapped—I just wanted it to never jump on my face.

As I'm driving, I think I hear the frog under the floor trying to get out. It’s scary and sad and horrifying.

I get home and hurry into the house. And even here, from my desk, I can still hear the faint whisper of a frog with its frog legs trying to get out and jump on my face. The thumping against the floorboard seems to syncopate in time with the flicker of candlelight near the windowsill. A dog howls in the distance and I realize I will forever be haunted by the events of this autumnal afternoon. I shiver and wrap my shawl tightly around my shoulders, then blow the candle out. A second before the room goes dark, I see the reflection of a frog’s—this frog’s—haunting gaze. I jump back, startled, and when I light the candle again all I see is the frosted windowpane.

(Not really, but that seemed like an appropriate way to wrap this story up. But seriously, let’s hope he finds out how to vacate the vehicle tonight. Or sadly, just dies.)

Monday, October 29, 2012

13 Songs For Your Halloween Playlist


Despite my inability to see past the ridiculous lack of creativity in slutting yourself out of a real costume (talking to you, girl I thought was dressed as a prostitute who wandered into a costume store and stole a pair of cat ears) and my terrified-at-anything-slightly-scary, low tolerance for horror, I love Halloween.

I think “Hocus Pocus” is mainly responsible for this. There’s nothing more festive than Bette Midler dressed as a witch singing “I Put A Spell On You.” It’s creepy and fun and cheesy and 90s and awesome. Every year I look forward to watching it (and tricking myself into thinking I can make it through a real horror movie—this time I made it 30 minutes into “Pumpkinhead” before the soundtrack turned menacing and I chickened out), creating DIY costumes that no one in my family will understand, and of course, posting a mixtape for you guys.

Halloween Mixtape

1. Psycho Therapy--The Ramones
2. Paranoid--Black Sabbath
3. Halloween--Siouxsie & The Banshees
4. Bad Things--Cults
5. Dead Sound--The Raveonettes
6. Help, I'm Alive--Metric
7. Is There A Ghost--Band of Horses
8. Date With The Night--Yeah Yeah Yeahs
9. Howlin' For You--The Black Keys
10. Full Moon--The Black Ghosts
12. Vicious--Lou Reed
13. Season Of The Witch--Donovan


Whatever your Halloween plans are, I hope you have fun. And remember: if you're a virgin, don't light the candle.


Sunday, October 28, 2012

Halloween Parties & Search Parties


Last night my family had their annual Halloween party. Things started pretty well then took a turn for the dramatic and emotional worse.

Then ended well. Okay, well-ish.

Let’s get the story started.

It was some time after the holiday-themed bingo game and about 5ish glasses of sangria for myself that a few people started gathering their things and leaving. Some at the party were non-family members, first time attendees, so I don’t blame them for not realizing our dogs, in their excitement for adventure, will try to go out the front door when you open it.

So as Ricky and I were walking in the front room, a guest warned us that she thought she just saw one of our dogs in the front yard.

At first I was like, the dog is probably just across the street near the neighbor’s fence. So, we walk out there (and at this point it’s about 10 at night, so I’m using my sangria night vision to find the dog), trespass into the neighbor’s yard and start peeking around. No Sirius (my dog’s name.)

I ask my cousin and his group of friends, who were standing out by his truck in the driveway, if they saw Sirius, but no luck. Mostly I was met with awkward silence and expressions of incomprehension, so I’m not entirely sure they knew what a dog was.

At this point, I’m pissed. Because there were people standing out here. The sangria blocks the logical part of my brain that argues it’s dark and Sirius is a smaller dog, with dark fur and it’s pretty possible no one did see him walking around. The wine saturated part of my brain says, “Fuck that! They should have seen him with their night goggles!”

And I start working myself up in the only way I know how—insulting people’s intelligence under my breath as I use the f-word. Unfortunately when you’ve been drinking and playing holiday-themed bingo games, you’re so revved up it’s difficult to control the octave of your voice.

So, I dropped the f-bomb in front of relatives and my friend’s religious mother.

(Happy Halloween!)

My cousin starts down the street with a flashlight while Ricky and I search the yard and my dad’s barn. Then, my mother comes running out in her witch’s costume crying hysterically. My dad and her take off on the golf cart to cover the surroundings since our dog has decided to embark on some grand, “Homeward Bound" adventure.

The Halloween party is now a search party. Everyone’s calling the dog’s name, he’s not coming, so now I assume he’s dead and this is the worst night ever. My cousin is diligently searching, but his friends are laughing about The Search. (In hindsight, it was funny. But you don’t laugh when the person who invited you into her home is crying and clearly upset. This is why I used the f-word.)

Now, there’s weirdos in costumes showing up in back yards yelling, “Sirius!” and neighbors coming out of their houses like, “Uh, what the hell?” A neighbor even took to his golf cart to search this field across the street and down by the lake. In my haste to find the dog, I forgot part of my costume involved binoculars (I was Suzy Bishop, but to family members I was Nancy Drew or a 60s schoolgirl since absolutely no one got it) and I didn't even think to use them once. What a waste.

Eventually, my brazen, sassy attitude leaves and I’m left with a pouting little girl who just lost her dog. And I start tearing up. It’s been 30 minutes and it’s nighttime and we’ve searched EVERYWHERE and we can’t find him. People even started removing parts of their costumes because shit was getting real.

Then, my aunt gets a phone call. Sirius is back at the house. Apparently, he just came running up the front porch and was all like, “What’s up?!”

And at this point, everyone’s tired and emotionally drained and left with mixed feelings and confusion over how much fun they had at the party.

It was a great way to kick off the holiday season.

Happy Halloween :)