splat

Places I managed to drop bits of avocado from this sandwich:

– onto the countertop
– onto the cutting board
– onto the other-than-intended sandwich half
– onto the the plate
– onto the napkin
– onto the floor
– onto the MacBook trackpad
– into my cleavage
– down the front of my hoodie
– onto my chin
– I don’t know; I never found that bit. Uh-oh.

updated to add: I stopped typing, hit post, and went back to the second half of my sandwich, only to find a bit of avocado on the sofa next to the plate. And no, that was not the missing piece from the list.

tipsy

Even if you don’t feel tipsy during the Halloween party, look for these dead giveaways:

– A complete inability to remove the foil from the champagne bottle, or to figure out how to uncage the cork without removing the foil.

– Taking the stairs down from the hosts’ apartment ever so slowly, getting both feet on each riser ever so carefully before moving on to the next.

– Your partner saying “You’re doin’ great!” at least three times during the five-minute walk home.

– Shucking off your bra and tights from under your costume in front of a (curtained) window while cheerfully giving the finger to the hypothetical neighbors who might be offended by the unintentional display.

– Being ever-so-proud! that you remembered to wash your face before bed.

– Waking up late the next morning ravenous for every smeary, fatty mass-market food being trumpeted by TV commercials.

– When your partner reveals that he brought home a frozen pizza last night, you rush wordlessly to him, fluttering your hands, and finally manage “I’m so glad we got married!”

abundance

This small apartment is crammed full of stuff — most of it mine, and much of it so very crammed in that we can’t get at it.

I keep paring down. I dropped off several big boxes of clothing at Goodwill and still I can’t see the back of the closet. I gave away a food processor and I still have two left. If a guest admires a [book/scarf/toy/kitchen tool], sometimes I give it to them on the spot and thank them for taking it.

The place is still littered with toys, games, DVDs still in their cellophane, shoes I’m waiting to break in, shoes I stopped wearing, beautiful trinkets that we were given and don’t need, winter coats that are too fancy, winter coats that aren’t fancy enough, books jammed into boxes where we can’t read them, favorite dresses hanging in the back of a deep closet where I forget them, luxurious bath oils turning sour and stale on the shelf, down comforters balled up under the bed getting musty.

My mindset of scarcity creates so much sad waste. I’m saving those bath oils, that velvet dress, those perfect shoes, that lovely down throw, the most delicate wineglasses, the expensive bottle of spirits, the crisp linen dish towels handed down from my grandmother, the folded swath of uncut lilac fabric. I’m saving them for LATER. I’m saving them for BEST.

But if BEST never comes, if it is never LATER, then those luscious goods, those indulgences, those luxuries… they sit and molder on the shelf.

I’ve made a resolution for September: each week, I pledge to use or dispose of at least seven unused, underused, or forgotten objects: one every day, or a week’s worth all at once, however it works out. No matter how much I give (or throw) away, the count resets each Sunday: if I toss out or rehome 30 items on September 1st, I still have seven to go the next week.

Expect the updates to be excruciatingly dull for everyone but me. After all, I’m the one unearthing those velvet dresses, drinking the expensive spirits, giving away toys, and opening up space in my cramped home.

Though September hasn’t started, I have: some construction in our building forced us to clear out a long-ignored closet. I threw out a dozen spoiled, soiled, spilled, or otherwise unsuitable objects.

It’s official

In case you were wondering, it’s official: he just plain gets me.

Things I said to The Fella to identify an actor whose name I never remember. Note: I had had two drinks.

“Little dude. With the eyes.”
“Elf guy! With the eyes and the teeth.”
“Little elf guy who’s not Tobey Maguire!”
“Sunshine of the Forever Thingee!

He said “Elijah Wood?!” just as I said,”The little elf dude in the movies you always want me to watch. YOU KNOW.”

exchanging glances

Several years ago, right after moving back to this small city, I was walking down the street when I spotted a strikingly familiar fellow walking toward me. As we got closer, I ran through the possibilities: is he another adult student from one of my classes? Did we go to high school together years ago? Is he a friend-of-a-friend? Is he a friend from my youth, all grown up? Is he a customer of mine at one of my previous jobs, or am I a customer of his?

Of course, I was running through these possible contexts so that I could greet him with the appropriate level of friendliness. Is he a passing acquaintance? Nod and smile or wave, and keep walking. If I’m a customer or client, I’d like to be friendly but still leave him some social space for privacy. But if he’s an old friend, it would be a little aloof to wave and blow on past.

I couldn’t place him, so I gave the tiniest of waves and the mildest of smiles and kept moving. He waved and smiled back.

And when I saw him a few days later, we did the same thing: raise a hand in greeting, give the half-smile, and keep walking. And this is what we did for the next dozen or so meetings: passing on the sidewalk, at the library doors, in the grocery store, wherever. We must have some similarity of schedule and taste because I bump into this guy regularly.

At some point, I noticed that he started looking at me more carefully. He couldn’t figure out where we knew each other from either!

And then I realized: I know his face but he doesn’t know mine. He’s an anchor from the local news. (I don’t have broadcast TV these days, so I haven’t seen him on TV since we started waving at each other. But I’d previously seen him on TV for years, so the face is very familiar.)

The next time I saw him — walking down the library’s long exit ramp while I was walking up the entrance ramp — I suppressed my impulse to raise my hand in greeting. C’mon, I don’t know this guy! And more to the point, he doesn’t know me!

And then he upped the ante: he waved and said “Hello!” And now, every time I see him, he gives me a hearty hello and I give it right back.

And that’s the story of how I accidentally trained a local news anchor to greet a complete stranger.

hairbrained

My new super-short haircut looks great, but on humid days it presents some morning surprises. This morning, it was standing up in vertical curls.

Elsa: ACK! My hair is — ack! — I look like I’m inventing something! I look like a mad scientist.
The Fella: I like it.
Elsa: You just want to come back to my lab and see my Tesla coils.
The Fella: I do.
Elsa: I look like Barton Fink.
The Fella: You look pretty.
Elsa: I look like a cockatoo.
The Fella: No! [approvingly] You look like Rod Stewart.
Elsa: …that’s not better than a cockatoo. Or different!

there, that wasn’t so bad, now was it?

So I went to my first of several appointments leading up to the Horrible Oral Surgery. This first visit was a long-overdue check-up with my regular, wonderful dentist and his staff… and to my astonishment, nothing much happened.

Oh, some things happened: x-rays and an exam, a referral to an oral surgeon, advice on dealing with dental anxiety before the surgery, another visit scheduled. But you know what I mean when I say “nothing much happened.” I mean that nothing happened that was painful or humiliating or even out of the ordinary.

No red light started flashing, no klaxons went AWOOOOOOGA, no oral surgery strike team arrived via helicopter to scoop me up and medevac me to the nearest maxillofacial unit. No one even gasped or clutched their pearls in horror or took away my official grown-up badge.

Indeed, both the dentist and the hygienist shrugged a little when I asked which should come first, my follow-up cleaning or my Horrible Oral Surgery. I somehow imagined the gaping pulpy painful HOLE IN MY JAW might constitute an emergency, but the dental professionals think otherwise… which is a-okay with me.

After my uneventful appointment I went home, where The Fella fed me my favorite non-crunchy take-out (asparagus tempura salad with spicy peanut dressing) and ice cream, stroked my hair, and told me I was soooooooo braaaaaaaave.

Whatever you’ve been putting off for too long, just brace yourself and do it. Do it now, do it soon. Forgive yourself for putting it off, give yourself permission to feel fear or anxiety, don’t shame yourself for it. Just do the thing. And when you do it, I’ll tell you the truth: you are sooooooo braaaaaaave.

grown-up

I recently spent five minutes on the phone pretending to be a proper grown-up. It was exhausting.

I’ve been putting off minor oral surgery for, oh, a couple of years… and the delay in treatment means it’s become a major oral surgery. Yikes. Why did I put it off? Well, it’s a spicy melange of denial, constitutional inertia, poverty, dread of the dental chair (which inevitably sparks my vicious back spasms), and sheer bonechilling dental phobia.

This Mighty Girl post mentioning jaw grafts and cadaver bone didn’t help; the idea is simultaneously fascinating, inspiring (sign your donor cards, folks!), and immediately viscerally horrifying.

So I had to shut up the constant chattering voices in my head that loop around and around your tooth your back your bank account it’s urgent it’s an emergency maybe tomorrow cadaver bone! you have to do this now graft abscess impacted it’s going to hurt you can’t afford it it’s so awful in there OH MY GOD WHAT WILL THEY FIND IN THERE UNDER THE HALF-ROTTED TOOTH and make the necessary arrangements to get it yanked. Well, really what I’ve made are the necessary arrangements to make the arrangements to get it yanked, but anything’s better than nothing and movement is better than inertia.

Just subduing the panicky child inside me long enough to make that preliminary appointment — describing the problem, describing the situation I created all on my own, admitting to my own slack self-care and not getting bogged down in my crippling phobia— brought my heart into my throat and reminded me how often I feel like a child masquerading as an adult.

But then I remember: most people don’t feel like proper adults. (clean all the things?) Most people are making it up as they go along, subduing their fears and laziness and ignorance long enough to make progress, doing the best they can when they can do their best, and muddling along the rest of the time.

Everyone I know is just trying to work it out as best they can. And most of them are doing okay.

Me, too.

Years ago, I was working at friend’s home business during her most hectic season, which happened to coincide with a home repair project that temporarily changed the lay-out… and therefore changed many of her usual processes and procedures. One busy-busy day as we re-arranged the ad-hoc stores of goods while carefully balancing new stock on our hips, she exclaimed in frustration, “This is NOT how the real grown-ups do it!”

And I had a quiet little moment of peace as I realized: of course it is.

Of course the real grown-ups are doing exactly this. They’re frantically trying to balance what they know, what they think they know, what they don’t know — and most frighteningly, what they don’t even know they don’t know — all without dropping the stuff they’re balancing on their hips.

Because we are the real adults. We are the proper grown-ups. What we do is, by definition, the way real grown-ups do it. We set our own terms.

xkcd playpen balls

This idea really resonates for me. In our living room, you’ll find a matted print of this xkcd strip. I gave it to The Fella as a Valentine’s gift last year, because it sums up so much of what I think is successful in our marriage: we make our own life up as we go along, we never forget to play, and we believe in our own decisions more than in the conventional constraints of mainstream society.

puffed up

I spent part of yesterday and most of today grousing — or, more accurately, trying not to grouse, which is of course a lot more exhausting — about little things, dumb things, immaterial things that even I don’t care about. For example, this afternoon I walked into the room where The Fella was peacefully reading his book, put my hands on my hips, and opened with “Can I just point out one more problem with Lost?”

This is the level of irrational irritation I’m talking about.

And when I look back over the week, I see that I must have unconsciously anticipated this mood: as early as Friday, I planned to spend a couple of hours this weekend making pita bread… because I needed a recipe that would ever so subtly compound my bad mood, a recipe that is just a liiiiiiiiittle bit time-consuming, just a liiiiiiiiittle bit finicky, and that I have never ever managed to perform correctly. I’ve made pita bread a dozen times, and though the little flat rounds always taste fine, they never puff and separate enough to make a fully distinct pocket. In short, this is a recipe designed to make me grouchy. Grouchier.

But it’s amazing how one small success will buoy my mood. I peeked into the oven and squealed “It’s puffing! It’s puffing!” In amazement, I watched the little loaf balloon and lift itself off the baking stone… and as it floated up up up, so did my spirits.