resolving

I’m not a big fan of traditional New Year’s resolutions. Too often, I see friends commit to punishing life changes and ascetic regimes. This kind of self-denial is designed to fail, which only erodes morale.

I’m especially resistant to weight-loss resolutions. I’m frankly tired of hearing people deplore their bodies, and I’m sick and tired of them assuming that I feel the same way about mine. As I’ve mentioned before, my own relationship with my body is complicated, but it’s mostly a mixture of appreciation and tender protectiveness. I try not to deride my body despite the messages of inadequacy that bombard us all, and I try to take positive steps, not negative ones. When I exercise, I focus on getting stronger and feeling good, not on losing weight or looking different.

When it comes to resolutions, I focus on pleasure and self-care, not punishment and self-abnegation. Some of my oft-repeated resolutions from previous years: drink more champagne*; sing more; eat more eclairs.

I think I will make a resolution this New Year, and it’s one of celebration, not denial: dance more.

* I’m doing verrrrrrry well with this one.

emotional math

I’ve been thinking a lot this week about partnership and marriage, and especially about being married to The Fella, which is, y’know, awesome.

This Ask Metafilter comment gets to the heart of that awesomeness:

You know when you were a kid, and you’d get excited about sleepovers because you could stay up all night watching movies and talking to someone who just cracked you up and really understood you? Remember how special those nights felt?

Every day is like that now. Except we get to have really good sex, too.

Yup, that sums it up: I get to spend every day and every night with my very favorite person from now on, and we get to express that favorite-ness in every way we wish.

But I still haven’t really internalized that this is a two-way street of Awesome — that my very favorite person’s very favorite person is me.

Let me digress.

I had a rotten morning. You don’t need to know the details, but I made a small error that caused the not-sane part of my brain to castigate me and call me names (which A. is not productive and B. is NOT ALLOWED) while I flailed around trying to get dressed and out of the house in a hurry.

During this ridiculous few minutes of blistering self-loathing, The Fella kept interjecting helpful comments like, “You’re not stupid, you just made a mistake” and “How can I help?” and “Are these your pants?” When he should have been sleeping peacefully (and could very rightfully have been giving me grief over my meltdown), he was cheerfully pitching in to soothe me, to help me, to solve my problem.

And later in the day, I added some of those things together. I did the emotional math: I am married to my very favorite person, the person whose opinion I value more than anyone else’s, the person who I think is the downright AWESOMEST person in the whole wide world.

And he thinks I’m THE AWESOMEST, too.

I think he must be right. You don’t argue with the transitive property.

dream logic

All week long, I’ve been having what sound like classic anxiety dreams, what should be classic anxiety dreams, but Dream Elsa keeps stepping up and mastering the anxious situations.

– A dream replays a real-life conversation in which a loved one asks me to do something I feel awkward about doing. In the dream as in life, I tactfully and pleasantly say no, re-establishing my boundaries; in the dream as in life, the loved one graciously accepts my refusal and we chat about other things before saying “I love you, bye.”

– I find myself at a party where I know absolutely no one. Instead of freezing up or standing in a corner, I pour myself some punch and smilingly make my way around the room meeting people.

– I awaken in an unfamiliar and busy bank lobby without pants. “Huh,” I say to the tellers, “my pants have disappeared, along with my wallet. I’ll have to get new ones! See you later.”

– The bank building shifts, as dream landscapes tend to do, and becomes a shopping mall bustling with shoppers. Unsurprisingly, all of them are fully dressed; I am still trouserless. “Well,” I think, it won’t be the oddest thing they’ll see today. Hmm, I bet I can buy some pants in one of these stores!”

– I’m out with The Fella in a busy bar when I’m temporarily struck dumb. He looks at me quizzically; I calmly gesture to my mouth and shrug, smiling to reassure him. He understands completely, flashes me a loving look, and without words we fist-bump, clinking our wedding rings in solidarity.

I’m not sure what these mean, but I wake up each day nodding in appreciation of this Dream Me who sizes up each situation and faces it with calm confidence and competence. I half-expect to dream of showing up, naked and unprepared, at a final exam — and to get an A+.

little things

A few small pleasures on this gray rainy day:
– new boots, bought in the last days of spring and packed away for a rainy day;
– sugar cubes, bought for champagne cocktails but distinctly pleasant to watch them melting in a cup of tea;
– a whole basket of fresh tomatoes, bursting with juice and scent, too gorgeous to cook or gussy up;
– a brand new sketchpad and an excellent pen;
– a few minutes stolen with The Fella, bundled up in bed with blankets and books.

For the moment, I’m directing my writing energy elsewhere, but I’ll continue to check in with little things — and little things can be good.

little things

At not-quite-the-end of a long week of work and deadlines, The Fella came home from work around midnight and sat down with a blank look on his face, getting ready to write the weekly newsletter.

“You look a little beat, hon,” I said. “Did you have dinner?”

“Not really.”

It took me all of three minutes to whip up something simple for him to eat. As I gave him the plate and a beer, The Fella took my hand and quietly, earnestly said, “Thank you. Thank you for marrying me.”

Today is our second anniversary, and The Fella’s hatched some secret plans. (Nothing big, he assures me. Just secret.) The first item on the agenda: he got me an enormous coffee. Number two on the agenda: he’s doing laundry.

This guy gets me.

* [The Fella, don’t hover over the links!] update Now that I’ve given The Fella his gift, I can describe it here. We’re going to have a mid-year variation on our Valentine’s day tradition of staying in with cheesy horror movies and pizza.

For the cotton anniversary, I gave The Fella the abominable-looking Lady Frankenstein, starring Joseph Cotten. Yeah.

Because it’s too hot to heat the oven, I’ll be picking up fantastic take-out pizza from Otto.

Wait for it… cotton.

I toyed with plenty of other gift ideas. For example, I thought about getting a really luxurious set of sheets, which we kinda need. Or towels, ditto. But I dismissed those as gifts for me, not for The Fella.

What did The Fella give me? A really luxurious set of sheets. And a really luxurious towel. Did I mention: this guy gets me.

gratitude

Things, little and big, to be grateful for this week:

One Step Beyond! I’d never even heard of this Twilight Zone carbon copy, and now I have four DVDs of it, with its original Alcoa promos intact. Thanks to The Fella!

– Pajamas and pearls! (I ordered new pajamas, then made myself a new double-length string of pearls. Obviously, I’m going to wear them both right away.)

– Surprise bacon!

– Graduating from mooshy food to semi-soft food!

– Passover Coca-Cola!

widow’s weeds

This morning, Maggie of Mighty Girl transcribed a harmless-seeming (or harmless, depending on your mindset) chat between friends, spurred by a typo: widow for window.

In the comments there, I responded to her joke, a response that was half thoughtful and half visceral. Since a handful of people have clicked over to Macbebekin by way of that comment, I felt it was worth addressing here as well.

As a sort-of-widow myself*, with a sister recently widowed, and many friends and loved ones who have seen their partners die, I felt gutted by that joke, by the ease with which it consigns widows to a pile of anachronistic things.

That is not to say that Maggie shouldn’t have made the joke, or shared it.

Continue reading

toast

I’ve been chiming in pretty regularly on Maggie’s Champagne and Chocolate Wednesdays lately, and I’m going to start keeping track of the toasts here — just as a reminder that there’s plenty to toast, in good times and bad. Breaking away from my recent streak of bubbly-drinking, tonight I’m toasting with fizzy lemonade with a dash of homemade strawberry liqueur.

So here’s to homemade strawberry liqueur, rich fuschia, fragrant, and sweet.

Here’s to almost empty matinee theaters, and walking out into the bright light all swimmy and disoriented.

Here’s to bright days and cool evenings.

Here’s to nieces and nephews who spend an afternoon making pretty platters of snacks in anticipation of your visit, and who crow and crowd around for hugs when you get there.

Here’s to a farmstand tomato on toast for breakfast, and a farmstand tomato on toast for lunch. (If we hadn’t run out, I’d be toasting a farmstand tomato for dinner.)

Here’s to a quiet Wednesday night date with the guy who knows you better than anyone ever has, and who makes you happier than anything ever did, and who wants to keep on doing that forever.

reminder

Too often, I do something long overdue and, reeling in the simple pleasure afterwards, I wonder “How did it take you so long?” or “Why don’t you do that more often?” So, here’s a little list of little things to remember.

– go to the movies on a hothothot day. Really luxuriate in the air conditioning that chills you to the bone.

– spend more time with your niece. She’s full of surprises in the nicest way.

– get a haircut. You can’t keep your hands out of your hair because it feels so silky.

– file your nails. Look, you have hands just like a grown-up lady! (For about 12 hours before you snag a nail again, but whatever.)

– grapes. It turns out you like ’em!

– open a bottle of wine just for yourself. That’s right, don’t wait for someone to share it with you. Pop the cork, drink a glass or two, and don’t worry whether you’re wasting it. Scandalous!

– kiss your husband. HARD. Make the most of the time you have together.

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.