I’ve Looked at Clouds and They Don’t Have Sides

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There is a funky black cloud hanging over my life right now. This cloud is fuzzing with my clarity and general life perception.

The Black Cloud - by Steven Kenny

The Black Cloud – by Steven Kenny

Let me start by saying – I get it. I get that in a time when people are hurting for jobs, living in ugly places, going through trauma and depression, fighting cancer and hunger and malaria, living as refugees and physically tortured individuals – I get that my really nice life in a beautiful town with a well paying, enjoyable job, living in a healthy body with the person I love are gifts. I get that I just spent ten days in Hawaii, a luxury some people never get to enjoy.

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So why the black cloud? Why this feeling of dissatisfaction with my job? Why the feeling that what I have is not enough and it’s my fault that it’s not? Why the anxiety that everything (life, the world, my relationships with people I love) is about to fall apart even though my brain knows that is not the truth? Why is the knee-jerk reaction to take out my frustration on myself – such as if I worked out every day I wouldn’t feel this way; if I was 15 pounds lighter I wouldn’t feel this way; if I had a finished draft of a novel right now I wouldn’t feel this way; if I had a secret stash of one million dollars I wouldn’t feel this way and that I don’t have all these things is a direct result of my own failings as a human.

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Why am I not feeling content in this moment right here and right now, when for the past few years I have been happy and very present in the moment? I can’t figure it out. I also can’t figure out if I should use semicolons in the above paragraph or not and I don’t have the energy to check. Sorry, grammar police.

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This lack of clarity has seeped into my brain erasing all creative thought and original thinking. It feels like mush in there. In here. There must be a way out of it, but I’m not sure what it is. I’ve tried soaking in nature (the usual remedy), reading, movies, alcohol, pizza, chocolate, exercise, staring into space, listening to music, sleep, writing and still there is fuzz. It’s so fuzzy I can’t even say exactly how I feel and it’s been said that really embracing what you are feeling is the best way to move through it. So now I am adding to my failings that I’m not even a capable enough human to define my own feelings. Great.

I felt a bit lighter this morning and actually laughed to the point of tears (maybe mild hysteria?) when I read a favorite blog that showcased Kim Kardashian’s ass. The blogger also posted a photo of herself with the quote “She’s taken to bed with martinis, Xanax, and Turner Classics” and I thought, “Maybe that’s exactly what I need.”

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How is this physique humanly possible?

If a Kardashian is bringing me some joy, obviously I need an emotional intervention. Or maybe just a day in bed with martinis and old movies. Here’s hoping the cloud lifts soon and I can get back to my regularly scheduled clarity of contentment.

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‘Tween Adult Hood and Older Hood: Bathing Suit Edition

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When I was in junior high school I used to go ice skating every weekend. I was a good skater, not great. I wanted to be great, but we couldn’t afford lessons, so I knew I would never improve past what I taught myself by watching other people. Instead, when I was out on the ice skating backward as if I was ramping up to do the double axle I did not know how to do, coming around that last high curve before I would theoretically launch myself up in the air, I would abort the move and skate forward as if I had purposefully interrupted my jump. The story I created in my head that I wanted other people to know was that I had been a skater bound for the olympics only to be shut down by an injury after falling during practice that made me scared to do the jumps (Hello, did someone watch Ice Castles too many times or what?). So, what they were seeing on the ice was me working up the courage to skate again and get back to training for the Olympics.  Seriously. This is what I told myself (and wanted to tell everyone else) every single time time I skated. I wanted to explain to them why I wasn’t the BEST skater. And my explanation wasn’t even the truth.

In less than two weeks I am going on vacation to Maui for some R and R (Rest and Romance). Ten glorious days of sea bathing and sunning, hiking and strolling, sleeping in and staying up late. All with the person I love. Glorious stuff. For the past three months I have been obsessed with getting into shape as one will do when one is going to be living in a bathing suit for an extended period of time.

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I have been working out at least three times a week and eating all good, green stuff. The only difference I’ve noticed is my shoulders are a little more rounded and I can do twice as many push ups. All that work and my shoulders are rounded?? Great. What about the abs and butt? And the love handles and other assorted jiggly bits? In this later-age stage of life it takes a fuck of a lot longer to get in shape. It just does. It’s hard to get up and actually do it and it takes forever for even one ab muscle to poke its head out from underneath winter’s store of fat. But I’m working on it. The thing is, I know I’m working on it, but no one else on the beach will know that I’m working on it.

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There is a strong desire to explain to all of my fellow beach goers (and my significant other) WHY I’m still jiggly possibly with some elaborate story, such as, while training for Wimbledon I blew out all the tendons in my left ankle and have been holed  up and hobbled for the better part of two years. This Hawaiian vacation with the frisbee playing, body surfing and boogie boarding is all really physical therapy for my ankle, so I can get back to winning all the tennis games ever. To be the BEST tennis player.

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But that story isn’t true. I will never be the best tennis player with or without the blown out ankle. The truth is, I am jiggly in my bathing suit because I’ve spent the last year and a half indulging myself in love and food and leisure. I haven’t been moving enough and it caught up to me and my stalled, older-hood metabolism. I’ve recognized that it’s time to start moving again, to get strong again and I’m taking steps toward that. That is the real explanation.  I’m retraining my brain to focus on the idea that even though I’ll be all jiggly on the beach, I can still have the BEST time. And I will.

Aloha, people.

PS: While I’m still taking my bikini, I bought my first one-piece bathing suit for this trip to contain some of the jiggle. Cute, right?

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‘Tween Adult-hood and Older-hood : Clothing Edition

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Apparently, I am at that awkward phase that is in between ages or a ‘Tween. Obviously not a teenager between childhood and adult hood, but a *gasp* mid-aged adult on the verge of, well, older-hood. This between stage is particularly trying in the clothing department and the weight department. Let’s start with clothes.

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I have a quiver of pretty vintage dresses in my closet that I used to wear to work. In the last couple of years, the expansion of my mid-section inhibits the wearing of these dresses as vintage people were SMALL, man. I am no longer small.

Without these dress options, my daily clothing choices have dwindled to the same few pairs of either khaki or black pants. The skirts in the closet are for vintage people, too, as the waist now wants to sit up somewhere under my boobs, which is really no place for a waist to be.

My fitted dress shirts are slowly being replaced with more, shall we say, blousy shirts that flutter around my rapidly rising and flaring hips and cover my arms. The high heels I wore to work every day for seven years are cobwebbing it in the corner of the closet, having been replaced by sensible flats.

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All of this is fine in many respects. I mean, after months of being miserable in my low-rise jeans that bind my belly and make everything mush out the sides, I bought some jeans that are made for the more, (ugh), mature woman and in larger size and it was like a whole new day! They fit and were comfortable and didn’t look terrible, sort of Younger Grandma Chic, if that’s a look.

The thing is I don’t really know who this person is yet; this person who wears flats and blousy shirts and stretchy jeans, khaki and black, a startling lack of color or originality. Vintage clothes are unique and interesting and helped me put on some exterior personality. I have yet to find personality in this new way of dressing, to find a more mature identity with flair.

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So, for now I’m in the ‘Tween, getting through the last of the mourning for my lovely  dresses with the 25 inch waist and spaghetti straps, while trying to accept that I MAY (I’m not willing to give up yet) never wear those again. And trying not to freak out about possibly ending up in a caftan by the time I’m 50, even though some days, I must admit, that sounds divine. As long as it’s vintage.

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PS:  What I don’t want is for this to be a chick-lit blog. Meaning, I don’t want it to be about clothes and weight loss and kittens and relationships and pop culture. But guess what – it is, because I am a chick and this is my… lit?

Next up: begin a ‘Tween and the issues of weight. Betcha can’t wait.

 

 

FIRST BLOG POST SINCE OCTOBER OF 2013

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Yep. It’s been a while. In fact it’s been so long I couldn’t even remember the password to log into this blog account. I’ve been missing writing and missing spewing my guts on paper, virtual or the tree-pulp kind. So here ya go.

Lately, I’ve been thinking about why I’m not writing as much as I used to and have discovered it is directly related to happiness. Historically, I have always written more when my soul is slightly tortured and/or I have days upon days of alone time. It is then that my thoughts bounce around my brain, some disappearing into a gray mass crevasse, some ricocheting within the black hole of dead brain cells that I KNOW is in there. Then there are those that spill out onto “paper” clear as lump of coal, compressed and expelled by sadness, loss, mild depression, or intense longing.

Writing happens (and often very good writing) with a bit of darkness in the mix. I think that’s true for a lot of writers. The tortured soul must create and do it while chain smoking cigarettes and drinking tumblers of whiskey, while roaming wintry beaches, leaning into the needling wind wearing a man’s oversized blue sweater for masochistic comfort. Maybe that’s a little ever the top cliche (not to mention a tad romanticized), but when I think of tortured writers I think of the Lillian Hellman short story from Pentimento when she writes about being holed up with Dashiell in a house in the Hamptons, gestating and finally birthing a play.There was lots of smoking, lots of drinking, lots of beach walking in the wind, fighting, yelling, emotional torment. Hellman is one of my favorite writers and I don’t think she ever wrote from a “happy place”.

So, happiness. Happiness! And contentment. And writing. I know it happens; I’ve read many examples of great writing by happy people. ELizabeth Gilbert is a shining example of this. How do I know she’s happy, you might ask? Her daily posts on Facebook are joy-filled snippets of positivity and encouragement; happy person stuff.

Truth be told, I don’t want to be tortured any more, or unhappy or depressed or have to anguish over life to get a story out. I’m not sure I know HOW to be that anymore. It’s incredible to me that I put up with some of the crap that used to make me so “inspired” to write. Who was that person? She definitely wasn’t this person – the one who drives home as quickly as possible to do nothing more exciting than co-prepare dinner while catching up on the day and watching The Big Bang Theory (re-runs) night after night and finding that the most satisfying and pleasant of ways to spend my time. Co-habitating with the right person is so much fun! Who knew? Certainly not this content, peaceful, dare I say even-keeled woman who wakes up to a view of the ocean every morning next to a bright-eyed love of a man and a cat, who then goes to a great job (me, not the cat) and still sees her great friends and family, albeit a bit less these days, for sure. It’s getting hard to remember how it felt to be that much in pain, to be so conflicted, with a tenseness in my core that has finally unwound. I’m glad I’ve forgotten that feeling.

The challenge now is to use this very new and fecund place as a catalyst for more writing. It will come. And while it will not coincide with trauma or heartache or cigarettes it will include whiskey and a man’s blue sweater.

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A NON-POLITICAL POST

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The day before the shutdown, 2013.

The day before the shutdown; September 30, 2013.

Basically, I really like this photo I took of the White House the day before the government shut down, so I am posting it without a whole lot of political ranting that I am probably not informed enough to even rant about. I did write a very long, ranty post prior to this (now deleted), but have decided to keep it simple and share just the photo.

It was my first time seeing the White House and our nation’s capital. I found it to be a very clean city with impressive buildings. It reminded me of Rome in the sense that the ancient Romans created a city that was laid out and built to impress foreign visitors and to show power through architecture. DC had that same thing going on. I’m glad I got to see it, glad it’s back up and running. For now.

DEAR AUTHOR: ELIZABETH GILBERT EDITION

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Dear Elizabeth Gilbert,

Yeah, I’m a fan. Our new-found “friendship” on Facebook is fun and easy. Your posts are bright and cheerful, inspirational and positive.  I’m glad we’re cyber pals.

Your newest book THE SIGNATURE OF ALL THINGS is exactly what I love in a good story; one that takes me away from this present world and, in this case, into the world of an intelligent woman from another century who is knowledgable about something I know nothing about. The escape factor of this book is off the charts (and I’m only on page 72).

This book pushed me to schedule a time to sit and read on my balcony last night with a glass of wine and a cat on my lap to savor each actual paper page. This book put me in my bed earlier than usual along with the same cat and a faux fur blanket to log in another hour of reading before sleep. This book has scrubbed my brain clean of images of over-sexualized young girls with their tongues hanging out (see previous post, or NOT) and replaced them with images of tall ships, exotic plants and fancy dressed party goers forming the design of the solar system on the lawn in the moonlight (I LOVED that whole scene. Beautiful!) But mainly, this book has made me want to read more and write again.

I was pondering how I would describe this book and why, when I’m reading it, I have a smile on my face; here is the first description that popped into my head:

It reads like a bright creek full of recent snow melt, rushing under the sunlight in a definite direction, but with an unknown destination. 

As I mentioned on Facebook, this book is a good read of history, her-story and just good story. Well, done Liz. And THANK YOU!

SOCIAL MEDIA STRIKES AGAIN

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This cover of Rolling Stone (and subsequent article if you want to read it) came across my cyber sights this morning. Without expending too many words about Miley Cyrus (I already said I wouldn’t write about her any more, but this cover really jarred me. Well done Cyrus publicists!) I kind of felt like I wanted to vent SOMETHING.

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My first thought when I saw this cover was WE HAVE ALL SEEN YOUR NAKED BODY SO MANY TIMES NOW, IT’S NOT EVEN INTERESTING. So what was all the uproar from about five years ago when Annie Liebovitz took that picture of you for Vanity Fair and you had your bare back showing and the world cried foul on poor Miley being tricked into showing some nudity by the wiley Annie? I’m ashamed that I even know of that “scandal”.

Secondly, yo Miley! A tattoo of a DREAM CATCHER???? That is such 8th grade lame symbolism. No offense to 8th graders. I’m embarrassed for you that you have that forever. Why didn’t you just hang one from the rear view mirror of your Maserati like the rest of the kids?

Thirdly, you keep stating that you “DON’T CARE” what anyone thinks of you; that this is the “GROWN UP ” you. Well guess what? Of COURSE you care what people think. That’s why you’re doing all of this very un-grown up sensationalist crap. Your sexuality on vapid display does not a grown-up woman make.

Fourth, I can just imagine her handsome (recently Ex) boyfriend on the set of the Hunger Games movie (how do I know this stuff????) and all of his colleagues being like, “Miley Cyrus, Liam? Really?” while pointing at him with giant foam fingers and laughing. Liam Hemsworth plays the brooding, stay-at-home baker, Gale, in the movie. Gale trumps Peeta in my opinion, but I digress…

Miley Cyrus is a twenty year old with no one guiding her toward self-respectability and as a mother to a young woman in her twenties, that really riles me up. Her father keeps saying how proud he is of her. Really, Billy Ray? Proud of her riding a wrecking ball naked and then rolling around in the rubble in her underwear after licking a sledgehammer? (Yeah, I watched the video and now I can’t un-see it.)  What does all of that even mean, anyway? Why would she lick a sledge hammer? Maybe sledgehammers are the new dreamcatchers? I just don’t know.

Anyway.

Someone guide this girl onto a new track and please tell her to put some clothes on and her tongue back where it belongs. Okay, now I’m done.

I need to go read Middlemarch (and then mail it to Miley) to cancel out all of this crap in my brain. On the flip side, if there is ever a Celebrity Trivial Pursuit game, I will win it ALL.

FANTASY CLOTHES AND SHALLOW THOUGHTS

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The shallowness of my thoughts appalls me at times. There are many deep and important things to be mulling over, such as potential U.S. government shutdown, the plot and format of a pending story, why no one is currently buying paintings in the gallery, etc. Serious stuff! Instead of pondering a five year professional plan complete with milestone achievements, while simultaneously understanding everything about what’s going on in Syria, I’m finding my thoughts darting with hummingbird speed to clothes and shoes, clothes and shoes, clothes and shoes.

This happens with an accelerated frequency bordering on obsession when there is an event or the possibility of travel coming up on my calendar. In a week I’ll be traveling to Chicago (for fun) and then on to Washington DC (for work, but fun work.) The first thought I have when faced with these types of events is “What am I going to wear?”. Which inevitably leads to “I have nothing to wear” and slides on home to “I guess I need to buy something new to wear”. Of course, I have plenty of things in my closet that are appropriate for this trip, but it’s the fantasy of it all that makes me think of new clothes. I’m thinking Fall in Chicago, which must mean boots, jeans, sweaters and scarves; all of which I own, but none of which fit into this particular fantasy. The weather is not cooperating with my fantasy, however. It’s still summer in both cities with temperatures in the 80s and 90s.

Sometimes the fantasy purchase is a spot on purchase and can be worn for years, justifying the cost. Other times, the item will languish in the closet for years having been only good for that one event. We all have items in our closet (I’m guessing) that were purchased for some fantasy or another. There is a gorgeous vintage dress in my closet that is about an inch too small in the waist, but I can’t get rid of it because I still have a picture in my head of what the scenario will look like when I’m wearing it (not to mention holding on to the fantasy that I will actually lose that inch around my waist-line to fit into it, which is a WHOLE OTHER fantasy topic).

Mixed in with the buying of clothes to fulfill a fantasy is the retail therapy effect; it DOES feel good to buy something new, it feels even better to wear something new (especially if that something new fits properly around the aforementioned waistline). Am I right? While I have four pairs of lovely boots in my closet, none of them are the right boots for my Chicago fall fantasy, so I purchased some new ones, city summer temperatures be damned. They arrive in a few days. Hopefully, they will fulfill the fantasy and become a well worn staple in my closet.

My mind takes a moment to register the self indulgent, unnecessary consumerism of this purchase and then it’s off to visualize a dress to wear to dinner on Saturday night (the black one or the red one? And, my God, which shoes??); a dinner at which I’m sure we’ll be discussing Quantum Physics, so best check Amazon for a copy of Physics for Dummies to add to my shopping cart of shoes.

A LIST AND SOME PHOTOS

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My brain is experiencing a terrible drought. Let’s blame it on global warming and Fukushima’s radioactive fallout. This drought is so dusty I can’t even think of a clever blog title, nor can I come up with any quippy status updates for Facebook either for my personal page or our business page. Thank God I don’t Twitter (Tweet, WHATEVER!) or I would have another media outlet wagging it’s shaming finger at me.

On a side note, really quick, I looked at my “Most Used Emoticons” screen today and thought, “What do these little icons say about me and my state of mind or general psychotic state?” And then I thought that was looking way too deeply into a shallow little Emoji-san. But here is a photo of my most-used screen for you to decode. If you see anything alarming, please keep it to yourself let me know.

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The other day, here within my radioactive, globally-warmed drought brain I decided to make a list of things I could write about, but am so depleted the list was all I could write. For lack of being able to expand said list into actual blog posts (at least for now) I thought I would just post the thing as it reads on the rumpled post-it note that I just found stuck to the bottom of my purse. As follows:

Possible Future Blog Posts List:

1. BBQ/Matches

2. Aging – wax paper

3. Fukushima

4. Politics

5. Moving

6. CAT

7. Women in Art – Lack of

8. Gluten

9. Thoughts/Weight

10. Bridal shower speech

11. 30 Minutes of Yoga

That is one exciting list, right? I’m not really sure about the “Aging – wax paper” item. What does that even mean??

In other news, here’s what I bought on the internet today, but not for me. Obviously. Ridiculously adorable, right?? Right.

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Here is one of my favorite photos ever, taken at a dive bar a couple of weeks ago whilst slow dancing 8th grade style with my dreamy man. Sigh. We were the only one’s on the dance floor, for real. Usually when we’re together I feel like we’re the only ones in the room, but this time it was sort of true. Awwww, shucks.

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And here is my cat, Carlos.

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That’s all I’ve got, folks, until we get some rain in this Grapes of Wrath dustbowl of a brain. Have a great weekend!

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