Things That Have Changed My LIfe

I feel like an asshole for posting something so dumb just after my  “Say Something” post, but I’m still getting the hang of writing on a regular posting schedule, so at this point I’m going for quantity not quality. 


When I shared my riveting feature about Fashion Sneakers, I was inspired to write about all the other things that have changed my life. At least one person hinted at agreement, and this post was born.

Superficial Things That Have Changed My Life

Egg Eggwich Microwave Egg Cooker

Easy Sandwich Egg Cooker
So EASY!

When I was laid off, I ate scrambled eggs every single day. As everyone recommends, I treated finding a job like a full-time job. I got up on time, scrambled up some eggs and then followed a set schedule of job hunting, resume tweaking, cover letter writing, applying and HGTV watching.  Once I got my job, I was deathly afraid that I’d have to go to work every day without my eggs.

Crowd-sourcing help for my egg addiction. My egg'diction?
Crowdsourcing help for my egg addiction. My egg’diction?

I pinned all types of make-ahead-egg recipes, but eventually realized that all I had to do was get up, say, eight minutes earlier and I could have all the eggs I could shove in my cake hole.  That worked well for a while, but I also enjoy a portable breakfast sandwich. When I stumbled upon this in the CVS on the shelf from “as seen on TV”, I rolled the dice.

YUM
With cheese and turkey sausage!

The verdict: Amazing! Now I have a solid, protein-filled breakfast on the go every day.  Look how delish! Easy to clean up, easy to make and super healthful (especially if you use a whole wheat English muffin which I never do because gross.)

Spray Lotion

I have been blessed with oily skin. And I say blessed because although it sucks quite a bit on the attractiveness scale, I’m never dry and scaly, and I don’t have a lot of wrinkles. (Big ups to sunscreen, tho.)  But at some point I realized that if I use lotion every day, my skin actually becomes less oily as it no longer feels the need to produce as much since the lotion has stepped in to hydrate. It took a while to really understand because lotion and I don’t really get along, though.  A very thick emollient* will literally lather on my skin and stay there until I wipe it off with a paper towel. I need something thinner and spray-ier.

Lotion that sprays

Verdict: Spray lotion is great! Goes on nicely, absorbs quickly and actually hydrates well, at least for my skin.

*excellent band name, btw.  Now headlining! Very Thick Emollient!

Fashion Sneakers:

Y’all already know how I feel about these.

Coconut Oil:

I use it everywhere. I put it in scrambled eggs, (and a lot of other cooking), I keep a little ramekin of it on the end table so I can slather it on my skin in the evening.  I tap it gently on my crow’s feet.  I also make a hair mask about once a month.  In addition to oily skin, I also have oily hair (thanks so much, genetics!), so I have to wash it every day, but that means that the ends of my hair can get dry. So every few weeks, I massage coconut oil into my hair, tie it up into a bun, leave it for a few hours and then shampoo it out as usual.

I’m *thisclose* to trying a “no ‘poo” lifestyle. 18 hours after a shower my hair is very oily, flat and holds no style. It’s also oily. And greasy.  I really want to see what my hair would feel and look like by using a baking soda rinse or a detergent-free shampoo. Will it stop producing as much oil? This “no ‘poo” experiment will not be pretty, but I really want to try it. Alas, I digress.

Verdict: Coconut oil. I can’t quit you.


So there you have it. There were a few others that made the list, but I’m making a concerted effort not to dumb down this blog.  What superficial stuff has changed your life?

Say Something

“Say something, I’m giving up on you.” -A Great Big World

Other than in a few frustrated bursts among friends, I haven’t really commented on the racially-motivated mass murder in Charleston last week, and I’ve been entirely silent online. Not even a Facebook post or a #CharlestonStrong tweet.

Why not?

A sliver of the truth is that I’ve been too overcome with emotion to string a sentence or two together, and that’s what I would have said if someone had asked me.

But the whole truth is that I’ve been afraid. I’m afraid I’ll say the wrong thing or sound dumb, afraid to voice my opinion on a topic about which I felt uneducated, or afraid that I would inadvertently plagiarize a thought I’d picked up online from one of the dozens of op-eds or articles I’ve been obsessively reading all week.  All these reasons were about me and my fears. Me, me, me.

I stayed silent.

And then I read this post.  This line took my breath away. “If you have any black friends at all, I guarantee you that your silence is more likely to offend them than your saying something.”

Fuckity. Real talk.

I do have black friends (and actual, real life friends, not “some-of-my-best-friends-are-black” friends). I have black coworkers and neighbors. I’d like to speak out for them, although I’m struggling with a way to explain that, without it sounding, again, like this is all about me.

It doesn’t matter anyway; the truth is, my black friends, coworkers and neighbors don’t give a shit what I say, here or elsewhere — they just care about what I do and how I act.

So until I figure out how to live my life in a more purposeful, loving way that will do the most good, at the very least, I will use this platform to print these opinions of mine so I’m no longer part of “the deafening silence among white American friends”  and affirm these truths:

  • Black lives matter.
  • If anywhere, the Confederate flag belongs in a museum, and should be removed from all federal and state government buildings.
  • White privilege exists and white people should stop arguing about it.
  • As a white woman, I do not need a man to protect my sexuality, and I abhor the idea that it’s used as an excuse for violence.
  • I will seek out and join communities that are action-oriented.
  • I will write a letter to the DC AME churches to let them know they have an ally.

I have an open heart and an open mind, and I know that’s good. I just want it to be good for something.

Please don’t give up on me.

Happy Mother’s Day

From the dark covers of my yellow and white four-poster bed, I woke up breathless and terrified.  I could hear their far away voices like a lighthouse, a tiny light shining in the fog of a 4 year old’s bad dream.  The peals of muffled laughter and the clink clink clink of the ice whirling in the eddies of a grown up drink grounded me to the safety of my home.

I knew I wasn’t supposed to come back out of my bedroom. Teeth brushed, I made my rounds earlier, twirling in my rick-rack nightgown before mama & daddy’s friends, and then a cascade of sticky kisses shuffled me off to bed. Now, I pressed my ear to the door and my cheek to the cold brass doorknob, and felt my hand start to turn it silently. I watched my feet pad down the long parquet hallway and when I got to the living room, I hesitated slightly with a tiny exhale, enough to get her to turn her head.

“Amy Suzanne! What’s wrong, sweet dumplin’?”

The sound of her voice set free the frightened tears I had been holding in, and she put her hand out for me. Without another word, she uncrossed her legs and settled back into the chair, and I climbed up and pressed my body into a tight ball, my shins parallel to her thighs, bare toes grazing the tops of her knees, her hand rubbing my bony spine. With my head on her chest, and hearing the familiar creak of the old rocking chair where she nursed me just a few years before, my eyes got heavy and I faded away to sleep, safe, warm and loved.

Fashion Sneakers

So after the tragic news that my fashion sneakers were lost in the Toilet Flood of ‘15, I had many people ask, “What THE HELL is a fashion sneaker?”

I’m so glad you asked. Fashion sneakers have changed my life*.

After I started my new job at the Museum, my left foot started to hurt quite a bit.  Like every step I took was ouch stoppit stoppit. I complained to my friend Maddy and she said, “are you walking all over DC in those cute little patent leather green ballet flats?” Me: “um, yes. but not just green; I have them in nude, too.”  (I could hear her adorably sighing via instant messenger.) Maddy: “That’s probably why your feet hurt. Ballet flats aren’t great for walking.”

Later that night I was on a regularly scheduled call with my parents and was telling them of my feet woes. My dad suggested I wear sneakers, although b/c we’re from the south, he called them “tennis shoes”.  I think my response was “Ew. Dad, no,” and then something like how I’d rather bear the pain than be caught dead wearing a business suit and tennis shoes like Melanie Griffith from Working Girl**.  Also, I don’t wear a business suit, or a suit of any kind really, to work, so my options are vast.

I mean, no? Right?
I mean, no? Right?

So, Maddy isn’t just a friend — she also writes an amazing fashion blog for the fiscally responsible gal called “Style Me Thrifty”.  Turns out she had been doing a little research for a post about commuter shoes and immediately told me that there were options available that lived between unsupported ballet flats, sensible pumps (which I never wear anymore) and tennis shoes.

Turns out, I love the Skechers memory foam jonx (you can Google it yourself) so much that I wear them on other occasions than commuting, which is why I came up with the term Fashion Sneaker.

As much as I try to deny it, I actually am turning 40 in 6 months, and that foot pain that I had was sesamoiditis, and I got orthotic insoles. Because I’m old, y’all! 

So basically, I DGAF if anyone likes ‘em or not….They’re comfortable and not offensive to Maddy who writes a fashion blog.  In my forties, “not offensive to a fashion blogger” is my standard.  Altogether now, sigh.


*Just thought of a new blog post: All The Things Recently That Have Changed My Life (my microwave egg cooker! spray lotion!)

**I could do a whole post on that hair!

Books!

In January, a fresh faced Amy pulled out a papyrus and a quill (Google docs) and wrote out her resolutions for 2015. She was full of hope (pinot grigio) and looking forward to the months that lay ahead (happy that December was finally over).

She had about 10 resolutions, and they are as follows:

  1. Read more – at least 24 books.
  2. Blog — at least 52 posts.
  3. Redacted
  4. Redacted
  5. Redacted
  6. Figure out what I want to be when I grow up.
  7. Celebrate 40 somewhere warm.
  8. Practice daily self care.
  9. Keep a clean house.
  10. Do one a month “tourist” thing with my girl J.

Juicy, right? I mean, I live a VERY full and exciting life, and boy oh boy do my resolutions show it.  You should see the redacted ones!

As we progress through the year, I’ll give you progress reports. It literally would hurt your head for me to tell you about all this excitement at once. And then all I’d have left is cat stories, so you’re welcome, readers. 

Tonight we recap the books I’ve read thus far in 2015, all of which I’d recommend if you’re looking to read something. I’m not a book critic, so I won’t even attempt to review these books, but I’ve picked some of my favorite passages and shared them here.

The Circle by Dave Eggers 

“You’re like part human, part rainbow.”

 “We are not meant to know everything, Mae. Did you ever think that perhaps our minds are delicately calibrated between the known and the unknown? That our souls need the mysteries of night and the clarity of day?”

 “You sit at a desk twelve hours a day and you have nothing to show for it except for some numbers that won’t exist or be remembered in a week. You’re leaving no evidence that you lived. There’s no proof.”

Dear Daughter, by Elizabeth Little 

“Maybe friendship is just something two people arbitrarily decide on together, like the write way to spell worshiper or when it’s okay to say cunt. Maybe we just grab whatever raft’s at hand.” 

“Self-pity is the sun around which we orbit, the great gravitational force that rules those of use for whom Things Didn’t Quite Turn Out.”

The Giver, by Lois Lowery

“He was left, upon awakening, with the feeling that he wanted, even somehow needed, to reach the something that waited in the distance. The feeling that it was good. That it was welcoming. That it was significant.”

 “I feel sorry for anyone who is in a place where he feels strange and stupid.”

The Girl on the Train, by Paula Hawkins

“Hollowness: that I understand. I’m starting to believe that there isn’t anything you can do to fix it. That’s what I’ve taken from the therapy sessions: the holes in your life are permanent. You have to grow around them, like tree roots around concrete; you mold yourself through the gaps.”

“I can’t do this, I can’t just be a wife. I don’t understand how anyone does it—there is literally nothing to do but wait. Wait for a man to come home and love you. Either that or look around for something to distract you.”

 “It’s possible to miss what you’ve never had, to mourn for it.”

The Hypnotist’s Love Story, by Paula Hawkins

“If only she could bottle this feeling and make it last forever. It couldn’t last forever, her rational mind knew that, but her heart, her foolish heart, was chirping, ‘Oh, yes, it can! Why not? This is who you are now! This is your life from now on!’”

 “The thing about Ellen is that it seems like she is exactly the same person on the outside as she is on the inside. That’s the impression she gives anyway, as if she is without artifice or affectation, as if she doesn’t have to filter every word that comes out of her mouth to make sure it gives the impression she wants to give.” 

“I thought it was my birthright as a woman to have that time, at least once, where a man treats you like a princess, rubbing your feet at night, pressing his hand to your stomach, masterfully ordering you not to pick up anything too heavy.”

“Now for the first time she understood that her mother wasn’t resisting love so much as bearing it. Now she knew that you could love so much it literally hurt: an actual pain in the center of her chest.”

Men, Women & Children, by Chad Kultgen

*no quotes, but this book scared the shit out of me

 The Husband’s Secret, by Liane Moriarty 

“You’ve been here before. It won’t kill you. It feels like you can’t breathe, but you actually are breathing. It feels like you’ll never stop crying, but you actually will.”

 “It would be so much easier to be aggressive if she were wearing her bra.”

Lone Wolf, by Jodi Piccoult

 “She is quiet for a moment. ‘Have you ever been swimming in the summer,’ she asks, ‘when a cloud comes in front of the sun? You know how, for a few seconds, you’re absolutely freezing in the water and you think you’d better get out and dry off? But then all of a sudden the sun’s back out and you’re warm again and when you tell people how much fun you had swimming you wouldn’t even think to mention those clouds.’ Cara shrugs. ‘That’s what it’s like, with my father.’

 “Scars are just a treasure map for pain you’ve buried too deep to remember.”

“You can tell yourself your family is the picture of happiness, but that’s because loneliness and dissatisfaction don’t always show up on camera.”

From Om! to Oh No!

Wednesday after work, I dragged my good friend Dave to a guided meditation class & dharma talk at the Insight Meditation Community of Washington. My meditation practice comes in fits and starts — I’m kind of an all or nothing gal. But I’ve been making a concerted effort to achieve a bit more balance in my old age, so I’ve rediscovered IMCW’s Wednesday nights with Tara Brach. Dave was a skeptical but good-natured participant, and I think he had a pretty nice time.  He’s also kind of a good liar, so who knows.

After it was over, Dave and I went to a really awful/delicious Mexican restaurant for the super delicious chips & salsa and guacamole.  Sometimes you have a 3-star Michelin dinner, and sometimes you have bad Mexican.  And depending on your mood that day, they’re both equally satisfying.

But then something bad happened.

As I stepped off the elevator into my building hallway, my foot went squish. Oh NO! Squish squish squish all the way to my door. (Goodbye, adorable leopard ballet flats. I’ll miss you most of all.) I opened the door, praying that someone had just spilled forty five big gulps in front of my door instead of some sort of flood situation.

Turns out, it was a flood situation.

So much flood.
So much flood.

I walked into a completely flooded apartment. Water was gently trickling out from the top of the toilet bowl and from the back, too. I imagine executives at the American Standard corporation have this as a zen water feature in their offices.

I immediately shut off the water where the toilet meets the wall, but the water didn’t stop. Plumbing is hard. I called the emergency number for my building and tried to asses the damage.

See how the rug is shiny? Rugs aren't shiny, silly! That's standing water!
See how the rug is shiny? Rugs aren’t shiny, silly! That’s standing water!

The 24-hour maintenance guy arrived about half an hour later. He walked in with a pair of needle-nosed pliars. “Oh no. What happened?” I gave him the gas face.

“I have no idea. I’ve been gone since 8:30 this morning.” His first instinct was to shut off the water. Maybe plumbing isn’t so hard after all.

He left and came back a few times (to where I have no idea). He was able to fix the toilet, but there was no way to get all the water up. Thankfully, I have hardwood floors, and since I only rent and not own, I was less concerned with what the long-term effects of standing toilet water would have on the wood. Thus, I was forced to go to bed (in the bedroom which was bone dry, thank GOD) and sleep with toilet water dominating the rest of the apartment.

I worked from home the next day so I could deal with the nonsense. Johnny, the regular maintenance guy, came and he brought a shopping cart full of tools. He also brought Leonore, who mopped the apartment with that industrial cleaner they use in elementary schools. For a few days, my apartment smelled like third grade.

Shopping cart and shop vac.
Shopping cart and shop vac.
Sweet, sweet Leonore.
Sweet, sweet Leonore.

It’s important to note that there was nothing in the toilet when I left in the morning. It was empty, and because I am a dainty, aristocratic Victorian woman who poops not, we can all assure ourselves that the toilet water was practically as clean as what comes out of the tap. I’m noting it to you, but it certainly didn’t keep me from imagining that there was e-coli swimming about all over my home.  I had to do some yoga breathing about that and just give it to Mother God.

It’s been a few days now, and things have returned to normal. No major damage at all to my apartment, although I think there was some plaster damage done to the apartment below me. I asked Johnny about it and he said, “Don’t pay no mind — he caught your water with a bucket.” Lovely.

The rugs in the living room and dining room were both ruined, and my pair of fashion sneakers in the bathroom were too far gone to salvage. All in all, it could have been much, much worse, and I very much appreciate the fact that my station in life allows me to have someone come take care this. I’m fine and although it’s made a good story, it really wasn’t a big deal at all.

Otis, on the other hand, has not quite recovered. He has been WTF-ing me for a few days. I’m sure new spring birds on the ledge outside the window will help.

March Madness

To be frank, March and I don’t get along.  I hate winter so badly and expect March to be spring instantly, and usher in warmer air, sunshine and flowers. When this doesn’t happen — and every year it fails to happen because March is still very much winter — I get antsy, frustrated and a little punchy, like jokey and silly in an on-the-brink-of-madness kind of way.

So Tuesday I was super punchy while on a routine trip to the grocery store. I am single and have very few responsibilities other than to keep my cat and myself alive, so I go to the grocery store at least three or four times a week.  Why consolidate trips? I’ve got nothing else to do. Monday or Tuesday is when I plan out my week, so I consider that my “big” trip. I get something to make for dinner that will last at least three nights and a few lunches (think gumbo, or something from the crockpot) and then some sort of quick thing to make so I can have at least one night of leftovers.  And then the other two nights I eat scrambled eggs. Yes really.  I’m going to make a concerted effort to change this whole embarrassing procedure to incorporate more healthful options but it is what it is for now. No judging.

Ok, so Tuesday.  I knew it wasn’t going to be an in-and-out thing and that I’d be going up and down every aisle to gather ingredients. But that’s when I found Jesus.

Jesus

My sweet Mom has an adorable quirk. During a conversation, rather than interrupting, she’ll hold up a finger for each thing she wants to contribute when you’re done talking.  She almost never remembers what she was going to say. I really don’t mean to be an insensitive heathen, but doesn’t Jesus look like he just walked into a room and said “Now, why did I come in here?  I just needed two things… what were they?”

The longer I stayed at the store, odd items that I have never seen before began jumping off the shelf to me.

wpid-2015-03-27-14.47.30.jpg.jpeg

WHAT THE HELL IS SALAD CREAM????  There were SO many inappropriate sex jokes running through my mind, involving tossing salad and other gross things that are only funny if you’re a pubescent boy, or me, apparently.  But seriously, what is it? Like coleslaw dressing?

wpid-2015-03-27-14.41.07.jpg.jpeg

Full of dairy goodness? Look at the size of that cow!!!  He’s at least 1500 times as large as that poor lad flying his kite. The dairy goodness is surely steroids, or whatever else they’re serving up in Devon.  Also, I thought ambrosia was marshmallows, cool whip and fake fruit.

wpid-2015-03-27-14.37.25.jpg.jpeg

Mediterranean pickles. That are brown and shiny. These are not pickles. They are canned slugs.

wpid-2015-03-27-14.36.28.jpg.jpeg

I am having trouble understanding what is going on with Hello Kitty in this picture. One arm is through her strawberry basket.  One arm is growing out of her clavicle and her third arm is a loaf of bread.

wpid-2015-03-27-14.35.09.jpg.jpeg

Mr. Brown’s coffee? Racist much? This is literally a caricature of a person with brown skin here to serve you up some bougie iced coffee in a can that you won’t recycle because you don’t care about the earth, you entitled, rich, white bastard.

That’s when I had to put the can down and head to the register. I didn’t buy the iced coffee, Hello Kitty stuff or the salad cream. I really really really wanted the Jesus magazine but I couldn’t justify it. Religious guilt just never goes away, does it?