A White Girl’s Worst Nightmare

Yesterday I went to have my eyebrows waxed. It’s a ritual I both love and loathe for the better part of fifteen years. I love it because thanks to waxing, my eyebrows don’t resemble two caterpillars advancing toward one another for a slow-motion hug. The “loathe” portion of waxing is that it’s a chore, and it still stings and makes my face red, but I digress.

The struggle is real…or something like that.

My usual waxer was busy this week, so I saw someone new out of necessity. Normally I’m pretty waxer-loyal, but my brows were starting to look like they were capable of making cocoons, and something had to be done.

Walking in sniffling, and trying to be polite, I assured the young lady who would be working in close proximity to my mouth and nose-holes, that I’m not sick. I quipped, “I’m just really allergic to Fall.” Waxer, thinking she was funny, replied in an ear-splitting vocal fry (which wasn’t being produced ironically) “That’s like, a white girl’s worst nightmare.”

I don’t even think you need the mirror for this to work.

I imagine Funny Waxer must have been feeling pretty bonded to me. After all, we had spent almost three minutes together and we are both white, women, and currently involved in the manipulation of wax and eyebrows. I tried really hard to laugh politely, finding myself intensely grateful that my eyes were closed and she couldn’t see the scream in my eyeballs.

What I really wanted to say, was…”Is it, though?”

In a split second my mind was flooded with ideas which are worse than having some raucous seasonal allergies.  For perspective, some of of the things which are worse than my fall allergies are clowns, puppets, my car breaking down, being diagnosed with a digestive disorder which keeps me from enjoying real food, and cracking the screen on my iPhone. Reserved for “nightmare” status are things which are far, far, far more emotionally catastrophic. You know, the “little” things like cancer, loss, genocide, war, the entire history of the Holocaust, and getting thrown into a Thai prison because a dreamy stranger snuck heroin in your luggage. Those. Those are things that are nightmares, that would rock anyone to their core regardless of their creed, color, or gender. I know we all speak in hyperbole from time to time, but please, waxer, do not lump me into your fall-loving meme stereotype. I’m not with you. (I know I speak in hyperbole too, so forgive my hypocritical behavior. We good? Cool.)

I’m ranting a bit here because I very quickly assessed the situation I found myself in and figured it would be fairly awkward and slightly concerning if I were to upset a young lady who was about to regulate the size and shape of my eyebrows. The amount of power Funny Waxer wielded in my life in those moments was far more than I ever understood before.

But seriously, you guys. I literally can’t even.

Solicited Narcissism

A while back, Sandy over at scribblesandmusings.com nominated me for a “Sunshine Blogger Award.” Admittedly, I didn’t know much about it, so I was a little surprised, albeit honored that someone would want to hear more from me.

I’m supposed to nominate some bloggers, but I was never really “good” at chain letters and the like. In the future, I’ll give a little nod to the blogs I follow, because it’s almost my bedtime.

I will be answering my questions, because I have a wicked case of writer’s block (which is a real thing, I heard it on the Nerdist podcast, where real writers work) and can’t muster anything much more entertaining this weekend.

Billy Shakespeare, first and foremost. I also really enjoy J.K. Rowling for her Harry Potter series (if you’ve ever heard of it), and Chuck Palahniuk. I feel more loyalty towards books and characters than specific authors.

2.  What hobbies do you have?

Which hobbies don’t I have? I love to do nearly anything that’s not life-threatening. My latest heavy rotation is running, lifting, writing this blog, binge watching TV shows on Netflix, Fantasy Football, and organizing things. I’m working more movie-watching into my life over the last two years, and I dig it.

3. What is one thing that is always guaranteed to make you smile?

Guaranteed smile? My friends. They’re endlessly fantastic people.

4. Are you an Android or Iphone person?

iPhone. Apple all the way, baby.

5. Do you have a phobia?  If so, what and why? (had to ask)

Clowns are one of my more common phobias, thanks to Poltergeist when I was very small (that stupid, evil doll). Less common is my fear of Muppets/Puppets…which varies. I watched Fraggle Rock as a kid and therefore it couldn’t have been a crippling fear. I can’t explain why, but puppets have always made me feel uneasy. Bees now rank high on the phobia list, but mostly because those tiny fuckers could kill me, so it’s a legitimate fear.

6. How did you get into blogging?

For me, blogging was a natural part of the progression. As a kid I wrote stories on a typewriter and shared them with my family. I enjoyed creative writing and embarrassingly, I sent a story to Ann M. Martin (author of the Babysitter’s Club series) with a letter when I was ten. My little ten-year-old heart was crushed when she didn’t immediately offer to send my book to her publishers.

As I got a little older, so did my stories. They were scribbled in notebooks and typed on computers, to be printed out on dot-matrix printers, & squirreled away in a folder I didn’t share with anyone.

In high school, I wrote for both the school paper and the Music Department Newsletter, where I also served as editor.

When college rolled around, I started keeping a LiveJournal. It served as more of a diary but at times the rants were hilarious. I occasionally go back and reread it, and I enjoy both the nostalgia and my (pre-third-life crisis) voice. I extrapolated some of that writing to an EasyJournal, which was mostly just observational stuff that I also submitted as editorials to my college paper.

Post-college (I don’t think I’ve ever told anyone this piece) I sent some of that writing to CollegeHumor.com, trying, once again, to write more prolifically and for money. They politely declined, but a picture of my beer pong table did get featured on their site in ’05, so technically, I’m published on College Humor.

I kept a food blog for a while when I could still eat real things. At the time I was cooking a lot, and since I always felt really connected to writing, I thought it may be a positive use of my skills. When I stopped food blogging, I landed myself here. It’s my happy place and I plan to stay and try to continue to develop and improve my writing well into my 30’s and beyond…

7. Introvert or extrovert?

Extrovert. Textbook extrovert. What I find more interesting my being an extrovert is that a large number of my dearest friends are self-described “wallflowers” and introverts.

8. Do you sing along with the radio even if other people are around?

Constantly, and with reckless abandon.

9. What is your favorite season and why?

Summer: Beach time, sunshine, and long days. Football season is a VERY close second, but you know that if you read this blog.

10. What is a goal that you have for this year?

To keep a short leash on this dinosaur of mine, and keep myself insanely happy.

11. What would you change about yourself, if you could?

There’s nothing I’d really change. That said, there are some moments in my life where I wish current me would have had the opportunity to speak with then-me. Then-me had been really hopelessly lost a number of times and could have used some advice and insight. It would be insanely helpful if I had a TARDIS. I think my dinosaur would like one, too. He’ll fit. It’s bigger on the inside.

I Wouldn’t Be Caught Dead in a Pink Jersey

Two years later, this is still incredibly funny. (The NFL – A Bad Lip Reading)

Everyone has a favorite time of year. It might be winter, for its stillness and quiet after freshly fallen snow. Perhaps it’s spring, for the lush greenness and the new hope the season seems to bring. My favorite time of year is summer, but as summer winds to an end, for the last thirteen years of my life, I’m met with a consolation prize in the form of my second favorite time of the year: football season.

I didn’t always love football season, or football. I “nothing”ed football. In high school, I sat in the stands for four years of home games, waiting to dance in a halftime show, only to immediately march off of the field without learning the outcome of the game.

Growing up in New York, with three football teams bearing the name of my state, you would have thought that at some point prior to college, I would align myself with a team in an effort to run with the crowd. I didn’t. It wasn’t that I didn’t want to; I was just more of an “indoor kid” for most of my life.

When I went away to college my sophomore year, I found myself joining Stadium Band for the opportunity to play some music after a year’s hiatus. I found myself once again, sitting in the stands every Saturday, watching a game I didn’t understand. This time was different. I wasn’t sitting with dancers in sequined costumes and makeup, sporting Audrey Hepburn gloves. I sat instead next to a delightfully friendly trombone player who seemed pretty invested in our DIII football team’s games. His experience with football was over a decade old at that point, after listening to Penn State games on the radio with his grandmother, and keeping stats on the sidelines of high school football games at a mature nine years old.

And so, not yet in my 20’s, I sat in the stands with my saxophone each Saturday and asked questions between songs. I asked a lot of questions. I learned where the end zones were, and how running backs and wide receivers worked. I learned why the quarterback seemed so important in all of those “high school party” movies. I learned why ball play changed direction so many times. I learned how to watch football, and quickly became enamored with it. The game was fast and exciting, and I became more invested with every week that I spent in those stands.

I started watching college football almost immediately and pretty consistently. When I started to hang full-time with my dearest sorority sister and heterosexual life partner after we finished the pledge process, I noticed her love for the Dallas Cowboys. After solidifying my football knowledge alongside with her, I started rooting for (one of) my home teams, the New York Giants.

In the years since college, I’ve played intramural flag football, rugby (to get to tackle people…if you haven’t done it I highly recommend it), managed more fantasy football teams than I can count, and happily and comfortably discuss football. Football is a major part of my life and great source of joy (and frustration).

Don’t call me on Sundays. I won’t take the call.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have a 2nd week of losses to mourn and analyze.

There’s always next week, right Giants?

Things I’m Still Learning in My Thirties – Part I

I haven’t had a lot of time lately to sit down and write due to a new job, but I made a stranger laugh in Target last night when she overheard me ruminating out loud to a pal. Said stranger’s laugh was enough for me to put together this little list of thoughts I’ve had recently.

I’m still learning:

  • …how to react when I’m inside a public bathroom and someone knocks, or when I’m knocking on the door of a public bathroom. As a knockee my reaction is a fleeting moment of sheer terror that I’ll be caught with my pants down (literally) followed by a timid cry of “Just a minute!” As the knocker, I’ve received a variety of reactions. Most recently, when I knocked on the bathroom door at work, the person inside knocked back. I’m not sure if there is a secret code I’m missing, but it perplexed me. Is there a preferred protocol for bathroom knocking?
  • …to read a door’s sign before I approach it. “Push” and “Pull” are two very different words and I like to approach a door with the poise of a woman who knows she’s going to sail through that entryway on the first try, without magically transforming into a modern tableau of a Far Side cartoon.

    It’s a classic.
  • …that I should always, ALWAYS check my pockets before I do my laundry. Even when I’m convinced I didn’t leave any napkins, tissues, or paper towels in a pocket, I’m inevitably wrong.
  • …where to store my umbrella so I’m never caught in a rainstorm.
  • …when to set my alarm so that I can satisfy my need to hit “snooze” without turning my morning routine into a montage of someone preparing to run away from home.
  •  …how to accept the fact that I will forever be the person who spills food on herself, no matter how hard I try not to.
  • …to take some events and important relationships in my life at face value, without overusing the phrase “it is what it is.”
  • …exactly how much bacon is “too much.” (Hint: it’s a lot less than what I previously thought.)

Thankfully, I’ve got the whole “folding-a-fitted-sheet” thing down, and it only took 32 years to get it right.

What CAN You Eat?

Of the many eye-opening, adventurous, and interesting things that have happened during the few years I’ve spent in my thirties, of course there are some less-than-awesome health things. One of those things was the recent discovery of my bee sting allergy, which consequently lead to my possession of Epipens. The other major milestone happened in January, when I was diagnosed with something called “Fructose Malabsorption” and IBS.

I don’t think I have to explain IBS to anyone. I apologize – you now know I have it. But I congratulate you if you don’t have IBS. Good for you. Have a cookie. Or maybe some hot sauce on your eggs. Or even copious amounts of coffee. You can handle it. I can’t digest any of it and I need to live vicariously through you.

Vicarious living through people’s food choices is something I’ve done a lot since January. I’ve often asked close friends to describe their lunches and dinners to me in detail, in lieu of being able to actually ingest their sweet and savory fare. Sometimes it makes my friends uncomfortable…but I digress.

The non-science-y way to explain Fructose Malabsorption is to tell you I’m on a pretty restrictive diet, most likely forever. To be only slightly more science-y, I can tell you that it’s a low-FODMAP diet, wherein I have to remain gluten, dairy/lactose free, and avoid a lot of the fruits, veggies, and legumes I ate previously. I had already been gluten free for a year to help with some other health issues, but removing dairy, legumes, and my go-to fruit and vegetables, and legumes wasn’t just a big step…it was more like Rocky running up  the stairs at the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

There are even items on my "safe" list that I've had to cross off.
There are even items on my “safe” list that I’ve had to cross off.

Most days, I am comfortable with the low-FODMAP diet, happily eating proteins and carbs and a few “safe” veggies and fruits here and there to balance things out.

Then, there are nights like last night.

I arrived home from work late, magnificently exhausted from a day of lengthy meetings followed by heavy lifting and chair climbing. After a brief accidental nap, I woke up to run an errand, craving pizza.

Here’s the problem with my restrictive diet: no restaurant I know of makes a take-out, gluten free, dairy free, low-FODMAP pizza. To make it myself, it would take about 3 grocery stores and 2 hours of preparation after attaining the required accoutrements. It was already after 7:30 by the time I hit one grocery store and I was quiet hungry, which meant this option was out.

What did I do, you ask?

First, I texted no less than four friends to tell them I was miserable about not being able to have pizza. Then, I stood in the grocery store’s “health” section where all of the digestive misfits shop, reading every gluten-free, dairy-free pizza ingredient to see if any were safe for my consumption. This took approximately five minutes. In those five minutes, I ruled out all. of. my. options.

So, I stood there,

doing nothing,

mentally talking myself out of having a toddler-like meltdown,

in the grocery store.

A few moments lapsed, I sighed, grabbed a bag of plain potato chips, a bottle of Evian, and left the store.

I added insult to my own injury by eating potato chips in my car for dinner. It didn’t taste even remotely like pizza. I was thoroughly disappointed.

That’s right, thirty-two year old me anger-ate Sea Salt Kettle Chips in my car at the grocery store.

I still want pizza.

No, I can’t eat it.

No, I don’t want anything else.

Please, everyone, stop trying to feed me.

My No-Longer-Ironic Tattoo

 “…Carpe diem, seize the day boys, make your lives extraordinary.”

(Robin Williams, as Mr. Keating in Dead Poet’s Society, quoting Walt Whitman)

Three years ago, I got an ironic tattoo on my thigh that reads “Carpe Diem.”

I didn’t think my new addition was ironic at the time. My intention was the new tat would be a good reminder to me to seize the freaking day in order to improve the quality of a life which was making me miserable. After seeing a movie with one of my long-time best friends, he and I had an in-depth conversation about life and it put a (temporary) fire under my ass to finally get my tattoo and quit the retail gig that was making me miserable, in favor of pursuing something in my field. It was a big deal for me, because I was going to quit the job without a safety net – I didn’t have anything lined up to replace it. Getting that tattoo and giving my two weeks’ notice felt a lot like seizing the day.

Also ironically, I had been planning to get this tattoo for about six months or more.
Also ironically, I had been planning to get this tattoo for about six months or more.

After the tattoo and quitting the job, I ended up failing to “seize the day,” nearly every day for almost three whole years. Fear crippled me and held me back in almost all aspects of my life to a degree I can’t say I’m proud of. I got a job, played it safe, stuck to what I knew, and unfortunately, the cost of doing these things was being gloomy and despondent most days. My dreams were big, and my execution of those dreams was nonexistent.

I started drafting this blog a week ago, smiling and writing in a tiny notebook aboard a train, while the English countryside whizzed by me in streaks of green and gray and white on my way to Paris, France.

My tiny Dino guarding my British coin. There may never be a post without a dinosaur.

I’ve mentioned that I had an “awakening” of sorts earlier this year. Sitting on the train reflecting on said awakening, I’m pretty sure I’ll always be pointing to February 2015 as the point at which my life went from being a “before” to being the start of a fantastic “after.” For as long as I can remember, I wanted to see London and Paris. In February, I stopped making excuses and booked the trip.

It is hard to put into words the way I felt in London, but the best I can do is to say I felt full, happy and pretty badass while I was there. Furthermore, I felt accomplished. I did something big. I mentally checked off a box on my Big List of Hopes and Dreams.

As I promised myself I would, I’ve been more active socially and physically, I’m trying new things, and expecting more from life in general. What I’ve learned in only six months’ time is that if you create the expectation of living your best life and you step out of your comfort zone, your life becomes rad as fuck. Quickly.

I can only recall one other time in my life when I loved waking up every day in the way I do now, and I’m pretty positive that if I went back to college as a live-in undergrad student I wouldn’t feel the same about the experience at thirty-two.  Everyone has bad days but lately it seems as if even my bad days are good, and those “bad” days are far overshadowed by the wonderful things I’m seeing and experiencing.

If you’re not living your best life, change it. Make a plan. Stick to it. Seize the day.

Just, carpe diem, man. And I guess, don’t let your tattoos become ironic.