Thursday, February 24, 2011

So here's a little honesty.

So here's a little personal honesty. Maybe because it's late. Maybe because I'm EXHAUSTED from this week. Maybe because I just feel the need to be more personal and more honest in general, because I think it makes me a better writer and person, but...

In my last blog I wrote about how great it feels to change, to know that you have the capacity to change. But there's a flip-side to that. It feels great when you change, less so when most of the people around you change and you well, don't.

I've been single and absolutely date-less for almost two months now, and a lot of the time I really like it. I like that I get to watch all the TV I want. I like that I can go like, two weeks, without straightening my hair or shaving my legs (I told you this would be honest). I like that I can read whole books, not just magazines. I like myself and so in general I have a pretty good time with me time.

And I'm hardly of the mindset that at 25, I have suddenly veered into spinsterhood. I haven't gotten cats yet. I don't wear stretch waisted pants every day.

But still, there are occasional moments, occasionally, particularly since 95% of my friends are engaged, in serious relationships, or married, when I occasionally get a little sad.

Occasionally it feels like all of your friends have learned a new language, out of the blue, and they are all fluent, but you have no idea what they're talking about.

Or like you've gone to this great bar for years, like the Cheers bar, and all your friends would meet you there and you'd all have this great time. And then one day you show up and no one's there. You're in the same place. You still love that place, but without anyone else there it feels completely different.

It is only occasionally that I feel this way, on those rare blue nights when it's gloomy outside and easy to feel sad and self pitying. But I'm confident tomorrow the sky will be clear, my self pity will lift, and I'll go back to my normal, happy, single life.

And if not there's always wine.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011


It was only going to be for five minutes.

I've been sidelined from running for a month after straining my hip flexor (due to an almost ludicrous number of bodily issues including but by no means limited to high arches, ultra-tight calves and hamstrings, and the kicker-really weak butt muscles). I've kept up my five times a week trips to the gym and have worked really hard to ensure I consistently kicked my ass in the cardio department so I might still be able to run the 10k in April. But I was a dutiful patient and stayed away from the treadmill except to walk on it (ugh how I hated that, because every time I walked on a treadmill, that gym girl, you know the one, the one whose makeup and hair alway looks perfect and who sweats without ever looking sweaty, would plant herself on the treadmill next to mine, and immediately begin to run at such a high pace that I was seriously worried she would fly off). I did everything but run. I've gone to physical therapy twice a week and have spent an additional hour each day doing the strengthening and stretching homework I was assigned, to try and force this awkward, unruly body of mine into some kind of submission.

And finally today, I saw my sports medicine doctor and was given the go-ahead to begin some light running. I didn't even go straight to the treadmill at the gym. I spent 40 minutes puffing and huffing for breath on a machine which I use four times a week and which I still do not know the name of (X trainer something or other?). And then, with legitimate butterflies in my stomach, I headed to the treadmill. I was nervous that it would hurt, that running would be taken away from me again. I was nervous that I would be horribly out of shape and run for a minute and then collapse into a heap. But more than anything I was nervous that it wouldn't be the same, that taking a month off would have turned me back into the person I was a year and a half ago, the person who thought running was the devil's sick joke on silly, silly humans.

I turned the treadmill up to 5mph, a nice, light pace, and with my brand new kicks, Brooks shoes that are supposed to support my arches and stop my feet from flopping all over the place (I now know I have my arches to thank for multiple sprained ankles and possibly a broken foot as well, thank you very much arches, you do all that and yet you still cannot make it easier for me to wear high heels?!), I started to run.

Oh it felt good. It felt really, really, really good. So good in fact, that when I reached the 5 minute mark I had designated as my stopping point, I kept going. I knew my physical therapist might yell at me. I even knew I was pushing it. But I couldn't help myself. I was running again and even though it had only been a month it had felt like years. 7 minutes passed, then 9, and finally at 10 I forced myself to stop running.

I type that sentence, forced myself to stop running, and still marvel at it. A year and a half ago it was the opposite. I only ran when forced, if I needed to flee from something or catch someone, maybe if there was some sort of sale on shoes. I wasn't a runner. I mocked runners. I thought they were clinically insane. And yet here I am, a year and a half later, and I am admitting to the world that I am a runner, a clinically insane person who runs just for the sake of running. My body will never be a runner's body. It will probably break down and cause issues many times, because my body somehow escaped the whole survival of the fittest thing and managed to not be suitable for any kind of vigorous activity without a massive effort to change its true nature.

But it's a part of my life now. And that makes me happy, because I know I'm healthier and because I have a new hobby and all that, but more than anything it makes me happy because it's solid, concrete evidence that a change has occurred in my life. We don't get that often. Sometimes it's almost impossible to believe we can change, because most change is small and subtle and hard to pinpoint. But here's something tangible and solid that I can point to, and say, that was me then, this is me now. I'm different.

I like that. I like change. I like knowing that the boundaries in my life I think are firm and immovable can actually be dismantled and rebuilt to look like something new. I like knowing that I have the capacity to surprise myself.

I like that what I thought was a weakness was really just a blind spot. And as soon as I began to test it, it turned out it was just like a muscle, weak because of disuse, but capable of building and strengthening. I think so many people go through life content to think that they are full of weak spots. But really they're just too afraid to test their own strength.

The thing about strength though is it's not there until we test it. It doesn't even exist until we test it. Testing ourselves, pushing ourselves, challenging ourselves, that's what makes strength. And no matter who you are or what your situation is, I guarantee that the moment you begin to push yourself, you'll find that strength and it will surprise you. It surprised me.

It still does. Every step I took on that treadmill today, every time my foot hit the ground, every breath I took in, every exhale that left my body, was a surprise, a little reminder of the change I spent 24 years of my life believing was impossible.

Thursday, February 17, 2011


My least favorite part about being a creative writing major in college was the feedback elements of the workshops. I hated saying negative things about my classmate's short stories, and I HATED the part where I had to sit in my seat and try not to squirm as the entire class took my manuscript apart into its nuts and bolts and pointed out which nuts and bolts sucked. Granted I always realized the importance of the workshops. As a would be writer, they were invaluable. I learned more in those four workshops than I ever did in any English class in elementary or high school. But they were invaluable for precisely the reason I hated. They were not about building yourself up or feeling all warm and fuzzy over the story you spent weeks writing. They were about the opposite of that. They were about stripping you of any kind of confidence or ego, slapping you around a little, and leaving you in the germinal state of becoming a real writer- raw, shattered and more than anything, hurt. You have to get to that place in order to get good. I know that. And I knew that then. But it never made it any easier. As someone who had always had the ability to at least strength together a competent sentence, I spent most of my early life being told how good I was at writing by my parents, teachers, etc. (I'm sorry if that sounds insufferable, I probably was incredibly insufferable as a teenager). So if I hadn't had four years of being told all of the mistakes I made (never again will I write the letters "ing"after a verb without a mental check if there's any other way to write it), I would be an insufferable, arrogant, and frankly, very bad, writer today.

I still write fiction, and I know it suffers because of the lack of a forum for it to get abused. Sure rejection letters are a form (and a very tortuous one at that) of abuse, but they don't pick something apart with quite the brutal efficiency of a college writing workshop. But my other writing format, as a freelance journalist for, is, as I've recently discovered, presented in a forum where people can take the opportunity to pick my words apart.

And you know what, all of those workshops and post-workshops sob sessions, did not in any way thicken my skin. My skin is still the equivalent of tissue paper. And I'm beginning to think that it's impossible to thicken skin. Maybe anyone who says otherwise is just a really good liar. I don't know if I'll ever get used to the immediate little kid hurt that washes over me when I read a not nice thing about my writing. And that's so obnoxious and I sort of want to punch myself in the face when I think about it, because I'm 25 years old. I should be able to take it like a woman and stop whining.

But it stings every time. And because I am an online journalist there's almost always feedback. And the worst part is I crave the feedback. If there are no comments on an article I wrote I take that as a little slap in the face as well (wow aren't writers insecure?) If there are nice comments I eat it up, but the good feelings from those never last as long as the defensiveness and hurt of the bad ones.

I wrote a negative review of the play White Christmas a couple of months ago. And I can still recall every unpleasant word that was written about my review. Let's just say the word "grinch" was thrown around several times. Turns out a bad review of White Christmas is equivalent to punching Santa Claus in the face in this town. And I get it. And I want people to voice their opinion and give me feedback. But the paradox of being a writer is that you write for yourself (anyone who says otherwise is LYING), but without readers your work just falls into a void. So you need your readers. Your readers make your work exist. They give it life. They pay your bills. And this entitles them to say whatever they darn well please.

But I don't know. I just don't think it will ever get easier. And I guess my whole long winded point to all of this, is that I get now that anytime anyone writes anything and puts it out into the universe, that thing is precious and personal to them. It doesn't matter if its a novel or a recap of the Real Housewives of DC. Both are that writer's art, their creation. One may take a whole lot less time, energy and love, but anything I write is a part of me, no matter how inane or trivial. And seeing it go up online is always kind of terrifying, because there's a part of me, up on the internet, for anyone to pick apart. Suddenly I'm that nervous 18 year old in my first college workshop, with my first HORRENDOUS short story (oh how bad that thing was), but which at the time I thought was just brilliant. I thought my classmates would love it and praise it and talk about how wonderful it was. My professor might just shake his head and say "I have nothing else to teach you." But instead that story got effectively beaten to a bloody pulp (and deservedly so) while I watched, and as a writer that means you're watching a piece of yourself get beaten to bloody pulp, and it really, really sucks.

But at the end of the day it's the only way to get better. Being a writer means getting over your own fat head again and again by the only effective means-harsh, public criticism. It means sulking, whining, complaining and getting defensive. But if you remember that you love it, if you remember that you want to be good at it, you'll get over it. You'll brush it off, and start again.

Unless crazy people post comments. Because apparently there are a TON of crazy people on the internet, and they are vocal. Those people a writer can ignore.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Where the Sex and the City 2 movie went wrong.

I thought the only blog I could muster up tonight was about cute baby animals. Until I turned onto my now almost nightly dose of old Sex and the City episodes on E and was reminded of my recent viewing of the second movie. I absolutely love the tv series and loved the first movie. Which makes it weird that I waited so long to see the second one. But between the scathing reviews and general "meh" responses of my friends, I knew it wasn't going to be very good. I think more than that I knew it would be a train wreck. I could feel it coming, which is probably why I put off seeing it so long.

And it was...bad. Parts were even truly awful. Which sucks, because as I mentioned I LOVE the show. And I love the show because I love the characters. I feel like I kind of grew up with Carrie, Charlotte, Miranda, and Samantha. And before you get worried, I mean teenage/college grew up, not childhood grew up. Not to get all too junior high sex education, but as I was growing into womanhood, I turned to the show as this fantasy, idealized version of what womanhood can be. Embarrassing confession: I still watch Sex and the City marathons to combat the nervousness leading up to a first date. And some might scoff, and some feminists might scoff, but I'm a proud feminist darn it, and there's always been something empowering about watching single women who made their own money, bought their own (outrageously unrealistic designer clothes) and had their own lives. Yes the men in Sex and the City are important and in every episode, but the show isn't about them. It's a show about women, definitively. And even though as I got older I understood that these women's lives were not generally realistic, I related more and more to details of the women, parts of their otherwise unrealistic lives that were in fact painfully and honestly real.

Which brings me to this movie and what my biggest issue was with it. It wasn't even the fact that it was wildly offensive about women in the Middle East. (PS for everyone concerned when making a movie about women who choose to wear full veils, yes some women are forced into it and that sucks, but some women CHOOSE to do that out of their own free will, and it is condescending as hell to suggest that no woman could ever make that choice on her own, and quite frankly it's sexist to think that all women are victims without even trying to find out if that is the case, stepping off soap box). It wasn't even that aspect of the movie that was the most disappointing. It was the fact that somewhere along the way these characters who used to be at least in some ways relatable and lifelike had become caricatures. Not only were they caricatures, but they were caricatures of out of touch, high class Americans who had no understanding of anything outside of their income bracket. There is an entire sub-plot about how hard and overwhelming and stressful Charlotte's life is as a mother, despite the fact that this STAY AT HOME MOTHER has a LIVE IN NANNY. Huh in the what now? This movie tries to suggest that Charlotte has it really rough because her adorable adopted daughter gets paint on her vintage Valentino skirt. Relatable right? That's the biggest burden of a mother's life, trying to keep baby hands off off several thousand dollar pieces of clothing. Let me tell you. I am not a mother. But I've been a nanny. Getting covered in paint is part of the job. Paint is the last of your worries in fact. There are much worse things to be covered in. And guess what? For most mothers there isn't a full time nanny hiding in the closet to spring to the rescue.

And again I'm not a mother, but I would still like to say on behalf of mothers everywhere who either work full time or stay at home, but do not have the luxury of hiring full time help, shut up movie!

Also the biggest conflict of the film, the pressurized build up to the climax, is over whether or not the four ladies will be forced to suffer the indignity, the torture, the shame, of having to fly back to NYC in COACH. Again, as someone who has spent several ten plus hour flights in coach and lived to tell about it, shut up movie!

I know Sex in the City is not supposed to be realistic. It's not gritty. But in the show these women were at least only semi filthy rich, and had some semblance of reality about them. The whole movie, in the end, was just an exercise in classicism and snobbery.

So I'll stick with my E reruns of the show I love thank you very much.

holy baby animal cuteness batman.

I spent seven straight hours of my life at a community college this morning/afternoon so I'm not going to be super eloquent tonight. Really it's a feat that I'm upright at all. But I just wanted to share the amazingness that is this video of a baby gorilla taking its first steps. If you know me at all you know my abiding love for all baby animals, but in particular baby gorillas. When I lived in DC nannying for my baby niece I took her to see the baby gorilla at the National Zoo almost every day. I would park her stroller facing the glass, and think to myself, kid, this is your future. Not that I thought my niece would one day fling poop at people. Wait, no scratch that, at that time she was often flinging poop at people. But at the time my niece was a little infant, and the baby gorilla there was about toddler equivalent. And in almost every way that baby gorilla looked and acted like a toddler (minus the being naked and hairy part). It hung off the older gorillas, constantly wanting attention. It took long naps. It excelled at being adorable.

I think all gorillas are awesome ( yet another reason why I am like Liz Lemon if anyone has seen the episode where she longs to quit her job to go study "those noble beasts"), but the babies, well just look for yourself:

I came across this on the New York Magazine website tonight, and in about .2 seconds I went from oh this is cute to WEEPING, like this was my child sprung forth from my loins and I was watching it take its first adorable little steps. That may have something to with the fact that I am really, really tired. But it's just so amazing isn't it? The moral of this story is I want a baby gorilla.

And if that isn't enough cuteness for you here's a video of the new baby lions at the National Zoo. I'm sorry if this blog has become Liz's Cute Animal Corner, but COME ON. Look at those baby lions and try not to dissolve into a sappy mess. Especially the part where they basically throw one in the little moat around the lion enclosure to make sure it doesn't drown. The lion's expression is perfectly "dude what is wrong with you f-ing people? You just threw me into a MOAT."

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Top Chef observations.

So since there's still about six minutes left of this episode, I'll go ahead and call this a live blog. But I had a few observations I had to share.

1) Jimmy Fallon is absolutely adorbs. He is like a little ray of sunshine isn't he? I mean he always seemed like a fun guy on SNL, but he is seriously the sweetest, most enthusiastic person ever-as evidenced by how he acted this episode-I mean he got an ice cream cake for his birthday and dude acted like, well, like how I would act upon receiving an ice cream cake. But he's famous! He should be jaded and over it, like I'm not going to eat this ice cream cake unless it's made of truffles and smothered in gold. But instead he just seemed like an overgrown eight year old, in the cutest possible way.

2) When did Top Chef become Biggest Loser in the product placement department? So the chefs just happened to decide to cook Buitoni (sp?) brand lobster ravioli and talk in detail about how much they loooove Butioni brand lobster ravioli. Really? These are professional chefs. In real life they would probably spit on Buitoni brand lobster ravioli and use it to wash their hands before they cook real pasta (or something like that). Really it was silly and shameless. You're better than that Top Chef. Although as I see commercials for next week's Target with a capital T sponsored challenge, maybe you're not.

3) Top Chef is trying to make me fat. During the course of this episode I ate a hefty portion of these AWESOME 100% whole wheat, organic chips that are basically the healthier cousin of Cool Ranch Doritos (which, to digress just a bit, I think I heard angels singing when I tasted these chips and realized that they were a HEALTHY version of COOL RANCH DORITOS), and then a spoonful of peanut butter with some chocolate chips. Now as some earlier blogs might have suggested, I try to be a generally healthy person. As a rule I really try to not eat spoonfuls of peanut butter covered in chocolate chips. But then I watch Top Chef and they are making frozen banana chocolate fondu thingies and pulled pork sandwiches and pot pies and come on! How could that not make a person hungry? So yeah maybe tonight won't go down as the healthiest night of my life. But you know what? Every once in a while it's nice to see that chubby little kid in me who ate the real Cool Ranch Doritos every day after school with a side of Oreos and Coke isn't completely gone. She's neatly tucked away, but I didn't kill her with my newfound emphasis on health. Which is good.

Because really what's the point of life if you don't eat a spoonful of peanut butter covered in chocolate chips every once in a while?

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

head exploding cuteness.

I no longer see my baby niece every single day as I did during my three month stint as her nanny. She is in DC, and I am in Richmond, and sadly I go weeks sometimes without witnessing her insane levels of cuteness.

But there is one small comfort to tide myself over until I can see her in person, one of the great joys of being an aunt.


Literally every time I go to Target I end up buying this baby clothing. I could literally be going to buy toothpaste, just toothpaste. I'll walk in knowing that I'll just go right to the toothpaste aisle, pick out my selection, then check out. That's it. No diversions. Not gonna look at the adult clothes. Not gonna look at the shoes this time and walk out with two pairs of sandals I will not be able to wear for three months. Not gonna look at the DVD's or the magazines. I walk in feeling confident in my ability to be strong, to resist the evil lure of Target.

And yet, somehow I always end up in the baby section, like I've been sleep-walking and instead of sleep eating or sleep fighting I end up sleep adorable baby clothes shopping. Because they are so adorable. They are so adorable I sometime emit little noises despite myself, frightening passersby. I pick up little sweatshirts or little tights or little itty bitty shorts (squee!) and just want to cuddle them, because they are oh so cute, so terribly, terribly cute.

Which leads me inevitably to purchasing things like this.

Isn't this the cutest little spring dress you've ever seen? Before I had a niece I used to scoff at all the pink and girly fru fru baby clothes, but now I see something pink and some strange, primal instinct kicks in, like MUST BUY PINK ITEM AND TAKE HOME TO YOUNG! YOUNG BABY GIRL MUST WEAR PINK SO AS TO DISTINGUISH FROM BABY BOY. I really have no control over it. It's practically a biological imperative that I buy these things.

And I mean just come on. Try to look at this and not just melt into a silly puddle of awwwwwwwwwwww.

Especially when you see that under the little skirt there are SHORTS! It's a skort. I wore skorts when I was little. I remember vividly one printed with roses that I wore until I was like thirteen (by that point it was no longer cute, just sad). I used to get into epic fights with my mother because I only wanted to wear that skort to any remotely nice function. And now I can pass on the skort tradition to my niece. I mean they are tiny little yellow shorts! Underneath a skirt! On a baby!

So anyone who isn't into babies probably zoned out and just heard static and high pitched noises during this post. And yes I realize that I may not sound all that intelligent when I am going on about baby skorts.

But just, it's a BABY SKORT!

Monday, February 7, 2011


Between 19 credits of nursing coursework, my freelance work for, new duties as part of the Richmond Theatre Critics Circle, babysitting jobs, twice weekly physical therapy, five times a week work out sessions, and well lot's not forget, a hefty TV watching schedule to keep up with, life has been pretty crazy lately. I'm not complaining. I'm incredibly grateful for all of those things, but I feel like the second I get a free moment I realize I should be writing emails/studying/doing stuff on Blackboard. I've sort of forgotten how to choose to be lazy every once in a while. For so long I could be lazy because I had nothing to do, especially when I wasn't working. Now it takes real effort, concentration, and planning. Which I guess goes against the whole point of being lazy but such is life.

Anyways, my rambling point is that I apologize if my blog posts have been slightly sporadic.

Tonight I can't really offer much in the way of reflection/silliness, other than to say that today at Starbucks I was behind a sixty something couple in line. The woman ordered a caramel macchiato with exactly SEVEN pumps of caramel. The man ordered a green tea latte frappucino thingie, with exactly FOUR scoops of macha powder. They weren't obnoxious about it, just beautifully and sweetly batty in that older person kind of way, like I've been on this earth long enough where I'll have my dainty, sugar coma inducing Starbucks drink exactly how I darn well want it! And I'm not gonna give a fart about what other people think.

As I ordered my own lame nonfat latte (without any fun flavors or whip cream), I realized they were kind of my heroes.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011


Mmmmm. Is there anything more satisfying on a chilly February night than a big, spicy bowl of chicken pho and one large, cold Belgian style beer?

Methinks not. I heart Mekong. I pretty much heart anywhere that serves any style of Asian food, from Indian to Vietnamese to Thai to Japanese. I love it all. I cannot believe I used to not like Asian food when I was little. Although really I think I was just a naive little fart who ate ketchup on her tacos and didn't know what Asian food truly was, the sharp, vibrant flavors, the bright, crisp colors in every spoonful or bite. It is a veritable dance party for the taste buds.

That reminds me, if I ever start either a restaurant or a band I want it to be called taste bud dance party. But seriously if I were a taste bud in an American mouth I would go through the day all, meh. But then all of a sudden I'm a taste bud at an Asian restaurant and it is like WEEEEEE! Spice, sour, acidic- all simultaneous, all loud and big and delicious.

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