20/20 Vision Is For Suckers

Do you have a favorite doctor? I’m not talking about your favorite M.D. who takes care of you the best at their medical practice. I mean, do you prefer the laser-eyed-mole-chasing Dermatologist over the pinprick-scratch-test Allergist? Or the “take a deep breath” (100 times until you’re dizzy) Internist vs. the “slide down to the end of the table, you might feel a little pressure” OBGYN?

My favorite doctor has always been the dentist. Mostly because I have never really been told anything bad during my appointment. I am blessedly free of cavities (ok, ok, there was one, but I’d like to think it was a fluke), and have skated by with barely any scolding over my sporadic flossing habits. In fact, I am usually able to shine like a braggy, obnoxious star pupil when I exclaim with pride that I am not a coffee or tea drinker, nor do I favor soda outside of the occasional movie theater cherry coke. I get my pearly whites all buffed and sparkling, then walk out with a new toothbrush and things are looking good.

Perhaps you aren’t really a doctor type of person. Like, if I came over to your house and was in need of some Ibuprophen and inquired as to where your medicine cabinet was, you might give me a quizzical look to say “Why would I need an entire cabinet for medicine??”

I see your point.

But, here’s the thing, I grew up in a very medicine-friendly household. Not like substance abuse medicated or anything, just the kind that felt strongly about the benefits of a 6 month supply of Tums, a 3 month supply of inhalers, nose spray, cough medicine, 3 varieties of aspirin and a couple boxes of Sudafed, (when it was still available over the counter and crafty kids had yet to realize it was a key component in Meth making).

Sometimes, when I was older and found myself tossing and turning at 3 am unable to sleep, I’d creep into my parents room and whine to my mother about my insomnia. She’d kindly drag herself out of bed and into the kitchen, where she’d cut a Benadryl in half and hand it to me with a glass of water. Now, mom, before you get defensive, I was very grateful for this instant fix! I feel like it’s the equivalent of doctors suggesting that you give your baby a touch of Benadryl before a long flight or car ride in order to calm them down. So, whether it had a placebo affect on me or not, I always fell into a sound sleep immediately after that middle-of-the-night dispensing of medication.

By the same token, we were also a family that would head to the doctor for pretty much anything that ailed. For the mere price of a copay (thank you insurance), we could at least obtain peace of mind, if not a friendly Z-Pack. Hence my lengthy list of doctors at the beginning of this wayward rant. I assume most people struggle to maintain a general physician, with nary a need for an additional Grey’s Anatomy entourage.

For example, a friend of mine once told me that, growing up, if she complained to her mom that she didn’t feel well, her mother would reply, “Are you bleeding?” If not, there was no doctor to be seen. This so affected her psyche, that when her parents did try to offer her medicine or take her to the doctor, she thought she must be terminally ill and adamantly refused any sort of treatment.

So – the overall truth is that I was born and bred to find a sense of calm upon entering a physician’s office, and a sense of purpose behind dutifully taking my assigned prescriptions. It all goes to instantly soothe the beast inside of me called, Hypochondria. My fear of impending illness or disease, for both myself and those around me that I love, is so intense that I’ve succombed to panic attacks just thinking about the big What If’s. When I worked in a hospital during college, my mom’s first question to me, knowing my fears, was,

“Doesn’t it bother you being around sick people all the time?”

And I responded “Actually, I feel really safe constantly surrounded by doctors. Should anything go wrong, I’d absolutely be in the right place!”

It seems that I’m a medical lifer. Scrubs and white lab coats, icky tongue depressors and those weird plastic moldings of our internal organs just seem to put me at ease. Only one doctor do I really loathe, and he comes with one of these.

*Insert dreaded da, da, dum music here.

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The eye doctor is a certain brand of torture. They employ all kinds of ancient pain techniques that involve blinding, blowing, straining, gouging, searing and overall frustrating that leave the so-called patient (aka. Prisoner Of War) feeling adrift in a sea of misery. Left at the utter mercy of your Opthamolo-hitman until they release you from your hazy world.

My vision has been terrible for decades, so at this point, trips to the eye doctor are too many to count. Maybe my anger and anxiety are the result of my first pair of glasses being delivered just weeks after I attended a Bryan Adams concert—wearing a bejeweled tie and broad-brimmed black hat, no less (blame it on the vision problems?)—and, subsequently, was too blind to see him clearly when he romanced me with (Everything I Do) I Do It For You. C’mon, that is a TOTAL catastrophe and grounds for the seeds of hatred to begin.

Or maybe it all started after I begged my parents to finally let me get contacts on my 13th birthday. I thought they would transform everything in my benign seventh grade life, and I would reappear as a majestic butterfly to expertly bat my newly glasses-free eyeballs at Steve Dugger to win his affection. Too bad that, by the time I was finally able to jab those transparent half-orbs into my eye-sockets, I was affronted with a mirror reflection that was basically ⅔ eyebrows. For years I’d been hiding those hairy caterpillars behind the rims of my standard, 90’s oversize frames and, TA DA, now they were front and center for the world to ogle. I don’t blame Steve for deciding Missy Scheer was the hot one!

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It could be because of that whole, lazy-eye, had to wear an eye-patch like a pirate situation, but let’s not get into that again.

But, if I’m really being honest with myself, the true fear stems from embarrassment, pure and simple.

Somehow I always take it personally when I can’t read the lines on that stupid eye-chart. It’s a test I can’t study for (though, full disclosure, I did memorize the board once when I was tired of guessing wrong and just wanted the torture to be over) and am always doomed to fail. As if every time the doctor says “And can you tell me what this line says” I’m forced to scour my mind for a realistic answer…

“E, S, T…um, 2? Are there numbers in here? Are you going to take away my license? Do I need a seeing-eye dog?

And the doc will just keep forcing me to plug away, moving to the next line as if they don’t notice that I’ve started sweating so profusely that I’ve pitted out the shirt I’m wearing. As if suddenly the line will become completely clear.

“Ah, yes! I see it now!  The first one is a rooster, then Justin Timberlake, some cowboy boots, a measuring cup and some mac & cheese.” 20/20 vision! Hand me my pilot’s license.

Let’s not even GET into the process where they ask you which one is better, 1 or 2. 3 or 4. 5 or….come on!! Now you’re just shitting me! You’re gonna go back into your little perfect-vision lounge after this appointment and laugh with your cronies about how many times you got that gullible little twit to guess! “And it was the same one the whole time! Hahahahah!”

I realize the further I get into explaining this phobia of mine, the more crazytown I sound. I once told a friend that I had plenty of neurosis…she wondered at the time, what those might be. DING DING. Here you go.

Apparently, stressing out over going to the eye doctor is just going to be my lot in life, because I’ve heard your vision just get’s worse as you age. And I’m too afraid of someone peeling back my cornea and buzzing lasers into my brain to get any sort of Lasik surgery.

Instead I’ll just wail all my sorrows and horrors to you fine people.  And maybe the next time you find out I’m heading to the eye doctor, you’ll offer to buy me an ice cream cone afterwards.  For now I’m just going to schedule my next dentist appointment so I can feel better about myself.

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All Hallows Eve (aka) My Favorite Day Of The Year

If you know me, you know I love Halloween.

If you don’t know me, I’ll probably end up sharing this tidbit with you long before it’s conversationally relevant or seasonally appropriate.

Like, when work functions demand you play that awkward game where everyone has to “share something unexpected with the group.” My fallback tends to be, “Halloween is my favorite day of the year.” My birthday is in early November, but I truly have no interest in it, (and I’m not just saying that in a whiny way where I really expect you to make a big deal out of my bday even though I swear I don’t care). So, I request that anyone who really loves me should participate in Halloween instead. Just pretend October 31st is my real birthday and, instead of presents, wrap yourself up in a costume of some sort and come on over!

Ridiculous? Probably. But for some reason, the ability to get dressed up in a random costume and eat copious amounts of chocolate, or as an adult, consume mass amounts of liquor, is incredibly appealing to me!

The biggest nerd flag I fly is that I’m a sucker for anything that feels magical. And I mean, Harry Potter Hogwarts magical, not “what card am I holding?”  pull a rabbit out of a hat magic. When someday my kid asks me if I believe in witches and wizards and unicorns and flying hippogriffs, I won’t have to hesitate when saying, yes.

But in the essence of not embarrassing myself or those around me, I try to limit this excitement and childlike obsession to 1 month a year when it is somewhat accepted by society. Enter, All Hallows Eve.

Dressing up is a big deal. It’s not enough just to slip on a pair of cat ears or a clown nose and call it a day. I have extreme appreciation for the kind of creative detail and planning that goes into the perfect Halloween costume, and will always have a big soft spot in my heart for those who go down the rabbit hole with me on this occasion.

That being said – I feel a certain amount of stress over choosing the perfect costume. One that is crafted as much by hand as possible, with the right amount of clever mixed in with pop culture, immersion-blended with some unique imagination. But, most importantly, does not have the word “sexy” in front of its name. You are not a “sexy” pirate, or a “sexy” Rainbow Bright Doll, or a “sexy” nun. These things are counterintuitive and wrong and I will not stand for it! (whew!)

And so, in honor of the upcoming occasion, (and because I’ve yet to figure mine out this year and I need some inspiration) I give you…

My top 10 costumes:

10. A (Good) Witch: Notable only because it was the first costume I can remember wearing and the first birthday I celebrated in Halloween-style. I was turning 3 and all the kids dressed up in costumes to attend. I was decked out in a perfectly ragged witch costume, though apparently I was vehemently adamant to anyone that would listen that I was a GOOD witch, and rung in my new year with a pumpkin shaped cookie cake. My mom used chocolate chips to create a smiling jackolantern face, and I’m thinking that I’d be pretty damn pleased if someone wanted to make me that exact same cake every birthday for the rest of my life!

9. 70’s Rollerskater: I’m convinced this was a clever costume for 2 reasons:

First, because I found the perfect pair of old-school roller-skates in a thrift store. They were shiny white with neon orange wheels, and I paired them with expertly feathered hair, ill-advised skin-toned tights and a violently short pair of polyester track shorts that I wish I could say were actually from the 70’s, but were really from Abercrombie and Fitch.

Second, this was the first year I lived in Chicago and I kept those death-trap roller skates on ALL NIGHT. I mean, this girl maneuvered them in and out of bars with beer soaked floors, cabs that lurched us through the night and straight into 6” deep rain puddles and what had to be the worlds steepest climb of apartment stairs.

I managed to stay on my feet and off my ass for 99% of the evening, and didn’t wimp out even when my ankles were screaming “UNCLE!” Sometimes costumes take real dedication to pull off, and a night spent on 8 little wheels proved that.

8. 80’s Aerobicizer: Originally I had intended for my costume to be Olivia Newton John in Xanadu, but that required more rollerskates and I just wasn’t up for it. So I went with Olivia Newton John in Let’s Get Physical instead. (Though even that is kind of a mouthful, so 80’s Aerobics dancer it is.)

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oh, OLJ, this was a risky move

And while the key costume items mainly consisted of a sweatband and leg warmers, the real kicker was the assless leotard. I SWEAR I wore two pairs of opaque tights underneath! Oh, and I was 24 not, like, 8 when I wore this. Though, now that I think of it, a Little Miss Sunshine costume would be pretty amazing!

7. Jem & The Rockers: We’re just moving right along with an 80’s theme, huh? Well, this was when I was about 8 and my mom concocted a brilliant fuchsia shredded dress that sure gave that little animated rockstar a run for her money! Then my Aunt surprised me with a homemade cardboard guitar that was completely covered in pink glitter. I might have cried 8 year old girl tears of joy!

6. Elvis: Ok, I have never dressed as Elvis myself. But last year that’s how we decked out our then 18 month old, and it was kind of an amazing homemade feat. I usually wouldn’t brag, but take a look for yourself and let me know if you think this earns me a little mommy pride?

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enter, The King!

5. A Piece of Pizza: Pizza Hut pizza, to be exact. Including a real, cardboard pizza box with a hole in it as my hat. Clearly as a 5th grader I was not at all concerned with what people thought of me, because there might have been some questions when the elementary school parade was taking place and, mixed in with all the princesses and pirates and superheroes, was one random, awkward slice of pepperoni pie. This oversize triangle even had sad little strips of felt mozzarella cheese hanging from it’s belly. Truly delicious.

4. Ziggy Stardust: So, in addition to my intense love for Halloween, I also have a little obsession with David Bowie. And not even for the right reasons! I shamefully didn’t learn to love his music until I was in my 20’s. My crush with this man started much earlier (and this will come up later in the countdown) when I saw The Labyrinth for the first time, but has extended since then. So I was honored to pay proper homage to Bowie’s incredible, glam-rock, androgynous alter ego.

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Oy vey.

3. Super Jew: I still stand by the fact that one of the easiest costumes to concoct on short notice is that of a homemade superhero. Dawn a ski mask, tie a sheet around your neck, grab a plunger as your weapon and, TADA! Creepy Toilet Man is here!

So my sophomore year of college I decided to craft my costume around an oversize Jewish star necklace an Israeli friend had bestowed upon me. My clever roommate Audrey deemed it the “Super Jew Necklace” and even non-Jew friends used to borrow it sometimes for a little extra power. I paired it with head and wristbands bedazzled with glittering jewish stars and a cape that I believe said, “The Chosen One”. No one at the parties we attended that night had any idea what I was dressed as.

2. Chippendales Dancer: Sometimes I want to copycat this group costume because it was that excellent. I mean—3 girls wearing flesh colored t-shirts under plastic man-body chests, with penciled-in facial hair and sock stuffed pants—it was the perfect blend of innovative, hilarious and totally creepster. We were invited to do “shows” on the tops of every bar we visited, and in lieu of dollar bills we accepted free drinks. My children are going to be VERY embarrassed someday when these pictures resurface.

1. The Goblin King: This is the yet-to-be costume. The ultimate of all costumes that will require months of planning and practice in order to make it right. And if you haven’t watched The Labyrinth yet, lemme tell ya, you’re missing a magical musical Jim Henson tale with a lot of puppet goblins and weird M.C. Escher stairs. Sounds pretty awesome, right??

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I didn’t say it was pretty, just that it was my favorite.

One fine October 31st, I’ll dawn my intricately homemade Goblin King costume and know that it will never get better than this. My favorite movie character on my favorite day of the year. Eating too much candy, drinking too much spiked cider and watching my kid start his own top ten list of costumes to adore and rehash at length someday:)

Keepin’ It Classy

I can’t breathe. Everytime I try to inhale deeply, I feel constrained. It’s making me panicky. I’m breaking out into a cold sweat and the lack of oxygen is making me a little lightheaded. My lungs feel compressed, gripped, like they are slowly and painfully being squeezed together by a vice or a noose or…my belt.

Wait. This doesn’t sound normal. I bet this doesn’t happen to you, does it? Panic-inducing breathing problems brought on because that stylish skinny belt wrapped around your waist is somehow cutting off your airway? That’s just some of my crazy.

It begins like this: I  wake up in the morning after a good night of sleep, and I’m feeling the slimmest I’ll feel all day. The food slate has been wiped clean, there’s been 8 blissful hours of digestion going on, and things seem relatively flat and un-bulgey. So I figure I’ll cinch that belt around my waist to try and add some curves to a body that looks more like a 12 year old boy than a 32 year old woman—more Sheldon from The Big Bang Theory than Sophia Vergara.

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I hold my breath while threading the buckle into the loop, (trying not to think of the Culver’s double cheeseburger and fried cheese curds I had for lunch yesterday), seeing what hole I’ll be able to reach. It’s sad, I realize this, feeling at competition with a belt. Hoping I’ll be able to mouth-off at it when reaching the inner circle of notches saying “That’s right! Take that, generic mass-market belt Biatches, I’m in it to win it!” Then I breeze out the door feeling fit and fine, off to start a wonderful day.

Things first start to go downhill once I reach the car. This teeny cinched belt was MUCH more meant for standing then sitting, and now that I’m curled into my munchkin Ford Focus, I’m feeling a lot less slender than 10 minutes ago.

Then I arrive to work and it’s time to eat breakfast. Sitting and pumping food into my belly is also not conducive to tummy restraining devices. Neither are unseasonably early bowls of Halloween candy that seem to tempt me at every turn. Come 3pm I’m fidgeting in my chair trying to find the most comfortable position, and somehow I’ve completely forgotten that the nucleus of this problem is a .25” leather band. I’m stressing out – people outside my office can probably hear me huffing loudly in attempt to grab a full breath – when it suddenly occurs to me that all I have to do is loosen my belt. Or even better, take it off completely.

The relief is immediate. I splooge (I want you to know that spell-check didn’t even underline that made up word) into my chair as a puddle of mushy, oozing, relieved goodness. Not even caring if someone wonders what happened to part of my outfit from earlier that day, or whether I look like the Wicked Witch melting into a hazy abyss.

Really, this is just one of the many things about me that starts out with the very best intentions of classiness, and ends up crashing and burning into a smoldering pile of oh-so-much-trashiness.

Another shining example would be my illustrious kleenex and napkin debate.

In our house, you will rarely, if ever, find actual kleenex or napkins in our cupboards or bathrooms or bedside tables. Where is the need for them when you have paper towels and toilet paper?

I wouldn’t claim to be a terribly proactive save-the-earth kind of girl. I buy fancy organic cleaning products more because they smell delicious then because they lack toxic ingredients. We have a drawer in our kitchen overstuffed with hand towels, and at any given time we’ll be simultaneously using three of those, in addition to a roll of paper towels, for various tasks. So the decision to allow certain paper products to do double duty is, sadly, not a politically correct one. Just laziness at it’s best.

The other day I was dreamily e-shopping on Anthropologie (be still, my heart) and sent my sister a text out of the blue that said:

“I think I want to start collecting pretty placemats.”

Her response.

“Fun–that can be your thing!”

Like how she decided one day that collecting kaleidoscopes was going to be her “thing.” Or how collecting empty plastic water and Gatorade bottles in the back of his car seems to be my husbands “thing.”

So I’ll start collecting lovely, colorful placemats. And I’ll design my entire meal around the theme of their pattern, and create a magnificent tablescape all Martha Stewart style with repurposed sticks and calligraphed placecards. Like the one time I cooked a meal for 13 girls in Chicago where I bought bright fabric for a tablecloth and planted little ceramic pots of grass for a centerpiece and served parchment wrapped sea bass and lemon infused noodles. YES! Yes I have done this, I WILL do this! And I’ll use paper towels as my napkins. So what?

I seriously didn’t realize this was an issue until we moved away to Dallas and noticed that any time my mother or mother-in-law visited and went shopping for us, they returned home with a huge package of napkins and several boxes of kleenex. I guess adults don’t find it charming to seek out a roll of toilet paper when they need to blow their noses, or using oversized paper towels when they need to wipe their hands. It was a not so subtle way to remind us that we were also grownups, no longer living a college or nearly post-college lifestyle, and should join the real world of proper household accessories.

Considering somewhere along the way my child has become fastidious during mealtime and is always demanding “a napkin!” with which to wipe his grubby paws, (yet he somehow could care less that his cherub face is smeared ear to ear with spaghetti sauce – just get his hands clean for fucks sake!), I guess we’ll have to follow suit and start stocking them in the house.

Nobody is perfect, and I certainly don’t hold myself to such high standards that I expect my whole world, from closet to cupboard, to be Pinterest perfect. It’s just some of the more egregious errors in class that gnaw at my conscious. Like the suffocating belt issue, or lack of napkins, or when I consider licking clean my food utensils at work and putting them back in my drawer an adequate substitute to antibacterial soap and a dishwasher.

I’d ask you to please not judge me, but it’s ok. Go ahead. I’m sure I’d be overly critical if I saw someone else filling up the same water bottle on their desk that hadn’t been taken home and cleaned in several months, (it’s just water! how does that get dirty??).

My one request is that, if you ever happen upon me looking red faced, irritated, awkwardly trying to take in a breath while sitting at my desk, please just kindly point out that perhaps I should loosen my belt.

Love Letter

Dear College,

 I was just thinking about you today, you know, a little reminiscing about how, at this time of day while we were hanging out, I’d just be dragging myself out of bed. Instead, I’m in the midst of making edits to a Powerpoint Presentation I’ve been working on since 8am. Sigh. Remember when Powerpoints were just for professors? To be fair, I once wanted to BE a professor, so I can’t give them, or you, too much crap.

 Remember how I got lost on my way to English 101 that first week? It was so cliché – this newbie freshman wandering around campus in the mid-august heat – walking briskly but not running (wouldn’t want to look like a loser), while silently freaking out that I was going to be late. When I finally arrived at the correct building, I flung myself inside the classroom to the interested looks of everyone else in the room, and tried tononchalantly take a seat while brushing away sweat beads on my upper-lip. So much for playing it cool. Oh, college, you must have been laughing your ass off at me.

 School started back this week. We just finished putting a lookbook together at my job featuring a bunch of home decor items supposedly perfect for that college dorm-room makeover. We’ve got leopard print bean-bag chairs, rainbow shag pillows, canvas prints that say “Love”, “Inspire” and “LMAO”, the latterof which would have been just a big ol’ misspelling in my day.

 Then you get down to business with important items like dry-erase boards for the outside of your door. Ya know, so you can give your roomies a heads-up when you’ll be back late. Or, in our case, start hate-filled ranting wars with the guys down the hall.

 “Turn down your mother effing music! If I have to hear the baseline from Metallica’s Welcome Sandman one more time, I’m going to slap your face off your face!”

Remember when we hated Jim and Ryan from next door? We even complained about them to the Resident Advisor! Hahahah, I know, right?! He was really a total goober. Seriously, College, how could you have put him in charge of a bunch of rowdy 18 year olds? I mean, silly RA should have known that after a few angry dry-erase-board-exchanges, we’d work things out in your regular college way. By making out with each other. But I will give that dude props for helping us dispose of our suicidal fish. To this day I can’t figure out how that little guy managed to lodge himself in the air filter.

 Hey, College? Um, while I’m thinking about it, would you mind keeping a few things under-wraps for me? Like, how my roommates and I choreographed that dance to a Britney Spears song and then tried to perform it on the dance floor at The Sports Column? See, we’d been pretty inundated with those 90’s movies like “She’s All That” where the charactersburst into simultaneous booty shaking and hip grinding during a designated song, and it like, totally revved up the party. Just don’t tell anyone that we got confused looks and were basically booed out of the bar. Oops, we did it again.

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Also, let’s just refrain from telling my parents about what that art teacher told me my freshman year. Ya know, about how I was lucky I had talent because otherwise I would have flunked out of class from talking too much. I’m pretty sure my parents thought that those immature Chatty-Cathy tendencies were limited to High School only.

 And for my sanity, could we lock the vault on discussing my job with the survey service and the other one where I had to sort through slides of Dermatological oddities. Honestly, to this day, thinking about how miserable I was at both of those places of employment still gives me a stomachache. Please don’t ever make me call 14 year old boys and ask them what their favorite X-Box game is! Or lethargic 50+ males asking about their diabetes medication! And, please, if you ever loved me at all, don’t remind me about the horrific images of genital herpes that I was forced to label and file. I can forgive, but I’ll never forget.

Speaking of unpleasant College memories, remember the Green House? Don’t play dumb with me, I know your skin is crawling just thinking about it. See, my husband and I just moved into our first house a few months ago, and one of the annoying things we’ve had to deal with is bugs. Stupid ants swarming the deck, and spiders building exaggerated webs on every bush in sight. But the worst of the worst, are the Silverfish. YOU know the ones. They haunted that green house we lived in our senior year. I shiver to recall the way we would suddenly see this 3” long critter with it’s million+ legs scurrying over the wall. Or that time Dana found one in her laundry basket…deep breaths…trying not to hyperventilate.

 That house was such a dirty wilderness. One time I found 3 DIFFERENT kinds of bugs in my bed after pulling back the covers. Are you kidding me? Look, College, I know you were trying to throw a learning curve our way, but could you have stuck with just one species? And you really crossed the line with the snake.

 There I was, minding my own business, heading to the basement to throw a load of wash in, and what happens to catch my attention? Something twitching on the floor. Just  a lil’ ol’ garden snake creeping his way behind the dryer. Thanks for at least keeping that one in the basement. Oh, the horror.

 But, enough about me. How are you, College? How’s life treating you? I heard you received some accolades recently.  May I offer my congratulations? I’m impressed you’ve kept up such a stellar reputation! I mean, I’m not surprised. I’ve been singing your praises ever since graduating. Though, let’s be honest, I sure can’t party like I used to.

 If we were still hanging out, it would be cup night at the Q Bar tonight. Bring your trashy, plastic red cup from the previous week, and refill it for $.25 all night. Now THAT’S a bargain! Then we’d sink the rest of our quarters into darts, which I really only played so I could flirt with my now husband.

 Thanks for that, by the way, College. I really appreciate you introducing the two of us. I know that it’s not always reasonable to meet the person you’re going to marry while in college. I mean, at the time you’re priorities are a bit skewed and you still barely know what kind of person you want to be when you grow up. But, we were lucky. Your charming midwestern campus, lax underage drinking laws and enticing beer specials were enough to bring the two of us together. And then hard work, dedication and a lot of love kept us together. Sorry, I can’t give you all the credit.

 Anyway, I just wanted to say, hi, and that I think of you fondly every now and again. You were pretty fantastic during those 4 years, and sometimes I still wish we were close. Like on a Saturday morning after imbibing too heavily the night before. You would keep my head from feeling like it was being trampled by a herd of buffalo. You’d serve me up some frozen burritos and put me sweetly back to sleep until the nightmare passed. And then you’d ring me up and tell me that that it was $2 You Call It night at the Airliner and I’d better get my ass outta bed and meet you for a drink.

My Name Is Jennifer, And I’m A Nostalgic

I write to remember.

Every memory, every moment—I need them captured within words. Because once they are gone, I will miss them like a long lost friend. And if I have them tucked away, encapsulated in verbs and nouns and adjectives, then I can revisit them whenever I want. And know that they were real, once.

Some people think it’s crazy that I re-read books. In fact, for almost 10 years I read the same book over again every April and October. Of course I already knew the story, but that was the delicious part of the experience. By opening the love-worn pages of this book, I was able to feel anew the joys, sorrows and excitement of the characters. I never really had to let them go when the story ended, because they would remain perfectly intact inside the pages, even if the front and back cover had long ago been taped together.

Yes, I’m nostalgic. Probably overly so. Is that awful? For as much as I cling to the depth of my memories, I don’t hold grudges or judge based on things that happened long ago. But I can remember the exact tone of conversations, or the way my body flushed at just the slightest touch. I can close my eyes and bring to life the entire scene—fully surrounding myself in the scale of the moment,  whether I was naive and clueless or heady with the elixir of control—I can take myself all the way back and relive.

It probably started with my very first diary. Oh those frightening, scribbled pages filled with the subjective woes of a pre-teen girl. He did or didn’t like me. She was or wasn’t talking behind my back. My parents would or wouldn’t let me go over to so and so’s house after school. Really stimulating stuff. And yet, when I happen upon the bin in the dark recesses of my parents basement that contains these afflicted novels, I end up pouring over the pages of each book for hours. Cringing incessantly at the constant whining – or laughing at my follies with all the “wisdom” that semi-adulthood has provided. And with each, I’ll store more details in the corridors of my mind so that the next time I think about it, the memory will be that much clearer.

Recently, I was talking to my paternal grandmother—an exquisite woman who can empower with one word or soothe with just a touch—and she had taken a similar trip down memory lane after stumbling upon an old packet of letters. At first I said “That must have been fun!” But she paused and replied, “Well no, not really.” Because drumming up those kinds of feelings and emotions can be as painful as it is lovely. But she said that she did see some things anew after reading them this time around. Maybe slight nuances that resonated differently with her now than they did in the past. And it makes you realize how incredible it can be to hear someones voice again through even the plainest sentences and paragraphs.

I wish I could say my need for words is selfless, but unfortunately, I have reduced myself to a beggar’s level in order to get them. Written or spoken, sometimes the desire for them is an overwhelming force that has no justification.

I tried to craft my serious high school boyfriend into a poet and asked him to spill his heart to me on yellow, college-ruled paper. Granted, as an enthusiastic thespian, he wasn’t too phased by the challenge, and even took it one step further by reading his soliloquies aloud. But I soon realized that it’s never the same when forced. It’s the unexpected words that make time stand still. The ones you never saw coming, and will never, ever forget.

Once, when I was a sophomore in college, friends and I gathered at a dingy old bar for our regular Sunday night drink deal. Friends of friends were in attendance that we didn’t know and everyone tried to make introductions over the din of twentysomething voices. Suddenly a girlfriend grabbed my arm and whispered in my ear, “See that guy over there? The one with the plaid shirt and messy hair? He just told me that you are the most beautiful girl he’s ever seen.”

I was completely dumbfounded. It had to be a mistake. These were not the kinds of things random people said to, or about me, ever. And though I can’t remember his name, and never saw him again after that night, I have such gratitude for those words in that moment. They serve to remind me that anything is possible when viewed through someone elses eyes.

Fast forward a few years: I’d been living in Chicago, working retail and going back to school for design, when I decided it was time for me to get an internship and start my foray into the real world. I found an enticing ad for an intern needed at a luxury jewelry design company, and was thrilled when they called to interview me only days after my resume submission.

The interview went great and they offered me the job on the spot. When I walked out of that building and started down the busy city street, I felt such an unmeasured joy and excitement about my future. Later I called my sister to share the news, going on and on about how hard I was going to work and how I couldn’t wait to contribute to the company. And she responded, “They don’t know how lucky they just got, finding you.”

It was such an incredibly genuine compliment that filled me to the brim with love for her.  And it’s something I’ve tried to remember every time I thought maybe I wasn’t good enough, or was falling short…that at one time, someone told me I was an asset, and I learned to believe it and work hard to prove it true.

Forgive me for reminiscing, I just can’t help myself sometimes. Not everyone likes to go back. And not everyone can.

My maternal grandmother has been sliding further into Dementia over the past year.  Forgetting her surroundings, her visitors, her life. Right now it’s mostly her short term memory, but at some point, will the long term memories also begin to fade? What will happen to the strong-willed, fiery and fabulous character she once was? I want to write it down—any vivid memories she has left, and those of my own—depicting the vibrant life she once led so that it will always exist.

I try to pay it forward with my own words. If you know me (or are reading this blog at all) you’ll know enough that I am not a short winded person. I could never be a true journalist where the information must be relayed in short, concise messaging that doesn’t elaborate. I’m the girl who wrote about the sparkling, glittering, brilliant, gorgeous, rainbow-colored, splashing diamond waterfall when she was 8. I’m not sure how much has changed.

I give my words freely in the hopes that, sometimes, they will mean as much to others as theirs do to me. I try to paint pictures so crystal clear that I can envelop those around me and take them there, too. And I write about what matters to me most so that I’ll always have a time machine.