Let’s talk about specs

Clearly, I’ve not felt a strong obligation to this blog since touching back down in the States. Why? There are no acceptable mosaics here. My well of inspiration is dry as a bone.

Just kidding. I haven’t been writing as often as usual because I am in the throes of the busiest summer of my life – working, coffeehouse-hopping, reading, sunbathing (and lying to my doctor about it), sleeping, not sleeping, busing, catching up with friends, wearing baseball caps, honing my skills as a cocktail artiste. I’ve checked out a lot of short story and essay collections from the library. I’ve consumed a near-unbelievable number of iced lattes. Life has been excellent. But I did not come here to write an extensive life update. No, today I am going to talk about glasses.

I was eleven when my poor mother dragged me, an obstinate, fuming moper of a punk, to the eye doctor. We’d recently been to the opera, where I had been unable to read the English subtitles above the stage, and suddenly I was sitting in an uncomfortable chair at Walmart and they were shooting air into my eye. That day, to literally no one’s surprise, it was decided: I needed glasses. I picked a pair of small, chestnut brown frames, and then my mom bought me the new DisneyMania CD because I was upset and she’s always been too nice to me. That Disney optimism, though, did not chase away the fear that I would be labeled as a “nerd.”

That first pair of glasses brought a lot of new things into my life. First, the outlines of leaves, which had previously been indistinguishable clumps of green adorning the trees in my yard. Second, a new facial expression which involved squinching up my nose because my frames would slide down it and I was too lazy to lift a finger. Third, the beginning of an era in which my eyes are almost-closed in every picture because, as I said, my glasses often slid down my nose. As a result, subsequent pairs were very poorly documented: I effectively erased about six years of being visually impaired from the history books (my history books) by refusing to wear glasses in pictures. They would hang there, dangling from my hand, at my side. Nearly every group picture from the time I was twelve to the time I was seventeen was like this. Even in class, I would occasionally take them off if I didn’t really need to see the board. They helped me see – like, a lot – but I was embarrassed to wear them.

There was a brief period where I considered getting contacts (I was probably fourteen) – I went in to the eye doctor and they held up a giant, plastic model of a lens and placed a normal-sized tester on the tip of my finger, but I never actually put it in my eye because I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to get it out again. Irrational fear: I’m good at that. So contact lenses were, unequivocally, a “no.”

I went through three pairs of very unexciting black frames before I finally landed on the 2011 “nerd” standard – thick, black, square, with little silver things on the corners. This was when I started liking myself as a glasses-wearer. I wore them all the time, even in pictures, even to school dances, and I owned it. I don’t know why it took so long to happen, but my glasses became a part of who I was. As I would later claim (and still do claim), they became a part of my face, an extra feature. Fast-forward four years and two pairs of frames, and I don’t like taking my glasses off. I also get really offended when people think they’re fake… but that’s another story for another day.

In February, I branched out from my usual type (read: square black acetate) and ordered some chunky tortoiseshells from Warby Parker. I’ve never loved an accessory – or a necessity, for that matter – more than I love my Kimballs.

IMG_2793

And now I’m looking at getting a second pair from my beloved WP. Even though I am not one of the fortunate few who looks good in any and all frames thrown on my face, ordering the home trial boxes is slightly addictive – usually 3/5 are losers, but that leaves two winners. What is more fun than trying on glasses? I guess Disneyland is. Beside the point. Back to corrective eyewear.

In my most recent 5-day home trial, I’ve narrowed it down to two pairs: the Haskell and the Fillmore. I am strongly leaning toward one of them, I won’t say which, but feel free to cast your vote. Just for fun. I say that because I probably won’t listen to any of you because I am an incredibly stubborn young woman. Sorry.

The (Eddie) Haskell (from Leave it to Beaver, I'm sorry okay)

The (Eddie) Haskell (from Leave it to Beaver, I’m sorry okay)

The Fillmore, ft. annoying glare

The Fillmore, ft. annoying glare

In short, I am really, really happy I need glasses. They’re a pain in the ass when it rains, and they steam up when I open the dishwasher, and sunglasses are an expensive challenge. But I love the way they look, and I love that they let me see how I look – pretty useful. As an 11-year-old, I was worried my glasses would make people judge me. Now, if they warrant any label, I’d like to think that label is “bold.” Also, let me just say I completely misconstrued the concept of “nerd” as a child, and would not feel any shame whatsoever to hold that label as well – it’s just that my nerdiness and my glasses have nothing to do with one another.

And that is my corrective lens coming-of-age story. EMBRACE YOUR FLAWS!

Story, Goal, Song: part V

We certainly assign a lot of significance to the New Year, don’t we? I try to pretend I’m not a part of that, but then I catch myself frozen at my keyboard, blank-minded but determined to pull something really meaningful out of thin air. It’s my last post of 2014, I kind of want it to be good. I’d like to go out on a high note, thank you. But then the rebel in me snidely points out the arbitrariness of a calendar year. “365 days” wasn’t a thing until someone decided it was, and then the cast of RENT sang about it. Part of me thinks, “hm, maybe I’ll make it a point to really think about this in the coming year,” while another (bigger) part recognizes how enormously ironic that would be. Isn’t it fun when I talk about nonsense? Let’s do that more.

But before everyone cracks open the champagne and Jenny McCarthy kisses an unsuspecting stranger, let’s wrap up this series of stories, goals, and songs.


A story: One of the things which makes very little sense to me is how late most parties start. If I eat at six, I can easily be ready by seven – but then I have to sit around waiting for like three hours till it “starts,” and then another hour till it’s socially acceptable to show up. Is anyone really doing anything important between 7-10pm? No. So let’s start at seven and just get it over with, and I can go to bed at eleven.

Back in March, my friend Sav and I were gearing up to attend one of these functions. We were in that awkward post-dinner, pre-party time of day, didn’t really know what to do with ourselves. But lucky for me, Sav is an idea machine and soon we were in throwback city, playing a game from our freshman year of high school… Hangover.

“Hangover” is a simple but competitive game invented by our freshman lunch table, in which the plastic ring is removed from the neck of a Gatorade bottle and flicked back and forth between two players. It’s basically poor man’s ice hockey, except instead of flicking it off the table, the aim is to get it hanging juuust over the edge – hence the name “hangover.” Fourteen years old, and already inventing games and mastering wordplay. Get on our level.

Well, Sav and I did this for approximately two hours. Eventually we had been playing so long we started forgetting our scores, so we started keeping tally with crayons:

My "score" at the end of the game - I won.

My “score” at the end of the game – I won.

The soundtrack of this intense athletic event was, appropriately, a bunch of 80s pop. Heart, the Cars, Madonna. A little Tears for Fears. God I love 80s music…

Anyway, this was a great little 2014 moment I thought I’d remember (ya know, publicly).

A goal: Every so often, I read through the journals I’ve kept so far in my life (unshockingly numerous). Usually I stick with my more competent writing (10th grade onward), which means I tend to forget there is any valuable sentiment in, say, my 11-year-old musings. This is a shame, because when I was eleven, I wrote about how badly I wanted to go down and help the victims of Hurricane Katrina, something I was unable to do at such a young age. I resolved to give my hands to whatever cause I was passionate about, as soon as I was old enough to do it on my own. Well, friends, I am now old enough to do it on my own – I have been for a number of years. But I’m not fulfilling those charitable aspirations I had in my heart as a kid, even though they’re still there.

I realized this the other night, and to be honest I was pretty disappointed in myself. Here I am, privileged, acutely aware of the injustice and hurt all around, with a strong desire to do something about it… and yet I don’t do anything about it. It is very important to me that I change this. If you have any thoughts or suggestions, hey, that’s what the comment section is for – I’m not lying to myself, I know this will be the most challenging goal I’ve made, so any comments are more than welcome.

A song: I am ending this year with my favorite retro find of 2014: “Next to You” by the Police. In all the other Police songs I’ve heard, they lean toward a slower tempo and reggae vibe. Ska? I think they’re missing the horns. I don’t know my music genres. But this song is incredibly high-energy, so much so that its repetitiveness doesn’t bother me in the slightest.

WHAT CAN I DOOOO, ALLIWANTISTOBENEXTTOYOUAAA


Happy New Year, readers far and near. May 2015 be filled with friendship, pizza, great antique finds, good hair days, and lots of songs that make you think. I appreciate all of you.

Movies, Minivans, and Moving Forward

Got that right.

Got that right.

I am semi-bedridden and trying to overcome the unrelenting numbness that comes with the Annual Winter Break Netflix Binge, so what better time to blog? No better time, I say.

Ever since the autumn of my senior year of high school, I have been painfully aware of my age and the inevitability of it increasing. At that time, I experienced what I would call a “pre-quarter life crisis,” which was largely comprised of fits of tears and a short-lived but passionate rejection of our college-going culture. I freaked out because I could see quite clearly the dark and dreary end of my youth and, let’s be real, I’m pretty severely nearsighted. It was coming. I was sure of it. And submitting to the idea of “growing up” would only put the process in fast-forward.

Over the two years since that November, similar “crises” have occurred. When my roommates and I started searching for apartments and putting down deposits last spring, I literally had to come home and sob to my parents because I was like, “nope… nope. TOO REAL.” Leases are for adults, just like taxes and dinner parties and minivans with pop-out DVD players. I didn’t – and I still don’t, sometimes – feel like I was capable of being a fully-functioning adult. I started seeing my life as this trajectory, this exponential graph of sorts, going up and up and up and never coming back down again. It’ll level out eventually, but the line never hits the same point twice. I’ll never get to be a six-year-old rolling down a grassy hill in the sunshine again. I’ll never be a nineteen-year-old lying in bed with a stomachache again. I only get to go forward – actually, I have to go forward. Unless there’s some crazy scientific breakthrough in the next sixty or seventy years, I’m pretty much committed to this forward-moving, never-stopping  life.

Sometimes I feel the time-crunch. Sometimes I don’t. Sometimes I chastise myself for not being completely on top of things, or not being completely sure of myself. Sometimes I remind myself that I have the rest of my life to be mature and sophisticated, to iron my clothes and talk on the phone with ease. All of the time, though, I am aware of my fading childhood, my looming adulthood.

Not too long ago, I watched this movie I had been wanting to see for quite awhile. The Lifeguard, starring Kristen Bell who is adorable and loves sloths. It popped up on Netflix, and I was like YES, this movie is going to comfort me and give me the hope that will guide me through my twenties. The premise is that this 29-year-old girl has a quarter-life crisis and returns to her hometown, and I thought the overarching message of the movie would be “it’s okay to freak out about becoming an adult, and you’ll be okay!!!!!!!!” with exactly that many exclamation points. Uhhhh I was wrong. The movie was awful (except for the way it was filmed, which was lovely) and void of all hope. Kristen Bell’s character just waltzes into town, sleeps with a high-schooler, and almost breaks up a couple marriages. I don’t even remember how it ends because I was so pissed off. And, unsurprisingly, a little discouraged.

And then a couple weeks ago, another movie about a quarter-life crisis that I’d been wanting to see for awhile appeared on Netflix: Frances HaJust by comparing the ratings (92% vs. 13%, respectively), you know Frances Ha is going to be significantly better. And it so is. Greta Gerwig’s Frances is quirky and certainly afraid of all the same things I’m afraid of, but she turns out okay. Further, even, she submits to some of the ideas of adulthood, but she still ends up happy and able to maintain at least some facet of her youthfulness (without wrecking other peoples’ lives… cough cough KRISTEN). It just made me waaay more chilled-out about the next decade or so of my life, possibly even excited? We will see. 🙂

I guess this could all be summed up as so: life is weird, I think too much, and watch Frances Ha. Also, oddly enough, both movies feature a different daughter of Meryl Streep. Looks like Grace wins this round, Mamie.

OH. Also. I’ve spent a lot of my life romanticizing the idea of Peter Pan and Neverland and, predictably, never growing up. But then I started reading the actual book not too long ago, and I realized Peter Pan is kind of a conceited asshole. So there’s that.

Okay. Done now.

Jerry Maguire & Lies

Oh Tom. Why is aging a thing...

Oh Tom. Why is aging a thing…

I’ve been completely wrong about the ending of a movie for like five years, and basically my life is a lie.

I remember the first time I watched Jerry Maguire. I was fourteen. I had just experienced the exhilarating lameness of my first homecoming dance and, despite having spent all of our energy self-consciously hopping around the dirty gym floor, my friends and I decided it would be an excellent idea to stay up till the wee hours of the morning. Since we were (and still are) a pretty tame group of young ladies, we agreed this was probably an appropriate time to exercise our rebellious sides and *gasp* watch some movies with an R-rating and/or a miiiild sex scene (ie, the Notebook). Anyway, Jerry Maguire somehow made it onto that list, probably because Jonathan Lipnicki was the cutest child EVER. We watched, we laughed, we cringed. Whatever.

Roughly five years later (aka six months ago), I suddenly became infected with this late-80s-early-90s Tom Cruise craze: Rain ManTop GunA Few Good MenRisky BusinessCocktail was pretty much the worst movie ever, but I stuck through it for his face and his weird bartender dance. And then I remembered Jerry Maguire, and all I had stored in my memory was this:

  1. Renee Zellweger and Bonnie Hunt being sisters.
  2. SHOW ME THE MONEEEEEY
  3. Pure and unadulterated heartbreak.

For some unknown reason, I love movies that break my heart into a million little pieces. So, I immediately commenced my mission to watch this movie once more. This proved to be more difficult than I had expected, since a) the Netflix people hate me and took it off of instant watch, b) the world is awful and Blockbuster doesn’t exist anymore, and c) I refuse to watch anything illegally on the internet for fear of either getting a virus or getting arrested (I know, I’m melodramatic). I had to wait for it to be on TV, and even then I only caught small snippets of the story, maybe the beginning or the middle. Clearly, I never managed to tune into the end of the movie. Until a few days ago.

See, I thought the story went like this: Dorothy falls in love with Jerry > Jerry thinks he’s in love with Dorothy, but he really just loves having her adorable, spiky-haired child around > they get married > oops, he doesn’t actually love her > everything sucks and my soul shatters like an empty beer bottle hitting the pavement. Classic heartwrenching unrequited love. This is why multiple people in years past have heard me practically sob about how sad Jerry Maguire is. I truly believed there was no happy ending, no satisfying resolution. And frankly, I liked that.

So yes, it surprised me when – spoiler alert – everything ended on a perfectly saccharine and classically Hollywood note. I was like, what? Why isn’t Renee Zellweger crying? Why are they walking through the park, holding hands with her kid? Is this a dream sequence? Hint: not a dream sequence.

I dunno, I’m kind of mad. Partly because I think it should have ended differently and more realistically (changes of heart, I have noticed, are generally not so conveniently timed with people who are assholes), and also, admittedly, because I have been imagining the wrong ending this whole. damn. time. Blerg? Blerg.

Happy December to all – even Tom Cruise.

PS: I still love the movie so yeah.

That one time I tried to be a poet.

We all go through the phase – there’s no use in denying it. Maybe it lasts a week, maybe it lasts a couple years. In my case, poetic/lyrical inspiration comes and goes sporadically, like an unreliable boyfriend, resulting in not one but multiple stages in which I have tried to, ya know, be an incredibly deep and thoughtful person.

When I was about ten, I got into songwriting. Like, really got into it. I knew nothing about it, but I knew how to use the word “ain’t” (popular in the early 2000’s) and I knew enough words to make some KILLER RHYMES BRUH. So I put the sparkly pink gel pen to paper and got down to business. The result? This. As I once explained to my friend, I was totally willing to sacrifice basic biology for a crappy rhyme.

Cat got my tongue, I’m too young

To be put through this.

It feels I got stung right there in the lung,

(talking) you know, where the heart is?

That song, titled “It’s My Life,” was my pride and joy, the feather in my cap. That is, until I wrote the hit “I Fell Off My Snowman,” which was about the time I decided to get a piggyback ride from a five-foot-tall mound of snow and – surprisingly – fell off of my snowman. I remember it word for word; I have even retained the tune. Frankly, it sounds like a really awful country song, so no, you are never going to hear it.

After that foray into the vast world of verse and rhyme, I took a little break and focused on more important things, like making dioramas for my plastic lizard to live in and writing travel guides for places I had never even visited. Obviously, I was just your average eleven-year-old girl. Who’s Britney Spears? What’s a boyfriend?

Anyway, the next wave of creativity did not crash over me until a few years ago. Yeah, I wrote the occasional song about “party time” when I was in middle school, but they were probably all just glorified re-worded High School Musical songs. See? I don’t even remember them. What I do remember, though, is my year-long obsession with writing haiku and my brief and barely-productive love affair with the sonnet. I seriously wrote one sonnet, maybe two, but ohhhh man was I a proud little sonnet-writer. The number of haiku I wrote, on the other hand – innumerable. And I wrote them everywhere and about everything. I’m 99% sure I wrote a haiku about tapirs. Evidently, it got a little out of hand.

Not until this year did I discover the endless possibilities of free verse poetry. No rhyme scheme? No meter? Sweet deal. I’ll just sit out on my roof in the moonlight and write about love on some gold-edged paper. In that situation it’s impossible to avoid profound metaphors, like someone’s soul looking like the dregs in the bottom of your teacup. God I’m deep.

Well, this has been a delightful little break from essays and studying and thinking. Anyone else have any funny stories about attempts at poetry or songwriting? I always enjoy laughing at other people.