Saturday, November 22, 2014

What They Don't Tell You About Being (Almost) 30.

In a few weeks, I turn the big 3-0.  I know.  I know.  Thee most significant event that has ever happened in the course of human history.  Duh, that's why I am blawging about it...

Okay, so yeah, not actually a big deal. It's just that 30 has always been my: I'll have it together by then age.  Which has now been (safely) bumped to 100. I'll have it together by 100 and I will enjoy for three blissful seconds before I die.

Anyways, as I approach this vague milestone, I've been reflecting a lot: on expectations, on past iterations of myself, and how many fleece lined sweatpants I will purchase before I've decided I really have enough (3 and counting).  You know.  The usual stuff.

And I've decided that what they don't necessarily tell you about 30 or maybe what you don't believe about 30 until you get there is...

It feels really, really good.

Identity is such a strange thing: it is as rigid as it is malleable.  It's like metal in that way. I've basically been the same person all my life, except for all the fine grooves and dents and alloyed markers that give me shape, ensuring that while compositionally still same, I am really not the same at all.

Every year I feel a little more settled in my frame: I become less selfish, less neurotic, less unsure, less willing to yield to anything that will disrupt the placidity.  I love better, I cook better, I write better; I become more articulate, clever, and thoughtful.  It's fabulous.

I remember when I was eighteen, sitting at the picnic tables behind my high school, watching the cowl of morning mist over the wooded hills and scribbling what was totally going to my first novel in my green Five Star Notebook. Remember Five Star?  #nostalgia.

I remember feeling good: feeling like I knew who I was and what I believed and what I wanted.  And I am sure at that moment, compared with the awkwardness and paranoia of adolescence, I did feel good.

But honestly, home girl didn't know from good.

And I certainly didn't know how much better it would get.  Because even though I don't "have it together" in the way that I had maybe initially envisioned at 30, I'm getting there.  And once more, I don't feel the pressure of not "having it together" like I used to or I am at least discerning enough now not let it consume me like it once did.

At various points in my life 30 was the age when I would have my PhD, have a family, have a book deal, have a record deal, have a house, travel the world and make my mark on it.  Arguably, I haven't done any of those things, but I don't feel unaccomplished.

At 30, I've learned to cherish what I actually have in a really profound way.  I think less about what I don't have or what I haven't done.  I compare myself less to those around me.

Of course, I can't be sure how much of this stems from being 30 and how much of it comes from loss. But I will never really know what it's like to be 30 without that.

You won't hear me echo that refrain that so often punctuates the musings on hardship--I wouldn't have it any other way--because I would give literally give anything to have things be different (at least in that respect). But they can't be, so it's not worth dwelling on.

At 30, it's generally easier to let things go.

And in one last note, as we edge towards Thanksgiving and Christmas, the season that begs us, at least in spirit, to remember what we are grateful for, I wanted to let you all know how much I am grateful for you: for reading, for listening, for offering support and kindness and everything I needed but never wanted to ask for during these last few months.

Thank you.  You are so valued (and I am sure, not just by me).

Unless you are Justin Beaver, in which case, no one likes you.

And that's another thing about 30.  Your hangovers are harder (so enjoy them while you can, kiddies) and you are much more susceptible to sentimental pap.

Or maybe it's just me.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Things I've Noticed:

-Despite how much I lament my hair styling impotency, despite how many beautiful hair tutorials I post on my Hairy Carey pinterest wall and fancy styling creams I purchase on amazon and subsequently justify with free two day shipping, I will always always always opt to sleep an extra 30 minutes over getting up and testing out a new coiffure. Nope it'll be remedial bun, ponytail, or side braid for me. To infinity and beyond.

-Walking outside on a warm fall night has always filled me with a sense of anticipation but for what, I am never quite sure.

-I always get the urge to blog on Wednesday but typically don't follow through with it until Friday.

-But a quick look through my archive would reveal that I actually might not have a handle on my blogging habits...

-Naming the pig that is part of Moses' experiment at work was a bad idea.

-Moses hasn't mentioned Wilbur in weeks.

-Wilbur is probably dead.

-The week goes by quicker when a holiday falls on a Tuesday.

-I've seen more commercials for Joanne Fabrics this week than I have in my entire life.

-I used to think that Joanne Fabrics was a really quaint place to buy gifts for people.

-It's really not.

-Even though I know they'll be hard, I am starting to feel excited about the holidays.

-Starbucks busting out their holiday-themed cups had absolutely nothing to with this.

-I'm a consumer whore.

-Tom Hanks puts the same olive into his martini twice in the movie You've Got Mail #maybethecontinuitysupervisorwasinthebathroom?

-I have definitely not seen that movie too many times.

-Being almost 30 feels so much better than being almost 20.

-Except that my feet and lower back hurt more.

-When in doubt, add coconut oil to your dessert recipe and it will turn out grand.

-Use the word "grand" on a regular basis and people will think you are affected.

-Conversations you overhear in art museums will always sounds like something out of a Portlandia sketch.

-Other people in art museums rival other people in grocery stores for being the worst.

-When vaguely promising to yourself that you will slim down for your wedding and then changing literally nothing about your eating or exercising habits, don't be surprised when the results are spectacular.

-Nothing is more inspiring for a work out than the thought of rewarding yourself with a glass of wine and a brownie right after it.

-Our radiators click on at seemingly random times.  This bodes well for winter.

-I have written so many variations of this type of post before that it's ridiculous.

-You won't notice.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Growing Back Those Parts of You

This won't be a long post.  I am tired.  I have a soup that needs stirring.  I have calories that need working off from the big bad indulgent lunch I had yesterday because it was Wednesday and, you know, who cares about life?  So.  Cursory is what you shall get, love.

There is so much about grief that is unexpected.  How inexplicably good you feel some days, how wretchedly you feel the next.  How swiftly time passes yet drags its laden heels: months feel like eons yet somehow you still can't believe that tomorrow is Friday and wasn't it just Sunday when you were baking muffins and watching out the window as the snowflakes bulged and melted before they hit the ground?

I am even surprised sometimes by my own adaptability and resilience.  It makes me feel guilty--as if I am acclimating too quickly.  As if there were such a thing when it comes to simply surviving.

But I think what I find most startling about all of this is my loss of sympathy.

I am a deeply compassionate person by nature.  If three months ago you sat with me over a cup of coffee and told me of your sick dog or career hurdles or relationship vexations, I would have listened patiently, I would have felt for you, I would have offered words of comfort and encouragement.

But now whenever I hear stories of other's struggles, I mostly feel nothing.  Or worse, I feel contempt.  Oh boohoo, you dropped your keys in the dumpster, well my brother died.

I know this is a ludicrous reaction.  For many reasons, not the least of which because I know what that feels like--I have definitely dropped my keys into the dumpster before and it sucks--it is day-ruiningly frustrating.

Sure it's troublesome--I don't want to be a sociopath--but I know it's not permanent.  I try to cut myself some slack and remember that I lost a lot of things when I lost my brother and that, eventually, those parts of me will grow back and be mostly the same as they were.  And that's okay.

In the meantime, I am going to choose empathy.  It's not always easy and it's not as instinctive as it used to be, but it's important I remember that my hurt is not the worst hurt, that it's not a competition, that just because I am hurting doesn't mean that it's any less annoying for someone else when the washing machine overflows.

I am not posting this to be preachy or smug or piteous.  I am mostly posting this as a reminder to myself for the times when I need it.

So that's what's up with me.  How are you?

Monday, November 3, 2014

Things I (Surprisingly) Like

There are a lot of things I am not terribly keen on: black licorice, J├Ągermeister (incidentally because it tastes like black licorice), crop tops, books that are cultural phenomenons (minus Harry Potter, of course), Nicki Minaj songs, most top-forty songs (minus Tswift, of course), people who use poor grammar, people who always correct other people's grammar, other people in general at Trader Joe's...I could keep going but we would literally be here for the rest of your life (because clearly, I plan on outliving you).  And that's another one: people who misuse the word literally.  Anyways, whenever my immediate, knee jerk reaction to something is not "this is the worst," it's always good, if not a little unexpected, especially when it is something that falls squarely outside the traditional range of the Wendy-likey spectrum.  Gross. Control X.  Cut from memory.

Okay, we can begin now.

1. This cover of "Once Upon a Dream" by Lana Del Rey

I am not normally a fan of Lana Del Rey, or the original version of this song for that matter but this cover randomly snuck into my auditory system via Pandora on the train ride home from work one day (and no, I totally wasn't listening to my "Colors of the Wind" radio station) and I gotta say...I didn't hate it.  I know, I was surprised too.  I even listened to it again later that evening. Crazier still.  I find the haunting, dream-like quality of it to be quite pleasant and the vocals--though a little sleepy (maybe that was a conscious choice given the subject matter?)--to be fairly decent. Will I add to my list of all-time favorite jams? Um, no.  That is reserved solely for Queen and Tswift.

Good lord, off to an inauspicious start. Like always.

2. House Hunters

I doubt it will come as a shock that I like this show--I mean, have you met me? Reality TV and I are soulmates--BUT, it may come as surprise that I had actually never seen an episode of this show until October of this year, when they uploaded a whole collection of them on netflix and now...I'm officially obsessed. I even managed to work in some house hunter vernacular--crown molding and built-in--into a conversation about someone's apartment recently and felt really impressed with myself.

3. Weyerbacher Imperial Pumpkin Ale

Call off the search, I've finally found the ultimate heavy weight pumpkin ale champion.  It's a little difficult to find (not in the two liquor stores near my apartment=difficult to find) but it was totally worth the two week wait of having my sister buy it for me and hold on to it until our car was fixed so that I could go and pick it up from her so I wouldn't have to awkwardly lug it around on the T.

It tops nearly everyone's best pumpkin ale list, which is no surprise because it essentially tastes like pumpkin pie flavored beer, which is precisely everything I always wanted.

4. Fleece-lined Tights

Living in Los Angeles for the past seven years has turned me into a dress-wearing all year round type of gal, so you can imagine my level of disgruntlement at the prospect of abandoning this upon moving back to the East Coast, since winter and wind chills makes this type of lifestyle seem, how shall I put this?...less sustainable.  I remember my sister and I would sometimes wear wool tights back in our elementary school days but my initial googling for such a product yielded less than compelling results. thanks.

It seems that within the past 20 years or so there has been a trending away from wool tights toward fleecier pastures and reader, I could not be happier about this.  I found these at urban outfitters for $16 and they are a-mazing.  The quality to price ratio here is in stark contrast to much of their clothing, which is a whopping $60+ for what looks like a garment sewn by rhesus monkeys. And we all know what terrible sewers they are [actual evidence to support this pending.] 

5. Ponchos

From Forever 21 (although I am edging in on Forever 30...)

Sure they are a little Clint Eastwood from The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly, but to be fair, I base most of my fashion choices on him.  That's where I got my crotchety old man uniform I now wear daily.

Actual picture of me from this past Sunday. Complete with scowl.

6. This cartoon

I am not typically a fan of this sort of thing.  But the "recently became friends with Bird" got me.

7. Instagram

What is this? 2010?  Yeah, yeah, yeah.  I'm a little tardy to this party but, after a period of some serious ambivalence, I've finally decided that I do in fact like this whole instagram thing. Although you won't see me posting selfies of myself on the T like my 20-something counterparts (my artistic dream is to take an inappropriate selfie with someone taking an inappropriate selfie in the background), I've managed to find the enjoyment in selecting a picture from my camera roll, slapping a vintagey looking filter on it, and basking in the validation I get when people admire my heavily edited, photogenic life (where my cowlick is only marginally visible).

Go see for yourself at wkozak1.   Yes, my originality for screen names knows no bounds.  I'll give you one guess as to what it is for pinterest and literally every other online account that I have...

I'll give you a hint: it's not zzzzzzzzzzz84, but for the level of effort I put into it, it probably should be.

8. Spiced Apple Pie

My Polish grandmother used to make the best apple pie, but like most of her recipes, she didn't write it down because written recipes are for noobs.  Newbs?  Nubes? Whatever the cool kids are calling it these days. 

Probably for this reason, I have never been able to find an apple pie recipe that I like.  They are either too buttery or too plain or too fill in the blank.  After our grand apple picking adventure at Lookout Farms a couple of weekends ago (side note: this place is one of the longest running farms in New England, which you would think bodes well for it, but what doesn't is the four dollar sign expense rating it has on yelp.  I originally assumed that this was a mistake because, to put this in perspective, Top Chef head judge Tom Colicchio's restaurant Craft in LA has four dollar signs.  What kind of u-pick farm would have four dollar signs? Am I right?  Wrong. So. wrong.  We had to pay an entrance fee and a u-pick fee and as I don't particularly enjoy tyranny I will likely not be returning), when our volume of apples ballooned to an overwhelming figure, Moses and I decided it was high time to do some much needed apple-related baking, so we googled around and found this recipe, which ended up being shockingly good. (No pictures for this one, we eated it all of it.)

Hmm...that's pretty much all I got.  But Wendy, you ask, why are your lists never normal numbers? Can't you think of two other things you like to round this off?  Nope.  Sorry.  Not happening. And don't expect another blog post any time soon, either.  I can only manage unconventionally numbered lists and bi-monthly entries.  It's just who I is.

And if you can't tell by the level of sass, I am starting to feel a little more and more like myself each day.