December 7, 2011 § Leave a comment
Rushing. Annoying holiday music. Endless gifts to wrap and tips to give. Deals to close. Pushing through the crushing crowds on the streets. Social things to plan and always feeling behind. Very behind.
So now you know: I am a Grinch when it comes to the Most Wonderful Time of the Year.
I blame the culture. Expectations are impossibly high and you can’t help but feel like everyone else has figured out how to enjoy the season in ways that you could not possibly achieve. And while my Holiday Edition Excel spreadsheet does keep me pretty organized, it does not keep me in the moment. No spreadsheet can do that — only the discipline to take a deep breath and slow it all down. I am going to give it a try this year. I hope you do, too.
(Photo of our vintage ornament tree at the beach from 2010: Some Cozy Night)
September 21, 2011 § 2 Comments
I am writing this as a group of men are using very loud equipment to chip off the existing facade of my house. (It will then be replaced, I sincerely hope.) Getting to the “destruction” phase of this project has highlighted how much knowledge one can amass over time that is not necessarily something that you would pass on to younger generations unless you made a point of remembering to do so. And since I probably won’t be writing a book on the topic of Managing Your Life, I thought I’d put some of it down here.
So here we go!
Don’t get too set on marrying your college sweetheart. True, I know of three couples that met in college and are still happily together, but the odds are not in your favor. Try to think of these relationships as Starter Marriages Without the Paperwork and carry on.
Also, enjoy the insane amount of time you have with your friends now…it gets harder and harder as you get older to find enough hours in the day. And I know people say this all the time, but that is because it is true.
This is a good time to start getting into the habit of keeping things tidy and organized. Sure, it can be fun to ignore all housekeeping rules you lived under as a kid for the first few months out on your own, so do what you must to feel “free”. But after a bit, really, make your bed, do your laundry (and put it away), keep your bathroom clean, dust and, for Pete’s sake, WIPE UP THE CRUMBS. These are good habits to develop now so that you don’t have One of Those Houses later in life.
When you leave the house, try not to look like La Sonnambula. (Although, that is a lovely costume in the ballet.) Dressing with purpose gives you a little lift. Also, I can’t be alone in appreciating the effort when someone is dressed like they care. In fact, I know this to be true, since shopkeepers and the like will almost always treat you better when you are dressed properly. This isn’t about expensive or trendy…it is about pride and good manners.
Also, regarding women’s shoes, a possibly earth-shattering bit of information: A pair of nude-colored shoes are a better investment than a pair of black ones. Neutral goes with everything; black goes with very little. Trust me on this one and spend wisely. Same with handbags and the like. Although I tend to like purple for evening bags. But that could just be me.
It has been my experience that I never regretted spending my hard-earned dollars being generous or doing the Right Thing, if that makes any sense. Just make sure it comes out of your “nice to have” budget and not the “essentials” portion.
Now You’re Really In It
Seriously, the best part of my wedding (aside from getting hitched to Mr. H) was going down the aisle and seeing all those smiling faces of the people in attendance to celebrate with us. So, whichever end of the aisle you are at, take a moment to take it all in, as I am pretty sure you will remember it for the rest of your life.
Also, figuring out the seating plan at a wedding will make you feel like a Ninja when you are done. Keep in mind what you have learned and put it to good use at dinner parties and the like later.
So, you now “own this piece of s***”, as Samantha Jones once said to Carrie. Congratulations and my condolences. It is going to be great and a lot of work. Please, for your own happiness and sanity…
– Test paint on each wall before you do the entire room. ON the walls…in big, wide strips.
– Be patient when decorating. Rushing often leads to wasted money.
– Appointments with home care professionals are always “tentative” on their end. This is especially true for Electricians, HVAC Servicemen, and The Cable Guy. As such, schedule several on one day so it isn’t a complete waste when one or two don’t show. (And don’t drink too much water on these days for obvious reasons…)
– Believe and live “Cheap is Expensive”, since it is.
– Know that you will probably spend more time waiting for your new windows to come in than you will spend finding your dream job, perfect mate or even that perfect place to live. (Which will probably need to have the windows replaced.)
Catherine Deneuve is believed to have said that when it comes to aging, you have “to choose between your a** and your face”. I don’t know if this is true, as my a** pretty much has a mind of its own. But I do know that if you haven’t been, you should start getting very serious about skin care. Moisturize (everywhere!!) and be careful in the sun from here on out.
OMG, There’s More???
You are no longer young enough to be completely carefree, and you are too old for hooey. So I say do only what you have to, what pleases you and what you feel like trying on for size.
Since you probably don’t have much time for gardening and arranging flowers, it might be comforting to know that you can get an orchid to bloom again. I know because I have done it myself and it is easy: After the first round of blooms have died off, cut that stem down by about 50% below the nearest notch and just let it be in not-so-direct sun. It takes a while, but when they do bloom you won’t believe how fresh an orchid can be.
I used to throw bigger parties (think 40 – 50 people), but realized that I never got to spend time with anyone and was exhausted by the end. So now I keep it to between four and ten guests, create a menu that does not require a lot of time and attention, and set a table that looks inviting but not “table-scaped”. (Is there a more stupid entertaining trend? Avoid.) Also, for weekends with guests that inevitably include lengthy, wine-soaked dinners that frequently start with cocktails and end with nightcaps, water glasses must be full at all times. And, it does not hurt to keep individual coconut waters on hand for everyone before bed and in the morning.
Generally, it is never as good or as bad as you think it is going to be. And, more importantly, you never know what “it” is going to be, no matter how much planning, imagining or worrying you do. So it simply isn’t productive to obsess over what could happen. (This is a Development Area for me.)
It does not take a lot of time to have a little fun. So make sure that you do.
(Photo of a rather sensible shoe: Some Cozy Night)
January 7, 2011 § Leave a comment
The World over-promised on Adulthood.
All I ever heard about was staying up as late as I wanted and eating whatever I wanted and generally doing whatever I wanted. A very attractive proposition. I could not wait to be one. As a Marketing type, I am impressed. As an Adult, I feel a little deceived.
My biggest gripe of late regarding Adulthood’s purported benefits involves the “Set Your Own Bedtime” feature. Now that I am no longer 20, I have no desire or ability to stay up as late as I want without repercussions. I wish I could go to bed at 8:30 or 9:00 at night…but no.
If it isn’t my own schedule that keeps me up way past my bedtime — I have determined that I am a Nine Hour Girl — it is the things running around in my head that keep from actually sleeping. Last night I could not fall asleep on account of a man on the phone who just start yelling at me before I had a chance to say anything except “Hi! I placed an order about an hour ago”. Telling him he was being very rude in my best Emily Gilmore* voice helped some, but I still could not get it out of my head and myself off to dreamland until well past midnight. (And Fresh Direct was coming at 6:30AM!) There would most definitely be repercussions.
What to do?
Well, in the spirit of making something positive out of something utterly negative, here are some things that seem to work for me when I am certain that I am never going to fall asleep — EVER:
1) Bitch and moan for a while.
Even if it is just to yourself. OK, this isn’t positive, but it does sometimes make me feel better. The key is to not do it for too long, I guess. Otherwise, you risk becoming a cliché, especially if you are a New Yorker. (This does happen to be a Development Area for me.)
2) Listen to an Audiobook
The more New Age-y, the better. Seriously, this stuff knocks me right out. I imagine that Richard Feynman lectures would produce similar effect.
3) Warm Milk with Honey
THIS REALLY WORKS. I don’t know if the chemical reaction is at play for me, or just the idea of drinking warm milk and honey that produces that warm and fuzzy frame of mind that makes it easier to nod off. Whatever. I recommend.
Things I DON’T recommend based on actual, not infrequent experience:
1) Watching television
Nothing good can come of this. One time, I actually found myself viewing The Jersey Shore — the episode where one girl punches another. (Or does that happen in every episode?) A cautionary tale, no?
2) Going on the Internet
Even just to see if I have posted anything…or what is going on over at Facebook. Again, you will be up forever and may wind up purchasing that really lovely coat you wanted but thought was impractical and too expensive when you were in better control of your faculties.
3) Counting Sheep
If you are at all Type A, this could be mildly dangerous. I mean, shouldn’t the sheep be lined up all nice and orderly? And are they fenced in? And what if one of them hurts themselves while jumping over the fence?? No, this isn’t a way to quiet the mind. Pure hooey.
And that is all I have for today. Baaa.
*Emily Gilmore: Mother of Lorelai Gilmore on one of my all-time favorite television shows, The Gilmore Girls. The Anna Wintour of Television Mothers, but with tons more to say and much more conservative clothes.