Curiouser & Curiouser

Life’s short. Get curious.

On the Irksome Nature of 3-D Posters February 27, 2010

Filed under: happiness,life,thoughts — curiouserx2 @ 7:05 pm
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So I’m the poorest I’ve been in a very long time – so what? I’m not sunk yet, and somehow I just keep floating. And if I try very hard, I can remember when times were even worse. Times when I washed my clothes in the bathtub for lack of laundromat quarters, times when I cut my own hair and sold my CD’s and clothes (and almost my plasma – I finally got up the courage to try it and the clinic was closed that day. I took that as a sign). Days on end of eating the same three things in varying order (oatmeal, pasta, and $1.99 frozen entrees). I’ve not been reduced to any of that yet, so it can’t be all that bad, can it?

The restaurant has opened (softly, not grandly – they’re waiting a week or two to get the kinks out), but the money’s not rolling in just yet. So I’m biding my time and biting my nails, putting my faith in a fantastic concept and putting off certain bills as long as possible.

And how to not only avoid misery, but actually maintain a certain level of happiness? Joy, even?? How about kung-fu breaks in the office with Jeff, playing hide and seek with the cats (or fetch – Pip could put any retriever to shame), taking endless pictures and trying my damnedest to make them vibrant, to capture a certain joie de vivre. How about jumping on the bed and getting outdoors as the weather turns and actively seeking out the beautiful things in life that come to us absolutely free of charge the moment we arrive in this world?

For starters, anyway.

I was not always this way. You need look only a few years back into my life to discover a girl so jaded and dark and inwardly gloomy and borderline macabre you wouldn’t recognize her as me. I couldn’t pinpoint an exact moment of revelation, an event that spun me around, gave me a soft pat on the back and sent me on my way back to optimism. Instead, I think change came in the amalgamation of certain people that entered my life, certain others who departed and a conscious decision to see things in a different light. And the minute you decide you want to see the world as beautiful and full of possibilities again, it’s like someone whips a dark cloth off of it, the magician’s reveal! Turns out it was there all along.

This is not to say I never backslide. It’s like viewing one of those 3-D posters in the mall. I used to have a really hard time seeing them as well. I’d try to relax my gaze, to stare through the poster, to screw up my eyes – all to no avail. Then one day, flipping through a coffee table book a friend owned, three dolphins suddenly burst forth from the page. The reveal! Still – every time I come across these, I have to put forth some effort to make the image appear.

I don’t know if times of strife make it difficult to put in the necessary effort, or if we work against ourselves, giving in to the desire to wallow. Self-pity seems to be a natural human temptation in hard times, and also a horribly counterproductive trap. The way I see it, it’s okay to feel frustration, anger, fear and even sadness – to feel it, recognize it, understand it.  And then overcome it. Too often we let ourselves stop at the  feeling part. And you can feel yourself right into a black hole if you’re not careful.

Such a random post today! Apologies, but I’ve had quite a bit on my mind today and for the past couple of weeks and I’ve just sort of unloaded it all, created a bit of a dumping ground on the page today.

Chin up, everyone. Relax the eyes, soften the gaze – it’s all right in front of you.

 

Ghost of Valentine’s Day Past February 13, 2010

Filed under: dating,guys,love,Special Occasions,thoughts — curiouserx2 @ 11:20 pm
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Cartoon by xkcd (http://www.xkcd.com)

Going through my old clip files from my days at the college paper, I came across one of my weekly columns (mine ran every Monday and was entitled “Carpe Diem, Baby” – some things never change…). This one in particular took aim at Valentine’s Day and I thought it only appropriate to share my view on this annual ritual, circa 2003 (do keep in mind that I was quite single at this point, and possibly a little harsh on my fellow females. Still – my heart was in the right place):

Monday, Febraury 3, 2003

Girls, you ought to be ashamed.

Exploiting your loved one on Valentine’s Day is not something to be proud of. And yet, as this day to end all dreadful days approaches, I see both greed and shallowness heading up its approach.

The other day I was in the kitchen doing what some might call cooking (I like “scorching” or “charring” as alternatives) when suddenly I was bombarded by Valentines Day ads on the radio. The three-minute onslaught included everything from candies to restaurants to fine jewelry.

Then later, hanging out in the dining pavilion, three girls seated at an adjacent table initiated the pre-Valentine’s Day rites for which females have become notorious. These include giddy speculations regarding the kinds of gifts and adornments that might be showered upon them this year, as well as much reminiscing about past offerings from their respective admirers: sparkly baubles, flowers, nights on the town… what more could a girl ask for?

Umm…. how about… love?

Last time I checked, Valentine’s Day was about love and expressing that love to someone special. Do we really lack so much imagination that we can’t express love without purchasing something?

Men agonize about the tradition of gift giving, unsure of how much to spend, what to spend it on and whether or not they will meet the expectations of their significant females.

Not to mention they’re held prisoner by a nasty double standard. Along with Sweetest Day (two words: card. companies.), whose date every woman seems to have etched into her brain the minute she ceases to be single, Valentine’s Day is a tango danced by the retail industry and the male population.

In a recent poll performed by the National Retail Federation, surveyors concluded that guys typically shell out four times more than their loved one. The average male will spend $158 while his other half will dig deep into her pockets for a whopping $36.

This scarcely comes as a shock. It’s more than socially acceptable for a man to foot the bill for diamonds and dinner while women wrap themselves in a bow and squeal, “Here I am!”

Yep, her we are ladies. In the 21st century, finally reaping some of the benefits of the feminist movement, and yet we’re still playing the game of “Let’s be equal when it’s fun and convenient and leave the rest to the men.”

But don’t despair for our misguided gender just yet.

There is still hope.

Valentine’s Day needs a makeunder, a chance to get back to its roots. I’m not saying we should all bust out shrines to St. Valentine plot clandestine marriages in honor of said Roman priest.

But I do propose a challenge to all couple out there to nix the gifts this year. At least the store-bought variety.

Boycott the chocolatiers and jewelry counters. Shun the retail industry, stand on their display cases and scream at the top of your lungs, “You will leach off my love no longer!”

Grab that sweetheart of yours and vow to spend some quality time together. You’ll find a little imagination can create an unforgettable day.

And if creativity is not your forte, eHow, a website promoting healthy relationships, has a few suggestions.

Guys, leaving little notes around the house or in her car is a great way to build anticipation for a special night together. Or, paint a message of love on her lawn (just be sure to use water soluble, non-toxic paint, lest your eternal love be eternally seared into her front yard).

For the ladies, try a candle-lit bedroom with a picnic for two laid out on the bed. Steer clear of both soup and fondue for this one.

Whether you get fancy or get down to basics, it’s the expression of love and wanting to be together that’s important.

So, curl up together by the fire, get lost in a three-hour conversation, or (and eHow gets takes the prize for cheese on this one) watch the sunset and promise each other your love will burn longer than the sun (you may now gag).

But seriously, this year let’s take the retail out of romance.

 

When I Grow Up February 2, 2010

Filed under: adulthood,life,thoughts — curiouserx2 @ 9:39 pm
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Still playing dress-up

When you’re 8 years old, precocious, imaginative, terrible at math but “gifted and talented,” as likely to spend your play time choreographing modern dance performances in your bedroom as videotaping your latest episode of “Tiffy and Stacey” (in which your 6-year-old brother plays endearing fashionista/valley girl Tiffy), never for one moment do you think that at the age of 28 you’ll be between waiting jobs, down to your last 25 dollars and asking your parents to help you make it through the next week or two.

No. You thought you’d be an actress on Broadway (or at least just Off-) or a movie director or a magazine editor or a creative director or an author. Or at least you knew you’d be something extraordinary. It was expected. So the moment you admit to yourself that your current situation doesn’t even amount to ordinary is both a breakthrough and a horrible concession.

The bad news is your original path was leading you away from all of the other things that are important to you (stability, comfort, family). The good news it, you don’t have to scrap it entirely. While your instinct is to admit defeat, it’s possible that your game plan just needs a serious reality check and some major alterations.

Jeff and I had a long talk the other night (the f@#$-up scene from “Away We Go” comes to mind – if you haven’t seen this movie yet, do yourself a great favor and check it out) and took a good hard look at our priorities. The next few years are going to happen very quickly, and how we handle them will impact the direction of the rest of our lives. But, you know, no pressure.

What does all of this mean? It means I can still have an affair with my Nikon, but I can’t put it on a pedestal and act as though it’s my answer to financial salvation. This is not to say I still couldn’t make a career of it someday, but I’ve been creatively experimenting since the day I graduated from college and at some point the time has come to sideline your creativity into an extracurricular activity and push yourself in a more responsible direction. I’m not prepared to take sides with the creative life if it means giving up things like – well, children. At this point we’re so broke we can’t even think about getting married.

I won’t ever be a nine-to-five, cubicle dwelling girl. I know this. But there are plenty of positions that, while I never wanted to take them seriously in the past, I can do and probably do well. I’ve spent the good part of 6 years in a restaurant. For the right establishment, I’m sure I’d make a great manager. Hell, I’m strangely good at hospitality in general and I live in a tourist town. There’s no reason I shouldn’t seriously consider these things.

No reason besides my pride. And pride can turn you into a 30-year-old waitress with a shallow bank account and never-ending credit card debt without batting a lash.

For me, for Jeff and for our future, I choose reality. It may be sobering, but it’s only dismal if you make it so.