Burning Bras: An Exploratory

My bra broke at work last week. The underwire for one of the cups just became two pieces, making me uncomfortably aware of how much bras squish boobs into specific shapes. Mostly because before I realized it was broken I was doing the squishing and maneuvering and getting frustrated. It’s no wonder the cup snapped as well.

But it’s got me thinking about this whole bra thing. Women have a love/hate relationship with bras. They can do amazing things for your breasts, but at what cost?

I assume the root purpose of a bra is to keep the boobs in place, contain them, keep them on lock down, so they don’t go wildly bouncing around at inappropriate moments. Bras are insurance that I don’t accidentally become an unpaid floor show.

And yet. Apparently they serve many more purposes. Otherwise we wouldn’t have water bras, push-up bras, bras that can hold wine, bras with memory foam (memory foam!), and bras that defy all kinds of gravity on your behalf. It’s that fine line for women between sex object and functioning human. Or sexy human. Or objective human. Or something.

Side note, it is almost impossible to buy a utilitarian, comfortable bra that is also pretty. It’s just not a thing. You either have to be pretty and uncomfortable, or comfortable and blah.

Come on, world.

Feminism has long been linked with women burning bras which although false, feels true given the resentment women have toward the contraption. Remember seeing those cone bras of the past? Like that was a natural shape for a woman.

One of the bras I bought (online) to replace the one that broke was so difficult to get into and out of that I almost needed a second pair of hands. Like choking, trying to get a bra off is one of those times where you’re aware of how helpless you are when you live alone.

There’s also the bras that make you feel somehow fat when you try them on. As if an improperly fit bra means your boobs are too fat. Please. But it’s there, isn’t it? It’s when the cup doesn’t fit right, or when the band of the sports bra rolls up on you. Suddenly you’re this monstrosity who doesn’t deserve a properly fitting bra because you’re too big for this world.

The amount of loathing you can feel toward an object increases when it seems that object is judging you by breaking, trapping you, or making you feel worse about yourself. If women ever have burned bras it’s not because they’re making a stand against the patriarchal oppression of the system, it’s because historically, bras suck.

I’ll let you in on a little secret: the best bras are the front closure ones. These feel like you’re slinging on a detective’s gun shoulder holster when you get ready. For about ten seconds it’s like you can confront the world.

Outside of that? Bras are mostly a lot like life. Kind of uncomfortable, kind of ill-fitting, and kind of hard to get working in the morning when you’re half asleep.

Saps and Cynics

That guy is either the dumbest, stupidest, most imbecilic idiot in the world, or else he’s the grandest thing alive. I can’t make him out.

— Babe from Mr. Deeds Goes to Town

Mr. Deeds Goes to Town is the most recent Frank Capra movie I’ve had the pleasure to view. And despite stiff competition, it’s now my favorite.

For anyone unfamiliar with the story (this does include those who have seen Adam Sandler’s Deeds), Mr. Deeds Goes to Town is the story of a simple, small-town man who inherits millions and moves to a big city where he is quickly swarmed by greedy vultures eager to take advantage of his backwoods ways. This includes a scheming, quick-witted, jaded reporter, unfortunately named “Babe”, (Jean Arthur) who finds herself won over by his kind, open, earnest perspective.

What happens when Longfellow Deeds realizes he’s just out to be had? Will Deeds be just another victim of the greedy? Or is it possible he can turn the entire system on its head, changing hearts and minds in the process?

I’m sure that for a lot of people it qualifies as Norman Rockwell schmaltz. And indeed, I could accuse Mr. Capra of a lot of sentimental drivel, but to do so would be undercutting the story and the performers.

I didn’t root for Longfellow Deeds because the camera shot his profile well, but because of the way he turned a snob on his head. I rooted for him because he’s curious and joyous and compassionate.

I didn’t fall in love with Deeds because the music swelled when he spoke, I fell in love with him when he slid down the banister in his mansion and tickled his finger along the instep of the statue at the bottom. I very much fell in love with Gary Cooper.

I didn’t cry when Babe read Deed’s poem because the poem was exceptional, but because Jean Arthur was exceptional.

Perhaps I’m a sap and always have been, but what Capra gets right over and over and over again, is that the saps who seem like easy prey to the world are the strongest of champions in the world. It’s the truest of paradoxes, the weak things of this world overcoming the strong, the humble Davids overcoming the world’s Goliaths.

Which is not to say we should forget the cynics. No, Capra found a use for them and so do I. We need cynics. We need those people of critical intellect who devote huge portions of time to ferreting out those who are fake, vile, who are hypocrisy themselves. It’s these cynics who live in the soot and darkness of public spheres who serve the purpose of refining the rough diamonds.

In two of Capra’s movies it’s Jean Arthur who does the dirty work of putting the diamond under a bit of pressure. She’s so used to the double talk and the false advertising that she doesn’t see a gem when she’s in front of one.

But look what she does when she steps back and sees the thing for what it is, after all her abuses (intended or accidental) begin to reveal the quality of what is underneath rather than crushing it. It’s the cynics who must rally the troops, marshal the masses, encourage (how preposterous!) the reluctant, and fight for the saps.

It’s a brilliant and unbeatable combination. Saps and cynics, unlikely friends as they should be, manage to bring out the good in each other. For it’s these two unlikely heroes who both expect the best from the world, and will fight most passionately to make it so.

Offending Everyone

A few years ago now I convinced myself that going out at night after 9 pm was an okay decision. I mean, I’m a night owl, right? That’s me just getting into my groove. What I forgot was that my “groove” is solitude and a book and a comfortable bed.

I have rheumatoid arthritis, have for about 17 years now. I’m relieved you wouldn’t know it to look at me, but it’s not as easy as it sounds either. I’m not a social butterfly for several reasons, and arthritis is one of those.

When I went with my friend to a bar to hear a new folk duo at 9 pm, I was really excited. I kind of forgot life happened outside a house after it got dark. And I love folk music and beer so this seemed like a great idea.

The bar, which has lots of other redeeming values, is very low on seats and we got there late which left us standing for most of the show which was about one and a half hours of me standing on concrete in fabric shoes. I might as well have been barefoot.

It’s uncomfortable for most people, but when you have arthritis this uncomfortableness is compounded. What a lot of people tend to miss is that pain is not just painful (obviously) it’s also exhausting. I was pretty well shot after about an hour.

Now, you’re asking yourself, couldn’t I have just asked someone at one of those tables to switch? Couldn’t I have finagled myself a seat? Of course. But when you look normal and claim arthritis (which everyone knows only happens to people in their 80s) and you’re ousting people from their well earned comfort to no comfort? Yes, I don’t do this. I’ll stand, thank you.

Eventually enough of the more parent-looking people left and my friend and I got seats. The music was lovely, I was exhausted and I put my head down on the table to enjoy its soothing and relaxing quality better. When the show was over and we were leaving I found one of the two in the band and blurrily (remember, tired) turned to him and said, “Thank you, you guys were fantastic, I loved listening to you.”

And he said, “Yeah, we could tell”, and then shouldered past me.

Now at the time, I was so flattered! He’d seen how much the music moved me! Wow. I’d made a connection with a stranger at a bar and we were on the same page. I was stunned and elated and, frankly still exhausted and not processing things correctly.

It dawned on me a couple days later that he’d been cold in what he said, curt. And then I thought about how I’d looked at the end of the show, sleeping on my arms, not watching them at all.

Oh no. He was being sarcastic. You’d think I’d know that when I see it, but in this case it was so far from where I’d actually been that I was blown away. I wanted to tell him that what he’d seen hadn’t been what he thought he’d seen. I wanted him to know that even though I didn’t look the way he’d wanted, I’d sacrificed a lot that night to stay and listen, and I wasn’t sorry I had.

But here we are, years later, and every time their music comes on my ipod this is what I think of even as I’m singing all the words to each song.

It’s so easy to take offense; it’s so easy to see something and assume the worst. And the truth is I sometimes enjoy being offended, do you know what I mean? It’s fun to have someone to rail against. I think it’s because I so rarely have something to be genuinely offended by. And the times when I could have been genuinely offended I’ve usually been too surprised to do anything about it. But the suggestion of offense is just irresistible.

Even now, it’s possible that my first reading of his words was correct. Who knows? Maybe he was what I perceived as curt but really it was shyness or embarrassment. There’s no way to know now. There’s no way to clear the air.

I had a handicapped sticker in my car for a few years there. And I would go places in a bad mood and I would park in the handicapped spots and just wait for someone to come up to me and say “hey, you can’t park there, that’s for handicapped people.” And then I would just tear them to PIECES. “You don’t know me. Just because I don’t look handicapped, you think that means you know what handicapped means? You want to talk about my handicap? Let’s talk…” and then just totally lay into the person.

It never happened, thankfully. Because that imaginary person, however much I might view them as a jerk, it’s not how they see it. They can only see a social justice hero out defending the rights of the handicapped, a group of people I can only nominally count myself included as a member.

And there are people that park in handicap only spots who shouldn’t. And there are people that are disgusting enough to yell at someone who is handicapped because they’re looking for an excuse to be a bully.

And there will always be those people. And you know what, there’s also a lot of handicapped people that are jerks. A handicap doesn’t automatically make you a good person. A lot of handicapped people continue to be plagued by the fact that they’re still people. And people can suck a lot of the time.

But mostly what I’m trying to say is this: there’s always going to be injustice in the world, and sometimes that injustice is going to be unfairly directed at you. You’ve got a lot of ways to handle that when someone comes at you and I really hope that you consider them as more than the screaming insensitive jerkface you see before you, because odds are they too have a lot going on in their life, and they can’t wait to take offense either.

Blanket Security

I’m in that time of life when people talk about how to plan for their 401K, long term investments, the pros and cons of blue chip stock, percentages, rates, interest, babies.

I know what like half of those words mean. I care about them only so far as they apparently mean that when I’m old I’ll still have some kind of financial stability if I know what I’m doing with them. This includes babies. There are people out there who I just KNOW have factored in their children in terms of “these things better take care of me in my old age”. I mean…well I don’t know that for certain, I just assume. What are the perks otherwise?

But I don’t have that kind of stability. Which therefore makes all the words terrifying.

My Aunt bought me a blanket awhile ago now. It’s the best blanket in the world. It’s what I always imagined as a kid that sleeping in the clouds would feel like, but with outer warmth of inward whiskey. I love it. I love it with a jealousy other people reserve for sports cars and honor student children.

My favorite blanket moments are those when other people aren’t around, because then I don’t feel compelled to share. And when I do feel compelled to share, I fight the impulse and hand them an inferior blanket. When I’m not using it, I hide it in my bedroom.

It lost some fluff yesterday and I experienced an overwhelming wave of sadness as I contemplated the reality that today it would not be as warm as it was yesterday.

At work I fantasize about curling up in it. Falling asleep on the couch and waking up in a cocoon of warmth.

I am an adult and for the first time in my life I have a security blanket. It doesn’t quite take away my lazy procrastinator financial stress, but it does nicely supplement the cold reality of life and my apartment (at a cozy and financially frugal 63 degrees).

When I’m in my blanket and averages and mean income float through my head I don’t get stressed, just sleepier.

I know I need to give it up, but just a few more minutes?

Catcalls: You’re Doing it Wrong

Yesterday I was getting out of my car, parked on the street, when a jeep passed me, windows rolled down. The passenger then stuck a bike horn out the window and honked it in my face as they rushed past.

It had been a long day. The kind of long day where I just wanted to go inside and eat pizza in my sweatpants and watch Heathers. I had neither Heathers, clean sweatpants, or pizza though so I was resigned to be annoyed.

And then someone honked at me from close range and as my ear was ringing later, and the rage came over me — like it does from time to time, I had this thought. This …. biting little gnat in my brain.

Ostensibly, catcalling women on the street, shouting at them, honking your horn, revving your engine, is supposed to elicit a response of some kind, right? I’m no expert, but I assume that when you do something obnoxious it’s to get a response.

Like toddlers, right? I mean, that is your base of reference isn’t it? Because adult humans don’t do these things. Mature, rational, reasonable, intelligent humans do not act like drooling infants who cannot control their fine motor skills and act out on every hormonal or emotional impulse, so that’s what you intend, right?

I’m going to go with yes. Let’s assume you know you’re being a horrible person when you do this. Of course you do, how can you not? It’s not as if someone has ever responded to your “attention” with gratitude, have they? Do women actually clasp their hand over their heart and shout “thank you” as you fly past? Do they, perhaps, scream their number after you and wait for a call?

I’m going to go with no. So you’re doing it to be a dick then. Fine.

You’re still doing it wrong. Because you see, part of being a jerk is getting acknowledged for it.

Flying past me loses the gratification of seeing me flinch, seeing me scowl, seeing me resist giving you the finger because it’s a main street, my church is across the way, and I have been raised to not do that even when I really, really want to.

You missed all of that! And why? I will tell you why. Because you’re not courageous enough to slow down and wait for the reaction. You’re too terrified of the fallout. Whatever that may be. And to be honest, with me it’d just be a stern, clipped, irate response that will probably be more funny for you later than your hasty retreat.

In hindsight though, I do have to acknowledge that you’re not doing it wrong. You’re doing it exactly right as chauvinistic prick. You’re objectifying women and giving them no voice in the matter, no say, no way to rebuttal. You’re assaulting women on the street for your own amusement. And because no one can ever say it’s you, you can continue to do this as long as you like to as many women as you like and pretend later that you’re a “good guy”. But you’re not.

I know, I’ve made a lot of assumptions about you, you in the over-compensating vehicle with the excessively loud music. I’d like to stop making assumptions though. I’d like to get to know you in person.

I’d like to believe that once I got to know you and talked to you that we could discover the rational, reasonable human being in you. But there I go again, making assumptions.

Didn’t We Pray?

So maybe this story begins as many do. With a “sweet friend’s” post on Facebook. You know the kind of Sweet Friend I mean. The sweet eternal optimist, whose every dream or whim seems to get fulfilled. The champion tennis player, who also toured nationally with the select choral group in high school, who garners accolades and yet never seems affected by success.

The one who, years ago, tearfully prayed in youth group about being called to be a missionary…in Paris. And then actually went to Paris, and actually did mission work there for 3 years while you were slogging it from dorm to classroom and worrying about failing Philosophy of Religion. In the rain. Uphill.

That same Sweet Friend who went cheerfully to every prom and dance in a beautiful dress with a nice boy who also happened to be quite good looking. That same sweet friend who seemed in some way to be elevated above true drama and bitchiness that might come with such a role for less worthy people. In fact, she was the prom queen that everyone actually liked. You know, because that was the only dance in high school that you went to.

That same Sweet Friend who was asked to sing in a friend’s band in New York City when she was 25, just back from Paris, and while there, met the portrait photographer/Craft Woodworker/expert drummer who of course fell in love with her very white teeth and her shiny long hair that never seems to have a bad day, and her clear skin and her smiling eyes, and oh yeah, her actually glowing, phosphorescent, pearly personality and kind heart.

THAT friend.

The friend you can’t hate. The friend who actually empathizes because she is kind and sensitive, although she may not truly understand. But it doesn’t bother you because she actually never gives  you those abhorrent chunks of romantic advice like “it’ll happen when you’re not expecting it,” because she’s also eminently sane and smart and doesn’t have a death wish.

THAT friend.

That friend who you cried for in the bathroom at her wedding, just because you’d miss her, and then you redid your mascara and went out to smile and dance, not because you had to, but because you wanted to.

That Sweet Friend, of course, who posted a beautiful, emotional tribute about her husband of 5 years, which ended with an exhortation to girls to pray for their future husbands, because she had prayed for this man since she was little, and God had answered her prayers and more by bringing this wonderful man into her life.

I direct you to my go-to author on this matter, the great C.S. Lewis, speaking in the voice of Aslan the Lion to Aravis in The Horse and His Boy: “I tell no one any story but their own.”

This Sweet Friend of course has her own story about the events of her life. Far be it from me to assume that she has no trials, no heartaches, no sadness, because her life has been dissimilar to mine. I don’t need to know, perhaps, all of her story. Perhaps it is all true. She has prayed for this man to come into her life since she was small, and God said yes.

But…I can’t help but feel that I know a few women have prayed for a husband since they were small, and, to use Sweet Friend of the Shiny Hair’s rhetoric, God has said (so far) no. Many weddings I’ve been to have been marked by teary parents saying that their greatest prayer for their daughters have been answered. There are songs about it, even, praying for the little boy your daughter will grow up to love (which sort of creeps me out).

But what about those parents who have prayed faithfully, prayed in tears, prayed and prayed for their sons or daughters, or those sons or daughters who have prayed to be part of a family of their own?

I know it’s the bride’s day on her wedding day, but I always felt my face grow hot with shame as I sat with my parents at a reception table, poised to race to the bathroom at the opening notes of ‘All the Single Ladies’, while the bride’s parents praised God for answering their faithful prayers.

It helps to understand that “no” is also an answer. It isn’t that my parents haven’t been faithful in prayer. I’m not single because I’ve dreamed about it my whole life and prayed faithfully to be single forever.

No. It may not have been the answer I wanted. But it is an answer. Some might be tempted to say that sometimes a “wait” answer to prayer looks like a “no” answer.  In fact, a friend of mine who has been single far longer than I have and has even written several books on it got married just this past weekend. I’m sure that she didn’t think she was waiting anymore. As it turns out, her answer was not a no, but a wait. And wait she did, faithfully.

Whether my answer is a no or a wait is not for me to decide. For now, I just want the catharsis of noting that just because God answers one girl with a yes, doesn’t mean he will answer every girl with a yes, no matter how much they might pray.

Instead of “praying for your future husband,” how about just pray? Pray for yourself. Pray for your neighbors. Pray for your pastors, your leaders, your friends. Pray for the people who will come into your life, male or female, because God knows they will need some prayer to deal with you. Unless you find yourself relating to the Sweet Friend in this scenario more than to me.

In that case, I love/hate you. Hugs, I really love you. You and your shiny hair and white teeth and Paris vacation-oops-I-mean-mission-trip, too. I may not like you very much, but I do love you.



Encouragement for Regretters

I’ve noticed something, in life. Well, a couple somethings. But one of the important ones I’ve noticed is you can’t really go wrong with encouragement. By that I simply mean I’ve never said something to encourage someone else and regretted it later.

I talk a lot. Like, a lot, a lot. Whether I’m with humans or animals or by myself I’m talking. I can’t even begin to tell you how much I’m telling myself or someone else. And the reason that I talk a lot, the most fundamental reason, is because I’m hoping to bury my idiocy in a barrage of words so large that you can’t figure out which ones were stupid.

The really cool part is that no matter how much idiocy comes out of my mouth, I will remember all of it in case you don’t. You’re welcome.

I cringe at things I’ve said in high school still. Ugh. Thinking about it again. I was awful.

Point being, there’s lots of reasons why I’m an introvert, but one of the biggest is how exhausting I find social situations because of how much extra work and anxiety I put into my conversations. I’m not alone in this. But I am an obsessive over-analyzer, worrier, and as has been pointed out, I can be a little hard on myself from time to time.

All that being said, I’ve often told myself — before launching into a controversial conversation topic — that I shouldn’t talk. Just don’t do the mouth opening. I can’t ever seem to manage it and I always tell myself way later, “You see? This is why we can’t spend time with nice people. Because you say all the things.”

Given that at any moment something I personally find horrific/offensive/embarrassing/inappropriate/derogatory/etc will fly out of my mouth, the epiphany I had this week is exceptional.

The only words I have ever unequivocally not regretted saying have been words of encouragement.

For some reason, giving another human positive feedback never results in me later giving myself a pep-talk about “don’t use your words”.

I don’t know if you know this, but people love getting compliments and encouragement.

I know, mind-blowing.

I personally don’t care for it too much. Any positive word or note I’ve been given I burn immediately. When someone says something kind to me I immediately flip them off and walk away.

Yeah. Right.

I LOVE positive feedback. I have saved every kind word anyone has ever written about me. Back to the fifth grade when we were all forced to write nice things down for our classmates. Half of them wrote “You played trumpet good”, like they knew, but STILL it made me feel great to get it.

Sometimes I wear clothes because I want to be complimented. Sometimes an encouraging word or a compliment can transform my entire day into something beautiful. And whenever someone says something nice to me, against my will I like them better.

Guys, there are literally no downsides to improving someone else’s day by treating them kindly and saying nice things to them. In fact, when I say something encouraging or kind, my own day improves too. It’s crazy.

It’s like giving someone a sandwich and then one magically appears on your desk. Man, people would be giving out sandwiches left and right if that was a thing.

I don’t know why it’s not like that for positive words. It should be, you’d think that’d be common. But we get caught up in all these stupid blocks:

  • I bet they hear it all the time
  • They don’t need to hear it from me
  • I don’t have time to stop and tell them
  • No one’s said anything nice to me in awhile, what’s the point
  • If I say something nice it’ll start a conversation and that would be terrible (this one might be just me)
  • I don’t want them to think too highly of themselves
  • Let’s not get sappy and sentimental
  • What if they take it wrong

Of course there’s more than those too. We all have weird reasons for why we don’t say nice things to others. But in my limited experience with positive expression, it does wonders. You might hear something like:

  • Really? I always thought it wasn’t…
  • You have no idea how much I needed to hear that today!
  • Thanks! I wondered if anyone noticed…
  • That makes my day
  • I was thinking it might be time to stop…
  • Seriously, thank you so much!
  • You’re amazing! Here’s a thousand dollars and a sandwich.

No that last one hasn’t happened to me. But sandwiches are amazing, and a compliment in and of themselves. To food.

I don’t know. Maybe it’s just me. But I say give it a try, you know? Just try telling someone that great thing you’ve observed about them. Don’t settle for liking a status on facebook, use your words.

I promise, this might be the only thing you say that you don’t regret.

Movie Over-Analysis: When Harry Met Sally

It is impossible for me to watch When Harry Met Sally and retain my well-adjusted single woman persona. Maybe it’s the Harry Connick Jr. music, or New York in the fall, but my guess is that it’s Harry and Sally.

My gosh, when he leaves her in the morning I turn into a pajama-clad, pint-holding, tissues-crumpled, sad-sack. I can almost feel myself becoming a cliche as I tell Harry Albright, “don’t break her heart”, repeatedly.

Of course, he never listens.

But by the end, as the credits roll and I return to my jean-clad, beer-swilling, regular-self with tear tracks on my face, it occurs to me not how important romance is, but how important relationships are.

Hold on to your shorts, I’m about to commit one of my own pet peeves by moralizing this movie. When Harry Met Sally is the epitome of this romantic relationship fixation we have in our culture.

Indulge me as I shred apart a favorite movie.

It’s brilliant in its simplicity and yet wrong. All relationships disappear as soon as they can no longer apply on a sexually interesting level. Sally’s married friend has all of one scene. Harry and Sally each have a best friend who is single, naturally these two fall for each other (oops, spoiler alert on a 30-year-old movie) and there are no other players — except ex-partners.

We realize how perfect Harry and Sally are together because we’re never distracted by anyone else, and neither are they. Maybe we all live small lives with only an intimate circle of friends, but I don’t buy it. I’m an introvert and even I can claim at least three-five close friendships. How come these two leads can’t say the same? what kind of relational retardation have they experienced? Are they so co-dependent on each other after ten years that marriage was the only option? After all, their best friends are married, wouldn’t it just be more convenient?

I know, I know, when you love someone everyone else disappears, but (I hate to say this because I love this movie passionately), maybe that’s the real tragedy. Maybe it IS tragic to be so consumed and absorbed by someone else to the point that your supporting cast is only 20 characters long (not counting “uncredited” and “documentary couple”, but indeed counting “Joke teller at wedding”).

I know what you’re going to say. It’s a movie. The limited cast is what makes it so realistic, so raw, so comedic and relatable. I know, I get it. I do. But what movies do us the disservice of validating is our persistent belief that true love is a completely consuming experience. That there is nothing outside of life for us except to be consumed in romance, or with romantic prospects.

Sally has a career, right? What is it? What exactly does Harry do? Do they have families at all? Have either of them experienced loss in their life? Severe health concerns? What impact does society have on them? Has Harry ever had financial worries? Sally, ever changed a tire on the freeway ?

We watch the movie and we feel they are well-rounded, but we know so little about them outside of each other. What if Sally’s that woman at work who always steals your sandwich from the fridge? Or Harry’s the kind of guy who prints off jokes and posts them outside the men’s room? We think we know them because we know them with each other. And we think they’re perfect because we only ever see how they effect each other.

But isn’t it remotely possible there are other people that bring out different better sides of them? Other people DO exist, do influence your life, do add color, confusion, pain, happiness. Perhaps a woman that makes Harry less morose, or gets him to a shrink. Perhaps a man who makes Sally less uptight, less “I like it the way I like it.” Sure they accept each other’s flaws, and that’s wonderful, but do they change each other? Do they make each other better people? Or does that not matter? Is the main goal to marry someone who expects nothing?

Or maybe it’s just a romantic comedy with clever dialogue and engaging characters.

It’s definitely that, I mean. Forget everything else I said. There is no conspiracy of film to make you aware of how mediocre your life is by comparison. Or drive home that you should be dissatisfied and waiting for your happy ending. That’s definitely not happening.

Eh. It’s like any other media isn’t it? It is what you make of it, I suppose.

What I DO know is that the old couple near the beginning, the high school sweethearts who connect after THIRTY-FOUR YEARS apart…I want to see that movie. I wonder what Billy Crystal and Meg Ryan are up to these days…

Starfish Sleepers: In defense of twin beds

I’m an adult, or so it has been explained to me, and I sleep in a twin size bed.

In your head right now you’re picturing it, aren’t you? It’s got a pastel duvet, maybe with giant flowers on it. And if you fold this back you will reveal sheets with a pattern. Maybe not superheroes, but definitely old, aged, faded Care Bears or something along those lines? Did they make Care Bear sheets? No idea. Kinda want them though.

There’s an assumption that twin beds are only acceptable to a certain age. And that age, the topmost limit that even some people wince at, is 18. College dorms are different and an exception, I might add. It’s institutional living. But you’re expected to have a “grown-up” bed and only resort to the twin when you come home. (Of course sometimes when you come home you don’t even get a twin mattress, you get the couch right by the loud, ticking grandfather clock. another time.)

Who voluntarily decides to sleep in a twin bed past this age? Who, as a single adult without children, could ever go to a mattress store and try out twin mattresses with the intent of sleeping on one for the next foreseeable ever?

That’d be me. Hi.

Before you get all weirded out about how I have a delayed adulthood issue, or lingering adolescence, hear me out.

  1. Beds are expensive. If I want a good queen mattress I have to be willing to shell out large amounts of funds. I do not have large amounts of funds. But I do want a good bed. Do you see the dilemma? In order to get a good bed with smaller funds, one must be willing to own a bed with smaller square footage.
  2. I have sensitive skin. My skin is so sensitive that right now I can feel you rolling your eyes. Yeah, man. Take it easy. I like my sheets to be smooth, silky, kind to my skin areas. Most sheets are crap at this. That first wear? Are you kidding me? The chafing! The sore areas I wake up with! It’s like sleeping on cacti. Egyptian cotton is the only thing I clothe my moderately expensive bed in. But guess what? Egyptian cotton sheets? Terribly expensive. What makes them less expensive? Smaller mattress.
  3. No one likes making their bed. It’s a chore. It’s cumbersome, it’s taxing, and it’s sometimes annoying. You know what makes it easier? Smaller mattress. Way less time, less irritation, and happier me.
  4. Apartment square footage is a hot commodity. Everyone is all about the space saving compartments, but no one ever thinks about this in relation to a bed. This is a mistake. Right now, because I sleep on a twin, I’m able to fit an entire dining room table with chairs into my bedroom. Who needs a dining room table in their bedroom? No one, but I CAN so I do.
  5. Sleeping on a twin bed is reassuring because you know if someone or something is in it with you. Queen mattress? No idea what’s happening on the other side of that bed. It’s like another country over there. A scary country where monsters live and want to eat me (perhaps I am still a bit stuck in the past).
  6. I’ve stayed at hotels and you can’t get a “twin size” room, I’ve not checked, but I’m pretty confident if I asked they’d give me a cot in the alley. Anyway, the luxury of sleeping on queen mattresses at hotels has taught me that when left to my own devices on an oversized mattress I will try to take up every corner of the mattress at all times. Plenty of tossing and turning and limbs thrown out. Quintessential starfish behavior. It’s not cute. When I’m sleeping on a twin you know what I more resemble? Sleeping Beauty. Total win.
I mean, this is beautiful in its own way, no disrespect, starfish.

In conclusion: Be fiscally responsible, rational, economical, optimize your laziness, protect yourself from night terrors, and sleep like a princess. Buy a twin mattress. (I mean, clearly, right? Can’t be a princess on a queen bed, can you?)

Small Town Doppelgänger

My 30th birthday fell on a Sunday this year. Start of a new week, start of a new year, start of a new decade. It had been a good birthday weekend. I’d gotten together with friends, eaten a lot, avoided people a lot. Excellent birthday-ing all around. I’d even managed to avoid the blues of turning 30. Who says it’s depressing? Not this girl. And now, on Sunday I was headed to church as was reasonable and logical.

This was the last logical thing to happen for a solid fifteen minutes.

You know how in small towns there’s a healthy gossip circuit? And also in small towns how everyone sees you doing something that you have to later explain? Like the time I bought Heineken at Rite Aid directly in front of one of the small impressionable girl in my church group.

Thank God it was a Dutch beer.

This is probably not me.

So. Sunday morning one of the delightful older women at my church excitedly motioned me over. She’s one of my favorite people. She’s tart, blunt, independent, and funny. I thought perhaps she wanted to wish me a happy birthday. Some inspiring message about “don’t let aging get you down.”

“I hear you have a boyfriend.” Were her opening words.

My heart did that thing it does when I get into a car accident or I’m giving a speech in middle school. Or when I want to get hired and I’ll say anything but am I sure about that? It jumped a little and then I said, “uhhhhh”.

I stood there, wracking my brains for a boyfriend. Surely if I had one, I would know. I considered all the men I’d met lately. I hadn’t asked someone out, had I? I hadn’t accidentally started dating, had I? Was there like a special girlfriend ceremony I’d taken part in? No. No, that was crazy talk. I wasn’t dating anyone. I was 30 and unattached. I’d had that conversation with myself last week. No boyfriend and 30 and pretty cool.

But instinctively I wanted to agree with her. She was so happy about it! So I said cautiously, “I mean…I have friends who are boys?”

She shook her head. “I saw you with him.”

Well she had me there. Big fat liar that I apparently was. I stared at her, mutely. What does one say to such conviction. Clearly she knew my romantic life better than I did.

“You were walking with him down Front street.” She insisted.

When a matriarch of the church is telling you something, I don’t know what it is, but you believe her. I just blinked at her, mentally going over my last week. I did walk down Front street sometimes. Had someone walked with me? DID I HAVE A STALKER? Also, a pretty good one if I didn’t notice him walking with me. Which is flattering I suppose except that maybe it just means I’m not self-aware. It’s probably that. Who is stalking me??

“When was this?” I asked. As if that would help. Like I chronicle the days I walk Front street.

“Last week! You were holding hands.”

This was new information. And surprising. The last time I could recall holding hands I was four and my Mom made me because what if I darted into traffic.

“I don’t think that was me.” I said trying to let her down gently. She is not young, after all.

“It was you!”

It really wasn’t, I thought. I hate holding hands. I have, hands down (ha, ha!) the sweatiest palms in existence. Sometimes when I clap I spray people like an orca doing a belly flop at SeaWorld. Except less majestic.

Based on the new evidence alone it was clearly time to call a mistrial. Besides, I could hear the prelude ending which means the Pastor was about to begin the service. I am never late for service.

“It wasn’t me. I mean, I feel pretty confident on that.” I tried again, a bit hurried now to get to my pew in time.

She looked at me, suspicious. As if I’d just used margarine in place of real butter in a cookie recipe. “No I definitely saw you while I was driving.” It’s clear she thinks I’m hiding a relationship by trotting my boyfriend out on the main drag of the town.

“I’m really sorry it wasn’t me!” I lied. Because she’s an old lady and I’m only in the vestibule of church.

She sighs heavily and I wonder who she’s already told about my boyfriend that she’s now going to have to un-tell. “I was really hoping you had a boyfriend.” She says, and I feel like I’ve just told my own mother that I have no life goals and am seriously contemplating illegal drug usage.

And Happy Birthday to me, I think. I chuckled though. Smiled. “Sorry to disappoint!” I lied again before taking the walk of shame to my seat while the congregation sang the first song.

And while months have passed since this event, I’m concerned I’ve got a slutty doppelgänger brazenly walking around town holding hands with boys.

On the upside, if I ever do decide to experiment with holding hands, it’ll be nice to know I can blame it on some vague lookalike who leans toward PDA. Or maybe I’ll just blame her the next time I’m walking my bottle of wine home from the liquor store in a conspicuous brown bag.