Archives for October 2008

Who Are All These Buttless Women?

The other day, The Modern Gal talked about avoiding the new Gap jeans because they have pocket flaps and she has some junk in her trunk she doesn’t feel like accentuating. My immediate thought was, “damn, guess I can’t get new jeans at Gap anytime soon,” because my trunk is also not without some junk.

Even when I used to run seven miles a day and was in the absolute best shape of my life (something I’m working to get back to/surpass), my derriere was the most pronounced feature of my figure, and I had a horrible time finding jeans. And I don’t think my shape is unusual. I think I am the prime example of average. So why isn’t anyone making clothes for me?

Yesterday, after trying on 16 pairs of jeans, (a task I equate to torture), I came up with nothing. I want a pair of classy, grown-up jeans, to pair with a crisp shirt or a chunky sweater, so I can shake my overgrown skateboard-chic style and dress more age appropriately, but in order to find a pair that doesn’t gap at the waist and squeeze my rear up to my hips, I end up with super super low rise jeans that don’t have any sort of waist what-so-ever, and the second they stretch, they start heading south. There’s nothing classy about perpetual plumbers butt. There’s also nothing nice about jeans with pockets that are so far apart it looks like my butt is headed in two very different directions at the same time.

And I’m a size 8/9. If trying on jeans is making me feel awful, what about women who wear a 12 or 14 or 16 or 18? They can’t be having an easy time of it either. We don’t all come in one size! Don’t we all deserve the chance to feel good about ourselves and look good in our clothes? Haven’t we gotten past the point where looking like a stick figure is our ideal? I just want to be healthy and fit. Why isn’t that well accommodated in the clothing industry?

When I came out of the dressing room to return my stack of ill-fitting jeans to the rack, I surveyed the store. With the exception of one woman who looked like a super model and didn’t have a butt, hips, thighs, boobs, or anything that jiggled anywhere, every other women in the store had something in stock in the trunk department. So why are clothing companies making jeans for the buttless women, and leaving the rest of us to walk around with plumbers butt, or massive gaps at the waist band, or jeans that push body parts to places they don’t belong? If I didn’t get so horribly frustrated every time I try on clothes, I might actually buy some. Accommodating butts seems like good business sense to me.

Suggestions on where to shop are very very very welcome.

100 Things – 36-45

36. I need the shirts in my closet to be lined up in color order. I would rather leave my clothes crumpled in the laundry basket than put them away wrong. J’s side of the closet makes me cringe.

37. I’m messy. I can clean the house from top to bottom and have it looking showroom perfect, but an hour later, messes start exploding around me again.

38. I have a very low tolerance for jobs that will be quickly undone, like making the bed, doing the dishes, laundry, vacuuming, etc.

39. I have a houseplant named Slartibartfast. He’s a potted palm, and I’ve managed to keep him alive for over a year now, which is a record for me. I got a second one last weekend and named him Martibartfast.

40. I tend to name things that really don’t need names. I always thought I’d outgrow the need to name things, but I haven’t.

41. I frequently forget the names of things I’ve named and can only remember that they did have a name at one point.

42. I once bowled an eleven.

43. I was a very good inline skater until I slipped on wet leaves on a steep hill and broke my tailbone. It was the first time I ever fell while inline skating. When I recovered and tried to skate again, I got the yips and fell in front of a car stopping at a stop sign. The way the timing of it worked out, the elderly woman in the passenger seat thought her husband had hit me (even though I was a few feet away from the bumper) and she started screaming and swatting at him with her purse like a character out of a movie. I scraped my shoulder badly, but got up immediately to show them I was fine so she’d stop hitting him. I don’t skate anymore. I miss it. It was my sport. I haven’t found any other form of exercise I enjoy as much, but I really can’t afford to break my tailbone again.

44. I’m a good cook when I want to be.

45. I was on the campus soap opera in college. Yes, there’s a tape. No, you can’t see it.

How hard is it to put on pants?

On Saturday, my laptop cord broke. It was well past the point of being successfully rigged with electrical tape, so J and I went to the Apple Store to get a new one.

On the way into the mall, we saw a girl wearing pajama pants and a really ratty sweatshirt. Her hair was gathered on top of her head in a scrunchy, and she looked like she’d either just gotten out of bed, or carefully crafted her look so it would look like she’d just gotten out of bed and was even adorable when she wasn’t trying.

“How hard is it to put on real pants?” I whispered to J, because I was feeling crabby and judgmental.

Apparently, it’s very hard, because yesterday, I spent the entire day wearing my pajama pants. I picked all the peppers from my garden, and roasted them on the grill so I could marinate and freeze them. I told myself that I’d just start the grill and then go put on pants, but then I thought that my pajama pants already smelled like grill smoke, and my jeans didn’t, so why should I bother getting dressed?

So, I spent the entire afternoon in the backyard wearing plaid flannel pajama pants, puffy slippers, and a ratty sweatshirt, with my hair in a messy, stubby ponytail. I wasn’t trying, but I wasn’t adorable either. I’m sure my immediate neighbors saw me, but since I regularly take the dog outside in my writing sweater, I figure there’s no point in putting on airs with them.

Also, on Friday, I picked the last of the viable tomatoes and pulled every freaking tomato plant out of the ground. It was so damn satisfying.

Today, I am wearing pants.

I am not rocking the ‘tober.

Question: So, how hard was my Rocktober fest pledge?

Answer: Not very.

Have I actually done anything resembling taking 20 minutes a day every day away from the computer/dog/cat/husband/phone? No.

On the day I took the pledge, I decided to go for a walk by myself to take in the changing leaves. But then Argo started getting all excited when I went for my shoes and I just didn’t have the heart to tell him he wasn’t invited, so I took him with me and the walk was all about trying to keep him from licking trees and fire hydrants.

For several days, I forgot about my pledge completely.

On Monday, I sat down and played guitar – something I haven’t done in years – and thought, okay, this is what I will do with my Rocktober pledge. It’s concrete. It’s not just this amorphous, I’ll spend time with me thing. I’ll spend time playing guitar. I’ll learn a few more chords. Side note, I’m not good, and I never have been. I know about 4 chords total. It even appealed to my practical side, because I convinced myself that it was research for my folk singer project. I mean, my MC plays the guitar, so maybe if I get back to playing, it will enhance my writing. I got all excited about the new plan.

Then, I promptly forgot all about Rocktoberfest again until just now.

FAIL.

Why is it that I can’t do things for me? Does anyone else have this problem?

And yes, I realize in the time I took to write this post, I could have been playing guitar.

Sha la la la!

On Sunday night, the hubs decided to make a pot of decaf. We were sitting at the kitchen table and it was cozy and the idea of a cup of coffee was too ideal to pass up.

“This is decaf, right?” I asked, joking.

“Ha! Would be funny if it wasn’t,” he said.

We clarified which bag the coffee came from, and it was, indeed, decaf. Unfortunately, it didn’t matter. While I was about to pass out at 7, by 10:30, I was completely wired. I sat in bed, catching up on Grey’s Anatomy episodes on my laptop. I was only going to watch one, but ended up watching 3. Then, of course, I started worrying about car accidents, cancer, and a full range of illnesses only worthy of mention in obscure medical journals and procedural TV shows.

After accidentally waking J up three or four times (he falls back to sleep so easily), I decided to hang out in the living room instead. I watched two episodes of How I Met Your Mother, and all the new episodes of The Office.

2:30 in the morning, and I still wasn’t sleepy. Argo and J were snoring in the bedroom, and the cat was giving me the evil eye from the couch. I used to love being up so late. It used to feel like quality alone time, but now it’s just lonely. I wasn’t lucid enough to get any work done, but I wasn’t sleepy enough to go to bed. Then I discovered the wonder that is classic television reruns on CBS.com. One episode of Family Ties made my eyelids heavy and my brain regress to a time where my dreams were filled with the possibility of marrying Michael J. Fox.

I managed to keep that blissful sleepy feeling as I closed up my computer and stumbled into the dark bedroom. But then I stepped on a shoe that I thought was the dog, bent down to pet him, and caught the corner of the bedframe full on my left boob, so hard that I knocked some of the wind out of myself. I spent the next 45 minutes hugging an ice pack and trying to breathe normally. I have a very odd looking bruise.

I am never drinking coffee after 4pm again. Decaf or otherwise.

Mrs. Larkin is my mother-in-law.

On Friday, I went to a junior high school about an hour south of here to discuss Bathtub Mary with a group of 8th graders who’d spent the week studying it in class. It was amazing. It’s wonderful to have friends and family say they like your story, but it’s another thing to have 43 8th graders show up for an optional meeting after school in the library on a beautiful, sunny Friday to ask questions about it. This, I believe, is probably more of a testament to their amazing teacher than it is to my writing, but it still felt like the highest compliment I’ve ever received.

These kids were so enthusiastic about their questions. They wanted to know so much more about the characters. What was Margie’s mom’s name? How did Blake meet Bart? How did Blake get AIDS? Who was the vandal? Did Margie’s mom know she kept the Mary in the weeds? What happens to Margie next? Was any of the story about me or people I know?

By the time I was halfway through answering one question, a hand would pop up with another one. 8th grade was the year I started to lose all enthusiasm for school, so I couldn’t quite wrap my brain around theirs. They were fantastic, thoughtful, intelligent kids, and it was an honor to spend an hour talking with them.

It was completely bizarre to see a xeroxed test with questions about my story and my name right up at the top. It was also completely bizarre to have all these kids calling me Mrs. Larkin, because even though I’m headed toward the 5 year mark on my marriage, I am just Allie to everyone I know. But it was completely amazing to be even a small part of their learning process.

Is it too late to join Rocktoberfest?

The Modern Gal, one of my favorite blog-ladies, started Rocktoberfest as a way for us to put a spring in our step even though spring was a very long time ago.

I love fall so much. It’s my favorite time of year. But I really feel like this year my time has been spent more on taking care of business and less on taking care of me. I have this uncanny ability to stack my days against myself. And lately, my head has been spinning.

As someone who spends a lot of time writing about imaginary people, I think it’s important to do things to stay grounded. I have an amazing therapist, who I see on and off when I feel like I need to discuss something. A neutral person to bounce ideas off of is a priceless thing.

The last time I saw him, I was chattering on a mile a minute about all the things I had to do and that my to do list for that day already had 17 items on it. “And the tomatoes!” I said. “Don’t get me started on the tomatoes! The cherry tomato plants I planted in the garden have exploded and there are tomatoes everywhere and I don’t know what to do with them, and it’s stressing me out.”

“Interesting,” he said, smiling, “I’ve never had anyone come to me with a tomato problem before.”

This cracked me up and knocked me down a peg and put things in perspective and made me realize that I need to prioritize things differently.

That was a few weeks ago, and have I gotten my priorities straight? Well, a little bit. But not nearly enough.

So I only have one Rocktoberfest Pledge.

1. I am going to take twenty minutes of non-computer time for me every day. It’s not about the dog, or my work, or the tomatoes, or my husband, or my friends. It’s not about checking e-mail, or answering phone calls, or making dinner, or doing laundry, or any sort of multi-tasking activity. I am going to take twenty minutes to sit outside by myself and watch the leaves fall, or go for a walk alone, or drink a pumpkin-y beverage, as The MG suggests. By me, for me, and about me. 20 minutes. Because, I think that those twenty minutes will give me time to catch my breath, and if I don’t feel like I’m constantly gasping for air, I’ll be able to remind myself that it’s silly to stress out about tomatoes.

Things I Haven’t Blogged About

Issue 3 of Slice Magazine is out with a reprint of my Bathtub Mary story. I got my copy in the mail, stared at it for about an hour and then called my husband and got all weepy when I told him about it. The issue is fantastic. Great stories, and a fascinating interview with Salman Rushdie. I’m going to a junior high English class on Friday to talk about the story (they’ve been studying it this week).

Neil was in town two weekends ago for a seminar and came up a day early so we could hang out. He and J had never met, and it was just so cool to get to hang out with my old college buddy and my husband. We made pizza on Friday night, drank some wine, looked at my scrapbook from college, and talked about everything from TED videos to the trials of tribulations of being a drama major. I wanted to write a post about this and talk about the turns in the road, the people we lose (or have to cut loose) along the way, and the blessing that is the people we get to keep and grow up with, but I’ve been a little stuck in my head lately, and getting sort of nostalgic and sappy. I think it’s best to keep the sap content low around here, so I’ll just tell you this: Neil is freaking awesome, and you should totally check out his Cambodia project if you haven’t already. Also, he draws incredible cartoons.

My friend M was in town the night before I left for Ohio. For some reason, disasters always try to keep M & I from getting together. This time, it was a flat tire (mine, and I had to hit the road at 6AM), but M came over and hung out with me while it was being taken care of. Another time, we ended up in the animal emergency room with the cat (back when she had four legs). Okay, I guess we’ve only had two disasters, so that’s not always, that’s just twice. Anyway, it was great to see M, even if it was just a short visit. And she offered to read through some pages for me, which is a total bonus, because M has a gift for editing.

My writing group is starting up again tonight after taking a little break for the end of the summer. I’m super thrilled, because I work best with deadlines, crave feedback like it’s soggy, be-sprinkled box cake, and get to listen fantastic writers read their work. Writing group is one of the great great joys in my life, and I always feel like something is missing when we break.

I’m toying with the idea of taking a day trip to the town where my main character has taken up temporary residence. Probably in November, because that’s when that part of the story takes place, and I think that November in this part of the world has a feel to it that magnifies certain things. I could certainly write these pages without taking the trip, but it’s a little luxury I am willing to afford myself. It’s not a long drive, and it’s possibly an excuse to stop in and have tea with an old friend.

What’s new with you?

100 Things – 31-35

I have a ton of stuff I want to tell you all about, but right now I’m tired and crabby and I can’t quite get my brain around the things I want to say, so I’ll just tell you more random things about myself.

31. When I was younger, I wanted to be a mermaid when I grew up. I still can’t say I’d turn down the opportunity now if it were to present itself.

32. I hate it when people make anyway plural. It is not anyways. It just isn’t. Stop it.

33. I hate tissues. It’s not even just about the fact that they aren’t eco-friendly. Tissue lint makes me sneeze, and I hate the way tissues feel on my nose when it’s already irritated. I use ridiculous floral print handkerchiefs most of the time. They are ugly as sin, and I think they’re funny.

34. I used to be a headhunter for a very specific and odd area of business.

35. I stopped eating wheat about 2 years ago, when it became clear that wheat and I could no longer be friends. Now that my body isn’t constantly fighting with food it can’t process as well, my allergies aren’t as bad, I don’t get sick as often, and I feel better all around. When I first gave up wheat, I got really depressed about all the things I couldn’t eat, but now I’m used to it and it doesn’t seem that hard. But sometimes, like right now, I crave cake to the point where I can almost taste it. Yellow cake from a box with chocolate frosting that’s starting to soak into the cake and make it soggy. It should also have some sort of sprinkles on top. Maybe the flat kind that are like teeny tiny Neco wafers. Sure there are great wheat-free cake mixes out there, but that’s not what I want. I want crappy, soggy, be-sprinkled box cake.

100 Things – 26 through 30

26. I get a little teary when I vote. I hold it together in the booth, but walking back out to my car, the enormity of what just happened usually gets to me. I registered the second I turned 18. No matter how many times I flick levers in that booth, it always feels like a very big deal. Probably because it is. I can’t imagine living back in the day when women weren’t allowed to vote.

I still wear my “I Voted Today” sticker like it’s a medal of honor, and stick it on my guitar case when election day is done. Through a glitch associated with changing my name when I moved and got married, I was actually registered to vote twice for awhile, but I did not vote early and often.

Tomorrow, I’m headed out to Ohio to help register voters for two days. If you live near a swing state, think about giving some time to make sure as many people as possible get to the voting booths in November. Neil spent some time in PA helping out recently, and it inspired me to get out there and help. Who you vote for is no one’s business but your own, but make sure you do it, okay?

27. I like to floss my teeth in bed. My husband thinks it’s gross, and it probably is, but we can all agree that flossing in bed is better than not flossing, right?

28. I know all the words to the theme song from The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.

29. I’m obsessed with Willa Cather, and have read Song of the Lark (my favorite of her books) about 7 or 8 times. From reading her work, I get the feeling that she loved her characters very much.

30. I love SmartWool socks more than I ever thought it was possible to love a certain brand of socks.

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