Love asparagus. Love myself.

Asparagus on the grill

At the end of a hot day in San Diego, when I’m dying for a climate that involves more than one and a half seasons, I find myself looking over the grill to the palm trees, the golden light, the neighbors houses. The smell of white wine and salmon and dill swirls around me and though I hate this joke of a spring day, I love this moment. This moment is mine. This moment is a gift.

I hear my daughters in the other room, my husband lifting that (happy) burden from my shoulders for a while. I sit down and let words run. Like a long shower. Or a long cry. Or a long sip from a glass of wine.

It’s these little moments that I let go by all too often. They’re the moments you think, “Holy shit, I’m gonna make it. I’m gonna be okay.” I’m not saying it’ll be spectacular. Not magazine-worthy. Just good. Solid, deep-running, gratefully good. Good enough to make it until tomorrow. One day at a time, sweet Jesus.

The salmon isn’t done yet and I’ll likely burn it and the asparagus before I’m done here (don’t worry, I’m checking it), but I feel like I should catch these words before they wander off. All my swears and too much/not enough seriousness–I need to love those bastards & kiss them straight on the mouth. They’re me in zeros and ones. They’re me in syllables. They’re me in thoughts, and I need a good kiss from me.

And that’s what we’re doing in life, isn’t it? Taking a minute to believe that what we feel is worth a damn? Taking the leap of faith that we won’t be discarded or—maybe—those that will discard us had done so long ago, so we should stop tap dancing to keep them around? Isn’t that what life/art/love/faith is about?

So I’m giving myself a nice, long moment to treasure the words coming out of my thumbs because burnt asparagus (don’t worry, I’m still checking it) isn’t the worst thing I’ll produce, but perfect asparagus won’t be the best thing either.

It’s just asparagus, Melanie. Calm down.

And openness? Full and messy participation? Just freaking showing up? It’s not all that different. It’s the thing we share over small tables. It’s sustenance. It’s sacred and mundane at once. It’s just asparagus. It might be burnt today, it might not tomorrow. But either way it’s necessary. And either way it’s important to someone. Even if you’re the only someone who eats it.

 

[Author's note: I wrote this post a while ago (in Spring—obviously), but I'm just getting around to post it. Because sometimes I collect drafts like a hoarder, and I can't bring myself to show them to anyone else. There are a few little quirks in my breed.]

 Photo credit woodleywonderworks at Flickr CC BY 2.0

The Problem with Being a Writer

The problem with being a writer…

The problem with being a writer is that you have to give yourself that title long before you feel you deserve it.

The problem with being a writer is that it makes you twitchy and self-conscious.

The problem with being a writer is that it makes you conceited and vain.

The problem with being a writer is that being self-conscious and conceited at the same time is hard on the brain.

The problem with being a writer is that people who have less talent than you will be more successful than you.

The problem with being a writer is that people who have more talent than you won’t be successful at all. And if they can’t do it, how can you?

The problem with being a writer is the comment section.

The problem with being a writer is that blog stats exist.

The problem with being a writer is that you keep checking your blog stats.

The problem with being a writer is that any modicum of success gets you addicted to a drug you can’t buy, so you live mostly in withdrawal.

The problem with being a writer is that you never take compliments seriously.

The problem with being a writer is that you checked your blog stats again.

The problem with being a writer is that there’s no guarantee that you’ll ever get paid a dime.

The problem with being a writer is that you can’t stop wanting to be a writer.

 

Photo credit Donovan Beeson at Flickr CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

I Have Gray Hair, Stretch Marks, And Love Handles…Because I’m a *Human Person*

Old friends

Image by Kevin Dooley under Creative Commons license.

Sigh.

I don’t know what it is about today; about this week or this month… Maybe it’s been years now, maybe a lifetime—but I’m hitting a little bit of a tipping point when it comes to how I perceive my body and its various shortcomings. For review, let’s list out what’s wrong with me (limited to physical appearance, of course—we only have so much room here):

  • gray hair
  • deep forehead wrinkles…nay—crevasses
  • stretch marks (thanks kids)
  • flabby arms (or underarm dingle-dangle, as Ruthie would say)
  • love handles
  • untamed bikini line
  • splotchy pores on legs
  • dry lips
  • cellulite
  • knobby knees
  • hairy uprising on the facial region
  • several “companion pounds” I’ll call them, that may never leave me…

And you know what? Who gives a shit?

I have all of those things because I’m a human person. I am a human person who has yet to develop some crazy disorder that prevents me from aging. So, as I get older—as we all are forced to do by the time-space continuum—I look older. And, I ask again, who gives a even a tiny turd about it?!

Take just a moment to think about how nuts it is that we try to stop aging. I mean, when you see a product in the store labeled “anti-aging,” do you think, “What kind of crack pot monkey dreamed that up, and how stoned was the group of people that launched it into reality?” Because that’s what you should think. That’s what we should ALL think.

The Silver Fox of Snark

English: Steve Martin at the 120th Anniversary...

English: Steve Martin at the 120th Anniversary of Carnegie Hall in MOMA, New York City in April 2011. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I started going gray in my mid-twenties. It’s not really a look that most people want to cultivate. I discovered I was gray when I stopped dying my hair. I was like, “I’m gonna be all natural and embrace myself and yadda yadda,” and my head replied, “Well, that’s fun because we’ve changed a few things around here.” And there it was. I kind of decided (likely due to my frequently mentioned laziness) that it is way too much fuss to dye away the gray. I just didn’t have the energy to put up a 70-year-long fight against, of all things, my freaking hair.

So here I am nearly a decade later and I’ve got a whole lot of that stuff sprouting out of my head. Every now and again it bothers me, but I really don’t care. My plan is to let it all come in and take over, then I’ll rock that business like I’m Steve Martin. I mean, look at that guy’s hair. Pure, 100% silver white and no one cares. Which brings me to a sticking point…

Men are allowed to age. Women are not.

Yep. That’s the deal. Steve Martin sports his gray hair like nobody’s business and he seems distinguished. Hillary Clinton grows her hair out and pulls it back instead of coiffing it just so and people go bananas. Hey, people: shut up. Because Ms. Hillary Rodham Clinton is allowed to look however she wants. She’s allowed to get older, and to decide not to invest endless time and money into pretending she’s not getting older. Just like I am. We’re all allowed—men and women—to age with grace, and dignity, even affection (!) for our changing selves. My new rule: if Steve Martin can do it, so can I.

And then there’s the Thinspiration problem

I think the reason this is all on my mind right this second is because I keep happening upon what I’ve learned is called “thinspiration.” It’s like all those “how to drop 10 lbs in a month” or that picture of a woman squeezing her leg with the caption “how to solve the cellulite problem.” (Here’s a hint: stop squeezing your leg like that!)

Pinterest is brimming with these things, but so is the Today show, major news outlets, magazines—basically everywhere you look, you can find some “solution” for the problem of your—ahemnormal human body.

And to revisit my last point, how many dudes do you think are trying to solve their “cellulite problems”? How many under-eye creams do you think dudes are buying? Waxing kits? Boxes of hair dye? Skin primers? Lip balms? Anti-whatever-the-hell-is-wrong-with-you salves? Not nearly as many as women are. If a guy can save his money to go to the movies instead spending money to rip/bleach/laser blast his hair off, don’t you think you’re allowed to do the same? And menfolk, if you find yourselves falling into the trap of needing to look like a glowing, 2% body fat stone sculpture of a human, don’t worry about it. No one cares. Be a real human person with skin and hair and flaws. It’s okay. For all of us.

I don’t need to feel beautiful

I think our normal response in this discussion is to affirm beauty. To say, “No, no! You look [enter appropriate compliment here]!” And while this, indeed, is quite comforting, it doesn’t entirely solve the problem. Because, you know what? I’m not going to be “beautiful” when I’m 85. In fact, I’ll likely fall well below the beauty standard far, far before then. So will you. Even if you get surgery and shellac the crap out of yourself, everyone’s going to know that you’re not a 16-year-old girl. (Which is, apparently, our effed up standard for what people should always look like.)

I need to feel human. I need to watch time mark the days around my eyes and on my hips and through my hair and somehow feel more like myself, not less. I want each season to bring new scars, new wrinkles and more sag and for all that to make me feel that somehow, some way, I’m winning. I’m living. I’m human. I’m aging. It’s great.

Closing eyes and clicking heels

I want to believe all of these words through and through, without batting an eye. I want to banish that pang of guilt I feel every time I’m presented with the b.s. yardstick society so politely reminds me I’m not measuring up to. I want to embrace my changing, aging body without the knee-jerk reaction to sculpt it, starve it, or slather it into some other, better form. But for now, I’m closing my eyes, and clicking my heels, just hoping I’ll be transported to a mental home, free of these crazy, shrieking, body-hating monkeys.

And so, heroes of the internet with sagging boobs, and gray hair, and furry potbellies, I ask you to join me. Try with me. Get everyone you know to be down with aging. Wouldn’t it be rad if in 2033 there isn’t a single person out there writing this same freaking blog post? Fighting these same shrieking monkeys? There’s no place like…

What do you think?

(p.s. Check out this TED talk from model Cameron Russell. If models are still bummed about how they look after, you know, being the model for how people should look, maybe we’ve got it all wrong, huh?)

How to Be Beautiful

It’s hard to be beautiful. There are so many ointments to apply, so many devices to wield, so many techniques to employ…yeesh! It’s surprising that more women don’t have flasks in their brassieres—who wouldn’t need a morning drink after all of that?

And it’s not really optional. Sure, there are some rad young women out there daring to step in the daylight without makeup on their faces, but for most women, we get shooed back into our bathrooms by societal pressure or self-doubt if we walk down that road. Shooed, I say!

I mean, when Candy Crowley (the moderator for the second 2012 presidential debate) gets pre-emptively bashed for her weight and looks (not her qualifications or skill), I think that underscores the demand for women to—above all—be pretty. Even Martha Stewart had a recent article with instructions on how to—I shit you not—”avoid the pull of gravity” on your neck. (Love you, Martha, but damn…really?!) I mean, putting on a little lip gloss is one thing, but somehow skirting the laws of the universe seems like a little too lofty a goal.

But Hey, If You Can’t Beat ‘em, Shellac the Crap Right out of Your Face

The other day I was in a fake pageant for my friend Melissa‘s birthday. It was kind of fabulous and insane, and Stephen and I performed the oddest combination of talents and abilities in the history of talents and abilities. If you and your milieu find yourselves wanting for entertainment, please throw a pretend adult pageant. You won’t regret it! Anyway, as part of the pageant planning process, I looked up how to do super fancy pageant make-up ala Miss America, via the source of all knowledge: YouTube.

I forgot to take pictures of the process, so I decided to recreate it through Photoshop with my hard-earned, under-used Photoshop wizardry. It’s both instructive and entertaining, so sit down and enjoy yourself, okay? Alright. Here we go:

Here’s me starting out. Look at that face. It’s like Cinderella’s been using it to clean the windows. Yikes. Gotta fix that business, and fast!

Step 1: Cover that freaking skin up!

Okay, now this part isn’t actually in the video, but you can tell that she has foundation ALL OVER that business. So, you should do something kinda like this:

Except that’s mildly terrifying, so you need to blend it. Blend it. Like so:

Oops—lost the eyebrows in the process, but that’s no big deal. Just draw those bad boys back in there.

Sweet. Lookin’ good.

Now We Work on Dramatic Eyes! With Drama!

Okay, so you start smudging white stuff under your “brow bone” and on the inner corner of your eyes. Kinda like a zombie! And then blend, of course, then you do some other darker shades on your eye lids, and then draw some even darker triangles on the corner of your eyes. It’s kind of like coloring in preschool, except on your face.

And then you do more white stuff under your eyes. I’m not sure why we couldn’t do that earlier, but whatever. I’m the student, not the teacher.

And blend…

And now black where you just put white…

And now you look like a kitty! Which is the best time to start gluing things on your face. Your eyelids, specifically. Glue some fake eyelashes right about where your real ones are, since your real ones are now engulfed by dramatic, colored powders.

Okay, the eyes are done! Now we need to add “natural glow” back where we covered it with paste at the beginning. And add some highlights to give dimension. (I know we had dimension before we started this whole charade. I get it. But just go with it. I mean…I’m lookin’ pretty dang good, so…you know. Don’t rock the makeup bag.)

So natural! Add a little lipstick…

Tada!

Now, that’s about all I can do with makeup. BUT, since we’re already working with Photoshop, lets use a few of the tricks that people frequently employ to “enhance” a woman’s face in print and on the web.

Eyes Like a Baby Dolphin! Teeth Made of Ivory!

It’s proven that larger eyes are more attractive, so let’s get that done. And, hey, the whiter the teeth, the better, right? And might as well fix that little chip in my tooth…and make my eyes “pop” a little more…

*tinker tinker tinker* …

PERFECT!

What the Hell…Let’s Stick Something Else on Your Head

We all know that curly blonde hair is preferred over dark, witch hair, so we’ll just swap that out and we’ll be done!

…drum roll please…

…drum drum drum…

And…I’m done! Sure, I look like something the devil dreamt about after watching too many episodes of Here Comes Honey Boo Boo while listening to a Dolly Parton station on Pandora, but—whew!—isn’t that so much better than my, you know, skin? And real face and teeth? You go enjoy that, friends. I’m here to help.

What’s your relationship with makeup like? Love it? Hate it? Please do share.

(And don’t forget! You can get a weekly dose of my A-game—like this—by subscribing via WordPress, email or RSS)

Hope 2012: A Blog Relay

Update: Friday, August 10: At last count there are 81 posts in HOPE 2012, and at least 196 people invited. I’m scheduling closing ceremonies for Monday, August 13, so there’s still time to write if you want to! Go write, you crazy people! Write!

The Olympics are starting today! Or, at least, all the Olympic fanfare starts today. Something Olympic and big is starting in some fashion today. That’s what I know. (I may not be an expert.) At any rate, hoorah for whatever exciting thing is happening today!

Yesterday while I was on my run, whilst thinking about the Olympics, I had this idea that I instantly fell in love with, which I then thrust on several other talented bloggers, proving that while I still completely hate exercise (sorry guy that told me I have a bad attitude), it isn’t totally useless. So, here’s my idea:

Hope 2012: A blog relay

A blog relay! Themed! Like the Olympics! (Yes, I know I’m both being obscenely nerdy and overusing exclamation points.)

So here’s the thing. I’m going to blog about hope, and I asked a bunch of fabulous, diverse, wonderful people to do the same. Then, they’re going to ask people to do the same. And then they’re going to…you get the idea. And just like in a relay race, we’ll go farther and faster than we could if we were doing it alone. Hope, in its beautiful, strange, unexpected and stalwart forms will be noted. Documented. Acknowledged. Appreciated.

I can’t wait to hear all the stories, perspectives, wisdom, and wit that is going to ooze straight out of these posts like that energy goop straight out of its space-age pouch. Hold on to your freaking hats, people. It’s going to be great.

Keep an eye on this post and the blogs listed at the bottom for more hope-filled goodness. And if you want to join in—do it! You can snag the little graphic if you want, too! Go to town, spread some hope, and have an awesome freaking day. In a couple of weeks I’ll post the “closing ceremonies” (more nerdery, I know), highlighting bits and pieces of all the HOPE 2012 posts that I can find.

So. Excited.

Without further ado, here’s my contribution to HOPE 2012

So, of course, predictably, after I came up with this snazzy idea for a hope relay and talked a bunch of people into it, my mind snapped its vicious little jaws on any shred of enthusiasm and inspiration it found laying around. “Oh, look!” it said, “there’s some hope…” *squeeeeesh* “That’s better. Continue.” And as charming as that is, it’s not entirely helpful. So, after a lot of anxiety-producing brainstorming, I’ve come up with the thought that makes me most hopeful for my future. Here it is:

It’s okay to fail.

It’s A-O-K to suck. To be wrong. To have everyone in a 5 mile radius turn to you in one accord and say, “…boo.” It’s totally and completely fine.

Now, for those of you out there that didn’t come out of your childhood with an angry but witty inner voice latched on to you like a rabid monkey, this might sound like common sense. But for some—myself included—this is a radical thought. This is revolutionary. This is sacrilege.

See, the anal-retentive perfectionist soul requires a daily sacrifice of self-worth. If you’ve done something good, something decent, something okay, the perfectionist soul requires that you bundle it up and set it aflame as penance for the fact that someone, somewhere, is better than you. That’s the requirement when you’re doing well. Imagine the price to pay if you’re wrong, or last, or embarrassingly terrible; it’s high and swiftly collected.

I think the real driving force behind my fear of failure is a fear of rejection. I read an article over at Lifehacker recently that talked about how rejection has a powerful effect on us, even resulting in something that, to the brain, is almost like physical pain. No wonder we fear it. But, as the article suggests, the solution isn’t avoidance, it’s embrace. It’s building up immunity. Building up resistance. Taking away the power of the pain. (They suggest playing a game in which you aim to get rejected once a day, which I think is hilarious. Maybe I’ll do that once I stop feeling like a scaredy cat.)

And here’s the thing that I keep thinking about: so I do something really sucky and stupid and everyone looks at me like I’m a Klingon for a second; then what? Who cares? Is anyone going to stab me in the gut with a javelin? Is the government going to repossess all of my belongings for writing a bad blog post, or getting a script rejected a thousand times, or forgetting important birthdays? No. And I think the simple reason behind it is that no one cares as much about what I’m doing as I do. In my mind, the process of me failing starts with people saying, “She’s terrible,” and ends with them saying, “let’s murder her in the alley.” When in reality, it’s more like, “She’s terrible. Ooohh…nachos!”

And just like that, me and my failure are forgotten by the light of neon yellow, cheese-flavored goo. No big deal.

The idea that it’s okay to be wrong gives me hope for a day when I don’t feel the need to dash myself on the rocks of self-hatred. Maybe I can just do things I like—things that inspire me—and not be fettered by the fact that I’m not the best. And—not to always talk about my kid, but those little buggers sure do make you think twice—maybe my daughter won’t absorb my crippling dysfunction and she’ll actually feel kinda okay about herself. She’ll try, and fail, and try, and fail, and get some freakin’ nachos.

And here’s the real amazing, frighteningly hopeful thought: what would I do with myself if I wasn’t so freaking scared all the time? What would I try? What would I embrace? What would I learn? Who would I meet? So many roads in my life are off limits, guarded by a big, smelly, hairy fear ogre. If the ogre’s gone, it’d be an entirely different voyage.

So that’s what I say. There is hope. Push that ugly fear ogre out of your way and go fail your pants off. Let’s do it together.

(Let’s do failing together, not “doing it” together. Ugh. That’s a terrible ending. *shrug* Who cares?)

Passing the Baton

Ready for more hope? Keep your eye out for these folks:

Jerrod at Never Had One Lesson

Cancer never looked more evil than it did last Saturday when it covered an 8-year-old.

As I watched him, all I could think about was the opposite of hope. Despair was the only thing my mind was concerned with. The typical “how could this happen” and “but he’s just a kid” thoughts were all I could think about. Then it hit me. [Read the full post]

Amy at Reams Photo

…Let everything happen to you: beauty and dread… [Click here for Amy’s post featuring hope expressed through photography and a perfectly fitting poem from Rainer Maria Rilke.]

Denise at Victory Road

Matt at The Church-State Guy

…thinking of hope made me remember what initially made me passionate about the church/state relationship in the first place: I saw people who navigated it well, with grace, and candor, and integrity. That’s seriously hopeful stuff. [Read the full post]

Todd at ToddAndrewClayton.com

Kristen Mae at Abandoning Pretense

From the second I started thinking about hope, my thoughts were clouded with this fearful cynicism; but after contemplating the subject over these last few days, I see that my fears are merely the flip-side of my hopes; that one almost can’t exist without the other. [Read the full post]

Jenn and Casey at So This Is Love

She is little.

Too little to know what she knows of the world.

The neglect of her parents. The failure of a system that is supposed to protect her.

Bruises that have healed from her skin, but remain in her heart.

She folds herself into a chair, pulling her knees close to her. Protection. Defense. Knobby-kneed line in the sand. [Read the full post]

This Powerhouse is Condemned

Condemned.

Photo by shiny red type @ Flickr.

My life, as of late, has taken a turn for the seemingly impressive. I say “seemingly,” because while it might look impressive at first brush (what with all my exercising and writing and to-do list-making), I assure you, things are getting rather questionable on the inside.

As I’ve mentioned before, I’m lazy. If laziness were a career, I’d have $4.2 billion dollars and a vacation home in the Caymans. Little Richard and I would eat caviar and laugh big, open-mouth, tiny black pearl-coated laughs. That’s how good I am at being lazy.

However, recognizing that people don’t actually get paid (in money or caviar) for doing nothing, I decided I should do things that successful, active people do. Basically, I should pretend to be successful and active and hope no one spots my ruse. So, that’s what I’m doing. Specifically, I’ve been exercising at least 6 days a week for two months, I’ve been dieting for a month, and I’ve been writing at least 750 words per day for exactly 107 days. In a row. It makes me look kinda awesome.

But there’s a catch.

See, what I expected to happen was that it would be hard at first, maybe even mostly unproductive, but then I’d start seeing changes. It’d get easier. I wouldn’t curse the alarm every single morning. I expected to put in the hard work, then magically become super me who can do exercise and productive things without every fiber of my being screaming to lie down and watch The Only Way is Essex. But no. That is not what’s happening at all.

Every day I struggle to get up. And it’s getting worse. Now, instead of thinking, “I’m so tired, I don’t want to get up,” I think, “I want to quit. Should I quit? I just don’t want to do this anymore.” I drag myself through the entire workout and slump down exhausted afterward. And then I pound out my 750 words, which often include the phrase, “I really freaking wish I wasn’t doing this right now.”

And weight loss? Not happening. Last week I was so discouraged that my best friend and I decided that I shouldn’t weigh myself anymore. I should just take measurements. Because if I’m gaining muscle it’ll throw the weight thing off and I don’t need to upset myself with a number. So this week I tried just measurements. No change.

I’m facing the very real possibility that nothing will change from here on out—that this is it.

But We Just Exercise to be Healthy, Right?

This look is probably not in my future.

Everyone says that they’re exercising for “health.” I do. I try to tell myself that even if I don’t end up looking like those Pinterest photos, the overall health benefits are worth it. Everyone says that. And I think most of us are lying.

We want weight loss. We want sculpted body parts. We want “that sexy v shape” (oh, lord does that phrase make me angry). But you know what will make you really inspect that belief? If you run and stretch and pull and lift and crunch and cut out sugar and reduce fat and do everything you’re suppose to do…and your body says, “NO! This area here is a flotation device. We are keeping it for survival! Run all you want, bitch!”

I am unhappy with this arrangement.

My friend Anna keeps reminding me that I’m in the normal BMI range, and maybe I should be happy with that. Happy with being healthy. I have to wonder why I’m not. I think it’s because I can make Jabba’s face with my belly if I want to, and I have yet to find a use for that ability.

Jabba the Hut Portrait

Not a great look for abs. Photo By San Diego Shooter @ Flickr.

So, again, I’m confronted: Do I really want to do this—the exercising, avoiding foods, eating truckloads of salads, getting up early—do I want to do this if nothing changes from here on out? If I end up looking like a person who doesn’t exercise, will I still do it? If I look like someone who doesn’t eat right, will I eat right anyway? If I don’t gain any energy, if I don’t like it any more, if it doesn’t make me feel accomplished…if nothing gets better…will I still do it? If  the answer is yes, then by golly I might actually be doing all this for my health. In fact, that’s all I’d be doing it for.

Those questions rang through my head on my cool down walk home today. And the louder they rang, the clearer this was to me:  I have to let go of my expectations. Not just let go, I need to mourn them. I need to burn an effigy of the “ideal” me . I thought about how hard I’ve been working, and how the results aren’t showing. I decided that I have to let the expectation that things will change die like a neglected Ficus. In fact, maybe the Ficus is already dead and I’m just now showing up to its funeral. I thought about all of this and I cried my way home, having buried in my mind the hope of looking slimmer, fitter——better.

On the upside, I’ve been making this banana-peanut-butter-cocoa shake and it’s so delicious I could punch a goat in the mouth. So there’s that.

Everyone’s Better Than You at Everything

Head in Hands

Head in Hands by Alex E. Proimos, on Flickr

The internet teaches us new lessons every day. There are nuggets of knowledge littering every IP address and data package from here to Nauru and back. Being the perpetual student that I am, I keep my ear to the ground and my eyes peeled for whatever enlightening bit the internet wishes to reveal to me and…I’ve finally discovered the #1 lesson that it has to offer:

Everyone is Better Than You at Everything

Yes. It’s true. Whatever you’re doing, you’re not doing it very well. There are many, many people—droves of people, really—doing what you’re doing, but better. For instance…

People Are Better Than You at Parenting

Whether they’re tiger mom-ing, French mom-ing, attaching themselves, or detaching themselves—WHATEVER they’re doing, it’s better than what you’re doing. They run play groups. Moms breastfeed their children in public until they’re 5 years old without batting an eye. Dads coach the soccer team and build tree houses fit for the queen. They’re masters of cognitive development. Of discipline. Structure. Diapering. At-home science projects. Themed birthday parties. Whatever there is to be done as a parent, they’re doing it better than you. You might as well ship your kid to the zoo. You’re doing a terrible job.

People Are Better Than You at Home Decorating

Sure, you have decent furniture. You have a photo or two matted and framed. You have an accent wall. It’s like you’re not even trying. Because you know what? People are decorating the crap out of their homes. People are out there, upcycling, DIYing and ombre-ing every surface in sight. They’ve woven chic waste baskets out of plastic bags. Their laundry rooms are like five-star hotels for dirty socks. Where you see a box of plastic spoons, they see a custom-painted, hand-made chrysanthemum mirror. Every last item they own is coordinated, organized, arranged and exhibited with the perfect blend of exactitude, whimsy and glamour. Your home, to these home decorating mavens, is little more than a “before” picture. How do you sleep at night in that?

People Are Better Than You at Working Out

People are doing it to it out there! They’ve got pithy sayings. They’ve got fancy shoes. They’ve got health shakes. They’ve got gym memberships. They’ve got ROCK! HARD! ABS! When the going gets tough, they don’t cry like you do. They don’t sweat like a weenie, they sweat like it’s their JOB. When they sweat, they say, “Sweat is fat crying! Yeah! Air kick!” Then they do some bicep curls and drink a gallon of lemon-cucumber-mint detox juice. Where the heck is your detox juice? Nowhere. That’s where.

People Are Better Than You at Being Productive

How are people managing being better than you at parenting, home decorating AND working out? Simple. They’re better than you at being productive. They have lists. They have organizational structures for said lists. They have techniques. They get up early. They power nap. They multitask teleconferences while bleaching their kitchen grout and whipping up a crock pot meal. They could live your entire life on Tuesdays alone. In fact, it’d be best to just try to slip your laundry in with theirs, or try to sneak your to-do list onto their fridge because—let’s face it—that’s about as close as you’re gonna get to being even half as productive as these life masterminds.

So there you have it: evidence that every single person on the internet is doing everything better than you. Of course, there’s also the possibility that people don’t photograph, post, or describe in elegant detail the shitstorm that happens before and after the shutter clicks. There’s a teensy, weensy chance that the internet doesn’t show us real people—it shows us über-people; people at their highest moment, with no trace of failure, messiness, or inelegance. It’s that, or you’re the worst possible human ever. One of the two.

Lady Power! (Or, I’m Actually not a Lesbian)

Just look at those ladies! Tell me you wouldn't snuggle them…

It’s been brought to my attention that, sometimes, I sound like I’m into girls. Now, I do like lesbians. Well, I guess not all lesbians. How could I know that I like all lesbians? So I guess I’ll say that I have wonderful lesbian friends that I like a whole lot. But alas, I *like* dudes. Well, actually, I have a bit of a complicated relationship with Dudes, but I like one dude. My husband. I have a very awesome, uncomplicated relationship with him. Ack. This got super convoluted all of a sudden. Let’s start over.

I compliment ladies a lot. And I sometimes want to snuggle with them. I’ve mentioned being entranced by the adorable Mary Louise Parker and wanting to snuggle with Dr. Brené Brown. I’m totally goofy over Alice Bradley. And kinda lots of other women. I’m like that in person, too. Maybe worse. I kinda want to be uncomfortably friendly with a lot of women. Doesn’t everyone feel that way? Aren’t there some women that you think, “I could just snorgle her a little”?

I wrote a draft of this post and had my husband read it and he said, “Nope, you still sound like you want to make out with women.” So, let me explain a little more. When I say “snuggle,” it’s like I want to pinch cheeks and rub noses and squeeze shoulders. Kinda like you would with a kitten, you know? Like you see the little kitty, and you just want to squeeze it and talk through your teeth and say stuff like, “Awent you just the sweetest wittle kitty evoh?” and then the kitty looks at you like it’s kinda fun but also a little terrifying. That’s what I picture in my mind. Anyone? You know what I’m saying? You know that feeling when someone is just so remarkable and funny and awesome and beautiful that you feel like you can’t control yourself?

Maybe it’s just me. I’m aware that I shouldn’t actually do those things, though. I promise. You don’t have to worry about me if we meet in person. I think that I want to snorgle people, but I don’t actually do the snorgling. I’m not totally bananas, it’s just that…well, some women—a lot of women—are super amazing. And there’s something about the fact that women walk around oozing with awesomeness that makes me want cuddle strangers.

I think it has a lot to do with the fact that those same women—the same women that floor me with how gorgeous and vivacious and smart they are—probably had a life experience not unlike mine. And my experience went something like this: be a kid, gain a teensy bit of awareness, hate yourself from then on. The de facto position of most girls as they grow is to be utterly disappointed in themselves. Criticizing your body and hair and teeth and laugh and knee shape is basically a full-time job from about age 10.

Love me some Tina Fey. Things would get real awkward, real quick.

I know it sounds dramatic, but I’m pretty sure that’s the deal. It was for me. And there’s some data to back it up, too. According to some research that Dove (the soap company) has done, only 4% of women worldwide think they’re beautiful. Holy crap! I personally know a boat load of beautiful women, and I see beautiful women all the time. Like, every day. So, either all the beautiful women gravitate to places where I can see them, or we women have a BIG discrepancy between what actually is (there are LOTS of beautiful women and you’re likely one of them) and what we think (we’re all a bunch of uggos).

And that’s just looks. When we get to the workplace, our intelligence takes a hit as we’re routinely valued lower than our male counterparts (the stats show we make 25% less just because of our boobs. Or maybe it’s the uterus. Both? Something about our lady parts is getting us in trouble.) Women hold a stupidly low percentage of power positions in government and we have a puny representation in the film industry as writers, directors, or producers. Even in cooking—a chore stereotypically thrust on women as their duty—when it comes to the role of head chef, women only eek out 15% of the positions nationwide. Chores at home go to the ladies, high-powered glam positions go to the men. Lame.

I’m sure I could continue this way for a while. Google easily coughs up a pile of reasons for women to say, “Hey, wait a minute…” But I don’t need to. The point is not that we need to boo-hoo ourselves OR poo-poo men, the point is that when I see women—smart, radiant, AMAZING women—I think the appropriate response is to be enamored. To be amazed. To want to snuggle up on the couch and soak in the goodness of another soul, and be at least one voice that says, “Hey, you’re kinda great.” Maybe it’ll rip a plot hole in the story we’re told. Maybe it’ll make a way for a tiny sapling of self-worth to break through the concrete that got poured over our rich lands. Or maybe it’ll just make for some super awkward moments. That’s entirely possible, too.

So, cough it up, people. Isn’t there someone who you think is so amazing that you want to snuggle them a little? Just a little nuzzling? Please, do share. Let’s compliment the crap out of each other for a while, okay?

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p.s. – Loads of love to the ladies in my life who have lost track of how amazing they are. You know who you are.

p.p.s. – Finding an image for this post was kinda infuriating. I searched for “women” which brought up a bunch of sketches of bare-breasted women. Really? “Women” = “something naked that I can do”? Come on, internet. Get your crap together. So, then I searched for “badass women” and got a bunch of pics of roller derby players, which was kinda funny.

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