Someone Else’s Eyes (Or I Go All Introspective Again)

Sometimes we need to see life through someone else’s eyes. It’s important to remember your situation or perspective isn’t paramount. Our modern culture tells us we’re these amazing, autonomous, infallible beings with some sort of right to happiness and success. As if our masters degrees grant us a life without failure, rejection, or struggle. As if our size 6 jeans mean we won’t be left brokenhearted and sobbing on the bathroom floor.

Guess what?

Nothing protects you from the bumps and bruises of life. Not even a trust fund, a tiny waist, or a perky rack. Nothing. Protects. You.

We’re all going to falter.

We’re all going to fail.

If you haven’t yet, bully for you. Just hang on. You might be betrayed by your boss. You might lose the most important person in your life too soon. You might fall short of your dreams.

And guess what? It’s all going to be OK anyway.

The thing is, life can be painful. It can sting, but it isn’t an excuse to check out. It doesn’t grant you permission to shut down and shut everyone out. Trust me. I’ve done it. And it’s OK if you have too. Life is about forgiving yourself. Forgiving others. And moving on.

It’s about finding joy in the little things when everything is falling apart around you. Maybe it’s even fiddling while Rome burns*.

Whatever it is, life is a long, strange trip. And it’s filled with people who can help you… if you let them. Lately I’ve discovered that life isn’t a random accident. It’s really not. I’ve been having a crazy month where people are coming into my life (and also back into it) with questions for which I have the answers; they’re fighting battles I’ve fought before. Or they have been through some rough times that have helped me immensely on my path. I think that maybe we can be missing pieces in someone else’s puzzle. It doesn’t have to be a forever thing. It can just be a moment in time. Or it can be a great friendship. Either way, I think it’s our mission to help where we can… how we can.

I started this blog to express myself… and to talk about my favorite things: food, dogs, and design. And in the process I’ve found myself again — the me that gets buried when I’m getting paid to write someone else’s story — the me that gets paid to live a life that isn’t really mine.

So thank you for reading. And thank you for joining me on a journey that doesn’t have a destination.

Yet.

Tonight, I leave you with this: a photo me with my Bumpa, Harold Lawrence Russell. A kindred spirit. An inspiration. And one of the most amazing men I will ever know.

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I have my grandpa’s eyes. I only hope I have his strength, his kindness, and his capacity for forgiveness.

When I’m ready, I’ll tell his story. For real.

*Side note: Nero, who is said to have set fire to Rome and then fiddled while it burned, was a crazy bastard who persecuted Christians and was tight with (and also related to) Caligula who was so whacked that he planned to elect his horse Consul. #truestory #youcantmakethisshitup

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It’s Dark and Stormy Up in Here (Or At Least in My Glass)

Sorry for the freak out on Friday. Whoa, that was unpleasant. (Thank you all for the encouragement. Sincerely. It really means a lot!)

Anyway, I’m fixin’ to tell you about the elephants soon, but first? We should talk about my love of Fever Tree Ginger Beer.

I adore ginger. Adore. It. I could almost live on it – particularly the pickled kind. I have been known to fight my friend Melissa for the last shred of pickled ginger on a sushi plate. We are obsessed. Like have to order extra obsessed.

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This is Melissa and me with our Long Lost Danielle in the middle. We need Danielle back in LA, like immediately.

So anyway, the other night I ordered a marvelous meat sandwich from the deli up the street and mixed myself a Dark and Stormy with some Fever Tree for a divine pairing that was sort of like au jus and rum nirvana. (For real.)

If you’re not familiar with Dark and Stormies, you should be. They’re a feisty, fabulous, little rum cocktail with a good gingery bite. I think the key to making the perfect Dark and Stormy is using the right ginger beer. Bars often make them with Bundaberg’s and that’s a’ight, but not tremendous. The drink is vastly superior when it’s made with Fever Tree. Trust me.

Fever Tree is amazing, and it even has bits of ginger floating in the bottle. (Heaven!)

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Check out this bottle of feisty goodness!

Technically, the recipe looks something like this:

Dark and Stormy

2 oz dark rum
8 oz ginger beer
lime wedge

But mostly I just pour it all in my glass haphazardly, add some fresh squeezed lime juice, and then sip it with a huge grin on my face.

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Gingery rummy goodness in a glass. Pirates would be proud of me.

Fever Tree can be tricky to find, but you can buy it here.

Now I’m off to the Thai Town Rotary Club Meeting to discuss a fire station fundraiser. I don’t know how I get myself into these things*….

 *Actually I do. Here’s how: last spring, my gorgeous British friend rather sweetly and not so subtly informed an entire fire station that I was a good cook and I’d be happy to make them pasta with spicy Italian sausage. This was overheard by the Rotary Club President, blah, blah, blah, etc., you get it. Suzie was trying to set me up with 14 firemen and now I’m planning a fundraiser. Or something. 

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Suzie is sexy with legs that do not end. She and I exceed at causing trouble together.

I Just Can’t Talk About Elephants (Or I Admit I’m Sad)

Right now I want to talk to you about this.

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It’s the elephant themed baby shower I threw for one of my closest friends.

And I kind of want to talk to you about this whole situation.

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Both the meaning of what’s on my wall and the massive home “to do” list next to it… but right now?

I just can’t.

Instead, I want to talk to you vulnerability. Yuck, I know. Totally monstrous. But hear me out.

About two weeks ago, I got into a car accident on my way to a nail appointment. I was all lost in my head about 14 different things (per usual), running late (always) and particularly stressed out about the being late part. See, the mani/pedi was a gift from my aunt and it was with her manicurist of 20 years. I am BY FAR the most disorganized, air headed person in my entire family, and I feel like I’m always letting them down with my general tardiness and scatterbrainity. (I should mention I was also three months overdue in scheduling said appointment.)

So anyway, I was checking my phone to see how far away I was when I crashed into the back of a Lexus. So that sucked. I had been planning to call the manicurist to tell her I was going to be 5-10 minutes late. Instead I had to call her and admit I’d just crashed into an LS 400 and was going to be more like 30 minutes late. None of this was awesome… and it’s only the beginning of my story.

The next morning I had to have this conversation with a guy that I was simply dreading, but I knew running away from it was a far worse option, so I made myself call. After leaving a message for him, I talked to my mother and she started telling me things that are going on with my family in Michigan that made me simultaneously devastated and relieved that I live 2500 miles away. (I will not get into it here because they are not my stories to tell. Suffice it to say, you would not wish any of it on your worst enemy.) She also said I should call my grandmother because her sister in Canada had just suffered a massive stroke. While this would be devastating news in and of itself, it’s only a fraction of what my grandmother is actually enduring. See, when Greta passes away, she will be grandmother’s third sister to die in two years. In those two years my grandmother has buried her husband of 67 years and her 25 year-old grandson.

I cannot even begin to fathom this sometimes.

I usually call my grandma on Sundays to chat but called her immediately to cheer her up. The guy called me back as I was wrapping up with my grandma, and I had the conversation I was afraid to have. By the end of it all, I felt like I had just gone 15 rounds with Ivan Drago hitting me in the face. And the thing is?

There was nothing I could do about any of it. Nothing at all.

So I blasted the Macklemore, made some soup, and danced in my kitchen. See, that’s usually how I deal with life. I dance. I do nice things for other people instead of asking them to help me. I cover shit with glitter, making it look all cute and fancy. I throw elaborate dinner parties where I flit around like a cheerful little bird in high heels.

And usually?

I smile when I want to scream.

Part of the reason I’ve been so absent from my blog is not just that I was working on a huge project for the Oscars that was taking all of my time. It was also because my usual I’m-happy-everything’s-fine routine has been feeling really false since my cousin committed suicide in November.

Most of the time I’m the dependable drone who puts her head down and gets the job done no matter what it costs her. Whether it means sacrificing sleep, my social life, or my sanity, I just do it. I’m the kind of person you want around in a crisis. I’m focused. I’m in command. And I’m moving 100 miles an hour. The problem for me is when the crisis ends. Or worse yet, when there isn’t a resolution for it at all.

What then?

I used to go the batting cages and absolutely beat the ever loving shit out of balls flying at my face when I was upset. It was a way I could deal with the rage I felt about the things I couldn’t fix. And today I’m close to picking up a bat and swinging at balls until I can’t lift my arms again. The problem with this option is that the guy who used to take me is 2800 miles away, married with two kids, and prepping for a huge trial. And I could go alone, but right now going to the batting cages without him might just be another reminder of everything in my life that is gone.

I was in Costco this morning (again with low blood sugar – WHY do I do this to myself?!?) and I was close to having a screaming fit because I couldn’t find the peanut butter or the V-8. I wanted to scream “WHERE THE FUCK DID YOU PUT THE FUCKING SKIPPY, YOU ASSHOLES? I’M STARVING AND I WANT TO PUT ALL OF THE FUCKING PEANUT BUTTER IN NORTH AMERICA INTO MY FUCKING CART AND GET THE FUCK OUT OF HERE!!!”

But I didn’t do that. My WASP roots prevailed and instead I silently, stoically, and methodically went up and down the aisles suppressing my rage until I found the Skippy stash. I did this when I wanted to go absolutely postal.

See, it’s easier to really let go and scream about the things that don’t matter like 32 pounds of peanut butter. It somehow hurts less to get upset about Skippy than the things that are really tearing you apart. It’s easier to scream “Where’s the stupid Skippy?” when you really want to scream, “Why was I up so late working that I missed my chance to say goodbye to one of the most important men in my life?” “Why did my cousin have to hang himself over a couple of bad grades?” and “Why does every company or project have to fold, get sold, or come to an end when I’m finally getting back on my feet?”

Why?

And the truth is, it doesn’t matter. Finding an answer to all the “whys” doesn’t solve anything anyway. Sitting with the pain does. Leaning into the pain instead of running from it — that’s the work. Telling someone how bad it really feels? That’s what matters. So I’m starting here. I’m admitting it here.

I’ve spent most of my life being strong. For myself. For others. And I think maybe what I’m learning is that in life…

You have to be strong enough to break.

Because that’s where the real healing starts.

Now you should totally watch this TED talk because it’s all kinds of amazing, and Brene Brown is much smarter than I am.

I’m off to blast Rebecca Black’s Friday because I can’t sit with the pain for too long. I need to dance in my kitchen. And maybe? I also need to channel some Ivan Drago and take up boxing… because no matter how hard it gets, I’m never going to stop swinging.