Tag Archives: things you don’t have to do if you don’t want to

And all her old noses… had grown back!

As one of the most average people on the entire planet, I’m not naturally very good at anything in particular (I’m not giving you the special nod, nor, if you’ll recall, have I even demonstrated the nod for you, so I assure you, this is still not that time). I’m not saying that there’s nothing that I’m good at at all. I’m just saying that I didn’t come into this world loaded up with natural talents. I’m not a singer or a dancer or a musician of any kind. I took all kinds of lessons and classes in all kinds of things growing up, and I could certainly be taught, to an extent, but there was always a point where the teaching of the basics ended and skill and desire to improve had to pick up and take it from there and, yeah… no. I was a fairly well rounded high school student who then settled happily into the nice and flat college student and adult you know from a sort of distance today.

No, but seriously, I wasn’t good at any of those things, especially since I was forced to continue to engage in them long past the time when my interest for them ran out and I still can’t really figure out the parental motivation behind that. I can definitely see sticking with dance or a sport or whatever through a season or a year that had already started, but to be signed up again and again to the point that I was showing up for classes dressed in jeans and apathy? And for my entire high school career, my electives were filled with music and language, which is fine, for college and all, but my school offered a ridiculous amount of other more interesting electives, which caused me to double up my schedule as a senior for absolutely no reason other than FUNSIES (it didn’t end well), and on top of that, I was terrible at my selected instrument and I took five years of Russian. Ask me how much conversational Russian I’m speaking these days. This is where I’d say “none” in Russian, except I don’t know how. (Telling me how in the comments won’t go over well. I do know how. That’s not the POINT.)

The point is, not everyone is born good at things, or even one thing, or just gets good at whatever they end up doing, but that doesn’t doom you to a life of not being good at anything, ever. There was that lady on YouTube, that one who decided she wanted to learn how to dance, except she couldn’t dance? (Oh, casual dancing, that’s another thing I can’t do. Well, I can. I can totally dance. I dance party around my house at LEAST once a weekday. Minimum. So it’s not a matter of not being able to dance. It’s a matter of, if some other people were to observe me doing it, would they also call what I was doing dancing? MAKES YOU THINK. Hope you wore your waders because I am getting DEEP.)

Anyway, she couldn’t dance at all, but she wanted to be a person who knew how to dance. So she decided to just learn. And she videoed herself over the course of a year as she taught herself a dance routine, and at the end of the time, she did the whole routine, and there she was. Dancing. She wanted to learn to do it, so she learned, and then she could do it.

 

When Phil and I first moved in together, I couldn’t cook. I mean, at all. I never really thought of myself as a person who didn’t know how to cook, because I’d always been pretty reasonably successful in following a recipe, but baking some cakes, making scrambled eggs, and Kraft mac & cheese a bunch of times while you’re in college is not the same thing as being faced with cooking entire meals for two people the majority of the evenings every single week. And when faced with that, hey, guess what, no. No, I could not do that. Like, at all. The first night I cooked dinner for us when we moved in together, through a weird set of circumstances, we had my sister’s boyfriend visiting from Pennsylvania for a job interview, and I made baked ziti and frozen garlic bread and it was good, and I think Phil got his hopes up, or at least, kept his hopes where they were. But I soon slapped his hopes ALL AROUND.

Holy crap. I tried. I tried so hard. I don’t know why it was so hard. I don’t know why I didn’t know how to do things I kind of just assumed I would know how to do. I didn’t know how to bake potatoes. I didn’t know how to make rice without my rice maker (WHICH GOT UNPACKED WITH HASTE). I didn’t know how to make any eggs other than scrambled. At least every second or third meal I cooked went straight into the trash. We ate take out and fast food and frozen meals a lot to SAVE money because of how much food I ruined. But I could make baked ziti, so I would. And then I’d try three other things, and one would be okay, one would be edible-ish, and one would go in the trash. And then I’d make baked ziti again, and Phil would make burgers. And I’d try another round of new recipes. And soon I had two things I could cook – baked ziti and fried rice. We ate those a lot between things I tried and the things that were less successful didn’t go into the trash as much as they got eaten and then we said, “maybe we don’t have that one ever again.” And then I learned how to make Deeleeshoos Noodles! And over the course of years – YEARS – because Phil and I have lived together since March of 2009, I’ve gotten to where I have maybe 8 or so TOTAL recipes that I know I can make for absolute sure. There are other things I can do okay, or I am still fussing with. And over that time, there are more types of recipes and foods that I’m willing to throw into the meal plan and give a shot. And it’s been a while since an entire dinner went right into the trash.

Well, last week, all the fish went into the trash, but that’s because I forgot it was defrosting. I forget a lot of things lately. It’s not my fault.

In 2009, I could definitely not cook. I am not saying I developed a deep love for and interest in cooking, so I decided to learn how, but I did have a need to learn how to cook, so I just kept cooking and cooking and cooking and I guess I kind of know how now. I’m not very good at it. (It’s still not that time.) I make a few things that, as a family (that’s Phil and I, Penelope only eats carbs), we really enjoy. I feel like Penny is probably going to grow up having a few weirdo favorites that “mom made” or “the way mom made” that won’t really match with the way the rest of the world eats things (you know, well) that will be a kind of comfort food sort of thing, or requested recipe, maybe, not because it’s any good objectively, but because we eat it often and it’s just the way I make it. I don’t think that eight things is an especially large rotation of recipes, but it’s not my whole rotation. Every grocery shopping trip, I usually plan 7 – 9 dinners. At least 2 or 3 will be totally new and Phil will be WELL WARNED that any potential failure is on the recipe. A couple more might be ones we’ve only tried once or twice. Others we’ve had a few times or are Phil requests. Even those we’ve had a bunch of times are not immune to my standard kitchen “… whoops. EVERYTHING’S FINE!”

This is the key to my best cooking that took me about two years to figure out: NEVER tell Phil what went wrong. When I tell him, he can taste it, and dinner is ruined. If I don’t tell him what I did wrong, or what I think I did wrong, or what might taste off, or what steps from the recipe I changed, he never has any idea.

Even though I’ve been working on this for a long time, and even though I have come very far and the starting line is barely a dot waaaaay back there, I look at the dinners some of my friends post regularly – just weeknight dinners – and I’m just, whoa. Whoa. So beyond me. But I’m not discouraged or anything. For one, we’re all just feeding our families some food. For two, I’ve been working on my cooking skills and plodding along and making notable improvement over time, so if I want it to, there’s no reason that can’t continue. If I want to cook dinners as nice as the ones I see online, then I can keep working at my own skills. Someone being naturally talented or, for whatever reason or through whatever method, already talented, doesn’t crowd out my ability to develop a similar skill set if I’d like to dedicate the time to doing so. Unless it’s for, maybe, singing or something. I don’t think I could dedicate enough time, ever.

THE POINT OF THIS IS, I’m not very good at doing makeup, but I want to be. I don’t feel like this is a singing/dancing/instrument skill, but more of a that lady who taught herself to dance/teaching yourself to cook/I didn’t write a third example skill. So I do my makeup a lot. Sometimes if I’m just going to the bathroom, I stop at the mirror to do my eyebrows, even if I’m not wearing any other makeup and not going anywhere that day. I read a lot of makeup blogs. I look up video tutorials on specific products I have or specific looks/skills I want to work on. I wear a full face of makeup to Target.

Sometimes I practice eyebrows after I take my sleeping medicine but before I fall asleep and hope I remember to wash my face before I pass out, so as not to surprise myself into an sudden pants-pee in the morning if I don’t happen to remember how angry and eyebrow-vengeful I got trying to make them match the night before.

eyebrows

Eyebrow? Why one so good, one so sad, eyebrow?

Just like with cooking, I’m getting better. I really am. It’s noticeable to me and sometimes people have even mentioned my makeup to me, which obviously makes me happy, just like compliments on anything else someone had put so much time into would. Don’t compliment me on that sentence, I didn’t put any time into it, and it would mean nothing to me.

I don’t mean this whole screed as a long setup about how makeup is for everyone, and how even if you feel intimidated by it, you too can can become a total pro. Take it from Boldbrow McHalfsies up there. No, I am not saying that at all. Not that it’s not true, I don’t know what you’re capable of doing if you set your mind to it. Honestly, it keeps me up at night and I don’t want to think about it any more.

No, actually, it was all about this.

Before I got in bed tonight (I’m typing this in bed, post-sleeping pills, pre-sleep, standard eyebrows), I washed my face, removing all my makeup from the day, and walked into the playroom where Phil had his back to me, playing a video game.

I said, “I can always tell these days when I feel like my makeup is on point, because not only am I in a better mood in general, but after I wash my face, I look in the mirror and I’m like, ‘Waaauuugghghhh!'”

He nods distractedly with his back still to me.

“No, Buddy*, look at me.”

So he turns around, kind of impatiently, and he looks at me and involuntarily goes, “Waauughh!”**

*****

*We both call our husbands Buddy, so when we all hang out in person, it’s like “Buddy? Bud– oh, sorry. My Buddy?

Fiber commercials and the general culture of underpants assumptions and expectations.

I HAVE TWO THINGS ABOUT WHICH I WOULD LIKE TO BITCH TODAY.

*****

Have you seen that commercial where the lady is unloading her groceries and the husband is all, ew, gross, fiber! Yuck! Blagh! Everyone hates fiber! It is universally known that fiber tastes like tree trunks and scrotum and conveniently ignores that fiber can be found in all kinds of delicious foods and then used in even more numerous delicious recipes! BLAH! FIBER! TREE SCROTUM!

And the lady is like, doodly doo, whatever, as she unwraps and starts to eat a Fiber One bar.

AND THE HUSBAND JUMPS INTO HIS ARGUMENT WINNING POINT! He’s all, how dare you preach to me the benefits of a douglas fir tainted with TAINT, while you stand there and eat a CANDY BAR!

And then in my mind there’s the big outrage that I reserve only for television commercials, improperly placed apostrophes, and people who cut in line like you aren’t even going to notice they cut in line.

IN WHAT WORLD is a Fiber One bar – or ANY granola-based bar-shaped food – even REMOTELY comparable to a CANDY BAR? In no world, that’s what world.

I’m not going to go so far as to say a Fiber One bar tastes like a festive mix of bark and ball sack, but I will say this: I got a good deal on Fiber One bars a week or so ago – they were $2.50 a box and there was a military store coupon for $3 off 3 boxes. So I had a BUNCH OF THEM. So I consider myself kind of an authority. One, CANDY BARS have a lot more CANDY. Two, I was eating the chocolate one (“chocolate”) and you know what the main flavor profile I noticed was? CELERY. It tasted like CELERY.

I’m not even saying celery is a bad thing. I enjoy celery. I ate more of those Fiber One bars, even. I’m not complaining about the BAR ITSELF. I’m just saying, who do you think you are fooling, Fiber One? YOU ARE NOT A CANDY BAR. No one would EVER mistake a Fiber One bar for a CANDY BAR. Not even a foolish television husband, who then eats one, blissfully unaware that he is HAVING FIBER, because it doesn’t taste like wood and nuts.

I don’t know. The whole commercial makes me so mad.

*****

I was reading this book lately, and I hated it, for about 800 different reasons. But I’m only talking about one reason today. Actually, it’s not even a reason I hated the book. It’s something the book reminded me of. The whole book was pretty terrible and this thing falls under that general terrible umbrella, but it’s not something I’d add to the list of specific ways this book made me wish that you could drown a book.

There was one part of this book that talks about a woman who didn’t groom her area, and wore a bikini, letting all of the area hair-ea poke out and about. I believe this was referred to – if not in the book, then at least in other places – as a “70s-style bush.” Which made me insane. Insane.

SEE, in calling it a “70s-style bush,” one is implying that different eras have had different kind of area hair-ea styles. That just like you can peg combat boots and a flannel around the waist as a 90s style, so too can you spot a vaguely grungy, somewhat angsty bush and know instantly that it’s been styled up in a nod to My So Called Life.

WHICH BRINGS ME TO MORE POINTS.

1. Bush is just crude. I mean, there are way more impolite words to use for the area hair-ea, I suppose, but bush. I will stop using it for the rest of this post.

2. To be able to call it “70s-style” indicates that you have seen ENOUGH lady styles to know how to categorize a lady’s downstairs choices. Do ladies who choose to wax walk into their waxer in the same terrified way I approach a new hair stylist? Are they too running the risk of walking out with the pubic hair version of The Rachel?

3. To criticize or even point out or EVEN SUGGEST THE POSSIBLE PRESENCE of a “70s-style” in the pants, you are making an assumption, an assumption that has started to drive me past the brink of okayness with people who make such an assumption.

See, these days, there seems to be an assumption, or an understoodness, that the area hair-ea will be tended to in some way. Look, I am not coming out in favor of or against a raging wilderness. I’m just saying that I think the general assumption – IF IN FACT THERE MUST BE AN ASSUMPTION – should be ones geared more toward a natural state of things.

Lady magazines, such as COSMO, as well as OTHER LADIES, seem to imply that the choice to not tend to the lady garden is now not the norm. That you are supposed to. That you are expected to. That you are somehow obligated to shave, trim, pluck, wax, or otherwise shape the area hair-ea into some kind of pleasing form. It is now the assumption that any lady walking around has FULFILLED HER LADY RESPONSIBILITY and HANDLED the situation.

Worse is when a LADY MAGAZINE OR OTHER LADY implies that you should be doing this or that or ANYTHING in your personal wine cellar because it is EXPECTED by the man in your life. Look, as far as I am concerned, when it comes to underpants parts, a man can expect in one hand and go handle his own penis in the other because male expectations have little to do with how I tend to the sculpture garden. A man may request. A man may have a preference. A man may not EXPECT anything of personal lady grooming.

I am just driven INSANE by this assumption of what goes on inside the underpants of a “normal” lady. You can’t assume what’s in my underpants. You have no idea. And right now you’re thinking, “Well, TJ, I think I can make at least ONE assumption about what you’ve got in there,” BUT NO. YOU CAN’T. I HAD A C-SECTION. IT COULD BE A LANDSCAPE OF SURPRISES AND VOLCANOES FOR ALL YOU KNOW.

My point is – my points ARE – that NO ONE believes that a granola bar, fiber-fortified or not, is a candy bar and ALSO that I OBJECT to the general culture of UNDERPANTS ASSUMPTIONS AND EXPECTATIONS.