Just gaze at this charming description of my region:
It’s another Nor’Easter! My in-laws lost power but thankfully our old house (built in 1900) is somehow a bulwark never failing against storms (we nevah evah lose powah, kid). This week’s avalanche of death is being referred to as “Winter Storm Quinn,” which, honestly, for the 90s babies among us, is just kind of a bitchy move.
Because I am quite literally snowed in, here’s how I’ll be entertaining myself today:
Catching up on The Resident. You have got to get into this show. Matt Czuchry is so hot in it that it should be a federal crime. He’s one of those Paul Rudd bastards that only gets hotter with age. It’s a travesty. He’s bringing Logan Huntzberger charm & daddy issues to the role, except, instead of a yuppie, he’s a fucking doctor who fought in Afghanistan and has tattoos. I rest my case. Also, apart from this insane digression about how much of a borderline unacceptable crush I have on the lead actor, the show is actually very good. Shaunette Renée Wilson from Black Panther is in the main cast, and she is a revelation.
Bingeing The Good Wife on Hulu because Czuchry is also in that, and I have no dignity or shame. Doctor Logan, Lawyer Logan.
I submitted the following to the Man Repeller Writer’s Club for January 2018. The prompt was to write about one or all of the following in 500 words or fewer:
What’s a risk you took that you regret taking? What’s a risk that you’re glad you didn’t take? What a risk you wish you took? What’s a risk you hope you take this year?
I have been on this spinning blue orb for more than twenty-six years and I have never taken a single risk. Or, at least, it feels that way. I’ve never bungee-jumped, taken a transatlantic flight, publicly declared my love to someone, or gotten a tattoo larger than a postage stamp.
That’s not entirely fair. I’ve done some stuff. I dropped out of college (more than once) but ended up in graduate school, and, I mean, I got married. But, in the moment, these seemed like the safest options, hardly the risks they purport to be. I had played it safe for decades because the threat of the unknown was too daunting.
So, when I started therapy, I didn’t think much of it. It didn’t seem like a risk, because when I’d tried it before, I hadn’t learned anything. I didn’t do the work, I didn’t stick it out. I’d go once, maybe twice, declare it useless, and forge ahead with my life. But by the time my twenty-sixth birthday appeared on the horizon, the nihilism and hopelessness that had characterized my adult life became too overwhelming to bear. My panic attacks increased. I was drinking every day. I was unmoored from reality in a way that was jeopardizing my health and my marriage. And worst of all, I had no fucking clue what to do with my life.
And then I met Tanya. Her office was at the end of a long hallway in one of the campus’s newest buildings, which had the sterile vibe of a hospital ward. Her lime green loveseat reminded me of my childhood bedroom. After some sessions, I’ve fallen apart and failed to put myself back together for days at a time. I’ve arranged toys in a sand table and choked on my own tears. I’ve made resolutions, reported successes, and admitted failures. I’ve shown up drunk—she’s seen the worst parts of me up close. And most importantly, I’ve learned to trust another person with my real thoughts, my inner monologue, not just the bullshit performance everyone else sees. The chasm between how I see myself and how others see me is so much wider than I could have ever imagined. Vulnerability is a trip.
Tanya ends every session with the same line: “Remember what we talked about.” Sometimes, that’s the hardest part—remembering that I deserve to be happy, that I’m a good person. That I don’t need to constantly self-flagellate, or be polished and perfect every moment of the day. That I’m allowed to say no.
It’s been the greatest, shittiest, hardest, most wonderful six months of my life. Well worth the risk of actually getting to know myself.
I started going to yoga every Thursday night and Saturday morning and it is the single greatest thing I’ve ever done. Well, except this past Saturday, because I have a sinus thing, and when I went on Thursday I thought my head was going to explode from the pressure. But I mean, I’ve been getting into my practice.
Technically, I’ve been doing yoga on-and-off for over ten years. My #extremelywoke high school (lol) allowed us to choose gym class activities, so my cohort immediately chose yoga because of the promise of laying around for 5-10 minutes at the end. (I now know that this is savasana, and it’s a real posture, you guys!) At 15, I was shocked at how challenging it was—at 26, the challenge is like a drug! A super beneficial, calming drug. Walking out of a yoga class is like the first sips of wine after a long, hard day—without the calories and sugar. The more I go, the better I feel. Maybe that’s why I’m writing about it right now—I need my fix because I missed class on Saturday.
Honestly, yoga is the closest thing to religion I can experience without getting grossed out. I’m basically a she-devil/antichrist, so anything spiritual completely turns me off. That’s why yoga is so grounding—it’s about being at home in your physical body and showing gratitude for what you’re tangibly able to achieve. It’s about honoring your earthly self and your daily experience. It’s the opposite of contemptus mundi (RT if you took way too many Medieval Lit classes).
Di. Ver. Si. Ty. Say it with me! DIVERSITY. There was literally one person of color in my last yoga class. That might have to do with a number of factors, like geography and race & class demographics (apparently I live in the 28th highest-income county in the United States?! Out of over 3,000?! No one told my broke ass.), but it’s still tragic. When all the media representation of yoga is impossibly thin, hot white women in $100 leggings, I get why a more diverse group (diverse in terms of race, gender, class, age, etc) would be turned off by it.
We need to stop fetishizing brands and gear. It’s completely counterintuitive for yogis to be so materialistic (I am the worst offender, trust me)! You don’t need to look cute in class—you’re just going to sweat through your clothes anyway! Like, these and this will do just fine.
The cult of yoga shouldn’t be a distraction from our real lives. It’s so easy to leave a yoga class feeling spiritually cleansed, but it’s not a stand-in for reality. Just ask this former lulu employee.
And finally, more free or inexpensive classes. My classes are included with my regular gym membership, thank goodness, but at studios, drop-in classes are upwards of $15! My gym membership, therefore, pays for itself in a week. A monthly unlimited pass to a studio costs as much as my car payment. Check out your local community centers and colleges to see if they’re offering classes!
February’s in full swing! And on this Sunday morning, I’m in full pajamas with a full glass of cold brew. At least for the moment, I’m pretending that I don’t have chores to do and hundreds of pages of reading #gradschoolproblems. Here’s some of the stuff that made me smile this week.
P.S. This entire week is dedicated to The Purple One, in honor of Sheila E. shutting down Timberlake over the stupid hologram. This is my sole comment on the Super Bowl.
Valentine’s Day is so not my jam, but novelty pajamas absolutely are. I saw these at Target the other day and almost caved and bought them (there’s still time…) Also, tacos are life, and I need this shirt to add to my obnoxious collection of Francophile clothing items.
I am so excited about SOLO that I could scream. Donald Glover as Lando Calrissian is, I think, my exact number on the Kinsey Scale?! Summer can’t come fast enough!
Okay, okay. I’m like, the last person on earth to see this, but I finally watched Kylie Jenner’s pregnancy video and just about died from the sweetness. I’ve never actually seen KUWTK, and to me, Kylie Jenner is just “the lipstick girl,” but I have to give the whole fam (Kris) mad props for their marketing finesse. Also, we got to see Chicago West for the first time!
I have got to make this DIY. I’m obsessed with macarons (I know, basic), and this would look so cute on my bar cart! My bar cart apparently isn’t available from Target anymore, but maybe I should get a second one for coffee because this beautiful cart exists? I needed to lie down when I saw this one…gorgeous.
Sometimes you’re not in the mood to come up with a catchy title, y’know?
Backstory: I know virtually nothing about either side of my family. My parents are incredibly vague—my mother is Italian and a tad Irish, and my father insists that we’re English, as though a person could be purely one thing (what is he, a Slytherin?). But I’ve heard smatterings on both sides of, “Oh, so-and-so relative was French-Canadian,” or “So-and-so spoke fluent German,” and I have wild, thick, curly, frizzy hair that doesn’t seem characteristic of any of the above. I’ve met 6/8 of my great grandparents (they have all since passed away), but none of them ever mentioned a thing about their ancestors.
My paternal grandmother showed me her Ancestry.com DNA results last year, and ordered me my own kit for Christmas. I just got back the results, and putting together a family tree has been a total blast!
Unfortunately, I didn’t discover anything earth-shattering—I knew my Dad’s side had all come to America in the 1600s/1700s, but I figured my mom’s side would at least have a slightly cool history—no dice, Americans dating back well over a hundred years. But my makeup was not exactly what I was expecting. I am actually Italian (suck it, Dad), but everything else is a bit muddled.
This list is what some might refer to as WHITE AS FUCK. But there’s definitely ambiguity! For instance, Northern Ireland, Scotland, and Wales are part of Great Britain, so I’m vaguely confused as to why they are separate categories. Am I just super, like, Welsh? (#catherinezetajones, #tomjones) Europe South refers specifically to Italy & Greece, and Iberian, obviously, Spain & Portugal. I never would have guessed I had any Spanish or Portuguese (according to the Ancestry summaries, apparently the Romans dickishly colonized the Iberian peninsula, so maybe that has something to do with it?) but 11% is a decently significant percentage! Higher than the German or French I’d heard about. These results explain the amount of blondes in my family (of course, I got mud-brown wire growing out of my head instead of my brother’s golden waves) and the crazy-high percentage of folks with blue or green eyes.
The “low-confidence” regions are also fascinating. I knew about the Asia South, Middle East, and Scandinavia (they showed up in my paternal grandmother’s results as well), but I was pleasantly surprised to see European Jewish! That’s got to be from my mom’s side, and I’m sure there’s a fascinating story there. I’ve always actually suspected that I might have some Jewish ancestry—I hope this isn’t inappropriate or fetishistic to say, but I’ve always felt very drawn to Jewish culture and traditions. Christianity (or Catholicism, my brand) never clicked for me. Watch it be a processing error.
The freakiest part of all of this is that, based on your DNA, you can track migrations over the past few hundred years and, insanely enough, it matches up exactly with my paternal family tree! From New England, my ancestors did actually end up in the Midwest and the West!
I went into an Ancestry.com free trial k-hole for hours and managed to figure out quite a bit about my family from public records (my dad’s side is way easier to pin down, since they’ve been Americans for 300 years—I’m basically, like, Cotton Mather). Since I only have one side that has any ostensible “ethnicity,” it bums me out that the language hasn’t carried over generationally. I know probably the most Italian out of everyone in my family and I only took Italian I in high school!
Now all I need is to get famous enough for Henry Louis Gates Jr. to research my ancestry and tell me about all the crazy shit my family did 150 years ago. From the research I’ve been able to accomplish, I’m likely not descended of slaveowners which is honestly a bit of a relief—that’s always a tough pill to swallow on Finding Your Roots. I mean, I’m sure my family were a bunch of white devils but at least I don’t have to live with crimes against humanity on my conscience.
This whole experience has me yearning to know more. I’ve always been a history nerd (with the amount of time I spent reading historical fiction in my youth, it’s amazing I ever got a high school boyfriend), and I’m a Leo, so it’s fun to finally insert MYSELF into the narrative. I’m still as American as prohibitively expensive healthcare and morbid obesity (dark?) but at least I have a clearer sense of where I big-picture “come from.”
Well, I did it. I successfully completed Dry January. For anyone who doesn’t know, Dry January is the tradition of ditching booze for the entire month of January to reset for the New Year. For me, it’s about breaking bad habits and establishing a more healthy relationship with alcohol.
Prior to the holiday season (2017) I considered myself a slightly-more-than-moderate drinker. I wasn’t an insatiable monster, but once I started, I had impulse control issues. I suffer from anxiety, depression, and panic attacks, so I’ve always leaned into the “numbness” that drinking can facilitate—that became doubly true after the 2016 election. Everything felt completely pointless, and I didn’t know what I was doing with my life, so hey—why not enjoy some rosé as I waited for nuclear winter? It was not a great strategy.
After the election fog began to lift, the drinking didn’t cease—the luxurious feeling of a glass of wine (or three) after a long day became something I craved. My husband is a teetotaler, so it was even causing friction in my marriage (he was totally right, by the way, and everything is great now). I started learning a lot about wine, which I’m genuinely interested in, as something of a cover—an excuse to sample the world’s offerings (there’s actually a line in The Big Sick about this…it’s not just me!)
I love alcohol, and I was an early adopter (I started drinking when I was fifteen). I love creating new cocktails or splitting a bottle of wine with a friend. And 90% of the time, it’s not a problem. I’ve lived the majority of my adult life making reasonable decisions regarding my intake. But that 10%—those freshman-year-of-college nights I barely remember, the embarrassing conduct at a family party—has really stuck with me as a source of shame. Beyond that, I was gaining weight. When I turned 24, I weighed between 135-140. By 26, closer to 160. I’m 5’7″, so I’ve always gotten away with carrying a little extra weight, but watching your pant size skyrocket from a loose-fitting 4 to a tight 8 is rough. Even though the “new year, new me” thing is cliché, it finally felt like an appropriate time to take on the Dry January challenge. For the first time in my life, I’m in therapy, and I’m finally adjusting to #gradschoollife (I have a 3.74 GPA after taking 5 classes). I officially started on January 2nd, the day my holiday vacation ended (I had some farewell tequila the night before, don’t worry).
I definitely cheated during DJ. But I kept track of the “cheat days” (which I did allow myself) and I’m actually pretty proud of my restraint! The only drinks I had during January marked special occasions—family dinners, the first day of school—and I never had more than one on any of these occasions (of which there were maybe 4). Nine days into the challenge, I let myself have a Patron & soda and it knocked me on my ass! Tolerance goes away really, really quickly. Plus, I notice that I get headaches now when I have even a little bit of wine. There was only one day that I backslid, from stress, so I’m penalizing myself an extra week to account for it.
The goal of my DJ challenge was not to be perfect—it was to reset and get healthy. My lifestyle feels radically altered. Drinking rarely even occurs to me anymore. And hey, I lost three pounds. No complaints!
What I Learned:
All the noms. When you’re not wasting calories drinking, you get to eat more! Eating is my single favorite thing, so this was great news. During January, I went to town on all those healthy calories. So much hummus, dude.
#skingoals. Okay, so I can’t attribute this entirely to not drinking, but it’s a lot easier to remember to wash your face at night when you’re not tipsy! I’m prone to redness, which died down, and I always get one annoying hormonal pimple every month, which seemed less hateful this month. (I should note that I started actually adhering to a natural skincare routine in late December, so that definitely helped as well).
Sugarfix. I hate sweet things (salty snacks 4 life), so I always assumed that I had a diet low in sugar. WRONG. I kept a food diary during Dry January using an app called Lifesum, and as it turns out, I’m a sugar fiend! From sweetening my morning coffee to all the carbs and alcohol I was consuming, I’m pretty sure my blood was just KoolAid. Nixing alcohol cut the sugar intake in half, and made me more mindful about other nefarious sources of sugar.
What anxiety? Okay, that’s flippant, since I’m still an anxious wreck, but without the influence of alcohol, I definitely had fewer spiraling thoughts keeping me up at night.
Bookworm Status. Unintended side effect of quitting booze? I read more. I was more focused and had more brainpower, so I supplemented my eternal television binge-watching with a few books!
$$$$. Uh, did anyone else not do the math on how much drinking costs? I certainly did not, or at least, I convinced myself that drinks out with friends was in service of something greater—a social life! It was such a nice change of pace to save some extra cash and save for Oxford, where I’m studying abroad this summer for three weeks!
So, I’m not gonna give up booze entirely—is a life without champagne even worth living?—but I feel so invigorated by the fact that, at any moment, I can. Maybe I’ll keep the car running and do another month!