Saturday, September 4, 2010

On Things Its Impossible To Admit To

“Sometimes it’s a journey, most the time it’s just a bad joke...” - Michael Larsen

Internet, my flight to Infinitus took off with two notebooks, my trip out of Tennesee started with only one.

This actually started out with a pithy commentary on the prevalence of happy endings.  It was intended for the HPFF audience.  It was light, it was airy with the occasional hints of the personal that keep the hate mail to a minimum.  It, like so many other posts, didn’t end up like that.

The therapists - and I pluralize them because there have been a fair few over the years (what can I say, I fire the good ones and the bad ones never last through a whole session) - they tell me that I have a tendency to lose track of my “feelings.”  I generally counter by explaining that their premise is entirely erroneous - I don’t have feelings to begin with, I have thoughts which, when unchecked, manifest themselves into full blown neurosis.  On the occasion that I do experience a feeling, I generally find it so disorienting that I flail around a bit (proverbially, I mean)    until they go away.  Nonetheless, they all seem to agree on the notion that I should be more aware of those things so, while there was a time - many many anti-anxiety prescriptions ago - wherein I could complete a task without waxing philosophical, it’s a bit of a distant memory and I try not to miss it much.

I explain this, not because I think anyone cares, but because I hope, by virtue of my having explained that fact, you, dear Internet, can be trusted to understand that, when I say - for me - writing is a journey, I do not say it with an over-inflated sense of literary value but, rather to say that the experience is always a journey for me.  (One where the end, while mildly entertaining for the driver, tends to be less so for the people who are forced to watch the slides later.)

I’m always amazed at how much things change, for me, in the development of something.  As I mentioned, the thing that had me thinking about this was happy endings.  

Another thing I’ve been told is that when you write your characters into a place they can’t seem to get out of, it’s because you shouldn’t have taken them there in the first place.  I’ve always taken issue with that.  More often than not, I find it’s my inadequacies that are holding things up rather than the inadequacies of my characters, but nevertheless, I’ve been stuck on the same scene for approximately five months.  Five months.  Internet, I find this completely unfathomable.  I have re-written it from scratch at least four dozen times...Chopped it to bits, scrapped it all and started again, cut back further, started a few scenes ahead and tried to write backwards and nothing.  Nothing.  This is the worst kind of torture I can imagine - I would rearrange my furniture monthly if I could.  I would change jobs every six months and move once a year if it was practical.  I don’t do well with stagnation, it makes me crazy, and yet, there I’ve been, hammering away at this once scene over and over and over again in the hopes that, eventually, I’ll put something down onto the paper that allows me to get past it - to get through this terrible terrible point.

Strangely enough, as I was sitting there tonight staring at as far as I’ve gotten, I realized that I’ve become one of those people everyone always hates because, as I copied out the last few paragraphs of typed text, I was overcome with the conviction that this story couldn’t possibly keep the happy ending I’d originally intended.  (See, it always comes full circle, doesn’t it, Internet?)

I’m a total sucker for a happy ending.  I admit it - I wanted Rory to end up with Logan and I was relieved to see CJ end up with Danny and Josh with Donna.  The end to Dagny and Hank’s story always pissed me off, even though it was so much better with John.  I can’t help it - the part of me that still believes there is good in the world likes to see things go well for people.  Don’t worry, we’re working on medicating that out.  To make a more damaging confession, though, I prefer the unhappy ones.  It seems more honest that my favorite story ends with one character in Timbuktu and the other on their way to anywhere else in the world.  

The thing about this piece that meant nothing to me is that, at some point, it started to mean something.  I’m sure that Linda is right now staring at her computer screen rolling her eyes and that the first words she utters to me will be “Hon, It always meant something,” because she’s pushy like that.  She may even feel compelled to remind me that, at the beginning of this, tapping into the vein that allows me to write the only kind of interpersonal relationship I’ve ever really understood or felt comfortable in also meant tapping into a lot of regrets, a lot of things I miss, and a lot of things that completely ruined my life.  But I’ll at least argue that the thing didn’t take form until I scribbled a something on the cover of a composition notebook full of disconnected pieces and handed it to a friend at the close of a surprise encounter.

I’d lie and say I don’t know why I did it, but I do - and I bet you a dollar, you probably do to.  Either way, the over-riding header since that day, the thing I’ve been repeating as I get stuck has been “To the man who taught me nothing but meant absolutely everything, this will never be any good, but it will always be honest.”  

As I’ve struggled for honesty, not just with the writing but with myself as well, its impossible to deny that this story cannot have a happy ending.  No, it’s not just because I’m to afraid to contemplate that any of them could have - I’ve spent a lot of dark hours contemplating that, I’m pretty clear on the answer.  It’s that, no matter how good people can be together, it doesn’t make them good for one another.  It’s that the honest ending, the honest ending can’t be that simple.  

Of course, don’t ask me how I’ll get through the next thirty thousand words without the promise of a happy ending...and don’t ask me what will keep me writing them because the only thing I can really say is that I promised they would always be honest and now all of a sudden, I feel an immense sense of responsibility.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

How B6 Ruined My Life

A week or so ago, I went to see an allergist. We did a scratch test (I am allergic to everything. Confirmed.) and talked about all of the pros and cons of the RUSH Immunotherapy he wants to start me on...and then I asked the questions anyone with a lot of severe, progressive allergies does - what about bees?

He said testing is mostly pointless but suggested, in light of my other insect allergies, i should start taking B6 as a natural bug repellant. So...ya know, I did.

Internet, I haven't been to sleep before 2 AM since that appointment - and I take a strong sleeping pill nightly. Last night I took my sleeping pill (at 5 no less. I should have been walking dead by 8), plus two OTC drowsy allergy meds and STILL didn't get to sleep 'til almost 2.

At first, I thought it was the new allergy scrips, so i stopped taking them. When nothing happened, I was so bugged out from being tired, I thought I might have to kill myself if I didn't sleep soon and then last night - seven hours into wide awake despite every reasonable action to the contrary, I typed "B6 energy" into the search button.

Don't you think he should have mentioned that?

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Friday, May 28, 2010


The universe...It knows.

The big perk in this whole confessional drama was that, until it came time for Mike to graduate, I didn't have to think about it - except the universe KNOWS...

My sister in law decided to get us all together for drinks after work tonight - she's been planning it out all week and she was really looking forward to it so, as much as I wanted to come home and spend the night with some bad tv shows, some knitting and a little bit of silence, I pulled up my big girl pants and went out to the bar anyway.  The first half of the evening was fairly predictable, me and a few girls from work trying to make idle conversation while I was far too sober to find any of them entertaining....and then Melissa showed up and things got a little more interesting.  Not, you know, fun, but oodles more uncomfortable, which is interesting in it's own right, because she walked in with her youngest - her seven month old daughter, in tow.

It took me a few minutes to get through all of the 'you brought your baby to a bar' jokes in my head and, while I was trying to find something that rhymed with 'tacky' i suddenly assumed the roll I always seem to assume when there is a baby nearby - 'oooh! shiny!"  Or, at least, that's how they all seem to respond because after all of the wriggling, reaching and generally throwing themselves in my direction, the parents who don't know me well enough to know that infants can give me full on hives in a matter of seconds hand them off.  I can never really blame them, because if you've got an infant, anything that keeps them from crying and doesn't involve something life threatening probably seems like a good idea but, from my perspective, it's a raw deal.  A raw deal emphasized 100 fold by the two soon-to-be-parents across the table who spent the whole night looking longingly at the squirming kid sitting on the table playing with every plastic coated drink menu in reach and practicing her walking.

I haven't held a baby in almost years.  (I know this, because the last time I was in the proximity of a baby for any extended period of time was when my grandmother had major surgery years ago and the only kid there, screamed the whole time because I wouldn't hold her.)  When you're a teenager and you're holding a baby, people don't have much to say, but the moment you become an adult, the first thing people say is "you're a natural" and then the hives start...  Thankfully, my sister knows just how far I've gone not to have to hang out with an infant twenty-four hours a day, so she didn't have much to say and between baby-hazed couple ad the girl who knows me well enough to know when to laugh either didn't notice or found it distantly funny but I was still aware of that sense of impending pressure.  (What a liar I felt like making faces and getting nervous and uncomfortable while she giggled and tried to hug me every time I talked to her is a matter for another day...)

And to think, I'm fairly immune to social pressures....

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

The Journey To Motherhood Or, You Know, Not...

Deciding not to have kids is easy when you're a hyper-rational, commitment phobic, genetically screwed girl whose mother thought she should get one of the pricey seats at her brother's birth.  More than ten years later, deciding to question that decision is a lot harder.

I don't know how or when it all started, because, up to now, I never had a problem with facing a life without giving birth to someone who leaves legos on the floor and smokes pot in my bathroom but at some point, that baby smell and the prospect of stitching up a dinosaur costume for halloween - even being the bake sale mom - it all started to sound a lot less bad than it did once upon a time.  Sure, I still have my reservations.  I'm nothing if not a realist, so it's not that I don't expect to beg for death after 72 hours of no sleep or the first time I find a condom in the dresser drawer - it's just that all of that stuff seems, somehow, less important. 

I figured that this feeling - this ridiculous, non-sensical, masochistic feeling - would fade.  I certainly thought it would never stand up a night with my idiot kid brother and yet the impulse doesn't seem to be fading.

Fortunately, I'm far too stubborn to be caught up in a rip-tide of what could be no more than hormones so, frighteningly real though the longing for tiny blankets, strollers, itsy btsy bottles and adorable onesies is, I'm only dealing with it now because I know I'm going to need every second of the two and a half years between now and twenty-seven to prepare. 

I know - I know - "no one is ever prepared," but, ya know what, there's no reason to be less prepared than you absolutely have to be and me, I try never to be unprepared for anything.

Naturally, I was completely unprepared for any of this so what did I do but the only thing I do whenever anything happens or changes or catches my attention - I turned to the internet.  Normally, I just look for someone to talk to but since there are at least a dozen or so words I can't type or say and they're all fairly relevant to having that-the-most-tragic-of-all-conversations, I opted for Plan B (Freud would be proud) and started searching through the thousands of Mommy-Blogs for something different - not a dozen websites about women who struggled with IVF or who always wanted kids but ended up with them a little bit sooner than they'd planned but, instead, for the loan former baby-phobe among them.

It's taken ages and I'm still not sure I've found what I'm looking for - the absolution, the reassurance, the approval - whatever.... Knowing that there's some truth behind the "you'll like your kid," advice people are so ready to dispense, even when you aren't looking for it.... It's comforting.  I'm a long ways off from being anywhere near ready to make that choice, but I'm open to the question, I guess.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

One Day At A Time

There are two thing that everyone should know about depression.  The first thing is that when you start to climb out of it, it isn't all better right away.  The second thing is that the things that happened before - that happened while you were depressed - they're a little...murky. 

All jokes about alcoholism aside, I've fought tooth and nail for most of the growing up I've done.  (Colin, Sean, King, Ian, Andy, Brian... Anyone ringing a bell?)  The last few years have been a bit of a blur, so coming out of it to find that I'm a very different person from who I always was has been...hell, I can't even articulate what it has been because I'm still watching the previews.

A person makes choices.  Every hour of every day, there are choices that have to be made and, to an undeniable extent, these choices define who we become, so how is it possible that so many things that distinguish who we are can change when we're not looking?

Call me crazy, but I think you could certainly call marriage, children and careers the three biggest sticking points in a persons life.  Don't get me wrong, no one knows how littler decisions can alter your course overtime, but those are still the big three.  So what seemingly inconsequential and utterly imperceptible change in the fabric of spacetime occurred that turned me from the Highland Park, Brian and A Bird girl into the Wherever We Land (As Long As It Isn't Alabama,) A Rabbit and A Baby girl.

That's right internet, you just heard things that I still can't verbalize sober.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Lately, we've been having some...uh...issues with my kid brother.  That isn't fair, actually - I shouldn't say "lately" because we've been having issues with my kid brother since he was two, but this current incarnation of problems is going on a year now and my parents can't seem to get a handle on him.  Every time someone mentions him, I find myself saying "when I was a teenager..." and the most disgusting part of that is that my teenage years weren't all that long ago. 

Last summer, he ran away from home for about a week.  It would have been a more impressive gesture if we didn't know precisely where he was the whole time he was gone and he hadn't run away with cologne, a laptop and his cell phone charger while omitting a change of socks and a toothbrush.  The thing about it was that it changed my whole dynamic with my family.  In the midst of a whole lot of my own misery, this grand move was met with utter complacency on my parents part.  My parents.  My parents.  The people who, when I was eighteen felt the need to load up in their car at two o'clock in the morning because I went for a three block walk to the local park and sat on the swings talking to someone who I'd been friends with for five years - no, not about anything important, just to talk and they stormed that park in pajamas as if Adam Walsh were chasing them with a camera crew. 

Most parents will tell you that different kids need different approaches and that the set of rules that worked for one won't necessarily work for the other and I believe in that wholeheartedly - some people can't handle things that others can but I think my brother and I are an excellent example of that.  The phrase i've learned to use to cover my teen years is that I was fifteen when I got my shit together and crawled back out of the bottle, but in the years that led up to it - after all of the liver-pickling, I'd managed to pull great grades and stay the teachers pet.  Yet again, I feel the need to qualify this by saying that I was by no means healthy or OK and it's certainly not something I advocate for others but the point I'm trying to make is that my brother is the opposite of making it.  He is failing all of his classes, no job, no car, and he's even let his bands fall apart.  He'll be eighteen in eight short months and he lacks the requisite skills to even be a pizza delivery guy.

I have these two nephews and this one brother and they're all roughly the same age.  They were even in a band together for the longest (and most complicated) five minutes in recent history.  My point is, that if you put these three kids in a room together and asked me to tell you what I think their respective futures will look like, I can tell you with no hesitation that Brian is going to join the military in a few months and, unless he gets slotted in with the engineers and mechanics, he's going to spend the rest of his life grappling with some pretty serious emotional issues because he is way too big of a (forgive me) pussy to handle death - let alone being the cause of it.  Clayton will, I suspect, get into college on his drum corps scholarship, spend most of his five years smoking pot, drinking too much and barely scraping by with the GPA he needs to maintain said scholarship, but when he comes out, I think he'll be OK.  Ask me where I think my brother is going to end up, and i'll tell you exactly where - in a pine box. 

Call it the macabre prediction of someone with one too many dead friends, but when I look at who he is, where he's been and where he is right now, I can honestly say that I have no idea how he got there.  With the exception of realizing at about ten that I was always going to make him look like the village idiot and the fact that his parents relationship has been rocky since my mother made her attraction to women, shall we say, known a couple of years ago he's dealt with no major tragedies, no losses and no really formative experiences.  I was the one with the friends with cancer, I was the one getting phone calls about overdoses and suicides and trying to put myself back together after assaults and I spent a lot of years doing everything I could to prevent him from having to learn lessons the way that I did - trying to protect him from my parents ceaseless marital issues by playing the part of therapist.  I didn't bring my morose ass friends around and, because my parents never knew what I was up to, it was never in the house.  He didn't spend his summers and weekends and winters helping out with the family business.  Instead, he spent his time being like any other kid.  Was there always something off about him?  Sure.  (I'm pretty sure the fact that I vividly remember the look on his five year old face when he stood at the living room window weilding a chefs knife at one of my friends because he didn't like them clinches that deal...and if it doesn't, I still have the scars from tackling him during his many violent outbursts when he was seven and eight.)

There are exactly two ways I, realistically, see his tomorrows playing out.  Either he'll slip and fall ass first into a big puddle of perspective, get his shit together and learn to push paper or he's going to continue imploding for the next five years until his passive aggressive, damaged, drenched in abandonment issued, crazy eyed girlfriend can't stand it anymore and tries to 'fix him' with a baby and he loses it.  Either that, or I'll kill him myself - but one way or the other....

Exempting recent realizations - namely that that kid is fucking Colin's and if I'd have been able to laugh off what happened between Colin and I, he might never have turned to Lauren for that friendship and then he wouldn't have knocked her up and then maybe, just maybe, King wouldn't have killed himself - when King ate his gun, I didn't blame myself.  I didn't blame Mike.  Hell, at the time, I didn't even blame Lauren.  King was one of those people on a collision course with death.  He never expected to make it to twenty and every day we got to spend with him after that was a gift but to look at my brother and see some of King - that same manic paranoia, that paralyzing fear of trying and failing in front of the people he loves - to see it with the certainty I feel breaks my heart. 

To be honest, I've spent the last six months somewhere between ignoring it and hoping it got better while I wasn't looking.  I've hoped that, if I wasn't standing there shouting, they would have the opportunity to listen closely and maybe they would realize why I've spent the last few years screaming.  Instead, they've gone deaf.  He disappears for days at a time without warning and, when prompted to react, they simply say "he'll sink or he'll swim, there is nothing more we can do."  What I want to say - what I wish I had the clarity for - is that, while there may be nothing they can do to help, that doesn't give them the right to stop trying but it's impossible to say "there wasn't a damn thing anyone of us could have done to save King either, but if you ask around a bit, we'll all tell you the one thing no one regrets is making the effort" without getting tagged as the girl who sees monsters everywhere.  (For some reason, it never seems to help to point out that the reason I see monsters everywhere is fairly obvious if you look at my record on predicting suicide attempts in people.)

It's a kind of pain I can feel in my bones - a grief so strong it becomes a literal ache when i'm not looking.  It's a destructive kind of sadness and one i'm not all together unfamiliar with but the truly stomach churning part is that I know I'm mourning him before he's gone, in the hope that when that time gets here, I'll be prepared, because I'm the only one who sees it coming and there's a responsibility in that.  I feel responsible to stop it, and even though I know I can't, I feel responsible to prepare people - to protect them from the crushing weight of that guilt. 

Monday, March 15, 2010

On Reaching Out To People...

I have exceptional hearing.  I hear EVERYTHING - and that certainly isn't limited to things that I want to hear, it also includes the annoying, the random, the personal and the things I'd rather not know.  It's probably the reason that I have a problem with repetitive noises, loud TV, talk radio and big crowds.  It's also the reason I've been privy to more than one explanation of myself that wasn't intended for my ears. 

"Don't worry, that's just Kay."

"No, it's not that she doesn't like you, it's that she doesn't like anyone."

"Sometimes she says the most ridiculous things..."

The most succinct rendition I ever heard was this - sensational.  My written word isn't much different from my spoken word and when I came into work this morning wearing a turtleneck that I was fairly sure was going to drive me into a panic attack because it manages to be both grabby at the wrists and grabby around my throat - the two things I hate most in clothing - I announced to a friend of mine that I wore a turtleneck and I was fairly sure I was going to die.  A few weeks ago, someone asked me what I was going to do as I aged and my arthritis got worse and I told them I was banking on a cure - either that or I would pick up a handgun and a tarp. 

If you combine my black Irish blood, my personal history and my penchant for comedians, it's easy to figure out why I always go for the overblown and hilarious, so when I say things like "Dude, friends are way too much work - they just die on you," people think I'm being cute.  With the exception of an addenda ("they just die on you or make you wish they were dead") I'm not being cute.  That is, in fact, one of the most sincere things I've ever said to another human being. 

It's hard for me to look back on a time in recalled history where I can say I had an easy time reaching out to people.  As a child in a tiny private school where anything you did, said, thought or heard was known by the entire school in a matter of minutes - a place where all the kids were smart but none of them were quite brilliant either, where I was still set apart from the rest - it was impossible to trust anyone because people you'd known for your entire life would turn on you in an instant because they were kids and that's what kids do.  I stepped out of that environment into the rest of the world and things didn't improve.  There were more people, which meant there were more people to choose from, but it didn't do much for my confidence in humanity when I finally found people that understood - people that got me - and they started dropping like flies to suicides and overdoses - let alone that I hadn't yet hit my teen years.

When you cut to the end of the story, what I'm left with are a handful of people who proved to not only be decent human beings but trustworthy ones at that.  It's funny because, of all the many men I've befriended over the years, I had to send Chris a message today (because I believe in the power of positive reinforcement) when I realized he was the only one I could count as more than an acquaintance who never tried to sleep with me. (His response was that, when I knew him, he was a fairly shy guy ;)  I think that's meant to intimate that, if offered the same opportunity a few years later, things might have gone differently.)

The people I've loved - the people I've trusted - have betrayed me on the most base levels.  I think it is that way with people - the more you love them, the harder you lean on them, the deeper they have an opportunity to cut you.

For most people, they'll tell you that the internet has made the world a lot smaller - made it a lot easier to reach out to people that have the same interests and to find support in numbers.  For me, the internet has always made the world bigger.  I can tell the internet anything and, provided I'm careful about where and how I put it out onto the internet, no one ever needs to know it was me.  There's anonymity, but there is also something deeply personal about it - there are so many things it's easier to put into written words than spoken ones - there are things you can tell someone in text that you could never say to the same person.  The internet doesn't care if, when closing a file I never should have opened in the first place, I remark to the room at large "Well, that still bleeds."

Reaching out across the void that is the internet, I've managed to stumble over people - real human people who know, who understand, who get it and who've been there.  The funny thing is, that was never what I was looking to find. 

At twenty-four, I've learned to wear my scars with some sense of sick pleasure.  (Yes, I've been there.  Yes, I've done that so you'll have to excuse me if I don't want to sit here and explain it to you.)  If someone asks directly, or if someone needs to hear it, I'm to the point where I can tell them what happened in a distantly amused kind of way and not really connect with any of the stories.  They're my life.  They're my past.  They happened and I can't avoid them but I'm still the person who told could barely breathe the words to her best friend.  Worse yet, I'm the person who did tell her best friend and spent the next two years paying for that choice.  I'm fairly sure I'll never stop paying for the next time I made that mistake.

Over the years, I've gotten more choosy.  Open though I may be, the things that are still raw - the things that still bleed - I can't bring myself to discuss with even those people who I'm closest to.  (This, by the way, is why Freud feared the Irish.) 

They say that people who have been victimized, who've been abused or betrayed or taken advantage of, can smell their kind a mile away.  I don't know if that's necessarily true, but I know that I've always had a bit of a sixth sense for the damaged.  I can tell you what happened and when and how bad it was after spending fifteen minutes with someone, so I'm seldom surprised when someone offers up a theoretical revelation about themselves but I never stop finding it amazing how easy it can be to distill ones fears and regrets into a few words and say them to someone who doesn't need it explained to them.  I seldom seek out people who can offer understanding, mostly because I've found that the more information you give someone, the more power they have over you, but when pushed to the point of confronting some demon, its comforting to know that the internet brought me the people, or kept me in range of the people, who have the capacity to be the most understanding.

Now, years later and light a few dozen confessions, there is no single thing more terrifying than removing the barrier - taking the internet out of the equation.  When Chris comes back home to visit, I avoid him like the plague - not in spite of but rather because he is one of my favorite people in the universe.  On the one hand, there's relief in knowing that after seven years of friendship, I'll finally be able to give Linda that hug I know she's needed on more than one occasion or share that drink we've often waxed philosophical about until three in the morning, but there's fear there too because I'm not sure how I'll make it through any of it without bursting into tears.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Cufflink Round-Up

I adore cufflinks.

Ask anyone who knows me well, they will tell you that, while I don't wear a lot of jewelry, I love me some cufflinks. Being a girl, I don't find many off the rack items that are cufflink compatible but I've been known to tailor men's shirts and 'hack' the cuffs on regular button downs to give them cufflinks.

For most people, they own a pair or two and they only drag them out when they're in a wedding party somewhere and it seems like such a pity because, while necklaces, rings and bracelets are "out there" pieces of fashion - big things that people notice - cufflinks are subtle but they can also say so much.

I may not have a few hundred dollars to drop on jewelry at the moment, a girl can always dream, can't she?

It can be about where you've been or where you are going like these map point cufflinks from luv4sams shop. You can tell someone special that they've left their fingerprints on your heart with these custom, fingerprint cufflinks from lukely. They're billed as a gift for Dad's - and I think that's adorable too - but they'd be a sweet gesture from a bride to a groom as well. (Or vice versa if the bride is as odd a duck as me ;)) There are even cufflinks for the logophiles out there (there are more than just me, right?) if you have a favorite word or phrase that you wear like a badge of honor or a quote that carry's you through difficult days, these custom word or phrase cufflinks are a subtle way to do it. Or, if you feel like you're taking a gamble on love, or just want to remind yourself to take chances every day, there's nothing like a a tiny roulette wheel (Both of these are also from luv4sams.} To round things out, I have to say this awful thing - I'm not a huge fan of train/subway token charms, cufflinks, etc... I feel like it's so "done" that it's lost a lot of its appeal, but since I'm a sucker for the sentimental and I've suddenly come to terms with the fact that I will be leaving my beloved Chicago soon, these Chicago Transit Authority cufflinks from NOOBOO will probably make their way into my collection at some point in the future.

For those among us whose inner child, or at least their inner hobbyist, is a little over-developed, there are tons of conversation starting cufflinks on etsy. CosmicFirefly has a diving bell that appeals to the 20,000 leagues fan in me as well as the part of me that wanted to be a marine archaeologist when I grew up, and their Ouiji Board cufflinks are super cute for the indecisive among us. If Ouiji boards aren't your thing, maybe you're into monopoly or d&d. (From nakedtile and qacreate respectively.) I'm also a huge fan of the Marmite jar's from mixedupdolly. Even if games and obscure European foods don't make your day, everyone has to find something to love among Superman (finkstudio), Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (The Clay Collection) or Star Trek (also from finkstudio).

If you're the kind of person who can't be quantified, Etsy sellers have your back too. daniellejewelry's abacus's come in several different designs and I'm in love with the military vibe of CosmicFirefly's wings. luv4sam also offers these modern 'bright idea' cufflinks and a fully functional set of compasses. Finally, if you're looking for something bold - so cute for groomsmen, pinktophat's Boys Will Be Boys links can't be beat.

If none of those have you sold on the awesomeness of cufflinks, check out the just plain old pretty ones below:

From NobleStudiosLTD. These antique glass button cufflinks manage to look gloriously modern.

Check out these antique cufflinks from New Zealand brought to you by hansfromsweden's etsy shop.

Wood is wood, so don't ask me why I'm constantly falling in love with wood stud buttons, rings and cufflinks but I am. There is something organic about Holcomb's Woodworking and their Bubinga Wood Cufflinks.

LouyMagroos has tons of fabulous, modern cufflinks - the above are just a few designs.

[funky geometric cufflinks | oval crosshatch cufflinks | apreture cufflinks |

Michelle Chang's custom initial cufflinks are (i think) a much more stylish take on the typewriter key phenomena*.

I adore these. They're funky, they're brightly colored, they're sort of industrial but still nicely finished... *sigh*

Way to go, Poppy Porter

And just when I thought I'd run out of energy to drool over things, I ran across Christine Bossler's etsy shop and fell in love with her alchemical use of metals and stones and ability to find the beauty in rust.

[ There is a whole parenthetical aside happening here as I want to wander down a path of discussing the fact that reclaiming, repurposing and reusing has become so much about "look how I cut apart this t-shirt and made an itchy rug out of plastic bags" and so little about taking something old or unused and making it into something beautiful and how that should be the real goal of reclaiming, repurposing and reusing - not just taking something to a use but elevating it to it's best use. And then, you know, I thought I should stop. ]

*they're cute - but it's so done to death.

Monday, January 4, 2010

On To Do Lists…

I try not to fall into the trap of New Years Resolutions.  They seem like a good idea for the first few days – and I think it has a lot to do with the killer hangover people are usually nursing on New Years Day – but after that, they tend to get lost in the shuffle of living day to day and then you end up regretting your hubris the next New Years Eve and repeating the cycle all over again.  Me, on the other hand, I try to set goals rather than resolutions.  Would I like to be skinnier, sure I would.  Do I think it’s a good idea to be a better person, probably.  Could I swear less, of course.  But these are the sorts of things you should be working on anyway – and they’re the kinds of things that get lost after a couple of days or weeks.  For me, it’s all about the tangible and real – things you can reach out and touch and work for concretely – and things you’ll know you’ve achieved once you’ve gotten there.

Last year I set forth the desire to know how to make perfect macarons – with a slightly raised foot and an uncracked top.  I didn’t make it all the way there.  I’ve gotten the foot smack on and they don’t crack anymore, but they are still more oval than round.  (Something I can chalk up to my life-long animosity toward pastry bags and piping tips.)  All things considered, I’m putting that one in the “win” column, if only because that’s perfect enough for me.  (One of those “big,” “pervasive” and “intangible” things I learned this year, though it wasn’t something I set out to grasp, is the value of letting things go and not getting down over imperfections.  I don’t want to be the next iron chef and I also don’t want to be that person who sucks all the joy out of what they’re doing by fussing over a cookie that flattened – it’s the flavor that I want to be good at, not the look.)

The internet is rife with people doing the same – Wardrobe Refashion and 101 in 1001.  Even at HPFF people are being challenged to read all, or as many, of the Pulitzer winners as possible in 2010.  I haven’t taken up any group causes but that doesn’t mean I won’t still spend a good deal of time searching for a support group of my very own.

For Today:
  • somehow stay awake until the end of the work day
  • remain productive despite my desire to collapse into a pit of exhaustion
  • go to bed early and drink lots of water

For Tomorrow:
  • design something for print.  I made a promise to work on something every day and I’ve been working on everything but this.

For 2010:
  • launch “the business”
  • go to infinitus and have fun despite my misanthropic desire for anonymity.
  • write a proposal for infinitus and try not to be self-sabotaging because of above or because I feel I have nothing of any real value to say to these people.
  • be self-sabotaging for a new and unique reason.
  • move some place a little wonderful
  • edit undone and have the proof copy printed
  • find someone who can give me honest feedback on same and ask for it.

And Beyond:
  • find a way to work from home, be it actual employment or freelance work
  • send more care packages
  • act my age and go out more often!
  • keep writing, if only because it surprises people.
  • continue to recognize that there is always something I don’t know how to do and learn to do it.  (this feeds into my ultimate goal of possessing the title of MOST DIVERSELY EDUCATED PERSON EVER and ensuing WORLD DOMINATION)