Glitter feather tutorial from Ryan and Michelle
Crossing off another holiday resolution by making all your Thanksgiving recipes — ALL of them. So thank you again.
Listening to Apron Rock: Music to Cook By (Rdio too)
Feeling grateful for the sweet little boy, my pie-baking friends, and several hours to clean up before they come over.
It’s fun to have a traditional Thanksgiving with all the trimmings, but one of the nicest Thanksgivings I ever had was with a boy who was leaving for a trip around the world a few days later, and moving away from the city for good. We walked around San Francisco holding hands and talking, found an Indian food place that was open, and toasted each other with Mango Lassis under white twinkle lights.
Wherever you are this year, I hope you find a way to make it just right. Happy Thanksgiving, sweet things.
I was the volunteer coordinator for the Kerry Campaign at the 2004 Democratic National Convention, and I also worked as a “visibility whip” on the convention floor, which meant I passed out signs to the crowd. The process was so complex and fascinating, I wrote a piece on how it works. If you’ve been reading for a while you’ve probably seen this before, but if not here you go. An excerpt:
The whips are here to help ensure that there are no “sign clots” or empty rows when a network camera scans our section. The audience needs to have signs at the exact right moment, needs to know when to hold them up, and needs to know when to put them down. As you might imagine, producing and dispersing these signs—and providing instructions to go with them—is no small organizational task. Read more…
-via my Instagram stream.
Thanks everyone for your comments and emails last week (re: Divorce and Grief). I should preface this post by saying that I’m able to write about divorce now because the worst is over. I’m in a happy, productive place. As I mentioned last week, there are still flashes of grief, and I expect that to persist for a while, but overall I’m looking forward to what’s next.
I didn’t post much through the divorce, because I was too tender, but I’m here now because I’m hoping these notes and the comments can be helpful – especially to those of you who are going through the worst of it right now.
What follows are the three best pieces of advice I received from friends when I was at my unhappiest:
1. Lower the bar for a while.
A girlfriend said she had a kind, mild friend who went a little nuts during her divorce. She was enraged, destroying expensive common property, and behaving in other ways that were out of character. But after a year, she’d mostly returned to normal.
“Everyone gets at least a year of crazy,” my friend said. “Don’t expect to be yourself for a while.”
Whenever I felt overwhelmed, I remembered those words. I didn’t feel like myself, but temporarily setting a lower bar made me feel accomplished for not throwing a rock through anyone’s window. Small victories.
2. There’s good stuff waiting.
Shortly after my separation, I had lunch with an acquaintance whose parents had been divorced when she was around Hank’s age. She said both parents had found new mates who made them happier, and that she could see how hard things would have been if they’d stayed together.
“I’m so excited for you,” she said. “You get to have your own place, figure out who you are on your own, fall in love again, and have first kisses again.”
She knew I wasn’t there yet, but she’ was genuinely excited for me. She’d seen first hand that there could be a happier life on the other side of the hard part, and it gave me hope.
3. It takes a very good boyfriend to beat no boyfriend at all.
There’s no loneliness as deep as feeling alone in the company of someone you love.
A while after the separation, I was starting to feel better. I was listening to new music, enjoying time with my kiddo more, and having long chats with far-flung girlfriends.
On one of those calls with a friend who had also been through a divorce, we talked about how it’s scary to wonder whether you’ll ever be in a relationship again.
“Take your time,” she said. “It takes a damn good boyfriend to beat no boyfriend at all.”
There’s the wisdom that got me through to a happier place. What’s the most helpful breakup advice you’ve received?
Image: The revenants, by Amy Friend © 2002-2012.
I was a wife, and now I’m not.
The product is so much cleaner than the process. And in the beginning, this is how I thought of divorce. Discrete, an event. So I waited for it to be over.
There were mundane moments of suffering — my thumb would feel for my missing wedding band, I’d overfill the teakettle, or be half-asleep and bewildered to find only a single toothbrush near the sink. Every time, the surprise of it was clarifying, a series of breathtaking realizations. I moved the tissue box from room to room.
Beyond these details there was a progression of endings — moving out, quitting therapy, getting a lawyer, signing papers — all of it mounted toward the final goal. But each milestone passed without much change in my feelings. The finish line I imagined was in motion. Slowly I came to understand that divorce wasn’t so much an event as a death.
The distinction is crucial, for two reasons. First, because we have fewer expectations of when we’ll recover after a death. We understand that feeling normal again is more a function of time than effort. Second, because we have better tools for coping with mourning than with divorce. There’s a protocol of care, we forgive outbursts, moments of insanity. And if we’ve lost someone, perhaps we go easier on ourselves.
I did not go easy on myself. The grief eclipsed me, and embarrassed me. And thinking of it as an event only increased my suffering. When each phase found me still mourning, I worried that I would never be myself again.
Pain and confusion aside, just the paperwork seemed insurmountable. It was easy for me to get caught up in logistics and mistake them for the journey. Once you’ve taken actions A-Z, you are no longer married, and you get your life back.
Except, as with a death, once everything normalizes it doesn’t resemble your life anymore. The plans you’d made, the things you’d thought settled, are blown apart.
Now I’m no longer a wife, but the afterimage of that identity remains. Sometimes my habits still bend to accommodate the preferences of a person who isn’t there. I don’t know how long it will last, only that I don’t need a finite date anymore.
Divorce has changed me, matured me, perhaps more than marriage did. Now I know that our loneliest moments are some of the most universal.
If you’re going through a divorce, try not to worry so much about when everything will end, just know that it will. You’ll get through it, and there’s so much possibility waiting on the other side.
For those of you who have gone through it, when did you start feeling better? Did your thinking about the divorce process change over time? Advice appreciated in comments.
Last night I knocked over a parked motorcycle with my car. As I left a note, I noticed gas was pouring out onto the street. Came upstairs to open a package containing a vintage tea set I ordered as a birthday gift for a girlfriend, and boom.
This morning, fresh start. I spilled an entire cup of hot tea into my lap while I was driving. Parked at a meter in front of the office, tied a sweater around my waist. I hurried in for a meeting, halfway through which I realized I’d forgotten to plug the meter. Ran back to my car, just as the meter maid was printing a ticket.
What’s going right for you today?
Tempur-Pedic asked me to track my sleep habits with a Fitbit and share the results. This is the first time I have been paid to sleep, but I have made it a professional goal to pursue further opportunities in this field. You know how to reach me.
Raise your hand if you ever have trouble sleeping. Actually, if it’s 3 a.m. you can let your hand fall listlessly by your side, I already saw you on Twitter.
A few of you have asked me how I like my Fitbit. Until Tempur-Pedic asked me to use one to track my sleep, I never bothered to learn how. Now, after sleep tracking for a week, I think it’s the most useful feature. It proved something I always suspected about myself. When my health and stress levels are in order, I have a straightforward relationship with sleep. Things have been going better lately, which means the worst night of sleep I got last week looked like this:
While waking up 11 times may not be ideal, I’ll take nearly nine solid hours of sleep any day. You can even throw in a nap, and I will not complain.
When I’m under heavy stress, however, my body prefers to be conscious enough to fret. As you might imagine, a few months ago I was awake. For weeks.
Because insomnia is such an indicator of anxiety for me, I do everything I can to get my sleeping habits back to normal. These are the top ten tricks that work for me:
1. Clear your head. Anxiety is a stimulant. I put stressful tasks at the top of my to do list in hopes of making headway before bed. For larger tasks I find it helps me to make a plan — a detailed list for the next day, an outline of a project that will take weeks to complete. If my worries are more emotional, I write stream-of-consciousness in a journal. This way I don’t waste sleep time worrying about things I can tackle in the morning. Speaking of which…
2. Keep a pen by the bed. There will always be something you forget to write down. Something so pressing that it jolts you from sleep at 3 a.m. Don’t regain consciousness while you worry about remembering the important thing. Write it down and roll over.
3. Get off the couch. Exercise. Harder than you usually do if you’re athletic. One of the less-touted benefits of strenuous exercise is that it exhausts you. Perfect.
4. Stop the nightly grind. This isn’t an issue for everyone of course, but I grind my teeth in my sleep. I didn’t realize how much it was waking me until I got a mouth guard, and so I mention it here. Consider it, my stress-ball friend.
5. Clear out electronics. They say you need to remove even the tiniest lights if you don’t want to mess with your circadian rhythms, and maybe that’s true. Illuminated clocks are so accusatory they might as well have an exclamation point after the time. But the little charging lights on my computer, phone, iPad, camera? Those are more of a problem if I’m already awake in the dark. Each one is a tiny siren song, coaxing me to conquer another level of Plants and Zombies. Not to mention how often my phone wakes me with a late-night text or call from one of the many inconsiderate louts who I have come to love. So when I’m having trouble sleeping, all the gadgets go in the living room.
6. Don’t play dead. When I’m up, I just get up. I won’t stay in bed awake for more than fifteen minutes because I don’t want my bed to become a place where I worry about not sleeping. I’ll take a bath or go read on the couch, any activity I can do supine. And if you fall asleep in the bathtub? Success.
7. Stop taking uppers. No more caffeine. If I can’t sleep, I stop ingesting stimulants because they are chemically designed to keep me awake. (I’m wacky that way.) I’ll take a two-day withdrawl headache over a month-long stint as a zombie.
8. Shower before bed. The warmth is supposed to sleepify you, and maybe it does, but I find it relaxing just to climb into bed clean. Sleeping with freshly shaved legs is also a nice bonus.
9. Get stuck. I get regular acupuncture, and I almost never have trouble sleeping on days when I have a session. The effect is similar to a good massage.
10. Powder your nose. When you finally do get to sleep, the last thing you want is to be woken by your bladder. Use the bathroom right before bed, and limit liquid intake an hour or so before you (hope to) go to sleep.
According to the Fitbit, my bout of insomnia is mercifully in past. To whit:
BAM! How you like that, Insomnia? Come and show your face, if you got beef! Or perhaps you should come back in the morning when I’m awake. We’ll discuss your behavior over a leisurely breakfast. You can do the dishes.
So that’s what works for me. How about you? How do you get to sleep?
Let me know if you need me to come over and spoon.
If you want more information on how to buy a good mattress, you can get it here. The folks at Tempur-Pedic want me to remind you about this, “This post is sponsored by Tempur-Pedic, because we think you deserve to get your best night’s sleep every night.” Thanks, Tempur-Pedic. You’ve got my back. (Pun brought to you by Maggie as a reward for reading the fine print. You’re welcome.)
I’m heading to MaxFunCon for the first time this weekend, so I’ve been checking out the speakers. I found this video of Josie Long, wherein she perfectly encapsulates the disproportionate distain I feel when people ignore a party theme.
It also reminds me of a few classic lines from the
Rory: Oh, hey Colin. Where’s your date?
Colin: I went to pick her up, the door opens, and she’s dressed like Mira Sorvino.
Robert: How do you dress like Mira Sorvino?
Colin: You have blonde hair and a name tag that says Mira Sorvino. I just turned around and left.
If you’re also headed to MaxFunCon, send me a note on Twitter (@Maggie) and we’ll have a drink. I will, of course, ask you to wear some sort of costume.