As an introvert who is pretty true to form – 70% of the times when my cell phone rings, I get freaked out about having to answer it – this weekly list of things electric is always one I have to push myself to write. It’s usually the kind of post that takes me the longest to get out, not because I have a dearth of interesting things in my life to share with you all or ruminate on, but because it often feels odd to sit down and write a public list of things about me, my life, my interests, and the minutiae of my day-to-day without feeling like I’m over-sharing, overexposed, or over-interested in myself. Last week, I struggled to feel as though these lists were purposeful. Instead, I just felt awfully self-conscious. I did not end up posting one.
This week, however, is a new week, and I have decided to flip the bird at being both self-doubting and self-conscious – two of the demon practices that nearly thwarted this little blog to begin with – and instead share my life, expose myself, and – yes – be frigging interested in myself. And I’m not going to feel guilty about it, and I’m not going to sabotage it.
Sprinkled throughout this post are some selfies to fittingly celebrate that.
I originally intended to write these weekly lists as a way of bottling up the electric stuff of my week, of committing to memory my daily life’s current and those things that stay with me and strike sparks or excitement in my brain. At that point, I also intended to jump headfirst into blogging, throwing away all of my trepidation as I dove.
Turns out that it’s really hard to shed all of your fears cold turkey. Everything I flung into the air when I dove headfirst fell in behind me. Oops. “Dream big, and if you do, just remember that you have to factor all of your baggage into the plan”? That’s how it goes, right?
So last week’s list did not materialize. I regret that I didn’t even write one for myself, but now that I”m thinking about, I don’t think that would have accomplished everything I hope to get out of these lists. When I finish a list of things electric – once I get myself started, of course – I feel better. You know that feeling of having weight on your shoulders that you desperately want to unload – but good weight, the kind you want to dump out and yell “amiright?!?!” about? That’s how I feel when I’ve finished one of these.
So I think the actual intention of these lists of things electric is not just to bottle up the electric stuff of my days, but to get it out too – to record it for my own sake, and to record it for you too. The sharing is a crucial part of what makes these lists feel so cathartic, and so good, and so electric.
I hope they are cathartic to read, or at least enjoyable – a little something that brings some spark of interest or curiosity or life to you. And I hope you follow suit, and write down a list of what makes your life so interesting too, because I am 150% sure that it’s pretty frigging interesting, and that the electric current of your life is worth the time. I’d love to read it. And I’d love to see your shameless, beautiful selfies too.
I’d like to start this list off by telling you about a beautiful friend I have, who brings to my life her own very motivating, very meaningful brand of electricity.
Brittany is one of my very dearest friends, and of my closest ones, probably the newest. Though I have technically known her for over three years, our friendship has really taken off in the last two. In that time, she has exploded like a firework across my sky and left a streaky trail of sparkly bits behind her, and those little bits have continued to slowly fall, showering down on me every day since. They’re riddled throughout her weekly emails and in her often daily, often exclamation-point-filled texts; sparkles are practically stuck to her vocal cords when I hear her voice on the phone. Yes – I pick up the phone for Brittany, and no, I don’t freak out before I do. She is one of the few people who can actually get me to talk on the phone. Half of the time, her sheer zest for life – and zest for my life – excites my little heart so much that I can’t help but jabber; the other half of the time, listening to her is like listening to the audiobook of my diary (read by someone much more optimistic than me). She is my sparkly soul sister, and the extroverted side of our one overly reflective, overthinking, over-the-top coin.
I could probably explain here that she’s on this week’s list because of something specific she’s done for me, or something specific about her that I admire, or something particular about our relationship. Instead, I’ll avoid complicating things and just say that her friendship puts a healthy dose of the sparkles in my life, lights up my sky, brings out any rogue trace of extroversion in my personality (which I think I’m embracing), and helps to keep me from being a complete communicative recluse. And I’m very grateful for her.
Now I’m going to tell you about how Brittany snuck a kitchen gadget into my life that has quickly become the recent center of my culinary universe.
Maybe it’s the small apartment kitchen talking, but I am not a fan of extraneous kitchen gadgets and even less so of ones that take up space. I do not own a toaster, in part because Brian and I really don’t eat much bread, and because I can easily toast anything under our oven’s broiler. The way in which a standard slow cooker easily takes up a third of my counter space irritates the living daylights out of me. The one kitchen gadget I use on a daily basis – my deeply beloved reconditioned Vitamix – is large, yes, and the carafe doesn’t fit under my cabinets unless I remove it from its base first, but it’s multifunctional, practically negating the need for a food processor and whizzing roasted vegetables so fast that the resulting puree pours out hot.
Between my limited current counter space and my strict belief that less kitchen gadgets are more, I am generally skeptical of purchasing anything that I personally can’t make heavy or multifunctional use out of. This point of view has kept toasters, mandolins, stand mixer attachments, and juicers out of my kitchen. Even when I’ve been intrigued by certain appliances or gadgets, I’ve refrained from buying them either because a) it wasn’t worth the effort to find a place to store them, or b) I could probably do something they claim to do with something I already have.
So for my birthday, Brittany rather fittingly surprised me with a spiralizer – a gadget I definitely couldn’t replace effectively with anything I already had. And – surprise surprise – I have completely fallen in love with a brand new kitchen gadget. To top it off, I haven’t had time to find a place to store it because I’ve used it five times in the last three weeks.
If you are unfamiliar with a spiralizer, it is a kitchen tool that essentially turns fruits and vegetables into “noodles”. Once you load your fairly symmetrical piece of produce onto the spiralizer base, you turn its sliding crank and – presto – long curly vegetable noodles come out the other side of its blade. It is surprisingly easy to set up and surprisingly easy to use, and its surprisingly satisfying to watch oodles of noodles appear just as quickly as you crank, as if by magic. Once your noodles are spiralized, you can include them in all kinds of recipes as you might regular pasta, though the cooking process is modified. It’s a project, but not so involved that it can’t become a regular part of your rotation. And it makes every vegetable seem to taste better, if only because it turns them all into curlicued strings of rainbow confetti.
As I mentioned before, we don’t eat a lot of bread. And we own a Vitamix for a reason – we eat a lot of vegetable matter, and eat a lot of our vegetable matter blended, in smoothies and soups and the like. That being said, sometimes you get tired of green smoothies and pureed soups and roasted root vegetables. Sometimes you yearn for something a little different.
I have found that something different (or rather, it’s been given to me by someone who knew what I needed better than I did). It’s inspiring me in the kitchen, making me eat more vegetables, and making everything I cook look like it came out of a restaurant – or a piñata.
I have two butternut squash on my counter and I can’t wait to spiralize them up.
Sense of smell is so powerful. I love the way a scent can take root in your brain and your throat, and take you out of the present moment if you catch it at the right time, and rocket you back to something you’ve experienced before.
The smell of Dove women’s deodorant reminds me of the first trip I took without my parents in July of 2002. When I catch the occasional whiff of it, I’m suddenly twelve years old again, wearing a Limited Too t-shirt. When I smell the inside of a bakery, all I can think of are the boxes of star cookies my dad used to bring home from a Polish bakery near where he worked. Thick and soft and dusted slightly with powdered sugar, they were the poster baked good of bakery scents. Their smell was butter and sugar and sugar dust all packed into one little sweet. I remember how they were a treat, and how they never lasted long. The smells of certain kinds of smoke take me straight back to college at warp speed.
This time of year, just the smell of the air – of leaves, and dry grass, and brisk wind – elicits in my chest a kind of visceral reaction. When it’s strong, I can almost feel tears well up in my eyes. It reminds me of everything I enjoyed the most throughout the bulk of my childhood: playing in piles of leaves, taking walks through the first neighborhood my family lived in, walking to school in our first town, trick-or-treating as the sun set, picking out school supplies and pencil cases and new sneakers, and my birthday parties during warmer years when we could eat outside at dusk. It reminds me of the holidays fifteen years ago, when all of my family members spent them together – before we were spread out as much. The smell reminds me of the relief my little body felt every year when the hot weather came to an end; it makes my joints stiff now, but when I was a child, I couldn’t wait for the days when it was too cold to play outside and it was best to cozy up indoors. That smell means the start of my favorite stretch of the year. It’s my favorite scent, and comes with some of my favorite scent memories.
Sometimes I wonder if my tiny nose caught wind of that smell in the days after I was born, in mid-October, 1989, and if it’s just stayed with me all this time because it signals the start of me.
These days, I am really starting to get a good grip on the concept of making quality investments in order to prevent unnecessary spending and frustration in the future. Part of me thinks I’m behind the eight ball on this, but a bigger part of me has a good suspicion that most young women (and men) of my age and in my relative income bracket, seduced by fast fashion and the sneakily expensive concept of “grabbing a drink”, are slow to pick up on this one as well.
Over the past year or so, I’ve been really realizing that it’s completely ridiculous to say I can’t afford high quality, well-fitting, big girl jeans and then spend money on going out to dinner three times a month…or on jeans that a year later are so stretched out that their relationship with my butt could be deemed a long distance one.
This transition phase of my mindset was rather poetically driven home for me about two weeks ago, when I went out and actually bought those big girl jeans. They are high quality, they fit comfortably, they wash well, they look lovely on my butt, and they contain no soon-to-be-stretched-out spandex. And I don’t feel guilty for buying them.
I’m wearing them right now, and I can’t help but say that they are superb.
On a somewhat related note: When I was first starting high school, I owned an infamous pair of jeans that were the epitome of horrendous fast fashion in all of their attributes – quality, size, shape, and appropriate butt fit. They had the longest of long distance relationships with my butt, but for some reason – the delusions of puberty perhaps? – I loved them. My mom hated them – she actually told me once that it looked like I had a “load in my pants”. I’ll never forget it, and every time it’s brought up we laugh and laugh about it.
So in addition to these jeans feeling superb, they also feel like an official “sayonara” to those horrendous high school jeans and to the string of never-quite-perfect pants that followed them. Even my butt is doing this adult thing now. Woo hoo.
As I try to open myself up to more positivity in my life, I’m working on identifying more and more of the kinds of things that can turn my day around and make it a good one. I often struggle with the depressive tendency to let one sour thing ruin a whole afternoon. Sometimes, I can’t help it; anxiety takes over and blows that sour thing up like a balloon. That’s sort of what happened when I scrapped last week’s list of things electric. But sometimes, I can help it. Sometimes, maybe, I need to put a little effort into retraining my brain. At the very least I’ll be putting in the effort, right?
When I get in the car in the morning to head to a meeting or pull into my parking space at night, I’ve started telling myself that wherever I am I should look around me – out the window, on the ground, in the grocery store – for whatever I can find that’s good, that makes me happy, that makes me think or care or question. The more I’ve been doing it, the less I’ve had to tell myself to actually do it and the more it’s become the way I think when I go out into the world.
It’s a new thing, and I’m far from good at it, but so far it’s filling my life with lots of bonuses. They’re things that I already own, or that are already there, that I don’t always take the time to really appreciate, really see, or really understand.
Like avocados on sale for 49 cents each, or counting every red-leaved tree set on fire by the fall, or the leftover chicken soup that means I don’t have to make lunch, or remembering that my favorite shirt is clean, or appreciating just how nice it is to see my mom’s number pop up when my phone rings, or letting myself, for just 5 minutes, get lost in the picture framed on the windowsill and remembering as many details as I can of the day when it was taken.
Ordinary life is so rich – if only I could appreciate all of it. For now, I’ll do my best to take a deep breath and take in what I can, day by day, collecting the good as I go, tucking each like a stone from a riverbank into the back pocket of my favorite big girl jeans.
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