Monthly Archives: October 2011

On Halloween — UPDATED!

Dear Amy,

It is that time of year again in Michigan, when the two weeks of autumn begin to give way to the five months of winter, and a single girl’s thoughts begin to turn toward OH CRAP HALLOWEEN IS THIS WEEKEND AND I TOTALLY DO NOT HAVE A COSTUME.

I’m not really a Halloween person. I like fall, and I like bats and cats and horror movies and pumpkins and the color orange…I just don’t get super excited about conceiving and executing costumes. It isn’t that I’m uncreative, it’s that I’m lazy and also that I spent the first twenty-five years of my life as an actor and got to tog it up in weird costumes like every WEEK, basically, so the allure of dressing up as someone else has kind of lost its charm for me. When I was in middle school I was very dour and had hair down past my boobs so I dressed as Wednesday Addams three years in a row. Two years ago I bought a red wig and threw on every plaid item of clothing I owned and went as Angela Chase from My So-Called Life.  Here is a photo of that.

Last year I didn’t even bother because I was in Alabama for a family thing, and apparently nobody down there gave a crap about Halloween either. Perhaps because they’re all Baptists.

Anyhoodle, I’m in a bit of a (self-created) bind this year because I am definitely invited to a few parties where I will definitely be expected to show up in costume. And while I don’t want to spend a lot of effort and money I also don’t wish to come across a half-assed jerkwad, since my friends are nice and probably are going to have gone to a lot of trouble to make their parties awesome and I am a mature adult now and don’t need to prove how cool and unaffected I am. I need to achieve the perfect balance of ingenuity and humor with a minimum of effort.  High concept, low-tech. One idea I had was “sexy” internet meme (must be initially unsexy).  So, for example “Sexy” Keyboard Cat . Or “Sexy” Nyan Cat .  Or “Sexy” Rage Comic Face .  Any help you could provide in this arena would be most appreciated.  Alternately I could go as Every Internet Cat Video Ever, which could be a TRIUMPH if done correctly.

Um…so what are you going to be for Halloween?

Love,
Annie

Dear Annie,

As a pregnant lady, this year will be a little different for me. When I first discovered I’d be “hugely” pregnant for the holiday, I got excited. I googled it, but what I came up with was disappointing: The main conceit seems to be cutting a hole in whatever you wear and painting your belly. For example, overalls with a hole in the middle and a belly painted like a pumpkin. A jersey with a hole in the middle and a belly painted like a basketball. And one particularly ballsy woman in a bikini with her belly painted like a beach ball.

I think it is fair to say that my belly should not be viewed publicly right now. My bellybutton has morphed into some sort of cartoon dog-snout and it’s off-center now, pointing somewhere over to the left like a lazy eye. (I don’t think “lazy eye” is politically correct, but I HAD A LAZY EYE and wore a patch every day for two years to correct it, so I think I am allowed to use the term.)

For the last few years, I have gone as Abe Lincoln. I’ve done it for a few years because it is a GREAT costume. It highlights the mannishness of my face, AND it proves that my face is indeed mannish. Strangers think I’m a man; friends don’t recognize me at first, and when they do, their initial response is terror. But pregnant Abe Lincoln seems weird. It takes out the people-actually-thinking-I’m-a-man element. It makes some kind of a statement, but I’m not sure what that statement is. That perhaps Lincoln was a woman? That is not a statement I want to make.


For the last few years at work, I’ve dressed as Mary Poppins. I work with children. It’s easily recognizable, and a real crowd pleaser. Somehow, dressing as Mary Poppins while pregnant feels scandalous. Is it the love child of the chimney sweep? From an illicit affair with a charge’s father? Did Mary decide to re-write the middle of Jane Eyre? Mary never struck me as the marrying type. More than anything, Mary’s not interested in being a mother, she’s interested in being a nanny. She loves children and enjoys taking care of them for a time, fixing their problems, and then floating back into the clouds. Mary’s a career girl, and her career requires a great deal of travel. I have been led to believe that babies don’t travel all that well, toddlers even less so. And WHO IN THEIR RIGHT MINDS would want to nanny for Mary Poppins’s kids??

Regardless, I am not really up on Internet memes, but the rage face guy looks pretty funny. I think you could make that costume fairly quickly with the cardboard from a frozen pizza and some papier mache. You’ll have to bring the girls along, of course, but with boobs like yours, I’d say there is always WAY MORE of a chance of cleavage than not. And thank goodness for that.

Anyway, to answer your question, I’m going as Abe Lincoln. Unless I can find suitable pieces for a William Taft costume between now and Saturday.

Love,
Amy

 

Update, because we know you’ve been DYING to know how it turned out!

Annie as Baberaham Lincoln, Amy as WIlliam Howard Taft.

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On Edges

Dear Annie,

I thought we were going to make this blog funny. So far, it’s not that funny. Or at least my parts aren’t. I consider us to be funny people, which is why this seemed like a good idea in the first place.

I, for one, have lost my edge. I don’t know when it happened, but I blame the pregnancy. I used to like intense shows like “Breaking Bad,” and movies that were heartbreaking and real and bleak. Now I stream multiple episodes of “Friday Night Lights” every evening, and I turn my head when there are fist fights. Netflix sends old-timey, feel-good, easily-digestible movies to my door.

I’m reading Howard’s End, for chrissake. And, like, childbirth stories.

But maybe it’s not so bad to lose your edge. Last week, I saw a Pure Michigan commercial that showed slow motion, aerial shots of trees turning autumn colors, and I cried. Perhaps I should not have been asking myself, Why am I crying?, but rather, Why have I never cried at such a thing before?

Shouldn’t I WANT to be the type of person who is regularly moved to tears? It felt GOOD to look at those trees and to feel such awe. Why do I fight it? Where did acting cool and smart and untouchable ever get me? What’s the point of keeping my emotions and thoughts to myself?

I still hate crying in front of people, but I imagine, as this edge goes, that’s going to be a necessary casualty as well. Here’s a list of people I hate crying in front of, in order: 1. Anyone, 2. My parents, 3. My husband. I’ve been moved to tears a lot lately, and I’ve been, with one notable exception, hiding it from Jason. I don’t know why. I don’t expect that’ll last a whole lot longer. (There’s a LOT of crying in childbirth, I am learning.)

I guess I’ve been crying in books for the last few years. I also cried so hard during The Fox and the Hound a few years back that I freaked out some of my nieces, who — three, four, and five years old at the time — tried to console me to no avail (“But…but….they CAN’T be friends, isn’t it SO SAD? They CAN’T be friends…” followed by lots of Cowardly-Lion sounds). Maybe my edge has been going for a while.

How’s your edge, Annie?

Love,
Amy

Dear Amy,

My edge is GREAT.  It’s the edgiest edge that ever edged, baby. Why just last week I drank a fifth of whiskey, punched a kitten in the face and danced til dawn on the bones of my enemies. I harnessed the winds and raced trains with a stolen sailboat. I set a hobo on fire.  I jumped in the Detroit river. I won McDonald’s Monopoly FIVE TIMES. I both vowed and exacted vengeance upon those who wronged me. I ate a whole can of Pringles.

I don’t have time to be funny, Amy. I’m too busy LIVING.

Love,
Annie

Dear Annie,

There you go, making it funny. I’ll swallow the thought that in my previous life I was funny, and in this one I’m not. You are VERY funny, Annie. It is so good to have friends who can make you laugh.

I miss living almost as much as I miss pooping. And equally as much as I miss talking drunkenly to people in bars and at parties. Or wanting to go out. Or having a desire to “do things,” especially those that involve wearing clothes that are not pajamas and sitting upright. I do yoga a few times a week and do a lot of walking, and there is a fair amount of rallying that has to happen behind both of those activities. We should have started this blog during my second trimester. That trimester looked a lot like what you just described.

That said, I am really glad you are having so much fun, and living life fully. Live for me too! Live for both of us, me and you. And while you’re at it, live a little for the baby. She’s just somewhere between the size of a squash and a honeydew. Consider it the start of your aunthood.

Love,
Amy

Dear Amy,

From now on I will call the baby “Honeydew.” Probably even after you actually name her a real name.

Love,
Annie

On Love

Dear Amy,

The other night I sat on my couch and listened to the most eligible bachelor I know talk very pragmatically about breaking up with his girlfriend. I told him that I wished I could provide better advice, but that I hadn’t been in a relationship since 2008, and that my myriad romantic exploits had led me to only one sad piece of wisdom, which is this: most people are lying liars. He was all “I wasn’t actually asking for advice.”  I continued, “How can I ever trust anyone when text messaging is a thing which exists in the world? Every time a phone buzzes it reminds me that we all have a secret life, one which is carried on electronically, and privately, and is password protected and free of the mannered restrictions of face-to-face contact.  It is the Id communicating with another Id. It is an easy and false intimacy. Who can stand up confidently in the face of that?” He said, “Hold on, my pocket just buzzed.”

Later on he brought up a relationship philosophy that was called something I forget now, but was essentially five indicators/signs/generic nouns of Love, these being affirmations (compliments and encouragement), gifts, physical interaction, quality time (sitting and not talking doesn’t count, I guess) and selfless acts (doing favors and enjoying it). I mused that perhaps part of my problem is that I include all five of these things in my expectations of all relationships, friendly, romantic or otherwise. Perhaps this is why I do not date successfully. I can’t tell the difference? I mix my own messages? I wanted to relay this information to my handsome and eligible bachelor friend sitting a foot away from me on the couch in my moodily lit apartment, but I decided it might come across a little fishy.

After this very rewarding personal interaction, I attended a gathering of former employees from a now-defunct local business I once worked for. I suggested re-launching the business in a smaller form, but nobody seemed very interested, so instead I spent like an hour talking to my ex-coworker’s ex-boyfriend about serialized fantasy novels and mopeds while wondering internally if this is the sort of person I’m supposed to be dating.

Love,
Annie

Dear Annie,

I don’t know much about five indicators of love. All I know is that I married someone who is not my “type,” and it was the smartest choice I ever made. Of course, as with all smart choices, I didn’t JUST MAKE IT. We met six years ago, we fell in love, I broke up with him. I think I thought I had wild oats to sow. After three years of not exactly sowing wild oats, some pining, some pining while claiming I was not pining, more pining, and the one time I have EVER seen my husband cry, we got back together. It was long and tumultuous and I don’t know if I would recommend it, but it’s what I did. I CAN tell you that when I finally pulled myself together, it felt great. He wasn’t my type, and it worked (eventually).

Surely you are thinking, How is Jason not your type? Well, for example, Jason thinks I’m pretty. Like, really pretty. He thinks I’m funny, basically, all the time. (HE thinks I’m as funny as I think I am. And as you know, I secretly think that I am super, super funny.) He thinks I’m smart and creative and talented. He’s impressed by things I do. He’s interested in what I have to say, and what I think, and he doesn’t undermine or condescend me. He doesn’t make me feel guilty if I’m not in the mood to do it. He’s little and has no fashion sense of his own, but he lets me dress him. When his phone buzzes, I know that it’s either Twitter or Rich or an update from the baby app he downloaded.

My “type” was more the type where the phone buzzing was a source of worry. More importantly, as the previous paragraph would imply, my type was people who didn’t think that I was that pretty or that smart or that funny. People who might question if I was really going to wear that. People who were emotionally aloof and self-involved.

My husband is sweet-hearted and kind. He leaves me little doodles and notes. He gets things he knows I like when he goes grocery shopping. (And he does just about all the grocery shopping, because he knows I hate it.) He surprises me. He is clever and funny. He is a natural with kids.

At night, if he’s not working, we eat dinner together and talk about our days. We lay around in bed. We watch movies, and we usually take turns falling asleep about halfway through. Lately, we giggle a lot and feel the baby move. It happens to me all day, but I still haven’t lost my sense of wonder about it. Jason is continually delighted by it. He’s helpful and nice. He’s involved. He’s a great partner, and he’s going to be a great dad. It’s been a pretty special time in our relationship.

I guess I don’t really have any advice for you, Annie, except to maybe try shying away from your type. My life went in a direction I never expected. I don’t think there’s a right way and a wrong way. We all put one foot in front of the other and end up somewhere.

Love,
Amy

Dear Amy,

Hmm. The last time I dated someone who wasn’t my type I spent a lot of time judging his shoe choices and cringing at his jokes, jokes which were oftentimes delivered in a faux British accent. His car was weird (not that I give a shit about cars, it’s just that a car kind of says a lot about a person and this one screamed “I HAVE NO TASTE ALSO I AM POSSIBLY A GRANDMA”) and within that car he listened to terrible, terrible music.  Ultimately I couldn’t muster up enough respect for him to find him enduringly attractive, even though he was really nice to me.

The last time I dated someone who WAS my type (brooding, bearded, badass) he experienced some sort of metaphysical crisis and cheated on me with a girl who had f-holes tattooed on her lower back.  (GOOGLE IT).  The guy I fell in love with six years ago was, much like your husband, an endearingly dorky neurotic with an artistic streak.  Unlike your husband, he was not very nice and is currently tracing an alcoholic downward spiral somewhere in the bars of the midwestern United States.

If there is any meaning to be found in this, it is that I am going to be alone forever, because I am a judgmental shoe Nazi with poor taste in men.

xo,
Annie

Inaugural Post

Dear Annie,

I was thinking about you the other night. I was thinking about how, five or six years ago, when we were first becoming friends, our lives were remarkably alike. We were of a similar age (late-twenties), of a similar background (parents still married; liberal arts degrees, no student loans), of a similar aesthetic. We shopped at the same places and wore the same size clothing. We were not really pretty exactly, but had interesting enough faces to sometimes pass as pretty. We played in local bands; and for a while you played in my band, and, for a night, I played in yours. (Sorry about that, by the way. I turned out to not be a very talented musician.) We both had dry senses of humor, more guy friends than girl friends, and a fondness for dresses with boots.

It made sense that we would be friends.

Now, five or six years later, our lives look very different. You still play music and have gigs often. My band broke up a couple of years ago. You still go out all the time. I’m in in bed by nine every night. You still date, meet new people. I’m married and have a baby on the way. You still drink fancy gin drinks and show up places in new vintage dresses. I haven’t had a drink in six months, and I’m in pajamas as soon as I get home from work.

Last night, I surrounded myself with pillows and continued to work my way through “Friday Night Lights” on Netflix. The baby was doing a lot of wiggling. I paused it in the middle of an episode and watched my stomach bounce. It’s a crazy sensation. Feeling it from the inside is one thing, but watching it from the outside is another. Jason was at work. It was girls’ night at our house. I turned on The Blow’s “Paper Television” and impressed my cabbage-sized, inside-baby daughter with some of my moves. They were part kung fu, part disco, and part yoga. After a few songs, we both felt pretty tired. I read a book (out loud, as I’ve read that you should do that, although I don’t know that Howard’s End is age appropriate for a fetus) for about five minutes and fell asleep by ten.

Maybe we should start a blog.

Love,
Amy

Dear Amy,

I have always thought you were very pretty.  You are tall and have lovely thick reddish hair, and really interestingly colored eyes, and a great butt that looks awesome in jeans.  It is a surprise to me to now discover that you do not think that I am “really pretty EXACTLY”.  But, you know what, that’s FINE.  IT’S FINE, AMY.  I guess SOMEONE has to be the pretty one, and I guess that doesn’t get to be me.  I mean, it’s cool, I guess it isn’t enough that you have an awesome super-hipstery job, a husband who dotes on you, a huge, loving family who lives nearby and a baby on the way who will no doubt be the funniest and most literate child in the history of children, OH NO, you just HAAAAAAAVE to be the pretty one, too.  That’s okay, I’ll just head on home to my tiny apartment and sit alone in front of my cable-less television and drink an entire bottle of eight dollar white wine while watching back-to-back versions of Pride and Prejudice and CRYING because I’ll never be winsome enough to charm a man into marrying me AGAINST THE WISHES OF HIS FAMILY even if I were as skinny as Kiera Knightly, which I am not and will never be, because GENETICS and also I’m probably going to get even fatter, develop type 2 diabetes and die alone, slowly eaten by the squirrels who live in my ceiling.  But that’s okay, Amy.  As long as you’re happy.

Suck it,
Annie

Dear Amy,

Sorry about my last letter.  I just started this new birth control and I think it might be making me a little irrational.  It’s that one where they give you a shot in your butt every three months. Initially I begged my doctor for an IUD because you made yours sound so awesome and I never really want to have babies  because I kind of hate babies (I mean not YOUR baby (yet)) but my doctor said I shouldn’t do something so drastic because I might change my mind later and anyway my uterus probably wasn’t big enough and I was like “LISTEN LADY, YOU DON’T TELL ME ABOUT MY UTERUS I WOULD STERILIZE MYSELF IF I COULD” and then she was like “Remember that I hate you and never listen to anything you say?” and I was like “Oh, right.”.

I should really look around for a new doctor.

Anyway, I dig the idea of us starting a blog.  We are so alike.  We both love to write, we both love shoes and animals and dancing and music and books and drinking large amounts of alcohol.  But you’re right, our lives have diverged from one another.  I’m still flitting from job to job, trying on and discarding relationships, still figuring out what I want to do and be, and you seem pretty well settled on your path.  I think sometimes how nice that must feel, to know your future.

Okay, so let’s do this thing.

Love,
Annie

Dear Annie,

No worries. I vaguely remember what it is like to be on birth control that messes with you. Not to brag, but MY doctor let me have an IUD. Actually, “my doctor” was Planned Parenthood, where they are more than willing to give any mammal an IUD, I am willing to bet. They love their IUDs there. Something for you to keep in mind.

Let’s clear up two things: I am NOT the pretty one. Thanks for thinking that I am, though. Have you ever seen my trick where I put on lipstick, and instantly look like a man in drag? You probably haven’t, because I don’t have much desire to look like a man in drag all that often. I have a large, square, mannish face, and while I appreciate that you like how my butt looks in jeans, I also have a large, square butt. You have a delicate, girlish face, and delicate features. Sometimes you look like you might be part Asian. You have big boobs. I actually find you very pretty, just not in a generic way. Maybe that’s a better way to put it?

Furthermore, I do not know my future. I know that I have a baby on the way and I live in a cozy one-bedroom apartment with my husband who has a teaching degree but cannot find a job, so he has cobbled “a job” together out of substitute teaching, low-paying retail, and a part-time IT job at UM. I know that next month we have to start paying back his student loans, which is an incredible monthly sum that we’ll be paying for the next ten years or so. Being “settled on a path,” I think, might just mean that you want different things that you can’t have. I want a house and a 401K and good insurance for my family. I want to be putting money away for retirement. I want to take vacations. I want a new car. I want a lot of other banal, generic things. (And right now, I want to eat sushi and lunchmeat and unpasteurized cheeses and drink two bottles of wine without a glass.)

I might be “settled on a path,” but I’m doing a pretty sucky job at that path for someone who’s 35.

That’s putting it too harshly, but you know what I mean. I love my work, but I miss having a new job every year, and things being fresh and new all the time. Every time I see you, you are wearing a pretty dress and looking effortless. I think maybe I used to head out for the night looking effortless. I miss that. But I like to think that you are living my old life for me, Sliding Doors style (you probably even get to be the Gwyneth with sassy hair), and so some of the fun you’re having is fun I’m having too. (And, of course, I am having some fun over here for you as well.)

Love,
Amy

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