Delightfully Chaotic

“She is delightfully chaotic;
A beautiful mess.
Loving her is a splendid adventure.”

– Steve Maraboli

A colleague once introduced me as “the most fascinating whirling dirvish” she’d ever met.

It was one of the greatest compliments I have ever received.

Although, perhaps what she meant was, “She’s a chaotic mess, but at least she’s interesting.”

If I were a perfumer, Chaos would be my signature scent, wrapped in a cereulean paper of make-do, and tied with a ribbon of figure-it-out-as-we-go.

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Chance and I are long time friends. The abundance of the universe, combined with trusting my intuition, and a compulsive need to over achieve has never done me wrong, though it has lead to naive hubris a time or two … the limousine with the Irish beer execs, the spur of the moment trip to Calgary, a midnight stroll through Shanghai, even my 18th birthday impulse tattoo all turned out to be charming anectdotes rather than cautionary tales.

Your results may vary, read all labels before beginning any Irish Beer Drinking Tattoo Binges, and if it lasts longer than four hours, call your Doctor.

Pretensious D-Bags and an LA Blow Job

Here I am, at a Hollywood hot spot, post $35 blow out, sporting my “Kelsey” (apparently named after a celebrity I know not) manicure, drinking a glass of $15 Pinot Grigio.

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All this Hollywood glamour brings only one thing to mind, “Pretensious!”

Sitting at Sunset and Vine I’m eavesdropping on some would-be-perhaps-is “Film Guy” pontificate to his latest Twink (said with respect for the poor guy who is this D-Bags dinner companion) on the filmography of Robin Williams, juxtaposed against a Director’s work who apparently can’t finish a project.

Really? We must glorify a man pressed so far he surrenders against an artist who can’t meet deadlines?

Now, before you think I’m soft and permissive, I will clarify: I believe that if one accepts a position, for pay, regardless of their craft, one should deliver on promises.

Did you see any clarification, caveats, or exceptions there? No! Because I make none.

That is the difference between an amateur (hobbyist/volunteer) and a professional (one who pursues a field for pay). The quality of that output (in artistic fields, according to me) is the difference between adequate, good, and great, which may be the difference between  prolific and prosaic.

None of which has any impact on anything except for my judgement of a person, in general. But, I do feel heartfelt sympathy for anyone who takes their own life …. can you imagine the despair? I am sure you can.

We have all known someone who has succumbed in some way to severe depression.

And, in a roundabout way, what I’m saying is: Try not to judge Holly-whites against the accomplishments of their peers. We know not the degree of difficulty they are managing. But, if you are going to pass judgement, do so based on an artist’s quality completion rate measured relative to quantity.

Hell, even porn stars can complete 10 films a year, and nobody is nominating them for an Emmy!

When Women Were Protected and Stupid

6:00 the alarm goes off
15 minutes of yoga
Shower, Shave, and Shampoo
7:00 wake the angry, sleepy kids
Home-cooked breakfast
“where’s my shoes”
Hair, make-up, and fighting a stuck zipper
Carpool drop off
10 hour work days
Cook the dinner, clean up the dinner
Laundry, groceries
“I need a new Sharpie for school tomorrow”
Run to the store, home from the store
Kids in bed
Deep breath, feet up, finally take off the four-inch heels

And, then I ask: “Did telling women they should have an education, career, and a family really make women’s lives better, or did it just turn up the heat on the pressure cooker of life?”

Home Organization: Make-up Brush Holders

I am an addict. I am addicted to make-up tutorials and home organization videos.

I know, there are more important ways for me to spend my time, but they just don’t offer the same mind-numbing thrill as turning on a good “Get Ready with Me” make-up montage while prepping, primping, and priming for a day at the office.

This weekend, I kicked it up a notch and went a little beauty guru myself.

Enter another useful way to use Downy Unstoppables (one of my holy grail 1,001 use products).

Make-Up Brush Holder Supplies
All the supplies you’ll need to make an easy, sweet-smelling make-up brush holder.

What you’ll need:

  1. Container: cute, wide-mouth container with enough depth and width to easily hold all of your brushes, leaving a little breathing room between each brush to make it easy to grab and replace them.
  2. Rice: enough to fill your container 3/4 full
  3. Downy Unstoppables: 1 Large tablespoon

Steps:

Pretty self-explanatory here, but the instructions anyway, because I figured out a little tip I like …

  1. Mix the rice and Unstoppables in a large container (I used the large clear vase shown here because it was hanging around in my laundry room), then pour the mixture into your container.
  2. Place the brushes (soft part up) into your container:  Tip – I organize my brushes in order of use, that way I’m never looking for a brush.
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Put brushes into your storage container in order of use: foundation brushes to the outside and fine, detailing brushes for your eyes on the inside. This way, when doing your make-up you work from one end of the container to the next, and you’re never looking for supplies.

 

 

The Playlist

I stumbled across your playlist the other day,
it took my breath for a moment.

Strange, to remember a time when those songs fed such angst,
that same old scene is always coming to me.

Before a love song, you have to fall in love;
and so, that’s where the playlist takes me first.

Then there’s passion, turmoil, and four-four time,
were all of these songs fraught with meaning to me once,
in that place where a tornado meets a volcano?

It seems so long ago now, a confused memory of fights and forgiveness,
back when you said I was too sensitive, and you too much the opposite,
but you don’t hurt me anymore.

Now, then, is just a memory, and the playlist says it all,
the story of who we were, and who we are now,
that old familiar feeling.

Respecting Men Isn’t Anti-Feminist

I’ve been reading too many cutesy Pinterest articles lately. Seriously. Too. Many.

I have adorable workout-clothes crafts, probiotic gluten free vegan muffin recipes, and so many inspirational sayings I could start my own “Van Down by the River” sect. But, the most ridiculous memes I have been noticing a lot lately are the articles reminding women to “respect” their husbands.

Really? Why is this a problem?

Have women become such termagants that we need an entire interwebs meme reminding us to be nice to men? Apparently yes.

And, that’s pretty sad.

When did women (or men for that matter) decide that equality equals … for lack of a better word: bitchyness?

Now, someone will intentionally jump all over me that thousands of years of subjegation has forced women into subserviant roles that we must break away from. To which I ask: how are you, today, in this very moment being subjugated? 

Not in an escoteric sort of way, in a real and tangible way based on your own actions?

Are you making less than the men you work with? Did you actually negotiate your salary in advance?

Do you pull an unfair amount of weight around the house? Is that perhaps because your definition of clean is more arduous than your roomates/partners?

There is a world where women are treated horifically, raped, beaten, and forced into prostitution to avoid starvation and homelessness.

If you are one of those women, kick, scratch, bite and buck until you throw off the patriarichal unfairness that binds you. Please! For the future of your children’s children, Don’t respect the men who forced you into those dehumanizing positions.

If, however, you’re a mother of three living in the suburbs with a mortgage that’s paid by two people who work together (inside of the house and out) how about before you make another joke about your “helpless husband”, take a minute to ask yourself, “Did I marry a mouth-breathing moron who lived in a cage before I brought him home from the store and socialized him?”

If the answer is no, give the guy a break and throw a bone of praise and the good dirty lingerie his way every once in a while … you know, treat him like the boy you married.

No adorable retro-wall art or biblical post required.

Though the golden rule still applies: if you were a fly on the wall hearing your significant other say the things about you that you say to, or about, him, how would you feel?

Take THAT stupid cleaning commercials that make modern men look like domestic neanderthals!

Gypsy Cabs and a Rape Whistle

I arrived in Qingdao, China at midnight on a half-full flight of sleepy business men who hadn’t checked luggage. I moseyed my way over to luggage pick up alone and registered the odd fact that the baggage carousel lights were out, but the slow whir produced my lonely green TravelPro and black crate full of marketing materials anyway and I grabbed them in the dark without much fuss … probably because I was the only passenger in the airport retrieving luggage.

I made my way through the dimmed terminal to the “Taxi” lane (出租车) only to discover that at 12:30 am on a weeknight, there are no taxis at the Qingdao airport. Shit!

Qingdao Airport

There are many places in the world where you can arrive at 12:30 and even without a taxi make your way to a nearby Novotel for a shower and a pillow. Not so in Qingdao.  When I say their airport is in the middle of nowhere I mean mountains, trees, industrial complex, NOWHERE! Hence the name, Qīng () in Chinese means “green” or “lush”, while dǎo () means “island”. I had arrived on the green island in the middle of the night, and Jeff Probst was not waiting there to help me find my tribe.

When traveling and something goes wrong, or could go wrong, I like to do what I call “sink the ship.”  I immediately imagine worst case scenario and work myself out from there.

In this instance, I had a Chinese cell phone and it was mid-day back home if I couldn’t get a hold of the hotel concierge, I knew I could call home and have someone contact my Qingdao hotel and ask them to send a car for me. I could also go back into the airport and camp out until taxis arrived in the morning. So, worst case scenario really wasn’t disastrous.  I was pulling out said cell phone when I was approached by a very average looking cluster of Chinese men in ubiquitous short sleeved dress shirts and slacks.

Taxi?” One of the men asked, using what I became confident was the only English world he knew.

Yes! To the Qingdao Shangri La.”  I replied, feeling relieved that my original assessment that no taxis were available proved incorrect. I pulled out my hotel reservation to show him the written characters for the address to where I was going.

He pulled out his cell phone, typed in 300 Reminibi (about $45 US) and I nodded in agreement.  Then he started to wheel my wobbly cart past the rental car stands, and past row after row of parked cars, and my Spidey “don’t-talk-to-strangers” Sense kicked into high alert.

“Taxi!” I said loudly, trying to communicate that I did not want to ride to my hotel in the vehicle of some random stranger.

“Taxi.”  He said, pointing to himself, and continuing to roll my luggage.

We arrived at a very average looking silver car, but definitely not a licensed taxi or private airport transport service and he popped the trunk. At this point, if this man’s goal was to kidnap me, he could easily have done it without continuing the pretense of loading my luggage, we were too far from the terminal for the nobody who was around to hear me scream, and although I like to think of myself as scrappy, at 108 pounds he could have easily overpowered me into his car.

So, I sank the ship again, worst case scenario he’s an opportunistic gypsy cab, would-be human trafficker and wants me to get in the car without alerting the security cameras, since cameras are everywhere in China. That in mind, I made a big show of taking a pretend picture of his car’s license plate (my Chinese burner phone was so antiquated it barely sent basic text messages, but he didn’t know) then pretended to text the photo to a friend.  I wanted him to believe that if he did abduct me into white slavery that he would at least have to do so with the hassle of the police knowing he was the last person I had been with.

We climbed into the cab and I immediately pretended to call my “friend” in China and speak to them in Chinglish, using the four Chinese words I know in order to make it seem as though I was meeting a Chinese-speaking friend at the hotel (and was apparently very mad at some old woman 老巫婆 “old hag” being the only insult I know).  Then, I hung up and called home and explained the situation in English, and talked my way through a thirty minute taxi ride over the river and through the woods to my hotel.

There are few times in my life I have been as relieved as I was when I saw the lights of Qingdao in the distance, and then even more so when I saw the neon lights of the Shangri La – once I can see the hotel I can walk there, worst case scenario I abandon my luggage and make a run for it.

Shangri-la_Qingdao

We pulled near the Shangri La, and then things got shady.  He turned around and began speaking with me in the Chinese I don’t know and then showed me his cell phone, with a new number on it – 500 Reminbi (80 USD) which from all my pre-trip internet research I knew was a complete rip off.  I probably would have let him jack the price up a few bucks, but doubling the price when the hotel was in sight, rookie mistake.

He pulled past the porte-cochère and picked up speed, continuing to speak in rapid Mandarin and pointing to his phone. At which point, I did what any innocent little Utah girl would do, unrolled my window, pulled out my rape whistle, and blew that thing with all my might.

The “taxi” slammed to a stop, and he began to back up, gesturing with his hand to keep it down, and pretending to laugh it off as if we’d just had a misunderstanding.  He delivered me to the door and sheepishly grabbed my luggage.

I handed him 300 Reminibi instead of the agreed upon amount, with a knowing look, and we both went our separate ways.

 

Qingdao

 

Now, when arriving in an unfamiliar city after standard hours, I always book a car and driver – though it didn’t work as well in Turkey at 4:00 in the morning, but that’s another story.

Date Night

The idea of a date night is to take time, unwind, and reconnect. But, with the never ending schedule of summer camp, little league, and an endless to-do list at home and the office, the only “date” I have is with my Serta perfect sleeper.

But tonight, with the laundry scales tipping toward done and my littles tucked in front of a Redbox of Forest Gump for the fourth time this summer (don’t ask me why) I am taking ME out.

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I’ve taken a page from the book of a confirmed bachelor friend of mine and I’m settling in with a glass of wine, a LUSH sex bomb bubble bath, candles, and all things girly – tricks guarenteed to drop a pair of panties in no time flat*, followed up by some trash television – a.k.a. Real HouseBitches – and my comfy socks.

I might even give myself a happy ending (which as exhausted as I am right now means a second (okay third) glass of wine and lights out by 10:30.

*Okay so the panty dropping is essential for a bubble bath, but I imagine asking a girl if she’d like to take a bubble bath is pretty damn effective, even for harried moms with hectic schedules.

That Kind of Morning

It’s that kind of Tuesday morning which really should be a Sunday.

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It rained all night and now the valley smells rich and mossy.
My sheets are freshly washed and perfectly crisp, beconing me back to bed.
The pot is brewing with more coffee than I can drink in my hectic scramble to get out the door, and pancakes are browning on the griddle.

The sun is a perfect shade of August, with a caressing breeze teasing and toying across my sunny porch.
Best not to ignore signs like this.

Clearly the calendars got it wrong.
Today is Sunday, I’m calling in.
I’ll go back to Wednesday tomorrow.

Airport Zen

Park and Ride drop offs; shoes-off-tech-out security screenings; gate change; screaming kids; and octogenarians who have never flown before all collide into one frenetic, frustrating, infuriating pulse during the experience that is airplane travel.

But, when you travel as frequently as I do (just got my Platinum Medallion welcome kit, WooHoo!) if you let the airport get to you, you’ll start to look like your passport photo. So, I like to practice what I call, “Airport Zen.”

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Airport Zen takes focus, and practice – much like any meditative practice. Finding it for the first time is a struggle, maintaining it is even harder, but when it’s there it offers a perfect little mental oasis inside the traveler’s hell known as the airport.

Lines? An opportunity to breathe in for three, hold for two, and release for six; during which time I zone in on someone or something pleasant to look at (advertisements for a juicy steak, a child behaving like children do, a couple in love) and observe the world around me.

Security? I move intentionally, not allowing myself to assume the anticipatory posture of “hurry up and wait”. I always wear slip on shoes and a skirt with no belt or pockets when I fly, so I can skip the harried wardrobe change at screening and I have only to pick up a tray (at the exact moment it is needed) place my laptop and toiletries case inside, leave my passport and boarding pass on top, then breathe again and follow the person in front of me. All in a deliberate, intentionally relaxed fashion, forcing my shoulders not to clench and my teeth not to grind in annoyance at the cattle call around me.

The Flight? When I board the plane I consider my seat a protective nest for the next 2-12 hours and I settle in, just like in yoga, and focus on finding my “posture” – the most comfortable way to sit in non-reclining 33B. I un-shoe down to my comfy travel socks (the kind I keep a ziplock bag for so I can wear them in airplane bathrooms and not care how dirty they get), request a blanket and pillow, then pull out a book for the rest of the take off process (the real kind, with pages, that turn off the electronic buzz and open my mind to a pretend world of interesting people.)

Once in air I order two glasses of water and a glass of wine, drink it slowly, and meditate on nothing.

This relaxed approach makes flying a “practice” rather than a burden, and helps me arrive at my final destination refreshed and ready to hit the ground running at a break-neck pace.

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