Categories
Blather life Silly

Sephora Called Me Old

Last week I went to the mall to just kinda like wander around and kill an hour or so of my life.

So I wandered in to Sephora because this summer when I was blonde I read an article on the internet that said blondes should try wearing brown mascara, and if an article on the internet says I should do something, I usually do it which is why I’ve joined QAnon (kidding. Obviously).

So anyway all summer I wore brown mascara but now that I’m a brunette again I felt it was the right time to return to black mascara, (I know, the story is really getting good).

Well, I was a little upset because online it said that Sephora carried Givenchy Phenomeneyes Mascara but I wandered around for at least fifteen minutes and didn’t find it anywhere. ALL of the employees working asked me at some point if I was “finding everything okay”, and it was very awkward because although it was quite obvious I was not “finding everything okay,” I wasn’t going to actually ask for help. Like, what if they laughed at my choice of mascara? Or tried to help me find a better mascara for me?

My womanhood would be challenged.

So I decided to just go with Anastasia brand mascara because that’s the brand the winner of Rupaul’s Drag Race gets.

Duh.

But all of this is just extraneous detail that is entirely beside the point.

So…sorry about that.

THE POINT IS, when I went to pay for my purchase, the cashier asked for my email address to look up my Sephora account. I was V excited to hear what my account would yield because I KNEW it had accumulated a LOT of points because once upon a time in days of yore, I was making bank in the city and would go to Sephora at least twice a week for some made up reason such as “this work event calls for a dark purple lip color” or “this weekend I’m going to see if I can look like a Snapchat filter“.

I knew I must have some serious points.

So imagine my surprise when the cashier’s Kat von D mouth opened wide in surprise, and instead of “congratulations, you have ten million points, your purchase is free and you now own all of Sephora” she said…

“Ah! It’s time to collect your birthday gift!”

My entire life flashed before my eyes.

My day of birth is March 25th.

I tried to mirror her excitement, and then winced….

Oh my god, I’ve been unemployed so long that I don’t even know what month or season it is…

Or…or I’ve gone into mental hibernation…a protective mode to shield me from the chaos of the world.

It must’ve been triggered by the “debate” the previous evening. My senses were on overload and I couldn’t cope. So much yelling, so much “old white man,” so much peanutbutter whiskey consumed…

My true consciousness went to sleep and my body and brain had continued on auto-pilot until the chaos was over and it sensed a safe place to wake me back up…

…like Sephora!

How much had I missed?

Was Donald still the president?

Was Amy Coney Barrett a Supreme Court Justice?

Can women and people of color still vote?

Can gays still marry?

Did I miss the last Christmas where women can sit at the same table as men?

Is it “Handmaid’s Tale” now? Is Britney okay? Did she get any freedom before we all had to don our “Maid” apparel?

WHEN WILL THE NEW BATMAN WITH ROBERT PATTINSON COME OUT AND WHY DO I CARE!?!?

All these thoughts…all at once…

The cashier was looking at me. It was now or never.

Do I tell her its not my birth month? Do I do the honest thing so they don’t run out of birthday gifts for people who actually have October birthdays?

“Y-yeah…ohh…er…yay! My birthday!”

Wow, Jesse.

Just….just wow. Some poor Libra isn’t gonna get their free body cream or free mascara because you are the worst.

Wait…this could not be my fault…she didn’t even ask me! She just…said it. She told me it was time to collect my birthday gift…and I’m not trying to argue in the Sephora store, that’s not part of my zen.

But now I was feeling rushed. Rushed to turn thirty. The pressure and doom I’d associated with that number sent a chill up my spine.

It’s the bags…the bags under my eyes.

She took one look at me and she was like….”this b—h just turned thirty, look at those lines. You can see the young person she was yesterday just being devoured by an old witch with osteoporosis and New Balance sneakers!”

She looked at me impatiently and said, with an evil smirk, “do you want the body cream or the mascara?”

And what I wanted to say was “B***H I JUST BOUGHT MASCARA WTF DO YOU THINK?” and then just RUN OUT OF THE STORE CRYING.

Breathe.

Breathe…

Deep, deep, “Harry-Styles-Calm-App” Breaths.

How could she be this cruel on my birthday!

IT’S NOT YOUR BIRTHDAY YOU PSYCHO!

“I’ll go with the body-cream.” And I’ll rub it all over my hot, young, wrinkle-free twenty-nine-year old body.

Smile. Nod. Thank you. No bag necessary, I’m saving the planet.

So I have this dishonest Sephora birthday gift now, and I can’t bear to open it because I wonder what it means.

What it means about who I’ve become and who I’m becoming.

I wonder if this means no Sephora Birthday Gift in March…

I wonder if it is possible to hibernate my consciousness until after November 3rd, or possibly even until 2024.

I wonder if Sephora is really a safe space or if they’re pushing me to grow up too fast.

And I wonder if maybe they accidentally pulled up my mom’s account who’s birthday is in October, and now my mom will be Sephora Birthday Gift-less…

The world may never know.

Save me from myself.

Categories
Blather life Silly

I’m Losing It Because: A Poem Kind Of

I’m losing it.

I. AM. LOSING. IT.

I am losing it because I flung my Apple watch against the backseat window of the car because it “keeps bossing me around.”

Because it doesn’t count the bike at the gym toward my exercise ring, and my RINGS are my PURPOSE.

I AM losing it because my last Google search was “is it acceptable to eat straight up steak seasoning”

Because the answer was “yes.” And so I did.

I am LOSING it because I’ve gone to Michael’s or Marshalls every weekend since September 1st to buy festive fall decor for an apartment I don’t technically live in or pay rent on.

While the apartment I AM paying rent on sits DECOR-LESS and FESTIVE-LESS four hours away.

I am losing it because I spend, like, 70% of my time sitting at stoplights trying to make eye contact with people.

One of them was “penny nips” from high school. She was called “penny nips” because the rumor was she had penny-sized nipple. Obv.

I am losing it because I’ve wandered aimlessly around Barnes and Noble multiple times in the last month without buying anything.

And have pooped in their bathroom on each occasion.

I am losing it because I almost bought a Tamagotchi at Urban Outfitters the other day.

Because I want something to rely on me.

I am losing it because I almost shouted “NICE MASKS, LADIES” at a woman and her daughter who came to the grocery store without masks even though its state mandated that we wear masks.

Although, I actually kind of wish I had followed through on that one.

I am losing it because I know the solution to “losing it” is to get a job.

But the available jobs pay less than what I receive through unemployment and pandemic assistance, and instead of saying “why don’t employers pay their employees enough“, people say “they are getting too much on unemployment.

This morning I spent 20 minutes in my car examining the differences between (You Drive Me) Crazy on Britney’s original album and (You Drive Me) Crazy on Britney’s greatest hits.

I am losing it.

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Categories
cancer life mindfulness

The Peak of My Creepy

Seneca Falls, New York is the home of the first US Women’s Rights Convention. We all memorized that somewhere along the line. Declaration of Sentiments, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Susan B. Anthony, et cetera, et cetera. You probably wrote a shi**y essay about it or had to dress up as Lucretia Mott and give a “suffrage talk” about Women’s Rights to your third grade class who chuckled every time you said the word “sex.”

Fans of the holiday classic It’s a Wonderful Life probably know a bit more about Seneca Falls. Frank Capra, the film’s director, spent time there while writing the script, and although the film was entirely made in California, it is said there are plenty of reasons to believe that he had Seneca Falls in mind when he created “Bedford Falls.” The tiny, doll-like train station, the references to Buffalo, Rochester, and Elmira, NY…

This sign hangs from a lamp post on the now-famous bridge in Seneca Falls, NY

…a bridge that runs over the sleepy canal in the middle of town that is now referred to as the “George Bailey Bridge.” Legend, of course, being that this is the bridge Capra recreated in the movie where George jumps to save Clarence the angel.

I’ve had the ‘It’s a Wonderful Life House’ pointed out to me many times throughout my life. “You want the moon, Mary?”

Downtown Seneca Falls is a picture of holiday cheer come Christmas-time, as you can probably imagine. Even a crotchity millennial like me can admit that when the “George Bailey Bridge” is all lit up, and the town twinkles red and green beside the water, it looks like a kind of “dream America.” A picturesque town ripped right out of the same history book you plagiarized your sh**ty paper from.

For me, Seneca Falls feels as much a part of my childhood as Syracuse does. I recently drove my boyfriend down ONE street in the middle of the town (slowly and creepily, of course), and narrated for him:

this house was my aunt’s, then this one my grandmother’s. Across over there is a cousin, that house another aunt, then a great aunt, another cousin…and (as a woman emerges from a car parked up ahead) that’s actually some sort of cousin of mine crossing the street right now. Second, third, removed…I couldn’t tell you.”

My grandmother’s house in the middle of town was a weekly gathering place of the big Italian family every Sunday for pasta and meatballs and homemade sauce. Holidays would sometimes take place at a different family house on the same street, but her’s was always the home base. She was always the star of the show, and she held court from her rocking chair watching Judge Judy, a Stephanie Plum novel dog-eared on the coffee table.

An artist’s rendering of Gram’s house as it was.

I know losing grandparents is essentially a part of life. They are a privilege while they’re here, and they’re oftentimes our first experience with loss and death, (that is, if we’re lucky enough to have our immediate families around throughout the whole of childhood.)

I’m not gonna make this about cancer, because it’s not really about that, per se. The last year of my grandmother’s life was the year of my illness, and I don’t think I’ll ever truly know how it impacted her. I know it took a toll on everyone in the family, if not because they felt close with me, then because my diagnosis was an eerie reminder that none of us are safe from life’s unwelcome surprises, regardless of age.

But my grandmother was already battling a slew of health problems on her own, even before I upstaged her.

She died a week after I was declared in remission.

She never got to see me “being okay.”

Seneca Falls has never been the same since she passed, and I hadn’t spent more than two hours there in years, let alone two whole days.

There are too many ghosts.

But a few weeks back, my cousin needed a dog sitter while her family went camping for the weekend. Me, the “unemployed job-casualty” that I am, said, “Why not?”

I wrote last week about how I’ve been creepin’ around my hometown, scoping out locations of odd memories that stick out in my brain.

It’s muy, muy creepy…this I know. But I have no nefarious intentions and because I’m white I have the privilege of not really raising alarm bells. A sad but true reality that is not at all lost on me.

But my creepin’ reached an all-time high in Seneca Falls that weekend.

I arrived around six-thirty on Friday, tended to the dog, and ordered take-out from a restaurant on Fall Street (Seneca Falls’ aptly named version of Main Street). When I parked in front of the restaurant my dinner wasn’t ready yet, so I found myself wandering to the site of a canal-side bar, previously owned by two of my uncles (one of whom, my godfather, passed away in 2014).

I stood outside the glass door, and peered inside. The space is still a bar, but a different one now. I spied the corner where my Dad and godfather had been seated when I flung open the doors, twelve years old, to announce the arrival of my first period.

It had happened at my grandmother’s, naturally, where everything happened.

My dad covered his face with his hands.

My godfather set me up on the bar stool beside him and toasted my womanhood with a Shirley Temple.

Here, now, in 2020, sat two strangers, socially distant from the rest of the bar patrons. Someone made eye contact with me, and I scurried back up the leaf-covered stairs to Fall Street.

Later, I lay awake on my cousin’s couch, her dog snoring beside me. Twelve o’clock. One AM. Two AM. I had not slept a night in Seneca Falls since 2013.

I felt unsettled, something amiss even with all the doors locked and this giant black lab at my feet.

At two thirty I sprang up and threw on a hoodie and sneaks. The grass outside was already wet with dew, and the crunching of leaves underfoot scared me sh*tless when it cut through the silence.

I jumped into my mom’s CRV, (now my infamous “creepin” vehicle of choice) and drove out across the “George Bailey Bridge,” past the old video store where my cousins and I had hiked to rent tapes, past the pretty fountain in the middle of town, beyond the Women’s Rights Convention Memorial Park where I’d walked my aunt’s dog, Dexter, and begged him not to poop.

I parked myself on the street in front of my grandmother’s house.

Turned off the car lights.

Sat in silence.

I dream about this house all the time. Dreams where I’m fumbling around looking for something, ascending the staircase, or looking out the upstairs window.

In most of the dreams I’m by myself, but every now and then my grandmother appears and I tell her we thought she had died. I tell her I’m so happy we were wrong, but that we should be very careful so she doesn’t die again.

I have never had a dream about my grandmother that doesn’t take place in the house. She never appears anywhere else.

So now I stare at the dark house in the middle of the night and wonder if maybe she’s in there somehow. I know it sounds weird but…I dunno…residual energies, that kind of thing? Possible?

A television flickers in the window of the tiny house next door. I’ve only been sitting here three minutes but I know I should leave. I know I’m being a total creep. I know this is weird.

Stars splash across the sky over the tiny garage at the back of the driveway where my grandfather used to grow grapes. Where he’d taken me once to show me the grapes, but told me not to pick any.

I picture myself sitting on the porch ledge in my navy blue bathing suit with the mesh top that always made me afraid my nipples were showing.

Gram tells me to be careful up there.

I try to feel like me at 5.

Me at 5, wanting to pick the grapes.

Me at 9, sun-kissed.

Me at 12, pimply.

Me at 18, bald.

I watch “ghost me” rip a big green leaf off the vines that had covered the house. I hear my Mom tell me to stop messing with them.

“Sauce is ready.”

“Set the table.”

“Movie’s starting.”

“Is everyone here?”

I know I need to leave, but I whisper into the stale air, “what the hell are we doing down here, Gram?”

She didn’t get to see me being okay.

Am I okay?

The stars, again, distract me with a wink.

“Don’t pick the grapes, don’t touch, just look.”

I feel like Pierre at the end of Natasha, Pierre, and the Great Comet of 1812, wondering how I got here, wondering what it all comes to in the end.

‘…and there in the middle above Prechistensky Boulevard, surrounded and sprinkled on all sides by stars shines the Great Comet…

I feel better now, and I don’t know why.

I dry my tears and head back.

When my cousin returns, I ask if she’s seen how different the house looks now, although I know she must. She lives in the small town, after all.

My cousin says ‘yes.’

She says she knows the woman who lives in the house now. The third owner since my grandmother.

I told her that was our grandparents’ house, and she asked me if they’d died in the house. I told her they had. She said she could hear and feel things sometimes in the house. Energies. She said it feels friendly.”

“Energies.” Dreams.

Grapes. Sauce. Bathing suit. House. Mom. Period. Bar stool. Shirley Temple. Grandma. Judge Judy. Rocking chair. Bald. Friendly.

All this creepy driving. Past-channeling.

Soul searching.

I’m either going to leave 2020 a haunted soul or a fully realized person.

I’m done creepin’ for a while.

Categories
Blather Silly

Suburban Fall with an Unemployed Whiny Person

Just a small town girl livin’ in a lonely Syracuse, New Yooooork… she took her mom’s CRV goin’ to Marshaaaall’s Homegoooooooods

Oh, don’t mind me. My boyfriend just went back to work today to yell at kids to put on masks and not touch each other…and also to teach physics, I guess. And I’m still just a little candle in the wind…clinging to unemployment when the rains set in…

That’ll be my last song parody, that’s not what this is.

So anyway, my boyfriend went back to work as a teacher today, and I am still just chillin’, getting used to a new season in suburbia after 6 years of city life…

Man, suburbanites…THEY 👏🏻 LOVE 👏🏻FALL! They do NOT mess around with it. The Marshalls/Homegoods parking lot this past Saturday? SAVAGE.

And…it’s clearly contagious, seeing as I found myself in this parking lot, middle fingers flyin’ left and right trying to get a parking space to go look at ceramic pumpkins and talking skeletons.

Wanna know an actual quote from my mouth that I actually, actually, for real, for real said the other day?

I said…FROM MY OWN MOUTH…and I quote,

“I do love the pumpkin spice latte, but I MUCH prefer the pumpkin cream cold brew…it’s a few less calories and the foam is delicious.”

-MY ACTUAL FOR REAL VOCAL CORDS

So I’m a little…concerned.

I’m worried that with my boyfriend gone during the days, I am going to further morph into a fall-obsessed house-wife…which, ya know…there’s really nothing wrong with. I just always thought if I became a housewife it would be because I married one of the rich businessmen I used to take care of at the restaurant in New York City, and he would move me in to his penthouse and I would have maids and stuff and so while he worked I’d just go get pumpkin-Starbucks-anything and then go to the yoga studio and make myself throw up in the bathroom and then maybe actually do the yoga or maybe just go catch a matinee of Jersey Boys?

I never, ever thought I’d find myself at a place called “Witty Wicks” for the second time in one week buying a pumpkin scented candle and looking at pumpkin decorations.

(And, I’ll just point out, the visits to this gift shop are in ADDITION to the parking-lot-danger-filled Marshall’s Homegoods trip I took on Saturday.)

“Witty Wicks”, if you must know, has incredible candles.

HOWEVER.

The rest of the gifts are just…not my cup of tea because they basically all have quotes on them.

Quotes a-plenty, quotes galore.

Like, maybe you’re looking at a cute little pumpkin face and then your eyes scan downward and you realize it’s a little pumpkin-man-statue thing and he’s holding a sign that says “WELCOME TO OUR PUMPKIN PATCH.”

Sweet Jesus, the day I buy this kind of decoration is the day I just buy a sign that says LIVE, LAUGH, LOVE, have a kid, and sell Avon.

“FAMILY GATHERS HERE” on the front door.

“DANCE LIKE NO ONE’S WATCHING” over the fireplace.

“DREAM BIG” in the bathroom, so you don’t forget to keep dreamin’ while you take a piss.

I can’t guys. I just can NOT with quotes on decorations. It’s one thing to become a suburban fall enthusiast…it’s another to become a QUOTE person…then I’ll really know it’s the end of the line for me.

My soul is dead.

Might as well buy a crockpot while I’m at it.

Anyway, this is where I find myself, folks. My boyfriend went back to work and I’m over here drinkin’ pumpkin cream cold brew, alienating quote-lovers, and ordering big Snooki slippers.

Happy Halloween, I guess.

Categories
mindfulness

NEEDLES

It seems to me we spend our entire childhoods wondering who we will be.

Will we be beautiful, tall, successful, happy, rich, married, etc, etc.

We ask these questions and say we want to be a This or we want to be a That. We play MASH and determine we will live in a mansion with Aaron Carter and drive a blue punch-buggy.

We work hard to get good grades, good SAT scores, good everything so we will get in to a good college and be good and do everything good, so that when college is done, our lives will be good.

It seems to me that once we grow up—once we get the degree, get the things, find the cow as white as milk, the slipper as pure as gold—once we get our wish, or alas, we do not get our wish…there is a strange reversal.

We start wondering, and this time it’s more of an investigation because this time there are solid clues—real evidence. We start wondering who we were.

What were we thinking?

Why did we do that?

Why did we want that?

*

I have spent quarantine-time up at my childhood town in Upstate New York.

It has been both lovely and strange.

I have nothing but time…time to go through old boxes in my bedroom, time to go through plastic, dust-covered bins full of photographs in the basement. My boyfriend, who also lives in town, (and who I conveniently met three and a half weeks before quarantine began), has now sat through many dinners with my family and heard countless stories about me and my sister growing up:

“Jesse used to run upstairs and lock herself in her bedroom when we tried to sing happy birthday to her.”

“Jackie refused to face the audience during her 4th grade chorus concert.”

“Jesse touched the burner on the stove to see if it was hot the first time she made a grilled cheese.”

We all laugh.

But now with all this free time, I really, truly think about these things. I wonder why I couldn’t stand the attention of a “Happy Birthday” chorus. In a shyness all her own, why Jackie could not stand the audience watching her sing in a chorus concert.

I search my face in piles of old photographs for a sign of what I was thinking on that day in history. Was this the phase where I worried constantly about my pimples, or was I struggling with math…why did I love that T-shirt? Why that haircut?

Looking at a few, I wonder had you even met a black person yet? Had you had a black classmate? A black schoolteacher? When did you first know it was better to have your skin?

*

On HBO, Lorraine Bracco leads Tony Soprano, the famous, fictional mob boss, through therapy. Uncle June used to tease him about not making varsity, and why was his mother so cold and volatile and how has it impacted him? Why is he broken today because of who he was yesterday?

How will he ever stop fainting at the sight of sliced meat after watching his father cut off Mr. Satriale’s pinky?

*

I sit at a table with my mother and three of my aunts, listening to them talk about their parents (my grandparents). What they used to say to them. How it made them feel. What they said to “you and not me”, “he was that way with me and X”, “she’d say that to me, too”, “he never was that way with Y”.

“I remember a moment on my first trip home from college—” says Mom, “X, do you know what I’m going to say?”

X remembers, and she remembers how she sat on the front stairs waiting for her in the freezing cold and how later on Papa wouldn’t sit with her at the table. How that made her feel.

How that made Mom feel.

These women—these strong, influential women of my life—remember these tiny needles from their past, and they work through their memories and words to figure out how these needles lay in the giant haystacks that have become their lives.

It makes me all the more curious about my own needles, and I think I must have a lot of needles.

Nearly four months outside of my New York City life, I have enough space to speculate on my world there—my behaviors and habits, wants and needs, triumphs and failures. I can see the whole haystack that was my life there.

And here upstate, I have nothing but time to sift through it.

*

We became someone. We became adults. But who even were we back then?

Categories
mindfulness

Birds of the Moment

Daddy Cardinal

When my parents retired, I teased them for turning into bird-watching old people. It seemed like as soon as they had extra time, all they wanted to fill it with was commenting on birds in the yard, setting up birdbaths and bird feeders, and looking up any birds they thought were remarkable.

My dad even liked to break-up bird fights.

When the weather finally changed this spring, and we could finally spend time outside-but-quarantined…I found myself falling Alice-first into the rabbit hole that is birds, and I thought ‘maybe there’s something to this…maybe the reason it happens to retirees is because they’ve finally stopped working long enough to smell the flowers. Taste the spring. Listen to the birds.

Mama Cardinal

Feel the moment.’

Being on unemployment during this pandemic is a lot like being a retiree I suppose—I feel so much more attached to the moment because I have no choice but to notice the moment.

The only difference besides my age is that the promise of a return to the “real world” looms on high. And it is frightening.

There is a cardinal nest in the bush outside my window. The babies are a little less than a week old. Each day I check on them, check on their progress and wonder which will come first:

My departure from the nest, or theirs?

@itsmy_pardee