The List

So. It’s been almost exactly 18 months since the shit first hit the fan.

I am not sure that I’ve ever talked, here, about exactly how bad it was, mostly because I couldn’t talk about it while I was living through it and then because when things would improve I needed to not think about how bad they had been.  But that was legitimately the hardest thing I’ve ever done, the worst thing I’ve ever lived through, and I know that makes me lucky, but I am also here to tell you that if it were not for my children, if it were not for the fact that I KNOW that my Eli needs me, if it were not for the fact that I would never do that to my children, I wouldn’t be here today.  My children were my tether to the earth, and the only thing worse than the feeling of wanting it all to end was knowing that I would have to continue on in the hell of my existence forever, and visualizing, every day, turning, accidentally, into traffic, so that it would all end anyway and it wouldn’t be my fault.

I never understood what The Bloggess meant when she said “depression lies” and then I said it every day, every hour, every second, like a mantra.  It got me through.

And then it got better.  It started to get better. I found a wonderful doctor, who made me go back on anti depressants when my idea to just white knuckle it through on my own turned out to be a super bad one, and he made me go to therapy when anti depressants turned out to not be enough on their own.  And I found a great therapist. I’ve been going to therapy for about nine months and I went from slow breathing so I wouldn’t vomit on my way in the door to feeling like I have one more person who is really really on my side, rooting for me hard.

And don’t get me wrong.  She has a lot of company.  While I don’t recommend depression and anxiety and total mental breakdowns as marriage enhancements, per se, I do recommend having Erik by your side if you have one, because I never doubted for one minute that he was right there, doing his part of the old “in sickness” bit day in and day out.  He worked a full day and then came home and did EVERYTHING for a year, I’d say.  He was the most exceptional human.  He IS the most exceptional human.  And my BFF Sara drove for hours and took my children back to her house for FIVE days at a moment’s notice, and then drove for hours again and brought them home, and Maggie Cheung came and sat with Katie in my backyard while I slept off a bad medication hangover, and it was supposed to be her VACATION.  And Jennie and Kristie and Emily propped me up through at least one and a half Blatherings, and Christina emailed me every day to see how it was going, and Amy sent me text messages and listened and understood and now I’m worried that I am leaving someone out because my friends are extraordinary, my in laws took Eli for practically an entire summer and my mother paid for therapy when I couldn’t afford it and my insurance wouldn’t cover it and Caitlin threw me a Justin Bieber birthday party and I canceled on Elisabeth and Sarah a million times and my neighbors were my village and the internet sent me care packages and gift cards and postcards and notes and I waded through a river of shit, but I was not alone.  I was never alone.

Everyone said that eighteen months was when things would really start to get better, and I couldn’t even think about that because 18 months of the worst experience of my life sounded like something I just could not do, but just as with all the other things I knew I couldn’t do, one day at a time, one foot in the front of the other, one frozen pizza at a time, I did it, and here we are.  And I wasn’t even counting, I haven’t been counting at all, but just the other day I realized that I was finally starting to feel like myself again, and I took a quick minute to tick months off on my fingers (what am I, a mathlete?) and sure enough, here we are. 18.

I still have lots of anxiety.  I still am working so hard on so many things, but one of the things I am doing in therapy, which is really not a big deal, is reworking my entire values system, because the one I learned as a child was all kinds of screwed up.  That shouldn’t be too hard, to learn a whole new way of thinking, right?

I hesitate, a bit, to write about this here, because it makes me sound like a tremendous asshole, and I don’t think I am a tremendous asshole, just someone who had the wool pulled over her eyes about life by someone for some formative years.  Because while it turns out that hopefully, I am not a tremendous asshole, I do have some very very flawed ideas about what makes a good person.

Last week, my therapist told me: “Lots of people with good taste are AWFUL people.” and I DISAGREED WITH HER.  I disagreed with her, in fancy roundabout ways, for almost an entire overpriced 50 minute session, and she said it over and over again, and finally a light bulb went off with that one simple sentence that is actually SO EFFING TRUE, and then I spent the next week with a list running through my head of what things, what actual things, make me a good person, and the list, unfortunately, was very short.

I think I am a good friend.  I try hard to be a good friend.  And if you get sick or have a baby I will make you several grocery bags full of food, and I will bring you wine and cookies AND home made bread.  But that’s about all I’ve got, and that? That’s just not how I want to live my life.  That’s not the sum total of what I want on the list at the end of the day.

And I cycled through a lot of other things.  Things most of you would scoff at.  I searched for good in a long list of really stupid things.  I have well dressed children. I am smart, I am funny, I read The New Yorker. I am dressed better than 80% of the other moms at school 80% of the time.  I have an expensive purse and Frye boots! I have an Iphone! People tell me all the time I have great hair on Instagram!  I think I’m a good writer.  Our Christmas card was so cute! I read 150 books a year! I am beating everyone in the world who only read 149 books! I WIN AT THAT! I picked a perfect paint color for the dining room! People have pinned shit I have made on Pinterest! LOTS OF TIMES! I HAVE EXCELLENT TASTE.

And none of that shit goes on the good person list.  None of that actually counts, when it comes to that list.

The good news is, I have big dreams.  When it comes to things I care about, when it comes to ways I would like to work to make the world a better place? That list is long.  (Childhood hunger, women’s reproductive rights, gun control, the right for every person to get married to whoever they want to get to married to, the Democratic party, literacy, my kids school, outlawing the playing of “Manic Monday” on the radio on any day but Monday, you get the idea.)

But the list of things I am actually doing? It is SHORT.  It is almost nothing.

The bad news is that I am also working on lots of other things, and one of those things is to be careful not to do too much, and the other things are just totally simple things like mourning the childhood I wanted but didn’t get, rewriting my inner voice, learning to be selfish and also unselfish, more effective parenting of my high maintenance child, more communication and emotional intimacy in my marriage, learning to establish healthy boundaries instead of letting people walk all over me and then getting mad at them behind their backs, letting go of perfectionism, getting more cardio, failing to lose ten pounds, finally going to the dentist and the eye doctor and the gynecologist, working on my social anxiety, doing more self care, and buying more shoes. (I made that last one up, maybe.)

But here is the thing.  In the last six months or so, every single time I have stopped at a red light by a homeless person standing in the intersection or by the side of the road, and I have averted my eyes until I could start driving again? Well.  I can remember every one of those moments like they happened this morning.  I HATE those moments.  I HATE THEM. I am not saying this to brag, but because I am ashamed, because those moments are burned on my soul, and yet, I have done nothing.  Nothing.

But words without sacrifice? They are just words.  And so I am going to do something.  I am going to take some of the money I would normally spend on crap at Target or blush or more dresses I don’t need and I am going to buy some socks and some toothpaste and some energy bars and anything that anyone else would like to suggest in the comments, and I am going to make six bags of stuff and I am going to keep them in my car, and I am not going to Instagram it, I am not going to write about it again, I am not going to tweet about how great it makes me, I am not going to tell anyone about it, but the next time I see someone down on their luck, standing there needing help, holding a sign, I am going to hand them a bag, and then in my head I am going to write one more thing on that list of “Good Things I Do”, and while I thank you from the bottom of my cold black heart for telling me I have pretty hair on Instagram, I am hopeful that someday I could shave my head, and I would still have a long long list of things that make me a good person, almost all of them totally non hair related.

Here’s to the next 18 months, internet. And thank you.

What I Wore Last Week: Friday Got Away From Me, Ok?

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An oldie but a goodie. Have I mentioned how much I love this cardigan? Get thee to Target and buy one.

{Loft skirt (thrifted), Old Navy Vintage Tee which I had to throw out because it reached a state of disgusting pillage, Toms Prison Wedges, eye bags/general exhaustion face courtesy of my children}

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I am so proud of myself for all the mileage I’ve gotten out of both this short sleeved sweater, because I normally have a hard time with those, and this blouse, because I am not a natural at blousage.  Loved this outfit, although I did get hot.  Almost time to pack up the blazers for the summer.

{Gap herringbone blazer, Loft blouse, Banana Republic Outlet Sweater, Banana Republic Outlet Crops, Franco Sarto Leopard Wedges}

 

 

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This is the first of my new things for summer and I loooooove this Gap maxi dress. I do have to wear a tank under it, but still, it’s basically pajamas, so I’m a fan.  It runs super huge, though, mine is a Medium Petite and I normally wear a 12. They’re having 40% off now so you should buy it.  Unless you hate sexy pajamas. Mine is also a tidge long but I enjoy that vibe. If you’re short and you don’t do the whole maxi dress dragging on the ground sweeping up small children in its wake thing you might need to get it hemmed.

Also, this necklace is amazing, I got mine on Ebay here, and I adooooore it.

Also I spent two years trying to figure out how to wear this cardigan and then I DIDN’T BUTTON IT AND WHAT DO YOU KNOW.

{Gap Twist Back Maxi Dress, AE tank, Ebay howlite necklace, Target cardigan, Havaianas}

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Seriously, the only thing I had to do this whole time with all these cardigans I couldn’t make work was to not button them? Jesus.

{Target cardigan, AE tank, J. Crew dress, Franco Sarto Wedges}

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I love this! Favorite outfit of the week.

{Banana Republic Outlet dress, Target scarf, Target cardigan, Toms Prison Wedges}

What I Wore This Week: Or Whatever

Whew. I had a lot of pictures saved up. I shall try to be brief.

Also, I apologize for the lack of links, but I haven’t been buying a lot of new clothes, so much of what I am doing now is just trying to make the things I already own work in different combinations.  Maybe still interesting to see, hopefully? But not so shoppable as before.

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I’m about to wear these jeans a lot. Prepare yourself.

This sweater was an impulse buy at Target awhile ago (they still have it on stock though) and I really love it.  I’ve started to really feel the whole gray situation.

{Target sweater, Forever 21 necklace, AE Artist Crops, J. Crew Kiki Ballet Flats}

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Best dress ever.  Seriously, it’s like wearing a giant super flattering sweatshirt.

{Lands End Canvas Dress, Target infinity scarf, Leggings of an unknown provenance, Doc Martens}

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It’s started to seem like we’re not gonna get a whole lot of winter and maybe even spring so I wanted to wear this jacket while I still could, since it’s one of my favorites.

{Target jacket, AE Hi Rise Super Skinnies, Scarf was a gift from my lovely MIL, Havaianas}

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I loved the pearls with the moto jacket and the stripes.

{Forever 21 Moto Jacket, Forever 21 Clustered Pearl Necklace, Loft tee, AE Hi Rise Super Skinnies, Anne Klein boots}

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Ever since I polished these boots they’re like a whole new pair! Who knew!? (I knew, I’m just lazy about boring tasks like shoe polishing.)  I’m also wearing a tassel necklace UNDER the jacket and that’s how you know I’m on the cutting edge of the fashion world.

{Target Jacket, AE Hi Rise Super Skinnies, Bandolino Boots}

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Man, the one thing I think they actually do well at Old Navy are blouses, except I want to call them something else because blouse is such an old lady word, so I guess…floaty shirts? They’re not quite Anthro caliber but they are far less shoddy than most of the rest of their clothes. I really love this one a lot.  Also, I get more compliments on these sandals than any other shoes I own, for the record.

{Old Navy floaty shirt, Gap ribbed tank, Target necklace, Loft Curvy Skinny Cords, Target sandals}

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And then I discovered the open cardigan and my life was forever changed.

Seriously, I just thought I couldn’t wear these because I had this strange idea that if they didn’t close, I’d look like I was…bursting out of them, or something? But these cardigans are THE BEST!!!! So flattering and easy and comfy and they cover all the worst bits and show your cute tank and you don’t have to worry about button gappage over the lady bazzers and they are just WONDERFUL and now I need ten thousand.  This is my first but I plan to buy A LOT.

{Target cardigan, Garnet Hill tank, AE Artist Crops, Kork Ease Wedges}

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Merrick had a very helpful tutorial on how to wear a giant scarf, which was perfect because I don’t like a lot of scarf tail flappering all over myself.  I thought this was so cute and polished! I am a fan. Although it was also informative as to whether I should cut my hair into a stacked bob.  Verdict: HELL NO.

{Gap scarf, Loft sweater, AE Artist Crops, J. Crew Kiki Ballet Flats}

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I have had this sweater FOREVER because they minute I saw it I had to have it, and I paid a ridiculous price for it and then I could never figure out how to wear it, and then I searched under “black and white cardigans” on Pinterest and realized I could wear it UNZIPPED and a world of possibilities was born! I am a fashion genius, guys.  But seriously look at the stripes and the bows and the zipper of a different color. Love!

{Downeast Basics Sweater, JC Penney Joe Fresh Tank, AE Artist Crops Seriously I Need to Buy Some Other Jeans, Target sandals}

Spring Things

It’s almost spring time! At least around here. (Sorry, Minnesota.) And a young (ish) girl’s fancy turns towards buying things. Seriously, I want to buy all the things.  Or more specifically all these things:

1. This Gap Twist Back Maxi Dress which I already bought and which will be here in 7-10 business days, so never, essentially.  Reviews are dubious, but it could be so great that I figured I’d try. But seriously, just imagine throwing this over a tank top every single day this summer. BAM. 

gap dress

2. I’m always in search of more flowy shirts, I really like this Anthropologie one although the reviews are mixed. 

anthro top

3. Last summer I was desperate for a long stretchy strapless dress I could lounge around my backyard in, this Old Navy one looks like it will fit the bill nicely and it also turns into a skirt, so bonus.  I wish it came in a crazy bright fun print, but alack, I shall have to settle for black. 

maxi tube dress

4. Speaking of skirts, I need a casual peasanty knee length white skirt. If anyone sees one, holler.  I had to throw out the last one I had because Erik claimed you could see the full Britney through it, even thought I was wearing underwear.  I think sandals plus a cute little white skirt plus a navy polo plus big sunglasses is the ideal summer outfit. Minus the Britney. 

5. I am also looking for a sort of asymetrical gray striped maxi skirt, but I have a really specific picture of it in my head which means I’ll probably never find it. 

6. I think this will be the summer I buy some aviators, but I’m going to start with really cheap ones to see if I actually like them or if I just like Tami Taylor. 

aviators

7. I am always in the market for more sandals that don’t have a strap between your toes.  Forever 21 has a ton I really like, although I’ve never bought any shoes there and I’m not sure about the quality.  There’s cheap sandals and then there’s unwearably cheap sandals. 

forever 21 sling backs navy sandal

8. I also want to buy a new pair of Havaianas.  Metallic maybe

havaianas

9. I am dying for an emerald green dress. With big sunglasses and a denim jacket and some gold sandals? Perfection. Where to get this? Maybe Boden? Although that looks a little too structured for summer.  

boden dress

10. I’m also in the market for a really distinctive/super cute jacket – I have a ton of blazers, but none of them have that SHAZAM that I have in mind. I looked at Anthro to no avail, but maybe they’ll get some new cute spring stuff in. Right now it’s dudsville. 

11.  And I still need a great white tee.  I think I might finally give the one from Everlane a try

everlane

12. For summer makeup, I want some new blush, specifically the Tarte Natural Beauty one that I’ve had my eye on for ages, some bronzer…maybe Tarte Park Avenue Princess, and maybe some more crazy glitter eyeliner, because after I figured out that you have to SHAKE the Stila Glitter eyeliner, I am now IN LOVE.  Obviously I will spend many quality hours in Sephora poking at things and cadging free samples, but this is what I’ve got my eye on. 

tarte nat beauty park avenue princessstila glitter

13. I saw this Ponte Shift Lands End dress the other day and while I’ve been avoiding Lands’ End due to some less than favorable customer service issues and a general Air De Frumpsville, I really like it. It could be schlumpy, but the floral one is cute so I figure it’s worth a shot. I don’t know, now that I look at closer I sort of hate it. 

ponte shift dress

14. I also seem to be moving away from the plastic glittery fake J. Crew rhinestone jewelry vibe and towards something a bit more organic. I don’t want to go too far in the hippie direction, but I’d like stuff that’s a bit more natural looking and a little more special. I’m not totally sure where to find this stuff because Etsy is so overwhelming and non returnable and you can’t see it before you buy it and if I’m going to pay $40 for a necklace I want to see it first.  So that remains a conundrum to be solved.  31 Bits has potential but there was nothing there at this time that screamed “YOU MUST BUY ME NOW” so we’ll see.  Perhaps I’ll start frequenting small exclusive boutiques in Marrakesh.  

15. Didja know I went to Palm Springs? Well I did and it was wonderful and I did not bring my children and I sat by the pool for six days and drank fruity beverages oh my god I want to go back.  Anyway, someone at the pool in Palm Springs (TAKE ME BACK) was wearing a cloche straw hat with a ribbon sash, and it looked very cute with braids and a swim suit (and a giant diamond but whatever). It will probably make me look like Blossom, I want it anyway. Last year they had them at Target so I am hopeful they will make a repeat appearance. 

16. Also, you might not believe me, but I need more striped t shirts.  I’m a blogger. I can’t have too many.  Please alert if you find a good one. 

17. I keep thinking of more things! Anyway. I FINALLY bought a pair of ballet flats that I don’t hate! They’re the Kiki Ballet Flat from J. Crew, and they have a tidge of a heel and a hard sole, so they don’t have that mushy slash flat situation that most ballet flats have that make me feel stumpy legged.  Now I’ve got a hankerin’ for a pair of aqua ones. Doesn’t that sound so beautiful and summery? These Frye ones are a little “I’m wearing these to Sundance” but they’re close. 

frye