Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Step !b: Sit with Your Curiosity

I knew C71585 meant that I needed to style my hair and put on a little make-up. The last time I'd had my cosmetics out was when my great-granddaughter was over playing and wanted to decorate me. She carefully applied layer upon layer of powders, blushes, and shadows until finally, when she offered me the mirror, I first asked her, "Do I look beautiful now?" She pressed her lips together solemnly and shook her head no. I looked in the mirror.
Indeed! I did not resemble beautiful. She had streaky sparkling jet black eye shadow striping my face like a zebra hooker. Between the stripes were blotches of slick pink lip gloss and shimmery purple eye liner. I looked like a Zebra floozy who'd been on a weekend binge.

Tonight I applied a little moisturizer, eye shadow and picked a mild blush that wouldn't detract from the popping the Nordstrom clerk promised would occur between my C71585 tank top and gray jacket. I carefully stroked the brush along my cheekbone (or where my cheekbone should be under the dollops of fat that rest upon my cheekbone) and what the fuck? I had dark black war stripes from cheekbone to ear. Obviously I'd not taught my great-granddaughter the art of cleaning one's cosmetic brushes.

After removing the war paint, spraying fluff-magic spray on my hair and getting dressed, I considered the results  with  a skeptical eye. See that little picnic table on my right shoulder? For the gremlins who are going to list my transgressions on the way home.

I even managed to slip out of my uber comfy Birkenstocks and into a pair of inexpensive, reasonably comfy, definitely not pissy-with-attitude, but not dull either flats. So flat I could count rocks through the thin footbed on the way to the car.

You can see my basket of skipping rocks that my son Brady Spicer gave me, and my grandkids Kenny and Mariah refilled with rocks once. I'm almost out of rocks. I need a stone fairy to come and leave me some more round thin rocks for skipping on the lake.

Dinner was great. I had salmon with lime essence jasmine rice and fresh asparagus. Delish!

I won't bore you with the details, but I did my best to listen more attentively and ask questions. I'd give myself a C+ on the listening...I learned something new about each of these friends even though I've known them some years. And I asked each of them a question or two that afforded them time to talk, but I didn't put much effort into follow up questions or even creative questions to start with, so I'd say that was about C-.

I earned an F for interrupting because I interrupted several times (SEVeral times, my gremlin says with the affect of an asshole) and I used the F bomb six or seven times when I was telling a story, which isn't the greatest table talk, but the F bomb was the story--I was recounting one of Cheryl Strayed's stories from Tiny Beautiful Things and in that particular story there is no story without the bomb because the story is WTF, WTF, WTF. So maybe I should have just picked a different dinner time story.

Especially because when I start to tell a story it's way too easy to forget the don't-talk-longer-than-thirty-seconds-at-a-streak rule I adapted from friend Jack's recommendation on making chitchat. So I'd say a D for appropriate conversations (appropriateness of topic, narrative duration, relevance to preceding conversation.) My gremlins really hammered me all the way home for the Fuck issue. But one of the two friends had lost her job, so fuck seems appropriate  even if the tables and candles and servers there weren't accustomed to it in that milieu.                                                                                                               

I came home and had a little throne time to reflect on what I might have done differently. Several things occurred to me:
  1. Don't go. Simple. Easy. Can't fuck it up.
  2. Practice more. Practice with my husband (oh...boy....) Practice with my kids. (Aiyiyi.)
  3. Wear duct tape as an accessory. Or better, in place of lip gloss. Remove with discretion.
  4. Shoot the gremlin on the picnic table. This is not funny because there have been too many shootings lately that hurt people. One today just a few miles from where we ate. Disregard this idea.
  5. Let the gremlin wear duct tape.
  6. Ask Merry & Marcy for feedback; contrast & compare with Gremlin's disgust. Rectify.
That's it for tonight!  Next up, a Celebration of Life coming up on Saturday with lots of family members I hardly ever see and people I won't know. This will be a four-hour chitchat session. I'll be exhausted. With a three hour drive home afterward my Gremlin with have a field day, don't you think?

Monday, August 20, 2012

Step 1a: Admitted I Was a Fat Slouch

Tonight I went to Nordstrom’s as my Facebook friend Jack suggested. Jack is a friend I met online thirty-five years after we attended the same high school. Back in the day, I thought he was a renegade; now I think he’s a cultured dude with great taste in furniture and food.

He suggested I go to Nordstrom’s because of this post on my Facebook page: I want to learn to mill about, look cute, and make delightful social chat. Who’s game to teach me?

Jack said to ask the clerk for help picking something out to wear out for social events, so today I geared up by getting out of my slouchy Forks hooded sweatshirt and too-small jeans, and into a pair of white capris and a white hoody.

I didn’t want to ask the store clerk for help, but she approached me. When she asked if I needed help, I said no. That’s because the big-butt department is small and I knew it would only take a few minutes for me to peruse every rack, especially because some things don’t even make it to the Consider pile in my mind.

Who designs all the wild, big pattern prints that makes big women look enormous? I didn’t try on any of that. I picked two lightweight jackets that would work for casual wear and a black Courtenay-would-be-proud skirt for sassy evening wear.

The purple jacket was nice but it was $148 and I wasn’t ready to commit to purple for that price. Besides, I was worried purple made me look like an eggplant. (I don’t wear bright red or orange for similar fruit-related reasons.)

The light gray jacket, made of silky cotton, felt like a lightweight hoody without a zipper or hood. It was on sale for under $50 and it looked alright, so I kept that. The Courtenay-hoo-haw skirt fit great, and it had an exciting flounce when I walked—but I couldn’t figure out what kind of top I'd wear with it. I decided I looked like a fat frump trying to look good, which made me feel bad, so I skipped the skirt.

The gray jacket seemed a little drab, but the clerk recommended a tank top in bright purplish red. I told her it was brighter than I usually wear and she said, “Bright colors pop out against dark ones. That’s what you want.” When I got home I looked it up on the color spectrum chart. It's really close to color number c71585 ~ I hope it’s not too crazy bright. (Can I still wear one of my favorite pair of thrashed Birkenstocks or do I need to actually coordinate footwear like a fashion commando? I should ask Jack.)

Earlier today, I had coffee with my friend Maria, a new social work graduate, who is sexy and funny and cute and sociable in all the ways I’m not, and I told her about my Facebook post. (It’s not bad enough my friends endure reading them; later, I talk about them.)

I was explaining (as if she didn’t already know) how awkward I am at social chitchat and how I don’t take turns; once I start talking I just blather on and on and onandonandon until people hold their breath and pass out so they don’t have to listen any more. Worse yet are the drives home by myself in which I rehash every social blunder and faux pas that occurred until I wish I had never gone.

Maria smiled at me—she has an amazing smile—and said, “It’s true you like to talk…but you're also curious. So when you're with people in a social situation, try to be present with your curiosity.”

I’m not sure that’s exactly what she said even though I put quotation marks. When I learn to listen more intently without my brain racing forward and sideways at the same time, I will actually be able to quote people.

Tomorrow, I have a dinner date with two friends I don’t often see. I'm going to wear my new c71585 shirt and gray jacket. I might be totally mismatched on the bottom with skanky old jeans and Birkenstocks, but that will be under the table, so if I get there early to be seated before they arrive, they won’t know. Decorating the top half might not be enough, but I have to start somewhere.

I'm going to try to ignore that c71585 is too bright. I'm going to order something that doesn't contribute to my eggplant, tomato, pumpkin worries. And I am going to be present with my curiosity to see if my internal critic has less to say on the way home.