The Woodchuck

Late last school year, my daughter and I accidentally discovered a trio of “baby” woodchucks living at her school. I say “baby” because they weren’t fully grown, but they were old enough to be out on their own. They seemed to live in the grassy areas at the edges of the parking lots and around the soccer fields and tennis courts behind my daughter’s school. We usually go home that way at the end of the day, winding around through the back parking lot where the busses usually congregate, past the grassy medians. We would often see the woodchucks hanging out together in the grass and bushes on the edge of the parking lot or just behind the fence surrounding the soccer field. They were usually together, all three of them, so we thought they had come from the same litter. Whenever they would see us stopping to look at them, they would dive into the nearest burrow entrance. They had hidey-holes all over the place, and their burrow must have been a huge maze spreading under the ground.

Over the summer, my daughter and I would swing by the school from time to time to check up on these little guys. We started calling them “The Chuckles”, because they just didn’t seem large enough or grown enough to wear the title of Woodchuck. We watched them grow up, right before our eyes. For most of the summer, they were little and cute, scurrying for their hiding spots or hanging out munching on grass and flowers. And then, suddenly, they were HUGE. It seemed like it happened overnight. We stopped by to see if we could find them before we left for our family trip to Maine at the end of the summer. And then, just a couple of weeks later, school started. We saw one of The Chuckles at the end of that first day of school, and neither of us could believe how much the little guy (or girl) had grown.

The thing about The Chuckles is that they just kind of hung out and did their own thing. A school and its surrounding grounds would seem, in many ways, to be a less than ideal place for a wild critter to live. And yet, I suppose this is as close as one can get to “open space” in an overpopulated and overgrown urban area. The Chuckles never seemed to care much about the comings and goings of the people around them. And, in turn, most people didn’t pay any attention to The Chuckles. I suppose this worked in their favor. I liked that about The Chuckles. It seemed brave to me: this trio of little animals facing a huge world and not falling to pieces in the process. And, in a way, I think I identified with them. It was like they just wanted to live their lives, quietly and on their own terms. I tend to feel this way, too. A lot. Especially now, when it seems there are more people than ever pushing their noses into my business and shouting at me for attention or looking for their fifteen minutes in the spotlight. Mostly, I want a quiet life, and I want to be left alone. Maybe the woodchuck is my spirit animal or something. Or, maybe I romanticized their little existence.

Whatever the case, knowing The Chuckles existed and that they were just kind of hanging out and doing their thing even in the midst of the craziness of this place where we live … I don’t know how to explain it exactly, but it made me happy. It made me feel like, somehow, there was something still lovely and pure and kind of innocent left in the world. Well, if one could call a woodchuck “lovely”. Perhaps most people wouldn’t. They aren’t particularly attractive animals. They are a bit bumbly and ungainly. But they are also pretty darn cute. At least, I think so. And seeing The Chuckles at the end of the day always lifted my spirits.

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Sadly, one of The Chuckles died on Monday. As I turned into the school parking lot, I saw his furry little body. I suppose he got caught out in the lot when the busses were leaving, and he probably zigged when he should have zagged. The busses must have run over him. I felt inexplicably sad, as if I had lost a little part of myself. As I sat in the car and waited for my daughter to come out of school, I found there were tears running down my cheeks. I could not stop crying. It’s so silly, isn’t it? I mean, it was just a woodchuck. There are at least dozens of them running around here, and, possibly, hundreds (or more) in the state where I live.

In a way, though, my instincts were right. I did lose a bit of myself. Somehow, I had been able to forget about the cruelty of life for a little bit. Somehow, just seeing one of those little guys bumbling along had given my faith in the universe a refreshing bump-up. Maybe it was silly. Maybe it didn’t make any sense. It was a small thing: a tiny little joy in the midst of a world that often seems … well, joyless. And now, that is gone.

RIP, little Chuckle. You lived your life to the fullest and did things your way. I hope you’re out there, somewhere, chucking wood in the Blue Beyond. You made my world a little brighter, and you will be missed.

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Falling Into It

So Fall is 4 days old already. And we are about 4 days from the beginning of October, too. Both of these things are hard to believe. I don’t know what the heck happened to September. When September started, I remember thinking that it would feel like such a long month because of the start of school and trying to get back into our normal, daily routines. Yeah … Wrong!! I feel like September just started yesterday, and now it’s almost over already. Good grief.

Fall is my favorite season. In spite of the fact that my allergies are often as overactive in Fall as they are in Spring, I still adore it when the weather turns. I anxiously await Fall’s arrival every year, looking forward to that first day when the breeze has a bit of a bite to it and I have to grab a sweater on my way out the door. Summer where we live is oppressive. It’s not always terribly hot, but it’s almost always humid, especially toward the end. It feels like the air is solid — like I will have to swim my way through my daily activities … except that swimming, even in my mind, is impossible because the air is too thick! That first bite of Fall is like breathing. It is such a relief, even with the achy sinuses those air pressure changes bring.

I’ve been ready for months to bid good-bye to Summer. Dare I say it? I have been ready to say good-bye to Summer ever since the first day Summer arrived. There, I said it. I know it doesn’t come as any huge surprise. And so, I was giddy with happiness when that first official day of Fall arrived. Sadly, it’s been a bit of a disappointment. Our weather has remained hot and humid. I think Summer is having trouble letting go. But it’s time, Summer. Not to be rude or anything, but … Get Off My Lawn!

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Today, it finally felt like Fall outside. The skies were gray and heavy with clouds. The air pressure shifted — at least, that’s what my sinuses told me this morning. The breeze had that crisp, biting edge to it. I don’t know how long the cooler temperatures will last, as I suspect Summer isn’t quite done with us just yet. The leaves haven’t begun to change colors. There is still too much to do and not enough time in which to do any of it.

But today, as I walked outside to run my errands, the breeze hit me and made me shiver. I smiled to myself and reached for my favorite, too-big, gray sweater. And I was happy.

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Fall Polish Picks: The Blues

It doesn’t feel much like Fall in my corner of the universe. The weather has been hot and humid over the past week, and my sinuses have been pounding away like crazy. Both of these are definitely Spring/Summer-feeling things. And yet, we are officially into Fall — at least according to the calendar. I’m so ready for Fall, though. I’m ready to get into the spirit of a new season with cooler weather and, maybe, even some pretty fall foliage changes. It’s supposed to be in the mid 70s next week where I live, so I’m looking forward to that.

Since I’m ready to get into the spirit of Fall, I thought it would be fun to do a series of Fall nail polish picks. Initially, I was just going to do one post for this. But, I have such a love of darker colors (I wear them all year long) that I could not make up my mind about what to include in a single post. In the end, I decided to do a small series and organize it by color. I went onto Pantone’s website to see which colors they feel will be “trending” for Fall. Instead of trying to match the specific color shades Pantone has listed, I decided to use the broadest color categories: blue, gray, red, brown (including rust and copper), green, yellow (including gold and orange), and purple. Pantone also included a pink shade, but I seldom wear pink polish. I didn’t have anything pink in my stash that said “Fall” to me.

So, of course, I’m going to start out with blue. I know: It comes as no surprise, right? Well, it is my favorite color, after all. And, actually, blue was the main reason I ended up with a series of posts. I have so many blues in my stash that it was really hard to pick just one. Too hard! And so, I picked several. Hopefully, I’ll be able to wear some of these polishes during the season, although I have so many new things to try out that I’m not sure if I’ll manage it or not. I decided to stick with main stream polishes for my picks, as they are easier to find. (Also, if I started going down the indie rabbit hole, this post would probably never end. Yikes!)

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Zoya, “Muse” is my first blue pick. I think this color does an amazing job of crossing  multiple seasonal lines. It’s beautiful for Spring. And, in some ways, it feels very much like a late Summer sort of shade to me. I think that makes it perfect to cross over into Fall. Those first weeks of Fall are always a tug-of-war between the end of Summer and the beginning of a new season. This polish has a beautifully jewel-like appearance on the nail, which is highlighted by the presence of iridescent glitters within the polish. I love jewel tones in the Fall. Overall, this one is bright and rich, and it feels like a breath of fresh air — like a cool, Fall breeze.

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Next is Zoya, “Song”. Talk about jewel tones! This polish is deep and rich. It has the slightest bit of shimmer way down inside the polish, so that it seems to glow off the nail. It is beautiful and bright and deep, which makes it perfect for the shorter days and cloudy skies that herald Fall’s arrival.

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China Glaze, “Sexy in the City”. I wanted to include a turquoise-ish polish on my list. I originally picked Rain Dance the Night Away, which is also from China Glaze, and I still think that polish is a great one for Fall. But — as soon as I pulled out this beautiful lady, I knew it had to have my turquoise spot. Again, it’s the jewel tones that get me where I live. And this polish has such a pretty finish to it, particularly when topped by a thick and glossy topcoat. It looks like glass on my nails. Love it!! I’m sitting here wanting to put this one on my nails right now!

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This … *happy sigh* … This amazingly gorgeous polish is “Up All Night” from China Glaze. This polish could pretty much go on my favorite/top polish picks for every single season. It is one of my favorite polishes of all time. Yep, I love it that much. I own two bottles of this one. That’s how much I love it. When I pulled this one out of my stash, I had a hard time swatching it because I was too busy whispering sweet nothings to the bottle. I know. It really is that sad and pathetic, but this one makes me so happy that I want to cry. The. End.

I think this polish is perfect for Fall. It is smooth and silky and perfect on my nails. I don’t know how to characterize the finish, as I can’t see any shimmer in it. And it’s not a jelly polish. It’s definitely a creme, but it has a very soft appearance on the nail. It’s like wearing velvet. This one reminds me of those deep, dark Fall night skies when the stars are bright and the air has that perfect amount of crisp bite to it.

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This is OPI, “Rich Girls & Po Boys”. This is such a beautiful mid-tone blue. Like Muse, I feel like this color is the perfect cross-over between late Summer and early Fall. It’s bright and bold, but it has a lovely depth to it, as well.

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Last, but certainly not least, is OPI, “Suzi Says Feng Shui”. I love the dusty and muted appearance to this polish. This one definitely leans toward the teal, at least to my eye. This color has the perfect depth and darkness for Fall. It reminds me of foggy evenings, or, maybe, of the fog that rolls in off of the ocean (which is fitting, since I think this one came from the San Francisco collection).

 

Saturday Special: Nail Polish + Anime, Naruto Edition!

This is one of those “fun” (to me, anyhow) nail polish-related post ideas that I’ve been sitting on for a while, trying to figure out just where in the posting schedule/week to put it. This post was inspired by one of my very favorite You Tube nail polish ladies, Phoebe Moon (https://www.youtube.com/user/phoebeamoon). In one of the older videos on her channel, she asked her son to pick out nail polish colors to go with different Mine Craft elements. My daughter watched that video with me and loved it, so we thought it would be fun to do something similar, but anime-themed. My kiddo just turned 13, so she is definitely hitting those pesky teenage years that often feel really hard and painful for me. Being able to collaborate with her on something fun like this is a huge treat for me. Plus, we are both anime fans, so it seemed like a natural fit.

For our first post, we decided to showcase the series Naruto. We picked ten of our favorite characters, and my daughter rooted around through my polish stash to find polishes that she felt matched or symbolized something about each character. I’m only going to list five of the characters in this post; otherwise, it would be much too long. Hopefully, I can come back for a part two in a week or two. My daughter and I both love this show. It is full of ninja adventures and wonderful characters and storylines. If you haven’t ever seen it, I highly recommend it!

The first character we wanted to showcase is, of course, the Number One Hyperactive Knucklehead Ninja himself: Naruto Uzimake.

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Naruto is a ninja in training from Konoha, the Village Hidden in the Leaves. He is loud, kind of rude, stubborn, and a bit of a show-off. When he was an infant, a nine-tailed fox spirit threatened his village. In order to save it, Naruto’s father sealed part of the fox’s spirit inside of Naruto. Both of Naruto’s parents were killed during this struggle with the Nine-Tails, leaving Naruto an orphan. Because of the spirit sealed within him, Naruto grew up feeling like an outsider in his own village. Naruto puts up a good front to show the world that he is okay with being alone, but, inside, he longs for friendship. He wants to belong and to be a hero to his village. Naruto’s dream is to, one day, become Hokage: the leader of the Village Hidden in the Leaves. Naruto has a rather slow start during ninja training, but he eventually becomes strong and skilled in various ninja arts. His favorite catch-phrase is “Believe it!!” His favorite food is ramen.

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My daughter picked this orange, “Cloud 9” from Sinful Colors, for Naruto. She said it was a perfect match for his trademark orange jumpsuit. I think she made a pretty great choice! It does look like a good match for Naruto’s clothing. And, this is a brash and rather noisy color, which seems to fit his personality, too. This isn’t a color I would typically see myself wearing, but I enjoyed it a lot. It’s especially fun for the spring and summer because of how bright it is, but it could easily cross over into Fall, too.

Sasuke Uchiha:

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Sasuke Uchiha is the last surviving member of his clan. Orphaned at a young age, Sasuke also grew up as something of an outcast in the village. In Sasuke’s case, it was more that he was a very serious child who held himself apart from everyone around him. Sasuke was determined, from a young age, to get revenge for the deaths of his parents and relatives. He had no time for friends or games or anything that didn’t involve becoming stronger and more skilled. At the Ninja Academy, Sasuke is at the very top of the class, whereas Naruto is at the very bottom. Sasuke is beyond dismayed when he gets assigned to the same team as Naruto, and the two of them seem to be unlikely allies. It doesn’t help matters that Sakura, the girl Naruto likes, has a serious crush on Sasuke, even though Sasuke doesn’t seem to notice Sakura exists. In the beginning, Naruto and Sasuke are barely civil to each other and only manage to work together for the sake of their team. As time passes, they become more like “frenemies” and, eventually, they become allies and true friends.

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For Sasuke, my daughter picked this gorgeously moody dark blue. It’s called “Up All Night”, from China Glaze. This color is a good match for the dark colored shirt Sasuke wears, as well as the undertones in his hair color. It’s a beautiful color that also seems to fit Sasuke’s dark and determined personality. I love the look of this one on the nail, as it seems so smooth and almost soft — kind of like velvet. This is one of my all-time favorite polishes, and one that I love wearing no matter the time of year. Having it on my nails just makes me happy, happy, happy.

Sakura Haruno:

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Sakura Haruno is the third member of Team 7, the training team that includes Sasuke and Naruto. During the first part of ninja training at Konoha Academy, Sakura studied hard and did fairly well in the required classwork. She is obsessed with Sasuke and has spent years trying to make sure she is beautiful enough to catch Sasuke’s attention and win his love. Initially, she is beyond thrilled when she is assigned to the same team as Sasuke, even if that oh-so-annoying Naruto is part of the package. But, once they begin going on missions, Sakura quickly learns there is more to life than her appearance. She realizes she is not well equipped for the challenges and dangers her team faces on a regular basis. At first, Sakura seems like an annoying and shallow character, but she grows quite a bit during the series. She comes to develop a strong and courageous spirit, and, eventually, realizes that her true skills lie in the ninja healing arts.

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For Sakura, my daughter picked this color from OPI. It’s called “Suzi Shops & Island Hops”. It’s a perfect match for Sakura’s distinctive pink hair. My daughter adores pink. It’s her favorite color, so it was kind of a no-brainer that she would home in on Sakura’s hair for her nail polish color. I’m not much of a pink fan. I don’t hate pinks. I think they are beautiful on others, but I generally don’t love them on my own nails. As pinks go, this one is a pretty nice one. And, much like Sakura, it manages to be calm, prim, and sassy all at the same time.

Kakashi Hatake:

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Kakashi Hatake is one of Konoha’s most talented ninja. In spite of his skill, he has a very casual and laid-back sort of attitude, and he seems reluctant to take on any sort of real responsibility. Kakashi is assigned as the training officer for Team 7, so it falls to him to try and teach Naruto, Sasuke, and Sakura what it means to be a ninja. In spite of his rather relaxed attitude and unorthodox training methods, Kakashi takes this particular responsibility seriously, and he becomes quite attached to his Team 7 students. Kakashi happened to be my favorite character from the show! I loved how he was such a skilled, powerful, and dangerous ninja … and yet, he was also a bit of a goof-ball at times.

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For Kakashi, my daughter chose Sinful Colors, “Cinderella”. One of Kakashi’s trademark attacks is called the Chidori, and it involves light blue flashes of lightning. She felt this color was the perfect blue to match Chidori. And, considering that it also has a beautiful shimmer, I would have to agree. This is a lovely color that shimmers and seems to flash from a light blue to a light, barely there pink. It’s one of my favorites from Sinful Colors.

Jiraiya:

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Jiraiya is a famed hermit and sage from Konoha. He is also a fairly well known romance novelist. He has traveled the world searching for knowledge — and his own brand of romance, too. Jiraiya is exceptionally skilled, but he gets into quite a bit of trouble because of his perverted nature. From their first meeting, Naruto refers to him as “Pervy Sage”. Eventually, Jiraiya, who is also Naruto’s godfather, becomes his teacher.

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For Jiraiya, my daughter chose OPI, “Funny Bunny”. Jiraiya’s long hair, which he also uses as a weapon, is a rather startling white that seems to match this color well. Funny Bunny is a lovely and soft white on the nail. It can be a bit hard to get opaque, and usually takes three coats. Even so, it’s one of my favorite whites because of its soft, kind of squishy appearance. I particularly like to wear it under different glitters.

 

Weekly Nail Wrap Up

It’s Friday, it’s Friday!! Yay! I look forward to Friday every week because it’s when I get to post about the polish I wore during the week. In case it was a secret, I’m seriously obsessed with nail polish. Obsessed. Doing my nails, trying out new types of nail art, and looking at new collections and colors puts me right in my happy place. I have ideas for different nail-related posts, but I don’t want to drop my weekly wrap-up. So I’m thinking about adding in one or two weekend posts for some additional nail fun and chit-chat. I don’t get to obsess over this stuff out loud in real life, so nattering away about it on my blog is a good outlet.

For now, though … on with the list of stuff I wore this week!

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I did NOT wear this color this week. This is Colores de Carol, “Slippery Deck”. I wore this one last week, but I didn’t have a swatch photo of it. It’s such a pretty and fun polish that I wanted to be sure to share a picture of it, even if I am a week late. I love this one so much!!

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The first color I wore this week was Colores de Carol, “Prototype 1052”. I am new to this indie brand, but I have quickly become a super-enthusiastic fan! I have made three orders with her brand within the past couple of weeks. I kid you not. That is how much I love her polishes. I started out with my favorites from the Harvest Goddess collection. Then, I saw swatches of her Halloween Collection and had to have them ALL (plus a couple of the Harvest Goddess polishes I hadn’t picked up the first time). And, last night, I ordered a few more things because there was a coupon code in the Colores de Carol & Friends FaceBook group. I am never going to say no to new polish!

Prototype 1052 was from my first order. It is one of the polishes that the company’s owner tried out but then decided not to make. She puts these for sale on her site for a reduced price, but it’s sort of a “mystery” polish. You don’t get to pick the color; she picks for you. When I placed my first order, I (of course!) had to try this out. I was so excited to see what I would get. And, this is it!

I wouldn’t have picked this polish on my own. BUT — I adore this one so, so much. It is a beautiful mixture of purple and blue. I love the blue glitters running through the polish. With the second coat, the purple deepens out to this gorgeously dark and yummy shade. This one has So Much Bling in the sunlight. It was like wearing crushed amethysts on my nails. I loved wearing it, and I got tons of compliments on this manicure, too. It’s definitely a polish that gets noticed! Another bonus with this one for me is that wearing it coincided with a bit of a hair disaster. I went in to get my blue dye touched up. I really just needed a touch up at the roots and the hairline on my forehead, but my stylist ran the color all the way through my hair. For some reason, I ended up with what looks like a sharp gradient: bright blue on top and then indigo/purple at the bottom. It’s still blue, but just so dark that it looks purple in the sunlight. I was so bummed. Until I got home and realized this polish matched my hair exactly. It made me feel much better about life.

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Next, I wore Colores de Carol, “Sapphire Princess”. Since my hair is dark now and shedding TONS of blue dye (everywhere — ugh), I thought dark blue nails would be a good idea. I had this one sitting in my “to be worn” tower, so I thought, “Eh, why not?”

Oh. My. Good Googley Gosh! I am in love with this polish. Seriously. In Love. There are no words to describe the sheer perfection that is this polish. Have  you ever started polishing your nails and the very act of putting the polish on is so fantastic and satisfying and fun that you don’t ever want to be done? Yeah, I know. That pretty much never happens. Never. Well, that happened for me with this polish. The color, the formula, the linear holographic … Just everything works together so perfectly in this polish that I wanted to go on applying it for forever. I actually felt sad when I got my two coats done and had to stop. I wish the holographic showed better in my photo, but it shows up beautifully in real life on the nail. It’s a strong linear, but not overpowering. Just … yeah. If I could, I would marry this nail polish. I think it might be my new favorite polish of all time. And that is saying a LOT …

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Even though I wanted to continue wearing Sapphire Princess for, like, FOREVER, I decided to try and teach myself how to water marble. I love the water marble look, in general. I watch pretty much every water marble video I can find on You Tube. I find it fascinating and can’t get enough. For months, I have wanted to try this out, but I kept talking myself out of it. It looked too hard or too complicated. I’m not a nail artist. I won’t be any good at it. You name it, and I used it as an excuse. Finally, I managed to convince myself to try it. After having to work up to this for months (literally!), I felt I had to do this right away, before I could back out.

This is my first attempt. I used OPI, “I Cannoli Wear OPI” + China Glaze, “Rain Dance the Night Away”. From start to finish, it took me about three hours to figure out what I was doing. I had to figure out which polishes would spread in the water. Then, I had to figure out which polishes I liked together. Then, I practiced making the designs. I did all of this before I felt ready to dunk my nails in the water. Once I actually started dunking, it didn’t take long to put this manicure on my nails. You can see it’s not perfect. My middle nail, in particular, got a bit messed up when I was trying to clean the polish off of the water’s surface. But I like the designs I got onto my nails. I feel like this was pretty good for a first try. I had a lot of fun with the whole process, so I’ll definitely keep on doing this.

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Okay. So I loved the whole water marble thing so much that I did it again last night! For this one, I used OPI, “Fearlessly Alice” + Colores de Carol, “Old Orchard” + Colores de Carol, “Sapphire Princess” (my love!). I like these colors together a lot. And I was happy with the designs I got. Overall, the process went a bit easier … until it came time to do the clean up. And that’s when I realized that this is, in fact, the devil’s manicure. Seriously … Satan lives in here, and he’s camping out on my nails. I used what has to be the worst latex barrier in the universe, and it didn’t work at all. It wouldn’t come up off of my skin. At the same time, the polish leached right through in some areas and stained my fingers. (Fearlessly Alice is a horrible stainer, which sucks because it’s such a perfect blue.) It took me FOREVER to get this manicure cleaned up, and there are some areas where I couldn’t get it completely clean. Still, it is a pretty manicure. Even if it is the devil. *sigh*

Forward Motion

Today, I’ve been thinking about forward motion. I don’t mean like in a car or on a horse or even walking along, although I suppose moving forward is a pretty good thing, no matter how you do it. I’m thinking more about the way we keep on changing and growing as people by learning or trying new things. In a way, it’s kind of a forward motion of the soul, although I suppose that sounds pretty cheesy.

Trying new things is hard. It’s scary. With every attempt, there is a very real risk of failure. Sometimes, you end up feeling like a fool. Sometimes, you end up looking like a fool. I’m not sure which of those things is worse. I think that, often, it feels safer and easier to keep things the way that they are. You know, to guard the status quo, so to speak.

And yet, if we never try new things … if we never reach past our comfortable boundaries … if we never strive … if we never fail … Well, we just kind of stop, don’t we? We might be comfortable and secure in where we are at that particular moment in time, but we won’t ever be more. We won’t continue growing or learning. We won’t ever manage to be the best that we can be. We may not even manage to figure out what that “best” is.

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There are so many ways in which I find myself holding back. I see it often in my writing struggles. There is a part of me — a very small part that lives somewhere deep inside of me — that is confident and bold and full of courage. That little part of me knows I can craft the most wonderful story, something that people will love and want to read, something that will feel like the most amazing adventure. And yet, I continue to struggle with even making myself sit down to put words on paper. I know I’m holding back. I feel it. And yet, I don’t know why. Fear is part of it: the fear of failure. What if my bold and courageous voice is wrong?

Actually, that’s a great question, isn’t it? What if my bold and courageous voice is wrong? What if I write my whole story and it’s horrible or stupid or people hate it? So. What? It’s not the end of the world. It doesn’t make ME a failure. It just means I tried something that didn’t work out like I had planned.

The true failure is not trying at all. When I hold myself back out of fear … that’s when I have failed. I need to keep repeating this to myself as I sit in front of my computer and as I stare at the blinking cursor. I need to repeat it to myself as I feel the fear take hold of me and stifle the words that live in my imagination. It’s all right to fail. It’s not all right to stop trying. These are the words by which I need to live.

The Price of Perfection

Maybe I should call this post “The Price of Imperfection”. Because I made a major screw-up tonight. My daughter attends church classes every Monday. They recently started back up after summer break, and this is still a new schedule to us. On top of the classes, there are all these additional commitments this year: different obligations and events and what-not, all involving church, and all fighting for space on my calendar. Anyhow, like a moron, I misread the time for when my daughter’s class ends, and we ended up not getting there on time to pick her up. She had to call me, and, as soon as I heard her little voice on the other end of the phone, I had this sinking feeling that I had (of course) screwed up in a monumental way.

I’m trying to rationalize this by reminding myself that she wasn’t in an unsafe place. She was with her teacher, who knows her from when my daughter and I both went through RCIA several years ago. I knew someone would wait with her. I knew I was only ten minutes away. I knew she was safe, and that she wouldn’t be alone. Also, she’s thirteen, which is still (at least to me) a “child”, but there’s a huge difference between thirteen and six or seven. Yes, it’s not ideal that I wasn’t there when I was supposed to be. And, yes, this is totally my fault. I feel horrible about it. I apologized to the teacher. I apologized to my daughter. It was a stupid mistake, and there’s no excuse for it. Thankfully, I think my daughter is okay with it. It seems she has forgiven me — at least until her mid-thirties, when I’m sure the whole, sordid incident will come out during therapy.

The thing is, my husband is mad at me. He is giving me the angry, silent treatment, except to remind me (often) that I already knew the times didn’t seem right, so I should have double-checked. But when I apologize, I am met with stony silence and a bit of a glare. I get it. He expects me to be perfect. And I’m not perfect. He knows this, of course. I mean, none of us is perfect. But, when I make a monumental screw-up and remind him of my imperfection in such a blatant way, I think he just needs time to process the whole thing. He needs time to figure out that he can still love me, even if I am a stupid woman who read a time wrong and failed to pick up his child after church class.

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The rational part of me knows all of this. The rational part of me knows that things will be fine if I just let him be for a while. I doubt he will ever say that he forgives me, so I will never actually know whether or not he forgave me. My husband has many wonderful and amazing qualities. He is the person I love most in the whole world, and he is my perfect match in every way. He is loving and generous and kind and full of fun. But … he does not hand out forgiveness lightly. Or at all. I will know that he forgives me because things will go back to normal. He will hug me and hold me close. We will laugh and make funny jokes again. But I won’t ever hear those words, “I forgive you.”

There is a part of me that’s still very much a little child. A little child filled with all the emotions and fears and things that I had to keep carefully hidden during my growing-up years. And that little child who lives in the deepest, darkest part of my heart needs to hear the words. She needs it. She needs to know that she is still worth loving, even when she makes a mistake. She needs to know that she is worth loving even when she isn’t perfect. She needs to know that she doesn’t have to be perfect, because it’s an impossible, pressure-cooker of a task. She needs to know forgiveness happens if you admit your mistake and say you are sorry. She needs to know that trying is enough.

I often wish I could go back in time. If I could do that, I would look closer at the time listed on the church website. Maybe I would call and double-check, especially knowing what I know now. I would try harder to do all the right things at the right time. I would say the things I’m supposed to say, and I would be all the places exactly when I’m supposed to. I would FIX this mistake I made tonight. I so very much want to fix the mistake I made tonight.

But I can’t. I can’t go back in time. Even if I could do that, I would probably make the same mistake all over again. I can’t do anything but say I’m sorry and mean it and try to learn from my mistake. Just … sometimes, that doesn’t feel like enough.

 

Birthday Days

Today is my daughter’s birthday. It’s a day I have dreaded since the moment she took her first breath. You see, today, she turns 13. My sweet, lovely girl is officially a teenager. Cue the ominous music and eye rolls.

No, not really. In many ways, my kiddo isn’t quite as much fun as she was when she was younger. Like when she was five, for example. Five was a very big and entertaining year for all of us. Lots of giggles and good memories happened in Year Five. But in other ways, she is just as much fun; I might even go way out on a limb and say she is even more fun now than she was when she was a baby … when she was a toddler … when she was in elementary school. Yes, more fun even than when she was five.

If I am going to be honest, I would have to say my daughter amazes me. I realize this sounds horribly melodramatic and, maybe, even a bit lame. The word “amazing” gets tossed around so much these days that, in some respects, I feel it has lost its meaning. It’s difficult to feel the true impact of that word. And besides, I’m sure every parent feels this way about his or her children. Or, well, every parent should feel this way. If you don’t feel this way … If you don’t let yourself feel the true weight and beauty and joy and sheer amazingness of your children, I think you’re missing out on the best part of the whole parenting gig.

But, anyhow, I’m not here to ramble about parenting. No, this is about my daughter. Who is turning 13 today. And who is truly, incredibly amazing.

My daughter is full of laughter and smiles. And yet, she is also full of sarcasm and witty one-liners. She is quick to speak out against things that are unfair or unjust. She is brave in a way I never could have been at her age. She has pink hair. She loves Pokemon. Sometimes, she even lets me play Pokemon Go with her. She is patient with my mother, even when I can tell she doesn’t want to be. It’s hard to be patient when you are young. When you are young, you want everything to go quickly. She has a soft and kind heart, although I can see her trying very hard to hide that from the rest of the world, as if she wants to protect something precious — something that is part of what makes her “her”. She loves to watch football with her dad. It makes me smile to hear them cheering on their favorite college team. She loves music and plays the flute. She is learning French, which she quite likes, and Algebra, which she doesn’t. Singing in the Rain is her favorite movie. She loves country music. We got Alan Jackson tickets for her as one of her birthday gifts, and she was crazy-happy about it. Hufflepuff is her favorite Hogwarts house. She is a cat whisperer who is, sadly, stuck with a mom who is a dog person. We play Dragonvale together. She is loving and sweet and annoying and maddening and crazy and fun and giggly and grumpy and creative and clever and wise. In short, she is All The Things. And, really, isn’t that kind of the definition of “amazing”? Someone who is, somehow, All The Things … ?? If it isn’t, it should be.

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The funny thing is that I can remember bringing her home from the hospital: this little lump that tended to cry a lot and wave her fists. I remember her as this complete and rather terrifying unknown in my life — this strange, sort of wrinkled little creature with whom I was immediately and completely enamored. I remember her as a second grader without her two front teeth. I remember her first day of preschool and her last day of elementary school. I remember her sitting in my room, watching Backyardigans on the TV, with our cat sitting right next to her. Back then, I tried to imagine what she would become as she got older. I tried to picture her growing into a teenager and, then, an adult. I wondered what kinds of things she would do, what kind of person she would be, and what kind of future she would have.

Now, I look at her: my beautiful, precious, kind, loving, sweet girl, and I see glimpses of the woman she will become. Part of me wants to slow all of it down, just so she will remain my little girl for a bit longer. All of it is going by much too quickly, so there is a bittersweetness to every birthday we celebrate with her. At the same time, I look at this person — this  young woman, who now stands where, not that long ago, there was only a child — and I think, “No. Let the time pass. Let the birthdays come. Because I want to see what happens. Because I want to be amazed.”

Weekly Nail Wrap-Up

It was kind of a crazy and exciting nail polish week for me. After seeing swatch videos from my favorite YouTubers, I had fallen hard for a few of the colors in the Orly Fall 2016 collection (Mulholland). I had been looking for them in my local Sally’s, but with no luck. I finally found them online, so I managed to pick up four out of the six polishes. I placed and received my very first order from Colores de Carol. I’m always excited when I get to try out a new brand, and I had seen so many wonderful reviews of these polishes. I ordered a bit of a variety, color-wise — some Spring/Summer colors and some Fall shades, including a couple from her new collection (I think it’s called Harvest Goddess). Even though we are heading into Fall based on the calendar, the weather in my corner of the universe has continued to feel distinctly Summer-like. Which, to me, means free rein for wearing both Summer and Fall colors — woo hoo! Eh. Who am I kidding? I wear what I want when I want, with little regard to seasonal rules. But this did make me feel like a bit less of a freak for doing it. I have an embarrassingly large “need to be worn” pile of polishes, and I was kind of in “wear all the things!!!” mode. This will likely continue for the foreseeable future, particularly since there are a lot of new polishes coming out right now.

At any rate, all of this combined to make a pretty crazy polish week for me. Crazy in a fun way, so buckle up for a looooong polish post!

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I started off the week with Colores de Carol. This is a new brand for me, but one that I have wanted to try for a long time. I kept hearing and reading so many amazing, wonderful things about this company and their polishes. Finally, a bit of a sale coincided with a moment of financial weakness on my part, and I made my very first order! Pictured above is part of it. After I took the picture, I realized I forgot to include the two Colores de Carol polishes I wore this week. From L to R these polishes are: “Demeter”, “Road Warrior”, “Ceres”, “Prototype 1052”, and “Sapphire Princess”. A couple of these are new for Fall, and the rest are just new-to-me shades. I was giddily excited as I waited for this order to arrive, and my first glimpse of the polishes did not disappoint! I had a great time unboxing them, lining them up on my desk, and whispering sweet nothings to them. What? Doesn’t everyone do that with their nail polish?

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The first polish I wore this week was Colores de Carol, “Summer Memories”. This was, of course, part of my initial order from their website, although I forgot to include it in the group picture. This polish is STUNNING! I am so absolutely in love with the color. It is the perfect shade of light/sky blue. As you can probably tell from all my nail ramblings, I am a sucker for blues of any kind. It’s my favorite color. But, even with all the blue polish I buy and all the blue polish I stalk but don’t buy, I had not yet found this particular shade. And I have been looking for it! And looking and looking and looking and … Well, you get the idea. Seeing this on my nails just made me happy. Also, there is a super subtle blue shimmer running through this. It doesn’t show up at all in my picture, and it’s so delicate and subtle that you really have to look for it in person. But I feel like it gives this color some extra dimension and oomph. I loved that little detail.

Formula-wise, I think this polish is good. When I initially applied it, I had some issues, but I think this was a matter of user error more than anything else. I was a bit careless with my application, so I ended up having to do 3 coats on some nails and 2 coats on others. On the nails with 3 coats, I felt like everything was too thick, overall. Next time, I will do a better job and get things on more evenly. I can’t wait to wear this polish again.

I also wore Colores de Carol, “Slippery Deck”. I apologize, because I don’t have a picture of it to include here. I somehow managed to lose the file, although my swatch picture was pretty terrible. It didn’t do the polish justice at all, which makes me feel like losing the file wasn’t such a bad thing. “Slippery Deck” is a wonderfully fun and playful glitter polish. It has all different colors of matte glitter, as well as star-shaped glitter, in a bright yellow cream base. I. ADORED. This. Polish!! I’m hoping to get a better swatch picture to show in my nail wrap-up post next week.

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In keeping with the summery feeling caused by all the hot weather we had over the past week, I decided to wear OPI, “I’m Gown for Anything” + Fingerpaints, “Th-Ink Outside the Box”. Gown for Anything is a really pretty and sort of delicate pinkish lavender. In the bottle, it looks pink to me, but I feel like it looks more lavender on my nails. Either way, it’s a pretty color. I had this one sitting in my to-be-worn stash for a couple of months (or maybe even longer?). I have no idea why I didn’t wear it sooner, although I typically have to be in just the right mood to wear a pastel pink or purple. I’m sure this had a lot to do with it. Formula-wise, Gown for Anything is fantastic. It was very nearly a one-coater, which surprised the heck out of me. And application was easy-breezy. I didn’t even have to do any clean-up afterward, which is  huge (and unusual)! It’s a great polish — and maybe even one of the best ones from that fairly recent Alice in Wonderland collection. Even so, I can’t see myself wearing this polish on its own. No matter how delicate and pretty it is, this just isn’t a color that appeals to me on my nails. I keep on wanting to love these chalky, pastel pinks/purples/lavenders, which is why I continue to buy them. I do love them in the bottle, but not so much on my nails.

But (!!) the Fingerpaints glitter topper (Th-Ink Outside the Box) was LOVE. This has black and white matte glitters in different sized hexes and circles, along with teeny-tiny bars in a clear base. I usually don’t like bar glitter. I feel like they tend to look like little hairs or something. It creeps me out. So, if I had realized this one had bar glitters in it, I probably would have walked away from it. And I would have missed out — big-time! This glitter is wonderful. It was easy to get enough out of the bottle to cover my nails with one swipe, plus a very little bit of dabbing here and there. I love the mix of shapes (yes, even the bars). I love that the glitters are matte. And I love that they are black and white. I feel like it gives this polish an edgy, fun sort of feeling. I ended up adoring this manicure. I got so many compliments on it, and I really didn’t want to take it off. If I hadn’t received new polish in the mail, I probably would have worn this one for the rest of the week and into next week. I loved it that much.

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But I did get new polish! So my previous manicure had to go in order to make room for some Fall goodness on my nails! I was so excited over getting these Orly polishes in the mail. I had watched several reviews of them, and I was already completely in love with these four shades. From L to R, they are: “Million Dollar Views”, “Party in the Hills”, “Meet Me at Mulholland”, and “Mansion Lane”. Look how yummy and gorgeous they are!!! *happysigh*

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Of course, I had to wear “Million Dollar Views” first! I am an absolute and unrepentant sucker for copper-toned polishes. I almost always gravitate toward them in Fall collections. On the rare occasion that a copper polish comes out in the Spring or Summer, I gravitate toward them then, too. But they are more common in Fall, for good reason. I mean, really … When you look at this color, don’t  you just think FALL? It’s the perfect, iconic Fall color that makes me think of crisp weather, snuggling down into my favorite sweater, and crunching through the fallen leaves on my daily walks.

Much as I adore copper polish — and much as I buy copper polish — I have to say it’s hard to find that exact, perfect (for me) copper shade. I want a copper that is bright and bold. For years, I have been looking for a copper that was the shade of a new penny: kind of warm and soft but also bright and a little brassy. Well, I think my search is over, because this one fits that description perfectly! As soon as I put it on my nails, I was like, “Eeeek! It’s the penny color! Yayz!” (Yes, I really did say “yayz”. I’m not ashamed — much.) This color is warm and pretty. I feel like it just glows right off the nail. It’s hard to see in my photograph, but this polish has little copper-toned flakies running through it. They are super pretty in person, and they give the polish a nice bit of extra interest and dimension.

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Much as I adored Million Dollar Views, I was firmly stuck in “wear all the things — rawr!!” mode. So I decided to top it with another polish from the collection: “Meet Me at Mulholland”. Mulholland is kind of an unusual polish. It has a ton of dark copper flakies as well as purple glitter, all in a base that is sort of a charcoal gray color. The purple doesn’t show up at all in the bottle, although I think that is what gives this polish such a rich, dark look. The polish, overall, is very sheer, which made me feel like it would be hard to get it opaque on its own. I saw one of my favorite YouTubers (Phoebe Moon — seriously, she is so awesome. You should check out her channel!) swatch this polish over a dark purple, which was beyond amazing.

I was really into the coppery look of this polish, so I decided to do a tone-on-t0ne look with it. I ended up liking this a lot. Unfortunately, the purple glitters didn’t show up at all, but the combination of the tinted base and the darker copper flakies gave my nails a deep, rich look. I felt like it was elegant but also understated. I still want to try this polish over a dark purple, though. And possibly over a black, too.

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Last, but certainly not least, we have OPI, “Blue Chips”. Today, I got my hair touched up. There was an unfortunate incident at a make-up counter that led to some of the blue dye in my hair getting bleached completely out around my face. (It was a totally weird and freakish thing.) Plus, my roots were starting to show. This is a good thing because it means my hair is growing. Always a plus when you have had PCOS-related hair woes. But it’s a bad thing because it means a trip to the salon. And a trip to the salon, of course, means that I am getting blue dye on my fingers and around my nails pretty much every time I touch my hair. Needless to say, it was time to break out the blue nail polish once again. (Good thing I love it!)

This polish had me at hello. Seriously. As I was putting this on, I kept wondering how the heck I have lived all this time without this polish in my life. It is freaking fantastic. Like, freaking fantastic in a way that makes me want to roll around on the floor and scream in ecstasy. I love, love, love, LOVE this polish. It’s such a beautiful shade of blue — not too dark but not too light. And the holographic glitter inside it. Yum!! Rainbows on my nails. Rainbows on my beautiful, blue nails. What could be better than that? I’ll tell you: nothing, that’s what!

 

The Day After

I wanted to blog about September 11. And yet, I also didn’t want to blog about September 11. It is, of course, a very important and sad day in the United States. Everyone I know blogged or vlogged or FaceBooked about it. And, as always, it’s a day that brings up a lot of feelings and confused emotions for me. It was a day of great contradictions, where the best and the most heroic and most amazing moments of humanity existed right next to the most horrible and unthinkable ones. As always, I couldn’t manage to gather my thoughts enough to talk about all of this in a timely manner. And besides, there were a lot of other people out there doing a much better job of commemorating the day than I ever could. All these years later, I’m still not sure I have adequately parsed through my own feelings.

Most people I know remember everything about that day. They remember what they were wearing, down to the most minute detail. They remember exactly what they were doing at the moment they found out about the planes hitting the towers. Perhaps there is something wrong with me or with the way my brain processes information and memories or something, but I don’t really remember these things. I remember I was at work, but not exactly what I was doing. I don’t remember what I was wearing, either, although I’m sure it was something black. I wore a lot of black when I was working. I remember little things. Like how amazingly gorgeous that day was. It was one of those days when I felt good about life, like anything was possible. The sky was so blue. The sun was warm. The leaves had just barely started to turn. I remember standing in the break area closest to my office and watching news coverage of the first plane and thinking that it had to be an accident. Everyone thought it was a horrible accident.  Nothing else seemed possible. But then, the second plane hit. If I close my eyes right now, I can picture that second plane hitting the second tower. And I remember feeling cold all the way through. I still wanted it to be an accident, but how could it be? And then more information started coming across the television. I don’t remember much about the rest of the day.

I went home. I walked my dog. I cleaned the cat box. I fed the critters. I called my parents. I called my husband, who lived in a city hundreds of miles away. I ate dinner. I watched anime that night because I couldn’t take the nonstop news coverage. Maybe I wanted to hide away from the truth or something, but hearing other people say they had no idea what was happening didn’t feel particularly comforting to me. That night, I crawled into bed, snuggled up next to my dog and my cat, and, after quite a lot of tossing and turning, I fell asleep. Even now, as I think about it years later, it all felt so NORMAL. Isn’t that strange? With what felt like the whole world going crazy and falling apart, my little corner of life felt normal. I did all my usual things. It was almost like I could convince myself that none of it had happened. That, maybe, I had imagined or dreamed it.

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Even more than that actual day, I remember the day after. Because I went to sleep in one world and woke up in another. My whole life, I felt “safe”. I guess it’s a privilege to be able to grow up feeling that way. At the time, I was naive and didn’t know this. I didn’t think about this. That feeling of safety and security was all that I had ever known. Of course, “safety” is an illusion. It always was an illusion. And, like all good illusions, it hurts when it’s suddenly ripped away. Facing reality is hard and painful. In that moment, I knew nothing would ever be the same. I knew it in a way that felt ominous and painful and just much, much too real.

At the time, my husband and I were trying to have a child — something that was an ongoing struggle for us because of fertility issues compounded by the fact that we had to live apart due to our work. It hit me, painfully hard, that my child — if I was ever blessed with a child — would grow up in a completely different world than I did. My child would never know the feeling of thinking the world is a “safe” place. My child would never know a world where people couldn’t fathom the kind of hatred that causes someone to fly a plane into a tall building. My child would grow up in a world where terrorists and hatred and cruelty are all too real. I know, really, we all grow up in that type of world. The world is cruel. It always has been. But I think the difference is that I realized I would never be able to shelter my child from those things. My innocence was gone, but, somehow, the innocence of my future child was gone, too. Gone, even before he or she could experience it.

On the day after, I woke up in my own bed in a weird, different, and unfamiliar world. I was wearing a University of Texas t-shirt and gray sweatpants. I hugged my dog to me and cried for hours.