I don’t know if you’ve noticed, internet, but we’ve had a lot of snow this winter.
Or at least I have. Not me, personally, but the Town-Where-I-Live.
You get it.
At any rate, my roommate Varenka and I are responsible for clearing out the sidewalk in front of our downtown apartment (sidenote – why do we call the people with whom we rent apartments our roommates when we don’t technically share a room? Is there a better word for this? The English use flatmates, but apartment-mates just sounds awkward. Just me?).
This is the first time that I’ve been responsible for regularly shoveling a walk, and while it’s not a horrifically arduous task given our sidewalk is only about 5 feet in length, it’s an annoying one. Especially given the fact that there have been many storms this winter that have required Varenka and I to shovel more than once a day. Sometimes three, four, or five.
My initial reaction to shoveling the snow was to wait until the snow had stopped falling to shovel the walk, because then I’d just have to shovel it once. There’s a city ordinance in Town-Where-I-Live that states that you get fined if the snow is still there 24 hours after a big storm, so I figured that as long as I did it after the storm I’d be fine.
Big mistake. I went outside to shovel the walk and realize that people had had to walk through the 5-inch deep snow in front of my house all day, which was conspicuously the only house on the block which hadn’t been shoveled. Which made me feel like an asshole, because it only took me two minutes to shovel my sidewalk, whereas those people who had to walk by my house probably had wet feet all day long.
I realized that shoveling the walk frequently during the storm is a courtesy, and while, yeah, I technically didn’t need to, not doing it makes me a selfish person. Who knows how many old ladies with canes need to walk by my house on a day basis? What if an old lady slips and falls and breaks her hip in the snow outside my house? THAT’S ON ME.
“But how does this relate to your very catchy blog title, Cassandra?” you’re probably asking. I’m getting there.
Friendship takes work. You can’t just check in with your friends when the storms are over. You need to be there for both the good times and the bad, the times that they are being really annoying, the bad breakups, and the clingy periods. Good friends are there for each other no matter what. Good friends always keep their sidewalks shoveled.
You know those people in your life who are supposedly your friends, but only seem to check in when they need something from you? Or when you’ve won the lottery or gotten a really lucrative job or are recently hot and single? Those are the people who only shovel their walk when all the snow has stopped falling. And you’re the old lady with the cane, whose hip is now broken because your friend is an asshole.
And so I say unto you, internet, shovel your damn walk. Check in with your friends. And maybe walk in front of different houses.
That last line is a metaphor for getting better friends. Also maybe a walker.
I’m in a ranty sort of mood tonight, internet.
The subject of today’s rant is contouring.
Have you heard of this crap? If you are a lady person under the age of 30, it’s quite probable you have. For others of you, possibly not. I’ll fill you in.
Contouring is basically like shading your face so it looks more 3-D. You put dark makeup on some bits and light makeup on other bits and apparently it’s supposed to make your face less fat. Because I guess now we need to be concerned about our faces looking fat. What next, our fingernails?
Skipping over the complication of faces already being 3-D, I’m a little concerned about this contouring thing.
Let me walk you through the process.
First, you moisturize your face to keep your skin fresh and young and healthy. Then you prime your face with a primer, which is like another moisturizer but not, to make your skin smooth. Then you put skin-colored foundation on your face, because nobody wants to actually see your real skin. Put that shit away.
Then you highlight and darken certain areas of your face, as shown above. Then you blend it out so it looks “natural”, and then you powder it.
After all that, you can start putting your makeup on. The entire process only takes about the lifespan of a star to complete.
This does not make you look more beautiful. It makes you look Photoshopped.
What happened to fresh, clean, dewy skin? Why do we have to put on a clown mask just to go out nowadays?
Oh god, we haven’t done Yoga Tuesday in many, many days, internet. Or possibly years.
Side Note – I enjoy how dramatically my blog view went up in the TWO DAYS since NaNoWriMo ended. I GET IT. YOU HATED IT. MWNAH.
Side Side Note – Six people voted on my poll from yesterday and they all voted for different things. So thanks, but still unhelpful, internet.
Typical. Yet I digress.
My body is a train wreck right now. I did yoga for the first time last night in a very long time (hint- three weeks) and today I woke up fairly positive that I may have been hit by a train in my sleep last night. Or a small airplane. Everything hurts, is what I’m getting at, and it’s a little humiliating, given that last year around this time I was super stellar at yoga related activities.
And yeah, I get that the point of yoga is to be calm and stellar and a good person and non-bothered by trivialities like being good at such or whatever (Side Side Side Note – that would be a great t-shirt. I am non-bothered. It’s something else, though, the yoga thing. I am non-attached? I am non-pareil? I am a nonagon? Not that one, probably).
You know what it is? When you’re good at something, you assume that you’re pretty much always going to be good at that thing, even if you take a while off of doing it. Which is, of course, not true at all. You have to keep learning and practicing and upgrading, or you’re going to end up behind the times.
In terms of feeling behind, I’m Grandma with a new iPhone right now. Okay, maybe more like martial artist learning ballet. But still.
Something to work on, I guess.
You asked for it. I delivered it. This is the first Life Advice Wednesday. Keep your pants on, people.
I was watching an episode of Mind of a Chef the other day (which is the weirdest, most fascinatingly amazing show) and Anthony Bourdain struck up a conversation with all this really famous chefs over what their definition of mediocrity was.
What an awesome question.
Mediocrity is something that everyone has a vague impression of. It’s what not to be. The official definition of mediocrity is “the quality or state of being mediocre”, and the definition of mediocre is “not very good”, and I think the only think we’ve just learned from that is that those definitions of mediocrity are themselves mediocre.
Some synonyms include average, uninspired, lackluster and forgettable, which gets us a little farther. Mediocrity is the quality or state of being utterly forgettable. Harsh.
Questions that logically follow the definition include:
How do you become mediocre? How do you perform mediocrity? How do you stop being mediocre? Can you even know you’re being mediocre? Is it important? Do you care? Does it matter? Does anything matter??
(Okay I got a little carried away. But you get the point).
I asked my coworker, Awesome Andy, whether or not he thought that striving to overcome mediocrity was important, and he made an excellent point that somebody could work the same job for 40 years and be seen as living a mediocre life, but that same person could be a perfectly happy individual, and perhaps happier than the ladder-climbing overachiever we’ve all supposed to emulate.
So I guess the question then becomes where happiness and mediocrity collide, and whether or not you can be happy being mediocre. I believe for a lot of people, that answer would be yes (even if they don’t know it or aren’t willing to admit it). Let’s face it, on a grand scale, the vast majority of us are and will continue to be mediocre (unless you’re Beyonce).
However, that brings me to my last point.
(Have I been making points? I think so? I’m just going to go with it, I guess).
As far as my own warped, biased, politically incorrect opinion goes, I believe people can be happy leading fairly unexceptional lives, as long as they are striving beyond mediocrity in at least one aspect.
Mediocre job? Fine. No spectacular life achievements? Cool. Never run a marathon? With you.
But good god, do something. Maybe strive to be the best parent you could possibly be. Win a chess tournament. Collect stamps or Barbies or severed heads.
You don’t have to be the next Barack Obama or Steve Jobs or Britney Spears, but you should have goals or dreams or ambitions that make your life above average.
Isn’t that what makes getting out of bed in the morning worth it?
Some of you reading this are going to say I’m a sheltered pansy for this blog post, but I don’t really care. Take your high-flaluting options elsewhere.
I have a car. It is a pretty nice car. It’s a 2010 Ford Escape that I got with the gracious assistance of my parents and my grandfather last fall. My parents are helping me pay off the car because they are awesome and supportive.
Before that I had another car, which my grandparents paid for entirely, and every time it needed a tune up or a fix-up, somebody else in my family paid for it.
I’m explaining this so that you get a handle on how I felt today when I had to hand over my credit card to pay for a car fix to the tune of $463.03.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – I am very lucky. I grew up in a loving, financially stable household where I wanted for nothing. I was (and still kind of am) spoiled rotten, especially because I’m an only child. I got a decent scholarship in college and my parents paid for the rest. I didn’t really have to work to pay for anything, really, until this year, and I half-scored, half-stumbled into a fantastic full time job doing what I love, while still being able to teach yoga on the side. I am probably that kid you hated in high school and (maybe still hate a little bit now) because of my blinding, disgusting, perhaps a little unfair run with luck.
Some of you reading this have probably been working your asses off paying for rent and college and bills and food since you were very young. You might be feeling equal parts annoyance and jealousy at my softness and wellbeing. Some of you might be shaking your head at my naïveté, having learned to balance a checkbook and pay for taxes in high school or college.
I admire you for your strength and perseverance and sheer grit, but this blog post really isn’t for you today.
This blog post it for the very few who might be reading who, like me, are just now leaving the nest and facing rent and bills and expenses and hard, long hours of work for the first time, and whom might be very, very scared.
Because you need to know that along with the fear of signing away that $463.03, and mentally checking my expenses for the rest of the month and wondering what the electric bill was was going to look like and yeah, a little bit of wanting to ask my family to help out, there was pride. Pride because damn straight that was my hard earned money, paying for my car, which I’m going to drive back to my apartment to eat lunch that I bought with my damn money and made by myself.
And it’s not play pretend this time, it’s not just for now. It’s life. It’s started. And now I know that the next time I back into a ditch into the middle of the night and bend my muffler around my rear tire (yeah, yeah, I know) I can handle it.
Hey, maybe my account is a little lower than I’d like, but I’m going to be okay. Maybe it’s a little sad that I’m having this realization at 23, but I’m having it. And if you’re leaving home for the first time, if you’re 16 or 30, if you are careful and smart and work very hard, you’re going to be okay, too.
I love you guys.
It is perfect out today, internet. It is startling beautiful. It is on of those days that makes me want to write poetic things about how scintillatingly blue the crystalline waters of the lake are. I’ve been sitting like a lump in the sunshine for the past three hours, curled up on the hot earth like a lizard trying to absorb the last precious hours of sunlight.
Which, in perfect essence, is exactly what I was trying to do, because I totally could smell fall in the air this morning, which is a weird thing to say but if you tell me you don’t know what I mean by that you are either very unintuitive or a dirty liar.
When the seasons are changing to change, I always feel… something. I don’t really know how to explain it. It’s like a stirring in my blood. It’s the urgent need to do something productive clashing heads with the urgent need to not do anything at all. It’s most importantly the deep rooted feeling that life is changing, even if those changes are so incandescently, intangibly small they’re not changes at all.
Maybe it’s an evolutionary holdover from when our great-great-great-many-other-greats-great ancestors used to migrate or whatever. It probably has a lot more to do with the students coming back from summer break and me still feeling like I’m one of them and that I should be doing productive school type things. Still I feel restless and itchy and weirdly emotional. Like, I could probably cry over a particularly beautiful cloud or something.
Probably not, but you get the point.
Anyways, the yogic side of me is invested in change. Life changes, constantly.
Change is unpredictable, and sometimes caustic and terrible and blah blah blah. Embrace the stirring in your blood. Clean your room. Go do yoga. Take the garbage out. Write a novel. Walk in nature. Smell a flower. Smell many.
Is this yogic enough yet?
Oh, wait here we go.
Right now, the moment is a glass of wine on my porch.
You go be in your own damn moment.
Have you checked out my Facebook page yet? I have 5 days to get another 54 likes… yikes! HELP ME!!
I asked Mi Madre what I should write about today and she suggested I post the recipe for an amazing quinoa salad we tried the other night (okay, she made it and I ate it, but let’s not be trivial here). Click this sentence to be taken there and please note that Maman highly suggests adding the entire avocado and serving it on a bed of spinach.
That recipe is crazy good, but the topic of recipes is a little too juicy to get caught up in just one.
It’s amazing how food can bring people together. It’s not a topic that hasn’t been explored before by wiser, more poetic, interesting, pretty, and talented people than me.
Anyways, food is awesome, not just in a “it keeps us alive” kind of way, but in a “remember how damn good great gran’s pie was?” kind of way. Food is, and should be, nostalgic. I could list for you the top 5 best meals I’ve ever eaten and most of them are more because of the experience and the ambience than because of the food. That’s probably fully half of the reason most people are so freakin’ picky about how they want their mashed potatoes on Thanksgiving. If it ain’t how Ma does it, it ain’t the same, no matter how good your French Potatoes au Gratin are with the drizzly truffle oil and the snotty demeanor.
It makes me sad that there are people that feel like they can’t hoe down on good chow because they need to look or be a certain way. Yeah, I get it, eating hamburgers everyday is bad for you. Yeah, treating yourself to a five-course meal everyday is silly and expensive. Yeah, being 600 pounds is no bueno. There’s a fine line between condoning eating and condoning being unhealthy and overweight that I’m nudging, yes.
The thing is, most people don’t realize that you can make good, healthy, not bad for you nostalgic meals, and once in a while you can even eat the full fat, drizzled in cheese, deep fried thing and it will all be okay.
My point, if I have one, is that living life by eating carrot sticks and juice means you’re missing out on some good, homecooked meals, and the memories that go along with those meals.