26 March 2013

The Rules

Things I Did This Weekend Instead of Writing

Made biscuits and gravy
Watched Super 8
Watched Running Wilde
Stayed in my bathrobe until 8PM
Drank porter and rye

*I hate break the news this way to you, Mom, but I finally broke that last rule of yours.

When I was in high school, it became clear that there were three rules not to break. They weren't your typical rules, ones about sex or school or eating vegetables. They were:

1. Don't get a fake tan.
2. Don't get a facial piercing.
3. Don't bleach your hair.

One summer during high school, I thought it would be a good idea to break rule number one and get some fake sun; I worked outside in the summers watering plants, and wanted to get a base tan. Also, a good friend had extolled the virtues of the tanning salon in terms of easing her seasonal affective disorder. I remember the front desk person asking me if I'd ever tanned before, and then asking me how long I wanted them to set the bed for. They must have had an excellent belly laugh at my expense when I said 15 minutes, because later I learned 2 or 3 minutes would have been more appropriate. Anyway, I took off all of my clothes, put on the little goggles, and got myself a tan.

Soon after, I went with my friend John to the movies, and when we exited, he stopped dead in his tracks and asked me if I was okay. I said that I was a little bit hot, but yes, I was fine. And then I went to the bathroom and looked in the mirror and saw my TERRIFYING, PUFFY, ANGRY RED FACE.

And then I realized that the rest of my body was just more of the same. Scalp, feet, belly button. All of it. AHHHH. AHHHHHHHHH.

And of course, that being the first rule on the list, I did not want to tell my mother. So, I spent at least a week having my coworkers put aloe on my back, taking cold baths, and barely sleeping.

Did I learn my lesson? YES. YES I DID.

Rule #2 was broken in the summer of 2003 on a trip to the Twin Cities with the Manhattan Experimental Theater Workshop. Many of the 18 year old participants were asserting their independence by getting piercings, and I felt sufficiently past the time when my mom gave me pamphlets that encouraged a tasteful tattoo over a facial monstrosity. A friend owed me $40, so she paid for me to get my nose pierced. When I got home, my mom looked at me a little bit sideways, and clearly held her tongue.

A month later, she came to visit and told me that it was tasteful and that she quite liked it.

It's been almost 10 years since I broke rule #2, so I figured it's about time I went ahead and broke #3. On Saturday night, while drinking porter and rye and eating Market Fresh pizza in my coworker's kitchen, I became a blond for the very first time in my 29 years.

I'm not ready to show you yet, Mama, but this is your warning.


Addendum: The only rule for adult living laid out by my mother that I feel I must adhere to is:

Don't get married until you're 30.
(If you get married at all.)
(Maybe it would be better just to live together.)
(Actually, maybe it would be better to be married and NOT live together.)
(You know you actually get to make your own decisions and I will support you.)

Thanks, Mama. You are, truly, the best.

22 March 2013

Careers I Have Considered Regardless of Aptitude

Jazz singer
Cranberry farmer
High school English teacher
Theater professor
Accordion player
Literary magazine editor
Cafe/bar/theater owner
Pre-school teacher
Executive assistant
Television actor
Professional eccentric
Upright bass player
Theater artist

21 March 2013


Meet my pops!

He was a really handsome kid! At Manhattan High, he sang in Pops Choir, acted in musicals, ran cross-country, played the clarinet, crashed the family car into a tree, and was a wonderful, complicated guy.

My papa sang James Taylor to me in the sandbox under the moon, helped me clean up after my rabbit, and wore sunglasses at night. No one is better at cooking an egg, and he looks darn good in those cook's whites.  On more than a handful of occasions, he let his only daughter blow her snotty nose on his shirt. Let me restate: HE LOVES ME SO MUCH THAT HE LET ME BLOW MY NOSE ON HIS CLOTHING. THAT HE WAS WEARING. ON HIS BODY. He told me bible stories when I was a kid without me ever knowing they were bible stories. He made sure The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe was my first chapter book. He read The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy with me, out loud, when I was in the 5th grade. Now, in the 21st century, he sends me daily text messages that are quotes from Doctor Who.

He has suffered more than his share of pain. He has taught me a lot about grace, and love, and working hard to become your best self. He is not afraid to be incredibly honest. He is not afraid to cry. 

If you see him, ask him to tell you a story, or play you a song on his guitar, or make you a mixed tape, or, if you're really, really lucky, he might draw you a picture:

Pops/Papa/Jebbie/Brotherjeb/John Eldon Bolan II:

You are such an amazing dad.

Love, love, and more love,

P.S.  I love to tell stories about you, but not as much as I love it when you tell me stories.

20 March 2013

Things I Am Not

I am not:

a savvy, stylish mom
a savvy, stylish mom living in Kansas City
a political, critical thinker
a photographer
on the cutting edge
an essayist
a trendsetter
an early adopter
a poet
a consummate list-makerhttp://thedailyli.st/

Some of these things, I would like to become.  I am constantly becoming.  I am carving out a moment.

19 March 2013

Almost getting it kind of together

Last night my boyfriend did a really sweet thing.

He brought home ice cream (which he ate for dinner, but that's another story).

He lit some candles and turned off all the lights.

And he happily watched an old tape of Simpsons episodes and left me to watch the entire second season of Girls all in one go.

I am ready to admit: I am a Girls lover.  As is my nature, I can see the merit in many people's criticisms (the ones concerning it being about young, privileged people, NOT the ones about Lena Dunham's body), but here it is: I find it raw, emotional, and beautifully honest.  I see myself (past and present and probably still some of my future) in the way that these girls and boys yearn, struggle, self-sabotage, make terrible decisions, let themselves be trampled, and ask too much and too little of themselves and each other.  It makes me laugh and cringe and feel really, really thankful for my incredibly supportive parents, and for every experience I have lived through and maybe had the good fortune to learn from.

Also, I am a huge fan of the nudity.

So, thanks to Lena Dunham for making Girls, and thanks to my boyfriend for creating a safe little bubble for me to enjoy it in.  Because if I were still in my early twenties, still living in New York, and still experiencing quite that much life all the time - and was watching Girls alone, sitting in the window well of my 5th floor walk up - that might be too much reality to bear.

18 March 2013


Some things about this girl:

She is 15.
She will learn to drive a car and ride a bike during the same summer.
She will be a terrible waitress for about 3 months.
She will soon eat sushi for the first time.
She will have crush on about fifteen different boys at once, including, but not limited to: a British chemistry major (too old for her), a college debater (too old for her), a really short soccer player (not into her).
She will get the aforementioned British chemistry major to take ballroom dance classes with her through community ed.  She will never figure out how she magicked that into happening.
She will be kissed by the aforementioned college debater on her 16th birthday.  It will be awesome, and really confusing.  He will keep reappearing in her life every 2 years or so, ad infinitum.
She will be allowed to pretend that she is an adult by many, many people.
She will learn about hip-hop, and punk rock, and Tom Robbins, and poetry, and counter-culture.  
She will sleep on the couch of her college-aged best friend most weekends.  
She will wake often to sunlight through an attic window and a black cat biting her toes.
She will feel free, but not realize it until many years later.
She will feel loneliness, and desire, and joy, and love.
She will continue to get taller, despite drinking obscene amounts of coffee at every opportunity.
She will learn to play spades.
She will learn to work hard at a job.  It will serve her well later in life.
She will DJ a jazz show on an underground radio station, and read poetry on the air, and her dad will stay up late and tape her.
She will fall off a 12-foot high land bridge into a shallow creek in the pitch darkness.  Her best friend will jump in to save her.  Neither of them will have any idea how to climb out.  She will hit someone in the face with her muddy shoe when she tries to throw them back out of the creek.
She will begin to have large non-intersecting groups of friends for the first time in her life.
She will feel okay about having multiple best friends.
She will learn about embodying paradoxes.

She will have so many adventures.

17 March 2013

"Happiness is..."

Things That Please Me
A new moon under the veil of one light cloud
Boxes of wine
Christmas lights out of season
Bird-shaped votive candle holders illuminating bird-shaped wooden figurines
Manual pencil sharpeners
Hosting taco feasts
Cooking warmth cut by cool night air
Friends who love me despite my inability to answer the phone


One time, my friends gave me a really, really awesome birthday present.

They gave me this.


How to Accidentally Have a Really Good Date


If Kevin can find the time to write, then I can, too. Also, *somebody* got a new laptop for our household, and told me that I could use it to do all of my "work," so I guess it's time for me to do some "work." On my weblog. On the interwebz.

 How to Accidentally Have a Really Good Date 
(On Saint Patrick's Day)
(Without Seeing Any Drunk People)

Drive absurdly far north of the metro
Drop off a bunch of stuff at Savers that's been taking up space in your small apartment
Get a 25% off coupon
Worry that you might have included a bag of stuff that was actually trash in your donation
Decide they'll probably throw it away for you
Get a white button-down and black pants (his)
Get a pair of green Danskos and a grey skirt with a weird zipper (hers)
Seriously contemplate a pair of orthopedic shoes for work (hers)
Get a home phone (prop) and a VCR (hope it rewinds videos faster than the other one)
Go to Menards and get lost looking for the bathroom
Get some toffee nuts, some drill bits
Lament the fact that they are out of the sale tarps
Spend 20 minutes deliberating over a new shower head
See a guy eating a whole Domino's pizza in the log cabin snack area of Menards
Go to Sonic
Listen to This American Life on your phone
Eat foot-long hot dogs and ice cream
Hold hands
Drive into the sunset