"So I suppose the best piece of advice I could give anyone is pretty simple: get a life. A real life, not a manic pursuit of the next promotion, the bigger paycheck, the larger house. Do you think you’d care so very much about those things if you developed an aneurysm one afternoon, or found a lump in your breast while in the shower?
Get a life in which you notice the smell of salt water pushing itself on a breeze over the dunes, a life in which you stop and watch how a red-tailed hawk circles over a pond and a stand of pines. Get a life in which you pay attention to the baby as she scowls with concentration when she tries to pick up a Cheerio with her thumb and first finger.
Turn off your cell phone. Turn off your regular phone, for that matter. Keep still. Be present.
Get a life in which you are not alone. Find people you love, and who love you. And remember that love is not leisure, it is work."
“You and Kim will end up in your own ‘Grey Gardens’ one day,” a friend’s boyfriend whispered to me at a party a few years ago. The “Kim” in question was, of course, my mother.
At the time, I hadn’t watched the famed Maysles brothers documentary, but I was familiar with the gist of it: a mother and daughter, both single and unemployed, live together in a microcosm of their own at an eccentric estate, drive each other nuts, and do weird shit, like consult astrology and dance with their cats or something.
Obviously I love my mom and all, but even though we had just thrown a fairly successful sex party for friends of mine, a betrothed couple, at my parents’ house (which, coincidentally, or not, resides on a street that starts with “Grey”), wherein which my mom and I exchanged sex tips while passing around a large dildo and showed off our identical blue moon tattoos, I was downright insulted by the insinuation. Who was he to assume that just because my mom and I share a mutual adoration for Stanley Tucci and a disdain for a cubicle existence, I wouldn’t get married to a man or a career, or both? Who was he to imply that just because my mom and I routinely drunkenly passed out on her Queen-sized bed together during our annual Christmas party that our relationship was so symbiotic that we’d rather die together than live apart?
But, mostly, I was scared shitless of his remark because I knew it was true.
I’ve lived with my mom as an adult on-and-off for the past five years, and to say we are “close” is putting it mildly. My mom once went to a psychic and he told her that in a past life, we had been sisters – I being the older one – who worked on a vineyard in Italy. I think that best sums up our relationship: a sometimes-contentious-but-super-loyal-and-loving relationship with boundary issues that rivals the crazy antics of Trading Places in which the wine flows freely. It works for us.
The last time I moved back home, as I sat in the backyard with my mom, drinking tea and bickering about what we should eat for dinner, I remembered the ‘Grey Gardens’ comment, so I finally watched it on YouTube. I can now, finally, say, that my friend’s (now ex) boyfriend’s prediction is absolutely…correct (except Mom is way too tidiness-oriented to live in such squalor and my flag dancing isn’t what it used to be.)
If you’re unsure whether or not the relationship you share with your mom is “Grey Gardens”-like, I’ve compiled a list of signs (along with actual quotes from Little and Big Edie) that will either scare the shit out of you, or have you running to the nearest Goodwill to purchase scarves and kimonos.
“Mom wanted me to wear a kimono. We got into quite the fight.” – Little Edie
Mom and I can have quite the throwdowns. But when it comes to clothes? Red alert! We have the exact same taste in clothes, and it suuuuucks. You’d think American Eagle would be sacred, but no. And neither of us will budge. So, the other day, Mom and I showed up at a family friend’s house, dressed EXACTLY THE SAME. It was as awful as you can imagine.
“Oh, Edie! Are you around?” – Big Edie
I am always around for: computer and/or Android panic, grocery shopping, watching The Young & The Restless, going down to the basement to retrieve olive oil or mustard, opening windows to “let the breeze in,” drying dishes, drinking sparkling wine on the porch, getting the mail, setting the table. Basically, I am ALWAYS AROUND.
“If you don’t do what everybody else does out there…you’re written off as crazy.” – Little Edie
I just got my mom into watching, and figuring out how to watch, Netflix. Needless to say, she’s way behind in everything. That means no Breaking Bad, no Bates Motel, no Orange is the New Black. I resisted watching Season 2 of OITNB until Mom caught up (because, basically, every night is Netflix night with us) but then the spoilers came, and everyone’s asking, “Why haven’t you watched it yet?!” and “why do you have to watch it with your Mom?” I don’t HAVE to, of course. But I choose to. Because I want to. And if that means being ostracized and written off as “so analog,” then so be it.
“It’s true about old maids. They don’t need men if they have cats.” – Little Edie
We, indeed, have two cats. We talk to them. We sing with them. Yes, we even dance with them (see above.) We love animals a lot. At one point, we had three dogs and three cats underneath one roof, and we couldn’t be happier. There’s even an altar of urns filled with our dead pets, along with whiskers and old nail clippings. It’s soothing to us.
“Where the hell did you come from?” – Big Edie
As I previously mentioned, Mom and I can go all World War III on each other in the blink of an eye over ANYTHING. We fight over who makes the perfect cup of tea, going to great lengths to prove who’s the Tea Master (refusing to make tea-for-two, refusing to refill the milk, refusing to share cookies, etc.) We fight over our Netflix nights (OK, I had to watch Season 2 of OITNB without her, I had to!). We fight over who did or didn’t set the house alarm. We fight over laundry, dinner, The Bachelorette, One Republic – you name it, and we’ve fought over it. The reason for this is because, for the most part, we are not alike. I’m a Capricorn, she’s an Aries. I’m pragmatic, she’s passionate. I like cold water, she likes hot water. When I was a child, I wondered aloud if I was, indeed, adopted. But, then I remember that we’ve been in each other’s lives since the Italian vineyard days, and that we both adore Hall & Oates, and it’s all good.
“’Course I’m mad about animals, but raccoons and cats become a little bit boring. I mean, for too long a time.” – Big Edie
My mom and I spend many afternoons in our backyard with our summer cocktails – blueberry martinis – where we have named a large bunny, Carl, and have kept an eye on Eleanor and Leonard’s family (they’re robins.) It seems that Eleanor and Leonard and their babies have flown the coop, or, possibly, Roger (a squirrel) ate the eggs, and they’re in mourning. We are still hopeful for their return.
“I better check on Mother. She’s a lot of fun. I hope she doesn’t die.” – Little Edie
The original article was published on The Toast.
I cut my hair last week. It’s what I usually do when I want a change. Of course, the things I want to change are not in my hair (only secrets), but there’s something very visceral about shearing one’s ‘do. It’s a signal to the Universe that says, “I’m done with the status quo! Come at me with your best shot, bro!” Or as Felicity said before she chopped off her famous locks, “It’s one thing to say you’re going to let go, it’s another thing to loosen your grip and let yourself fall.”
OK, maybe that’s super deep and more depressing than what I want my new haircut to represent (and LAWD KNOWS Felicity’s hair had serious issues) but there is something to be said about how changing one’s image shifts the way we interact with the world. Recently, I came upon an expression: “A woman’s hair is her life.” I would go one step further and say, “a woman’s hair reflects her life.”
Take my hair-story. Up until the age of eleven years old, I had long hair, always kept up in a ponytail. I remember a classmate asking me, “Why don’t you ever wear it down?” My hair was representative of how I was back then: a shy, straight-A, upright, uptight, responsible kid. I wasn’t the one in the closet having Seven Minutes of Heaven; I was the girl outside, watching the clock. I didn’t let my hair down in any sense.
Then there was the perm in grade seven. A PERM. First of all, who gets a perm under the age of seventy? (Thanks for that, Mom). Second of all, whose perm lasts a whole friggin’ YEAR?! That would be me, and also me. Sure, I was finally wearing my hair down, but now it was this poufy, frizzy, unruly mop on top my head. Grade seven would also be the year in which I was bullied and ostracized by most of the girls in my class. Coincidence? When everyone around you has age-appropriate hair and you stick out like you stuck your sore thumb in an electrical socket? I think not. I didn’t look like the status quo, I dared to be different, and I paid for it.
Who didn’t have The Rachel cut in the mid-90s? I sure did. It wasn’t the most horrible cut (contrary to what Jen says), but surrounding a face that hadn’t fully developed (baby face!), it didn’t do me any favours. But I was fourteen and in grade nine, and attempting to emulate women who you thought were cooler and prettier than you were is pretty much de rigeur of growing up.
My hair post-Rachel was semi-short. I had the choice of either growing down (which, in high school years, would take FOREVERRRR) or cutting up. I chose up. The Winona Pixie Cut. Inspired by her overall awesomeness (this was pre-shoplifting scandal) (WHY ARE WE STILL PUNISHING HER?). Fuck. What a mistake that was. My hair and Winona’s shoplifting. Insipid boys badgered me constantly with their vicious name-calling, I was basically dead to my summer camp crush, but worst of all, I just felt UGLY. And feeling ugly as a teen is, like, the WORST feeling you could experience. My hair took just as long to grow out as it did for me to feel good about myself again (also, NOT a coincidence). To this day, I refuse to get a pixie cut. I mean, it looks good on y’all (J. Law, Bey, etc.) but I just. Can’t. deal. (Hair baggage).
Under the impression that blondes did have more fun, and girl-crushing on Faith Hill (guys, she was HUGE back in the late ‘90s.“Breathe,” anyone?), I went totally blonde during my OAC (a.k.a. grade 13) year. I was fast on the heels of the big, bad world and I wanted to feel like a real grown-ass woman, but, mostly, I just wanted to feel sexy. Faith was sexy. Writhing and rolling around in those satin sheets? Married to Tim McGraw? Orgasming in the desert while wearing a knockout dress? I wanted to experience ALL of that (truthfully, I still do). But I was only 17, and I had a long ways to go. I think my math teacher at the time best summed up me as a blonde: “I think that dye has seeped into your head and has done something to your brain.” (He was a great guy, though. Really).
In my twenties, I stayed au naturale—auburn—and wore my hair long. There were new jobs, guys and apartments, but life still hung in the balance. Much like my hair. Hanging. Staying the same. Looked good, sure, but it wasn’t AWESOME.
Then a few years later, after I returned home from L.A. where a play of mine had flopped, a romance had fizzled and I was generally feeling STUCK, I cut and dyed my hair black a la Angelina Jolie in “Salt.” I thought if ever there was a woman who inhabited what it means to be a total badass in control of her life and her lovers, it’s Angelina. I wore my hair like that for a few years because, uh, guess what? It worked! I felt powerful, sexier and confident. I quit jobs I didn’t like, got promotions, traveled, dated whomever I wanted. I WAS Angelina Jolie (except without all the kids and millions of tats and dinners with Brad).
But life as Angie is tiresome (honestly, how does she do it?). I wanted to return to my roots, both hair-wise and life-wise. I wanted to get back to me, and who I was underneath all these haircuts and dyes. I decided my priority was to feel more authentic, to live life more organically, to be more flow-y. So I returned to auburn, and then, I found myself in my hairdresser’s chair last week. I don’t know what this new phase will bring me, but if my current lob is any indication, it will be lighter, freer, low-maintenance with more bounce than I’ve seen in a while.
My hairdresser said to me, as she cut off my long ponytail,“I’m really happy you’re doing this,” and I agree.
The original article was published on She Does The City.
Breakups suck. Bottom line. It doesn’t matter which side you were on—dumper, dumpee—breaking up really is hard to do. You either feel guilty or like shit, or both.
In the aftermath of the breakup, you might still hold onto false hope that you and your ex might reunite. Not good. You also might be spending more time on the couch watching How I Met Your Mother ad nauseum. That’s not good, either.
While it’s good to feel your feelings, you want to recover from the breakup quickly and effectively. That’s why I enlisted Nicole McCance, a top relationship psychologist in Toronto, to help you on your journey of recovery.
WHAT TO DO IMMEDIATELY AFTER THE BREAKUP
You’re heartbroken. You feel empty. Sad. Confused. Maybe even a bit angry. What’s the best thing you can do for yourself? “Call a buddy and go out,” says McCance.
“The worst thing you can do is hang out by yourself with your negative thoughts. You are sure to feel down and sorry for yourself. Get outside, change your environment. But make sure it is with a positive friend who is going to make you laugh and feel great about yourself.” So go on and call up the pal who always makes you bust a gut andgrab a beer. You need to see sunlight.
WHAT TO DO DURING THE WEEKS AFTER THE BREAKUP
The weeks after breaking up pretty much run the emotional gamut. One day you’re brooding, the next day you’re obsessively thinking about all the things you should have said, or about all the things she said that you wished she hadn’t. All that furrowed browing can leave you feeling exhausted, but, according to McCance, emotional toiling isn’t what should be tiring you—it should be old-fashioned exercise.
“Hit the gym,” says McCance. “This will improve your mood and help release tension.”
After the gym, you should take heed of another tip from McCance and go out. “Be social. You may not feel like being around others but being outside of your home and all the cues that remind you of her is important.” But what about the hairbrush she left at your place? Or that photo of the two of you vacationing in Hawaii? Ditch them.
McCance advises to remove all memory triggers, including putting away any gifts she may have given you, so you can “see them with some emotional distance.”
And what about all of that obsessive brooding? “Write your feelings down,” says McCance. “I know this is not the first thing a man thinks about but writing down your thoughts and feelings, even on a notepad in your phone, will help you stop obsessing about her.”
WHAT NOT TO DO DURING YOUR BREAKUP RECOVERY
Some of your friends might advise you to get back on the horse, but McCance actually advises against dating so soon. “Don’t go on a date,” says McCance. “You will just compare her to your ex and leave missing your ex more. Give it time. The grieving process cannot be sped up unfortunately. You have to go through it.” OK, but what about spending your nights with a certain someone named Jack Daniels? McCance nixes that too, as well as putting in extra hours at the office. “Try not to throw yourself into work or booze. Your emotions will just come up again later if they are not felt and dealt with.”
WHAT ABOUT REUNITING?
You might want to backslide. You might think that you, or she, made a horrible mistake. You were meant to be, weren’t you? Or maybe you just need some clarity. So what’s the harm in grabbing an innocent coffee?
Well, a lot more than you think. “Sometimes we feel that there is unfinished business, something that you feel you need to say,” says McCance. “If this is the case and the goal is to get closure, then it’s ok to have one last conversation. Try not to have expectations on how it will go. Don’t expect her to understand you. She may not. With little expectation you will leave this conversation feeling like you were able to say your piece and her reaction is less important. This conversation is for you to get closure and move on.” And if you were hoping that coffee might turn into ex sex, McCance says forget it. “It may feel great in the moment, but the aftermath can be confusing and most of the time has you go back to a situation that is better off over.”
YOU CAN’T GET HER OUTTA YOUR HEAD
It’s been a few weeks since Dumping Day, but you can’t seem to shake her. You’re looking her up on Facebook, checking out her tweets. You don’t eat, you can’t sleep. Exercise doesn’t work. Your funny friend can’t cheer you up. What to do? Seek help, my friend. “When [the breakup] is getting in the way of your sleep, appetite and functioning at work, a therapist can help you take an honest and objective look at your life,” says McCance. “When you’re coming from your own perspective and things remain the same, letting someone in on what you’re going through can shed a different light on your current situation.”
Oh, and remember: you will date again. Just hang in there.
The original article was published on Daily XY.
"I’m a big proponent of “busy is a decision.” You decide what you want to do and the things that are important to you. And you don’t find the time to do things — you make the time to do things. And if you aren’t doing them because you’re “too busy,” it’s likely not as much of a priority as what you’re actually doing."