Thursday, December 23, 2010

Goddammit Bastian, Just Give the Empress a New Name.

Prompt 23 – New Name

Let’s meet again, for the first time. If you could introduce yourself to strangers by another name for just one day, what would it be and why?

(Author: Becca Wilcott)

I wouldn't. I love my name.

I just wish that people understood me when I said it.

My name makes total sense, once you know that it's a contraction, an abbreviation of my full name. (Clearly, we all know what a contraction is, I can't seem to help but be condescending today.) But when I try to introduce myself at a crowded bar, at a loud show, it's just not worth it. "Marsha? Misha? Chris?" Ugggh. So I start with my given name about 80% of the time, and pray that if we end up being friends, you'll catch on (not hard, since it's how I refer to myself in conversation) that I much prefer the abbreviated version to the full version.

M'ris is something I own. Something I created, something that's me. The version of me that exists in my head. She's cooler, smarter, funnier, more self confident, awesomer in every possible way. She probably has superpowers. She can totally kick your ass, intellectually, at least, and she's not afraid to do it. Introducing myself as such helps me manifest those things, helps me believe that she and I are the same person, that I'm actually as awesome as I'd like to think that I am.

There are absolutely people who never figure that out, who call me by my full name every time we interact. The longer it goes on, the more irritating it gets. Usually, though, it's a pretty good indicator that this person and I probably aren't meant to be very good friends. (In light of recent events, I should really pay more attention to that one in the future. If someone has been hanging out with me 24/7 for several weeks, and still doesn't get it, I should probably just abandon ship - they're never gonna.) I guess I could be up front about it, introduce myself as such 100% of the time - but the other part of it is that my given name is also a shield. It distances me from people I either don't know that well (and therefore don't trust, not with my name and certainly not with me), or people that I can't be close to (usually professional relationships - bosses, teachers, etc.)

It even lends itself to other situations. When I play Rock Paper Scissors, my stage name is Mr. Is. Which has turned out to be awesome, and Mr. Is is a cheerful curmudgeon who can't stop smiling. The highlight of that name was actually my dad: When he came out to a match 2 summers ago, he played under Mr. Isn't. I couldn't be prouder.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Try v. 1.2

What do you want to try next year? Is there something you wanted to try in 2010? What happened when you did / didn’t go for it?

Roller derby is tangible (tho, bad news, due to inventory delays I don't get my gear til January. Rats.), let's try getting a bit more esoteric, here.

Next year, I want to try failing. Not the self-sabotage sort of failing that I'm so damn good at, but rather, trying things and not liking them. Walking away from situations. Making decisions knowing that whatever I decide, it's not the end of the world.

See, I have this issue with fatalism. In my head, every decision ever made is the final one. There's no going back, no changing my mind. Oceania has always been at war with Eurasia.

This results in things like sticking with a job I hate, even though I'm miserable there and no good at it. Holding on to friendships even when they're not healthy for me, or stubbornly refusing to speak to old friends because of past differences, even if enough time has passed that we could, conceivably, be civil to each other. Refusing to stray from my chosen career path because, it's a path, I can't wander off of it.

Doorways don't represent possibilities to me, they lead into rooms with no windows and no way out, and the door that led me there slams shut behind me. Every decision I make, I agonize over, because there's something in me that makes me believe that I'll never have a chance to reverse it.

So, next year, I want to try failing. I want to see what it's like to not hold myself to a life choice, to walk back through an open door and try something different.

I don't particularly know how to manifest this. I just want to be able to do new things (or change old things) without them being a decision that will lock me in for the rest of my life. I want to be free from the weight of the world that has rested on my shoulders for as long as I can remember.

I'm seriously toying with the idea of a vacation semester. I've never taken time off from school (outside of breaks and graduation, anyway), I've never transferred programs. Education has always been a strictly linear engagement, and not finishing the things you start with it - I've never perceived that as an option. It's never been presented to me as one. I spent 13 years at a private school that I hated, did my undergrad in 4 years straight. (2 of those years, I hated my school and desperately wanted to leave. Did I? No. Did it work out for the best? Yes. I ended up loving it. In retrospect, I even liked my private school, and would like to send my future children somewhere similar, though not for 13 years.)

I know what the arguments against such a thing are. Just get it done. Muscle through it, crank it out, put it behind me, move on. I've been struggling so much the past few semesters, though, that I can't see how that's a good idea. I think I need to take some time off (even though the possibility of doing "nothing" terrifies me) so that I can regroup, rethink, reassess. Fail a little bit now, so I can do something spectacular later.

I don't like the feeling of not finishing something - yet when I self-sabotage, that's exactly what happens. What if, instead of backing myself into a corner, and consequently feeling awful about my inability to follow through with things, I opt-out? Take the time to finish things at my own pace, try new things, do something different?

I don't know. That route, it's new. It's foreign. It's scary. But I'm thinking, the old routes haven't been working out so well. So maybe it's time to try something different.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Do or Do Not, There is No Try

Prompt #18 – Try
What do you want to try next year? Is there something you wanted to try in 2010? What happened when you did / didn’t go for it? (Author: Kaileen Elise)

I'm going to try not to Bucket List.

This year, last year, and basically every year since I've been out of college, I've been super in to the idea of Roller Derby. My record label even sponsored one of the Philly teams, the Heavy Metal Hookers - and yet, somehow, I'd never gone to a derby match before this year.

(In my defense, they just never synched up with my schedule. Derby tends to be on Saturday nights, which makes it kind of hard to commit to, especially when there are concerts that need to be attended. (Back then, they were "work functions".))

Anyway, this past October, I finally went to my first bout, with the Denver Roller Dolls.

Unsurprisingly, it was love at first jam.

Tomorrow, hopefully, I'll be heading down to Denver to buy skates and pads. I'll practice while I'm home (we've got a big old basement that's gonna be great to skate around), and DRD tryouts are the weekend after I get back to Colorado. With any luck, I won't have to try out TOO many times til I make the cut - and until then, I can still attend drop-in derby.

I'm totally stoked about it. I'm looking forward to exercising more, challenging myself, and hanging out with what appears to be a group of dynamic, interesting women. I also took mom and dad to their first bout while they were here in November - hopefully, since it is actually a sport, I'll be able to get my dad and my little brother interested in it, which would give us something to talk about. (My brother LOVES sports - I really hope he gels to derby the way I have.)

You Can't Touch That

Something I haven't talked about much here is my family. I'm going to leave a big post about that for another day, the short version is that my dad and I are really close - like, best friend close.

Today I received a postcard from him, like I have hundreds of times in the past, that I wanted to share with you. It's a thank you note from when him + mom came to visit over Thanksgiving.

"Dear Marissa,
Thank you. We had a wonderful time visiting with you in Boulder.
I touched a dinosaur for the very first time. Next, I'd like to go to a real art museum where I can get to actually touch the art.
Love, Dad"

This is what I'm going home to in 2 days. I couldn't be more excited.

Thursday, December 16, 2010


Prompt #16 – Friendship How has a friend changed you or your perspective on the world this year? Was this change gradual, or a sudden burst? (Author: Martha Mihalick)

If you give me half a chance, I will wax on and on about how amazing my friends are. I never doubt it to be true, but sometimes, even I'm surprised at how fantastic they really are.

Y'see, I'm a skeptic. I've been burned enough times in the past that I don't really believe that anyone is truly what they appear to be. Sometimes it's because they're lying to themselves, sometimes it's because they choose not to see the truth about other people. Sometimes it's other things.

It makes me hesitate to reach out, and loath to trust anyone on more than a surface level. What if they see what's on the inside, and they don't like it? Worse, what if they twist and turn those inny bits around, and use them against me? It's happened before, which means that a precedent has been set for it to happen again.

Getting over that mental hump is always the hardest for me.

And it shouldn't be. My success rate on these things far outweighs my failures - it's just that the catastrophes weigh heavier on my mind than any of good things ever do.

That was a lot of preamble to say that, for the most part, my friends this year have surprised me in spades. The girls out here in Boulder, particularly, have been shoulders to cry on, arms to hug, even couches to sleep on when all the things inside me were just to raw to spend the night alone. (And then we got a sweet 7 hour musical performance from their neighbors. AWESOME.)

They have seen me at my lowest, and picked me back up, and called me and supported me and done all the things that friends are supposed to do. Lovingly. Selflessly. Patiently.

They're making me see, making me believe, slowly, that I'm capable of and worthy of love and support and affection, even when I'm stuck so far up in my head that I can't even fathom a way back to reality.

And with their help, I'm working on being better. If they can see it, if they can see my potential and my worth, then I have to believe that it's real, that it's really there. I want to believe in those things, so badly, but it's a forest for the trees sort've thing. But with their help, I'm getting there.

(Of course, this isn't to say that any of my other friends weren't equally spectacular this year. Sitting in front of this screen and commending everyone I hold dear to me would take far longer both to write and to read than anyone has any patience for.)

Maybe it's not a seismic life shift, or a radical realization. But knowing that I'm loved, enough to love myself? For me, I can't think of anything bigger.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

You've Only Got 5 Minutes to Save the World

Prompt 15 – 5 Minutes Imagine you will completely lose your memory of 2010 in five minutes. Set an alarm for five minutes and capture the things you most want to remember about 2010. (Author: Patti Digh)

Birthday bowling
Birthday Scavenger hunt
Peter and Matt H. getting stuck in the spaceship
Birthday scavhunt aftermath at Matt H.'s place (Drink more! I drank all the tequila, I CAN'T drink more! How are you not drunk!)
Ostrich/sea lion impressions w/ Pete.
Frozen Dead Guy Days
Study parties at Joanna's place in Boulder
Meeting Marcel
Meeting Joanna's CostCo problem
Metal shows with Dave, picking back up right where we left off
Fighting, poorly, with Austin
HoverRound ads with Dad
Wegman's with BJ
RPS season
RPS Championships
B-Pac's house tournament, synching up commentary by accident
Oscar Robot's first encounter with cake
Waterworld w/ Joanna, Peter, Quinn, Matt E.
Matt E. charades dancing @ Batacombs, laughing so hard I hurt.
Korea - lotus pools, karaoke with my cousins, mahkoli, subways, stealing small asian children, introducing mom to body scrubs
Chasing down the mugger after Dave's show w/ Chris. Arby's afterwards.
Hiking Sanitas at night with Matt
Rockies game w/ Matt
Anxiety attacks with Matt, all the good that really did actually come out of them.
Fourth of July, NYC.
Freaking out in the middle of the pizza place, surrounded by friends
Austin B breaking glasses for his going away party
Nights with Rob + Pete + Brice @ Batacombs/Downer

And Atlas.
Chris D. making penguin lattes.
Hiding in the kitchen because I was laughing so hard.
Making an afterhours lounge on the street after their 1st birthday party
Feeling like I had a home.

I know I'm missing things.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010


Prompt #7 – Community. Where have you discovered community, online or otherwise, in 2010? What community would you like to join, create or more deeply connect with in 2011? (Author: Cali Harris)

I was going to start this with a sob story. Back in 2008, moved across the country, no friends, waaaaahhhhh.

I mean, yes, that's what what happened, then, but that was 2 years ago, and that's not where I am now.

It's also time for me to own up to a salacious yet true part of my Boulder history: The only, only reason I have friends in this town is because of the internet. Specifically, OKCupid.

:shameface, dies, etc:

Against all the odds of the internet, I met someone on OKC who turned out to be one of my best friends here in town. Then I co-opted all of his friends. And then some of their friends, just to be safe.

(Speaking of the internet, I sort've totally love that I know that my very first friend from the internet is following this blog. Hi, Andy!)

I didn't really build a community, so much as I crash landed on the shores of a pre-existing one, and pillaged it for all it was worth.

This year was about testing the boundaries of that community - discovering whether or not it was a safe space for all the scary things that live up inside my head, that I'm embarrassed to show to the world. And, y'know what? It was ok. My friends here have been so good to me, so supportive of everything I've been going through (and that I've been putting myself through) that I almost can't believe it. I'm so grateful for them, for loving me the way I am, insecurities and proclivities and all.

Though it's currently in flux, I also may have stumbled on to a community in the most unlikely of places - Twitter. Next year, I'd like to work on turning the Boulder Twitterati into real people, and to fold at least a few of them into the community I've already built.

This post is also slightly bittersweet. In the last few months, I thought I'd become a part of a community at one of the local establishments here in town, but recent events have caused a bit of shakeup there. I don't know if I'm welcome there anymore, or how to reshape the relationships with the people there. I miss what we had, but I don't know how to move forward.

Three distinct groups that I am so excited about having in my life (well, 2.5 - let's face it, Boulder Twitterati overlaps with everthing), and I'm still not satisfied. I still want more. It's probably the nerdy girl from middle school in me who still just wants to be liked, but I'm still looking to branch out, to meet more people.

I want to get involved with the kids in this town - I'd love to work with one of the local synagogues on starting/running a youth group (NFTY still burns bright in me, no matter how many old boxes of photographs I unearth), or work with an after school program or something. I've thought about getting trained for the suicide prevention helpline, but those wounds might still be too raw to address through action.

I'd love to start putting on events again - art shows, basement shows, whatever - or at least get more involved in the community of people who are doing these things. I think about what is missing from my life out here, and y'know what? It's West Philly. It's crust punks (not transients, thanks) and sweaty basement shows and running in to people that I never see during the day, only with a brown bag of Yuengling in a venue that won't exist in a week. (I also miss Yuengling.) I left that scene just as I was starting to feel like a part of it, and I miss it.

And, as always, I want to keep up my bonds with my old communities. I always swear I'll do better, but somehow it always falls to the wayside. This is just a reminder to keep trying.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

11 Things I Need Less of in 2011

Prompt #11 – 11 Things
What are 11 things your life doesn’t need in 2011? How will you go about eliminating them? How will getting rid of these 11 things change your life? (Author: Sam Davidson)

11 things my life doesn't need? Seriously? Where to start.

1. People who suck.
I put a lot in to my relationships, and something I'm working on jettisoning is people who can't be the sort of friend that I need them to be. Not that everyone I know needs to be a total rockstar to me 24/7, or that I'm God's gift to healthy relationships (far from it) but I'm letting go (that's another post) of emotional leeches and people who can't or won't reciprocate what I give to them.

2. Clutter
If I end up like Hoarders, so help me God, I'm taking a blowtorch to it all. Next year I'm going to work on letting go on all of the grad school crap I've accumulated that I don't actually need for research. Any article can be re-printed, any book ordered on inter-library loan. Get out of my filing system. (And by filing system, yes, I totally mean floor.)

3. Distance
I love my friends here in Boulder, but I hate how removed it makes me from everyone I love, everywhere else. New plan of attack: short of teleporting, I'd like to do what I can to minimize the effect of the distance on my relationships. I'd also like to badger more people to come out here to visit. 2009 was pretty good at that. 2010 has fallen a bit short. I'd like to get the numbers back up in 2011.

4. Bamboo
The curtain rods are dead. Long live the new curtain rods. Also, panda bears.

5. Social anxiety
Does me no favors. None whatsoever. Has lots of silly payoff, like not knowing when to hug or when to fistbump, or how to have a good time at parties instead of having a panic attack, but I'd love to trade some of that in for something vaguely resembling normal human interaction.

6. Self deprecation
Don't worry, kids, I'm not going to get rid of it - I just want to modify it. I want it to be something that I love about myself rather than something that I use to hide parts of me that are lovable. I'm aiming for change, not auto-lobotomy.

7. Graduate school
Let's hurry up and graduate, M'ris. This sooner you get this shit over with, the sooner you can stop stressing about it and get on with the Rest of Your Life (tm). Figure out a gameplan, figure out an exit plan, and make it happen. You're too smart to be stuck in academia.

8. Fear
I don't want a No Fear shirt (let's leave the 90's where they belong - fashionably dead), I want to shed this cloak of terror that wraps me up every time I'm faced with a decision or change. I've been working on it all year in therapy, and I hope to continue making progress with it next year. Some day, I want to be able to walk through a metaphorical doorway without it slamming shut behind me and locking me in a box of predetermined, miserable future.

9. Dust, see also, dry skin.
Why it's taken me 3 years to buy a humidifier, I have no idea. I can adjust to lots of things, but this lack of humidity is not one of them.

10. Cold showers, see also, backbone
I don't know if you've heard, but I'm getting a new hot water heater! I'm beyond stoked for this, since I'm hoping it'll mean that I can take a shower that's longer than 5 minutes, and maybe even a real live bath! The other part of the story is that it's taken me this long because I haven't been particularly good about confronting my landlord about my shitty hot water heater, even though it's been getting worse and worse since I moved in. My landlord is also the nicest, most attentive landlord I've ever had (and probably ever will have) - so I should really use this as an opportunity to put my neuroses and terrible landlord experiences from West Philly behind me, grow a spine, and not be afraid to complain to him about things that tenants are supposed to complain to their landlords about.

11. This Space Intentionally Left Blank

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

My Creativity, Let Me Show You... Wait.

Prompt #6 – Make. What was the last thing you made? What materials did you use? Is there something you want to make, but you need to clear some time for it?

Oh, hell yes, I'm skipping around. Deal with it.

I'm not particularly creative. I always mean to be, but it usually just results in a lot of supplies from A.C. Moore collecting dust in my closet.

The last thing I "made", technically, would be the picture frames I (finally) have hanging in my bedroom. 75% off at Target, white frames that wouldn't look out of place in someone's beach house, slightly dinged up. A little sandpaper and some elbow grease later, they're "shabby chic" or whatever we're calling "distressed" these days, and home to a print my BFF made while she was at Oberlin of Moxy Fruvous mascot Cedric, and a Jesse Rinyu print of Don't Run I Love You.

I've never really been crafty. My art skills stalled out somewhere around "stick figure", and my multi-medium skills aren;t much hotter.

But y'know what I can do? Man, I grow a mean plant.

No, really. Mean.

I started gardening this past year, or at least, some vague facsimile thereof. I don't have my own lawn, and I refuse to maintain my landlord's choice of landscaping, so really, I just have a lot of pots full of green things.

There's one guy I'm particularly proud of. We'll call him Trevor since, well, that's his name.

Trevor was cultured from a generic mint plant procured at one of the Boulder supermarkets in - I dunno, March? April-ish? He tried to die a whole bunch, but through sheer dumb persistence, and a couple of new pots, I forced him to enjoy living. Maybe a little bit too much.

Before I skipped town in May, I held a mint mojito party - mostly as an excuse to trim Trevor down before leaving town, so I wouldn't need to replant him, again, when I got back. While I was gone, he was harvested for a second time by friends taking care of him, and grew back within the month.

I know I shouldn't be astounded. He's a mint plant. He's basically a weed with flavor. But he's my weed with flavor, goddammit.

Now it's December, and he's been living indoors since October. He's none too pleased about it, either. Despite my best efforts, he has a family of gnats living in his soil, that I suspect will be there til it gets warm enough for me to repot him. My apartment gets very little light during the winter, so we have the same daily conversation:

Me: Trevor, you can't grow so quickly. There's no light.
Trevor: I grow how I wanna!
Me: Trevor, you're wasting a ton of energy making new stalks that reach towards the light. Just chill out and conserve.
Trevor: I grow where I wanna!
Me: They're coming in sad and yellow. You can't photosynthesize enough energy to make all these shoots happy.
Trevor: I grow how I wanna!

And, yes, in my head, Trevor sounds exactly like Liam Lynch circa Sifl & Olly.

So I trim back his leaves that he proves, every day, he can't sustain, and we have the same argument, waiting for the spring, when he can go back out on the patio and become the Audrey fucking Two of mint plants. But he's my buddy, now. Easier to take care of (and quieter) than a puppy, tastier than a baby. We're pretty happy with each other, despite our differences.

He's staring at me as I'm typing this, wondering how in god's name I've managed to anthropomorphize a common kitchen herb. Quit staring at me, plant. There's rum in the fridge.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Don't Tell Me Present Me is a Shitty Writer.

Prompt #2 – Writing. What do you do each day that doesn’t contribute to your writing — and can you eliminate it?

Most of my writing these days is, or should be, academic.

Things that inhibit my academic progress include, but certainly aren't limited to:
- A preemptive fear of failure
- Impostor syndrome (for those not mired in the hell of academia, Impostor Syndrome is a sinking feeling that one gets when they're immersed in higher education, and are convinced, on a personal, usually baseless level, that they're not actually smart enough or qualified enough to be there or to participate in the academic dialogue. It's fairly common, usually ridiculous, and utterly stupid. Incapacitating nonetheless.)
- A lack of sleep, and consequently motivation
- And, going back to Emerging, my inability to concentrate on one single thing for any length of time.

I'm working on all of these things, but none of them are easily remedied.

Things that inhibit my other writing include
- All of the above
- I just don't wanna.

I tend to sound like a whiny, cranky child when I talk about my writing. I've heard, for years, since elementary school, really, that I'm a great writer, that if I could only adhere to deadlines or some other goal that isn't mine, I'd be a great writer, I could really make something of myself doing it.

The thing is, I've never wanted to make anything of myself with my writing. Or, if I have, it's been lost in the years and years of people telling me that re: writing, I wasn't living up to my potential.

I always figured that writing was a difficult enough profession to break in to (for so many reasons), that it was best left to people that do have that drive, that want to, need to write, to be writers. I've never had that. Writing has always just been a thing that comes out of me, no more or less than anything else I do. I've never needed it to define me, to push me, or whatever it is that "real" writers feel when they're cranking out words.

It's such a crapshoot anyway, and there are so many people who want it more than I do, what's the point in trying to break in to that ratrace? I'd rather pursue the things I care about - even if I feel like I'm no good at them. At least I'm passionate. (Note to self, future post about what happens if it turns out that the last 10 years of studying media theory/communications have been a bust, and I'm actually a shitty market analyst out in the real world.)

Besides, I've never received criticism that, "oh, this is good enough as is, you're good now", it's always been "Future you could do so much better than present you!"

Well, guess what. Future Me doesn't give a shit. (I'll save talking about my construct of Future Me for another post.)

What generally prevents me from writing, now, is the idea that it's not good enough. It's good, but if only I were better, if I paid more attention, if something about Present Me were different, somehow meeting everyone else's expectations and goals would make it all better, would validate what's coming out of me now.

Which makes writing anything of substance, for anyone but myself, painfully difficult - because I don't believe it's good enough.

It's not that I'm afraid of the editing process (I do, however, have a strong aversion to it), I just don't believe that anything I put out is worth anyone else's time. I just don't have that drive.

And it's frustrating - I think, for the most part, that Present Me is isn't a half bad writer. I write like I speak, for the most part, and generally, that gets a pretty good response. I see the schlock that everyone else puts out, and often think "well, fuck that, I could do better." (There's a story there about coming from a family of journalists and Pulitzer winners, but again, I digress)

But then I remember that critical response is always "Not good enough, not good enough, not good enough."

I don't know what I need to eliminate that mental block - I've never been driven to write a novel or to be published, so it's not like that sort of validation is first and foremost in my process. I do have a few ideas that I'd like to see become part of the public dialogue, but I don't know how to get them there.

I guess that's part of why I'm Reverbing, publishing these words in a public forum for the first time in nearly 10 years. Throw it out into the ether and see what happens.

Sunday, December 5, 2010


So a new Twitterbuddy introduced me to the Reverb project - one writing prompt a day for the month of December, reflecting on the previous year.

It annoys me less than NaNoWriMo, and something about it feels like it might be good for me. Idk. We'll see how this goes.

Prompt #1 – One Word. Encapsulate the year 2010 in one word. Explain why you’re choosing that word. Now, imagine it’s one year from today, what would you like the word to be that captures 2011 for you?


It's so hokey, even to type it. What sort of new age blather has Boulder conned me in to? But I can't think of a better one.

Everything about this year, for better or for worse, has been about me, about my work in therapy, about figuring out who I am (on a really fundamental, neurochemical level), how I function, and how I can make it better.

In some ways, it feels like I'm waking up and seeing the world for the first time. Seeing possibilities, pathways, ideas and options that, even a year ago, wouldn't have been possible. Things that come easily to people - concentrating on one thing at a time, reaching out to other people, taking chances, being honest with myself - these are things that I've had trouble with, wrestled with, for as long as I've known me. Knowing that they're all a part of a larger chemical reaction going on upstairs doesn't solve any of it, or make it easier, but it gives me a baseline to start from.

This year has been about baby steps. Even things as seemingly simple as emailing a professor to ask for help are still huge, terrifying things that I can barely wrap my brain around - but I'm getting better.

I'm making a concerned effort, as best I can, to do what's best for me, and what enables me to make progress towards the life I want to be living. Hell, even something like defining that life was impossible a few months ago.

But I'm working with a really good therapist, and it's scary, but I'm trying. I'm getting there. Slowly.

If I had to pick a word for next year, it would simply be better. I want to be better than I am now, better than where I am now. More confident in me, in my choices, in my ideals. More comfortable with who I am and what I want, and more able to reach for those things, even when they're scary. I don't want to keep living in fear of doorways and possibilities, I want to be able to try things without the weight of the world and all the fatalism in the universe crushing down on me.

And I guess if I could actually keep my apartment clean, that would be pretty swell, too.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

On the First Night of Chanukah... Oh. Zip.

Dear Boulder, I understood, upon moving here 3 years ago, that this would not be the land of the chosen people, would not be the land of milk and honey. Most days, I can even accept that it is, in fact, the land of marijuana and kombucha.

But, Boulder, on tonite, this first night of Chanukah, I have a hard time accepting that you actually give a damn about anyone besides your pagan-christian, consumer catholic population. Diversity, my ass.

Quite simply, it should not, in a town of 100k people, of 7 different congregations, covering everything from the Chabad and orthodox to recontrsuctionist singalongs, one of the Top 10 Jewish Neighborhoods in North America (per Jewish Living Magazine), even the home of a sold out Ignite! Chanukah event (seriously, people, it's not enough that we're on Ignite 13? We're like the Law & Order of Ignite presentations.), take me 2 hours and 6 different stores to STILL NOT FIND hanukkah candles. On the first night of Chanukah.

I understand, dear Boulder, that my people are in the minority here. I understand further, that in the grand scheme of things, no matter what the Corporate Holiday Machine would like us to believe, that Chanukah is not only a mere speck on the holiday radar, but is also, technically, about as important as Arbor Day.

So let me break down what I've learned from two hours of fruitless searching in this fair town: Dollar Tree, Walgreens, and Savers disbelieve in Chanukah in total. No menorahs, no candles, not even a doofy smiling dreidel decoration to be seen.

Safeway USED to carry candles, but are currently all sold out - of the ones that fit, anyway, though they do have a selection that manager said her other customers rejected, because they were "too large".

Which brings me to: Rite Aid, which ONLY carries the $10 box of "designer" candles - and couldn't seem to sell a single one of them.

Rounding out my scavenger hunt, we have: Target, who in addition to a GIANT SEASONAL CHRISTMAS section, also graciously featured two poorly organized back-row ends of Chanukah gear, hidden away in the greeting card section, where they thoughtfully sold chintzy Chanukah decorations (hannukah tinsel! banners! smiling novelty dreidels!), 3 different types of menorahs, and - my favourite part - no Chanukah candles whatsoever.

McGuckins, believe it or not, were the clear winners on my search. They featured a small yet comprehensive selection of menorahs, dreidels, Chanukah schwag, and candles. To their detriment, while they had several different types and colors of designer candles in stock, they were also sold out of the standard blue box of Chanukah candles.

Let me explain something to you, purchasing managers. For reasons inexplicable even to us Jews, "designer" Chanukah candles exist. They come in pretty colors, and lavish boxes, and make excellent gifts. However, they will never be used. Because for some reason that NO ONE has figured out, every single designer Chanukah candle produced has a base that is larger than the candle holders that exists on most menorahs. Meaning that, while pretty to look at, they are basically completely unusable to us. And so, while designer candles may surely come at both a larger markup and profit for you, dear retail owner, investing in a large array of them (such as McGuckins) has done is ultimately pointless - because no one buys them. we are primarily, almost exclusively on the lookout for the cheapass blue box of "Chanuka Candles", the one the is covered in Hebrew, features the world's most out of focus gold menorah, and 44 basic swirly candles in white, red, orange-yellow, and blue. It should cost us no more than $2, and that's all we need.

It's not like there are Chanukah "trends" to keep an eye out for, no inflatible lawn decorations or neon pink tinsel christmas trees that may fester in your warehouse and never be salable ever again. Nosir, all we truly need is a sturdy menorah (which, let's face it, if it's sturdy enough, will last you a few generations) and a $2 box of candles. It's so easy. You can even err on the side of caution, overpurchase a few items, and then just put them out the next year. They don't go bad, they don't go out of style. They'll take up FAR less room in your storage area than the technicolor plethora of Snuggies you all seem to have in stock 365 days/year.

So, slichah, Adonai. This year, you're getting aluminum foil and tea lights, just like back at summer camp. Or if I can figure out a way to get this Snuggie to burn for 8 days and 8 nights, you can have that.

All Apologies,