Yes, I do! I do like your party hat!

208306_516445119615_1123321980_nOn my last night as a twenty-six year old, I donned a party hat that I had wrapped in Christmas tree garland, ate chicken and waffles with eight of my favorite of people (also in party hats, though less sparkly ones), met up with more friends to dance in a Bulgarian club until midnight when the DJ called my name and had the entire club sing me happy birthday and then moved onto another club where the 90s rap was in a language I could actually understand and continued dancing until 3am. Other highlights included: being serenaded on the street, being prayed over, getting whirled around and dipped for an intense minute on the dance floor, my friend's commitment to keeping the party hats on and looking over at a table and realizing my friends had already purchased my next four rounds.

The night started out a little rough with a few last-minute cancellations from friends and a large party taking their sweet sweet time at our table so we didn't actually get seated until 45 minutes later than when I had made my reservation, but it ended up being everything that I wanted it to be. Truly everything.

New York, sometimes when you're on, you're really fucking on.

Lets do this, twenty-seven.

Sometimes it's a dating blog?

"Does it ever make you uncomfortable?"

"What?"

"Walking around with those big blue eyes"

I cock an eyebrow at him.

"I've gotten used to it by now"

"No, really, people aren't just coming up to you all the time and telling you how gorgeous they are?"

"Not since I was a kid. I think maybe it stopped around the time I got breasts," I continue in my own acerbic way.

He's standing so close I have to look up to not be speaking into his chest, the downside of being 5'2". Or the upside if you're flirting.  Upturned face and big blue eyes.

It only gets cheesier from here on out.

"But there a specific blue y'know. Like the color of the country sky. But not just any country sky. It's like a country sky at a specific time of day"

He's grinning in a way that makes it impossible for me to tell if he's being serious. His hand tentatively finds its way to the small of my back.

"I gottalotta experience with country skies, so I'm gonna need a little more specificity" I find my words running together, losing their enuncation, my California meeting his Jersey. My bad habit of picking up any passing accent only gets worse after 3am.

"The blue of a country sky at 3pm in August"

"Oh, ok, I can live with that"

His hand is pulling me closer and I'm giving in to the anticipation of five hours of flirting. I'm not actually on a date, my coworker/friend's friends came to eat at the restaurant and she introduced me to them when I got off at the bakery. We hung out at the bar at work for a while before heading over to the local dive that's favored by everyone at the restaurant. After dropping my friend off at her apartment, I find myself headed back to Queens with these two boys, feeling bad for the one that isn't part of our flirtation, but not bad enough to stop.

"What are you doing Thursday?"

"Working until sometime between 10 and 11"

"Do you want to get together after?"

"I won't be back to Astoria until 11 or midnightish"

"That's fine. We'll grab drinks somewhere"

"Are you sure?"

"Yeah, I don't have anything else I need to be doing then"

"People usually need to be sleeping then"

"Thursday, we'll hang out"

I walk towards the train, wondering if he'll follow through, not putting too much expectation on plans made tipsily at 4am.

But he does. And Thursday rolls around and I'm drinking whiskey and housemade root beer at Sweet Afton. Laughing, talking, flirting.

"What are you?"

"Irish, Eastern European Jew, some WASP-y stuff"

"Yeah, you look Ukranian"

"Thanks?"

"Shut up. You know Ukranian girls are gorgeous, take the compliment"

He meets every smart ass comment with a smile, wearing me down until we're actually having honest conversation, though neither of us are the type that can ever let go of our deadpan completely. Somehow it's 4am again. The bar is being broken down and I don't want to be the last asshole there.

"It's kind of chilly"

"Maybe, maybe we should go inside somewhere. Y'know, I've got a bed. It's really comfortable"

I pause. I hadn't planned on going home with him that night.

"I mean, we don't have to, it's just an option I'm throwing out there..."

"Ok"

"Ok?!" he looks pleasantly surprised.

"Yeah, I want to keep kissing you and I don't want to do it on this street corner"

"Awesome. Me too. I want to keep kissing you too" he sounds both nervous and happy. His flirtatious smile replaced with a genuine grin.

And I'm smiling the same earnest smile right back at him.

"This one's going to be trouble," I think.

New York, Bitches

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Ask anyone that knows me and they'll tell you I talk about New York City like it's the holy land.

Yes I know crowded, terrible traffic, expensive, snow and humidity instead of lovely temperate weather year round, but

Have you seen Central Park freshly covered in snow?

Need I mention the museums?

The ballet?

The having any food you want delivered?

Places other than bars being open after midnight?

Have you ever walked along the streets somewhere and suddenly felt overwhelmingly alive, energized by the rush and swirl of people around you?

New York City is the crush I'm too afraid to say anything to because I don't want the illusion to be broken.

For years I've told myself I would move to New York, but something was always holding me back, money, a boy (usually a boy), or my own sense of what's practical and what isn't. I just told Matt that I couldn't pass up Mia's offer because if I did, I would be terribly disappointed in myself and would resent him for keeping me back even if it was my own decision. I'm moving to New York.

And I'm absolutely fucking terrified.

Maybe a Little Uninspired

December 12 – Body Integration. This year, when did you feel the most integrated with your body? Did you have a moment where there wasn’t mind and body, but simply a cohesive YOU, alive and present? (Author: Patrick Reynolds)

No, the answer to this question is just a straight up "no". Some people are aware and in their body all the time. Some manage a brain body integration without effort. I'm a head person. I'm up in my head thinking and letting myself torture my body. Which is not to say I'm a klutz, I'm really not at all. Since I went from a job standing all the time to a job where I spend a fair amount of time sitting on my ass my body has pretty much been in constant pain. My back is begging for a million visits to the chiropractor and yoga sessions. My flexibility is gone. So what did I do about it? Nothing. I'm tired and I am in pain and I just want some fucking sleep. It's so easy to exercise when I already feel good, but once I start feeling like crap, it's just frustrating to not be as good at things as I used to be. This is another one of those things I'm hoping will change with my new getting to sleep at night schedule. But just in case I continued to be unable to motivate myself, I went ahead and signed up for ballet this coming semester. It's only once a week, but I gotta start somewhere.

***

December 13 – Action. When it comes to aspirations, it’s not about ideas. It’s about making ideas happen. What’s your next step? (Author: Scott Belsky)

New job! I start my new job tomorrow. I get to sleep at night and I'll be working more in the foster care system instead of alcohol and drug counseling. I'm really hoping this is going to improve my mental and physical well being and give me more experience in what I hope will be my future field. I don't really have a lot to say other than that. Like I've said before, I've been pretty good towards making active changes towards where I want my life to be this year.

***

December 14 – Appreciate. What’s the one thing you have come to appreciate most in the past year? How do you express gratitude for it? (Author: Victoria Klein)

Oh my goodness, sleep. No, really. I've never been a very good sleeper, but I've always been someone that could function on 4 or 5 hours. That is not true when those 4 or 5 hours are during the day. A solid night's sleep on my days off is one of the things I've really really learned to appreciate this year.

But on a more serious note, friendships. With the work and school schedule I've had for a lot of this year, I've barely seen or talked to most of my friends. I really miss having time to just hang out, relax, laugh, sympathize, talk and listen.

I'm not really sure how I express gratitude for my friendships. It's probably something I should do more often. I just try to be a good friend, a reliable friend and to cook people pure deliciousness.

We're not living the good life unless we're fighting the good fight

December 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)

Gosh darn you reverb10 for making me think! My first reaction to this post was the Sam Davidson must be one of those smug, holier than thou types that lives in a yurt and thinks we should all go bare foot and only own a wooden bowl (sorry, Sam Davidson). So I headed over to his twitter stream, then to his website and then to reviews of his book. I know part of the point if reverb10 is figuring out what the prompts mean to me but I wanted to know a little of the intention behind this one. Was Sam Davidson asking me to give up negative feelings or shoes? Is he asking me to get rid of stuff so that I'll be aware if how much I consume or because there are starving children in Africa and I should be more thankful for what I have? As far as I can tell, it's about removing the things we don't need to make room for what we're truly passionate about. Figuring that out didn't really help me decide which eleven things I should rid from my life.

I have a tendency to move about every year to year and a half. Every time I do I pack up everything important first and then I usually reach a point where I'm tires if sticking stuff in boxes and I throw my hands in the air and just start throwing everything away or sticking it on the curb with a big free sign. Sometimes I find boxes I've never unpacked. Most of the time I figure if I didn't use whatever was in them in the last year, I don't need those things. To the curb they go.

That being said, I have a lot of stuff. Really. I have three overflowing bookshelves, a record case, 30ish? pairs of shoes, four milk crates of rarely used crafting supplies and almost every dress I ever wore to a formal dance in high school plus all the dresses I've purchased since then. Not to mention cake pans sized for every occasion and eleventy million silicon spatulas. The reality is, I'm not going to completely get rid of any of these things. Here's what I'm going to do:

1. Go through my wardrobe. Anything not regularly worn during the season for which it was appropriate is getting donated. Anything that is too big or too small is getting donated. The exception to this will probably be the dresses. Most of the ones from high school are vintage and I am absolutely loathe to part with them. There are probably two that no longer fit that I'll sell.

2. Shoes. Same as clothes. Anything I no longer wear is going away.

3. Books. I actually do reread things so I hold on to a lot of my books. However, any books I don't love or won't reread are getting sold or donated.

These are the tangible things to which I can commit. There aren't eleven things here because I already try to live my life in a way that's in line with what I'm passionate about. My diet is probably around 85% local. It's probably 95% free of high fructose corn syrup or processed foods in general. I already gave up my career to work somewhere I feel like I'm making a difference. There will probably be other things I get rid of in the next year to make changes but right now I feel like I've been actively moving closer and closer to where I want to be in my life. I know I could tell about intangible things I'm getting rid of but I would rather commit to staying on the path I'm on than telling you what I'm not going to do.

Live in New York City once, but leave before it makes you hard. Live in Northern California once, but leave before it makes you soft.

December 10 – Wisdom Wisdom. What was the wisest decision you made this year, and how did it play out? (Author: Susannah Conway)

I was all good and caught up in this reverb10 madness and then this prompt showed up. I mean, wise? Me? Next month I hit that big fat quarter of a century mark which I know sounds really old when you put it like that (or if you like to pretend it's the 1600s) but it turns out it only actually means 25 (Don't worry, I was also surprised when I found that out). Isn't wisdom for old people and owls? I still think it's a good idea to walk into a bar without pants on. You know what was an even wiser decision than that? Going to brunch somewhere that had bottomless mimosas/bloody mary's before that whole pantless thing even started.

Here are some decisions I made this year that I think were pretty solid (in no particular order):

1. Basically stopped talking to the douche for so long that by the time I did, he actually apologized for being such an asshat.

2. Gave myself permission to say no, skip class, do what I needed to do to stay vaguely healthy while working more than full time and going to school. This did not actually work. It turns out graveyards are a bitch to your immune system no matter what you do.

3. Moved out of my cabin and into town with Matt. This has some positives and negatives. Now that I no longer am surrounded by the pretty in Sonoma County, I'm itching to leave. If I can't have stars or drive three minutes into town to just hang out with childhood friends while they're at work then I'd like to have streets well lit enough to walk around at night, public transit that is useful and a city to adventure through. It's one or the other for me. I don't like the middle ground.

On the plus side, I get to live with Matt and we have a kitten (that is more if a cat now). People can actually contact me and it's easier to hang out with people in this rare moments of free time I have that line up with the schedule of non vampires.

3. Changed jobs so that I was working in the field for which I'm going to school. Already been discussed.

4. Switched from a first generation iPhone to an iPhone 4. I don't care what you naysayers think, this phone is the shit compared to my
2.5 year old iPhone.

5. Signed up for both meat and product CSA boxes. Our produce gets delivered every two weeks meaning I don't have to go to the store as often and I get to eat seasonal, local deliciousness. I pick up a box o'meat once a month at the farmers' market. The ranch it comes from is about five minutes from my grandparents' house so that's pretty nifty. Also, it's really tasty. The ribeye we had tonight was giant enough to feed both of us and didn't dry out at all even though I accidentally cooked it closer to medium than I like. Signing up for CSAs also cut down our grocery bill by about a third!

That's all I got. Wise? I don't know.

So Basically This Trip Makes Me Want to Get Married So I can Have an EPIC Bachelorette Party

"When I have a bachelorette party we're hella going to a burlesque show. Deal?"

"Oh for sure"

"And we should smoke cigars"

"Yeah we can drink whiskey and smoke cigars, I'm down for those two things together. Basically your bachelorette party should be a bachelor party"

"Hell yeah"

"You know it's funny you're the straight one"

Mamas don't let your babies grow up to be cowgirls

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How could I NOT love my daughter’s blog?  She is beautiful, smart, witty, and unbelievably courageous…

 

I’m having lunch with my sister (a relationship about which a whole series of novels could be written, or maybe only a couple of lines) in Petaluma:

“I think Alana’s drinking too much” she says.

“What?” (I am blissfully unaware of my daughter’s escapades)

“Haven’t you read her blog?”…

 

So I do.

 

But before that happens we agree that Alana probably isn’t drinking any more than we were at her age.  And while my life certainly turned into a train wreck of booze and drugs, my sister turned out just fine.  My sister also refers to the boy as “Alana’s Creepy Boyfriend”- an example of just how different we are…”creepy” is not the descriptor that comes to my mind…

 

Sure, no mom wants to hear about her daughter breaking the bed with some guy in New York, or that she’s gone back to the boy (hereinafter referred to as “the douche”) yet again (when he clearly causes her so much pain), or that other members of my family (and, indeed, the whole world wide web) know more about what’s going on in her life than I do…

But I can’t muster up the level of co-dependency necessary to NOT love her unconditionally.  Besides, considering the amount of chaos, drama, and damage I caused in her life, I just don’t have any room for judgment.

Oh yeah, I was billed as “hilarious”…

Alana has always been a sharp dresser…

I have a picture of us at the Gilman St. Club in Berkeley.  She’s 3 or 4, I’m 22 or 23.  I’m dressed in a black vintage dress from the thrift store, with bleached white hair, and (although you can’t see it) my eyebrows are shaved off. Alana is wearing a red-and-white checked, tiered ruffle skirt, matching red top, matching tights, shoes AND hat…She dressed herself girly-girl from the very start.  It’s probably also my fault about the shoes.  Although you wouldn’t know it now, I was taught early on in my punk rocker-ism to double-spit-shine my steel toes, and my friends called me “Imelda” (a time-dated reference) due to my closet full of shoes (preferably stiletto-heeled) and boots (preferably thigh-high, and worn with garters, ripped stockings, and too short skirts).

 

Oh, and was I supposed to swear?

 

Things I’m sure my daughter doesn’t approve of….

1.     My UNwillingness to be politically correct. (although I am also a tree-hugging dirt-worshipper, I REFUSE to be guilty for being White)

2.     My on-going social gaffes. (Sorry, Lara, for trying to set you up with the cute guy at Chevy’s)

3.     My secret fantasy of joining the D.A.R. (Sure, they’re raving republicans, but I want to know what those fascists are up to…)

 

I’m walking across the street in Sebastopol with Alana.  She’s talking about family pressures, the state of the world, and telling me I’m probably not going to get to be a grandmother. “That’s okay”, I say, “I never wanted to have children either”…

 

<SHIT!!>

 

I love you, bunny-rabbit, with all my heart.

Always have. Always will.

Just remember about designated drivers and condoms.  

***

Because I can't easily find any pictures of the time period my mother is referring to, I offer you this as proof that my obsession with style started young...

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Especially when dining at my great grandfather's where I apparently wore the most appropriate birthday attire.

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I'm guessing I was wearing something so adorable my mother didn't want me to get chocolate on it? And how weird is it that I was that blonde as a child?

P.S. I love you too, Mama.

P.P.S Auntie Maya, May I remind you of your year in France during which you once told me you were a "drunken floozy"?

We are now tied for amount of time spent in drunken floozy-dom.

P.P.P.S If either of you tell Grandma Susan about this blog I will post many pictures of both of you as sullen teenagers all over the internet. I have my baby album and Grandma's entire photo collection to work from. Just sayin'

That's How I Blog Roll

Stuff I Read

('cause I know you value my opinion)

Yeah, I totally just stole taglines for most of these blog descriptions.

Personal Blogs

Feminist Blogs

  • The Curvature
  • A feminist perspective on politics and culture

  • Feministing
  • Gigantor online feminist community with fantastic resources

  • The Hathor Legacy
  • Absolutely fantastic feminist critiques on books, movies, video games... the whole pop culture nine yard.

Style Blogs:

(I suppose you're going to tell me I can't have both feminist and fashion blogs. Well you're wrong, welcome to the third wave.)

  • Pencil Skirt and Pearls
  • Classic. Simple. Beautiful. A woman with style after my own heart.

  • Sugarlaws
  • I actually started reading this when it was just a food blog. Obviously, for me, food + fashion just can't be resisted.

  • Go Fug Yourself
  • Straight up hilarious commentary on celebrity fashion choices.

Stuff You Might Already Read (aka things that don't get full categories)

Maggie Gyllenhaal in Stranger than Fiction Plus a Bra

Who am I?

Alana Margaret. Baker. Pastry Sous Chef in the most competitive food city in the world. But in my head, just a baker, creator, recipe writer.

Quiet, shy, sensitive, bookish but if I have my way you'll never know it. I never outgrew those things, but I got better at pretending, which I guess, is a lot of what growing up is about. A sometimes broken, bitter, midnight crier and sometimes the one who has weathered much and come out more whole than anyone had any right to expect.

I cling to schedules, routines, normalcy the way those of us with hectic childhoods do, trying to keep control, always. Hating when I'm not in control, always. Life has a way of not letting you be in control. It's tricksy like that.

Blunt, harsh and honest. To a fault. But once you're in, once you make it under the layers, there is nothing I wouldn't do for you, nothing I wouldn't give. Happiest as a care taker, food maker, present giver.

Small but curvy. Dark haired and light eyed. Fair Irish skin. Thankful for Eastern European cheek bones adding definition to a round, dimpled face. Rosy cheeked and dark lashed. Arms and hands covered in burn scars and knife nicks.

Not so secret lover of all things living and adorable. Small children (not babies, they still mostly look like aliens), puppies and kittens especially, though if I thought a baby polar bear or tiny penguin wanted to cuddle me and I lived in the right climate, they'd be right up there on that list.

I find equal comfort in the quietness of museums and the way words string together. Sentences over stories. Phrases get stuck in my brain the way songs get stuck in other's. Flavor combinations too. Repeating until I find a space to let them out.

Somewhat impulsive while taking life far too seriously, harsh to strangers while overly compassionate to friends, a little punk rock with a penchant for pearls and secretly ready to fall in love with everything and everyone, always.

I'm not a player, I just crush a lot.

Alana Margaret, twenty-six. New York City born. California raised. New York City returned. Baker pretending to be a Pastry Sous Chef. Reader pretending to be a writer. Unabashed liberal. Rule follower and authority hater. Goody two shoes with a foul mouth. A pile of contradictions, just like you, and at the same time, not at all.

How did I get here?

Spend a year abroad, go to culinary school instead of college, live with your best friend, finish school, become a chocolatier and Pastry Chef at twenty one, move back to Sonoma County, live with your high school sweetheart, learn how to not run a small business, get a job at one of the five dream bakeries you listed at culinary school graduation, move to Berkeley and back with your best friend, throw dinner parties a lot, learn what a successful small business looks like, change your mind, break a boy's heart, break your own, move to a cabin in the woods, learn to be around your family again, start going to community college, let a boy jerk you around when you know better, become a chocolatier again, give away too much creativity for too little money, school your boss in labor laws, switch to working in a group home, love it, start focusing on social work, start dating a boy that's really nice but not at all right for you, move in with him anyways, exhaust yourself working 45-50 hours in 4 days while going to school the other 3, wonder why you're not happy, take a break by visiting New York City, decide twenty five is the year to move across country, do it three weeks later, work a lot, drink a lot, try being a floozy instead of being a girlfriend, realize for the first time in a while you've got your shit together, you don't feel like you're drowning, you can choose to not sleep instead of lying sleepless wracked with insomnia and anxiety, become a pastry sous chef in New York City, bake, develope recipes, pass on your skills, realize you will never stop missing California but that you have no idea when or why you'd move back. Realize life is good.

Like & Dislikes:

Things I really like:

1. Fried things, especially potatoes

2. Brunch

3. Afternoon drinking (or morning, see #2)

4. Vintage dresses

5. Nerdy TV shows (because you haven't noticed my usage of "frak" yet)

6. Museums (favorites: American Museum of Natural History, Musée Rodin)

7. Cadbury Eggs (not so secret candy weakness)

8. Going to the ballet

9. Nutella

10. Whiskey, Wine, most forms of booze (Exception: Anything Anise flavored. Gross).

11. Feminism

12. Russian Literature

13. Cardigans (seriously, best clothing item ever)

Things I really don't like:

1. Sea food (exceptions: tuna & salmon in pretty much all forms of raw or cooked, sometimes other raw fish)

2. Coconut (exceptions: there are none, that shit is gross)

3. Growing out my bangs

4. Leggings as pants

5. A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius (yes, I dislike this book that much)

6. Vacuuming

 

An explanation/warning

I was going to sit down and power through close to a semester's worth of history homework (I have a love/hate relationship with classes where you can turn in homework late for full credit and it's only worth like 10% of your grade. Love 'cause I like tests, essays and lectures and dislike homework but the hatred is because I have no motivation without pressure so now I have a lot to do before my last history class tomorrow) but then there was just too much floating around in my head and I couldn't focus. I realized I had a month's worth of blogging material sitting up in there. It just got to the point where I didn't know where to start? Do I write one epic entry? Do I post like 5 entries at once? Do I set times for typepad to autopost things? And are all the things in my brain related? Can I write whole posts after a month of not actually committing much to paper? (yes, paper, I've jotted down vague ideas for the last month, especially while watching peer presentations in history) What things are still important? Are you, my 5 whole readers, done with reading about the boy yet? (I mean, fuck, even I'm pretty sick of listening to my thoughts about the boy.)  Does it matter? Is this blog really about getting an audience or is it about writing, getting things out of my brain, so I can focus on the rest of my life? Am I having a blog identity crisis? Am I having a personal identity crisis?

AAAAAH! Brain explosion!

(I just updated iTunes and am experimenting with this whole genius playlist thing. Currently, I'm listening to "alternative & punk mix 3". I have 5 alternative & punk mix options... This one is based on Whiskeytown, Wilco, Ryan Adams, Neko Case and others, I think iTunes should probably work on having an alt country genre, 'cause I don't think alternative & punk really works as a title for this one...)

Yeah, that's right, these are going to be those sorts of posts, where I rock the tangents hard core style. You've been warned.

Don't worry, be happy

Mostly, things seem to be going ok. But some days there's this pit in my stomach, this tightness in my chest, the feeling that I'm drowning. Like I'll never be able to get out of the hole a month of unemployment put me in or be able to do as well in school as I want just because I'm so out of practice. I have a page long to do list but every time I look it in the face I get in bed and catch up on t.v. shows with my cat curled up, purring next to me. The only way I seem to be able to get things done is when the pressure's on, the deadline is right in front of me. And even then, writing an essay has to be alternated with doing dishes or cleaning my car. I can't seem to just sit in my cabin by myself and get things done. I don't know why. I don't know if it's because I've forgotten how to be with myself comfortably or if I constantly feel the need to be away from the house because such a large part of me feels like a disappointment right now and I'm trying to avoid my family. Really, none of it makes sense. I have a job again , the pay is crap but it's a good job, things with the boy are going exceptionally well and I'm doing pretty great in all my classes. I've never been a worrier. I've always been a "I'll cross that bridge when I come to it" sort of person but lately every decision, every time I pick up the phone to call someone fills me with anxieties and "what if's". I don't know when this happened or why, but I hope to god I get over it soon.