Thanksgiving

Sorry turkeys, Thanksgiving week is here! This means different things to different people. You might have a half day on Wednesday, or you might travel to your hometown and drink beer with high school friends. Maybe you’ll spend the holiday quietly stabbing yourself in the leg and smiling while your aunt spouts super homophobic crap and you can’t tell if it’s worth getting into an argument, or if you should just fake diarrhea to get away from the table.
Or, if you’re like me, you might feverishly vacuum your entire house three times and pray that the first huge turkey you’re cooking satisfies the expectations of 12 guests.
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It’s great! It’s going to come out great! Great! It’s great!
Whatever it means to you, I hope that you have time and opportunity to reflect on the good stuff in your life this year. Maybe that’s a new job, or a loving marriage, or maybe it’s just the fact that your hair has been looking super hot this week. All things to be grateful for.

I also hope you don’t have to work.  If you do, I’m really sorry. I think it stinks. There’s something icky about the Black Friday/open on Thanksgiving trend and it has something to do with the income based pecking order in our country. We now have folks who need cheap gifts being used to exploit people who work for (mostly) low wages. It’s a weird sort of economic/cultural cannibalism and it’s NOT SUPER CHRISTMASY, YOU GUYS.

You do you, as always, but I’ll say that I am not going to be shopping for gifts on Thanksgiving. I hereby put my vote in for long, warm, uninterrupted family time for everyone. Even if your homophobe aunt gets drunk and starts in on immigration, try to take it in stride. Pour a big, big glass of wine and hug the ones you love, they’re happy your home.

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I’m doing a really good job

Lesson in female-hood:
The correct response to “You look great!” is any of the following:
  • “Ugh, thanks, I feel like I’m gaining weight.”
  • “Haha YOU do!”
  • “You’re so nice.”
  • “That’s weird, I feel like roadkill. Like a rust-stained raccoon whose limp carcass has been tossed from lane to lane by the indifferent, relentless traffic of life.”*
The incorrect answer is:

  • “Thanks, I feel good!”
I highly doubt if anyone employs this communication style with more consistency than I do. I’m the queen of the nice-dodge. You shoot a compliment at me and I can back-bend in slow motion like Neo to get out of the way.
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But you know, it’s not that impressive, I’m not like, super flexible or anything. It’s really not a big deal.

EXHAUSTING.
Why communicate this way? Because no one likes a bragger. Taking credit for something is a particularly uncool thing to do for women. I don’t know why. It’s quite insidious because the less you give yourself credit, the less likely you are to feel good about the very real, very wonderful accomplishments you might have under your belt.

I got up early this morning with my baby. I hugged her a bunch, fed her, and changed her into some warm winter clothes. We played and she was cracking me up with her hilarious little personality. She’s learning how to wave, so we waved and cheered and sang a lot. I put together all her milk, food, clothes, diapers, etc and carried the supplies, and her, down to the car. We drove to her babysitter’s house and I dropped off a happy baby. I came back home to work and began to answer emails.

Then I had this thought. This wild, crazy thought: I did a really good job.

Not every day feels like that, but today did. And I want to own it. There are things I’m doing a bad job with, and I talk about those a lot, but here’s something that I did successfully. It’s simple, obviously, just getting a baby up and ready for the day. I don’t think I deserve a medal (I would take a cookie), but I think that this quiet reflection on a job well done is important.

I want to challenge you guys to acknowledge your victories, because it feels good. There are always ways to feel less-than, but I bet you have done something today that was totally kick-ass. That success is yours, just as much (probably more than) any failures. So, own it.

*Amy Schumer created a sketch about this topic a few months ago if you want to look it up. It’s very funny, but also super harsh. Harsher than dead raccoons. It’s pretty pitch perfect though, if you want to look her up.

No Poop Stew for You: Don’t feel bad because you think everyone is happier than you are

It’s easy to do. Other people with their new jobs, their shiny-happy families, their creative successes, all documenting their lives in a series of status updates, pithy tweets, and photo albums. If you’re feeling crummy, it can be tough to take. Especially if you’ve glued yourself to Facebook or Twitter.

So, here’s what to do: First of all, don’t do that.

Some people are super confessional by nature and want to share their ups and downs. Because many of my friends are artists, this is something I see a lot of and I respect it. It’s just one way to be. For me, personally, if I’m posting negative stuff, it doesn’t make me feel better. I’ve done it, and I don’t like it. It makes me feel worse, like I made a poop stew and I’m just, you know, stewing. In poop.

On social media, I usually share photos of my kid (so far away friends and family can see her grow), a stupid joke (cause I’m a jerk), or an article I like.

The other day I posted a picture of my baby and I sitting in front of a historical house in foliage-perfect Concord, MA. The sky is blue, the sun is shining, we are happy and together.

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This is how I want to remember it, because it was the true spirit of the day.

Not pictured: The sinus infection I have, the cold my baby is fighting, and the stress of nursing her while she has trouble breathing, the five times I woke up with her the night before, the quiet regret of not meeting my writing goals or my exercise goals, and a million other worries and cares that are pretty normal.

It’s all the truth, all part of the picture, but I want to share the happy thing because it feels truest. I’d be willing to bet that even the friends whose careers seem perfect and houses look spotless have things they’re unhappy about too.

We’re all doing what we can with what we have, and trying our best. You aren’t doing NaNoWriMo? That’s OK! Your job stinks? That’s OK too! Normal. We’re all normal, so quit stressing about the fact that your college roommate just published his third book and it’s being optioned by Paramount. He just might have a really nasty foot fungus that makes it awful to wear shoes. So, you know, you wouldn’t even want to walk a mile in those gross mothers.

This advice is for me too – I thought I’d have a book out by now and I don’t. Bummer. But, it’s a process and I’m learning, so I’m not going to let it get me down. I’m just going to keep fighting for writing time and creating new work. And the new stuff is better than the old stuff because that’s how experience works.

So for you and for me: Nevermind about anyone else’s schedule – you are right on time for you.