Forget lemons. If I was Life, I’d hand people durian fruit or a mushy tomato — something disappointing, more reflective of the challenges we face every day. Maybe a brown banana, or a bag of donuts dipped in motor oil? Honestly, you’d be lucky to get a lemon out of me.
I rode into 2016 with all the fanfare of a 2015 survivor, but here’s the mortifying thing: I’m still me (insert heavy sigh, eye roll). I take the stairs when I’m with people but the elevator if I’m alone. I rearrange everyone’s home in my head, from the furniture to how the cups are organized. I secretly want Blake Lively’s hair while publicly hating Blake Lively, or any girl with professionally-tousled white privilege hair. I crave French fries 362,000 times a day. And sometimes I hang in my car at Rite Aid, a block from our house, just to get some much-needed alone time.
The things I worry about are pretty standard for a person: kid, money, health, husband, the death of creativity forever. I’ve also worried about falling into a boring Trojan Horse routine, where hiding inside the horse is – gasp – another boring routine. So this year, I wanted to look back on 2016 and say I did something different. I don’t mean perfect, that’s not possible, unless you are Beyoncé. Hey, she birthed an on-trend color upon a haystack made of gold with the undisputed King of America. If that’s not perfection, I don’t know what is. What’d you do, give birth in a hospital and then go home like a person?
I wonder what Blue Ivy will get for all her future birthdays. Perhaps one year, Jay Z will finance the creation of a Falkor clone in nine different blues. Whatever the case, I’m sure she will want for nothing in her life. Well guess what, Mr. Bey? I give my son unique gifts that will last a lifetime, too! Last year, on his birthday weekend, our neighbor shot his brother down the hall over an X-Box and then bled out on our doorstep. SWAT teams are the new birthday clowns, everybody knows that.
Not exactly the birthday we had in mind for the kid, but not the worst party I’ve been to, either. Don’t be jealous, Yoncé!
There were a lot of hills to climb last year, and everyone knows I hate exercise. Let’s re-live some of the classic hits of 2015, like
Depressed Teen Spirit (January)
Last Parks & Rec Rap (February)
Tooth-Infected Thug Life (March)
Hit By My Own Car, Twice (April)
Torn Left Bicep Blues (May)
Midnight Hit-and-Run (July)
Total Eclipse of The Kidneys (June-December)
Brother Shooting Brother (August)
Since Mom Is Gone (September)
Broken Husband (October)
Death of A Volvo (November)
This is not to garner sympathy – I’m not the inventor of health or car issues – it’s merely to illustrate the overall year we had, and how to make a terrible playlist.
Last year, I didn’t feel like I had the time to take risks, swinging from one catastrophic Life Thing to another. “Risk” was low on the totem pole, since half the year was dedicated to poking my kidneys. With that in mind, I wanted to take more risks this year, or, if I’m being honest, one-half of one discount risk. Tiny risk babies having babies.
Well, I did it, the something different — I applied for a writing internship. What’s exciting is the writer hiring is one of my local favorites. A superfriend made sure I saw the announcement, and I got so amped I promptly talked myself out of applying. This is actually a special talent of mine. I should add “Gets in her own fucking way” as an advanced skill on LinkedIn.
Somehow, I got over myself enough to… ignore myself. There was absolutely nothing to lose. I had 30 minutes to complete the first-round interview ‘survey’ before heading to work, so I just went for it, shaking my head the whole time. My judging self screamed “YOU DID IT WRONG!!!!!” and stayed that way all day. The rest of me got a pat on the back for getting to work on time.
After making it to the second round of interviews, which was a big surprise, I got the Nervous Nellies. So I put on some armor for the big day (favorite lipstick, favorite cardigan, giant hair), then followed my mother’s advice – and that of the esteemed Brené Brown – and wrote myself a permission slip. It helped, but the real question here is: When is Brené Brown wrong?
The interview wasn’t bad, I just wanted to go back and be more Bette Midler, less Betty Draper. The writer herself was lovely and easy to talk to. Later on, I kicked myself for not asking any questions (kick), repeating unnecessary things (kick), not talking about the projects I’m currently working on (kick), and not knowing all of the questions ahead of time like some kind of mind-reading wizard. I was a little too cavalier, like writing is just some hobby of mine, and not the thing that sets my hair on fire every single day. I wanted to make her laugh (I did! a few times!), but not once did I utter what my writing goals are or what I need from her to reach them. My mind was a total blank. Kick, kick, kick.
Kicking aside, it felt great to do something for myself in the direction I really want to go. And while I have no expectations around getting the internship, it’s important that I threw my bedazzled hat in the ring. Usually I’m an extrovert with a sideline mentality – cool internships are for other people, so why even bother? – but this time, I actually said out loud: “Why not me?”
This is the first time I’ve wanted something but wasn’t attached to the outcome. I know that applying – being greater than my reasons – following through with what I say I want – imagining myself as worthy – making it through the interview without taking all my clothes off in some kind of panic – was the real challenge here. I truly hope she finds the right person for the job, whether or not that’s me. I’m just happy the way to doing things differently this year has already been paved. I took the leap, and now I’m ready to take a few more. I look forward to the next thing I don’t want to do that I will totally do anyway.
If you thought Buddha flew down in his golden meditation spaceship to high-five me on that brief bout of enlightenment — of course, you’re right, he did. Then we shared a plate of French fries and a mushy tomato covered in lemon juice – the foods of real life – while listening to The Queen Bey’s greatest hits.