Don’t matter how you feel, it only matters how you look

Don’t matter how you feel, it only matters how you look

Every time I hear Miranda Lambert sing Mama’s Broken Heart, every time Patricia Clarkson opens her mouth on Sharp Objects – I immediately think of my maternal grandmother. For most of her life, she defined the perfectly coiffed, passive aggressive Southern woman. I hear her lecturing me every time I go out in public in yoga pants with a messy bun and just a swipe of lip gloss. She would not stand for that.

Granny had her flaws. But I didn’t see them as a kid. To me, as a child, she was perfect. She had the makeup, the perfume, the jewelry and oh my god, she had all the shoes. My most favorite, vivid and honestly, consistent, childhood memories were at her and Papa’s house with my cousin, Jacob. I remember the feel and sound of the window AC unit while sleeping on the foldout couch, the smell of their backyard that can be found nowhere else, snacking on honeysuckle, chasing the countless feral cats and kittens (a few somehow ended up in my house), eating pot roast for Sunday supper, Papa tricking people into trying the hottest peppers ever, Granny making me put lotion on my elbows and knees, and always wanting to punch Jake in the face.

As of yesterday, all three of them are now gone.

After what seemed like a very slow, very painful battle with dementia, Granny is finally at peace again. I am happy for her, because she suffered so long. And there was solace in having the entire family together at the end. She might have been in a coma, but I know good and damn well she was laying there with a roll call sheet, checking off all our names before she would leave. No matter how long we/I knew this was coming, it still wasn’t easy. And watching someone take her last breaths was a first for me. It’s equal parts relief and devastation.

This was my last grandparent; I lost all four in almost exactly 10 years. That’s the biggest part with which I’m having an awkward time coping. It’s more or less the last piece of your childhood laid to rest. I can’t fully explain the emotions yet so I am writing this, as the sooner I write about something, the sooner I can process it. For now it’s just discomfort, strangeness, and the usual feelings that come with death. Like utter regret, self-judgment, and the need to go do something bold and totally crazy because you’ve been reminded that life clearly doesn’t last forever.

This is an end of a chapter in my book. And it’s the end of our family as we know it. I am uncertain these days if there is a heaven. But if it does exist, the first thing she did before letting literally anyone else already living their best afterlife see her, was get her hair set and fix her face.

You pulled up in a rescue truck, showed up with a master key

You pulled up in a rescue truck, showed up with a master key

The pseudo funk I wrote about last still kinda lingers. I know what’s causing it, some of which is completely out of my control, which is the worst. I am getting myself in order, but it’s not always easy. Outside of Jake Gyllenhaal showing up at my door or someone handing me a check for a million dollars, there’s zero anyone can do to make this go away. But when I get like this, ultimate comfort can typically be found in books or TV.

The summer of 2009 was one of these times. My divorce was final that April, at which time I was in my first somewhat relationship post-marriage (note, I hate even using the word marriage, because it was anything but that). Unfortunately, that relationship also went down in medium-sized dumpster fire shortly thereafter. This person is still within my friend circles and I have no ill-will towards him whatsoever, he’s a really good dude and married now, to a woman completely different than me, which is evidence we were genuinely not a match. Which helps now. But back then, because of the place I was in at that point in life, I did not handle it well. Not that I handle any break-up well.

I lived in CA at the time, in an apartment I absolutely adored in Studio City – and probably couldn’t afford now. I was walking distance to this fast casual Chinese food joint that would destroy Pei Wei (and I love me some Pei Wei) any day of the week, City Wok. I lived on orange chicken and fried rice during this time. And as I’ve written about in a previous blog, I also decided to watch the first Twilight movie to see what all the craze was about. And honestly, how obsessed I became with the books and the entire fandom after that was what helped me through that summer without punching anyone in the face.

This time around it’s been a re-watch of Sons of Anarchy. Which, if you follow me on Twitter, you know ALL about at this point. I’m on the next to last episode as I type this. I won’t tell you how fast I’ve gone through all seven seasons, it’s almost embarrassing. In my defense, Dallas has consistently felt like the deepest realms of hell recently, so it’s undesirable to leave one’s house right now.

Of all the wonderful shows we’ve experience in the past 10 years, SOA is without a doubt my favorite. When everyone was eyeballs deep infatuated with Breaking Bad, I was living for SAMCRO every week. Don’t get me wrong, I liked BB a lot, but there was and still is something about Sons. I just fucking love it. I told a co-worker this the other day, to which his response was “I can’t explain why, but that makes sense”. I will take that as a compliment. I think.

This is the first time I’ve re-watched the series in its entirety, so I wasn’t sure if I would still have the same feels. Be not afraid, I totally did/do. I think I love it even more. And I am counting down the days until Mayans MC starts in September. It won’t be the same, but it will hopefully fill a gaping void in my TV life. But having said that, some things about Sons remain the same.

One, Opie’s death and Juice’s downfall are the hardest story lines with which to cope. They both make me so incredibly sad. Two, as much as I love Chibs and Tig, Happy is my favorite member of the MC. He’s a hardcore soldier and my crazy recognizes and appreciates his crazy. Three, I am Team Gemma for LIFE. Because although Tara was fine for five seasons, I loathed her in six. Don’t bother to argue with me; I will proudly die on this hill. And seven, Venus will forever be my favorite non-MC-related character. Walt Goggins deserved all the gold for that performance. (And yes, I’ve seen Justified, he’s also stupid good in it).

But last and never least, Jax Teller. I’ve had a handful of beloved TV boyfriends in my life, including some Really Good Guys like Noel Crane, Ben Wyatt, Jim Halpert, Harry Goldenblatt, Tim Riggins and Jon Snow. But Jax is clearly in a whole other league here, kids. There will never, and could never, be another one like him. He may be a murderer and an outlaw, but he’s also an extremely complex human being caught between wanting to do the right thing and fulfilling an inevitable destiny. Kurt Sutter wrote the hell out of this character. On a much lighter note, Jax was even my first Funko Pop! My friend Fred, who actually got me into the show in the first place, sent him to me. He stays on my desk at work and I love him.

I truly believe TV is absolutely a form of self-care, which has even been discussed on Forever35. It might not be the most physically healthy activity to do for oneself, but spending a few hours on the couch with a solid binge is a at least healthier than downing the magnum of rosé you might actually want to drink. And if you’re single AF, a really hot guy to indulge in for seven season doesn’t hurt, either.

 

 

Well this time I done some thinking

Well this time I done some thinking

I have a terrible tendency to put off getting pedicures, and especially manicures, under the guise of “saving money”. Despite the fact I invest fair amounts in my skin and hair, and let’s not talk about how much I spend on wine. I tell myself over and over again I just need to carve out time on Sunday evenings to take a nice bath and do it myself.

Spoiler alert: I never do.

I started over-analyzing this habit a few days ago and realized getting a mani/pedi is pretty much THE easiest way to instantly feel better about myself.

Having followed her on social media for years now, I finally started reading Natalie MacNeil’s “She Takes on the World” earlier this week. Only 25% in, it’s inspiring on many fronts, but it’s re-emphasized something we all know to be true: you’re never gonna be what you want to be until you believe you can.

You’re probably thinking what TF does this have to do with nail polish, Nikki? I promise this isn’t as big of a stretch as you think it is. So stick with me.

Quite often, I feel like a complete disaster. And when one, often inconsequential thing makes me feel like a disaster, I start to spiral. I can go from “my nails are a mess” to “I’m gonna die alone” faster than I can apply lip gloss.

So I finally realized this week that if paying for a mani/pedi every few weeks is one less reason to feel like shit about myself, I PROBABLY should do it.

I’m gonna show him what little girls are made of

I’m gonna show him what little girls are made of

I’m not sure I know too many people who get to Almost Forty and think “holy shit, this is exactly how I wanted my life to be! all my dreams have come true!” If you’re that person and aren’t an Academy Award winning actor, a self-made millionaire, a politician no one wants to punch in the face, or anything else ridiculously successful and are just bursting with happiness, by all means, explain to me how you got there. Inquiring minds want to know.

The rest of us will be sitting here wondering exactly how many wrong turns we made, whilst also trying to be grateful for where we actually are and all that we do have. And maybe drinking a lot of wine.

I certainly didn’t think I would be 38, single, childless and still not have VP in my title. I was voted most likely to succeed in high school, after all. My parents and all my siblings would probably argue that I am successful. And I am sure many people with whom I’m friends on Facebook would tell me I have a great life. Don’t get me wrong, I do. I love where I live (though I miss LA every single day), I love my pets, I love that I get paid to see movies and work with Real Life Pals each week, I love that I finally got off my figurative ass and started writing again and most of all, I am filthy rich when it comes to friendship, and I love all my people so much it sometimes makes me cry.

But I am not where I thought I would be. Or should be. And I am not alone. I have a lot of single, childless girlfriends. And most of us agree, we are relatively okay with not having kids for a multitude of reasons. But the shitty part is getting to the age range at which that choice is taken away from us all together. Biology can be a real dick.

I have two girlfriends I’ve known since middle school with whom I still talk to quite often. One of them is my sweet friend Cathalee. We were super tight in high school, as we had a lot in common, most notably uncanny abilities to crush on guys we could never date and obsess over professional athletes.

Cathalee is in the top five of Genuinely Good Humans I’ve ever known. I love her dearly, which is why a phone call we had a few months ago broke my heart into a million pieces for her. After battling lady problems that came with excruciating pain and severe anemia for quite some time, not to mention a doctor that failed miserably to diagnose her properly (with whom I would like to have a not so lovely chat), she found out she had a fibroid that had grown to half the size of her uterus and the best option would be a hysterectomy. At 38.

I don’t want to totally speak for her, as it’s her story and feelings to share. She’s written some very personal, very candid blog posts about it herself here, here and here. If you have time to read them, I encourage you to do so. For a very good reason.

There is still spoken and unspoken discrimination against women who do not have children. You can argue with me all you want about it, but it’s there. It exists. We are still considered to be less than. We are still accused of being selfish. We are still told we will regret this and we are failing as women. We are treated as if there is something wrong with us.

First of all, fuck that.

Second of all, not having kids is not always an actual choice we made. And by the way, if it is a choice we have made or decide to make, that is no one else’s goddamn business and it’s perfectly acceptable. It’s 2018. We don’t have to worry about re-populating the species or taking care of farms. I won’t go into the advantages or disadvantages of having kids or not, but can we at long last stop hating on each other for it? This country and this world have lost their collective minds and we, as women, have much bigger issues right now.

Tracee Ellis Ross, who plays Bow Johnson on Black-ish, one of my absolute favorite characters on TV, is 45 and not married and doesn’t have kids. She gave an AMAZING speech about her “situation” at Glamour’s Women of the Year event, which can be found here. This past week, an entertainment trade publication interviewed her and asked about this speech and if if she feels judged for neither being married nor having kids. I leave you with her answer. Because although I can write many poignant, colorful and not always ladylike remarks about this subject, none of them will be better than this:

You know, I don’t know if I feel judged, but that certainly is a paradigm that we’re all still breaking through. Both in how we language it…I mean, even someone today really, truly meant to be supportive in what she was asking, but unconsciously still framed it in a way that was, “I know that you’ve chosen your career over having a family.” And I was like, “No, I haven’t!” I was like, “There was no point in my life where I chose career over a relationship, or over having a child. This just happens to be where I’ve landed.” So I think it’s not the fault of every individual. I think it really is a systemic response to culture’s way of having an expectation of women within patriarchy and all of that. I think we are one of the first generations of women that have a lot more choices and that can actually make some of those choices [carefully]. You know? Which I find both daunting and exciting.

 

 

 

All dressed up in a pretty black label

All dressed up in a pretty black label

Here’s the one thing that annoys me the most about being in the entertainment business and as a total film and TV nerd: people forget it’s all subjective. Your taste in music, books, TV, movies, sports, all of it. No one has to like the same thing you do. And you do not have to like the same thing someone else does. Land of the free, yo.

I view skincare and makeup much the same way. What works for me, might not work for you. The choices my friends make, they don’t need to be the choices I have to make. But I am always open to advice and/or suggestions. So keep that in mind as we proceed with this post, friends. These are the products I am using and either love or just kinda like. I will always be honest. I personally treat reviews on Sephora the same way I do reviews on Rotten Tomatoes – it’s all relative. I encourage you to have the same mindset. However, I  do still want to share because one, sharing is caring. And two, I don’t know a tremendous amount of other women who care to put such an obsessive amount of time into this. So take full advantage of my emotional issues, ladies!

Because I am almost 40, a fact with which I am not dealing well, and have no kids – therefore extra disposable income – I choose to spend a fair amount on skincare. I am fully aware not everyone is in this same situation; Sunday Riley is not always an option when you have summer camp to pay for. However, very few things I use actually cost a lot. And if they do, I make sure it’s something that, via one way or another such as limited use or rotation, will last a significant amount of time.

I spent the last couple of years exploring the Korean skincare craze. There are a lot of amazing products out there in this category and most all come at reasonable prices. I am getting away from it for two reasons. One, I am trying to go with more (not all, but more) all natural products and two, I am now shopping cruelty free brands only. This doesn’t exclude all K-beauty, as South Korea is phasing out animal testing, but some are too ambiguous to take the chance.

An additional fact, which affects a LOT of well-known brands in the U.S., if a company wants so sell in China, they’re required by the government to test on animals. Just something to keep in mind if you feel any sort of way about this.

You will see a lot of samples show up in both this and future posts. Two of my girlfriends and I attended Indie Beauty Expo Dallas a few weeks ago. If there is actually a heaven, it’s a beauty product trade show. We had a wonderful time and all three purchased the VIP ticket, which came with a goody bag loaded with product. I couldn’t believe how much was in it, a collective value significantly more than the amount we paid. I will not be finished trying out these products for quite some time, so I will keep you updated as I continue to explore my beloved stash.

With all that being said. Let’s click to it.

Continue reading “All dressed up in a pretty black label”

You got a lot of luggage in your name

You got a lot of luggage in your name

Fun fact: I’ve had a fear of white denim for quite some time. I think it makes a wonderful outfit at any point of the year, despite what our grandmothers taught us, and is a really sneaky way of wearing “jeans” to work Monday through Thursday, you know, for those of us who aren’t necessarily supposed to. But as a true pear shape, I’ve always stayed far, far away from it.

I finally bought a pair of white jeans at my trusty Old Navy at some point in the second half of last year. They were on sale for something stupid, like nine bucks, so I made myself do it. I only wore them a couple of times and couldn’t help thinking to myself, “should I really be doing this?” You know, like I was committing some crime against humanity. As if wearing white britches when you’re not a size 4 or less is akin to drowning small children or buying heroine in a back alley.

Naturally, they’ve sat in the closet since then. Totally unworn. In my somewhat defense, they’re not my favorite fit to begin with, regardless of being white. However, several weeks ago one of my favorite Insta-bloggers, Liz Urso, was rocking some white denim and I was like daaaang, homegirl looks GREAT; I really need to get on board with this. So last week I finally pulled them out of the closet.

Now, I’m not saying I walked into the office like a supermodel. But I am saying it’s highly likely not a damn person with whom I work thought “Nikki look likes a fat ass, why come she thinks she can wear white?” Chances are nobody even noticed. So I wore them again this week. #Scandalous.

We should all be here for White Denim. After Labor Day. And no matter what size we are. Down with the establishment. I mean, LOOK THESE CUTE ENSEMBLES, Y’ALL.

I grabbed all these pics from Pinterest. So if if this is you, know I think you look fabulous and am sorry for being a thief. And clearly I have an Outfit Type. Who knew.

It’s amazing the amount of rejection that I see

It’s amazing the amount of rejection that I see

This isn’t the first time I’ve ever written about this, it certainly won’t be the last. But there’s a new, unfortunate twist to it – so here we go.

Like many humans, women specifically, I have struggled with weight my entire life. I was super young – around five – when I became aware I was bigger than the other kids, especially the girls. There didn’t (and still doesn’t) seem to be much of a problem if a boy was a little bit chunky, not saying that discrimination doesn’t exist, but if you’re a girl? Forget about it.

I was in first grade when a boy made fun of my weight for the first time. We had 50s day at school and I was so excited. Although I am a complete 60s girl now, I was absolutely obsessed with the 50s as a kid: the music, the clothes, the cars (even my Barbie had a T-Bird), all of it. So this was My Day. My mom spent a lot of time on my outfit (she was always amazing at costumes) and I won best dressed for girls. As a reward, if you even want to call it that, I got to do the twist with the best dressed boy. As if dancing in front of hundreds of immature little brats wasn’t terrible enough, the little boy told me my tummy was like a bowl full of Jell-o.

That tiny bastard ruined my day. And 32 years later, I still remember it. Because it was just the beginning. I was on Weight Watchers – the first time – before I even hit 10. I can tell you, by name, whom I had a crush on every year of school. And why I remember this is, none of them ever liked me back. And 90% of the time it was because of my weight; they made that clear. Generally speaking, adolescents and teenagers are domestic terrorists and these are things a girl just doesn’t forget. And unfortunately, it all builds up over time and the amount of space and energy it takes up within your head manifests into a beast that is nearly impossible to control. Instead, it totally controls you. I’ve had body dysmorphia for several years, and although terrible on its own, it comes with massive collateral damage.

Here’s what frustrates me the most. The thought that people who are overweight are lazy and just don’t try. That’s some bullshit. Ask any one of my friends how hard I’ve tried to lose weight the past five years and how many different ways. I’ve had two nutritionists, a trainer, countless workout routines, a wide range of weight loss programs, supplements, prescription drugs. Basically, you name it, I’ve tried it. I always joke anorexia wouldn’t even work for me. Ultimately, as mentioned before, I found out I have the metabolism of a post-menopausal woman. So no matter how healthy I am, no matter how hard I try, losing weight (and not gaining at superhuman speed) is genuinely difficult for me.

I won’t go into Hollywood and the beauty industry and all of that. There is already plenty to be read about it, but we all know it will never fully change. Skinny will always sell. I am aware there is an increasing number of body positivism movements, which are fabulous. But none of them have quite done the trick for me yet. Three decades of shame do not disappear with a few ad campaigns. I am not trying to play the victim here or ask for compliments or for you tell me “but Nikki, you look fine!” The logical part of my brain knows this; I know if a person judges someone based on weight, it actually makes them look like a dick.

But now, I have received a truly heartbreaking wake-up call about all of this.

Facebook has a new feature that allows you to set up Messenger for a minor that is controlled by a parent’s account. My sister did this for my niece. And I love it. We video chat and I get random emojis, texts and even voice memos from her, including one while I was in Vegas at 4:45 a.m. local time that said “wakey, wakey, eggs and bakey!” Gotta love her. A few days ago, I asked her when the last day of school was and how she was doing (she transferred schools this year) and she told me “the kids at school make fun of me and call me fat.”

She is only eight and to me, the prettiest, most wonderful little girl I’ve ever known. And I am not just saying this because she will most likely be responsible for my nursing home decisions one day. I say it because I think she’s amazing. So when she told me that, I honestly didn’t know whether or not to cry. Or get angry. Or drive to Denton and beat some kids’ asses (shout out to my friends who offered backup). Or what. I tried to explain to her how growing up can really suck and what insecure means and how it causes other kids to project their feelings and act out, but I know, I know – that’s difficult to comprehend at her age. Hell, it’s still hard to accept at this age. Because all you can concentrate on is how you feel. How hurt you are. How terrible it all is.

I don’t want this for her. I know what this does over time. Maybe that won’t happen, maybe it will all be fine and she’ll learn to give them the finger and walk away. But the last thing I want is for her to still deal with this damage 30 years later. I quickly realized I have a huge responsibility in this situation, as does my sister. We have to learn to love ourselves more, not only for our own well being, but also for my niece. It’s not like I text her pics and ask “do I look like a fat ass” or tell her she shouldn’t be eating pizza (my god, I would never stop anyone from eating pizza). But we carry our energy with us wherever we go. And the last thing I want is for us to be the ones projecting on to her.

I don’t have kids, so I try not to judge anyone’s parenting skills. Cause I know from watching my siblings, cousins, and my friends that it’s the hardest job ever. However, kids don’t come out of the womb a bunch of jerks. Our society does enough to screw them up and they’re clearly going to pick up bad habits from other children. But so much of what the little sponges absorb comes from home and family, you know? As adults, we shouldn’t let kids hear us call anyone fat or talk about looks or weight loss or anything of the sort. Especially us women. We still have a great responsibility to each other and the younger generations when it comes to this subject, even with the advances that have been made. I don’t have the answers; I certainly wish I did. But I do know we each have a role to play.

But don’t get me wrong, I will still track those kids down if I need to.