The Silly Ones

2014-hair-odyssey

53 Things I Learned in 2014

An entire year with nary a post save one, at the very end? O, how the bright-eyed girl of 43 who was posting multiple times per day in 2004 would have laughed had you told her this!

Without further ado, we continue this new twist on a 10-year-old tradition with 53 things I learned this year—one thing for each year I am old.

What will the new year bring? What won’t it, amirite?

  1. Hair we go again.
  2. What I really need is so much better than what I think I do.
  3. They have that 110-lb. Blood-Donor Rule for a reason.
  4. Giving talks is still fun.
  5. But not as much fun as watching people get it.
  6. Dogs will change your life.
  7. And, sometimes, your livelihood.
  8. And always, your capacity to be patient.
  9. Take the f*cking donuts.
  10. Releasing books almost beats reading them.
  11. Helping your friends make jam is the new helping your friends make quilts.
  12. There’s a difference between not doing something wrong and seeking to do things right.
  13. It’s all the difference.
  14. William Trevor is dark in the good way.
  15. An evening’s walk in the desert is as relaxing as a week’s stay in many places.
  16. Vegas, however….
  17. You never know where your next pen pal may come from.
  18. Accidents make the best popsicles.
  19. Theater is one of the smartest things I can say “yes” to.
  20. Especially as it yields hidden treasures.
  21. Cleaning ladies earn every cent of their money.
  22. My new-favorite blogs are all newsletters.
  23. I am absolutely, positively not a copywriter.
  24. For hire.
  25. Making art feels like making love—to yourself.
  26. And you don’t need a nap afterward.
  27. Although naps are awesome!
  28. Cauliflower is God’s gift to the gut-afflicted.
  29. All the juices just wish they were watermelon & lime juice.
  30. I am adjacent to too much love and greatness not to have done something right.
  31. Spas are not actually torture chambers.
  32. Just when you’ve given up hope, a savior appears.
  33. And I’m not talking about Angelina Jolie.
  34. Although she is awesome!
  35. Just when you thought you knew everything, bacon in the oven!
  36. I finally get that Chinese saying about being responsible for the life you save.
  37. I also finally get why giving is better.
  38. Especially when you don’t feel like it.
  39. Nobody wants a bald chick on their jury panel.
  40. Su-u-uddenly, Scanpan.
  41. If Rob Brezsny didn’t exist, we’d have to forecast him.
  42. You do not have to have hair like a girl to dress like one.
  43. I do not miss auditioning.
  44. I always miss acting.
  45. It’s a good thing zoodles are not on the side of evil.
  46. It may take 43 years, but one can resuscitate a love of dorky holiday traditions.
  47. My sister was raised right.
  48. The first step in getting to the Beverly Center is knowing where you are right now.
  49. The best day to write is everyday.
  50. The best day to start doing it is today.
  51. Or the today that was your 53rd birthday.
  52. Eyeball beans really do make for a better 12 months.
  53. Eventually, even your crickity YouTube video will be legitimized by a #TBT.

Stay tuned for more, if you like. Happy new year, either way!

xxx
c

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tiny bottle of glass cleaner by bathroom mirror

52 Things I Learned in 2013

Did I say that 2012 was a doozy? From that long-ago year’s relatively cushy vantage point, I quite literally did not know the half of it.

This was the year that the other shoe dropped. I still haven’t sorted through 2013’s considerable lessons sufficiently to retrieve salient talking points, much less wrangled the time to get them in some kind of order, but trust me when I say that finally, after 52 years, I walk around with the sense that everything is, at its root, just fine. If you were worrying, please stop. And if you weren’t worrying, for god’s sake, don’t start. I mean, I also finally get that what you do is none of my business, but one of this year’s lessons was that worry solves exactly nothing. Action, on the other hand….

Alas, 2013 is not the year that sees me returning to the extensive cataloging of yore. On the other hand, I no longer view submitting fewer items than the “full” 100 as some kind of defeat; hell, I barely see it as less-than.

Without further ado, then, here are 52 things that I learned this year—one for each year I am old. A new tradition! For a new year!

  1. Surrender.
  2. No, really: S-U-R-R-E-N-D-E-R.
  3. Crap, like rust, never sleeps.
  4. Crisp sheets are worth the ironing.
  5. This includes pillowcases.
  6. But not, strangely enough, the bottom sheet.
  7. Pink is my favorite color.
  8. I am more surprised by this than anyone else.
  9. Never underestimate the entertainment value of random shit.
  10. Always let your wig do the heavy lifting.
  11. I’m just not that into Twitter.
  12. People are awesome.
  13. Occasionally, this includes elected officials.
  14. No matter how broke you get, you won’t regret what you spent on art.
  15. When in doubt, write like you talk.
  16. But above all, write.
  17. If it came from anywhere other than the place where your legs meet, get it in writing.
  18. Especially if “it” has to do with health insurance deductibles.
  19. More often than not, I’m the dumbest person in the room.
  20. More and more, I’m down with that.
  21. When you have to produce the goods, a dress makes you feel like a million bucks.
  22. Alas, the shoes that’ll get you there safely make you look like a tiny duck.
  23. Sign heaven exists, and it’s just east of the 110.
  24. I’m not done with acting.
  25. Oh, boy, am I not.
  26. Less gossip = mo’ better.
  27. The truth shows up when you least expect it.
  28. True miracles help make more miracles.
  29. Whether you know it or not.
  30. And most of the time, you won’t.
  31. Jacarandas!
  32. Death by a thousand cuts works the other way, too.
  33. Stories make more sense the more you tell them.
  34. Getting old means everything seems like it happened yesterday.
  35. If it’s good and it’s loving, it’s a “yes”.
  36. The journey of 3,798,493 steps starts with a single Fitbit.
  37. A solid deadline beats good intentions every time.
  38. The cure for loneliness is not more “me”-time.
  39. You meet the strangest people opting-out.
  40. Parties aren’t the worst way to ring in the new year.
  41. Subscribing to just one magazine is okay if there’s just one you want to read.
  42. The undocumented life is well worth living.
  43. It’s okay to ask for help.
  44. No, really: IT’S O-K-A-Y.
  45. Heaven on Earth is a voice lifted in song.
  46. This is the last year Facebook puts together a better highlights reel than I do.
  47. Those Buddhists know a thing or two about a thing or two.
  48. Getting fired feels horrible.
  49. Reconciling yourself to it with grace, however, almost compensates.
  50. Almost.
  51. There will never be a “done”.
  52. There will never be a day when this doesn’t make that a little easier to bear.

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a glass of iced beverage on a table

Good enough, Day 9: Giving the Arnold Palmer a run for its money

I must now admit to an embarrassing personal deficiency: 99.999% of the time, I hate drinking water.

Okay, maybe “hate” is a bit strong; I really, really dislike it. But I stand by the percentage! Water is the most tedious beverage under the sun. It is blah. It is non-delicious. From the wrong wells or pipes, it is aggressively foul. Am I saying there are no exceptions to this? I am not. When I was an entitled jerk who drank bottled water, there were brands I loved. Arrowhead? Moderately tasty. Sparkletts? Delicious. On those occasions when I am that bozo who forgot her water bottle, I will treat myself to an overpriced Dasani from the 7-11 cooler and drink that whole sucka down right there. (I am convinced they put something in it to make it more palatable. Crack, maybe.) And, okay, when it is 8 million degrees here in L.A., as it inevitably is in September and October, even water from a fountain that hasn’t had its filter changed since the Carter administration can taste pretty good. Overall, though, I give a big, fat “meh” to water as a beverage.

This poses a few problems, as the adult, responsible Colleen knows she needs a certain amount of water per day for good health and flushing things out and counteracting Americanos—which, as everyone knows, God invented for himself on the seventh day while he “rested”, then hid from the rest of us until 1982. For a while, I tried getting my daily H20 con gas, as the Italians say. Sparkling water was highly satisfactory from a gustatory perspective, but was hell on my intestinal tract, not to mention fitting in my pants by the end of the day.

I had a major breakthrough sometime last year when, for something like the 44th day in a row, I found myself pouring out my almost-untouched nightly peppermint tea in the the morning. I’d begun making a mug of it at bedtime in an attempt to calm and soothe me into sleep. I must be an easily-suggestible type, because within several months, just setting that thing down on the bedside table made me sleepy. Great for feeling rested, but a terrible waste of perfectly good peppermint tea.

So, one fateful morning a year or so ago, I poured what was left in the mug into a glass, figuring I’d just drink it cold, only—well, I was out of ice. On a whim, I topped it off with chilled, sparkling water and JUST LIKE THAT, my new-favorite drink was born. It is easy as pie to make. It is cheap, even if you brew the tea fresh, for this express purpose. And, while most definitely con gas, it is con less gas than fizzy water alone.

Best of all, it is delicious. If you like your drinks non-sweet and just a little acrid, as I do, you will be in hog heaven.

I was thinking I should call it a “communicatrix”—why should Arnold Palmer have all the non-alcoholic fun?—but upon reflection, I believe I will have to dub it the…

GUDENOV
(serves 1)
Fill a 12-oz glass halfway with brewed peppermint tea. Fill to top with chilled sparkling water. Enjoy!

xxx
c

The skinny on, plus all previous 21-Day Salutes™.

photos of the author with shaved head

51 Things I Learned in 2012

This year has been longest I can recall in the decades since they started flying by. It has challenged me in ways I could not have predicted even twelve months ago, when I foolishly thought I’d mapped the full landscape of challenges.

Much of what I’ve experienced I have not been able to share, partly owing to a lack of adequate processing, partly due to exhaustion, and partly, I’m afraid, because of Facebook. It is perilously easy to let social media drive, and to content oneself with lobbing the occasional comment (or cold French fry) from the backseat.

Which is why this year almost became the one in which I did not do a List. How could I, when so many of my lessons have been private? And why bother, when, for the rest of it, I can just direct you to My 20 Biggest Moments (as chosen by Al Gore Ithym)? Sure, it’s lazy, ill-managed, and trite, but have you seen Congress lately?

Then it occurred to me: what better way to exercise my new-found and very-hard-won habit of doing things imperfectly than sharing a smaller, less hilarious list? If people unsubscribe in droves, well, less pressure moving forward, amirite?

So here, for the first time ever, a list of the 51 things I learned over the past year. Slightly more than half, far short of “perfection”, and a fine symmetry with years lived.

May 2013 be the year of your dreams, whatever those may be.

xxx
c

  1. Just when you start to doubt it, the internet reminds you of how hard it rocks.
  2. And by “the internet”, I mean “the people on the internet“.
  3. And the internet.
  4. “Humbling” does not equal “humiliating”.
  5. Traveling for work is the most exhausting perk you’ll ever love.
  6. I should have been reading The Sun 20 years ago.
  7. You of the Past will always overestimate the willingness of You of the Future.
  8. There are worse afflictions than terminal earnestness.
  9. No. More. Scarves.
  10. Falling behind has its compensations.
  11. That Joni Mitchell song about taxis and parking lots also applies to gumlines.
  12. And savings accounts.
  13. But, oddly enough, not to hair.
  14. Instagr—wait, I mean Flickr.
  15. The most expedient way to learn about yourself is to have smart people ask you questions.
  16. Shaving your head dramatically reduces your dating opportunities.
  17. But sharply increases photo ops.
  18. A little lighting makes a big difference.
  19. God will wait until you’re good and ready.
  20. Or maybe just ready.
  21. Fuck manicures.
  22. New Orleans is a thousand times better than I ever imagined.
  23. Except for Bourbon Street, which is a hundred-million-billion times worse.
  24. Hormones are nature’s way of saying “That’ll be $80 a month, please.”
  25. New York never misses you.
  26. Eventually, you stop caring.
  27. The universal cure for what ails you is a Dole Whip in the Tiki Tiki Tiki Tiki Tiki Room.
  28. Giving blood feels as restorative as getting blood.
  29. Nothing beats hanging out with old friends.
  30. But stumbling across their new books runs a close second.
  31. A bad video can be too long at a minute.
  32. A great play can be too short at eight hours.
  33. Victory tastes even sweeter when it’s Sugar’s.
  34. I love playing an asshole.
  35. But I make a much funnier loser.
  36. Gelson’s has the best air-conditioning.
  37. Also, the best egg salad.
  38. And, unfortunately, the loudest televisions.
  39. TEDx is the new “done”.
  40. A Breville tea kettle will change your life.
  41. Not to mention strip the paint off of your kitchen cabinets.
  42. It’s only foreign until you do it once.
  43. Receiving accolades is surprisingly less fun than doing the things that earn them.
  44. A professional knife sharpening is worth its weight in Band-Aids.
  45. Sometimes the best thing you can do is almost nothing at all.
  46. Or at least, what looks like nothing to the outside world.
  47. Besides, I wasn’t not blogging; I was helping you maintain your information diet.
  48. Beginnings are always lovely.
  49. Cancer still sucks.
  50. Things change.
  51. But when they don’t change fast enough—which is almost always—this helps.

See you next year!

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Photo of me and shave artist supreme, Brandon Massengale, by some other person at Bolt Barbers, West Hollywood.

100 Things I Learned in 2011, Part 2 [50-for-50 edition]

You know what you learn when you do a review of the back half of a year in which you did a massive, 50-day-long fundraising thing-a-majiggy? That it takes WAY MORE than the actual 50 days to do it. Seriously. There’s a full six months of my life (and counting) that’s all 50-for-50! 50-for-50! 50-for-50!

So here’s a one-time-only, half-of-100-things list devoted (almost) exclusively to my biggest teacher ever.

In other non-news, good lord—no wonder I need a nap.

  1. “Possible” lives next door to “impossible.”
  2. Neither one can be routed on Google Maps.
  3. Goddamn right it takes a goddamn village.
  4. The “O” word isn’t as magical as the “S” word.
  5. Or the “P,” “A,” “G,” “M” and “B” words.
  6. Not to mention the “DLP” and “WCWW” words.
  7. But some of the biggest movers live quietly behind the scenes.
  8. Appliances don’t give a crap about deadlines.
  9. That goes double for #@$% hackers.
  10. $25 haircut isn’t as bad as you’d think.
  11. But it can’t touch a $50,000 one.
  12. Swears look better neatly stitched.
  13. Or covering your naughty bits.
  14. The breaks you think you can’t take are the most necessary.
  15. Flip-flops and street lamps don’t mix.
  16. Neither do shaved heads and anything loose and flowing.
  17. Unless you’re aiming for “Buddhist nun.”
  18. You really do lose 80% of your heat through your head.
  19. Banjo makes everything better.
  20. Self-deprecating humor doesn’t hurt, either.
  21. But I’m pretty sure puppies trump everything.
  22. Make time to shred.
  23. Before you shave, moisturize.
  24. After you shave, moisturize.
  25. Everyone loves a good cry.
  26. And a photobooth.
  27. And flan.
  28. Even the ones who don’t think they do.
  29. Recovery takes longer than you think.
  30. Definitely longer than the two weeks you’ve allotted on your calendar.
  31. Getting back to work doesn’t always involve work.
  32. Unless you count “play” as work.
  33. WHICH IT TOTALLY #!$&@ IS.
  34. So are massages.
  35. (I know, I know.)
  36. The first thing that goes is reading.
  37. The next thing is blogging.
  38. And finally, when you think it’s all over, newsletter-ing.
  39. Dating feels different on the other side of 50.
  40. And when the only hair color you can check is “None.”
  41. And you’re in no hurry to check any other box.
  42. We won (one category)We won (one category)!
  43. It feels good to be in GOOD.
  44. I finally know what the Facebook timeline is good for.
  45. Which means they’re bound to screw it up before December of 2012.
  46. People love a good story.
  47. With a happy ending.
  48. But watch out for those impromptu pig-whistling lessons.
  49. You can’t repay kindness.
  50. Pass it on.

See you next year!

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Awesome hat a handmade gift of the awesome Sarah Clinton, community manager for the awesome Richmond Animal League. If you enjoyed this post, go make an end-of-year contribution to them! Or to WriteGirl! And buy yourself something from Amazon while you’re at it—that’ll help keep the lights on here. And hey, HAPPY NEW YEAR to you!

100 Things I Learned in 2011, Part 1

the author revealing a pit stain while "dancing"

It was an olé kinda year

I, for one, am flummoxed. Also, baffled, perplexed, confounded, and generally mystified.

No sooner do I finish off my list of 100 things for 2010 than I’m sitting down to do it again. How is this possible? Who is stealing this time? And for the love of all that’s holy, PUT IT BACK.

Well, no matter. While some days it seemed like this entire year was one long beg-a-thon, upon closer scrutiny, a few other things did, apparently, happen. Who knew?!

Of course, I’m not at all sure how much I learned from any of them, but oh, well—tomorrow is another year, right? Hahaha! Also, GET OFF MY LAWN. (If one does not earn the right to say that at 50, I hardly see the point of birthdays.)

Okay, then! Here we go…

  1. There’s nothing better than doing work you love.
  2. Except getting paid for it.
  3. And possibly, being able to succinctly describe it.
  4. Pay for the nonstop flight.
  5. You will, anyway.
  6. Comedians make the best philosophers.
  7. But nerds make the funniest ones.
  8. Menopause is Latin for “You’re never more than one marshmallow away from your fat pants.”
  9. Balance is more of a journey than a destination.
  10. Writing better takes longer.
  11. But writing longer doesn’t guarantee “better.”
  12. Making it a miracle anything gets written, ever.
  13. Instagram won.
  14. For now.
  15. Fear does not disappear with experience.
  16. It does, however, don a series of increasingly exotic and beguiling outfits with which to confuse and/or bewitch one.
  17. Never underestimate the rejuvenating effect of punctuation.
  18. The shortest route between you and 6-year-old you is the Soap Lady.
  19. I still get distracted incredibly easil—holy crap, is that a new iPhone grocery app?
  20. Goals, like food, work better with portion control.
  21. And on smaller plates.
  22. Stories are my favorite “content”.
  23. Times 3, times 365.
  24. The only thing better than going on hiatus may be coming off of it.
  25. That doesn’t mean I don’t want to do them both again.
  26. Just less far apart.
  27. It doesn’t have to be human for you to Facebook-stalk it.
  28. I love weddings.
  29. Especially when they belong to other people.
  30. Or better yet, all the people.
  31. Portland is even better in the summer.
  32. And on foot.
  33. And when you improvise.
  34. Fear is my all-time muse di tutti muses.
  35. But I am envy’s bitch.
  36. They should call it “Southwest Fairlines”.
  37. “Together/single” is less “better/worse” than it is “apples/oranges”.
  38. The quickest route to self-knowledge is a good interviewer.
  39. The only thing more fun than a Justin Tanner play is turning someone on to a Justin Tanner play.
  40. Or turning everyone on to a Justin Tanner aphorism.
  41. You can have too much of a good thing.
  42. Fortunately, someone is always making new good things.
  43. Unfortunately, that doesn’t extend to everything.
  44. Roger Ebert’s taste in movies extends to music videos.
  45. Thievery rocks.
  46. I have the world’s worst gaydar.
  47. I’m not the only one fed up with the constant happy of Facebook.
  48. Not to mention those stupid inspirational quotes.
  49. But fixing the Internet is complicated.
  50. Fortunately, fixing your reactions to it is simple.

Look for Part II later this week! In the meantime, remembrances of years past:

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