Pieces of Me

I don’t really have a history of setting new years resolutions for myself, and on the few occasions I did, I’d approach them only halfheartedly. They’re not really my thing.

I do like the concept of intentions, or choosing a word for oneself. 2020 started out so hopeful and then quickly plunged into survival mode. I entered 2021 with an extremely low bar, and although I didn’t set a word at the time, looking back it was probably something like cope.

I’ve thought a bit about what I want my word or intention to be for this year. I want to keep it realistic and relevant. I’ve decided on self-compassion. It’s high time I give myself a fucking break, stop beating myself up all the time, and start being uber mindful of just how often I cut myself down. It’s almost constant – much more than I’ve been willing or able to admit to myself. The problem is that it’s so deeply ingrained that I couldn’t recognize it until someone else – usually my therapist – would point it out.

I’ve started doing this thing that I’ve done for clients many times before but never got around to doing for myself: I’m focusing on reparenting myself. I have identified a voice within myself and I have personified this being as my inner loving parent, and this person is going to give me all the judgement-free love and encouragement and sensitivity I needed as a kid and that I still need now. This may sound very woo-woo, but please trust me that the work is incredibly impactful.

Often times it helps to personify this part of oneself in order to give it life and body and meaning. It didn’t take any work, really, because two characters popped into my head once this concept was explained to me. For me, my loving parent is two sides of a coin: on one side, she’d Glinda the Good Witch from The Wizard of Oz. She has a huge puffy pink dress and a magic wand and a soft voice and she giggles and calls me honey. She gives the best hugs and reminds me to be kind to myself. I realized later, after I chose her, that she’s also the one who gently tells Dorothy that she had the power to fulfill her deepest wish the whole time. Go figure. The other side of my inner loving parent is Mary Poppins. She’s a British nanny who doesn’t take any bullshit from anyone and sets firm and healthy boundaries. She also sings the best lullabies and makes the world a more fun and happy place to be. She tells me that my inner critic is complete rubbish and has my back at all times. She can also perform magic.

When I told my therapist about the two connected personalities of my inner loving parent, she summarized them as the comforter and the protector, respectively. Nail on the head.

The personification of my inner critic is still taking shape. While I felt like I had to unearth and go find my inner loving parent, my inner critic is always present. She never fucking sleeps. I picture her sitting in a chair in the corner in the dark, smoking a cigarette and glaring at me while I’m asleep in my bed each night. Mary Poppins would tell her to go take a hike. At any rate, the first image that came to mind was Miss Hannigan from Annie, the original one played by Carol Burnett. She stumbles around and yells. She’s a drunk and she’s miserable and she hates kids. But, I also feel like my inner critic needs to have a more cleaned up side. Meaning, my critic takes the form of an authority figure who is rigid, perfect, to the letter. On my better days, I’m able to shove Miss Hannigan into a closet and lock the door because she doesn’t have her shit together. But my big, bad critic has power and is fucking terrifying. I’ll think more on this. (Just had this idea while editing – maybe something like a Miranda Priestly? That’s all.)

At any rate, I’m working through being mindful of who is in charge of my inner dialogue at any given time. Who is driving my bus, if you will. If I become aware that Miss Hannigan is drunk behind the wheel, I’ll call on Mary to put her back in her place and I might call on Glinda to tell me that I’m safe and she’s not going to let the bus crash into a tree.

Again, I know this sounds ridiculous on some level, but even simply mapping out the pieces of me like this has brought me comfort. I plan to go looking for a little figurine of Glinda and Mary to have as reminders. My therapist asked me to draw her as one person, and that should be fun.

All of this is with the goal of being kinder to myself. I already know that that will trickle down to how I treat others in my life. It’s impossible to give out what you don’t have.

And so. Here’s to 2022. I’m going to be more self-compassionate.

This Is Halloween – Part One

I love Halloween.  J’adore.

This is me saying that Halloween is stinkin awesome, you guys!

I mean, what other day can you dress up in a fab costume and become someone (or something) else and get rewarded for it by stealing candy from kids with minimal negative consequences?

No other day.

I love the art that is Halloween costuming.  I’m a purist in that I don’t support the personal usage of entirely pre-packaged Halloween costumes.  That’s too easy, that’s a sell out, plus who wants to pay $49.99 to wear a piece of tissue paper that barely covers one’s ass?  Thanks to the fact that I grew up with an awesome, crafty mom who made my costumes and also freaking loves Halloween (up until the year she retired, she also dressed up for All Hallows Eve), my costumes have been original, creative, and epic.

My first H-costume was classic.  Timeless.  The Balloon-filled Pumpkin.

check out my embarrassingly large and saggy breast-o-lanterns

Looking back, this costume was brilliant because I was still getting the hang of this walking and running thing, and I was basically wearing a bright orange sack filled with balloons, so if I fell (which, my parents gleefully report, I did several times in the time it took to visit the 4 houses in our court), I simply bounced around on the pavement, unhurt but also unable to get up.  And goodness forbid that one of those babies popped and scared the crap outta me, cuz the only logical explanation for a sound like that would be a warning shot fired by hooligans wanting to take my candy.  Oh hells no.

A favorite costume from my years as a youngin was a fairy princess (I learned at a young age all about the fairy monarchy, and my plan was to come out on top).  And by favorite, I mean that I wore it several years in a row.  It was actually a leftover costume from dance class my mom put me in when I was 5 and all I did during performances was stand there and cry, so I figured I should get some mileage out of that otherwise wasted, yet totes fab, tulle.

this photo was candid, not posed. you can see how much I loved my little brother, at that time doomed to wear my hand-me-downs.

Even though I’ve always lurved Halloween like a zombie lurves brains, I developed a more primal obsession for the ghostly holiday after I executed the most awesome costume in the history of fun-sized candy bars:

excuse me…la, la, laaaa, la, la….

That’s me as Daria and my best friend as Jane, from the MTV cartoon show.  This show was witty and sarcastic and smart, and it was ME.  I loved this show so much, I wanted to lose my virginity to it.

My friend and I got way into these costumes and into character.  We got the boots at a discount store, the wigs at a Halloween store, the green blazer was my mom’s, and pleated skirt I found in a thrift store, and the orangey shirt I just had and still wear to this day.  We practiced not smiling for pictures, and we practiced our dry, witty comebacks to rhetorical questions like “Where’s the beef?” and “Who let the dogs out?”

Well, all that hard work paid off, cuz our unsmiling mugs made it into the yearbook that year.  Yup, we were famous.  In high school.  For like 5 minutes.  But the experience sparked something in me, something that had been lurking ever since my mom painted those rosy pumpkin whore cheeks on me.  I loved the challenge of turning myself into a current, recognizable character that got reactions from people.  (Like, favorable reactions.  Nothing that involves throwing food at me.  Ok, you can throw candy.  And cake, if thrown expertly into my mouth, but let’s not get too crazy.)  My quest to outdo my smug Daria self has continued every year since then.

Mary Poppins – My mom helped a lot with putting this bad boy together.  We already owned most of the pieces, but my mom found the perfect hat and glued on all the daisies.  And the red bow tie was practically perfect in every way.  I am very proud of this costume!!

The building in the background is South Hall on the UC Berkeley campus, which was the inspiration for the rooftop for the “step in time” scene in the movie.

Over the years, I have gradually conquered the majority of characters from the Wizard of Oz.   All I have left now is the crowning glory of becoming one of the flying monkeys.

I don’t think we’re in Kansas anymore – My mom captured that cheap whore quality with copious amounts of makeup.  She sewed the blue dress from scratch and glued on hundreds of sequins to make those smashing ruby slippers.  Please also note the 101 Dalmatians plush toy as Toto – a new take on an old friend.

Lions and tigers and bears, oh my!

Hello, my pretty! – The Wicked Witch of the West rocked it hardcore.  She wore her green skin with pride, and so did I – that’s green eye shadow slathered on my face for a full day of grad school classes.

…and your little dog, too!

Ding dong the witch is dead – After reading Wicked by Gregory Maguire and going to see the fabulous musical by the same name, I decided to bring the Wiz costumes full circle and be the ill-fated Wicked Witch of the East, who was the first true owner of the ruby slippers…until something large and heavy probably crushed her skull.

this must have been the view from under the house

I found these absolutely perfect red shoes in a thrift store for $2 and painted them with red glitter.  I even picked up these tights in Salem, Massachusetts.  That’s how legit they are.

Hokai, so I have several more amazing costumes to share with y’all, but this post has already grown longer than this election season.  Stay tuned, bloggers.