The holidays aren’t a time for hubris. Thanksgiving and Christmas are all about feeling the love. About recognizing our blessings and feeling grateful for all we’ve been given. For reflecting upon another year gone by and celebrating the people who matter to us.
I’m holly and jolly at Christmas (and other times, I hope), but sometimes things happen to knock you on your metaphorical bum. One of the nicknames bandied about by my friend Sandy is BH, or “Big Head” — referring to, of course, my weighty ego. I mean, yes — I think I’m great. Not because I’m better than anyone else, but because I’m a woman with confidence and — dare I say it? — swagger.
Writerly swagger, anyway. Which is basically like real swagger.
Sandy first coined BH in a text conversation while I was in New York City. Nervous before the Book Blogger Convention, where I was speaking on a panel, I’d been instructed to write her with news of how everything went in the aftermath. When I texted to say everything had gone well and I was relieved to have not embarrassed myself in front of my peers and publishing types, her response was, “Just make sure your BH can get through the door.”
I’ve lived by that motto. Lest my BH get too big to fit in my office or car, the universe occasionally conspires to keep me grounded.
Sometimes too grounded.
In no particular order, I present . . .
Recent Things That Have
Kept Me Humble
1. Being asked if I have a 23-year-old daughter.
In the wee hours of Black Friday, I was stumbling around an electronics store with my dad and 23-year-old sister. When the time came to check out, I brought my purchases up to a cashier. She waved to Katie, completing her own purchase nearby, and turned to me with a grin. I guess she recognized the last name on my credit card.
“So,” she said slowly, “is Katie your sister — or your daughter?”
I’ll be the first to admit I’ve spent a little too much time plucking wiry, silver-white hairs from my scalp lately. In addition to my nightly teeth-brushing and face-washing, I’m often brandishing a pair of tweezers on a mission to de-gray myself. But do I, a 26-year-old woman, look like I have a 23-year-old daughter? I mean, seriously?
For the record, I was nice. I laughed it off with a chuckle. Much like the time a former coworker asked me if I had “a bun in the oven.” He got the Patented Megan Look of Death, and then we all went about our business.
2. Falling out of my office chair.
I have a really annoying habit of leaning forward in my desk chair, practically pressing my tired little eyeballs against the monitor. On one such occasion, while in the middle of a casual conversation with a coworker, I tipped too far forward and went skittering down. Before I could catch my balance, my behind hit the ground — hard. So hard that I whined like a child shoved by a playground bully.
Too stunned to immediately react, I stared at the dust gathering in the corners beneath my desk and tilted my head up to stare at the ceiling. I was totally embarrassed. But, you know — I understand that the sight of others falling is funny. And since I’m a good sport, I allowed myself to be photographed in such an awkward position. With my own camera.
3. Getting hate mail.
I write a personal newspaper column, which I’m sure I’ve mentioned a time or two (or twenty). It’s challenging and awesome, and I’m super grateful to have a J-O-B — especially doing what I love: writing. About myself. (BH . . .)
For the most part, the response to said columns is very positive. I haven’t dealt with many haters. I imagine that if people don’t like what I have to say, they simply don’t read it — and that’s a very effective plan. But I have one persistent reader — she of the original hate mail fame — that can’t sit idly by while I defile the English language and smear the name of good journalists everywhere (paraphrased, and italics are mine).
By her own admission, she’s 83 years old and living somewhere in a neighboring county. I’ve received several handwritten letters from her now, all correcting me on my style and generally “unbelievable” articles, and have been told in no uncertain terms that I’m “not a real journalist.”
Which is great to hear, because I’m totally not.
I’m a writer who happened upon an editing job, which somehow led to a columnist gig. One of which I’m proud. And one I’ll happily keep writing — if only to agitate her.
4. Having a friend share her ‘fat clothes’ with us.
I’m hesitant to include this, given that I love the clothes, but here are the facts: a kind friend of my sister’s shared a bag of clothes with her. As she had recently lost a great deal of weight, these were perfectly good items — many still with their tags — that simply did not fit her well anymore.
She did not call them her “fat clothes.” At all.
But that’s totally what they were.
I mean, words are just words — and who cares how you procure clothing as long as it’s cute? Katie was nice enough to donate one of the dress shirts to me, and I’ve worn it several times to work — where I received many compliments. (BH . . .) It’s a good looking shirt, and it fits me well. I love it.
But sometimes, when I’m feeling weak and haven’t gone to Zumba, I think, “This is someone’s fat shirt. This shirt that fits me like a glove was a shirt that was elephant-sized on someone else.”
But then I drink another gingerbread latte (with whip!) and feel tons better, so there’s that.
5. Realizing I’m aging out of the whole ‘Twilight’ thing.
My sister and I went to see “Breaking Dawn” last weekend. I’m pretty ridiculous in movie theaters, considering I despise when people are talking, texting, loudly opening candy wrappers and generally breathing around me during a film. Given this, I’m pretty hesitant to go see movies — especially new ones — on Friday nights. Too many people around.
Or, more importantly, too many teenagers around.
God help me when I have a teen of my own; I cannot take the silliness and general insanity that accompanies puberty. Trust me: I remember being that age, and I’m not saying I wasn’t annoying as some stuff. I have very vivid memories of going to the movies with friends and giggling in the back row, generally being stupid and disruptive. And that was before cell phones.
But I’ve moved beyond that.
I’ll also preface this by saying I mean no disrespect to those who remain true and diehard fans of Stephenie Meyer and the Twilight franchise. I read and loved the books (and films) years back, falling for Edward’s possessiveness and tortured good-guy act as much as the next chick. I also related to the dark themes and loss of love at that point in my life. But the truth is, with time and experience, I’ve come to realize that brand of love is not one I would ever want for myself. What was once entertaining has become bothersome — to the point that Katie and I have had long discussions of feminism and possessiveness after watching the movies.
All that sort of ruined it for me.
And, um — have you seen “Breaking Dawn”? It was overflowing with super awkward moments, y’all, and not just of the bed-breaking naughty-times variety. That one scene? That bloody scene toward the end? One express ticket to Nightmare City, please.
If I’d been pregnant myself while watching such a film, I might have passed out. But then again, I’m also the one who famously left a child development course in college because I couldn’t take the “Where Babies Come From” video we were forced to watch (and study). I got sick in a nearby bathroom and was too embarrassed to come back to class, considering I’d run out of there as if my hair were on fire.
Also, there were so many teenagers in the movie theater. When I hissed as much to Katie, who is all too aware of how annoyed I get in loud theaters, her response was swift and cutting.
“Well,” she said seriously, “this is really more their demographic than ours.”
And she was right.
I’m getting old. And too old for that.
As Christmas is the season for counting our blessings and decidedly not a time for throwing myself a pity party, know that I’ve shared this list in jest. I know any of these “problems” would never be considered real problems at all, and I’m thankful to have “fat clothes” to wear and people who care enough to hate on me and gray hair (and any hair) on my head. Furthermore, I’m thankful for the friends and family who can also laugh about this silliness.
But seriously. I don’t have a 23-year-old kid.