On Sweatpants, Fuzzily

It’s been rainy and cold all week here in Denver, which is a relief – it feels like we’ve had nothing but heat for months.

I’m excited. I had to close my windows and pile on extra blankets the other night, and for the first time in a long time, I felt cold. (This is only exciting the first time. Being cold is one of my very least favorite things. In a month, I’ll be complaining bitterly about how much I hate having cold feet and hands and nose.)

This weather means sweaters. And black tights. And sweatpants. I love sweatpants. I own more pairs of mens pajama pants than I care to admit, because they’re always so cozy and comfortable.

The other night, I was cold and at the boy’s house. I asked him if I could borrow his pair of fuzzy sweatpants. He looked at me incredulously. “Fuzzy sweatpants, Katie?” I knew he knew exactly which pair I was talking about. “Men don’t own fuzzy sweatpants. They’re flannel.” (I think he said flannel, anything but fuzzy sweatpants.) Five minutes later, I was happily inside a pair of borrowed fuzzy sweatpants.

As much as I dislike cold, the snuggling-centered parts of my brain love winter because it’s an excuse to pile on blankets and make nests of soft things. I’m thrilled that it’s that time of year again.

 

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On Nails, Beautifully (Optimistically?)

I used to have acrylic nails in high school. I loved them. At the time, I’d get a French manicure, but with black tips instead of white. (Because I was such a dark, edgy lady. *cringe*) They’re a bitch to maintain, expensive and they break, and once they’re off your fingernails, you’re left with sad, broken nail beds that are ridiculously weak.

I went back to my regular nails, which aren’t all that much stronger, and have been working to come to some sort of happy medium where I paint them regularly and try to keep them from breaking. But….usually, I just have the nails of a 12-year old boy, destroyed and neglected (the nails, that is).

I got gel nails yesterday. They’re artificial nails, long and cumbersome, because my ultimate goal is to stop picking at my skin (it’s such an unconscious stress-based habit that sometimes, I don’t even realize I’m doing it). In theory it’s much harder to pick at (and ultimately break) skin with fake nails.

However, after years of having stubbly, bitten nails, I now feel like my new accessories are becoming dangerously close to being reptilian claws. It doesn’t help that they’re painted a muted shade of green called “Mermaid’s Tears.” Nothing makes me feel more optimistic than painting my nails a color that invokes visions of sad mermaids crying out viscous sea water. Oh dear. Imagine how the animal rights activists would react once they get a hold of that story. “Seal Pup Pets Stolen By Nail Polish Industry: Mermaids Reduced to Tears for Corporate Profit.”

From the google:

(image taken from google image search – click to go to original image URL)

On Joy, Happily

The shameless hipster that lives in me felt the need to post this quote today. The impulsive emoter (psssh, it’s a word now) that shares the space agrees. Deal with it.

“…the only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones that never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars…”

– Jack Kerouac

After spending the better part of the last month fighting a strange bout of utterly consuming melancholy, I seem to have emerged radiating joy. I can feel good energy flowing around me, and I’ve noticed that the world seems to be noticing that as well. I’ve been having the best conversations with friends and strangers; I’ve been smiling and laughing; I’ve been hooked by the promise of what is still to come.

I heard someone talking about what they’ve learned about grief and pain – they said that someone once told them that instead of fighting it, you should just let the waves of emotion wash over you. I did exactly that. Instead of struggling, I let the seemingly infinite sadness surround me.

Apparently, my life force was too much for the sadness, and I’ve been returned to my usual state of good humor. Oh, how I had missed it. This weekend was my first full-on return to joyous revelry.

I ended up in Boulder on Friday night at a show that my friends were excited about. They told me that some guy named Dave Au Jus would be playing…and all I could imagine was a man holding a French dip sandwich. As it turns out, there were no sandwiches nor a man who spells his last name Au Jus (très disappointing on both counts). The man, Dave Aju, was more amazing than a sandwich. I had a blast. I forget how much I like to dance. As much as I gently ridicule my friends for their love of “techno parties,” I’ve never had a bad time at one and I always end up having some sort of excellent adventure.

An excellent adventure it was. I ended up on a porch at an after-party trying to find Orion in the sky – I was extremely disappointed to find that the night had progressed so far that he had slipped away, but the people around me were kind enough to provide me with their sky maps so that I could search. (Note to self: find more constellations to love. I can find Jupiter, sometimes, or Cassiopeia, but other than that, I’ve got nothing. Not even the Big Dipper.) I slipped back into my house at 6 am, an hour I’ve not seen from the side of night in ages, desperate to find sleep before the sun started to creep into the sky.

***

Saturday brought a lingering breakfast of coffee and bagels, then babysitting. I didn’t see the girls last week, and it’s funny how much I missed them. From there, it was off to get ready for the drag ball and Emily’s birthday celebration.

This is the lovely birthday girl!

My costume and a direwolf – he made that himself and the hood was the most amazing thing I’ve ever seen. I would very much like to own one.

More of us, but with my wig:

Since it was a drag ball, there were categories that people would walk in to win trophies and glory. I ended up judging at the last minute because one of the judges didn’t show. It was part terrifying, part really fun.

Jacob and Gina are beautiful people – Jacob won the (S)Executive Realness category for his stunning outfit and walking ability. (You should have seen the suit jacket he wore.)

Sunday brought brunch – if you ever need to lure me out of bed, just say “brunch” and I’m there. You might also want to say “bacon,” “gravy,” or “mimosas.”  Then I’ll hurry.

After the drag ball, there was quite a flurry of internet activity, mostly comments about the party the night before. The original “Denver is Burning” drag ball was held last year in a DIY space. The party was a smashing success. It wasn’t repeated due to space issues – it’s really hard to find a good place to hold a sweet party sometimes.

[Odd side note – that silver cuff that I wear was gifted to me by an artist who was painting in the same building that night. I wandered in and apologized for bothering him, but I was fascinated by his work. He gave me the cuff and a necklace. It’s become one of my most treasured possessions, and I think of that man fondly every time I wear it.]

The chief dissenting comments discussed voguing, ball culture in general, and racial issues related to all of it. It is frustrating to see such good intentions be torn apart by misunderstanding. It also reminds me that Denver’s racial demographics aren’t conducive to creating the underground ball scene that Harlem saw in times past. Denver just isn’t that diverse.

Granted, some of the categories were a bit weird. Game of Thrones? Totally shouldn’t have been a category (even though I loved it). But it was awesome. I wish you could have been there – there was music and dancing, and I ran into friends that I haven’t seen in ages. Everyone looked amazing, and free, and happy. Isn’t that what life is all about? (Minus the looking amazing part. Just the free and happy part.)

Some people were frustrated about what they perceived to be the over-involvement of white people. As a white person who spends a ton of time in the gay/queer scene, I find it frustrating that people are so quick to jump on race like that. I was born white and straight. I can’t help that. But it doesn’t mean that I should be excluded from activities because of my biological sex, my gender, my race, my sexual orientation, etc. (Isn’t all that inclusion what we’re all working for?! We’re working backwards if we can’t start to love people of all colors, genders, body types, hair colors, whatever. Also include my obligatory “understanding of white privilege” statement, but I’m not going any further into it because it doesn’t apply here.)

Plenty of appropriate thought was put into it – plenty of links about the origination of ball culture and voguing were shared in the lead up to the party. Plenty of respect is held by everyone for the original ball culture, the original intent of ball culture, and the struggles that people have faced while trying to achieve the equality, respect, and recognition that they deserve.

Ball culture will never be what it once was – it’s impossible, not because of people’s refusal to embrace tradition, but because of the fact that situations have changed drastically. The world is a different place now in some ways, and exactly the same in others. The people who threw this party wanted to be respectful of the past, but also embrace something new. It’s how things will work, communities will grow, and people can become more educated.

I think that it did open up a very important dialogue, but it was hard to watch the pain that my friends felt – they worked so hard, and with such pure intentions, to create something magical. I hope that this doesn’t stop more like this from happening in the future – Denver could use more of it, and needs people to remain involved and motivated to create beautiful things.

***

I returned home from brunch to be lazy and do nothing. It was lovely. I killed some bugs on the side of the house. (That’s a lie – I made my brother do it.) Then I did some googling about said bugs. They’re harmless but annoying, and I imagine that the Barrys vs bugs battle that will undoubtedly take place this coming spring and summer will be nothing short of frustrating. (I can be a very determined woman – those bugs haven’t seen anything yet.)

***

When I was 18, I dated a guy who always used to tell me he was going to make me a bunch of rocks that said “Katie” on them. So they’d be Katie rocks. (Get it? I rock!) This weekend, my phone dinged and told me I had a message – there, out of the blue, was a picture of a rock with my name on it. A Katie rock. The caption? “I know it’s been years, but you still rock.” My heart cracked into a million pieces and a huge smile spread across my face. It absolutely made my day.

***

And so now it’s back to work, back to reality, back to responsibility, but with a renewed energy. I’m back to being my radiant weird self and I’m beyond thrilled about it.

On Feats of Strength, Fashionably

I am amazed. Flabbergasted. Astounded. Excited.

A while back, I started reading blogs about girl stuff, hoping to somehow learn to how to dress, do my makeup, decorate, and generally be adorable. As it turns out, it may be starting to work – yesterday, I belted a sweater dress with a belt that did not come with said sweater dress. Being able to properly accessorize is something everyone else can do. I was not blessed with that skill, so this is a small victory.

Even better? The dress wasn’t black. (I love black. If I could wear all black all the time, I would. But I’m trying really hard to start working with color. It’s so intimidating!) Ever since breaking out my red dress (Bruce Wayne power suit, same difference) for NYC and getting such a positive response from people like the TSA ID checker, I’ve been wondering if I shouldn’t try wearing red more.

I found the dress online (my new motto for 2013, besides “Do less,” is “Treat yo’self.” I think that’s working out quite well for me). It’s long-sleeved and striped red and blue, and I paired it with black tights, combat boots, and a skinny belt. Feats of strength? More like feats of fashion! (That was a joke. Right now, it’s all about baby steps.)

So, that brings me to my next feat:

Daenerys Targaryen.

There’s a drag ball happening this weekend. Last year, I was too shy to dress up. This year, I got ambitious. However, ambition without skill leaves room for disappointment (a room with which I am quite familiar). I was determined to keep it simple, but I also wanted to do a good job. One of the categories is Game of Thrones Huntiness, so naturally, I gravitated there.

Here’s what I’m going for:

And here’s where I’m at:

game of thrones, costume, daenerys targaryn,

That top is burlap, tied in the back with leather straps and held together with more burlap and hot glue. The halter part and belt are made of braided strips of leather. The ruching in the front? So necessary. (Jacob was shocked by the change from pre-ruche to post-ruche in terms of the illusion of cleavage. I explained that women’s clothes are all about illusion. We’re like Criss Angel, but not.) I was worried that I was going to mess it up, but I was somehow made fearless (wine helped) and went for it. We secured that leather strap with more hot glue.

One of my friends gave me some of his direwolf costume to line the top with, so I’ll definitely be making use of that (so soft!). I have a blond wig, some more burlap to tie around my hands, some boots, some more rope for my waist, and I think I’ll be good to go.

I’m excited. I think it’s all going to come together quite beautifully. Even if it doesn’t, I still made a shirt out of burlap and hot glue and I love it. Win win. Here’s to a weekend of voguing and adventure.

On Albuquerque, Very Belatedly

Remember that time I went to Albuquerque? Well I do.

I sort of hate whoever invented high-definition everything. The realization that I’ve got permanent bags under my eyes was not the most pleasant. I’m also very annoyed about being asymmetrical – beauty is based on symmetry instead of vibrant personality, and that’s sort of a bunch of bullshit.

Whatever. Self-depreciation doesn’t get you anywhere. Also, I’m so in love with these photos that it doesn’t matter. Some of them are profoundly radiant.

Courtesy of Matt, here is what happened there. Well, it’s a selected set of the pictures, at least. It’s bittersweet – looking at them and thinking about all of the plans we’d made. I guess that’s life for you, though.

You create relationships and then you break up, continuing this cycle until you finally meet someone and then you never break up. (I can hear Squints from “The Sandlot” now – “For-ev-er.”) That’s how life works. The best thing I ever saw on an online dating profile read “I don’t believe in soul mates. That said, I really hope I meet mine some day.” If I were a dude, I’d have that on my profile because that probably works so well. Like bringing a golden retriever to a coffee shop.

Something tells me that bringing Carlos to a coffee shop wouldn’t have the desired effect of attracting a single man. People would most likely scoot away when they thought I wasn’t looking. Maybe they make golden retriever costumes for cats? (I just made myself laugh out loud trying to imagine stuffing Carlos into a golden retriever suit, but I have a feeling that you’re probably not amused.)

eyeball

jesse and jane's duplex, breaking bad,

On Monday Mornings, Resentfully

If you know me well enough, you know that I’m not exactly a ray of sunshine in the morning. Somewhere between the seventh and eighth blast of my alarm, I regain full consciousness and immediately decide that I hate everything. Then I roll around, mourning the coming day and wishing I was still asleep. (It’s ridiculous how much time I waste in the morning. If I could redirect that into something, like morning yoga, I’d be insanely productive. But that’d make way too much sense.)

By the time I hit the shower, I’m usually a much happier individual. There’s something about the powerful lure of water that invigorates me. This morning, soapy and quite content, I wanted to stay in the shower until the hot water ran out. But I didn’t, because as usual, I was running a bit late.

One thing I take for granted is my curly hair. I blow dry it and straighten it far too often. But I’m lucky. This morning, I ran out of the house with wet hair, holding a half-eaten banana and forgetting my coat. (I am Katie Barry, this was bound to happen – I’m horrible at dressing for the weather. Days when it’s cold, I’m coat-free and embracing spring. Days when it’s warm, I’m wearing tights and scarves and sweaters. Can’t win; no longer care.)

By the time I hit the halfway point of my commute, my hair had sprung into spirally curls. It’s wash and wear hair and it’s awesome. When I got to work, my hair looked like I’d spent time on it and my bleary eyes and dry skin had been (magically) transformed into something that looked less like Voldemort and more like normal Monday morning exhaustion. (Thank you, makeup bag, my most trusted companion.)

This week is off to a roaring start. First press release of December officially completed. Gift baskets are ready to go out. It’s all good.

On Rage and Authenticity, Quite Happily

As much as I dread the thirteen-and-a-half-hour workday, I find that it is a reminder of many things, including strength, dedication, commitment, and so on. Mostly, it’s a reminder of the lengths that I’m willing to go to ensure myself a solid, stable future and to keep Carlos in the style to which he’s become accustomed (which is basically just fat. Wet cat food is not cheap, but since it delights him so much, it’s worth it – and I benefit indirectly because the amount of snuggling I receive correlates to his enjoyment of his wet food).

Lately, as I struggle yet again with a lingering resentment for a part of my extended family, and as I work long days, I am reminded of the opportunities for gratitude in everything that I do. Today at my real job, I had the opportunity to have a wonderful conversation with my lady boss, a woman I’ve come to respect and admire for both her spirit but also her ability to keep everything together in the face of immense pressure. She’s funny, strong, and intelligent: all things that I aspire to be.

After that, at my night gig shelling out ice cream, I was grumpy because a couple came in and made fun of the way I said “food laws” by way of an attempt to explain why we no longer offer a certain product. Excuse me if I get offended because you find my use of “food laws” so immensely entertaining that you need to say it eighteen times. I’m exhausted, annoyed, and perfectly capable of using correct language, but sometimes it doesn’t happen. “I misspoke,” I said simply, glaring at them, hurt and embarrassed. I swear, “cross-contamination” and “regulations” are words that do exist in my vocabulary, even if I’m not always capable of injecting them into conversation. I was determined to let it bother me all night, holding onto my repressed rage at the indignation I felt.

But of course, life had other plans and I was treated to some of my absolute favorite customers. A mother and her son came in and told me that they were delighted to see my face behind the counter. A father and his son came in – they were in for ice cream last night so I made a quip and we discussed our own personal limits for enduring Journey songs on the radio. Another guy came in who knows my boss, and so we talked about the neighborhood and the church and parking tickets. Yesterday, I had a conversation about the American habit of rushing through eating, and the idea of savoring a meal and appreciating the experience. These are all totally strange conversations, but they’re the kind of conversations that I want to be having. They show me so much about people.

These are the moments when I’m reminded why it’s so important to forge wonderful bonds with people, even if those interactions are infrequent, or based solely on introduction to free Blizzard punch cards. The people who may have the most profound impact on you are the people you may know the least, and that’s why it’s so important to present your best self at all times – not your best fake self, but you, entirely. The people who came in tonight revived my spirit and my mood. They have no idea they had that affect, of course, but I can only hope that I did something similar for them.

As I think about the version of myself that I put forward, I think back to a conversation I had with my mother this week about my frustration with an issue that I’ve done everything in my power to resolve, but to no avail. She told me that no matter where I go in life, and no matter what tax bracket I find myself in, I’ll never lose my grit. (I immediately saw myself wearing dusty cowboy boots and clenching my teeth while smoking a Marlboro.) But she must not be wrong, because the sentiment was echoed by someone who means very much to me who told me that my authenticity shows in everything that I do.

And the more I think about it, the more it’s true. Living my life guided by three simple principles – “don’t lie, don’t cheat, don’t steal” – has allowed me to be my most authentic self at all times. I’m not always right, but at least I’m always me. And leaving out all deception, theft, and malicious intent has allowed so much love and happiness to grow inside of me.

Consistency and adherence to my core values allows me to experience so much that others can’t, and I’m immensely grateful for it. I’ve found myself in many situations this year that have tested me in ways that I never imagined – both professionally and personally – and yet they’ve allowed me to flex my honesty, my drive, and my intuition.

Things are going swimmingly – I’m happy. I’m happy discussing conspiracy theories with my Dairy Queen co-workers; I’m happy writing press releases at my real job; I’m happy in my new relationship; I’m just really happy.

Of course, I’m overworked, exhausted, and prone to bouts of melancholy. Of course I’m panicked and stressed and overwhelmed, but even through all of that, I’m happy with myself and with the person that I’m becoming, which is far more important than anything else.

I’m so grateful for everything that I’ve experienced in life, because it’s made me so much stronger. I’m no wilting wallflower. I believe it was Courtney Love who said, “I’m not a woman; I’m a force of nature.” I aim to embody that. And as my mother said during our conversation, no matter where I end up, I’ll never forget where I came from. I’ll never forget the hard work I’ve had to put in to get here, because in the end it’s all worth it. Along the way, there are little bits of encouragement, reminding me that the path I’ve chosen is the right path.

When I wonder why I’ve been rejected by an entire section of my extended family, I can’t help but take into consideration the fact that perfect strangers are excited to see me. I can’t help but think about how much I care about the people I love, and the things that I’d do to help my friends. I can’t help but think about how much of my personality gets to shine through at all of my jobs, at family events, on dates and adventures and through literally everything that I do. I can’t help but think about the person that I am today, and the person that I was yesterday, and I realize I’m still exactly me; I always have been.

What was my advice to adolescent girls dealing with people who are assholes? Oh yeah, “fuck ’em.” Here’s another piece of advice: if all of the evidence points to you being an authentic, awesome (oh, totally modest right now, too) human being, fuck the people who can’t wrap their heads around that. Fuck the people who don’t respect you, or value you, or care. You can find new family; you can make you own – and you can find the respect and value in tiny places like a pair of customers at Dairy Queen who express joy at your presence. That’s enough to remind you that who you are can’t be all bad.

Everything is going to be all right. Everything is all right. Everything is better than all right. Everything is amazing. Life is beautiful. It’s complexity and it’s pain, but it’s insanely worth the journey.

My authentic self, chilling on a rock in the desert:

He does take the best pictures, doesn’t he? (He’s editing, more soon.)

On Beauty, All Too Mindfully

One of his hobbies is photography. This is a wonderful habit to have. I love pretty pictures – even though I take all of my pictures with my iPhone and then use Instagram to autotune them into some semblance of “decency,” if you can call it that. (I like them. I imagine those of you who spend hours manually focusing and whatnot are annoyed by this, but I don’t care. To each their own. And my own methods are free and convenient, two things are just really hard to beat.)

But this is why I am self-conscious. I’m about to grossly generalize here, so forgive me, but as a woman, I suffer from at-times low self-esteem, self-confidence, etc. Growing into my own looks was a really rough journey for me – the nose got made fun of all the time, the lack of boobs, etc. But I think that I’ve finally arrived at a point where I can look in the mirror and be like, “Damn girl. You got this.”

Having someone who thinks I’m stunning is lovely, but I have no idea how to accept his compliments. Modesty, humility, gratitude: all of that exists in me when I hear him tell me such lovely things, but the idea makes me uncomfortable. Because it goes back to the whole “Me? How could he find me this attractive?” thought process. It’s not just a woman thing. And not all women have this, but I find that particularly girls like me, who grew up not gorgeous and not heinous, but just plain and awkward, have a hard time coming into adult beauty with grace.

Not that I’m trying to say I’m beautiful, or anything other than that. I am Katie Barry, and that’s enough for me. But I am improving in the looks department as I age, and this is a really positive thing.

Seeing myself as he sees me, or at least as his camera sees me, is really odd for me. My curiosity gets the best of me. It’s vanity at it’s finest. It’s more that I’m examining each photo, mentally picking out blemishes and fine lines and ugly, but also searching for beautiful. I see the pictures and I search to find my beauty – to validate what I want to see in myself. I want to feel beautiful because when I do, it spreads through me and carries such a tremendous amount of power in its translation from understanding to outward confidence.

I have no idea if I made any rational point there, and I’m not going to belabor it. Moral of the story: I have no idea how to act when there’s a camera in my face. I sit still, thinking of how hard it really must be to be a contestant on America’s Top Model, and I make a mental note not to judge them all so much for being stupid and vain. And after a while, I relax, forgetting or no longer caring that the camera is there. And then it’s okay.

We’ve agreed that when we got to Albuquerque, we will be tourists and have people take pictures of us together. This will be fun. It will be freeing. We will be touristy and silly and our photos will be of us and not just me.

He was playing around with a new lens the other day while I talked (of course). This is what he came up with:

and this:

 

and this, which is my favorite:

I have no idea what I’m talking about. No idea at all. He reminded that within ten minutes of meeting me, he had commented on my animated speech. It’s something I don’t realize I’m doing, but when it happens all the time. (At Dairy Queen a few weeks ago, I was asking a man how he wanted something and one of the options was “blended.” I made a crisscrossing motion with my arms, which he found hilarious. It ended up being the highlight of my day, because we bonded and laughed about that before he joked about the high quality of service and asked if the cameras were working – insinuating that’s why I was being so awesome – and then gave the cameras the “thumbs-up” just in case. Made my day. Thank you, strange blending arm motions, you give me character and positive reinforcement.)

On Love, and Fall, and Family, Certainly

“The love of family and the admiration of friends is much more important than wealth and privilege.” – Charles Kuralt

Thank you, Charles.

***

Lame family-centric quotes aside, I’ve been feeling immensely grateful these past few weeks. Family is one of those things that can either be frustrating or wonderful, and I’m lucky enough to have a family that falls on the side of wonderful.

When we have dinner, we linger. We sit at the table long after the meal has ended, and I’m usually reprimanded for playing with my silverware, since I’m not one who’s mastered the concept of “still”.

My aunt from Vermont, who’s an awesome photographer – I thought her yearly Christmas book was awesome, but the facebook has allowed me to see pictures of adventures, gardening, sunsets, etc. – took pictures at the dinner we had a few weeks ago. (The one where Matt met the ENTIRE family.)

Here’s me, Matt, and my little neighbor:

This picture of my mom and brother stops me in my tracks, cracks my heart open, and makes love pour out of it. My mother and brother are not known for their willingness to engage in patient sitting for pictures, so this semi-candid shot blows my mind. My aunt has managed to capture them exactly as I see them in my mind when I imagine them. These are the faces they make during those moments when we are teasing each other about being “the worst guy” or pretending to be exasperated (sometimes it’s actual exasperation) and saying “You’re killing me, Smalls.” I am going to frame this picture.

***

Life seems to be increasingly hectic. In between all the working is the life part, and then the house-buying procedural part. This weekend was wonderful – Friday night, Matt came down to Denver and we went out to dinner, then walked and got dessert. He got to meet Jacob since we walked past the restaurant where he works. I like dinner dates with him. Somehow, it’s like we’re the only two people in the world. Interestingly enough, I’m becoming more and more self-conscious as time goes on, worried that I’m repeating myself too often, or talking too much (what’s new?), but at the same time, I’m more comfortable. It’s like we’ve been dating for years and dinners are merely a formality.

On Saturday, I worked at Dairy Queen then went to babysit, then found myself exhausted and went home. On Sunday, I worked, missed the home inspection, then drove to see Matt. He made me caprese lasagna (oh man, so good), we decorated an awesome Halloween gingerbread house, and then watched Moonrise Kingdom. 

I asked him to rub off on me with his healthy eating, so he made the lasagna with whole wheat noodles. I told him I was glad for that, and he seemed surprised. It’s not that I’m not a healthy eater, it’s just that lately, I’ve fallen into a bit of a rut as far as food goes. I’m definitely not making the healthiest choices; I can’t tell you the last time I went grocery shopping; I’m not watching my figure or anything. But I do enjoy healthy food. I don’t want to give him the impression that I’m someone who lives on McGriddles and Mountain Dew, even though right now, I totally am that guy.

Here’s the front of our house.

Halloween Haunted Gingerbread House

And here’s the back:

Spooky Haunted Gingerbread House Halloween

He got the kit at Target. I am very much enjoying his appreciation of all things Halloween. It was a nice Sunday night activity. But by far the best part of Sunday was Moonrise Kingdom.

I love Wes Anderson – he did Rushmore, The Darjeeling Limited, etc. – so when Matt suggested it, I was thrilled. It’s the story of young love – the two kids are about 12 – and the consequences of running away to be together. It is, for lack of better descriptive words, precious. The kids retain their innocence through their adventure, which begins with a courtship conducted entirely via letters.

They make an inventory of what she’s brought on their escape. (He’s some sort of scout, so he’s armed with all the necessary provisions.) She brings books, a record player, and a various amount of other things. It’s a very Katie Barry packing style.

When I was that age – twelve and up – I carried around everything I cared about. It was at twelve that we began taking vacations, and it was at twelve that I did not learn that you will eventually return home, and therefore don’t need to bring everything with you. I would pack two huge suitcases (this was back when you didn’t have to pay baggage fees), and I would fill them with everything, especially books.

I think I fell in love with Suzy when I saw her unpack a suitcase full of books. But I loved the purity of their young love and their determination and their struggles. You should go watch it. It will fill your soul with happiness and remind you of young love, which is something we too often neglect.

On All Intents and Purposes, Intensively

Last Friday, anticipation of our second date sang through my blood, mingling with the terror of an upcoming professional experience: my first trade show appearance. It’s simple: you go, you haul a booth, you set up said booth, then you stand in front of it (or off the side, angled close enough to be attached yet far enough away that you’re not blocking the text that you’ve so carefully crafted) and smile and answer questions about your software.

So I went. I struggled over what to wear, but decided on a loose tweed skirt, black tights, black cardigan, black flats. (Black flats were the best choice. I’m tall to begin with, and wasn’t in the mood to have my double-jointed ankles falling all over the conference.) It was perfect. I looked professional, appropriate, and blended in exactly as I wanted to.

We set up our booth. The attendees wandered through the hall. I smiled. I networked. I talked about legal software and more legal software, and I was happy. I was comfortable, the nerves were gone. At one point, an attendee came over to my table and told me that she wasn’t interested in legal software, but she thought that I was absolutely beautiful. I glowed with pleasure at the unexpected compliment. I love that legal administrators are the friendly grandmother type. It eased the nerves. Now I am one hundred percent sure I can take on lawyers, which I’m surprisingly not intimidated by at all. (That may or may not be a lie.)

It was a good day.

***

But date night was even better! Second date nerves had me throwing things all over my room, unsure of what to wear. I googled it, and one of the results said that I should have worn jeans and a cute top on the first date then upped it to a dress on the second. I rolled my eyes. In the end, I was cold, so I decided on skinny jeans, combat boots, and a gray sweater.

It was cold, dark, and snowing. I was late, but only because he was early. We ate sushi at the place by my house, and I found myself chattering nervously. After dinner, lulled into our first real extended silence, I swirled my water around in my glass and looked up at him. “Can I tell you something?” he asked. Then he told me that I terrify him, but in the best way. He compared me to a t-rex. I raised my eyebrows. Smart man that he is, he quickly assuaged my fears that I somehow resemble a lizard-like – worse, prehistoric – predator. The opposite, in fact. He is under the impression that I am radiant, intelligent, and wonderful. I’m not going to complain.

I told him about my errand-rule: you can tell a lot about a potential relationship by running errands. If doing lame but necessary things together is enjoyable and positive, then the relationship has a better chance of surviving. As it so happened, he needed to run some errands in preparation for Halloween. I was overjoyed, of course, since I find the idea utterly romantic. (Yeah, I get that it’s weird. Whatever.)

Our third date was on Sunday – a day date complete with errands, pure heaven – and it started off with bagels. Then it was off to Target in search of Halloween decorations. Since he commutes for our dates, I drove. Oh god, my car! He saw my car and didn’t leave me right then and there, so that’s got to be a good sign. We drove, and when he didn’t say anything. I started to breathe again.

Pulling into the Target parking lot, he asked me, “Have you ever seen 50/50″? I said no, but I knew what he was going to say. The car scene. Long story short: The guy gets into the girl’s car and it’s got stuff all over the floor. She’s talking and he’s like, “Pull over,” and she does, expecting him to get sick, but then he grabs stuff off her floor and goes to throw it away. She stops him and retrieves her dinner from the pile. It’s cute. When Katie first told me about the car scene in the movie, she ended the story with, “There’s still hope for us!” meaning that someone would still love us even though our cars are messy. She was right.

After two different Targets (when you need a furry spider with orange lights for your wall, you NEED a furry spider with orange lights for your wall), plenty of Halloween decorations and a pair of socks, and a viewing of the movie “Frankenweenie” – during which I cried twice because dogs and kids get me every time – we found ourselves in City Park, wandering.

City Park fall

Autumn in the park is beautiful. He gets credit for this photo, since I am nowhere near that talented a photographer. I wish he’d gotten one with my actual smile instead of my satisfied-but-haven’t-yet-broken-into-a-smile smile. But alas, the more I look at this picture, the more I like it.

This feels different, but in a good way. It’s intense and familiar. I know that I’m prone to leaping into things with both feet, but this is something I’m simultaneously leaping into and dipping just one big toe into. I want to make sure it’s right before going any further, except the more we discuss, the more I find we share. I am examining our motives for seeking out the companionship of another, questioning everything, basking in the newness of it all, and glowing, for no reason other than sometimes you just need to let the light through. The only way to know if it’s right is to forge on and build fierce memories. Fierce, like a t-rex.