Who…and I can’t stress this enough…the f*ck am I?
On the precipice of my 38th birthday, as I ponder why I still don’t have a blog called Coffee & Cat Hair, I find myself contemplative. I’m not pondering the meaning of life or anything half that productive, instead I’m finding that my own one-bedroom world is full of curiosities akin to a Victorian wax museum. I think thoughts now that would have never crossed into my consciousness ten or even five years before. The cause, I might add, is entirely unknown. Is it my age? The fact that I haven’t had friends since February? Is it 2020’s entirely skewed understanding of how a year should behave? I’m swaddled in a duvet of mystery that’s shedding feathers faster than I can Dyson them up. At any rate, here’s some weird shit.
1 — How many things in my home are where they are because that’s where Mom says they go? I’m haven’t lived with the woman or an authority figure of any kind since the year 2000 and yet, the underside of my kitchen sink looks like she stocked it herself. At what point do I just start keeping the Windex in my nightstand out of spite and the need to assert my independence?
2 — News radio. I would like to apologize to my grandmother who passed away in 2003 for the absolute lifetime of grief I gave her for listening to news radio. I get it now. And while I’ll acknowledge that she did choose the station that sounded like the auditory embodiment of an asthmatic old man’s tufted leather chair in a poorly lit corner of a household, she didn’t deserve my disdain. I recognized this about myself while listening to What A Day, a podcast that deserves your immediate attention. And while the news now sounds far more concisely and wittily delivered than it did back then, I am now at a place in my life where I, much like my grandmother before me, like to listen to the news. Sometimes I like it more than music. Help.
3 — Food hates me. If I want a peanut butter sandwich, I cannot have that. The simplest culinary act of my lifetime, spreading peanut butter between two slices of soft bread and eating it not at a table of any kind, is no longer a joy afforded to me. Now, I have to have peanut butter containing only peanuts and not one ingredient more forcefully spread over a fragile cracker made of seeds because eating anything resembling bread, and perhaps even looking in bread’s general direction, makes me swell up like Violet turning violet, Violet. Today, I have to pick at the crumbled seed shards on a plate and pray there is some semblance of peanut puree clinging to them if I crave an easy and comforting snack. And even then my gastrointestinal system is a house of cards. My body is in a constant state of evaluation, determining on a case-by-case basis which foods will be tolerated and which will not. There are no logical structures or rules in place by which to plan. Eating for me is like trying to solve a riddle that’s fighting back and has a terrible memory. Brb just going to roast some broccoli and hope it doesn’t send me to my quarters for the remainder of the week.
4 — Tea. Why do I find so much comfort in cups of tea now? Why am I certain that the solution to anything from hydraulic press-style anxiety to general malaise and hopelessness is a hot cup of Bigelow’s Vanilla Chai? We’re both aware of the state of the world right now, do you really think a cup of hot flavored leaf water is enough to calm the nerves? I don’t! But then, I do! It’s like half of my brain is soothed by the liquid embodiment of a grandma hug and the other half actually still belongs to me and wants wine. Only I can’t really drink wine anymore because it gives me the doubles. Do you know how hard it is to watch Netflix to relax when there are twice the cast members the show’s creators intended? I don’t know what I thought would happen to me in my future but the contents of my drinking vessels in the evenings changing this drastically was not anticipated.
5 — Holdy-inny garments. Whelp. I don’t wear dresses without bicycle shorts anymore, how is your Tuesday going?
6 — Contouring is lies. It also makes me look bruised and yes I’ve watched the YouTube videos and bought the blendy things, I’m thinking maybe my face is rebelling against this trickery. Contouring your face to high heaven is akin to wearing another face on top of your face that is not your face. Once you wash your face, you are your face again. It is also extra effort that you have to put into your face that already exists. You already have a face and you are giving yourself another face. This sounds exhausting to me. Either out of laziness or rebellion, I want to look relatively the same, at least like me a little bit, regardless of whether or not I’m wearing makeup. I’ve seen artistic talent on the internet who can transform themselves into literally anyone and if the CIA hasn’t hired these real-life versions of Mystique yet they are missing a goddamned opportunity.
7 — Supplements. I will take anything in pill format, as long as you give it to me one ingredient at a time. Complex multivitamins are, in my mind, total bullshit, but this peppermint oil capsule is going to solve all my problems. I have a cabinet full of half-used supplements and I use them all with such infrequency and in such varied mixtures that there is no way in hell for me to ever know what’s “working” and what’s just making me feel like I gave it my all today. But I really feel like the chlorella helps.
8 — Magic Erasers. I don’t know what magic eraser sponges are made of but they are so effective that I am endlessly baffled as to why we don’t just make everything out of that.
9 — I like Summer Sweaters. You heard me. I mostly like summer sweaters because they remind me of a time when I lived in a place where it gets cold every night no matter what like a proper goddamned climate but also because my arms are none of your business. I cannot stand how summer is essentially just an exercise in me showing the world quantities of my skin I’m uncomfortable with or risking the heat smiting me where I stand. I don’t know when this happened. I was born and raised in Texas and spent a decade worth of summers in the 100+ degree temperatures of an Ojai sleepaway camp for Jewish children, I should be well-adept and taking the heat, but nothing could be further from the truth. I’ve never been a fainter, light headedness isn’t a thing that’s ever plagued me, but these days, I lose my balance just looking up the summer forecast on my fucking phone. Fall and winter are my favorite seasons mostly because they have all the good holidays but also because I can cover my body and not die.
10 — The scent of Gain. I don’t give a shit what I have to do or how much of the planet I have to chemically harm (these are jokes, do not tweet), but the only smell I ever want to smell apart from the scent of baked goods containing blueberries is the crisp, effervescent, floral beauty of Gain. I want it piped into my home from magical vents and I want to secrete it from my body like pheromones. If you can be in a bad mood around Gain you have my pity.
11 — Movies without the internet. Call it escapism if you want, but have you done the internet lately? Running and hiding without leaving the house is literally our whole shit right now. I like to hide inside movies where no one has a cell phone and there is never one entire character devoted to being a tech mastermind beyond current tech capabilities even that controls traffic lights and orchestrates 5-car collisions like Bach. I like to remember a time when the sound of a phone ringing was welcome and opposed to bone-chilling and methods of communication required more vulnerability than bandwidth. Everything is too tech, too cold, and I’m sorry but every time our phones get smarter and our apps get more capable we leak romance and the idea of receiving an actual letter on paper becomes more and more an impossible dream.
Anyway, these are just some things I involuntarily think about while chopping vegetables which is how I relax now since I can’t go to a movie alone or have a patio taco with a friend or two. I shudder to wonder what kinds of thoughts will be sponging themselves into my brain by the time those things are allowed once more, but I promise I’ll let you know what they are anyway. I have to go now. My tea is ready.
Shani Silver is a humor essayist and podcaster based in Brooklyn who writes on Medium, a lot.