Life in Las Vegas, vol. 1

I won’t lie to you. I’m writing this because this morning I got an email telling me my domain name will expire in 60 days unless I renew it, and even though I write in here about twice a year, I’d be sad to just let it expire. I need this blog to exist, you know, just in case. Just in case I feel inspired to drop a line, or driven by depression and cynicism to philosophize about the meaningless of life. So this post is to justify the $80 I am about to spend to preserve colleenallday.com and all of the literary tracts herein.

So what am I up to today, you ask? Well, in case you didn’t know, I work from home now, or rather my father-in-law’s home, so I’m sitting in my makeshift office with a massive to-do list in front of me, and all I’ve done so far is wash my breakfast dishes (dishwasher here is used as drying rack only, as a policy) and take an Advil because man, ’tis the season for phlegm and headaches. Even in this part of the country, where “winter” is a daily high of about 66 degrees and people wander around Trader Joe’s in flip-flops and cargo shorts. As a matter of principle, I stick to pants and long sleeves and covered shoes and the occasional scarf, and yet I still can’t evade the common cold. Also, I wasn’t going to mention this, but I’m drinking kombucha and obsessively checking my heart rate on my Apple watch, which seems to be higher today than usual. And now I’m Googling possible side effects of kombucha, and apparently this stuff is NOT what the doctor ordered? I give up.

Quick change of subject because I need to get my mind off of my heart rate. (PSA: If you display even mild symptoms of hypochondria, I would advise you to maybe not purchase an Apple watch or any fitness tracker that allows you to monitor your vitals. It’s just not something the common person needs to know, maybe. The Apple watch may be the direct cause of the stye I developed last month, but more on that later––because of course I’m going to discuss my eye cysts!) Anyway, I’ve mentioned this before, but I read a lot of fashion/lifestyle blogs because they’re basically postmodern escapist literature. (I’m probably not applying the term postmodern correctly, but I’m going to keep it in there because it sounds smart of me. Also, the verb “read” in this instance is perhaps overly generous, since lifestyle blogs generally contain very few words and lots of pictures of shoes, jackets, and tablescapes, as wells as sponsored links to gotta-have-it skincare products.) By almost any standard, lifestyle blogs are completely insane. These women essentially stage their whole lives in order to make a buck from companies that have long realized mail-order catalogs aren’t a thing anymore. Instagram is the new frontier of advertising, and these women are what catalog models used to be, only it’s much more sinister than that because their life is the catalog. Right? Let that sink in.

But all that aside, I can’t stop reading them, though I’m going to limit my intake in 2018 (more on that later). Right now every lifestyle blogger in America is posting about one of two things: (1) the death of Thomas S. Monson, president of the LDS Church (lots of Mormon bloggers out there) and (2) their 2018 resolutions, which, of course, will become a promotional opportunity for Nordstrom’s $90 workout leggings next week. Nevertheless, this social media trend has compelled me to look inward, ever so slightly, and consider what I want to accomplish over the next 12 months. So, here:

  1. Reduce stress-related ailments. I paid a $30 copay no fewer than three times this year to have different specialists tell me that my symptoms were most likely stress related and that I should probably calm down. I think my ophthalmologist was especially annoyed that he wasted 7 minutes of his life telling me that, yes, it was just a stye, and yes, it will go away within a couple of weeks, and just chill a little bit and enjoy the holidays, and here are some $87 eye drops (which I paid, because I do not mess around when it comes to matters of my vanity). In 2018, I would like to not be the cause of doctors asking themselves, I went to medical school for this?
  2. Commit to this season of The Bachelor. Every year I try to watch, and every year I fail because it is an objectively gross show. But it’s also pretty funny, so maybe I owe it to myself to indulge in a little comedy and root for the 30-something gal among the sea of recent college graduates.
  3. Spend money on experiences, not things. In which I sit on my hands and do not visit Madewell’s website. I have plenty of clothes and shoes and bags. And if I’m being honest, I wear the same thing every day anyway: running leggings from Costco, one of my souvenir t-shirts (today is a Dallas, TX, Lone Star State tee that my brother got for me, probably in the Dallas airport). This year, I want to give my money to activities and maybe even a trip or two, and not to Nordstrom sales.
  4. Write a strongly worded, but not too strongly worded email to our wedding photographer. I’ve had an unanswered email in my inbox from her for almost two months, and it haunts my dreams because I hate to feel like I’m ignoring someone, but I also have no idea what to say. How much time needs to pass before responding to an email is weirder than had you just continued with the silence indefinite, forevermore? And is “forgive and forget” an acceptable policy when you paid someone a lot of money for a service? A question that also haunts my dreams. On most days I lean toward “yes,” while on all days my husband leans toward “no,” and thus we are at an impasse. In 2018 I would like to stop thinking about this, because our wedding was so 2017.
  5. Read more books, see more movies. Last Friday I read over 200 pages of John Green’s Turtles All the Way Down and then went to the movies to see The Greatest Showman, and while neither totally blew my mind, the experience was seriously rejuvenating. I used to read all the time, and for the past year I’ve been so distracted by other stuff––wedding planning, and then moving, and then adjusting to life on the other side of the country in a house that isn’t mine. But I always feel most like myself when I’m reading a book or criticizing a movie’s narrative arc, and when I do that a little bit it’s always a reminder that I need it more.
  6. Do a full push-up 10 times. I have pretty good cardiovascular abilities but the arm strength of a duckling.
  7. Wean myself off sugar. I think it’s insane when people try to do this, because sugar is so good and life is so short. But I’m pretty sure it’s also a reason why life is so short, so I’m going to stop behaving like ice cream is a basic food group.
  8. De-clutter. Throwing stuff away can be sad but also incredibly liberating. I don’t need a drawer of plastic bags and neither do you.
  9. “Go dark” on social media at least once a week. To be clear, I do not post all that much on social media, mostly because I think it’s weird when people share too much and I do not want to be one of those people. I’ve taken a lot of pride  in the fact that people with whom I went to high school and college, with whom I do not currently have a personal relationship, have no idea what I’m up to. They may have gathered I recently got married as evidenced by my updated profile picture, but that’s pretty much the end of their knowledge of me and my life. I haven’t even updated my current city because people who don’t already know don’t need to. However, even though I share very little, I’m on social media a lot––despite the fact that much of my feed is shared recipes and memes. Periodic scrolling through Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter is almost automatic at this point––I’d like to think I’m not the only one who is guilty of this––and honestly, I think it can be a major source of depression and anxiety. Like, if I didn’t see so many people on a daily basis posting pictures of their new houses, or fancy cars, or trips to the Maldives or Greece, or pregnancy announcements, I probably wouldn’t be as self-conscious about the fact that I’m living in my father-in-law’s house, can’t afford another vacation for five years, probably, and am nowhere near psychologically ready to procreate. Constant comparison breeds constant anxiety, and I really do feel Facebook is directly responsible for the spike in Xanax prescriptions over the years. So at least once a week, my laptop can’t be opened unless I need to pay a bill or write an email or something equally benign, and my phone can only be used to call or text. No Facebook, no Instagram, no blogs, and certainly no kingdom of negativity that is Twitter. Y’all are low-key Debbie Downers.
  10. Expand my cooking repertoire (in my own kitchen). All I want this year is my own kitchen, where I can have a beautiful, clean, stocked refrigerator, and all of my shiny, never-before-used appliances out on display, and a dishwasher that can be used to actually clean the dishes rather than as a mere holding cell for them until they are dry. What follows, I hope, is more of a desire to experiment with new recipes, aka anything that is not eggs, taco salad, and pre-prepared dinners from Trader Joe’s.
  11. Live somewhere with my husband and no one else. I’ve never been a roommate type of gal, because I frequently live my life in a state of “please leave me alone.” My husband doesn’t count, because he too likes to be left alone, and between the two of us, I am often the clingier party. For example, last night he went to leave the room and I asked, “Where are you going?” and he replied with a shrug, “Around.” I think uninterrupted solitude will do wonders for both of us.
  12. Be happier, less moody. Moodiness is a family trait that has been passed down for generations on my dad’s side, a condition both my brother and I inherited. (Our other brother is a weird anomaly who always seems to be happy, which has annoyed both of us for decades.) My grandma, who is an otherwise perfect, gentle, loving woman with a limitless capacity for understanding and affection, once threw a plate at her husband’s head, and while I have never personally done this (yet), it’s a desire I can identify with occasionally, particularly when I’m already in a bad mood. But what I’ve realized more and more lately is that moody can get harder to pull yourself out of, and when you’re down sometimes you want to take others down with you––or you pull them down inadvertently, you can’t help it, because your mood spreads over a room like a dark cloud or conjunctivitis. Surely, none of this is good for one’s mental health, so it’s imperative that I regularly remind myself that my life is not bad.  I repeat, my life is not bad. Sometimes it can feel like it, thanks to devils like Facebook and whatnot, but by most accounts it’s a pretty solid life that I don’t give enough credit. I suppose this is what the bloggers mean when they talk about practicing gratitude. (Perhaps I, too, would be enthusiastic about practicing gratitude if I made my livelihood posing on the Internet with expensive sports cars, while wearing a dress that’s 40% off plus $20 off additional if you use my promo code!, but somehow still $658, though this is neither here nor there.) Seriously, though, it’s positive mental health to not act like an asshole, and sometimes I act like an asshole who needs to check herself before she wrecks herself. Things are going to be fine. There’s one lyric about happiness from the much beloved-by-suburban-moms Trans-Siberian Orchestra that goes, “If you pretend long enough, never giving up, it just might be who you are.” That might be a recipe for a life of self-delusion or just about the best idea I’ve ever heard. There are worse things than being delusional to the point of pure joy, you know?

I could probably stand to add a few more goals here, but for now that’s the end of the list because it’s time for my mid-morning snack and also to do the job people pay me to do. So, until we meet again!

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