Sunday, December 30, 2012

This Wasn't Supposed to be My Bed

        When I look back on the inaugural month of my cross-country move, there is a moment of clarity that sticks out in my mind as a keenly accurate description of my journey to furnish my apartment. My SMART grandmother with her SMART phone (she coined that phrase herself) texted me and asked, “R U feeling at home yet?”
        …For someone who frequently whines about the decay of my generation, she is certainly current on the hip, teen lingo all the cool kids are using, as seen per her abbrevs.

        Anyway, I replied: “Seeing that Carolyn and I are now sitting on a couch, watching West Wing on an actual TV, which is a major upgrade from watching it on a laptop, reclining on a pallet… Yes, I’d say I’m feeling a little more at home these days…”
        (And not that a pallet isn't cozy, but really: doesn't “pallet” bring to mind that thing your parents made for you to sleep on, in their room when you were sick? Which, yes, then begets the memory of being that kind of sick, (not the kind where you got to be queen for a day and watch 15 movies in a row - and by “15 movies in a row,” I mean “Steve Green’s Hide ‘Em In Your Heart on repeat.”) No, I mean the kind of sick where you were probably throwing up and your only consolation was that you got to drink Sprite cause the carbonation would settle your stomach, but your level of neediness was so high that you got to sleep in the Royal Bedchamber, even if it was on the floor… on a PALLET.)
        So before we had beds – before we had ANYTHING, really, Carolyn slept on a pallet and I slept on an air mattress. I was fortunate enough to pack the air mattress, somewhere between my crayon-filled Covenant garage sale drawer set and season one of West Wing, while Carolyn made a pallet out of a duvet and a queen-sized mattress pad, in her room. Seeing that we had no other furniture like oh, say – a couch? (no but really – NONE) we would camp out on the pallet with Dominoes every night and watch the evolution of the Bartlet Administration on my laptop, Max.

(And for those of you who are astute enough to question why we would watch on my laptop, seeing that any and every technological belonging of mine is always a step below (Yes, Max – named for the computer software in the Catherine Coulter FBI novels – is the beloved IBM laptop of mine that has the apple sticker on the front to entertain/confuse people with its irony.) Carolyn had just become the owner of one of those...

...APPLE COMPUTERS THAT’S BASICALLY FROM SPACE: THE MACBOOK AIR PRO STAR JESUS LAPTOP, and it is so technologically thin, just like all those runway models these days, and there’s no room for a DVD player in it, so we watched on mine.)

        How we came by the couches, entertainment center, TV and even the DVD player are a different story for a different day. (No but seriously: Bruce Willis is involved in the DVD player story, no joke.) Today I will regale you with the tale of how one goes about finding a bed, sans husband. And for the record: I tried briefly to guilt Big Daddy into paying for a mattress, by threatening to sleep on the air mattress until I could ask for a bed for Christmas - fortunately this threat was short-lived...
        So on our second or third day in the apartment, Carolyn and I headed to McDonald’s for breakfast (we had no fridge, ergo no breakfast) and we decided to just drive until we saw a mattress store.  
        The Sit ‘n Sleep on Ventura Blvd turned out to be the lucky winner and as soon as we walked in, we were met by a well-dressed saleslady and a “Hi, Ladies. How can I help you today?”
        Glancing at her nametag, I replied, “Hi, Jessica. I’m Grace and this is Carolyn. And ‘how are we, today?’ We are very poor today. What’s the cheapest twin mattress you have?”
(I have since become aware that a single bed is the universal symbol for “SHE’S SLEEPING ALONE, TONIGHT!” and let me be clear: I have no problem with this label. However, I am more concerned with the notion that my bed choice more heavily promotes the image of a tightly wound nun, as opposed to the reality of a starving artist who spends all her money on shoes cookies.
And now that I think about it, I guess it also promotes the image I’m becoming more and more associated with: the orphan. 

(Orphan Grace pathetically turns her head to the side and mutters to Jessica, “Oh I grew up sleeping on an infant-sized mattress, stuffed with straw… I don’t need much…”)

Because above all nuns and orphans is my personal policy: MAMA’S NOT GONNA PAY FOR ANYTHING MORE THAN A TWIN BED.

(Oh and not to mention: you can buy a kid-sized dust ruffle, if you have a twin bed…)

So Jessica pulls out a measly, fit-for-an-orphan mattress: 199$ for mattress and frame. I DON’T THINK SO.

But then Jessica said the magic words: clearance section.

        She took us upstairs to a magical land of discount mattresses and long story short, I wound up face to face with a 500$ memory foam mattress that my girl Jess was willing to give me for $150. (Ok, YES, if you must know: it was “used,” – CALM DOWN; I’M GOING TO EXPLAIN IT, JUST HOLD ON – it means that it was used for under a month and was professionally cleaned. But more than anything, you and I both know it was a BARGAIN.)

        It sounded too good to be true. I turned to Carolyn, who’d wasted no time in stretching out on a nearby mattress, “Should I do it?”

She replied, “Are you really asking me that?”

        When Jess had us signing papers downstairs, I asked the question I love to ask EVERYONE in LA: “SO WHAT CELEBRITIES HAVE YOU SOLD MATTRESSES TO?” (Ok my favorite question is about celebrity sightings, not mattress selection, obviously)

…….Her answer was Kelsey Grammer.

        Something tells me that ole Frasier wasn't in the market for a discount mattress, but he’s also not husband-less and poor, like some of us.


Sunday, December 16, 2012

This Wasn't Supposed to be My Bedside Preference...

Let’s start with this: I've never understood people who openly assert the side of the bed on which they prefer to sleep.

I just… WHAT? It’s a bed. I get it, if you wanna be on the side that’s closer to the bathroom, but that depends on the room layout. Nothing actually changes about the way you sleep, depending on the side of the bed. These people are kind of in the same league as that girlfriend of yours that insists on changing everyone’s formation just before the picture is taken, so she can showcase “her good side.”

1)      Why have you studied your face so closely, that you know your better side?
2)      In case you didn't notice, the guy with the camera is pretty much shooting straight on. Which means both sides of your face get equal screen time right now. Now you just look like a socially awkward diva for making everyone switch with you.

Allow me to address what should have been a second part of that sentence, three rabbit trails ago: “I never understood people who openly acknowledge which side of the bed on which they prefer to sleep… UNTIL NOW.”
I’m a left-side-of-the-bed sleeper, ladies and gentlemen.
Now perhaps my reasoning is the same as all the other uselessly pretentious people who assert their preference, but seeing as it took me weeks to figure this out because I’d never heard anyone mention it before, I’m gonna say that there still must be some elusive reason that is only known to the Uselessly Pretentious (maybe that comes when those select few GET THE MEMO… I wouldn't know). But here’s my reasoning: I need the bedside-table-lamp to be over my left shoulder.
Now if you didn’t release an audible sound of understanding and awe at my genius just now, STAY WITH ME. We’re gonna get there, I promise. I also promise that you’ll categorize me with the Uselessly Pretentious by the time I’m done, which is always entertaining for all parties.
In short: Because I’m right handed, if the lamp is over my right shoulder, there’s a shadow cast over the line on the page on which I’m writing, and it drives me nuts.
No, I’m not an average journal-keeper, but I occasionally write down a line or two in my “Day in the Life” Lilly Pulitzer Journal – yes I said Lilly Pulitzer – I promised Uselessly Pretentious – we’re already halfway there!
And speaking of Uselessly Pretentious, time for a disclaimer: yes, I do think it’s utterly outrageous to spend this much time talking about my darn bedside lamp, but how could I turn down a chance TO ENTERTAIN THE PEOPLE, by sharing what a moron/how slow I was on the uptake with this one?
So initially, I arranged my bed like this:

(I've said it before and I’ll say it again: I refuse to indulge in adult décor and adult habits like MAKING THE BED. I just won’t do it yet. JUDGE ME.)
                So I’m aware that something is vaguely annoying about the light, so I put a few thick books underneath it – who doesn't love a good booster seat? (I should probably add that I found this lamp in a container in the garage, along with a myriad of other things that Davey brought back from college that are totally useful, but for some reason, he didn't take them to law school. Wait - I'm sorry, but if I'm not taking a detour to talk about George Bailey, I'm taking a detour to talk about West Wing, and speaking of West Wing, Davey and Law School, are these two NOT one and the same:

ANYWAY, in that picture, the lamp is sitting on top of a container of drawers that I got from the Covenant Church annual garage sale, and it housed my crayons on the drive across the country (and no, they didn't melt inside the drawers, in the backseat while Shelley sat in the sun when Big Daddy and I hiked the Grand Canyon – I WAS CONCERNED.) So every few nights I would get irritated and add a few more thick books to the pile, trying to elevate the lamp, but never being so irritated that I found it necessary to thoroughly investigate.
                Well obviously at some point, I became severely irritated that I couldn't construct a Jenga stack of books that was high enough to make me feel like I wasn't getting carsick while I wrote at night, from watching the shadow move in front of my letters, AND I SET OUT TO FIND ANSWERS.
                Now in my defense, there’s no way I could have known this trivial fact about which side the lamp needed to be on:
1)      I’m no lighting designer.
2)      I’m no physicist.
3)      Growing up, my reading lamp was clipped to the top of my headboard – technically it was on the right side, but it was so high that there was no shadow over Little Grace’s hand (ok, “Little Grace” is an exaggeration. We all know I was chubby.)
So upon making the discovery of the engineering glitch that had been plaguing my literary efforts, I vigorously patted myself on the back for my brilliant discovery, and switched my bed to look like this:

And yes, as you can see, now the art on the wall looks not only like a third grader created it, but like a third grader was responsible for nonsensically arranging it on the wall, as well. Not to mention the bed is about four inches into the window frame, which means when I throw myself around on the bed in the middle of the night like a toddler, I shuffle the blinds and wake myself up- it’s all a vicious cycle…

So I moved the bed back to its original position, and now we enter a deeply-artsy phase I like to call “Spidey Lamp.” Where the lamp was all-but-Duct-Taped to the wall.
Seriously, I secured the light to the spidey arms of the big lamp with a hair rubber band, then wrapped another rubber band around it that was tacked into the wall, in case it decided to fall over in the middle of the night.

The lamp was now on the utilitarian side of the bed. I was ironing out my engineering problems, one by one, sans Bob the Builder. I could do this. I could MAKE A HOME for myself.

But yet, the lamp was perched so high up, that when I went to turn it off at the end of the night, I practically had to stand on my bed to reach it. And if that were the case, why even risk the death-by-lamp in the middle of the night, when this risk so egregiously outweighed the (lack of) benefit, when I was practically having to do a handstand to turn it off, anyway?

A SHELF. I needed a low shelf, on which to park the lamp, so it was within easy reach.
That's when this happened:


(I wasn't using power tools unsupervised, don’t worry.)

So I went to Target, in search of one of those solo shelves that gets parked in the wall by itself. Yes, there is a lot of socially awkward potential, when you leave a single shelf in the corner to fend for itself, with no other shelves to make it look cool or relevant, but something told me it would have no trouble fitting in with my room décor.

And as it turned out, maybe it wouldn’t have to be a Bachelor Shelf, after all: I found a set of those 3 dimensional squares, all different sizes, practically too trendy to be true. (Or too trendy for my room, anyway.) I was so impatient to solve my lighting conundrum that I settled for a set of “espresso” colored blocks, because they were out of black and oh, I happened to have half a bottle of black craft paint at home and could paint them black, myself. From whence the paint came, I truly do not know. I think I got it for crafts that I made around senior year of high school, because it was in a miscellaneous craft bag that was stuffed in a miscellaneous craft drawer, all through college.

I consulted my Handy Man neighbor, Josh, to see if I could borrow a stud finder and a drill and upon seeing the directions for installation, he offered, “Um, you might wanna let me install this..”

Grace: I CAN FOLLOW DIRECTIONS. I CAN USE POWER TOOLS. Okyeahfine who am I kidding? I would literally take down an entire wall if I tried to do this.

At which point, his wife Amanda threw in, “Grace you should make him teach you how to do it.”

Grace: YEAH! YEAH THAT’S RIGHT! SO THEN I CAN BE SELF-SUFFICIENT AND- okyeahfine will you just come do it?

............You know that SNL skit, “I’m on a Boat!” ?

Now the lamp is singing “I’m on a SHELF!”

Yes, it is adhered to the shelf with industrial strength Velcro, but when there's no Bob the Builder to be a buffer (ie: if it fell in the middle of the night, it would hit my skull, not BtB's) I HAD TO TAKE MATTERS (ok and lighting design, craft paint, dry wall screws and velcro) INTO MY OWN HANDS.

Friday, December 14, 2012

When All Else Fails, Go for the Shoelace...

Well, on the bright side, when (if) I ever do live in a real house one day… it will be immaculate. The attention to detail will be incredible. So incredible that every square inch of the house will be maximized to the most efficient layout possible: it will truly be a palace of easy living.
Yes, it would be great if this were the case because I’m a Pinterest guru, and happen to be shrewd enough to make anything that I see in a picture into a reality (now that I think about it, maybe that’s my aversion to Pinterest: I know that there’s never a way to make it look EXACTLY like the picture, and the whole thing is just too upsetting, and therefore I must construct my own ideas because a) unlike Pinterest, a mental picture is ALWAYS available for editing and b) IF NO ONE SEES MY MENTAL PICTURE, THEY CANT JUDGE THE OUTCOME, LIKE THEY CAN OTHERWISE JUDGE IT WHEN THEY'VE SEEN THE PINTEREST PICTURE.)
It would also be great if my Palace of Easy Living were due to the fact that I married Bob the Builder (yes, forgive my Southern upbringing, and yaaaay independent women, but I’m not going to own a house without a husband. I’m just not. I don’t see the point. Sorry I’m not sorry about it…) So if I were to marry Bob the Builder, perhaps he would be the genius behind the efficient layout of our home (and when I say “efficient layout” – HEAVENS NO, I don’t mean that it will be run on sunshine and green energy, I mean things like: there will be a counter in the laundry room that will be a little lower than waist-high, so you don’t have to awkwardly bend over to retrieve garments out of the laundry basket, or to distribute the folded garments into organized piles, like you have to do when you're folding and sorting on a couch –



But you and I both know… I’m no Pinterest Guru, nor am I going to marry Bob the Builder. Now to an assertion like this, my Darling Mother would insist, “Now you don’t know that, sweetie…” To which I can’t help but reply, “Ma. It’s not like I’m saying I’m gonna be settling if I don’t find me a sturdy Bob-the-Builder-type, but I just don’t see it in the cards for me to hitch my wagon to a strapping young man with a vast collection of drill bits…” 

Bob the Builder and Sage Pinterest-ing aside, the reason that I will ultimately abide in a Palace of Easy Living is because I’m neurotic enough to adjust my surroundings according to the Easiest Living possible, all while adhering to the CHEAPEST WAY POSSIBLE.
That is to say: I've hauled more crap into this apartment off of the streets, than most people even see on the streets in a lifetime. (Ok yes, I do draw the line somewhere, and don’t go hauling mattresses in, off the streets – although there is a good story about how I got my mattress…)

Remember the part about my father being a thrifty Eagle Scout?

I guess I should dedicate this whole series to him, really. He taught me practically every cheap trick I know. (No, not “cheap” as in “cheating people,” but as in: THE MAN KNOWS HOW TO SAVE A PENNY, ANYWHERE, ANYTIME.) When I try and promote my blog to him, he often dramatically insists, “I can’t read it. It’s too depressing and I lose sleep.” He says this because he happened to read an entry where I talked about being loathe to spend money on groceries. DAD, WHERE DO YOU THINK THAT HABIT CAME FROM?
And when I say “thrifty,” I don’t mean I was deprived. I didn't want for much as a child... unless you count having cable in the house, or taking trips to DisneyWorld, which now that I’m on my own, I’m absolutely horrified by the thought of paying for either of those things, so I guess you win that one, Dad. But “thrifty” is to say that the song of my childhood was sung to the tune of “You kids bring some snacks to the movies. Dad’s not paying for popcorn,” or “What do you want in your lunch tomorrow? Yes that’s right, we’re packing our own lunches on this roadtrip. Dad’s not paying for Stinky Burgers at Krystal.” (Yes, he does actually refer to himself in third person, frequently.)

And when I say Eagle Scout, I mean things like this:
He was gracious enough to drive home from Miami with me, to get my car back to Nashville, two years ago, and this picture was taken on the trip home. That’s a Wendy’s bag in his left hand, housing a baked potato. In his right hand, would be rosemary, intended to season said potato, that he plucked straight off a plant, outside the Hampton Inn. (Why the Hampton Inn in Savannah, Georgia had a rosemary bush in its midst, I do not know.)
This isn't to say that I have a wild rosemary bush growing in my room, but it is to say that the man has taught me a few tricks of shrewd ingenuity.
So frugality + innovation + frugality + (did I mention I don’t have a husband to help with ANY of this?) = an apartment that has been very creatively furnished.

There’s a phenomenon in Los Angeles called “Street Shopping,” where people just dump their furniture on the side of the road when they have no more use for it – TALK ABOUT ONE MAN’S TRASH BEING ANOTHER MAN’S TREASURE, cause I will pounce on that shiz.

For the sake of time, I will now share the furniture whose story of obtainment is the shortest:

That bookshelf is one of the only pieces of furniture I've actually paid for – I found it at Goodwill for $40.00.


 I walked outta there, having surrendered only ONE Andy Jackson.

        A strapping young fellow named Liam helped me load it into Carolyn’s car, (she has a Ford Escape, which has been much more accommodating on our furniture jaunts than Shelley would be) but then when it came time to secure the trunk over it, he started helplessly raising his hands and backing away, muttering things like, “cannot help you.”

        Liam didn't speak very much English, so our exchange was difficult at first when I said, “OH YOU MEAN YOU DON’T WANT TO BE LIABLE IF YOU HELP ME SECURE IT AND SOMETHING GOES AWRY?” At his blank stare, I may or may not have gestured to tying down the trunk and then made the universal sign for handcuffs… He understood the handcuff gesture and nodded vigorously.


(Ok wait, first of all – the allCaps are a lie: I wasn't speaking to him like he was seven and hearing impaired. And secondly, Davey isn't a lawyer… YET! But thirdly, is it a viable option if there’s a preemptive vocal absolution? I guess Liam will never know…)

        His eyes got wide at my use of the word “guilt,” and he continued backing away so I played the only card I had left: I started untying my shoe, to indicate that should he leave me there alone, I would tie that sucker off with my own shoelace and he’d really be legally responsible, for leaving me to fend for myself, when the bookshelf flew out of the car and hit Ben Affleck’s Land Rover.

        At my Shoelace Trump Card, Liam launched into action and helped me securely tie the trunk down on top of the bookshelf.

        Don’t worry, Dad: his sudden decision to help was not because he thought my Shoelace Dancemove  was an offering of less-than-noble compensation for his aid, because as soon as I reached for my Nikes, he bolted inside to find some legitimate rope, to stand between my bookshelf and Ben Affleck’s fender.

        Now that sensible Ikea desk in the picture was a Street Shopping Find. My roommate Sam texted me one morning, telling me that there were a few pieces of furniture in the yard across from her office, and Carolyn and I jumped in the car to fetch the desk before it turned into a pumpkin. 

It was kind of long. So we had to move the seats forward a little. And by “a little,” I mean THIS:

Special thanks to: Carolyn, Liam, and my Phantom Husband, who could have solved all of this with a single phone call. (Oh, did I neglect to mention that he’s going to be fabulously wealthy?)

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Living Single Series

So you know how pastors do a Sermon Series?

Grace is gonna do a Blog Series.

Oh geez. Wait, I hate that phrase. How about, “Grace is gonna do a Series of Musings.” Anything to avoid the word “blog.”

It’s going to be called the “Living Single Series,” because it details, well… what happens when you don’t have a husband. And Allison Norris, you may put that Feminist Judgment aside and say it with me: 

Sometimes, life would just be easier if I had a husband.

I’m sorry, is that sexist of me? I’ll leave it to future President of the United States, Allison Norris, to inform me of whether or not the issue is my commentary on the weakness of women or the objectifying of men, but seriously: sometimes you just need a man to do the heavy lifting.

There is absolutely no deeper, metaphorical meaning to that statement, other than the literal truth. Sometimes I wish I had a dude to haul in the heavy stuff (that I mostly find on the street).  

But the fact that there is no Mr. Grace Douglas makes for some pretty hilarious episodes of trying to furnish an apartment by my onesie. (And yes, with the moral support and occasional bicep support of a one Carolyn Murdock. But let’s face it: She doesn’t have the biceps of Arnold.

So stay tuned, people. Cause although it usually feels like this:

And there might be some of this:
It’s mostly this:

And this:

And per usual, the occasional THIS:

Friday, December 7, 2012

This Wasn't Supposed to be 22...

        First things first: I need the record to show that I love Taylor Swift. Yes, she IS the size of my pinky and she DOES date guys for no more than weeks at a time, but we can’t win ‘em all now, can we?  Because even if she IS a total head case, at the end of the day, the girl can write a catchy song. Seriously, stop right now and listen to “I’d Lie.” It’s the most underrated T. Swift song, EVER. (If you ask me if I love Danny Merritt, I'd lie...) 
        I'd also like the record to show that I do not consider this exposition of her lyrics to be "talking smack."
                ......Because I would say ALL OF THIS to her face. 
        Sure, our friendship might get off to a rocky start when she says, "OMG you grew up in Nashville?! ME TOO!" And I'll have to say, "I know you like to tell people that and I know the socially acceptable thing to do right now would be to squeal and give you a Paula Dean hug, but you grew up in Hendersonville. And you can tell the general public that you grew up in "Nashville," because they don't know the difference, BUT you can take off the mask now, TayTay. I KNOW MY GEOGRAPHY."

        Do I think it is at all appropriate or acceptable that she frivolously and unnecessarily uses the word “like” SIX times in “Never Getting Back Together”? I do not. And I’m actually a pretty big advocate for the use of that word, but we gotta draw the line somewhere, TayTay.  

        (Ok forgive my rabbit trail, but I feel inclined to provide the disclaimer that IT IS WITHIN GOOD REASON that I start to indignantly squirm and bite my tongue when I hear anyone over the age of 40 whine that “you kids use the word 'like' too much.” Yes, we do say it too much. But the one element that never seems to be taken into account by the Generational Whiners is that, contrary to their understanding, we don’t just insert that word, every other phrase, because we’re-like-too-busy-updating-our-like-twitter-blogs-to-like-read-real-books. The overuse of the word “like” is due to the fact that it is a substitute for so many other words these days. So when Taylor Swift says “He calls me up and he’s like, ‘I still love you,’ and I’m like, ‘This is exhausting…’” I’m sorry, but I don’t have a huge problem with that. Because it is more colloquial to say “he’s like,” nowadays, as opposed to “he said.” 

It’s a little sad, but very true. 

        When we say “it’s like he wasn't even listening to me,” the word “like” suffices for “as though,” because it would sound stiff and strange if we were to say, “IT IS AS THOUGH HE WERE NOT EVEN LISTENING TO ME.” (Taylor, if you’re reading this, you’re gonna think that you spotted an error in that last sentence. But there’s something called the subjunctive mood, and I don’t have time to explain it, right this second…)

        Now, based on all the other times she says “like,” in the song, she clearly hasn't earned the right to use it in those two instances that might otherwise be acceptable. “Because like, we hadn’t seen each other in a month…” tells us NOTHING about the passage of time and is therefore, as the Generational Whiners would accurately accuse us: unnecessary. It is with that kind of usage that she loses all credibility. And speaking of credibility, TayTay: you have the means. Go to college. When you go to college, you can start sentences with “and,” or use words SUCH AS (see what I did, there?) “gonna” or “gotta,” and no one questions how well-read you are…)

        Yes, I just closed a parenthetical that was started two paragraphs before – the Academic Douglas Snob just took over way too much of this post. Back to lyrical analysis.
        So my roommate Carolyn and I were looking at the Grammy noms (the concert was hosted by T. Swift and a everybody’s favorite rap-artist-turned-actor, Ladies Love Cool James) and I asked Carolyn if she’d heard Swift’s song about being 22. She said, “No, but it will probably make me depressed that I’m not 22 anymore.” I replied, “Actually, it will probably just confuse you, more than anything. But I think “confused” is in the slew of adjectives that she throws together, right before the chorus.”

        Another disclaimer: Yes, I WAS resentful when she came out with the song “15,” because I didn't even get to go to high school with boys - America’s Sweetheart got to have a more traditional high school experience than I did. Don’t get me wrong, my experience was ten times better. We did things like unashamedly-themed birthday celebrations at the Lunch Table. Cate's was a bridal theme: 

        Or the Hannah Montana themed celebration of Steph’s birthday, complete with lipgloss rings:

But “senior boys to wink at you”? Not my high school experience. I’M JUST SAYING.

        So without further ado, let’s take a look at Taylor Swift’s "22," and Grace Douglas’s 22.

It feels like a perfect night to dress up like hipsters
        Ok you've already lost me with your mention of hipsters, Taylor. There aren't a lot of areas of my life in which I consider myself entitled to take the status over you, but YOU CAN’T COMMENT ON HIPSTERS UNLESS THERE’S ZERO POSSIBILITY THAT ANYONE WOULD EVER CONSIDER YOU TO BE ONE. And based on the strange get-up you were sporting, that one time I saw you at the Green Hills Bread and Company, you could EASILY be mistaken as a hipster. So it’s just awkward for you to joke that you’re going to “dress up like a hipster.”

And make fun of our exes, uh uh uh uh
        ….Well you DO have plenty of THOSE to make fun of, TayTay.

It feels like a perfect night for breakfast at midnight
        Too bad you wouldn't know what it’s like to discreetly go to Denny’s at midnight now, would you? Ah the price of fame. Hey, I caused a scene there too, back in the day. I’d ask my boy Francisco if they had Oreos for a Cookies ‘n Cream shake and he’d say, “Probably not, but I’ll make some just for you!” Ethan would get really embarrassed that I knew the staff and they knew my obsession with the shakes – I GET IT, TAYLOR.

To fall in love with strangers uh uh uh uh
        Ok this just leads to STD’s. And I’m not just saying that because John Douglas is my uncle.

We're happy, free, confused, and lonely at the same time
         I mean, I just want to know how she came up with these four. Did she know that she needed two monosyllables, followed by two disyllables? Or are these four seriously the first four words that came to mind to describe being 22? Cause if I articulate the first four words that come to mind about my current phase of life, I've got: cookies, thrilled, unpredictable and hilarious. The only way “free” can even be justified is if it’s describing the life of a college grad. And we know that isn’t TayTay’s life right now…

It's miserable and magical oh yeah
        Is it? IS IT MISERABLE, Taylor? My life is currently miserable because I was raised by a thrifty Eagle Scout, and somehow internalized the idea that it’s much more fulfilling to save money, even when you can afford to buy groceries… Is that your problem too, Taylor?

Tonight's the night when we forget about the deadlines, it's time uh uh
Tell me about your deadlines, Taylor. I DARE you.

I don't know about you, but I’m feeling 22
        Ok first of all, I need the record to show that I've never felt a day under 40 in my life. Which is the reason why now is a great time to promote the man of my dreams, George Bailey, whose father tells him, “You were born old.” Another old soul? Be still, my beating heart.

        That being said, if Taylor and I were out for a night on the town, yes, it would make sense for her to turn to me and say, “I don’t know about you, Grace, but I’m feeling 22…” because clearly I NEVER feel 22. So my biggest question is: to whom is she speaking? Her bodyguard? Or Harry Styles, perhaps? Cause he’s 18. I’m just saying.
Everything will be alright if you keep me next to you
        Wait, I thought tonight she was meeting strangers? So now she wants to stay next to the unnamed, ambiguously-aged, possibly-bodyguard-but-perhaps-OneDirection-boyfriend? 

You don't know about me but I bet you want to
        Ok wait, no, we’re back to the stranger. 

Everything will be alright if we just keep dancing like we're 22, 22
        I don’t know what it is in the above line that reminds me of this picture, nor why I would embarrass myself and SHARE this picture, but I guess if I were to associate dance moves with an age, I’d choose to move my body like Cyclone. Remember that song by Baby Bash? Cause it was the SPRING BREAK OH EIGHT ANTHEM. Any time it came on, I’d start whirling around the room, claiming to literally, be a cyclone. I believe this was taken (we were totally sober, I might add) at a Wendy’s parking lot in Destin, Florida and would you PLEASE look at my super sunburned feet:

I think Jean was a tornado and I was the cyclone, churning around her? All that to say: yeah, we were 18 and CRAAAAAZY, clearly. So if you’ve somehow still got dance moves that immediately pin you as a 22 year old, I don’t really know what you’re doing with your life… (I don’t even think this is the kind of poetic association she was going for; it IS possible that I’m reading way too much into it…)

But seriously, my life was a sunscreen TRAGEDY, that week. Check out that right foot:

It seems like one of those nights
This place is too crowded too many cool kids

It seems like one of those nights
We ditch the whole scene and end up dreaming instead of sleeping
        …But you have to be sleeping in order to dream. This is just… This line is a waste.

We're happy, free, confused, and lonely in the best way
        Still not getting ANY more clarity about why these four go together and are in any way acceptable.

It's miserable and magical oh yeah
Tonight's the night when we forget about the heartbreaks, it's time uh uh
        Well again, you DO have quite enough of those, TayTay.

        I will skip the repetition of that ridiculous chorus, and mention that the only new line we hear in the next two minutes of the song is:
You look like bad news I gotta have you, I gotta have you
        Oh Taylor. Have you learned nothing from, say… Jake Gyllenhaal? Joe Jonas? THE KENNEDY KID?!  It would seem that therein lies the rub: if you’re still saying “he’s looks like bad news; I WANT IT,” then yes, it sounds like you’re going to be 22 for a long time.

…But then I remember that I’m not 42, and realize that if it’s the immaturity of your decisions that defines our age, I’m gonna go ahead and put you at the level of a 13 year old.

So after you exhaust the songwriting topic that is Harry Styles, your next project should clearly be titled “13.” 

But like, until then… yes Taylor, we can still be like, hair-flipping twins.

Friday, November 30, 2012

These Weren’t Supposed to Be My 27 Dresses

How about we start off with a sensible slow-clap, for the members of society who GOT the memo.

            …‘Cause I certainly didn’t.

            Do I even know the exact contents of said “memo”? I do not: it is known only by those elite few who are fortunate enough to receive it. Even its delivery is shrouded in mystery: does it come by way of unicorn, in a glittery Lisa Frank envelope, covered in obscure Tamagotchi stickers? (Oh wait. That’s the envelope in which I hope to receive a marriage proposal – MY BAD.) It’s probably unique – seriously, one of a kind, shabby chic, embossed-in-a-vintage-foreign-language, delivered by a hip and trendy... barista.

Oh yes, I’m talking about that memo.

(If you don’t have a vague idea of the kind of memo I’m talking about by now, the rest of this might be troublesome for you. And if it’s because you’re stuck on the “vintage-foreign-language” line, don’t worry– I don’t know what that means, either.)

           If you do have a vague idea as to that of which I am speaking, then yes, it is that memo: the one that tells those chosen few how to literally assemble ANY combination of clothing and still be able to look fashionable. And not just “fashionable,” more like: just-stepped-off-the-runway-(or-perhaps -a-private-jet-from-somewhere-in-Eastern-Europe-cause-I-do-things-like-that.)

           Does anyone know what I’m talking about? The idea of the memo was actually conceived by my roommate when we were driving home one night and seeing the girl in the car next to us, Carolyn mumbled, “She got the memo…”

           I didn’t even see what the girl was wearing, but as soon as I heard the words “shabby chic,” I made a sound of acknowledgement. Which was probably more of a groan, because with my understanding of the Memo reference also came the reminder that I was not one of the chosen Memo Recipients.

           I’ll never forget the first time I realized that I hadn’t gotten the memo. I was in third grade and our cousins were visiting for the weekend. My cousin Dee needed a pair of dry clothes; we’d probably been to the pool or something, and she ended up with a pair of spandex and a t-shirt of mine. (She’s two years older than I am, but I was so pudgy that she could easily fit into a pair of my clothes, awesome.) So she puts on these green shorts and a St. Thomas VI t-shirt (it had a fish wearing sunglasses on it, for crying outloud) and somehow…  It was the coolest outfit I’d ever seen. I don’t have pictures here in California with me, but I know there is documented evidence of Grace trying to duplicate this outfit, ‘cause it was basically all I wore for the next two years… And somehow I wore it with confidence, having convinced myself that I looked just like Dee had, but deep down, I knew… I probably looked like an orphan.  I’d also like to take a moment to say: this self-deprecation is only for the sake of entertainment. Because, hello: if I’d never had to face the failure of my atrocious fashion concoctions, I’d never learn to laugh at myself. (Special thanks to Jim and Lou, for letting me do things like wear an entirely lavender dress to a cotillion ball, or frequently paint my nails White-Out white, among other things…)

I bring the Memo up, because I encountered the good ole Douglas Dress-Up box this past weekend and was thoroughly entertained, looking through the dresses that I used to prance around in, twenty years ago… Then, before I knew it, I was trying them on and then… yes, I took some self-pictures. I refuse to use the word “selfie,” because, well, a) it’s not super myspace; there’s no shower curtain in the background and b) I used the self-timer so I could see the whole outfit – DUH.
Now you know that our dear friends who have gotten the memo can delve into the dress-up box, throw on anything they lay their hands on, and it will actually look socially acceptable. If I dared to venture out of the house in any of these outfits, I’d be publicly mocked and/or flogged.
I was sort of hinting at this earlier, but in case anyone missed it: this is all for entertainment. These pictures and dresses were too good for me to resist gloriously mocking myself with the rest of the world…
We should obviously start with the failed attempt at a self-timer picture. You're welcome:

Ok now we’re in business. Where did this dress come from? I don’t even understand what’s going on with it, hence I used my hair as a distraction from the obscure pattern…

Ah, here’s an old bridesmaid dress of Lou’s… I tried so hard to make cleavage; I really did. But all that resulted was some really poor posture.

This dress isn’t so bad… Well, I mean, it is bad, because I could never wear it out in public, maybe it just relatively fits, which is unusual for the dress-up box… (*UPDATE: Oh this is rich: Big Daddy just called and informed me that this is the dress Lou wore "when she crashed Amy Grant's first wedding..." I heard some hollering in the background, followed by his addendum, "Ok she says to tell you she didn't crash it and that she went as someone's date..."*)

Another bridesmaid dress of Lou’s. Shhhhh, just let the lavender happen. (No, NOT my cotillion gown, thank goodness...) 

 a)      If you haven’t seen Drunk Uncle on SNL’s Weekend Update, you should.
       b)      He likes to sing advertising jingles. This is what happened when he serenaded Seth Meyers with “Nation Wide is on your siiiiiide.”

       c)       That’s what I was going for, obvi:

Ok this one is actually awesome and it should surprise no one that I’m obsessed with it, but it was Lou’s when she was about 18, so it obviously barely fits my leg. My grandmother went to a wholesale and got a bunch of Lilly patches and my Mom put ‘em into a dress. But Lou weighed about 30 pounds at the time, so I actually couldn’t wear this in public, even if I got the guts to…

I mean, this one isn’t so bad, actually… But like I said: I didn’t get the memo, I’ll play it safe and leave this one in the Dress Up Box…

And for the grand finale… SLOW CLAP FOR THE 1980’s, where I don’t think ANYONE got the memo… (And yes, this ensemble was at the bottom of the box...)

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Please Pass the Mod-Podge...

While I don’t think it’s very appropriate to compare myself and my degree to that of a Medical Doctor, I sometimes see similarities: I can’t help it.
Don’t worry – I’m not about to say that the nobility of my profession is anywhere near that of a doctor, but stay with me, here. In med school, you practice on surgery on dead bodies, dead animals, and probably even your roommate at some point (kidding), but there’s no way to actually simulate all the factors you’re going to encounter when you’re eventually in the Emergency Room one day, trying to get a heart beating again.
I spent four years of college preparing for every kind of audition imaginable, (including dead bodies, dead animals and yes, my roommates) but there is no way to even… well, imagine all the possibilities of what you’ll face at an audition.

So I got my first one, this week.

This is it, Grace. This is what you’ve spent the past four years preparing for. Go get ‘em, Tiger.

No, it wasn’t the audition to play Claire Danes’ surprise-step sister on Homeland or Stephen Amell’s surprise-girlfriend-from-the-deserted-island on Arrow, but trust me: I’m still waiting for those phone calls…
So all I have to do is bring a copy of my headshot and resume and do a one minute monologue. I'm feeling pretty capable. Now we all know that I have about 3.5 monologues that I do EVERYWHERE, ALL THE TIME and this list will never get any bigger. I mean, I memorize new ones all the time, but there are a solid three of them that I will use until I die, then will probably be published on my tombstone. 

Oh that will be great. I can see it, now: “Here lies Grace Douglas… “I’m better now. May I have my job back?”

So I practice said monologue. I’m feeling good about it. I keep reminding myself, throughout the day, to print my headshot, even though I've always held the belief that if they’re really in love with me, they won’t need a headshot.
But like I said: four years of practice. I’ll print the darn headshot. I’d actually just inherited a new printer, so I’d be able to print, right in the comfort of my own home.
I should probably mention that I had to print out a picture because even though I had over one hundred 8x10 headshots stapled to 8x10 resumes, I’d left those at home.

....Nashville "home."

Really, Grace? Was it truly necessary for you to pull the Insecure Actor card on that one and leave the headshots at home because:
“I WON’T NEED THEM!” she wailed dramatically, hurling herself onto the chaise and draping the back of her hand across her forehead, “No one ever hire me, anyway. Get them out of my sight!”

No, I don’t have a chaise lounge, and I’m pretty sure the cushions are so firm on those things that if one were to actually “hurl” themselves onto one, it wouldn't feel too good. But the point is: I had zero headshots onhand.

So I plug in the new printer… And it ran out of ink, mid-headshot.

This was literally worse than freshman year. Oh, because what happened freshman year? My friend Clyde came up with the nickname “Dr. Devilish,” for me, because he found some leftover copies of my headshot in the music library, complete with devil horns, a pitchfork, tail and title “Dr. Devilish” scribbled on them, in red Sharpie. I would like to take a moment to remind the general public that I am ready to be CIA Agent Carrie Mathison’s step-sister on Homeland: I usually don’t leave a trace of my dirty work. But in the music library, that fateful afternoon… I left some loose ends. And God knows, some Asian kid was probably pissed that I’d been monopolizing the color printer AND the stapler for too long, so he took his revenge.
This time, there was no one demonizing my headshot, although I probably would have been better off/more memorable if I’d submitted a “Dr. Devilish” headshot, as opposed to the disaster that the printer had just spit out.
But you know what? Better to have a joke of a headshot than no voice, or a monologue that wasn't fully memorized. Four years of Dr. Devilish-auditions had prepared me for that.
I’d already printed my resume that was, oh whoops- in an 8x10 format, printed onto 8.5x11 paper – where were the scissors? Ah, they were next to the bunny cage, from when I’d used them to cut matted feces out of the little bugger’s nether regions the other day. (Carolyn and I were keeping a bunny for the week. I don't even want to get into it. And NO, it wasn't my idea to remove the matted defecation that way; obviously.)
So now I had the headshot and resume, trimmed with what looked like the hands of a third grader, where was the double-sided tape? Time was running out. But I refused to show up without these two being attached  - I HAVE A COLLEGE DEGREE; I AM A PROFESSIONAL! So naturally, I resorted to the Mod-podge, on the mantle, applied it with my index finger, and stuck the two pages together.

Congratulations, Grace. You officially have a summer-camp-craft to submit as your application.

I flew out the door, third grade craft and all, to find my sweet roommate backing my car out of the front parking spot, so I could get out of the garage without having to move her car. “Break a leg!” she hollered, as I thanked her for moving the cars, and yelled back, “Thanks! Does this outfit look ok? I look frumpy, right? Mousy intern, yeah?” I got the thumbs-up as I peeled out of the garage.
Somehow, I got to the theatre without getting terribly lost (only had to pull over ONCE to figure out where I was) and I parked and made my way toward the building, all while trying to talk myself out of admitting that I was, in fact, in the ghetto. (I’d already sent a text to Carolyn, saying “Oh hello Ghetto, my name is Grace,” as a make-sure-I’m-still-alive-in-an-hour courtesy) I’d like to think it’s not my Nashville roots talking when I say that this was a shady area – it’s not like I was looking for Lilly Pulitzer patterns to be displayed on the side of the building, but no joke, on the wall across the street was a graffiti-ed Barack Obama, holding a revolver.
So I walk in, subconsciously wondering if I've stumbled upon some kind of GOP fortress, but trying to look as California-native as I can, with an attitude of something like, “Dude, no I don’t eat cookies. What do I look like, a private-sector, Capitalist machine? Anyone who eats processed sugar should be burned at the stake and have their ashes smoked by the Governator.”
The guy sitting at the computer by the front desk is wearing headphones and is angled slightly away from me: my presence was not immediately known to him. And so begins the Great Greeting Debate. The same one I have every time at the Belle Meade Harris Teeter Pharmacy, when I know that Vicki knows I’m there, but we haven’t made eye contact, so it’s socially acceptable for her to ignore my presence and get away with it, until I cough or drop my keys on the counter: the social cue that she can no longer ignore.
Obviously the dude at the front desk wasn't deliberately ignoring me, but the kind of debate I’m talking about is that age-old “what’s-a-socially-acceptable-way-to-announce-myself?” one. With Pharmacist Vicki, I can’t ring the bell on the counter: that’s patronizing. More socially acceptable salutation must be sought out. With this guy, I was going to scare the living daylights out of him if I just started in with a “Hi, I’m Grace and I’m a STAR!” which would then mean that the first thirty seconds of our relationship would be really awkward because he would be so taken off-guard /I’d be apologizing for scaring him/he’d be apologizing for having been the scared one/I’d feel bad cause he’d become so apologetic that I’d be apologizing more/his apologies would be especially sincere, because I’m pretty sure he wasn't supposed to be quite so zoned out when he should have been doing his job/I would feel the need to assure him that I wasn't going to rat him out as the lazy secretary who wasn't paying attention… You get the picture.
Fortunately, I went with the safe-but-effective Spastic Gestures Move, meaning: I went through way more of a flurry of movement (than is usually necessary for the average human) to adjust my keys/purse/camp craft project, upon walking through the door, so the movement would catch his eye. As we all know, the visual cue is much less startling than the auditory cue.
With much more ease than would be the case if I'd given no warning of my arrival, we introduced ourselves and he then proceeded to tell me that due to plumbing issues, the auditions had been moved, and told me the building I was looking for was across the street and about a hundred feet down. I stared at him and didn't waste any time, “Let’s just get to the point, here: if I have to walk over there… Am I gonna be safe, right now? I mean, I have pepper spray, but let’s talk about that mural on the wall outside…”
He assured me that I would be fine and sent me on my way. I made it across the street without incident, filled out an audition form and took no more than fifteen seconds to comment on the juvenile quality of my headshot to the stage manager. She was as sick as a dog, and blowing her runny nose on toilet paper: the least I could do was make her smile. Looking back, I’m thinking I also made her job pretty easy with this, because while I would have loved to be one of those silent, polite types (well… if I were either of those things, I would have had a decent headshot on hand) it woulda been great if I could just keep my mouth shut, and pull Puffs Plus out of my Mary Poppins bag that I would be toting, since I was a girl who could be described with words like “meek” and “well-prepared.” But based on my inability to be any of those things and my desperate need to let her know that I was actually aware of how unacceptable my headshot was, when she went to give my paperwork to the director, she probably said one of two things, “Oh, there’s a funny chick here. Her headshot is a joke” Or “ I've got a real lunatic for you. Based on her headshot, she may or may not be homeless.” Those meek girls: it can take a while to figure ‘em out. Grace, on the other hand, laid it all on the table immediately; kindly leaving only two options: juvenile funny chick, or homeless lunatic.
                I think I’m going to blame Jim and Lou for this one. It is their fault that I’m still holding onto the deluded hope that I could one day be taken for a shy and reserved type. Sensible parents would have told me on the first day of kindergarten: “Stop trying to blend in, Grace. It isn't going to happen. You’re just not going to be like the other calm, reticent children.”

You see, I was disciplined by having to "put a crayon in the Lost Crayon bin” on the first day of kindergarten, for speaking without raising my hand. True story: the teacher asked where the Statue of Liberty was, and I was the first to raise my hand and proudly declare, “Birmingham, Alabama!” 
                OK, IN MY DEFENSE, THERE IS A HUGE STATUE OF LIBERTY REPLICA IN BIRMINGHAM (for some reason, when I tell people that story, they automatically assume I’m referring to the Vulcan statue – NO, THERE IS ACTUALLY A LADY LIBERTY STATUE. And I wasn't even allowed to see the Vulcan one up close: Mimi told us that his buttocks was exposed and it wasn't appropriate for young children to see.) So Ms. Daniel politely said, “No, guess again…” and while I racked my brain, none of the other bozos in the class spoke up, and in the adrenaline-charged moment where I realized that I could reestablish my dignity as a kindergarten student for knowing the answer, I blurted out, “New York City!”
To which I was promptly met with, “Grace, please go put a crayon in the Lost Crayon bin.”


Actually, now that I think about my parents’ reaction, (I expected them to be mad that I was disciplined, on the first day of school, no less) their shrugging it off is probably what led to my downhill spiral into developing the personality of “a colorful child.” Maybe if they’d actually been mad that I didn't follow the rules, I would have become a rigid rule-follower, and would have had a professional headshot and travel size container of Puffs Plus that day.
(In all seriousness, it was probably their ability to laugh at the absurdity of a Kindergarten teacher issuing this kind of discipline on the first day of school that led me to submit a wretched headshot and still be able to laugh about it, but I’ve strayed so far from the original point that I’m now wondering why I didn't use crayons to edit my headshot at the time, but none of this is even relevant…)
So I get into the room, fortunately have enough tact to keep my mouth shut about the headshot because at this point, what’s the use? Here’s to hoping my monologue was better than my headshot…
The director glanced over my resume and then asked, “What was your favorite thing about working with… Bruce Miller?”
I had this answer in the bag. But before I could compose an articulate response, a Gollum-esque, reverent whisper slipped out before I could stop it, “HE’S A GENIUS.”
He and I both chuckled at my sudden transformation into a mythical, debatably-sinister woodland creature, before I spoke about Miller in a way that was… shockingly eloquent, compared to how I’d spent most of the night presenting myself. He then asked about my recent move to Los Angeles and posed the question, “So what’s been the hardest thing, about packing up and moving across the country to where you know no one?”
Again, with the Commentary Filter inexplicably shut off, I replied, “Hmmm… I’m trying to decide if I should give a witty answer or a deep answer…”
And in that moment, all the answers that could have been perceived as “deep” were things that I’d actually already faced with a move to Miami, four years before. (ie: not knowing anyone, crazy traffic, crazy people, few potential husbands in sight, etc) So I went with witty: “I’m gonna have to go with the time difference. In all honesty, it’s just really, shockingly inconvenient to be earlier than literally everyone, and I never saw it coming…” (For those of you that might be banging your head on the desk at the daft nature of my reply, worry not: I briefly touched on some things that might have been hard to face, had I not dealt with them in moving to Miami, so he didn't think I was a total headcase.)
The climax of the story isn't nearly as dramatic as the rising action: I did the monologue and got called back on the spot (cue Sally Fields’ “You like me!” speech). So there’s really nothing else to say about that, except to maybe invoke a sensible slow clap for the moral of this story:
Crayons in the Lost Crayon Bin or no: sharp-wit and Mod-Podge are the glue that hold our dreams together.