Monday, November 12, 2012

My Panda Pants

So I’ve got these Panda Pants…

[I figured I would go direct with this one, because, let’s be honest here—the words “So I’ve got these Panda Pants” are rarely uttered into the blogosphere. Also I didn’t know how to start this blog.]

But anyway…my Panda Pants. And yep, the capitalization of Panda Pants is necessary. The capitalization is necessary because these pants are not just ordinary pants--not quite the Sisterhood of the Traveling variety, they’re pajama bottoms, but still-- these pajama bottoms are special.  I’ll explain, so bear with me. (Corny Pun Count: 1).

For one, I must reiterate that these pajama pants have freakin’ pandas on them. And not just a few cartoon pandas here and there—these pants have, like, 50 pandas, all smiling at me against a sky-blue cotton tapestry that match their sky-blue panda eyes, which I don’t think is anatomically accurate but whatever.

For another, these fifty-something, anatomically-inaccurate blue-eyed pandas are so joyful, jumping with their yellow daisy flowers and four panda paws spread high and wide, like “You can do it, Lindsay! Today is your day!” And they are just happy to be frolicking on the fabric that constitutes my pajama bottoms: My Left-Knee Panda, my Lower-Ankle Panda, my Calf-Panda. All just happy to be there.

These are happy pandas. These are my Happy Panda Pants.

There are two more things you need to know about my Panda Pants:

First, they weren’t always called Panda Pants (capital P’s necessary). Actually, they didn’t have a name at all, since they were just regular old pajama pants. But if they did have a name prior to Panda Pants, it would have been The Pajama Pants I Kept At My Parent’s House and Wore When I Came Home Some Weekends in College and Had Forgotten to Bring My Normal Pajama Pants.

Doesn’t quite roll off the tongue as easily as Panda Pants.

My mom was the one who gave these precious pajama bottoms their moniker. In doing so, she simultaneously gave me a wake-up call. A wake up call I guess I needed.

Last fall, I had already finished classes on campus at CMU, but still needed to finish my thesis so I could graduate that December. While at home, plugging away at the research, I had gotten in a sort of…funk. I was frustrated with the research process, worried I wouldn’t graduate, and concerned about the next steps of my life. And so, as a subconscious result, I picked up the habit of wearing my pajama pants with the cartoon pandas on them….often.

So often, in fact, that one morning while rocking the Pants and working on my thesis downstairs, I looked up and noticed my mom looking at me awkwardly. Or rather, looking at my legs awkwardly. She was eyeing up the pandas.

“What?” I asked her, annoyed, my eyebrows raised.

“Lindsay,” my mom said in a tone that suggested an important life lesson would follow after it. She stood up from the kitchen table, her brown coffee cup in one hand and a concerned look on her face. “Get out of those panda pants.”

“What do you mean, ‘Get out of those panda pants’? I replied, looking down at the pandas’ friendly faces, then back up at my mother. “Mom, these pants are comfortable.”

“They’re old,” my mom replied, walking over to the coffee pot and pouring herself a cup. She has taken her coffee the same way my entire life: Black, caffeinated, Folger’s. No sugar, no cream. When it comes to coffee, my mom is hardcore.

“I am sick of you wearing them every day,” she continued in an almost amused tone. “They are almost half-your age.”

“They are…um…not,” I said, looking down.

My mom was laughing now. “Yes, they are! And you don’t need to wear them. Wear your Victoria’s Secret pajama pants, those PINK ones, or better yet, wear jeans.”

Which brings my to the second detail you need to know about these pajama pants:

I may or may not—OK, I may-- have purchased these pajama bottoms in seventh grade. When I was 12. [The 1999 Version of Lindsay, all metal-mouthed/head-geared, strawberry Lip-Smackered and boy-crazy.]  Which would make these pajama pants 13-years-old, one year older than the age I was one I first bought them.
There's me, in all of my 7th-grade glory, wearing the Panda Pants.
I remember being bummed my dad was blinking in this photo. All well.

“But they pandas…they’re telling me today is my day…” I replied, to my mom, looking sorrowfully down at Right-Knee Panda, who was grinning and leaping and holding it’s yellow daisy flower.

“Honey,” my mom looked at me wistfully as she walked upstairs. “They’re pajama pants; they aren’t telling you it’s your day. If anything, your panda pals should be telling you “Goodnight.” Because they are pajamas, which are items of clothing that you should wear at night. But it’s not night; it’s 1:03 p.m. in the afternoon. And you are 24-years-old. Work on your thesis, do great things. The Panda Pants have gotta go.” She went into the bathroom, closed the door.

I sighed. My mom always knew how to make a point. Some people eat chocolate for comfort. Others work out.

Apparently I, a then 24-years-old woman, wear pajamas with cartoon pandas I first purchased when I was 12.

So that day, I got out of my Panda Pants. Sometimes only your mom can say the thing that gives you an even louder wake-up call then that annoying “Eeeh, eeh, eeh” sound every alarm clock makes.

I will admit, however, that much to my mother’s dismay, I did not—though I tried; the pants were in the Goodwill box for awhile—get rid of the Panda Pants. It has now become a joke between my mom and I, those silly Panda Pants. I still wear them. But I don’t need them for comfort like I did.  Or think I did.

Long live the Panda Pants.  I’m crossing my fingers Panda Claus will reward me. (Corny Pun Count: 2).  

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Defining Moments

In each stage of our life, there are many moments that can define us.

High school graduations with yellow tassels and blue gowns, mortar board caps thrown effortlessly in the air because we did it, we made it, we graduated. Parties with chocolate cake and purple frosting that make your Great Uncle Steve’s teeth appear as he eats and grins, “Congratulations, graduate!” 

The first days of college as you wear your ID around a green and white lanyard and walk to BIO 101, feeling homesick but never admitting it because you want —need—to do this on your own. Even if the dorm food sucks. And you let yourself get duped by college boys with diamond earrings that are square and one-liners that are smooth, using Disney movie references and lines from "The Notebook" to morph your mind into thinking you're special. Riggghhht.

Your best friend’s wedding as you nervously say your Maid of Honor speech wearing a satin orange gown that you will not, cannot, refuse to “shorten and wear again.” Your own wedding as you walk down the aisle wearing a white wedding gown, feeling beautiful and simple and elegant and happy.

And me? One of my defining moments?

I was four-years-old wearing an itchy gingerbread man costume made out of brown felt and white sequins.

I was at the end of my second year taking tap dance lessons at the local “School of Dance” (not just a dance studio, but a “School of Dance.” In italics.). My parents were escorting me to the required dance rehearsal, a warm-up for next night’s recital, the real deal, my tap dance debut. I would be doing a cutesy number where myself and 15 other little girls were dressed as mini-gingerbread men in tan tights and red lipstick. Because nothing says sugar-n-spice sweet like little girls dressed as cookies.

I remember tap-shuffle-ball-changing as I itched my gingerbread head on stage in front of the dancer’s parents. I remember the other girls tapping and twisting in front of me once we were done, pushing me to the back of the line lead by the instructor urging us to follow her like a gaggle of baby geese.

And I remember me, the feisty four-year-old that I was, being mad I was at the back of that line. I remember looking at the girls in front of me and then back out at stage behind me. I remember turning around and without a word, walking away from the line of tappers and back onto the stage by myself.
The Lone Gingerbread Girl, on a mission: I was going to hop off stage and find my mom myself. 
Forget those other girls. Or, in grown-up terms that I can say more than twenty years later: Screw this.

I stepped onto the brown wooden floor of the stage and was blinded by the stage lights, shining bright, blinking red, green and yellow like a stoplight, only these lights weren't directing me when or where to go. These lights were waiting for me to go. These lights were saying, "Your move, cookie."

I remember thinking (not literally thinking these words; I mean, I was only four-years-old): "Wow. Those lights are bright. I cannot see where my mom is because of those lights. What do I do?"

I didn’t have a plan. I didn’t know how I would find my mom once I got into the audience. But I knew I would.   

I got off the stage thanks to a parent in the front row. Somehow I found my dad at the back of the auditorium wearing a surprised face and his trademark Ford Motor hat. And a few minutes later, my mother accompanied us, sobbing hysterically, which scared me. I was confused. Why was she crying? Wasn't this easier? I made my own solution. It was quicker. Here I was. I was right here. The Little Gingerbread Girl.

“Where were you?” she cried as she hugged me tight, the brown felt of the costume itching my face. “I went backstage and you weren’t there! Don’t ever do that again to Mommy!” 

She spent the rest of the night instructing me how I must, must, MUST make sure to go back to the dressing room tomorrow night. Suffice to say, the next night, I was at the dressing room right where I was supposed to be. 

Now at 25-years-old, I think back to that memory of little four-year-old Lindsay, all brown felt and fearlessness. I can’t help but feel as if I need to take a page out of her book. 
Because nowadays, as a quote-unquote “adult,” I sometimes shrink behind others when I should let myself shine. When I get upset about something, I don’t always do things to change it. I get scared to stand out and be vulnerable in front of people. 

And yet my four-year-old self wasn’t.

With her gingerbread costume and determination, she wasn’t scared to be herself. She went after what she wanted. She didn’t want to be at the back of the line; she didn’t settle with people shuffling her around, taking the spot before her. She made her own solutions and she did it without worrying what the people in the audience would think (though I am sure if I was blogging from my mom's point of view of this story, it wouldn't be the same perspective.)

Maybe we all should look back to who we were when we were little and remember our fearlessness. Remember the days where we didn’t care what others thought.

We need to turn around and not be afraid to get back on stage, alone in the spotlight. Being exactly who we were born to be, without limits or fears. 

Or a gingerbread costume.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Write Right, Right Write?

I'll be back.
    --Arnold SwarzasomethingIspelledwronganddon'tfeellikeGooglingit

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

The Gym

Ah, yes, I think. The moans and groans of the gym. A place where noises of this caliber in any other context would signal some sort of strange sexual release, imminent danger or weird nature call.  But no, I’m at the gym, and at the gym, you don’t question groans. Or mention bad body odor. Or feel awkward doing those hip-thrusting exercises. At the gym, pretty much anything goes.
Dressed in a Relay for Life T-Shirt circa 2004 and maroon and gold CMU shorts, I walk in to the mat-covered room, taking in the tight Spandex, bulging veins and satin basketball shorts. The place is pretty busy as people of all shapes and sizes attempt to maneuver around the various weight machines –metal contaptions featuring mini cartoon bodies on the side highlighting the muscle groups, making promises that yes, you will work your biceps, your back, your quads with this machine. A collective smell of sweat and hope – hope that this year, I’m sticking to my new year’s resolution; hope that this time, I will lift 217 pounds; hope that by God, I will run around this track until I’m dizzy or pass out— lingers.
I walk further into the room and look to my left, pulling my stub of a ponytail tighter as I curiously begin looking for the culprit who sounded more bamboo than human to express his muscular pain.  Or strength.  You never could tell.
The groan echoes again, and this time, I spot him.  A man with a red face, blonde hair, green MSU shorts and tan –scratch that, orange—skin stands –scratch that, squats—near me in his rainbow of workout glory.  Sweat drips down his face like mini tributaries of testosterone and water as he puts down the dumbbells and walks –scratch that, struts—to the water fountain to hydrate those heavily worked muscles of his.
I sigh, bending down to tie my black and pink tennis shoes, a steal I got at the cheap shoe store at the mall. Loop, swoop, pull. As I stand up, I look just in time to see the man-bamboo  (man-boo?) wink to a girl with a Snooki poof and black yoga pants as he continues to strut gallantly to the bench press. Ew. would bet fifty bucks this guy would call that strutting  “swagger” but I say he looks like an awkward rooster. Or a baby horse that is just learning to walk, all stumbling and sideways. I turn towards the track.
The gym is quite the eclectic place, perfect for prime people watching because mostly everyone –whether you are fit, fat, guy, girl, 65-years old with blue hair and high cholesterol or 18-years-old with a tan and low metabolism, is somewhat conscious of their health and body. Fortunately (I see you, Attractive Guy Wearing Michigan Basketball Shorts) or unfortunately (Your shirt is wayyy too low, Middle-Age Woman with the Baby Phat Top), everyone has a body, and the gym is a place to work out that body.  So you get to see a lot of unique people.  And hear a lot of groaning.
I am not the cute girl when I work out. I don’t have hoop earrings in.  I usually wear T-Shirts and shorts instead of those matchy-matchy, cute-but-looks-like-I’m-not-trying-to-look-cute workout outfits from Victoria’s Secret. My hair is not teased to any sort of volume. My new shoes often make me trip on the track.
So yes, I am quite the looker. And on top of all that, no matter how good of shape I am in, I always look sweaty and red.
Passed down from my mother to me, my post-workout face’s tendency to turn a strange reddish-pink hue makes me end up looking like a faded red Crayola washable marker that lost its cap.  Sometimes when working out with friends, I will make a disclaimer: “Don’t be alarmed at how red or pink my face gets. I’m fine.” 
One day after working out, I decided to make a trip to Subway, since that makes sense, right? Consuming a bunch of calories after burning a bunch of calories? Go team. Anyway, while making my six-inch turkey on wheat with green peppers, pickles, lettuce and honey mustard  (Not toasted. I’m no diva.) The Sandwich Artist looked at me curiously, then said, “Someone just got out of the tanner, eh? You’re looking a little burnt.”
Starving and sweaty, I was confused for a second. Burnt? Then I realized he thought the color of my face was due to the overexertion of fake UV rays rather than an overexertion of my cardiovascular system.
“Um, yup,” I replied while looking down, embarrassed for some reason. “Those tanners. It’s those last two minutes that got me.” Why was I lying?
“Yup,” he replied as he layered the turkey slices over each other, tucking them in in a bed of wheat bread. “One time I stayed out in the sun too long in Florida. Got sunburnt so bad there were blisters oozing all over me.” While telling his Florida tale, he squirted the honey mustard a little too eagerly on my sandwich, the pale yellow condiment spreading thick over the lettuce. I grimaced as I looked at the honey mustard while visualizing his blisters.  Goodbye appetite.
“That’s really…um…(Gross? Too much information?) Detailed…” I reply.
“Yeah,” he laughed. “So be careful in those tanners.”
Overall, though, working out is a good time. You get healthy. You see lots of unique people. You hear weird groans. It’s a jungle in there. Or rather, it’s a jungle..wait for it….gym.
[Corny joke. You like it.]

Sunday, January 22, 2012

I Got Nothin'

I wanted to sit down and write a blog tonight. I wanted to rock my gray CMU sweatpants, burn my Pink Lady Slipper candle from Yankee Candle, prop my pony-tailed self up on some fluffy, feathered pillows, and write a good ole’ new-fashioned (because it certainly isn’t old-fashioned to write a blog) blog.
But I couldn’t.
To give myself some credit, I tried to type out a few things. First, I tried writing about social media and how we are always connected. That wasn’t flowing. Then I started writing about my dad, but it ended up being a rambling blurb of words that had no point.
I tried to write about the time I thought I was going to die in a tornado. But it was boring, even to me,  and a story about almost dying in a tornado is supposed to be interesting, so I cut and copied that sucker, the words vanishing-poof! like Mac magic-and I was left with a computer screen as blank as my mind feels right now.
However, I am stubborn. I decided I would just start typing for the sake of typing.
So here I am. Writing, typing, pushing keys about nothing, trying to fight the fact I have nothing to blog about that sounds good to me.
It’s strange I have nothing to say because my mind is usually full of thoughts bouncing around, bobbing up and down like mini-marshmallows in a cup of hot chocolate. Ironically, it’s the times I actually want my mind to be blank that are the times my thoughts won’t shut off, particularly at night, which makes me think my deep, worrisome thoughts are nocturnal. Like feathery, baby nocturnal thought owls. I need a “Thoughts Off” switch. Or a Clap-On, Clap-Off for Thoughts. But that would get confusing, especially at sporting events and concerts, all that clapping and cheering. I would be the epitome of dazed and confused.
When my mind isn’t consumed with thoughts of “What if?!” (because yes, to my slight dismay, I am a “What If?” girl, not a “Why Not?” girl) my thoughts tend to be of the Very Random variety. The other day, I spent my entire drive home from work trying to decide what my entrance music would be if I was a WWE wrestler.  I went with “Push It” by Salt-N-Pepa. Or Eye of the Tiger. But I still think those might be too predictable, so I continue to marinate my mind on that one. Plus, let’s be honest, no entrance music can beat Shawn “The Heartbreak Kid” Michaels’ music anyway.
I think about where the guy who invented Beanie Babies is now. Could he advise me what to do with Garcia the tie-dyed bear, Tabasco the red bull, or all the other Beanie Babies locked in a Rubbermaid boxed-prison in my basement? I think about how I need to start cooking more. Or baking. I wonder which one’s easier.
I think about my first grade teacher and how she’s a yoga instructor now, and I wonder how she decided to make that switch. Is she still off doing downward dog and pigeon and monkey and moonflower poses, becoming in tune with her inner chi? Does she remember me, the girl who read “The Rainbow Fish” and was scared of Mr. Klenk, the gym teacher?
Last week, I was thinking about how I could incorporate ketchup in a classy way at my future wedding, assuming I find a schmuck that decides he wants to keep me around forever.  Then I went back and forth on whether I’d want a fall wedding or a spring wedding and started to agonize about it –fall or spring, fall or spring-until I asked my mom what she thought, to which she replied while continuing to nonchalantly wash the dishes with the bright green liquid soap:
“Honey, you are not engaged.”
 Oh, yeah. That’s right. I’m not.
“So why does it matter right now?” She puts down the bottle of soap.
True. It doesn’t.
Through my constant stream of random thoughts about weddings and Beanie Babies and yoga instructors (oh my!), the constant thought in my mind these days is how life seems to be moving at warp speed. I scroll through Facebook (Side note: Why do people always post pictures of awesome things they are doing, like going to Italy or some fun themed party, right when I am conveniently at home in my pajamas feeling lame? I always sign off of Facebook thinking other peoples’ lives look so much cooler than mine, even though I am appreciative of my life experiences) and I see pictures of engagements. Weddings. Babies. Lots of babies.
And I think, “When did this happen? When did we get to be old enough to be parents, professionals, moms, dads? I almost did Mock Rock with you in middle school, and you’ve been married for two years? We were in the fifth grade rendition of the Tom Sawyer play, and you have a baby?  You were that one guy dressed as that one Care Bear at that one Halloween party at the Yooper House, and you’re a successful lawyer?”
Where has the time gone? When did we become full-fledged adults?
The good thing about growing up is we all are doing it together, even the grown ups who are all “grown up.” I think, at the end of the day, we have no idea what we are doing when it comes to living life, regardless of what age we are. And the older I get, the more I realize you can’t control what happens. Life’s a big game of “Fake It ‘Till You Make It.” Timing is everything. So is time itself.
Often, I feel like time is slipping away, smooth and silent like satin over my fingertips, and that scares me. I want to do as much as I can, live a full life, learn and grow, and yet I feel the clock ticking away with each passing day. I look in the mirror and still see someone who has a lot to learn. But to be fair, as I sit here, looking at my 24-year-old self and mulling over the Fast Times of Lindsay’s Life, I realize I have actually learned some lessons over the years of awkwardness and “figuring myself out” that have helped me to not make the same mistakes twice. Things such as:
1.      Don’t talk behind people’s backs, especially if you are a 7th grade girl. 7th grade girls are vicious.
2.      People show you their true colors, especially when times are tough.
3.      Quality is better than quantity.
4.      Ketchup isn’t good on everything. Even for me.
5.      Not saying how you really feel is only hurting yourself.
6.      Worrying is a waste of time, but don’t worry about worrying.
7.      Ex-boyfriends are ex-boyfriends for a reason.
8.      Bad dates make for great stories.
9.      Talkings is better than texting 95% of the time.
10.   Do what you feel is right for you, not what’s right for someone else.
11.  If someone makes you happy, keep him or her around. If someone makes you sad, don’t keep him or her around.
12.  At the end of the day, you are never in complete control of your life. One must embrace the craziness. And the ridiculousness. And the randomness.

I think it’s okay we don’t know everything, even about ourselves. I think it’s okay if we are scared, or uncertain, or worried, or hopeful but afraid to be hopeful. I think it’s alright to still feel upset about things that happened in the past, to not fully get over an event that has scarred you. Scars make us real. Our uncertainty makes us human. All we can do is try. Even if we don’t try our best because we don’t know what our best is, or we don’t think our best is good enough, at least we are trying. And failing. And getting up and trying again because the result is worth it, really worth it. Or at least worth more than the fear of not having it, whether “it” is doing well at your job. Moving to a new place. Making new friends. Earning a lot of money. Getting huge bicep muscles. Standing up for yourself. Falling in love.
So that’s it. I’m still bummed I couldn’t come up with something to blog about. Maybe I’ll try again tomorrow. After all, it is another day.
And the beat goes on…