A shot of me that Gawker ran in a (VERY understandably) snarky article back in the day.
(“Meet the Harvard Grad Seduced By Microcelebrity!” The shame.)
So here’s what I’ve been thinking. Remember how when I started Ramshackle Glam back in 2009 – when I was living in a fourth-floor walkup on the non-fancy side of the Upper East Side and technically unemployed and doing things like shucking corn on my floor (a floor that definitely had a hole in it that the landlord was definitely disinterested in fixing)? The whole concept behind the site, as I conceived of it, was “Hey, here are a bunch of things I love and want to do. I don’t really know how to do them. I’m going to give them a shot anyway.”
I think it’s time to get back to the old roots a bit.
It’s weird, you know: I’ve gotten used to my life as it’s been these past few years. I’ve gotten…comfortable, in certain ways. Not anxiety-free, obbbviously – but there are certain side-benefits that come with being one half of a two-income household comprised of two actual adults. You can, for example, go to pumpkin patches and buy the stupidly overpriced pumpkins, and be annoyed about it, but also, you know…deal. At least in theory, you get to split all those Major Life Stressors (money/sex/house/child-rearing/etc) down the middle. If you fall, there’s someone there to catch you.
Family photo. #killedit
Anyway, at the pumpkin patch this weekend, I told my kids that no, they could not buy pumpkins. (We already have two sitting on our fireplace, lest you think me a Pumpkin Scrooge.) I said that they could each have one of those stumpy little gourd-things, because the stumpy little gourd-things were $2 and the pumpkins started at $45, and that’s just the way it was going to go.
I’m not sure they even skipped a beat. They went straight to the gourd basket, and commenced all sorts of drama over which gourd to pick…and eventually decided that the green and orange ones CLEARLY had the advantage over the white and yellow ones, and made their selections. And then they held them all the way home. …And then they slept with them. With the gourds. In their beds.
If we’re talking about a price-per-minute-of-enjoyment situation, those gourds cost me about .005 cents apiece.
It’s more than just realizing that I can simplify financially, though – it’s bigger than that. When I was planning my son’s birthday party, did I send out an adorable e-vite with thematic photos and custom typeface? No. I sent an email to my friends telling them what time to show up at my house. Francesca asked if she should bring food. Cupcakes, please. Shannon wanted to know if I needed balloons. Sure do, thank you thank you. Alisa (another Alisa; I have many friends named Alisa) asked me what a seven-year-old might want, and instead of being all Oh no, you don’t need to get him anything!, thereby commencing a back and forth that would end in her getting him something anyway, I sent her an Amazon link to an Imaginext car, and was done with it.
It feels so good.
I was thinking about all this the other night, while I made my son’s annual Spooky Birthday Cake. I baked the cake, and dug out my decorating supplies from various boxes…and then discovered, at 9:45PM, that I had about half of the things I needed if I was going to make the cake he and I had decided on. Rolling pin to smooth out the fondant? Nope. Food coloring? Like three drops. Sugar? Ah…no. (That last one was a little rough, considering that you very much do need powdered sugar when you’re making a fondant cake, but such is life.)
So I rolled out the fondant using a massive cylindrical container of mosquito repellent sticks (really). I decided that flour and powdered sugar look more or less the same, so should probably function more or less the same way in certain situations. And because I did not have the wherewithal (or talented support system, a.k.a. Erin and Alisa) to hand-craft witches’ fingers out of marzipan, I cut up a disgusting bloody rubber hand that I found in our Halloween Box, and coated it with strawberry jelly so it’d be even disgusting-er.
(He’s seven. Disgusting is, like, #lifegoals.)
Is this cake my finest work? Nope.
But I carried it out into a room filled with people who feel like they landed in my life by magic. Who harmonized on the last note of Happy Birthday like actual angels. Who tickled my daughter and helped my son build a Lego Batmobile, and who cannonballed into the pool and jumped on the trampoline and made me laugh harder than I’ve laughed in god knows how long…and then washed the dishes before they left.
The whole thing felt like both a new beginning and a homecoming; a throwback to the way it was, way back when. The party, like the cake, was what I could do with what I had. And it was great.
At the end of the night – and I swear this is true – my son said, Mom. That was the best birthday party EVER. He hadn’t noticed that there were no Pinterest-ed snacks, or favor bags, or even tons and tons of kids. He’d just noticed that we have a village, and that it’d shown up for him.
It just keeps getting better and better, he told me. He was still on the topic of his birthday parties, but he’s a wise one, that kid. I think maybe what he was really talking about was life.