Throwback Thursday: How to be a Doormat

Every Thursday, I dig out an old diary and share an entry sans editing (in hopes we’ll all see my grammar and apostrophe use improve) with a short commentary. If you like laughing with/at Young Ashley, feel free to use the handy search bar to the right and simply type “Throwback Thursday” and you’ll find the whole archive. Thanks for reading!

Monday May 29, 2000

Dear Libby, 

Sorry, but I was just thinking about what an idiot I am. Did I tell you the Jocelyn dumped Benjamin? Well, the other day, I wrote Benjamin an e-mail saying: 

    Ben, I’m sorry to hear about Jocelyn dumping you. But If you need to talk, I’m here for ya. Just tell tell me when to get on aol or just e-mail me. 

    luv ya, ashley. 

    P.S. :*(sealed with a kiss.)

I am such an idiot! ‘sealed with a kiss’?!? How stupidly insane can a person get? Probably no lower than me! But eww! Sealed with a kiss? Ugg! I can’t believe I put that. 

~*Ashley*~

I had yet to develop empathy – I just figured that since he wasn’t with Jocelyn, it was somebody else’s turn to be his girlfriend. I expected  he would be so taken with my willingness to tie up the phone line to IM him on AOL that he would drop a note, declaring his love into the slot of my locker. As you can probably guess, this isn’t how things went.

Before I roll my eyes so many times they get stuck like that, I’d like to offer Young Ashley some advice:

When pouncing on a dude who’s on the rebound, it’s best to not remind him that he was just unceremoniously dumped by a girl. I know you haven’t been romantically disappointed yet, so you don’t understand that the purpose of post-breakup flirtation is to swiftly bolster one’s ego. Also, from what I remember, he wasn’t flirting with you, so calm the hell down and put up your away message with the N’Sync lyrics.  Was ‘luv ya’ a casual way to sign emails or were you actually telling him you loved him? And was it necessary to note that you were signing it with a kiss? The emoticon wasn’t enough? Because seriously, you are the epitome of Crazy Girl right now. You’re the exact opposite of “suttle” (I’m assuming that’s how you’d spell it). The sneakier way of doing this would have just been to say, “BENJAMIN I LUV U. LETS DATE NOW THAT UR SINGLE!!!!!!!!!11 LUV U LOTZ, ASH” You don’t know what they are, but you are doing the exact opposite of what The Rules advise.

crazy-girl-YouTube

I have a headache. I forgot that how often I roll my eyes when reading these old diaries.

To My Devoted Readers…

I’m sorry I haven’t been posting much lately. Instead of just articulating the facade, I’ve been out living (going to foggy basement parties, having spontaneous drinks with friends, dancing with new friends, running color runs, playing impromptu bluegrass concerts with my uncle, hosting parties, and occasionally giving out my number to boys I probably shouldn’t). It’s been fantastic. I highly recommend you stop looking at a screen as soon as you’re done reading this. Have you seen real life lately? It can be really beautiful. Everything is Blooming, folks. 

collage

I know that I told you my vacation from Throwback Thursday was only going to be for the month of May. It’s been over two months since I shared a diary entry. Young Ashley might be thrilled, but I’m not too proud of it. I started something and I didn’t follow through. I am supremely irritated when people do that, so I’m sorry that I’ve failed you. I know a lot of people really enjoyed those. This is going to change. Throwback Thursday is coming back this week. 

I had a housewarming party last weekend to break in my new place. Two of my closest friends made me a fantastic gift that inspired a new weekly post called Brunch with B-Crox. You can expect a recipe and short anecdote with my usual self-deprecating banter and weird pictures. My definition of Brunch is a pretty vague one, so it might not always be a breakfast recipe. And don’t worry, I’ll explain the B-Crox thing.

Since many people find my blog by some combination of the terms “seeing my ex” and “what to do,” I’m considering doing some sort of dating advice. I’m sort of hoping I’ll start following my own advice too. That would be neat. This is still in the brainstorming stages, but I figure that since I’ve dated people before and have an opinion, I’m qualified to tell people what to do. It’s real scientific.

I’m going on vacation next week. I’m not counting or anything, but I have exactly eleven days until I’m in the middle of the woods without 3g access. I have plans to read about three pages of Infinite Jest before falling asleep on the beach and/or day-drinking. Don’t worry though, you’ll still get your posts. If I don’t you can send me messages on Facebook about how you’re really disappointed in me – not mad, just really disappointed.

…introducing the new look.

As you can probably tell, Everything is Blooming looks a little different today. It’s not a major change, but just a slight face lift. I wanted the look to better represent the tone and style of my blog. What do you think of it?

If you’re a fan of Everything is Blooming on Facebook, you know that last Saturday night I had plans to drink wine and work with my brother, Corey Otto, on a new picture for my blog. Corey has always been a bit of a perfectionist, and this is reflected in everything he does.

"Paper Cranes"Solid ash coffee table18x38

“Paper Cranes”
Solid ash coffee table
18×38

Eye - Closeup2010Pencil

“Eye – Closeup”
2010
Pencil

Panel 2 of a 5 panel piece titled "Mon Carnet"15"x30"Watercolor, Ink, and Sharpie on canvas

Panel 2 of a 5 panel piece titled “Mon Carnet”
15″x30″
Watercolor, Ink, and Sharpie on canvas

"Show Your Bones"200818"x24"Graphite, Ink, Sharpie on paper

“Show Your Bones”
2008
18″x24″
Graphite, Ink, Sharpie on paper

As you can see, his expertise lies mostly in drawing and painting. Pretty incredible, right? This is also the same guy who can run 5k in under 20 minutes, just to make you feel inferior. Corey studied photography at UW-Milwaukee but got sidetracked by the painting classes, where he really found his stride. He’s continuously working to develop his craft by trying different materials. He makes a deliberate effort for each piece to be absolutely perfect before calling it complete, which is why his studio is still full of paintings he’s not quite ready to part with.

Most of the drawers in the green cabinet contain a piece in progress.

Most of the drawers in the green cabinet contain a piece in progress.

Corey’s art has a sense of softness that contrasts sharply with an urban edge. Some of the pieces are extremely sensuous – especially those in which he studies the female form. But even in these gorgeous drawings, there is a meticulousness to them. I don’t know much about art, but I think he creates a great juxtaposition between darker base instincts and idealism.

"Another Day"201022"x30"Graphite on paper (Strathmore 400 Bristol)

“Another Day”
2010
22″x30″
Graphite on paper (Strathmore 400 Bristol)

Corey also has a talent for photography – something I had almost forgotten until I saw a self portrait he did recently.  It took me about thirty seconds to call him up and tell him I wanted help his with a new photo.

"Self Portrait"

Self Portrait that says “I’m an understated badass. Deal with it.”

So he brought his camera and flash over to my apartment where we turned on some music, drank a few whiskey drinks (not wine), and I goofed around in front of the camera.

Much like Stoic Balloon, Solitary Chair is judging you.

Much like Stoic Balloon, Solitary Chair is also judging you.

Most of the shots we posed made me look like the chubby author of a self-help book. Thus the “Make me look less fat” comment. Eventually, the whiskey kicked in and I got a little dorky. That’s when he got some good shots. Candid is always the way to go. 

Just ignore the ghetto air conditioner.

Just ignore the ghetto air conditioner.

I’d like to thank Corey for helping me out with the photos and the design for the new header. Since he’s always well-versed in Photoshop, Corey brought my idea for the original Everything is Blooming header to life. He also helped create the new one.

If you’d like to see more of Corey’s art, please check out his artist’s page on Facebook by clicking on the image below. There you can view more of his art, works in progress, sources of inspiration, and price information for some of the pieces if you’re interested in purchasing an original.

Corey

Finding Inspiration in Nabokov

So there’s not really any secret in me saying that I’ve been floundering for words lately. I’ve been uninspired, depressed, and basically just loafing around my apartment doing a lot of nothing. I’ve spent a decent amount of time and money crocheting so I can feel like I’ve accomplished something after spending the finding what Jon Stewart has to say about the Pope’s twitter.  Because apparently a scarf added to my pile will make me feel good about not reading or writing anything worthwhile in weeks. I was wrong. Completely wrong.

I don’t know that I blamed my lack of inspiration on anything. I didn’t think about it. My writer’s block was just there, weighing down on me, every time I climbed into bed after yet another day of doing nothing. I thought I needed something to jumpstart it. I hadn’t gone out since Halloween, and I figured a good night of drinking, meeting new people, and feeling fun, charming, and fabulous would make me feel better. So last weekend I told Andrea that I needed to go out once she was done with finals.

Well, we went out last night. I hosted a small Christmas party with a few of my friends. We drank sangria and ate some pretty decent food, some of which I was able to have for breakfast this morning. The menu was surprisingly satisfying, so good that I have to share: ever-classy mini wieners in crescent rolls, gala apple slices with prosciutto, and an apricot-almond cheese, blackberries, nutella and sea salt fudge, jordan almonds, chips with pineapple and peach salsa, mini pastries, honey-drizzled cheese with apples and crackers, and holiday sangria (white wine, sparkling apple wine, orange slices, cranberries, and crushed mint). By the time Andrea and I got out, it was around midnight, so we just went to Jekyll’s – a bar that has a reputation for being a hipster bar.

I realized I was surrounded by people far cooler than me – guys in studded jackets who could name 50 Descendents songs at the drop of a hat, svelte girls with pixie haircuts and dangly earrings, and about 40 pairs of ironic glasses. As impressed as they would be, I decided not to disclose the fact that I know the words to most of Taylor Swift’s songs. I made myself feel better by reminding myself that there’s a slim chance any of them have a 401k.

I had imagined the night to be similar to my last nights out – all-out benders that force me to spend the next day in recovery. Because I figure that’s a good relationship to have with alcohol – binge-drinking once every few months.  I just thought I needed a night that allowed me to feel outside of myself since I’ve spent so much time stuck in my head, not allowing it to get out via socializing or writing – the two things that help me most when I go through a depressive period.

Andrea and I ended up leaving around 1:30 and talking and eating cheese and apples till 3am. That ended up being what helped most – it was a reminder that I can, in fact, be honest and open with another person, and that I don’t need to have four drinks and witty quips with unfamiliar faces to feel like my night was a success

When I walked Andrea to to the door, I saw my stack of Nabokov on my shelf and decided I needed to spend the next day with a good book. I needed a paper book too – not my Kindle with its distractions of Pinterest and Facebook. At that moment, I was glad that I finished the night chewing the cherry of a whiskey old fashioned and not chugging five glasses of water in hopes of re-hydration to thwart a hangover.

Gods With my depression gone, I needed to do something about my lack of inspiration, so I pulled out my volume of Nabokov stories and decided to reread my blog’s namesake story – Gods. I honestly think it was the best thing I could do for myself. This post would probably be more apropos for my 100th post (this will be my 95th), but I’m not one to prolong satisfaction. I hadn’t read the story for a few years, but I remember it being a core-shaking story. I remember the language being exquisite in an expressly Nabokovian way.  I remember being moved by the passage I share in my “About” section. But what I didn’t recall was how the story just explodes with color and emotion.

You can read the story in its entirety here, but I recommend reading it in a floppy bible-thick paperback. The story is essentially about a couple – the male trying desperately to comfort his wife over the death of their son while they make their way to the cemetery to visit the grave. He tells her a fable of a hen that was placed in an air balloon contraption, soaring in a gondola by the sunset, and landing in a field, later found by a peasant beneath a heap of silk, having produced golden eggs from the colors of the sunset. Nabokov describes this more beautifully than I ever could: “And no wonder. At the wind’s mercy, the hen had traversed the entire flush of the sunset, and the sun, a fiery cock with a crimson crest, had done some fluttering over her.

The story is absolutely exquisite. I don’t know how else to describe it. I literally found myself in tears reading the last page. I can’t remember the last time a story affected me so strongly. It should be required reading,

My heart, too, has soared through the dawn. You and I shall have a new, golden son, a creation of your tears and my fables. Today I understood the beauty of intersecting wires in the sky, and the hazy mosaic  of factory chimneys, and this rusty tin with its inside-out, semi-detached, serrated lid. The wan grasses hurries, hurries somewhere along the dusty billows of the vacant lot. I raise my arms. The sunlight glides across my skin. My skin is covered with  multicolored sparkles. 

And I want to rise up, throw my arms open for a vast embrace, address an ample, luminous discourse to the invisible crowds. I would start like this: 

“O rainbow-colored gods…”

While I was reading this, I was texting my friend Logan, telling him he needed to read more Nabokov. He texted “I am sitting at a coffee shop trying to be productive but instead I am fucking off and remembering the awesomeness of living.”

And that’s exactly what this story does to me. It describes life in such an intensely sensual way that it’s impossible not to feel compelled to live. And not just live – but to live beautifully. I can’t handle another second of feeling sorry for myself for no reason, because seriously – I’m alive and the world is incredible. The day beyond my patio door looks dim and dreary, but I know that life is flourishing. I know that everything is blooming.  Everything is flying. Everything is screaming, choking on its screams. Laughter. Running. Let-down hair. That is all there is to life.