Tags

, ,

"You can never have enough FLEUR DE SOL... or OLEEEEEV OIL."

image: saveur du jour

Do you have weird little penchants for things you love to hate? I realize I’ve been crowing a lot lately about being nice and thinking nice and writing nice things about nice people, but let’s just put that on pause for a second.  Let me pull you in close for a seething discussion of my deep-seated loathing of one hell of an archnemesis. Maybe you’ve heard of her. She’s done a lot of things in her life, but perhaps her most telling achievement — in my nasty little slam book, anyway — is the fact that she’s the lady who made “GOOP.”

I haaaaaate Gwyneth Paltrow.  I’m irrational and mean about it.  My reasons are flimsy, but I stand by them like a Walton.

I don’t think I’ve always had a problem with the woman.  I’m pretty sure my nose didn’t wrinkle at her until she launched a website based on… well, mostly, the perks of being Gwyneth Paltrow… at the onset of a tremendous economic recession.  I’m sure she meant no harm, but somehow it made her wan, privileged existence that much more difficult to take.  For me, anyway.  She probably cries about this a lot.  Because in case you didn’t know, I’m kind of a big deal.*

We’ll let this little thing of hers explain itself: “From creating a delicious recipe to finding a perfect dress for spring, Gwyneth began curating the best of lifestyle to help her readers save time, simplify and feel inspired. Determined to publish a genuine and resourceful issue each week, for many, goop has become their most trusted girlfriend on the web.”  Sounds innocuous enough, aside from the weird grammar, right?  Well, I suppose it is, until you consider the fact it launched in 2008 when people were losing their jobs all over the place, and its sole purpose in the beginning was to share things like $250 pairs of shorts, essentially classify them as “total steals,” and do so with a vague yet palpable sense of someone bending over backward in $500 yoga pants to whisper in French that she’s better than you, darling.

The devil was in the details, really.  I’m not one to begrudge anyone’s success, and there’s nothing wrong with doing well in life — I love a little decadence too, and I struggle with all sorts of weird middle-class guilt whether I’m doing just fine or scraping away paycheck to paycheck.  I’m a fan of fancy.  I try not to judge people who simply work their asses off and reap the rewards — as well they should, since they earned them — but there’s just something irritating about blithely slapping people in the face with your flippant ignorance of their problems, riding roughshod over the folks whose meager monthly entertainment budgets actually kind of comprise your paycheck.

I also might be jealous of her apparently scot-free life before the klieg lights hit her.  I remember watching an hour-long profile on her once, and the worst thing that had happened to her in her first quarter of a century was the loss of a grandparent — understandably painful — make no mistake — but for serious, could the girl not have had some bullies or buck teeth or strife or something to round her out a little?

Then there was that whole “n****s in Paris for real” tweet that gives me some odd, sick (and self-aggrandizing) sense of pleasure that I’m somehow intellectually superior to her.  It’s like See? Pretty, lithe little lady married a rock star, named her kids Moses and Apple and travels her face off on probably a weekly basis, but we everyday minions still know more than she does about the world in general.  About culture.  About being a human being.  It’s really not fair of me.  I’m likely just envious of her perky little life, even though there’s nothing wrong with mine.  But DAMN does she annoy the living daylights out of me.

Oh hi, I really didn’t set out to write a post about how much I can’t stand dear Gwynnie.  I actually meant to sit down and tap out something thoughtful about the brilliant lack of awareness we have about what’s waiting for each of us around the corner in life, and how the tiniest moments can have the grandest of impacts, and I was going to use one of her old movie titles as a jumping off point.  Buuuuuuut apparently I have some issues I need to work out in the schadenfreude department.

Bitter, party of one?  Your lonely little stool is ready.  Down there at the end.  Facing the wall with a mirror on it.  Enjoy!

So — Sliding Doors.  In case you haven’t seen the movie, it’s got something to do with the alternate series of events that would have taken place if GP’s character had (or hadn’t — I forget which) missed her subway train home from work one day and had to (or didn’t have to… crap, now I have to watch it again) take another one, thus making her late (on time?) and somehow stumble in on a cheating boyfriend, catching him red-handed.  (At least, I think that’s how it went.)  Anyway, the movie sets into motion two parallel lives: one in which the course of her life is altered by her philandering himbo, and the other in which she keeps going on about her daily life, blissfully unaware that she’s dating a total a-hole. (Sidenote: in one of the parallel arcs, she dyes her hair brown so the poor audience can keep up with just what the hell is going on and which life we’re watching at any given moment… a cheesy move on the director’s part, maybe, but whoa if it doesn’t do the trick and keep it all on track.)

{Puritanical public service announcement: Prepare for a curse word in 3… 2…}

Back to reality: isn’t it a mindf*ck to consider how our lives could have turned out drastically different based on one single moment?  Sure, there are the big, obvious ones that signify a pivotal shift — saying yes or no to a proposal, a job offer, a hit of some weird drug — but the tiny things are the ones I can’t help obsessing over sometimes, probably much to my detriment, yet also much to the pleasure of my weird little imagination, and they apply to all of us in some way or another:

If you hadn’t run that red light, you wouldn’t have made it to your interview on time and ultimately gotten the dream internship that charted the course for your illustrious neuroscience/aerospace engineering/rodeo clown career.  

If you’d just said no to that fourth cocktail that night, you wouldn’t have said that thing to that person, and then been too embarrassed to bring it up again, and then been too embarrassed to even get together for another first cocktail, much less a few.  Oops — there went that friendship, and for what? A vodka tonic?

If you’d stayed home from the co-worker’s birthday party, you never would have met his gorgeous friend and tumbled head over heels into a love affair for the history books… aaaaaand subsequently received a soul concussion from said tumble, thus causing you to run off in a huff to Hollywood, live on the streets for three years and then write that Grammy-winning pop song about rolling in the deep of your teenage dream or whatever.  

“What if”s are a trip.  I used to think a lot about what my life would have been like in the present if I’d stayed with someone — let’s call him “this dude” — I’d spent years living with.  I genuinely thought I was going to make a life with this dude, even though somewhere deep down, I knew we weren’t even remotely right for one another.  I can say with certainty that breaking up was the best thing either of us could have done for ourselves and each other; ultimately, I think it sent us both in the directions we should have been heading in the whole time.  But if you’d told me way before that — say, ten years in advance —  that in 2012 I’d be pursuing a writing career (finally), joining a hippie commune/coworking space, and walking a red four-legged monster around Austin, Texas three or four times a day, I probably would have cocked my head to the side in confusion and looked at you like you were crazy.  I might also have gotten a little excited, though… because wow, that sentence actually sounds pretty great.  So much for that white picket fence I was trying to build… and thank god.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about what’s next… about what comes after the big writing conference in New York next year, after the first year of freelancing, after the second year of the best relationship I’ve ever been in.  That’s a lot of afters, and a lot of open space.  Such things used to terrify me.  Somewhere in my 20s, I got used to living life like it was set to the tick-tock of a metronome, and I let it turn into paralysis.  Once life flung me outside of what was comfortable, though… that’s when I started to lose my fear of flight.  I figured out I could touch down every once in a while, gather my bearings, and pick back up for the next adventure, each one a little bit bigger than the last.  I still feel shaky sometimes.  I still get scared.  But I’ve started realizing how great fear can be… at least, when you work up the nerve to go toe to toe with it.

Since those metronome years, I’ve come to love the fact that in some ways, I have no idea where life is taking me.  There’s terror and relief in that knowledge (or lack thereof).  There’s anxiety mixed with comfort.  I guess the word’s “exhilaration.”

Knowing we can bounce is a beautiful thing… because if we’ve done it once, we can do it again, and higher.  In the end, it probably doesn’t matter which trains pass us by… it just matters that we get on a few — jump a turnstile if we have to — and take a big huge bite out of wherever they end up taking us.

*to my dog, at least

(And as for Gwyneth, hell… maybe she’s a nice person.  Maybe she does crazy awesome things we don’t know about and maybe I’m a jerk for loathing her.  Either way, I feel bad for loving that autopsy scene in Contagion so much… but I’ll never stop saying ‘fleur de sel’ and cracking myself up over it.  And if I ever run into her in real life and she doesn’t have devil horns sticking out of her head, I’ll come back and amend my words.  Like I said… you never know.)