Monday, November 8, 2010

OOTD: Catharsis

When I was a child, my mom kept a decorative block of wood in our kitchen behind the sink. It was a thin rectangular block, and on the front side, it had a bunch of sticks glued down in a mishmash of two-dimensional shapes----some sticks with ends touching, others just jutting out into the void. Short sticks with long sticks. Parallel lines with perpendicular ones. Triangles with squares. But not a curve in sight.

At first glance, it always just looked like a bunch of random sticks. What did it mean? But, if I squinted my eyes just right, sometimes, I could see between the sticks. That is when I realized that the void in-between those slivers of wood was not just black space. It actually spelled a word: SERVE.

I guess you could call it an early incarnation of the magic-eye trick. On mornings before school, as I sat in my PJs at the kitchen table, it would catch my glance--those sticks-- and I would again clench my teeth and lower my eyes and----A-HA!

You've been served, old block.

In later years, the block kept its place of honor at the kitchen sink, but I no longer strained to understand its hidden meaning. I began to see the word right away, without any effort. And because of that, the piece lost some of its mystery to me. But at times I still found myself squinting intently---not to find meaning in the piece, but to destroy meaning. To rediscover the formlessness of the wood, rather than imposing order upon it. To go back to a time when the world just *was*.... before there were concrete expectations, and rights and wrongs.

I often think about that block now and how--if I tried hard enough--I could float between both worlds. Enlightenment and darkness. Mediation and immediacy. Design and randomness. And I think about how nice it would be if I could just as easily transition between other "a-ha! moments" in my life.... or maybe not so much slide back and forth, but to simply retreat. To throw on my PJs and nestle into the "before" when the world was open and full of possibilities---not tied down by one, finite word: SERVE.

I didn't get much sleep last night because I finally voiced my intentions to quit a volunteer position that nearly killed me this summer. Melodramatic? Maybe. But the stress it induced opened a floodgate of insecurities and guilt within me that I'd like to dam back up again, thank you very much. Quitting was probably the hardest thing I've ever done, because I DON'T QUIT THINGS. I also CAN'T SAY NO. I mean, that's how I got roped into the whole mess to begin with. But, honestly, who of us can say that dreadful word? I feel like many women today silently suffer the same plight because we want to be everything to everyone. I told Husband that at least this horrible experience has taught me that I have limits. No, he said, it just taught you that it's OK to admit it.

Banana Republic long grey sweater; J.Crew black tissue turtleneck teeAnn Taylor Loft taupe skirt shortened by Mom; Verveine NecklaceGrey tights; Anne Klein Ladell Boot in Black Suede (on sale!)

P.S. I promise that I'm not nearly as pathetically depressed as this post makes it sound! But it was quite cathartic to write this all down in a somewhat productive manner (as opposed to sending Husband yet another "frowney" face text message) And Husband already vetoed my completely reasonable request to move to Washington state....tomorrow.....So thank you for letting me blow some steam.


  1. GOOD FOR YOU! I know how hard it must have been to make that decision but I think it's the right one. Will you go back at all or is this it?

    I feel the same way about that block: it's like those photographs where it's an old lady or a young lady. Once I see them both, I can never not see both again. Weird.

    But on the bright side, you look adorable today!

  2. In a perfect world, it would be a completely clean break, but I still have six boxes of junk on my dining room floor'm just so burnt out that I don't even care anymore! :)

  3. I love your outfit! And I know you made a wise decision :-)