Seven steps to simplify your life.

They say you should live together before you get married. (I don’t know if people actually say this or not, but it’s what I said after my boyfriend and I decided to move in together last Spring.) “You can’t marry someone before you live with them,” I said. “What if you find out you hate each other?!”

Like we would go from “til death do us part” to “til she-leaves-her-curling-iron-plugged-in-and-now-I-hate-her do us part”. 

“Living together is hard,” my friends tried to tell me, “Wait until one of you leaves their socks on their floor. Or you get in fight over who is going to do the dishes, or the laundry, or what you’re going to watch on Netflix.” 

These things seemed preposterous to me. And “preposterous” is not a word I use in every day life – but that’s how crazy it seemed that my friends thought Kyle and I would actually argue over something as stupid as “why are your socks on the floor?”. Granted – up until we moved in together, neither of us had ever lived with a significant other before… but we had both lived with humans before, and I’d never once seen someone get mad over a sock. 

“It’s going to be fine,” I said. 1) because I was moving in with my best friend, and how could that not be fine?, and 2) because who gets mad over a sock?

“We don’t even fight.” I said. “Like, seriously. We NEVER fight.” 

And we didn’t. I couldn’t “imagine” our first fight, but I always assumed it would be over something big. It would have to be, right? We never argued over anything, so it was hard to imagine us arguing at all. I’d assumed it would be over something that would really dig down deep and assault my character, or my family, or my well-being or something.

Our first fight was about a rug. 

Like, the large pieces of carpet that people put on the wood floors of their living room? Yea, those things. We argued about a piece of carpet. Our first argument EVER – after spending nearly a year together and getting on our high horses that we know how to compromise and communicate and “we never fight, like ever”. One stupid rug and it was all out the window.  

When my friends heard this story – they all decided to put on their therapist-hats and insist that “It wasn’t really about the rug, was it?” Like there was some hidden meaning behind the rug. Like the rug is supposed to be a symbol for something.

It’s not. This story has zero symbolism. One minute we’re fine, and the next we’re standing in the middle of a furniture store arguing about the color of a rug. That’s it.

(Well, okay. To be fair – that’s not really “it”, we weren’t really “fine” the minute before. We were cranky because we’d been in that store for over an hour already looking for “just the right shade of off-white” rug. “Not too white, but not too off-white? You know? Just, like, a cream color?”) 

Whatever. It took me three weeks to make a commitment on which color “accent” throw-pillows I should buy from Target. Do you really think I’m going to get all willy-nilly picking out a $600+ rug??

“What about this one?” Kyle would ask, pointing out rugs that were patterned with tones of whites and.. other random colors. To be honest – I don’t remember what they all looked like. I just knew they weren’t… well… 

Ugh. I hate being one of these women who says, “that’s not exactly what I’m looking for”, but they weren’t exactly what I was looking for. They didn’t match the pillows in our living room. They had weird textures or patterns. They weren’t the vision of a simple, classic white rug that I had in my head. 

I know. I hate women like me too. This is probably why Kyle hasn’t proposed yet, because he doesn’t want to see me end up on Bridezillas. 

“What about this one?” he pointed to a different one, and I was like “Ehhhh……”

“What’s wrong with it?” he asked. “It’s cream.”

“Is it…?” I asked. Which is apparently my way of pretending to consider it. By asking my boyfriend to defend his choice/vision/knowledge of colors. “It looks sort of… brown.” I said. “Don’t you think it looks brown? Maybe it’s the lighting.”

“You think it’s brown?”

“I mean, kind of. It just looks… I don’t know. It almost looks dirty, don’t you think?”

“How can you think that’s brown?” He asked. “It’s cream. It’s not brown.” 

“I know it’s cream. But it looks like a brownish-cream.”

“No, it doesn’t.” 

“Stand over here and look at it.” I suggested, pulling him toward my side of the rug. I don’t know why I thought this would make a difference. But, you know. Maybe the lighting is different on his side? “Do you see it?” I asked. “See how it looks dirty?” He looked at the rug, and then back at me, and then the rug, and then me. 

“What are you TALKING about?” He finally asked.

“You really don’t see that?” 

“See what?” Holy crap. “Jenn, this rug isn’t brown. It’s cream.”

“I’m not SAYING it’s brown. I’m saying it has brown TONES.”  

Ugh.

Eventually a sales associate noticed us wandering around this jungle of not-quite-cream-colored rugs and must have heard us bickering. “What are you looking for?” She asked. 

“A rug,” Kyle said. Meanwhile I was like – “But we’re looking for more of a cream colored rug? But not TOO cream. You know how cream colors can have that, like, brown tint or, like, more of a white tint? We need one with more of a white tint. But not TOO white. We don’t want a white rug, we want a cream rug. But, like, the right shade of cream? It needs to go with our couch.” 

“What color is your couch?” She asked. 

“Gray.” We both responded. (And of course I had to add, “But like, a dark gray? Not like a regular gray… you know?” I don’t know why I felt this was important. I wasn’t trying to get her to sell me a couch. But maybe if she understood the depth of gray that was the color of our couch – I could get her on my side for the whole “cream, not brown” debate.) 

“Well, this rug would go well in any room.” She said, referencing the dirty looking rug we were arguing about.

OF COURSE she said that. At first it caught me off guard – like I was expecting her to say, “Oh, no, this is not the rug for you. This one looks dirty and gross. Maybe you should check another furniture store!” Yea, right.

“My girlfriend thinks it looks brown.” Kyle told her. I don’t think he rolled his eyes – but I’m pretty sure he wanted to. 

“Oh, this isn’t brown.” She assured me. “You could put this next to your gray couch, and I’m sure it would look fine.” 

Oh sure, I thought. Take his side. 

“I don’t know.” I told her. “It’s just not what I’m looking for.” Did Kyle really not see the brown tint? Did he not think we could find a better rug? DID I EVEN KNOW HIM AT ALL? 

“Jenn, we need a rug.” He said. “What’s wrong with this one?” 

Well, for one, it’s brown. 

The woman who had come over to help was slowly starting to slink away. “Why don’t you both take some time to think it over?” she suggested. 

So that’s what we did. We parted ways (in the store). I went pouting in one direction, and he went storming off in another. (Okay, so I don’t remember if he necessarily ‘stormed off’ – but he definitely walked away thinking, “My girlfriend doesn’t know what the color ‘brown’ looks like.” He wouldn’t tell you he was thinking that, but I’m sure he was. Because I was thinking, “My boyfriend doesn’t know what the color ‘cream’ looks like.”) 

After pouting around the store for a few more minutes, we finally stumbled onto another rug. (Well, okay, I stumbled onto it and dragged Kyle over and he agreed – in his pouty, pissed off, ‘this is taking too long and I’m hungry’ voice – “Yea, I like this one. Let’s buy it and get out of here.” 

 So that’s what we did. 

Alright – so maybe the ending is a little anti-climactic, but the point of this story wasn’t about the rug. 

10 things you don’t need in your closet.

My parents sent me a stun gun as part of a care package in college.

I figured I should open with that, so that when I say, “I found my stun gun in a shoe box in the back of my closet over the weekend” – ya’ll don’t think I’m the kind of girl who A) knows where to buy a stun gun, and B) keeps it in a shoe box in the back of her closet. Nestled next to a scarf and a pair of high heels. Because that’s where it was. Who knows why. Who packed THAT box when I was moving?

Me. I packed it. I packed all of my boxes. And when I ran across that stun gun, I was probably like, “Well, I don’t have a box marked ‘Weapons’ …. sooo let’s just put it in this shoe box. That should be fine.”

That makes about as much sense as me having a stun gun in the first place.

My parents sent it to me when I was a freshman in college as a… present? Warning? I don’t even know. (They aren’t crazy. They just, care. A lot.) I opened it in the lobby of our dorm building, assuming this was going to be… I don’t know, something normal. Like, a Tupperware container full of brownies. Or a sweatshirt. Or extra pens. Like I said, my parents aren’t crazy. They’d sent me presents before. But this was the first time they’d decided to send me a stun gun.

I didn’t even know what to do with it. I was afraid to touch it. I mean, it was in a box. And I don’t think it had batteries in it. But still. The box said, “high voltage”. Is that really something I should be carrying around in my purse? This little weapon of electricity? What if I shock someone on accident? What if I shock myself? Can I die from this?

“If you hold it up to someone for longer than seven seconds, it can stop their heart.” That’s what my mom said. After I called her to confirm that she did, in fact, mean to send me a stun gun. Part of me thought that this might have been an accident. A weird and unlikely accident, but still. My mother is the kind of mother who collects Tupperware and sent me boxes of mini-muffins in college. I didn’t know murder weapons were on her radar. Let alone that she knew where to buy one.

“Your dad bought it on eBay.” She said. Apparently you can buy them on eBay.

“What am I supposed to do with it?” I asked her. Maybe she thought if this college thing didn’t work out, I could be a gangster. Or a thug. Or someone who works the midnight shift at McDonalds.

“Carry it,” she said. “In your purse. Especially when you’re walking across campus at night.” Ohhh that’s what this was about. I had a night class that forced me to walk home in the evenings two nights a week. After the sun went down. Moms aren’t big fans of their daughters walking alone at night.

I didn’t carry it. I thought it was scary. I imagined scenarios where I would somehow electroshock myself on accident and fall to the ground twitching. I mean, it couldn’t DO anything unless someone pushed the button. BUT STILL. If anyone’s stun gun could accidentally shock them, from inside their purse, without pushing any buttons, I didn’t want it to be mine. BECAUSE YOU NEVER KNOW.

I didn’t see the stun gun again until last Christmas. (It lived out my college experience on a dark shelf in the back of my closet. Despite my mother asking – really casually, by the way – “Have you used your stun gun yet?”… like I’d forget to tell her if I tased someone on my way to class.)  It showed up in a bag – another one that my mother sent back with me to Chicago – shortly after Christmas. I guess she thought I could scare off a thug with a neck tattoo if I ever found myself in a rough neighborhood? I don’t know.

Regardless, I was inspired to write this post about “10 things you don’t need in your closet”. (There is no good transition here. I don’t want to be cheesy and say something like, “Realizing how much space my stun gun was taking up in my closet made me think about how much other space I could free up!”…. what space? It was in a shoe box, it was fine. But I already had the idea for this post, and the stun gun thing seemed like a funny anecdote.)

How to purge your closet when you think you need everything in it.

Ugh. “Purge”. It’s one of those words like “moist” or… “moist”. It’s not the way it sounds, it’s just – you know, what it is. Purging stuff. I feel like I’m writing about my closet throwing up remnants of old college t-shirts and Target Mossimo tags. 

I’ve always thought the idea of “cleaning out my closet” sounded like a terrible idea. Like this monumental chore. Because it basically felt like opening up the door to my own personal landfill of Victoria’s Secret shopping bags (that I, for some reason, struggle to throw away) and shoes. So many shoes. WHY do I have so many shoes? I have two feet. I do not need twenty pairs of shoes. 

But, you know, some day, “I might wear them” – or so I tell myself.

I have clothes in there too. Some clothes. Not all of my clothes. A lot of them used to end up in piles on the floor. Because they wouldn’t fit in my closet. And the floor seemed like as good a place as any to keep them – you know, because I could see them. No sense opening up the pesky old closet and reminding myself what a mess it is in there. 

And then I moved in with my boyfriend. Who is not like the boys you met in college with McDonalds bags stashed under their beds and dirty clothes spilling out of the hamper (thank God) – he’s, like, an adult. He’s sanitary. And while I know he loves me, I figured it wouldn’t take long before he would get frustrated with me using my side of the closet as a landfill for VS bags and the bedroom floor to layout my clothes. All of my clothes. You know, so I can see them. Because you can’t do THAT when they’re in the closet. Too many other clothes in the way. Some shirt you love might be squeezed between two shirts you hate – and then you’ll miss it. And then you’ll be sad. 

Plus we have two closets, and he was nice enough to give me the larger one. So, like, I should PROBABLY take advantage of this kind gesture and actually, like, USE the closet space… ya know? 

But I knew what this meant: the big, scary task of getting rid of stuff. Most stuff, actually. (Okay, like a third.) Which is hard for someone like me, because every time I sort through clothes that I tell myself I need to donate, I think to myself, “But I might wear this! I just forgot I had it!” (It’s been in my closet for over a year with the tags still on it, but sure, I might wear it. I just need to remember that it exists.) So – without further ado (is it “ado” or “adieu”, I thought it was the second one, but Google said it’s spelled like AD-O) here are the steps that I’ve created to FINALLY get rid of stuff in your closet that you LITERALLY DON’T NEED AT ALL but, for some reason, think that you do. 

The day my yoga pants went to yoga class.

I love yoga. I mean, I’m not good at it or anything – I don’t know what I’m doing, or how to breathe, and it took me a year just to figure out what “cat cow” was…. But I love yoga.

I love rolling out my little, pink yoga mat in the middle of my living room floor, and picking out a yoga video from my favorite yoga YouTube channel, and pretending that I’m confident and relaxed as I stumble (and sometimes fall down) through the twenty or thirty minute sequence of my favorite YouTube yoga instructor saying “just breathe”.

I LOVE YOGA, or whatever it is that I’m doing on my living room floor (mostly just trying to twist my body into weird shapes and pretend that it’s totes relaxing). It makes me feel good. But to say that I actually “do yoga” feels a little bit like saying I’m a salsa dancer after taking a couple of Zumba classes. It’s just not the same. My yoga pants have spent more time grocery shopping and walking to 8 AM college classes than they have on yoga mats.

We all have our “things”. Mine is pretending that I’m flexible and mildly coordinated.