General Awkwardness

I’ve mentioned before my phobia of being embarrassed. It’s probably the thing I am most afraid of, that gives me the most anxiety when I imagine encountering it. (Well, that and cockroaches. I’ve often said — and meant — that if I found a cockroach in my apartment, he would get the apartment.)

My fear of humiliation manifests itself in bizarre ways sometimes. For example, even if I know the answer to a publicly asked question (and know that I know it), I’ll usually keep quiet on the off-chance that I’m somehow wrong anyway and don’t want to be called out on it.

Another situation I can just barely stand? Going around in a circle and introducing yourself in front of a group.

Yup, I’m saying that one of the most anxiety-producing situations I can experience is having to say my name.

Told you it was a little weird.

As long as I can remember, I’ve dreaded that moment on the first day of school, the first meeting at a new company, etc. the bigger the circle and the longer I have to imagine what could go wrong, the harder my heart pounds.

Why am I so freaked out? I’m worried I’ll say the wrong name or mess up my own an everyone will laugh at me.

THAT IS LITERALLY THE ENTIRE BASIS OF MY PHOBIA.

It’s a little pathetic, right? I mean, I don’t consider myself an insecure person. I should be able to handle misspeaking and everyone getting a little chuckle out of it.

I was going to say, “I mean, what’s the worst that could happen? I stutter over my words, everyone laughs, and we love on.” But the fact is, yeah, that’s the worst that could happen. I can feel my face burn and my stomach fill with butterflies even just thinking about it happening.

Why am I dwelling on this (somewhat ridiculous) phobia? Because yesterday, my entire department had to introduce ourselves to the head of our company, a woman whose name I can almost guarantee you know, a woman who’s a celebrity in her own right and whom I admire and respect and am more than a little intimidated by. And not for nothing, but she’s also a woman who has made it clear she suffers no fools and doesn’t have time for people blathering all over themselves trying to string a few words into a sentence.

So, yeah, I was a little nervous.

I’m going to throw out a spoiler here and tell you it all went fine. She was very nice to me, and a managed to spit out my name, title, tenure with the company, and what I was working on without any embarrassing stammers or awkward phrasing. (I know, you guys! Someone should really get me a medal.)

Unfortunately for me, I think this is just one of those phobias that will always be in the back of my mind. The trick will just be learning to overcome it. (Hint: I’m a big fan of practicing. You know I had rehearsed my little “what I’ve been working on” shpeel.)

Ok, now. Let’s go around the room an everyone say what they’re afraid of so I feel better about my own fears.

SEE WHAT I DID THERE?

But seriously. Spill!

how to disney princess curls

So my friend Kristin has been asking me how I curl my hair for months now, and I always promise I’m going to have her over for a tutorial, but it never seems to happen.

After discussing this conundrum with Kristin and our other friend Stephanie on Tuesday night, I finally decided the simplest way to share my oh so vast knowledge would be by posting a video tutorial on this ‘ere blog.

My first video tutorial! (Actually, I think this is my first self-made video on the blog ever. Big day for the blog, folks. Big day for all of us.

Fair warning, I have a very basic knowledge of iMovie. I literally had to google how to add every effect you see here (including that super awesome fast-forward effect and the background music…which is…not the greatest, but it was free, so…yeah). The point is, this video won’t be winning any awards any time soon. But it gets the job done. Win some, lose some.

Anyway. I’m obviously stalling because I’m mildly embarrassed about putting this into the public sphere. I’m a dork, as you will see. In a single 12-minut clip, I manage to drop things, hit things around me, and at one point one of my hair clips flies across the room. (Okay, I cut the flying clip out of the final video.) But anyway. You guys already knew I wasn’t smooth, right?

Without further ado, my first video tutorial on creating “Disney princess” curls:

As much as I love freelancing, it sure does put a cramp in blogging.

Especially when my freelance assignment is to blog. About my life. (I know, guys. Sometimes I can’t believe people would pay me to do that either.)

Because while I’m super thrilled someone wants me to do that, it’s difficult when I’ve already promised the most interesting part of my day to someone else. Because it means I can’t share it with you guys for a couple of months. Which means I just sound super boring, when really it’s just that my interesting parts are a secret for the moment.

I could probably word that better, but I think you get what I mean.

A lot of it has to do with our apartment, which has been getting a lot of updates recently. So while I can’t share all the specifics, here’s something interesting to discuss: I think I’m finally figuring out how to use the space we have most effectively.

I mean, sure, I would still love that extra room, but considering we’re going to be in our current place for another nine months (oof), it would be silly to sit around for almost a whole other year pretending like we do have that extra space. So I’ve gotten a little more creative.

It started with reorganizing the closets. (What? Only I’m interested in organizing closets? Well…this is going to be an uncomfortably boring post for you then.)

I spend what you might call an unusually substantive amount of time mentally reorganizing our closets/apartment. As in, I literally picture our closet space in my brain and shuffle (and re-shuffle) things around imagining where I could tuck the few things that still haven’t found an official home in the apartment. (i.e. suitcases, laundry baskets, sewing supplies, etc.)

While it would be swell to have an actual office or laundry room to put these things, for now I would be pleased as punch if I could just find a place for them that wasn’t the strip of floor between my side of the bed and the wall. Because waking up to clutter is, you know, bad for your brain. Probably.

So anyway. I do a lot of organizing in my brain. I’m a freak. Moving on.

But the biggest perk to being such a Type A weirdo mentally organized person is that when I finally have time to physically move things around, it’s a fairly straight-forward process. I just do the things I’ve been thinking about.

For example, last week, I had an afternoon to go through both of our clothes closets (there’s on in the hall and one in our bedroom), remove clutter, reorganize the clothes, and replace the clothes-warping wire hangers with new, matching hangers. Yeah, it was a little Mommie Dearest of me. But minus the psychotic screaming. Mostly.

I also finally got around to reorganizing the shoe explosion in the closet. (Okay…they were my shoes. Sue me.)

And, you guys. The closets looked SO much better. I even color-coordinated Joey’s side. (He was thrilled, naturally.)(Okay, he just thought it was neat.)(LITERALLY.)

Doesn’t that just make your brain feel calmer? I should have taken more pictures of my side. (WHAT DO YOU MEAN YOU DON’T CARE WHAT MY SIDE LOOKED LIKE?) I don’t know how long it will last, but just knowing it was there once gives me hope for the future.

Then last night, I took things to the next level by clearing out the top shelf in our bedroom closet to create just enough room for…the suitcases! The very same suitcases that have been living in that narrow strip of floor between my side of the bed and the wall! Huzzah!

I can’t tell you how much better it is for my brain to wake up and see clear floor space instead of giant clunky suitcases.

YES, I CAN! IT’S SO MUCH BETTER!

Anyway. I guess the point to writing all of this out is to ask the question: Am I the only one who does this? When you need to reorganize a closet or room, how much forethought do you put into it? Or do you just dive in and hope things work out in the end?

My next goal is to straighten out the top shelf in our front closet. Because I just know we’re not using that space as effectively as we could. AND THAT’S A BIG DEAL, YOU GUYS.

Sigh. #Firstworldproblems, amiright?

Just in case you had any doubts about whether or not I really wear this old gal. Or about whether or not it’s really as unflattering as I claimed.

Yup, a photo of me. In the world’s ugliest sweater. In a public restroom. At my office. With the tampon machine clearly visible in the background.

In case you hadn’t guessed, I am a bit checked-the-h out this week. (I mean really, I could have tried harder with that Photoshopped text.)(COULD HAVE BUT WON’T.) I have, ya know, two vacations right around the bend. And really the only thing I can focus on is that I’m going shopping over lunch for a couple of cheap summer dresses. So…yeah. Don’t expect much over the next couple of days.

But the fact remains. It’s freezing in my office. And I am not a liar.

Before I tell you this story, I want to make one thing clear: I have always hated when delis and other eating establishments give their sandwiches or meals “clever” names.

Why, you ask? Because undoubtedly I’m going to want the thing on the menu with the most ridiculous sounding name. In my head, I’m ordering the spinach, brie, and turkey wrap. But on the menu, I’m ordering Laverne’s Dream Wrap. In my head, I want the chicken cutlet sandwich. On the menu, I’m ordering the Cousin Ed.

Awkwardness is unavoidable, and I hate it.

But you know what else is unavoidable? Delis with awkwardly named sandwiches. Or so I’ve learned.

Case-in-point, a certain deli caters our cafeteria. It’s fine. Rumor has it they’re being replaced soon, but none of the employees are supposed to mention it. Lest we spend a couple of weeks choking down spit sammies. But I digress. It’s fine.

EXCEPT FOR ONE THING. All of the wraps and sandwiches have funny names.

And sure, I could list out every ingredient I want in my sandwich just to avoid saying the name, but that’s not efficient. And when there’s a line of people behind me, I’m bound to panic and say something wrong. (THERE’S JUST SO MUCH PRESSURE TO HURRY UP.)

So instead, I’ll do what they want me to do. I’ll order the Samson Swinger. Or Carla’s Favorite.

But here’s where the real trouble begins. Because apparently the deli that caters our cafeteria has no idea what is on their menu.

A few weeks ago a little sign appeared on the counter advertising Karen’s Special. It sounded delicious: turkey, gouda, spinach, sauteed onions, and Russian dressing on a roll. What’s not to like? I noticed the sign when it went up (obviously this must be something new), but didn’t have a chance to try it until, well, today.

As I approached the counter, already dreading having to order some other woman’s special, I bit the bullet and ordered.

And the guy behind the counter stared at me blankly.

“What’s that?” he asked me, as if I was just some chump making up sandwich names.

I gestured at the placard and giggled nervously.

“Um…that.” He looked where I was pointing, but apparently had never noticed the sign before.

That had been there for weeks.

I turned it around to face him and he spent a solid thirty seconds staring at it.

“I don’t know if we have that cheese.”

Um…ok? I’m mean, it’s fine for you not to have every kind of cheese, but then why would you make a special sign for the sandwich you cannot make?

“Oh…that’s fine. Provolone is fine.”

He and the other cook conferred for a minute about the ingredients. They both looked stumped. They both gave me weird looks. Like I had made this weird! Like I had somehow tricked them by smuggling in my own sandwich sign when they weren’t looking.

“Really, provolone is fine!” I chirped, eyeing the line behind me uneasily. They both shrugged, made the sandwich. I took it, paid, and fled.

I mean, the sandwich was delicious. So it’s not all bad. But I’ll probably never order it again. Because lunch should not be that stressful.

And, you know, they’re getting replaced soon.

Well, I guess this is the unofficial week of how-tos. I’m okay with that. Let’s begin.

I always say that it’s really hard to get a candid photo of me. For whatever reason, I am almost always acutely aware of when a camera is in my vicinity and especially when it’s pointed in my direction.

Okay, the “reason” is that I grew up in the age of Facebook and Instagram. And I know you’re going to put that picture online and probably tag me, and no amount of sepia filters is going to save it. This is a pre-emptive strike on unflattering photos.

People sometimes tell me I’m photogenic (*hair flip and heavy sigh*), but the fact is that I just know how to look like a normal, reasonably attractive human in a photo. Because, yes, it takes some forethought and effort for most of us.

AND TODAY I SHARE MY SECRETS WITH YOU.

(I know. I just got a little chill too.)

Actually, I’m really sharing tips from my photographer/model little sister. Yeah, she IS obnoxiously cool/attractive. Don’t believe me? This is her:

{photos (left-to-right, top-to-bottom) by Jake Blomberg, Figment Art Photo, Alyssa Smith, and Ben Blood}

Aaaand this is me:

So…yeah. But the fact is, girl knows how to take a pretty picture. Let’s let the professional give the REAL advice, shall we?

So without further ado, here are Joelle’s tips for not looking ridiculous in photos. (With my two cents where it’s relevant.)

1. Know your angles!
Everyone has good and bad angles. Everyone. Sure, some people have more of each, but everyone has at least one of each. Don’t believe me?

{source}

Obviously, this is not really an UGLY picture. (It’s Adriana Lima, folks. Like I said, some people just have a lot of good angles.) But it’s certainly not the most flattering picture of her you’ve ever seen.

The fact remains, it’s important to know that you have bad angles as well as what they are. As a girl with a crooked nose and a wide jaw-line, I know that 75 percent of my angles can be disastrous. But when I hit that sweet spot? I’ll break your heart.

Joelle had this to say: “You usually don’t want to face directly onto the camera. Always focus on your angles. [ed note: SEE YOU GUYS? I KNOW STUFF.] Even if it’s just slightly turned. And if it’s face on, cock a shoulder up or back so it isn’t a straight line.”

Fortunately, the best part about growing up with Facebook is that you’ve probably seen a lot of photos of yourself from different angles. You can tell which ones work best for you, or at least which ones you prefer to dwell in the public sphere. Don’t be afraid to insist on those angles. It’s a running joke with my friends that I insist on being on the left side or in the middle of group photos. Remember that crooked nose? Photos from the right are not kind to it. (AND THE INTERNET IS FOREVER.)

A bit vain? Perhaps. But I don’t see why purposely taking unflattering photos helps anyone.

2. You have the right to skinny (looking) arms.
I talked a bit too much on the last tip. Here’s Joelle’s advice on this one:

“People seem to have picked up on popping their hand on their hip to make their arm appear slimmer.. Try bringing it down a little lower to elongate the arm. To avoid the cliche altogether, just hold your arm away from your body slightly to avoid the smooshed look.”

Smooshed being the technical term here.

Again, my friends tease me about the “hip pop” being my signature photo move:

But if it ain’t broke, amiright?

3. Have fun with it.
When it comes to Facebook photos, you’re (most likely) not working on your modeling portfolio, but rather capturing a moment. Joelle recommends laughing (or faking a laugh) right before the picture to give your grin some sincerity.

“If you’re having a good time, it will come through in the photo,” she says.

Examples from our respective engagement photos:

{figment art photo}

{Ben Blood}

And finally…

4. Look up.
“If all else fails, photos from above are fun!” Joelle says.

Plus, the chances for an accidental double-chin are greatly diminished. Just saying.

What are your tips for taking better photos? Do you agree that it’s unfair how attractive my sister is?

Share your thoughts in the comments!