Daddy Issues (aka: Girl, Why You So Typical)

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One of my most…no, my #1 MOST FAVORITE activity is to devote large blocks of time making up complicated hypothetical dilemmas and then challenging myself to find an efficient solution that still has a little bit of panache. I don’t like it when people walk around with their chest puffed out because they performed an act of kindness. Questions form. Did they do it for the accolades? Is he going to write a Facebook status update about his bravery and pray for at least 15 likes? But I also don’t like it when heroes act like it’s NBD. I tread a fine line. I never ask for a parade or anything extravagant at the end of my make-believe dramas, but will I turn down an edible fruit bouquet? That’s just stupid. Fruit is a wonderful source of vitamins.

Once in a while, I allow myself a happy scenario. A place or a situation that could never actually exist in real life but I can’t help wanting anyway. My father is in most of these moments. Sometimes I pretend that he stayed for my entire high school graduation. I erase all the shame I used to feel when my friends saw my father in his industrial coveralls and Volt sneakers from Wal-Mart.

I don’t talk about my father a lot, but it’s not because I dislike him or because there aren’t any stories about him. He’s been absent for so long that I just don’t think about him that much anymore. At least I think I don’t. But my behavior seems to indicate that I have daddy issues.

I never wanted my badness to be the result of anyone else. I refused to accept that other people influenced my choices and my outlook on life. I didn’t want it to be about other people because I can’t control other people. I can only control me. And I’m not even good at that. Ask me about the entire bag of wasabi peas I just ate. Lord Jesus, my esophagus is on fire.

My father was rarely at home as I was growing up. He worked odd hours as a government employee, and on his free days, he spent most of his time in the garage, tinkering with cars in various stages of crisis. I only went out to the garage once before I left home permanently at the age of 17. He preferred solitude, but he let me stay just this one time.

As I sat on the hood of his car, he showed me pictures of tools that he wanted. They were some brand called Snap-on. He said those tools were serious business and very, very expensive. One day when I grow up, I thought, I’m going to be a millionaire and then I’ll buy my dad the whole entire set of Snap-on tools. Even the little accessory parts and a red Craftsmen chest to store them. The rolling kind.

To this day, every time I see a Snap-on company truck drive by, I think about my father and my unfulfilled promise.

But maybe I’m thinking about this all wrong. Maybe he’s the one that was supposed to give me tools. Tools so that I could navigate adulthood. Tools for me to repair the cracks in my relationships and seal the leaks in my friendships and tighten up those loose ends that happen when you focus on one area of your life for too long and let everything else slide. 

I spent four months locating my father in 2012. We hadn’t seen each other since he divorced my mother in 2000. When I found him, I flew to Texas and we met for lunch. I didn’t have anything in particular that I wanted to say. I just wanted to see my father. And I thought he might want to see me all grown up.

I told him that I turned out okay. You know, in case he was worried about me. I always feel better when I know Cal is safe. That doesn’t mean I coddle her or anything though. She’s on spring break right now and when she asked about the activities I had planned, I told her that she would be building me some Ikea furniture. Nothing crazy. Just a bookcase and a rolling cart. Some people are really sensitive when it comes to child labor, but I’m not one of those people.

Ironically, on the day that I was in Texas having lunch with him, this Huffington Post piece about the absence of my father came out. We exchanged phone numbers after lunch. He wanted to plan a get-together for the summer with my aunts and uncles. He said he would call me. I don’t know why I believed him because he made that exact same statement years before.

I haven’t heard from him since. I think my father needs to work on follow-through.

Sometimes I think about what that phone call would be like. You know how you talk to someone on the phone and there’s not one awkward or dull moment? And in that giant expanse of all those words, there isn’t one tiny moment of stupid? And then you want to talk to that person again?

It would be just like that.

“This is what I know: People’s hopes go on forever.” -Junot Diaz
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Holler at me: Flourish in Progress on Facebook (I post a lot of quotes and thug shit here. Pretty decent way to waste time.) Instagram @flourishinprogress (evidence of child labor, that lap dance I gave a panda at SXSW, me and some rappers) Twitter @ElizabethJLiu (I complain a lot here.)

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Monday Dare: That couch is NOT for sitting

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Every week, I challenge myself to a Monday Dare. Click on the link to see the complete list of Monday Dares or to learn more about its origin.

This week: Get comfortable

My dad worked as a mechanic for the U.S. Postal Service when I was a kid. His job came with a few advantages. It saved me from walking 30 or so feet down the driveway to mail a letter. Now that I’m thinking about it, this probably exacerbated my innate desire to be the laziest 8-year-old to ever roam the face of this planet (Hey, if you’re going to do something, go for it all the way, I say).

On occasion, he would save magazines that were deemed “Undeliverable” and bring them home for us kids. I always requested home design magazines. I clipped out pictures of beautiful things and articles on How To Make Your Home Feel Lived In But Still Look Perfect Even Though You Got A Tight-Ass Budget And Some Stupid-Ass Kids Who Put Their Grimy-Ass Hands Everywhere And I Fucking Mean Everywhere.

I would spend hours cutting out pictures and then taping the front and back of each picture with rows of Scotch Tape. I would double tape the areas with small gaps, making the picture harder to see, but I wanted my pictures to stay protected so I could use them as references when I became a Katrillionaire Adult. I asked for a laminator, but my parents always had some bullshit excuse about not spending on unnecessary luxuries. It was during one of these NO‘s that I quietly decided I would never invite my parents over to my Teal Palace to admire my semi-circle headboards or Laura Ashley comforters.

It’s a shame that all of those hours clipping and taping didn’t actually cultivate a keen eye for design or functionality. That BLING nook looks pretty cozy, amirite? Too bad no one can sit in that chair without knocking into the sloped wall. Yeah, I tried pulling the chair out already. I promptly tripped over one of the legs and almost lost my front teeth. I’ve still got braces on for another year. Think about how much my orthodontist would hate me. “What the fuck, Elizabeth, I can tell THESE ARE CHICLETS.”

I finally fulfilled my childhood wish of owning a white sectional. It doesn’t have a La-Z-Boy at the end like my home-laminated picture, but it’s white. I wish I could tell you more about it, but you know how it is: You buy a white couch and suddenly, you tell your family that it’s better to sit on the stone floor because “something about spinal alignment,” and then you don’t sit on it either, because you want to have a straight and healthy spine too. One time, you accidentally brush against the corner while wearing dark-rinse denim, and you immediately fall to the floor with your arms raised, asking the Universe to turn back time just 7 seconds, to that moment before the lily white fabric absorbed any of the deep blue pigment. You cry about it a lot that day. A little less the next day. In a month’s time, you feel okay. Not perfect, just…okay.

Life is for living. Couches are for sitting. Wow, that’s really beautiful. And I just made that up right now, too. I want to live comfortably in my home. I want to put my grimy-ass hands everywhere, and I fucking mean everywhere.

Any decorating disasters or regrets? Ever sullied something in your home that you love?

BLING pic: Another sad moment captured on Instagram (username: flourishinprogress)

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Speaking of wasting time…In my quest to be as unproductive as possible, I spent 45 minutes making this tag + miniature hanger for Harv’s Valentine’s Day Swag. THUG WIFE. THUG LIFE.

Monday Dare (& Giveaway): Even at the age of 7, I was an asshole

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(A Monday Dare on a TUESDAY? MY BAD. I’m finally on WORDPRESS, motherfuckers. How do you like the new blog design? Old comments are still transferring over, but don’t worry, I GOT THIS.)

Every week, I challenge myself to a Monday Dare. Click on the link to see the complete list of Monday Dares or to learn more about its origin.

This week: More contentment, more of the time

I find holiday gift exchanges daunting. Now that I’m thinking about it, let’s replace “daunting” with “mentally draining and traumatizing to the psyche.” White Elephant swaps require the most emotional preparation because I know I’m going to be opening up some bullshit that’s been rolling around in the bottom of a linen closet or a storm drain. Not only will I muster up an audible laugh to seem good-natured, but I’ll make some kind of gesture with my hand like a thumbs up or a gang sign to let people know I’m really embracing the silly side of the holiday season.

Even when the participants are supposed to bring “good” gifts, I always end up picking the one item in the communal pile that would make even Jesus cry. When will it be my year to take home the snowflake-shaped gylcerin soap set smelling faintly of pine and happiness instead of the rubber balls I’m supposed to hang off the bumper of a truck I don’t own? WHEN??

I try to temper my dissatisfaction and urge to acquire a whole new set of friends by thinking about Sophia.

The last time I saw Sophia, we were both 7. At the beginning of our second grade holiday party, all of the kids sat in a circle with the gift we brought for the exchange. Mrs. Tubb played a Christmas carol on her tape deck, and whatever was in our hands when the music stopped was ours. No swaps. No whining. I didn’t care who’s gift I got, but I didn’t want Sophia’s. She was the only one who had wrapped her box in newspaper. It was the Sunday Comics Section, but still, I just knew in my little asshole heart that it wasn’t going to be anything “good.”

While the other kids ripped open their gifts right there on the floor, I took my comic strip covered box back to my desk and peeled back one piece of tape at a time. Inside, I found a pair L.A. Gear leg warmers. Sophia walked over. “My grandma and I picked them out together. They’re so pretty.” When I didn’t respond, she went back to her desk and starting coloring with her gift, a brand new box of crayons. I heard her singing softly as I folded the leg warmers in half and stuffed them back into the box.

Sophia didn’t come back to Mrs. Tubb’s class after winter break. I never saw her again. I still wonder why she didn’t tell anyone she was moving. I wonder if she even knew herself.

My L.A. Gear leg warmers are still folded in half in my sock drawer. I think of Sophia often. I think about how content she was with her gift. I think about how some people are able to find joy in small everyday things. I think about how even now, at the age of 32, I could learn so much from that 7-year-old.

Sophia, you’re right. They are so pretty.

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I FUCKING LOVE PRESENTS giveaway #5

I fucking love presents. Maybe you do too. To celebrate this holiday season, I’ll be doing a giveaway each week until the end of the year. Get connected on the Flourish in Progress Facebook page and on Instagram (username: flourishinprogress) for giveaway updates, not-posted-on-this-blog pictures, (t)hug life thoughts, and other random shit.

This week: Besotted Brand Custom Monogram Stamp

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If I’m being real, I can’t even believe Tristan, the creative GENIUS behind Besotted Brand, agreed to be part of the holiday giveaways. Her custom stamps and paper products are some of my favorite things. I love fancy shit, and Besotted’s high quality everything makes it easy to give beautiful custom gifts to others…and to myself. Tristan will create one custom-designed monogram stamp for the lucky winner.

TO ENTER: Leave a comment below with a holiday gift exchange item you’ve given or received. (P.S. What do you think of the new blog design?) Only comments left on THIS POST qualify.

LAST WEEK’S TRILOGY WINNER: Steph (the first part of your email is SCYLE) Please email me at flourishinprogress at gmail dot com with your address.

first image via blueq.com, second and third images courtesy of Besotted Brand