I went on a religious pilgrimage last night and it was outstanding.
"She’s single, urban and loving it—but she’s no Carrie Bradshaw. Not necessarily looking for a husband, nor looking for just a good time, this leading-edge millennial woman, age 28 to 34, has a career to tend to and money to make."
At the Pillsbury Bake-Off last month, one of our speakers was Phil Lempert aka The Supermarket Guru who described one of the future trends in grocery shopping for 2014 and beyond to include the rise of “the indie woman.” I immediately liked the term and even introduced myself afterward to him as such, especially since I was one of the youngest people covering the Bake-Off.
The rise of the indie woman, as illustrated by AdWeek, looks a little something like this:
- Career first, marriage and kids later. (Perhaps not even in that order.)
- Fashionable, but also excels at window shopping even more than actual shopping.
- A fan of brand names.
- “They can work late or go out late, and they can bring home whoever they want.”
Muy bien. And now, here comes my personal anecdote.
When I started my NaNoWriMo story last month, it came out of a place deep inside of myself. I had been thinking about women in recent literature for a long time. Supposedly modern women and how unmodern they really were. It’s always the same story of the girl who was so very unique because she didn’t talk to other girls or licked her lips a lot or possessed a very “haunting” beauty with her pale skin but hey, that was okay because the boys liked her. Or, on the flip side, the very upset 22 year old who just graduated from college into a cold world where she didn’t immediately become the editor at a fashion magazine and bitched and complained about everything despite the fact that her parents paid her student loan and oh yeah, wailed on and on about boys.
Seriously? We’re still doing this? This is what still sells? Where were the girls who were playing by their rules and confident in the skin they were already in? When did it become acceptable to encourage a girl to settle because some rando guy had a thirst? How are you gonna bring girls into this world and build them up if there are no books around to encourage them to be their own woman?
So I had wanted to write something about a small cluster of girlfriends who were all cusping on the end of their twenties and were not even close to having made all of the so-called “right moves” with their lives, but also lived for themselves and valued the relationships they had that mattered. My girls (literally how I refer to them in my head) were all smart and independent and did not give a shit what anyone thought about them. They were also full of flaws, lest I started thinking they were too cool for school.
One of the first scenes I wrote up was one in which the protagonist Abby is sitting at a table for a dinner she was invited to with seven other people, six of which are married couples, and the seventh person is a single guy desperate to be like these married people (presumably Abby is invited to the dinner as someone he could potentially date but she’s not feeling how basic he is). The couples are all discussing their photos on Instagram and the monotonous ways they spent their weekends and Abby is bored. She is drinking the most out of anyone at the table, flirts with a married guy from across the room, and gets into an argument with one of the couples in which she begs them not to reproduce because she has a hard time figuring out whether the mom will pay more attention to her child over her MacBook.
Writing that was a lot of fun because I think every single girl who has ever been trapped at a table filled with nothing but couples could relate to it. The best part came from yanking myself open and letting everything fly out. No restraints, no limits, no cares as to who does like it or not. No biting the tongue, no polite smiling, just coming out and calling people out on their bullshit. There are no stories for twentysomethings that do that.
But the whole process for the NaNoWriMo story was never to write something that took itself too seriously or hit the bitter ground running either. This wasn’t going to be some thinly veiled version of any potential insecurities cropping up (“everybody’s getting married on Facebook but meeeeeeeee”) of mine you could read into. This was their story. Everyone was different and went through their own troubles and there wasn’t an ending. It’s a story, but doesn’t mean it can’t feel real, be self-deprecating, and sarcastic with heart.
These are the indie women. All the real girls. And that’s me telling a little bit about my own (fictional) story. That I’m proud of it and where it’s heading.
I’ll keep working on it, don’t worry.
Working on an article that I thought would not take me long to compile but it’s turning out to be much more lengthier, detailed, and all-around thoughtful than I thought it would. This is not a bad thing either. Just unexpected. I am also being picky on my selections for this piece too which makes it go slower than usual, but that’s because I want to be able to stand by my list with pride and know I had a good reason behind every choice I made.
Just another reminder to the world that good content is not built to be based on an assembly line model where you lather, rinse, and repeat it on an endless loop.
Numbers for listing purposes, not by rank of what I love the most or anything.
1. The Bake-Off Vegas trip. My expectations were that I was going to spend four days just having fun, fun, fun in Sin City but the reality of it was that while I had a very good time on the surface, beneath that was an entirely different story. It was a more somber time than I anticipated but also one where through the sadness, clarity and inner peace came through me. I knew, and know, what I had to do. I’d like to thank the bathtub I sat in sometime around 2 AM on Sunday morning in my hotel room for helping me answer the question I had had for some time, “You know some of those basic things you’ve been contemplating doing because they’re easy or the ones you’re already doing but don’t like? Let’s not do any of that.”
2. Knowing when to quit something I didn’t enjoy doing and walking away from it. That was hard. But I knew I was going to do it for awhile - I got asked about how I felt about this particular thing in October and all I could think was no, I really don’t like doing it at all. Just me realizing I want to do what fulfills me and not waste my time with things I feel don’t contribute to my personal growth.
3. Family and friends. I only surround myself with about two handfuls of people who really know the layers of who I am and that is all I need. Knowing that I have their unconditional love and they have mine is a real blessing.
4. Arcade Fire’s “Reflektor” album. Shout outs to the following additional songs for making me extra happy - “Stars” by Ulrich Schnauss, “Ship Leaving” by Pieter Nooten, “Nida” by Stellamara, everything by The White Panda, that new Depeche Mode album, and the soundtrack for The Bling Ring.
5. Getting some extra encouragement from great people to do the one thing I’ve always wanted to do and feel at my most fulfilled with. (If this is ultra vague, then it’s just gotta be.)
6. Being made an honorary member of the Poppin’ Fresh family tree by General Mills. What started as me being a little girl who liked the Pillsbury Doughboy and thought he was cute turned into years of research and is now starting to become something bigger than what I thought it could.
7. Being made an honorary California bridesmaid for my dear friend Melissa’s wedding next year. We’ve come a long way since the high school days of working at Subway together!
8. I moved three times this year and I’m thankful it all wound up working out because the last move was far from planned.
9. My tight work team who have really been the best ever and get everything about me from how to get me a link to watch that Game of Thrones Red Wedding episode online and total understanding of what “yaaaaaasssss omg you look so good yaaaaasssss” means.
10. And a quick shout out to all of my limbs, eyesight, teeth, mind, heart, and assorted other body parts for all being intact. That’s something easy to take for granted. Luv u, boo.
Growing up, one of my absolute favorite things was to witness my little brother Earl get put into his place when he smarted off to my parents. The kid was cheeky and full of sass, but in a cute PG-ish way. (Well, that changed significantly when he got older but we’re only including the funny childhood gems for this one.) Whether in public or at home, my parents would get him alright, but with none of this time out in the corner bullshit or stupid yuppie parent at Starbucks whimpering “no… no… please… use your words… be kind… be kind.” Discipline and learning lessons went slightly differently in our household…
1) Here is a memory I’m not particularly fond of because this was something I also got saddled into when I got in trouble alongside Earl. We didn’t do time outs. Instead, my parents had a set of 10 Commandments nailed to our living room wall. You know, from the Bible. If you mouthed off, you went in front of those commandments and stood there for a prescribed amount of time. During said time, you needed to memorize each one from start to finish. Then my dad would call you over, state that he wanted to hear a commandment from you, and if you recited it perfectly to him, you were free to go. However, screw up any word or phrase, and back to the commandments with you (you could go back up to 3 times and then he’d toss you a bone with the easiest possible one). The trouble here was that this wasn’t your standard set of commandments either. You know how there are notoriously shorter commandments like “remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy?” This particular set included a small paragraph after even the shortest commandments to include in the memorization process. Far worse, all of the 10 were marked in Roman numerals which could definitely throw a small child off on commandments 8 and 9 especially. So yeah, if you ever want to punish a child effectively while simultaneously helping to increase their memorization skills so they can win a books of the Bible recitation contest at the private school they went to, do this.
2) That one time Earl told my dad he didn’t feel like taking out the trash even though it was his turn and involved the arduous task of twist tying the bag and walking it all of 15 yards to the waste dumpster. In turn, my dad went into his bedroom bright and early that morning and dumped our trash can on him while he slept in bed. If it’s ever possible to almost black out while laughing, I got pretty close that day.
3) Another time Earl said, on a morning that was 15 degrees outside with frost on the ground, that he wasn’t going to wear a coat to school because it wasn’t cold. Guess who got locked outside in his PJs on our front porch for 15 minutes, screaming and crying and begging through the mailbox flap to come back inside and he’d put on the coat? N O T M E
4) At this point, you probably think my dad and I were nothing but big bullies to Earl and dug it in deep with him for our own amusement. That might be true, but only in that family teasing kinda way where you can do it as a joke but the moment someone else outside of the bloodline tries to do it, they gotta die. Anyway, we all used to go to open houses on Sunday mornings. This was all in an effort to move to a different neighborhood which would go into effect when I was 14 but everything up until that point was research. (The internet sucked back then, remember that.) One of the games at the houses we liked to play was called Earl’s New Bedroom. This was where we would find the tiniest possible space in the house and declare it was Earl’s new room if we moved in there. This could be anything from a cupboard to a dumpster to a cellar but a cellar is actually really roomy and nice and idk if that would fit the ENB aesthetic. Our favorites were tiny closets with no windows where we’d convince him to go inside and then close the door behind him, placing our weight against the door as he tried to get out, laughing hysterically as he yelled at us on the other end. Never failed to worry the other people roaming around on the open house visit. Also, now that I think of it, this may be the reason why I never want to physically own a house and do not understand why people in my age group think house hunting is some awesome adventure. It’s boring, exhausting, and filled with pushy real estate people. Also, there is no such thing thing as the perfect house that doesn’t come without 9000 extra repairs needed. The kitchen might have new appliances, but then you have a creaking stairwell or unfinished basement to deal with. I’m not kidding around here when I say that if I could, I would not only live out of a hotel for the rest of my life, but also build a chain of hotel-esque lodgings for post-grads and not interested in being a homeowner peeps throughout the country. All about that one room lyfe.
Helped a good friend out with her “paparazzi style” photo project in Malibu over the weekend, photos revealed I would be the kind of celebrity who always has on a grin from ear to ear.
The most terrible realization of today?
The fact that when faced with the option of taking time off to go home for Christmas and see my brother visiting from the Navy OR get a filling and buy my bridesmaid’s dress for the BFF’s wedding next summer, I can only do one and it has to be the latter because Christmas is on a Wednesday this year and I work both before and after that day and really can’t justify taking a week off from work.
Picture this dress in a sapphire shade and you’ll be able to see the bridesmaid’s dress I’ll be wearing to my best friend’s wedding next July.
There will be a longer, more in-depth post to come about the Pillsbury Bake-Off but all you need to know for now is that it was magical and there was a beautiful golden Doughboy there.
The biggest question I am coming away from this Bake-Off with is the one everyone - family, friends, rando acquaintances - has been asking me nonstop: why aren’t you working at General Mills, Heather?
I don’t have an answer here. And that makes me really sad and upset in so many ways.
It was an emotionally charged and thoughtful series of days and has led me to seriously rethink a lot of my life and just how I can be involved with this brand the absolute most. Because I’m a Doughgirl, guys. I always have been. I love the Pillsbury brand and I want to spread that love around as much as I can and help others feel it too. I’m a marketing team’s dream come true, I realize that, but I have so much research about the Doughboy I want and need to share and nobody else can do it quite like I can.
I just know it.