Let It Go

Yesterday I babysat a 6 year old named Hannah who is obsessed with the movie “Frozen.” We wandered around Barnes and Noble, she wanted me to buy her a book. I’m all about kids reading, but I’m not going to start paying to babysit. So I told her that a great afternoon project would be to go home and draw the characters and write our own book. Not really what she wanted to hear.

Later it hit her- Draw the characters, sell the pictures, go buy the book with that money.

“Uh-huh, sure,” I mumbled as I unloaded the dishwasher while she flitted around the room collecting stickers and markers. 

We spent about an hour drawing pictures while she planned out the afternoon. She was stoked beyond all reason. I was ambivalent. Were we going to go through with it? Nahhh

All of a sudden we had about 10 pretty decent pieces of work. Next thing I know, we’re on the stoop with a gallery of construction paper and a plastic cash register. See: 

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I didn’t think we’d get this far.

“Hannah, this isn’t going to work.” 

“Why not?”

“Because… I don’t know.” 

Truth: I didn’t want to do it. I didn’t want to bother the pedestrians, I didn’t know if her mom would be okay with us soliciting art in front of their apartment, I didn’t want to talk to strangers, and I felt stupid and very uncomfortable. 

Also, I felt weird about making money off of artwork. We should just be handing it out, right? (No, God no, Flack. This is why you’re broke).

I prodded her to go back in. As people passed, I rearranged the pictures so that I could pretend I didn’t see them coming. I told her I needed some water, that I had to go potty. All the while she said quietly, “Good afternoon would you like a picture?” to every passing person. But nobody listened to her.

It wasn’t working, so she put me to task: 

“TORY. It’s your turn to ask. Now, stop fiddling with those papers, I know what you’re trying to do.” 

“TORY. You’re not thirsty! You just want to go back inside.” 

And finally: “Tory, why is this so hard for you? This is important.” 

So I told her- “I’m nervous. I don’t like talking to people I don’t know. Besides, I’m just the artist, I’m not a business person.” 

“Well, I’m the artist too, and I’m trying.” 

The frustrating this was, I knew I was wrong on all accounts. I KNEW I was being a naysayer, a coward, and an asshole. But I was seriously uncomfortable. 

I live in New York, I make $0.00/hour doing what I want to do, I don’t have a routine or much guidance in my career, sometimes I get up on stage in front of lots of people and pretend to be disgusting, bizarre creatures and I look like a crazy person, sometimes I get on stage in front of lots of people and I absolutely FAIL. All uncomfortable things. 

But, I am a small town girl. I was raised to adhere to a modest belief system and socially acceptable (female) behavior. My grandfather used to make me stand on the stairs and play my viola when he had friends over to play cards. One of my aunts sends me messages when I swear too much on Facebook. 

It’s not a bad thing. It’s just one take on what being “good” is, really. I wouldn’t be where I am right now if it weren’t for the society that raised me. But I spend a lot of time feeling guilty about every decision I make, I’m terrified people aren’t going to like me, I spend more time and energy making sure everyone is happier than I am, and I waste so much time deciding on what is “right.” 

They say life begins at the end of your comfort zone:

A man passed and I blurted, “Hello! Would you like a picture?”

He stopped. “Wow!” He said. “This is great!!”

To Hannah: “Are you the artist?”

All her pictures were signed, “To: _____ By, Elsa.”

“Elsa, is that your name?”

“Yep!” She was ecstatic. 

“How much?”

“One dollar. But if you don’t have a dollar, we can talk about a lower price.” 

He bought the picture of Olaf, which was taped together from where she colored too hard on his carrot nose. Hannah rolled her dollar up like a joint (yes, it’s the only reference I could think of) and stuck it in the cash register. 

“Okay, Tory, do it again!” 

A woman walked by. I started to say something, chickened out. I turned to Hannah and said, “Sometimes you can just tell when people don’t want-”

“Excuse me, are you selling your drawings?” Said the lady whom I was currently justifying my fear of. 

“Yes! One dollar.” Said Hannah. 

“Wowwww. This is so great. Oh my gosh! I think I just have to have the princess one.” 

And so on. Hannah’s business was an instant hit once we both started to believe in it. At one point I tried to sell a woman two pictures for the price of one, as a series. Hannah said, “NO. One dollar each.”

But she did decide she would give her art to fellow kids for free. A little girl passed with her mother. Hannah gave her a picture of a cat. 

“My kitty at home is sick!! I’ll give her this picture to make her feel better,” said the girl as her very pregnant mother struggled to find a dollar in her purse- even though Hannah insisted it was free.

So when a young woman walked by with no money, Hannah gave her a picture of Rapunzel’s tower. The woman was overjoyed. She didn’t take her eyes off of it as she walked away. I bet it’s on her fridge right now.

“Oh, I just LOVE that people get to enjoy my pictures after I enjoyed them!” Hannah hollered.

Every interaction became easier. I began to feel less guilt. Hannah got so brave she practically chased people down. 

She made $6.00. 

We went to Barnes and Noble. She picked out a book. It was more than $6.00, but I covered it. I disguised it as a birthday present, but really, I was glad she pushed me.

“Hannah, are you proud of yourself?” I asked. 

She was. 

When her mom came home, she said, “Hannah did you have a good day?”

“YEEEEESSSSSSSS!!!!!” 

Was Mom weirded out? Mad? I don’t know. I don’t know why she would be. But I convinced myself she was for awhile, and then I got over it. 

So- stop telling kids “no,” just because they’re doing something that makes YOU uncomfortable. Chances are, you are both missing valuable opportunities for growth.

You know what Hannah helped me work on? Know your worth. And then believe it. 

I try to do something scary everyday. Because the more I desensitize myself to feeling scared, the happier I get. Isn’t that why little girls love Elsa so much?

Will Trade Full/Queen Sized Bed Frame For Sanity.

If I lay down to take a quick nap (1-2 hours), then I am out in less than ten minutes. When get in bed at night, it takes me forever (no less than 1-2 hours) to fall asleep. 

“It is because your brain and body are actively attacking you,” says Cole Orloff, Professional Therapist at Tory Is Nuts, Inc.

Recently, I’ve been trying to wean myself off of my teddy bear, Pookie, a soft brown gentleman with a velvety red bow tie and hard black eyes that stare deep into your (my) soul and tell you (me) everything is going to be OKAY. 

“Eventually, he will disintegrate into nothing,” says Asshole Orloff, Professional Asshole at People Trying To Destroy My Life, Inc. 

Although I still maintain that he will be buried with me when I die, I’ve sort of stopped sleeping with Pookie. Instead, after about 10 minutes of heavy breathing, I grab my phone and pick up with the latest New York Times Crossword puzzle. Pookie doesn’t cause eye floaters or headaches, but I’m an adult so he’s on the couch. Last night, I felt like I needed him because I was having terrifying visions of the paper version of my June schedule coming to life and biting my fingernails off of my fingers. But even though my pillow is made of cotton and anxiety, it’s still super comfy and I just didn’t want to go get him. 

Last week we got a new bed frame. So the old one, which is a large and metal with sharp pointy ends, is just chilling in our kitchen because I keep saying I’m gonna sell it on Craigslist. It folds up nicely, at least. When I first laid it out I recognized the danger of those sharp pointy ends sticking out into the walkway, so I MADE SURE to push it further in. 

Sure enough, I’m the one who sideways zombie-walked into it around 3:00 this morning and had to sit in the kitchen with a bag of frozen peas on my foot while Pookie laughed softly from the couch. (Which is also technically in the kitchen because this is NYC). Anyway, we’ve been BFFs for almost 27 years so I don’t take that stuff personally. 

Eventually I went back to bed, trying to calm myself down from thinking that I all the veins in the top of my foot had exploded, but then I had this awful dream that I moved to San Francisco and left my dry cleaning in NYC. Nothing was going smoothly in California. For example: In my dream I went to an improv show and they asked for a suggestion. I said “pizza.” 

One of the performers said, “Okay! What kind of pizza.” 

“I dunno.”

“Cheese? Do you like cheese?” The little blonde improviser who was better looking than I sat down next to me to coax out an answer. She was very gentle. She held my hand.

“Yeah. I like cheese.”

“Okay. Cheese. Pick ONE topping.” 

“I don’t know! Mushrooms.” 

The audience stared at me. I was holding up the show! 

“Great. So you do like a lot of cheese on your pizza?”

“Yeah. Deep dish. I like Chicago style pizza.” 

So they went on to take my suggestion (deep dish Chicago style cheese and mushroom pizza) and then started their improv set, which was really a movie. 

When I woke up, my foot was throbbing and I was positive I was never going to walk again, or move to San Francisco. There is a teeny tiny little cut on my foot which I feel is not an accurate display of the pain I am feeling. Although a pretty solid bruise is forming around it, which I’m happy about. (Hey, if you tell me you’re a painter, I’ll believe you when you show me a painting). 

So I am getting another teddy bear. If nothing else, I will tie them around my feet so that when I shuffle off to the bathroom in the middle of the night, I know I’m safe. 

On a side note, is anyone looking for a bed frame? Msg me for details.