Thursday, November 24, 2011


What happens when a family full of musicians, actors, singers, and relatively insane people all get together for a holiday? Most would say "Drama!" or "Drunken fights!". No. Not in the Castle household. We put our talents to work. Once the table has been cleared and the dessert has begun to digest, we all reconvene with our weapon of choice in hand. It is time to begin, FAMILY BAND!
For as long as I can remember my father has always brought his guitar with him to family gatherings. At the end of the night he would play, and the family would all sing together. Sometimes other relatives would chime in if they had an instrument and my Uncle Dan was always keeping rhythm with the spoons. At the time I didn't realize how special this was.
As the years passed, the family band grew. My brother followed in my fathers footsteps and learned the guitar, friends we had made had become family, and our family had become larger as well. The Castle Family Singers (I really wish we had a name like the Brady Bunch, or at least matching track suits) had acquired a full band behind them. At one gathering my mother decided to pass out instruments, tinwhistles, bongos, a sensible 1934 bugle, shakers, and the list goes on. You know, just the typical things every family has laying around the house. I always looked forward to this time, but I didn't know how special this really was.
The strumming and singing that had always just happened organically began to become one of the most anticipated portions of the evening. We began to call it "Family Band", and in true Castle fashion poked fun at it and ourselves for participating in it, and secretly couldn't wait for it to start. We no longer had to wrangle up the family and explain what was going on, we knew. We sat on the floor and grabbed our instruments. My dad got his Martin D-28 out of the same blue hardshell case, and began to strum the familiar chords. In unison we began, "Puff the Magic Dragon, lived by the sea, and harbored in the autumn mist...."
I haven't been able to return home for the holidays in a few years. Some of my family has moved, and we rarely get the chance to see each other. I am surprisingly emotional as I write this morning. Like I previously wrote, I didn't know how special this was. It seemed so normal to me, it was all that I knew. Today on Thanksgiving, I am filled with gratitude. My heart is so full with these wonderful memories. No matter what was going on in the family, no matter what stresses were engulfing our lives, for those moments we were all in bliss. I hope someday soon there will be a time when we are all together, when my dad grabs his guitar, Uncle Dan grabs the spoons, and we all just sit around and let go.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

She bangs.

Today I went for a haircut. As I sat in the chair I looked at my hair and thought, girl, we've been through it all.
The first major hair change that I can recall happened when I was about 5 or 6. I had long blonde hair and I was obsessed with Pippi Longstocking. I decided I wanted to have hair like Anika (Pippi's sidekick), so I did. I got it all chopped off into a Anika-bob! Looking back at this experience I can really see how I was destined for mediocrity at a young age. Really Elise? You wanted the Anika, the supporting character? No Mom, I don't want to be Annie, I wanna be the butch orphan, Dixie, thats my DREAM!
Things pretty much stayed at a standstill "locks-wise" until high-school. A few of my friends and I had decided as a group that we were all going to go "bleached-blonde". Some groups of friends in high-school have pregnancy pacts, my friends and I were bound together by boxes of Clairol. Cheap. Boxed. Hairdye. This was also around the same time where one of my friends had decided to take up "braiding". He was very good at doing all this intricate braid-work and we all agreed to be models. Picture this. Mob of relatively awkward/uncomfortable females with bleach blonde hair braided in the style of Salt N' Peppa on their way to Marching Band rehearsal. I think every school dance I went to had a hairstyle involving braids and we also somehow incorporated the braids into the school plays (Renaissance braids, 1950's braids, Anetevka braids). In our defense the braids worked very well under our band hats and really thats all that matters.
Later on in highschool I chopped my hair and died it brown with chunky brown highlights. My initial intention was to look like Kelly Clarkson circa "Moment Like This". My weight at the time made this look more Tracy Turnblad than anything. That wasn't a winning moment. So I did what any lady would do. Grew it out and bleached it again....
I continued to bounce back and forth between colors. I was blonde, then brown, then highlights, then RED. In 2005 I went to a salon and decided to go red. It was a risk but I figured I had nothing to lose. After the color was completed I knew I had found a match. Friends agreed and I knew I was in a LTR with red hair.
Now throughout the years it has been a lot of trial and error in order to find something that really "works". I have been almost every shade of red. Maroon to orange. True Red Pomegranate to #69 Spicy Salsa (The legit names of the Garnier box dye I used in college). There were years when I was rocking some blonde eyebrows with my crimson locks, and many times when my hair looked like Josephs Dreamcoat (it was red and yellow and green and brown....). After 6 and a half years I would like to say that I have figured it out. No more boxed dye, I request a natural looking red at the salon, and MAC makes a great eyebrow mascara in a shade called Girlboy (which I love for me) that matches my haircolor PERFECT!
So thats the riveting tale of my hair. FYI I got bangs today. It was a reallly big deal. I mean I have had bangs before, actually I have had them for most of the past 6 years. They had finally grown out and I was worried I was going to somehow look like I did this one time I got this awful bang induced haircut that made me look like George Washington. I am pleased to say that these bangs are not colonial at all. This is some 21st century bang shit.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Eating My Feelings.

I remember the day like it was yesterday.
I was in the aisle of a grocery store with tears streaming down my face. My stomach was empty, as was my cart. I was so lost amongst the Lean Cuisines and Tuna Helper. I had no idea what to buy and was overwhelmed by the daunting labels of the food. Each label telling me which diet they were approved by, which items had no fat, which had low fat, which had no sugar, which items were vegan friendly, which items had low carbs, which had no carbs. My head was spinning. I just wanted to grab a 6 pack of Tab, some Melba Toast, and hop in a time machine back to 1988 when dieting was simple.
I left that day with a bruised heart, and a bottle of Franks Red Hot.

What is good for us any more? I have tried every diet there is, I have been losing the last 15 pounds for about 5 years, and just recently have I finally began to look at food as an energy source as she was intended, as opposed to the backstabbing bitch I have called her for years.

I began counting calories at a young age. I didn't beg my mother to let me take gymnastics or to go to summer camp. I pleaded with my parents for months to go to Weight Watchers. Every little girls dream. However it didn't really work with my life. Ya know, pulling out your Points Finder in the lunch line and bringing my food scale to sleepovers didn't always go over well.

As I got older I began to tackle other diets. South Beach seemed to work for a couple of weeks, but then I had to "moderately" reintroduce foods into my diet. Elise Castle and moderation go together like 50% of heterosexual marriages, it just doesn't work. I also tried veganism for a bit. I totally support it, and think it is a really great healthy way of living. I also think you have the worst gas of your life, you piss off all your friends, and your grandmother doesn't understand when you say you're a Vegan and thinks you are now in a blood-drinking cult.

The list goes on and on, you name it I have tried it. I drank that water with cayenne pepper, maple syrup, and lemon juice. Bullshit. I ate too much, I didn't eat enough, I didn't eat sugar, I ate things that tasted like sugar but were not sugar and probably made from whale ass, I had a vodka only dinner for years, I stopped drinking all together, I counted calories, I counted pounds, I gained weight, I lost weight, and then I lost my mind.

My brain was consumed by all the diets I had tried in the past. Weight watchers said I could have a little bit of bread, Atkins said not at all, it was a staple in my Vegan diet, and in my vodka diet I was passed out with the loaf in my hand. Then something changed. I woke up one day and said "Let it go. Just for today. Eat when you're hungry. Eat what you want. Stop when you're full. Repeat."

I was shocked. I did just that. Surprisingly after years of hellish dieting I had learned SOME things and my body had no interest in fried or sugary foods anyway. I began to eat when I was healthy, eat a sandwich and not feel like I had committed a crime, go to the grocery store and leave with more than just a resentment and hot sauce. I began to feel free.

So what is good for us? Food. Eating. A healthy relationship with the energy that keeps us going. Now, I am not going to lie. I am not a 100% reformed woman. There are times when no one is home, I put on my black dressing robe, grab a pint of Ben and Jerry's, turn on a delightfully sinful Shannon Doherty Lifetime shitshow and eat my feelings. The difference today. I am OK with it.