Why I Support Your Goal to Bathe in the Blood of Your Enemies

While I’m not so much of a sports fan, I do, weirdly, love the Olympics. One reason is, unlike football games which last an eternity, the events are over in the blink of an eye. Olympic sports last from a few seconds to a couple of minutes, which works nicely with my recent self-diagnosis of being a person who is High Sensation Seeking (signs of being HSS: needing constant infusions of caffeine, always having to purchase at least one thing not on your list at Target, and clicking on any link on FB that promises to make you EXPLODE INTO A MILLION PIECES AND CHANGE EVERYTHING YOU EVER THOUGHT ABOUT DOGS/SOLDIERS/GOD/CHILDREN/MOTHERS.).

The other reason I like the Olympics is they do those little vignettes about the athletes’ personal lives, and so, in addition to getting my sports-in-small-doses, I get stories, somewhat true stories about the athletes. Producers take the mundane facts of their real lives and, with the help of professional editing, gorgeous photography and the score from Gladiator, spin them into fluffy, inspiring, cotton candy tales. I really, really love them. Come to think of it, I would like somebody to make a three minute vignette about my struggle to the top, so I can watch it on bad days.

Anyway, I was watching the Olympic ice dancing finals the other night with my husband and son, and went on one of my flights of fancy (which other people might call “crazy ramblings” but I like flights of fancy better, and I’m the bloggess here). Here’s how it went:

Husband: I wonder how many of the pairs are dating each other.

Me: I don’t know. Probably not the brother and sister.

Husband: *Googling* Some date each other, but it is not encouraged.

Me: I really think I’d be good at ice dancing. Do you think it’s too late to pick it up? Can a 46-year-old learn ice dancing?

Son: Definitely. Go for it.

(**A small aside: My son thinks that by use of dripping sarcasm, he will kill my dream. He will not.)

Husband: I’ll be your partner.

Me: I’m going to have to lose some weight. I think we could win the gold on the seniors tour probably. This will be such a fun activity to do together.

Son: But it’s not encouraged to be in a relationship with your partner.

Me: You’re right. It could cost us the gold.

Son: You’re going to have to lose the weakest link.

Husband: Who’s the weakest link?

(**Poor thing.)

Son: *points to him* You are.

Me: You’re holding me back from the gold, honey. The gold and the glory.

Husband: I’ll give it up for you. All of it. For you.

Me: Thank you so much. When they do my little vignette story, I’ll be sure to mention your sacrifice.

Prior to the ice dancing, we had a lot of fun watching the two-man bobsled, and I got to hear about the 39-year-old Russian bobsledder who has never medaled but wants to so bad he’s withheld his love, I mean strongly encouraged his teen daughter to take up the skeleton. He did end up winning the gold medal (I will admit, I shed a tear of joy for his daughter and sent up a little prayer that she would now be allowed to be a real teenager and get a smart phone so she could text her friends and post regrettable Instagram selfies instead of spending all her time missiling face-first down iced-over water slides.)

I love how, in the Russian vignettes, the athletes are all like, “I must to win the gold so I can show the world how much I have achieved and the world will tremble at my feet. And then I will bathe in the blood of my enemies.”

Don’t get me wrong. I fully support them. They’re just being honest and it’s incredibly refreshing. In America, we’re taught we have to be good sports at all costs–be classy!–and hide our deepest desires, especially if they’re not charitable or nice or sound like we’re “giving back.” The Russians don’t seem to worry all that much about giving back, and who can blame them? Screw classy! They want to take the gold, dang it, and dance around your broken body while you weep in humiliation at the base of the medal podium. It’s so raw and real, I could just explode into a million pieces.

Now that I think about it, that might be the thing I like best about the Olympics.

On Missing Jesse Pinkman

I’ve been moping around lately, because I finished watching Breaking Bad over the Christmas/New Years holiday, and, since I’m that person who won’t admit it, but sort of thinks TV series characters are real, I feel so lonesome. A lot like I’ve lost my best friends.

****Attention! Spoiler Alert! Spoilers Dead Ahead!*********

I miss all of them, even Gus Fring. Even that drooly, old cartel dude in the wheelchair who had the same ringy-bell thing that my fourth grade teacher used to pound on whenever we were enjoying fractions or Wordly Wise just a little too much, PEOPLE!

On second thought, good riddance to that dude. And to you, Mrs. Kent. Making me write sentences on the board…sheesh.

I do miss Walter White. And Skyler and Walter Jr./Flynn. Oh, and Hank. (Hank, Hank, why did they do that to you? You went so nobly, it made me ashamed I’d made fun of you the whole way through the series for being an idiot. Sniff.) But most of all I miss that most endearing of all criminals — the ever-scrappy, peaches-and-cream complected, abominably-dressed, human equivalent to a Chihuahua…Jesse Pinkman. He was just my absolute favorite. I wanted to hug him, button up his coat and pack him a lunch. (And that is not some kind of coy euphemism for anything inappropriate. I really, bizarrely, want to do these things for him.) When I think of Jesse, which I do frequently, I hope he has found himself a nice brunette girl in Alaska, never touches drugs again and maybe makes a fortune writing thriller novels featuring two unlikely meth-cooks. And building that wooden box thing he fantasized about when he was chained to the dog run in the neo-Nazis’ meth lab. I wish him the best. Even though he’s imaginary.

Breaking Bad taught me many things. For example:

1. When you get a drastic haircut, it really changes your attitude.

2. We can go our whole lives lying to ourselves or others about what we really want. Putting on a happy face when you should just tell the truth about your hurts, disappointments and dreams will not lead you down a good path. You will hurt yourself. You will hurt everybody who is close to you, because you cannot pretend forever.

3. There is, actually, such a thing as too much money.

4. You should keep your eyes peeled in Home Depot. You never know what the folks are up to in there.

5. A really talented writer (or actor) can create a universe that is so specific and powerful and nuanced, at times you’ll feel like you’re really there. To the extent that after immersing yourself in it — even though you are a law-abiding, suburban mother of three —  you will be vaguely nervous all day that the DEA is somehow on to you.

6. On some primal level, we all have the capacity to be bad, really bad.

As you can see, I found myself pondering the human experience a lot while watching. This of course is a testament to Breaking Bad’s talented creator, Vince Gilligan, and team of whip-smart writers. Also, it’s because I tended to binge on an average of eight episodes per sitting, which is probably a less than healthy amount. The week after Christmas, my husband took our boys on a trip and other than the exploits of the BB gang, that whole span of time is nothing but a vast, whistling black hole.

So now, as you can imagine, I’m dying to TALK ABOUT IT with somebody. Anybody. At length. But, of course, since I came to the series late, it’s old news and nobody really has all that much to say about it anymore. It’s not trending these days, you know. When, for instance, I say, “Yo, bitch,” they look at me with this patronizing look, like, “Uh-huh, yeah, that’s so 2010. Have you seen True Detective yet?”

No, I haven’t. And I won’t. Not until all the seasons (except the finale, no doubt) show up on Netflix, everybody leaves the house and I have a Mount Kilimanjaro of laundry to do.

After which, I will binge. Oh yes, I’ll binge, my friends. And then, when it’s all said and done, I’ll return to the land of the living — wrung out, glassy-eyed but conscious, surrounded by towers of spring breeze-scented, meticulously folded, boy-size undies. Happy. Once again, I’ll be pining for my friends who don’t exist. Once again, inspired to write great stories.

What Sheryl Sandberg and Britney Spears Have In Common

...Baby One More Time (song)

We’re edging up on Halloween, I’m reminded of how much I hate to dress up in costumes. I do. It’s not like the old days when I was a kid, and I could just rummage last minute through the dress-up box, throw on a gypsy skirt, and voila! I was good to go. If you dress up as an adult, your costume either has to be hysterically clever, disgustingly scary or (for some) sexy. All that just makes me feel like it’s a competition. That I want to quit.

If you do go for it, pull together some sort of fab costume, once you’re all dressed up in it, then you probably gotta go to a party to show it off with other (hopefully, oh God, please let them be) similarly dressed up adults and be all like — “Yeeeeaaaahhh!!! Woooooo!!!! Bleeeehhhhhhh!!! (that’s me sticking my tongue out, Miley-style, in pictures) Isn’t it AWESOME??? I’m Sexy Fantine from Les Miz. See my knocked out teeth and do-it-myself pixie cut????? Yeeeeeaaaahhhhh!!!” And spend all night, just….like….looking at each other’s costumes. Which makes me feel weird and spooky and pathetic.

I feel guilty for not liking Halloween, but I comfort myself that I also don’t like playing charades or Scrabble or baby shower games of any kind whatsoever. So I score high in the consistency category.

I did dress up once. It was 199something. I had two toddlers. Our playgroup Halloween party. I have no idea what possessed me at the time, but, suffice it to say, some strange spirit took hold of me, forced me to go to Target and buy those little pom-pom ponytail holders three-year-old girls wear.

Or pop stars starring in their first music videos.

Oh yes, oh yes, indeedy. You know it. I also found a little pleated, plaid miniskirt in my closet, white knee socks and knotted a white button down as low as I could possibly manage over my (not awesome anymore) stomach. Yes, folks, I dressed up as Britney Spears in her school girl “Hit Me, Baby, One More Time” outfit, braids and pom-poms and knee socks and all and IT WAS AMAZING. My husband was confused. My children oblivious. I was ecstatic.

Because I love Britney.

I love her.

There are some pop stars (alluded to earlier) who, in the course of plotting their careers seem scarily calculating and savvy to levels I can’t even imagine. Britney, on the other hand, seems like she was walking down a sunny street in LA one day and accidentally tripped and fell into a recording studio, where she — whoops! — recorded a catchy song, then — whoops! — took a wrong turn onto a soundstage, and spontaneously started dancing her ass off in a video somebody happened to be filming. I know this isn’t anywhere close to the truth, I know there was a huge machine behind her success, but she just seems so oblivious and sweet and innocent — I KNOW, I KNOW! The partying, the drugs, Colin Farrell, for the love of all that is good and pure — but that’s what I project onto her. It’s my fantasy. Let me have it.

When she was on America’s Next X-Talent-Or-Whatever, I loved watching her because anytime there was somebody terrible, she just looked like her little Britney-baby-bear heart was about to break for them. She was always sweet, even when they were horrendous and had no talent. Except when that one guy seemed to have stalked her from, like, ten years ago, and then she snapped back in her seat, lost the smile and they cut to commercial.

I don’t care how crazy Britney gets, who she marries, or what bathroom she goes into barefoot, I still believe she goes home at night says her prayers, snuggles up under a Hello Kitty coverlet and dreams about cotton candy and roller coaster rides.

Let’s take her new song, for example, “Work.” It seriously just kills me. I love it, I’m sorry, but I do. I turn it up so loud when I’m in my car. And picture how it all came about. I imagine, after the past five or so years of sitting around the pool with her freeloading friends who must have been forever and always saying things like, “Hey, Brit, instead of 49 cent Diet Cokes and powdered donuts from Quik Trip for dinner, let’s have free-range lobster!” or “Hey, Brit, got any clothes I can borrow? Any Gucci, Prada, Yves St. Laurent? Something other than the halter tops and cutoffs?”

I expect at some point she got fed up and, in order to teach her friends a valuable lesson, she wrote “Work.”

And then — whoops! — she accidentally made a video in which one might think she’s encouraging her friends to find jobs such as: hooker, stripper, dominatrix, mannequin-carrier and Woman Who Stands on Platform While Sharks Swim Around Her (which I gather is a sort of Sea World type job). But I really don’t think so. I think she’s proclaiming a feminist message.

Only Britney would make a video like this and then later let it slip that the people in charge pretty much pressured her into all the racy outfits and sexualized scenarios. I’m supposing at the pre-production meeting she suggested they show accountants and insurance adjusters, zoo keepers and astronauts, one and all dancing and doing their work-related tasks dressed in their various suits and uniforms and whatnot. Obviously everyone ignored her. The director probably told her the 2nd unit was filming that part, and they’d add the footage on later.

Really, if you think about it, Britney is touting the same message we’ve been hearing from Sheryl Sandberg, the phenomenally confident and frighteningly perky COO of Facebook, which is…lean in. Yes, darlings, if you can look past the latex, whips and poles, you will see that Britney is indeed telling women everywhere–bitches as she so endearingly calls us–that if we want the good stuff, we gotta work for it. Or, per Sandberg, we gotta lean in.

I’m going to see you in Vegas, Britney, I am. Until then, keep your chin up. I believe in you.

Hey, 20-Year-Olds / Everybody’s Daughter, I Have a List Too.

I notice, on a daily basis, that there are lots of young girls out there who seem to be having way too much fun, dressing skimpy, letting their boyfriends text marriage proposals and just basically not displaying enough misery, negativity and cynicism as is fitting. But instead of harassing them out my car window at intersections like they so richly deserve, I’ve decided to write an (ever so slightly) condescending blog entry full of old-lady advice so they will read it and stop living so joyfully and get gloomy before it is too late.

{Or some other overly-long and completely unnecessary introductory paragraph that basically says the same thing as the title but with a lot more wordiful, wordalicious words.}

1.  You are hot. 

This is the main reason everybody writes all those finger-wagging lists for you. You’re young. Full of promise. You probably feel spectacular on a hangover, three hours of sleep and a caffeine sandwich. I could tell you how gorgeous you are – under, over or smack dab in the middle weight – but you won’t listen. I’m telling you anyway: ignore those blogs that tell you not to worry about your body or talk about it. Talk away. And then you too can be like the rest of us and write a wry, sentimental blog when you’re 45 about how much you miss your hot 20 year old body .

2. Religion is like a delicious burrito.

Whereas God is the yummy, miraculous, fresh filling of beef or chicken with cheese and pico de gallo or what have you and church/religious people are like the chewy, processed, lard-filled tortilla wrapped around the whole thing. You want the good stuff? You will – in some form or fashion – have to go through the tortilla. Trust me I’ve tried to unwrap this thing, make it a taco salad, and it just doesn’t work. Eat the burrito.

3. You already know a handful of psychopaths, borderlines and narcissists.

This sounds scary but skip down to number 5 and you’ll see where this is going. These folks are plentiful, undoubtedly in your life even as I blog and they love “nice.” Learn their characteristics and run from them. With your strong, taut, spectacular legs.

4.  Lean In, Out or Sideways.

I don’t care what you do. I mean I want women to help run the world as much as the next person, but really, I think we all know, sometimes a seat at the table really just means you have to pretend to pay attention through an incredibly boring meeting.

5. You just might have to be your own therapist.

Once I went to a counselor who asked me what I wanted. I said I wanted to be happy. That was the wrong answer apparently, because he informed me being happy shouldn’t be my goal. I quit him, by the way. Point is, I wasn’t Veruca Salt, for Pete’s sake, saying I wanted to be happy even if it took making all the puppies in the world cry. I just meant I wanted to learn how to take the good and the bad of life and know what I could reasonably ask for and learn happiness in the midst of all of it. I still think it’s a good goal. I stand by it. So say you want to be happy. And go ahead and lay-diagnose yourself a psychopath or two while you’re at it.

Top 10 Things I Learned in New Orleans

428597_4890934787482_133018560_n

I realize I’m probably stating the obvious, but I went to New Orleans to visit my niece last week. If you are unaware of this, it’s because you either weren’t checking Facebook last week and somehow missed my manic updating/picture posting/commenting or you have un-friended me, because I’ve already driven you insane with previous updating/picture posting/commenting. Either way, I support you and have nothing but warm feelings toward you. In fact, gird yourself, because it’s entirely possible I will try to friend you again, since I don’t realize you intentionally un-friended me in the first place. I can be oblivious that way.

Okay. Moving on. Things I learned.

1. Head Cheese = Pig Face. 

Do you know this? I’ll admit, I had no idea. We inadvertently ordered head cheese as part of a meat and cheese plate at this spectacular Italian restaurant. It looked a little like meat fruitcake, I must say–glistening there on the adorably rustic, Italian meat and cheese board–which sort of stopped me in my tracks from the get go. Plus, I had just eaten goat the night before and reached my limit for culinary boundary pushing. Plus, this song kept running through my head — the one Dane Cook sings in that movie, “Dan in Real Life” — “Ruthie Pigface Draper,” and then that reminded me of Emily Blunt dancing at the jukebox and then this led to a fit of hysterical laughter and it just all got to be too much. I ended up sticking with the prosciutto.

2. There’s this happy kind of music called Gypsy Jazz. It makes me want to dance.

But since I’m not really all that well-versed in music styles, I had to look it up on wikipedia. I didn’t really get the nuances, no surprise, but I did come away with the impression that it’s really cool and requires a lot of special training and dedication from the musicians who play it. I’ll tell you this, it’s a heck of a lot of fun to listen to–especially the group we heard, Showarama Hot Trio, and it seems to attract some really good swing and blues dancers who absolutely killed it on the tiny dance floor and made me miss dancing. BAD. So Gypsy Jazz has now inspired me to learn how to swing dance. Uh-oh. Somebody call the obsessive-compulsive fairy. Mama’s got a goal.

3. When you’re in New Orleans during the week, you see the same people everywhere you go.

One night my niece and I were walking down the street on our way to the aforementioned head cheese dinner, and we passed this older black gentleman. We smiled and nodded and after we passed him he called out to us. “Hey,” he said. “Didn’t I see you at the blah-bity-blah club last night?” We said, “Yeah, maybe, we think so!” (but I mean, it was hard to remember which club was which, I was so wasted that night on goat tacos and slap-your-granny hot sauce.) Then he said, “I thought so, I was playing in the band. Thanks for coming out!” That, my friends, is small town delightfulness. It made up for what happened next.

4. Tasers can look like guns.

What happened next was we came upon a woman and man who were fighting on the sidewalk. There were already people standing around and watching the whole thing play out. We walked up–there were three or four of us–and stopped because it looked like something we might want to avoid. And then I saw what looked like a small gun in the woman’s hand. She was pointing it down, near her leg, but her finger was on the trigger. It was dark and we were a couple of yards away, but it didn’t have any yellow markings or that weird space blaster look that I thought tasers have. So I said, “Let’s walk A DIFFERENT way!”, and all of us turned tail and hustled around the corner quicker than you can say “that’s a really bad idea to have a taser that looks exactly like a gun.” Anyway. We took the long way to the restaurant and hoped everybody kissed and made up before things got all tasey.

5. There’s a two-level Anthropologie in the French Quarter. With a Starbucks right next door.

I don’t really think this needs further explanation.

6. I want everyone to be in love. Even people who don’t want to be.

Or, in other words, I’m a compulsive matchmaker. Which is to say, as my niece and I walked around town, I said about umpteen million times, “You should date him.” It got to be a thing. And then, in order to keep all the potential matches straight, we had to give the guys nicknames to help us remember who was who. There was:

Extremely Tall Bro

Neon Bicycle Helmet Bro

Double Bass Playing Bro

Dreadlock-Wearing/Saxophone-Playing Bro

Blond Beard Bro

Soccer Shirt Bro

Too Creative for Planet Earth Bro (alternately known as Sleeping in the Vacant Lot Bro)

Sweaty Swing Dancing Bro

On a Date with His Girlfriend but Still Checking You Out Bro (unilaterally eliminated for obvious reasons)

Prosthetic Arm Bro, and last but not least

Cool Waiter Bro.

Poor girl went along with my silliness and laughed, but graciously declined them all. I haven’t given up yet. I have my eyes peeled for the perfect bro for her.

7. When people throw Mardi Gras beads at you from a balcony, they are not trying to pick a fight.

Again, no explanation, other than I am an idiot.

8. There are shocking things that happen at clothing-optional pools. Don’t go to them.

Please. I can’t talk about it.

9. I will never ask a celebrity for a picture. Ever. I will, however, stare at them and smile in what is, undoubtedly, a very creepy way.

This behavior is all because of a little incident back in the 80’s. All I’ll say is that it involved an eager, young, starstruck 18-year-old girl on the sidewalks of New York City, Dustin Hoffman and one of us (guess who) getting our hopes and dreams for an autograph crushed. It’s too painful to say anything more. Thanks for not asking.

10. Opening up a thrift shop seems to be the perfect way for a recovering hoarder to make a living. 

This observation is courtesy of my niece. There are several of these establishments in New Orleans, and she can find the greatest things there. But I do worry about the germs and whatnot lurking on the stuff. And the rat skeletons under the mountains of junk. While she bounded joyfully through these caves of crap, I kept it strictly to window shopping.

11. (Because now that I think about it, I learned 11 things in New Orleans.) Bourbon Street, no. Frenchman Street, yes.

Mainly because on Frenchman Street there weren’t any strip joints or live sex shops or dens of red-hot, fiery, charcoal-blackened iniquity or whatever they’re called these days. This can’t be the first time I’ve seen these places, maybe it’s just the first time I’ve noticed it–but the girls that hang out in the doorways of these places in their stripper outfits, looking monumentally bored and/or mildly pissed, really caught my attention. My niece and I discussed how we both wanted to rush up and grab the girl by the arm, pull her out of there, give her some clothes, money and a pep talk about how she can go to SCHOOL! and be BETTER THAN THIS! make SOMETHING OF HERSELF! have a FULFILLING LIFE AND WEAR TURTLENECKS TO WORK! I know, I KNOW– it’s judgmental and I don’t know any of these girls’ stories, and I sound self-righteous and simple-minded because everybody makes their own choices, but…. I just can’t help thinking that none of those girls, when they were eight years old, said to themselves, “Boy, when I grow up, I’d sure like to hang out naked on Bourbon Street trying to lure drunk guys.” Sigh. Okay, moving on.

12. (Wait, 12 things, because I really don’t want to end on a downer.) I love my niece.

She makes me laugh. She really, really makes me laugh. She’s extraordinarily smart and insightful and is probably the only person I enjoy shopping with. She can effortlessly plan an entire day that includes dinner reservations and all kinds of other fun activities at the drop of a hat. She makes it seem effortless. She likes Anthropologie and Starbucks. She actually forced me to read two of my short stories OUT LOUD to her, then said she really liked them. And I believed her. She always sees the vision, always welcomes the possibilities, always believes in peoples’ ideas, and, last but not least, wants to rescue strippers with me. I can’t wait to see her again.

Happy Mother’s Day, y’all. I’m gonna go research swing dance lessons.

Don’t Hide the Cray-Cray

217065_4887083651206_808849433_n

The other day I read something about how men are terrified of women’s anger. And how they generally are uncomfortable with any form of emotional intensity from us whatsoever. Or, as this article put it, they need us to wrangle our “inner Courtney Love.” Apparently, letting Courtney see the light of day puts them in a state psychologists call “flooding,” which is basically, I think, akin to being waterboarded with FEELINGS.

While all this is probably true, the article made me mad (whoops, there’s that pesky intensity again) because I’m a pretty intense person myself, and, frankly, who likes to be told you need to not be yourself 95% of the time or you’ll scare people? It’s exhausting pretending you’re mellow all the time. Scratch that, it’s exhausting pretending you’re mellow for ten minutes.

(Just so you know, if you ever hear me saying anything like “I’m over it” or “it is what it is” or “we can agree to disagree” just know it is taking the strength of a thousand men for me to utter those words, and it is not how I really feel.)

Fortunately, I’ve surrounded myself with a bunch of women who are equally intense as me, if not more. These ladies are pretty skilled at handling their intensity though. They aren’t drama queens, not even close. But they’re real. They can get worked up, upset or freaked out on occasion, and they aren’t afraid to be completely honest about it. And I’m not afraid to hear it.

I love it, in fact. It makes me feel alive…the way I gather roller coasters make some people feel alive. Roller coasters make me feel like I’m inches away from certain death. I guess the way INTENSE FEELINGS make men feel like they are about to die. It’s all relative, isn’t it?

William Shakespeare wasn’t afraid of a little lipstick-smeared, white-slip-wearing Courtney Love. A couple of months ago, my son took part in this state competition where high school students performed monologues from Shakespeare, and let me tell you, that bro was intense. In fact, he was constantly having his characters, both men and women, hold forth on seriously intense issues such as murder, love, death, murder, sexuality, feeling crazy, feeling lustful, flowers and finally, murder. These high schoolers were the greatest. They held nothing back. They dropped to the floor, ROLLED on the floor, thrashed, cried, danced, laughed, screamed, waved imaginary daggers, etc. It was a veritable cornucopia of intensity. I loved it. I adored it. That Will Shakespeare, he held nothing back. He was not afraid. I wonder, though, if he was able to handle real people in real life having real intense feelings. Something tells me the answer is yes.

So, here’s the take away. Cradle your inner Ms. Love. Don’t hate on her. And if she needs to come out, feel free to call (not past 10 pm.)

Hey Winter, Summer’s Way Hotter Than You

images-5

I believe in the power and wisdom of gratefulness. That said, I have spent the past several months being severely ungrateful for this winter’s weather (probably because, while gratefulness is nice, I believe more in the nasty, soul-satisfying rush you get from good old complaining). On the off chance that some of you might feel this way too and want to bond over our rotten attitudes, let me elaborate.

I’ve decided if winter was a man–specifically, a man I was dating–I’d dump him. Well, let’s back up. First, because I believe everybody deserves a chance, I’d probably try to talk him into behaving a little more…warmly. I’d helpfully suggest ramping up the sunshine, knocking off the wind and if he was gonna precipitate, well, you know, precipitate like a man. Snow or get off the pot.

He would ignore me, Winter, and just do whatever the hell he wanted to.

So then I’d avoid being around him. I’d quit taking his calls and responding to his texts. I’d badmouth him to my girlfrinds. I’d talk loudly in his presence, right in front of him, mind you, about how I intended on going to a place where THERE IS NO WINTER, JUST BLESSED SUMMER ALL YEAR ROUND.

He would still ignore me. Oh, and make my cable and internet and furnace repeatedly go out. To be perverse, once in a while, he would send me the occasional sunny morning, a dawn so mild and balmy I’d leave the house in only one layer, only to be caught out at noon–in my strapless, chiffon garden party dress–by plummeting temps and black clouds and gusts of tornadic activity. He toss in hail, maybe, just to show me I was not the boss of him. He’d laugh and shut down two-thirds of the country, in case I might be traveling anywhere.

I’d break up with him then. Forever. Taylor Swift-style. I’d write a snotty song about him, but I wouldn’t sing it as I’m not as cute/musical/popular as Taylor.

I’d block his number from my phone. I’d steal his credit cards and run them up. I’d start rumors about him. Mainly I would do all these awful things because I would be worn down and afflicted with SADD by this time, and I could not be held accountable for the craziness. Oh, and I’d curse his name, because since I’ve cut off all my hair, I can’t really pull off those knit stocking caps that look adorable over long hair. So my ears are really cold. His fault, not mine.

I’d go no-contact with Winter. I’d try to stay inside as much as possible.

So he’d force flying squirrels, desperate in the frigid night, to chew their way into my attic, where they’d settle in, build elaborate communities and begin to host The Midnight Flying Squirrel Olympics every night, racing across my bedroom ceiling, occasionally falling into my walls and jarring me awake. Then, me and the flying squirrels would gather around my cozy fireplace, eat salted almonds and drink cappuccinos and talk about how unfair it is I live inside and they have to live outside. (No, that wouldn’t happen. I would call Critter Control and try not to think about what was going to become of the little flying squirrel babies nestled up in my insulation.)

I hate you, Winter. I really hate you.

I do not want to get back together with you. Like, ever.

Behold, My Glorious Solar Plexus

Image

Today I was strolling through a department store, and I happened across a swimsuit similar to the one pictured above. A headless mannequin was wearing this one, which was probably a good thing, because if she’d had her head, the look on her face of mortification and colossal shame would’ve been unbearable to witness. I pictured her with her head, looking at me with pleading mannequin eyes, mind-messaging me to please wrap a sarong around her, for the love of God.

The swimsuit confounded me. Was it a two-piece or a one? I couldn’t figure it out. It was like the nightmarish inverse of a tankini, that strange bisected thing that gives us moms the security of a one-piece suit while technically WEARING TWO. (Take that, pregnancy and your subsequent forty pounds, you will not defeat me.) Along with this lie the tankini told us, that we had not succumbed to the mom-suit, it allowed for an incredible range of motion with which to wrestle our kids into water wings and/or to reach over and pick up our People magazines. But, let’s be honest, it was nothing but a one-piece frontin’ as a two.

This puzzlement, this high-waisted monstrosity I was beholding in Von Maur, was exactly the same thing.

I mean, c’mon, if you’re gonna cover up that much, why not just go full-on maillot? And while you’re at it, slap one of those dang cheerleader skirts over it. The only thing I can think is that this suit was made for the gal with such a spectacularly toned upper abdomen, a solar plexus so perfect and luscious, she just can’t bear to cover up that magnificent three-inch strip of skin.

Bathing suit shopping doesn’t have to be horrible. It can be a moment of victory. So in the spirit of that bit of fonfidence (fake confidence) let me offer you the Top Five Things To Keep In Mind As You Shop For Swimsuits:

1. Satan Installs All the Lighting in Dressing Rooms. His name is Lucifer, as you know, from the Latin meaning “One Who Installs Lighting” or something like that. Coincidence? I think not. There’s no point in complaining about it, girls, it is what it is. So unless you want to tangle with the devil, keep your suggestions of incandescent bulbs and dimmer switches to yourself. Just take a deep breath, open your eyes wide and prepare to get an eyeful of your wintry pale, chicken-skin self in all its retina-burning glory.

2. Yes, They’re Fat Mirrors. Just Like at the Carnival. They are. It’s science. I know I’m not a scientist, but I trust my intuition on this. Don’t ask me how or why they would want to special order funhouse mirrors for their dressing rooms. Or wonder how many more millions more the store could sell in swimwear if they indeed went the opposite route and used THIN MIRRORS. Nobody asked you, Miss Marketing Genius. Keep it to yourself.

3. No, They Will Not be Piping in Xanax in Gas Form While You Try On Suits. You will have to bring your own. Plan accordingly.

4. Buy the Freaking Bikini Already. If that’s what you want. Even if you’re a mom. Of twelve. Who needs to lose a few. Do not think you have some moral obligation to shield the world from your less-than-perfect body, because you don’t look like some movie star or Kate Upton. Your body is yours, and it’s great. Those people are who they are and do what they do because they won the genetic jackpot. They don’t count. Comparing yourself to them is THE WORST THING EVER. In fact, if you find you’re compelled to look at pictures of celebrities in bathing suits on the internet, stay away from the women. Keep it to Hugh Jackman and what’s-his-face, the kid from High School Musical. Just promise me, you won’t hide behind something like in the picture above. (Unless you have some major modesty convictions, which is fine and I understand, but I have this sneaking suspicion that most of our so-called modesty is just an excuse for covering up what we’re feeling ashamed of. And unless, of course, you like the swimsuit in the picture, in which case, I’ve probably offended you beyond repair by now.)

5. And While You’re At It, Tell Your Body You Love It. I’m serious. It works hard for you, even when you don’t let it go to sleep or give it way too much to do or pour Diet Cokes and Mocha Frappacinos and Cocoa Pebbles into it. (I am speaking to myself here). It fights to stay healthy, your body, no matter what. To keep all those cancer cells at bay and to quietly tell you what it needs. Give it some love. Don’t bash it. Please. (By way of example, my five-year-old son once endearingly called my stretch marks “white lightning” which made them seem kind of superhero-ish. Clever boy.)

I think the female body is a beautiful thing–a really, really unbelievable work of art–and not just bodies we see in magazines and movies. Real ones. And I consider myself kind of artsy-ish and open to, you know, a bit of tasteful nudity in art and whatever. I’m the kind of woman that says things like You go, girl! when the breast cancer survivor has photos taken of her mastectomy.

But a couple of months ago, a friend of mine told me about a coffee table book she and a photographer friend were working on. It was a project to raise money for cancer research (At least I think it was. I’m not exactly sure because at that point, something in my brain like an alarm went off, and I’m pretty sure I missed most of those details). It was going to be a series of artfully shot photographs of women’s breasts. The photos would be anonymous, all taken from the neck down so no one could be identified. They were going to use all ages of women–young, old, mothers, grandmothers, cancer survivors and healthy women.

“Would you be….” she began.

I think I nearly flipped the table with the sheer force of my NO, and she very graciously smiled and said she understood.

I don’t love my body quite that much.

Sherlock, Everybody.

The-Butterfly-Effect.-003

Last night I watched this show called Elementary, which is a police procedural about this guy named Sherlock Holmes who solves crimes along with his sidekick, Watson. It’s set in present day, and, just to set the scene for you if you haven’t had the chance to catch it, Holmes is this kind of quirky genius with something like Asperger’s and who’s also a former addict (he never indulges in any illicit drug or alcohol use onscreen, so it appears that the only things he’s really to addicted to are slim-cut pea coats, cuffed pants and natty European scarves. And adorable stubble.). Because of his fashion drug/alcohol addiction, he has to have Lucy Liu babysit him 24/7 as something called a “sober companion” and live with her (platonically) in a fantastic Victorian house that looks like a crew from Vanity Fair magazine is going to show up at any minute and do a full-on photo shoot for their Hollywood issue. You know, random tufted velvet chairs set at odd angles and stacks of antique books artfully scattered around otherwise empty, but moodily-lit rooms. Sherlock’s the coolest addict ever, for my money.

Anyway…on to my point. Whenever Sherlock Holmes arrives at the murder scene (trailed as always by Watson), the police detective, played by the old, but still cute Aiden Quinn, introduces him to the gang–“Everybody, this is Sherlock Holmes. Sherlock, everybody”–and NO ONE BATS AN EYE.

That’s right. No one says, “Hm. Sherlock Holmes? As in THE Sherlock Holmes? Like the famous guy from the books and movies and TV shows????” Instead they just, “Oh, hey. Nice to meet you. Come check out this murdered body.”

This really bothers me.

I’m not stupid, ok. I get that they’ve taken the stories out of Victorian England and dumped them into today, but it’s just soooo disconcerting to me that nobody even flinches at that name. I’m pathologically hung up on it. I just can’t get over the fact that all these people on this TV show live in a world where Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s genius detective character never existed. C’mon, isn’t that just the tiniest bit cuckoo?

Alright, it’s just me.

So what happens after nobody recognizes Sherlock and Watson is I get distracted from the show because I start thinking about things that are way, way above my intellectual pay grade, for instance, the Butterfly Effect (is that a real thing in the world of philosophy, or just a bad Ashton Kutcher movie?)–in effect, if Sherlock Holmes never existed, that would mean Sir Arthur Conan Doyle maybe became a barber or a valet or something, which would mean probably half the detective/mystery books and movies and TV made would never have been created, including THIS SHOW, not to mention Robert Downey Jr. would be substantially less rich…at which point my brain snaps loose from its moorings, and I enter a dissociative state.

All this from a TV show.

(Sidebar: I’ve experienced this dissociative state a lot recently, because I’ve been preparing to take the GRE by studying math. And nothing can make me black out faster than f(x). Just saying. In fact, I have a substantial amount to say about how the trauma of my high school math experience has informed my recent experience. Maybe I need to do a cathartic, inner-healing blog post about math. What do you think?)

A final thought: Lucy Liu is fantastic. I adored her in Kill Bill. She’s one of those who graduated from the Clint Eastwood School of Acting–where you stand ramrod straight, make your face look like granite and stare at the other person in the scene with daggers in your eyes. That girl can do eye-daggers better than anybody I’ve ever seen. I really kind of love her.

Great Textpectations

funny-texts-2-13

The other day a friend of mine asked me what I thought the meaning of life was… by text. While I could’ve answered her question–yes, you heard me, this is a subject that I think about with alarming regularity. That’s just how I do, Mr. Lil Wayne, sir– I felt the full import of my important musings on life might be lost in the micro-situation of the iPhone 4s screen (I mean, mayyybe the iPhone 5 screen could accommodate the scope of my profound thoughts, but that would be one daunting, green rectangle, and I didn’t know if she was ready for all that). I told her I’d email the meaning of life later, after I’d watched the season opener of Justified and had my bath.

I used to love texting. I still do, kind of, in some situations. Like when I’m sitting outside the house where my kid spent the night, and it’s 30 degrees, and I don’t want to go knock on the door. I just tell them I’m here and boom! they appear magically in the car 10, 15, sometimes 30 minutes later. I like it when I can tell someone I’m running late. I like it when I have to communicate some small bit of information, and I know neither me nor the other person has time for a long, drawn-out, Southern-girl phone conversation.

(By the way, I may have been born down here but I am fully capable of having the tersest, most bare-bones, New York City-style phone conversation. The less small-talk, the better. Try me sometime. I can promise I will under-talk you. And hang up before you know what’s hit you.)

Also, I’ve realized I’m way better at writing my feelings than speaking them. In writing I employ a ruthless editing. I’m succinct and use colorful metaphors and witty turns of phrases. It’s very planned out, though. Guarded. When I talk, I generally wind my way around the conversational path, blah-de-blah-de-blabbity-blah, like a meditation labyrinth…those little spirals New Age people put in their yards that lead you around in maddening, opposite-of-the-crow-flies circles so you can calm the frick down. And then, after holding forth for a bit, to drive my point home, I will repeat a few key points of the previous blabbity-blah-blah in case you didn’t get it the first time. Sometimes I will raise my voice while doing so. But this I know: when I write–or text–I’m a woman of fewer words, which some people seem to appreciate. Another thing: sometimes when I have to talk to a group of people I actually get nervous and can feel myself shaking and blushing. I’m not kidding. It’s called glossaphobia, the fear of public speaking. Look it up.

So you can see why I can, in fact, have a profound, deeply satisfying conversation via text.

But the truth is, I have fallen out of love with texting. Mainly because I had a friend break up with me via text. It was weird and confusing. I called her on the phone, but she didn’t pick up. She sent more zingers to my phone, and I went dark. You can work out the rest.

The experience made me realize something–if you want to hash things out with me, I’d prefer you just insult me to my face. Scream at me and call me names, if necessary, to get your point across. I’m not afraid of a little temper tantrum. But sending me little bubbles of venom through the atmosphere?

Please, God, no.

And then there’s the whole element of misinterpretation. Some people cannot text. They just can’t seem to use a combination of words/punctuation/emoticons to convey their feelings. Or they just don’t want to be bothered with all that energy it takes to type out a smiley face. Either way you enter into that weird, vague relational limbo illustrated by the following real-life conversation…

Texter #1: HEY, YOU WANT TO MEET FOR LUNCH LATER?

Texter #2: FINE

Hm. Is that fine, like “fine, whatever, I really just made a gagging face when I got your text” or is that fine, like “that’s perfect, I was just thinking how you are my favorite person in the whole world and I would like nothing more than to have lunch with you”? The possibilities, especially for an obsessive thinker like myself, are endless. Not good.

One of my sons has a little middle-school romance going on. I shouldn’t say little. These things can be potent experiences, first loves even, leaving fossil-like imprints on tender hearts and shaping behaviors and self-esteem for years to come. When I noticed he was texting her round the clock, I thought it was time to talk. I asked him about her. He told me she was funny (a boy of excellent priorities, that one). He showed me a picture of her. She was…gulp…gorgeous. I mean gor-ge-ous. He said he was her first real boyfriend.

I said: Stop. Texting. Now.

I know they can texttexttexttexttext all afternoon and into the night (we confiscate phones during homework and bedtime), but I realized, if I just ignored this, let it run its natural course, this girl would experience texting with a boy as an actual relationship, and they would miss doing the things REAL adolescent relationships are made of…like listening to each other breath on the phone for hours (remember that? that was so romantic, no?). Without even getting into the myriad of horrible text-y things that can end up flying back and forth from phone to phone, I didn’t want my kid to be responsible for half-assing this thing and forever being remembered as the pathetic first boyfriend who set the precedent for phoning in a relationship. (Ha. You’re welcome.) No way. My kid was going to be a great boyfriend. He would pick up the phone and call this beautiful, innocent creature. They would talk for a while, and then he would hang up, and they would go their separate ways to do homework, chores and Bible study. Just kidding. Sort of.

He thought that sounded cool and said he would talk to her about it. She thought it was cool too. They still text. But not as much.

Can we all just agree texting is perpetuating the half-assification of America? That it’s a crutch for cowards who can’t deal with a face to face confrontation? A day-ruiner for overly-sensitive worrywarts? A substitute for real interaction?

I have an idea. When you make a new friend, or start dating someone, the two of you must sit down FACE TO FACE and lay all your texting preference cards out on the table. Do you text round the clock like a teenager or are you an only-in-emergency old-schooler? Do you get your feelings hurt if your texts aren’t returned immediately or do you view them like leaving voice mails: the recipient will get back to you when they get back to you? I maintain that two people need to be text compatible before venturing further.

I love to write. I have a lot of words inside of me. It’s easy for me to text you the meaning of life, but maybe it’s too easy. So I’m probably just gonna do it to let you know I’m running late.

Me: KATY, I’M RUNNING LATE TO LUNCH.

Katy: FINE