Saturday, April 28, 2012

For Lack of a Better Word

On TV, when someone is threatened to leave town, it sounds good to me.

Something is wrong with me. Don't really want to hang out. Don't want to do that black diamond that's narrower than a sidewalk. Can't reach low-hanging fruit. Can't do basic math in my head. Can't run fast. Can't cook well. Can't take a compliment. Can't say no and stick to it.

So these are the things I do at the bare minimum so I can call myself a decent lady, an average succes, and make mom halfway proud before heading out the door to friends, a dinner date, another shower, a wedding.

Run slow.
Eat fast.
Wash hair, body and face.
Tweeze brows. (But half the hairs break off and leave black dots that would heckle me if they could.)
Cover blemishes. (Apparently, I never stopped having 15-year-old chin pores. In the bad way.)
Brush teeth.
Lip stuff and whatever other makeup isn't empty, broken, or too hard to get out of the bag.
Dress and try to add at least one thing that appears on trend.
Grab something warm so I don't complain.
Grab bag despite wishing I was six again and could flee the coup without wallet, cell et cetera.
Pre-loaded in brain: Book, music, TV, and movie fodder. Maybe some Navy or anatomy questions.
Forgot to shave so run back in and don leggings ... Arms are also pale so slap on orange lotion. Oops, nails look like alligator teeth. No time!

Late the night before I find out that the day after whatever event I'm running to, there is another thing, a get-together at our place. So this already busy morning (to do the bare minimum!) starts very early and requires:

Dusting (I don't really need to move and wipe down every item, do I?)
Vacuuming (Too heavy. And canister full of pet hair. Caryyy...)
Making up the spare bed
Folding rest of laundry
Running the dishwasher again because there's food debris atop all the cereal bowls
Making bathroom not embarrassing
Making kitchen not embarrassing (this floor is dark; skip mopping)
Emptying all the trash cans that are too tiny, including the paper shredder that's irritating to have to use
Making that weird couch smell from former cat vomit dissipate again by soaking it in Febreeze
Cleaning cat box
Bathing sad-looking dog
Feeding and watering these two that don't help out at all
Paying credit card bill and addressing things like, Why is there a Best Buy charge in Pensacola a month after we left town?

Leaving town... SIGH

I make a wrong turn at least once when going wherever I'm going. And have to stop at least once to get [food, drink, gift that needs wrapping, card that needs heartfelt message, or hurried gas]. I usually opt for cash gifts. Wrinkled ATM money with torn bits and pen marks. Sorry, mom.

Half a day, half a tank of petrol, and half my energy battery later, I or we will arrive. Small talk and awkward hugs with beautiful tall people ensue. A girl's voice is sweet as syrup and shallow as a kiddie pool though tempting as one, her hair, makeup and outfit flawless. It's hot. As hot as my wedding day. (I'm so sorry, guests. Next round, I promise Vegas or a beach.) My thin layer of make-up melts off in minutes; my hair and clothes stick to me. I listen to the emoting and race to run helpful errands, ashamed for being a bit earnest. I sip on a Five-hour Energy drink to avoid devouring three pieces of red velvet cake and negating every single slow-ass snail run I did last week.

I look at Cary, and he's cool as a skinned cucumber. He's fully charged since he didn't already attend five baby showers this year. And he's fully changed since it's okay for boys to wander around in track pants; they might be lifting something at some point. He's stuffing his face with red velvet cake. I start toward him to steal a bite, but someone poses to me a punctuation question. I respond. They disagree. I bite my tongue.

Wouldn't this all be extra fun for moms with unavoidable water retention and a constant peanut gallery?

Cary wants to stay the night and head out early, so I dread remembering the thank you note I should probably write our last-minute hosts. I find a magazine to read and in it an article from a guy's perspective, detailing how darkly funny it is that women believe thank you notes, bridal gifts, and Facebook posts will get them past the pearly gate-keeper in the clouds. The rotten cherry is officially on top of the day. I roll over to fall asleep, concerned that I didn't make time to write anything beyond a greeting card greeting that day.


But nothing is really wrong with me. Because we all dislike this stuff. No one enjoys not having a maid, nanny, stylist, personal assistant, or endless airline miles for event travel. No one really enjoys absolutely constant responsibility, stimulation, and little time for your passion or the fun stuff. If it's not math, speed, height, cooking, and selfishness, it's spelling, speeches, height, current events, and self-sacrifice.

We should all leave town on our own terms now and then. (Or after a death threat.) But until then, is a thank you note or held tongue so bad? We all know that for lack of a better word, being female sucks. Most of the time. But grace comes with age. Usually. Remember when you first tried 2+2, or spelling Mississippi? It was sure a lot harder than it is now. Maybe one day gentler sex duty will feel less like duty and more like, well, nothing at all.
If a (wo)man does not keep pace with her companions, perhaps it is because she hears a different drummer. Let her step to the music which she hears, however measured or far away ... Shall we with pains erect a heaven of blue glass over ourselves, though when it is done we shall be sure to gaze still at the true ethereal heaven far above, as if the former were not? 
Henry David Thoreau, Walden
It's gotta be amaze-balls when it's natural for us to skip washing our hair for a bike ride, when red velvet cake and black diamonds are a given in equal measure.

Odd Years

Thursday, April 12, 2012


Daisy Chain
It doesn't seem like it would be easy to rise to Beauty and the Beast, Breakfast at Tiffany's, and Purple Violets. But Midnight in Paris did. Rose right to the top. Like froth. And when I wanted to talk to someone about it, the unnervingly perceptive person who recommended it, I couldn't. I can't imagine what a bloodline would do to that feeling of loss, an ugly crack across our lives.

My husband's namesake, responsible for half of of the person I love more than anyone, even quoted Paris director Woody Allen: "As the poet said, 'Only God can make a tree' - probably because it's so hard to figure out how to get the bark on." The thoughtful insight never stopped. Intelligent design. All sides of an issue. Giving. Positivity.


The crown city feels less royal these days. But the neighbors are still nosy, the streets still quiet at eight. It's almost like the Dido song. Daylight still comes. Tasks are still completed. Babies are born and all that jazz. And we still sleep and wake up again. I still have to find more work. Even though the sidewalks and dog beach, and human beach, call.

So freelancing is not what it sounds like. Not usually. Writing about travel, food, or fashion. Following exciting leads to other countries and taking your own photographs - without thinking about that crazy-ass expensive plane ticket you just bought, or how you abandoned your family somehow. Pitching successfully for decent amounts to reputable papers. Nope. It usually has something to do with a marketing dump. Website content that drones on about products and services. White papers that no one will ever read. PowerPoint presentations with too much of everything. Maybe one ad you're proud to call your own. Nope, wait - management didn't approve that one. They don't know why; something was just "not right."

The cool thing is when you reach that level of fed-up-ness, you can truly escape, maybe prowl for supplemental income elsewhere. Go try the local pubs, er publications. Consider joining the Navy. And there's always pro bono work like blogging and, well, other, sometimes less rewarding endeavors.

Or you can just go take a nap. Maybe read or hit up Facebook if you're feeling slightly above sloth-like.

(During one of these stints, when I ventured outside my bookmarks and started seriously trolling the web, I discovered a place called Honeydew, California. HEY! Far north. On the other side of the coastal mountains, in Humboldt County. Which reminded me of Humbert Humbert in Lolita. Which made me reconsider retiring there to be a stooped, wrinkled hermit with straggly, purple hair who writes something that will only be treasured in death.)

To snap out of these funks, I sometimes run. Then I get tired. And I have to think of someone like a Navy SEAL or Louis Zamperini, or my three-legged dog, to keep going. This morning it was Zamperini, a B-24 bombardier (pronounced bomb-ba-deer - so fun to say). Zamperini was an olympic runner, which you'd think would be "enough" - but then he goes on to be a warrior in one of the worst times and goes through Job-like experiences all in the name of life and friends and family and not being broken. His instinct and faith are more right and strong than anything I could plan or hope for. And Author Laura Hillenbrand is more victorious chronically ill than I could ever be in the best place in my life. Read some of her story. And read his story Unbroken if you want to gasp and laugh and gasp again every other page.

After bringing up Midnight in Paris, I would finish telling him about Unbroken, too - how it ends. How I liked that Woody Allen quote, among other things, and that he was right about running a marathon, writing a blog, and never giving up on things like wings.

Cat Lady