June 19, 2013 § 1 Comment
If someone would do me the favor of writing me an advance check that would eliminate the need for a day(ish) job, I am all set to write my series of pregnancy and parenting books. There will likely be three or four in the series, but since I haven’t even gotten my human yet, I can’t be entirely sure that it won’t be closer to 6. Like Game of Thrones only less like Game of Thrones and more like Game of What the Fuck Were YOU Thinking.
We’re in the third trimester. Unlike the prior trimester– the second one– which was a big bag of lies and deception, this trimester feels like pregnancy. I’m no longer wondering whether people aren’t giving up their seats because they can’t “tell” if I’m pregnant, but rather standing uncomfortably close to people who won’t get up so that they may enjoy the feeling of being trapped and wonder what exactly that smell is. (It’s not a bad smell, per say, but it’s not anything easy to identify. Some combination of powder, corn chips, an Inkan village, and peppermint.) There are also entire days that go by when something doesn’t feel quite right, but it’s not until I’m in hysterics, naked, at 2AM, eating Triscuits, that I realize I it’s just hormonal. That happens. You spend the day wondering if maybe you forgot to eat or take medication or poop and in the end you realize you didn’t forget shit. Your body actually does chemically hate you.
Periodically I have an enlightened moment in which I realized I’ve made the biggest mistake of my life, not only by being knocked up, but by marrying the hubs, living in Boston, choosing the career I’ve chosen, picking the apartment I live in, driving the car I drive, along with a whole litany of other things. (Fuck this fucking shampoo and it’s stupid fucking smell and the people who make it.) In those moments I find it’s best to simply lie on the floor and let the tears flow silently from my eyes. After ten or fifteen minutes I usually feel better and then commence the Kafka-like task of rolling around on the floor like a bug on its shell trying to get up. That either ends in laugher or another 10-15 of silent tears.
But by far the most rewarding part of the third trimester is watching our inner parents slowly creep out. We’re slowly becoming comfortable judging our friends and the choices they’re making with their offspring, confident that while we don’t have the baby here yet, we’ve clearly observed enough to be superior. Turns out the hubs is the horrifyingly irrational and overprotective one, determining everything introduced to the nursery a murder weapon in soft, organic clothing. As for me, I’m more of a mad scientist. “If we do this, what do you think will happen?” (Cue disconcerting laugh.)
In all seriousness, though, shit is getting real and the conversations about who he will be when he grows up have quickly shifted to “who the fuck is going to take care of him after six weeks?!” The books we’re reading no longer mention lower back massages and pregnancy friendly sex positions (like we’re having sex…), but what to do when your mucus plug makes an appearance in your tent sized panties or how to cope with giving birth in a taxi. (Pull over. As if the backseat of a car isn’t how you ended up here in the first place, Dirty Legs.)
One thing we’ve been very diligent about is training ourselves to stay focused on our baby, not other people’s babies. I know first hand that grade A underachievers can still grow up to be real people. (Uh hem… every member of my family. Immediate and otherwise.) The small boy may not be speaking on time, but so long as he eventually finds an acceptable form of communication that doesn’t require poo flinging, I think we’ll be okay. He certainly doesn’t need to go to an Ivy League college, but it’s important that he not limit his options via laziness. Like his mama.
Already we see it emerging. Friends asking friends if little buttercup is rolling over yet or lamenting that moonbeam hasn’t found her hands yet. Frankly I wish I’d taken me a little longer to find my hands– what’s the big deal? But the creeping envy and judgment is there. Meanwhile, despite the pregnancy books that insist the small boy must be having a party in my uterus, he continues to prefer a more sloth like existence. The day is dead to him, the night an opportunity for some light rearranging. Something could be wrong with him. Or he could be exactly like his parents.
Stuart has provided some much needed context for our upcoming parenting endeavors. His continued belief that the changing table is a luxury cat bed has ruptured the hubs’ brain and his crying for love despite having food, water, and a perfectly good home is a daily reminder that if I don’t grow some patience soon someone is going to take my baby away. (Which would be really tragic, but also good fodder for a book…)
With the light shining opaquely up ahead, I’ve realized three things:
1. This was absolutely a poor decision.
2. Poor decision making is a hallmark of my life
3. The hubs has even less of a clue than I do
But all of that has led me to a very Zen-like place (save the aforementioned naked Triscuit binges). Every great decision of my life has had those exact things in common. I’m like a Phoenix or a Lotus flower. Poor decisions are a breeding ground for great Caroline success. I’m an adversity master. And while the hubs isn’t exactly a Lotus flower, he is consistent, even if it means consistently telling me I’m wrong.
Wrong I may be, but at least I don’t think a pacifier is a baby suffocation device.
November 30, 2012 § 7 Comments
Everyone I know is with child. Everyone. I am not saying this to be one of those people who has to be the person with the most. There is a chance that you know more pregnant people than I do, but relative to the number of friends I have (very few), it’s a staggering number of pregnancies. I, for one, am totally into the multitude of friend pregnancies. Any opportunity for me to learn way too much about a subject and become a total know it all is instantly my favorite thing. Friends being knocked up = me learning everything you could ever want to know about pregnancy.
As a part of my dutiful pregnant friend training, I’ve picked up some books to read about the miracle of life. As a part of my dutiful blogging, I’m here to share a few key lessons and eye-opening facts that I’ve learned over the last few weeks. (You need to be sitting for this. That applies to guys and gals. You also need to make sure you’re only drinking clear liquids. You don’t want to be drinking milk when you hear what I’ve learned about cervical mucous.)
Likely the most interesting thing about reading up on the art and science of bringing a human into this world is how many things you realize you haven’t known to blame your parents for. Example: the fucked up swirly pattern that is the back of my hair? 100% my mother’s fault. Maybe if that useless milk factory had paid attention to the back of my head, and done the suggested head and follicle massages to avoid “irregular” hair growth patterns, I’d have a perfect ponytail like all the rest of the Heathers. She didn’t, I have the eye of a tornado on the crown of my head.
If you are avoiding having babies because you are bashful about talking about menses, saying the word vagina, or chatting about your sex life, don’t worry. You won’t have to. There is an ENTIRE PREGNANCY LANGUAGE to keep you from ever knowing what the fuck anyone is talking about. This is not funny stuff. I will speak in this language for you.
“Hi! I’m 3DPO and waiting for AF to be a no show. My CM is EW so I’m really hoping we’ve done it! Send BD our way!”
No. Seriously. WHAT?
There’s no talk of periods, only of a woman named Auntie Flow. We can take our temperature vaginally, but can’t say period. Because that would be dirty. Auntie Flow (the period) becomes vilified in these pre-baby days. She’s an evil wench who does nothing but remind you that either you or your husband has failed to accomplish the most basic task. Don’t ever go on a message board if you’re fond of your period. Period fondness is not welcome.
Conception has the power to reverse hundreds of years of women learning to love their vaginas, even find them “beautiful” in their own special, fleshy, purply way. Conception is the anti-vagina. According to conception, your vagina might be a hostile environment, uninhabitable for sperm. (Try to imagine a hostile vagina without a Rambo-style bandana in there somewhere.) It’s hard to heard that you might have a hostile vagina. You don’t want to take it personally, but you do. And then you get hostile. Because no one calls your vagina hostile and gets away with it. No one.
If any part of you is impatient, prone to anxiety, or over analytical, I would suggest surrogacy. Or maybe adoption. One book, What to Expect BEFORE You’re Expecting, gave me such acute anxiety by the 4th or 5th page that I couldn’t sleep. The lists of don’ts was too much for me. No caffeine. Tea is okay, but only certain teas, but there was this study once that suggested that tea could cause flux in blood pressure in .00000013% of women and of those .0032% had a baby who was frowning when it emerged from the birth canal. So, if you can live without tea, it might be best. No one wants a frowny baby. OTC medications should be fine, unless you’re talking about allergy medication, which technically is fine, but it also can dry up your cervical mucous and then what happens? Your vagina gets hostile, of course. So you need to weigh your allergies against the potential of a hostile vag. Tough choice, but it’s yours to make. As for bathing. Fine. If you have to. You really should try to keep your parts from getting too warm, though. So if you’re stressed, you can do anything except relax in a warm bath, drink a glass of wine, or anything else that might actually work.
As for actually being pregnant. Oh wow. There are a lot of “you better be fucking kidding me” memos here. For starters, no raw fish. You know, because no one in Japan has ever given birth to a heathy or smart baby. Ever. Twinkies are fine, lunch meat is out of the question. Your gas will clear an amphitheater. And you’re now the proud owner of something called a mucous plug. (Assuming you don’t destroy your mucous with contraband like Claritin, it actually plays a HUGE role in conception and pregnancy. So I’ve learned.) Your relationship with your spouse, already strained from the sperm on command antics of the prior months, is at risk. The female is hot and horny thanks to the surplus of hormones racing through her veins. She is also orca fat, something that makes Mr. Midnight shy.
Many men also fear spearing the unborn child. It’s cute that they are so concerned. Kind of. The chances of a man folk spearing an unborn child is about as good as a penis getting stuck inside the vagina. While all ladies would like to flatter themselves by thinking their nethers are bear trap tight, we simply know that’s not the case. Unless your man friend has a 10 inch weapon for a private, the baby will be fine.
It’s not all bad, though. First of all, you’re bringing a baby into this world! (Hear the roaring applause?!) Second of all, your breasts get enormous. Sure, they’re filled with milk and leak every time you hear ANY baby cry, but they’re still huge. Some women even get the coveted glow; a transcendent iridescence that cascades them during the gestational phase. (Other women get disfiguring acne, but they still get the jugs and the new human, so it’s kind of a fair trade.)
Despite the paralyzing fear and anxiety that I can look forward to coping with someday, I’m more than certain that if there was ever to be a time for the blog to really get good, pregnancy would be that time.
My next read will be What to Expect When Your Expecting. Based solely on my experience with its sister book, I’m so excited I can hardly stand it.
Any other good reads?
March 29, 2012 § 8 Comments
Last year was the worst year of my life. It’s no more than a statement of fact. I don’t need people feeling bad for me, and I definitely don’t need people comparing my worst year of life to that of, say, one of the lost boys of the Sudan. Last year was a bad year relative to my other years. I get that.
But it doesn’t mean it didn’t take me down a peg. Friends were dropping like flies, my job was in a never ending rough patch (we know how that turned out…), and I couldn’t seem to find my mojo. It was really lost. Actually, I think I ate it. Along with everything else that wasn’t nailed to the floor. I excel at eating and drinking my way through personal trial. And so it is that this year, the not worst year of my life, I am getting things started with an extra twenty pounds of me. Unfortunately, there is no prize for having more of yourself. Unless you consider self loathing a prize.
Unlike my previous weight loss effort (Super Slim Down 2009), where I whittled myself down to an almost unrecognizable hottie, I don’t have the motivation. I’ve already run a half marathon. I already got my yoga certification. I already got skinny and hot and realized that it’s a lot of work. So. much. work.
I’m lamenting to my mother on the phone about my current physical appearance, telling her about how I know there’s a problem, but I don’t have the energy to solve it. Since my mother believes everything can be traced back to severe depression, she was quick to point out that it sounded like I was depressed. After assuring her that my medication was all order, she immediately found a new solution. After two months of searching for the perfect birthday present, she was going to buy me a subscription to Weight Watchers Online.
Now, before you freak out about my mother being an asshole– which I usually wouldn’t argue with you about– you should know that she does have insight into my darkest corners and she knows that I don’t like being a fat kid. As much as I don’t want to lose this weight, I want to be a fat kid even less. She was being a straight up problem solver. Plus my mother and I have spoken open and honestly about each other’s flaws for many, many years.
I won’t go into the details of Weight Watchers, as I’m sure many of you are familiar with the system: track points, lose weight. And, if you’re so inclined, go to meetings. (This is key to building a support system, or so I’ve heard.) Nowadays tracking points is–theoretically– a cinch. I’m sure you’ve heard Jennifer Hudson singing about it. There’s an iPhone app to help you with points, both how many certain foods are and how many you have left for the day. There is also an online community of people who say sickeningly inspiring things to one another. It’s like cheerleading camp, except not. Because cheerleaders just do a few cartwheels when they need to drop a few.
I was going to start yesterday, but after adding up most of my day I realized I was over my allocation by 100% and that didn’t seem fair. So I started today. And let me tell you something, those assholes running this Ponsi scheme have not pulled the wool over this girl’s eyes. I know EXACTLY what is going on here.
First of all, kiss your benders goodbye. This program is designed to ensure you never get to binge drink again. Forget vodka sodas. Forget everything you ever learned about getting potted for the lowest number of calories. They’ve rigged the system. If I sacrificed all my food for a whole day I would be allowed seven drinks. Now, I don’t want to scare anyone, but come on. What about Sunday Funday? Nope. I might as well take up Christianity. My Sundays are now open.
Now the points are based on a top secret algorithm that takes into account fat to carb to protein and fiber ratios. But you want to know what the super secret is? You’re never eating another carbohydrate again. At least not a good one. I spend 1.5 hours at the Whole Foods today calculating the points in every form of carb I walked by. Nope. Nope. Nope. I spent 20 minutes on pasta alone. WHAT AM I SUPPOSED TO PUT UNDER MY TOMATO SAUCE? A PLATE? Apparently.
And in case you weren’t feeling sorry enough for me, they’ve rigged the cheese too. The only cheese that is low enough in points and high enough in quantity is Babybel Minis LIGHT. Like chewy pucks of spackle. And forget eating them on something like a baguette. Perhaps you’d like to count out some Wheat Thins? Maybe a Triscuit or two?
I get it. I know that it’s a clever way to help people understand portion control and the importance of moderation, but I don’t want to know the importance of moderation. I want to know the power of a high metabolism.
In an effort to jump into this with enthusiasm and optimism, I decided to go online to the “community” part of the website and see what it was all about. It’s basically a mini Facebook with a little Match.com sprinkled in. You can ask to be someone’s friend based on similar interests or join a group of people who share a common interest. Unfortunately it appears that I do not share any common interests with the people of Weight Watchers Online. I spent the majority of my evening responding to questions about why it was so hard to find Weight Watchers friendly options at major chain restaurants. I went there looking to see if anyone knew how many points were an eight course tasting with wine pairings.
I’m still a person, though, and it hurts that no one has requested to be my friend. Where is the welcome wagon? It’s not like I’m expecting a muffin basket, we all know these nazis don’t allow for anything that good, but maybe a few fluff friends so I didn’t feel so all alone?
As day one comes to an end, I’m paralyzed. I accidentally ate some leftover mousse cake from an office birthday party. It didn’t completely derail me, but I also wonder if I should forgo dinner so that I have extra points for my alcoholism tomorrow. You can eat lots of vegetables for no points, but don’t get near a sauce or condiment or you’re going straight to points hell. I haven’t even looked at mayo yet because I know it’s going to break my heart. Is there no compassion left in this cruel world?
One day down. 15 pounds to go.
August 24, 2009 § 7 Comments
I personally don’t know a single person without body issues. Except the hubs. I don’t know if it’s the circle of friends I have, the socioeconomics of my circles, race, ethicity–what. I don’t know. But everyone I know, except my husband, has body issues.
I was once watching a reality show on MTV where a group of very, very large girls went to summer “camp”. “Camp” was of course fat camp, thus the show, and I sat on my couch for a full, riveting hour watching as these girls spent an entire summer losing 16lbs in hopes that their parents would love them a little more when they picked them up. What I started to realize during the show was that these ginormous teens were not entirely different from my friends, the affliction was just different. Amongst them was a smattering of girls breeching (no pun intended) 300lbs, and one or two safely within the 290s, thusly making them the “skinnies” in the group– an aspirational leadership team who had graduated to tankinis, rather than the usual t-shirt over the one piece.
I watched these 293lb “skinnies” give eating advice to each of their friends, tell them about the best way to get a guy to notice them, show them the latest fashions– be the outright envy of their friends. The friends who, to the rest of the world, were no different. From my couch those three lbs made no difference. They were all at fat camp.
My point is that I think we probably gravitate towards people who are like us because–no matter how individual we are– we want to be individuals with other people. In my experience, true individuals are like swamp monsters. There is proof of them, but no one can ever seem to actually capture one. This may be because true individuals get very, very lonely and end up taking their own individual lives. Sad, but not so far fetched. Being an individual requires a unique blend of ego, confidence, lack of self awareness, and emotional vapidity that is hard to attain. I don’t say that to be rude, but because I believe that not caring what people think is a cold and isolating place, and to live in that place means shutting people out. When you love someone, you care what they think. It just happens.
Anyway, to continue my story (which I understand isn’t really even a story)… body issues. I’m not stupid, and I do see that there is a very, very good chance that somehow the cosmos aligned to bring me together with my body doubting brethren. It’s not as if I interviewed my friends, checking to make sure they were self conscious about their bodies, or put an ad on Craigslist for people who have food issues… we just found each other. It was likely a moment; one afternoon in early friendship a dessert menu probably arrived. I looked at the new friend across from me, reading her eyes. Did she have self discipline? Was she going to order dessert? Was she going to ask for water with lemon? Or was she like me? Hoping, praying to an higher power that our companionship would lead to dessert? And with small phrases like “molten chocolate” or “bananas foster” the first step towards understanding was made.
The story doesn’t end there, though. The true test of our fondness would come later. Would I receive a delayed text message bemoaning our decision? Would my new friend go through the motions of feeling guilty about our decision? Like magic, I would. And the next step, the crucial one, was made. Next thing you know I have a whole group of friends with questionable decision-making skills, a propensity for overindulging, and a consciousness for what the human form should look like. Body issues. Yay!
The problem is that as I grow older, I also grow tired of jealousy, competition, and most of all body issues. I do not want to be in competition with anyone, but rather learn from everyone. Take something from their lives and apply it to my own, but only if it works for me. I want to be a woman who relishes the joys and achievements of my friends and does not take them as an opportunity to identify how I have failed. I want to be encouraged and inspired by those acts. I also want to stop doing the naked mirror dance, agonizing over the parts of me that do not conform to some idea I have in my head. One that I am not even sure would make me happy.
I think this means I want… happiness.
So here’s the big question, the one that far greater men and women than myself have dared answer: what the hell is happiness and how do you achieve it?
I don’t have any clue, but here is what I do know: I am going to figure it out. I am going to rid myself of the bad, search desperately for the good, and try really, really hard to see what it is that so many people are so damn… happy…. about.
So here, based on an email from my good friend and gym BFF Nicole, is my beginning. On the road to happiness, these are the things I accept:
I accept that my parents got divorced and there is nothing that can be done about it.
I accept that I am not a morning person.
I accept that most people are morning people.
I accept that there are a lot of really annoying people in this world, but they are not out to get me.
I accept children.
I accept that I miss my dad, but that those choices have been made. I can be hurt, or I can rely on my friend Hailey to always hand me a cocktail and give me a solid hour to cry and say mean things…
I accept that I’m not an individual in the way that so many people are. My tattoo doesn’t make me a hipster, and my hair doesn’t make me a debutante. My apartment doesn’t make me a yuppie, and my shoes don’t make me a prep. I am better than an individual. I’m a chameleon.
I accept that I get sad.
I accept love.
I accept that I’m not a friendly person.
I also accept that the road to happiness may force me to be a touch friendlier, and I’ll do my best.
I accept that my apartment, though not big enough for dinner parties or house guests, is perfect. It’s my home. It’s where I’ll find Stuart and the hubs.
I accept that there are adventures in my future.
I accept that heartache is a journey to someplace I don’t even know exists.
I accept that with enough practice, enlightenment is possible.
I accept that I was not built for a bikini.
I accept other people’s opinions, but do not hold them so close as to allow them to make me question myself.
I accept that this body is not the one in magazines and on TV. But this body can run ten miles. This body is capable of one of the most beautiful Urdhva Dhanurasanas in the Metro Boston area. This body has done the very best that it possibly can.
I accept that happiness isn’t about being happy, but about setting an intention to be happy. Intention is half the battle.
I accept that life does not mean to make things difficult, it just happens.
I accept that humiliation does not exist. Humiliation is simply an inability to laugh about what we have attempted, but not perfected.
I accept that people do not like me.
June 23, 2009 § 5 Comments
I voted for Obama.
I say that so that we all understand that while I may not be the picture of fastidious devotion to equality and racial standards, I am not knowingly and willingly denying the plight of the black man. I think we fucked it up good and plenty and have a ways to go before anyone can say that we have righted the wrongs.
Ironically, however, I thought we (and I) were a lot further along. And then I went to Chicago.
Also, I love my husband.
I say that so that we can all have a good hearted chuckle at his role in this story, whilst acknowledging what an amazing, intelligent, and kind-hearted person he is.
Earlier this year, I called the hubs to let him know that I had bought tickets for us to go to Chicago. As a part of us testing out the theory that we do not want children (like, ever), it makes sense that we get used to traveling, eating out, and lavishing ourselves with an insanely selfish lifestyle that ensures that even the passing thought of a child would be cause for therapy and a tequila-based cocktail. The way I see it there are too many terrible things that we are at risk to passing on to a child, plus there is the even bigger risk that this is not a passing phase, I really do just hate children. If that’s the case, I should go ahead and get used to giving myself everything I want without so much as a brain fart about someone else’s needs.
The decision to go to Chicago in particular was multi-fold. First of all, the tickets on JetBlue were practically free and the failing economy meant that hotels were practically giving away rooms. The hubs is a student of architecture and it made sense (lame sense, albeit) that we should go there. It it, as everyone and their fucking dog will tell you, a magnificent architectural city. What they mean by that is that if you care about buildings and love tours you should certainly go to Chicago.
Truthfully, work had pretty much pushed me to the brink and if I didn’t get a few days away I was going to go Columbine on at least three people. Chicago? Sure.
What we didn’t consider about Chicago (being Boston-dwellers) is how big real cities are. New York is a majestic city. The first time you see it, you are certain you will never see the other side. Fortunately, the first time you find yourself wasted and cash-less in Morningside Heights you realize that twelve miles is a remarkably manageable distance. You can make it to the East Village before sun up. It’s downright quaint.
Living in Boston, the dead center of it at that, I have slowly but up barriers. In my youth, I would willingly attend parties in all sorts of places: Allston, Brighton, Brookline. I would even go to Cambridge. Over the years, the periphery of our great city narrowed. Now, Cambridge might as well be Cambodia. The thought of gaining the stamina needed to cross a river and endure the culture shock is almost too much. I have a hard time crossing Mass Ave. There are things that will encourage me to cross: Indian, Mexican, the occasional hamburger. In general, however, I have been reduced to a one mile radius. It is my radius. And people respect it.
The interesting thing about Chicago is that despite its charade as one of the great Metropoli (made that word up) of our planet, it cannot help itself. It is still plopped down in the middle of nowhere. Every time you let your guard town, begin casual conversation about the possibility of someday putting down roots in Chi Town, you are somehow reminded that you are not in New York, San Fran, or Boston. You are, in fact, in the middle of America. The middle. For every great building there is a strip mall. For every Renoir on collection, there is a Thomas Kinkade Gallery. (He is, after all, the painter of light. And for every block of burgeoning culture there is a ghetto so expansive and frightening that you wonder if the war on terror is not in the wrong country.
The size of Chicago means that it is necessary to plan accordingly. Maps, plans, routes, ideas– you must arrive with everything planned. Otherwise you will eat breakfast in the same place every morning and walk aimlessly from Starbucks to Starbucks, stopping only occasionally to see if their Banana Republic looks the same as yours. (It does look similar.) Googling where to find a falafel on your first day doesn’t count as planning.
In my own defense, the hubs did no such planning. At the very least I had guaranteed that we would have one meal in Chicago. Worst case scenario we could always return again and again to Taza falafel and eat. The hubs had googled some buildings and tile mural. What the fuck good was that going to do for us? What solace would we be seeking from a goddamned mural? As it turns out: none. As predicted.
What we did have going for us is our knowledge of every restaurant that has ever been on the Food Network. And we knew that Chicago has deep dish pizza. And we knew that Bobby Flay got his ass kicked by Malnati’s Pizza in Chicago. So we googled it.
We saved our trip to Malnati’s for our last night in Chicago. It was to be our swan song. After days of pounding pavement, going to museums to waste time before meals, and justifying our repeated trips to the same restaurants, we would finally go do something touristy. We were going to Malnatis. We even had a map.
When we got into the cab, our cab driver did have some objections to our destination. We assumed he didn’t want to drive so far out of the city. (Which seemed ridiculous, but cabbies are not exactly known for their calm and collected manner.) We asked him if he knew of another Malnati’s Pizza that we could go to. He did not. Or at least we have breached the commonalities in our languages and he simply shut us out.
Off we went. Deep dish pizza. WOO!
We left the bright lights of the big city in the rear view as we settled in for our drive to the burbs. (Since our only experience with Malnati’s was via the tube, we assumed it was a suburban establishment. The kind of place where families gathered after little league games– not the kind of place you find on Michigan Ave.)
One thing I have learned in my life is to always, always, always, always, always be weary of any destination that takes you in the direction of the airport. Now, if you’re reading this and you disagree or are angered by that statement, you and I are nothing alike. You may be just a smidge more rough and tumble. Girls like me aren’t welcome in neighborhoods near airports. Too pale. Too blue eyed. Too stupid.
As it turns out, there were definitely last call Delta Shuttle flights taking off in my panorama. We were headed to one of those neighborhoods.
After exiting the freeway, I started to get a little worried. Liquor store. Gun store. Liquor store. Gun store. House on wheels. Car on blocks. And then there was nothing. Just an expanse of sadness.
I actually started to feel relief. Naturally we were nowhere near a little league field and therefore we would realize shortly that we had the directions wrong and then we’d turn around go back to our hotel and then eat someplace else. Our cab driver would laugh at our silliness and we’d be done with the whole mess. But then something strange happened: quite literally out of nowhere a Malnati’s appeared. Not only did it appear out of nowhere, but to add to the bizarre and quasi-immaculate conception nature of the appearance, it was attached to a church.
From the barren expanse of fear and poverty had sprung a fountain of pizza. Good sign. I felt certain. And then the cab driver left us. More accurately, our cab driver drove away before I had really even closed the door.
Side note: For those of you who do not know the hubs or myself, I should explain that we have the capacity to appear yuppy enough to be featured in a Bank of America ad. Skinny jeans, mod glasses, fauxhawks, gay man shoes, forearm tattoos. It’s a yuppy trainwreck. We’re both a little splayfooted. The hubs is modelish thin and has a beard-framed jaw line. I am pale. I have a face that just looked like it watches Army Wives. We don’t “blend” in the traditional sense.
And there we were. About to learn just how stupid white people can be.
Imagine for a moment if the Klumps (nutty professor) opened a well-intentioned restaurant “project” on the set of Boyz in the Hood and employed Suge Knight as head pizza maker. You’d be close to what we’d walked into.
This wasn’t actually a Malnati’s in the traditional sense. This was a Malnati’s that had been donated to the neighborhood and the church to help rehabilitate the neighborhood– to help bring local business back to the area. Recovering drug addicts working through the church to get back on their feet. Semi-reformed gangbangers scrubbing dishes. And there we were. Because we watched Throwdown with Bobby Flay.
The hubs was nice enough to tell them that. You know, that two upper middle class yuppies were watching The Food Network on our flat screen one night and decided we had to visit Malnatis.
Our server was nice enough to let us know that there was actually a Malnati’s around the corner from our cozy four star back in the city.
Oh, yes. We knew. (No we didn’t.) We just wanted to get out and see new parts of the city. (No, we didn’t.)
The menu wasn’t a full menu, just some simple options pulled from the main Malnati’s menu. Samplings that kept food overhead low and didn’t require anyone to operate any heavy machinery. Or a fryer.
We were actually starting to feel some camaraderie with the kind folks in Lawndale. The hubs had managed to dodge the obvious bullets and I was doing my best to seem chill. Relative to the situation.
The turning point was when Jermaine (our server) dropped the bomb. He liked us. Really. But he didn’t know how the fuck we were going to get home. All kidding aside, not only were there no little league fields, there were no businesses and no cabs. He didn’t know how we got a cab to bring us there, but there was no cab in Chicago that would come back out and get us.
The good news? He was pretty sure he had a friend. He would call him. If we were lucky, Errand Boy would be able to come get us and take us safely back to Chicago. In the meantime, it was important that we sit tight and not try to do anything stupid like go outside or walk by the windows.
If you’ve ever been in a small New York apartment and seen a large roach land on your bed and disappear, you may have some idea of the kind of sickening fear I was experiencing. If you’ve ever had someone tell you that they were going to hunt you down in your sleep and kill you and you’d better sleep with one eye open… you’re getting closer.
I sipped my soda dutifully and made “I want a Savignon Blanc eyes” to the hubs. For over an hour I sat there and sipped.
And then Errand Boy arrived. In a Chevy Equinox.
Cynthia (Ms. Klump) held me tight against her ample breast. I’d only seen embraces like this in movies… right before a child is slaughtered in battle. The hubs was locked in an similar embrace. And then we were whisked into the car. Doors locked. Windows up. Tension mounting.
We didn’t have time to explain. We couldnt explain our mistake, our anxiety, our fear as we drove through Lawndale, hearing tales of the Black Disciples and the repeated taxi murders that finally ended any chance of a relationship to the city. So we didn’t.
We told him we from out of town. And he knew.
December 4, 2008 § 3 Comments
After the painful breakup with Lindsay, I was forced to find alternative ways to get slim. I started out by joining a more expensive gym because it stands to reason that the more expensive the gym, the thinner you get by being there. (Or if you can’t afford to eat, you can afford to get thin. Which reminds me, inappropriately, that I sometimes fantasize about getting dropped off in the depths of a third world country where I am forced to starve for 8-10 days because I wont eat mung. Of course when it’s all over, I magically wake up in the Back Bay. Left only with a new body and a deep, spiritual understanding of the horrifidy of the third world.) After joining the new gym, I immediately found a new gym BFF at my old gym, and now I feel like I’m marching towards doomsday. My membership is over in T minus 25 days and Nicole (my gym BFF) has given me new eyes for Equinox. With the help of her whimpering and somewhat self-sabotaging spirit, I am able to get my ass up at SIX IN THE MORNING to work out with George. The gym fairy. (Both because he loves him some Pussycat Dolls, and because he is light and springy like a wood nymph.)
On Tuesdays and Thursdays I don my finest lululemon headband and stretchy pants and spend one hour wishing whole heartedly that I were dead. Unlike yoga, true working out involves a delicate mixture of jiggly fat and mirrors that can cause a person to consider Ace bandaging their body ala a lesbian who can’t afford to have her tits cut off. As I cardio dance my way to anorexia, I am forced to look into the mirror at what is clearly not a severe case of anorexia. Instead, its pre-makeup, cant-afford-matching-gym-outfits, or wake-up-in-enough-time-to-get-the-cowlick-out-of-my-ponytail itis. It’s a painful, painful realization that there are more bad angles than good ones and if I cant stop eating fried scallops and oysters for dinner I am never going to look like a gym fairy.
These Tuesday/Thursday workouts are nearly indescribable. In addition to puffing an inhaler before, during, and after class (are you getting a good visual yet?), I sometimes step on my own shoelaces so that I can buy myself some time to kneel down and pray to Jesus that he doesn’t take me at the mainstudio. To die in that lighting would mean the blush was really, truly off the rose.
Tuesdays are all about weights and cardio. Dance, lift, dance, lift, and just when you think you might pass out, do a few jumping jacks. (I had to alter the jumping jacks to more of a Fonda workout move. I think I have a fat pocket behind my shoulder that keeps me from succeeding with that range of motion. I’ve also had to start dressing in layers. One fateful morning my shirt rolled over my midriff whilst jumping and I nearly passed out from the shock– not to mention I was wearing boxing gloves and couldnt pull it down. Now I’m a two t-shirt girl. No more of that shit.)
On Thursdays, George has crafted a kettle bell boxing routine that makes me hate pilgrims and immigrants. (Something about kettles makes me think of pilgrims, and you know how scrappy immigrants can be.) After thirty minutes of swinging a 15lb bell around, trying heartily not to embed it accidentally in someone’s skull, we put on our boxing gloves.
The gloves are a blog unto themselves. If you can imagine what it would smell like to rub the toe of a sockless, recreational-basketball-playing homeless man on your upper lip, then you can begin to understand what we are dealing with. When you get past the moisture of other peoples’ sweaty palms decaying inside a pleather wrapped piece of floam, you can enjoy an aroma like dead babies. Mid-workout my mind wandered to a very dark place, and I began to believe that when I removed the glove my hand would be nothing more than a shriveled black mass. Plus, because I have a smell compulsion, I treat myself to a deep whiff every few minutes. Just to make sure it still smells like Ghandi’s pits.
When the gloves are on, we commence to swinging at freestanding boxing bags like a bunch of pansies. If La Hoya saw what we’ve done to the sport of boxing, his balls would crawl back in his body cavity. And we listen to Britney and Leona.
This morning, after eating inappropriately last night, I was enduring the most painful hour in a long time. At a certain point I offered myself a break, and clung to the boxing bag for support. Looking at my gym BFF, her face turning ruddy and spirit failing, I thought about how depressing it was that we were doing this to ourselves. I was about to go all Norma Rae on her ass and tell her that we were leaving. Going to the Paramount for eggs. But then I caught a gander of myself in the mirror. Right then, as I was gasping for air, unsure that it was me (because in the past I have spent time being mortified by my own body, only to realize that I’m looking at someone else in the mirror…. clearly I get a little delirious while working out) George danced over and insisted we get our asses in gear.
I took a deep whiff of the cuff of my glove and continued.
There I was standing at the steps in Philadelphia, hands raised over my head, 12 raw eggs sloshing around in my belly, sweat dripping down my grey matching sweatsuit.
“You know what you are? You’re a tomato!”
November 15, 2008 § Leave a Comment
Earlier this year, the hubs and I lost our prized kitty Milo to some sort of mysterious medical phenomenon. We’re not exactly sure if it was an actual phenomenon or if they just told us it was so that they could spend 10K trying to figure it out. Apparently the hubs and I have “I’m with stupid” tattooed on our foreheads, because they milked us like a wetnurse. For money we didn’t even have. I didn’t blog about the experience at the time because I was so mortified at how emotional I was about the whole thing. I was like one of those dry wombed women. I would well up with tears every time I saw a Jewish BU girl in sunglasses walking down Newbury St. You know, because they all look like owls, and owls love mice, and Milo loved those little, furry, catnip-filled mice from Target. Everything in the world was an emotional trigger.
After I watched my 10K dead cat get carted off by the vet, I had an unexpected moment. I hadn’t made my way through the (however many) steps of grief, but I can say that in addition to being overwhelmed with sadness (he was, afterall, only three, and it was totally unexpected), I was overcome with the urge to have him taxidermied.
Now, you may be thinking “what the fuck is wrong with you, Caroline?” But truthfully I was in a very fragile emotional state and the only thing pulling me through my cloud of grief was imagining all the ways that I could use his marble-eyed, sawdust-stuffed body to scare the piss out of people. Ala Scrubs, I would probably have him done with his little arms hooked up in front of him so I could hang him over the back of a chair, or over a door– peeking over to see everyone. Then when people saw him, I could say really fucked up stuff like, “Silly Milo, he just LOVES being a part of the conversation” or “Oh! Be sure to scratch behind Milo’s ears; he goes CRAZY for that sort of thing.” Not unlike those women who have life-like baby dolls made to look like their departed children. (You think I’m fucking with you, Google it.)
Alas, my willingness to spiral out of control is always cut short by the hubs’ refusal to go down with me, so Milo was donated to a class of sniveling Ruskies at the Tufts vet school. C’est la vie.
In the weeks that followed, I made dramatic statements about how we just weren’t ready to bring another cat into our lives, or how we just weren’t sure that any other animal was going to be able to fill the void. Ultimately it was just that we had a few pre-planned vacays coming up and we were pretty sure we couldnt find anyone to care for the new addition. Just for fun, though, I made inquiries to all the shelters, letting them know that my husband and I were “just starting our search” and if they had anything to please let us know. (Let me tell you, Madonna thinks she had it hard? Try adopting an animal in Massachusetts. Children can go home to their crack whore mothers and eat moldy Wonderbread three meals a day, but if a productive member of society wants an animal, they better call in Chavez or whatever the fuck his name is, because unless your home is a nest of love and 12-hours-a-day free time to love and cherish your animal, you are going home empty handed.)
We were put on a list of “potentials” and occasionally I would get a call that Garfield or some such stereotypical nonsense was ready to start interviewing potential parents. The system–quite literally– involves a two-hour animal interviewing process wherein an animal psychologist assesses the compatibility of pet and owner. If you fail, you’re name is going down to the bottom of that list, right above Michael Vick. Eventually, my liberal and earth-loving facade started to crack and I was dialing up kitten mills up and down the eastern seaboard. There was not a one of those ten-children, twenty-cat households that was going to deny me a cat because I had a day job. A familys gotta eat.
We were looking for a 6-9 month old orange cat. We didn’t want a kitten because the brutality of having a small being in our midst made the hubs think about children and then his nuts would shrivel, and quite frankly anything that needs “love” in order to make it through the day isn’t going to last long around here.
Well, the road to hell is paved with good intentions. To that point my loving mother called me one afternoon with a wonderful surprise (ironically, I was standing in a cat house about to do a good deed and adopt an antisocial curmudgeon cat when she called). She found us a cat. Better yet, he looked like Milo and had a bunch of extra toes like Milo.
It wasn’t that we were ungrateful, but like a couple who has waited years for a little Asian baby, only to find out that they’re getting an accident from Kansas, we felt like we weren’t in control anymore. This new cat was coming into our home with no pre-interview. There was no pet psychologist to sign off on the acquisition. What happened if we couldn’t love him.
Well, we were about to find out.
Stuart Wayne George Beaulieu was brought to Boston in September. Not only was he not orange, he was not 6-9 months. He was so young that is age was mentioned in weekly increments, which meant that in addition to food and water, he needed the one thing the hubs and I couldn’t give him. Love.
Unlike his noble predecessor, he was not a couch-loving, prim-time-TV watching kitty. He didn’t have any catastrophic health problems that were unknowingly responsible for limiting his motor skills, thus making him the greatest animal ever. Stuart was young, vibrant, and totally vocal. The cat has a voicebox that wakes the dead.
In addition to his twelve meals a day, he likes to sustain himself during the long, lonely hours by snacking on paper products. While he particularly enjoys the subtle flavors in a roll of Viva papertowels, he’ll gladly take down an $8 birthday card, or even a semster-long drafting project. Super.
Sometimes the hubs and I will stand in the kitchen, staring blankly between his full food bowl, overflowing water dish, scattered neon plastic toys, and his small meowing body.
“What does he need?” we’ll silently ask each other.
And so the hubs will pick him up, sling him over his shoulder, and continue cooking dinner. As Stuart watches silently. Loving every minute of it.
November 10, 2008 § 5 Comments
I’m constantly mortified by my apartment. In my mind, I’m a delicate cleaning flower. I hang my clothes up after work, open drawers and place thing neatly inside, clean up after myself as I cook a meal. But in reality, I’m a whirling tornado of horrifying mess, never understanding where everything came from. How did I end up with 26 loads of laundry? Why are there eight empty water glasses next to my bed? And where the fuck is my other shoe?
The worst part is that I fear if left to my own, I may not ever clean. Would I seriously bask in the filth of my own lifestyle for eternity? No. No, I tell myself, I wouldnt. My mother once told me that a friend of her’s husband left her because she was a mess. I know it was partly untrue because my mother told me, and because she has always lacked the reasoning skills to understand that not everything can be traced back to an Electrolux, but it really got me thinking. I don’t mind if I think I’m a mess, but I certainly don’t want other people thinking it. And the last thing I want is to try to explain to people that my marriage ended because I couldnt get my shit together– literally.
About a year ago, I was preparing for a dinner party. A friend of mine was over at the house watching me tidy (Swifer, vacuum, blow dusk off of picture frames, and Fantastic the counters) when she suddenly looked up and asked me if I wanted her to Windex. Windex what? She explained that she would Windex the mirrors in the bathroom, and the glass panes on our French doors (they are indoors, not out). Apparently she Windexed her mirrors and crystal every Sunday. I was torn between whether to be fascinated by her, panicked that it had never, ever occurred to me to do any such thing, or simply kicked her out. And uninvite her to my party. Who the hell spent her Sunday Windexing the bathroom mirrors, let alone those teensie glass squares in the picture frames? She did.
I blew it off, but later on it started to get at me. Was something wrong with me? Why didn’t I hop out of bed on Sundays, ready to right the wrongs, make things shine, and prepare my abode for the week ahead? Here is what I came up with: Thresholds. Everyones got a Threshold.
To my poor friend, a low Threshold. The slightest sign of dust, the vision of one glass awaiting its turn in the dishwasher, was enough to send her to the other side… the dark place. She needed to know that at a moments notice there would be no doubt in her separate-sponges-for-counters-and-dishes mind that a guest could arrive unannounced, a neighbor could drop in for tea and cookies. As for me? Practically no Threshold at all. The amount of work required to make those things happen doesn’t begin to compare to the mental relaxation of not doing them at all. It’s not like I leave things rotting and festering around my house, but I have been using the same disposable dusting cloth for 2 + years.
But there in the distant future is a Threshold. It doesn’t inspire me to oil the floors on Thursdays, or organize DVDs alphabetically on Saturday afternoons, but it does pick holes in my conscience until I feel an enormous amount of guilt. And guilt is as good a motivator as torture.
I’m generally on a six to eight week cycle. Every six to eight weeks I have a push that is equal-to, if not greater-than, the sum total of what others do during that entire period of time. The hubs often complains that when I take on “cleaning” I generally start by making an insane mess beforehand. I can’t just pick up the various and sundries around the apartment, rehang coats, and wash dishes (which I do on a MUCH more regular basis), I have to first reinvent the wheel. Before I hang up coats, I need to take everything out of the closet. I have to visualize how the coats are going to fit, what the hierarchy of needs will be, so that I can rearrange the closet accordingly. It’s sick, and very time consuming, but if I’ve learned anything from the hubs, it’s whole ass or no ass.
Unfortunately, sometimes I get tired midway through. Then I’m left with a half organized closet and twice as much shit laying around on the floor. To this point, there is the method by which I tackle more aggressive cleaning issues– anything involving a product. If I’m going to get out the Comet, there better be an entire afternoon and some yellow rubber gloves. And someone sequester the cat.
As of yesterday, it had been approximately 6.5 weeks since I last attempted laundry. It’s due in part to a self-diagnosed anxiety disorder that keeps me from gearing up to do laundry for fear that I will get everything together, lug it down to the basement, and then discover that there is a line until Tuesday. When it comes to doing laundry in a community setting, everyone is your enemy. Fuck your neighbors. In addition, our family penchant for Aqua Net aerosol extra hold means that everything that dares to enter the bathroom will eventually become shellacked to the tile beneath a generous layer of the Secret of the South. That, and Stuart loves to roll his body in anything liquid. It’s a miracle he isn’t shellacked to the floor. I had gone to yoga in my pajamas, which I took to be a sign that I needed to get my domesticity in check, so I decided that I was going to take care of it. Tired of being embarrassed that our bathroom showed signs of use, I got out the Soft Scrub, the Tilex with Bleach, the Clorox, and a spong. I went in and surveyed the area. I locked Stuart in the bedroom. And then I remembered that the last time I cleaned the bathroom I got so high that I nearly passed out on my couch. (Which does beg the question of what said products are doing to the ozone, but I’ll tell you, I haven’t had much success with the greener, less abrasive versions of my favorite cleansers.)
So there I was, standing in the bathroom, a black silk-blend cocktail napkin tied over my nose and mouth, the tip pointing downward towards my breasts, looking exactly like an extra from the latest Al Quaida hostage video. To complete my outfit, I stripped down to my black boy short pannies and black sports bra. I was the bathroom ninja.
Outfitted in my nimble gear, I was able to tackle soap scum in a way that few can attest to. The stains cried out in consternation. As if they thought, after four to six weeks, that I would not be back. When I finished with the bathroom, after I had polished the grout, gathered the fur and hair from every corner, rearranged the products in the cabinet to better reflect their usage, the hubs stepped upon the gleaming floors with city coated shoes. His body will not be found, nor his cause of death discovered. I am, after all, a ninja.
As I continued down the list of things to do, albeit with less fervor than what I exhibited with the bathroom, I couldn’t bring myself to take off the napkin. It had become an alter ego. I was not only the bathroom ninja but the laundry ninja. I sat on my couch, my neck sweating beneath what was now my ninja necklace (I had to pull it down from my nose and mouth in order for the hubs to understand what I was saying), folding clothes like a mad woman. Hiyah!
When it was finally time to go to bed, the hubs worked to untie the knot keeping my ninja mask on. As it came off, the cool air finally giving my neck some respite from the chemically charged poly blend, I felt like my old self again. I walked by the bathroom on my way to bed, not stopping to brush my teeth, because it would only mar the sink.
When I crawled into bed I took some time to think about all that I had accomplished. I was sure that waking up, going to yoga, cleaning the bathroom, doing the laundry– that it would all give me an amazing sense of accomplishment. Instead I felt defeated. I kicked my yoga pants off, leaving them on the floor, and realized that none of it made a bit of difference. By the time the next person comes to visit I will be between cycles. My living room will be scattered with boots, shoes, models of loft apartments, books, bills, cat toys and scarves. My kitchen will have empty bottles of wine on the counter, pepper under the mill, and dishes in the sink. The $80 diffuser in the foyer will be ineffective because my fuck face cat will relieve himself moments before I bring a guest into the house, sabotaging my efforts to appear clean and neat.
So this bathroom ninja is putting away her expectations. There are too many opponents, too many walls to scale, in order to feel like I am keeping up with the status quo. I’ll try to remember to vacuum if I spill something. I’ll Swifter when Stuart starts to sneeze at his own overwhelming contribution, and I’ll attempt to keep the odor to a manageable foul. But other than that, kids, I’ve got bigger fish to fry.
If you don’t like dirt, you shouldn’t walk around barefoot.