Friday, July 31, 2009

Underneath your clothes

Paid the best compliment recently:

"I like* how comfortable you are with yourself."
*like-love, don’t exactly recall the word

That it was said while fully naked in bed, and directed to me, made it a lasting ah-ha, life affirming and period-at-the-end-of-the-personal-growth moment.

There was a time I wouldn’t buy a top without sleeves. Can you imagine not being able to shop with abandon as the cute camis and strappy dresses passed by? Even on the hottest day of summer, I wouldn’t dare show my upper arms. Bat winged and fleshy, so many women are inclined to keep that under wraps. I see it in the ladies at the gym who choose oversized, probably mans size L or XL tees, shoulder seams droopy and sleeves hanging to near elbow.

I wear Old Navy cotton tanks. Have drawers full of them.

Used to wish I was a girl that could throw on shorts and flip flops, a little cotton tee or tank and run around all summer. But shorts cut me funny; I go for a kicky capri or snappy tunic and sheer sundress over leggings. Shorts on the wrong body type give the illusion of crotch eating fabric, taking bigger bites with each step. I have two pairs of shorts in my closet. One a khaki-ish mid thigh with frayed edges I wore snug in heavier days that now hang lower as the day progresses. Still, comfy and utilitarian. The other one of my first thinner purchases, an INC bermuda sporting tiny white and gray stripes, the fabric pattern called “Fruit Stripe” (think the gum). I like those shorts, mostly because I clearly recall the moment in Macys I first zipped into them.

Funny the things we hide and cover up, the things we believe bright spotlights shine upon. The chin rash is slowly clearing, thanks to steering clear of makeup most days and one more week on antibiotics that bring queasy mornings, every morning. Thank goodness for Panera Bread strawberry yogurt smoothies, small piece of baguette on the side; drat that crusty bread is the only thing that settles the urp. I’m feeling a bit Stay Puft Marshmallow Man around the middle.

Still he liked how comfortable I was all-the-way naked. He said later he liked me naked. Later still that he loved (yes, definitely love not like) something I can do while naked.

Being naked approaches being revolutionary; going barefoot is mere populism.
- John Updike

Monday, July 27, 2009


I’ve had a movie quote floating through my head for a couple weeks now:

“Where are all the good men dead? In the heart or in the head?”

I don’t really get it either. It’s a line uttered by Debi Newberry (Minnie Driver) to her radio listeners in response to a surprise, emotionally awkward visit from ex-high school flame Martin Blank (John Cusack) in Grosse Pointe Blank. Googled and Binged and Yahooed and don’t find the line is a lyric or pulled from a beat writer or philosopher. Closest I come to origins is a similar passage from Willy Shakespeare’s Merchant of Venice. A song, a warning not to judge by external appearances: "Tell me where is fancy bred, in the heart or in the head?"


I like the quote, I love the pithy quotable film and soundtrack that's a zesty mix of Fishbone, Chili Peppers, Clash, Femmes. Still I don’t get the line, can't makes heads or tails. I’ve found the good men both alive in heart and head, just as I’ve found those straying from relationships, the bad if you will, supremely honest in their pursuits. Good-hearted men are not so presumptuous as to bring condoms on a first or second date. Bad men don’t call the next day and text only when hard or available or both.

So which are more alive in heart and head?

To make some sense I strike that, reverse it and turn the phrase on myself. Where, if any, am I dead? I follow my heart while giving it specific instructions; that in itself a conundrum wrapped in a head scratcher and covered in secret sauce. I wonder should I follow one more than the other. Perhaps it’s as simple as wanting hands in my pants one night, returning the next day to sit on the couch and watch a popcorn movie.

Where are all the good men and women dead? In the heart, or in the head? Or are they/we hopelessly alive, flipping the script and playing each day as anything can happen, hoping for joy and embracing pain as a path to learning.

I dunno.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

What a Girl Wants

Want a cash cow business in time of economic strife?

Open a nail salon. Even as the price of consumer goods rise and homes sell less quickly in a bloated, foreclosed market, the Asian/Korean/Thai ladies are raking in the yen. Drove in a golden triangle of north Denver this afternoon in search of a strip mall hot hand soak and cherry-blossomed scented foot love. Starlight Nails, 45 minute wait. Venus Nails, “You come back at 5.” It was 3:30.

My cuticles needed tending now, a girl ritual to close the “Best Weekend Ever (so far) - 2009 Version.” The good times took root Thursday night and dinner at a cool, urban, organic, grow-our-own restaurant (a converted gas station) in a cool, urban, organic boutique neighborhood. The company, engaging and warmly smiling once nerves passed and holding my hand on the walk to the car after. We meet up again Friday for food (it’s always eating in the beginning, isn’t it?) He picked me up at my door, took me to Old Towne and a music club / art venue / pizzeria where the servers are tattooed rockabilly types and we ate warm hummus scooped up in toasty herbed flatbread. The band was impressive and fun, the company attentive and comfortable, the kind that wraps a free arm around the backside of your chair and sits close. He left the next morning.

Saturday solo shopping for scented candles. A stop at Godiva gave flavor to another day of indulgence, a strawberry-white chocolate truffle. Not candy, but a fresh swirl of berry puree ensconced in a smooth, thick shell. I dawdled, peeked into windows, stopped at Macys for a steal of a sundress I’d been stalking. Paid $50 less than when I first tried it on at the beginning of summer; perfect for a slow stroll through a mid-season Farmers Market. Riesling brought good rest, deep sleep and plenty of it.

Which brings us to today, Sunday. The usual - yoga and weekly groceries - but I hadn’t yet squeezed in a mani-pedi, the cherry topper to a spectacular girl weekend. I would not relent. Third and final stop, the shop near my gym. The shop with the friendliest staff and oldest tabloids. And the shop that, without fail, leaves bubbles in my shiny new topcoat.

I got the bubbles and am unsure why my OPI Royal Rajah Ruby glints mostly deep purple. Still, mission accomplished, the heels soft and smooth and kissable. Men must think us crazy to plunk down $40 for service we can do at home. I find it little nutty too, each and every month I step in a shop swirling with the scent of acrylic nail dust (cranberry and peppermint). But I keep returning.

The one thing I still craved as the weekend ran down, closing in on Monday, was a wet, pink cheeseburger. A classic with crispy bacon and extra fries sprinkled with black pepper then dunked in ranch. Chewed it in hearty bites and took two napkins to wipe my mouth.

Why not? Got everything else I could have wanted this weekend.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

First time ever I saw your face

I have dinner plans tomorrow night, a first-in-the-flesh meeting with a seemingly lovely man. The rare breed who after suggesting dinner and the restaurant asks, “Pick you up at 6?”

Pick you up, in a car, like gents do.

Ironic, isn’t it Alanis (although her use of the term was stretching the definition at best, like rain on your wedding day) the rash/bug bite/patch of shame that appeared late last week on my face has exploded into a pulsating pink mound worthy of its own zip code. Just as ironic are the two pounds that crept up on the scale this morning and tingle in my uterus that warns of trouble and flow ahead. As the spot has grown so has the phantom itching and scratching. Feeling buggy, I washed the bed lines in hot yesterday, Dyson vacuumed under the couch cushions, scrubbed my scalp extra hard and applied two thick coats of emollient body lotion.

Appearance is simply the wrapping, no apologies necessary. Before she battled Sir Paul in divorce court and went nutty in the paparazzi-press, I was a fan of Heather Mills. Yes, that Heather Mills who, before the cunty hoopla, served as a bit of a beauty inspiration. Little to do with the long blonde locks, perfect mauve bow of lips or hips I envied, but that she’s an amputee, having lost a leg years ago in a street accident. As a single and dating young woman (chronicled in her first memoir) there was no practical need to apologize for the lack of limb. It simply wasn’t there and wasn’t growing back. Shifted my thinking about my own perceived flaws. Certainly a pimple or odd spot pales next to air where your foot once was, but the concept is the same. I’m exuberant and effervescent, sexy and silly, wise and worthy whether my belly protrudes after last nights dinner of chips and gauc, bad hair day or good, 30 pounds more or less, each surprise body bruise or nose becoming somewhat more bulbous and fleshy with age.

I should wear it proudly. I suspect my face tattoo is something bacterial picked up at the gym, a harbor of infection waiting to attach to moist bodies (those yoga mats are shared and never wiped down - picking up my own today.) Felt like a true jock when, months after beginning my regimen, I lost the full nail on one of the nameless middle toes, popped off whole like a Lee Press-On. I always wear flip flops in the locker room now. Or this could be something passed from the indoor - outdoor, often rolling in the grass and dirt feral cat. The one I tamed.

Yes, I have something on my white dress when I wanted to sparkle pretty. Just require a heavier drag queen hand with the concealor and extra deep inhale of confidence. I have the feeling the dinner date is less concerned. It's not my zit he's after.

Cancel stitching a Scarlet H to my bosom. The shell-pink cluster is a happy little Perioral Dermatitis rash, common in children and YOUNG women (yay, me) sometimes due to sensitive skin versus whitening toothpaste, sunscreen or face creams.

Let the kissing commence.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

17 Again

A woman my age should not awake with a smattering of pimples. A cluster of three or four, to the right of my chin where it’s soft and fleshy. More like an odd rash or patch of spider bites from an evening attack (at least someone or something - albeit arachnoid - is enjoying face-sitting fun). Took a couple Valtrex I had on hand from 2007. Don’t ask and not what you think.

It’s a joke of chemistry and derma to deal with pimples and wrinkles simultaneously. Thought that time was left behind in a locker than smelled of white bread and Kraft singles, text books wrapped and taped into brown paper bags, first drunk and a white with burgundy interior Chrysler Cordoba.

September 1979 - June 1983, dear old Centaurus High.

Met up recently with faces from my junior and senior years of high school, an in-real-life afternoon of wine and chat and yearbooks and scrapbooks brought about from online sleuthing and Facebook connections. Back in the day my Girl Scout troop sang, “Make new friends but keep the old. One is silver and the other gold.” I haven’t made many new lately. Acquaintances, absolutely. Gym pals and coffee shop compadres sure. But fresh friends, the kind you call two or three times daily, spend hours doing nothing with, excitedly talking goals and relationships and desires are harder to come by. The past has flooded the present, new old friends with a familiarity in faces and slightly different packaging.

The girl I so envied then, her beauty and spirit and throaty laugh, shares my love of art and yoga. She’s a single Mom staring back at loss and pain with grace and eyes that still smile into tiny crescents. And often.

I’ve kissed and played coy with the boy crush, fulfilling school girl fantasy 26 years later. But now I had the moves, the confident aggressor while he played tune in Tokyo. An ironic, sweet period (perhaps semi colon) at the end of a decades old sentence.

The American Beauty bloomed from modest to glamorous hostess-with-mostess, showing up at my door with a bottle of cold white and pan of warm brownies. She lives vicariously and breathlessly through my words, anticipatory not judging. We mourn alongside her recent, unexpected loss; the parents of high school chums are passing - a quick inventory tells me we've lost at least four.

The best girl friend and now best woman friend pops up daily on caller ID, just checking in, encouraging and listening to fables and foibles. Sharing the kind of sex and boy talk we had no reference for previously (there was one hook up at our mini reunion; it wasn’t me stealing kisses and more).

A former stage ingénue whose apple named Annie didn’t fall far from the talent tree. She’s funny and soulful, jolly and self-deprecating all at once. She’s a one-woman show waiting to happen. I’d buy a ticket front-row center.

Real talk, wisdom and exploration of how we got from there to here and where we go next over sangria and pizza on the couch I bought with my own money.

And it feels like I’m seventeen again. Looking from the outside in, some things never change. I'm a million miles away. Funny how it seems like yesterday...

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Creamy Filling

Forgiving the automatic “Fuck you” that flew without thought from my mouth and middle right hand, I was bothered by it.

I got honked at holding back the merge lane. My turnoff coming up quickly, less than half a block, I didn't follow the smooth weave and flow into traffic, rather waited for a safe opening that would get me across two busy lanes. When I checked the rear mirror for the “Huh, you honkin’ at me?” clarification, I was honked at again by a soccer-Mom-looking-bitch in fake oversized Prada shades and unflattering page boy haircut. Encased in thousands of pounds of metal people behave in a manner never pulled in polite society. Could you imagine being physically pushed along a crowded queue or called out for a bump in line?

I have the soul of a Twinkie. Maybe a Ding Dong, protected by creamy armor, definitely not the hard, crunchy shell of a Tootsie Pop or crème brulée. I’m not overly sensitive; I can bust balls and suck them back. But sensitivity sometimes gets the best of me. Often gets the best of me. When those I care for are wounded, feeling sad or confused, the same comes to me; like a father-to-be with sympathy morning sickness, I nurse a ball of stomach nerves and want to cure them, stroke away the pain. Make it all better.

Not long ago I sat on the couch with a friendboy whose life view profoundly differs from mine, despite my best efforts to fill his half-empty glass. He asked, “What do you want from life?” I replied, “I want to be spectacularly special.” I want to be the first one of my kind, the original of the species.

Take me as I am, all golden cake and fluffy center.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

France in my pants

The feelings are still a little mixed. Yet after a couple years away, my American holiday began this morning with the Tour de France.

Having the magic that is Lance back in the saddle is a definite draw. And having diverted eyes and attention since doping became the norm (or, at least, proven painfully public at last), some details had dissolved, those things that kept me enthralled for three weeks each summer, even waking early each morning to catch a stage live. Long, lean muscles encased in compact spandex; the hind quarter of a man is the sexiest of his parts, even more so wrapped in stretchy short pants. It’s that area dividing crotch and ass and cyclists have the best ones, solid and creased by muscle. I like to plant my flag there, and have.

The scenery along the route is breathtaking and comical; chalked terms of endearment along pavement, things like “Fuck Armstrong.” The showers of spit. On to cobblestone streets and quaint villages with buildings that look like they smell of warm bread and lavender. Sweeps of road curving through and around wide fields of flowers, up alps and along straights.

So I’m back. They had me at side butt.

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