Friday, August 28, 2009

Picasso's Last Words (Drink To Me)

Pragmatic enough to believe life has a beginning, middle and end. Empathetic enough to know loneliness can be great when a spouse or love leaves first, the other of a pair wanting to follow. It was that way with my Grandpa and Grandma, my Dad and his wife.

Today was my Dads birthday. I prefer was because birthdays define life and blood and the first cry, a joyful noise. But today there's no cake or voice on the line to tell me crankily I spent too much on a gift. I think of him often, odd triggers like when I hear any song by Johnny Cash or crave fried green tomatoes and potato pancakes. Or watch “Shrek.” When I sing “Margaritaville” and replace the real lyrics with, “Nibbling on spongies, watching the grungies.” The family secret of what he called brazil nuts. The clicking sound of tongue on the roof of his mouth, loud like the pop of a cap gun, when something tasted good.

Thought of him when an old friend got in touch yesterday afternoon asking if I could spare a couple minutes. She’d found out her Dad is facing a cancer, a bad one, a scary one. She said it’s not enough time, that there still too much of him to know. Maybe we’re never meant to have enough time to devour it all, family or friends or anyone. Maybe we have to feed and savor constantly like hummingbirds, until we can't drink anymore.

My Dad would have liked to know I have a manfriend. Forget education or career or house or health or happiness, in small town Pittston, PA the measure of success is based on landing a traditional relationship and babies for the girls. I used to wonder if (or how often as I got older) chat at the extended family table turned to a knotted brow and chin down question of, “Is she gay, Joe?” (I think the term would have been “gay” at best, “dike” at worst.) I’ve always been one to buck tradition, still do to a large extent. But once my Dad found that kind of happy late in life, he simply would have liked me to have that kind of happy too.

Pablo Picasso's last words were, "Drink to me, drink to my health, you know I can't drink anymore." I've come to appreciate my Dad's drink of choice the salty dog, his "juice."

I drink him in even now.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Chocolate Frosty

Household repair flummoxes me. So do appliances using water and odd furnace noises. Wish I was better at basic home repair.

Frustration builds because I know I can. Kinda. I’ve painted the powder room and master bath, crisp edges and smooth, even strokes. But tried to install a towel rod over said fresh paint and got only two large drywall large holes. Even used dry wall “boing” screws, the ones that are meant to expand and explode for a snug fit. The whole thing pulled out before Egyptian cotton met metal.

I’ve patched the remnants of an upstairs leak in the kitchen ceiling; in low light you one can barely see it (thanks in part to orange peel spray spackle). The kitchen and bath linoleum need replacing, a job I believe I could possibly do (in the words of the once immortal and now nutty Jesse Jackson, I “keep hope alive.”) So why in-the-ever-loving-fuck-bits can’t I level the washing machine? Shown how to easily do it, watched it go down, tried after a load of heavy towels knocked the basket off-kilter and landed the white monster square on my foot, no more level to end than begin. So instead of relying on what the machine can and should do, I ensure my presence for the spin cycle, pressing bum against cool metal to hold the load stable. Admittedly, the rumble is nice in the nether regions, but it does take away from an otherwise busy day.

Things I’ve done solo (and successfully) in almost ten years of homeownership:

  • Changed the doorbell
  • Replaced the handle lever and large pink diaphragm looking plug on the toilet (had my ballcocks removed and replaced with leaner, meaner flush valves)
  • Stained the deck
  • Tripped a GFI

Pathetic, I know.

But then I can do other things, like ask my gym to reduce my monthly membership from $49.95 a month to $34.85, which they did. Or scrub my little home top to bottom, feeling accomplished now that everything smells of lemon and almonds. Or stuff a comically large chicken breast with garlic and shallot butter, coat it in panko and parmesan and bake at 350 degrees for half-an-hour and serve it alongside fresh greens beans with burnt butter. Or be up for an 8:21 p.m. Saturday night Wendy’s drive-thru in pajamas because I want a sweet, cold treat.

Simply enjoy the pleasure of my company and still want some.

So I don’t mind so much that I can’t level the washing machine.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Fire Down Below

The ultra-sensitive reaction may be more medical than situational.

Something yeasty is rising in the south (readers biologically related or uncomfortable exploring the nuances of said region should possibly flip over to TMZ for celebrity gossip or the latest on the reality-star-swimsuit-model murder).

I’ve been ingesting a Tiffany blue pill daily, doxycyclin, for a simple facial rash. A “light” antibiotic, I got over the easy morning nausea quickly. But erased from my memory is one unfortunate side effect of antibiotics to a woman’s reproductive system. Ions ago I took tetracycline to manage mild acne and the resulting, occasional ricotta cheese after-effect became a regular annoyance. But since moving to a lifestyle where pills and potions and prescriptions are few and far between, I’d been immune to that special lateral itching and burning. Until now.

The ladies feel me. Men, imagine if I held a BIC lighter to your ballsack.

This simply does not fit into the daily plan. Forget spinning class, I'm super sensitive and "aware" of there and not in a good way. Flame throwing, pulsating like it has its own heartbeat, I sort of want to hold an icy cold can of Pepsi to it.

Ventured to the nearest Walgreens for over-the-counter relief that came in the form of a $20.99 insert. Looked a good deal like the Mrs. Grass chicken noodle golden flavor nugget, a soft and squishy pellet. Once inserted soothing and cooling should wash over and in, and my pink Vicky Secret flannel shorts report a more tolerable sensation. Can only hope after Riesling-lulled sleep to awake to nothing more than a a bad memory. “One-day treatment” was printed on the box after all.

I have things, and people, to do.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Raindrops on roses, whiskers on kittens

There are areas in life where one should not settle or skimp. Love and friendship of course, but some less heavenly inspired. The basics and a few of my favorite things.

Condoms – Took the Avanti Bare for a couple trips downtown this weekend. Avanti is somewhat of a legend, said to feel like you’re not wearing nothing. So why so thick? A bit like those yellow plastic kitchen gloves with the skid resistant palms stretched thin. Felt okay in testing, but left a residual itch, perhaps my sensitive nature versus polyisoprene latex substitute. Best bang for my buck, LifeStyles®. Solid price performers and a wide variety, including fruit flavors (a vanilla, chocolate, banana, strawberry and blueberry fun pack). To steal a line from “Juno,” not certain I’d go for junk that smells like pie. But I do likes me strawberry.

The ladies will Kiss Me full on the mouth after trying Blinc mascara and true-blue original mineral makeup (the originators, not the drugstore imitators). Blinc adheres then dries as hollow “tubes” of color to lashes and it don’t come off. Sleep in, excercise in or fuck in it and a little water and gentle fingertip rub is the only thing to beg release. I converted years ago to mineral foundation, wary at first. But the sheer, almost cool and creamy base of bareMinerals® and philosophy® supernatural (none of the cool cosmetic companies capitalize) cover like little else. During my recent run with a chin rash, even the doctor was amazed once a wipe of brown paper towel and water revealed the extent of my pink explosion. She exclaimed, “That is great makeup.” She was right.

Kitty Litter - You cat people know it, the non-brands with the generic and kitschy names like “Kitty Pride,” “Litter Nuggets” and “Piss Jewels.” Nope. The stuff clumps so solid and sticky you could spread it out front and create a driveway. Go for the crystals, splurge on the lavender scented bits.

Recently become a fan of body waxing, the brazilian in particular. Stings a bit closer to the bull’s-eye, but the effects are long lasting and impressive. However given the $50 price tag and six-week maintenance schedule, the quest for a clean work space may be better served with a package of three Noxzema Bikini Shavers for $3.99. Don’t forget to swipe!

Men – Real men will insist on picking up the tab but like that you offer from time to time. Real men cover you up in a quilt, want you to come first (and often) and recall the restaurants you’d like to try. Real men get more handsome each time you see them.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Julie & Julia & Jodie

I was 32 when I started cooking; up until then, I just ate.
- Julia Child

I feel the same way about men.

Saw “Julie & Julia” this weekend (bit of ego stroke to marquee the pupil before the teacher, pop-culture momentary flash before legend, but then bloggers have big egos) and in the best possible setting at Cinebarre, a theater chain serving alcohol and real food. Simply ask for a cold beer or basket of fried pickle chips (called “The Big Lebowskis”…dirty) and a young boy silently serves you in the dark. Meryl Streep, of course superb, a cameo by the always sublimely funny (and tall) Jane Lynch and Amy Adams, who need only smile brightly and bring a self-proclaimed bitchy character to warm life.

Dare you to leave the film not craving a creamy sauce or martini.

But Julie Powell of the “& Julia” is an unlikable chick flick heroine; I didn’t find myself rooting for her. I assume some dialogue and most of the blog snippets read in voice-over come mostly verbatim from Powell’s blog which spawned first a book then the movie. Can’t find the original blog in full online (since it can be ordered bound in soft cover from Amazon for $7.99) but I didn't care for the simplicity of her writing, the kind of entries that begin, “Today I…” and the mind-blowing unimaginative for a food blog, “Guess who’s coming to dinner?”

A Google search of Powell reveals an extramarital affair and how she’s less than favored in her former blog community. Some of that speaks to gossip and, of course, publishing envy. Perhaps the movie dumbed it down, made the blog bites bigger and easier to swallow, but as a copy writer by day and blogger by night I expected something special. Only the best blogs get book deals.

Right?

The foodie in me understands and envelopes the fulfilling, sensual act of wrapping moist lips to sweets and savories. I could jump on that apple cart, earn chatty women followers, become a food blogger. Find a gimmick, then once established break out the stuff that touches beyond the snap of a carrot, exotic ingredients and lush colored staged photos.

What Powell got right, right away, was “the hook,” the easily identifiable branding. I got a business card this weekend. A recruiter in Denver looking for writers to populate an urban Web site with words, one where each piece can translate to dollars based on online popularity and hits. I checked the site and found in order to submit work, one must first categorize where those words fit, define the style. In 370 posts and four years I'm not playing a character, not writing life as I wish it to be or how I want you to see me but how’s it’s unfolding and my place in it. Maybe that’s difficult, if not impossible, to categorize.

Suppose I could write only about sex, that sells. Speak openly to desire and passion and living off script with panties down. At 40. The easily-identifiable former fatty enjoying sweaty palms. The woman who refers to herself as a girl, with the heart to tame a feral cat but who hasn’t yet been in love. Or even long-term like. And if that story ended happily, paired off with "the one" like the cargo on Noah’s Ark all the better. The hook.

Valerie Bertinelli could play me in the cable version.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Eat, drink and be wary

When did I become such a delicate flower?

I eat well, fruit or veggies at most meals, mostly non-processed foods, lean protein and little to nothing fried. I sometimes envy those who can eat or drink anything, anytime and any quantity with seemingly no aftershock. One late night Taco Bell run and I’m a twisted sister. Even an otherwise “healthy” bowl of slightly-too-salty risotto last night led to a two-hour carb nap followed by bloating lasting into this morning; thank goodness for roomy cotton sundresses and forgiving panty elastic. Then again, a pasta dish that requires 6 tablespoons of butter and absorbs 6 cups of liquid (in this case half vegetable broth, half water) is the recipe for heavy belly moaning.

I embrace the time spent in yoga where we detox, twisting and turning, bending and wringing out the ascending and descending colon from the inside out. I finish class with a feeling of draining from my sinuses and head, feel the blood feeding all my limbs.

And therein lies the rub, the conundrum. The "Twilight Zone" sad twist when Burgess Meredith's glasses slip from his face and shatter. The more effort spent pursuing a healthy lifestyle, from getting enough cardio and sleep to eating “right” and the more I become its bitch. A couple days away from hard and committed exercise (no pansy-ing around with the treadmill set on 3 but the stuff that hurts) and I’m cranky and fuzzy and did I mention cranky. Don't sleep, don't write. Eat like crap, feel like crap.

I’ve created a feel-good monster.

I fondly recall the late-night-early-morning ritual of chili cheese fries (a pound, and always very yellow cheddar) inhaled at Denny’s after hours of drinking and dancing. Sometimes pancakes loaded with butter and running with syrup. I’d awake the next morning energized, fueled by carbs and cheese enzymes, the chili adding a pink glow to my cheeks. Now a bowl of popcorn washed down with a Fat Tire and I bloat to 4 months pregnant from salt and oil.

Yes, the new work badge photo resembles nothing of the round, puffy face previously lamented on it; I have an actual chin and cheek bones. And hells yeah, even though there’s still more of me to love, men do and I let them because I’m comfortable and sexual in the skin (stretch marks and all) I’m molding into shape. And sure, clothes are cuter at Macy’s than the big girl shop.

But son-of-a-bitch, is an occasional Pop-Tart too much to ask?

Friday, August 14, 2009

Smells Like Teen Spirit (revisited)

Said I liked him.

Like. Like a 16-year-old. I'm 44 next month.

He said nothing, just pulled me in tighter and kissed my back.

And I liked it.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

5:02 a.m., as of yet undefined

It’s an awful thing when pets are sick. They can’t really tell you where it hurts or if tummy trouble is temporary from chewing loads of tissuey paper products or something more serious. After a couple of hours running after and tending to a vomiting cat, scrubbing out drops of warm poo from light-colored carpet, hoping the worst is over.

Do I commit to the day, make coffee and sign on the corporate network, show my boss a braggadocios level of commitment, or curl back up in now cool sheets and duvet?

Might as well blog.

Sad to watch the blog community shrink and dissolve. I check in often, sometimes find new words but mostly see hands on the Facebook side. I don’t chide the F-Book, it’s existence has returned lovely friends, allows me to silently stalk and feel more connected to a very quiet world at 4:32 in the a.m. where old habits die hard and the desire to reach out and touch inappropriately is at its strongest. I miss the writers, the good writers, the ones whose stories and daily tales made me chuckle or made me think, made me sprout small crushes or hopeful valid electronic friendships. Can’t have enough of the human touch, warm from a laptop or otherwise.

Real life is a glorious distraction of late, both a blessing and bigger blessing. I’ve been bitten and smitten, giggling with old girlfriends for hours on the phone, sharing secrets. A month or so with a new friend who opens the car door, made me breakfast in the morning, let’s me touch him constantly. Strolling hand-in-hand, sitting side-by-side in a restaurant both. Feeling special. I like feeling special. He came over Saturday and fixed my washing machine. It’s all a contact sport, to feel connected to something real and organic. The girlfriends and the manfriends and the flings and the undefined.

Got a text from the fling just this Sunday morning, that kind of text. I stared at the four letters followed by a question mark for a hard 30 seconds or so before laying the phone down, leaving it and walking out into the sun for the day and the as-yet-undefined-one-month-new-friends house for the night.

Curl up or coffee? Jump into another writers day or nestle deep, wrapped up in the comforter, letting the good thoughts replay?

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Smitten Kitten

Curious thing about a job in busy corporate America is the abundance of paid time off. Holidays, vacation, personal time. The twist is the cog never stops and often the worker bee is a one-man band, meaning taking all allotted time in a calendar year can be tricky. Thus the “one day aways,” a planned day from the office. Years and years back, a one-day-away on the horizon, my then boss asked, “So what are doing with your day off?”

“I’m spending it at the library.”

After a chuckle, I explained not just any library but the Boulder Public Library, and back in the day when cash was scarce the BPL provided an afternoon of cheap escape. I could lose myself for hours in biographies and non-fiction, flip through issue after issue of Rolling Stone. When hunger hit, a leisurely stroll the café that sat on an open windowed bridge over the Boulder Creek. Chicken salad sandwiches on rosemary bread and an exotic iced tea. Sometimes a chocolate-chip-oatmeal cookie. And words. Millions and millions of words, books tattooed with history and fading date stamps inside both covers.

Now living nearer Denver than Boulder, I hadn’t been in years until this afternoon. A new old friend was sharing fables and her true (and false) stories of childhood. She’s a storyteller by trade and I hadn’t yet had the chance to hear her speak. She integrates stories and movement, yoga. She’s both a beauty to drink in and listen too, many times my head cocked very far left as I absorbed Indian folklore and fairy stories. We don’t share stories enough anymore, allow children to whisk their imaginations away to Indonesia or a dark forest where a gold tree shimmers with diamond leaves or a embrace a brave mouse as he transforms through bravery and selflessness into a grand eagle.

That she encourages me to share my stories, in more formats than here, is a compliment of the highest order. I'm in awe of her.

But when did the parking at the library become paid? Free on Sundays, but a not too gentle reminder of cash strapped times and monies needed to fund simply exploring, opening to ideas, sharing in a community. Provide a place for the homeless to go BM (stole that from Family Guy.)

There really is no other town like Boulder, Colorado. After a hug goodbye, took myself on a stroll down the pink paves of the Pearl Street Mall, stopped in a sweet shop for a childhood favorite, grabbed an iced coffee with a sprinkle of the same sweet cinnamon I now stir into my mug every morning, felt the sun beat on my shoulders. Walked past the outdoor terrace of a little Italian place where just a Sunday ago I’d shared small plates with good company while drinking in Chianti and passers-by.

I think I’m smitten again. I know I am.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

(They Long To Be) Close To You

Two lasting-into-today memories of Wednesday night.

Sadie the Feral cat made a friend. She played it wild and coy at first, eyes popping with a comic “boooinngg!!” when she spotted the foreign object. But it was hot and stormy, inside better than out, so she settled in front of a cool floor vent, one pupil fixed on the stranger in the house with the deep voice and unfamiliar person smell, but legs contently meatloafed beneath her.

Watched her make a move, stealthy at first, a quick walk between the room-for-two-sofa and coffee-table-steamer-trunk. One lap and a look up. A hand extended and fast exit. Second slower stroll and slight head bump into fingers. Third time stopping for a proper scratching, the touch of someone brand new, more than likely (besides the vet) the only other set of human hands to come in contact with her curry-and-pepper fur.

She shamelessly paraded back and forth, back and forth, not quite giving fully to the touch, controlling it as happenstance, a brush by while she passed, paused then returned. Over and over.

Lovely to watch her open up like that.

Then a night of slumber and nothing more with warm company, soft snoring and a sometimes whoosh of warm breath on my neck.

It was a good Wednesday night.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Too Much Monkey Business

I keep up with the urban hip, the language of the street, G. Recently came across a truly bad, unfunny-although-intended article online about the proper etiquette for casual relationships. In it, discovered a new word:

umfriend
–noun (see also uhmfriend, um-friend)
A person with whom you are in a physical, but not necessarily romantic, relationship
usage: “Hi, Mom. This is Steve my…umfriend."

Second definition is a bit more base in nature - “Noun used to describe someone who you are banging, in the stage before he/she is your legitimate boy/girlfriend.” Obviously written by a man because women rarely to never use the word “banging.” Then again, most of the euphemisms for intercourse are silly sounding:

porking
throw some bologna
the beast with two backs
(sounds like what a guy who hangs out at the Renaissance Festival would call it if any guy who hangs out a Renaissance Festival ever actually had sex)

“Hanky panky” is retro and fun, “bumping uglies” makes me giggle. How about some fresh, ambiguous terms:

Tom Foolery (all capped, like a character from a Dickens novel)
checking the oil
frosting the cake

Won’t be long before Miriam Webster picks this up. New words for 2009 include “frenemy” and “sock puppet.” Hmmm, sock puppet...

Bet I could work that in.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Friends, with potential

"You’re gonna marry him."

The comment came jokingly from the nurse’s assistant at my doctor’s office. She’s feisty and funny and somehow in minutes spent together over blood pressure readings we’ve become friends. She’s invited me to her 2010 wedding. Took it as intended, funny and dusted with her sharp-smart-ass-edge. After all, this is the woman who at a visit for unexpected bleeding after one rather overly-enthusiastic night with the former fling proclaimed, “Maybe his cock was just too big.”

She’s engaged to a Johnny Depp looking fellow (so says the pictures taped to the nurses station) and dammit if girls don’t want their girls to land a fella. Most do. I do too, as well as want my girls to be adventurous and independent and unencumbered by rules of society or puritanical moral code. But that’s a blog for another time.

She simply and sweetly wants me happy like she’s happy. After all love, and gravitational pull, make the world go ‘round. It’s an odd yet lovely facet of girl relationships to wish happily-ever-after upon your friends. Before even knowing his favorite food (oh, tortellini), color (blue maybe, certain he’s color blind) or birthday (shit, November 29) your girlies have you hand in hand in matching bands.

Jesus, no wonder men feel pressured.

So I have a new, um friend, whose company I enjoy a great deal. Who laughs when things really are funny, who is quieter than me (not difficult), available, read the entire blog - back to 2006 origins - yet still asked me out the first time proper for dinner, who picks up the check and pays the cover and guides the small of my back with his hand and drives when we go out and makes plans and whom I think about often. Together we’re two people who do the cool things in the Friday section of the newspaper and who want to explore and discover. And who get naked together.

This could be the start of a beautiful, um dunno.

Search me