November 29, 2007
The Grinch That's Stealing Kris-mas
I’m a mean one right now, and I know why it’s so. More than any other season, save the high, hot wedding months of the summer solstice, this one is about coupling.* It’s about not being alone in the chilly months, about having someone to snuggle up next to under your grandmother’s afghan and a drunken fighting partner at your best friend’s Christmas party. Go through your calendar. The next month is fashioned entirely for those who have another in their lives. Cases in point: just how joyous can it be to decorate your Christmas tree by yourself? It isn’t. It is slightly more enjoyable with girlfriends and three liters of Pinot in tow, but hanging your ceramic memories while talking about blow jobs somehow still doesn’t cut it.

Gone to a formal holiday party alone before? I have. People love to ask you if you’ve brought a date, looking into that empty space over your shoulder as if he’ll suddenly appear, gone for mere moments when he knelt down to make out with the backs of your knees. I hate when people confirm that I’m alone at an event. They’d never ask me where my leg was if they noticed it was missing. They'd assume it was a tragic loss, just as they should the absence of a date, and then with pity they'd give me their glass of wine and spare change and ask if I wanted to do coke in the bathroom.

Let’s talk New Year’s. Now what is that time honored tradition saved for the stroke of midnight? Hmm. Do you hug your beautiful self, a product of a great year of Dr. Phil mantras and Oprah book selections? No, that’s not it. Feel up your female party host? That doesn’t sound quite right either. No, you kiss the man who’s brought you to the party, who loves how your curves look in that little black dress. You toast to the year gone by and the one about to begin, even if your morning after will be sponsored by ginger ale and Advil. If you’re single, you raise your glass uncomfortably in a far corner of the dining room, watching the others kiss, praying to the sweet baby Jebus for one of the tipsy couples to maul one another sloppily, and possibly even venture into groping, just so you’ll have something to blog about.**

* I can’t even begin to discuss baking cookies and wrapping Christmas presents, as my picturesque Thanksgiving went awfully awry, contributing to my use of the very grown-up phrase “Oh, screw you!” in my parents’ kitchen and my dread of each and every family interaction labeled Holiday. This year might be about buying Mint Milanos instead of flour and sugar and spending the 25th volunteering. Or sleeping in my tub.

** I’m closing comments so Kim will be forced to smack me in person for my melancholy. And then possibly buy me a glass of wine.

November 26, 2007
Sex in Your City
It’s funny just how different sexy is for all of us. I found myself trapped yesterday by an Antonio Banderas cologne commercial, grimacing as I wondered if his scent was something akin to grilled eggplant, heavy on the olive oil. He just seems so slick, so smarmy, like he might be Fabio’s long-lost, darker-skinned cousin, the one the townsfolk say seduces the elderly nuns. Chicks seem to dig him, however, enough that one network saw fit to pimp his pheromones to females scrambling for gifts for their distinctively unslick men. I suspect that these are the same women who once upon a time watched and quite possibly fantasized about CBS’s Beauty and the Beast. I weep silently.

I spoke to a man who recently had sex with a woman, a partner with whom he does not want to have sex again. Ever. He said it was her face that did it. Not her God-given face, he clarified, which was quite pretty in the daylight and appealing enough for the two to cross lawns to get their intercourse on (she is his across-the-street neighbor, which only adds to my delight given the months if not years of uncomfortable curbside greetings that are sure to follow). It was her sex face, he said. I believe he called it “gruesome,” and I needed ask no more. Upon hearing this, I ached not for this man who will surely find a sex kitten with a more appealing mug, but for the woman who thought that whatever it was that turned him off – biting her lower lip in a Clintonesque moment or flicking her tongue against her two front teeth – was actually sexy. That it upped her bedroom quotient. That it would get him excited, a surefire bet to rile him up.

In my early days of such encounters I did not have a clue as to what I was doing. Becoming comfortable with my sexuality was much like learning to walk in four-inch heels: there was a surplus of awkward hip movements and even more unpredicted stumbling. I recall several bold statements and exaggerated motions that were made in those early days, whether it was whispering to a boy what I thought Lauren from the Young & the Restless might to Paul (a breathy “I wahhhnt to make lohhhve to you” while wearing five days worth of lip gloss) or what I considered a more advanced move, that of dramatically rolling my eyes backward towards my brain. “Euphoria!” I thought this screamed to my partner during sex. “Seizure!” was apparently one boyfriend’s translation, as he stopped abruptly when I did so to ask if I needed help. Sadly, this was the third guy with whom I had sported this move. I was mortified and could only hope that the first two hadn’t noticed, that maybe, if I was lucky, they too had been rolling their eyes into the back of their heads in their own personal crusade to bring sexy back.

Things are not vastly improved. A similar effort of mine went off course recently when I texted a man I wanted to leave weak in the knees. I racked my brain for something we hadn’t yet discussed, something racy but still below the grade reserved for those fantasies involving monkeys and soft serve ice cream and ceiling fans. “What about me in thigh highs?” I asked via a frenzy of thumb activity.

“Stop,” he wrote back. Ouch.

I immediately questioned my version of sexy. Like Ghastly Sex Face Neighbor Lady, was it something about me that put the kibosh on his interest? Maybe he was more into fishnets? Nude knee highs? Control tops? Maybe I just should have gone for the monkeys. Or at least the midgets.

Turns out he misread the missive as “men in thigh highs.”

Maybe we're all just safer sticking with the monkeys.

November 22, 2007
Custom made
I love my family’s traditions. I love them now, that is, now that they are the result of years of evolution, of decades of strained development. I guess it takes all of us time to find out what works for us, whether it be a lift of the naked hips to take us over the edge or the choice of whisk over fork when making that flan. It takes time that’s made up of both mistakes and laughter, and now I think we’ve finally got it.

In the ‘70s the holidays were all about the party. I’d stand at the top of the stairs in footy pajamas, long after the Muppets had ended and the adults began smoking, yearning to be in on the fun. It seemed effortless, my mother’s baking of profiteroles and brewing of a dark roast and my father’s pairing of a syrupy port with a much less sweet joke. I loved that I could hear laughter into the single digits of the morning, the kind that I know led to tipsy flirting and fighting, the way it sometimes does for me now. My sister and I would come downstairs the next morning to an immaculate kitchen, save the thumbprint-covered wine glasses, the pride of a mother too concerned to let the good china sit soiled overnight. I’d spend that day gorging myself on foods I could not spell, on Beef Wellington and brie and pate, and wondering just when it would be time for me to wear perfume too.

In the 1980s the holidays were about reaching out to the family, the ones from neighboring states who we didn’t see at any other time of the year. These were moments of proving ourselves, of showing that we were together and loving and successful and lucky. We’d take our cousins downstairs and play pool with them in the billiard room my father built upon our return from England. We’d talk awkwardly about a cousin’s new Ford truck and our bad flight over Spain until the sting wore off. Then I’d wonder why we didn’t make time to see these people more often. Upstairs, Mom was a frenzy of arms and dishes labeled with steno pad sheets (“Sweet potatoes!” “Dinner rolls!”) and was progressively coming as close to manic as she ever would. Dad fulfilled his duty by keeping the relatives mildly engaged in bowls of fresh nuts and the promise of a custard pie. We preserved these days in a series of Polaroids, some saved for us and others sent home with the lucky attendees. In all of these, I’m the one in the lower right, the youngest of the clan, the one with braces and feathered hair the shade of brown that’s the envy of no one.

The 90s, just as were those of us coming of age at the time, were all about us. We abandoned all attempts to do what should be done, what would make extended family happy and look good in reunion slide shows, and started to do only what fit. The decision may have been a democratic one or more unspoken, an understanding reached after years of watching our exhausted mother begrudgingly turning the oven on at 3 a.m. and our introverted father flip on football rather than entertain. At Thanksgiving, this meant bundling up in the New Jersey cold and heading out for Japanese, a cuisine we reserved for that Thursday in November. Dining out made us gleeful. We’d don our best, even if many in the restaurant thought the Pilgrims wore jeans, and were thankful for the absence of strain and pounds of peeled potatoes and sibling competitiveness as to who could be most helpful with the green beans. My friends commented that we were odd. I loved that we were different.

Today we will eat Thai. We will have spring rolls and Kee Mao and absolutely nothing containing even the most remote traces of crab. We will order in so that Dad will be more comfortable and not have to lug oxygen from home to car to table. There will be no children’s table, no ringing cell phones, no drunken uncle spending too much time with his niece’s school friend, no worry about whether the turkey will shrivel if the cook chooses to jump in the shower early. We will top off our outfits with black heels and perfume and transfer all our indulgences from cartons to Mom’s finest china. I could not love this more. And we will be thankful that Dad made it through, that he’ll get the chance to root for the right team in Saturday’s game in Gainesville. Thankful that he chose my mother to wed, the woman who wakes up every other hour to ensure that his breathing is steady and that we haven’t left a mess in the family room. Thankful that my sister always chooses us, that she provides this little sister with companionship and commiseration about those parental quirks we’re trying so hard to love. And over plates of sticky rather than wild rice, we will be beautifully content with our nuclear foursome.

November 20, 2007
I never thought I'd write this, but for tonight, I've grown weary of my beloved city. I liked it better when, like a new relationship, I wasn't familiar with all the trappings. At one point, the sirens served as background music, as evidence of the bustle of the streets that I loved so much, of the overflowing market, the drunken intern with a fist he couldn't hold back, the overzealous group with a purpose who came here thinking their voices would be heard. But the flashing lights mean none of this. As the months fly, you realize that the white cars are fighting traffic to make it to a block too close to home, one on which a man is lying still next to unfamiliar garbage cans. You learn that it isn't safe - it never really was - to walk the perimeter of the park. Unaccompanied trips to the corner store for a pre-10 pm bottle of Noir become nonexistent. It's no wonder that the chirp of crickets and the sounds of silence and the grass growing don't seem so stifling. Maybe it's just tonight.

November 18, 2007
Never drinking again (v. 32963.8)
My weekend was spent on the couch, a sofa I bought in Tallahassee in 1998 that has become something of my Archie Bunker chair, hopefully without the sizeable ass imprint. I’d have to get up to confirm this, and given that my fatigue alone allowed Cricket to claw at both arms of this furniture at least twelve times this weekend, movement isn’t likely.

Friday night began with what I remember as a relatively sober happy hour with a wonderful group of local bloggers to whom I will link when my fog clears. At our second bar, I recall ordering a round of shots with the word “slut” in the title, which clearly did as much for my head as it did for the women’s movement. My dear friend and gracious driver then took us to a favorite haunt in NE, which is the turning point at which I stop remembering slices of time and start remembering moments. Snippets. Flashes, maybe. Like that moment when I invited myself behind the bar and started to talk up customers, which we all know is endearing to bartenders the world ‘round and makes them give you that Mentos grin rather than calling the police. Or that silly time during Kim’s pool game when I assisted a striped ball into the closest pocket with my hand, which is shown to make tipsy pool players want to give you a noogie, not beat you upside the head with their bottles of Budweiser. I recall being awake at 3 am when I received a text message. I was dropped off just shy of 9 in the morning. You ache a little too just reading that. I know.

I’m not sure if I mentioned this at any other time, but I have lived my life as an ibuprofen junkie. Cramps? Advil. Strained muscle? Check. Eyebrow-plucking injury? It does the job. When the Great Hives of 2007 rolled into town with the circus, my doc banned my sacred ibuprofen given that it was high on the list of likely culprits. Which left me with Tylenol and deep-fried Twinkies to relieve any and all pain.

So when I found myself this weekend a) resting my cheek against the toilet seat, because just throwing up already would HAVE to relieve the pounding in my head, and b) simultaneous cramps that let me know that God and Oprah continued to bless me without children, and c!) a head cold with pressure that would make the heartiest hurricanes proud, I could do nothing but take Tylenol and wish I had a deep fryer. There was no Advil at this party, which is akin to being locked in a darkened closet with Clay Aiken on repeat. (You should ache a little just reading that last part.)

In two days, I have watched four episodes of House, two of Women’s Murder Club, one each of Dead Zone, Family Guy, American Dad, and the Office, and four football games. I watched one episode of 30 Rock three times, and during the last viewing began hatching my plan to abduct both Ms. Fey and Mr. Baldwin simultaneously for placement in that box under my bed. I have placed a total of two phone calls. I ate Campbell’s tomato soup for breakfast because I didn’t have any other food except cat kibble, and we all know how well that went over the last time. I didn’t brush my teeth until Sunday afternoon.

No reason to check. Yep, still single.

November 15, 2007
Here's to holly and envy hanging up, and something wet in every cup
So you email him again, because last time you didn’t hear back. It’s a last ditch effort, much like buying that Paula Abdul aerobics DVD because you just know the embarrassment will force you into action. It works.

You hear back that he’s met someone, this somemale with whom you’ve had only a few flirtatious and well-crafted emails. The man you put on hold the night of your first date with a frenzy of words about a family emergency, sentences intended not to betray too much about an emerging illness.

Surprisingly, unlike the volcanic hatred you seem to have for city drivers on Razors and the sloth-like golden girls in the flu shot line, you are excited for him. Happy for him, even. There was anticipation in his email, this paragraph about someone else, and you remember that feeling. The one you don’t get in your chest, but instead in your tummy. The one that prompts you to use the cell phone you so often wish to destroy.

A long day and no Thursday invitations, you cuddle up with a warm computer, a new corner store Bonacchi and some decidedly familiar Baked Doritos. And you smile for this person you don’t even yet know. And you wonder when it will be your turn.

November 13, 2007
Peace on Earth Good Will Toward Men, Even the Ones Who Don't Call When They Say They Will
It’s holiday time again. I look forward to baking dozens of sugar cookies and learning how to ice them with that thick, cool icing that women who read Martha’s magazine do. I will await the delivery of my fresh pine wreath, resplendent with its traditional satin red bow. I love that wreath so much that I often leave it up until March. And then I sweep the hallway clear of dead needles until the Christmas rolls around again. I will smother any bitterness I feel during the drudgery that is writing holiday cards, instead remembering that I am sharing the love and joy of the holiday season with those I care about most. Don’t feel badly if you don’t receive one. I just care about you medium.

I vow to smile at children and not kick them as they get loose from the mall Santa line, running into me in my three-inch heel boots as I attempt to balance a tray of Taco Bell burritos. I will sing along to Madonna’s Santa Baby, even though we all know the sound of her cutesy, boopy voice can curdle milk. I will curb the urge to fling my window scraper at the overzealous neighbor who greets me at the wrong decibel when my car door has frozen shut. I will not freak out, will not yell and tug at my spare flesh tire, when I gain 10 pounds as the result of eating a box of Triscuits and a can of easy cheese, a saucepan full of Stove Top stuffing, and whatever butter is left in the fridge. At 3 am. Just because. I will not jump out of my car and pummel the guy in front of me because he thinks one should brake every three seconds when it’s snowing. I will be immersed in love and joy. Fa la la la la.

I will get into the spirit of the freaking holidays if I have to glue mistletoe to my dry, flaking forehead. I will share my joy with my offspring, super glueing bows to their heads and making them pose for family photos to be plastered on a soon-to-be-gifted mug or calendar. I will then soothe the resulting scratches with a cinnamon and pumpkin pie paste, sure to bring the scent of the season to all in my midst. I will stifle frustration when the irritating Salvation Army ringer asks me for a donation when I already gave on the trip inside. Five minutes prior. AM I NOT AT ALL MEMORABLE? I will smile and agree to her infinite cuteness when a beaming parent tells me about her child playing Mary in the Christmas Eve service, and will ask myself if no one cares that Mary had no sex, like, for life. I will continue driving, and will not further contemplate breaking down the damn door, when I attempt to drown a family evening with Pinot Noir and my corner store has closed early due to what at least one of my friends calls “increment weather.” I will not berate the televised yule log that burns for no one in particular. I am going to enjoy these holidays, come hell, high water or those freaking door-to-door carolers that we’re all too nice to send the way of the Mormons. Oh I will be joyous. Dammit.

November 12, 2007
Old Schmold

November 9, 2007
Yoga, Anyone? (Or, On the Eve of Turning 34)
My birthday is tomorrow. And while I’d like to post pictures of a year of champagne tomfoolery and caviar afterparties, I am decidedly not in the mood. Thirty three was a year of growing pains – sadly, without Kirk Cameron by my side, before he went all Jesus on me – and growing up. Thirty three wasn’t about gently stretching my muscles before the anticipated varsity Olympics of a third date, but instead about pulling myself up over the precipice while yelling to my companions to leave me behind. Thirty three was much fun, yes, but was more about getting stronger by being pulled on the emotional rack. When I thought my time was up and I could enjoy another 8 dollar beer at the hockey game, a puck would fly into the stands, missing the ugly, boisterous children of Row F, instead smacking me right in my orthodontia-ed kisser.

I cannot stress to you enough just how traumatic it was to pay thousands of dollars to have a surgeon intentionally remove my kid’s leg. As long as I live, I will never forget coming home to see his swaying lower belly, the golf ball of malignancy poking through his tan tummy hair. I recall thinking I was overreacting when I canceled a Nats date with Kim that night to rush him to the vet, but a week or so later, when I lay on the couch and saw him sprawled on the kitchen floor, unable to lift his head fully from the tile, I wished I too had a Fentanyl patch. “He has a cancer with tentacles,” they said. Tentacles, like calamari, only chewier and more resilient. It was a process that lasted months and guilt that has lasted much longer. I hug them both more than ever because of it. All seven legs.

I dated a good bit this year and was kissed by an awful date, both with matching levels of what experts have termed Absolutely No Success. One boy reunited with an ex-girlfriend, one didn’t make another date, one wanted to stay friends, two fell but weren’t ready for me given a certain something or someone or whatever felt good for them to toss out at that moment, another felt like he deserved only a high five, and the others didn’t register on the radar. I was smooched a good bit. Under a streetlight on Connecticut Avenue, in a bathroom line in Chinatown, by Lincoln Park on Capitol Hill, at the Metro at Gallery Place, in a car parked on the verge of H Street. Yes, Cricket, mommy is a whore. But I loved every unsuccessful minute of each of them. Even the one who kissed like a mason jar.

I also was reminded of what it is to be on the verge of falling in love. Of reaching the edge of Niagara Falls in a barrel, only your barrel has windows, allowing you to see the beauty of the water and air as you fly over the edge accompanied only by your own joyful squeals. Nothing feels as good. Nothing feels like waking up with that someone on your mind, or next to you, a groggy warm voice in your ear wishing you a good morning. Nothing compares to not just wanting, but actually doing the things you think about – whether it’s pulling your best summer skirts from the back of the closet or gently kissing his neck in front of his friends. I shiver just thinking about his hand around my waist. It’s more glorious than being bathed in M&Ms, more freeing than releasing the clasp of your bra on the ride home from work. Nothing compares. And I still cannot wait.

Over the year, this site became like a second job to me, consuming much of my thought process and my time. She also became a little like a third child to me, one I fiercely wanted to protect. Wino used to represent to me that bespectacled bee in the Blind Melon video, looking for a home in the blogosphere and some recognition for her validity. It’s why I jumped on Stacy’s back and chewed on her hair until she allowed me to be a part of Indie Bloggers. It’s why I fought the urge to consume all available Illinois wine and forced my anxious self to speak on the panel in Chicago. I’m so fucking proud of this site, of the fact that I no longer cringe when I read most of my posts, that I no longer edit out the things that will make me look freakish and unacceptable and undesirable. What you see is what you get, party people, old woman chin hairs and all. Buy me a glass of wine; if you’re lucky, I’ll pluck ‘em tableside.

And Dad. It began much like the anti-fairy tale, not so long ago but in a land far, far away, also known as the wonderland that is Atlanta Hartsfield International Airport. I’ve only been consumed by crying once before, the kind of tears that freeze a moment and may or may not shoot horizontally from your eyes. I called my mother, frustrated that she hadn’t answered a message from hospice and that I’d have to remind her yet again to place a simple call. She didn’t pick up. An hour into my layover, a cold piece of Sbarro cheese pizza and I learned that my father was in the intensive care unit 700 miles away with two lungs full of pneumonia. Because apparently his emphysema got lonely and needed a companion.

I have never felt like more of an adult – of a daughter – than I did the first night in the ICU, sending my mother home to sleep, guarding my father so he wouldn’t try to remove the array of cords the degreed ones had inserted into his every pore. There was no doubt in my mind that he would die in a matter of days. That I’d be left to figure out whether one sends such news in an email when she doesn’t want to talk about it. A tacky text message? Maybe a series of strained phone calls via a cell she already despises. I’d never felt so purposeful, so devoted, as I did attempting sleep on the floor of his room, raising my head every 30 seconds or so into his line of sight, just so he could see that I was still there. I’m still here, Dad. And I love you so very much.

I am more than ready to close the book on 33. I’m ready to stop the Pilates in favor of a milder form of life exercise, perhaps floating with a glass of chilled Pinot Grigio within reach. Full sunblock applied long before entering the water. I’ll be 34, after all.

November 7, 2007
What I want you to do is write back. I want you to email and say that you’ve been acting like an idiot. That you know the unreturned texts were a dick move, that the statements about doing something or other that never manifest were a bad idea on your part. That you blowing off anything even remotely serious, even on a friend level, is not really who you are, but is instead just a temporary departure from your norm. Admissions that you got lazy are welcomed. Acknowledgements that you thought you wanted this something once, but just aren’t ready for it, are also appreciated.

I shouldn’t care this much about this pebble under the mattress, but I do. When I get a text I wonder if it’s you, even just to say something small and meaningless. They aren’t from you, and they were always meaningless. When an email pops up in the lower right of my screen, I hope it’s from you, one of the one-liners that somehow has sustained me for all this time. The ones with the incomplete words and intentional misspellings. To save time. Because it takes time to type seven words correctly.

When I’m tired, this is worse. It hits me like cold water splashed on a cranky baby and there simply isn’t time or an available resource to make sense of what’s happened. The wine probably doesn’t help. In the moment it seems to, makes me feel a little giddy. The giggles make me more resilient. They make me feel marketable, too. A sad state of affairs in and of itself.

I want you to realize that I’m a good thing, a great thing, a woman worth spending the tiny energy it would take to make something of this. You’re there – I saw you – so why beat that part of you into taking that back seat? Don’t you want something this rich in your life?

It shouldn’t be this hard. And so it won’t be.


November 6, 2007
Batshit 2.0
I have officially lost it. Recent stressors (Dad was in the ICU. Hi!) have pushed me over the edge. That’s not entirely accurate. Methinks I put on my best running shoes, beat the starting gun, and leapt with all my might right over the border into Batshitdom, as evidenced by a series of eruptive public scenes, including the following.

I was driving behind a car that was not just going cautiously slow, but more dead man walking slow. Apparently making a phone call interferes with the leg functioning of some drivers, particularly the extremity used to press on the gas pedal. I couldn’t move to get around her, and instead was stuck behind the car for multiple meters that seemed more like miles.

Jesus Saves! her bumper sticker read.

I leaned my head out the window. “Jesus Saves!” I yelled. “And Jesus wants you to get off your motherfucking cell phone!”

I still don’t know if I said it out loud.


November 5, 2007
Me Talk Pretty in WaPo
The Washington Post was kind enough to post a few of my words in this weekend's Sunday Source. This definitely tops the time I placed third in the 7th grade spelling bee, misspelling villain, and is a close second only to being voted my high school's Class Flirt. I think it was pretty much all over then.

I hope that my snippet sounds relatively intelligent, particularly given that blogging is near and dear to my heart. I am - and you also should be - pleased that they didn't interview me for any of the following:

Build a Thriving Long-term Relationship: a How-to for Dummies

401K is Not an Area Code

Binge Drinking: the Downfall of the Young American

Yan Can Clean

Ways to Keep Your Mouth Shut When Your Mother Tells You Your “You Know What” Might Look Wide in That New Winter Coat

Keeping Your Cat Intact

The Genius That is Rod Stewart

Reasons Not to Clothesline the Woman Who Still Writes Checks at the Grocery Store

Heaving the Ho: Spending Your Nights in the Apartment You Pay For

Your Scrotum and You

Although we could have made that last one fun with pop ups.


November 2, 2007
Yet again it's official. I'm not a real woman.
On the way to work, I passed a man and a woman with a bubbly baby boy. They were loading up the car as they started their sunny Friday. The giggly baby just did not stop laughing.

"How adorable!" I squealed to no one in particular.

I was talking about the mom's haircut.