Friday, September 30, 2005
Telling a secret of your own, whether to a friend, a loved one, or a virtual stranger, can be good for your health. "Self-disclosure has repeatedly been found to boost one's immune system and reduce shame and guilt," says James W. Pennebaker, Ph.D...
You see, naysayers? Blogging: It does a body good.
But to reap the the benefits, you must choose a discreet confidant...
Thursday, September 29, 2005
Every couple years I get restless and start shopping around for new glasses. Invariably I pick the high-priced pretentious kind from Denmark or France. I don't know why I do this; Perhaps I'm bored because my hairstyle hasn't changed for 17 years. (Except once, the regrettable chin-length bob of 2004: As if Shirley Temple and Carrot Top punished their naughty baby with a humiliating haircut. May it never, ever happen again.)
Since college I've been through gold wire frames ("I've found my first job, but good taste continues to elude me"), oval tortoiseshells ("I'm intellectual with an edge; It's in my copywriter job description"), pewter rectangles ("I'm feigning sophistication because I date men too old for me"), and the red cat's eyes currently working a dent into the bridge of my nose ("Welcome to the Insatiable Sexpot. You must be at least this smart to ride").
So now I'm up to funky green rectangles that will cost me yet another $300 and be seen by no one because I only wear them to read and stare at the computer. Is this a waste of money? No more than, say, the four pairs of boots I bought myself for my birthday last month. Perhaps I'll consider it a reward for all the hard work I've been putting into my blog. Oh -- and that stuff I do between 9 and 5.
They'll be my "I don't need a reason to spend 300 bucks on myself because I'm 30 and I work hard and if you have a problem with that you can kiss my fabulous ass" frames.
I own two skirts. I wear one of them, maybe twice a year. Actually I've been planning to buy more because it's time I started dressing my age, and... well, I'm no Rockette, but I do sport a pretty decent set of gams.
Aside from my bi-annual skirtage, plus the occasional bar mitzvah or black-tie wedding, most of the time my dress is neither fancy nor terribly feminine. Jeans, boots, cozy sweaters. On weekends I all but sleep in my running shoes. I don't wear a lot of makeup, my hair has a mind of its own, and my nails are steadfastly short and bare. And just for emphasis I curse like a pissed-off sailor. (But only around my friends.)
Not that I don't know from sexy. I'm just sexy on my own f**king terms ;)
So today at the office, even though I showed up in an ill-fitting sweater and a skirt two sizes too big, a few of my co-workers cooed, "You look so pretty today! I love your skirt..." And while I felt compelled to explain that it was the only thing that fit around my swollen belly (I'm still working on the art of gracefully accepting praise) it still made me feel... a little less cranky.
Tomorrow it's back to jeans and t-shirts -- I don't want anyone to start expecting too much -- but it sure is nice to feel like a princess for one goddamned day.
Wednesday, September 28, 2005
Yeah, I can't remember either.
Tuesday, September 27, 2005
I probably should've stuck with "I'm tired."
Saturday, September 24, 2005
Tonight I am a spittin' mad redneck with a shotgun in my fist.
My sister has just acquired her first boyfriend. He is, as they say, "warm for her form." I am out for blood.
I'm considering three avenues of pursuit:
A. The High Road: I could make nice, be all cool and friendly-like and gently persuade the kids to keep their pants on. But coming from The World's Worst Liar (that's me), a promise that "sex isn't all that fun" might only fuel the fire in their adolescent loins. Okay, scratch Plan A.
B. The Low Road: My ex-boyfriend, a homicide prosecutor, would use crime scene photos of traffic fatalities to scare sense into high school students who were learning to drive. Maybe one of my doctor friends could help me employ scare tactics of my own, loan me a few glossy 8x10s from her STD file. Nothing fancy, just the big ones: herpes, gonorrhea, genital warts.
C. Rock Bottom: A few murmured threats... A handshake just a bit too firm... A well-timed raise of the Eyebrow of Terror... I'm just saying, it works for the Gottis.
People sometimes mistake me for the fightin' kind -- my superiors at work send their support staff to ask me for help because they're afraid to come near my office -- but really I'm a pussycat. My temper rarely flares and when it does I stay away from low blows. HOWEVER, with my sister's virtue on the line I will, if necessary, dispatch my inner Mean Girl. A few years ago a classmate spread a nasty rumor about her and sent an e-mail calling her a "bitch and a dirty hore (sic)." We were this close to a "Three O'Clock High" situation until my brother pointed out that the kid weighed 68 pounds, and anyway I'd be at work when school let out for the day. (I jest; I'd never beat a child that didn't belong to me ;)
I'd try to get my brothers involved in this but it wouldn't do much good; They're small, gentle Jewish boys who play chess and listen to Brahms. I'm not saying they'd run away from a fight. I'm saying they'd skate away, on their rollerblades, and leave me to die alone.
So I guess I'm on my own here. If anyone has suggestions that do not involve (a) bodily harm, destruction of property or anything else that could land me in jail, or (b) "doing the right thing" and leaving my sister to make her own decisions because she's old enough to think for herself and I already instilled in her a wealth of knowledge about self-respect and protection and what to do if a boy gets pushy, then do feel free to post them here. Thank you for your support.
Friday, September 23, 2005
I have a fever and oy, vey does my head hurt. I couldn't get my hands on any chicken soup, at least not the kind that heals, so I ordered Chinese food instead. (That, too, is the food of my people.)
If I'm housebound this weekend you can look forward to lots and lots of delirious postings about pink elephants and NyQuil dreams. But right now I'm burning and dizzy so hurry up and make with the sympathy. I need some TLC.
Thursday, September 22, 2005
Yesterday I wrote about how beautiful she was when she was younger (and, really, she's still a looker). And then last night I found these pictures from my 2nd and 3rd birthday parties (1977 & 1978), and I thought I'd offer up some nostalgic show and tell.
*I love the little hand extending a cookie from the lower left corner of this photo*
See how pretty? I think my mother is proof positive that God dispenses good looks to the most annoying among us, much the way babies are cute and big-headed so we won't give in to the temptation to leave them on a park bench when they scream too long. Acutally I do leave my mother on a park bench when she screams too long, and she always follows me home.
Apropo to these pictures I want to say that nobody threw a birthday party like my Mom. She was, and remains, the reigning queen of do-it-yourself entertaining. All she ever needed was food coloring and a few big ideas; Every birthday party featured some inspired confection, like the famous green-frosted sheet cake cut in the shape of the Incredible Hulk. Actually that one was for my brother; He had The Hulk action figures, Underoos, the whole nine yards. I was sort of partial to Wonder Woman, but I had a hard time finding a superhero I could really identify with. Guess I needed someone more relatable, like "Neurotica: Strikes doubt into the hearts of the well-adjusted with the crushing power of her irrational fears! (Prozac and hand sanitizer sold separately.)" Now there's a crimefighter I could get behind.
Where was I going with this...? Oh, right, say something nice about Mom. She's a beautiful lady -- I should really stop rolling my eyes and just be grateful when people tell me we look alike. In spite of our turbulent relationship, I can't deny that she has a gigantic heart and would do absolutely anything for her children, all four of us, and the rest of her family too. And that is why we
let her stay love her.
I can imagine the carrots these men dangle to lure the little bunnies in... They introduce themselves with messages like the one I received two hours after I set up my account, "Hi, I'm a photographer in your area and I was wondering if you'd be interested in modeling for me."
Yeah, right. Even if it wasn't a form letter, I'm not that cute.
Then again, it's likely that some (most? all?) of these girls are actually paunchy middle-aged women, probably much smarter than their male MySpace counterparts but equally lonely. And if that's the case, I hope they've all found what they're looking for.
Me? I'm looking for a good laugh, one I can share with the world. So check back with this entry and I'll continue to post the funniest and most pitiful e-mails as they arrive.
* * * * * * * * * * *
I feel like Grisabella, the aging glamourpuss from "Cats." The smell of Fresh Meat has worn off me in the four days since I joined MySpace, and the solicitous e-mails have slowed to a trickle. This is the best I got today, from a man of discriminating taste: ("Who I'd like to meet: Cute , Ultra Cute , Micro Cute , Semi Cute , Un Cute")
Body: How you doin ? you the only 30 i have seen who dont look 30,,, keep lookin good,
A compliment is a compliment, I guess. I'll take it.
Wednesday, September 21, 2005
This overpriced (but totally worth it -- Je t'adore, Francois Nars!) purchase, plus the search for an age-appropriate 15th birthday gift for my glossed-up sister, started me thinking about my relationship with makeup.
It starts with my mother. My mother without lacquered nails and a full face of makeup is like the Yeti -- evasive, almost fabled, occasionally glimpsed but never captured on film. Perhaps her vanity stems from her background in opera: Professionally trained, Mom was still performing regularly in local stage productions and fancy restaurants when my brother and I were children in the early 1980s. She was beautiful: petite; tanned to the color of honey; bright, clear eyes; teeth like peppermint Chiclets. By then she'd amassed enough costume jewelry, evening gowns, cosmetics and wigs to outfit an entire college theater department, and I was free to rummage through them whenever I pleased. My favorite was a blonde hairpiece which I would fasten to the back of my head and dream that my short, frizzy mop had grown into a curtain of silky ringlets. Then I'd fish a couple of rhinestone bracelets from the sparkly heap, hold them up against my teeth and pretend they were braces. I couldn't wait to be a teenager, with long hair and real braces. Nothing fancy -- I wasn't aiming too high -- I just wanted to be...pretty.
Sometimes I'd lure my little brother into the dress-up game when our mother wasn't home. He was indifferent about the turquoise taffeta gown, but he seemed to enjoy the Quiet Coral lipstick I would smear in a sloppy ring around his mouth. (It must have been the taste of wax that excited him; He'd only recently given up eating crayons.) One time Mom walked in on us and she scolded me, laughing, "If he turns out gay I'm coming after you." He's not gay, but he does go through a lot of ChapStick.
Around the 6th grade my mother became obsessed with keeping up my appearance. While other girls wept each morning over the mascaras and lip glosses they were not allowed to wear, she would chase me toward the school bus stop with a fluffy brush in her hand shouting, "You're so pale! Just let me put a little color on your cheeks!!!" I was mortified, both by the public spectacle and the dirty bronze stain across my face. I didn't look healthy, I looked like a neglected child.
Twenty years later my mother is still quite attractive. Considering all the hours she's baked in the sun, basted in Bain de Soleil from head to toe, she's very well preserved. But it must be said that the woman wears too much makeup -- spidery lashes, bright streaks of eye shadow, cheeks dusted with that same muddy bronzer. It's partly that she thinks the makeup makes her look younger, and partly that she's far-sighted and doesn't keep her glasses near the bathroom mirror. Once in a while I urge her to tone down the war paint, but usually I leave it alone. She's 56, she's not going to change now.
And on the other cheek there's me: I've always felt the purpose of makeup is to fine-tune what nature gave you, not to pave over it with the colors of the rainforest. I use a little makeup to smooth out my complexion, brighten my cheeks, darken my lashes. Once in a while I'll dress up my eyes with a dab of pink shadow. But to me "Doll Face" is a figure of speech, not something to strive for.
To be clear: I own a bucket of makeup. Been collecting it for years. I'm an artist; Pots of cream shadow and lipgloss are as alluring to me now as fingerpaints were in preschool, and I still prefer products I can apply with my hands over those that need a brush. Once in a while I'll get suckered into something hot-for-the-season, but invariably I look awkward wearing it -- either like a 5-year-old who got into Mommy's makeup drawer or an 85-year-old abusing the rouge. Call me a Plain Jane; I just think my mouth is pink enough already. To wear anything besides Vaseline feels like cheating.
So if anybody wants to play dress-up, come on over. I've got lots of fun stuff to share and plenty of practice painting faces -- both girls and boys. Just don't use up my Vaseline. And keep your bronzer to yourself.
Monday, September 19, 2005
Grandma came back pleased to report that many of the buildings in Lodz have been beautifully restored. It's so lovely -- "like Prague," she said -- that it looks almost like the city of her childhood, before the Nazis sealed the community into a ghetto and later shipped them off to Auschwitz.
I have so many stories on this subject; I'm too tired to write any of them now. Just look at this little ball of fire and be inspired to fight through anything life slings at you.
It was a belated birthday gift. It was the best birthday gift. No disrespect to my iPod or the Grandma who gave it, but the warmth gleaned from a heartfelt, unexpected "We love you" -- especially one that comes with flowers -- will always trump a high-tech toy. It'll probably last longer, too.
Thank you, B. I love you too.
Sunday, September 18, 2005
But last night I put away an unholy amount of Mexican food, and this morning it is weighing. me. down. So here's a procrastinatory posting, brought to you by my lactose-intolerant stomach and the good people at Kraft Foods. Behold, the power of cheese:
* * * * * * * *
My friends and I partied like college girls last night with a potluck dinner and clothing swap at M's Dupont Circle apartment. An eavesdropper might have been excited, disgusted, intrigued or puzzled; For sure he would have gotten the wrong impression.
If you'd peeked through the window of M's place, nestled in the heart of D.C.'s gayest neighborhood, you'd have seen five (reasonably hot, if I may say so) women in only their skivvies, giggling and tossing clothes in the air.
And if you'd listened through the door you'd have overheard not just the requisite Girls' Night sex talk ("Oh, I didn't know Price Club sells Astroglide." / "Really? Five times? Hand me that pen, I'm taking notes."), but also selected readings from M's library of lesbian erotica (dramatized by K, inspired by Barry White).
It was a fun night. But not in the way you'd think.
(faces have been covered to protect the goofy)
That makes me exactly twice her age. What a weird feeling. It's different now than it was, say, when I was 8 and brother number one was 4. Then I was twice his age and twice his size and his ass belonged to me.
In the days before remote controls, an obedient houseboy made all the difference in the hours after school. "Change the channel! Bring me some Kool-Aid! Spit-shine my bike! Fire up the Colecovision -- in 10 minutes we play!" He was a good sport.
But now it's sort of surreal. I changed my sister's diapers and taught her to walk and now she's four inches taller than me and learning to drive. We wear the same bra size. This is too much.
Anyway, Happy Birthday baby. May your braces soon be gone and your metabolism never leave you.
Saturday, September 17, 2005
"Any chesty romantics out there?
"OK, I know that the headline sounds superficial, but I am really not. I am looking for someone to share life experiences with. My preference on the physical side is for very busty women double d or larger. My pediatric practice takes up so much of my time that I dont really get a chance to meet that many people. One of my patients mother recommended that I give this a shot. I am open to new experiences, so here I am. Lets talk soon.
"Someone who is loving and caring. Someone who loves to have deep conversations, but enjoys the silent moments of a long drive. A sense of humor is also very attractive. Physically, I tend to like women who are curvy and very busty, DDD or larger only please. I hope I am not offending anyone. I look forward to reading your profile and getting to know you."
Note how he ups the ante in the second paragraph, from one D to three. Very ambitious!
Call me conservative, but this strikes me as a little inappropriate. Or just a sign of poor judgment (and grammar and sentence structure, while we're being critical). I'd be wary of any pediatrician who advertises his fondness big 'uns, and likewise suspicious of a man with a breast fetish who advertises a medical practice -- or any business -- that caters to the under-12 set.
I respect your right to be kinky, to indulge your fantasies and get your jollies however you see fit... But let's leave the the kiddies out of it, ok?
Friday, September 16, 2005
Wednesday, September 14, 2005
I use sugar.
Like a squirrel in autumn knows when to collect her nuts, my hormones cue a monthly forage for junk -- the good, the bad, the 35-cent val-u-bag at CVS -- to be socked away in anticipation of my cravings. Trail mix, M&Ms, circus peanuts, candy corn, candy cane, candy apple, candy bar... Be it a seasonal offering or a staff meeting leftover, if it's laying around the office the week before my period it will find its way to the secret tupperware in my top desk drawer, always with a promise to savor it bit by bit. But my good intentions inevitably slide down that slippery chocolate slope, leaving me with aching teeth, bloated tummy, and a very guilty conscience.
Today I filled a baggie with a raisin/peanut/M&M mix and sealed it away in my hiding place. "I'll just have a bite this afternoon," I told myself. "The rest will last me through the week."
It was gone in 15 minutes. All of it, plus a candy corn chaser. An hour later, the sour aftertaste of processed sugar lingering on my tongue, I feel polluted. Polluted and ashamed. I wish I cou-
Hey, do I smell kettle corn?
Tuesday, September 13, 2005
"Don't be upset, sweetie. Your friends love you, it was just a difficult night for them to make it downtown, with the rain and all."
I nod and swallow back tears. She squeezes my hand and kisses me, and my heart unclenches a little bit.
Then Mom leans forward, squints at a spot just above my forehead and says,
"Is your hair getting thin?"
Friday, September 09, 2005
I've heard "introvert" defined as someone who draws her energy from within, as opposed to an extrovert's need to gather energy from others.
If that's true, I think I've got something to be proud of here. I could maintain my sanity indefinitely on a desert island. No volleyballs needed.
Introvert: a self-sustaining social organism. Take that, party animals.
Thursday, September 08, 2005
This morning I asked my father, "Was I always shy? Even as a kid?" And he replied, "Yeah, pretty much. You know, you're not all that different from me."
I always knew I was not at all like my mother (gregarious, pushy, aggressively affectionate, utterly devoid of shame) but I didn't realize until recent years how much I resemble my father in mostly intangible ways. We're both quiet, introspective and polite. Selective but genuine with affection. Privately sensitive. Smarter and goofier than anyone would expect us to be. We tend to be wallflowers but we do pull out the stops for rare public appearances. And we're creatures of habit, right down to our favorite cereal bowls and the proprietary blend of Kashi and Cinnamon Life with which we fill them. Also we have the same lips, and each of us can cock only one eyebrow. (The left one.) Dad uses this talent for comic effect; On me it's a beacon of warning.
I'm not entirely unlike my mother: I did inherit her competitive streak, her penchant for judgment and her nuturing disposition. We're just talking personality here; It's pretty clear where I got my musical ability and the smile that's unmistakably Mom's. (Her favorite joke: "When you were little I used to try and lose you in the mall, but some kind stranger always stopped me and said, 'This kid looks like she belongs to you.' And I'd say, 'Shit, they found me again.'")
But mostly, on the inside, I'm like my Dad. Which is a relief because there's no one more respectable or likable than my fine and quiet father. Now can I stop flogging myself for being shy?
And you know what else? I may be 30 now, but hey -- I'm only 30, and single. Not a partner, not a parent. Maybe when I have children I'll be forced to step up and speak out for my daughter on the soccer bench or my son who deserves a bigger part in the school play. ("Jewish husband? Go back and demand a speaking part!" I love that joke -- it's funny 'cause it's true.) For 30 years I've had nobody to speak for but myself...at least when my mother wasn't around to do it for me. Just last week, before I could utter even one consonant, she instructed the waiter at Asia Bistro to prepare Kung Pao chicken to my exact specifications.
With a mouthpiece like that, who needs chutzpah?
This man who works on my block -- his slow gait, his large features, his dark complexion, his lame sushi pickup line, even the expression he naturally wears on his face... If John was Jewish, he would be this guy. Jewish John. It's sick, but at least it makes sense now.
Wednesday, September 07, 2005
Somebody just said to me the nicest thing a person could hope to be told, maybe the nicest thing he ever said to anyone, and my response was, "Thank you, that's very nice to hear." and then I proceeded to explain why I'm more trouble than I'm worth and he really wouldn't want me anyway, and I pointed out a few of my larger but less obvious character flaws and then he gave up trying to make me feel good about myself.
Am I a schmuck, or just uncomfortable with direct attention? Or both?
What is the proper way to handle a glowing compliment? Is "thank you" enough?
How is that we work (presumably) on the same block and never saw each other until a couple weeks ago, and all of a sudden he's everywhere I go? I guess it makes sense I should start to notice a familiar face.
Am I really so bored, so desperate for distraction, that a complete stranger can whip me into an adolescent froth just by looking my way? And why am I so damned shy that I could stroll next to this person for four whole blocks without saying a single word to break the ice? I'm 30 now. Thirty and smart and funny and kind of adorable too, once you get to know me. It's time to come out of my shell, no?
And oh my God, am I a stalker?
I've gained a whole new respect for men. This is hard stuff, this picking up of people, and you guys are out there doing it every day of the week. Gentlemen, you inspire me. Except you losers who make kissy sounds from your cars. Has that ever worked? Ever?
Next time. Next time I'll speak to Handsome. If he makes eye contact.
Anybody got a fail-safe pickup line I can borrow?
Monday, September 05, 2005
After excavating my music library I'm a little embarrassed, for three reasons: 1. It's pretty dusty. I should really take better care of my things; 2. I own some spectacular music that I don't listen to nearly enough; and 3. I own some music that should never have been recorded, let alone paid for.
But I guess the 'pod (is that what the cool kids call it? I'm 30, I don't know from such things) will sweep away my shame. Now I'm free to relocate all those CDs to my parents' basement with the rest of the crap they keep threatening to throw away. No more dust, no more forgotten masterpieces, no more "Spice Girls: Spice!" perched on the shelf like a gargoyle ready to scare away unsuspecting guests.
Plus I've got more room for literature now! Better inspect the bookcase for "Anne of Green Gables" sequels and anything with Fabio on the cover. These things must be disposed of properly, driven to a Salvation Army dropoff no less than three counties away so they can never, ever find their way back.
Sunday, September 04, 2005
I envy M's sleeping space: A walled-in nook with a curtained doorway and a little window in the wall, and fitting just-so inside is a large mattress on top of a four-foot-high platform. You call it a bed; I call it a fort, and I've spent the last 14 hours thinking how I can make it happen in my own apartment. I probably wouldn't go so far as to call my contractor, but I may start collecting blankets, chairs, dry goods and other makings of a good old-fashioned hideout.
My sleeping style says a lot about my personality, I think: I like to curl up by myself in a large bed, but I have to push that bed into a corner -- or better yet, inside a nook like M's -- so I've got breathing room in my immediate space and closeness on the perimeter. It infuriated me when my ex-boyfriend S crept over to my side of his king-size bed. He would hold onto me in his sleep so I'd wake up sweating two, three, four times each night. But on the rare occasions when he kept his distance I was soothed by the sound of his breathing two feet away. Close, but not touching. That's what I like. It probably indicates some brand of crazy but I dare not delve any deeper than that.
After I took M to the grocery store to stock her fridge I paused before pulling out of the parking lot. "Is there an Apple store nearby? I need to go exchange a birthday present."
M looked at me like I was nuts. "What are you talking about? We just walked out of Harris Teeter two minutes ago."
I stared at her for a second until it clicked: "No, Apple. Like Macintosh. Computer. I need another case for my iPod."
"Oh my God," M groaned, and put her forehead in her hand. "What kind of old foagie am I that I still think Apple is a fruit?"