Wednesday, June 27, 2012

296 Days - Why I Chose Not to be a Nuclear Physicist (The Nora Ephron Post)

Last night, women like me lost a heroine to leukemia. Women who are just a little different, just a little sassy, just a little cocky and a just a whole lot funny. Women who like to read, love to write, and feel natural telling a joke. Women who are watching their years pass them by and wishing they had spent more time in a bikini; who had married the wrong man first and been given a second chance at making things right, for themselves. Last night, the world – my world – was neglected of any more essays/short stories/novels or screenplays by the superbly talented and naturally gorgeous Nora Ephron. Since Nora was an atheist, I won’t make any God or heaven reference. I’ll simply say that the soil that her body will lay beneath will be the deepest, richest and purest soil in all of the earth and that I, personally, am jealous of the ground that will get to hold her near and dear to it.  

“You’re funny for a girl…”
I can’t tell you how many times in my life my ears have been blessed punished with that line. I’m funny… for a girl. Fuck you. I’m funny for a human. I’m funny for a mammal. I am. C’mon, name one humpback whale funnier than I am. Didn’t think so. Women everywhere – from Poughkeepsie to Pokalev – are goddamned fucking funny, we just don’t want everyone to know about it, because frankly, when it comes to getting men, it’s the ace up our sleeve.
Back in late March my husband, a non-Facebooker, asked our dear friend to post an open love letter to my Facebook wall so that I could read it and take the knowledge with me on my two-day trip to New York without him. He said he did it to remind me of all of the reasons why he fell in love, and continued to be in love with me. It was genuine and honest and even painful at times to read, because I knew the type of guy he was and how hard it must have been for him to be so open, so publicly. The following excerpt is from said letter, and I think this piece says “you’re funny for a girl” the way it could be said to make it less offensive for the listener… “You’re funny. A lot of women aren’t.”

I am not a nuclear physicist. Who here is stunned? What he’s referencing is the time I forced him to watch the VHS video from my high school graduation. The poor guy got through about eighty minutes of cringe-worthy dullness when finally, during the awards ceremony for the highest average in each class, my named was called. “Barbara Palumbo, please come to the podium to accept your award of excellence in Phys….” and the tape stopped.

Todd: “Phys? Phys what? What did you have the highest average in? Phys what??? TELL ME!”
Me: “Oh, Physics. Nuclear Physics.”
Todd: “………………………………..” followed by a mixed look of shock and bewilderment. Could it be that he never knew this about me after all these years?
Me: “Don’t look so surprised, babe. I never told you that?”
Todd: “……………………………”
Me: “Oh, Christ… GYM, you IDIOT! I had the highest average in gym!!! PHYSICAL EDUCATION!!! That’s the Phys! I had the highest average in gym. I got the fucking gym award.” I said, barely getting the words out I was laughing so hard.

I never saw my husband laugh with more intensity. Ever. Even since, and he laughs a lot. We’ve seen Eddie Izzard in stand-up. He’s one laugh-inducing mother-fucker. And still, I never witnessed again what I was witnessing at that moment. I’m not kidding when I say I thought he was going to have a heart attack, either. No hyperbole. The man had lost it, and it was nice to know that upon reflecting about our life together, he chose that memory as his opinion of the funniest.
The reality is there are as many funny women as funny men in the world, and as many unfunny of each, as well. I dated one-too-many unfunny men in my life with those dates usually ending up being one-time events. If you can’t make me laugh, then chances are you’ll never make me scream. My world is too fucked up and I’m too German to be reminded of how serious I could be. Laughter and being the cause of laughter in others gives me as much pleasure as, well, nothing, I guess, because nothing gives me greater joy, and nothing is a greater compliment than knowing that above all else, I’m funny, for a person. 

I’d like to end this blog with some of my favorite quotes from Nora Ephron and to promise her memory that I will continue to write, and live, and make mistakes, and be myself so that I may hopefully, one day, be written about by a funny woman, thirty years my junior, and remembered as someone special in her mind.

“Oh, how I regret not having worn a bikini for the entire year I was twenty-six. If anyone young is reading this, go, right this minute, put on a bikini, and don't take it off until you're thirty-four.”
Nora Ephron, I Feel Bad About My Neck: And Other Thoughts on Being a Woman
“Every so often I would look at my women friends who were happily married and didn't cook, and I would always find myself wondering how they did it. Would anyone love me if I couldn't cook? I always thought cooking was part of the package: Step right up, it's Rachel Samstat, she's bright, she's funny and she can cook!”
Nora Ephron, Heartburn
“The desire to get married is a basic and primal instinct in women. It's followed by another basic and primal instinct: the desire to be single again.”
Nora Ephron
“I look as young as a person can look given how old I am.”
Nora Ephron, I Remember Nothing: and Other Reflections
and most importantly...
“Above all, be the heroine of your life, not the victim.”
Nora Ephron

Saturday, June 23, 2012

300 Days - Eve of Fifty: Words from the Man Who Married the Man-Eater

Hello EoF followers, and surprise, surprise. I’ve locked your normal blogger in the bathroom and stolen the keyboard to introduce myself. It’s Mr. Eve of Forty, aka Eve of Fifty. What I lack in creativity I make up for with outright plagiarism, see? And, to be completely honest, I am not truly on the cusp of half-centurydom. I’m far enough away, even, that it’s still possible for me to deny that I ever will really get that old. I mean, who gets that old? My mother has, and my father did. As I remember, just about every teacher I had from first grade through about sixth seemed close to one hundred, which is certainly past fifty. A multiple even! No, I am maybe more on the early horizon of fifty, but On the Early Horizon of Fifty makes for a fairly unmanageable blog post title. I digress. And it won’t be the last time, by a long shot. Those who know me, nod approvingly. Those who don’t, I’m sorry right off the bat.

You’ve had several months now to get to know Barbara, and some of her most wonderful stories have captured your attention and possibly even titillated your every sense. The one about Wow’ing your lover was exciting for me to read. And heck, I lived it! And the question in another post of what you’d do with a second life is a big reason I am writing this post. Excellent stuff, all of it. There’s something about seeing the words on the computer screen that gives them weight, or validity even. It hasn’t really happened if it’s not been posted to Facebook, or so I read somewhere long ago. This blog isn’t Facebook, of course, but it’s also not a private journal sitting on someone’s bedside waiting for pen to hit the page, quite probably never be read by anyone but the author, at least until their kids find it decades after the author’s death, accompanied by exclamations such as, “Jesus, mom was quite certifiably nuts!” and, “How in the world did our wonderfully sane father ever find the strength to put up with her?” I know, a bit self-serving, that comment. But it’s “my” blog and you don’t know the password, so it stays.

Photo Credit: Billboard Magazine
But that’s a pretty good question, isn’t it? Barbara is no crazier than the rest of us, but she is driven by passions that many don’t ever find, know they have, seek out, or experiment with once discovered. Is that why someone would marry The Man-Eater?

Hey, speaking of what it’s like to be married to Barbara (the ostensible reason for my writing; please note Digression 1, thank you), let me start by saying it’s not for the faint of heart. That’s not a bad thing, unless you are faint of heart, of course, but I am not, so it isn’t. What it is, however, is ever-changing and dynamic. It’s much like if you left work on a fine and normal Wednesday afternoon to go home to your family, and on Thursday morning you got to the office and your boss was standing in the doorway waiting for you. Except he’s not wearing the khaki slacks and polo that he had on the day before. He’s got on chartreuse Bermuda shorts and a white tank-top. Your desk is gone and has been replaced by a sheet of plywood and two sawhorses. You learn that instead of real estate deals your new focus is on building the better tiny umbrella for those drinks they served in the movie “Cocktail” and that your long-time personal assistant has been replaced by an intern from Serbia whose first stated goal after hearing she had gotten the job was to learn English.

Which is to say that it is exciting.

When I was growing up and becoming the fine young man I never became, I had a best friend. Most of us do. And we knew lots of other folks—groups of two, normally—who were best friends. I had a BFF. He ultimately became my BFUWGOAHDCTMPATHSADOMYFATWLT. What that stands for isn’t important other than to say relationships change. But did you ever notice that when observing two best friends, one was always a little better looking? And maybe one had just a little more money; enough to give added benefit to the poorer of the two? Or maybe, once you spent time talking to each of them you realized that one of them was observably smarter than the other? And that usually one used their creativity in ways that the other never considered? What is it that draws us to others who possess things we don’t, while allowing us to forgive our own shortcomings and insecurities while in their presence? And even become Best Friends with them? How do we digest the fact that we are not the best at everything we do? And how do we reconcile our uncertainties within the context of a marriage?

And what does the previous paragraph have to do with this blog post? Well, if you caught my earlier rambling on B’s Facebook page I did a hard-hitting exposé in the form of a love letter to her, laying out all the reasons I loved her. I called her smart, funny, beautiful, hot, and a host of other wonderful things (remember the hardworking sports fan who could cook and throw a mean party? Don’t forget those either). But in none of those words did I remember to give her credit for how well she does any of the things she does compared to what I could pull off. Or with any of the ways she shows me her love. So the point, Dear Reader, is that she is better than I am not only at most of those things on that list, but also better at being alive. At keeping me up when I would prefer to sink low. At making certain that each of our days is slightly different than the last. At remembering that it’s not just about the next 299 (or whatever number) days, but about the probable next 15,000.

Living with The Man-Eater is an exercise in readiness; kind of like being a fireman, who must be ready to slide down his pole (and that is definitely what she said) at the sound of the bell, and change course on a moment’s notice. But in the end, or at least up to this point, I’ve discovered that I wouldn’t want to live any other way. I’m not willing to settle for the mediocre. So the Man-Eater is my smarter, better looking, and more creative Best Friend. And I’ll gladly accept and enjoy that knowledge any day of the week, for all those 15,000 days to come.

Lastly, thank you for letting me hijack your weekly read with this EoF(ifty) interruption. And thank you to the special someone who most recently took the effort to remind me of just how important my wife is to me, and whose kind words and efforts encouraged me to not ever give up; to fight for what I wanted until I won. And boy did I win. Take care, Dear Readers. I now return you to your regularly scheduled and much more hilarious program.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

302 Days - Spending My Birthday Check

Two days ago was my thirty-ninth-and-two-month birthday. Happy birthday to moi! Oddly enough I received an unexpected present on that morning, too, in the form of a CHECK! A big, fat, reality check. It was certainly the perfect gift which I turned around and immediately spent on the man who has been by my side through thick and thin, and the two beautiful kids who have watched their sad-eyed mommy fall into a pit of despair lately. I got home from work on Tuesday, grabbed them all in a huge bear hug and told them all that mommy was back.

“You not crying any more, mommy? You not goin’ to cry now?” said Beatrice with tilted head in the most sincere voice she could conjure.
“No, BeBe, mommy’s not crying now. Mommy’s not crying anymore.”
“You goin’ to da gym now?”
“No Bea, not tonight. Mommy and daddy are going to have mommy/daddy time.”
“I poop in my pull-ups.”
“Thanks, Bea. Moment has passed I guess, huh?”
And after their baths, I took them both to their rooms, sang Beatrice two rounds of “itsy-bitsy spider” before laying her down, and went in to tuck my special little guy into his almost-too-small-for-him bed.
“Yes, Roman?” I replied with a sigh, as I sat on the edge, looking around at the room I so carefully crafted for this intelligent boy of six years.
“I love you more than you know.”
My reaction took me by surprise. I didn’t even have the time to think about the words fully before the wails left my body. I lifted his upper half toward mine and hugged him with genuine gratitude. He was the second man in my life and yet here he was taking the role of my protector. Something, or someone, was making his mommy hurt, and since he couldn’t stop the pain, he went the other way and added the joy.
I could barely breathe through my tears, but did all that I could to whisper “thank you” in his ear before tucking him back in and letting him know that I would see him in the morning.
Five minutes later I sat staring at the two glasses of Sauvignon Blanc that my husband had poured while I put the kids to sleep. We both took a deep breath and tapped glasses in a toast – like we always do – to the strength we continue to have, and as I looked at his mouth, expecting an “I told you so” to be the words that I would hear, the unpredictable happened… he asked me a question:
“Where would you like to go for your fortieth?”
Astonished, I stared slightly slack-jawed at him. I felt like rapidly shaking my head back and forth a la Tom and Jerry cartoons when they can’t believe what they’re hearing. Wow. That’s a question. And yeah, that’s my Todd. Leave it to my Todd to surprise me. He’s always been the best at it.
“Define ‘Go’…”
“I mean, you’ve got to start thinking about where you want to go on your birthday trip. We’ve got to get the ball rolling on planning and saving. You’ve only got ten months.”
“Okay. Then yes, let’s start thinking. Are Estonia and Latvia still in the running?”
“Yeah, but I know those were places that I wanted to go more than you. I want to go where you want to go. This is your birthday, so you decide. No kids. I’ll ask my mom to watch them. All that I ask is that we’re not travelling to five different cities. Two at most, can we agree to that?”
“Yes. Agreed. No problem. My God I’m so excited! What do you think… Europe again? I’ve never been to South America though, maybe South America? How many Bourdains do we have Tivo’d? Let’s see where he’s been…”
And with the press of a rubber-like button on a glossy black remote control, my Sauvignon Blanc was replaced by an Alentejo which I was sipping on a Portuguese beach after a night out in Lisbon, eating, drinking, and listening to the sounds of Fado; Portugal’s answer to The Blues. I looked at the love of my life as he swam in the warm Atlantic water and pinched myself for being so lucky. Do I want to be here, in Portugal? Or how about Argentina… I love the Tango? Or, do I want to go back to Italy and travel the southern parts, where my heritage is, but then take a boat over to Croatia from the Eastern coast? Where do I want to go? Where, for my fortieth, do I want to be?
“I’ve got it, babe. I know where I want to be on my fortieth,” I said, hardly containing my excitement at the idea that I should have known all along.
“Out with it, then, crackie. Where?”


Sunday, June 17, 2012

306 Days - How Quitting My Dad is Helping Me Raise a Father

I envy you. And you. And yes, you as well. I’ve seen your pictures and read your status updates. I’ve scrolled through your tweets and your many words of thanks. I’ve even sat next to you at brunch, staring in awe at how beautiful you both look and thinking about how different life could have been for me. You’re there – all of you – laughing, drinking, and showing your appreciation to the person who molded you and worked for you and saved for you and gave up a large part of who he was deep down for you… you’re there, with your dad.
If I have to see the acronym YOLO one more time this year, I’m likely going to puke. Not because I don’t get it, mind you. I get it. We get it. And now, especially being on the Eve of Forty, I get it even more. You only live once / You only have one life / You’re life is not a dress rehearsal, and many, many other clichés that will remind you that you should do whatever it is to make you happy because you could be hit by a bus tomorrow. I get it like you’d never in a million years know how much… I guess I just wish people would stop sucking the life out of such statements by shortening them. For me, abbreviating something as substantial as the words YOU ONLY LIVE ONCE means you’re not giving the statement the respect it deserves. If you believe it, then say it, eat it, live it, fart it, screw it, drink it and be it, and fuck the acronym. Save it for your laughs out loud and your questions about what Jesus would do.
A few years back I decided to take the one life I have to a new level by giving up a massive part of it. After years of painful disagreements, arguments, suffering and drama, I decided that it was time to quit my dad. If you read this blog chances are you’ve caught snippets of dad-bashing here and there and I may, at some point, go into more detail about exactly what the man put my brothers and me through growing up, but on a day that so many are so grateful about so much as it pertains to the men who raised them, I’ll spare you, and simply say that it was one of the best decisions of my thirties and that it was one of the outcomes of my realization that yes, I truly only did have one life, and I was not going to let anyone – not him, or anyone else – bring me down, any more. I was ready to move on from his mental abuse, his use of emotional control, and the constant reminder of his failures as it related to thinking about anyone other than himself. Through it all – over three-and-a-half decades – I let him destroy me internally, bit by bit, and still defended him, and still took him back, and still forgave, until he did the one thing anyone could ever do to make me cut all ties with them forever: he messed with my kid.
My son is a beautiful, emotional, bright young boy who I believe is going to make a wonderful father one day. For those who don’t know, my Roman suffered from seizures the first few years of his life, which makes him even more special, and bonds him to me in a way that I never thought existed. I have a level of love for my son that goes beyond motherhood. It spans souls and space and fear, and when I believe someone is going to hurt him, I feel superhuman in my anger, and can easily replace all rationality with rage. This could have been what happened on the day I quit my dad, but instead I felt a peace come over me and take me by the wrists. For the first time ever I had been put in a situation that was making me prove to myself that I wasn’t like him, because he would have acted angrily, and he would have screamed and yelled, and he would have hung up the phone, or cursed or been hurtful. Instead, I felt rejuvenated and, well, adult. I felt the eyes of my son watching me, and decided it was time to show him how to be the father I hope he becomes one day by taking a deep breath, letting my anger go and replacing it with the following four acts:
Making peace.
It was those four things (you know, "PRAMp") that let me turn out the light in the room and close the door on that part of my existence. And while I haven’t always been so successful when I’ve gotten angry since, I used those acts when they counted most, which has been beneficial in not reaching out to my father or letting any guilt make me go back one more time. He existed for me and is part of my history, but history is defined as “the past considered as a whole” and that’s exactly what he is. My past doesn’t define my future. I do. The whole “one life” thing, remember?
I hope that when the time comes for me to move on to the big Pearl Jam concert in the sky, Roman will believe that I loved him more than I loved myself, and that I loved his dad, and that I put their happiness often before my own. I hope he’ll see the sacrifices I made and that Todd and I made together, so that he and Beatrice didn’t have to worry or go without. I hope he remembers all of the family trips to places he always wanted to go and I hope that he does the same for his kids when they ask. But mostly I hope he never looks at me when it comes time for him to raise his own children and thinks that I was a terrible role model. That would break my heart. My wish is that I will have instilled in him enough of what my own father wasn’t so that he never has to know what it’s like to have his own kid quit him.
To my son, today, in case I’m not around in the future to tell him:
You’re a wonderful Dad, Roman. Happy Father’s Day. I love you.

Friday, June 15, 2012

308 Days - The Bikini Wax Chronicles - Part TWO

Wednesday, June 6th, 1:07 p.m., Vinings
I’ve got to give it to The Waxer; so far, she’s gentle. Her tiny hands comb the area of dark brown hair above my eyes, then pull at my brow line while she delicately adds the hot wax and OKAY, FUCK THAT! Statement retracted. Statement re-fucking-tracted. That motherfuckin’ HURT. Is this why I pluck? Jesus Christ! Hot wax tearing your hairs from their roots on various body parts in order to look better for a little while. This is what we’ve come to as women? For balls’ sake, are we that desperate for attention from the opposite or our own sex?

Yes. Yes we are. Carry on, little Asian woman. Carry on with your uncomfortably complimentary self. I’m almost forty. I can admit it. Carry on, and on and on again. 
The Waxer puts the finishing plucking touches (that was not a typo) on my newly shaped brows and newly reddened-by-fire surrounding skin and hands me a dollar-store-purchased hand mirror so that I may give her my glowing stamp of approval.
“How you lie? Is good, righ? Dey look gooood! Is beautiful. You lie? You wahn burn cream? Cream for burn on your skin, your skin burn?”
“No, I’m good, thanks. Just a little alcohol please so I don’t break out” I replied, and when she reached for the bottle of isopropyl I wondered if an “oh no, not that kind of alcohol” joke would be lost with the language barrier. I quickly convinced myself it would so I decided to just make the joke and laugh at it in my own brain, and let me tell you, it was HILARIOUS, but nevertheless, a mistake as I realized that I had been so distracted by my wit and cleverness that I had let my guard down, and within seconds, tiny Asian hands were now clawing at my panties.

Wednesday, June 6th, 1:14 p.m., Vinings
“Okay you wahn all gone? You wahn all gone, righ?”
“NO! No. No no no. Just… leave some. Like, just here (making rectangular hand gesture in girly-bit area) but take away here (making V-shaped hand gestures in girly-bit area using both hands) and here (more hand gestures toward my pelvic bone line) and you know, maybe, um…”
It was at this exact moment that I felt myself get faint, and it had nothing to do with sniffing acetone. This woman – this Waxer – is now staring directly at the entryway of my “area” and I have neither seen proof of her degree in medicine nor allowed her to take me to dinner and a movie. Oh, who am I kidding… drinks and a kind word usually works. What an awkward thing life can be. What a positively strange moment this is right now to have this tiny Korean woman pulling down my white lace panties while I try to explain in a language not her first from where I would like her to remove my pubic hairs via molten hot wax stuck to fabric bandages in a ripping motion, so that I soon will be able to appear hairless in a bikini at the neighborhood pool that I intend on visiting with my two small redheaded children, my Florida-born Anglo-Saxon husband, and other state of Georgia residents. What a wild, wild ride this thing called life is. And what a cruel, cruel joke at times, too.
I will spare you the details of the last part of the description I gave The Waxer as to how I would like my bikini line to look, except for this one: there really is no way to explain the term “landing strip” to someone whose English is about as good as my Swahili. I was done. The clothes were off. The shoes, still on. And it was time. 

Wednesday, June 6th, 1:20 p.m., Vinings
Women often overuse their experience in childbirth when describing a pain like no other that exists in the world. I am not one of those women. For me, while painful, I found childbirth to be bearable. Granted, I was the coward who opted for the epidural, but while I still felt a tremendous amount of pain during labor, I will still stand by my just-typed statement: bearable. This, however—this whole waxing experience—not so bearable, for a plethora of reasons. My toes and feet were pointing towards different corners of the room. The Waxer was going off about how she couldn’t believe that my body looked the way it did after two kids. The fake, plastic flower vine draped over the fake, plastic framed wall mirror. The dismal yet still overly bright fluorescent lights staring down at me from in between the stained drop ceiling tiles that accompanied them; laughing at me in buzzing-like fashion. The uncomfortable “bed” against my back. The cheap velvet pillow under my head. The sound of the ripping tape.  The smell of burning wax. The sudden breaths taken from me, never to be given back. The water that fell from my eyes with each strand that was removed. The pain that I felt both physically and emotionally as I lay there wondering, “Is it all worth it?”
When it was over, I wiped the tears from my cheeks and uncomfortably dressed into my work clothes while The Waxer stood by the door in a John-like stance waiting to see if there was anything else she could “do for me.”
Okay. Well, thanks. I’m going to dress now, and I’ll be out to settle up, okay?” I expressed without so much as looking at her so that hopefully the language barrier had been broken down enough for her to take the fucking hint. I wanted to be alone. I wanted to be alone with my now mostly bald hoo-haa. We needed to get acquainted with one another as well as with our two new friends – hairless ass cheeks. The four of us just went through something fairly traumatic together… like we were the only post office patrons to survive when the shooting occurred earlier that day. We didn’t really know each other until then, but that horrible event now bound us together for life. I dressed and looked at myself in the mirror, disappointed by so many things that I saw, and yet, liberated just a little. I did it. For whatever my reasons, I did it. And I made it out alive. All four of us did. And now it was time to walk out into the bright sunlight with our heads, cheeks and lips held high.

Wednesday, June 6th, 1:38 p.m., Vinings
“Tank you foh you see me. I see you tomorrow? You wahn pedicure you say, righ? Wha time is good foh you?”
“Oh, totally. Uh, put me down for 1:30, will that work?”
“Yes. Yes. ONE THIRTY dat work, okay? Sooo beautiful, I see you. I see you beautiful. Bye-bye see you tomorrow!”
And off I went with more than my pubes removed, and with a wave of my hand to The Waxer, I vowed never again to return to the sounds of time being yelled in a Korean accent.

The (bare) end.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

310 Days - The Bikini Wax Chronicles - Part ONE

Wednesday, June 6th, 12:41 pm, Vinings
The air swirled with acrylic dust and the scent of cheap acetone. The background noise consisted of a medley of drill buzzing, water rippling and Asian women giggling; just as I had remembered it. It had been years since I stepped through that glass door… years. But the time had come and not a moment too soon. I only wonder if She would remember me.
“Allo lady! Wha you need to-day?”
All eyes were now upon me. I stood – all 5’10” of me – tall and confident, yet trying to find a voice that would seem natural to the seven or eight Vinings housewives now staring in my direction from behind their Us magazine pages they were flipping with their Cartier ringed fingers attached to their Collagen injected hands.
“Hi! (already unnatural, you stupid bitch) I just need… a…brows. Wax brows? And, uh…. (insert circular hand motion in the general vicinity of the area that children were pushed out of) a, uhhh…. Bikini?”
After a split-second eternity, She turned to two of her cohorts who neither raised their heads from their middle-aged foot-ridden lifestyles or broke their furious acts of nail filing and barked something in Korean. They Korea’d back. Then She Korea’d back, more loudly. And this went on until She finally looked up at me, with her toothy, wicked, still-not-sure-of-her-sexual-preference smile and said…
“You come back, ONE O’CLOCK. You come ONE O’CLOCK. I take care you. I rembuh you. You see me, many time. I rembuh. You come ONE… O’CLOCK.”
She did. She rembuh’d me. Her. The one they call… The Waxer.

Wednesday, June 6th, 12:56 pm, Vinings
There was no need for me to “come back” at one o’clock since I simply stayed there playing on my smart phone, nor did I understand why she *yelled* one o’clock every time she said it. I pondered this in my now nail-polish-snifting brain and wondered if this was a Korean thing. Like, did citizens of Korea yell the time when asked? Was it cultural? Who was I to say? Should I yell it back when she asks about my next appointment to show that I understand her culture, and wish to show my appreciation of it?
“God, the smell in this joint can really get to a person’s train of thought” said my now weakened thought-thingy-in-head-spot and as I stared down at a Carrie Underwood recipe for something vegetarian that I would never eat, make or think about again, I heard the cry…
“Isss before ONE O’CLOCK. I get you uhrly, see?”
Yes!” I replied, wondering again if I should yell the time in response. I mistakenly decided I should and let loose with “ONE O’CLOCK WAS PERFECT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!” to which I received three Gucci-wearing glances, two freshly-blond-highlighted gasps and what I believe to be four Asians cursing at me or crying with me… still not sure.
Why you yell?” said The Waxer. “Oh,” said I, the nervous waxee. “Just, excited!” Said I, The Idiot.
“I’m excited too.” said The Waxer. “I rembuh you. You sooooo beautiful! Room two. You get naked. I come in soon, okay? You get ready for me; I come in. Okay beautiful. Sooooo beautiful.”

Wednesday, June 6th, 1:05 pm, Vinings
Nine minutes had passed since I had been mortified into yelling the time at a Korean-run nail/wax/massage salon and I now sat naked with nothing but a bright green hand towel covering my girly bits and staring at a heart shaped velvet pillow that I assume I was supposed to lay my head upon. Bright green and bright red and a naked me and the muffled sounds of Asian chatter. I felt like a walking, breathing acid trip being had by an American D.J. spinning abroad at 4 am before the club really got crowded over Christmas vacation. What… the FUCK… IS THIS PLACE?”
“I’M RADY; YOU RADY?!” Burst The Waxer as she so gently abruptly smashed through the door a la the Korean version of a stunted growth, transgender Bruce Lee.
I’m ready!” said I, The Idiot, with more enthusiasm than I ever should have.
“I rembuh you. You so beautiful. You rembuh me? You always come to me. I always do you, yeh? You rembuh, right? You wahn brow too? I do brow firs. You wahn thin? How you wahn?”
How I wahn? Now this is actually a question I can wrap my head around. How exactly do I wahn? Do I wahn thin? Do I wahn little bushy? Little thick? Do I wahn shaped? How do I wahn? I hadn’t really thought that far ahead.
“Umm… I guess, shaped and a little thick, please. And, tweezed in spots.”
“Yes, beautiful, yes. I do for you. So beautiful. Soooooo beautiful.”
And it was at this point, which was probably the seventh “sooo beautiful” mark, that I started to get a wee bit nervous. I mean, there’s being nice, and there’s trying to make your clients feel at ease, and then, there’s just being downright fucking creepy, which as I lay in the tchotchke-laden room of pain, was starting to seem like the obvious answer to the question of “what is this chick’s deal?” The Waxer was creeping me out, and dammit, she was only working on my brows.

To Be Continued.

Monday, June 11, 2012

312 Days - Waking Up is Hard To Do

My first “date” happened when I was fifteen years old. I was just starting to turn the corner from "übernerd" to "somewhat-humanoid" when a boy not much older than I told me that he liked me and proceeded to thrust his tongue into my mouth while I stood, motionless, like a swarm of wasps was buzzing around my head as a grizzly bear was swiping at them with a mace and a hatchet… on fire. I was so taken aback at what was happening that I feared any sudden move would cause me to vomit in his mouth, and I knew, at that point, I’d never get another date in my life. My “relationship” with Jason lasted all of 41 days. But even in that seemingly tiny time period, I allowed myself to be blinded by infatuation and disbelief that someone like this boy actually liked me, causing me to be something I had never been before but would be many, many times again in my life… naïve. This was the beginning of the Barbara that would go on to trust her body, her heart and her friendship to those who didn’t realize how big of a deal that was for her, all the way into her almost forties.

~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Chris looked at me from across the bar. He was shorter than I, as are most, with dark wavy hair and an Italian tan that would have made my father proud. We kissed at his car that night, and I neither threw up in his mouth nor felt the need to. At this point, I was experienced; in my early twenties with my own apartment in the city and a job that allowed me to come and go as I pleased. I was smarter, and more aware, and ready to give something like love a go again, one more time. And he seemed willing, and talked a good game, and showered me with attention and cards and dinners, and good sex, all until he didn’t. And the more he pulled away, the more I hung on. And the shadier he became, the more I clung to the hope that he’d be back. “How could he walk away from this?” I’d naively think. “I’m tall and smart and funny and attentive and giving and I cook, and fuck like a teenage boy. Isn’t that what guys want? I’d again, naively think. And many, many years later, long after he and the ex-girlfriend broke up that he got back with and left me for, and years after he got fat and sloppy and married, he realized, it was what guys wanted. It was what he wanted. Only then, it was too late… for him. One point for me. A point with a lower-case “p,” but a point, nonetheless.

“Have enough courage to trust love one more time. And always one more time.”
Maya Angelou

There’s something to be said for being a little naïve in your life, I think, because the naïve are also usually the dreamers, and what’s life without good or even bad dreams? I like a good story – a drama, mostly. I live for passion and betrayal; I’m all about the forbidden nature of tragedy as well as the feel-good emotions of undying love. The standard boy-meets-girl/boy-kisses-girl/boy-takes-train-to-another-state-and-lies-on-beach-with-girl story, well, that was never for me. It doesn’t interest me if there isn’t a bit of blood, sweat, and tears and maybe that’s why I’ve had the heartache I’ve had, as well as caused the heartache I’ve caused in my life. So is it time yet for me to wake up and get my shit together, altogether? Can I truly arise from the land of dreamers and naïvety in all aspects of my existence? Do I even want to now, at 39? Will I ever want to, at any age? Or will I be pushed to the point of so much pain and letdown that I will need to because I have no other choice?
As sad as it seems, I’ve had to say goodbye to members of my family and folks I considered friends as recently as this year. Sometimes, things just don’t work out. You think, for a while, that this person has your best interests in mind, or shares your humor, or your outlook on life and your love of all things Tolkien, when in reality, fate put them there to teach you even greater lessons – lessons that you didn’t know you even needed to be taught until they are shining brightly in your face as your mouth drops open. Sort of like sitting in the chair while your dentist fills your cavities. That damn bright light is on and your dentist is grilling you about carbonated soft drinks and flossing and coming back for your cleaning when you’re supposed to instead of letting it go until it’s too late. You sort of know you need to change your lifestyle and your habits, but you never really know you need to until holes start to show up. Then, that dentist is there to fill all the voids, and talk you through the pain of it, and hand you a new toothbrush, and tell you he’ll be there on your next visit too, because he always is, no matter how much harm you do to yourself. God damn, I love my dentist. I have the best fucking dentist in the world. See? Dreamer. And so you walk out of the dentist’s office realizing that fate, yet again, taught you a hard-learned lesson in the form of a new BFF that is now an old BFF and if you’re me you shake your head in disbelief that you once more allowed yourself to be so fucking stupid and you look around to make sure that there are no small children or elderly people nearby, and then, you let out your blood-curdling scream.
If there is one thing that can be said about having been on the other end of a relationship with yours truly, it’s got to be this: it was never dull. Whether it was with a friend, a family member, a boyfriend, or a lover, I know that I did all I could to leave my mark, good or bad on their lives. It was seriously, genuinely, hopefully, never dull. And as hard as it is to say goodbye to someone forever, sometimes you have to let go in order to move on, and sometimes in order to move on, you have to wake up from the land of dreams and jump with both feet into the pool of reality, where all of the love, friendship, and adoration that you ever needed is waiting for you in the form of a 6’2” brown-haired, gray-eyed, long-armed lifeguard … who also moonlights as a dentist.
It’s morning time. Yeah. It’s morning. Good morning to me. This… this is my wake-up call.

Friday, June 8, 2012

315 Days - Kid Number Three

Ohhhhh, maybe I shouldn’t have said that. I mean, Todd is in his late(r) forties. An opening line like that could very well send him into cardiac arrest (knocks wood/makes sign of the cross) especially since he knows he’s already been, well, how do I say this exactly... um... de-spermified? Yeah, that would go down like a led balloon right about now. A led balloon on my head. Right beside the bullet hole.

Since I was younger I’ve always wanted three kids, and as I creep up to that ripe ol’ F word, my mommy blues have kicked in to high(er) gear, which is why this article gave me hope that maybe I could, with enough wine, lingerie and roofies, entice Todd into getting, well, re-spermified? Or would it be un-snipped? You’re the guys – you tell me which term sounds less gruesome and I’ll use it, cool? Cool. But you and I both know (yes, I’m talking to you, my one fan) that shit ain’t gonna happen and that this is all a pipe dream that exists for nothing more that midnight cries in my sleep and blog fodder, so, since this is the blog part of that sentence, I’m going to run with it. Right here. Right now. Cue Jesus Jones and let’s get it on. Introducing:

Scenes From My Imaginary Third Child Life

“Roman! Beatrice! Alec! Let the cat out of the dryer right now and get your hands washed! Dinner’s ready. And Beatrice, spit out that blood.”
Or maybe…
“Aurora, honey, please stop crying. Sweetheart, look at it this way: your sister can’t hurt your parakeet any more now that it’s dead. See? That’s the up side! Beatrice can’t possibly kill it twice!”
“Roman, please take Oliver over to daddy and tell him that mommy said that it’s his turn to wash the poop off of his teeth. I did the last six times. Oh, and tell your sister to put the machete back in my hunting box. Thanks, baby. You're my favorite, but don't tell Bea. She'll try to suffocate me again.” 
See how much fun that would be? Three is great! It’s AWESOME. And if you’re me, the odds are greater that at least one of them won’t hate you when they grow up. I didn’t say “great”… I said “greatER.” Not to mention my body is in prime baby-making shape right now. I’ve got an eight pack, which if history repeats itself, means I can try to beat my own record and push that little fucker out in less than twelve minutes. Strong abs = less pushing, gals, so crunch! CRUNCH! CRUNCH FOR FUCK’S SAKE!
As the third child in my family (and the only one from a different marriage) I know the importance of having sibling choices. What’s “sibling choices” you say, or you didn’t and I’m hearing the voices in my head again? Sibling choices means that if you’re fighting with one, you always have the other, and if you’re fighting with both, then it’s you who’s the asshole, asshole, but with two kids, there are no choices, so if you’re fighting with one, you’re fighting with them all, and then you’ll never know who’s right, and that just plain sucks ass. Three prevents that, and while you're bound to go gray rapidly from whoever is your middle child (in this case... Beatrice. God help us all if I have to add "middle child" to her current resume) the fact remains that your bookends will likely keep you, well, sane. At least, when they're older, anyway. Though you'll always have a special place in your heart for that middle one, no matter how batshit they may be. And they will be. Trust me. They will be. And they are.
So what do you think, y'all? Think I can convince the big man to give it a go for nùmero tres? Or should I consider myself blessed with the two fantastic children I have and not get greedy? How much wine would I need? How little clothing? And what in the fuck have I been smoking?