Thursday, April 18, 2013

1 Day – Eve of Forty… Literally.

If you know me or even if you only know me from reading this blog you’ll probably shake your head, “yes” when you read the statement written below…

I am rarely, if ever, speechless.

Now, I have to throw in “rarely” because a few moments in my life have left me speechless, I’m sure, but usually that happened at times when I’d been emotional, and not in an angry way, either, because when angry is the emotion I’m feeling, you can guarantee (ask around) that speechless is far from what I am.  Today, however, that’s not the case. Anger is far, far away. Sadness. Happiness. Pride. Those emotions met up one day after school at an undisclosed location and banded together in an effort to do what they knew would practically be the impossible: shut me up. And those little bastards succeeded, at least, temporarily. Meaning, right now, or rather, right before I started writing this post. Technically I guess I’m not speechless right now if I’m talking about being speechless. My God, can I start over? This is not how I wanted this to go. Okay, great. Danke.
Welcome, friends!!! Welcome, welcome, welcome, and thank you, thank you, thank you. Thank you for coming here, and reading this, and walking on the road with me as I hitchhiked across the last year in my thirties. You were a mostly kind and often needed road-mate, and I would have never made it to the end of the trip without your support, guidance, and willingness to ride in the back seat in a sometimes smelly car with an often weird looking dude behind the wheel. You looked out for me when it felt like we were going to get kidnapped by BillyBobJimJoe, and you told me to hold my wrinkled thumb up high when I felt like throwing my bags down on the wet and soggy ground beneath my feet. Without you, the journey would have ended in Topeka somewhere, but thanks to you, we made it all the way to our destination… home.

This was a fun, fun trip, gang. A sometimes bumpy, laughter-and-tear filled experience, and it’s one I’m ecstatic I did with the help of some folks who encouraged me along the way.

Tomorrow, I will be Forty, and so today, my “in-my-thirties” self has some thirties-style living to do. Before I exit, however, I have one last thing to say…

Todd, you are the love of my life. I may have loved others but those loves were simply stepping stones; mere foundations of the grand palace built atop them that is my love for you. I am ever grateful that you served as editor on this experience. It genuinely made it feel like a team effort. You are the best – no hyperbole – husband anyone would ever want, anyone could ever need, and everyone would be thrilled to have. I am blessed and lucky to be your wife and your partner and your co-pilot. I have never loved you more than I do right this very second on this very day. Take me away, el Schmaa. We deserve it.

Thanks again, y’all… from the bottom of my not-yet-forty heart.


Monday, April 15, 2013

4 Days – Death of a Blog: The Final Countdown

Oh, We're heading for Venus (Venus)
And still we stand tall Cause maybe they've seen us
And welcome us all, yeah With so many light years to go
And things to be found (to be found)
I'm sure that we'll all miss her so
It's the final countdown.

Ninety-six hours. In ninety-six hours, EveofForty becomes just… Forty. Nah, there’s more to forty than that, right? Oodles of changes will instantly occur. I’ll check a different box at tax season, for example. Become an immediate candidate for high-risk pregnancy. Receive mailers containing coupons for products like Oil of Olay and Depends Undergarments (both of which I already use… psst… Oil of Olay… call me). I’ll start referring to pants as trousers and wondering if elastic waistbands have made their way back into the fashion mainstream. Oh yes, forty will be different, and the change is gonna come faster than I can blow out my birthday candles. So with that said, I’d like to go over some of my favorite things about writing EveofForty as well as some things that happened while writing it.

First, it gave me a sense of purpose that was mine and mine alone. Writing reminded me that I was foremost a solo artist before I joined a band; that before the duets and then full-blown orchestra, I sat on a lonesome street corner fiddling with a broken harmonica made of #2 pencils and marble notebooks. This blog let me tap into those innocent hours of public poetry readings; the days before bills and responsibilities killed off an underdeveloped talent. When I wrote because I wanted to and never because I had to. Right now, I am there again. Right this moment, I’m in that body, on that corner, scribbling away at what will one day become nothing, but a nothing that I made and owned. A nothing that will never be taken from me, no matter what I choose to do with my life. This feeling is my favorite by far of any evoked from each of my posts, and it is one that I hope will stay with me for a long time to come.

One of my favorite stories was that of how I got my first tattoo. The post itself got rave reviews and yet also stirred up emotions from two of the star players in the story, which made for some dramatic back-and-forths and ended with a verbal bitch-slapping on my part. That was fun. And I love knowing that this one person now knows exactly what I think of her. It made the painful vagina on my lower back almost completely worth the agony I went through.

Another of my favorite posts was titled A Nude Attitude which showcased some of the PG-13 images from my first (and likely, last) ever boudoir photo shoot, taken by the incomparable Sean Murphy. The experience itself was over-the-top fun and knowing that I was doing a lot of what I was for the mere hell of it made it easier to do. The tequila also helped.

Probably the most humbling post for me was one that I didn’t even write. After a rough patch in our relationship, my husband suggested that he take the helm for what would be a post by a person who knew me likely more than I even knew myself. Every noun, verb, and adjective were pings in my chest. Every anecdote, a sad commercial. But in the end his words acted as a light in a tunnel that was for a short period of time too consumed with soot and darkness to see anything but black.

It's the final countdown
We're leaving together
The final countdown
We'll all miss her so
It's the final countdown (final countdown)
Oh, it's the Final countdown.

There are so many other wonderful memories I have from this experience, but to be honest, right now I’m probably too emotional to continue to talk about them. I’ve exposed myself in this last year in the way – as my friend AdamofForty explained – that Eve exposed herself in the garden of Eden. And right now, while still naked, a part of me is seeking a fig leaf.

I’ll see you again, for the final EveofForty post, three days from now. Until…

I guess there is no one to blame
We're leaving ground (leaving ground)
Will things ever be the same again?
It's the final countdown.

Monday, April 8, 2013

11 Days - “I’ve Loved You for Half My Life”

My hair had just started growing in after shaving my head bald. I had just done my first real modeling gig where they had dyed it a bright red which was now growing out, showing off my light-brown roots. It was a weekday, late spring or even early summer, and I was wearing something unique to only me, as I usually did at work. There was a sign in the door that I wrote myself using bubble letters and colorful markers. “NOW HIRING” it said, and I would find out soon that it was the purpose of your visit.

(Cling, ring, dingle-ling [the bell on the door] clang, ring)


I looked up from my daily duty of folding shirts so evenly that GAP sales associates would weep with envy.

“Hi,” I said in return, looking at your blue Catholic school uniform and wondering how old you were and if you were here for the job.

“I saw that you were hiring. Can I fill out an application?”

“Sure,” I said, looking first at Maria Elena, then at Sal, as we thought the same thought… “She’s tall, beautiful, and friendly… but is she smart?”

I handed you the application and the pessimist in my twenty-year-old brain decided I’d test you, right there, and right then. Every applicant before you and most who walked in still wearing their St. Maria Goretti school uniforms failed to answer one simple but vital question on the application because depressingly enough, they just didn’t know.

“Let me ask you a question,” I said, looking right at you and paying no attention to the boy who walked in behind you. “Do you know your Social Security number?”

Without batting even one of those seventeen-year-old eyelashes, you quickly replied “Of course. It’s 182-XX-XXXX…”

And I didn’t hear the rest because all I could think in my mind was… “I already love this kid. Easiest decision I’ll ever make. She’s hired.”

As I sit here on the front porch of my lovely little house in my lovely little Georgia town and remember that day with a wide smile both across my face and across my heart, I find it hard to believe that it was twenty years ago this year. For twenty years, you have not only been a part of my existence, but a part of my being, as well. You’ve shared in my heartache, and I in yours. We have survived what some would deem the impossible in our own private lives, but never without knowing that the other walked beside us, hand-in-hand, shoulder-by-shoulder, heart-to-heart. The memories I share with you are some of the dearest memories my mind ever held and without them, I would have struggled to make it some days. Without knowing that I had another human being out there who I trusted as much as I trust you, I think life would be a lot more difficult to live.                                                            

When we texted earlier in the week as we do often nowadays I was probably as surprised as you were that we both remembered our twentieth anniversary.

“What day do you leave for your trip?”

“Just a few days after my birthday,” I responded. “I can’t believe it’s so close. Forty. It’s blowing my mind.”

“I KNOW!!! I’m so excited. I’m going to send your gift soon, then. This year is special for several reasons.”

“You realize that we’re friends twenty years this year, right?”

“THAT’S WHY I SAID IT WAS SPECIAL!! I can’t believe you picked that out. That’s the theme of your birthday gift this year.”

“You know, I’ve loved you for half my life.”

“And I’ve loved you for more than half of mine.”

I just arrived home from picking up the kids and found a package on my front porch.

“It’s for you, Mommy,” Roman said. “It's cursive. It says it’s from ‘America’.”

“Well, I’m sure it’s from America, Roman,” I said, picking up the box to read the return address. “That says ‘Andricola’ honey. It’s from Aunt Nessa.”

As you know, I usually never open gifts earlier than the date they are intended to be opened, but today, knowing it was from you, knowing the significance, I simply couldn’t resist.

What I found inside the box was nothing less than I would find inside my own heart. Images of the two of us – twenty years apart – in a customized frame that reads “Friends 4 Ever. Stoney x 2.” Birthday and anniversary cards with printed clippings of song lyrics… ones that mean something only to us. A beautiful leather journal for me to document my trip to Germany and Austria, also with song lyrics taped to the inside. And a book, entitled “Because of You: Celebrating the Difference You Make.” To say that I feel overjoyed would easily be an understatement. Warmed. Touched. Nostalgic. Grateful. To say that I am all of those things would be accurate, but the extent of each emotion would be impossible to explain. So I will simply say what I am feeling the best way I know how… with writing.

I love you. I have loved you for half my life but if I believed more in fate I would probably say that I started loving you in some previous life somewhere. Maybe Egypt or maybe on some other planet in some other universe, like, Flarnblat or Krolplurg or something. Some world where laughter reigned high and where Depeche Mode still existed. I have loved you just that long and for so many wonderful reasons. I love our similarities; the way that I know you’ll understand what I’m feeling when I say that I always have these morbid dreams about dying. I love our differences; our take on sports or T.V. or travel. I love the fact that no matter what, you will risk my getting angry if it means you need me to know the truth. You’re the only one who takes that risk, and you’re the only one I love because of it. I love that you stuck around even when the shit looked to be heading directly toward the fan. I love that you trust me. I love that you know me. I love that I can be myself with you even when my self is a self I don’t like very much. I love your support. I love giving you mine. I love that I never have to think, or worry, or find fault with our friendship. That after twenty years and almost a thousand miles of distance it’s as regular to me as brushing my teeth. I love looking forward to the next time I get to see you. I love that you consider me a part of your family. I love how much you are a part of mine. I love that I spent your honeymoon with you. I love that you’re the godmother to my daughter. I love that I’m turning forty with you as my best friend. And I love knowing that when I someday move on to the next life, universe or planet, it won’t be long until I see your face again.

When I moved to Atlanta I struggled to make friends those first couple of years. Now that ten years has passed I can’t say that new friendships have come any easier to me, and maybe it’s because I’m not exactly to everyone’s taste, or maybe it’s because folks are different in the South than they are in the North. Or maybe, it’s because my friendship bucket is full, because I have you, and to be frank, you’re really all I need.

I love you, Stoney. I’ve loved you forever and I will continue to. Thank you for the most wonderful birthday gifts any woman – any friend – could ever want. Namely, the gift of you.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

16 Days - Mastering the “Selfie”: The Once Underexplained Art of Narcissism

I can almost hear the “eyerolls” now. Meh. Fuck it.

There is something to be said about a person who admires themselves. That something could be that they’re conceited, egotistical, or out-and-out vain. But that something could also be that they’re self-confident, or complacent in their looks or even overall life choices. Or it could be said, as in my case and in the case of the occasional (oh, shut up) picture I may take or self portrait I might post, maybe the person just had a really goddamned awesome hair day. Whatever the reason, each time an individual takes and/or posts a picture of themselves by themselves, they are putting themselves out there for the social mediaverse to judge, and while judge they may, their thoughts, comments or rants have never stopped this woman from sharing with the world how she looks in her new Michael Kors blazer.

The “Selfie” as it has been recently penned, apparently by the same idiots who coined “besties” and “appies” (best friends and appetizers, because, what else does one need when one is 15?), has grown into an outright phe-nom (yes, phenomenon) all across Sharesville, Earth. And while Warby-Parker-wearing hipsters, watchers of the show “Girls” and grossly unattractive people (aren’t they all the same thing? I kid. Sort of) enjoy the act of loathing those participating in selfie parties, young pretty folk are having themselves a grand ol’ time showing off their Ray Bans, duckfaces, and newest MAC lipstick shades, and you know what I think? I think ‘Who fucking cares?’ Teenagers, girls specifically, spend enough years fighting a combination of the demons that are their peers, self-esteem, bullies, and hormones and yet are expected to come out not just mentally stable but also ready for womanhood, so why on earth would anyone give a shit if when they realize that they’ve done so, they want to flaunt what their momma gave ‘em via social media? More power to them. I for one was ashamed of my teen and post-teen state and didn’t start to enjoy my physical appearance until well into my twenties. That probably explains now why I’m completely comfortable with not only having my picture taken, but also shared with the world. Bottom line is this – I like how I look, and I matter, because it took years to get this comfortable. Want to know how it’s done? Here are a few tips for the amateurs in the room…


The first thing they show you in modeling is how to stand. Yes. Most everyone can stand; we get that, but can you staaaaand? Standing means that everyone who walks into that room knows that you’re there, even if you’re 5’3”. It means you don’t even have to mingle, because anyone who wants a piece of you will come to you, you scorching, sexy beast. Broccoli in your teeth? Turn chin downward and to the left… GONE! Your angles will show your best side and hide your worst. They can shrink your nose, get rid of that third chin and even lighten those dark circles. Use the reverse option on your camera only if it gives you good lighting, if not, use the old “I’ve got a phone AND a mirror” trick, just be sure that you look confident in the picture you take. If you don’t, it just looks like you’re trying too hard. Play with your angles first and last and do everything else in between.


I don’t show my teeth, and it’s been brought to my attention that I don’t. My teeth are almost as important as my heart, meaning that only those who prove their love to me get to see them. I drink coffee and tea, smoked for years, and never wore braces, so needless to say I’m not particularly proud of my not-so-pearly whites, but I’m kind of fond of my “no teeth” smile, so I use that one fairly frequently. Unless your smile is 100% natural – like that picture where you were caught in the act of laughing your balls off when your bestie blew a booger out of her nose while standing atop a bar stool singing a Beyonce song – don’t show teeth in your selfie. Every other picture, have at it. Drive a toothmobile for all I care, but bag it for the Twitterverse.


Props that work: Small fluffy dogs. Drinks. Pillows (if it’s a sleepy-selfie). New glasses. Bath tubs. Airplanes. Babies (other people’s or your own. Both are acceptable.) Celebrities. Vinyl records. Historical monuments. Sex toys. Crap, that one was private. Hubby and I are still working out the kinks of my being on the road. And I do mean, kinks. Hey now.

Props that make people laugh at you/feel badly for you: Pissed-off or frightened cats. Prettier relatives. Weird hats no one would ever wear. Mario Lopez. Flowers. Religious relics. Wife-beater tank tops unless you’re Marky Mark. Insides of Wal-Marts. Credit card statements (wtf?). Police cars. And the number-one worst prop for selfies in terms of patheticness…. tears.


If your self-taken picture doesn’t reflect a person who looks like they are about to go kick some ass – either the world’s or another human being’s – then I suggest you put the iPhone/iPad/iPatch away and start all over again tomorrow. What you should want as the outcome of your selfie is for all of Sharesville, Earth to think one of three things:
  1.         Oh I LOVE that [bag, scarf, necklace, blouse]!
  2.         Seriously? A bikini picture in March? Whatever. Conceited bitch.
  3.         (Sigh), I wish I had her confidence.

If you get anything close to one of those three responses, you’ve taken a great picture. But most importantly, you should feel like you’re happy with the product you’ve created. You’re the product, homeslice. You created you, at least, mostly. So who’s to say that you shouldn’t show off your creations from time to time, right? I mean, New York is overloaded with galleries and museums filled to the window panes with beautiful things. If people didn’t want to see what you have to show off then they wouldn’t pay the price of admission. So, selfie away…

I, for one, am certainly not going to judge you. 

(P.S. Happy birthday, Angelou Deign!)