Wednesday, December 12, 2012

BS Woman to the Rescue!

If I was a superhero, I'd be BS Woman: the incredible bullshitter. My magic power would be sprinkling more pleasant alternatives to harsh realities around like fairy dust. My motto would be "look on the bright side!" 
Unfortunately, I can’t promise BS Woman would effectively make the world a better place with sparkly BS; just a more palatable place. I'd use my magical dust to ward off evils such as uncomfortable realities, volatile emotional responses and unpredictable tragedies. The dust would magically transform the aforementioned into valuable life lessons, perspective and wisdom – all far easier to swallow than a general lack of control and "shit happens" explanations.
I think my costume might be a one piece suit with a butt flap, because I'm always cold but I also always have to pee so I would need a flap for convenience. Over my jumpsuit, I would throw something feminine and pretty but playful. Or I would go for something slightly ridiculous like a tutu. On my feet I would wear flats of course, but they would be unnecessarily expensive and impossibly cute to make me feel better about my back doctors issuing a permanent moratorium on sexy heels. I would keep my hair in a braid for sure; I don't take much time to style my hair now; I can't imagine how rushed I would be as a superhero.
My secret weapon would be a custom made set of cognac leather blinders- yes-like the ones horses wear. I would wear them as a headband for easy access. They would be crucial for times when life throws crap at you so fast that there's no time to "look on the bright side."
My bat mobile would be a smart car. Obviously. It would be red. And a convertible. With a special, extra loud and very goofy horn that I would honk all over the place just to make myself laugh.
My sidekick would be B, because his complimentary powers as Reality man would be invaluable. His secret weapons definitely qualify him as the Batman to my Catwoman. My favorite power of his is the smile that lights any dark space. My second favorite would have to be the hug that makes the world stop spinning. Oh and he has an incredibly loud, commanding voice. When shit starts flying and the blinders fail, he’d be the only one who can restore order and hope to a tainted world.  

Monday, November 5, 2012

Cialis Secrets

Ladies. Do me a favor. Resist the temptation to fast forward through the latest Cialis commercial. Watch it on mute. It contains valuable secrets and new information about how to keep your man happy. Remember, no sound. Just focus on the messages sent by the obviously very wise and sexually fulfilled couples.

"Cialis will help your man be ready to love you, but YOU need to do your part! Go beyond embracing your role as a housewife - sing and dance about it to show your joy. This will give your husband many erections. Encourage and support mid-life crisis purchases with smiles and above all, silence. The result will be so many erections! Buy him shiny toys, especially cars, he is after all just a large child. Take him to see fast cars zoom around race tracks! Then there will be more erections than you can imagine!"

Turn the volume back on after a minute or so, but only after you're confident that you now understand the male species. You wouldn't want to miss the important warnings that let you know your man will die if he flosses his teeth while using Cialis. Or does 1 jumping jack with a Cialis induced erection. But he will die happy.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Teddy and the Meteor

Last week, I was standing on a corner with B at a busy intersection on our way to dinner. Two remarkable things happened. First, we saw a meteor the size of a car shoot across the night sky; I had never seen one before. The second remarkable thing happened just moments later. I felt compassion for a homeless person.
He was a big teddy-bear of a guy with coke bottle glasses and a garbage bag full of who-knows-what slung over his shoulder. Let’s call him “Teddy.” Teddy’s once-white shirt was soiled with a slew of food, dirt and indiscernible stains. He had a big smile on his face. Teddy was a few feet behind B and I, next to a couple who had also seen the meteor a few moments before. We were all stopped at the crosswalk together. I turned around and said, “Wow! Did you guys see that?!”

“I like your legs,” Teddy said in a soft voice, out of nowhere.

“Thank you,” I said and then looked over at the couple for their response to my question. The woman raised her eyebrows and barely parted her lips to speak, before…

“Oooh your eyes are real pretty!” Teddy interjected, with a little more excitement in his voice this time.

“Thank you,” I said again, with a nod and a smile. I looked up at B and tried to change the subject back to the meteor. “Honey, I’ve never seen one of those before!”

“And you’re teeth are nice too,” added Teddy.

The crosswalk light beckoned with the illuminated little white man and I smiled again at Teddy before turning to walk away. He had a slight speech impediment and he rocked back and forth a little when he spoke. His eyes darted away every time he met your gaze and his chin glistened with saliva. He was likely mentally disabled. I had an urge to hug him or at least invite him to dinner.

As we crossed Lombard, Teddy shouted after us. “You’re hair is real pretty!”

I waved without turning around. “Thank you! Have a good night!”

I couldn’t help think about Teddy as we waited for our table in the busy restaurant nearby. I wondered what he would eat for dinner and with whom. I realized the assumption that he’d have dinner at all was naive. I felt sad for Teddy.

On the way home, we came across at least 2 more homeless people. We pass them every day everywhere in this city. Hands out, cardboard signs around the neck, their dogs tied to open guitar cases tied to parking meters. Shoeless feet with yellowed toenails on urine scented pavement. I rarely make eye contact and never give them a cent. I certainly don’t look long enough to feel compelled to open my heart the way I was instantly prepared to do with Teddy.

I am selectively compassionate. Which doesn’t really make me compassionate at all, I suppose. I determine whether or not a person deserves compassion based on their contribution to the problem and/or the solution. Teddy deserved compassion. It's not his fault that he's homeless. And as for the guy on the next block that smells of whiskey but says he wants my money for food? I assume it's his own fault. I assume he “makes his bed” through drug-abuse or alcoholism and is forced to lie in it because he's lazy or doesn't have the determination to pull himself out of the gutter. I pass judgment on a few pages of a story I can't even begin to understand. Whose fault is that? As much as he loves me, even Teddy would tell you it's mine.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

The Blame Game

Although no one wants to admit it, responsibility is a dirty word. Most people go to great lengths to avoid taking responsibility on a daily basis. Girls blame their boyfriends for making them fat; guys blame their girlfriends for making them boring. Parents blame their children for leaving them; children blame their parents for having them. Friends blame each other for blacked out Saturdays and bringing out alter egos we thought were long buried. Most people find it easier to pass blame than to take responsibility for their actions. Unless you're a glutton for punishment like I am.

I'm so quick to blame myself when things go awry at work, with my health, with a friend or in my relationship. I analyze where I went wrong, identify the lesson to be learned and then attempt to beat that lesson into my own consciousness with post-it notes, journals and tedious, redundant conversations. Oh, and blogging. Why do I do this? Because when you claim ownership of a problem, its yours to fix. You control the problem, you control the solution.

For years I told myself that taking responsibility when things went wrong was the real challenge in evolving into a wise, strong woman. But somewhere along the line I started taking responsibility for things that weren't my fault in the interest of maintaining control. I failed to see that the true challenge in becoming an "evolved" woman is accepting that there are simply things in life that you cannot control. And sometimes, that shit really isn't your fault.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

One of the Bad Ones

Some days I am able to be patient with the recovery process. Today is not that day. Today I hate my surgeon AND all those nice, patient nurses and receptionists that work for him. I'm beyond over the rigid, locked-up spine. I'd even trade it for one of the curly-q spines of the hunchback 200 year-old women in Chinatown. That's terrible, I know. And any other day I'd apologize for the bad attitude and off-color comments and try my damnedest to focus on all the things I know I have to be grateful for. But not today. March 18th was the last day this body worked the way it should and today I want to be pissed, drink bottles of prosecco and smoke cigarettes. I can't do the last two (bad for recovery - I'm not pregnant) so I'll at least let myself be pissed. 

In the beginning you miss the big things: existing without pain, running, working out, dancing, sleeping well, sex. At this stage you start to miss the little things like lying on the couch next to your fiance or tying your shoes. Shoe-tying sounds so fun right now. Walking around looking like a cross between a mummy and a bored housewife with a stick up her arse gets old quickly. There's simply only so much humor you can find in feeling awkward. I'm considering a custom t-shirt that says "I was fun once!" on the front and "and I will be again someday!" on the back.

I will say that I have received many a compliment on my posture in the past few months, and that's lovely, but those compliments are no replacement for the satisfaction one feels from curling up in a big comfy chair or relaxing in a hammock with a good book and a glass of lemonade. I don't live in a Country Time Lemonade commercial, so that last option isn't open to me anyway, but you start to fantasize about random things like hammocks and bean bag chairs after being forced to exist in very specific positions for months on end. You see, there's no such thing as "hanging out" or being "casual" after back surgery. Everything is preconceived and contrived. No spontaneous morning yoga sessions. No climbing up on B's lap or stretching in front of the TV while he's watching sports. No going to a concert without being that stiff, uptight weirdo tucked into a corner looking uncomfortable and out of place. People must think I'm either agoraphobic or voting for Mitt Romney. I'm not sure which one is worse.  
I miss yoga. I want to twist my body like a pretzel and I want it to feel good. I miss moving my body in a way that reminds me that my muscles are strong and my mind is powerful. I miss the purging of bad energy and stress and the cleansing that comes from 90 minutes of reaching and folding and twisting and holding. I miss the positive reminder to love my body and treat it with kindness. It's really easy to start seeing the squishy kid looking back at you in the mirror after months of being sedentary. I even miss the camaraderie in a room full of smelly, sweaty people that know what it's like to love yoga enough to forget how close the farting hippie is to your mat, even when you're suffocating in a cloud of her body odors. I miss the challenge and sense of achievement behind bizarre poses that are first labeled as impossible and last labeled as a stepping stone. I miss my gorgeous yoga teacher on whom I had a total girl-crush. I miss working hard for her praise and then running home to tell B about it. I even miss the "should I be worried?" look he'd give me when I'd talk about her a little too much. She must think I'm a quitter. Damn it Deborah!

In place of yoga, Pilates and Bar Method, I get mummy walking and physical therapy designed for the people that usually have the kind of surgery I had: 90 year-olds. Even so, I was excited to start geriatric physical therapy because it meant I got to start moving again. Then somewhere between trying too hard to live my normal life and trying too hard to kick recovery ass, something went wrong. So today, I think physical therapy is stupid. Those tiny pelvic movements and tiny marches and sissy medicine balls feel pointless. And the therapy rooms were ugly. Can SOMEONE please start a medical facility redecorating revolution? If I have to stare at one more mundane, pedestrian colored wall while someone manipulates my spinal joints I might lose it. Stop making me gag with your cold, bony fingers on my rigid spine and paint the walls anything OTHER than the color of "calm." Give me a painting to look at or maybe a pretty picture. But putting me in a sea foam green room is quite condescending really. People are in hospitals and rehab clinics to deal with some serious shit. Serious shit is not pale blue or diluted magenta or buttercup yellow. I hate buttercup yellow. Surgery and death and grief and anger are shades of bright, bold, saturated colors, so let's try anything that doesn't encourage patients and visitors to calm down or be "good sports." 

Wow. That felt good. Maybe the rest of the day will be a "good day." I'll have a glass of prosecco and decide.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Gimme More

This week I discovered for cheap, treehugging former fat kids. And I love it. Yes, I can get a lot of the featured products just a few blocks away at Whole Paycheck, but something about throwing my hippie treats into a virtual cart and getting ripped on shipping makes for a more exciting experience. Spencers Market has my fave Living Intention nut mixes and Go Raw chips.

Also discovered this week: Call the Midwife. It's a new British comedy on PBS to tide over those of us who are suffering from Downton withdrawl. It's not quite as addictive, but it's enough to to stop the sober shakes.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Tour de France

You know that saying “man of few words?”  Well, I’m a woman of many words. Words, communication, conversation, writing...all of it comes easy to me. I tend to over-communicate with my fiancĂ©, my friends, my family, even my boss. I find there are far fewer regrets with those you love; almost no “I wish I had said it when” moments when you just come out with it and move on. But when things are really heavy, when I should be able to talk more than ever, when I need to talk more than ever, I can’t seem to find the words. I can’t even find a train of thought to sort through. It’s as if the emotions come so fast that they slam into each other from behind and underneath and every fathomable angle. The feeling reminds me of those Tour de France cyclists that would end up tangled and twisted into an impenetrable wreck after some idiot press car nipped one rider with his side view mirror on a sharp turn.

My parents have been married for over 35 years. When it’s all done, maybe 36. I found out a year ago. I still feel like I've been nipped on a sharp turn.It still seems as if one day they were holding hands and the next day they were oceans away from each other. They didn’t come out and say it was over. I had to ask. And when I did, my mother simply said their love was then, and this – this separate life - is now.

I didn’t cry. I just hung up the phone, walked into my office building, sat down and started working. I didn’t think about it for days. I just went about my business in a little bit of a daze. Then I realized I should tell B. So I told him and turned around and left the room to start dinner. He came into the kitchen after me, waiting for the words to start pouring out of me like they always did. He looked at me, waited. The words didn't come. So he asked if I was OK and I cried in his arms and then I finished cooking dinner.I got mascara all over his white t-shirt. I didn’t say much for the rest of the night. It took me another week to say it out loud. When I did, I was a woman of very few words. I think it was sometime in that 2nd or 3rd week that I Googled “adult child of divorced parents.” I thought there might be something wrong with me because I couldn’t find any words when I thought of their faces or their life together or our family the way it used to be. I actually Googled it.

I never thought this would happen. Never. There were things I knew, things I didn’t; sides of stories I heard; sides I never will. As a child, a teenager, a woman, there were certainly signs that this might happen someday. I never saw them. I never saw them.

Now I’m stuck with this big, dense, thick brick of stuff I have no idea how to sort through. I just keep thinking of the Tour de France and all those sharp turns and tangled cyclists and I hope I’m blessed with better eyesight in the future than I was in the past.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Your Body is FOR Something

I've learned quite a bit about being kinder to myself and my body over the past 10 years. I've fought long and hard to get to a place where I value strong over thin, well-being over good-looking. I still have moments, days, weeks though where I catch myself determining too much of my self-worth with physical appearance. Sometimes what frightens me is that it's become more of an undertone – an old demon that sneaks through the door when I'm more vulnerable due to major life changes or curveballs that I struggle to handle with grace.

I'm at the tail end of a particularly challenging few months. A few days ago, I went to bed feeling gross after eating a big piece of cake and woke up still feeling gross. I started that day with about 15 minutes of "Ew. I'm so bloated and squishy." And then I caught a glimpse of the newly formed scab at the base of my spine and was tempted to slap myself across the face.

I had back surgery 5 weeks ago yesterday. I was in pain ranging from moderate discomfort to mind-twisting, so-bad-I-wanted-to-vomit-pain for 3 months before the surgery. During those 3 months, there were many sleepless nights; countless frustrating, disoriented days when I couldn't sit or stand or lie down regardless of how exhausted I was. They finally did an MRI after various tried and failed courses of treatment including oral steroids, 2 corticosteroid locals, physical therapy, active release therapy and 10 days of mind-erasing pharmaceuticals when the pain became beyond unbearable. The MRI revealed I had snapped a 2 cm hunk of my L4-5 disk off and the “extrusion” had entered my spinal canal. That sucker was big enough to force my spinal nerves to re-route around it. Thus the pain from which there was no relief. I was told it had to come out. I said "Great. Find me a fancy-ass surgeon and let's do this."

They put me under for 3.5 hours, went in through a 1.5 inch incision, parted the muscles around my spine, set a rod on the bony nob and entered the spinal canal through that rod to remove the 2 cm piece of crap that tortured me for 3 months. The surgery was a success. I wasn’t paralyzed or blinded in the process; no permanent nerve damage that we know of. I spent one night in the hospital and have had a totally manageable recovery so far – thanks to my loving, attentive B and a wonderful support system of friends, family and colleagues. I can walk. I’m alive and healthy. I have good healthcare that gave me access to the right doctors. I’m not going nuts from nauseating levels of pain anymore. I can sleep through the night. I will be able to eventually return to Pilates and yoga and should have full feeling in my leg and foot within the year. My favorite part of it all? I got to watch B enthusiastically embrace the roll of caretaker, homemaker, nurse, chef, and advocate. He is definitely going to be the one the kids run to in the middle of the night.

After all that, it took me less than 5 weeks to start worrying about my weight. As if that’s important. I can walk for Christ’s sake. I have everything and everyone I need in my life to be happy, healthy, fulfilled.

I may not have internal meltdowns after putting on too-tight pants anymore. I might be able to go for months at a time without obsessing about my stomach or getting anxious about my weight. But in my 5th week after back surgery, I caught myself doing the same “rib check” I used to do 15 years ago. It’s amazing how you can come so far and then have moments where it’s as if nothing has changed at all. I was immediately ashamed of wasting my thoughts on such trivial observations. But knowing they don’t belong there doesn’t stop the same old demons from sneaking through the back door.

The day I found myself forgetting all I was reminded of through the back ordeal, I asked myself how I had made it all the way to 30 without freeing myself from the encumbrances of associating self-worth with appearance. How is it that all the fighting and therapy and clawing my way to a better state of mind only results in temporary pardons? How the hell do I forget in less than 5 weeks that being kind to myself and kind to my body is far more important that being skinny?

I am an intelligent, confident, well-rounded, well-educated woman. I am strong and sometimes even wise. But none of that matters. What matters is that I am human. Body image and weight issues are sentences that no modern woman manages to entirely elude. We all deal with them at some point in our lives to varying degrees - whether we have the guts to admit it or not. The best thing we can do for ourselves is find self-worth in any and every other place. And as my dear friend Jenna says, try to remember that your body is FOR things far more valuable than looking good in a bikini.

Monday, July 2, 2012


Perspective is an amazing thing. I wish I could trap it in a jar like I did fireflies as a child. Sometimes I see things so clearly, approach challenges with sufficient perspective and maybe even a little wisdom. Other times I have to travel a bumpy, winding road to understanding and/or acceptance. Other times it feels like I'm caught in a thicket, chasing after an ever-elusive firefly.

Imagine if we could can clarity and perspective for use at a later date; trap that firefly; avoid those bumpy, winding roads that drag out the time until you get to the "aha!" moment. Imagine if instead of overcomplicating things with fear, emotional reflexes and stubbornness, we could simply open a can of perspective that would help us cut through the nonsense and see everything clearly. How much time we would save.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Silly Foal

You spend so much time and energy getting your feet under you in your 20's. I imagine watching a young 20-something girl get up onto her feet with any measure of strength and stability must be similar to watching a developmentally challenged foal repeatedly trip over her own lanky, fuzzy, Lincoln Log legs as she attempts to rise onto her hooves for the first time. No matter how young, beautiful and determined a young female might be, she'll always know how to get in her own way unlike any other species.

I spent much of my 20's coming to terms with the fact that the decade wasn't at all about reading Harper's Bazaar by the pool or drinking martinis 8 days a week while maintaining the perfect figure and balancing a wildly successful career. I held on tight to that misconception for a few (wasted) years, and then I spent the rest of the decade meandering down a messy path towards finding myself. It was a path riddled with equal parts achievement and disappointment, loneliness and fear, peace and happiness.

At the end of it, I was glad to wave goodbye to my 20's and usher in a new decade. My 20's truly were a roller coaster, on which I often felt exposed, lost and confused. I was excited to enter a new phase of my life with all the knowledge gained from the climb I conquered in the decade before. I was convinced it would be at least a little bit smoother sailing from 30 on. And then the molehills and mountains started popping up everywhere again. I did have a "What the F&(K!" moment at first. But then I realized that the whole point of getting your feet under you in your 20's is so you can learn to pick yourself back up with a little more grace every subsequent time the rug gets pulled out from under you.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Dirty 30/Dirty Laundry

I love a clean slate. I clean my closet out more often than I add things to it. I actually enjoy moving.  I don’t mind Mondays at all. And so I suppose it’s fitting that I’m actually excited to turn 30. The idea of entering a new decade isn’t dreadful by any measure - I’m ready to write my next chapter with the benefit of lessons learned in one hell of a wild ride through my 20’s.
In honor of creating a clean slate for my dirty 30 I’m going to air some dirty laundry. Here’s to looking forward, and laughing hard when you choose to look back.

1.       I’m self-conscious even when I sleep. I know I’m an ugly sleeper and I don’t know what to do about it. I’ve actually tried to take a photograph of myself on a pillow with my eyes closed to assess the severity of the problem. Recently.

2.       I’m afraid to have children – for entirely selfish reasons. I’m not worried about knowing how to take care of an infant. I’m afraid of not knowing how to stay sane when I’m all alone in at home with a baby and not enough stimulation. I’m afraid of getting postpartum depression and gaining 30 pounds and entering back into a cycle of weight induced self-loathing. I’m afraid of ruining the wonderfully warm and loving relationship B and I enjoy by becoming irrational, demanding and overbearing. I’m afraid I won’t be strong enough if our baby is born sick. I’m afraid I won’t be strong enough if anything ever happens to our baby. I’m afraid I will resent giving up the life I have now, a life I’ve worked so very very hard for.

3.     I made an entire relationship up with a fictional guy in college to make someone else jealous.

4.     I finally admitted I might have a teeny bit of residual “body dimorphic disorder” when I realized there are days I don’t feel that different from when I was 30-35 pounds heavier. Sometimes I stand  right next to someone in Bar Method class that I think I might look like. I am always shocked when I look in the mirror and realize she’s probably 20 pounds heavier.

5.     I am too hard on some people and not hard enough on others. I afford certain people in my life the luxury of endless leeway and make endless excuses for them, and then hold other people to impossible standards. That is unreasonable and unfair.

6.     Sometimes I feel like I’m having an out of body experience, watching my emotions take control in an exorcism-worthy spiral.  It happens only a few times a year, but I inevitably walk away wondering if somewhere deep inside me there’s a clinically insane person trying to get out.

7.     I’m uncomfortable eating certain things in public. I still feel like people are looking at me as if I shouldn’t be indulging in that ice cream cone. 

8.     I worry I’m missing some important female genes and that I have too many of others. I don’t care about wedding favors and I don’t want a bridal shower, but I think about our first dance and smile to myself all the time. I’m not sure if my biological clock is broken or what, but I can’t picture having a baby at this moment in time. At the same time, I love tiny baby clothes and tiny baby shoes and tiny babies. I love their smell, I love their tiny faces and I love their little hearts beating in their little chests. But the overwhelming responsibility and emotional investment required to have one of my own scares the shit out of me.  Thinking so practically about it makes me feel like a bad person.

9.     I talk to myself in my head all day long. Sometimes I’m going through my schedule, sometimes I’m reminding myself of things, sometimes I’m praying, sometimes I’m just chatting with little old me. I like that I can talk to Siri now too.

10.   I’ve peed my pants as an adult. More than once. OK, more than twice.

11.  I am a spiritual person. I pray for family, friends and loved ones every day; I have a journal full of intentions and things to help me stay peaceful and grounded. I like church, I love sitting in church next to my B. But every week, under the shadow of an ornate alter paid for by people that probably couldn't afford it, I can’t help but wonder if anyone else around me disagrees with 25% of what’s coming out of the priests mouth.  

12.  When I met B 6 years ago, I would wait for him to get into the shower then sneak bites of the Ben & Jerry’s he kept in his freezer.

13.  I am too critical. I pray every day that I can change that because I don’t ever want the people around me, especially B, to feel as if something about them isn’t enough.

14.  What scares me most about getting married is that we’ll bring all these people together in this wonderful place and I’ll manage to let someone down or hurt someone’s feelings. I also avoid birthday parties and celebrations with me in the spotlight for this reason. The possibility of making anyone feel less significant than the next person more overwhelming than my desire to celebrate.  I want a full day with each and every person that I’m close with.  I want them all to know how special they are to me.

15.  I still look back and wonder if I could have done something more to help my best friend that ended up battling drug addiction.

16.  I think it should be a crime to fart on an airplane. I’ve done it.

17.  Speaking of air planes…the blankets freak me out because I imagine they’re covered in farts and food particles. And dead skin.

18.   I can be so cold and hard when it comes to a few issues with B that it even frightens me. I've walked away from a few pivotal arguments over the years feeling like some ugly, creepy villain in a Disney movie. You know, the kind that peers up with cold, grey eyes from underneath a prominent brow and speaks with a low, monotone voice?
19.  I can be totally compassionate and totally judgemental. I'm even surprised by how contradictory I can be at times.
20. I did not enter my 20’s with a clear conscience. I was selfish and careless with some important people when I was younger. I know now that I was too concerned with being everything to everyone and not concerned enough with being good to those that mattered most. I spent my 20’s trying to be a better daughter, sister, friend and partner – I travelled the country and spent weekends, weeks, months righting what I consider the most unforgivable wrongs. I am entering my 30’s with a much clearer conscience. Never again will I let the people I love question how much they mean to me.