Saturday, December 24, 2011
One of my closest friends (the one about whom I wrote, "St. Valentine's Day Massacre... Take Two") asked me to look at her online dating profile and give feedback. And not just because I know her pretty well, but because I love her dearly and genuinely want her to be happy. That said, given that she would never use my edits (and I no longer work for her), I'm posting them here. Sorry KJ. This time it's better to ask for forgiveness than it is to get permission.
Without further ado, here's what I would write if I were her:
"Single woman seeks... what? A much-needed vacation? A well-deserved raise? A spa day? A good dinner and a bad joke? YES... YES... YES... and YES. But I'm also looking for someone to share those moments with... other than gay men and straight women. Don't get me wrong, I love my friends. I'm just not IN LOVE with them. So who?
I could write that I want someone warm, fun-loving, and loyal; however, if I wanted that - I'd get a dog. I want someone who is himself. Actually, scratch that. I want someone who is himself and doesn't care that I want to be myself.... and not just because Oscar Wilde is right, "everyone else is already taken," but because I'm a genuinely interesting person. I'm well-read, well-educated (CPA), and well-traveled (I've visited and/or worked on six continents). I'm also a work-a-holic. At thirty-six, I'm an IT Communications Manager at a Fortune 100 company. And, while I'm extremely proud of my professional accomplishments, I'm tired of being married to my job. Not that I want to be married to anything else, but I wouldn't be opposed to the idea. You know?
With that, here's what I don't want. Marathoners... mean people... mean marathoners. In other words, serious athletes need not apply. I feel about runners the way homophobes feel about gay men. I don't care if you work out, I just don't want to see you do it in public. Seriously, if I was interested in seeing someone put Vaseline on their thighs or pant, sweat, and grab their calf muscles, I'd be sleeping with them - not working out with them. Don't get me wrong, I like hiking and scuba diving. I don't even mind biking around town. I just hate gyms. All the tight pants and muscle shirts make me feel like I'm at Studio 54, except there's no Village People or alcohol - the two things that actually make tight pants and muscle shirts almost bearable. What else?
Assholes, cheaters, and perverts need not apply either, especially twisted polygamists who act like dickheads. Seriously - to the fetish crowd... to quote my dear friend, mkromd, "There's a fine line between 'trust me baby you're gonna dig it' and 'wow, I fucking hate you. You should leave now." And I refuse to cross it. Because if we can't make eye contact, how can we have a relationship? I'm not saying I'm not into things, I am. I grew up in Nebraska, so I'm very into college football. I also love baseball and tennis. I'm just not into things that require me to sign a medical waiver or consent form. Other than that...
Yes, I'm attractive, and no -I don't want a knight in shining armor to rescue me or sweep me off my feet. I like them being firmly planted on the ground and I can take care of myself. I'd just like some good company while I'm doing it."
At any rate, that's what I would write if I were her. Talk to you next week and thanks again for all of the wonderful comments. Go Heifer Go.
Wednesday, December 21, 2011
With that, happy holidays.
Just when I thought no one was paying attention because the Indonesian Blog, kewtawa lucu, is kicking my ass, someone sent me a note me about Nathan Bransford, who is raising money for a wonderful cause, Heifer International. Now, if you aren’t familiar with this organization, they use donations (like this) to purchase sustainable items for indigenous people around the world, many of whom I’ve personally offended at one point in time or another and need to apologize to en masse. Hopefully this will help me make amends (and improve my karma). And... for those of you who regularly read my blog, you know I need all the help I can get. You even already know that years ago, in college, when I studied in Sardinia, I was attacked by a passive-aggressive hair stylist who shaved my head. But, what you don't know is that, as tragic as that event may have been, it was far from the worst thing that's ever happened to me abroad.
That probably happened in India, after I graduated from college.
You see, every year my large co-dependent family vacations together in a place we've never been before. It's true, we pick some unfortunate destination and descend en-masse, and one year we decided to go to Asia. At any rate, there we were, visiting a mosque in India, when someone suggested that we see the, “lesser known Poor Man’s Taj Mahal.” If you've never heard of it, don't be alarmed. It’s more like a roadside attraction than it is a mosque, but the rules still apply: men can go inside, women cannot, and everyone has to take off their shoes regardless.
So there I was... walking around... outside... in India... without shoes on... when I stepped in bird poop.
If you know nothing about me, please know this - I’m a complete germ-a-phobe; however, luckily for me, there was a big pool of water right there. And, as a recently-graduated, culturally-sensitive Anthropologist, I hopped over to it and stuck my bird poop covered foot RIGHT in. No kidding, about twenty-five men immediately ripped their hands out of there the second I'd touched it. Being the polite idiot that I am, I was loudly apologizing/explaining and showing them my foot while saying, “Sorry – I stepped in crap and I need to get it off.”
Now, if you know anything about Islam, then you probably know the following:
1. That’s holy water and it’s used for men to clean themselves before they pray. Women don’t use it… EVER!
2. Never show a Muslim the bottom of your feet. It’s like giving them the finger.
3. Either one of these things is offensive.
4. Both of these things together can be life-threatening.
I now know that too…
That said, as I’m writing this, it dawns on me that the poop "incident" wasn't actually the worst one. The worst was definitely when I was living and working in London because of an international assignment. I tried to warn my boss this was a bad idea, but it wasn’t until I lost my knickers on High Street that he agreed.
However, before I can tell you that part of the story, I have to tell you this part first.
You see, one morning, I’d gotten up and headed into the office to prep for a big meeting with my manager and his peers, all of whom are men. However, because God hates me, I didn't get to work early at all. In fact, I got there late because of traffic on the M25. Already tardy and frustrated, I quickly grabbed my stuff from the car and accidentally slammed the door on myself - which naturally resulted in a MASSIVE tear in my nylons. As I looked at my watch, I realized that I could pull it off (no pun intended) and literally JAUNTED (in heels) to Woolworths on High Street for a new pair.
Though I was able to successfully repress most of what happened next, I still remember running into the store, grabbing a pair of pantyhose off the rack, looking at the back of the package, and realizing that this wasn’t going to end well for me. You see, the problem with buying clothes in England is that the height and weight charts are metric.
Do you know how many stones you weigh or how many meters tall you are? OMG… ME EITHER!
But I grabbed a pair anyway and hauled back to the office where I went into the bathroom, pulled off my nylons, pitched the torn ones into the garbage, and opened the new pack. Clearly God hates me, because when I opened them, they were thigh-highs… for an Amazon. I’m five foot two, and in NO parallel universe would those have worked - even if I'd had a garter-belt, which I didn't.
So there I was, eyeballing the torn ones in the trash and running the numbers in my head, when I realized that it would require a lifetime of therapy if I went dumpster diving for my own used clothes. Instead, I tried to make my B Plan work.
I literally PULLED MY NYLONS THROUGH THE TOP OF MY UNDERWEAR AND TIED THEM TOGETHER IN THE BACK.
After fifteen minutes of sheer hell (no pun intended), I walked over to my boss’s office, shut his door and said, “We have a problem.” It was (quite literally) five minutes before one of the biggest presentations of my life, so he was clearly upset by this declaration and asked why. That's when I stamped my right foot three times, and my thigh-high fell to the floor... engulfing my shoe. As we stood there, staring at each other, not sure what to say, the left thigh-high fell to the floor, too. And no, I hadn’t shaved. That’s when my boss said, “Take the damn things off and tell them you’re French. Let’s go.”
To think I was scared of what could happen on our last family vacation to Peru. No kidding, I was genuinely terrified that I’d hear a blow dart and wake up days later in some South American jungle hut without a kidney. Since that didn’t happen, I clearly still have amends to make before my karma can improve, so PLEASE help me out. Give to Heifer International. Or, post a comment and I will make a donation on your behalf (up to $50 total from mkromd).
Have a great holiday! Talk to you next week.
Friday, November 11, 2011
Last week, two Van Halen related things happened to me. One, according to Blogger's analytics, we have a reader in Panama (the southernmost country of Central America, not the song "Panama Ah Ah Ah Ah Ah PANAMA"). And two, I discovered that a friend of mine's ring tone is "Just a Gigolo." In other words, every time you call it, you hear "HUMALE-BIBALE-ZIBALE-BOOBALE-HUMALE-BIBALE-ZIBALE-BOP." Yes. Really.
Now, at the risk of blaming the victim, you can't have a mobile which does that and not expect me to exploit you for my own personal delight. Because, let's be honest, you may think you know how funny it is to see a grown man's pants burst into, "Just a Gigolo," but you don't. In fact, the only thing funnier than that is going into multiple conference rooms and calling him from different telephone numbers …over… and over…. and over… so he doesn't know whether to take the call or not. Sadly though, after the fourth or fifth call, he put it on vibrate and stole my joy, which forced me send the following text, "whoa oh oh mkromd's crying." To which this friend of over a decade wittily replied, "I KNEW it was you. I’m going to “Finish What You Started,” an obscure reference to a song from the album OU812.
Please know that when you throw down a ‘battle of the band’ gauntlet, I will pick it up like a middle-aged, wanna-be music nerd. Below is a copy of the threaded conversation that immediately ensued.
him: That’s right. “You Really got Me,” but I “Won't get Fooled Again!”
me: Nicely played. Points awarded. But it’s GO time. You and me… in the parking lot… NOW. When you wake up in a week, you’ll be humming “Outside Woman Blues.”
him: Oh, hell no, “Poundcake.” That “Dream is Over!”
me: That’s right. One song for you, “Black and Blue.”
him: But we’re friends. “Why can’t this be Love?”
me: Cause, I “Ain't talkin' 'bout Love.” I’m talkin’ ‘bout, “Somebody Get U a Doctor.”
him: LOL! How ‘bout lunch? “Everybody wants some. I want some, too.”
me: TOTALLY! I’ll be at your desk in two minutes.
Then, on the way to his cubicle, I called his cell phone one last time and heard, “HUMALE-BIBALE-ZIBALE-BOOBALE-HUMALE-BIBALE-ZIBALE-BOP." Thank God some things never change.
Wednesday, November 9, 2011
"I want to tell you a few things I learned from Steve, during three distinct periods, over the 27 years I knew him. They’re not periods of years, but of states of being. His full life. His illness. His dying.
Steve worked at what he loved. He worked really hard. Every day. That’s incredibly simple, but true. He was the opposite of absent-minded. He was never embarrassed about working hard, even if the results were failures. If someone as smart as Steve wasn’t ashamed to admit trying, maybe I didn’t have to be.
When he got kicked out of Apple, things were painful. He told me about a dinner at which 500 Silicon Valley leaders met the then-sitting president. Steve hadn’t been invited. He was hurt but he still went to work at Next. Every single day.
Novelty was not Steve’s highest value. Beauty was.
For an innovator, Steve was remarkably loyal. If he loved a shirt, he’d order 10 or 100 of them. In the Palo Alto house, there are probably enough black cotton turtlenecks for everyone in this church.
He didn’t favor trends or gimmicks. He liked people his own age.
His philosophy of aesthetics reminds me of a quote that went something like this: “Fashion is what seems beautiful now but looks ugly later; art can be ugly at first but it becomes beautiful later.” Steve always aspired to make beautiful later.
He was willing to be misunderstood.
Uninvited to the ball, he drove the third or fourth iteration of his same black sports car to Next, where he and his team were quietly inventing the platform on which Tim Berners-Lee would write the program for the World Wide Web.
Steve was like a girl in the amount of time he spent talking about love. Love was his supreme virtue, his god of gods. He tracked and worried about the romantic lives of the people working with him. Whenever he saw a man he thought a woman might find dashing, he called out, “Hey are you single? Do you wanna come to dinner with my sister?”
I remember when he phoned the day he met Laurene. “There’s this beautiful woman and she’s really smart and she has this dog and I’m going to marry her.”
When Reed was born, he began gushing and never stopped. He was a physical dad, with each of his children. He fretted over Lisa’s boyfriends and Erin’s travel and skirt lengths and Eve’s safety around the horses she adored. None of us who attended Reed’s graduation party will ever forget the scene of Reed and Steve slow dancing. His abiding love for Laurene sustained him. He believed that love happened all the time, everywhere. In that most important way, Steve was never ironic, never cynical, never pessimistic. I try to learn from that, still.
Steve had been successful at a young age, and he felt that had isolated him. Most of the choices he made from the time I knew him were designed to dissolve the walls around him. A middle-class boy from Los Altos, he fell in love with a middle-class girl from New Jersey. It was important to both of them to raise Lisa, Reed, Erin and Eve as grounded, normal children. Their house didn’t intimidate with art or polish; in fact, for many of the first years I knew Steve and Lo together, dinner was served on the grass, and sometimes consisted of just one vegetable. Lots of that one vegetable. But one. Broccoli. In season. Simply prepared. With just the right, recently snipped, herb.
Even as a young millionaire, Steve always picked me up at the airport. He’d be standing there in his jeans. When a family member called him at work, his secretary Linetta answered, “Your dad’s in a meeting. Would you like me to interrupt him?”
When Reed insisted on dressing up as a witch every Halloween, Steve, Laurene, Erin and Eve all went wiccan.
They once embarked on a kitchen remodel; it took years. They cooked on a hotplate in the garage. The Pixar building, under construction during the same period, finished in half the time. And that was it for the Palo Alto house. The bathrooms stayed old. But — and this was a crucial distinction — it had been a great house to start with; Steve saw to that.
This is not to say that he didn’t enjoy his success: he enjoyed his success a lot, just minus a few zeros. He told me how much he loved going to the Palo Alto bike store and gleefully realizing he could afford to buy the best bike there. And he did.
Steve was humble. Steve liked to keep learning. Once, he told me if he’d grown up differently, he might have become a mathematician. He spoke reverently about colleges and loved walking around the Stanford campus. In the last year of his life, he studied a book of paintings by Mark Rothko, an artist he hadn’t known about before, thinking of what could inspire people on the walls of a future Apple campus.
Steve cultivated whimsy. What other C.E.O. knows the history of English and Chinese tea roses and has a favorite David Austin rose?
He had surprises tucked in all his pockets. I’ll venture that Laurene will discover treats — songs he loved, a poem he cut out and put in a drawer — even after 20 years of an exceptionally close marriage. I spoke to him every other day or so, but when I opened The New York Times and saw a feature on the company’s patents, I was still surprised and delighted to see a sketch for a perfect staircase.
With his four children, with his wife, with all of us, Steve had a lot of fun.
He treasured happiness.
Then, Steve became ill and we watched his life compress into a smaller circle. Once, he’d loved walking through Paris. He’d discovered a small handmade soba shop in Kyoto. He downhill skied gracefully. He cross-country skied clumsily. No more.
Eventually, even ordinary pleasures, like a good peach, no longer appealed to him.
Yet, what amazed me, and what I learned from his illness, was how much was still left after so much had been taken away.
I remember my brother learning to walk again, with a chair. After his liver transplant, once a day he would get up on legs that seemed too thin to bear him, arms pitched to the chair back. He’d push that chair down the Memphis hospital corridor towards the nursing station and then he’d sit down on the chair, rest, turn around and walk back again. He counted his steps and, each day, pressed a little farther. Laurene got down on her knees and looked into his eyes. “You can do this, Steve,” she said. His eyes widened. His lips pressed into each other.
He tried. He always, always tried, and always with love at the core of that effort. He was an intensely emotional man.
I realized during that terrifying time that Steve was not enduring the pain for himself. He set destinations: his son Reed’s graduation from high school, his daughter Erin’s trip to Kyoto, the launching of a boat he was building on which he planned to take his family around the world and where he hoped he and Laurene would someday retire.
Even ill, his taste, his discrimination and his judgment held. He went through 67 nurses before finding kindred spirits and then he completely trusted the three who stayed with him to the end. Tracy. Arturo. Elham. One time when Steve had contracted a tenacious pneumonia his doctor forbid everything — even ice. We were in a standard I.C.U. unit. Steve, who generally disliked cutting in line or dropping his own name, confessed that this once, he’d like to be treated a little specially. I told him: Steve, this is special treatment. He leaned over to me, and said: “I want it to be a little more special.”
Intubated, when he couldn’t talk, he asked for a notepad. He sketched devices to hold an iPad in a hospital bed. He designed new fluid monitors and x-ray equipment. He redrew that not-quite-special-enough hospital unit. And every time his wife walked into the room, I watched his smile remake itself on his face. For the really big, big things, you have to trust me, he wrote on his sketchpad. He looked up. You have to. By that, he meant that we should disobey the doctors and give him a piece of ice.
None of us knows for certain how long we’ll be here. On Steve’s better days, even in the last year, he embarked upon projects and elicited promises from his friends at Apple to finish them. Some boat builders in the Netherlands have a gorgeous stainless steel hull ready to be covered with the finishing wood. His three daughters remain unmarried, his two youngest still girls, and he’d wanted to walk them down the aisle as he’d walked me the day of my wedding.
We all — in the end — die in medias res. In the middle of a story. Of many stories.
I suppose it’s not quite accurate to call the death of someone who lived with cancer for years unexpected, but Steve’s death was unexpected for us.
What I learned from my brother’s death was that character is essential: What he was, was how he died. Tuesday morning, he called me to ask me to hurry up to Palo Alto. His tone was affectionate, dear, loving, but like someone whose luggage was already strapped onto the vehicle, who was already on the beginning of his journey, even as he was sorry, truly deeply sorry, to be leaving us. He started his farewell and I stopped him. I said, “Wait. I’m coming. I’m in a taxi to the airport. I’ll be there.” “I’m telling you now because I’m afraid you won’t make it on time, honey.” When I arrived, he and his Laurene were joking together like partners who’d lived and worked together every day of their lives. He looked into his children’s eyes as if he couldn’t unlock his gaze. Until about 2 in the afternoon, his wife could rouse him, to talk to his friends from Apple. Then, after awhile, it was clear that he would no longer wake to us. His breathing changed. It became severe, deliberate, purposeful. I could feel him counting his steps again, pushing farther than before.
This is what I learned: he was working at this, too. Death didn’t happen to Steve, he achieved it.
He told me, when he was saying goodbye and telling me he was sorry, so sorry we wouldn’t be able to be old together as we’d always planned, that he was going to a better place. Dr. Fischer gave him a 50/50 chance of making it through the night. He made it through the night, Laurene next to him on the bed sometimes jerked up when there was a longer pause between his breaths. She and I looked at each other, then he would heave a deep breath and begin again. This had to be done. Even now, he had a stern, still handsome profile, the profile of an absolutist, a romantic. His breath indicated an arduous journey, some steep path, altitude. He seemed to be climbing.
But with that will, that work ethic, that strength, there was also sweet Steve’s capacity for wonderment, the artist’s belief in the ideal, the still more beautiful later. Steve’s final words, hours earlier, were monosyllables, repeated three times. Before embarking, he’d looked at his sister Patty, then for a long time at his children, then at his life’s partner, Laurene, and then over their shoulders past them. Steve’s final words were:
OH WOW. OH WOW. OH WOW."
Rest in peace Mac Daddy, Steve Jobs. I hope the Grateful Dead were right about this life. May you wake up on the other side of this limited consciousness thinking, "What a long strange trip it's been."
Thursday, October 27, 2011
Now… at this part of the story, you need to know two things before we can continue. One, this cemetery is very old. And two, the part of it that I love the most is quite secluded. It has sprawling family plots with magnificent Oak trees and the occasional bench. The good news is that it’s the perfect place for a pity party. The bad news is that this perfect place is full of “loops.” In other words, the roads to these family plots all have semi-private circular driveways. Which normally isn’t a problem, unless you’re sitting in your car… crying… and a funeral party arrives… and blocks you in.
Yes. You read that correctly. I was sitting… in my car… crying… when a hearse and several limousines showed up and blocked the driveway’s entrance and exit. You see, when I pulled in, I was so lost in thought that I hadn’t noticed the SIX FOOT HOLE IN THE GROUND that was immediately to the left of my car door. In fact, I hadn’t noticed much of anything until it was too late. At which point, approximately twenty-five people were standing there staring at me and wondering who the hell I was. And, while I don’t know the protocol for said event, I’m pretty sure what was going through my head wasn’t it:
- Silently join them and let them wonder if I was the deceased’s friend/mistress/illegitimate child.
- Stay in my car and let them wonder if I was the deceased’s friend/mistress/illegitimate child.
- Get out of my car and explain that I wasn’t the deceased’s friend/mistress/illegitimate child.
At any rate, as I sat there, refusing to dignify my presence to strangers, simultaneously facing my mortality and my failure, I remembered Tolkien again. Only this time, I didn’t hear Gandalf. I heard Gimli, “Certainty of death, small chance of success... What are we waiting for?” I guess another writing contest, but who knows. When I told my mother that night, she only said, “Everyone fails, but not everyone keeps going. Make a choice.” I think I’m still deciding. Til then, talk to you later.
Monday, October 3, 2011
In other words, I could almost legally buy my cassette tape a beer.
Yes, you read that correctly. I didn't download it from iTunes or even own it as a CD. I bought it in 1991 ON CASSETTE. At any rate, to mark this musical milestone, I pulled out my tape, dusted it off, then cranked it. And as I drove around town listening to Smells Like Teen Spirit, I remembered the first time I'd ever heard Nirvana and wondered how many hours of my life were spent copying their songs (and others) onto mixed tapes for friends (instead of studying for exams). Who knows? Maybe Frank Zappa was right. Maybe "You go to college to party. You go to a library for an education." But I digress. The point is that I miss making and getting mixed tapes.
Now... I realize that some of you have no idea what a cassette tape is let alone a mixed tape, but I honestly don't know how to explain the whole concept without loosely quoting John Cusack, "Making a good compilation tape is a subtle art with lots of do's and don'ts. Think of it like breaking up - it's hard to do and takes way longer than it might seem." Anyway, with Christmas right around the corner, I began wondering if I should get old-school this year and make a mixed tape for DB. And, if so, what should I put on it? That's when I had a blinding flash of brilliance. DB loves JJ Grey and Mofro. I could make a mixed tape of their songs and get tickets for us to see them in concert.
The good news is that it's a GREAT idea. The bad news is that the blinding flash I saw was actually ME giving MYSELF a concussion. Yup. I rounded a corner in our beautiful new home... sneezed... and smacked my forehead... on a wall. It's true, and as I lay on the floor, trying to focus, I didn't just hear ringing in my ears. I also heard JJ Grey's funk-filled backwoods wisdom in my head. Too bad the only thing that came to mind was his song, Dirt Floor Cracker.
Once DB got me off the floor and onto the couch, he turned on Palladia - a music television station for adults. Ironically enough, they were airing Back and Forth - a documentary about the Foo Fighters, which actually isn't that ironic if you know that the front man for the Foo used to be Nirvana's drummer. And while I knew that, I had no idea that their seventh (and best) album, Wasting Light, was recorded in Dave Grohl's garage using analog tape instead of digital technology.
That's right. I'm not the only one who misses mixed tapes. Dave Grohl does, too... and he's cool. As for the JJ Grey and Mofro concert, thank God they play blues instead of rock because clearly, at forty, the only headbanging I'm meant to do is at home against a load-bearing wall.
Tuesday, September 6, 2011
He always joked that - on those nights, if the club had caught fire, he'd have screamed, "Children and rhythm-section first!" My mother was not amused.
At any rate, one time, when I was in Kindergarten at a Catholic school (and already studying Latin), my dad was performing, and my sister asked him to play Mandy... so he did. When he asked me to give him a hand, I climbed on stage, nestled up next to him, and crooned into the microphone, "OH MANDY. CAUSE YOU CAME, AND YOU SAW, AND YOU CONQUERED... Oh Mannnndy." Now, if you know the song, then you know that the actual lyrics go something like this, "Oh Mandy. You came and you gave without taking. Oh Mandy." Til he died, it was one of his favorite stories about me.
He would have turned 76 this month and I still miss him.
Have you ever had someone who just got you? Someone who understood you and accepted you through all of your faults and idiosyncrasies? That was my dad... and I was not an easy child. All jokes aside, I could have been the poster child for Ritalin. In fact, at Easter, when everyone else had baskets full of candy, I was allowed to have one chocolate bunny - which I would devour in three bites, before running laps around the house, until I eventually collapsed into a sugar coma, where I would drool and twitch in my sleep like a rabid gerbil. My siblings were literally forbidden from giving any of their candy to me. I may very well have been the only child to grow up hearing their mother say, "It's OK, honey. You don't have to share with your sister. Everyone understands that kids can be a little selfish, whiny, and needy sometimes. You're just like tiny men." But I digress.
The point is that when people would say, "She's so awkward/high-strung/high-maintenance/high-anxiety," my dad would tell me that I wasn't any of those things. I was just... Coltish... somewhere between a pony who was still getting her bearings and a racehorse who wanted to run until she hit her stride. And he told me to sing.. especially when I didn't know the lyrics... because I would always find the words.
I suppose Jazz pianists are pretty smart guys. After all, wasn't it Thelonious Monk who said, "Play it your own way. Don’t play what the public wants. Play what you want and let the public pick up on what you're doing — even if it takes them fifteen, twenty years." Well, it's taken me forty, but I'm finally doing my own thing. Carpe diem and all that, I guess.
Talk to you later.
Monday, August 22, 2011
Now, to completely understand the full horror of the following exchange, please put yourself in the position of the poor sales clerk who innocently asked, “What would you like written on the card,” and had to hear, “I hope you like your new boobs. I can’t wait to see them.” After the awkward silence between us passed, she cleared her throat, then read it back for clarification… to which I could only reply, “You know, I really hate giving you the name on my Visa card right now.” But I did... and worse than that, I did it from work... in my cube... and worse than that, as with each and every time in my life that I have been mortified, I felt compelled to explain.
Here is what that poor teenage cashier had to hear, “It’s for my friend’s daughter… Oh my God, but NOT LIKE THAT! I’m not some freak-pervert and I SWEAR I’m TOTALLY straight. It's just that BLZ wasn’t happy with her chest, and as someone who has hit forty – believe me, I understand what that girl is talking about... even though she's getting a reduction and I’m just a victim of gravity.”
They say that silence is actually God talking. I don't believe that. I believe that florist was judging me. At any rate, it ended OK... My friend's daughter texted me and said that she laughed pretty hard when she got the lilies. Hopefully it really is the best medicine and in some small way I helped a kid whom I’ve always adored.
Wednesday, August 10, 2011
Enter Mr. Epenetus Dalrymple.
Now, before I continue, I should tell you that Epenetus Dalrymple was a real person... whose name I love more than Huckleberry Finn’s and whose life story I know ABSOLUTELY NOTHING about... much like in 150 years, people will know very little about my tale - even though (to loosely quote the poet) I'm here today, my life exists, my identity is declared, and that… for as foolish and as faithless as I am (for who more foolish and faithless than I), I have a point to make. Granted, it’s convoluted and scattered as usual, but I swear I have one – so please bear with me.
You see, last month, I turned forty and married DB, my partner of two and a half years. Neither of which is insignificant. Nor is the fact that my mom ACTUALLY forgot the first point and called us back half-way through the second.
About my fortieth, when I told her that she missed my birthday (a big one no less), she simply said, “No I didn’t. I was helping you repress it so you could be thirty-nine for as long as possible.” Honestly, that woman thinks of everything. As for calling us back during the wedding - before I can tell you that part of the story, I have to tell you this part first. In 2005, my mom contracted a virus which severely damaged her heart. Fortunately… it was caught in time and the surgeon was able to repair the mitral valve. Unfortunately… during the procedure, she ended up with a Staph infection that devolved into full-blown septic shock and landed her in a coma for three months. After "coming to," she spent an entire year in physical therapy learning to breathe on her own, eat on her own, walk on her own, and live without assistance… only to come home in 2006 and bury the love of her life, my father. In essence, the heart she fought so hard to fix was shattered all over again.
When we told her that it was time to forgive our dad for dying and the universe for making her sick, she said, “I’m neither bitter nor a germ-a-phobe. I’m just a firm believer that Sartre was right “Hell is other people.” I guess the up-side of her deeply-held conviction is that everyone has to believe in something. The down-side? She will not travel anymore, period. She's like the Godfather. You go to her and pay your respects. She doesn't come to you... And if she does, things in your life are REALLY bad and about to get a whole lot worse now that she's there and she's pissed.
At any rate, in order to strike a balance where everyone’s needs could be met, my Uncle called her before the wedding… kept her on the phone... put his mobile in his tux pocket… then walked me down the aisle. As we got to the bottom of the stairs, and he handed me over to DB… my uncle’s slacks began vibrating. Yes, SHE GOT DROPPED AND ACTUALLY CALLED BACK… Since I wasn’t sure how to say, “I swear, my Uncle’s pants aren’t PULSATING because he’s excited to see you. That’s just my mother in his pocket.” I simply let it go. But I digress…
The point is that, later that week, DB and I left for upstate New York to decompress at a beautiful bed and breakfast on a private lake in the Adirondack’s. And, because there’s so much history there, we spent several hours perusing numerous Revolutionary War cemeteries. If that sounds like an odd way to spend a honeymoon, then I know more than ever that I married the right man. You see, graveyards don’t bother me. In fact, I find them peaceful, and I love speculating on the lives of the people buried in them… including Mr. Epenetus Dalrymple’s.
Here’s what I know about him for sure: He was married. He was widowed. He had children (some of whom he lost). And he died at sea as an old man… Here’s what I conjectured (to DB’s amusement):
1. Like Huckleberry Finn, Epenetus was a wonderfully naughty child. Can’t you just hear his exasperated mother shouting, “EPENETUS DALRYMPLE - GET YOUR ASS OUT OF THAT CREEK, PUT YOUR CLOTHES BACK ON, AND GO CUT THAT WOOD LIKE I TOLD YOU TO.”
2. He was ADORED by his wife, Josephine, who - on more than one occasion, must have said to her husband, “Why, Mr. Epenetus Dalrymple, put your wiener away. You will NOT touch me with that thing tonight.” And then she let him.
3. He worshipped his wife and never remarried. Instead, he was a loving grandfather who fished and told tales of his perfectly misspent youth.
4. He died at sea… in his skiff … in a storm… and was deeply missed by everyone who survived him.
Now, it should be stated again, I don’t pretend to be right. That’s just how I see his life in my head… which made me wonder, really wonder - what will people read into my life in fifty years when they see my tombstone, especially if it says what I want it to say, “I told you I was sick.” And so… because of a man I’ve never met… who rests in a New England cemetery I’ll never visit again… I’m going to try and contribute MY verse to this crazy play.
Yes, I entered a writing contest.
So, wish me luck – and not just because I'm more competitive than a Drag Queen and want to win, but because Shakespeare was right, 'neither marble nor gilded monuments shall outlive this powerful rhyme.' I want my loved ones (and their loved ones’ loved ones) to know that it’s OK to be crazy. It runs in the family… but so does a good sense of humor. I also want them to know how deeply they were loved, so no one ever has to wonder - not even 150 years from now.
Talk to you later (and rest in peace Epenetus Dalrymple).
Saturday, July 2, 2011
- Felix Unger - An anal-retentive, obsessive-compulsive, neat-freak who is so high-maintenance that he wears his seat-belt at a drive-inn movie theatre
- Oscar Madison - A funny, laid-back guy who craves peace and normalcy and just wants Felix to stop leaving him lengthy to-do lists and random notes that are always signed, "F.U." (for Felix Unger)
You see, though DB and I have been partners for over two years, we never truly co-habitated until a month ago. Sure, we stayed together, but we each had our own “spaces” to retreat to. I owned my house…. he owned his house… and we went back-and-forth around work and placement schedules. No doubt it had its drawbacks, but it also protected him from how insane I am. Now that we’re in one house (a rental while ours is being built), it’s literally “full-on crazy” with very little reprieve for a man whom I love more than life. And it’s not just because we’re planning a wedding or building a house… though those make lovely excuses. It’s honestly because I’m just CRAZY. I like things the way I like them, “A place for everything and everything in its place,” which makes me a HORRIBLE roommate.
When I met my best friend for lunch and asked her what she thought, she said, “I’ve loved you longer than he has, but you’d be IMPOSSIBLE to live with. It’d be like bringing a baby home from the hospital. Seriously, you babble incessantly when you’re happy, you cry non-stop when you aren’t, and a good game of itsy-bitsy spider will genuinely occupy you for hours. Besides that, you eat every twenty fucking minutes, sometimes through the night, and you’d honestly let someone pick you up and carry you from room-to-room if you could find a way to make it happen. Besides that, you’re prone to rashes. And… speaking of, at least he doesn’t have to change your diaper. That fine task will fall to me, your Medical Power of Attorney, when you’re ninety and you stroke out because you refuse to exercise.” I hate it when she’s right.
At any rate, the point is that - of all the Neil Simon characters out there - I always wanted to be like the witty, adorable, care-free Corie in Barefoot in the Park... not Felix Unger in the Odd Couple, and I’m not sure when or how it happened - I only know that it did. That said, I guess I’ll have to take DB’s advice and just be myself… and not just because everyone else is taken, but also because this is the person he fell in love with… even if I do occasionally sign my notes, “FU” (for Felix Unger).
Saturday, June 25, 2011
You see, last weekend, I went to a tennis tournament, without sunscreen, and got horribly burnt. And normally, I wouldn't care too much; however, I'm getting married soon, and my dress has spaghetti straps - while I... I have a farmer's tan. Add to this dilemma the fact that my people are Irish and prone to skin cancer, hence I can't even go to a tanning bed to even it out, and voila - conundrum. So, Dear Don Queerleone, if you're out there, do a girl a solid and please reply. OK?
That said, here’s what you cannot recommend:
1) Tanning cream (as I have already wasted over an hour and a half on-line and an hour at Macy’s “spot testing” my options, only to find several shades of hell that don’t even work for an orange. Beside that, I refuse to show up at my own wedding looking like George Hamilton in Love at First Bite).
2) A new dress (though I found a Vera Wang to die for, my ass is bigger than my budget at this point, and I cannot spend large sums of money that I do not have).
3) A bolero, jacket, or wrap to cover it (my dress is SUPER New Englandy and EXTREMELY simple, and - while I love the furniture and oval boxes that ‘The United Society of Believers in Christ's Second Appearing’ make, I do not want a “Shaker your Money Maker” look or feel).
What I need is for the fashion police to point me in the right direction. Oh, and because you’re the only true organized crime, can you also find me a five foot tall metal chicken: http://thebloggess.com/2011/06/and-thats-why-you-should-learn-to-pick-your-battles/
(you REALLY do have to click or copy and paste this link into your browser and read this post).
Anyway, thanks Gay Mafia. I look forward to your response. Note (in Mob Speak): If you fail me, you will find yourself sleeping with the fishes (or as Jack from Will and Grace once said about a gay whack job, “sleeping with trout almondine drizzled with lemon and capers”).
Monday, May 30, 2011
I ask you, in all honesty - is it all becoming clearer how I became this person? Is it?
The worst part is that she’s right. Scratch that, the WORST part is that she had my family jump on the bandwagon. And I don’t mean my brothers and sister – people with whom I can actually fight back. I mean her cousins and aunts, women in their seventies, eighties and nineties. People you simply can’t debate… and not just because they’re deaf or because your mother will kill you for being disrespectful. Women you can’t bitch in front of because they actually have reasons to complain… and still don’t do it. Women who have buried children and partners, witnessed more than one war, and fought for the right to vote, the right to fair pay, and the right to live their lives as they see fit. Women who did all of it with a stiff upper lip... in a corset... silently... grateful for the things they had - not miserable over the things they lost.
So, when these women tell you, “You’re missing out on the happiest times of your life.” You listen.
And then you loosely remember the words of comedic genius, Louis CK, who basically said, “Everything’s amazing and nobody’s happy. In my lifetime alone, the changes in the world have been incredible. When I was a kid, we had a rotary phone - a phone that you had to stand NEXT to and you had to DIAL it. It was so primitive that it actually sparked, and it made you hate people with zeros in their numbers - because it was more work. You were like, ‘This guy's number has two zeros, screw him.’ And if someone called and you weren't home, the phone would just ring lonely by itself. There was no voicemail… And if you wanted money, you had to go INTO the bank (during the three hours it was open), stand in line, and write yourself a check… like an idiot. Then... when you ran out of money, you just couldn’t do anything. You were broke and you were done…
We live in an amazing world, and it's wasted on people who don’t appreciate it. Everyone has their own phone and we all complain if we lose a signal - even though that signal is going to space and needs a second to get back… And that's not even the worst of it. FLYING is the worst.
People come back from flights, tell you about it, and make it sound like a horror story. They actually turn their flight into the equivalent of the Oregon Trail and make it sound like the worst day of their life, ‘First of all we didn't board for 20 minutes. Then we got on the plane ONLY to sit on the runway for 40 minutes. We had to SIT there.’ To which I want to reply, ‘Oh really, what happened next? Did you fly through the air like a bird? Did you partake in the miracle of human flight? You were flying! That's amazing! Everybody on every plane should be constantly telling themselves, ‘Oh my God, WOW, we’re flying. We’re sitting in a chair in the sky... and sure it doesn't go back a lot… and it smells... but we’re FLYING.’ Cause, here's the thing. People talk about flight delays, but you can go from New York to California in FIVE hours. That trip used to take thirty years and a bunch of you would die along the way (and/or have a baby)... Seriously, you'd be with a whole different group of people by the time you got there. Now you watch a movie and you're home…”
Or something like that. I could never do him justice, so you’ll have to Google it. In the meantime, have a great week, and don’t sweat the small stuff, because - to quote the true God of comedy, Woody Allen, “Life is full of misery, loneliness, and suffering - and it's all over much too soon.” Talk to you later.
Monday, May 23, 2011
Now... at this point in our story, it should be noted that my ego is the Mohammed Ali of egos (except that it doesn't fly like a butterfly, it flies coach because it's incredibly cheap when it comes to airfare… how do you think I can afford Prada on my budget). But that's STILL not the point. The point is that my ego will not go down without a fight. In fact, it's SO massive that the other night, as I was lying in bed reading this book, I honestly said to myself, "Self... what if the eight people who don’t know you but read mkromd anyway think you've stopped writing because you were taken on May 21 by the Rapture? Perhaps you should write something - just so no one wonders.” Yes. Really.
At any rate, I apologize if you were worried. I wasn’t raptured; I’ve just been swamped… especially a few weeks ago, when I was summoned home (to Appalachia by my family for my nephew’s graduation party not by God to avoid Armageddon – just to clarify). And, while there, I ran my ego’s end-of-times concerns past my mother, who ACTUALLY said, “Yes, you and Kissinger must have been worried sick about the people you’d leave behind.” When I reminded her that our former Secretary of State’s out-of-control ego orchestrated the Vietnam War for personal and political gain, she had the nerve to add insult to injury by replying, “True, but if there’s only one slot left, and it’s between you and him, he has a Nobel Peace Prize.”
Thank God my ego isn’t just massive, it also suffers from Attention Deficit Disorder, which makes it hard to hold a grudge (well, truth be told, it has ADHD and something else, but when my therapist diagnosed me, I wasn’t really paying attention, so I have NO idea what all I have).
On the UP note, while I was home, I also got to spend some time with my brother (who is an incredibly gentle being that was badly damaged in an ugly divorce but has found solace in organic gardening). So we’re standing in this amazing vegetable patch he’s planted and he’s explaining to me why he doesn’t know if he can come to my wedding because he just doesn’t believe in marriage anymore and he doesn’t want his negative energy to impact my happiness, etc. etc. When I asked him if he was at least dating (it’s only been seven years), he jokingly said, “I don’t know. Maybe I need a sign.” And that’s when we HONESTLY (I swear on all that is holy) heard, “THIS IS THE VOICE OF GOD….”
But… to tell you that part of the story, I have to tell you this part first.
Several years ago, our oldest brother was in a horrible accident and almost died. He was thankfully life-flighted from our local hospital to a state-of-the-art one an hour away, where they saved his life. In return, my parents and several of their friends donated land in the woods near their homes for another helicopter pad - should anyone else ever need that kind of medical assistance. And from time-to-time, even though it’s fenced and gated, because it has Loud Speakers for Public Announcements, people use it for non-medical events as well (tornado warnings, etc). However, given the May 21 Rapture madness, this time it was being used illegally by a religious group. Yes, they broke in and started proselytizing.
Now… that they broke into a gated helicopter pad so God could easily find and take them wasn’t the good part. That they were announcing their location to him… JUST IN CASE... was AWESOME. And it wasn’t just that they were crazy… it’s that they were crazy and shouting the BEST questions like, “Are you a crack whore? Are you a womanizer? Have you tried to find Jesus in a bottle...” that made my brother and me drop EVERYTHING and haul through the woods to answer them. Too bad the cops showed up before God. I REALLY wanted to confess that the Devil does indeed wear Prada.
At dinner that night, when we told our mother what we had done, she said, “Be glad you weren’t caught. You wouldn’t just be gettin it from your Uncle, the town Judge, you’d be Armagettin from me.” At seventy, she’s still funny.
Friday, April 29, 2011
But… to tell you the moral of this tale, I have to tell you the story first.
Now that we’re only a few short months away from the wedding, my stylist and I have a work plan: monthly facials, monthly haircuts and highlights, and pedicures every five weeks. It’s a lot like my normal regimen, except that the costs are considered “wedding expenses.” Think Enron meets Vera Wang. At any rate, should all go well, I will look about 38 instead of 40. But that’s the thing about goals… they should be measurable and achievable.
If it sounds shallow, that’s because it is. However, it’s important to plan the work then work the plan.
That said, that’s not the point of this blog post. The point is that, while I was at the salon, a wedding party came in to do a dry run of the bride and bridesmaids’ hair. They were all in their early twenties and heading to the bachelorette party immediately after their appointment. Intrigued, my stylist (who is about my age) and I listened to their agenda, which went something like this:
3. Drink more
4. Rave club
5. Drink some more
7. Pass out
8. Politely skip brunch the next day (this is implied)
I have to admit, I was slightly jealous and said to myself, “Self… there’s not one line on her face. There’s not one ounce of fat on her body. And she will not be standing at her wedding reception around ten o’clock at night… exhausted… wondering if it’s rude to leave and get some sleep.”
And that’s when it dawned on me; two emotions cannot co-exist in the same space. Instead of being jealous, I should be happy for her and wish her nothing but the best… the same sentiments I want others to have for DB and me. And not just because it’s the right thing to do, but because if there’s anything I’ve learned as I approach 40 -it’s that karma is unkind.
Besides, I was that bride and I’ve been that bridesmaid. I’ve been that girl at the wedding du jour… listening to the music du jour… drinking the shot du jour… in the bridesmaid's dress du jour. You know the dress I’m talking about… the several hundred dollar one that your friend, the bride, picked because, "It’s so pretty yet practical that you can actually use it again..." the dress du jour that I always feel like wearing to the brunch du jour… with the hang over du jour… just so I can say, "You're RIGHT! This one is different from the other forty that I own. I actually CAN wear it again.” But I digress.
The moral to this tale is this: While I could fake being sage and loosely quote Aesop who said, “Although sour grapes make a bitter but fine whine, the more fully matured ones make a truly enjoyable drink.” I’d rather quote Meatloaf instead and tell you that, “A wasted youth is better by far than a wise and productive old age.” Party on young bride. Have a blast. Love with reckless abandon and enjoy the ride - even if it takes you to a salon twenty years from now... where you're eavesdropping with your stylist… slightly jealous of a young wedding party. Just remember to wish that bride the same thing I wish for you - nothing but sheer bliss.
Talk to you next week.
Monday, April 25, 2011
There’s a hole in the middle of our lot *clap clap*
There’s a hole. There’s a hole. There’s a hole in the middle of our lot *clap clap*
There’s a loan on the hole in the middle of our lot…
And that’s where our story begins.
For those of you who know me, you know that I’m not good with paperwork. I’m just not. So thank God the task of dealing with the construction loan has fallen squarely onto DB’s very capable shoulders. Had I gotten stuck with it instead, the above ditty would have been more, “SECOND VERSE, SAME AS THE FIRST” than “There’s a loan on the hole in the middle of our lot.” In other words, no progress would have been made whatsoever, because honestly - the last time I had to get a home loan, it was so therapy-inducing (for all involved) that I ended up severing all ties to a shallow acquaintance while clinging to my best friend for dear life.
However, to tell you that part of the story, I have to tell you this part first.
Though my ex-husband and I bought our house in 1999, he handled the details. In fact, it wasn’t until after our divorce in 2008 (when I had to refinance and transfer the mortgage), that I looked at my first financial document… ever. As you can imagine, walking into a bank as an old dog unwilling to learn new tricks… with no fiscal experience and even less patience… in the midst of a global economic crisis… trying to understand equity and escrow and APRs and closing costs and appraisals… was NOT my finest moment. So I did what I do in every meltdown, I called my best friend... and not just to vent, but for help. You see, she’s owned several homes, is getting a PhD in Economics, and truly knows what she’s talking about. Add to that the fact that she knows how to handle me in just such moments, and voila – she’s my crisis hotline.
So for about thirty minutes straight, I called… and I texted… and I called… and I texted, but she didn’t respond. And that’s when I figured out that she must be in a meeting with her phone off, so I sent the following e-mail to her instead: Please come to the Credit Union with me and help me finish this fucking paperwork. Note, if you don’t, you leave me no choice but to tell them it’s for a Lesbian Boys Ranch… our Lesbian Boys Ranch (to be specific) and I will list you as the co-signer. Don't make this uglier than it has to be. See you Tuesday at 11:15. Love you."
Later that day, I received an e-mail back that said, "I'm sorry. I don't think you meant to send this to me." It was from the Head of a Women’s Club that I belong to… who happens to have the same initials as my best friend, TB. Yup - I e-mailed it to TB alright, just the wrong one. Now, to fully understand the horror of this situation, you have to understand that this woman (not my TB but the other TB) is a typical mid-western social club president. She is a prude and a gossip who believes that divorce is a disease... that it’s contagious... and that it’s coming for her like a semi on ice without breaks. So she wants nothing to do with me to begin with. And now, NOW she thinks I'm a lesbian... who wants to open a boy’s ranch... with my best friend... who also happens to be my lover. Needless to say, she didn't need any more fundraising help from me.
When I forwarded the entire string to TB… the real TB… she said, “See you at the bank. Wear that sweater I love that makes your eyes pop (and by that I mean shows off your boobs).” Clearly this is why we’re best friends.
At any rate... this story isn't about a shallow woman who walked away when it got hard or even about the amazing woman who didn’t. It's about a hole that’s been dug, on a lot that’s been purchased, with a loan that neither TB nor I had to handle. But it’s also about passing on my mother’s advice - with a twist, "Just because you don't keep the shallow friends doesn't mean you can't fuck with them. And just because you kept the good ones doesn't mean you can."
Talk to you next week!
Sunday, April 24, 2011
The point is that, the other night, as we were getting hit by a thunderstorm, I decided that if I couldn’t track my growth as a writer, I could at least track it as a human being. And so, instead of logging into the back end and checking mkromd’s analytics, I started with the first post and read each and every one of them in order. To quote the late, great Selma Diamond of it’s a Mad Mad Mad Mad World, “I laughed. I cried. It became a part of me.”
I just wish the part of me that it went to wasn’t my ass.
At any rate, if there’s anything I learned from that exercise, it’s that the French are right… "plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose.” The more things change, the more they stay the same.
- I still have a bat-shit crazy puppy who eyeballs me while masturbating on her dog bed. What's new is that she now has an all-glass sunroom and does it for the neighbors to watch. Because the sunroom is near the kitchen, I like to think of it as dinner and a show.
- I still have TB (the friend not the disease), but I'm told that a shot of penicillin can cure both.
- I still write mercilessly about my partner, my family, and my closest friends, albeit anonymously. However, I think my mother speaks for all of them when she tells me, “Honey, if you can't annoy somebody, there's little point in writing.”
And though I would tell you that I write because it saves me $100 a week in therapy bills, I'd be lying if I didn't say that her argument has merit. And that would be wrong, because birthdays aren't just about getting older, they're also about growing up. Talk to you next week.
Monday, April 11, 2011
That said, to tell you that part of the story, I have to tell you this part first.
Not only did DB inherit his father’s good looks and love of nature and guitars, he also inherited a giant, red Dodge truck from him. It’s huge, and at the risk of sounding like I don’t care about the environment, it has come in VERY handy to:
- Move things from my house to our rental house.
- Move things from my old garage to the dump.
- Go skiing.
At this point, I need to remind you that DB is a TOTAL keeper, whom I love and adore with every fiber of my being. That amazing man has easily taken 100 loads of my 'stuff' to the dump (from when we worked on my landscaping, when we cleaned out my basement, and when we emptied my garage), he has done all of it in his very calm, Buddhisty way, and he has asked for nothing in return. So, two weeks ago, I said, “Please don’t go to the dump without me again. It’s the last load of shit from my house, and it’s massive. Your back hurts. Your shoulder hurts, and your neck hurts. I’ll handle this.” And… he waited. Through snowstorms, tornadoes, and rain showers, he waited… until yesterday.
You see, last weekend, we had agreed to meet at 4:45 to do it… which I didn’t remember until I got to work and saw it on my calendar… which was unfortunate – given my wardrobe selection. However, instead of cancelling… I showed up… ready to work... fashionably (my people are Irish, we know how to toil). So, I put on a pair of work gloves and started grabbing trash from the bed when a RANCID BAG OF GARBAGE EXPLODED ON ME.
That was it. There were tears... there was snot... there was even a little vomit... all of which was accompanied by a scream which was more like a whimper whose pitch was so high that only dogs could hear it. To be exact, it was a diva fit. However, in my defense, it was legitimate and warranted. The whole event was so disgusting that I had to change my clothes in the garage at our rental house and wash my hair with anti-bacterial soap... which is now so dry that it's going to break off at the root. And then, this morning, when I took the outfit to the dry cleaners, the woman had the nerve to say, “Only you would wear Armani to gut a bear.” She's lucky that I've already had one diva fit this week.
Talk to you next week.
Monday, March 7, 2011
Don’t get me wrong, I knew it would be hard. I just had no idea it’d be ‘four trips to Burger King in one day’ hard.
And last Saturday, before my dinner run but after my breakfast and lunch ones, the kid at the drive-thru actually had the nerve to say, “Welcome back. Would you like to try the Jalapeño and Cheddar Burger, or do you just want the same thing you ordered an hour ago?” God hates me. And… because I felt like that stupid teenage boy was judging me, I lied and said, “Oh, this isn’t mine. I’m buying lunch for the people who are helping me move.” Too bad he caught me inhaling my extra-large onion rings in the parking lot while sobbing and listening to the soundtrack to Mamma Mia. So, I did what any forty year old woman would do. I flipped him off then texted my best friend to say, “How could I have gained ten pounds this week?” To which she immediately replied, “That’s what happens when you consume shit-food, hire movers, and rely on Dancing Queens to help you. You get to eat, drink, and be Marys while someone else does all the work. See you at 5:30 tonight.”
With that, I'm off to unpack. Now that things have settled down, I should be able to write more regularly. Talk to you next week.
Thursday, March 3, 2011
At any rate… whatever the rhyme or reason, for the last two weeks, I’ve been “blog challenged”… until this morning, when I remembered something that Steve Martin once said about Writer’s Block, “When you’re stuck staring at a flashing cursor, get a book you love and steal your favorite sentence. That will get you started. The odds of being found out are very slim, and even if you are… there's usually no jail time.” And so, literary loophole in hand, I’ve chosen to pilfer Ben Franklin’s adage, “Laughter is the best medicine.” Actually, scratch that. For the purpose of this post, I’m going to quote SNL’s Jack Handy instead, “My dad always thought laughter was the best medicine, which I guess is why several of us died of tuberculosis.”
Now… please let me clarify. I don’t think it’s OK to ignore or make fun of anyone’s suffering; however, given the current levels of chaos in our world, I firmly believe it’s alright to add some levity to each of our lives… And if I can make one person smile, then my work here is done. In other words, I shall attempt to be your karmic comic relief today, so please feel free to laugh at my expense as I catch you up on DB’s and my wedding plans...
Since this is our second marriage each, it’s been pretty easy to organize the event. We know When (this summer). We know Where (local). We know Who (family and close friends only). Hell, we even know How (Buddhist). The only things left to handle are the Whats (those miscellaneous and sundry details where the devil resides). This includes my dress, which I’m pleased to report I now have… regardless of how traumatic the process was for everyone involved (and believe me when I say that it was therapy-inducing).
However, before I can tell you that part of the story, I have to tell you this part first.
You see, a few weeks ago, my best friend, her daughter, DB’s daughter, and I went shopping. We each picked two gowns for me to try on and the dress consultant picked three. And while this female rite-of-passage is fun when you’re twenty-one, in middle-age it falls squarely into Dante’s ninth level of hell: Sins of Betrayal. Seriously, at thirty-nine, your body begins to sabotage you in every way imaginable. In fact, I’d say that middle-age has shot me in the foot, but I think it’s more accurate to say that it's stabbing me in the back-fat. Because, honestly, when you spend less on the dress than you do the shit that goes UNDER it so the groom wants get you OUT of it, your dignity has been compromised.
But I digress, and for the men-folk who read mkromd and have never been through this, let me explain.
When buying the perfect wedding dress, the bride-to-be is:
1) Put into a room the size of a gym locker.
2) Handed a slip and a corset designed to “rearrange your figure into something more aesthetically appealing.”
3) Given one not-so-perfect dress after another to try on.
1) The room doesn’t have mirrors, so you can’t reject a dress until the world has seen and ridiculed you in it.
2) A corset is an extremely tight, Victorian-era torture device with fifty eyelets that has to be put on like a bra (think Hitchcock meets porn). You cannot put it on by yourself unless you turn it around… fasten every damn hook up the front… THEN turn it around AGAIN… so the eyelets are in the back… along with your breasts. And while that sounds horrifying… and it is… it HAS be better than having a complete stranger do it for you… which is the bride’s only other option… when her best friend says, “The group rate on therapy isn’t low enough for the two of us to try that together.”
Anyway, after navigating through that nightmare, I put on the first dress and walked out, only to hear DB’s sweet, beautiful, brilliant daughter whom I love to bits say, “mkromd, why is your boob under your armpit?” I wanted to explain the corset debacle, but I didn’t want to scar her for life, so I let it go. And, after doing this almost ten MORE times, the dress consultant said, “I think I have the right one for you… It screams East Coast WASP.” I’m not sure I know what that means, but I fell in love with the dress, as did DB’s daughter, my best friend, and her daughter. Now I have approximately one month to get into shape before the final fitting (yes, really), which leads me to another What (what music to play at the reception).
See, DB was a Blues Guitarist in Austin for a decade, so his tastes are pretty refined. He’s a purist who likes good Blues. Period. Me… my iPod is as schizophrenic as I am with playlists called things like:
Shout Out– Including The Ramones, The Sex Pistols, and The Clash
Chill Out– Including Bob Marley, Elvis Costello, and Leonard Cohen
Work Out– Including P. Diddy, Timbaland, and Eminem
Go Out– Including Gloria Gaynor’s “I Will Survive,” Patti Smith’s, “Because the Night,” and The Weather Girls, "It's Raining Men." It should be noted that these three songs will turn me into a rock star inside my car faster than Lady Gaga can turn a homosexual man into diva at a gay club... in less than three snaps. But again, I digress.
My point is that it’s OK to laugh - even when CNN looks more like the Mayan Book of the Dead than it does the news. And so, as I was looking for books to pilfer sentences from (and help me shift some of my focus and energy towards something more positive and humorous), I stumbled across the Chick Lit Challenge. Here’s how it works, each participant has to read twelve books in this genre throughout 2011, two of which have to be from debut authors. It began in January, and the idea was one book per month; however, since I started late, I’m including Nora Ephron’s, “I Remember Nothing,” Elizabeth Gilbert’s, “Committed” and Meg Waite Clayton’s, “The Wednesday Sisters.” All of which I loved and would highly recommend. Next on my list, after Ekhart Tolle's, "A New Earth," is "Attachments" by Rainbow Rowell. I'll be sure to let you know what I think (of both).
My sincere hope in sharing is that each one of us can laugh, even if it's just a little until it's a lot, and I think this challenge will help us find witty, sweet, female-oriented literature that may heal some of our sadness… Because if laughter really is the best medicine, then a spoonful of sugar has to make it go down all the easier.
Talk to you next week (I promise).
Friday, February 25, 2011
Note, the last time I had to recall the details of a road trip, I was twenty and woke up in Mexico City wearing a prison shirt, but that’s an entirely different story for an entirely different blog post, and I apologize for digressing.
Right now I’m reading Elizabeth Gilbert’s book, Committed. She wrote Eat. Pray. Love and is one of my favorite writers. For the record, I place her in the same literary echelon as Toni Morrison, Maya Angelou, Alice Walker, Jane Austin, and Nora Ephron. She’s honest and sincere… with herself, with her partner, and with her readers.
If you haven’t read either book, you should. I can’t promise that she will change your life. I can only say that her writing has deeply touched mine. And unlike Eat. Pray. Love, which explains how she ended a marriage and began a life, Committed actually weighs the pros and cons of marriage altogether. But it does more than that. It not only asks “why marriage?" It asks “how can we make marriage work”… something that has definitely been on my mind of late.
You see, I barely survived one divorce. I do not have the wherewithal to experience another, nor do I have the stomach to inflict that pain upon DB or the children we share in this relationship. So... last weekend... on the way to and from a wedding... inside a sporty, little Toyota Matrix... on Highway 65, I asked myself some very hard questions about matrimony, including:
1. Should we actually do this?
2. Does he really understand what he’s getting himself into?
Much deeper questions than the first time I got married - when all I wondered to myself was, “How do I know he’s the one?” Perhaps I should have probed more deeply when my brain responded, “Self, of course he’s the one, how else do you get to number two?”
But I didn’t do that emotional archaeology – and this time, I am.
To point one, I cannot imagine a life without DB. I can’t. He was the partner I knew I wanted long before I met him. In fact, if I had made a mental checklist of qualities in a man, he’d have exceeded in every category. But I need to say something about my remark. Please believe me, that’s not infatuation talking, nor is it desire or naiveté. I’ve been married. I’ve been divorced. I know those aforementioned lenses are transitional at best and illusions at worst, and I refuse to be their victim again... as the old adage goes, “Do it once shame on them, do it twice – shame on me.”
I get that we're human and that there will be problems. I also fully understand that DB and I have been divorced, so clearly we aren’t perfect, especially in the relationship department, but as my extremely wise mother once said, "Only a fool does the same thing the same way twice and expects to get different results." We've learned. We know what we expect of ourselves and each other, and we know what we can accept and what we won't tolerate. Those conversations have been had... repeatedly.
So why, "Til death do us part?"
Because there are very few people I trust with anything, and DB is the only person I trust with everything. When he says, "In sickness and in health, through thick and thin, come hell or high water - I will love, respect, and cherish you for the rest of my life," he will. And when he says that he's as committed to my happiness and well-being as he is to his own, he means it. This time around, I'll have and give that.
At this point in the story, it should be said that my ex-husband isn't a bad person and I don't hate him. We didn't fail out of malice. We failed because we were twenty-one and twenty-five with unrealistic expectations of marriage and each other. As Nora Ephron once said, "I was married. It didn't work out." That's all that I will say about the past. Today, DB and I are forty and forty-six, and we've been married. We understand that it's less like a Disney movie than it is trench warfare, and who we are today is who we will be for a very long time... maybe even the rest of our lives.
Hopefully, with age and experience comes wisdom and temperance.
Also novel is the fact that we’re brutally honest about ourselves and the space we share (the good, the bad, and the ugly). As a result, he knows who I am, and he accepts me regardless... which leads beautifully into point two: Does he really understand what he's getting himself into? Does he? I was actually once described as a, “squirrel on Jolt,” and I have more tragic flaws than an Aristotelian hero, which I could go on-and-on-and-on-and-on about in this post (believe me, the list is long but distinguished). Or… I could share Elizabeth Gilbert’s thoughts instead (I hope you don’t think I cheated by stealing a real writer’s list, but when the prose fits – use it).
Here is what DB is getting:
1. I think very highly of my own opinion. I generally believe that I know best how everyone in the world should be living their lives – and my partner, most of all, will be the victim of this.
2. I require an amount of emotional devotional attention that would have made Marie Antoinette blush.
3. I have far more enthusiasm in life than I have actual energy. In my excitement, I routinely take on more than I can physically or emotionally handle, which causes me to break down in quite predictable displays of dramatic exhaustion. My partner will be the one burdened with the job of mopping me up every time I’ve overextended myself and fallen apart after. This will be unbelievably tedious. I apologize in advance.
4. I am openly prideful, secretly judgmental and cowardly in conflict. All these things will collude at times and turn me into a big fat liar.
5. And my most dishonorable fault of all: Though it takes me a long while to get to this point, the moment I have decided that someone is unforgivable, that person will very likely remain unforgiven for life – all too often cut off forever, without fair warning, explanation, or another chance.
When I shared this passage from Committed with DB, he agreed. But in his calm, patient, Buddhisty way he explained why all of that is OK. However, that’s also a different post for a different time. For now, as they say at the Kentucky Derby (and after weddings in Louisville in general), “Annnnnnd they’re off.” I have no idea if that means people are ‘off their rockers,’ ‘off the mark,’ or ‘off and running,’ for getting married... but DB and I are definitely getting married.
Talk to you next week.
Wednesday, February 16, 2011
In her defense, the argument has merit.
However, in my defense, if you have EVER read mkromd, then you know that ANYONE who lets me plan ANYTHING should expect it to go poorly, and ANYONE who lets me handle EVERYTHING is simply looking for trouble. So while the involved parties claim to be “victims” of my bad luck (who have said more than once that they would sooner see hell freeze over than let me organize another vacation), they let me do this one, so they have no one to blame but themselves.
You see, I’m all about a bargain. No really, it’s true. I will spend $125 every five weeks to highlight my hair, but I cannot stomach paying more than $200 for airfare. I simply can’t. So when I found tickets for $150 each, I jumped. Perhaps I should have looked before I leaped… because the airport was almost HALF way to Colorado… which I found out the night before… as I was confirming our departure and arrival times. Yes, I drove six hours to Gary, Indiana to catch a four hour flight to Denver.
We are now - officially - the only thing other than the Jackson Five to come out of that city.
Anyway, once we landed at DIA, we had to pick up our rental car - a Ford Explorer for the low-low cost of $450 a week. Do you know how much most SUVs cost to rent during peak ski season in the Rockies? About $850. Turns out, you get what you pay for. I won’t tell you the vendor I used, but I will say that they only have three shuttles from the airport to their very remote facility: one in the morning, one in the afternoon, and one in the evening – ergo the cost savings. And, since we arrived at dusk, we waited for two hours in ten below weather to catch the shuttle to get our car. And the worst was yet to come…
We had to group sleep.
No, you read that right. We had to GROUP SLEEP… with people we did not know. What started out as a great deal ended up like a Kafka novel. In the spirit of full disclosure, the hotel ad went something like this: buy three nights – get the fourth night free. Unfortunately, the fine print ALSO said, “This suite has a shared living space.” I have three words for you – WTF! Seriously:
• No one ever reads the documentation, EVER.
• Two, even if you DO read the documentation, who knows to watch out for that?
• And three… W.T.F!
That’s all I can say. In fact, it was so far out of my scope of reality as an option that when we got to our room and opened the door and people were in there, I apologized because I thought there had been a misunderstanding. Nope, that non-negotiable, non-refundable package was all ours. But we made it work. That said, in the future, if I ever get to organize another trip, hell really might freeze over. And that's OK, because I'd ski that, too!
Talk to you next week.
This is why you should never put your life in the hands of a toddler with a weapon. It's like giving a shotgun to a monkey. Nothing good can come of it.
I'm not joking, her Valentine's Day sagas go something like this… Freshman year of college, she was severely dehydrated from the flu and ended up in the Emergency Room with an IV. As a sophomore, her appendix ruptured and she ended up having surgery. During her junior year, she was in a car accident and ended up in the Emergency Room again with a bad case of whiplash. By her senior year, she realized that Cupid was an asshole, so she stayed inside her apartment - safe and sound, thereby breaking the curse... until yesterday, when she fell under her own car on the way to work. All on Valentine's Day.
As she stood in my cube, telling me why she so justifiably hated this holiday, I told her that I loved her dearly, which I do (as a boss and as a friend), but I wanted her NO WHERE NEAR ME. Between her luck and mine, our office would have burned to the ground, and we had the innocent lives of our co-workers to consider. So... we avoided each other like the plague. And, though I missed seeing her all afternoon, my Valentine's Day was actually very lovely.
However, you know the deal. Before I can tell you that part of the story, I have to tell you this part first.
Around this time two years ago, DB and I went on our first "date." It was lunch, which seemed harmless enough. I mean really… how many women fall in love over Pad Thai? Turns out this one did (as well as scads of women across Asia, I’ll bet). I wasn't looking for him. In fact, I had been in a bad marriage and gone through an awful divorce, and the last thing I wanted was a relationship. And yet - there he was, this single dad and dear friend, who so charming and sexy and funny and brilliant, that I didn’t stand a chance. By the time I could say, “Check please” it was game over. That said, truth be told, in the back of my head, I knew I loved him long before that moment. It’s probably why it took me three months and thousands of e-mails, text messages and late night conversations to actually say, “Yes” when he asked me out.
And as we sat at that same Thai restaurant yesterday, I realized that I cannot live without him. So, as terrified as I am, I’m marrying him. Yes, this amazing, calm, blues-playing, Buddhist man is officially off the market. I will never know what he sees in me, but I know that I will love and adore him all of my life. With that, I hope you’re prepared for all of the posts that revolve around planning a wedding. I’m sure they will be insane… scratch that… more insane. And to my dear friend (and boss), maybe Cupid isn’t an asshole or a hit man after all. Maybe he’s just trying to help you land a doctor. Or, better yet... maybe he's just trying to help a doctor land you.
Talk to you next week.
Sunday, January 30, 2011
In other words, I want to break our international stalemate of five followers each.
Now, please understand something. I am immeasurably grateful for the five of you that I have. I honestly and sincerely appreciate each person and his or her time; however, there is one reader whom I simply cannot imagine a world without. Enter my oldest and dearest friend on this planet, MA. May each of you have a friend just like her - that person from college who you love instantly and stay close to - all of your life… the keeper of your memories and your secrets… and the one who was there for every adult-oriented, life-changing event that has ever happened to you. Grad school… first marriage… first job. Children being born… parents passing away. Divorce… second job… second marriage. The friend you cannot call to bail you out of prison because she’s in the cell beside you. Yes, that friend. And I’d like to introduce her into the cast of characters that are mkromd regulars. Because… in a way, this whole blog/site is her fault.
But, as always, before I can tell you that part of the story, I have to tell you this part first.
When MA and I met, almost two decades ago, we were not only broke grad students (who happened to be neighbors), she also became my boss (who let me share her office). I was doing my MBA in Marketing at the time and desperately needed a job… and she was an Editor who had just finished her Master’s Degree in Communications and kind-of needed a Technical Writer. Whether it was out of pity or love is irrelevant, she hired me, and the rest – as they say – is history. She honestly taught me everything I know about business writing… the hard way. Because, she may have the face of a Botticelli angel, but she swears like a sailor and edits like Chuck Norris. No lie, she once had a staring contest with a manual that I wrote for her, and I swear… the book blinked before she did.
This is a woman who once beat me with my own edits. Really. She actually rolled up the document and beat me with it (knowing that I bruise like a peach, but I'm not bitter). When I told her, “I have the right to be comfortable in my place of employment,” she simply replied, “So do I and this kind of shitty writing puts me on edge. Fix it.” Clearly, this is why I love her to bits and wouldn't trade or change her for all of the tea in China. She’s a great editor, who is an even better writer, but she is also a fabulous support structure, human being, and friend. And... since I know she's reading this, let me say this to her directly: Please don't beat me for the typos in this post.
On that note, I won’t be talking to you next week. I’ll be hitting the slopes instead. Talk to you the week after.
Wednesday, January 19, 2011
Dear Snowplow Driver,
Before I say another word, it should be stated that I sincerely appreciate and applaud the work you do. I mean that. It cannot be easy to get up at 4:00 in the morning, get into a cold truck, and plow several feet of snow off the roads so that people can safely get where they need to go. Really, kudos to you for that; however, is it really fucking necessary to repeatedly push enough snow and ice into my driveway that I could sink the Titanic with it? Is it?
Seriously, thanks to you, every single day I have a wall of snow at the foot of my driveway that can only be described as a small iceberg. In fact, you should know that I actually asked my friend if I could borrow her sailboat, because I had a plan… a cunning plan, a plan - to quote the Black Adder that was, “so cunning you could slap a tail on it and call it a weasel.” I was going to park her sailboat in my yard, let you push your tsunami-sized wave of snow onto it, then have a black tie party on the boat… complete with life jackets for all and a band playing, “Nearer my God to Thee.”
Who knew there were local ordinances like that to protect civil servants like you from angry tax payers like me?
Sincerely - M. Kro, M.D.
At any rate, after I ran the idea past a neighbor, who is also our town Mayor and who told me no, I texted TB and said, “Since the city won’t let me go down with the ship and I can’t fight city hall, our Titanic party is a failed launch. Lunch?” She replied, “Our? Your. And if you have enough money to host a Titanic re-enactment party, then you have enough money for a damn snow blower. See you at noon.” How she can call a spade a spade in 160 characters or less, I have NO idea.
That said, she has clearly missed the boat on this one (pun intended).
The point isn't whether or not I can afford a snow blower (kind of). The point is that I’m tired of being a victim of his passive aggressive sense of humor, so I have chosen to make him a victim of mine. When I explained this over lunch, TB said, “I don’t think too many snow plow drivers read your blog.” I hate it when she’s right. But, to make me feel better, she gave me a copy of the soundtrack to Titanic, which I downloaded to my iPod. And though my rage is impotent and I cannot exact my revenge through rapier wit, I have new music to listen to while I shovel… again and again and again.
Talk to you next week.