Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Art: the filling in the middle is called bliss

I was talking to my dear friend Kori a couple of weeks ago. She has to take some required courses to fulfill her Horticulture studies. One of them is an English class. I'm so psyched. She had to read Hamlet - then she called me.

Was I in Shakespeare geek heaven? Oh yeah, just a bit.

Hamlet makes me a little weak at the knees, but not all of my friends are so enamored of it as I am. That's cool, we don't all love the same stuff - even the Shakespeare lovers (closeted or not) aren't weeping and wailing and rhapsodizing about Hamlet like I am; and that is perfectly fine. But I do so love it when I can yak it up with someone about my favorite play.

Thing about Shakespeare is how different it is to read it than it is to see it performed. I told her how I thought she ought to see Kenneth Branagh's version, then read the play because I truly believe that reading Shakespeare first is not something that will enamor most people. It's not that I think it's too 'high brow', not by any means. Shakespeare is for EVERYONE. It's just that it's not written in our current spoken language, so people get a little hung up on the words on the page because it is like reading a foreign language. Geez. Just look at the handwritten Constitution of the United States of America and you'll see how tough it is to read (because of differences in writing styles - is that an "s" or an "f"?) and that was only 200 years ago. Go back to Shakespeare and well... you know. Language, it's a living thing: it changes. Just ask my friend Gary who knows from the reading, writing and acquiring of language skills!

So last week she'd read the play and seen a bit of video of Laurence 'O God I've Got 'Em ALL Fooled' Olivier doing Hamlet. She wasn't lovin' it. I never have... in case you couldn't guess.

This week she saw Derek Jacobi doing the same role and he had her in tears.

'Nuff said.

Of course interpretations of Hamlet will vary in different eras, with different actors. It's such a rich and complex play that it is natural that it will be done differently as long as there are actors and audiences. Interpretations being influenced by the time, by the political structure, by humans as we change. And that goes not only for Hamlet, not only for Shakespeare, but for anything that touches the core of our humanity. We change, even as we remain the same.

There is always something new, and God how I love something new ('cause I hate stagnation) to be found in Hamlet and in any work that affects us deeply. If it's real it will endure, and can be viewed in many differing lights as we grow and endure and, hopefully, evolve.

The interpretations, the outer trappings of anything, are always up for review - it's the deeper sense of truth and the beauty of something real, emotional and exquisite that we can tap into and see differently as we age and grow and change that is important. It is that core that holds the bliss we all seek. It is not the one performance of a play, not the one great moment an actor has, it is the deeper foundation that everything is built upon that we can latch onto and move forward, and backward and up and down on.

It's not just art. It's anything. My party Saturday for example. Now here's an age-old custom - you have people in your home, you feed them - hopefully they are happy. Now a party can take a million forms, there can be 3 people or 100, but the core is the same. You've come where I've invited you, and decorated,
I give you something to eat, something to drink, make the environment comfortable and all this is done to offer a sense of community, and connection. It could be a 18th Century cotillion, a '70s key party, or a group of cavemen dancing around a campfire - the intent is pretty much the same.

In my case I wanted very much to prepare everything myself, it was important to me to create things that I could give to people to show my gratitude at being alive, to say look we're here, we're alive. Eat this,
I made this for you, drink this, get silly, be comfortable and know you are important to me and how happy I am to have you here. Now that is the core. The 100% Vegan tamales and salsas and cupcakes and cupcakes, mariachi music and what-have-you, that's the outer trappings. It's just the wrapper, the 'art', I chose to put on my filling, covering the core.

I had a great time, much of it derived from the preparation and seeing people enjoy what I'd made. I think people were happy... I will always have doubts of course, because I'm insecure that way, but I think it went okay. But for me, the main thing is that I was able to make it the best I could, and give a gift of 'happy' to people I care about, some I see regularly and some I haven't seen in ages. For me, it was great. And they brought me flowers and wine and they came and I was thrilled.

The outside is the cookie.

The creamy center inside is the bliss.

Note: Special thanks to Ms. X's Mom who helped me hang the lights and banners so they looked great and whose pictures came out so well I could use them here, whereas mine look like someone drank too many margaritas... a-hem.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Wrong Way Up? Damn Straight.

I wanted to post this to coincide with the approximate time 3 years ago, that my world began to change for the better. But I won't be available, so I'm gonna just do it now.

I'm not positive of the time, but I'm making a rough guess that it was about 10 minutes or so into the performance of Wrong Way Up that I started thinking: huh... wha... and after 90 minutes I thought HUH... WHA.... and what the fuck just happened to me?

Three years later I sometimes still think Whaaaaat? But only in the best possible way. I think how insanely lucky I am, and how utterly blessed I feel every single day because of that wha-huh moment that turned my thoughts towards healing instead of self-destruction.

I am celebrating the third year of my miracle today and I am thrilled beyond words to say I've made it 3 years -- three years without a major depression. Three years without a major mania. Three years with only a very tiny period of deep blues ( and that was due to a little too much of a medication I now know to be wary of so I don't really count that so much.) Three years - unprecedented for me.

For me, reaching three years is a huge achievement. I set three years 'clean' as a goal for myself because that's longer than I've ever gone without hitting a deep depression. My feeling being that if I could make it three years, staying in the same good space in my mind and life that I could feel safe in believing that I was well. That for the first time since my first major Depression at 17 that I could feel there would be no more hell inflicted on me by my own brain. That I could relax and trust that I was indeed healthy - for real.

Today is three years. Today is a very, very good day.

The past three years have been, without doubt, the best, happiest, most exciting three years of my entire life. Not so much because of any achievements, accomplishments or life changing events but because for the past three years I have been happy simply to be. Well... for me, I guess that is a huge achievement, accomplishment and life changing event.

To be Happy in my LIFE not happy because of anything outside or anyone outside myself. Just happy to be alive - and grateful for the chance to finally know how good that feels. Every day, good days and bad, I have been grateful for my life. And grateful for the miracle that opened my eyes to a different way of being.

In the last three years I have done things I never believed I could. Certainly never believed I would. Doing those new and impossible things has made me crave more. Trying more things - going new places that have always scared me -- and no, I don't mean travel. I mean places in my own head, places in my heart that have terrified me. Have I done EVERYTHING I want in the past three years? Of course not! I doubt I will even be able to say I've done everything I want to do before I die (hopefully when I'm very old, during great sex, possibly in Mexico) but I am just fine with that.

A lot of my life, 25 years or so, worth of my life, has been filled with pain; not an insignificant amount of that pain came from my illness. I mourn that time because of what it could have been if I'd known then what I know now. But I try not to dwell because the past is past and now is all we ever really have. Besides, going through hell may have hurt at the time but it made me what I am; it gave me a lot of insight that I can only hope may help someone else. So I can't regret those 25 years... I can be a little cranky about it, but not regret it. Oh come on... I'm only human!

Sometimes I still worry about dealing with loss. I fear the loss of loved ones. But I believe I'm even stronger than I realize now and I know that I can survive anything. In the past three years I have extricated myself from poisonous relationships I saw no way out of, except suicide. I have found that I can fall in love - and I am strong enough to admit it, even while letting it go. I have found that love does not have to be forever to be real, and the end result of having loved does not have to be devastation. I have found that I can take care of myself while taking care of others without losing myself. I have learned to tell the difference between genuine caring and self-serving bullshit and I have learned to accept the former and steer clear of the later. And I have found that it's okay to accept affection, and give it. It doesn't have to be painful - or terrifying. And on a lighter note: I've found that a Brazilian bikini wax is not nearly so painful as I was led to believe.

So many little things have changed in my world over the past three years

In the past three years I have found that nothing is scarier than not trying. Over these three years my biggest, most all encompassing fear has been that I would become suicidal again. That something so unforeseen would happen that I could not handle it, that my medication would no longer work, that I would slip back into that darkness that could only end with a razor blade to my wrist.

I would be lying if I said I wasn't still somewhat nervous about that. Though I am letting go of it a little bit - I don't worry about it every single day any more. Sometimes several days will go by without even thinking about it. Though when I'm less than cheery, it's a little tickle in the back of my mind - a wariness, a watchfulness, a little caution tape I keep an eye on "just in case". I think that wariness is a good thing. A reminder of how things were - and how they are now. At my two year mark I was thrilled. But having three years of healing and strengthening has made me feel that I can breathe easier.

I wanted so much to mark this day, which for me is so huge, that I decided to do something else that scares me. It didn't used to scare me, I used to do it with some regularity, but I learned to be afraid and so I didn't do it any more. Tonight I'm doing it. I'm throwing a party.

It's not the kind of big, everybody come, everybody sleep over to sleep it off kind of party I used to throw, but it's the first one I've had in. . . let's just say decades are involved and leave it at that.

I'm a little scared it will flop. That it will be a bore, that the food will suck. But you know, those are just fears and how can I possibly be afraid when I've made it three wonderful years and every day becomes better and better? So I've hung some twinkle lights and some papel picados (thanks again Kori for getting those to me!) and I've made (what I hope is) some good (attempted) Mexican food, good margaritas and good cupcakes for my friends for without them I would be nowhere. Literally. So we'll celebrate Dia de Los Muertos, The Day of the Dead, a few days early. We'll celebrate life. Vive Fiesta! No one is more excited to celebrate life than me right now. I wish I could make everyone feel as joyful (sorry, that name...!) as I do.

I am so grateful to be alive. Three whole years. Who'dve thunk it?

Thursday, October 25, 2007

To sleep, perchance to dream... or maybe just SLEEP

My envy for those who can sleep was formerly only matched by my envy of those who have prescriptions for sleep-aid medications. Oh the dreams I've had of getting a doctor to prescribe something that I could take at night and pass into the land of morpheus for 8 full hours, waking only when my alarm went off, rested and ready to face a new day. Some happy little 'doll' that would make me saw wood, induce cheerful cartoon "zzzzz" to appear above my sleeping head, something that would make counting sheep something only shepards do.

Monday I had my annual physical. I love my doctor, she's just so smart, no-nonsense but still has a great sense of humor. After many, many years of so-so to downright dangerous doctors she is the best. Love HER! She's the one who gently suggested that Xanax might help my anxiety when I had no desire to take pills, and it did. She's also the one who gave me the Zoloft prescription three years ago that, in her words "gave me my life back". She is also the one who will not dispense antibiotics without serious evaluation and I trust her when she suggests I try a medication because she doesn't do so lightly.

When I mentioned my endless battles with insomnia she asked if I'd ever tried anything and I told her about recently trying a friend's Ambien, even though I know you aren't supposed to share prescribed meds, I did research it and found there were no interactions with my current daily pharmacy and I gave it a shot. The result? Ambien is apparently my caffeine. I was up all night and more perky than I had been BEFORE taking it.

This meant Ambien off the table and she suggested another one she thought would work for me, my issues being trouble falling asleep and trouble staying asleep. She gave me a Lunesta prescription. This shit is stupid expensive and my incredibly caring insurance carrier does not cover it. Thanks guys. Not like sleep is essential to health or anything, you stupid, corporate, bas.... Sorry. I'm not going to rant about the state of health care and insurance in this country. This rant is about my insomnia and my envy.

I filled my first sleeping pill prescription on Tuesday afternoon, paid the insane $159 for a thirty day supply and skipped home thrilled with the prospect of a full night's sleep. A real, honest to goodness SLEEP. I followed the directions and took the pill and a glass of water to bed with me. Got into bed, took the pill and laid down 'c'mon baby it's sleepin' time - wooohooooo!'

I thought about friends of mine who have taken sleep aids with great results: passing out cold, becoming so dozed that they tripped on the way to the bed. Oh my was I ready for nap time!

Ten minutes went by. I felt... nothing. Twenty minutes.... a little relaxed. Thirty minutes and I was asleep. Two hours later I was wide awake. WIDE awake people. Same as always. The only minor change, and at least it was something to be grateful for, was that while I was totally awake, I was also fairly relaxed and when I tried to go back to sleep I was able to. Falling back to sleep is really tough for me (unless it's 6 a.m. and I have to be at work at 9 - but that's a different issue). So okay, the Lunesta at least allowed me the opportunity to fall back asleep - that was good.

Except that I was awake again every two hours all night long.

For this I paid $159? Not much of a bargain.

I tried it again tonight. I mean I have the pills, I may as well try again. Needless to say the results were much the same. It's almost 3 a.m. and I'm writing here. I've been up for hours. I may well be up the rest of the night. *sigh*

My envy now has moved from those who HAVE prescriptions to those for whom they actually work. I'm going back to the doctor in a month, she said to give it a month and if things don't improve we'll try upping the dosage.

I don't have much in the way of hope that it will do the trick, but I'm willing to try.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

You're Not the Boss of Me!

Words have such power, don't they? It can be as outright as "nigger" (a word I hate but use here because of the strength of its illustrative value) or "cunt" (a word I use because I enjoy shock value and, as a woman, I enjoy taking the power of it back), or as subtle as "boss". The extreme examples are easy to recognize, they often trigger a primal reaction in the listener. What troubles me is the subtle words and how they impact us subconsciously.

Boss is a word I never use. I hate it. Granted I have some authority issues, but it goes deeper than that. I have never used the word "boss" when referring to an employer because I feel it not only empowers the person referred to in a way that connotes submission and hopelessness ("what can I do? It's what the boss wants!"), but because I think it wears away at any sense of personal responsibility or choice in the individual who uses it ("I was just following orders."). Having a boss implies far more than simply working for someone, it implies total subjugation. If you listen to children using this phrase "You're not the boss of me!" you see how powerful it really is on a deep psychological level. Kids are basic, they are right here, right now and they are great at divining the truth of things. Only as we get older do we start analyzing issues and over thinking and making allowances. For deep down truth: go to a kid. You'll never hear one child say to another "you're not the employer of me!" because it does not hold the same weight.

It's interesting to me to listen to my friend Gary talk about the people he works with. He's a teacher and not once have I ever heard him refer to anyone as his "boss". He refers to his school's Principal, Vice Principal, Co-teachers, etc., but no one is "boss". They may indeed have more power in terms of policy but they are most certainly not 'the boss of him'. This indicates a level of equality, a feeling of community, mutual respect and shared objectives, that you don't hear from many professions or jobs in general. Usually people view a hierarchy of power and fall into place, and if you're not "on top" you're crushed. Metaphorically, of course, I don't want you to visualize an office full of stockbrokers jumping into a dog pile with some poor secretary on the bottom trying to make make a xerox copy.

Too many of us have bosses in our lives. Not only in the work place. People who bully us or who nick away at our self-esteem with such tiny subtleties that we don't even realize it until we wake up one day wondering why we hate ourselves so much and why we feel so useless. You don't have to be in a physically abusive relationship to be hit. Words have the power to maim and destroy. Words have the power to inflame and to begin wars.

Oddly enough a common phrase you hear from parents trying to settle down an unruly child is "use your words". Yes. Use your words. But use them wisely. You can certainly hurt others with them, we all know that. The thing you may not realize is how you can hurt yourself with your words.

Be careful with yourself - and others.

Use your words. Just remember: you're not the boss of me!

Friday, October 19, 2007

It's the little things

I have gone through three computers in the past 8 years (and 5 hard drives... oh the pain of that!) But in all that time I have not made my computer usin' area as user friendly and creativity inducing as I have now.

I have updated the desk, and cleared the space, but until today, no amount of tidying-up or reorganizing helped. It was still a seriously unattractive space because of the horror of the giant desk chair. This was a chair my father had given me for Christmas at least 8 years ago and though I never loved it, it was better than using the colonial style hard backed kitchen chair I had inherited from my parents and had been using since.. oh, 1985. Yeah, okay so I'm slow on furniture choices.

The big gray monstrosity would have been wonderful in a larger apartment. Or an actual office. Still, kinda unattractive, but certainly serviceable. And it was comfortable, until I got a new computer desk that kept getting rammed by the arms of the gray monster and drove me NUTS.

Picking out a new chair is something I've been toying with for years - but it's that decision making that is so tough. I'd prefer to wait for the perfect chair. So I endured the monster. Hmmm. Sounds like there's some subtext there, eh? But really, the chair.
The Apartment Before Apartment Therapy
*note Nick in the gray monster

Yes. That's a pleasant place to be, huh?
I tried to keep a towel on the chair to avoid Nick clawing at it.
Like it helped. Not so much.

Basil's cat, Nick, loves the gray chair. It's an obsession of his. This too drives me nuts. The second my butt is out of that chair, Nick is in it. He can be sound asleep in another room and he senses I have moved off the chair - even if it's only a centimeter, and BLAMMO his furry cat butt is in the chair. I don't want to think about how many times I have accidentally sat on this cat.

Last week I found what appeared to be the perfect chair. I ordered it online and it arrived today. It matches an ottoman I already have and it's SMALL and fits under the desk and it is making me stupid happy. Clearly, as I am writing what amounts to a paean to a desk chair here. Short of topics much?

Before I even assembled it, Nick was scoping out the new chair.

And I was on to him. And he knew it.
Tthe chair has been unpacked, assembled and in place for two hours. Nick has managed to be on it only once. I don't imagine it will be possible to keep him off it. But maybe if I drape it with a blanket? So much for an improved work space.
That's how it looks right now. Well, not right now because I'm actually sitting on the chair and typing this... oh you know what I mean. Better, isn't it? And all it took was a little chair.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

What I deserved.

There's a lot of of awful television out there. A lot of awful movies, plays and music too. But television is the one that really gets the brunt of the 'what crap' sentiment. Sifting through the available nonsense shows that pollute the airways it's easy to see why. Understandably television also gets the bum rep from so many because it is so egalitarian in that it's free (mostly) and the number of homes without a television vs. the ones with... well, it doesn't take a genius.

Of course amongst the drek there is some gold - get out your sifter and find it. It's not easy. But tonight I was watching something (taped) and there was something that really hit me. Something that struck an emotional, real-life, chord for me and I have to decry all the television naysayers because of it. If something as seemingly inane as television can be so well-written (and acted) that it causes an emotional reaction, causes a desire to create and make something of your own, then how 'crap' can it really be?

Any form of expression that elicts that sort of click in the brain, that sort of "me too" response deserves some kudos and the label "art". That's what art is supposed to do, isn't it? Make us feel, make us share, make us understand that we are not alone. This 30 minute show, entertaining as it was, was not art -- until the moment it triggered my own 'me too' moment; and memories of some very sad times.

The moment was when someone was forced to admit to herself that she deserved more than she was getting from a relationship. Someone else had to say the words: "you deserve more" for her to face it and that, my dears, is real. So many of us accept so much less than we* deserve and we keep accepting it and taking it, because deep down - even if we won't admit it to anyone else or even to ourselves - it's all we believe we are worth. We'll put up with the most insane behavior from people we want so desperately to love us back that we will rationalize ANYTHING - even down to them having a baby with someone else! Really.

We'll keep doing that, rationalizing, making excuses, until we don't know which way is up any more and instead of facing the fact that we DO deserve better we turn on ourselves rather than on the person who is mistreating us. That is, of course, until we realize that the real abuser in the scenario is ourselves.

We will allow others to do to us what we would NEVER tolerate being done to our friends, our family, our loved ones. But treat us like worthless garbage? Oh sure, bring me another heaping plate of self-loathing, thanks. And how about a side order of treat me like shit, just don't leave me.

Sometimes we only see the truth when someone outside the situation, not a friend who has said it a million times before, but someone completely outside, spells it out for us and makes us admit to ourselves that we are the only ones allowing ourselves to be treated badly. Yes the person who is hurting you is responsible - but unless you're looking for martyrdom and a possible sainthood after death - you are responsible for allowing them to stay in your life and continuing to treat you badly.

I was the absolute queen of letting people treat me like hell: family, lovers, friends - anyone! I do not allow that any more. I do not fight with people to try to change them, I do not beg for 'things to get better' - people are as they are, if someone treats you like dirt the only way to make it stop is to cut them out of your life. YOUR life. You are not here to make them a better person. You are here to make yourself a better person - and to live your life as happily as you possibly can and spread that love around. If someone in your life makes you feel bad about yourself, or sad, or hurts you in any way but accidentally (and I mean like stepping on your toe!), take a look at what why you keep that person in your life. And then look in the mirror and repeat with me:

I deserve better.

Because you do. We all do. And we can have it - if we learn to love ourselves first.

Geez... all that from one line of a television show. Now THAT'S Art!!

*by we I mean me

Sunday, October 14, 2007


Saturday I auditioned for the Opera.

Not just any opera - THE Metropolitan Opera.

Oh no, not in any singing way - please do I seem that sadistic? Or masochistic? No, I auditioned for a background part, an extra, a super (Supernumerary) in Opera lingo.

The opera? War & Peace.

Alright, honestly I didn't so much audition as I attempted to audition. They were looking for an army - War & Peace, kinda screams out for a big ol' army, doesn't it? Of course for this particular army they were looking for men. Me? Not much in the 'men' department.

The way this all started was this: Last week I got an email from a friend of mine who had gotten an email from a woman she used to work with who is now working at the Met. She was forwarding along a casting notice and my friend sent it to me.

Now this email said "everyone is welcome" but I had a sneaking suspicion that in this case they were not being equal opportunity in terms of gender. Still, there was no mention that it was male specific, I figured what the hell I'll go, see if they see me and if nothing else it will be a story. Also, my friend was as yet unaware of my newfound love of Opera - it just seemed so serendipitous that I HAD to give it a try. Oh and if I got it, I'd get paid. I'd get to see the opera and make some cash doing it. How could I pass on that? So I went.

Oh my oh my it was quite a little event.

There was a line out the door when I arrived. A line full of men.

All men.

No really.

Oh wait, there was some guy who had his girlfriend with him. Who brings their significant other with them to a job interview? Strange... but I digress. She wasn't auditioning. So in fact there was an enormous line of men and little ol' me.

Did I feel silly? A little.
Did I feel like I ought to step off that line? A little.
Did I feel like a kid in a candy store? A little more than a little.

While we waited, the boys and me, a very sweet young woman came down the line handing out information sheets explaining exactly what to do when you got to the sign-in table and how the audition would run from there. Very nicely organized The Met, I love that.

She handed me a sheet and didn't bat an eye. I figured that meant that while I was in the minority, aside from helpful girlfriend chick, that I was not completely out of the running in terms of being cast. Hey, stranger things have happened. Stranger things have happened to me any way. So I chilled out, and sent Gary a txt message telling him I was essentially surrounded by fellas, i.e. in HEAVEN.

The gentleman behind me was stopped by another man who asked if he could interview him. He was a reporter from the New York Times doing a story on the audition. Slow news week, much? As they talked, all I could think was: here I am, the lone female on this line and this reporter is talking to the guy directly behind me. Now, I'm no journalist, but I have to wonder: don't you think that if there's a giant crowd of men and just one woman that maybe, just maybe now, the real story would be to interview that one woman? Just a thought.

After about 10 minutes, the line growing ever longer behind me, the young woman who had handed out the information sheets stopped me - only moments before I would enter the building where I could actually sign-in and follow all the detailed instructions on that sheet - and said, "we're not really seeing women today."

I actually cracked up. I told her I figured as much, but it seemed like such a hoot that I thought I'd give it a shot. She was very, very sweet about the whole thing and God knows I must have seemed like either a nutjob or a dope when I asked, "can I go through the process anyway?" (seems I grew a set just by being surrounded by all that testosterone). She just looked at me and said, "ummmm, not really." But she said it very nicely. Honestly she was very diplomatic and you don't always run into that in a cattle call situation so if I knew her name I'd post it here and give her some recognition for being a doll. But I don't. Ah well.

I only pushed to get in to do the audition because I thought it would make a really, really amusing anecdote; but I also understood that it would be unfair to take the time away from someone who might actually be cast. But damn I really wanted to go in and do some marching. I know damned well I'd have ended up tripping my entire audition regiment group and oh what hilarity that would have been.

Later that night I went with some friends to see Naked Boys Singing. It was just a big ol' boy day for me, huh? At the theater there was a cardboard stand-up from another show, Altar Boyz. It was the kind you stick your head through and take pictures with. How could I resist? Dig the biceps on that chick!

I wonder if they would let me audition now?

Never give up. Never surrender.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Wax on, wax off: a Brazilian tale

About a month ago I mentioned that I'd had my first professional bikini wax. I alluded to a story which I simply didn't get to. Now I feel like sharing the love.

And I do mean sharing the love.

In September I decided to go for a day of beauty. You know, mani, pedi, waxing. Since I had no previous experience with professional waxing I only had the vaguest idea of what to expect. I've tried waxing at home with really messy and spotty results, it's just not worth the effort. But because of that I knew what the actual 'waxing' would be like - though I certainly knew it would be less messy than a do-it-yourself job, probably more effective and hopefully less painful.

I went to a nail salon around the corner from my apartment because I've been there before for pedicures. (I know, sooo girly, right?) But manicures and pedicures are done in the open, in the main salon. I didn't know what might be lurking in the back rooms. Would it be an opium den of melting wax pots on hot plates, or a serene candle-scented oasis? No clue.

I walked in without an appointment and a very nice Asian woman, let's call her Madam, asked what I needed. I told her, mani-pedi, leg wax and a bikini wax; then, with some trepidation, threw in 'a Brazilian'. She smiled, put her arm on my shoulder and led me to the secret back rooms where the 'beauty' happens. Wheeee!

All in all things were going really smoothly (no waxing pun intended). I got through my fear of asking for what I wanted, and I felt very proud of myself and at ease. The room was about the size of a walk-in closet. There was a padded table pushed against one wall, with a fresh roll of paper spread over it, very sanitary, and pretty silk pillows for your delicate head to rest on while having hot wax poured over you and ripped off. All the equipment was very clean and neat and while not a super-deluxe luxury spa, it was comfortable.

Madam started with my legs, to ease me into this brave new world of waxing, and it was a breeze. I was very happy to find that the waxing procedure itself was not any where near as painful as I had expected, nor was it any where near the sort of pain I had inflicted on myself during my DIY experiments. This made me far less apprehensive about the dreaded Brazilian. I was fast becoming a wax-pro. Ta-da!! This was the way to go! No more daily razors! Faster showers! Ever-smooth and sassy legs!

Then it was time to travel south to Brazil. I half expected to hear Johnny Mathis.

mmm-mmm. Sorry. I went to Johnny Mathis land for a moment. I love Johnny Mathis. *sigh* Now back to the wax.

Understandably most women would be a bit nervous about this sort of waxing not just because of the pain associated with it but even more so because of the fact that you have to be completely undressed. No panties. No g-string. No nothing. Not even a paper drape like at the gynecologist. This was bare it all in a back room with a total stranger. Thing about me is, that doesn't bother me. Not even a little. Which may seem weird. I'm actually more shy when my clothes are ON. Yeah well, I never said I was typical.

Madam started and I was prepared to scream blue murder at the top of my lungs. But truthfully I have a ridiculously high pain threshold, if I say something hurts, it REALLY hurts. I was completely fine. I was even laughing and joking (shocking, I know as I am usually pretty damned dour). I was stoic when it was uncomfortable and there was one spot that actually caused me to screech "OUCH!" but even that wasn't so bad and it was actually funny because nothing had hurt until that one "ouch" so it shocked us both. Oh we laughed and laughed, Madam and I. Funny funny stuff.

When she was done she stopped and clasped her hands in front of her and gazed with what can only be described as pride at my newly waxed bikini area. It was like she was watching a favorite child at her first piano recital. After a few seconds I said, "you look so proud". She laughed then patted her art work and said "so smooth, like a baby! It's beautiful!"

Well thank you Madam, I'm sort of fond of the whole thing myself.

After everything was done Madam got a small bottle of oil and poured some into her hand and then massaged it into that beautiful area that had just been waxed. This was a Brazilian wax. You with me people? She didn't simply apply the oil. She massaged it in. No, I mean she really MASSAGED it in. Get it? Precisely.

Now I'm not shy about being undressed, waxed, admired (thanks again, Madam, I love a compliment) and oiled... but I was a little... shall we say, surprised. But what the hell did I know? Like I said, this was a first for me and it seemed to make sense that you'd want to soothe all that delicate skin that had just endured so much tugging and pulling. Right? RIGHT?

The next day I asked a friend of mine, who has had some non-Brazilian waxing, about the oil bit. She seemed surprised, "um... no, no oil, just powder. And no massaging it in either." Hmmm. She then asked her sister who has had Brazilian experience. Same deal "No oil, just powder."

Now the interesting thing is that before this whole thing went down (Stop it. No. Just stop it.) I had tried to research a little on the 'net to see if I could get a step-by-step account of what to expect. Oddly enough there was no mention of any sort of massage. Strange.

Now I wonder... maybe I should have given her a bigger tip?

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

If you're antsy - dye your hair

40 minutes, a bottle of peroxide and color and ta-da! now my hair is 'mahogany'. Hopefully this will not mean I must burst into song a la Diana Ross.

DO you know where you're going to... do you like the things that life is. show.ing. you... where are you going to... do you know?

Aw hell.

sorry 'bout that.

Sometimes I wonder if all the peroxide IS going to my head....

I'm going to the movies now.

Sometimes I just hate to think

My head is a whirlwind lately. The past few days I just can't seem to stop thinking, thinking, thinking. Not about anything bad, just thinking. It's annoying. Usually I think a lot. I'm in my head pretty much 20/7 (yes, I do need to sleep a little bit), but sometimes it's more acute. Like lately.

It feels too much. There's just too much to think about and I need to cull some of the 'to think about' list before my head explodes.

I don't much feel like talking to people - yet I'm chatting with people on the street every single time I'm out. Neighbors out with their dogs, folks in stores, the clerks I know at the post office (yeah, I spend waaaay too much time at the post office), even total strangers. I had a 15-20 minute conversation with a really lovely woman and her little girl about tattoos.

I was stopping to buy this cute little pepper plant.

She saw the tattoo on my wrist when I reached for the pot.

I think I helped convince her that getting a seagull on her shoulder was a good idea because it seemed like she just needed a little nudge of reassurance that it wouldn't hurt. And there I was. My tats didn't hurt, so I'm a great spokesperson for the ease of getting them.

But why are people talking TO me... and why am I talking BACK, when I feel a violent urge to escape? Do I hide it that well? No. Actually I guess talking to them is a form of escape.

I don't mean escaping them, the current little chit-chat and general pleasantries of a sales transaction or what-not. Although 20 minutes on the street with a stranger may seem more than chit-chat. My urge to escape is more from my own ceaseless thinking.

I am antsy as all get out. I'm a little cranky when I don't feel cranky. I think it stems from the fact that I need ....

to think.

I feel censored and inhibited and I want to stop that feeling.

I have lived for years now without censor, with little censure, and I LIKE IT. Right now I'm feeling a bit pushed and trapped and responsible for things I'm not responsible for. I really, really don't like it.

I want to create, to be, to do and this damned thinking and pressure is really inhibiting that. It ain't fun my friends, it ain't fun.

Not that I'm not happy, because I am. I'm just thinking too much.

I'm going to go dye my hair now. That always makes me happy.

Of course I have to think about what color first.

Crap. There's always something.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Outcome of the Opera....

A fan is born.

We'll see if that holds up after Carmen. For right now: BIG Opera Queen over here.

What's Opera, Doc?

Today's a big day for me. I'm going to the opera. I have never been to the opera, I have never really had much interest in the opera. I have seen one opera - on PBS. It was Otello. Clearly it was Shakespeare that drew me to that, and it was sorta fun, but Jon Vickers in black face? Okay, no, not minstrel show black face but still - tell me there wasn't a single black man who could have sung that part. Really. What the hell is that about?

Sorry. That's an entirely other rant, and I won't go there.

Back to the opera. I'm seeing Don Giovanni today. I loves me some Mozart. I had my Mozart 101 in college. Not in a class but rather after class. The head of my drama department was a piano playin' prodigy and after the work day was done he would take advantage of the baby grand the school had and 'stored' on the stage when it wasn't being used for shows. Since I worked in the theater office and was, essentially, always there, I heard him playing and went to listen. It then became a regular thing. He'd play, I'd swoon because let's face it: I love the music and if someone can make it happen live in front of me I'm done for. He was a huge Mozart fan, which makes a lot of sense as he was quite young and so was ol' Wolfgang - there was a connection there. He had some very strong opinions on how Mozart should be played, and when he showed me the differences I had to agree he was right. Boy, could that man play the piano. Fabulous. *sigh* I wish I had parents who thought music lessons were worthwhile... okay, sorry, that's also another rant and I won't go there either.

Back to the opera again. I love Mozart, Don Giovanni written by same, seems like a good start point. We shall see.

I do feel at a distinct cultural disadvantage as my deepest opera experiences are related to 1) Bugs Bunny (shush, you know you like it too)

and 2) Moonstruck.

Yeah, yeah, I know I'm culturally illiterate. What can I say, I've done my best. I was raised on Long Island. Feel my frustration? Good. I hate to suffer alone.

So I'm off to 3 hours and 15 minutes of an art form I'm almost entirely new to, in a form (live) that is completely new to me. It may drive me nuts. I may leave at the first opportunity. Or I may find I'm a big opera queen. The main thing is giving it a try. I'm very big on trying new things - how else can we grow? And if you don't try something new how can you possibly say you don't like it? Okay, yeah you can say you don't like it: but it's an uninformed opinion. I like to be able to back up my dislikes. As well as my likes.

In my typical all-or-nothing fashion I am also scheduled to see Carmen tomorrow. I figured just dive in and if I don't like Don Giovanni, maybe I'll like Carmen. See, I'm giving opera a diligent try, because as Mae West said: I'll try anything once, twice if I like it, three times to make sure.

Wish me luck, okay? The Opera. I'm going there.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

My Secret Shame

All my life I dreamed of living in New York City. When Eva Gabor, as Lisa Douglas, on Green Acres sang "No! New YORK is where I'd rather stay... I get allergic smelling hay. I just adore a penthouse view, darling I love you but give me Park Avenue." I was singing (to my parent's lament) right along with her. That's where I wanted to be, it's where I knew I belonged. I used to fantasize about what my apartment would be like, sometimes I imagined a view of Central Park, sometimes a walk-up dive in the village, but it was always New York. And that's where I am now. I can't imagine living any where else - except, maybe, one day, Mexico.

But despite my desire for this city, that began somewhere around the age of 3 months - I'm quite sure I requested black diapers, white were so suburban - puh-leez! - there have been times in my life where other places have flirted with my attentions.

I'm not entirely proud of myself admitting this: but I have cheated on New York - in my mind. Yes, yes, there is that affair I'm having with Mexico... but I've discussed this with New York and we've agreed that an open relationship works best for us at the moment. I even wrote a love poem to my sweetie, NYC, on my first trip to Mexico - So I've been honest with myself and Manhattan about Mexico. It's the others. The ones I don't talk about. The ones that came before I ever moved here, when New York was still a fantasy too - not that that makes me feel any better about it.

I never thought I'd talk about this shameful aspect of my city-love. But I feel the time has come. ('Cause I really haven't got anything else to write about, so bear with me here, okay? I'm trying here, I'm TRYING. Please say that to yourselves in Dustin Hoffman's voice: think Midnight Cowboy. Really, do I have to hold your hand through all of this? Good. Thank you.)

I suppose this sordid past of mine was bound to bite me on the ass at one point. It seems today is the day. I have no one to blame but myself. This can of worms did not open itself. This was all my doing; I did my Pandora imitation and opened a link I shouldn't have. I listened to a song that brought all those old feelings flooding back - and I am sorry New York, truly sorry that I allowed myself to go to this place I thought I never would again. But I did it, and now I must confess.

This is the place I went today, the place I never thought would lure me in again.

Oh sure, laugh if you will but there was a tremendous draw to Cincinnati in my teenage years. A desire to see a city I couldn't imagine, one that seemed full of quirky fun people and the delicious Gary Sandy with his too-tight pants and his feathered hair... and good god do not get me started on that nose. *sigh* No really - *SIGH*

I have never been to Cincinnati in my life. The odds are very strong that I never will visit that fantasy land of my adolescence. But today, with that '70s FM easy-listening sit-com theme running through my head I long for a time when I thought I might live there, that Cincinnati might be more appealing than New York for me. Lord, forgive me I was just a KID!!! I didn't know what I was thinking. I was a slave to my teenage hormones!!! (and Gary Sandy.... God that nose... sorry... sorry.)

But truth be told, Cincinnati was not my only indiscretion. There was also a time I thought Maine... no particular town, just Maine. Around the same time there was a dalliance with Salem, Massachusetts. I suppose that one is a natural, given my spiritual leanings, but it was more than that. It was a dream of small town wholesomeness and tightly woven families - oddly enough in my fantasies about these places I was pretty much the crazy-lady outsider. Seems it didn't matter where I moved in my mind, in my heart I was meant for New York. Still the dalliances continued.

For a while in the '80s (into the '90s) I had a longing for deserts. Arizona, New Mexico, Nevada all called to me with their wide 0pen landscapes and wild cactus - and again the people who populated these places in my mind were always somewhat left of center. Outsiders who found a home in a place others steered clear of, eccentrics who sought solitude.

London was the other competition for New York. London, the only place I've ever been in my entire life where I did not instantly get lost. Truth! My very first trip to London I was leaving my friends and wandering around on my own. Me, the big chicken-shit with no sense of direction whatsoever (I still get lost on the West side of Manhattan fer cryin' out loud!). But I always knew exactly where I was in London - I turned down alleys and just knew where I'd come out on the other side: and I was right! It was the oddest thing. I felt very at home there.

The closest I've been to these fantasy loves of mine is Salem, once for a day; Las Vegas, on three separate trips one of which almost sucked me into a time-share. Yes, I was dead broke but I was ready to commit to a life-time time-share with Las Vegas. Clearly there are times when my emotions win out over my sense of reason. I'm like that. So sue me. And London, of course. (I'm leaving Mexico out of the discussion for now, it's too tender a topic.)

I'm going to indulge in my Cincinnati fantasy for another hour or so - then I think I'll be set for another couple of decades. Mexico however is calling me very, very loudly right now and though I was just there 2 scant months ago I feel a pull that is almost impossible to resist.

God damn but I'm fickle.

A Taste of New York - right now and tomorrow!

I had a request (from Gary - you can blame him) that I post more of my photos of New York. Though I don't have a posting that suits the odd variety of photos I thought I'd pop 'em up here in a slide show. This will hopefully entertain while keeping any nagging at a minimum. Oh stop, I'm just joshin'!

Speaking of New York and its many wonders: tomorrow, Wednesday, October 3, The Niagaras are playing a rare mid-week show, 9:30pm. They'll be at a really nice downtown space called GROOVE. There's no cover! Good God will the insanity never cease? So much fun - so free!! You want a taste of New York? Come see them play.

I'll be there - I hope you will too!