A letter

Dear Natalie,

Do you remember that day, a couple of years ago, I think, when we cruised around town, maybe a little bit high, and drank hot chocolate and bought pretty lingerie and then we went to a movie at the theater with the big yellow seats and you brought in your giant bowl of popcorn and told the folks at the theater that you were allergic to the oil they use to pop theirs so you had to bring your own.

You were magnificent.

After the movie, remember, we went to TJ Maxx and you bought cashmere?

What a day.

I bought a skirt that day. Do you recall? You should – you convinced me that I could pull it off.

IMG_2658The tiger skirt.

The Life of Pi skirt.

The pussy skirt.

Thanks to your pep talk and your winning argument, I’ve been wearing the thing pretty regularly and always quite sassily since that day.

I’m the badass with a giant cat face in my lap.

Just like you told me I’d be!

Except…maybe I’m not…

I’ve looked at myself in the mirror, I’ve seen my reflexion, I’ve even felt that if it’s possible to look somewhat sophisticated and fashion forward with two golden eyes staring out from your hip bones, then I look that way.

And then something happened today.

Nat, I wish you’d been there to see the look on our faces (mine and the tiger’s)

Wait, whaaaaaat? you’re screaming right about now.

So, you know how tight skirts ride up when you walk and you either have to walk with your legs squeezed together or stop every few steps to yank the damn thing down?

Well, the tiger, like any other, rode right on up – halfway to indecent – and I caught a glimpse of my passing self as I bustled around the cafe getting breakfast ready.

See Friend, it was dark outside and the lights were on inside and there were windows everywhere so it was almost like being surrounded by full length mirrors.

And that’s when I realized what I wish I’d realized years ago; when the skirt rides up, the mouth of the tiger is right at cootch level and looks like,

a vagina.

A giant vagina.IMG_2659

LOOK AT THAT!!!!!!

Now Natalie, I have to ask you, did you know about this and not say anything? Did you encourage me to purchase a pussy pussy skirt?

Please tell me you didn’t do it on purpose; that you too didn’t see this glaring faux pas.

Honey, I can’t unsee what I saw today. This tiger and I will never look at each other in the same way.

Our relationship has changed.

I spent the day wondering what other people were thinking as they looked at my crotch.

And when you have an enormous face on your crotch you know that people really are looking at it.

I almost died of mortification.

And then, I didn’t.

And then, I giggled.

And then, I thought that it was fucking fantastic.

And part of that was because I kept imagining telling you and your response and us having one more thing to laugh about and that made it totally worth it.

I adore you and miss you.

I will think twice before taking fashion advice from you.

MWAH!

 

 

 

 

Huge dilemma

This may not seem so huge to many of my readers, but if you know me at all, you will understand that for me…

Well, let me just explain here.

Again, if you know me at all, you’ve probably figured out that jewelry is significant to my every day well-being. Have you ever seen me out without earrings?

Probably not.

And then there is The Bracelet:

34 years with this baby

And The Ring (9-ish years):

The bracelets are an added bonus

The bracelets are an added bonus

So my right side is all set.

The problem is my left hand. Because of my pain disorder, I can’t sport a bracelet or a watch on that arm, so if I want it adorned (which of course I do – I am me, you know) it has to be rings.

And I know this might sound really trivial, a white girl first world problem, and I get it, it is, but there is a little more to it than you might think, because it directly ties into the whole marriage divorce thing. Let me explain:

When I got engaged, there was a ring, a ring that I adored. When we got married, there was another ring – one that I truly loved, but I was allergic to it.

Red Flag that I ignored.

But I never ever had to think about my left hand – it was all set. Until I got divorced.

I took the wedding band off immediately, but it left a big, soft, white circle around my finger that to me, was a glaring “Your life just fell apart and you failed your children in the process.” I figured if it screamed that to me, then every time the children saw my hand they would also be reminded that their lives had exploded and I didn’t feel like any of us needed that white squishy aide-mémoire.

So I had a “divorce ring” made and I loved it – the ring and the symbolism.IMG_2508

 

Then I moved on and got myself into the most amazingly dysfunctional relationship with a man who claimed “I’m going to replace that divorce ring with a wedding band.”

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It’s called “Crater” and I thought the earthy name would be solid and grounding.

Thank god that didn’t happen. But when that all fell apart it seemed like a good time to once again, eliminate some of the symbols of my past and move forward. So I purchased this one from an artist down in Mexico City:

 

I also came to the conclusion that it was time to quit focusing on the empty finger and celebrate my middle finger (which sees a lot more action anyway.)

Love love loved this one, until…

Another relationship. Time for another ring.

And I will interject here that wanting a new ring with a new relationship had NOTHING to do with wanting the Ring

So I moved on, decided to get something totally different:

This seemed to be the jewel that for which I had been searching…

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…until it broke.

Because I am really hard on my hands and whatever is on them.

So then I went through all of the others that I had picked up over the years, trying, rejecting, and trying again, all while my right hand screamed – get it together, Lady, just put on a ring and forget about it.

There was this one, with the hideous fake turquoise in the middle of the otherwise, stunning piece of artwork:IMG_2507

 

 

 

IMG_2512There’s the fossil ring that my off-the-deep-end cousin made:

He just died so I tried to wear it again, but it’s just really too masculine for me.

I have a few other random ones, but nothing has felt like I want it to be a semi-permanent part of my body, my life, me.

So then I’ve been looking around at rings. I’ve also been looking around at other people’s hands, trying for some inspiration. I got some recently with my friend Dodo who wears 2 silver rings on her left hand. One of which is, of course, her wedding band.

So then I thought, maybe I should look first for something that fits my ring finger – seems novel and maybe I’ve been barking up the wrong tree.

But that is a loaded proposition. To begin sporting a ring on your left finger when you are actually in a serious relationship, sends a mighty big message to people, even when there is no message to be received.

So I have fumbled.

And in my fumbling for a fucking ring – again, I understand that this is not quite as big of an issue as world hunger – I have dredged up all of these other feelings about relationships and marriage and divorce and symbols of all of the above.

And I get stymied because suddenly, it’s not about a little chunk of silver and it’s all about where I am in my life, how I present myself to the world, and what that shiny bit conveys.

When I was single, it seemed like it was less significant if I wore something on my “wedding band” finger, but now it feels like it would be perceived as a statement.

I remember when I first wore my engagement ring – silver with an almost imperceptible diamond – I thought it was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen. I used to stand at work with my hand held out in front of me gazing adoringly at it. I hoped that as I reached to hand someone  something, that they would notice and say “my what a beautiful ring,” and I could then say, “yes, yes it is, isn’t it?”

And then they could say, “Are you engaged?”

And I could squeal, “YES!!!”

I still think it's beautiful. And it still fits. Bummer.

I still think it’s beautiful. And it still fits. Bummer.

I kept my engagement ring – but it’s not like I can actually wear it. And I’m not going to pass it on to one of my children because who wants to propose to a girl with a ring that symbolizes a really wretched marriage?

And I threw the wedding band in the river.

It makes me sad to think of that sweet, hopeful, and stupid young girl. And then it makes me proud to look at the display of rings past and know that each one symbolizes both my pain and my growth over the last few years.

So as I put each chapter behind me and move on to the next, I want to put the symbols of those chapters behind me too.

So maybe this is why I won’t ever find one ring that meets my needs, one semi-permanent fixture on my body – because I am not a semi-permanent fixture – I am still changing and growing and evolving.

And this is a thought that I haven’t had until just now, as I am writing this:

Maybe I should stop looking for forever and start looking for “right now.”

 

 

This is some crazy (yet cool) shit

2 months ago:

I took a basket of clothes to my favorite consignment shop. Favorite because 1) the owner is so much fun to visit, 2) her taste in clothing is extraordinary; she carries clothes that range from Ann Taylor LBDs to 1950’s housedresses and 3) she has the ability to make you feel as if you can totally pull off whatever it is you’ve decided to try to pull off, thus boosting your self-esteem 1,000-fold.

So on this particular day, I felt like shit when I went in and declared upon entering, “I feel like shit; I am not trying anything on today. I have an upcoming wedding, but I’ll come back another day to shop.”

But, while she was looking through the basket, she was also keep a keen eye on my wanderings throughout the racks. At one point she said, “That orange dress is super cool.”

And it was.

Just my thing – absolutely irresistible.

Thick polyester – the kind you could tie in a knot, wet, and it still wouldn’t wrinkle. And covered with beads: rhinestones and seed pearls. And hand-laced fringe at the hem. And, hand made – one of a kind.

And orange.

It was only $2 more than the credit that I had just earned with my basket.

2 months ago to yesterday:

I was so excited to wear the dress that I tried it on regularly (at least once a week). I spent hours online picking out the perfect accessories. I bought a slip. I agonized over shoes vs. boots.

Last night. Wedding night:

Getting dressed, I had a moment of hesitation; Could I really pull this off or should I wear something more “normal” and less of a statement?

Then I remembered the delicious feeling I had when I first saw it, the warmth that spread throughout my soul as I examined each and every mini-bauble lovingly sewn on from neck to knee.

The gloves I bought didn’t work and the necklace wasn’t perfect. But the dress was.

Now it gets exciting:

After dinner, a woman, who I didn’t know, approached me and asked if she could speak with me.  It all sounded very intrigue-y so of course I said yes.

“Please don’t take this the wrong way, but where did you get your dress?”

I told her.  She didn’t know the place because she’s from outside the radius of the shop’s clientele. but then she took a deep breath and said, “That’s my Great Aunt May’s dress.”

Long story short, Great Aunt May lives in Lubbock, Texas. At 90, as she prepared to finally give in to the idea of assisted living, and my gal went to Lubbock to help her out, Great Aunt May said, “Why don’t you take a couple of dresses.”

My new best friend chose the orange and brought it home to New Mexico. It hung in her closet for three years, awaiting alterations. Realizing that she was never going to join dress with sewing machine, she took the dress to the Goodwill and said goodbye.

Somehow, over time (another couple of years, I think) the beads and the fringe made their way to Colorado and my favorite consignment shop where it then made its way into my closet and onto my body and to the wedding, where Great Aunt May’s great-niece, the dress, and I finally converged.

How cool is that?

 

IMG_1971

Gear Review

So I mentioned last night that I was climbing into my Backcountry Bed. And I realize that probably not a lot of folks out there know what that is. Because it is a proper noun, not just my name for sleeping on the couch when my child is sick.

Here is what it looks like:645images

It’s made by Sierra Designs.

It is zipperless.

It’s purple.

I needed a new sleeping bag. Over the years the quality of my bag(s) had diminished to the point that I finally let the boys sleep in them. And once a teenage boy sleeps in your bag, you’ll never want to again.

They had tears repaired with hair elastics and duct tape. They had been washed so many times that no quantity of tennis balls in the dryer could break up the down-clumps. They were stained. They stunk, and no matter how much duct tape I used, feathers still flew everywhere.

I decided that it was time for me to get a new bag – to treat myself, because who doesn’t get excited about a brand spanking new sleeping bag.

I began my search: Marmot, North Face, Mountain Hardwear, and then, Sierra Designs, the old standby.

They’re the old standby for a reason, (look again at the photo above).

They have Bed, Mummy and Garment styles. Since I am no longer winter camping, I didn’t need a bag that I can wear, thus eliminating the Garment. Then I went to the Mummy page since one look from my skeptical self eliminated the Bed style.

Here’s what it says: “Not ready to upgrade? Here are our traditional mummies.”

It was like a dare – an irresistible one.

I went to the Bed page.

And here’s what it says:

Back, side and stomach sleepers rejoice!

Could be good marketing, or maybe there was something to it.

I looked. I left the page. I returned. I looked a bit more closely. I left again. I went back again and saw that there was a video.

A video? For a sleeping bag?

https://www.sierradesigns.com/product/womens-backcountry-bed-800-3-season

Go to 1 min, 50 seconds for the deal clincher.

So I ordered the thing. Had it shipped to my office.

When it arrived, I pulled it out of the bag for my (outdoor professional) office mates to critique.

We all tried it. We all had a 1 minute 50 second moment, although ours were a bit more animated. And Bam! I was sold.

Any sleeping bag that provides that much fun is worth it.

I. Love. This. Bag.

It’s comfortable on the couch, on the ground, in the front seat of the truck (don’t ask), in a dust storm, under a crystal clear, freezing, desert sky, full of stars.

This actually really is the greatest thing since sliced bread.

And, NO ZIPPERS. How great is that?

So, here is my plug for Sierra Designs. I may sleep on the couch from now on.

 

Sometimes I can’t believe them…

They (boys) needed shampoo so when I went  to the grocery store the other night I bought the biggest bottle I could find. I also picked up some toothpaste for them.

Came home and unpacked. Toothpaste and shampoo were placed, along with some wayward socks, on the end of the kitchen table closest to their bathroom – a range of, maybe, six feet.

Two days later, the toothpaste box is empty but not in the trash, the socks lead a trail to their bedrooms and the pump is open on the shampoo bottle.

Are they actually coming out of the bathroom to get a squirt of shampoo then returning to lather, rinse, and repeat?

pros and cons of moving south

There are many of each and they all rattle around in my brain confusing the shit out of me.

Some days it seems like I could never leave here, others, it would be a piece of cake.

When I got off the plane 2 days ago, I was slightly let down; I didn’t feel that same sense of relief that normally accompanies my arrival here on The Plateau.

I missed my curls, 50 shades of green, and my mommy and daddy.

The hours back here have been riddled with uncertainty and confusion, longing and ungroundedness.

My children’s football coach is our new favorite nanny. My friend had the most beautiful baby ever last night. The leaves have turned every color orange in the spectrum. MCB is hunting for an Elk.tuleelk.bull.modcrop.2725

My life feels perfect.

In the South, I could see my folks every single day. I could swim with Manatees whenever I wanted. I could become a SUP-er and have killer abs. I could run at sea level on the sand and my back would feel brand new. I could hang out with gals I knew in my childhood days. My kids could gain residency and go to one of the really good state colleges.

Round and round. So badly that I haven’t even been able to talk about it with anyone.  Hearing others’ advice at the moment is just plain irritating to me because then I feel like whatever they think, they’re not seeing “the other side.”

I really like the idea of no more winters, no more cold, no more falling down on the ice.

But I pulled this killer orange sweater out of the closet today to wear to work and thought, “Where could I shop down there?”

gators2Seriously – my clothes are a huge part of my artistic being and I am not so sure that Navy and White (standard colors when pink and green are not in season) are that inspiring.

I could be the oddity and wear my red cowgirl boots to the beach? I could melt inside my glorious purple, fake mink evening jacket?503540190_product_1

I could try to start a new sparkle-beanie trend?

 

Or I could shop at Lilly Pulitzer.

I actually do shop there, but wearing Lilly here in the West is fun. Wearing it there is just mainstream.2-lilly-pulitzer-spring-summer-2014-collection.jpg

And I don’t know how to do mainstream.

And I don’t want to learn.

But, now that I am thinking about it, I bet I could score some outrageous vintage librarian sweaters and gingham golf pants.

Maybe, just maybe, there’s hope yet.leroy

images

What to wear

I have a wedding to go to in 2 days. I want to wear my red cowboy boots:imgres

But I don’t want to be this gal:

Cow? Horse? Hunh?

Cow? Horse? Hunh?

Or this one:

images-1

 

I want to be her:

ultimate cool

ultimate cool

 

But, here was a conversation that took place, just today:

“What are you wearing to the wedding?”

“I don’t know, seems like every wedding I go to, the standard uniform for the gals is dress, cowboy boots, jean jacket.”

Well, shitdamn, I don’t want to be wearing some “We think we are such cute western girls, even though we’re from Connecticut and have never stepped in actual cow shit,” uniform.

Because, I’m not that girl. Can’t be.

I’m from New Jersey.

And I am just as cool as my girl, Emmylou.

In my head.

I bought this gorgeous dress a while back, thinking it would be perfect for the wedding and it’s green which MCB really likes which makes it even more perfect. I started thinking about what I could wear on my feet that would accommodate all of the needs of the event: standing, dancing, walking on grass, all, for hours on end.

I’ll just throw on my boots – easy. Don’t need to give it another thought.

But now I do because the cliché has been noted; using an out-loud voice.

If I wear the boots and the dress, even without a jean jacket since I don’t own one, I will a) be that gal, just like every other gal there, and b) doing so with everyone knowing that I am fully aware of being the wannabe cowgirl who grew up listening to Bruce Springsteen and Tom Waits, not Ricky Skaggs and Patty Loveless.

So, maybe I could go with these:

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Or these:images-3

I am from Jersey after all.

Or, since I am an “Outdoorsy” type, perhaps these will be better:

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Or my inner athlete could go here:

images-1

 

I have 45 hours to decide.

I refuse to buy anything new.

And I am convinced that whatever I chose to wear, it will steal the spotlight from the bride and in the years to come, people will look back and relive the moment they saw my ill-shoed feet instead of her Vera Wang gown.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Unforgivable????

I did something today that I could never have imagined doing.

I am a keeper of strays – always have been. Love the underdog.

I’ve had cats and dogs from shelters, the Walmart parking lot, a burlap bag in the river, under my trailer/office, the Farmers’ Market, and the reservation.

I’ve even taken in a stray child or two and can never turn down a stray plant.

Given my history, I completely went against every thread of my being and did an abominable thing…

…I took a cat to the shelter.

And left him.

And lied and said he was a stray because I was too ashamed to admit that I was actually just giving up one of my pets to whom I’d committed a lifetime of love and protection.

It was the Walmart parking lot kitty – the one who has slowly gone a little bit nutty, ultimately pushing me way over the edge last night.

It’s been building. He suffers from anxiety and it has been impacting the quality of his (and our) daily life.

He has become skittish, unpredictable, and a yowler.

Where other cats Meow, this one wails; long, mournful, agonizing, howls of angst that no amount of screaming or ignoring can stop.

Not all the time – I’ll give him that.  He has moments where is is actually kind of cute. Those moments are what have made it impossible to do what I did.

Until today.

He spent half the night outside our bedroom door singing his mournful tune. I finally got up at 3:00 am to see what was wrong.

Apparently nothing.

Then, when I let another cat inside, he ran out. We have a cardinal rule in our house; the misfit does not get to go outside at night because he can’t handle it. He’s okay for about 30 minutes and then he positions himself below our bedroom window, which is also below our neighbors’, and the yowling begins.  It is incessant – he doesn’t even stop to breathe – until I let him back in.

Sometimes I don’t want to get out of bed to open the door.

Once, I tried to ignore him. A neighbor threw a rock at my house.

So, he’s outside, the wailing is fingernails on the chalkboard, and MCB snores away.

Later that morning (5:00 am) I’m crabby ass and bitchy from my shit night and next thing I know, MCB and I are having an uncomfortable conversation about screaming cats, getting a dog, pet responsibility, etc.

I got in the shower and thought, “I am miserable, I have no affection for this cat, the last thing any of the children said to him was ‘go away’, and he is now impacting my relationship.”

“I’m done.”

MCB and I talked, we both felt cruel, irresponsible and cold-hearted. MCB is a little bit attached to this one and not at all to the others (go figure). But we finally came to the conclusion that this really isn’t working.

I had to do it immediately, without thought or feeling.  If I hesitated for even a split second, I would be spending another 100 nights bitching in the middle of the night.

I left work, went home and the second I walked in the door, he hid. Found him, got the bejesus clawed out of my arms and right leg, but finally got him into the favored form of transport: the pillowcase.

I put him in the way-back of the truck and listened to him yowl all the way to the shelter. I could hear it over the sound of the motor, the wind, and the radio.

After I got to the shelter and lied about the “stray” in the back of my truck, the gal and I went out to get him.  He had shredded the pillowcase. My brain said, “Good riddance,” my heart said, “Oh, poor baby.”

Brain won out over heart.

I drove away, did a bit of retail therapy (got a fabulous purple dress) and went for a run.

“I’m fine” I thought.

I am actually not fine, but trying hard to get there.

When I got home, I knew the kids wouldn’t notice that he wasn’t around, probably wouldn’t for another week.  So I thought that it would be better for me to just tell them.

“Are you kidding, Mom? That’s so mean.”

“Really?  I actually liked him – he was part of the family.”

“Why did you only get rid of one?”

That was Bobby – he wants a husky.

So now, of course, I am second guessing myself. I am wondering how much this event will cost in therapy for my children later in life, and thinking that everyone in the household is afraid of being the next victim of my sociopathic cruelty.

 

 

Imelda

You know when you decide that you need a certain pair of shoes, you must have them NOW…

So I get prodeals on certain items from certain companies because I am “in the business.”

I picked out a pair of shoes. Realized that with these new shoes, my life would be forever changed (for the better) and my feet would be eternally grateful.

Not only are these shoes functional, but they are (hopefully) super comfortable and they are just the right color green. So yeah, need them immediately.

Getting on with my life isn’t going to happen until they are on my feet.

So I called the company the other day and they told me that I have to “renew my deal.” Seriously, I buy shoes from these guys all the time?

So I reapplied.

And didn’t hear anything.

So I called again today.

“It’s going to take 4-6 weeks for your application to be processed.”

??????

“But I need those shoes yesterday.”

————————————-

“Do you understand that my very happiness depends on this?”

“Four to six weeks.”

“Okay, thanks (read: yeah fuck you and your fucking green shoes.)”

Ebay – here I come. I am tenacious if nothing else.

No. I’m not at work.

Well, maybe I am.

Search: Green Shoes, size 7.

BAM!

There they are, for even less than I could get them prodeal.

Cart. Checkout. Credit card. Complete.

3 days – I can wait 3 days.

I can’t wait 4 – 6 weeks.

The rest of my life begins on Tuesday.

And I will be sporting the Wham! Neon Light’s for the occasion.