Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Ode to/Farewell to the Holiday Gorge

The Holiday Gorge is when I was a glutinous pig from Thanksgiving 2004 to the Epiphany 2005 which is an amazing stretch of time even for gluttony. It was extreme gorging. I am not typically a gorger. I'm not one to throw up my hands and declare Fuck It as I dive headlong into the warm embrace of a bag of Oreos. Or at least I haven't done that in a long time; not since my friends Mint Chip Ice Cream and Mr. TV were my babysitters. Don't get me wrong. I can polish off a bag of vegan cookies if I let myself. Wait -- is that gorging? Now I've confused myself. All I'm saying is that in the adult portion of my life, there has been nothing compared to the colossal gorging as The Holiday Gorge 2004.

The HG was a direct result of shutting down a business which Mandy and I owned. I won't go into too many details about the business because it still makes my stomach hurt, but let's just say that smarts and humongous balls can't compensate for running out of money, in business anyway. In November 2004, we knew we needed to Pack It Up and by the time Thanksgiving rolled around we were diving into the details of a shut down and deep in apologies and back pedaling. It was 24 hours of What The Fuck Am I Gonna Do Now and How The Fuck Am I Gonna Get Myself Out Of This One and Will The Bank Make Me Be Their Slave and They Can't Take My Family Away Because Of This, Right? I was a complete mess, with a smile. Ooooo I held up a good front. Mandy too. We were spectacular, but in private we'd look at each other and in the secret whispers of two scared and brilliant ghetto girls, we'd wonder how much we had really fucked ourselves. We'd drag ourselves into the office and we'd sit on the floor and give ourselves tarot card readings instead of making yet another We're Screwed And So Are You phone call. We'd ask the cards, “Can they make me their slave? What can they take away?” And the cards were kind and told us to buck up, that this was not the end of the world, and that we would be left with the things that are most important to us: Free will, loved ones, smarts and still some good-sized balls. But nothing else.

And in an effort to keep up my front during the 24-hours of this sleepless, gut-wrenching Soul Test, I gave up control of my health. Everything I did was about supporting a fragile emotional state. I stopped exercising which seems counterproductive, but exercise was ONE MORE THING TO FUCKING FIND TIME FOR. And I ate whatever my Id wanted. FUCK IT. I hadn't eaten cheese in 5 years and I was like, Pizza? Sure. That used to make me feel good when I was a teenage jock. Mint Chip Ice Cream, my old friend? Please give mama some comfort. TV? I love you. It was all mindless, and I shoved and shoved into a void that remained a void. No human could save me -- I don't know how to ask for help -- but trying to self destruct physically was a cry out that didn't really work.

The crescendo was when we went to Puerto Rico on Christmas day with the family and we stayed at Husband's grandmother's house. And I stared at the Caribbean Sea begging Her for answers or at the very least a jolt back to Hopeful. My gorge was losing some steam, but as I've written a million times, PR is not exactly the capital of healthy eating. Hurricane Andrew had battered the mangos and grapefruits that usually yield beautifully on Abuelita's trees. And the idea of vegetables on the island is a bit of a mystery. There is a favorite dish called Arroz con Gandules where pigeon peas are hidden in pork-laden rice. The dish should be called Donde Esta El Gandul (Where the Peas At?) but that's typical PR for you. We took a trip to the Museum of Ponce where Flaming June is housed, a painting I've always loved. Husband took a picture of me standing next to June and when he showed me the photo I said, "Do I really look like that?" because it looked like my arms were blood sausage stuffed to capacity; in general I looked like .this Botero painting with bigger boobs. I was convinced it was the digital camera working some evil warping distortion on me, but Husband answered, "Kinda." Kinda? Kinda . . .

We came home from PR and I was tired. I still had no answers, but I felt a tiny bit better, calmer at least. The doors of the business were closed but there was still a lot to do. And no one swooped down to save me from the mess I had made for myself. That's when I became a vegan because I needed to just save myself, and because being a vegan really is what my body and mind want from me. I had been ignoring them -- or had them on hold -- during the Holiday Gorge. And I have to tell you, it's taken me 10 whole months of clean eating and exercise and water and supplements and pleading and crying and the sincerest of apologies to get my body back to pre Gorge state. I can't believe it took that long, but I'm happy to report that though I'm not exactly over the failure of the business, I am totally over the Holiday Gorge 2004

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Enough Debbie Downer Posts; This is an All Skate

Walking from fourth period to fifth period in high school was torturous. I could see the ocean on that long walk to Economics. I tried not to look because once the Ocean and I made eye contact, it was over. She'd blow in my face and I'd close my eyes unable to go against Her will. She'd say, "Go get Betsy, and get your ass down here." Ok, Madame Ocean.

Betsy and I were roller skaters; quad-wheel, old school skaters because we were put on skates in the 1970's, a time where doing everything on skates was a reasonable mission. My first pair of skates had metal wheels that nearly rattled the teeth out of my head one chip at a time, and god-for-fucking-bid you'd catch a twig or some shit under your wheel causing it to lock up and then launch you into a parked car. That smarts. I got a pair of hand-me-down skates when I was nine with plastic transparent yellow wheels that rode close to a dream. I'd skate to the grocery store and for whatever reasons, they'd let me skate inside the store picking up milk and bread and cigarettes for my mom (I said it was the 70's).

At the end of junior high, I got a pair of new, white skates with hot-pink wheels that I practically slept in. I bought the pin-wheel accessories and tied them to my laces.

So, Ms. Ocean would call us down and Betsy and I would strap on our skates and ditch school to get to Her. We'd skate to Bay Street and then onto the bike path and head south until we hit Venice Beach. Venice Beach on the weekends was a three-ringed freak show for all tourists to enjoy, but in the middle of the week, in the middle of the day it was sketchy; like a drug ghost town and there was a hustle waiting at every bend in the boardwalk. But we were on our gorgeous skates -- no flies on us, man! And we would skate directly to where the other skaters danced all day long. They may have been jobless and homeless -- who the hell knew -- but there they were, every day dancing in a line, doing a Quad-Wheel Pre Electric Slide and funky figure 8's. They all wore battered black skates and none of the great skaters tied their laces and I felt very pristine in my choked up fresh whites and the dumb pin-wheels which came off after my first skating trip to Venice. Dork! We'd switch from side to side on stoppers to Jam On It and Atomic Dog and ogle Mad Dog who was like a dark Michaelangelo's David, but buffer. Mad Dog only wore tight black jeans and a hat on backward and most of the time he'd play chess on the side lines (with skates on of course) but when he got up to dance, we'd spy him out with slacked jaws. Compared to Betsy, I was shy and she would yell out, "Hey, Mad Dog," and when he'd skate over, I'd lurk in the shadows of the sparks that flew between them. She'd feel his thigh through his black jeans and say things like, "GODDAMN." And he'd laugh in the baseist voice known to man. You'd stoop low while listening to him. Mad Dog had a young skater apprentice named Lonny who was so fine I couldn't swallow while watching him. He was light-skinned and he'd twirl and twirl with no shirt and tiny silver running shorts that we were digging back then. Betsy and I never dared to get in the dance circle -- it was a sure-fire way to make an ass of yourself -- but the hours upon hours we spent down at Venice on our skates didn't seem like a minute wasted.

My family and I saw Roll Bounce this weekend which was a sweet flick about . . .skating in the summer of 1978. This obviously jolted my memories. All four of us talked during the entire movie, of course, as Maya asked a ton of questions and Husband and I reminisced ,y'know, during the movie, about the great soundtrack and the days of roller rinks and Venice Beach.

Monday, September 26, 2005

self portrait martes

Body Theme September! Though October's challenge will be a self documentary series . . . I may be in over my head here.

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Three days ago, an eleven year old girl was murdered approximately 3.4 miles from my house by her uncle who was high on speed. He stabbed her in the neck and chest twelve times. My husband had IM'ed me the story and we huddled together to figure out new ways to tell our girls to Be Aware Out There and to trust their instincts no matter who they are with; strangers or family. This part of my parenting job where I get to reveal that some things in life are terrible and unexplainable nauseates me no matter how important I think it is. And Husband and I talk to the girls every time there is a kidnapping or publicized murder of a child.

"Why do people do that?"

And I don't ever have a good enough answer for them, but I do my best. "The important thing is you trust yourself, here," I point to their stomachs, "any time, and I mean any time, you don't feel comfortable." I am a huge believer that kids, girls especially, need to hear this often.

I found out the uncle had stabbed the girl when she was sleeping. What gut is going to help you then? I hadn't mentioned the story to my girls until 10 year old Maya came home Friday and said a girl from her school had been murdered. I should've known she had gone to their school. I said, "Did you know her?" Maya said no, but a close friend of hers did. She proceeded to tell me all the details I already knew because the story had spread quickly at school. I asked her how she felt. And she said without 10-year old sarcasm and without a glimpse of understanding, "Why would an uncle do that?" I didn't have a good enough answer, as usual, and I could only hug her after doing my best and instruct her how to think good thoughts for the family and for the girl. And I most definitely gave her the Gut Talk again.

Friday, September 23, 2005

Waiting for the Other Shoe to Drop

My friend Teri's husband owns a catering company that typically caters golf tournaments. But for the last two and a half weeks he has been in New Orleans feeding the coast guard and anyone else in the city which is really no one but military and recovery crews. It is a ghost town. But still Teri's husband rallies to feed about fifteen hundred people a day, even if he ends up cooking on hot plates and other make-shift methods. He sleeps in his car and forgets to brush his teeth and wakes up at three in the morning because he feels he can't do enough. Teri says he's a different man now having been humbled to prostate position by devastation. He hasn't even experienced much of the human element of suffering, but working in the over-turned void left by panicked evacuation is quite enough to traumatize a person even when he doesn’t realize it yet. But it’s obvious to everyone around him.

Teri is the controller of the company where I work. And on a whim, the owner of our company decided to fly to Louisiana and lend a hand to Teri's husband. He flew into Baton Rouge with a backpack and a sleeping bag and took a cab to N.O., about a 70-mile trip. And when he finally arrived, they gave the savvy business man that is my boss a broom and told him to sweep out a parking lot to get ready for the next drove of people hoping to be fed. He didn't care. He was happy to help as are a lot of people especially the locals. Teri's husband and his crew had helped a woman off her roof two weeks ago and she refused to go to the hospital. Instead she wanted to stay and help them with the dishes.

My boss returned from the trip a week ago and at first he said he didn't want to talk about it, but with the tiniest of nudges it poured out with more emotion than I think he wanted to expose. He talked about the trashed, barren streets that looked like a movie set and about the ever-present stench and the historical district that looked relatively unscathed and the stench and the local church folk that have had their sleeves rolled up since the beginning and about the military boys with assault weapons that look like children -- babies -- and he talked about touring the city in the stench in military vehicles as planes sprayed mosquitoes off an eerie swamp and how he witnessed unfathomable miles and miles and miles of houses under water still. But the smallest of details were the most beautifully horrific to me. Like when he looked into the water and as it sludged by he saw a shoe; one pump with a broken heel. He stopped talking then. And we both sat in silence wondering if the shoe fell off in flight or if it was just one of the millions of personal items of a life now washed away.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Today's Performance

In the very late 1970's, when I was 11 or 12, I saw a performance piece by Rachel Rosenthal. If I saw the same piece today, 27 years later, I'd hope to intellectually understand it more or maybe even think it was shit, but as an eleven year old, I had a purer, emotional response. During the piece, she blathered on about I don't know what and drank an entire bottle of wine. As the monologue progressed, so did her slurring and in the end, she shaved her head bald with large, electronic clippers. To witness this live feels oddly like a robbery; like a disempowering of some sort. It makes you gasp as an adult. It makes you stare in bewilderment as a child.

My mother also saw the Kipper Kids around that time, where the two-man team (one of whom is now married to Bette Midler [random]) would wrestle around naked and then take shits on stage.

And I've spent all morning trying to figure out why I've been thinking about this so much. Why, after almost 30 years, do these clownish performances embarrass me? But it's kind of obvious that I, too, am a performance artist in a polar negative kind of way. I perform a mean, plastic good-girl tap dance most notably at my job. This particular, daily performance is called the WorkerBee Dance. I've done it at every job I've ever had, and I even shuffle my feet and move my arms around and go TADA! with my arms outstretched. However, my natural inclination is to drink wine at my desk and shave my head and shit on my chair and finger paint my cubicle in wild blue hues. I'm really good at reeling myself in though.

I have a good job. The people are very nice. The pay is relatively good. They leave me be because I'm good at what I do; I could sling semiconductors in my sleep. And because it's automatic, I daydream about what I would do if I wasn't doing the workerbee dance, if I didn't buckle to the pressure of practicality. I know I'm responsible to a family of four (or six with pugs) and I do not take that cavalierly. That is not a burden. But between my performing scenes, I scribble writings under my work notebook, and edit stories while I'm on hold waiting to be quoted another semiconductor. I daydream about wearing saris and tshirts and I give interviews in my head. I have a cult following that likes that I'm a little weird. And I paint at midnight and I dance and lipsynch to King Sunny Ade though he sings in Yoruba . . .ACTION! Yes, sir, I've found those chips for you. Yes, Mrs. 5th Grade teacher in the OC, I will gladly behave at the parent/teacher conference.

One question for Rachel and the Kipper Kids though: When do you know the performance piece is over? Or do parts of it go on and on eventually meshing with who you are in your mind, making it all indistinguishable.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

self-portrait tuesday, yo

Body-part theme! Just found out about this through Holly Rhea. I'm just falling deeper and deeper into the internet . . .

Monday, September 19, 2005

Delicious & Nutritious

Packing lunches for your kids is not a new idea. However, I feel I'm totally biting Jennifer Shmoo's style because packing lunches never seemed as awesome as this.

I think most parents are scared of what is served as "food" in the school cafeteria. After reading Fast Food Nation and watching Super Size Me, I fear many secrets are kept in some school-budgetary vault that would probably make us all shit our pants. ("You hauled that meat out of a dumpster? But it saves us $5? Serve it up to the kiddies then!") And I couldn't just let my girls roll the die with the processed, sugar-laden selection anymore especially when Maya reported how gross the spread was. Though my husband's Hey-We-Lived-Through-It-And-We-Came-Out-Fine argument is compelling, I couldn't, in clear conscious, continue to make a huge push for my own health and not for theirs. So, since the beginning of this school year, I've been packing their lunches daily. This was going over fairly well though Mina is not quite the sandwich-and-chips type. She'd get home and her sandwich would be whole. I'd say, "Baby, what did you eat today?" Only to learn from her spying sister that six year old Mina has learned to bum dollars off classmates at the Boys & Girls Club. After 15 minutes of coaxing the truth, she finally tells me what she bought out of the vending machines: "Funyons and a Honey Bun." I was minutes from making her take a piss test for weed when she then admits, "My stomach hurts." Ya think?

And then I discovered Jennifer's site. The little laptop lunchboxes make you want to pack the perfect lunch. It's all so adorable, and I pat myself on the back every morning. Every day, I make Husband check out their lunches and I say, "Look at that. Isn't that so cute?" He says dryly, "Delicious and nutritious." The response from the girls has been gangbusters. I pack spaghetti and rice & beans and vegetables and fruit and veggie corn dogs and chili and chips and dip . . . My girls are digging it, even Mina. I stole another idea from Jennifer. I told the girls to rate the lunches from 1 - 5 stars so I can best gage what they really like. I say, "Mina, out of 5 stars, 5 being best, how did you like your lunch today?" She says, "9 stars." She hasn't answered within the parameters of the 1-5 system yet. I'll say, "But you didn't eat all of the rice." She says, "Yeah, I didn't like the rice so well today." "So," I say, "maybe 3 stars?" She says, "7 stars." Meaning, stop trying to shove me in your conventional means of measure, woman. So, I make note: 7 stars, not so great.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Morality Schmorality

Saturday night, when we were out with friends for Husband's birthday, we went to a sushi spot on Sunset. When all the couples were ordering rolls and slabs of dead fish and whatnot, they asked me what kind of sushi I liked. Husband chimed in and loudly said, "DON'T WORRY 'BOUT HER, SHE'S A VEGAN." Which sometimes you just want to keep on the down low because the mass public loves to have a confrontation about this subject. So the people at the table started to ask me why as I blushed demurely. Husband, who apparently was my mouthpiece for the night said, "It's not like she does it for moral reasons . . . " And the sentence trailed off into a light echo as I stared at him.

I quickly added, "Well, that is part of it; y'know, moral reasons. I mean, the killing bothers me. It's how they treat THEN kill them, that really bothers me. But it's mainly how contaminated I think all animal products are . . ." I thought, am I really going to be Debbie Downer at this dinner party right now? Somebody help me.

One dinner guest said, "Yeah, you're a vegan with a peacock purse."

WHAT THE FUCK -- attacking my purse? My fantastic 1950's clutch with the peacock feather decorating the front that I bought from EBay for $20? Is this necessary, to be so judgmental? This guy is going to point out the imperfections of my veganism as he stuffs his face with bottom-dwelling, shit-eating shrimp? It's a feather adorning the front, not the poor bird's carcass. These types always think they've gained a small victory when they point out you've failed at something that seems too hard for them. I said, "My mother (who was also a vegan) used to buy old fur-lined items at old ladies' garage sales and would declare, 'Someone has to care for them now.'"

But the dinner party was already thinking, "Mmmhmm. Vegan Schmegan."

Obviously what bothered me most was that Husband believes I'm a callus vegan. One only concerned with the health aspects of veganism and of course, that disgusting contamination thing that I'm neurotically paranoid about. Seriously . . . one of the (many) things I thought about when they were finally able to drain New Orleans was, Where is that water going? For God sake, no one eat the fish coming from the Gulf of Mexico and, fuck it, from the entire Atlantic.

I'm off the subject . . .I don't think my husband realizes how much this is a moral issue for me. That saddens me, and I wonder if I am not vocal enough. But any adjustment I make to my life comes from a lot of thought and is based in morality. Maybe I should tell Husband that. Or maybe I don't have to make any goddamn explanations for why I don't eat animals or why I wear conscientious make up (a lot of it, thank you) or why I want to take care of my pretty peacock purse.

Monday, September 12, 2005

Tassels Make the World Go Round

There are advantages and disadvantages of taking your husband to a burlesque show for his birthday two days before your period starts. Mainly disadvantages. And really only one advantage. Let's start with the lone positive: Your boobs are bigger? Hormonal swelling is working in your favor when you decide to stuff yourself into a corset for your man's birthday. Also, you believe that since you are armed with a corset you are just as hot as any stripper hopes to be. Your secret mission is to get on stage. You actually think this even when you are going to the Forty Deuce Club.

Here is an array of disadvantages:
1. Your boobs are way too big in a corset. And your husband says all night, "What would the girls like to drink?" "I'm glad the girls could come out for my birthday." At any other time of the month you'd be loving this: You'd make the "girls" talk back shaking them around. But when you are PMS'ing this seems degrading and sexist. What's everyone looking at? Just keep your eyes on the stripper show, will you?

2. As you laugh off the utter mentioning that you have problems seeing a mild strip show with your husband -- ahahahaha, Jealousy and Bitter Envy, I laugh in your face because I am secure and open and hip, ahahaha! -- your heart actually seizes into a freeze-dried mast the second the first girl slinks her way onto the stage wearing the rad-est see-through night gown with matching fringe-beaded panties and bra where she precedes to crawl her way across the bar, thong in patrons' face. You break out in sweats and yelp out a half-assed, "whoohoo," as she astoundingly hoists herself upside down up with bionic strength by grabbing the ceiling beam. She does the splits against the ceiling beam and you've secretly fallen for her yourself.

3. Your man is too reassuring. Telling you you're hot the entire time. Nice caresses on the arm, kisses on the head. And though he'll tell you it's to let you know that he thinks you're the hottest girl in the room, you believe he's just turned on by all the tramps on stage and you're just easy access. Men are pigs!

4. You realize that you would really enjoy this if you were ovulating. Or not with your husband. Burlesque of the 40's and 50's seems ironically empowering. You feel an urge to hand make tassels with a feminist symbol on them and take a few courses in modern dance. Or at least stretch more.

5. Later, when you and your husband are turned on a bit by the skin shaking and the upside down antics and the rope swinging -- no ones admitting anything! --, you believe you can't live up the calf-behind-the-ear move, nor do you have a cheeseless ass, and you feel hesitant, shy almost. (Fucking PMS)

BUT, luckily you've had enough alcohol to squash the evil PMS voices and you bust out of the corset without using hands because you have a few skills of your own.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

I Don't Heart Puppies

When I brought this precious little pug morsel home a few weeks ago, I believed she was a genius. She instantaneously peed and pooped on the puppy pads provided. She barked, "Voila! I produce pee and poo at will, wherever you humans like." She was a source of perfect joy for the kids, Lupe, my husband and of course, me. She's so cute I want to bite her face off. Mina constantly says, as if English is her second language, "She's too cute for me!" It's nearly with an accent.

But after one week of innate, perfect potty training, all hell broke loose. I'm convinced Lupe is putting her up to it, whispering in her ear to shit in random places around the house. We are all baffled including poor little Carmen. But seriously, if I were to carpet the house with puppy pads and a one-inch tile was exposed, she'd shit on the one-inch tile. I think we got so excited and full of praise when she first came home and went potty on the pads that she thinks relieving herself anywhere in the house will elicit the same kind of HOORAYS. "If you like what I've done on this little pad here, what do you think of This?!" Shits on couch pillow.

The worst is when she pees on our bed comforter. I mean, doesn't she know we sleep there? I don't piss in her crate though I may start. She doesn't even pee in her crate - so, what's up with that? When she does this, we turn into Caveman Trainers: "NO. NO. You pee there. NO pee here. ggrr." After three times of doing this -- my duvet cover has shrunk down to the size of a wash cloth -- we thought she was cured, that she got the hint with the caveman yelling. But the other night as we all snuggled in bed, Carmen romped with lightening speed to the end of the bed, copped a squat and peed. I had to rescue her from Husband drop kicking her off the balcony. He said, "If she shits on my pillow, Somebody is so out of here." So, as of right now, Carmen is banned from our bed which is a bit torturous as she whines to come up. Husband has a heart of ice! I mean, look at her face. She'sa too-a cute-a for me-a!

The whole family took both Lupe and Carmen to the vet two days ago for shots and check ups. Lupe has an ear-yeast infection -- EEWW. And the vet told us that little Carmen's nostrils are too slight which explains the little gulp of air she takes every minute. It sounds like a throaty, "howp," and it's the sweetest sound to my ears. The whole family does it now. We randomly "howp" at each other. The vet also said that Carmen may need surgery to open up her nostrils, and this caused my husband to burn a hole in my face with a wicked side glance. Howp. The best part of the vet visit was re-discovering what spaz'es we all are. When they examined Lupe and Carmen they took them to a room where all the healing magic happens, where only nurses and doctors can go and they enter this room through a swinging door. They attached our two dogs' leashes to some hook right behind the swinging door. Every time they opened the door to check on other animals or to bring an animal out, we'd see Lupe's huge pug monkey bear head peeking around the door. And every time we saw her, all four of us would yell in high-pitched delight, "LUPE! LUPE! THERE'S LUPE!" Every single time. Which was like, forty. And every time we yelled that, Lupe would try to escape but could only scratch the floor like she was running on a treadmill. We were ridiculous. Dog nurses shook their heads.

Anyway, I keep reminding Husband that Lupe was a little fucker too when she was a puppy, but he doesn't want to hear it because Lupe is on some Golden Pedestal that not even the kids nor I can compare. Lupe is Daddy's Girl and he says that our daughters like me best, and Lupe likes him best. And I'll bet big money Carmen will be daddy's girl soon too. As soon as she stops shitting on our couch and peeing on our bed. Howp.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

"Mom, What's for dinner?"

I was at a local mall with my girls over the weekend and a woman approaches me saying she's with a talent group that casts kids for commercials and tv shows. She asks me if the girls can come to an audition the following day. And before I can think SHAM, Maya practically yells out, "HELL YES." Mina's with me, raising her little eyebrow suspiciously at this woman. The woman says to Mina in a high-pitched squeal, "Would you like to do it too?" Mina smiles, but stares at her. The woman persists, "Can you say something like, 'Mom, What's for dinner!'?" Mina's like, fuck off.

After the woman hands me instructions with a few lines to memorize, she leaves us so she can troll the mall to bolster the hopes of other children. It was all Maya could talk about. "Maybe I'll meet Raven from That's So Raven. She's so cool. This is going to be great. I don't care about money. I just want to meet Raven. Maybe I'll be on her show." I realize I have to assemble a speech that isn't dream-crushing, but weighs down this situation with a bit of reality. (Parenting is hard, fyi) My speech starts, "Uh, Maya . . ." Her face is beaming and I fight the urge to just blurt out that she's the most beautiful and funniest and smartest child ever and of course they NEED her on That's So Raven. "Well, you see . . ." (Why must I be the dick?) I tell her that though this is totally exciting, Raven will not be there tomorrow and this is all just to see if this is something she's interested in, and MAYBE there's an opportunity and if she IS interested, it's like anything else; You gotta work hard, blah, blah, blah, blah . . . Maya says, "Sure Mami. I love Raven!" Then I say, "You're smart and beautiful and funny. Have fun tomorrow."

So, we go home and practice non-stop. I want to tell Maya ENOUGH ALREADY WITH THE GODDAMN BUBBLEGUM TOOTHPASTE, but she wants to memorize the assigned snippet of commercial perfectly. I tell her to be clear and loud, but then I suggest, Let's sing it opera style. Then we recite it how the cast of Chicago would do it. Then we try to rap it. Then we do it blues style and reggae style, and back to opera . . . I say, "Mina, what's your line?" And she says, "Mom, what's for dinner? Yum, that's good." And I say, "No, it's 'Mom, what's for dinner? That's smells yummy!'" And Mina says, "Yum, that smells good" 50x's in a row until I just say, "You're smart and beautiful and funny."

At the audition, I get a tiny taste of what stage moms are like because the second I walk in with the girls, one mom eyeballs us up and down and says, "Your kids are cute," with a sneer and disdain in her voice. And I'm like, Let the hating begin! I want to tell the girls to get used to this kind of bullshit, but I just sign them in with a big smile like this is no big deal. One of the organizers comes out to warm the kids up so they're not so nervous which is good because Maya has slipped into some kind of abyss that I'm trying to talk her down from. The organizer makes us all stand up, parents too, and we play Simon Says and dance The Chicken Dance. And the girls and I are stoked because that stuff is fun to us and we dance the Chicken Dance how Missy Elliot would with extra rump shaking, some krumping; we are also making chicken noises. I look around the room and some kids are not standing and then I see half the parents sitting with their arms crossed with a look like, "Give me a break." Damn, where's the goof-ball joy, people?

Maya is standing in line waiting her turn. Mina is right behind her. And I tell them to do the focus move from Karate Kid II, the one before he breaks the six blocks of ice, where he's all yoga-like with heavy breathing. Which, of course, we all do together. The other moms hate us at this point. Maya goes up and does great. She's nervous, but thrilled. Mina goes up and as I'm waiting for the sweet, "Yum, that's good”, she belts out "Mom, what's for dinner? THAT SMELLS YUMMY!" The cad.

They're supposed to call us within two weeks. In the meantime I will have mentally paid for college, quit my job as I take my geniuses to auditions and write a great novel while they wrap up another episode of That's So Raven. Did I say that out loud?

Friday, September 02, 2005

On the cover of the New York Times today was a large -- too large -- photo of a dead man floating face down in the French Quarter waters. And I stared at it for five straight minutes. I put the paper down and I picked it back up, and though I think it's important to understand the levels of devastation that Katrina has wreaked, I could only think of, What of this man's family? Is this now his lasting memory?

And this sent me into a tailspin because the real question is Why Must People Suffer This Way? Why must a man perish -- one of the thousands -- in the throws of poverty; perish disastrously enough where his people must leave him behind, unable to transport him, no where to put him, no time to grieve him and they must send him floating with the rest, nameless and alone.

Why is there this kind of suffering? And can we alleviate any of it -- at all?

Here's a comprehensive list of charities and relief funds. Go Fug Yourself put it together.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Can't Touch This; Break It Down Hammer

I'm the only person I know that goes into a massage feeling relatively relaxed and comes out tense. And the verdict is still out whether I even like massages.

I did not get my first professional massage until I was 27 and pregnant with my first baby. I was in Vegas on business which when you're eight-months pregnant is non-stop fun because there is nothing more you want than to be on your feet constantly, inhale 24 hours of smoke, drink heavily and go to strip joints especially when you’re weeks away from being initiated into goddessness. (I did go to the industry party, however, in a short, tight black dress that repulsed some and excited others. Freaks!) While in Vegas, I partook of the luxurious spa massage where I just laid on my back like a big slab o' meat and the masseuse slid her hands under me and worked some heavenly magic. I put my feet in her face as she rounded the table hoping she'd get the hint. And she did. I drooled as she kneaded my pillowy sausage feet. I haven't had a good pro massage since.

I have realized most recently the following things about my massage experience - as I search to make it good again:

1. I don't like women massaging me for the simple reason that their slim fingers feel like chopsticks digging into my back. Like, little ginsu knives tediously needling me until I'm so tense that I am flexing my muscles to fight her back. My goal is to completely push her off of me with my deltoids, but so far I've only ground my teeth down a quarter inch. "Boy, you're tight," she says. You think?

2. I do not like a massager touching my legs. Nothing makes me tenser than that. And I've realized that my calves are annoyingly sensitive and my thighs, apparently, are the most intimate part of my body. They could massage my ass, my titties, but touching my thighs seems to be a form of sexual harassment to me. Not only does that feel extremely sexual, but all I'm thinking is, "Oh, did you get a nice handful of fat pocket there? Swish, swish - does that feel good to you? Because it doesn't to me. Ok, fuck me now. I mean, STOP TOUCHING ME."

But all this doesn't keep me from getting massages because admittedly about 50% of a massage does feel good. I keep wanting them to do my feet more and my shoulders and hands but they don't listen. They seem lost if they can't do my legs.

At the Post Ranch Inn, I booked a His n Her in-room massage. A man and a woman showed up. The woman says to me, "Ok, so what style would you like?" And I say, "Oh, you're with him,” pointing to Husband. And I look at the guy massager who is Corky Romano in white gauze yoga pants with the fly open (creepy) and I say, "I don't like my legs massaged. It's just a thing I have." He says all compassionately, "No problem." But he adds, "It's only half your body." Oh, Corkey's a funny man. I say, "I do love my feet, shoulders and hands best." "Great," he says. Nice and clear, right?
Mid-way through the massage he whispers in my ear (creepy again) "Do you want me to try a couple compression things on your legs? Just to see if you're comfortable with that?" Mother fucker, what don't you understand about I Don't Like My Legs Touched? Did it sound like I wasn't sure? And I say, "Sure," Fuckin Corkey. "How was that?" He whispers each time he presses down on my legs like he's curing me of my leg-touch issues. "Yeah, that's great," I say when I'm thinking HURRY THE FUCK UP.

Yesterday, the company I work for generously brought in a masseuse to massage all the employees for 20 minutes at a clip. She set up one of those cool chairs where you lean your face against a toilet seat and a pad presses your boobs back into your sternum. I should've said, "May I please just sit in the chair for 20 minutes?" Because honestly, that chair is more comfortable than the massage. I wonder if I could work in one of those? Could you image, typing while peering through a toilet seat? So, my massage was alright. Chopstick fingers digging and poking and jabbing . . . ug, but the 3 minutes she spent on my hands were divine.

There is one massage that I know I will like every time. It's when Husband rubs my back which is him asking "Can I stick my penis inside you?" And I could have worked 23 hours that day and I could be beyond exhausted -- and I hate when they wait until you’re on the downswing into sleepdom -- but once he puts his hands on my back I'm like, God that feels good and yes, you can have sex with me, and don't stop massaging my legs . . . It works every time. Which is unfair because he knows this. I could go to bed furious about having to pick up 5 billion socks scattered throughout the house -- how many socks can a man wear in one day? -- but once he puts his magic hands on me, it's over.