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Confession is good for the soul, is it not?

I had three moments today that made me think to myself, “Keep going, keep walking, do not make eye contact and do not look back.”  There are a few good things about turning 30.  One of those things is being fully aware that humiliation does not kill you.  It does NOT make you stronger, but it does give you another reason to have a glass of wine.

Exhibit A:  While dropping of a sizable donation of clothes and crap at the Goodwill collection site, I realized that along with about a half-dozen plastic bags of t-shirts, there were several handfuls of un-bagged clothes in my trunk including, ahem, ladies brassieres.  That may or may not have formerly been mine.  They were not in embarassing shape, lest you think I donate overstretched elastic and lethal underwires.  They had been in my drawers.  They hadn’t worked out.  I thought someone might need them.  Especially if they didn’t have one.  I may not even KNOW you so why am I justifying my choices and worrying about explaing why some underwear didn’t work out?  Anyway, long story short, I had to hand my bras to a large and sweaty man who was collecting donations.  “Do you want a receipt for your donation?” He asked.  “NO, I’M GOOD, K, THANKS!” I called over my shoulder, running to the anonymity of my car.  I’m such a boob, you know?

Exhibit B:  While at the library, I asked the librarian to renew a book that I have checked out.  It happens to be called, “Are you there, Vodka, It’s me Chelsea”.  It’s by Chelsea Handler and is predictably crass and funny.  I said, using my inside, quiet, library voice, “Excuse me.  There’s one book on my account and I’d like to renew it.  Can you do that for me?”  She answered, practically screaming like a teenager at their first concert, “IS IT, ‘ARE YOU THERE, VODKA….”  I nodded hastily, glancing around to see if mothers were pulling their toddler’s closer.  I should’ve waved, “Hi…hi everyone, yes, that’s me…the vodka one…I drink vodka and read books about it…but I do go to church…and I also love gay people…and I try not to judge people who can’t help it…of course, if it’s a fashion faux pas that you could’ve helped, well then…uh, well, mmmmkay, that’s all.  Just a slow, drunk reader over here.  You’re welcome.  I’m leaving now.”

Exhibit C:  I came home after my errands and did a quick change, only to head out to meet some friends for dinner.  During a quick bathroom check, I decided to do a dumb thing.  Dumb because I knew what would happen.  I decided to pick a zit.  Which of course, would make it worse, not better.  Well, being late, I ran out the door and forgot about it, until on the way to dinner, I happened to touch my cheek and find a hot mess that was not fit for public viewing, and particularly not that in a restaurant.  I frantically searched through my car for a napkin, a tissue, an old tshirt, anything…finding nothing, I had to McGuyver a solution.  A solution which was…a tampon.  That’s right, folks, I had to sacrifice my emergency tampon for a bona fide emergency.  It stopped the bleeding.  It did not stop the shame.

There is no more to say except that it’s time for a glass of wine.

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En Vogue

When it comes to fashion, I’m no slave to a label.  I do not own a designer handbag.  I rarely buy shoes that cost more than $40 a pair.   I’ve yet to meet a straight-leg Gap pant in LONG length that I didn’t like.  Based on a somewhat traumatic fashion upbringing, I think I’ve come a long way.

My brief career into the high stakes world of fashion took place in 8th grade, when I begged my mom to buy me navy corduroy chinos from the Limited.  It was like one step away from being stopped by Calvin Klein and begged to anchor his spring line as the grand finale in Bryant Park.  Except he’s probably never been to Valley View Mall in Roanoke, Virginia.  Weird, right?

Unfortunately, I was too busy examining my cystic acne and hormone-crazed curly hair in the dressing room mirror to read the tags and take the time to understand the difference between long length pants and regular ones that only looked long enough, but were sure to shrink like a proverbial violet as soon as my mom “forgot” and “accidentally” dried them because she was too busy listening to her book on tape from the library.  And this was before “50 Shades of Gray”.  Hoo boy.  For the sake of my brain and my memories of this life-shaping event, let’s all imagine that my mom was listening to tapes of the Bible as she sorted laundry that fateful day, and washed those blasted pants in warm water, and dried them on “super hot,” mmmmk?

A few days later, despite their immediate reduction in length at the hands of my mother, I held up my end of the “promise to wear them if she bought them,” and walked dutifully off the bus into the student “holding area” where they gathered us before first bell, rocking chinos and probably some collared shirt.  Sometimes one’s destined to be a nerd almost from birth.  Such was the case with me.

The loudest, fattest girl in school, cleared her throat and yelled out, “I didn’t know high waters were back in style!!!”  Nevermind the fact that she was approaching three spins on a standard bathroom scale and literally had a beard.  I was destroyed.  It felt like a thousand heads snapped in my direction as I looked down at my shoes and prayed to God to “just take me now.”   He did not.  Between God and my mom and her permanent press setting, I was permanently scarred.

Fast forward to today and you can understand why I read the tags, try everything on for good measure, and favor knee-length skirts whenever I can find them.  What I do not favor, however, is fashion advice from the ill-advised. If you are a fashion designer, nee fashion designer, then I trust you.  You’ve become famous FOR your fashion, and I will reward you with my dollars.  Be you Michael Kors, Calvin Klein, or Mrs. “The Limited” herself, I will trust that you understand how to design clothing.  I will believe that you employ an empire of people to find decent fabrics and oversee construction methods that do not make my hind-end look unnecessarily larger than it already is.  I will not hold you responsible for what my mother and a permanent press cycle can do to a nice pair of trousers.

HOWEVER.  If you are a fashion designer, nee anything else, then all bets are off.  Jessica Simpson?  Valerie Bertinelli?   Nicole Richie?  I mean, people, PLEASE.  You HAVE people who DRESS YOU.  We all know you can look great.  If we had millions of dollars and people who dressed us, we wouldn’t ever in a million billion years buy things like corduroy chinos.  And left to your own devices next to the clearance rack at TJ Maxx with birthday money from your grandma, we know you’d look more suited for “The People of Walmart.”  So COME ON and GET OFF IT.  Writing your name in cursive and stamping it on rhinestone flip flops does not make you a fashion designer any more than Limited chinos made a dorky kid from small town America into Kate Moss’ competition.

Somewhere she is feeling so relieved and she doesn’t know why.

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So unless you live under a rock, you’ve no doubt been exposed to “news” about the Queen of England’s Diamond Jubilee, which, let’s face it, is a bit of a “glad you’re still alive” party.  While an accomplishment to live a long and healthy life, it’s not like England has defended itself mightily against worldly foes or that anyone has tried to take over the throne.  Although, I wouldn’t put it past that Fergie.  She’s a shifty wench, that one.  She tried to get her daughters to ruin THE Royal Wedding, after all.  Must I remind you?

Beatrice and Eugenie at Royal Wedding

Which brings me to Wills and Kate.  The only angle the American media has taken on this whole Diamond Jubilee thing is to interview the heck out of the newest royal couple in hopes they can sell three weeks of stories out of one interview.  Here are the “facts” I have managed to glean from internet tabloids:  William thinks of the Queen as “just” his grandmother (she is), Kate likes his grandmother and considers her a mentor (real hot gossip there… have you ever met someone who thought her husband’s 86 -year-old grandmother was a total shrew?  yeah, not many….unless you watch “My American Gypsy Wedding”…another post for another time), the royals approve of Kate (um, helloooo….see photo above.  As long as Kate wasn’t a street walker, they’d like her), Prince William wishes his mom could have met Kate and thinks Diana would have liked her (duh.), and the piece de resistance, Kate has been seen re-wearing clothing.  In pub-lic.  Sound the alarms.  If it’s time for true confessions: I re-wear ALL of my clothing and I sometimes don’t even wash it between wearings.  Kate probably wouldn’t either if 38 people didn’t do laundry for her. Also, I love my husband’s grandma.  These two facts have to make me future Queen of Something.  Bring on the parade.

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After almost seven years of marriage (and NO ITCH….haha, that was a throwaway joke…), it’s always good to take a look at your spouse through an outsider’s eyes.  Don’t get me wrong.  My husband rocks it like any IT-professional-in-his-thirties and I’m crazy about him.  I’m in it to win it with this one, but it’s a good reminder that he’s being checked out at every turn and pursued by ELIGIBLE prospect(S).  Even if those prospects aren’t so likely.  Such as the off-shore contractor who passes him in the hallway almost daily and calls my husband by first-name, even though my husband has no idea who this guy is.  They do not work together, they are not on the same work team, they do not attend the same meetings.  They merely work in the same building.

Since we work as contractors at the same company, my husband and I take advantage of the inter-office IM to catch up during the day.  Like today:

Him: Remember my stalker here at work?
Me:  ummm…
: refresh my memory
Him: there is a guy here at work who I always seem to run into in the hall.
Me: oh, yes
Him: well…
: today he came up to me and said “I noticed on Friday you were wearing a short sleeve shirt.  I think that’s the first time I’ve seen you wear one”
:…
Me: I’m speechless
:but, um
:he’s hitting on you
Him:  that’s what I think
Me: how did you respond?
Him: i just said, oh yea I was wearing a polo
:and then quickly moved on
Me: do you know the guy’s name?
Him: i don’t
Me: do you work with him in any professional capacity?
Him: no
Me: does he seem nervous when he talks to you, like he is trying to think of things to say?
Him: yep!
Me: is he laying awake at night, brainstorming things to say to see if you will think they are cool?
:are you sure he doesn’t just want a job at your company?
Him: i’m sure it’s not work
:he just wants me
Me: lol
Him: offshore resources love me
:tall… pasty… awkward
Me: is he here on a working visa?
Him: probably
Me: maybe he wants to take you to NY and get married.
Him: haha
Me: you know, like a modern day Greencard movie
:too bad I got to you first

It’s a jungle out there and I’m not taking any chances.  I’m going to figure out how to fatten my husband up and limit his personal grooming.  And he’s definitely not wearing Polos to work anymore.

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My dog stinks.  I’ve known this for awhile, but recent events involving our basement carpet and several bottles of Resolve for Pets has made me more aware of just how dirty he really is. I believe I’ve crossed the threshold between “needing to keep Resolve in the house” to “needing to invest in a carpet steamer and a haz-mat suit.”  I came to this conclusion last Thursday as I vacuumed the cream-colored rug in the basement in preparation for weekend company.  In my defense, we bought it before Remi was even a gleam in our eye.  Indefensibly, we’ve always planned to have kids and I drink red wine.  Honestly, our house should be lined with materials that can be hosed down neatly.  One year in with Man’s Best Friend, several unfortunate incidents that I shall not tell you about, and our carpet is no longer cream or anything that could be remotely associated with the color cream.  It’s more like dog-dirt-brown. And it’s not just that the color’s changed.

The confirming statement as to the state of basement-dog-stink came this weekend from my 11-year-old sister, who upon entering the basement, sniffed, and said, matter-of-factly,  “It smells like a pet store down here.”  I wish that was the worst of it.  Moments later, my dad ambled down the stairwell in a slow, deliberate, just-woke-up-from-a-nap gait, and Remi, not recognizing him, started barking ferociously at our “intruder” and promptly dumped his anal glands on floor in a show of defense.  This was where my step-mother found me, minutes later, scrubbing the tile floor (inches from the carpet, thank goodness for small favors) with disinfecting cleaner.  “What happened?” she asked, looking around for a decomposing corpse.  “Oh, nothing,” I said cheerfully, “Just dad walking down the steps and Remi dumping his anal glands.”  She nodded slowly, trying to be polite,”Ahhh….” as if that was the logical explanation she expected.

That’s the kind of hospitality we deliver up in here.  Come for the dirt, stay for the smell of death.

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I’m a mobile worker.  This is the fancy term my employer has created to mean, “We’re not going to give you a desk, but we’re trying to make that sound cool.”  Which, sometimes, is pretty cool.  There are enough buildings on the corporate “campus” to provide plenty of places to hide and work and spread out.  There are also enough meetings in other buildings to make it silly, on some days, to have a desk that I’d never sit at.  And then there are days when I have only a couple of meetings, and need a place to call my own.  I like the ritual of coming in, getting settled, pulling out my laptop, logging on, checking email, and sipping coffee.  It’s a good start to the workday.

Unfortunately, as a “mobile worker,” my morning ritual is subject to the cooperation of the other morning workers around me.  I like those who are quick with the light morning banter, but not too heavy handed with the Hallmark moments.  I like to reserve all-out zest for life for after 10am.  Given the grab-bag nature of my work environment, this is unfortunately unavoidable. I have come across a Merry Morning Sunshine that is a little too full of caffeine, of goodwill, of sympathetic anecdotes to fit anyone’s challenging day.  I might have to kick her soon, or maybe find a new place to sit.

Also unfortunately, there are many people like me.  As in, people who like their work environment “just so.”  People who like to, for instance, work in complete silence in a room full of meditating monks.  And hey, if that’s your thing, then just go for it.  But not in this highly mobile area with lots of plopping down, working for awhile, and packing it all up for the next meeting.  I combat such distractions with the help of an iPod.  I crank my ear buds loudly enough to drown out the chatter.  This apparently was a problem for my new neighbor the other day.  “I’m sorry,” she said, grimacing, “but can you TURN DOWN your headphones?  They are just SO LOUD.”  Um, not louder than your clickety-clack typing and dramatic sighs, you blonde prima donna.  “Oh, uh, yeah, sure.  I’m really sorry.”  I cranked up the music again, barely loud enough for me to hear.  After a few minutes, I made it a little louder.  She interrupted me a second time, “I mean, I can REALLY HEAR IT,” she said, like she was my mom, worrying about my ear drums.  I packed up my bags and went to find another work space where I could listen in peace. I would’ve waited for her in the parking lot to rumble, but I couldn’t find a spot there, either.

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There is an unfortunate dichotomy in life between “what we think it’s going to be like” and “what actually is.”  For instance:  when I was about seven, I asked Santa for a pottery wheel.  After making two “pinch pots” in kindergarten and first grade elementary school art class, I was pretty ready to graduate to a tool that would appreciate my, ahem, artistic ability.  From the tv commercials and the JC Penney’s Christmas catalog, it appeared that I’d be commissioning pieces for the MOMA in no time.  Unfortunately, Santa did not leave an item that would propel me to international acclaim.  He left me a lazy susan with a motor, powered by two AA batteries.  And I’m pretty sure Santa forgot to leave the batteries.  A few frustrated projects and a small bag of grayish, brick-like clay later, I think my mom quietly gave the whole thing to Goodwill.  Santa is a lying tool.  Take that to the bank.

Fastforward more than 30 years.   Adulthood is also NOT “as advertised.”  It is, well, frankly, more draining than expected, with less-cool clothes, and the purchase of something like a new kitchen appliance does nothing for my acne, wrinkles, and gray hair.  Nor does a box of L’Oreal Preference Creme.  My preference would be that the hair dye not smell like toxic death, last for more then 2 days, and not turn my gray hairs blonde in a sea of brunette-ness.  That would be my preference.

Much like fanciful ideas of adulthood were my fanciful ideas of marriage.  I met my husband in college, through our church, and we’ve been dating since before we could legally drink, if that tells you anything.  My misconceptions of marriage, like my misconceptions of adulthood and my misconceptions of Santa’s magic, were pretty far from the reality of my day-to-day.  Which is not to say that married life is a miserable disappointment; far from it.  It’s just that I imagined my role as “help-mate to my beloved” as a pretty far cry from the reality of “if you leave your dirty dishes in that just-emptied sink ONE MORE TIME….”

I’m pretty sure my husband didn’t think marriage would be like this either.  He probably envisioned a somewhat reasonable division of labor with a wife who was always trying to top him with her acts of devotion.  That wife came on the honeymoon but somehow never came back from that para-sailing adventure.  Just kidding.  We never went para-sailing.

Anyway, the reality of my domesticated skills are that I can clean like a Merry Maid and while my food preparation skills aren’t going to help me win an Iron Chef competition, I’m also a far cry from Semi-Homemade with Sandra Lee.  [However, if required, I could put together a table scape with little more than shoe boxes and a vintage table cloth.  Don’t think I couldn’t.].  I am also very quick to let you KNOW when I do things.  I’m not sure my husband was prepared for the amount of fawning he would need to do over my work to keep me satisfied.

Me: Look at THAT SINK!  Isn’t it CLEAN?!

Him: Yeah, um, it’s great.

Me:  NO.  Really LOOK at IT!!

Him:  I said it’s great.  I REALLY APPRECIATE it.

And then there was last night.

Me:  I’m MAKING LASAGNE.  Like REALLY MAKING it.

Him:  That’s great! {seriously excited because, um, hello, lasagne!}

Hours later, it’s past our bedtime and I’m just starting to assemble :

Me:  I MADE LASAGNE!!!!!

Him:  That’s great.

Me:  No, I mean, I like, MADE IT.  FROM SCRATCH.

Him:  I know.  I watched you.  I really appreciate it, Babe!

Me:  Like, tomorrow, for dinner, I am going to cook it and we are going to have HOME MADE LASAGNE!!

Him:  —

Rendered speechless by his love for me.  In it to win it with this one, I tell ya.  If only I made my own clay casserole dishes.

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