Cubbyhole[s ic] by Coggie
(Rochelle, Warwick, good-bye)
She always chose candlelight, with her flames
In the dim of night, they flicker with vague recognition
I live out the rest of my days, between planting vines, a store of wedding boxes,
Artichoke heart dip, chocolate fondue, hushed tones, brilliant laughter
They don’t know me, these faceless, shadowy strangers reaching for the same glow
And yet here I stay,
4 to 1
When I finish,
I’ll see the band in the candlelight
Breathe in the tuber rose strands
Dancing in the shadow of the bride…
Much of my experience with ceremony is absorbed peripherally, as I busy myself with the primary need at hand, filling my growling stomach with sustenance. I’d like to say I observe the finer details of the bigger picture in weddings, graduations, anniversaries, but I’m too busy bellying up to the buffet to notice the color palette much less the number of cake layers.
At the August 6th wedding of Rochelle, the middle daughter of church friends, I busied myself with snapping candid digitals of the guests converging upon the cemented front steps of the University Christian Church an hour earlier. I later met the actual professional photographer who still used 35 mm rolls in his handheld camera, the same goofy guy who snapped Conan O’Brien’s in downtown Seattle not too long ago…while pouring him a glass of punch, or tea, or a strange combination of both.
“Hey, is this tea or punch? Nobody will tell me.”
The photographer with the goofy, curly dark hair smiled mysteriously, as if in on the joke with me, although I told no punchline, and replied, “It’s a special brew of wine? Yeah, I know. <wink, wink>”
“Um, yeah, have another. Excuse the splashing. This ladle sucks.”
My husband Eddie – who was asked by the mother of the bride to take candid photos for her and then asked by the bride to accompany a singer on piano before the ceremony – approached with two empty glasses and a frown. “Are you gonna eat?”
“I will after I help out. They’re shorthanded.”
The frown deepened. “I’ll go get your food too.”
By the time the last of the children snuck half-drunk glasses of tea/punch behind the punchbowl, I went from behind the buffet to my table, seated with Becca and Bryon, Beth and Mike, and another couple, and plunged into my by-now lukewarm plate of red stuff with some green and brown stuff. In the flickering votive candlelight, that’s all I could make out, colors oozing in one mash. Forkfuls at a time informed the red as two wilted spaghetti strands and five meatballs, the green as an attempt at Caesar salad (which should only be tossed tableside after the flaming Steak Diane, never pre-assembled next to a silver dish of white goo) and the brown, the makings of garlic mini-loaves, with nary a hint of garlic.
“Where’s the spaghetti?” I asked Eddie, tongue in cheek.
“They only had mostly meatballs left,” he said, frowning.
“What else did they have? I can’t see, the line’s too long.”
His frown deepened. “I couldn’t fit everything on your plate and mine too. Plus, I had to carry both our meals—“
After the line died down, in about 15.7 minutes, I went to chat with Jim and Bev, who’d traveled from
Portland just for the wedding, while giving surreptitious glances at the buffet. “I think there’s a ghost in your house,” I told Bev. Bev’s eyes widened with recognition, “Really? That’s what our son Brady said.” Oh, there’s chicken fettuccini with mushrooms. “Brady saw the ghost too?” And lasagna, although it looks like the spaghetti with meatballs. Dang, Eddie was right, there are only meatballs left. “Uh huh. The second time, he went to me and said, ‘Mom, I told you there was a ghost!’” Jim shot us a rattled glance, rolled his eyes, as Eddie would when we got home, frowns stuck in a crevice between disappointment and sinking faith.
I did try another helping of food, the fettuccini, but by then, the bride and groom did the first dance and Jake encouraged everybody to join them, as his big band strung out one jazz tune into another.
More candid pictures to take that nobody asked me to, and I’m totally ready to barf…
The 78 months and 1½ weeks crept into the light and dark
The small and the still and spare of my vibrating #411
Until I saw a figure there, pouring buckets of ice,
The man coughing over a closed balcony
Cinerama and shuttle blinking their memories
Like faulty wiring on an ancient neon road sign…
The first day of my liberation, I sinned.
Stepping into room 411 of the Warwick Hotel on 4th and Lenore – a building I’d stared at with curiosity and more than a little lust for the nearly two years I’d lived across the street at a quaint, historic, six-story, brick apartment building called Stratford on Avon – left me at a loss on what next to do.
Just as my best friend Jon predicted. “You’re staying at a hotel across from me for two days?! Alone?! I’d be bored out of my mind.”
Just as a church/singer friend, Becca, remarked over the phone the night of, after her laughter quieted down. “OMG. You’re kidding me.” Three times.
Just my own mother—well, she just laughed for 15 minutes before hanging up.
Their voices reverberating in my head, I sat on the edge of one of the two double beds (shut up, I know I’m a dork) and flicked on the TV, by rote. Hmm. Hotel movies. Ooh. Porn.
Suddenly, assuredness swept over me, a woman self-possessed and in sore need of breaking a $10 for bus fare up to Capitol Hill, where I knew of the only sex toy shop within downtown
Seattle, formerly Babes in Toyland, now Babeland.
I passed many other, more appropriate options befitting the alleged Christian I claimed to be. At
Westlake Center, I bought a magnet of a ‘50s housewife bathing her child and going, “I get to give birth and change diapers too?!” for Becca and the bus fare in change, taking note of the cheap eats in the upstairs
Food Court. Passed the Convention Center, the tacky little Subway out front, missed the Kinkos nearby, wondered if that guy that hit on me in the summer of ’96 still worked there, then missed the stop on Pine. At least, I thought it was on Pine. A quick cell call to Jon, his shocked laughter at my request, then, “It’s a block down from QFC. I’ll see you tomorrow for coffee.” In, “If you break the vibrator in 90 days, bring it back and we’ll replace it. Here’s the care and feeding of your koi,” and out, no pun intended, then a walk all the way downhill past GameWorks, Cineplex Odeon for a missed opportunity to catch Charlie And The Chocolate Factory, another note taken for tomorrow’s matinee. Man, I hadn’t eaten at the Italian joint in ages, it’s now next to the new Greek joint, Lola.
But I had coming to do.
In the ensuing three hours straight, I can’t remember if I ate dinner at the hotel’s
Brasserie Margaux before or after. I just remember that I did not want to leave the buzz of my new-found koi vibrator all blue and strong. Vaguely, I wrestled with the paranoia of acquiring a urinary tract infection. The porno I chose wore out with my higher mental standards about five minutes into a lengthy blowjob and no moaning. But who needs bad BJs in the voyeur? I coasted firsthand on the one long orgasm afforded me whenever I ride past the first 15 hiccups.
“The last time I did that,” Jon said the next afternoon… We’re heading toward our hangout, Macrina Bakery… “I was eight years old, and I thought I paralyzed myself.” We burst out laughing. “No really. Can you imagine me laying there unable to move—“ I began to choke. “—and my parents walk in, ‘Oh crap!’”
But then, I’d meant to give a restaurant review, not re-live the night Satan did a vibrating jig on my private parts.
Before or after, I stumbled into my clothes and down the elevator to Margaux, hoping to use the 15% off coupon the clerk behind the check-in desk gave me with my room card.
After the summer of ’96, I moved back and forth to
Hawaii until I brought my husband Eddie to
Seattle with me, and then we moved on, eventually settling north, in
Edmonds. But until then, I’d also pass the hotel restaurant, the scent of burning flesh always turning me on, more than the sound of koi turning inside out.
On August 9, I indulged in years of curiosity as I sat in a plush, deep, green booth by the window overlooking the Cinerama theater and a few homeless men panhandling for crack.
A three-course price fixed menu gave me an excuse to put the 15% coupon back in my pocket – no way was I foregoing salmon with rock shrimp for prime rib, and at $29 a pop too – and order to my heart’s content: soup du jour, roasted red bell pepper with asparagus oil, the grilled King salmon, crème brulee. Everything arrived on time, in time, and freshly hot, cold, moist and crisp. It took me two seconds to breathe in and recognize the squeeze of asparagus decorating the top of the bloody-red creamy-spicy soup. And practically 30 minutes tops to inhale the rest of my meal.
With a promise I failed to keep (a lot of that going around) to return the next evening for the crab-stuffed halibut, I bid the unnaturally perky waitress adieu, and headed back to the darkness of my koi vibrator.
Inaccessible front page
A line leads into four pages of demo
Maybe, if we’re not all out to lunch,
Munching on Macrina verdura
Room for cream…
In B-3, I learned that I could do better, as a writer, a person, a former wallflower. Surrounded by slackers and wannabes, including the English teacher who fancied herself our To Sir, With Love, I could either have become one of them in the long run, or distinguished myself on my own.
Twenty-four years later, and I’m fairly sure I escaped the mediocrity posing as deep, my radar for BS, pandering and enabling intact, give or take a few momentary lapses.
I nearly feared the permanent disappearance of my poetic muse, due to my failure to communicate even the doldrums of my suburbanite. The essayist quit on me a few weeks ago, over a dispute with repetitious, boring jargon a third grader could challenge in his sleep. It’s not a coincidence that I also gave up reading works of other artists, just to sleep in.
Navel gazing is overrated, without an originality chaser. And originality can only come from borrowing liberally due to flattering imitation.
Right now, the only interesting inspiration comes from the poignant and pissy rantings of writers from Seattle’s alternative weekly,
The Stranger, a couple of bizarre, vivid dream remissions, and the rare interactions I have with the outside world.
I’m thinking of a legal, moral way I can borrow liberally from
CHOW’s Bethany Jean Clement, who can make cauliflower sound romantically edgy,
I LOVE TELEVISION’S Wm. Steven Humphrey, who delivers pith short and painfully deep, and anybody else who runs into me running into and out of one doldrums after another … and yet still maintain my sense of individuality.
I’d use the term “integrity,” but there’s not a lot of that going on in my life lately, either.
Ain’t too proud to blog, for later.
July has done with me what winter does to cherry
trees, you picked a few before they were ready, you
could not wait for the season running its course,
and wiping your mouth, spitting the pit out,
[‘Theatre,’ Marit Peters]” … My view of two cherry
trees, no more.
Sweat on his back
“You always avoid hard labor”
(I wonder when he’ll take me into a locked, windowless room.
Soon, I hope, soon.)
Men in gray suits, they fly jet fighters like
Flying, one-inch tall black frogs with wings
Fueling, firing off
My right clenched fist a bloody ball
Pounding into a body bag
My version of silicone breasts, Double-DDs
That he may not notice the veins
The gray of the blue figures fading away
More cargo to lift
Our room must wait (08/02/05, 12:13 a.m.)
“Repetition, my dear—“
“—Don’t call me ‘dear.’”
“Repetition is the result of pity, boredom and pre-suicide.”
“One of those is off.”
“I know, my dear—“
Four summers ago, I sat poised on that precipice, while
Two summers ago, you climbed it.
A baby for my aversion,
Scars for you.
I flinch in anticipation of a knock,
Back to the elevator past the mahogany and gold-plated lobby, a turn 30 degrees left, 14 careful feet into plush burgundy carpet, #42 on the door.
I’m there, your back turned to the balcony.
His face, a monstrous, lovestruck shadow, where a prince, my lover, should’ve been.
I’ll dream of him, coming for me, footsteps before the knock,
James in the hallway with his truck, Eddie in the shower, five more seconds, 14 careful feet into plush burgundy carpet,
Struck with habit and revulsion, comfort and desire for self-destruction.
If he’s kind, and faraway, and beautiful, I’ll reach back to that soulless night when you picked me out of a line-up of pixels, bravado and pre-suicide, with just a few stabs at haiku, failed, pitied.
And kissed me, with recognition.
“Sometimes, we repeat the things we’re most fond of, baby—“
“—baby, now that’s more like it.” (… 12:34 a.m.)
This past week, I’ve been holed up in the new house, potty training, overeating, breaking my no-soda diet, missing most of my favorite DirecTV shows, and pretty much not doing anything I need and want to do, which includes unpacking, cleaning, setting up the rest of the rooms, and vegging out.
I also just spent an hour and a half writing a column about potty training that you will never read, because, on second thought, I thought better of sharing something so personal, so uncouth, so cliché. Think of the clichés, turn up the insecurity monitor, add the surprising twist of my IBS-D, Depend adult diapers, and you’ve got me doing extra loads of laundry, forgetting my cell phone, driving around at 9:48 p.m.
This is how obtuse I can be. I had James leave his hand and footprints
on his bedroom wall, forgetting that we’d eventually move out
anyway. I should’ve done molds of them.
Tomorrow, I will spend six hours with church friends at a wedding for the middle daughter of the Northshore Church’s music director and his soprano/alto singer wife, while our son remains with the next-door neighbor babysitter, Amber, 13. My husband Eddie will piano during the ceremony and take casual snapshots for the mother and father of the bride, I’ll take stock of my romantic resume, people watch with a column in mind, try to remember names to faces and just bask in the adulthood I never could master before James came into this world and the adulthood I’m still grasping in between parenting. I’ll also overeat and break my no-soda diet, avoid dancing too much during the reception so as to relieve Eddie’s growing back pain from the wear of the six-year-old bed (the Select Comfort’s arriving next Thursday), and linger mentally for too long on past crushes that failed, got away or never happened.
Weddings bring out the masochistic cynic in me.
Would I be in
Washington, nursing a broken sphincter, broken eyesight, broken muscles, broken heart, still? Would I regret October of 1996, wish for May 1977 all over again, erase everything up to the day Coggie met
Robb in the Commune BBS? Would I have become a novelist, or stuck by my earliest dreams of entering a convent, the Peace Corp, a library? Would I be mourning the death of my Naval officer husband, with our only daughter Faith, playing on the Gold Coast with two of my daughters, Sophie and Marin, making love near the waters of Cape Cod twelve past midnight just me, the warmth of his body against my back, the rhythm of his thrusts and of the ocean’s waves, his children staying with their mom in Milford?
So many scenarios, so much time. Six whole hours. I haven’t even reached the wedding gown section, yet.
A railing for strangers, and down, down, down I go.
I used to want to be whatever appeared on my TV and movie screen. Crowned a beauty queen, awarded an Oscar, a Grammy, combing my long blonde hair as Marcia, hopping around with Mickey Dolenz, staring back at Donny Osmond on our
Utah ranch, falling in love again and again to soundtracks…
Then, against the consensus to be contrary. Marriage and children? Not me, those institutions were for suckers, unimaginative suburbanite Soccer moms. I’ll be out on the streets protesting the next war, Rodney King, presidential election gone awry, organizing a riot for a scheduled WTO meeting, putting white makeup on my face and moving slow, fighting the power with my Bruce Lee kung fu moves, making the boys cry with my butch cachet.
Between 10th grade and 24, I seriously settled for the rest of my life in spinsterhood, because I could not fathom any man wanting any part of my pores and because I feared I would never be satisfied with any one man for longer than a summer fling, if that. I’d soon be bored and/or irritated, he’d turn out to be gay or manic-depressive, or married, he’d click his back teeth when he chewed with his mouth full, refuse to clip his long yellow gnarly nails, do something that caused me to smell him foul, and that, my friends, would be that.
Marriage in 1990 upended my presumptions and my ideals—for about seven years straight. I never got sick of Eddie. He is the most fun human being (at least, I think he’s human) I’ve ever met; always an unexplored layer underneath, like a present two months after Christmas… a combination of pure logic and pure soul, more outgoing, less poetic.
And yet… and yet… One of the sticking points in our courtship—we nearly broke up over it after only three months of dating—centered around our definition of love. Really, as with parenting, there can hardly be a class to sufficiently address the questions.
Eddie and I both yearned for the kind of love we grew up on, that all-consuming passionate love, drop our drawers and explode at the slightest touch. Because he never felt that for me, because I never fit his ideal – think Elle MacPherson and Lori Laughlin – and because he still believed he could reach it, he let me go for all of one night.
I didn’t return the favor until six or seven years into our marriage, …All of 14 months, and sometimes, still counting…
… when surgery for my anal fistula left me completely incontinent, almost bedridden, full of misery, self-loathing, panic at the rest of my life sinking away. It occurred to me then that I, too, might find my ideal soul mate out there in the great beyond, a man who could just say my name in his sleep, and his body shudders.
Too bad that man misrepresented himself. Familiar with Natalie Imbruglia’s song “Torn? … I thought I saw a man brought to life…Illusion never changed, Into something real, I’m wide awake, And I can see, The perfect sky is torn… So I guess the fortune teller’s right, Should have seen just what was there, And not some holy light…” Yeah, that song, David.
Besides, I’m a creature of habit. I returned to safe haven, a best friend, the only home I ever made with a fellow gypsy traveler.
I nearly succumbed to another make-believe fairy tale three years later. Until reality set in, and I realized, such a man does not exist, not for me, not for long.
Maybe if I were born physically beautiful, the kind of woman who turns heads, for whom agents knock each other down to represent in Hollywood, this soul mate would make himself known, free and clear of relationship baggage, ex-wives, children, and a roving, daydreaming eye.
More than likely, I’d end up so annoyed with his habits, dissatisfied as the grass on the other side began to yellow, withering away into weeds, that years later, I’d be sitting here writing about yearning to go solo again, jumping on a fast-track to a career, embracing celibacy.
Creature of habit.
Everywhere I turn, someone is moving. My former next-door neighbors,
Ronnie and Carol with their kids, EYE ON SOAPS’ Sarah (“Out
on a Limb”) and KellyB (“Kelly’s Diner”), Christina and her family,
Damian and his family from church… Every other house I drive past on
the street has a For Sale, or an Estate Sale sign up.
because I’m so egocentric, it feels as if I’m the only one suffering
through the torture, trials and tribulations of one of the top five
stress-inducers in an earthling’s life span… the hard labor of
cleaning, packing, moving, unpacking, cleaning, setting up, more
cleaning, some cussing at the former owners for not cleaning up enough
before they left (Sarah knows)… the lower back pain, the sweats on top
of sweats in record summer heat, on the verge of puking without a meal
in sight, spiders, moths, mosquitoes, flies and cobwebs in and around
every crevice… the unfamiliar voices outside, the strange noises
taken to turning on all the lights from all the rooms in this house we
moved into last Monday, July 25, day and night. This house needs a few
more weeks of mourning before it can accept us. Before the moving took
place, about two weeks ago, I sat on the carpeted, bug-ridden family
room of our “new” house, staring out into the lightless kitchen, awash
weren’t apparitions in the sense of an afterlife, but more an amalgam
of the emotions of the former owners for the past 16 years, perhaps an
imprint of their very souls, left here in these empty spaces. I don’t
know how or why, but I could sense incredibly deep sorrow, loneliness,
unfulfilled ache, I could almost hear the secrets whispering between
the walls, the stifled sobs absorbed by the brick fireplaces on either
end of the first floor, the bend, mold and shape of every corner of
this aged house a mirror of the family before ours… the family who
would so terribly miss their home.
while I sat there motionless, moths and flies buzzing about me, I knew
in my own soul that this house was not yet ours. Oh, we may have
signed the escrow papers, our real estate agents having handed me the
keys, so many keys to so many doors, but the soul belonged to the
other family, friends from church whom we’d immediately connected
with, their children like brothers and sister to our only son James,
of us would like to think we’re thorough when we move out, removing
every trace of ourselves from the premises. I know I did when I
scoured, probed and nitpicked for two months beforehand.
course, we don’t. We leave souvenirs behind, a plastic toy crocodile
half buried in the dirt and weeds of a backyard… a milky-white plastic
frog with red eyes, the size of two quarters, embedded in the corner
carpet… a real, live pet snake snaking around the toilet… unpopped
popcorn kernels behind space waiting for a new refrigerator. These
were just some of the finds left for us after we moved into one place
keeping with the unintentional tradition, known as careless sweeping,
we’ve probably left behind James’ three-inch high plastic Cookie
Monster from Sesame Street. (My husband Eddie will purposely leave
behind the crappy vacuum cleaner, the shelving unit he’d built in the
garage, some cleaning products underneath the kitchen sink and our
baby-proofed gate at the top of the narrow stairs.)
late in-laws’ stuff – the organ, the 1950s records, the piles upon
piles of scattered snapshots and music sheets – breathes with
memories, the scent of their secondhand smoke, his aftershave, her
perfume still lingering in the air, leaving me misty-eyed, tremulous
with paralyzing fear, fear of the dead, my inevitable mortality.
thoughts like these, I should take a 30-minute break in a tall glass
of iced tea, playing tag with my son, sitting on the backyard bench
Jim made with his own hands mere months before his job led him away
from the house he’d planned on retiring in, just 12 feet away from the
terraced dining room.
should, but I can’t. There’s just too much to do.
if I pause, I just might hear something else.
The afternoon sun bathes a tapestry on my dining room table,
inviting me to sit. But I can’t, I must keep moving.
A view from upstairs, through the stair railings, in the strange,
30-year-old house I would soon call a home.
Feeling too much at this point could prove dangerous. It’s not good.
It’s actually pretty bad over here. Not death in the family or we’re homeless bad. But bad enough for me to force my mind to just focus on the enormous tasks at hand, instead of the enormity of those tasks.
People staring from the outside would logically assume I have nothing to complain about, having just come back from a nearly two-week vacation driving to sunny, summery eastern Washington, south through Oregon, Idaho, Utah, Las Vegas, Arizona, California, a three-day stay at Studio City’s Sportsmen’s Lodge Hotel, back up northwest, California, Oregon, Washington.
With a three-year-old boy and a husband to babysit the entire time.
Yeah, nothing to complain about. Life is good.
Whatever the hell is wrong with me.
James & James
All my life, since about, oh, maybe 12 to young adulthood, I’d imagined what it’d be like to introduce my children to my extended family – all two of them (my younger brother James, 39, and my mother, 60, are the only surviving members, that I know of) – and my friends. I’d be sitting back in a comfortable leather sofa, holding my infant, who’s cooing lovingly at me, while family and friends lovingly gaze up at the Madonna and child that would be me and baby James, throwing in one amazed, ego-lifting comment after another.
“Your son is so gorgeous. He looks just like you.”
“I can’t believe you’re a mom. You’re a natural.”
“Remember when we used to play kickball in Sheldon’s backyard and you swore you would never get married or have kids? My, how things change.”
“I am so proud of you, Carol.” (That’d be my father, who was never proud of me, but quite ashamed of my undeserved whore reputation.)
Reality set in and really, nobody got to enjoy my motherhood, not my own mother – who’d planned to be with me during and after the birth for a few weeks, only to contract breast cancer within days of buying a plane ticket over here from Hawaii, not my own brother, technically half-brother – who cared more about his next meal ticket than his (perhaps) only nephew about to be born… The friends I had were gone, to parts unknown, most of them from various military bases, long since retired into civilian settlement. The few friends I made after my father retired from the Army in
Aiea, Hawaii, just weren’t that friendly for the long haul.
Three years later, and an opportunity to introduce my son to my brother arose when EYE ON SOAPS’
Katrina Rasbold invited me to join her and some of her staff writers down in
L.A. for the annual, summer GENERAL HOSPITAL Fan Club Weekend, about a week ago. My brother James currently lived in North Hollywood, after his long-time girlfriend Kris got laid off in
San Francisco and they had to leave that expensive place quick. North Hollywood wasn’t too far away from
Saturday, I had to miss out on the GH Luncheon because a notary would arrive with escrow papers for us to sign, so I figured afterwards, I could call my brother, pick him up, treat him to the Sportsmen’s Lodge Hotel pool and food, and acquaint him with his namesake.
Turned out James and James took to each other immediately. “The second I saw him, I knew he was my nephew,” my brother said, watching his nephew splashing in the shallow end of the pool. “They say you love your family right away. They’re right.”
My son wandered over, every 15 minutes, taking care of my brother, making sure he was protected enough from the harsh noon-day sun, putting a towel over his legs, then wandered back to his dad, splashing some more.
Here I am at Jerry’s Deli in Studio City,
my sleepy son James, waiting to break my soda fast,
and dive into a tall turkey sandwich.
My brother, who always judged me every second growing up. The person who warned me never to marry or bear children because “you’re too psycho,” just sat back and let me parent my son, smiling, patient, relieved, almost proud. He even backed me up a couple of times, “Listen to your mom.” Unbelievable.
We made up, without mentioning the flare-up that had me cursing him out in e-mails and excommunicating him from my life (he took offense to my suggestion that he open a bank account instead of wasting our money gifts to him on wire transfer fees). Except for one moment, when he asked me to calm down as I railed about the high cost of the hostel he and Kris were staying at, we did alright.
Over his burger (with pineapple? yuck) and my turkey sandwich at Jerry’s Deli, we caught up a bit more. He talked of depression, an eating disorder, worrying about failing to provide for Kris, about Kris coming home from work late to such a dump, giving in to tears of frustration and shame for a good two minutes. I sat there staring at my half-eaten sandwich, waiting his storm over.
“It’ll be okay, James. We’ll help with first and last month’s rent once you guys find the apartment you want. Just call Eddie on his cell phone when you know.”
“Thanks, sis. It’s been…hard.”
I don’t know if my brother James is on the level, or conning me again for more cash that he’ll inevitably blow on some useless passing fancy, not rent. But, I really don’t care anymore.
Tacos Del Carbon. The answer to my prayers, and I didn’t even realize it.
Of all the places we traveled last week, and I’m including the MGM Grand in
Las Vegas, people, the best had to be a West Coast fast food chain called Del Taco.
I kid you not.
In a convergence of mind melds, Eddie and I both had Del Taco on the brain since driving away from L.A. Eddie grew positively manic about finding one once we breezed out of
Sacramento. After a few pit stops and frustrating wrong turns, we found the last chain in a new strip mall near a new housing development.
Walking out of our air conditioned car into the 100-degree heat and then into the air conditioned Del Taco awakened our appetites. After devouring three or four regular tacos, each – our son James had four in a row, a record for him – I tried a Taco Del Carbon, with chicken.
First of all, I couldn’t believe this signified fast food. The soft taco came with a wedge of fresh lime, a sprinkling of fresh cilantro, and the corn tortilla tasted like it was made from scratch out in back, pounded from real corn kernels. Juicy, flavorful and real described the chicken morsels. I ate about three in five minutes—a record for me.
(That mutated, mutilated Mexican restaurant in
Oregon, the one with the saltless salsa and wimpy enchiladas, should be ashamed. Beaten by a fast food chain.)
Thus satiated, Eddie and I bemoaned a decided lack of Del Tacos north of there, and wound up settling for nameless, faceless hotel fare for the rest of our traveling meals. I’d kept the Del Taco receipt with an 800 number, though, meaning to call up one late night in the Holiday Inn, just to rave about the food.
Besides Eddie and his son bonding for the first time, after spending so many quality days together just them, and my finally getting some quality sleep through the night after a bout of home-bound insomnia, finding Del Taco in the desert of gassy gas station gunk was almost worth the price of the road trip to my psyche.
Maybe I’ll call that 800 number tomorrow, after I do some moving. For take-out.
This is our “old” home, from which we’re moving. I fell in love at
first sight with this quaint, almost Cape Cod-feeling exterior, the
second I laid eyes on it late one winter in the year 2000.
And this, is our “new” house, about to be our home in the next few
days – much larger, older and mosquito-friendly. It’s in a richer part
of town, too. The tall foreboding pines provide much shelter from the
summer heat, for the bugs and frogs too.
Right this second, I’m wolfing down an hour-cold bag of Indian take-out, bleeding through my tampon and diaper and drinking way too much Dr. Pepper (I’ll diet tomorrow).
I spent most of the afternoon – three solid hours worth – loading up my Ford Escape with overstocked drawers, ice coolers, baskets, and blankets, sheets, clothes, toys, shelving units, stools, then driving about seven or eight blocks north from Lynnwood to Edmonds/Mukilteo, emptying the car of the stuff into the “new” house, going back and repeating twice over.
This, after asking Eddie to chase James down the street and retrieve him in order for us to start the moving back and forth in the first place, fighting cramps, a headache and a terrible case of period fatigue. Eddie takes off for his gig, I take off, do my thing, and around 7 p.m., manage to pick up orders of chicken saag, something with baby potatoes and fennel, garlic naan, basmati rice and samosas at a nearby Indian restaurant in between dealing with a cranky kid who wanted to nap five more minutes in the car.
I park in the driveway. Empty the bags. Put my purse on the counter. And James takes off down the street, running to his best friend’s house, after spying Andrew and the family returning from the beach. I holler to come back here, James ignores me, so I go to get the mail, try to cross the street when this green car comes weaving around me, parking right in front of our driveway.
Oh no. Realtors. Nobody called me with a 30-minute warning.
An entire family tumbles out, the realtor asking if it’s okay to show the house, it’s 7:30 p.m., I say okay, go right on in, and I head to Andrew’s house to hang out with James and his little friends until this realtor and the family are done.
It’s been this way since we returned from the road trip. It’ll be this way tomorrow, but worse, open house between 1 and 4 p.m., and the next day and the next, until we empty this house we lived and loved living in for almost five years.
A reader e-mailed me during the road trip, suggesting I take off for another two days straight by myself, holed up in a hotel somewhere close by but far enough to feel like the vacation I’d originally planned for myself when suddenly my family invited themselves to tag along. I’m seriously considering taking this advice, sometime soon when Eddie has two days straight to give me (not this week, he’s on gigs up the wazoo). The other day a flyer for the Edgewater Hotel by
Seattle’s waterfront arrived in the mail just for me. Hmmm.
Anything’s better than facing a move out and a move in, simultaneously. Whoever arranged the timing of this collision course needs an enema.
As a former Army brat who moved around for most of her early childhood, then moved around some more because her husband couldn’t stand one state, city, apartment living after another – when we decided to live in Washington instead of Hawaii in the late ‘90s, we moved a total of five times, in one year – I. HATE. MOVING.
After the last apartment, before our first house, I gave up cleaning every nook and cranny before leaving and upon arriving. I was just too tired. It’s the same as when I gave up trying to make friends after my dad retired from the Army. Why bother, I’ll only have to pack up and say good-bye again.
I’d like to believe this is my last time moving. I know better. We’ll probably move about 12 more times, before we move into a manufactured home with an RV for our retirement, in about 10 years.
The jury’s still out as to whether I’ll bother cleaning up both houses. The one I’m moving into is covered with lint, dust, dead insects, swarming with mosquitoes, dragonflies and baby frogs.
Must not feel or think ahead. Must only focus on the move now. Must –
– Andrew’s mommy came over on Wednesday with a gift from Greece, a pirated copy of Damian Lewis’ Brides, with director Martin Scorsese attached to the credits – and it plays!
Too bad I can’t watch any of it.
Did I just hear the doorbell?
Who are these people? And what are they doing in my vacation fantasy?
I’d typed “Sportsmen’s Lodge Hotel” so many times in the past five, six years as a soap columnist, while reporting the goings-on at the annual GH Fan Club Weekend.
I’d also developed a curiosity as to the Lodge’s appearance.
The Lodge’s website only added to the intrigue. It had an air of 1950s nostalgia, swimming with glamorous celebs in shades, sipping daiquiris poolside, dark mahogany wood paneling, spiral staircases, deep, plush burgundy-red carpeting throughout… a real sportsmen’s lodge, dead animal heads hanging on the walls, men in tuxedoes playing chess by the firelit fireplace.
One of the draws of attending my first GH Fan Club event would be seeing for myself. At first, I’d planned on staying at the nearby Day’s Inn, along with the rest of the EOS staff; it’s cheaper. But by the time I called for a reservation, based on a January date I was given by a Day’s Inn employee (they didn’t accept reservations in December for July until after the new year), I missed out, all the rooms were booked.
For $239 a night at the Sportsmen’s Lodge Hotel, I expected the finest, five-star accommodations, akin to Lanai’s Lodge at Koele.
The exterior of the Lodge Hotel resembled, to me, the dilapidated apartment buildings straggling the edge of Waikiki, all open-air terraces, faded rusty brown woods, a five-story tucked in back, a two-story up front, one elevator, a tiny lobby, a tinier check-in/check-out desk, a right turn going nowhere, with rooms used as storage, a lobby bar the size of a closet that nobody goes to because it’s not used anymore (that’s what the pool bar, even tinier, is for), a greasy spoon slammed at the back end of the two-story, this bizarre jewelry display kiosk thingie across from the Patio Café entrance…
What the— this is where the daytime stars go every year to hold court with fans? Was the Chateau Marmont taken?
Fighting a rising disappointment and fear that my hotel room would resemble a crack den, I walked up the stairs, passing groups of soap fans acting soap fannish, whatever that means.
… down the creepy, creaky, smoky hallway, off to the right, past sticky double doors and two female soap fans inside their hotel room, door open, buzzing over their exciting weekend ahead, gag me, and then turn the lock of my hotel room with a key (no key card here)…
Seeing the room didn’t fulfill my expectations either. I kept expecting to see a dead body in the corner, behind one of the double beds, underneath the small desk next to the bathroom.
For about 15 minutes, I began to seriously miss my Holiday Inns, quickly navigating in my head routes 15 miles outward for any last-ditch substitutes.
Then I took a second look.
There’s something deceptive about appearances in the Sportsmen’s Lodge Hotel.
Once my vision cleared, I saw a hidden oasis, everywhere. On the dresser lay a variety of magazines for me to read while taking my morning and mid-morning dumps. The TV aired more channels than my DirecTV at home. The coffee for the coffeemaker in the bathroom came from Wolfgang Puck. The air conditioning was of a kind that did not kick on and off in the middle of the night, leaving dead air for two hours, then waking me up with a giant rev.
Once I got around to exploring the grounds, I discovered the
Events Center with five or six nicely sized ballrooms fit for a wedding, convention or Greg Vaughan’s (Lucky) fan event. The crystal teardrop chandeliers in one of the ballrooms simply took my breath away. A pond, a bridge and some black swans led to the
Events Center, and away into a hidden gazebo, next to the pool.
A fitness center with treadmill and weight machines, air conditioned, TV.
Heated Olympic-sized pool.
A late-night comedy improv club next door featuring comedians talking about the clitoris with a foam pillow.
Two free drink coupons for my virgin strawberry daiquiri and Pina Colada.
The Patio Café served the juiciest roast chicken, the green bean-heavy vegetable medley perfectly sautéed with a hint of garlic, just enough salt, bagels and lox, Eggs Benedict or Eggs Florentine, all my favorites on a menu that seemed out of place with the casual atmosphere. I half-expected Lobster Thermidor and Steak Diane flaming from the kitchen.
Then, as I sat and ate with the EOS staff, minus KellyB, on Friday afternoon, the waitress gave a little history lesson after one of us asked about the age of the lodge hotel.
Robert F. Kennedy had stayed there the day before he was assassinated. Sirhan Sirhan followed him, attempting to go up to his room, but failed to pass security. In a chilling bit of foretelling, the guy replied, “That’s okay. I’ll get him later.”
“Oh, this hotel’s been around since the ‘50s, ‘60s.” Then, she went off to retrieve Karen’s iced tea.
Our waitress, all the employees really, seemed to be colorful, historic stories unto themselves, like characters in an Agatha Christie mystery. Maybe there’s a body behind my bed, yet.
My bellman Justino helped me out a lot, bringing my bags. And coming back on Saturday to take my bags to another room, a non-smoking room as I’d requested, then back again when he learned another guest took it first. He beamed proudly when I pronounced this hotel better than the MGM Grand.
If I’m ever in town again – for the Baked Potato, Universal Studios, passing through to Disneyland – I’ll make sure to stay a few days and nights at the Sportsmen’s Lodge Hotel, just for the rich, skanky ambience.
What… You were expecting a soap fan recap?
Here’s my ideal vacation: in bed, 24/7, with air conditioning, a lanai view of the ocean, room service, 50,000 channels on DirecTV – alone.
Despite vowing I’d never go on a road trip of any length with my husband and child ever again after the two-month nightmare last winter, I forgot and agreed to go on a week-and-a-half road trip, across Washington east, down Oregon south, through Idaho, stops in Ogden, Utah, Las Vegas, Nevada (for brunch with my vacationing mom and her boyfriend), then Studio City, California, Sportsmen’s Lodge for the GENERAL HOSPITAL Fan Club Weekend, July 14-16.
The first day, I’m butting heads with our son James, 3, in a battle of wills over something as innocent as dinner out. I need to eat, almost constantly, and be near a restroom afterwards, not conducive to a road trip, especially with a child in tow, a child who often doesn’t feel like eating when on road trips, a child who inevitably throws up in the first two days and shows every indication of an unknown illness. He’s been hiccupping off and on for three days, what’s that about?
The second day, after another battle of wills with James, I succumb to diarrhea and an accident, the first of many. That’s the day, in sweltering, 112-degree Utah, when my child throws up his half-eaten Chicken McNuggets at the threshold of a tatami room in a sushi restaurant. Stomachs growling.
Third day, I miss Holiday Inn. Almost everything at the MGM Grand Hotel in Vegas is designed to get you walking through the casino section downstairs. No coffee maker in the hotel room, no decent TV programming, $18 room service meals, helicopters outside every five minutes, green spotlights glaring back into the lanai windows. The casino section reeks of secondhand smoke and sweat. At the Grand Buffet, I crap my pants trying to go around this slow-moving couple in front of me on this ramp, and several more casino set-ups, toward the restroom half a mile away with like, three stalls and 50 women waiting.
Late at night, when Eddie, James and I should be in bed, we’re up, amping out. I go downstairs, through the casino and the smoke and sweat, to find anything open for a snack, and can only wait in line in the food court for a cup of mocha chip ice cream. It’s the best three spoonfuls I tasted back in my hotel room before my husband yelled out, “James no!” and I feel the cold wet of a vanilla milkshake down my back, puddling on my butt, dripping into the chair and on the carpet. James is put in the tub, fully clothed, diaper full, I’m half naked on my hands and knees with two tea towels trying to grab fistfuls of milkshake in and around the chair – which sounds awfully pornographic but…
Tripping with the family when you’re a guilt-ridden, stay-at-home mom isn’t easy. The husband flies off the handle about traffic, our child pounding him with endless whining need, both the husband and child pounding me endlessly with whining need, and now, right now, Eddie’s giving me the passive-aggressive, fed-up, “Just write,” treatment.
For two days, I resisted giving in to the sobbing I knew would come the third night in the darkness of an MGM Grand toilet surrounded by black and white marble. While Eddie cruised the Internet on his laptop and James slept, finally, I sat in my filthy, dripping nightgown crying into a wad of toilet paper, a litany of grievances spinning on a dial in my head.
This was supposed to be my vacation, alone.
A vacation isn’t supposed to be the hardest work of my life.
A child should never be subjected to such a long, tiring road trip.
Why do I always forget and always give in?
When am I going to be left alone for five seconds?
How many days until I get back home (at present, four)?
I know – resting in the Sportsmen’s Lodge Hotel (did you know Robert F. Kennedy stayed here before his assassination, and that his assassinator tried to go up to his hotel room but was denied, and then remarked, “That’s okay, I’ll get him later” ??) at this very moment – that my husband and son would rather catch up on sleep for 24 hours in their own beds back home, instead of fighting the stress that seems to mark every vacation.
And I would rather … I’m not really sure. My brother’s about to visit, and I haven’t seen him in over three years when we had a profane falling out on the telephone over the necessity of a bank account and his failure to substantiate.
I’m depressed enough.
I’m doing something I swore I’d never do (again). I still don’t know why I’m doing it, quite frankly. I’ve had second thoughts, but whenever I propose to take it back, my husband Eddie tells me, too late, he needs a break.
Cheating? Nope, been there…
Playing sports? My jumpshot’s shot to hell.
Worse. I’m joining other fans in a soap opera event, going public so to speak. Last December, I agreed to attend the annual summer GENERAL HOSPITAL Fan Club Weekend, July 15-18, and made reservations for the only hotel room available in the area, outside a crackhead dive, at the Sportsmen’s Lodge where the events will be held. It cost me too much money to do so, so I won’t be shelling out any more – other than for strawberry daiquiris and room service – for any of the celebrity-hosted events, or the main luncheon, not even for a chance to hear Chad Brannon (ex-Zander) sing live.
At first, I begged EYE ON SOAPS’ publisher Katrina Rasbold and her writing staff, the ones who are attending, to please refer to me in public as Carly, or not refer to me at all, just let me blend in the background and watch the proceedings before and after each event like the sick voyeur I am (or hide in my hotel room, watching daytime programming and chowing down on room service fries and wings). This went on for about five months, Katrina and staff humoring me, vowing to protect me from the rabid Carly fans, seriously swearing up and down that nobody who goes to these events cares about the ego that ate Bakersfield, yours truly, unless I suddenly joined GH’s cast.
Finally, I relented, just one bump when a few fans on an ONE LIFE TO LIVE board railed against one of my JoVan-related columns in CHANNELING – Katrina, you promise nobody will care? – and let out, in a SOAPZONE “News & Gossip” column or two, one or two weeks before the fan club weekend, that I’ll be there, sweating and swooning right along with the rest of you.
I can then see for myself what the fuss is always about, why so many fans come back on the boards to write six-page treatises on the a) perfect beauty of the stars and b) every minute detail about getting there, checking in a hotel, meeting fellow fans. Oh, and, c) why they – for the most part – avoid divulging embarrassing, negative details about the stars that misbehaved.
I still want to take more than a few embarrassing shots of the stars and their fans, incognito, and post them. But I worried about the legalities, sinking as low as asking around, my hairdresser, my church friends, “You think it’d be okay to take a shot of John J. York’s (Mac) butt, or Blake Gibbons (Coleman) laughing, without them knowing?” I wouldn’t, y’know, wanna call any attention to myself, and then be forced to TALK with anybody other than EOS.
I did envision myself walking up to Kelly Monaco (Sam) – she will be there for once, for her own fan event – and asking, “I hear your breasts are real. Can I feel ‘em to make sure, girlfriend?”
Yeah, that’d go over well. Security!
Fans are alerting other fans that it’ll be in the high-80s to 90s over there in Studio City, California, so dress for summer, slather on the sunscreen and be prepared to sweat like pigs in a trough. That said, I found ‘em, the overalls I’d been searching for for over a month, almost in vain.
There are several spiritual beliefs out there that people subscribe to that follows a Screen of the Mind approach to life. Meaning, if you can envision it, you can live it, anything from winning a million dollars in the LOTTO, to nothing but green lights and a choice parking space in the shade, right in front of Shirokiya at Ala Moana Center.
Apparently, my mind obsessively screened nothing and everything overalls-related, because, against all odds and time running out, I happened upon all the GH Fan Club Weekend apparel I needed last Wednesday, by seeming chance.
Eddie and I dropped our son James off at the sitters in Bellevue and, because of rush hour traffic, decided at the last minute to head to Bellevue Square (we were originally going to Lynnwood’s Alderwood Mall) to shop for a bridal shower gift and clothes for me, I needed a pair of shorts, jean culottes and overalls. I bought the shorts and the jeans at Lane Bryant, we were hungry so we snacked on some sushi upstairs, and I had to pee. So I went to the nearest restroom, just to the left of Nordstrom’s, came out, and was about to pass a maternity store conducting a sale (stores are getting rid of summer stock to debut fall already).
Working on whim, instinct and that voodoo that I do do so well, I glanced at the display window, eyes narrowing on the last pair of overalls hanging amongst the other 50-percent-off clothes – these were pre-maternity clothes, btw, no pouffy tummies – as if I knew it was there all along.
Backtracking, I went in, grabbed the overalls, checked the size and smiled. I asked the clerk to hold it for me until after I finished eating my snack, promised I’d be back right after.
I couldn’t believe that after missing out on one opportunity after another, a recommended website ran out of the overalls I’d been eyeing when I went back to order two weeks later, eBay options were bid out, nobody had overalls, not even Christopher Banks, yet… that I found my overall shorts, after all, just days shy of leaving for the California trip.
Of course, they fit me. Marked down from $44 to $9.
As I walked out of the maternity store, I turned to Eddie and joked, “Next up, a million dollars.”
I should’ve jumped on the overalls a month ago. But a month ago, I got struck with an odd case of partial-insomnia due to the onslaught of allergies, a bad reaction to some allergy meds and my own hyper-sensitive hypochondria (I make the Princess and the Pea look like Oscar, the Grouch).
A natural human condition, as natural as breathing and farting, just wouldn’t come that easily anymore. I’d lie in bed, tired from the hips up, but my legs were wide awake and dancing. Or, I’d lie in bed, willing myself to fall asleep, but end up tossing and turning, that falling asleep feeling gone, as if stolen.
Of course, I panicked. I prayed to God. I tried to give God a guilt trip. Why’d you take away the only respite I have? I’m that old Skylark song, “Wildflower”:
… Be careful how you touch her
For she'll awaken
And sleep's the only freedom that she knows
And when you walk into her eyes
you won't believe
The way she's always paying
For a debt she never owes
And a silent wind still blows
That only she can hear and so she goes
Let her cry, for she's a lady
Let her dream, for she's a child
Let the rain fall down upon her
She's a free and gentle flower, growing wild
“sleep’s the only freedom that she knows” … God only knows that is totally and completely me.
While most of my offline friends simply stared sympathetically at me, Frank plying me with tequila drinks, Bev joking, “Don’t drive into a tree coming over here,” sharing their own three-week insomnia stories, “I finally went to a doctor because I couldn’t stand it anymore and…,” my best friend online, Mae-B, simply assured me that eventually, sleep would come, even if it means I drop on the couch and phase out during the day.
She was right. I still have trouble getting to sleep for an hour or two, now and then, but last night, after a night of lovin’, naturellement, my head hit the pillow and out I went.
In the midst of my insomnia and panic attacks, I found a brief respite, for about an hour and 43 minutes, on HBO.
Damian Lewis, you’ve met your match.
I’d seen British actor Paul Bettany in previous works, A Dangerous Mind, Master and Commander, but never really seen him until Wimbledon with Kirsten Dunst on HBO about two weeks ago. It was the same with Lewis, and Michael Moriarty before him, and really, with Bobby – my childhood crush and the template for the Moriartys, Lewises and Bettanys – too. Men like Bobby don’t flash, they grow, until you find you cannot live without them.
Bettany’s lead character, aging tennis player Paul, charmed me immediately with his shy, awkward, self-effacing, pained, tall, lanky, “gaunt,” self. That was Bobby. The way Paul looked at Lizzie, the enfant terrible of the tennis world, from the moment he accidentally walked in on her taking a shower to when he accidentally hit a line judge after she dared him to make a shot in exchange for sleeping with him… his blue eyes going all soft, mouth jerking… I had my Bobby back.
And Bettany could pass for the brother of Lewis.
Since I can’t view any of Lewis’s plethora of films from the 2003-2004 era because I’m stuck in Podunk Washington, half his stuff locked up in foreign film festivals or awaiting release (he did a movie with J.Lo and Redford, believe it or not)….
A substitute’s as good as any.
Some friends from Hawaii visited us last week. And now, I feel so small, so cold.
I’ve known Liane (rather, known of and occasionally exchanged quips with) since her freshman year in Aiea High School, where I was – at the time – a junior, both of us in Mrs. Hao’s Newswriting class, part of the Ka Leo O Aiea newspaper staff, me as the editor, she as a features writer and the unattainable babe magnet of the other male staff members (one of whom I would later become engaged to, break up with, room with in Seattle and he’s now my best friend, go figure).
My husband Eddie has known Liane’s husband, Bruce, a successful attorney and former television news personality, since their Kalaheo High School years, several miles and mountains up north in Oahu. They were in Math Club together, and together with Fred, another of their best friends from band, were inseparable throughout college and the early part of their 20s.
Liane was my usher, with my brother James, … Bruce, Eddie’s best man, at our wedding, about a year after theirs. I predicted, in a series of astrally projected dreams, her first pregnancy, the sex of their firstborn daughter (whom I clearly saw through the bars of a crib in one dream), as well as the middle name Nalani.
That background out of the way. Liane represented to me (to a smaller extent, Bruce for Eddie, too), a constant symbol of my underachieving nature, the successes to my failures, unquestionable ambition in the face of my lazy, braindead, always take the shortcut slacker mode. In high school, she mingled with every clique, yet belonged only to herself, she participated in all the important clubs, organizations, the 4-H Club, the Leo Club, National Honor Society, Student Government, too smart to be a cheerleader, too cool for band; in short order, she surpassed me as an editor and a writer, and grabbed all the attention from the boys with her uber-serious, hip to be preppy self.
I emulated her every mannerism, the tucked-in polo shirts, the pressed jeans, cuffs folded neatly twice, the bleached-white sneakers with matching socks, medium-short black hair always in place, the virginal aura, head buried in a book or a file of papers to edit…from high school to college, where we wound up on another newspaper together, Ka Leo O Hawaii, but roles reversed, she a features editor, me a beat reporter with a problem getting quotes in context when covering the teachers’ union.
Eventually, my idolatry fell apart, because Liane seriously wanted to pursue a subject that interested her, education, and help students better themselves by expanding their minds through reading, writing and thinking on their own. And, I always wanted to goof off, get laid, get bloated on mainstream TV.
She went on through a bachelor’s and master’s, earning a teaching spot at one of the better Hawaii public high schools right after graduation, at Moanalua High School – not far from Aiea, in fact – ending up as the Newswriting advisor, just like our Mrs. Hao, chair of the English department, and in every related press mention possible (a May feature from HONOLULU magazine describes the groans of her class when she whips out the regular, morning current events quiz). Her daughter Erin, 9, seems headed in the same fast track to success, having won numerous poetry prizes, including a Starbucks one for “Bubble.”
…While I pined after one unattainable man after another, none ever close enough to the original, my Bobby from Ft. Dix’s Garden Terrace, turning into quite the veritable Drama Queen Misery Girl, the subject of those self-flagellating ‘80s rock ballads, Sister Christian, Gloria, Bright Eyes… lame. And I yearned to recreate the soapy triangle of my 7th-grade youth, Carol likes William, William likes Carol, but Bobby does too, only it turns out William liked Bobby more and used Carol as a fag-hag cover… I got my wish in 1995/96, try hard enough, you always do, it wasn’t exactly ratings-worthy and nearly killed me, blah, blah, and now, here I am, a stay-at-home mom without any ambitions other than sleeping a solid eight hours straight without having to urinate, without having restless leg syndrome, without her mind replaying some stupid ‘70s disco song in a loop.
Nostalgia, regret, taking stock, comparisons, of course I fail, again.
Late one night, a week ago actually, everybody asleep, or on a fun-filled four-week vacation out of town, I’m sitting in front of my laptop, bored, restless leg syndrome, left behind, and filled with dangerous nostalgia, went Googling for my former pals at Ka Leo. Not much beyond Liane’s mile-high resume – she’s considered an innovative find at the innovative public school, using state-of-the-art techniques to bring out the heroically original in every ordinary student – until I came across Joe’s latest anarchic display: Angels On The Boulevard: Butoh Call.
Fast forward to 1990, Joe’s in my living room, saying the “F” word every other sentence, sometimes in succession like a machine gun out of bullets, his frustration with the growing restlessness in his own mind, run amuck with possibilities, failures, an innate inability to still a gnawing, consuming ache for peace, true, inner peace, in real physical pain unless he acted out to distract himself, these protests, the arrests… an act of distraction. He always wanted to stir things up, because he couldn’t still his mind.
At AHS, Joe was known only as the shy, retiring, sometimes clumsy blond boy who could draw, and who always laughed at my standup routine until he choked. Joe had part of his throat removed or worked on as a child, so he always spoke with a whispery rasp. He reminded me of Tom Petty. After high school, he blossomed as this extreme activist, getting himself arrested for scrawling on a construction wall at the University of Hawaii in Manoa, starting the Scrawling Wall publication, heading up various protests (I participated in the one following the riots in L.A. over Rodney King), discovering Butoh dance (from Japan, the 1950s dance of being is reminiscent of the French mime, but with deeper messages) as a method of government protest and using his art to subvert. I still have his blue TV-alien sculpture, made of papier mache, sitting on top of my dresser; my mom and my husband have begged me to torch it but I won’t, it reminds me of … I dunno, the renegade I could’ve become had I not been such a lazy butthead.
Anyway, Joe’s at it again, stirring up trouble, gaining attention, if only from the outskirts. He and his Butoh dancers, the collective called Somavox, dressed in white, with white faces, mimed their way through Hollywood Blvd., L.A., attracting the paparazzi and the driving masses, ordered to move in unison without speaking, as if in a “waking dream,” for the broader purpose of Corpus Delecti… all to protest the war in Iraq. But with Joe, that’s never the entire picture.
In 1982, I held another picture in my mind, sitting in Joe’s parents’ living room, under the cooling, healing tradewind of Waianae’s beach coast, that of us as a married couple, driving under the noon-day sun somewhere in Oxnard, California, top down in our red convertible, popping strawberries, me leaning against his scrawny, tanned shoulder, him laughing in that thin, raspy way.
Fast forward to 1990, Joe’s in my living room, saying the “F” word every other sentence, sometimes in succession like a machine gun out of bullets, his frustration with the growing restlessness in his own mind, run amuck with possibilities, failures, an innate inability to still a gnawing, consuming ache for peace, true, inner peace, in real physical pain unless he acted out to distract himself, these protests, the arrests… an act of distraction. He always wanted to stir things up, because he couldn’t still his mind.
Between Joe and Liane, here I sit, wondering where I am.
DSC_0165.JPG CAPTION: WHAT WAS I DOING THIS PAST FRIDAY?—Soul Intention, and company, in between sets at Tacoma’s waterfront bar and bistro, the Blue Olive. That’s my husband Eddie, far left, finishing up my bread pudding for dessert.
“waiting for Jacob Jr.”
Every time I type, using the middle finger in my right hand, a sharp stab of pain shoots through my body. Burn marks dot my legs and arms.
I cut and burned myself cleaning the oven the other day, preparing for our move.
My nose is running, eyes dry from the previous day’s itching.
Suddenly, I’m this sheltered, frail hypochondriac with allergies. I used to laugh at allergic people as weak sissies, as I jogged by, body tanned, mind sharp as a tack, nourished by Hawaii’s healthy, humid, tradewindy climate. Seven years in Washington, and I’ve been reduced to an indoor wimp, breathing in Ionic Breeze, with my Breathe Right strips.
And it feels as if I were nursing a newborn without a wink of sleep for three months straight. Or, high on a bender of tequila, Maui Wowie and muscle relaxants.
I don’t think I’ve had a peaceful rest in ages. It’s not just having a child, having IBS-D, having to wake up fairly early (although we get away with a later hour than most parents), having to do things throughout each day to fulfill my debts to society, having to endure the occasional woodpecker, cats screwing, neighbors partying, an alien visitation, cold, flu, allergy congestion, Flonase freedom followed by a wheezing/whistling chaser (it’s not asthma, Eddie) … keeping me awake.
My mind’s locked in a loop, anticipating the wheezing, whistling, the frequent trips to the bathroom (note to self: stop drinking so much water before bedtime), wandering to the philosophical dread of inevitable death. My in-laws hardly slept either towards the end. My father-in-law, fairly begged for sleeping pills, months before his. Is this me? I’m only 40.
Do I need the melatonin of youth in a bottle?
Should I start sleeping with my ipod and headphones on full blast?
Can I do with only two-hour increments of sleep? Martha Stewart gets by with four hours.
The light-headed buzz could be from the Claritin my husband Eddie made me take this morning. Flonase, Claritin, prenatal vitamins, calcium, B-12, maybe Tom Cruise ain’t so far off base.
I wanted to talk about my latest infatuation with Into the West, a Steven Spielberg production for TnT about the true stories of settlers and Native Americans in the 1800s, their struggles and triumphs against the kind of odds we in society today wouldn’t even sneeze at.
I may stray over to the Supreme Court’s latest ruling, giving legal carte blanche to the government to take over anybody’s private property for public gain (a Crate & Barrel?), or may obsess about what this wheezing and whistling’s about and if I’m really tired, can I ignore it like I sometimes can ignore Eddie’s snoring?
Wagon wheel run over your leg, breaking it clean? Just go to the doctor to set the leg in a cast. Fall into the river? Just swim to shore. Failing that, use CPR. We forget, however, that people back then didn’t know about casts and CPR.
Tuning in every weekend (TnT airs repeats after premiering each new episode on Friday) has been like attending the best history class in college, in a limited series format, two-hour episodes, 12 hours total, starring some of the best, most underrated actors in the United States, many who will probably never see another spotlight outside Spielberg’s vision and generosity, many Native Americans, has-beens, nobodies, Tyler Christopher (Nikolas/ex-Connor, GENERAL HOSPITAL) – a soap actor.
Admittedly, my sole reason for tuning in was to see him in something else. I’d missed his indies. Unless you’re Damian Lewis, I’m too lazy to hunt around and bother.
But then, I quickly became enveloped in another world long ago, two worlds actually, of the white settlers, occasionally interrupted by freed black slaves, and of the Native Americans. The TV screen opened up into a wide expanse of nature, mankind and approaching violence.
I forgot that this limited series was filmed on location in Canada, New Mexico and one other place I can’t remember. I forgot that I was supposed to be bored and waiting for Christopher’s Jacob Jr. to show up and do an imitation of Nikolas in chaps. I forgot my life entirely, totally immersing myself in this truthful, fair and emotionally resonant saga, learning through pure entertainment.
Spielberg sought authenticity, from the wardrobe to the languages, to the perfect fit of actor to character, then spared no expense or mercy in telling the stories. The beauty and the violence is both coldly matter of fact and warmly compelling. It’s one thing to read on a piece of paper that the majority of the pioneers never made it in the trek West, the cholera, the Native American attacks, a childbirth gone wrong, the winters… it’s another to witness it as firsthand as we’re gonna get. The magic of Spielberg and his people in this limited series is, as much as the deaths and the murders, often senseless, permeated throughout, they never desensitized. If anything, they heightened the fragility, vulnerability, and priceless value of life.
So many images, performances just took me by surprise and, I fell, helplessly in love. The sight of the Native American boys in wolf’s fur chasing a herd of buffalo, two leading the herd off a cliff, a part of the herd veering off, trampling many in the Lakota tribe, save for White Feather, a boy turned holy man, rechristened Loved By The Buffalo… The dignity of Jedediah Smith in leading his band of pioneers through nature’s most unforgiving territory, nearly scalped by a Grizzly Bear, quoting Scripture, ageless wisdom in his weathered face… Rachel Wheeler’s broken, bloody leg crawling with maggots, the sound of a saw cutting into her, her blood-curdling screams, my God I nearly felt the blade myself, smelled the sweat and the heat of agony… Thunder Heart Woman losing her newborn to another Native American tribe after losing her first husband, mountain man Thomas Lebeck, and nearly herself in a fight…
A good movie forces you to examine yourself, your life and the world around you, as well as doing so subtly, through pure entertainment. This is the brilliance of Steven Spielberg. He should be doing more of these historically based limited series, one by one, until we won’t need to attend history class in school anymore, just watch his work.
And I’m only into the third week, the week GH’s Tyler Christopher debuts. Imagine that.
So yeah, apparently the liberal Supreme Court judges decided to out-vote the Republicans in taking away another of our Constitutional rights, by broadening the scope of the definition of public good, teetering on abuse. The Republican president, George Bush, can do nothing about it. We, the people, could, but it’ll be harder for us to organize and follow procedures than it would the government. And that’s exactly how the government planned it, IMHO, to usurp and dilute the intention of our forefathers until there’s nothing left but an absolute monarchy – the last thing they wanted.
This Supreme Court decision basically means the government can build anything it wants, and if your house is in the way, they can buy you out for any amount they deem fair, and bulldoze your life’s work. In Connecticut, they did it to a retired couple, twice. The first time, that husband’s father had lovingly planted and maintained acres of fruit trees around the property, the couple had planned to live out the rest of their lives there. Their house is now a parking lot.
A recent case has the government wanting to plow through someone’s residence to build a Crate & Barrel. That’s a store selling products for rich people. That’s what the government deems a public good, a store that expects you to pay for its stuff.
I don’t know, to me, public good means a hospital, a facility to help underprivileged families get back on their feet, a park… not a high-end boutique.
This shouldn’t be a surprise, however.
Don’t be fooled. The government can do anything to you, and get away with it. This is not the first time politicians have screwed the average man over, and this won’t be the last.
If not property, then your children, your freedom, every right you can think of and then some.
We’re under the delusion that America is the home of the brave, land of the free. Well, the brave part, maybe. But the free? If you’ve got power, money, connections, sure. We’re far from a Third World country, but we’re not that much better, just another lie in fancy clothes, with big falsies.
The government can and has, through its totalitarian branches, made a complete mockery of the Constitution of the people, by the people and for the people. And we’re too busy struggling to survive, pay the bills, make our doctor appointments with or without healthcare coverage, worship in our churches, volunteer for a thousand and one outside projects we can’t afford in time and energy, forget the stresses for a few hours with mindless TV and video games… to do anything about it. That is, if there’s anything we can do.
Sometimes, when a news report about some government buffoonery reaches my ears, I think about Joe, my friend from high school, the former Ka Leo O Aiea newspaper cartoonist and all around anarchist who swapped crushes with me throughout our college and post-college years. Maybe he had the right idea, joining forces with other activists to fight the power, instead of seeking the comfort and peace of happily ever after that always eluded him.
If I could just manage to sleep through the night without having to pee every 15 minutes or wake myself before I have a chance to nod off because of this bizarre wheezing/whistling coming from an unknown part of my body… maybe I’d be coherent long enough to do more than gripe in a weekly column.
Benadryl… yeah, that might help.
When some people ask for an explanation “like I’m in the second grade and retarded,” they’re mostly kidding. I’m not.
So explain it to me like I’m a retarded 2nd grader:
- What exactly do real estate agents get paid to do? And,
- What about the Michael Jackson not-guilty verdict constituted the interruption (yet again) to daytime drama programming?
I’ve always regarded real estate agents as the holy grail of getting paid to do nothing. Now, before any real estate agent-type readers fire up the laptops to sear my hide medium-rare, it’s not from negative judgment, but pure ignorance.
Being privileged and cursed with a career military father who moved us from one military housing project to another before retiring in Hawaii in one rental to another, I never encountered the need for a real estate agent. As a grown-up renting one apartment after another, same deal. In fact, only recently, as of two weeks ago, did I enter into hallowed territory – in a nightmarish ordeal EOS’s Katrina Rasbold detailed, about her move from Sacramento to Grizzly Flats, not so long ago – our first move from one house to another.
Half of you reading this are probably wondering about the first house. If we bought it, wouldn’t we have had to hire a real estate agent? We would, and did, after my husband Eddie found a house-for-sale notice in a Microsoft newsletter when he worked for the giant software company up in Redmond, then took me to the two-story, four-bedroom, one and a half bath gray-blue house in Lynnwood to see for ourselves. I fell in love with the A-frame and the ghetto kitchen and baths (half the place was glued or taped together, with strange crystals pouring intermittently out from under the kitchen sink… we still don’t know what they are, I tasted the sandy grains too, expecting to sprout termite eggs on my butt), figuring, nobody else would want to put in an offer on such a dilapidated but spacious for a poor, struggling couple with contract jobs starting out in a new state.
After the owners accepted our offer – the grandma living on the bottom half of the house liked Eddie – then we called in a real estate agent to handle the sale. But God help me, I never saw him or her. I was just so lazy, tired and spoiled that all I could see were the mounds of paperwork to sign and re-sign in an office somewhere, hoping I wouldn’t have an accident going to and from there (I had one, on the way, waiting for the office to open).
Now, after five years, we’ve decided to move into a larger house, from 1,350 sq. ft. to 2,733 sq. ft., four bedrooms to five, 1.5 bathrooms to 2.5, a renovated kitchen the size of our current living and dining room, etc. Our neighbors, Hal and Sharon, two houses to our left, are and have always been extremely nice. But they have also introduced, for me, the mystery of the real estate agents.
I guess it’s not such a coincidence that agent sounds an awful lot like agenda.
Because on the Monday afternoon they met with us, at their insistence, to discuss the parameters and the requirements of opening up our 1,350 square feet of homey heaven to complete strangers who can often be snooty (Katrina says), I experienced agenda akin to that of a diehard GENERAL HOSPITAL soap fan base. The PEARLS have got nothing on real estate agents.
Hal and Sharon had a binder, A BINDER full of graphs, statistics and background information about the housing market, comparable price listings with other homes near our neighborhood and this dreaded list of all we had to do to prepare our house for sale.
Hal excitedly informed us that the market right now is hot, we better act fast to catch the bulk of the people looking for homes – families looking to buy before school season – like, he could give us three days, then we had to make ourselves scarce for 30-minute increments and all day during open house.
Three days to (here’s just a sampling of the suggested improvements and fixes to our house, c/o Prudential MacPherson’s Home Merchandising Tips)…?!:
- Repair cracks and nail holes in walls and ceilings with latex or acrylic caulking. Strip outdated or worn wallpaper and repaint walls and ceilings in neutral colors.
- Remove worn or outdated carpet and refinish hardwood floors.
- Steam clean your carpet and wash tile or vinyl-covered floors.
- Clean all light fixtures and add the highest wattage bulbs allowed.
- Add a splash of color and fragrance to any room with a fresh flower arrangement. (But be careful of the allergy-ridden.)
- Put a bowl of fresh fruit in the kitchen. (But no open food. Bananas can attract fruit flies.)
- Put new logs in the fireplace.
- Arrange colorful candles and candlesticks on a coffee table or fireplace mantle.
- Set your dining room table with color-coordinated place mats and table settings.
- Hang a colorful print on a bare wall.
- Put out a decorative rug in your entryway. (But take down the Kenny has diarrhea poster.)
- Dry-clean or launder your window coverings.
- No wire hangers ever! (my words)
- Scrub your sink, tub, shower and toilet. Polish the chrome fixtures.
- Remove all personal items from your vanity or counter. (…like the sex toys.)
- Display your best towels and rug. Put out decorative bars of soap.
- Remove small appliances and canister sets from countertops. (And for God’s sakes, lock up the pure, $40-a-bag Kona coffee.)
- Remove magnets, pictures and other works of art from refrigerator.
- Install new knobs and hardware to update old cabinets. (This is starting to cost more than the friggin’ house.)
- Clean your stove and oven. (No way, this is a deal breaker. Mama don’t do Easy Off.)
- Mop floor and baseboards.
- Repaint your exterior front door and trim.
- Polish hardware and exterior light fixtures.
- Put potted flowering plants by the front door or in window boxes.
- Buy a new doormat. (You mean find a new husband?)
- Clean gutters and downspouts. Straighten and paint if necessary.
- Repair roof by securing loose shingles and replacing damaged ones.
- Repair cracks and pull weeds from walkways and drive. (They have got to be kidding me.)
- Turn on every light in the house.
- Remove dead leaves, limbs and other debris from lawn. (What about that half-eaten woodpecker?)
And this is only half of the list. After reading it, I felt like moving into an apartment downtown, after selling everything I own.
Hal and Sharon added that we should take down pictures of our three-year-old son James, or else pictures of the home won’t get listed… some anti-pedophile rule. And, remove knives – wouldn’t wanna give a hidden psycho any ideas – as well as feel-good drugs from sight, maybe put them in plastic bags in drawers. I’m feeling real good about this open house risk already.
Oh, and either brew a pot of coffee or bake bread.
Wait, should I bake a few thousand chocolate chip cookies while I’m at it?
Eddie and I glanced at each other. He looked like he had to write a final exam, all essay questions, for English literature—a fate worse than death. And I probably looked like I wanted to go upstairs, shut the door to my bedroom and tune out to the Playboy channel for the rest of the summer.
After Eddie talked Hal into waiting until the end of June – we still had those buttheads to contend with, who promised over a year ago and have yet to deliver a landscaped back, side and front yard – I set to work scheduling the packing, rearranging of furniture and cleaning days, mind overwhelmed with too much work.
My mind also let in images of those open houses I walked through in the past, cluttered, filthy, stinky, occupied – when we toured the house we bought in the year 2000, the grandma was lounging in her sofa bed wearing a nightgown and watching TV while a cousin was upstairs giving a toddler grandson a bath! – the total opposite of Home Merchandising Tips.
To my recollection, nobody follows those tips. I’ve yet to smell bread or coffee when stepping over the threshold, sweat, motor oil and kitty urine, sure, but... In fact, the house we’re moving into at the end of July, just a couple blocks up the street into the Mukilteo/Edmonds area, had about a kadzillion things wrong with it that Eddie and owner Jim had to deal with. The least they cared about was whether the floors were polished or the fixtures gleamed.
So, while I was quietly freaking out over following every item on the list as is my anal-retentive, perfectionist tendency, my EOS boss Katrina let me off the hook by telling me that I should do whatever the heck I feel like doing, no more, no less, no matter what the real estate agents say. My other friend Mae, who knows from moving, reassured me that as long as people get a load of each room’s space, they’re fine, they don’t care about toys on the floor or a refrigerator magnet of a fat man farting.
Still, with all the wisdom of the ages flowing over me, you’d think I’d back off and inhale a box of bonbons naked. Nope, the other night, I suffered about five “paper cuts” from attempting to clean each individual metal blind in the dining room with Chlorox bleach wipes. (James was in the living room giving his cars a burial with the baby wipes.) Those blinds had insect parts, dried blood, food particles, a Cheerio, baby vomit… and the kind of smeared-on, oily dirt that only spreads with the first wipe.
So far, we’ve cleared out most of the furniture and book shelves from the living room, storing them in our garage, then reconfigured the remains to showcase the bay windows, fireplace and lots of space in between. We also went from room to room, the upstairs is all that’s left, packing knick knacks, medicines, books, CDs, my mom’s hand-me-downs and excess crap we won’t need for the next two months. We were supposed to continue packing today, as I write this, but it’s Father’s Day for heaven’s sakes, give us a break.
In between the packing and fuming and panicking, I had cause to ruminate on just what motivated our good, kindly neighbors turned real estate agents to push us so hard to get our place open-house ready; I mean, what’s in it for them?
The sooner the house goes on the market and is sold, the sooner they get paid. If the house goes for what the owner lists, they get paid very well.
As I put away another loud, ugly piece of Coca-Cola glass memorabilia my mom handed down to me (she would collect glasses in fours, while my late mother-in-law collected them in ones), while chastising me for amassing too much of a collection in the first place – sigh, you can’t win – the TV that is not supposed to be on while strangers traipse through my house by the end of this month blared the news interruption of Michael Jackson’s SUV, escorted by a phalanx of other SUVs, driving many miles from his home to the courthouse.
Déjà vu. Didn’t I see this as I got off one of the treadmills at Gold’s Gym in Honolulu in the mid-‘90s, with O.J. and his SUV?
The East Coast was spared the news interruption – two hours prior to an actual reading of the verdict, mind you – but us West Coasters weren’t. I missed ONE LIFE TO LIVE for this nonsense.
I don’t know about you, but I could live without knowing the verdict. It doesn’t affect how I function. It’s not an immediate threat to me and my loved ones. Unless you’re a Michael Jackson devotee, this news interruption is just another way for the entertainment media (formerly the news media, born from journalism) to fill their ratings quota.
My general philosophy on news interruptions is: Don’t do it, unless it’s another 9/11 type tragedy. I don’t care if someone else’s brother rammed his car into the back of a truck causing a four-hour delay in rush hour, if the weather will turn unseasonably warm or cold for a week, or the president had gall bladder surgery. Leave my daytime programming alone—or simply do away with daytime programming altogether, and air paid programming interspersed with news interruptions at the quixotic whim of local news station producers (there’s one in town who’s a total dick IMHO).
As to the innocent on all counts verdict given Jackson, I also don’t care. He lost relevance with me the second he chose to mutilate himself for a warped vision of beauty, and I used to worship the guy from the golden-oldie ‘70s.
And, unless he can help me get out of cleaning our house in one and a half weeks, he’s of no use to me.
Frozen bread dough, eh, Kate?
“There's no vocabulary
For love within a family, love that's lived in
But not looked at, love within the light of which
All else is seen, the love within which
All other love finds speech.
This love is silent.” –T.S. Eliot
“Slow down, you crazy child
you're so ambitious for a juvenile
But then if you're so smart, tell me
Why are you still so afraid?
Where's the fire, what's the hurry about?
You'd better cool it off before you burn it out
You've got so much to do and
Only so many hours in a day
But you know that when the truth is told..
That you can get what you want or you can just get old
You're gonna kick off before you even
Get halfway through
When will you realize, Vienna waits for you?
Slow down, you're doing fine
You can't be everything you want to be
Before your time
Although it's so romantic on the borderline tonight
Too bad but it's the life you lead
you're so ahead of yourself that you forgot what you need
Though you can see when you're wrong, you know
You can't always see when you're right. you're right
You've got your passion, you've got your pride
but don't you know that only fools are satisfied?
Dream on, but don't imagine they'll all come true
When will you realize, Vienna waits for you?
Slow down, you crazy child
and take the phone off the hook and disappear for awhile
it's all right, you can afford to lose a day or two
When will you realize,..Vienna waits for you?
And you know that when the truth is told
that you can get what you want or you can just get old
You're gonna kick off before you even get halfway through
Why don't you realize,. Vienna waits for you
When will you realize, Vienna waits for you?” –Billy Joel, “Vienna”
God speaks to me in one of two ways: music and dreams. I know this in so many ways.
Two days ago, I remained unmoved at the break-up of ONE LIFE TO LIVE’S Evangeline and John, until she remembered in a flashback singing to him, “All Is Fair In Love,” and then I broke.
And just the other morning, in the midst of June’s unseasonably rainy season, I remained stuck inextricably on a few major details of what appeared at first to be a minor dream, until I remembered the common thread between it and a good online friend’s recent emancipation, and then I declared my own common bond.
All I needed at that moment – sitting outside Macrina’s Bakery on 1st Avenue in downtown Seattle with my best friend Jon, sharing a lemon lavender cake with a large cup of java, ubiquitous rain pouring around us – was a ‘70s soundtrack playing in the background, cued to the Blackbirds’ “Walkin’ In Rhythm,” and I’d easily be levitating three feet off the ground.
We were talking about having lived in Hawaii, feeling trapped, Jon’s emancipation, living on his own, my limbo at not knowing what I should be doing with my life, where my passions lie, why everybody seemed headed in the right direction with their interests when all I seemed interested in, is taking long afternoon naps and zoning out mindlessly to summer reruns I’d missed in the fall…
When talk turned to another friend of mine as an example of someone living life on his terms, regardless of society’s expectations, in an attempt to draw a parallel from Sage to Jon.
EYE ON SOAPS’ Sage Bourland recently emancipated himself from a one-sided relationship, reclaiming his house from a sister and her family, risking the resentment and wrath of the rest of his family and setting up a home for himself based on the peace, quiet and routine of his former singular-individuality, financially self-sufficient, a loner by choice. I read his account over a week ago with growing envy, wishing I had such courage of conviction to pursue my dream, whatever it may be.
I’m telling this to Jon, “Sage was celibate before he met Colin, it was his first relationship, and now he’s alone again, but he’s content. Society judges people like him based on their pre-established mores and expectations, like he’s somehow wrong for being okay with just being on his own, not married, without children. Why’s that so wrong? Why can’t it be enough--?” when I catch my breath, catching myself in a shocking realization, almost as pleasantly shocking as the one-two-three punch of my earlier dream (more on that later).
Jon caught the gist five seconds before I did. “Carol, don’t you see you’re like Sage? Who says you have to strive to be a Becca, Marit or Liane, these women you seem to think are living better, more fulfilled, talented lives than you with their busy schedules, fifty million friends, the achievements, the singing, the 2.5 kids in a mansion with the lawyer husband earning six figures, blah blah?! What if your thing is to just take a break and rest? Maybe it’s okay if all you want to do when you have a spare moment not being a mother or writing your soap columns … is to just sleep.”
As I drove home in the pouring rain, I thought about Jon’s words and my dream, and how they related to somehow fulfilling my nameless expectation to be better, to do more, to replicate the lives of the Barbies and Kens out there that society worships as having it all. All my life, I suffered from a damaged ego complex in that I yearned to know who I was, my destiny, the whole meaning of life spiel, convinced by the time I entered college that I was, in fact, nothing more than a zombie, an empty vessel, a slob with no style, alive only around other people who had their act together. I still do.
I’d told Jon that, as much as I wanted a break from mommy duties, when I get that break, I don’t know what to do with myself, if he weren’t home, I’d have gotten in my car, turned right back around and gone home back to my family and mommy duties. Empty shell.
Which probably explains why that dream made me smile.
I’d arrived at a late hour to work, a running theme is I work in a gigantic brick and steel warehouse, maybe it used to be an old firehouse, in the middle of the city, open 24 hours with excellent security, all of us working there can come and go as we please, and work whatever hours we choose, nobody’s there to crack the whip, just as long as we log in the hours, something I always forget to do going in, but never going out.
I have a stack of work to do, papers to process, typeset, columns to write, I’m at my computer terminal, it’s late at night as it usually is when I get there, music’s playing, one or two other co-workers are there, it’s really casual, when a young man I recognized as Joe, a boy I knew from high school who had a crush on me, hands me a gift, a combination cell phone, digital camera and video recorder, saying, “Carol, I’ve kept records of all the moments in my encounters with you that I treasure, because I am your secret admirer and want you to know how much I love you and always will, take it and go through it when you can. See for yourself how beautiful you are to me.”
He leaves, my son arrives to give me warm hugs and tell me how much he adores me and how much he appreciates all I sacrificed for him, but more than the sacrifices, the wacky and lovable way I interact with him made all the difference, he loves me above all else.
And then my poli-sci professor comes, handing out the results of the final exam, I’m half working still so I don’t pay attention, just figured I aced it because I knew all the answers, no big deal, it’s just one of three courses I need to pass to graduate, but she speaks to me, I pause in my work, look up, there’s admiration and awe in her eyes, more than mild shock. “You need to consider a career in political science. You are my best student. Please come see me later this week, and we can talk about getting you in for next year, you have thought about teaching, haven’t you?” I reply, “I don’t know. I’m that good?” She nods.
I return to my work, the happiest I’ve ever been, then wake up.
Before the epiphany with Jon, I would’ve just assumed the dream referred to the same, tired theme of: I suck, I need to be more like the active, busy over-achievers in this world and get off my butt and do something productive in my life before it’s too late; till then, let me just live vicariously through this alter self in my dreaming parallel universe.
But now, now I’m thinking this is a sign from God and from my intuitive spirit-receptor that I’m already there.
As Billy Joel once sang on the track, “Vienna,” from his “The Stranger” album in 1977:
… you're so ahead of yourself that you forgot what you need
Though you can see when you're wrong, you know
You can't always see when you're right. you're right …
I used to listen to this song throughout my senior year in high school, through to the first three years of college (Leeward Community and University of Hawaii), alternately pumping my fist and crying hysterically in the dark of my bedroom. This was my song, every word described me.
To suddenly realize, two decades later, that all this time I beat myself up about:
- Not living my life to the best of my ability and to the fullest extent
- Not having a personality, any style or life energy with which to entertain people or make friends
- Not being appreciated for my contribution to society, my hard work, my sacrifice, my unique gifts
- Not knowing who I was, what my goals should be, having any goals, passions or hobbies
… for nothing!
There’s a reason I admire, envy and wish I were more like Sage. Because maybe, duh, I really am more like Sage, and always was.
Maybe the approval, gratitude and just plain love I seek have always been there, waiting for a dream to notice. Over coffee and lavender cake.
“it’s summer, now give me some overalls”
I decided to go shopping for a summer wardrobe about 14 years and two seasons too late.
Since dutifully incorporating an hour’s treadmill to my morning routine, cutting out meats, sodas and fried foods from my diet and drinking more water, eating more fruits, grains, vegetables and fish instead, I’ve lowered in dress size sloooowly but surely.
I had time, my mom was visiting from Hawaii, and I’d promised EYE ON SOAPS publisher/owner Katrina Rasbold to join the rest of the staff at the annual GENERAL HOSPITAL Fan Club Weekend in mid-July – my first time ever – I figured, what the hey, let’s give the mall a try and see if I can’t wrangle a few tank tops, shorts, jeans, overalls, and maybe a few black outfits for church choir next fall season.
Every store, including Wal*Mart and Lane Bryant, failed me.
I thought a wedding floral bouquet for a June bride just exploded as I stepped inside the portal of women’s fashions. Every pastel and fluorescent color of the feminine rainbow presented itself to me, in ruffles, lace and curls, but no primary colors primarily in blue and black, and certainly no overalls (I’d envisioned wearing out a pair at the fan club weekend, hiding inconspicuously behind the potted palms in the bar area with my virgin daiquiri).
I don’t know about you, Martha Stewart and Paris Hilton, but I – a winter Asian – look about as appealing in pinks, whites and frilly oranges as an orangutan or a linebacker for the 49ers. My complexion tends toward either the swarthy or the porcelain, befitting a cobalt blue and midnight black, not spring has sprung. I’m also a straightforward, linear, classic comfortable dresser, with a tree trunk (stick when I’m skinny) for a body type. I have no hips; I’m an upside-down pear.
And where are the overalls?!
I see them on children everywhere. James owns about five pairs of ‘em. But someone my age, weight and inverted body type? Good luck.
A Christopher Banks clerk informed me that the last pair of pale-denim overalls I’d spotted in their Alderwood Mall store last December went quick, and then advised me to return later in July for a new shipment. Furthermore, to twist the knife, “We’ve been known to reduce the price so much that once, a lady bought a pair of overalls another lady returned, for $5. I know that doesn’t help you now, and probably makes it worse but…”
And, for the record, Lane Bryant – a clothing store for full-figured (read: blimps) women – doesn’t fit me well either. Someone told me that at another outlet in another state, they’d fitted all the skinny mannequins with Lane Bryant wear, then pinned them tighter in the back to draw in the skinny customers… WTF?, the smallest size there is a 14, what are they trying to pull? Even a fattie store has delusions of slimmed-down grandeur.
Never go into any Lane Bryant looking for a quick fit and run, not at the height of spring sale season anyway. Every fitting room was full, every clerk busy with a line at least a football field long, and the women trying clothes on were trying on every outfit off the rack they could get their hands on, leave for more, and continue trying all day, the equivalent of hording during the lowest point of a diet. I peeked into at least three fitting rooms and they were packed with enough outfits to clothe all of Portland, Oregon. “I’m still using this room” one lady said to me as she left to grab more muumuus. I must’ve stood there waiting with my stash for a good half hour.
Nothing I’d grabbed fit or looked right. The sick thing about me is, an outfit will look perfect for me hanging on the rack. The second I squeeze into it, though… the bodice is too tight, the skirt too billowy, there’s too much material puffing out at the crotch, it looks like I have two hard-ons, it’s puffing out the sides (no hips, remember), it’s bunching up my butt crack, it’s too long, it’s too short…
I’m real fun at bra fittings.
My breasts are technically small, about, say, a 34 A. But my rib cage, thanks to four or five years of eating junk food without a care in the world, is about a 44DD. So when I opt for a 42D, it fits around my chest, but the bra cups themselves cave in at the breasts.
Much about clothes shopping confounds me. The white shoulder loops – should I cut them off after purchase, or just loop them under my bra strap? Why are there so many underwire bras?—I have had bad luck with the wire slicing loose and jabbing into my flesh. Why can’t the clothing manufacturers learn to sew the buttons on a shirt without the loose threads?—one strong tug and the button pops off, I always have to reinforce each one when I take the shirt home. Please sew a slip inside every dress, skirt or blouse —Is see-through a perennial trend? What if my skin tone resembles that of a cadaver against the latest seasonal colorful trends, should I search for a black-only online boutique? Victoria’s Secret oughta be banned in all 50 states as a fat chick’s cruel and unusual punishment. Is it too much to ask for a decent pair of gardener’s overalls?
After failing to acquire my tank tops, shorts, overalls and dressy blacks, I sat in front of a Jamba Juice, sipping my Strawberries Wild, watching all these overweight women with huge behinds go by in perfectly snug, flattering jeans, wondering where they went to buy them from. Do they have their own jeans tailors, pinning and tucking and form-fitting the denim material to their unique body structure? Is there a secret fattie store only the members of Curves know about? Will I be forced to wear these old baggy Sears jeans my mommy bought me for the rest of my life, sagging in all the wrong places and half falling down?
Luckily, the only successful purchase I did make last month I almost passed over while waiting for a free fitting room at Lane Bryant. I’d noticed a table full of Sevens jeans lying around way in the back of the store, ignored by the other customers. Remembering a big-bottomed friend who mentioned them as favorable to her kind, I quickly went through them, looking for the biggest size, two in 18, and one in 16. When I finally tried them on, sweating profusely, my three year old son James running around, in and out, husband Eddie standing around, in and out, brooding because he came along only to avoid the hot weather outside, my mother continually handing me more size 14 pants I couldn’t even get my right leg through, heart beating like a jackrabbit in a Boston marathon… Eureka! They all fit, even the size 16s.
An odd fit, to be sure, but… Normally, I wear jeans clinched at the waist, Levis or Lees, usually in the fat men’s section. These were low-rise, hip-hugging, slightly flared at the calves woman’s women jeans, as dangerously close to the ones half falling off the butts of clueless blonde teenaged girls without calling attention to myself. Once I got used to the air up there around my tummy, I noticed the flattering attention to my non-existent butt and accentuated muscly runner’s legs, and –
– bought an 18 and a 16.
I wore them out in two days. The 18s were too big. And the 16s, worn at a church choir picnic last weekend, were too.
Maybe I was kidding myself about losing so much weight (hah!), and I’m just not used to hip-huggers, me having no hips to speak of, and these jeans – having no hips to hug onto – just slide off easily… or, I dunno.
I think maybe, to be hopeful, I’m now a 14.
In overalls, please.